HL Deb 23 July 1974 vol 353 cc1581-643

4.2 p.m.

House again in Committee.

Clause 10, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 11 [Immunity of trade unions and employers' associations to actions in tort]:

BARONESS SEEAR moved Amendment No. 18: Page 9, line 41, leave out paragraph (a).

The noble Baroness said: I am moving this Amendment partly for elucidation and partly because I wish to raise an issue which is a fundmental libertarian one, and which is, I believe, somewhat being lost sight of in discussing the detail of this Bill. This clause gives total immunity to actions in tort to a trade union. We have become accustomed to the idea of trade union immunity, and we are not stopping to reflect how fundamental is this privilege of immunity which is being conferred and which is surely to give a quite exceptional privilege.

We in this House and in another place have agreed in all discussions on this Bill that Parliament is sovereign; that trade unions are subject to the rule of law. I am sure it would be common ground between us all that privileges should be conferred on people only for limited and highly specific reasons, when there are undoubtedly grounds which can be made crystal clear for granting them. Yet here we have this total immunity of trade unions, save only in subsection (2) of this clause where there are slight limitations. I know it will be said that these immunities stretch right back to the days of 1906, but a great deal has changed since the days of 1906. I would remind your Lordships that even then the Whigs, who were highly partial to the trade unions and extremely knowledgeable about them, made the point that un-undoubtedly this put the trade unions in a privileged position—greater than the privilege conferred on any other entity in the community at that time.

It is accepted on all sides that this immunity is absolutely essential for protection in relation to trade disputes. But the reason for this is surely that without this immunity in trade disputes a trade union would be unable to fulfil its essential function of withdrawing labour, and therefore of being able to deal on equal terms with employers. That was the reason behind the immunity in relation to trade disputes. I am moving this Amendment because I want to know the Government's reasons for believing that there should be this total immunity outside the area of a trade dispute. What is the purpose of giving this highly privileged position to a trade union, apart from its legitimate function in relation to trade disputes?

We have discussed the question of trade union action in political strikes, or in strikes which are a challenge to the law. I have asked how limits can be put on this power, because while this blanket immunity is granted to trade unions no such limit appears possible. If we want to keep total immunity for the trade dispute, but at the same time not put the trade union in a position of privilege quite unlike that enjoyed by any other entity in our society except the Monarchy, then we do not need the first subsection of Clause 11. All the protection that the trade union needs in a trade dispute is contained in the following clauses. Why do we require this blanket immunity which stretches beyond what is necessary?


May I ask, purely for information, why this clause says nothing about action in contemplation or in furtherance of a trade dispute? As the noble Baroness has said, this is really a very broad blanket and I should have expected to see those words included somewhere in the clause. I am deplorably ignorant on the legal niceties of this matter, and if I have asked a stupid question I ask to be excused.


This Amendment raises a question which, I admit, is an important one. The effect of the Amendment, as I understand it, would be to put trade unions—including special register bodies which are trade unions—and unincorporated employers' associations on the same basis as incorporated employers' associations, so far as Clause 11 immunity is concerned. The result would be that the immunity for all these organisations was limited to, and would apply only to, acts done in connection with industrial relations activities.

Immunity on this scale has, of course, existed since the 1906 Act, which the Liberal Government of the time had the proud responsibility of bringing in to put right the notorious Taff Vale position. This has become part of the warp and Woof of trade union life ever since, and has almost acquired the quality of Holy Writ. I do not think its operation in the past has been conducive to industrial troubles or oppression of the citizen, and I venture to emphasise the importance of the restriction on the broad immunity, which is contained in subsection (2) of Clause 11. If I may say so that has been dismissed perhaps too lightly by the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, as being only very slight.

But your Lordships will see that the immunity of trade unions under subsection (1)—I am reading from subsection (2): … shall not affect the liability of a trade union or employer's association to be sued in respect of the following, if not arising from an act done in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute. That is where we see the golden words, if that is the right way to describe them: (a) any negligence, nuisance or breach of duty (whether imposed on them by any rule of law or by or under any enactment) resulting in personal injury to any person; or (b) without prejudice to paragraph (a) above, breach of any duty so imposed in connection with the ownership, occupation, possession, control or use of property (whether real or personal or, in Scotland, heritable or moveable). So far as the ordinary citizen who may be aflected by the actions of a trade union or an employers' association is concerned, there is that wide range of potential liability which is imposed by the subsection upon the trade unions and the other bodies concerned. In my submission, this substantially qualifies an immunity which I concede on the face of it looks an alarming immunity in extent. I have little doubt that in interpreting subsection (2) the courts will interpret it in accordance with its words, but will seek to use it to give to the citizen who may be affected the protection which it is the intention of subsection (2) to give. I hope that on the strength of that assurance the noble Baroness may feel more ready to accept the terms of the clause.


