HL Deb 24 May 1971 vol 319 cc857-937

7.32 p.m.

House again in Committee.

LORD CHAMPION moved Amendment No. 263N: Page 141, line 33, leave out paragraph 3 and insert (" and whether the organisation has branches.")

The noble Lord said: The purpose of this Amendment is quite clear. We are dealing here with paragraph 3, which states that the rules of the union must indicate whether or not it has branches. Our Amendment provides for the retention of the words about " whether the organisation has branches ", but seeks to delete all the words after " branches ". Here we must again protest against what the Government are seeking to do in this Schedule; namely, to dictate to the unions what is clearly a matter for the unions themselves. The rules of a union have always been a matter for the union itself and are part of the democracy of a trade union. This is a matter upon which we feel rather deeply. I suppose that it is difficult for the Government to realise that trade unions do not wish to be dictated to in this way; and, indeed, they ought not to he dictated to in this way.

I have had something to do with trade unions in the course of my life, and they are very responsible bodies which frame their own rules in order to secure the good governance of the union. In paragraph 3 there is an instruction to the Registrar that the rules must indicate whether the union has branches—and we agree with that, because a union ought to indicate that it has branches; and that is provided for, as we suggest, by an addition to paragraph 2—but the instruction then goes on to state that the rules must also indicate the extent to which, and the manner in which, it has power to control the activities of its branches. That is surely a matter for the trade union itself, and not a matter for the Registrar. It ought riot necessarily to be included in the rules, although I must say that most of the organisations with which I have ever had any association had their own rules which indicated how a two-way traffic was going to work; namely, how the branches were going to control the executive, and how the executive was going to have some control over the branches. This is very much a matter for the rules which the union itself should frame.

I happen to have in my hand the rule book of the National Union of Railwaymen. If I keep on returning to this point, it is because I think one should speak from personal knowledge and experience if one possibly can, and should not speak merely because one has read that certain practices exist. There are 121 pages in this rule book, which are carefully thought out and sifted by the members themselves at their annual general meetings and so on. There is provision for the branch to take its own decisions, up to a certain point. For example, a rule relating to a branch states: Each branch may make bye-laws for the government of its local affairs. Such bye-laws must first be approved of and signed by the Executive Committee or the General Secretary, and be strictly consistent with the general rules of the Union. I could add to that that the bye-laws must conform to the general policy of the union, which will be known to the branches because of their close association and good communications with head office. These bye-laws—and I have helped to frame them in the past; we usually call them standing orders in the local branch—are framed by the local branch. Then, before they can become bye-laws, they have to be sent up to the executive committee of the union which will examine them very carefully, sign a copy and return it. They then become the laws of the local branch and are obeyed by the local branch.

This is surely a matter which ought to be left to the union concerned, and the Registrar ought not to be asked to enter into it. The more one sees examples of this sort embodied in the Bill, the greater the difficulty there is in seeing why the Government should have started on this matter in the first place. The Bill is bad and, certainly, this Schedule has a number of instructions which ought never to be there. I agree that if one registers one must to some extent conform to general principles, and I do not mind my branch conforming to general principles such as those which I, as a member of a union, have helped to form. But what the noble Lord is trying to do here is to see that there will be a rule which will insure that the centre will he able to control the branches absolutely. If I am incorrect, I am sure he will tell us so when he comes to reply. But that is not quite the way to do what is wanted. We should ask the branches to conform generally to the policy of the union and to the bye-laws which have been prepared, and the Government should not act in the way proposed in paragraph 3.

There is something else. If we are going to include in the rules, as an instruction to the Registrar, that the centre must control the branches, we ought at least also to include in them an instruction that there must be something in the rules which will enable the branches to control the executive—and I am very much in favour of that, both in my trade union and, indeed, in Parliament itself. If Parliament exists for any purpose at all, it is to control the executive, which is, of course, the Government of the day. If it cannot do that to some extent, we ought all to pack up and go home—and that applies to the other place, too. The control of the executive is right in relation to national affairs: a certain measure of control of the executive is also right in connection with our trade unions.

I think that this paragraph goes much too far. I believe that if we are going to have this we ought to have it as a two-way traffic, in which we also lay down a rule that there shall be clearly stated the extent to which it will be possible for branches to control the national executive of the union and, indeed, its annual general meeting, which is normally the governing body of the union, when the executive committee is not in fact sitting. I cannot impress too much upon noble Lords opposite that this is a matter that ought to be left to the unions concerned. This is a matter in which democracy ought to work within the unions and if it does, I am sure that noble Lords will have no great objection. I have never heard the slightest objection to the control that exists within the National Union of Railwaymen of the executive over the branches, simply because there is a reasonable flow of information between them and they trust one another. Trust is what should operate within a trade union, as indeed it ought to operate to some extent between the executive of this country and Par- liament. I am delighted to move this Amendment because I think it is a very sound one. I beg to move.


I am very much for leaving out paragraph 3. In fact, I am for leaving out all the rules in the whole of this Schedule and in the clause. The clause makes the Government's attitude to industrial relations absolutely transparent. These rules would be regarded as naive if they were drawn up by a group of sixth-formers trying to start a tennis club. Indeed, they might have been drawn up by a governess looking after an unruly class, or even a ruly class. It seems to me that they are absolutely ridiculous when they are applied to millions of trade unionists and thousands of trade unions who have evolved rules for themselves over the last 100 years. Seriously, this particular innovation, these particular rules, are a real scandal.


I find myself a little puzzled at the mud which has been thrown at this particular paragraph. I am bound to say that I do not think it really merits it. All that it says is: If the. organisation has branches, the rules must so indicate, must also indicate the extent to which, and the manner in which, it has power to control the activities of its branches ". The noble Lord, Lord Champion, always speaks to us so agreeably that it is difficult to disagree with him, but what his argument seemed to me to amount to was this. The National Union of Railwaymen is a good union and it has a rule of this kind. He made it clear to what extent the activities of the branches are controlled: their rules have to be signed by head office. Then that is the answer: but he does not want any other union to do the same. Is that it?




All that this does is to lay it down: If the organisation has branches, the rules must so indicate, and must also indicate the extent to which, and the manner in which, it has power to control the activities of its branches ". This is a matter of importance in many ways. It is important to know what power the branch committee has; for example, to call a strike. This is important. I do not think there can be any real cavilling at this particular requirement. I say again, as I said on the previous Amendment, that the Registrar must know. If he is going to make inquiries, he has got to know about the union. The members also have a right to know of the procedures of the union; and the branches themselves will want to know about them. I cannot for the life of me see why this should not be in the rules. I hope noble Lords will not object to this kind of thing. I know they do not object to its being in the rules: what they are objecting to is the Bill saying that it should be in the rules. Again, it has to be said that the N.U.R. is a good union; it is an experienced union. It probably has its rules in very good shape. I have not looked at them myself, but I have seen the noble Lord with a copy from time to time. We want that high standard throughout. We want to raise the standard of the rules of all unions. This is a provision which will enable them to do it. There really is no more to it than that.


That is all right; we accept that. The union ought to have rules which will enable them to control the branches to some extent; and, as I said, they ought also to have rules which will enable the branches to control the executive. It should be a two-way traffic. What we object to in this connection is that the Registrar will be able to dictate. This is our objection here. He will be in a position virtually to dictate to the unions, and that is what we object to. I do not think that this is an Amendment upon which I would seek, particularly at this stage, to divide the Committee. Clearly, between now and Report I shall have to consider what the noble Lord has said and if necessary return to this point at that stage. In the meantime, I beg leave to 'withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

7.48 p.m.

LORD DIAMOND moved Amendment No. 263P: Page 141, line 36, leave out paragraph 4, and insert (" the election or appointment and removal of a governing body by whatever name and offices and officials ").

The noble Lord said: Perhaps it would be convenient to take Amendments Nos. 263Q, 263R, 263S and 263T together with this Amendment, because they all really stem from the same point. I beg formally to move the first one. My first pleasant duty is to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, on the success with which he overcomes his difficulties. He said that my noble friend Lord Champion spoke with such quiet persuasiveness that it was difficult not to be persuaded by what he said. I can only say that he succeeded in overcoming that difficulty 100 per cent. It made not the slightest difference what my noble friend Lord Champion said, although he produced a rule book which was produced voluntarily by the men themselves—and this deals with all the Amendments which I have in front of me.

Far from not going into sufficient detail, this rule book contains 121 pages, covering everything that is in the Schedule and a great deal more. The point I am making is that, however long you make the Schedule you would not even then get a model set of rules applicable to every union. Even this set of rules, excellent though it is, is defective, according to this Bill, in one material respect: that it does not say on it what the price is. It is true that it covers 285,000 men;it covers years and years of experience; it was got together long before an Industrial Relations Bill was ever thought of; nobody considers that the rules are in any way inadequate for the purposes of this long-established and responsible union. But according to the Schedule we are now discussing it is defective in a material degree because it does not specify the reasonable charge to be made—


Perhaps it is free.


As my noble friend intimates, it may be free. But that is a grave defect according to the Schedule. Why am I saying this? Not only to pass a pleasant moment, but to make it clear that what we object to in this Schedule (as each of these five Amendments shows) is that the Government are attempting to do something which it is inappropriate for them to do and which does not need doing in this detail. If you get into this amount of detail you are bound to make two mistakes: too much detail for certain purposes, too little for others; too much detail because the Bill says that the N.U.R. rules are defective because the price is not stated; and not enough because there are only 24 paragraphs in the Schedule, while there are 120 pages in this set of rules of one union alone.

What we are saying is that the unions are capable of framing their own rules, and that it does not help to produce a greater sense of responsibility by telling the unions that they are incapable of providing their own rules and that therefore the Registrar must specify in detail what each rule has to be. I do not know bow many times we have to make this simple point to the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn. I do not complain about his not accepting our argument, but that each time he gets up he shows that he has not begun to understand it. We are saying there are too many details. The unions provide these rules by themselves, so why stuff them down their throats? That creates opposition, not co-operation. It can only lead to ridiculous situations as in the case of this excellent set of rules being defective because there is no price.

Leave it to the unions. If the noble Lord wishes to have a general reference, as the Commission thought it right to have, let us have one paragraph saying what the rules should have regard to, what they should cover. Leave it at that. Leave it to the good sense of the unions, and let them co-operate with the Registrar in the friendly way they have done hitherto in producing rules, which perhaps in some cases are not clear enough or not adequate in all respects. These particular Amendments are examples of the same lack of understanding, and of excessive authority and excessive interference in what should be the natural democracy of the unions. They each give evidence of the same thing. Therefore I do not think I need go into each of them in detail. They are each to leave out successive paragraphs which are objectionable on the grounds I have already indicated. I beg to move.


The noble Lord has grouped these Amendments together and has made a general argument from which I take it that he does not quarrel with what the Schedule says should be in the rules, but merely with the fact that it says that these matters should be in the rules. He believes that they should be in the rules but does not want the Schedule to say so. He says that there is too much detail laid down. I gather that something like 328 unions will be transferring to provisional registration straightaway. The noble Lord, Lord Tangley, made it clear that of the many rule books that he had read many fell far short of requirements. What is the right thing to do in the circumstances? Is it to put down just a few notes on the sort of things that might be in the rules and then leave to the Registrar as the unions submit their rules (or get in touch with the Registrar to get their rules right) complete discretion as to what should be in the rules of each trade union, with different requirements for different trade unions? Or is it to set out a comprehensive set of things that should be contained in the rules? I do understand the noble Lord's argument. I just think that it is wrong. I am sorry. I think that the right course is to set out exactly what things ought to be in the rules and to put them in the Schedule, and that is what we have done. I simply do not think that the noble Lord's argument is better than mine.

7.58 p.m.


If I may respectfully say so, I think that my noble friend Lord Diamond is right in not wanting to pursue this matter at length. I think our point has been made on the Schedule. We have done our duty qua the Committee. If there is anything that will wreck this Bill it will be Schedule 4. I thought that the Government wanted the trade unions to register. The effect of these rules is to make it virtually impossible for any union to register. Some civil servant has got out this terrific catalogue. I agree with my noble friend that if it had said that the trade union rules must cover certain matters, that could have been done. But let us consider the circumstances in which the trade unions make the rules. They are voluntary bodies They make alterations in their rules at ordinary annual conferences or at special rule-making conferences, and the branches will be mandated by their members on how they ought to vote. How you can get rules to cover the 23 paragraphs of Schedule 4 I cannot conceive. Paragraph 7 of Schedule 4 says: The rules must specify the powers and duties of the governing body of the organisation, of each of its officers and of officials who are not officers of the organisation. Who are the " officials "? We are told all about it in Part IX, in Clause 158 which says: " official ', in relation to an organisation of workers or an organisation of employers, means any person who is an officer of the organisation or of a branch of the organisation or who (not being such an officer) is a person elected or appointed in accordance with the rules of the organisation to be a representative of its members or of some of them, including (in the case of an organisation of workers) any person so elected or appointed who is an employee of the same employer as the members, or one or more of the members, whom he is to represent; One of the difficulties which the courts sometimes get into is that they do not really understand trade union terminology and start talking about a branch secretary as a trade union official, whereas in my experience, which my noble friends will confirm, a trade union official, in trade union language, is an employee of a trade union. His occupation in life is to do what the trade union tells him, a branch secretary's occupation in life is to drive railway trains, he has been elected by his mates to keep the books and keep the minutes; he buys the minute book out of his own pocket and he does not get a penny for what he does.

What limited company, or, if it appeals to the Minister more, what Government Department, could possibly operate for a week if they were told to put down in writing exactly what everybody employed in the Department does, and could change it, in the case of a limited company, only if the articles of association were changed? Trade union rules compare with the articles of association of a limited company. How can you possibly run a company if the managing director cannot say to Jones, " I know you do the following ten things. Now I want Snooks to do your number 10, and I want you in future to do Snooks' number 1 "; or, " I know you have been embracing legal aid; I don't want you to do legal aid in the Lord Chancellor's office, I want more help on the Courts Bill."? These rules mean that when any minor person in a trade union who is an employee—or even one who is not an employee of the trade union at all—is appointed to any sort of task, that task cannot be changed or varied with any other member without a fresh application to the Registrar to approve a change in the rules. I agree with my noble friend, Lady Gaitskell, that the whole thing is completely unworkable, and will be found in practice to be unworkable. I think we have made our ojections plain and have thereby done our Parliamentary duty.


I should like to add a couple of sentences, and would ask the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, to think what would happen if the Government applied the same kind of rules to employers. How would they feel? Does not the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, understand that this setting out of these fiddling rules is an affront to trade unions? The noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, gets up and says that he does not understand what we feel. Certainly we do not understand what the Government feel. They do not seem to understand in the least that after 100 years of struggle and experience trade unions have drawn up their own rules. They may not be perfect; that does not matter. But now they are told, like a lot of schoolboys, that these are the rules they have to conform to.


If the noble Baroness will forgive me, this is saying what there are to be rules about. The Registrar is not writing the rules for anyone: he merely has to see what there are rules about. Perhaps the noble Baroness will allow me to point out that, although this may not apply to employers, it certainly applies to employers' associations as well as to trade unions.

In reply to the noble and learned Lord, if, as is necessary under the terms of the Bill, people are to know what is the scope of authority of particular officers and officials, then that scope of authority must surely be defined; and this is what the rules call for. The scope of the authority should be defined in the rules. I would have thought that this was essential. Now that this is a body corporate it is necessary to define what the authority of the various officials at various levels is. I should have thought that this was right.


