HL Deb 22 November 1971 vol 325 cc885-7

THE LORD CHANCELLOR rose to move, That the Draft Industrial Court (Appeals) Order 1971 laid before the House on November 3 be approved. The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, I rise to move the second Motion standing my name, and again I think that the Scottish Motion raises exactly the same points and that it may be for the convenience of the House if the two are dealt with together. Again I hope that this Order will give rise to no controversy. One of the few sections of the Industrial Relations Act which virtually excited none in this House was Section 114. The purpose of this Motion is to activate Section 114, except in one respect to which I will come in a moment.

Section 114 enables the Lord Chancellor, in respect of England and Wales, to transfer to the Industrial Court the appellate jurisdiction now exercised by the High Court in appeals from the industrial tribunals in so far as these relate to the relationship of employer and employed. The remaining appeals are to continue to be heard by the High Court as now—that is to say, those not dealt with in the Order, being those under the Industrial Training Act 1964, the Docks and Harbours Act 1966, and the Selective Employment Payments Act 1966. The appeals which are referred to in the Order are those arising under the Contracts of Employment Act 1963, the Redundancy Payments Act 1965, the Equal Pay Act 1970, and those under the Industrial Relations Act 1971, which relate to unfair dismissal proposals.

The jurisdiction for the industrial tribunals to hear cases of common law wrongful dismissal (that is, Section 113 of the Act) is not to be activated at the moment. It follows that it is not necessary to make provision for appeals, and I have not therefore activated Section 113 ("Appeals") in this Order. Industrial tribunals are already hearing complaints under the Contracts of Employment Act and the Redundancy Payments Act. Complaints under the Equal Pay Act have not yet been activated, so for some time there will be no appeals under this Act to add to the workload of the Industrial Court. Complaints regarding unfair dismissal under the Act of 1971 will begin early in the New Year when that part of the Act is commenced by order of my right honourable friend.

My Lords, the House will recall that appeals of this type are limited to questions of law. The Industrial Court is already fully constituted since, on my recommendation, Mr. Justice Donaldson has already been appointed to the Presidency of the Court in England and my right honourable friend has made a similar Scottish appointment; and nine lay members have been appointed on the recommendation of my right honourable friend the Secretary for Employment. There will of course be further appointments if the workload justifies it.

If I may now come from the general to the particular, the operative paragraph of the Order is Paragraph 3, the first two being purely formal. Paragraph 4 is designed to exclude overlapping of jurisdiction with the High Court. Paragraph 5 is transitional, and under Paragraph 5 current appeals, except those on the hearing of which the High Court has already acted, are transferred. As regards pending appeals transferred, the Industrial Court will have the same power over costs as the High Court at present enjoys; that is, to preserve existing rights. My Lords, I think that that really covers the clauses, and I therefore beg to move.

Moved, That the Draft Industrial Court (Appeals) Order 1971 laid before the House on November 3, be approved. —(The Lord Chancellor.)

6.32 p.m.


My Lords, I think that all that I need to do is to thank the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor for having explained this Order so fully. Our own views as to those matters affecting this Order which are embodied in the Act itself were made very clear during the discussion of the Act, and there is no point in extending that argument on this occasion. Once the Act has been passed, it follows that the Government proceed to bring it into operation in this way; and having had the benefit of advice on the legal technicalities from my noble and learned friend Lord Gardiner, all I need do is again to thank the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor for his explanation.

On Question, Motion agreed to.