Before the noble Baroness replies, may I ask whether I am to understand that the clause really just reflects the position as it was before 1971? The noble and learned Lord nods his head in the affirmative, I think. Perhaps it would be for the convenience of the Committee if I were to draw their attention to the recommendations of the Donovan Report. The Report says in paragraph 909: In all the circumstances we think it would be right and proper to confine the immunity of trade unions so that it applies as regards torts committed in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute but not as regards any other tort; and we so recommend. I notice that my noble friends have not tabled an Amendment on this point, and I point this out to the Committee because it shows that we are anxious to maintain the position as it was before 1971, so far as possible, in this Bill. We do not think that it should go further in either direction at the present time—or perhaps I should say that I do not think so.


I should like to thank the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor for his reply. I do not intend to press this Amendment to a Division, but I should like to ask for some further clarification. In the event of a strike which is not a strike in furtherance of a trade dispute but which is a strike to change the law in some regard, and the strike then is the cause of considerable loss to an organisation—as strikes of that kind always are—does the organisation which suffers loss then have an action against the trade union?


The protection which is given, is given in an action in furtherance of a trade dispute. That is the broad conspectus of the law upon this matter. If the injury or the damage complained of, as the clause indicates in subsection (1), arises from an act done in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute, then the injured party cannot sue the union. However, in the event of the matter complained of being outside that ambit there would be a remedy. Perhaps I may be given permission to look at that point again between now and Report stage.


I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4.18 p.m.

THE EARL OF GOWRIE moved Amendment No. 21: Page 10, line 8, leave out from ("following") to ("that") in line 9.

The noble Earl said: I beg to move Amendment No. 21, and with the leave of the Committee I should like to speak at the same time to Amendments Nos. 22 and 23. These Amendments relate to the exceptions to the immunities—exceptions dealt with under subsection (2). One of the torts that we are worried about, in respect of which there is not now to be immunity, is the tort of negligence. This means that if a union were to send one of its servants or agents on an errand, let us say in a car or a van owned by that union and it ran over somebody because the driver was negligent, the union would not only be liable but would be subject to the ordinary legal processes. We are sure that everybody, including most trade unions, would say that that is right and as it should be. But I suggest to the Committee that that is not so satisfactory. What difference should it make to the injured party whether the servant of the employers' association or the union was going to the bank to deposit money or was engaged on any humdrum daily affair or whether he was hurrying to the picket line in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute—that is to say, nothing to do with the rights and wrongs of the individual who has been knocked over and the employers of the person who has knocked him over?

The other Amendments go to a substantially different point, namely, to the scope of the exception. At the moment it is limited to torts of negligence. Why, we ask, should it be limited to that? What about trespass to the person? Supposing that a union official in the course of his duty assaults somebody or commits assault or battery, or even brings about false imprisonment, in the circumstances why should not the employer be responsible just as any other employer would be? We recognise that the extension of these immunities applies to employers as well. We want to know, why should either an employers' association or a trade union enjoy such immunities in the circumstances to which I am referring?

There is the other case, of defamation. If in the course of his employment and in circumstances in which his employer, whether it be an employers' association or a trade union, might be liable, someone says something about a third party which is defamatory, why on earth should not the employer be liable as every other employer would be? Why should the question of any furtherance or contemplation of a trade dispute be involved here? The person has been injured just as much as if he had been defamed in an altogether ordinary context. These Amendments would go a long way to bringing into the situation what we feel would be more order and common sense. For these reasons I hope the Government will accept them.

4.20 p.m.


I am afraid I cannot commend these Amendments to the Committee in spite of the moderate way in which they have been moved. Clause 11 relates to the classic immunity of trade unions and employers' associations to actions in tort. I am not sure whether I made it clear enough in my answer to the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, who has left the Chamber for the moment, that the union cannot be sued in tort at all, even in a political strike situation. That was the effect of Section 4 of the 1906 Act, and, subject to Clause 11(2) which we are now discussing, it is repeated. But, of course, union officials can be sued, as we observed in earlier discussions.