Will the noble Lord allow me to interrupt him? It does not merely specify their powers; it also specifies their duties. This means that what every employee, and even people who are not employees, has to do is to be specified in the rules which cannot be changed without application to a civil servant. No limited company and no Government Department could possibly carry on in these circumstances.


It is further emphasised in paragraph 24, which says: Where by reason of special circumstances relating to a particular trade union or employers' association, it appears to the registrar that a particular requirement set out in this Schedule would be inappropriate in the case of that trade union or employers' association and so on. This, again, gives power to the Registrar to form his own opinion, as distinct from the trade union machine that will have defined the rules.


Would the noble Lord forgive me, for the sake of good order? There is an Amendment down about this. He is perhaps anticipating his noble friends' Amendment.


It is extremely difficult to confine our discussion to this particular Amendment because the whole series of Amendments and this particular Schedule must have a bearing on the way we approach this item in the Bill.

The noble Lord repeatedly says that there must be someone to define these things. It is difficult to understand the logic of this argument. He has been asked repeatedly for evidence as to whether there has ever been any grave breach. He takes refuge in what the noble Lord, Lord Tangley, stated: that when they were considering this they found numerous rules that were, in the opinion of the Commission, far from suitable. I am not surprised. I understand that they took evidence from something like 500-odd different trade unions. About 130 of those are affiliated to the T.U.C., and it is in these big unions that difficulties are likely to arise. But it is interesting to note that the Donovan Commission have not been able to pinpoint any grave breach of rules that would have created difficulties.

As the noble Lord knows full well, the Bridlington agreement of the trade unions has gone a long way to ironing out difficulties which the trade union movement has experienced, and surely it would have been better to consult with the T.U.C., bringing before them and discussing together the Donovan recommendations. If there are real difficulties, what is the best way of ironing them out? The General Council cannot compel any decision it takes on the free trade unions, but it is astonishing that the recommendations of the General Council of the T.U.C. do bear fruit. It is slow sometimes in permeating down, but on the other hand it is very useful and has proved a real guiding line.

I have deviated a little from the actual Amendment. The Bill says that the rules must specifically describe all persons eligible for membership of the organisation. If a union desires that only a skilled person should be admitted into the union, and every member has to prove his bona fides before being accepted as a member —if they put up a bar against people who are not fully skilled, would that be accepted by the Registrar? I do not think that the Registrar would be able to accept a rule of that description. Again, this indicates the need for trade unions to make their own rules.

8.11 p.m.


I wonder whether the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, has the right idea about this. When we talk about duties, it is common practice in business to specify the duties of accountants and others.


Is the noble Lord suggesting that it is common practice in business to lay down in the constitution the duties of branch managers? That is what is asked for here.


I said it is common practice to lay down duties. The point here is that we have to know the scope of the authority, the powers and the duties which are involved. The noble Lord is concerned merely with powers, but it is equally necessary that certain duties should be prescribed and should be laid down as well. I know that noble Lords feel that these clauses go too far. They have been carefully looked at, but I am quite willing to look at them again to see whether they go too far in any particular respect and whether anything that seems unreasonable and impracticable is included in them. But broadly they cover the main points that have to be laid down.

The noble Lord, Lord Popplewell, spoke about paragraph 15, to which we have not really come; but the answer to him is that we are talking about descriptions, as distinct from people who are " appropriately qualified ". These words were precisely designed to cover apprentices and ranges of qualifications, as distinct from descriptions. If noble Lords feel strongly that this paragraph is too detailed, we can look at it again. Perhaps the noble and learned Lord was right, after all, in drawing attention to the last paragraph and saying that where the cap does not fit, one cannot wear it. It may be that in certain cases—for example, of unions on the special register —some of this would not apply. But subject to that, the Schedule seems to cover what is required. I am prepared to look at this matter again in detail, but I hope that in general noble Lords will feel that this will act as a check list, covering the whole range of what is required to be in the rules.


I am pleased to hear the noble Lord say that he will look at this again because my noble and learned friend presented a wonderful case of how trade union branches work in the alteration of rules. From time to time branches formulate resolutions for alteration of rules, which, if passed by the branch, are sent forward for consideration at the annual conference of the union and so are considered by all the members before being resolved. The case presented by my noble and learned friend is one of the best I have heard on this issue, and I sincerely hope that the noble Lord will be able to say that he can concede the point that my noble and learned friend has made.


I should like to echo what my noble friend Lord Slater has said. We have had a useful debate on this group of Amendments. With penetrating oratory, my noble and learned friend Lord Gardiner at last seems to have made our position a little clearer to the Government. We are grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, for saying that he will look at the whole Schedule again. We still think that in several respects it is ridiculous and unworkable and that it has the wrong philosophical approach. He does not accept that. But even if he thought it was the right approach, it is still making nonsense of this Schedule so to particularise as to make it unworkable and ridiculous. So I hope that he will look at it again to see whether, at an appropriate time, he can make some improvement.

The running of a union, which is often part-time work, is not to be compared with the running of a business by people who have offices and secretaries. and have had considerable training in administration, and who act administratively all day long. It is an entirely different type of work. It is wholly inappropriate to compare one with the other and to say, if one can do it in business, why can one not do it in the trade union? I can visualise my noble and learned friend Lord Gardiner taking part in a union branch meeting, reading out a description in the definition clause and then turning round and saying, " That makes the position quite clear, Bill." One can imagine what " Bill " would reply to that one! I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, will realise that there is a totally different atmosphere in a trade union. I am grateful to the noble Lord, and in the circumstances, I think it would be right to ask leave of the Committee to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

8.20 p.m.

LORD DIAMOND moved Amendment No. 263U:

Page 142, line 37, at end insert— (". Any employers' association which as part of its business acts as a disciplinary body towards employees shall have an equal number of the employees' trade union representatives as members of such disciplinary bodies.")

The noble Lord said: Inevitably when we are discussing Amendments to a Schedule, all the clauses concerned tend to be discussed. I think that it would be helping the Committee if I asked your Lordships to be indulgent and to take all the remaining Amendments on this Schedule together, because I think that they all raise the same point, which we have been trying to drive home all the way through—the wrong psychological approach, excess of details, not leaving the unions to exercise their own responsibility sufficiently and, where there are differences, going the wrong way about solving them.

I need to say only one thing more, and that is to answer the question which the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, asked on the last discussion, namely, what do the Opposition want us to do if we get into difficulty, if there is a dispute or anything of that sort? We want to ensure that the Registrar should not be so burdened with statutory legislative duties of a legalistic kind as to be regarded as somebody like a judge before whom you have to go, but that instead he should continue to be regarded as a friend of the unions who can offer wise advise drawn from hits great experience across the board of a great mass of unions. We want the Registrar to remain in his present position and to be helped in case of difficulty, where he needs support, by a body of the kind recommended by the Donovan Commission, of two trade unionists and a lawyer who could give the necessary guidance and advice with just a little bit of push such as we realise is sometimes necessary.

In that event there could well be cooperation and the rules, to the extent that they are not now satisfactory, would be more likely to be satisfactory. Perhaps the noble Lord would take away the whole of this Schedule and consider having a totally different approach under which the Act merely provides, as Donovan suggested, for the things which ought to be covered and to leave it to the unions to fill in the detail—they should, Donovan said, retain the freedom to create and to devise rules to suit their own individual circumstances. If the noble Lord would take away the Schedule and bring back a totally revised version in those terms, with an independent review body as recommended by Donovan, he would be doing two things: he would be giving pleasure to Her Majesty's official Opposition and he would be carrying out the recommendations based on a 3-year consideration by a distinguished Royal Commission. I beg to move.

8.23 p.m.


I am always anxious to be accommodating to the Opposition, but the Opposition are really asking a lot in this particular case. They are asking us to alter the whole system that is devised here in order to take on something that we had already obviously examined and rejected in favour of what we regarded as a better system and one which fits in, as I said before, with the whole structure that is being set up under this Bill.

I do not think that that would be the right approach. After all, what is provided here is simply sufficient to deal with the various aspects of trade union activities; requirements relating to constitution and management, requirements relating to members of the organisation, requirements relating to property and finances, and the Registrar's power of exemption at the end to deal with cases that do not actually fit in with the rules as here set out. I believe that if noble Lords were to take these points and set them out in tabular form instead of in the form they are here, as unions will no doubt do for themselvesl—the trouble about tabular form is that it is a little more difficult to fit in particular cases—they would find a complete check list and if the noble Lord, Lord Champion. who spoke before. were to go through his rule book, which he probably knows by heart from cover to cover, with these rules, checking one thing against another, he would find in almost every particular that the rule book covers the points here. I must say again, that all we are asking is that where good standards are not met at the present time, where rules are deficient because things are not covered, then those deficiencies should be rectified and, if you have a check list of this kind, this is the ideal way to rectify it.

From the point of view of the administration by the Registrar himself, the situation is made so much easier. Here is a complette list of things that have to be covered, and as he looks at every single set of rules he will be able to check off to see that these things are covered. I am sure that is the way he will do it. So long as these things are clearly expressed and he is not asked to cover things which are for some reason or another impracticable—or otiose if you like—I think that is the right way to operate.

I am sorry, but even if the Donovan Commission recommendation had been accepted in this regard, I do not myself see how we could really have gone about this in any very different way. They would have had a check list. They would have had to see that all the points were met and if there were disagreements at the end of the day then there was this different means proposed of doing it from the way we proposed in the Bill. But that is the major difference. If I may say so, I think noble Lords are making rather too much of this matter. However, they have expressed their point of view.

I have said that we shall have a look to see that nothing is asked for here that is impossible. impracticable or unreasonable; but with that I hope that noble Lords will be prepared to express their opinion on the Schedule if they wish or, at any rate, perhaps as I should like to think, I have been able to persuade them. But I am afraid that does not seem to be practicable.


May I make a suggestion to the noble Lord, that instead of having this excruciating detail it would have been easier to have the Registrar provided with a copy of every trade union's rules? Would that not have been easier, more democratic, fairer and more acceptable to trade unions?


I do not know whether the noble Baroness heard me say so earlier, but the Registrar has copies of the rules at the present time; and what he has to do is once the provisional register has been set up to start working through these rules to see that these points are covered.


With regard to this particular Schedule, I wonder if the noble Lord is aware of how industry really does work from both sides, either at national level or at local level. At local level, just as at national level, unions have what are known as consultative committees which deal with all types of projects governing the particular form of industry that is operating with the employees covered by specific unions. In my own union we have these consultative committees where you find that the management becomes the chairman and the leading secretary of the branch union is the vice-chairman, and they are able to talk over the various problems covering that particular type of industry in.which they are engaged. They come along with their various suggestions, and they work there as a team. It means that the individual member working inside the industry—apart from the management, which is responsible for running the industry—representing the membership, is accepting individual responsibility; and this comes right down to everybody engaged in that type of industry.

This gives a form of unanimity between management and men. You gel more out of a team within the operation of the system as it works; and would to God that a lot of managing directors would leave their offices, and get down to talk to some of the employees on the shop floor! If they did that, they would get to know them and how things were working. I am convinced that if this was done more than it has been done in the past, production in this country would go up by leaps and bounds, to the benefit of the country.

My noble friend has presented his case on this Schedule and has asked the noble Lord to accept the Amendments that have been submitted. The noble Lord has previously agreed to have another look at proceedings. Why does he not have another look at these Amendments, which are all to the one Schedule and cover the same type of people who were referred to in a previous Amendment that we debated? I hope that he will look at this further. He says that we are asking for too much; but we are not. It is not a matter of asking too much, but of trying to get the thing on a proper basis which will be beneficial not only to one side of industry, but to both sides.


The noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, said that he felt that it was impossible to accept this Amendment as drafted. To be quite frank, I can fully appreciate his difficulty. I realise that it would be difficult to write anything like this into the rules of a trade union. But we are grateful to my noble friend for putting down this Amendment so that we could have a discussion about disciplinary machinery. It would not be practicable for a small industry to have this type of machinery, but a large industry must have some disciplinary machinery. Most unions have tried to get this. In some of the old basic industries they have this disciplinary machinery. I wonder if the noble Lord would think this over to see if he could write some ideas into the Bill which would meet us in this direction.

Many disputes have been created by an arbitrary decision to dispense with the services of a man—possibly quite justifiably—or to take a man off his particular work and put him on to something else. These difficulties do arise. If it were possible to establish some type of disciplinary machinery which would suit both sides of industry, in order to establish the basic principles, I am sure it would help considerably. It cannot be a one-sided affair. The men are not always right but neither are managements. Where, as in much of industry, you have the position that the manager's decision is final, then there are difficulties. If the Government would see whether they can get some broad principles to which both sides of industry should work, to establish this disciplinary machinery, this would be a useful exercise.


Perhaps I can answer that question right away. This part of the Bill does not deal with what the noble Lord has been talking about. It merely says what there have to be rules about. The noble Lord is quite right in that it says the rules must specify the nature of disciplinary action and so on. But where unions want to help in the setting up of disciplinary action, that is much more a matter for the C.I.R. or the conciliation officers, or that side of the Bill, than it is for the Registrar. The Registrar can help with advice on the rules, of course, but the disciplinary procedure generally forms part of a procedure agreement, and it is the procedure agreements on which the C.I.R. can help when a matter is referred to them, and the conciliation officers.


I do not want to minimise the difficulties, but if this is a Bill on industrial relations, surely it is not beyond the wit of the draftsmen and the legal fraternity to embrace somewhere in the Bill the principles about which we are talking. If it is to be mandatory, it would be a useful exercise to make it equally mandatory in the interests of good relations, to instil upon both sides that on this disciplinary issue there must be a meeting point somewhere, in order to extract the measure of support that is necessary from both sides if we are to have smooth working.


Perhaps I can come back on this, because it is important that noble Lords should understand it. The point is that what has to appear in the rules is what the disciplinary procedure is. I am quite certain that there is room for improvement in disciplinary procedure, but I do not believe this is part of what we are dealing with here. What the noble Lord has been saying illustrates very well indeed the difference between the content of the rules and the mere fact that there is a rule about something. The content of the rules is a matter for the trade unions to decide and when it comes to joint disciplinary bodies, then it is a matter for negotiation.


I am particularly grateful 'to my noble friend Lord Popplewell, who dealt specifically with the points involved in this Amendment. I now turn to the speech made a little earlier by the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, who said that he would seek to persuade us as to two propositions. I accord the noble Lord full marks, and say that he has persuaded us completely as to both. The first of his propositions was that there should be a check list of the items to be covered. I am asking the noble Lord to take this Schedule away, and to bring along a thing called a check list, with an introduction saying: " This is a check list of the points to be covered ". It may not be wholly appropriate for a Statute. but it would be appropriate for a code of practice. I am asking the noble Lord to bring that along, and then his purpose and our purpose would be served, and we should have made progress.