The first Amendment which has been moved would enable trade unions and employers' associations to be sued in the circumstances of Clause 11(2), even if the acts were committed in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute. Indeed, that would go much further than the Donovan Commission recommended. It is true that Donovan recommended that immunity should be retained but confined to acts committed in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute. The principle established in 1906 following the Taff Vale case, that trade unions cannot be sued in tort, in the view of the Government must be maintained if unions are to function properly; and while it can be argued that Clause 11 as it stands is kinder to trade unions and employers' associations than Donovan recommended (though by reason of the contents of sub-section (2) I think it is far nearer to Donovan than has been suggested) this Amendment would make the clause much harsher than was recommended by Donovan. The second and third Amendments, particularly that part of the third which refers to damage to a person, would greatly restrict the immunity conferred by Clause 11. The restriction would be very considerable if the first Amendment was carried as well.

As to the points which arise, first of all as to trespass to the person or to property, which I think is identified in Amendment No. 22 for exclusion, actions for trespass to the person are rare. It is hardly conceivable that a trade union as such would commit a trespass to the person, which means hitting someone under the chin, a tort equivalent to the offence of assault and battery. It would be an unusual trade union that in the course of its business went in for action of that kind. I see nodding approval from distinguished noble Lords behind me who have some experience in the field—not. of course, of committing assault and battery, but of trade union activity. The likely trespasser would be an individual who might claim he was acting on behalf of the union, but as I submit, it seems highly unlikely that a union would have given an official authority to commit assault and battery, either expressed or implied, so as to be liable even apart from the clause. The individual himself in the given hypothetical situation I have instanced would be liable personally to an action and, indeed, to criminal proceedings, whether or not he acted in the circumstances of a trade dispute.

Actions for trespass to property are much more important, because they will arise. This is relevant to the situation for "sit-ins", if that is the right way of describing them, of occupation of factory premises. The Opposition Amendment would make trade unions liable for organising such action if it resulted in trespass to property. Whether taking such steps would be helpful in improving industrial relations is another and very different story.

With reference to defamation in the Amendment, one difficulty of interpretation in the pre-1971 law arose from the question whether a union was protected against an action for defamation otherwise than in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute. Apparently there were conflicting data on this subject. It is quite true that to a certain extent Clause 11(2) does perpetuate doubts, but it would probably be possible for a union to sue in libel, for example in a trade journal, if the act was done otherwise than in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute, since it could well be argued against the union that the libel would be in breach of subsection (2)(b), that is to say, in breach of a duty connected with the ownership or use of property. I should say that in any event any article in a union journal giving cause for a libel action would, generally speaking, be likely to arise in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute, and that is protection.

When we come to the reference to personal injury and the Amendment proposing to insert "death or damage" after "injury", there is really no need, if I may say so, to add "death". While death shall have no dominion, it is undoubtedly the final impairment of a person's physical or mental condition. I see the noble and learned Lord shakes his head. I may be embarking on a theological discussion, which is the last thing I want to do. But I would have thought that death would be a tragic contingency already covered by the words of the section. To include the word "damage" would open up a wide field of action against trade unions, especially in conjunction with the first Amendment which, as I have said, removes the conditions that make action under Clause 11(2) possible only in respect of acts not in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute. I am afraid it does return to the philosophy of the 1971 Act, a tendency which I commented on at the beginning of the debate to-day as a regrettable sign of regression on the part of the Conservative Party.


The last charge has been made so many times, and I have tried to rebut it so many times—


I am sorry; I promise I shall not make it again.


In that case, I shall not make my rebuttal again after this. But I must merely say that the Government have taken a great deal of the provision and a lot of the spirit of the 1971 Act on board, because it would be impossible to deal with this whole subject of industrial relations, and of the law in respect of industrial relations, without running into it, without running into Donovan, without running into In Place of Strife, and all the rest. Certainly a very enlightened and forward-looking Labour Government is rushing back to 1906 here. The 1971 Act wished to restrict the immunity, and it did so even-handedly because employers' associations were involved also. But I recognise that it is old ground and the noble and learned Lord has argued very persuasively. With this point in mind, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

THE EARL OF GOWRIE moved Amendment No. 24: Page 10, line 18, at end insert: ("(2A) In this section "trade union or employers' association" means any trade union or employers' association for the time being entered on the lists of trade unions or of employers' associations, as the case may be, maintained by the Register of Friendly Societies under Section 5 of this Act.")

The noble Earl said: I think it will now be entirely clear to the Committee that there is a clear difference between us on opposite sides of the House in connection with this Bill. Both sides accept that the Bill represents a major extension of the liberties, rights and immunities of trade unions, something which goes far beyond the mere repeal of the 1971 Act and the situation as it was before. We believe that these liberties, rights and immunities are very precious and that they should go to organisations that, in every sense of the word, qualify for them and justify receiving them. We believe that the Government ought not to accord a substantial extension of liberties, immunities and privileges lightly. They ought to make certain that those who receive them deserve them. What the Bill does, as now drafted—and our Amendment would correct this—is to draw what is, in our view, a quite inadequate distinction between properly organised and constructed trade unions on the one side and ad hoc groups, provisionals, if I may so term them, engaged in industrial disputes on the other. If we on this side accepted the Bill as it stands, we would not accept the lack of a proper distinction on this point. In this Amendment we are concerned with the danger here. We do not think it would happen very often, but we feel it could happen, and the law must be clear on the point. I beg to move.


The traditional immunity corresponding to Clause 11 of the Bill, which is based on Section 4 of the 1906 Act, was not confined to trade unions on the 1871 to 1971 Register, nor to trade unions certified as unions under the Trade Union Act, 1913. Similarly, there is no intention of restricing the Clause 11 immunity or any other immunity to organisations on the list. In the view of the Government, that would be to repeat the mistake of the Industrial Relations Act 1971, which made the Section 96 immunity dependent upon registration. We believe that making such a dependency a necessity in respect of the enjoyment of this immunity would be erroneous, and would result again in a re-opening of potential conflict in the industrial field.


I must confess that I am a little surprised by the argument of the noble and learned Lord, because it seems to me that in putting down this Amendment we on this side of the House were in some degree trying to protect union officials where disputes were involved. We are always hearing, for instance, of shop stewards, responsible people, who, often in situations of great difficulty and tension, have to try to persuade their members that they ought to remain at work, and when dispute is reasonable they try to contain it, sometimes against the wishes of the members. I accept that altogether, and that is why I am surprised the Government have drafted the Bill in this way. I regret that they will not accept the Amendment, because if shop stewards are in the position of trying to keep industrial peace rather than promote it, it is important, it seems to me, that they should be protected from being outflanked by their extreme wings. I am sure noble Lords opposite will have in mind Lord Donovan's remarks, that there are in our society those who have a vested interest not in industrial peace but in industrial unrest.

Certainly the trade union movement is a major element in the economy and certainly a major element in the formulation of the Government's policy. Therefore, we feel that it is important to provide trade unions with as much authority as they need to protect their officers so far as possible against the incursions of the provisional or ad hoc elements of self-seeking people, irresponsible people or politically motivated people. We believe that the Amendment before us would strengthen the officers of trade unions in the conduct of their affairs, and we believe that it would be of great assistance in establishing more responsible trade unionism in the country. However, I accept that this ground has been gone over before, here and in another place, and I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 11 agreed to.

4.37 p.m.

BARONESS SEEAR moved Amendment No. 25: After Clause 11 insert the following new clause: '11A. Notwithstanding any provision in section 11 above, it shall be unlawful for any trade union or official of any trade union to induce or threaten to induce any person employed in organisations whose principle purpose is the supply of gas, water or electricity to withdraw his labour or engage in other industrial action in concert with others in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute unless at least two weeks prior written notice has been given to the employing organisation.

The noble Baroness said: This Amendment is moved in the hope, perhaps optimistically, that the Government will see fit to accept it. At least it cannot be laid at their door that it goes back to the 1971 Act. It does not even go back only to the 1906 Act. It goes right back to the spirit of 1876, and that must surely meet with the approval of a Government resistant to more recent legislation. This is an attempt to revive a law which was the law of the land for nearly 100 years, in the interests of the general public put at risk by a strike in a personal way. It is nothing to do with the rights of employers vis-á-vis a dispute. It has to do with the position of the ordinary public threatened by a strike which can involve considerable danger as well as hardship, in gas, electricity and water. If they are suddenly cut off, their absence can create chaos and hardship for people far removed in any way from the causes of the dispute. Of course, it is not suggested that this should involve an indefinite curtailment, but merely a notice of two weeks, on the one hand in order to ensure every possible opportunity to get a settlement of the dispute before strike action is taken, and on the other hand, if strike action is to arise, to give people, such as people on kidney machines, the opportunity to try to make some arrangement to meet the very real personal difficulties which inevitably arise with strikes in these industries. I beg to move.


I do wish I could make concessions to the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, because she argues her Amendments, if I may say so, so persuasively, but I regret that I must say, No, to this Amendment. Its effect would be to withdraw the legal immunities of trade unions or trade union officials inducing industrial action in the gas, water and electricity industries if two weeks' notice is not given. That, I understand, is the purport of the Amendment.