The second proposition was that we should express our point of view when it came to the Question, That Schedule 4 stand part of the Bill. I think that is a sensible proposition. We have explained our difficulties about the Amendments. I do not think there is any point in going through each one individually unless any of my noble friends wish this. We can go straight to the Question, That Schedule 4 stand Part. With the permission of the Committee, I will withdraw Amendment No. 263U, and I will not move any of the other Amendments.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Aberdare, L. Drumalbyn, L. Orr-Ewing, L.
Ailwyn, L. Dundee, E. Penrhyn, L.
Balerno, L. Falkland, V. Rankeillour, L.
Balfour, E. Falmouth, V. Redmayne, L.
Balfour of Inchrye, L. Ferrers, E. [Teller.] Rothermere, V.
Barnby, L. Goschen, V. [Teller.] Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.
Beauchamp, E. Gowrie, E. St. Aldwyn, E.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Gray, L. St. Helens, L.
Belstead, L. Greenway, L. St. Just, L.
Bledisloe, V. Grenfell, L. Sandford, L.
Boston, L. Grimston of Westbury, L. Selkirk, E.
Brabazon of Tara, L. Hailes, L. Sempill, Ly.
Brooke of Cumnor, L. Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. (L. Chancellor.) Somers, L.
Brooke of Ystradfellte, Bs. Stamp, L.
Burton, L. Hankey, L. Strange of Knokin, Bs.
Clwyd, L. Jellicoe, E. (L. Privy Seal.) Suffield, L.
Colyton, L. Kemsley, V. Teviot, L.
Conesford, L. Killearn, L. Teynham, L.
Cowley, E. Latymer, L. Thorneycroft, L.
Craigavon, V. Lauderdale, E. Tweedsmuir, L.
Craigmyle, L. Lucas of Chilworth, L. Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, Bs.
Crawshaw, L. McFadzean, L. Vivian, L.
Cromartie, E. Mowbray and Stourton, L. Wade, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Nugent of Guildford, L. Windlesham, L.
Denham, L. Oakshott, L. Wolverton, L.
Derwent, L.
Archibald, L. Garnsworthy, L. Popplewell, L.
Ardwick, L. Henderson, L. Ritchie-Calder, L.
Bacon, Bs. Hilton of Upton, L. Rusholme, L.
Balogh, L. Hughes, L. Sainsbury, I..
Bernstein, L. Jacques, L. St. Davids, V.
Beswick, L. Kennet, L. Shackleton, L.
Buckinghamshire, E. Lee of Asheridge, Bs. Slater, L.
Champion, L. Lindgren, L. Stow Hill, L.
Collison, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, Bs. Strabolgi, L. [Teller.]
Diamond. L. Maelor, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Energlyn, L. Milner of Leeds, L. [Teller.] Walston, L.
Evans of Hungershall, L. Morris of Kenwood, L. Wells-Pestell, L.
Gaitskell, Bs. Platt, L. Willis, L.
Gardiner, L. Plummer, Bs.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Schedule 4 agreed to accordingly.

Clause 74 [Application to Industrial Court as to approval of rules]:

On Question, Whether Clause 74 shall stand part of the Bill?

8.49 p.m.


I do not think we need spend a great deal of time on Clause 74. It merely repeats the mischief which we have been discussing on the earlier clause and indeed in the Schedule which the Government have just succeeded by such a narrow margin in incor-

8.40 p.m.

On Question, Whether Schedule 4 shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 75; Not-Contents, 41.

porating within the Bill. The difficulty we have with this clause, as with other clauses, is that the Registrar, having been turned more into a commissar than a Registrar, now has the additional powers of the Industrial Court for disposing of difficulties, and in this particular clause for withdrawing a registration, directing a registration of a trade union to be cancelled on the grounds, (b) that the rules submitted to him by the organisation were defective … and the defect was not remedied within the period so specified … For example, that the registration of one of the largest and most moderate and reliable trade unions, the union of railway workers that we were discussing a little earlier on, should be cancelled, with all the penalties that involves, because they have not put the price on their 220 page booklet.

The noble Lord says, if I heard him aright, that that is not so. My recollection of the Schedule we have just discussed is that it does say that. It says: The rules must specify a reasonable charge to be made for the supply of copies of the rules … It says that the rules must specify " a reasonable charge ", not a variety of reasonable charges but a single reasonable charge, to cover all time, until the rules are altered, which is a three-year process. The union in question, having a good deal more common sense and practical experience than the Government, decides that it is not wise or appropriate to specify a reasonable charge. It may take the view that it costs more to collect a small payment than to supply the booklets free, so it supplies them free. The Registrar says, "I am sorry, the Statute says that you must specify a reasonable charge; you must specify a charge of some kind." They have an argument, and the union says, "If you

Aberdare, L. Derwent, L. Orr-Ewing, L.
Ailwyn, L. Drumalbyn, L. Penrhyn, L.
Balerno, L. Dundee, E. Rankeillour, L.
Balfour, E. Falkland, V. Redmayne, L.
Balfour of Inchrye, L. Falmouth, V. Rothermere, V.
Barnby, L. Ferrers, E. [Teller.] Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.
Beauchamp, E. Goschen, V.[Teller.] St. Aldwyn, E.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Gowrie, E. St. Helens, L.
Belstead, L. Gray, L. St. Just, L.
Bledisloe, V. Greenway, L. Sand ford, L.
Boston, L. Grenfell, L. Selkirk, E.
Brabazon of Tara, L. Grimston, of Westbury, L. Sempill, Ly.
Brooke of Cumnor, L. Hailes, L. Somers, L.
Brooke of Ystradfellte, Bs. Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L.(L. Chancellor.) Stamp, L.
Burton, L. Strange of Knokin, Bs.
Chelmer, L. Hankey, L. Suffield, L.
Clwyd, L. Jellicoe, E. (L. Privy Seal.) Terrington, L.
Colyton, L. Kemsley, V. Teviot, L.
Conesford, L. Killearn, L. Thorneycroft, L.
Cowley, E. Latymer, L. Tweed smuir, L.
Craigavon, V. Lauderdale, E. Tweedsmuir or Belhelvie, Bs.
Craigmyle, L. Lucas of Chilworth, L. Vivian, L.
Crawshaw, L. McFadzean, L. Wade, L.
Cromartie, E. Mowbray and Stourton, L. Windlesham, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Nugent of Guildford, L. Wolverton, L.
Denham, L. Oakshott, L.
Archibald, L. Balogh, L. Blyton, L.
Ardwick, L. Bernstein, L. Buckinghamshire, E.
Bacon, Bs. Beswick. L. Champion, L.

think we are going to have one of our three-year conferences " (I imagine it is three years) " to alter the rules in order to provide for a reasonable charge in our rules for our booklet you arc making a great mistake." A row develops and the Registrar says, "If you will not specify a reasonable charge, and insist on this ridiculous practice of giving your rule books away to your members, all I can do is cancel the registration of the union."

That is a ridiculous position to arrive at, and it can be arrived at under this clause. I suggest that the clause goes far too far. One does not need the Industrial Court; one needs, if necessary, the help of an independent body of trade unionists with a lawyer chairman, as recommended by Donovan. That would be a sensible and effective way of producing co-operation and achieving what the Government want to achieve. The present method is wholly unsatisfactory, and I can se no good advantage in the clause at all.

8.52 p.m.

On Question, Whether Clause 74 shall stand part of the Bill?

Their Lordships divided: Contents 76; Not-Contents, 39.

Davies of Leek, L. Kennet, L. Sainsbury, L.
Diamond, L. Lindgren, L. St. Davids, V.
Energlyn, L. Liewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, Bs. Shackleton, L.
Evans of Hungershall, L. Maelor, L. Shinwell, L.
Gaitskell, Bs. Milner of Leeds, L. [Teller.] Slater, L.
Gardiner, L. Morris of Kenwood, L. Stow Hill, L.
Garnsworthy, L. Plummet, Bs. Strabolgi, L.[Teller.]
Henderson, L. Popplewell, L. Walston, L.
Hilton of Upton, L. Ritchie-Calder, L. Wells-Pestell, L.
Hughes, L. Rusholme, L. Willis, L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Clause 74 agreed to accordingly.

Clause 75 Application to Industrial Court for cancellation of registration on other grounds]:

On Question, Whether Clause 75 shall stand part of the Bill?

8.59 p.m.


I did not move Amendment No. 263BB because I thought it was a point which was more sensibly and simply discussed on the Question, Whether the clause stand part. I therefore ask the Government whether they will be good enough to explain two things with regard to this clause. First, what other change of circumstances are envisaged in subsection (1)(b)? It is a very wide phrase; I cannot imagine what is in the mind of the Government. I imagine that the paragraph covers the possibility of a union doing something quite useful, beneficial, socially attractive, which is not within its rules and it is thereby running the risk of having its registration cancelled. It is such a wide phrase that I do not know that it is possible for that to happen. The second question I want to ask is one which is covered by the Amendment and relates to paragraph (c)—what the time limits are and how the Government in a general way envisage this subsection working.


The noble Lord asked first what was meant by, " other change of circumstances ". For example, it might mean that the trade union had ceased to be independent. The nature of the organisation might change in many ways. If he looks at Clause 65(1)(a) and (b) he will see that it might be that it would cease to be eligible for registration through a change of circumstances.

The second question the noble Lord asked was about subsection (3). This is obviously very much a long-stop. As he knows, it is to cover those cases where the administrative requirements are not met; and, of course, under Clause 89 a fine can be imposed where they are not met. It is only if this went on and on and was really persistent to the extent where it was shown that the trade union was thoroughly inefficient, badly managed and not serving its members properly, that this would be considered.

I am not certain that I can answer the question in regard to the time element. It is obviously a matter within the discretion of the court to extend the time in which to remedy the default. It might be that a complete overhaul by outside consultants, or something of that kind, would be undertaken, but I should imagine that this would be a matter for the union to make a case for in the light of its determination or otherwise to put itself in order. I hope that that is a satisfactory explanation.


I should think it is generally admitted on both sides of the Committee that a trade union remaining unregistered is not afforded the protection that is available to a registered union. But here the time element is of extreme importance. If your Lordships will look at subsection (2)(a) of this clause, you will find that if an application is made to the Industrial Court by the Registrar on the ground that the rules are not, in his opinion, of the character required, the union may be called upon to amend its rules so as to make itself available for registration.


With respect, I think the noble Lord is talking about the clause that we have just voted on. We are now discussing Clause 75.


I am dealing with Clause 75. It is on the same point. I am pointing out that if a union remains unregistered for some time, either because the Registrar procrastinates or the Industrial Court does not give its decision as urgently as is required, then the union is in a position of some difficulty. Therefore, although the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, says that he is unable to answer the point about timing, and this is a matter for the discretion of the court, in my judgment that is hardly satisfactory.

It seems to me to be exceedingly important that the time factor should be specific. After all, the term " specific " is used on many occasions in the proposed legislation and there is no need to protect a union against being excluded from registration for some reason or other. It may be a sound reason. It may be that the Industrial Court or the Registrar found it difficult to come to a decision or there may be some complications, but nevertheless neither of these bodies would be at fault. The union would not be effectively safeguarded if too long a period elapsed before a decision was reached to enable a union to be registered, having amended its rules and met the requirements, either of the Registrar or of the Industrial Court. In my submission, this is a point of some substance and I think that the Government, either now or at the Report stage, should give an assurance that this matter of timing meets the requirements of a union placed in such a position.


The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor is sitting on the Government Front Bench as the legal luminary, and I cannot understand why there should appear in the Industrial Relations Bill such a sentence as, " that the registration was obtained by fraud ". Why should a trade union seek to obtain its registration by unfair methods? It is absolutely ridiculous to think that Her Majesty's Government have reached a position where they seek to have inserted in legislation such wording as, " by fraud or by mistake ". I do not take exception to the word " mistake", but I certainly take exception to the word " fraud ". I think it is absolutely wicked that any band of men or women coming together with the object of forming a trade union and seeking to be registered through the Registrar, should resort to such methods as could be looked upon as fraudulent in their approach for registration. I think it is absolutely abominable to think that the Government should allow that word to appear in this legislation, when it becomes an Act.


This is a very wicked world, and the noble Lord, Lord Slater, does not seem to know how wicked it is. But I should have thought he would have been the first to accept the necessity for this, since one of the main objects is to stop splinter unions from obtaining registration by giving false particulars. Therefore I would have thought this would have met with his wholehearted support. The intervention of the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, was based on a misapprehension that this deals with the unions which are not yet registered. It does not.


I can understand that, but the question I ventured to pose deserves an answer. There is only one reference to timing in the clause under review, and that is a period of two months to enable a union to make its application in certain circumstances. But I think the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor is a little abrupt in brushing my point aside as being of no consequence. I cannot understand his attitude, because this is not the first time he has adopted this method of debate when I have ventured to pose a question, for some reason or other which I have so far failed to understand. Perhaps before the end of our deliberations I might ascertain the cause of the trouble, but meanwhile I want an answer to the question as to what happens if, for some reason or other—and I put it as clearly and plainly as I can—either the Registrar or the Industrial Court, through no fault of their own, find it necessary to occupy a certain time before the union is enabled to gain registration. That is the position. The noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, shakes his head. I am not quite sure why, but I am quite prepared to sit down and hear what he has to say.


I can only repeat what I said before, that the noble Lord is labouring under a misapprehension that this clause has something to do with a situation when a union has not yet registered. I can only say again that he is under a complete misapprehension, because it does not.

9.11 p.m.


If I may intervene, I am following the point my noble friend is making, and I think he is supporting the question I put and that he is making a most valid point. If it were the case —which it is not—that my noble friend was dealing with an earlier clause, it would not be surprising in view of the breakneck speed with which we are going through this Bill. But it is not that at all. What my noble friend is referring to is 75(1)(c) where it says: … has persisted in its default after the registrar has given it notice specifying the default and fixing a time (not being less than two months) for remedying the fault, and that time has expired. What my noble friend is making clear is that it is an even greater penalty for a union which has succeeded in registering, having wanted to register and to take on all the responsibilities of registration to have its registration withdrawn for some fault—and we are concerned with timing now—and to have been given at least two months to put it right. I know that is at least two months, but if it had said at least two years I would have been much more content; because two months is a totally ridiculous period to put into anyone's mind when one is dealing with changes of a union's rules. It is a ridiculous period, and gives the impression that if two months is too little, well, three months is all right and six months must be all right. But six months is a totally inadequate period. I am bound to say to the Government, with great seriousness, that my noble friend has made a very valid and important point.

The reason for raising these questions is that we want to ascertain the Government's position so that we can put forward appropriate Amendments at the Report stage, because we are not going to leave the Bill without a serious attempt to get a less than two months' provision removed and something more sensible put in its place. If the Government wanted to say " a reasonable period " that would be something, but a period which definitely points to three, four or five months being an adequate period is a wholly misleading provision in this Bill, and it can lead to tremendous penalties and would be totally inappropriate. I hope the noble and learned Lord now understands why my noble friend Lord Shinwell and I certainly share the view that this is an impossible provision to have in the Bill.

While I am on my feet, may I say with regard to the other change of circumstances that I did not regard the answer to that as at all reassuring. I am told, for example, that this provision could mean that if a union were to take on the task of training members this would be a change of circumstances. Training is not the first and primary function of a trade union, but a trade union does a number of very valuable things; for example, it proposes names for men who are appointed to the Bench, who are on hospital committees, who do a great number of valuable jobs, and it may be that a union would take the view that training is so important that it ought to start initiating itself some form of training for men. It would be ridiculous that the union should in any way be penalised for taking on such a wholly useful social activity.

I am bound to say that the words " other change of circumstances " are not at all satisfactory. I heard what the noble Lord said the first time. If he has nothing more to help us, we will come back at Report Stage with something which meets what the noble Lord said but which is not in the Bill. Something as misleading as " not being less than two months " is wholly unsatisfactory.