The first matter I would invite the Committee to consider is that while it is clear that the public generally, of course, suffers when gas, water or electricity are affected, in the supply to the community, it is unlikely that exposing trade unions to legal action in the circumstances would really help. I am afraid that the sombre lesson of 1971 is that that is the conclusion we must arrive at. In the vast majority of the cases where trade unions and their officials call industrial action in this field, notice is in practice given. Inadequate notice is most likely to be given in cases of unofficial action, but this new clause does not deal with unofficial action; it refers only to trade unions and trade union officials who, by and large, act responsibly, particularly in the field of the supply to the public of gas, water, and electricity.

Secondly, there is no irresistible logic in picking out gas, water and electricity. It may well be that the previous Administration recognised this when, in the 1971 Act, they repealed Section 4 of the Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act 1875. That Section, as my noble friend Lord Shepherd knows so well, as extended by the Electricity Supply Act 1919, made it a criminal offence for any person in the gas, water and electricity industries wilfully and maliciously to break a contract of service knowing, or having reasonable cause to believe, that the probable consequences of his so doing, whether alone or in combination with others, will be to deprive people either wholly or to a great extent of their gas, water and electricity. But, as the events of the last four years have shown so painfully and vividly, there are other areas of industry and services which are just as essential to the community at large as gas, electricity and water. I have in mind particularly sewerage, hospitals and coalmining.

The Committee should perhaps remember that Section 5 of the Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act 1875 is still on the Statute Book. This provides that where any person wilfully and maliciously breaks a contract of hiring, knowing or having reasonable cause to know that the probable consequences of his so doing will be to endanger human life, or cause serious bodily injury or expose valuable property to destruction or serious injury he commits an offence. That is still part of the law. It is true, and I would be misleading the Committee if I did not confess it, that there has not been a prosecution for an offence under that Section. Perhaps the moral of that situation is that it points again to the unsuitability of legal remedies in this difficult field. The community is also protected by the provisions in the Emergency Powers Acts of 1920 and 1964 in relation to emergencies which may arise and, where appropriate, emergency action can be taken by the various public authorities.

4.43 p.m.


It would seem to my mind that the Amendment is tightly drawn and obviously it would be impractical, as my noble and learned friend has just said or implied, to make special cases—I use the term that has been in common use of late—of gas, water and electricity. As my noble and learned friend said, transport, coal and other matters are essential. Although it may be difficult for the Government to accept the Amendment, as it might not be consistent with the general trend and sentiments of the Bill itself, the sentiments expressed in it appeal very much to my mind. I wonder whether my noble and learned friend might have said that this was a matter that would come under review and receive full consideration when we come to deal with the second part of the package; namely, conciliation and arbitration.

If we are never to improve industrial relations and, what is even more important, bring an end to strikes so far as is practical—I am not optimistic enough to believe that we can make an end to strikes altogether—and create a civilised society where employers, workpeople and the community generally recognise that to suspend operations can create chaos, inconvenience, hardship and the like, then it seems to me that it is a very poor outlook. I may not have to experience it myself, but I fear for my grand-children and great-grandchildren—and I have a great many of them already. Therefore, I wonder whether my noble and learned friend will tell the Committee that the Government at least have this in mind when they refer to the prospect of conciliation and arbitration.


I should like to support the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, in this matter, and I wish to urge the Government that it needs further consideration. When the 1971 Act was passed this was changed, and now that the 1971 Act is being abandoned we have to look back at it. If your Lordships look at paragraphs 830 to 847 of the Donovan Report, you will see a most careful and illuminating discussion of the whole aspect of Sections 4 and 5 of the 1875 Act. In the light of the events of last winter, I do not think that we are justified in thinking, as we did in 1971—and I was present at most of our debates—that there could never be a damaging strike in gas, electricity and water. If we ever learned anything to our cost, it was last winter. To ask that there should be a fortnight's notice in this matter is really the very minimum that can reasonably be asked for.

We had quite a strong recommendation from the Donovan Royal Commission that the law should not be altered, and we did alter it. I venture to think in retrospect, and taking account of the changes now being made in the law relating to trade unions and labour relations and immunities, that it would be unwise not to think about this a little further. In support of what the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, said, I should like to remind your Lordships of the reservations made by Mr. Andrew Shonfield to the Donovan Report. He pointed out that we have seen a lot of cases where very complex industrial operations involving a great many firms making components, raw materials and other parts have to co-operate together, and a strike in some of these can cause to the working lives of an enormous number of working people disruption which is quite out of relation to the number of people who may be involved in the strike. We saw this in the Girling brake dispute, and in the case of the men who drove the trucks away from the Leyland factories.

Gas, electricity and water are in rather a special category in this regard, because the whole industry of the country depends on them. Now that we will have our own gas coming from the North Sea, it is clear that it will be much more widely used; that many more enterprises will depend entirely on it. We ought to take their interests into account. I agree entirely with the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor that, of course, there are other categories of workers who perhaps ought to be considered. One remembers the sewerage workers from the year before last: one remembers the hospital nurses mentioned by Mr. Andrew Shon-field, and various other categories which I shall not enumerate now. But gas, water and electricity are fundamental. We were recommended not to do something by Donovan and it showed how wise that Report was. I press the Government to think further about the Amendment, which does not ask very much and is a wise one.


Without the experience of the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, or the knowledge of the documents of the noble Lord, Lord Hankey, I express sympathy with what the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, said. There is a great deal of feeling among people generally—it was echoed by the noble Lord, Lord Douglass of Cleveland—that somewhere in the legislation there should be provision for delay. We have a community that is apprehensive of these major intrusions into their lives. They recognise that the right to strike is there, but there is a feeling of disappointment that there is nothing in the Bill about delay, It is appropriate that the noble Baroness should have brought it to our attention and moved it in the form of an Amendment.


Perhaps I may intervene very shortly in this debate, because I think there is something that ought to be said. The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, with his usual gift for phrase, talked about the sombre lesson of 1971 in connection with the Amendment. On this Amendment I will not go into what the sombre lesson of 1971 was or was not, but I very much question the wisdom of introducing this category of thinking in relation to the Amendment. I wish to put on record why I think it was a mistake for the noble and learned Lord to do so.

As he said, the Amendment bears an obvious historical and family resemblance to Section 4 of the Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act 1875. As the noble and learned Lord rightly pointed out—though he did not give us much credit for it—what we did in the 1971 Act was to repeal that Section. Whatever the lesson of 1971 may or may not have been, it must therefore be that it cannot include the subject matter of the Amendment of the noble Baroness, because the one thing we did in 1971 which can have any bearing on it was to repeal the relevant section of the law.

I think it is extremely important that none of us, neither on this side by inadvertence, or on that side by inadvertence or design, should let it go forth that the real lesson of 1971 was that trade unions did not, in fact, obey the law. The fact is that they usually do obey the law. That is important to remember in connection with the Amendment. The truth is that for 100 years, give or take a year, the law was that you must not break your contract if you belonged to one of the listed industries. That relating to electricity was added later. But three out of the four listed industries related to this question of not breaking your contract, because of the general danger involved. I believe that for more than 100 years the fact was either that there were no strikes in those industries, or that the strikes were absolutely negligible.

I do not know which way tells on the Amendment, but for various reasons which I shall not go into because I am eager to keep yesterday's undertaking not to prolong the matter, in its present form the Amendment will not do. The fact is that there was on the Statute Book a Section saying that you must not do it and even though the sanction was criminal and it may be thought, I think wrcngly for some purposes, that you cannot enforce criminal sanctions against trade unions —I doubt the truth of that as a proposition—the trade unions concerned observed the law, although other trade unions who were not listed in the Act took the kind of action that would have been prohibited if they had been listed.

As the noble and learned Lord rightly said, I was doubtful about the repeal of that law. Perhaps it is disclosing matters which I should not disclose, but for the reason I have given I was doubtful about its repeal. As the noble and learned Lord rightly said, we kept Section 5 on the Statute Book. That Section says that if there is a danger to life it is still an offence. It may be that the noble and learned Lord is right in saying that Section 5 is a sufficient protection. That is the argument which prevailed and which led the Conservative Cabinet to repeal Section 4. But if it is right it runs counter to the general argument, and it is worth keeping Section 5 on the Statute Book precisely because the listed industries are likely to observe the law, and not because they are likely to break it. People are always abusing me for talking about law and order and its breakdown. I mean every word I say. But one must never forget that in making that kind of criticism of existing society the truth is that the British people like laws, they prefer the rule of law, and whether they are trade unionists or not they, on the whole, keep them.

4.56 p.m.


May I add my voice to those who have addressed the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, to ask her to reflect on the industries to which reference is made in the new clause, gas, water and electricity. I have not the legal background of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, or the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, but the 1875 Act, which we call the "master and servant Act"—it was the same Act—contained a clause that laid it down that gas and water industries must give one week's notice of any strike. Many of us in the trade union movement held that that was dangerous because it was not a safeguard. We wanted much longer than a week to try to engage in negotiations to bring about an atmosphere in which there would be no strike. It seemed to us that the 1875 Act, so long as it stayed as it was with the one week provision in Section (4), was almost guaranteeing that any people who wanted to be difficult would say: "Let us give a week's notice. Nothing much will happen in a week; we will see to that," and the strike would take place.