May I return to the matter for a moment? I began my speech by pointing out that both sides of the Committee, and in particular the Government, want unions to become registered. If a union, for some reason or other, fails to secure registration,obviously it is not afforded the protection that a registered union has. That is quite plain. I notice that the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, assents to my proposition. Because the rules are not up to the requirement of the registrar, or not specific in character, a union having made its application but having defaulted for some reason or other should not be excluded from registration again, for the simple reason that it loses the protection that a registered union possesses. That is what I am pointing out. I put the simple point: can we be assured that in the legislation there is such provision in timing so that neither the Industrial Court, nor the registrar, should lengthen the gap in any way, either deliberately or unwittingly, that would prevent the union becoming registered? That is the question to which I want an answer.

Why the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, adopts his " hoity-toity " attitude when I venture to put a simple proposition is more than I can understand, unless he is trying to get revenge for what I used to do to him in the other place. I am beginning to think that that is what the trouble is. He can try that on somebody else, but he must not do that with me. I beg of him not to indulge in that attitude. I prefer an answer from the noble Lord, Lord Dumalbyn.


I think the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, is under a misapprehension as to the attitude taken by my noble and learned friend. We are on Clause 75; his speech is devoted to the case of a trade union that has not been registered. Clause 75 deals with a trade union that has been registered. I really think that the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, is wrong in thinking that his point arises under this clause at all. If I may come to the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, about the period of time mentioned in subsection (1)(c), " not being less than two months ", he suggests that such a period would be insufficient. I appreciate that in some cases it may be insufficient, but what the noble Lord has overlooked, it seems to me, is the fact that the Court is entitled to deal with that, if the period is insufficient, under subsection (3) because it can extend the time. I suggest that there is nothing wrong with the two months as a minimum. If in any case it is not sufficient, the Court can, under subsection (3), extend the time.


I personally think this a good text, but in view of the fears that have been expressed on the Opposition side of the Committee, would the Government consider having something put into the code of industrial practice to make clear how this is to work in practice? We obviously want it to work in a humane and reasonable way, taking account of the necessities of the situation. I believe that a paragraph in the code of industrial practice might give noble Lords of the Opposition the satisfaction which they require.


It is not a case of organisations of workers having to wait for registration. They start with registration, so the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, can put that idea right out of his mind. We are dealing here with the cancellation of registration once a union has got it. Concerning the two months we are here dealing with rectifying an administrative defect. Subsection (1), says " not being less than two months ". So an organisation must have at least two months in which to do what is required. The extent of the time will naturally vary with particular circumstances and according to what has to be put right. If the trade union thinks that not sufficient time has been given, the Industrial Court can further extend the time if it thinks fit. I think noble Lords opposite might be satisfied on this occasion, at any rate.


I do not share that view. I am bound to say that the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, is the Minister in charge, and he must know the best way of getting business through. But I should have thought that on a small matter like this it would not have stretched his responsibility overmuch for him to say that he thinks that two months is right but that he will look at this question again before Report to see whether it is misleading. I think two months is misleading. We do not want to keep criticising the Government and we want all the time we can get to criticise the Government for the many defects which are evident in the Bill. I will not pursue the matter, although we are wholly opposed to the clause, but we will let it go through in the ordinary way.

Clause 75 agreed to.

Clause 76 agreed to.

Clause 77 [Transfer from provisional register and cancellation of entries]:

9.24 p.m.

LORD DIAMOND moved Amendment No. 263CC:

Page 61, line 21, at end insert— (" (6) Cancellation of registration pursuant to this section shall not affect the traditional tax exemption of any organisation of workers which would have been eligible to register under the Trade Union Act 1871 in respect of provident benefits, and for which it is at present eligible under section 338 of the Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1970.")

The noble Lord said: This Amendment deals with a fundamentally important point relating to the existence, I might almost say the continued existence, of many trade unions. It relates to the tax exemption of an organisation of workers, which has existed for 100 years under the 1871 Act. This was consolidated in the Income and Corporation Taxes Act, 1970. I understood what the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said earlier, that that. being a consolidation measure, and not intended to alter the rights of any individual in any substantial way, it excluded a reference to registration under the 1871 Act specifically because such words were no longer necessary as that was the only meaning that could be put on those words. We are therefore on common ground in saying that the exemption from tax of the income of certain provident funds, which has continued since 1871 for unions registered under that Act, will no longer apply if unions do not register under the Bill. The noble and learned Lord will correct me if I am wrong.

The Government think it right that unions should register. Many unions are already registered, and the figure that I gave earlier was an understatement. In fact, according to Donovan, over 85 per cent. of trade unionists are in trade unions which are registered under the 1871 Act or under subsequent Acts. The reason why many unions will not register under this Bill is because of the burdens which it puts upon registered trade unions. Therefore, those unions which do not think it right that burdens from which they have been exempt for a century should suddenly be put upon them and which refuse to register, will in the Government's view be failing in their duty.

The Donovan Report recommended that there should be registration, but explicitly stated that registration should be on similar lines to that already existing. So that was a totally different contemplation. The Donovan recommendation as to registration went on to state that those which did not register should he penalised in the same way as a company which does not register with the companies' Registrar a change of registered office or the fact that one individual has ceased to be a director and another individual has been appointed in his place, has to pay a fine of £x per day or per week if the default continues. In short, there is a monetary penalty of a very modest order.

But now the Government are proposing deliberately, as I understand it—quite apart from the other denial of rights in which non-registration will result, so far as organisations of workers are concerned —that unions will cease to be entitled to reclaim the tax on their provident funds if they do not register under the new Act. That is not a small penalty. That is not giving force to a particular point of view. That is withdrawing from the beneficiaries of provident funds—whether a fund caters for old age, illness or a variety of life's difficulties and miseries —a large part of their income, because that income is derived from the total fund. Under the present proposals of the Government, the amount available to go to widows, to people of greatly advanced years, to people who are suffering, to people who have been injured, will be reduced by a substantial proportion running into many tens of thousands or even hundred of thousands of pounds in the case of very large provident funds.

To make sure what we are arguing about, I should like to ask the Government this question. What would be the total amount of additional revenue for the Inland Revenue which would result from this provision, if all the unions refrained from registration? I hope I am making it plain that what we are discussing is a most serious withdrawal of funds from those suffering in one way or another, and who are at the moment covered by trade union provident funds, as a result of the present proposals of the Government. I want to know what the Government are proposing to do about this in order to put the matter right. They can put the matter right in a Finance Bill; they can put it right in this Bill. I am suggesting a form of words which obviously will not be wholly satisfactory, but which could put the matter right and would certainly enable this very difficult position to be dealt with. I do not think it would be right for me to say more at the moment. I should be grateful if I could be supplied with the facts and the answers to the questions I have raised. I beg to move.

9.31 p.m.


This is an important Amendment. It is a large subject, and it might be helpful if I replied for the Government at this stage and then, if there are further questions and comments from other noble Lords, I would be happy to reply to them at the end of the debate. I should begin by explaining the current tax legislation. Under the provisions of Section 338 of the Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1970, which were mentioned in the discussion on an earlier Amendment this afternoon by the noble Lord, Lord Stow Hill, registered trade unions are exempt from tax on the income derived from investments or chargeable gains which is devoted to the payment of provident benefits. This has been the position since the 1920s. Provident benefits by definition include superannuation, sickness and other benefits for members, but not strike benefit. The exemption is restricted to those unions which limit the benefits receivable to £500 as a lump sum or £104 per annum, and although it is believed unlikely that any union offers benefits in excess of these limits, if they did the concession cuts off at that point.

It therefore follows from what I have said that trade unions benefit from this tax concession only if they provide provident benefits for their members, and that the importance of the concession is directly related to the scale of benefits which they provide. Thus, the big, long-established unions, such as the Transport and General Workers, the A.U.E.W. and the Municipal and General Workers, which Lord Cooper spoke about last Thursday, which spend very substantial sums each year on superannuation and other provident benefits, obtain, according to their own estimate, tax relief at the rate of approximately three-quarters of a million pounds for the Transport and General Workers and half a million pounds for the A.U.E.W.; whereas certain other unions, notably the newer, so-called white collar unions, have little or no expenditure on provident benefits, and are consequently not affected by the tax concessions. I do not have a figure of the total amount that would go back to the Revenue if this concession was withdrawn, but I do not think I would argue with the tenor of the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Diamond. We are talking about very substantial sums, and I have given him the estimated figure for the two largest unions which are concerned in this field.

Unregistered unions are not eligible for the concession at present, which therefore provides a powerful incentive to the older unions, for whom provident benefits are an important part of their activities, to register under the 1871 Trade Union Act. This incentive is reinforced by the exclusion of registered unions from the insurance companies Acts, which would otherwise prevent them from carrying on this type of insurance activity. The principle behind the concession is that trade unions should enjoy the same kind of tax advantages as are enjoyed by other organisations providing provident benefits for their own members. I give as an example friendly societies. The concept is limited therefore to that part of the activities of trade unions which is on all fours with those of the friendly societies. We must get it clear that we are talking about unions which are registered—and I believe the figure is of the order of 328 separate unions registered under the 1871 Act—and those which have provident activities. Some of the particularly big and well-established ones have and the newer ones have not.

I hope noble Lords will forgive me for having dealt with the background before coming on to the substance of the Amendment. The fact is that there may be some organisations of workers which, because of the Bill, will no longer be able to register as trade unions, and they should not on that account be deprived of this tax concession. We must ask ourselves what organisations could suffer in this way. The Amendment envisages those organisations whose registration is cancelled under Clause 77; but the only organisations whose provisional registration would be cancelled, other than when they transfer to the main register, are those which the Registrar finds ineligible for registration as trade unions.

We have already dealt with the clause defining the conditions of eligibility for registration as a trade union, and with Clause 59 which defines an organisation of workers and trade unions. Taken together, these definitions include virtually all trade unions of workers which are at present registered under the legislation to which I have referred. The effect of the Bill is that the only trade unions of workers registered under the existing legislation which will be precluded from registering as trade unions under the Bill and thereby from remaining within the scope of Section 338, will be those organisations which are under the dominance or control of employers. From what noble Lords who were debating this point last week had to say, I find it difficult to see that they would have any wish to grant preferential treatment to organisations of this kind.

We should also dwell for a moment on the position of the branches. We are dealing with a matter of great importance and we ought to be clear what the Bill proposes. It is true that some branches are at present registered in their own right and may be claiming relief under Section 338 accordingly. Subsection (1)(b)of Clause 65 could prevent the separate registration of such non-autonomous bodies in the future. But I should make it clear that this will in no way prevent them from benefiting from tax relief granted in respect of the activities of the parent organisation and all its branches providing the parent organisation registers under the Bill.

Finally, there is the question which the noble Lord has raised and which lies behind his Amendment. That is the organisation of workers which is at present registered under the 1871 Act but which wishes to cancel its registration under this particular Bill. There is no question of tax exemption being used as a threat to force reluctant unions to remain registered. 'Tax exemption is not mentioned in this Part of the Bill or in any Part of the Bill. For many years it has been a principle of legislation, and not only in this field, that tax relief should be related to registered status. We have debated the principles underlying registration very fully. We had quite an extensive debate last Thursday to which the noble Lord, Lord Cooper, made a notable contribution, when we were talking about the definition of trade unions as registered trade unions. The matter has been fully discussed this afternoon and this evening on Clause 63 and on Schedule 4, in which we have been over the ground again. In short, it seems to the Government that registration is a reasonable requirement, particularly bearing in mind that the unions we are speaking of now have been registered for many years past and it is hard to see what arguments of substance exist against the principle of registration. The only really significant change is that the rules of trade unions in future should be open to scrutiny and improvement by an independent and impartial official. This does not seem to the Government very much to ask in return for the very substantial privileges which trade unions will enjoy under the Bill. As I said on Thursday, I think that we can understand and appreciate very well the traditional reasons for the trade unions' opposition to this part of the Bill with the strength that they have. This is a legitimate argument, put forward by a special interest claiming special treatment to be allowed to continue in the way they have done for so many years past. We can understand and respect that point of view, but in Parliament we have to think also of the public good, and it is for this reason that we think this feature of the Bill is an essential one and must be retained.


The noble Lord has explained in his usual careful and courteous way, but would not lie accept that unions would he justified in feeling that this is a financial sanction to force them to register, because it deprives unions of their tax concession, as he pointed out, on their provident benefits and therefore it is another means of antagonising the unions?

9.42 p.m.


I would like to support my noble friend in what he has said on this point. I must confess that I was alarmed at the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham. He confirmed exactly what we have said in connection with this registration and the tax on provident funds. He stated that this was no threat; that tax remission was not being given to non-registered trade unions; it was not mentioned in the Bill. Of course it is not mentioned. The only people who are mentioned are those who register; and only those organisations of workers who register according to the terms laid down by the registrar will be classed as trade unions. The others are organisations of workers with no definition as to trade union standing. This Bill puts them outside the law so far as trade unions are concerned. The noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, made it perfectly clear that the unions who do not register will be found by the registrar to be ineligible as trade unions. To think that this blackmail should come in to compel trade unions to register!

The noble Lord has mentioned the sums that might be involved with the Transport and General Workers, and the Municipal and General Workers. He also mentioned the principle involved, that it is where the funds are limited to £500 grant or £104 superannuation. Surely if the workers in a given trade union feel so keenly about their objections to this Bill that they are prepared to face paying up to £100,000 compensation for any illegal action, according to the definition of the Bill, that is a sufficient penalty, without penalising them again by taking away the privileges given to them under the 1871 Act. Surely this is a mean and despicable action. The unions were born on a friendly society basis and developed on this basis, but this has been ignored by previous Governments in the legislation they enacted. The provident funds of the union are not used at all with a view to disrupting industry. The amounts involved in strike pay do not come under income tax relief. The Government have talked a great deal about penalising widows and orphans. My own union, the National Union of Railwaymen, have funds for giving benefits at death and to orphans and widows. But these are the funds which will be penalised should the union refuse to register. These funds are on a non-profit-making basis. No one gets anything out of them except the unfortunate, the sick and the disabled. Surely if an organisation is prepared to fight and to stand up to the penalties that can be placed upon it, it is a mean and despicable trick to make its provident funds pay income tax.

9.47 p.m.


It seems to me that the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, in answering my noble friend Lord Diamond, did not adequately take into account the argument which my noble friend had advanced, to this effect: that in refusing relief to the unregistered union the persons who are being penalised or damnified are the persons who would qualify for the receipt of benefits. One has to bear in mind that tax relief is granted only in respect of funds which are applicable and are actually applied for the provision of provident benefits. If it were the case that the union which recovered tax on the amount it paid for the purpose of providing provident benefits could incorporate the tax refund as part of its general funds, then the argument of my noble friend would not be so forceful. But, surely, he is on a very strong point indeed when he submits to this Committee that in refusing the relief, the loss is not being suffered by the general members of the union, but those specific persons who would come within the category of qualifying for provident benefits.

It seems to me a very cogent consideration, when one is considering whether the relief should be applicable only in the case of unions who become registered under this Act, that you are not talking really about the interests of the union; you are talking about the interests of the annuitants. It is a little hard that their interests should depend upon the question of whether the union which pays them their benefit is or is not a registered union. I do not think that the noble Lord answered that point at all, and I would respectfully submit that it tilts the balance of merit the other way. One should look at the annuitant, and one should look at the fund which provides the benefits. One should then ask: is it right to reduce the amount of that fund by cancelling the tax repayment which would otherwise be obtained on that fund? I would respectfully ask the noble Lord to give further consideration to this matter, because it seems to me that he has applied the wrong touchstone. He has asked whether the union deserves the relief, whereas the question that should be asked is: does the annuitant or do other posible annuitants deserve the relief? When one considers that those are the people whose interests really are involved by this relief, it becomes more or less irrelevant whether the union does or does not qualify the registration under the present Bill.