I ask your Lordships to reflect on the industries, and on the unions which are associated with them in this clause. In the main, of course, the gas industry functions within the National Union of General and Municipal Workers. I do not think there has been a strike since the 1889 Beckton gas strike. At one time Beckton was in the constituency of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor. So far as water is concerned, the National Union of Waterworks Employees have never had a strike in their history. They have now emerged with an equally responsible organisation, the National Union of General and Municipal Workers. So you have the National Union of General and Municipal Workers, which is not notable for its incidence of, or policy on, strikes. It is a highly responsible union; yet these two industries are selected among the others.

Electricity was under the able leadership of Sir Leslie Carron, who took over after a big difficulty in that union involving, as is known, some corruption in the way of ballot-rigging which the trade union movement dealt with. Now, under the leadership of Mr. Frank Chapple, who is a highly responsible individual, it is contributing towards, I would say, a relationship in industry which I hope will develop and will be more conciliatory and perhaps more open to arbitration than it was. But one of the functions of the conciliation and arbitration service which is to be established under the chairmanship of Mr. James Mortimer, who has some considerable experience in the trade union field and also on the management side of industry, will be not just to deal with stoppages or industrial disputes but to look at the procedure agreements that there are in industry, and in that way try to ensure that there are more procedures which do not lead to breakdown than procedures which are perhaps deficient in that respect.

Quite frankly, I should like the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, not to press this Amendment, because I think she is pushing at an open door, in respect of the procedures and the desire to make sure that there are no stoppages which involve either dangers to human life or dangers at any rate to the secure employment of other people. That is so as far as this list is concerned—gas, water and electricity—in relation to the unions and in relation to the relationship which exists in those industries. The list omits transport, which I should have thought could equally well have been included, but it will include sewage and virtually every industry you can mention which is a public service. I therefore hope that the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, will have another look at this and will perhaps withdraw this Amendment.


Before the noble Baroness replies, might we ask the Government whether, in the light of this debate, they could give us any assurance such as the noble Lord, Lord Feather, has so wisely suggested?


I can certainly give the assurance that not only is the conciliation and advisory service, the importance of which in this and similar fields my noble friend Lord Feather has just emphasised, going to be set up at the next stage of the legislation in this field but that already administrative steps are being taken to activate it (if that is the right word) and to see that its conciliation and advisory services are available. We are confident that its assistance in this sort of field will be of crucial importance, and may well take on board the point that my noble friend Lord Shinwell was emphasising in his observations.

It is the case that the unions in this field—and the Amendment refers to the unions, and not to unofficial action—happen, as the noble Lord, Lord Feather, has said, to be highly responsible unions; and, if I may say so, I am particularly happy that he has said such favourable things about the Gas Workers' Union, which was born in my old constituency of West Ham, under the leadership of that distiguished trade unionist, Will Thorn, who was a friend of many of your Lordships. I therefore hope that the noble Baroness, having raised this matter and having highlighted the importance of what she said (with which I confess I am in full personal sympathy myself), will feel that in the circumstances, having had the difficulties of its restrictions pointed out, she need not press it to a Division.


In answer to the comments that have been made, of course I fully accept, as the noble Lord, Lord Feather, said, that the unions concerned happen to have an extremely good record, although there have been some breaches in that record so far as the electricity industry is concerned in recent years. It could of course be argued that this has something to do with the 1875 Act; but I will not press that point, which has already been pressed very fully by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham. The reason for picking on these three industries, as the noble Lord, Lord Feather, rather implied, has nothing whatever to do with the trade unions and their record which is a very good one, but with the quite specific fact that these are industries of very great importance to the general public, to people affected by a strike but who are in no way a party to or involved in the dispute.

I think it is the greatest pity that in this Trade Union Bill no recognition is given to the fact, which must Le crystal clear for all your Lordships to see and which is known to everybody, that the public is at risk in trade disputes to-day in a way in which, in previous generations, was not at all the case. In all the arguments we have had in your Lordships' Committee, the discussions have centred on the rights of trade unions or on the position of employers, and at no point, either in the discussions or in the Bill, is there any recognition of the fact that the public, the ordinary men and women in the street, are deeply involved in what goes on in relation to industrial relations. I must say that I would have wished that the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor could have told us that there would be some reflection at Report stage of the points which have been raised on both sides of the Committee in discussing this Amendment; and I hope that he will give some thought still to this issue of the protection of the public, not parties to the dispute, in matters which are of the very greatest concern to them.