Reference was made by the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham to the speech made last Thursday by my noble friend Lord Cooper. He described it as a very useful and important contribution to the debate, and I entirely agree with that; but to make quite sure that there is no misunderstanding I am certain that if Lord Cooper were in his place this evening he would have been on his feet now, because Lord Cooper made it perfectly clear that while he was going to register his union he was doing it under duress. That bears out what my noble friend has just said. Lord Cooper recognises the involvement of his people in this affair, and it is because he has a sense of responsibility to his union and his membership that he made clear to your Lordships that he would register, as I say, under a form of duress. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, will acknowledge this because I think it is important that my noble friend, whom we all greatly respect, should not be misjudged in this matter.


The noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, conceded, or admitted, that this Clause was a hard one on the unions, but said that it was a fair exchange for the many privileges that the Bill gave to trade unions. There seems to be a real breakdown in communications somewhere, because if there are real privileges in the Bill for trade unions why are they so against it? They are surely not mad. If they felt there were privileges they would be for the Bill.

9.53 p.m.


I should like to say the same as Baroness Gaitskell. What are these privileges which the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, mentioned that trade unions get under the Bill? I should like to know them. I have not seen them, and I have tried to extract what I could by reading the Bill a number of times. I do not agree with my friend Lord Popplewell that this is blackmail. I think that is too strong a word. It may be a rich carrot for the workers. There are no similar opportunities for employers. They do not require a bribe of this kind. What seems to me to be involved is a kind of people's dignity. If you offer people a concession of this kind it is tantamount to saying to them: if you do what we want you to do, if you tip your hat in the right way, you will have a special privilege—that is, a tax exemption. This undermines the very independence which the Government say they want the trade unions to have. I cannot believe that this is good for trade unions, and I cannot believe that it is good for any kind of thing in this country to offer a tax incentive when there is no real benefit to either side. If it was for export, and the trade union were to get an " E" for export, it might be understood, although I should not agree with it. But I cannot see the point of this kind of bribe to get a group of people who in the past have not done too badly—we have not got the evidence, but my noble friend Lord Diamond suggests that they have done badly so far as other cases are concerned—involved in something just because there is going to be a tax exemption. It does not seem right to me.


I have not joined in these debates very much because I have some doubts about our attitude towards this Bill, but it seems to me that in this case the Government are suggesting something that is extremely disagreeable. They seem to be suggesting retrospective action in respect of a third party. Suppose you are an annuitant and receiving your £104 a year, or whatever it may be. Because your leader, from whom you are detached—you have retired from the union—does something, with which you may not agree, your annuity is placed at risk. If this is the position, I find it extremely disagreeable. I should like to be clear that that is an accurate description of what the Government are proposing.


So far as I am concerned, what my noble friend has just said is an accurate description of what the Government are proposing, and he has put it in very moderate language which I shall find difficulty in following. I much prefer a simple word like " blackmail ", with all the authority that I can put into it from the Front Bench. As my noble friend Lord Stow Hill made clear, what the Government are doing is not what the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, said. What the Government are doing is penalising beneficiaries who are widows, people suffering from accidents, people whose funeral expenses have to be provided for, and all that kind of thing. Those are the beneficiaries who will suffer, for reasons which have nothing to do with them directly; and unexpectedly so, because all their arrangements, which have been in force since 1922, for half a century, have been based on the continuance of national policy in favour of saving for this kind of thing.

When the noble Lord referred to this as being some kind of ex gratin benefit—I think " concession " was the word he used—he was not giving us the whole story. It has been national policy for a century, I imagine, in terms of insurance generally, which has brushed over to small savers of this kind, to encourage saving, and to encourage people to be prepared for their own misfortunes in later life by saving for them, by giving some special relief from taxation. This is what insurance relief is. There is no justification for giving relief to people who have insurance policies except as a matter of deliberate Government policy, of which anybody who has spent any time in the Treasury is well aware, in order to encourage individuals to provide over the years for the difficulties that life may have for them later on. This is not a concession of any particular kind; it is a continuation of that kind of policy. That is now being withdrawn from the beneficiaries of these provident funds, the categories that we have described, because the unions, who continue to provide benefits but keep their funds quite separate (these funds cannot be used for industrial purposes), are not proposing to register and take on the additional liabilities which the Government want them to take on.

The unions take the view that they have carried on perfectly properly for the last one hundred years; they take the view that Donovan has found no evidence of their abuse; they think they are entitled to the same conditions which have existed for the last one hundred years, and therefore they do not propose to take on additional responsibilities. Where they take the view (and the Municipal and General, I am glad to hear, is in exactly the same category, because it takes the view that were it not for the pressure, amounting to duress, it would not register) that they should not register, the Government are proposing to penalise the widows and orphans, to put it shortly, under this provision. I do not know what the difference between that and blackmail is. It is merely putting pressure on a trade union, as pressure may be put on an individual for something which he cannot control, which is not related to the argument at all; it is totally divorced from the argument, as my noble friend Lord Stow Hill made clear. We regard this as a most despicable attempt on the part of the Government to force a very large section of the population to comply with the Government's own view of what its conduct should be. And I have not finished yet, not by a long way.

The noble Lord did not say one word about what his right honourable friend said in the other place. The noble Lord took a different line. His right honourable friend in another place said that of course he admitted that this would be a terrible thing to do. But he said that the Government are not doing it; he said that all that the union has to do in order to escape from this withdrawal of income tax benefits, in order to maintain the funds for the beneficiaries in the way that they have contracted to do and that the beneficiaries have had good legislative reason to expect for the last half century, is to hive off the provident funds and register as a separate organisation. If I am wrong the noble Lord will correct me when he replies. What was behind the right honourable gentleman's making that statement was that admittedly this would be a terrible thing to happen to provident funds. The noble Lord has given the figures—three-quarters of a million pounds for one provident fund alone. I understand malice, but I do not understand malice to the extent of three-quarters of a million pounds per annum. What the Government are therefore proposing, so far as the right honourable gentleman is concerned, is that unions should avoid this tragedy happening so far as their provident funds are concerned by hiving them off and registering separately.

I am saying to the noble Lord and the Government that if there is a difference of view between us as to whether it is right to register or not, there can be no difference of view as to whether there are burdens put upon those who wish to register and maintain their position as trade unions. As we are concerned with provident funds, why do not the Government carry on in the normal way—I know that noble Lords have to speak to one another on the Front Bench, and I have been as guilty of that as anyone else; but this is a matter of such importance that I am bound to repeat it, for I would not sleep if I thought I had not done everything possible to right the worst wrong in this Bill. Why do not the Government, therefore, if there is this difference of view as to whether trade unions should register, allow tax repayment and relief from taxation to unions so long as they have had these funds and so long as these funds continue?

You may, if you want to, take a different view about the future. You may take a different view about those who contract in the future, who pay their small amounts in order to receive their small benefits when misfortune arises, if you think it is a wise policy. But what you cannot do is to say, as a matter of pressure to register, that it is right to withdraw a benefit which has been in existence as part of deliberate Government policy by every kind of Government of all Parties over the last 50 years.

I am saying to the noble Lord that I should be grateful if he would deal with the essential point which my noble friend Lord Stow Hill brought out: that it is an irrelevance, and evidence of the malice of the Government against the trade unions, to penalise the widow because the trade union takes a particular view as to whether or not it should register. It is grossly unfair, and discreditable to the last degree, to withdraw a large part of those benefits. It is open to the Government, without prejudicing their position with regard to registration of trade unions, to rely on the kind of formula f have indicated under which unions with existing provident funds could, for subscriptions so far received —not necessarily future subscriptions—deal with the income from the invested funds in exactly the same way as they dealt with them over the past 50 years.

10.7 p.m.


It is important to see a proposal of this sort in the context of the Bill. What the Bill is trying to do, and the approach of the Government, is towards the reform of trade unions—because that is what we are concerned with. Let us take the general question first, and then move into the particular. The noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, and the noble Lord, Lord Bernstein, asked what are the benefits that the registered trade unions will obtain under the Bill. That is an extremely fundamental question to put, and we need to be clear in our minds about it. There are a whole number of them, and I should like to itemise five only, because these are the principal ones.

The first is the protection of the organisation, and its authorised agents, if in furtherance of a trade dispute it either induces or threatens to induce another person to break his contract. That is a legal privilege given, I think I am right in saying, to no other organisation or individual in this country. Secondly, the right to apply—


I apologise for intervening, but I hope the noble Lord is going to make it clear that the question that he is answering is what new benefits will be given in return for new responsibilities. It is no good the noble Lord rehearsing all the existing benefits.


I am saying what, in my view, will be the principal benefits for trade unions of registration. Some of these are the established benefits, such as immunity. The noble Lord has quoted Donovan in his support of this question of registration. We speak in the presence of the Chairman of the Royal Commission. The noble Lord will remember that Donovan recommended the registration of trade unions. The noble and learning Lord, Lord Donovan, told us in a most interesting intervention that that flowed from a belief of a number of members of the Royal Commission—including himself—that trade unions should have corporate personality; that they should be incorporated, and from that flowed the recommendation that unions should be registered. It is also true that a majority —not the whole—of the members of the Royal Commission recommended that immunity from legal proceedings should be attached only to registered trade unions. Let us bear that in mind when we talk of the Donovan Report.

Let me continue with the list of benefits, because some points are new, and some are existing ones. Secondly, there is the right to apply for recognition as a sole bargaining agent; thirdly, the right to enter into an agency shop agreement. Of course, that is a completely new right and benefit. The agency shop has not existed before, so that that, by definition, must be a completely new benefit. Noble Lords do not seem to be as familiar with this Bill as they should be. Here is another new one: that employers will be under a general duty to disclose to trade union representatives information about the business. Then there are the limits on compensation, which we have not yet discussed but which we shall be coming to in the course of this week. Finally, there is the continuation of the financial and other advantages relating to the benevolent activities of trade unions. In return for these benefits the Government are asking one thing. They are asking that unions should register—most of them do already—but the Registrar is being given new powers to scrutinise the rules of the trade union and to improve those rules if it is thought to be necessary.

Let me move next to some of the points that were raised in the course of the debate. I cannot accept the word " blackmail ". The noble Lord will have to square his choice of that word with his noble friend Lord Bernstein behind him, who speaks with great experience as a most enlightened employer and who thought that word was too strong, although he dissents from what is proposed in this part of the Bill. The noble Lord will also have to square it with what the noble Lord, Lord Tangley, had to say earlier today, speaking with great experience as a former member of the Royal Commission and independent of the main political Parties.

As I have listened to this debate, it has seemed to me—and this thought occurred to me on Thursday, but I did not have an opportunity to share it with the Committee then—that in a way the benefits for registered trade unions that I have itemised under this Bill are so great that a sort of reverse transference takes place in the minds of some trade union leaders, who say, " If these benefits are so great, why is it that we are being urged towards registration? Look how terrible it would be if we did not register ". Therefore the fear of registration has built up into this great bogey. I can understand the origins of this matter, but I do not believe that 100 years after the trade union movement first coalesced into these voluntary movements they still have the vulnerability that they had then, or need the protection that they needed at that time.

The noble Lords, Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge and Lord Stow Hill, asked about the beneficaries of the union provident funds. I think there are two points to be made here. The first is what the noble Lord, Lord Cooper, said—and I would like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Collison, for his comment. When he studies Hansard I think he will see that 1 was not seeking to imply that the noble Lord, Lord Cooper, was in any way in agreement with these proposals; he made his opposition quite plain, both in public as reported in the Guardian about two weeks ago, and in his speech last Thursday. But what he did say was that if a union decided to cancel its registration it would then have to increase its contributions. Therefore it would be within the power of the union itself to decide whether or not to increase its contribution in order to fulfil its commitments.

The second point concerns what my right honourable friend the Secretary of State said, about which the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, asked me. I can confirm that what the noble Lord said is, generally speaking, an accurate report of my right honourable friend's observation, and it bears on this: that the registered union at the moment which decides, despite everything, that it is going to defy this extremely advantageous provision and to cancel its registration, can hive off its provident fund into a sperately registered fund, but that would of course be registered. It would not be under this Bill, but it would be registered, presumably, as a charity with the Charity Commissioners, or perhaps registered as a friendly society; but in each case it is an absolute requirement for tax exemption that there should be a registered body. One of the reasons for this is quite straightforward, although it has not been mentioned in the debate: in order to benefit from tax exemption, any organisation has an obligation to keep and produce proper accounts and to have them audited by independent and professionally qualified accountants. Schedule 5 to the Bill provides for exactly that.

This debate has been an important one. Strong feelings have been expressed, and we cannot argue against that in any way. But what we are being asked to do in this Amendment is to accept the status quo. The arguments have been put skilfully, ingeniously and with passion, but it is an argument for continuation of the present system. Yet it was this system that led the noble Lord, Lord Donovan, and the Royal Commission to say that rules should be clear and unambiguous but that at present they fall far short of a satisfactory standard in this respect. Those were the words used, and the noble Lord, Lord Tangley, elaborated on this point earlier today. This is an argument to be left alone: it is one that anyone in politics gets very used to—and one can understand it and the strength with which it is held—hut it is not one which we can accept in the context of this Bill.


I am not going to take up any time—just two seconds—but I want to comment on what the noble Lord has said before Lord Diamond rises to his feet again. In effect, what the Schedule is putting forward is a form of lockout imposed upon trade unions because they refuse to register.


I am sorry to intervene again, but may I just put one question to the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham? Assume for the sake of argument —I do not accept it; nor does anyone on this side of the Committee—that the Government are quite right in saying to the trade unions " You will obtain the benefits which the Bill provides, for example, in respect of Clause 92—only if you register ". What on earth has that to do with the question of whether provident funds, which do not belong in any real sense any longer to the union but belong to the prospective or actual annuitants, should or should not be depleted by not having tax repayment?


As the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, mentioned my comment, I should like to say that I suggested " bribery " would be the word. The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor could no doubt tell us about the criminal law and what happens with regard to bribery and blackmail. To me they are both despicable. Bribery affects the human dignity of a greater number of people in this Bill than perhaps blackmail does in other walks of life. They are both equally despicable.


I wonder if the noble Lord would agree that there are five points involved. The first one concerns privileges—and those privileges are ones that the trade union movement has had to fight for throughout the ages. Points 2 and 3 refer to agency shops and the right to have an agency shop. This is just a subterfuge to prevent the further development of the closed shop in which nearly four million workers are already working.

As regards the disclosure of business accounts, this is something that is inevitable in large-scale industry to-day when applications for wages are being put forward. The accounts are being produced, and all kinds of statements are made that the undertakings " simply cannot afford anything more at the present time ". This question of the disclosure of accounts is only a matter of following up practices that are now developing, particularly in the publicly-owned undertakings. I am astonished that the noble Lord should mention benevolent fund benefits, because those benevolent funds that have been established by the trade union movement are there to protect their fallen brethren, and have been so through the ages, and this is nothing new.

10.21 p.m.


We are not far from being in agreement that we have not got a fair, objective answer to our complaints yet. The noble Lord has not improved the case in a number of ways. First of all, he has not explained why he thought it right to give a full answer in his first speech without dealing at all with the argument which was put forward by his right honourable friend in another place. When the noble Lord found that he had to deal with this argument he was compelled to speak about a union, in spite of all the advantages that were being offered to it, for some curious reason taking the view that it should not register, as if these large and responsible unions are going to take the view that they should refrain from registration for some totally unreal reason. They are refraining from registration because they take the view, which I share, that, on balance, the advantages of registration are much less than the disadvantages, and that they are entitled to go on on the same basis as previously.

Their case has been examined, and the result of the examination is twofold: first, that unions should be strengthened (and the Government are claiming that this is what their Bill is doing); and, secondly, that evidence of abuse on any substantial scale is absent. So, if you are starting off to strengthen the unions, and there is no abuse to justify a variation in the circumstances, what is the justification for varying them so profoundly? The noble Lord did not advance his case by putting forward this catalogue of advantages, some of which exist already. I thought it was a great pity that he did not make it clear that he was referring to advantages which already exist before claiming them as new advantages. When he tries to pretend to us that the agency shop is a new advantage, then it is difficult not to smile about it. The agency shop is a withdrawal of the rights which many unions enjoy in practice at the present time, and which many employers hope will continue, and urge us to press the Government to see that they should continue. That is the situation with regard to the closed shop.

There is not a single new advantage accruing to unions as a result of this Bill which goes in any sense to match the disadvantages. I am bound to say again that it is the unions who ought to be regarded perhaps as authoritative as the noble Lord in deciding whether it is an advantage to register or not. A union having decided not to register, then the widows of previous members of the union are going to be penalised, against public policy, in this way. I find this utterly scandalous, and we are bound to press the Government to give some explanation of why it is that they are taking this action—unless it is what we allege, that the Government are exerting undue pres- sure on unions to make them register by withdrawing these very substantial financial rights which they, and everyone who saved in similar controlled and small circumstances, have been entitled to certainly since the turn of the century, and in this specific form for 50 years. I find it absolutely intolerable that the Government should maintain this attitude. We must have some explanation.


May I ask a question before my noble friend Lord Windlesham speaks for the Government? If this Amendment were accepted, would he then allow an unregistered charitable organisation to have full tax relief regardless of whether it was a registered trade union or any other body?


I have already spoken twice at some length on this Amendment and I do not think I should delay the Committee further. I do not think that however long I spoke now we should reach agreement. I said when we debated registration on Thursday last that I thought this was a feature of the Bill on which more than any other arguments for and against did not meet; they flew past each other. I hoped that in our debates we might come a little closer to reconciling those points of view. I am not sure from what the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, has said that we have come any closer. I think we still have a very wide gulf between us. I made a rather full speech at the beginning of the debate. I did not cover the comments made by my right honourable friend in another place, but I think the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, will find when he studies Hansard a great deal of new and factual information which was not available before. We have said on one or two occasions that we should concern ourselves with those Parts of the Bill which another place did not discuss, and I think that where we can cover fresh ground it is advisable to do so. Of course I agree that on major issues it is right that these things should be threshed out and that we should have a full debate, but I think it is now for the Committee to decide this question.

10.27 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 263CC) shall be agreed to?

Archibald, L. Gaitskell, Bs. Platt, L.
Bacon, Bs. Gardiner, L. Popplewell, L.
Barrington, V. Garnsworthy, L. [Teller.] Rusholme, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Greenwood of Rossendale, L. Sainsbury, L.
Bernstein, L. Hilton of Upton, L. Shackleton, L.
Beswick, I.. Hughes, L. Slater, L.
Blyton, L. Janner, L. Stamp, L.
Brockway, L. Kennet, L. Stow Hill, L.
Champion, L. Lee of Asheridge, Bs. Strabolgi, L. [Teller.]
Collison, L. Lindgren, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Diamond, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, Bs. Wade, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Maelor, L. Walston, L.
Energlyn, L. Morris of Kenwood, L. Willis, L.
Evans of Hungershall, L.
Aberdare, L. Daventry, V. Lauderdale, E.
Abinger, L. Denham, L.[Teller.] Mansfield, E.
Ailwyn, L. Derwent, L. Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Amherst of Hackney, L. Digby, L. Nugent of Guildford, L.
Auckland, L. Drumalbyn, L. O'Neill of the Maine, L.
Balerno, L. Dundee, E. Orr-Ewing, L.
Balfour, E. Falmouth, V. Penrhyn, L.
Balfour of Inchrye, L. Ferrers, E. Rankeillour, L.
Barnby, L. Fortescue, E. Redmayne, L.
Beauchamp, E. Glendevon, L. Rothermere, V.
Belstead, L. Goschen. V.[Teller.] St. Aldwyn, E.
Bledisloe, V. Gowrie, E. St. Helens, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L. Gray, L. St. Just, L.
Brooke of Cumnor, L. Greenway, L. Sandford, L.
Brooke of Ystradfellte, Bs. Grenfell, L. Selkirk, E.
Burton, L. Grimston of Westbury, L. Sempill, Ly.
Chelmer, L. Hailes, L. Somers, L.
Clwyd, L. Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. (L. Chancellor.) Suffield, L.
Colyton, L. Terrington, L.
Conesford, L Hankey, L. Teviot, L.
Cowley, E. Inglewood, L. Thorneycroft, L.
Craigavon, V. Jellicoe, E. (L. Privy Seal.) Tweedsmuir, L.
Craigmyle, L. Kemsley, V. Twecdsmuir of Belhelvie, Bs.
Cranbrook, E. Killearn. L. Vivian, L.
Crawshaw, L. Kinnoull, E. Windlesham, L.
Cromartie, E. Latymer, L. Wolverton, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L.

Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 40; Not-Contents, 78.

10.35 p.m.

On Question, Whether Clause 77 shall stand part of the Bill?


I do not think I need detain your Lordships long on this clause. Although the serious Amendment which we have just discussed was placed under this clause, the clause and the Amendment were quite independent. The tax evil remains whether this clause stands or not. Therefore, as this clause is not otherwise an important one, I do not wish to detain your Lordships on it.

Clause 77 agreed to.

Clause 78 [Effect of entry in provisional register]:


I understand that Amendment No. 263PPP is not going to be moved, and that the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor is going to move a manuscript Amendment.

THE LORD CHANCELLOR moved a manuscript Amendment. Page 61, line 26, after the first " of " insert "section 5 of ".

The noble and learned Lord said: With the leave of the Committee, I propose not to move Amendment No. 263PPP, but in its place to move a manuscript Amendment in a different form. The only difference between Amendment No. 263PPP, as it appears on the Marshalled List, and this new Amendment is that the new form omits the reference to " section 147 "; otherwise all the other provisions of the printed clause and of Amendment No. 263PPP remain. We have not agreed about very much this evening, but I hope that we can agree about this.

The reason we want to insert " section 5 " into Clause 78 at the appropriate place is purely consequential on something that has already been done. The original form of Amendment No. 263PPP contained a reference to " section 147 ", and this was intended to be paving for a subsequent Amendment which may not now be moved. That is the reason why I have omitted it from the revised form of Amendment, and I hope that in its revised form the Amendment will be reasonably uncontentious. I beg to move.


I am sure that every one of your Lordships will have found the explanation of the noble and learned Lord as simple and obvious as I did.

On Question, Amendment agreed to. Clause 78, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 79 [Application to registrar to investigate]:


If Amendment No. 263DD is agreed to, I cannot call the following Amendment, No. 263EE.

10.38 p.m.

LORD DIAMOND moved Amendment No. 263DD: Page 61, line 30, leave out subsection (1).

The noble Lord said: We now move on to Clause 79, which deals with the power of the Registrar to investigate and, as the rubric makes clear, with applications to him to do so. The Amendment seeks to leave out subsection (1), under which anybody who is a member of an appropriate organisation or who has ceased to be a member can make application. The reason why we seek to leave out subsection (1), which enables individuals who are members of a trade union to apply to the Registrar for an investigation on the grounds that the union has been guilty of an unfair industrial practice (and of course it does not apply only to employees; it applies also to employers), is the same as that for which we opposed Clauses 63 and 64. Unfortunately, I was not able to be here when those clauses were discussed, but those clauses are themselves regarded as objectionable. This clause enables dissidents, some of whom will not even be, and will never have been, members of the organisation, to introduce a series of investigations as to whether the organisation is complying with the principles enunciated in Clause 63.

Clause 63, your Lordships will remember, contains the guiding principles for organisations of workers, in which, in particular, subsection (7) was most objectionable. So the evils of Clause 63 are carried on into Clause 79, and individuals are given power to apply to the Registrar for investigation. This power, we think, is given not only to an existing member but also to one who was formerly a member and has ceased to be a member otherwise than by voluntary resignation, as well as to somebody who has tried to become a member but has been refused admission. We think that this clause, mind in particular subsection (1), will extend the evil, to which we have frequently referred, of giving far too much power to those who are dissident and temporarily dissatisfied with the way the union is behaving, and will lead to splintering and a diminution in the proper powers of the unions. It is for that reason that we think that this particular subsection ought to be removed. I beg to move.


This clause appears to go very considerably further than it should, and although I do not go the whole way with the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, in suggesting leaving out the whole subsection (unless, of course, he explains to me that he has so many other Amendments up his sleeve that it really makes sense after all), I think that the Government ought to give something on this point. So far as I can see—and I stand open to correction—anyone who has ceased to be a member of one of these organisations other than by voluntary resignation, or has been refused admission to it, shall be eligible to make application under this clause really for as long as he wishes. So far as I can see, there does not appear anywhere in the rest of the clause, or anywhere else in the Bill, to be a time limit on this.

Now whereas I can perfectly well see that someone who has been refused membership, or who has been expelled, should have the power to make an application, exactly such a person may well be a serious troublemaker over and above any particular damage that he thinks he has suffered: the kind of person who, as the noble and learned Lord or any other lawyer will know, comes back and back and back to the courts on smaller and smaller pretexts in order to argue more and more unconvincing cases. We must allow for the possibility of anyone who is aggrieved applying to the Registrar; but there is no obligation on us at all to grant this concession without a time limit or to grant it except for the particular circumstances in which such a person has been aggrieved. I hope that the Government will be able either to give us an explanation of what seems to be an uncommonly widely drawn clause or to give us some satisfaction.

10.45 p.m.


If I may, I will deal first with the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley. There is a limitation as to time in the following clause, Clause 80(2). To turn to the substance of the case made by the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, I find it difficult to agree that application to the registrar to investigate should be made only by a person who is a member of an organisation and not by one who has been forced to resign. Surely former members should also have a right to complain against what they thought was unfair expulsion, not merely to an internal appeals body but also to an independent body which can give an unbiased judgment. The same applies to potential members who have been unable to gain entry to a union. They ought also to be allowed to make application to the registrar to investigate. This is all that is involved here. They must do it within a certain period. I should have thought it was only fair that this should be done; and, what is more, it would be impossible to assure that their rights under the Bill would be secured unless such investigations were possible.


The.noble Lord gave an example of an ex-member being entitled to ask a question relating to the cessation of his membership. I did not read the subsection in that way. He says that the application can refer only to matters affecting the applicant himself. I read it as meaning that any person can apply for an investigation if there is anything to be investigated, and that his application will succeed if the registrar is satisfied that there is something to be investigated; but that the subject matter of the investigation could be anything; that there need be no direct connection between the applicant and the matter complained of. Would the noble Lord tell me whether the example he gave was deliberate? If so, would he justify it in relation to the subsection?


I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Diamond. That is how I read it. That is what I meant by saying there is no time limit. There is a time limit from the moment that what is to be investigated occurs and the moment when the application is to be made; but there is no time limit affecting the period between the person's ceasing to be a member of the organisation, or being refused membership of the organisation, and any complaint he may make about anything the organisation does. I think that this is a serious point.


Any person who applies for a job in an organisation and is refused can make an application to the registrar. Of course, the registrar could turn it down if the grounds were slight, but it must mean that the registrar is going to get a large number of applications, and he will have to consider and investigate them all. We all know in employment circles that there are many people who believe they have been discriminated against. This may not be so; but they will have the right to apply and may do so.


The intention of this clause undoubtedly is that the person who himself has cause of complain shall be able to get it investigated. Others can complain to the registrar and ask for an investigation; but in such cases the registrar will be initiating the investigation himself—he is bound to get his information from somewhere. That is not a complaint within the meaning of this clause. We are here talking about an unfair industrial practice under Clause 64 in regard to the guiding principles or under the rules. I do not really see that there is any great difficulty about this. The intention is that it should be the person who actually has the cause of complaint who brings the matter to the registrar to investigate.


Then I must press the noble Lord a little further. I am grateful to him for explaining to us that that is the intention of the clause: he has answered my first question. He says that this was a deliberate answer that he gave, of an individual complaining about something affecting himself.

The second question I asked is where in the clause does it so limit an application? I cannot see it. Would the noble Lord be good enough to help me? Clause 79(3) says: Any person who … is eligible to do so … and the eligibility arises in the subsection we are now discussing. It covers somebody who has never been a member of the organisation at all, but who sought to become a member and has been refused admission. To go back to subsection (3), it says: Any person who … is eligible to do so may make an application to the registrar on the grounds that action specified in the application has been taken by or on behalf of the organisation and … (b) constituted a breach of the rules of the organisation. So (b) is one of the grounds. I am saying, therefore, that this person who has never been a member of the organisation, can apply for an investigation on the grounds that a specified action taken —not necessarily this action: constituted a breach of the rules of the organisation. That is a very wide statement indeed. It could refer, so far as I can see, to any action. I should have thought that there was enough doubt about it—we are not experts on this side of the Committee—for the noble Lord to undertake to look into this matter very carefully to see whether the clause can be construed only in the way he has construed it, or whether it could also be construed in the way in which the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, and I both construed it.


There is another point that emerges. Under Clause 21 we have the start of the section dealing with an appeal against dismissal. This is a drafting point—all these Amendments are in a sense drafting points. Clause 79(1)(b) refers to a member who has ceased to be a member " otherwise than by voluntary resignation ". If a person is dismissed unfairly he falls under Clause 79(1)(b), but he also has a right of appeal under Clause 20(1). Is there not a great danger, owing to inadequate drafting, of confusion here in setting up what are in effect two means of appeal for the same implied unfairness?


Looking at the point which the noble Lord has made I do not think that this is so. I must confess that I was wrong in the guidance I gave to the Committee on this point. Clause 79 does not confine the right of complaint to aggrieved persons. Of course it is necessary to look at the matters on which complaints can be made. If the noble Lord will look at the guiding principle he will see the sort of thing that can be complained about. For example, under Clause 63(2)— Any person who applies for members of the organisation … shall not, by way of any arbitrary or unreasonable discrimination, be excluded from membership … If he does not get in, why should he not have a right of complaint, or why should somebody not have a right of complaint about his not getting in? I should have thought it obvious that a case like that had to be covered by saying that a man may have sought to become a member and had been refused admission. The same applies to a person who has been a member and who has been unfairly deprived of his membership. Clearly both cases have to be covered. I am sorry that I construed this point in the wrong way. have been informed that what I said is not correct. l should he glad to look at this point further.


I am grateful to the noble Lord for saying that he will look at this matter further. He was saying earlier that the intention of the clause was that the application should be limited to matters affecting the applicant. He is now saying that this is not the intention of the clause. So all the arguments he used are quite invalid. The noble Lord is in considerable difficulty in this regard. It is only because he is a person of common sense that he used the obvious argument to justify this subsection, and he was wrong. If one uses the only argument there is and finds one is wrong, there are no arguments left which one can use.

That brings us back to what I was saying in the first place. Any person who applies to a union and is not admitted can apply to the Registrar and may cause trouble. Anyone can threaten, " If I am not admitted, I will apply to the Registrar." Of course, that course may not get him far, but it will be a nuisance for the union in question and they do not wish it. We are grateful to the noble Lord for saying that he will look at this point again, but we think it a little too late. He has been advised that he was wrong and any argument he used has been cut away beneath him. I am bound to say to the Committee that this is a subsection which ought not to be in the Bill; it is one which tends to undermine the unions and to splinter them.


No one will grudge the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, harrying the Government on a point into which he has been able to get his teeth deeply. I suggest that this is not an occasion when this Amendment should be pressed to a Division. This is a situation which is bound to occur in a long and complicated Bill which has not been offered to scrutiny in another place clause by clause. Here I think that a genuine mistake has been made. In the circumstances, I suggest that the best thing is for the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn. to look at this point again, as he has said he will do, but with a slightly more generous grace. The Government have been caught out on this clause. The field is opened to people who have been known to apply for membership and do not get admitted, just for the sake of harassing a union; and they can go on doing it for any breach of the rules. They can keep an eye on the Press and everything that goes on in that union and they can make themselves a nuisance. Of course, they will be turned down by the Registrar, but it is not really good enough that this should be allowed. The clause is really drawn a great deal too widely. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, will not just look at it again, but will seek to amend it; and I hope further that the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, will not press this Amendment to a Division.


May I for the purpose of having it taken into account when the noble Lord reconsiders this matter, say that there are a large number of citizens not born in this country, many of whom suffer, justifiably or otherwise, from the feeling that they are discriminated against by employers and by unions. Any personnel officer in a large company in this country will tell you that, having made what he would claim to be a fair rejection of a candidate for a job, quite frequently he is immediately accused of discrimination. That is not uncommon at all, and the circumstances really provide of threat of being a nuisance which goes too far. I wonder whether these remarks could be taken into account when the drafting of this clause is reconsidered. I am not asking for any sort of reply to this comment now.


I have listened and agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont said. We had a very frank admission by the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, that he will look at the matter, and in these circumstances I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

11.3 p.m.

LORD DIAMOND moved Amendment No. 263EE: Page 61, line 35, at end insert (" for nonpayment of any contribution which under the rules of the organisation he is required to pay, or ").

The noble Lord said: This is a second-best to the first Amendment, but as that has been withdrawn it rises in priority and becomes an Amendment which we seek to have accepted. It relates to Clause 79(1)(b) where a person who can apply was a member of such an organisation of the union and has ceased to be a member of it otherwise than by voluntary resignation. This means that he cannot apply if he resigned voluntarily, but that in any other circumstances he can apply. That is going far too far and, in particular, it is quite absurd, in my view, that a person who has not paid his contribution, and has thus ceased to be a member under the rule of the organisation, should be entitled to apply. It really is going far too far and is asking for trouble.

I hope that this Amendment, which is absolutely simple and straightforward, will be accepted—if not in these words, in words which give effect to it.


The noble Lord, Lord Diamond, has argued that an individual has a responsibility to pay his subscription and if he does not do so, and as a consequence is expelled by the trade union, he should not then have a right of complaint against that organisation. On the face of it this point certainly seems reasonable, but I think there are two reasons why it is difficult to accept the Amendment. First, it may not, for example, always be the fault of the individual that he gets into arrears with subscriptions; and of course, as your Lordships know, there is the case of Edwards v. SOGAT where the branch secretary failed to forward to the employer a form completed by Mr. Edwards authorising his union subscription to be deducted from his wages. Unknown to himself, Mr. Edwards fell into arrears and was in fact deprived of membership

The second reason why it is difficult to accept this Amendment is that the Registrar is empowered to investigate, under this clause, breaches of the rules and breaches of the guiding principles of Clause 63. This is the purpose of the clause, and what we on this side of the Committee do not want is for the Registrar to become involved in lengthy preliminary investigations to determine who is or who is not eligible to complain. That is why we are glad to have a simple eligibility test in subsection (1)(a), (b) and (c) of the clause. In brief, I think the chief reason for resisting this Amendment, in general terms, is that we feel that a breach of rules or the guiding principles is wrong in principle, and it seems to us that it is fundamentally dangerous to exclude particular types of people who otherwise would be considered eligible to complain. Though we concede that it is invariably necessary to envisage extreme cases of difficulty or extreme cases of injustice, it is possible that, if one accepted this Amendment, sooner or later an injustice that would be regretted might ensue.


The noble Lord has made it clear that the view of the Government and the view of the Opposition are poles apart in their approach to the freedom of individuals to having unions and to make a nuisance of themselves unnecessarily. So far as the Government's position is concerned, it seems to me that anybody can come along and complain: a person who has been a member, a person who has not been a member, a person who has not paid his subscriptions—virtually anybody can come along and start complaining, and the justification for this is that it is nice to have a simple eligibility rule. Well, they have the simple eligibility rule, and anybody can come along and make life difficult for the unions. The Government may think that that is satisfactory, but we do not, and we propose to divide against it.


The arguments used by the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, were, frankly, ridiculous. If a union member had taken steps to pay his subscription, and the subscription did not arrive at the right place through the inefficiency of somebody else, could that possibly be construed as non-payment of that member's subscription? I very much doubt if the Registrar could possibly construe it in that way. Any sensible person set up to judge such a case would not construe the individual as not having paid his subscription. If that is the case, then the law is an ass. This is an extremely thin reason for rejecting the Amendment, and the arguments put forward by my noble and learned friend are very strong. This ought to be considered seriously, otherwise individuals, particularly when they have animosity against the union or past happenings, will seek to harry the union in this way.


Before this matter goes to some form of conclusion, it might be fair to point out to the Committee that it is because basically we on this side agree with the noble Lord, Lord Brown, that we are resisting this Amendment. It is because in a previous case precisely this happened: the rules of the union took a certain view, and a certain situation developed. This can happen. It is the sort of thing that everyone deprecates, but it can occur. Unfortunately, it is no good the noble Lord, Lord Brown, and it is no good noble Lords on this side, saying that we deprecate this: it is something that could occur, and we feel that it could occur on this Amendment.


The point is that in the previous cases cited the union or some other body made the decision to which the noble Lord referred. The person who in future, when this Bill becomes art Act, has to make the decision will be the Registrar. It is a different set of circumstances. The situation is not the same as it has been in the past, and the cases cited from the past have no relevance to the future situation.


With respect to the noble Lord, I do not think what he is saying, which is eminently reasonable, ties up with subsection (1) of the clause. I would also point out that the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, called in aid that what we were voting on was that anybody could be difficult and harry a union. I think it is reasonable to draw your Lordships' attention to an ensuing Government Amendment. We do not know what view the Committee will take of it, but it is the intention of the Government that they would like the Committee to agree that complaints should not be vexatious or frivolous. It will be for the Committee to decide.

11.10 p.m.


The Government might take that view, but there is no reason why, even if the Committee does support the subsequent Amendment, that we should on this Amendment support the Government's ambivalence. If the Government want to go two different ways, they cannot expect us to be equally pointless and support them in both directions. T did not dwell on this because I thought the other point was more important: namely, the attitude of the Government. But as the noble Lord has come back to the case itself, I do not think it is relevant to the case.

We are considering who should be eligible to complain; and what the Amendment indicates is that the person who is eligible to complain should not be a person who has ceased to be a member of the union for non-payment of his contribution. As my noble friend said, you cannot say that he ceased to be a member for non-payment of his contribution if he has paid it. That determines whether he is eligible to make a complaint. The noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, has made it clear that if he is eligible to make a complaint the subject matter of the complaint is not restricted to this particular incident; it can relate to anything affecting the union. Therefore, once he has got through this hoop he can complain.

I repeat what I said earlier. I think it is quite ridiculous that a person who was a member of the union and refused to pay—not an unfortunate sufferer of some mistake in the accountant's office or something like that—but refused to pay, and ceased to be a member because he refused to pay, can then have a roving brief to apply for investigation and harrying of the union because he feels disgruntled about it. No doubt it was because he felt disgruntled that he ceased to pay. But he cannot have it both ways. Nor can the Government.


I do find this pretty hard to understand. A person has not paid his subscription and has been pushed out of the organisation and then makes a complaint to the Registrar; is it seriously contended that under subsection (3) he could claim that the organisation had committed an unfair industrial practice against him? I do not see just how the case lies; it seems to me thought up out of the sky. A chap like this is entitled to make an application, but if you look at subsection (3) it says what he is to complain of; it is either an unfair industrial practice or a breach of rule of the organisation. I do not see that anybody who has failed to pay his contribution can make a claim under either.


Nobody is contending that he would win his case. What is being contended is that he has the right to make an infernal nuisance of himself. This would involve the union opening their books to investigation and the Registrar having the problem. The noble

Bernstein, L. Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Lindgren, L.
Beswick, L. Energlyn, L. Sainsbury, L.
Blyton, L. Gardiner, L. Shackleton, L.
Brockway, L. Garnsworthy, L.[Teller.] Strabolgi, L.[Teller.]
Brown, L. Greenwood of Rossendale, L. Walston, L.
Champion, L. Hughes, L. Willis, L.
Diamond, L.
Aberdare, L. Bessborough, E. Chelmer, L.
Abinger, L. Brabazon of Tara, L. Conesford, L.
Aldenham, L. Bridgeman, V. Cottesloe, L.
Amherst of Hackney, L. Brooke of Cumnor, L. Cowley. E.
Balerno, L. Brooke of Ystradfellte, Bs. Cranbrook, E.
Balfour, E. Brougham and Vaux, L. Crawshaw, L.
Belstead, L. Burton, L. Cromartie, E.

Lord is satisfied he could not win his case, but he cannot be satisfied that he cannot make a confounded nuisance of himself on the flimsiest of grounds.


We cannot draft our laws to avoid any trouble by any crackpot. It is only an utter crackpot who can do this.


Our laws are drafted so that people who want to take matters before the courts have hurdles to clear before they can cause a nuisance in the courts, and this is so in this case.


Before we divide, could my noble friend say whether a man who, under the agency shop provision, has consciencious objections, and is not a member of the union, and is paying instead to a charity, will still be eligible to complain?


I think the answer is " Yes ". I am speaking without advice, but I have looked again at subsection (1), and confirm my reply to the noble Lord, Lord Brown. You may get a situation in which a union member says he has paid a subscription and the union says he has not. Who is to tell? One is forced back to the guiding principles. For that reason I feel we are reasonable to say we will not accept the Amendment, and to exclude the wish of the Opposition in this matter.

11.16 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 263EE) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 19; Not-Contents, 71.

Daventry, V. Hankey, L. St. Aldwyn, E.[Teller.]
Denham, L. Inglewood, L. St. Helens, L.
Digby, L. Jellicoe, E. (L. Privy Seal.) St. Just, L.
Drumalbyn, L. Kemsley, V. Sandford, L.
Dudley, E. Kinnoull, E. Selkirk, E.
Dundee, E. Latymer, L. Selsdon, L.
Falmouth, V. Lauderdale, E. Sempill, Ly.
Ferrers, E. Mansfield, E. Somers, L.
Fisher, L. Mowbray and Stourton, L. Terrington, L.
Fortescue, E. Nugent of Guildford, L. Teviot, L.
Glendevon, L. O'Neill of the Maine, L. Thorneycroft, L.
Goschen. V. Orr-Ewing, L. Tweedsmuir, L.
Gowrie, E. [Teller.] Pender, L. Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, Bs
Gray, L. Penrhyn, L. Vivian, L.
Grimston of Westbury, L. Rankeillour, L. Windlesham, L.
Hailes, L. Redmayne, L. Yarborough, E.
Hailsham of Saint Marylebone,L. (L. Chancellor.) Rothermere, V.

Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.

11.24 p.m.

LORD DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 263QQQ:

Page 62, line 17, at end insert (" other than a breach to which the next following subsection applies. (3A) This subsection applies—

  1. (a) to any breach of any rules made in pursuance of section 3 section 4(1) or section 5(1) of the Trade Union Act 1913 (which relate to political funds), and
  2. (b) to any breach of rules in taking a vote on a resolution to approve an instrument of amalgamation or transfer within the meaning of the Trade Union (Amalgamations, etc.) Act 1964.")

The noble Lord said: This Amendment seeks to exclude from the right of complaint to the Registrar any matter for which redress already exists under the Trade Union Act 1913 and the Trade Union (Amalgamations) Act 1964. The reason for the Amendment is that the procedures laid down by the 1913 and 1964 Acts for complaint to the Registrar are considerably different from what is provided in Clause 79. As the Clause stands it allows complaints to the Registrar against any breach of rules or guiding principles by a trade union. In other words it covers complaints from the 1913 and 1964 Acts.

As noble Lords will know, the 1913 Act deals with unions' political funds, and it governs the means by which such funds may be established and the objects for which they may be expended, and the right of members to contract out of paying a union's political levy. There is a parallel with the present Bill in that both measures seek to secure rights for indi- viduals and to provide enforcement machinery, but there are two significant differences. Under the 1913 Act the Registrar may hear complaints against any organisation satisfying the old definition of trade union, whereas in this Bill the Registrar deals only with workers' organisations which have registered and thereby become unions in the new sense. Secondly, if a complaint made under the 1913 Act is found to be justified, the Registrar may make an order enforceable through the County Court, whereas under Clause 80 of this Bill, on the other hand, he has no power to enforce a settlement. He can attempt to settle matters informally or, failing this, refer the case to the Industrial Court or an industrial tribunal.

There being these differences, it is felt that it is much better that the 1913 and 1964 procedures, which have worked satisfactorily in the past, should be retained alongside the procedures of this Bill. Clause 81(2) of the Bill provides for the exclusion of political funds and amalgamation cases from the Bill's provisions as to investigations undertaken by the Registrar on his own initiative. I hope the Committee will agree that a parallel provision is needed in this clause, which deals with complaints by individual members to the Registrar. I beg to move.


I would only wish to thank the noble Lord for his explanation and to say how much I agree with him that procedures which have worked well in the past should be continued. It seems to me a very appropriate context, and I would like to support this Amendment.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

On Question, Whether Clause 79, as amended, shall stand part of the Bill?


We have discussed this clause and have made our views known on a particular section of it. It really is a most unsatisfactory clause—unsatisfactory in a series of ways—and I

Aberdare, L. Digby, L. Nugent of Guildford, L.
Aldenham, L. Drumalbyn, L. O'Neill of the Maine, L.
Amherst of Hackney, L. Dudley, E. Orr-Ewing, L.
Balerno, L. Dundee E. Pender, L.
Balfour, E. Falmouth, V. Penrhyn, L.
Barrington, V. Ferrers, E. Rankeillour, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Fisher, L. Redmayne, L.
Belstead, L. Fortescue, E. Rothermere, V.
Bessborough, E. Glendevon, L. St. Aldwyn, E.
Brabazon of Tara, L. Goschen, V. [Teller.] St. Helens, L.
Bridgeman, V. Gowrie, E. St. Just, L.
Brooke of Cumnor, L. Grimston of Westbury, L. Sandford, L.
Brooke of Ystradfellte, Bs. Hailes, L. Selkirk, E.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. (L. Chancellor.) Selsdon, L.
Burton, L. Sempill, Ly.
Chelmer, L. Hankey, L. Somers, L.
Conesford, L. Inglewood, L. Terrington, L.
Cottesloe, L. Jellicoe, E. (Lord Privy Seal.) Teviot, L.
Cowley, E. Kemsley, V. Thorneycroft, L.
Cranbrook, E. Kinnoull, E. Tweedsmuir, L.
Crawshaw, L. Lauderdale, E. Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, Bs.
Cromartie, E. Latymer, L. Vivian, L.
Daventry, V. Mansfield, E. Windlesham, L.
Denham, L. [Teller] Mowbray and Stourton, L. Yarborough, E.
Bernstein, L. Diamond, L. Lindgren, L.
Beswick, L. Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Sainsbury, L.
Blyton, L. Energlyn, L. Shackleton, L.
Brockway, L. Gardiner, L. Strabolgi, L. [Teller.]
Brown, L. Garnsworthy, L. [Teller.] Willis, L.
Champion, L. Greenwood of Rossendale, L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Clause 79, as amended, agreed to accordingly.

11.35 p.m.

Clause 80 [Action by registrar on application under section 79]:


I have to inform your Lordships that if Amendment 263GG is agreed to, I shall not call the subsequent Amendment No. 263RRR.

LORD DIAMOND moved Amendment No. 263GG: Page 62, line 38, leave out from beginning to end of line 40.

The noble Lord said: Nevertheless I think it would be a sensible course for me to move this Amendment and to think we should register our lack of approval of the clause as a whole.

11.28 p.m.

On Question, Whether Clause 79, as amended, shall stand part of the Bill?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 71; Not-Contents, 17.

invite your Lordships to agree to Amendment No. 263GG, which perhaps can be discussed with Amendment No. 263RRR as the points are closely related and the Amendments come at the same point in the Bill.

The reason, as will be obvious, why we put this Amendment at the start of line 38 is that we thought the reasons given earlier in the clause in paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) were quite inadequate and there was no justification for a further one, namely, that the Registrar should be satisfied that in the circumstances there were special reasons for proceeding with the application. This is extremely vague and could open the door to almost anything. I am aware that what the Government propose is it was not practicable of the application to be made before is an improvement on the situation. Obviously the Government and the Opposition are thinking somewhat on the same lines. I think the best course is for me to move this Amendment without more ado and leave it to the Government to explain why their Amendment is better than ours, apart from the fact that their troops are more numerous than ours.


I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Diamond. As he has said, obviously we are thinking along the same lines, and obviously some sort of time limit is needed as memories become blurred. Having proposed a fairly short time limit of four weeks, we think there should be some discretion given to the Registrar to be able to extend the period in appropriate cases, for example where the complainant has been sick or where seamen or other workers have been employed outside the country and it has not been practicable for the complainant to present his case to the Registrar. To meet these cases and to avoid possible injustice we propose that the Registrar should have this discretion to extend the time limit.

As will be seen from the Marshalled List of Amendments, the Amendment in my name would have the effect of restricting the discretion of the Registrar to cases in which it was not practicable for the complaint to be brought within the time limit of four weeks. We accept that it is not justifiable to give an unlimited discretion to waive the four-weeks rule, and the Government Amendment narrows the Registrar's discretion very much indeed. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, will accept this compromise which is much closer to his Amendment than to the words actually in the clause. I hope that he will graciously withdraw his Amendment and allow me to move mine.


It was the fact that the Government Amendment was near to ours that made me so suspicious, but having listened to the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, I am happy to beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


I beg to move Amendment No. 263RRR:

Amendment moved— Page 62, line 38, leave out from (" circumstances") to end of line 39, and insert ("it was not practicable for the application to be made before ").—(Lord Drumalbyn.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD DRUMALBYN: moved Amendment No. 263SSS:

Page 63, line 11, at end insert— (" () The registrar shall not be required to proceed with any such application if in his opinion it is frivolous or vexatious.")

The noble Lord said: At present the Registrar is bound to investigate any complaint which complies with the conditions specified in Clause 79. This Amendment seeks to remove this obligation in respect of " frivolous or vexatious " complaints. Under Clause 79 the complaint must be made by an eligible person against a registered organisation on grounds of a breach of rules or guiding principle. If these conditions are fulfilled, as the clause stands the Registrar is bound to investigate. But it may be that it is clear from the outset that the complaint is frivolous and the complainant has been in the habit of bombarding the Registrar with similar baseless and irrational effusions. Without this Amendment, the Registrar would still have to investigate the complaint, however baseless, and notify the conclusions to both parties. That would take up unnecessary time. Those of us who have been Members of Parliament are all too familiar with this kind of problem. I hope in those circumstances noble Lords will agree to accept this amendment, particularly as the N.I.R.C. and the industrial tribunals will have a sanction against vexatious and improper complaints which may be brought to them.


I am grateful to the Government for going a little way to meet our point of view.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 80, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 81 [Investigation initiated by registrar]:

LORD DIAMOND moved Amendment No. 263HH: Page 63, line 32, leave out (" has been a serious breach or have been persistent breaches") and insert (" have been serious and persistent breaches").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move this Amendment. It really speaks for itself. At present the Bill at line 32 refers to " a serious breach " or " persistent breaches ". The point I am making is that persistent breaches may be persistent breaches of such a very minor character that the fact that they are persistent really does not affect the issue; it is a very minor breach, it does not matter how many times it is repeated. What I presume the Government in the clause are getting at is the serious and persistent breach, and a persistent breach which is a serious breach is even more serious. I think the wording proposed in the Amendment, " serious and persistent breaches" is the better wording.


What worries us about Lord Diamond's wording in this Amendment is that it restricts the Registrar's initiative to the investigation of breaches which are both serious and persistent. There have to be the two aspects of the case. The noble Lord will remember that the Royal Commission envisaged that all complaints by individuals would be addressed in the first instance to the Registrar, and the Commission thought it important that ordinary trade unions should feel that they could turn to the Registrar for expert and impartial help when needed. It is fair to say that we share that view. It seems probable that in the course of these frequent contacts with trade unionists the Registrar will from time to time hear of grievances which individually appear to be relatively insignificant but which when taken together could imply underlying weakness in the organisation. For example, there might be a number of individual complaints about fines being imposed upon union members not in accordance with the rules, and each incident might seem to be of comparative lack of importance, but a number of such incidents would be sufficient justification for the Registrar to suspect that perhaps the liaison between the trade union, its local officials and shop stewards was not satisfactory. We believe that in such circumstances the Registrar would be justified in undertaking an investigation.

On the other hand, if there is a serious breach of the rules, such as an election malpractice, it is surely desirable that the Registrar should be able to investigate, even though it is not persistent and is only a single occurrence. In a case of that sort, would it be that under this Amendment the Registrar would hold back because a breach had not been persistent? One might almost ask: would it be that the Registrar was an accessory because he had no evidence that the trade union, knowing that it was acting in breach of its rules, persisted in the malpractice? It is because of these two sides of the case that we feel we must resist the Amendment in this case


The noble Lord is probably right that the Amendment is defective. On the other hand, the present requirement is that if the Registrar suspects a number of persistent breaches he has no alternative but to investigate. Anybody in administration, in a trade union or anywhere else, will know that in order to carry on at all there may be all sorts of minor matters where there are persistent breaches. I am wondering whether the Government would be prepared to look at this matter again. I fully accept that if there is a serious breach the Registrar probably ought to investigate it, but what I am thinking of—and I do not have the right form of words—is something like " a serious breach or breaches " or " a number of breaches which have a serious effect in total ".

As the Bill is drafted, if there are a number of breaches which go on all the time, the Registrar has no option but to investigate, and I do not think anybody would recommend that. Will the Government undertake to look at this point further and see whether they can find a better form of words than the ones which we proposed, which would prevent the Registrar from having to look at a large number of minor breaches which nobody would want to look at anyway but which he would now have no option but to look at?


The noble Lord is certainly persuasive in the way he puts his argument forward. There are perhaps two points here. I am quite sure that the Government will be only too pleased to look at this point, but I am not in a position to give any form of helpful or encouraging commitment. I say that for two reasons. The first is that the word " persistent " presumably means what it says, and that denotes a degree of gravity which I tried to explain. The other point is that there are the conciliation provisions in subsection (3), and they are obviously a safety valve to the clause. For those two reasons, although I certainly undertake to ask that this matter be looked at, I am not in a position to say that it definitely will be looked at with a result which the noble Lord would wish.


I cannot see how the word " persistent " can possibly include gravity. Otherwise, why do the Government bother to insert the word " serious "? The escape is, of course, when an investigation takes place. I fully accept that the noble Lord has taken my point. It is a perfectly valid point and I will not press him further—


I took the trouble to look up the dictionary. I think the gravity lies in the obstinacy of it. The dictionary gives the interpretation, " obstinately pursued ".


I do not know that " obstinately pursued " necessarily means that it is grave. I do not want to waste time now, although 1 ant sure that the noble and learned Lord would help us if we really went into the matter. All I am asking is that the Government take this as a serious point and will look at it again. They are making no commitment to do anything about it, but we may wish to return to it at a later stage when they can improve the drafting a little. Otherwise, even if " persistent " means " obstinately pursued ", it may not be very sensible for them obstinately to pursue minor breaches. We all have to commit minor breaches. Indeed, we do it constantly. We do it constantly in your Lordships' House, sometimes to our benefit, sometimes more seriously to our disadvantage.


I gather the noble Lord said that nevertheless he was going to look at the matter; that he is making no promise; but he is going to look at it. In those circumstances, I seek the leave of the Committee to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

11.51 p.m.

LORD DIAMOND moved Amendment No. 263JJ: Page 63, line 34, leave out from (" section") to end of line 40.

The noble Lord said: I hope we can deal with this Amendment very shortly indeed. Some of the lines which it is sought to leave out the Government and ourselves would never agree about; namely, the principles set out in Clause 63. Therefore, there is no point in arguing about them. But, again, there is a reference to persistently taken by it or on its behalf ", and if the noble Lord would take into his review that word " persistently " as well as the earlier " persistant " I do not think I need keep the Committee any longer. I beg to move.


Yes, this is the same point, and we shall certainly be willing to look at it.


Then I seek the leave of the Committee to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

LORD DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 263TTT: Page 63, line 44, leave out from beginning to end of line 4 on page 64, and insert (" any breach of rules to which section 79(3A) of this Act applies").

The noble Lord said: I mentioned the need for this Amendment when I moved Amendment No. 263000. I then explained that it was desirable to ensure that there was no power in the Bill to deal with any breach of the rules made in pursuance of the 1913 Act. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD DIAMOND moved Amendment No. 263MM: Page 64, line 17, leave out from (" question ") to end of line 35.

The noble Lord said: The purpose of this Amendment is the normal one of restricting somewhat the field of the Registrar and turning him, if possible, back into the role which we think he should occupy, that of conciliator, and away from the role which the Government try to put him into; that is to say, the role of prosecutor.

I still think and hope that the Government will recognise that the way to improve the situation is to make the relationship between the unions and the Registrar of the same friendly kind as that which has persisted hitherto, and if this Amendment were accepted it would help towards that end. Accordingly, I beg to move.


This Amendment would remove the Registrar's power to bring a complaint to the Industrial Court if, once the Registrar had investigated a suspected breach of the rules or guiding principles, the trade union or employers' association concerned failed to take the necessary remedial action. I understood the noble Lord to imply that such power is inconsistent with the Registrar's role, and that it turned him into a prosecutor. I think we should look at it rather from another point of view. Suppose a trade union has conducted its elections improperly and the Registrar has good reason to suspect what has gone on although he has had no formal complaint. He decides to investigate and finds his suspicions justified. He tells the union and endeavours to have the matter put right, and asks for an undertaking that future elections will be properly held. The union refuse to take any action or to give an undertaking. What then? If we accept this Amendment, nothing happens. The union carries on in the same way and the Registrar exhausts his powers. His findings cannot be enforced. This may be rare; but it is an undesirable state and not in the interests of ordinary trade union members.

We believe that if this Bill is to effect an improvement of industrial relations in this country, its provisions must always, so far as possible, be enforceable. That is not to say that we believe that employers, trade unions, registrars or anyone else should complain to the courts every time there is a problem. As my right honourable friend said in another place, recourse to the courts will be the last, not the first, resort. As regards the clause and the Amendment we are now discussing, I do not expect that the Registrar will have frequent need to initiate investigations into breaches of rules. Organisations which accept the responsibility implied by registering are unlikely to disregard their obligations. Where the Registrar initiates investigations we expect that the occasions on which he is unable to secure a satisfactory undertaking or remedial action will be rare; but all the same we should provide for the eventuality.


It seems to me that there is no parallel procedure in the case of unfair dismissal or an unfair industrial practice by the employer. Have I overlooked something?


That is quite understandable; because the dismissal must be by the employer. We have discussed the dismissals aspect already. I do not understand the noble Lord's point.


My question was a simple one. What the Registrar can do in the case of a trade union, can he also do in the case of an employer?


I have already pointed out that this applies to employers' associations as well as to trade unions.


I think this follows what was said earlier. The purpose of the Amendment is to mitigate the effect of the clause, so that the Registrar simply gives notice but does not have the power of enforcement. In this way we believe the Registrar will have a conciliatory role and not that of a prosecutor. I believe that to build an iron framework of law, with all the nuts and bolts secure, will ultimately fail. We need an element of human understanding, a situation in which the Registrar can take on the role of adviser. That, I believe, would be the better approach. I deplore this tendency to try to screw everything tightly in legislative phraseology. I do not want to reiterate points which have been more ably made than I can do; nevertheless, I want to support my noble friend on the Front Bench.


My noble friend should not be so modest; he has made a most persuasive speech, and what he has said I echo to the syllable. I can only say to the Government that we regard this as a most unsatisfactory clause. The part covered by this Amendment is very unsatisfactory indeed, and we can only show our dissatisfaction in the usual way.

Bernstein. L. Diamond, L. Sainsbury, L.
Beswick, L. Energlyn, L. Shackleton, L.
Champion, L. Gardiner, L. Strabolgi, L. [Teller]
Davies of Leek, L. Garnsworthy, L. [Teller] Willis, L.
Aberdare, L. Drumalbyn, L. Nugent of Guildford, L.
Aldenham, L. Dudley, E. O'Neill of the Maine, L.
Amherst of Hackney, L. Dundee, E. Orr-Ewing, L.
Balerno, L. Eccles, V. Pender, L.
Balfour, E. Falmouth, V. Penrhyn, L.
Belstead, L. Ferrers, E. Rankeillour, L.
Bessborough, E. Fisher, L. Redmayne, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L. Fortescue, E. Rothermere, V.
Bridgeman, V. Glendevon, L. St. Aldwyn, E.
Brooke of Cumnor, L. Goschen. V. [Teller] St. Helens, L.
Brooke of Ystradfellte, Bs. Gowrie, E. St. Just, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Gray, L. Sandford, L.
Burton, L. Grimston of Westbury, L. Selkirk, E.
Chelmer, L. Hailes, L. Selsdon, L.
Conesford, L. Hailsham of Saint Marylebone L. [L. Chancellor.] Semphill, Ly.
Cottesloe. L. Somers, L.
Cowley, E. Inglewood, L. Suffield, L.
Craigmyle, L. Jellicoe, E. [L. Privy Seal]. Terrington, L.
Cranbrook, E. Kemsley, V. Thorneycroft, L.
Crawshaw, L. Kinnoull, E. Tweedsmuir, L.
Cromartie, E. Latymer, L. Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, Bs.
Daventry, V. Lauderdale, E. Vivian, L.
Denham, L. [Teller] Mansfield, E. Windlesham, L.
Digby, L. Mowbray and Stourton, L. Yarborough, E.

Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.

Clause 81, as amended, agreed to.

House resumed.