I take the point, of course, that there are other industries. I was tempted to add transport. Those of us who use public transport are only too well aware of the way in which people who are not parties to a dispute are deeply affected by a breakdown in industrial relations. In view of all that has been said, I do not propose to press this Amendment to a Division, but I very much hope that the Government will consider making some comment on it at Report stage.


I am certainly willing to give thought to it and to make comment at Report stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 12 [Peaceful picketing]:

5.7 p.m.

LORD HANKEY moved Amendment No. 26: Page 10, line 22, after ("trade dispute") insert ("in an industry or undertaking in which they work").

The noble Lord said: With the permission of your Lordships' Committee I will speak to Amendments Nos. 26 and 27 together. These are essentially probing Amendments, because I think we ought to discover what the policy of the Government is as regards the collection of people from many areas in order to make very large picketing displays. I would not have raised these points if in the course of the last two or three years we had not seen one or two rather flagrant cases. I recall the case of the people who came down in trucks to Shrewsbury and who broke up a building site, many of whom were afterwards before the courts. I recall also the affair at Scunthorpe, which began to attain considerable dimensions; and, there again, I think I am right in saying that coachloads of people came from Manchester or Liverpool—I do not quite know which.

I am also thinking of that very unpleasant affair in North London the other day, when a packet of people came together to hold a demonstration in a certain hall and another considerable packet of people was allowed to come together and try to hold a demonstration simultaneously in another part of the hall. The result was that they clashed and a student died. This sort of thing is not fair to the police.


Is this a matter concerning industrial relations?


I submit that this is a matter of how far the law on picketing is to be allowed to go.


May I intervene? The case that the noble Lord is referring to had nothing whatsoever to do with an industrial dispute of any sort, and the noble Lord is surely aware of that.


Very well; I will not mention the affair in North London any more. But the others were industrial disputes, and the question is how far we are going in allowing demonstrations in picketing. We live in troublous times and I do not think it fair on the police that the law of picketing should stand in such a way that pickets should be extended to the point where they constitute major demonstrations. I do not think that that ought to be allowed to happen, and I believe that, sooner or later, it will lead to disorder. I do not think that it is necessary for the operation of pickets, although I accept that there should be pickets. I should like to hear how the Government propose to handle this matter and how far they think that this should be allowed to go. I beg to move.


The noble Lord has moved the Amendment with a speech that has no relevance to the Amendments on the Order Paper. The Amendments which are here would presumably restrict secondary picketing—picketing in an industry or an undertaking other than that in which the pickets work. That is the purpose of the noble Lord's Amendment, but what he has sought to do is to speak to clause stand part. The noble Lord has asked what is the position of Her Majesty's Government in regard to picketing. The Government took the view that the present Bill was not the place to change the existing law of picketing, and that any changes which were necessary should be dealt with in more leisurely fashion in the Employment Protection Bill.

The Amendment which the noble Lord has moved perhaps illustrates what may be behind his thinking. These Amendments would, in fact, put the whole trade union movement and the role of picketing back to the beginning of the century so far as peaceful picketing is concerned. The noble Lord referred to a number of episodes which are certainly, in my view, completely indefensible, but I think that reference has been made in the course of this Committee stage to the coal dispute in 1972, when there were difficulties Many lessons were learnt at that time by the unions, the police and other authorities, and, in 1974, as a consequence to those lessons, agreements were entered into by the National Union of Mine-workers and various authorities to ensure that there was peaceful picketing. Those agreements, if my memory is right, limited the number of pickets to six and even had the official pickets with armbands to note that they were official pickets.

One of the great risks in industrial disputes is that there are many—no, I must qualify that—there are some organisations which will seek to use such a dispute for their own advantage. Many of the problems which arise in picketing and in demonstrations are not the responsibility of the organisers of the picket or the demonstration put of the many people who go into those demonstrations for their own advantage and point of view. How one protects the right of demonstrators to demonstrate is something which is clearly worthy of consideration.

In another Amendment which the official Opposition may be moving after this Amendment, we might perhaps be able to deal with this matter more fully. However, I want to say to the noble Lord, Lord Hankey, that, so far as the Bill is concerned, we are retaining the position exactly as it has been for many years and as it was confirmed in the 1971 Act, with the extra provision which was in the 1971 Act in regard to picketing at a person's private home. So far as the Bill is concerned, the noble Lord can rest assured—or I hope that he will rest assured—that the Bill does not in any way change the position on peaceful picketing.


I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, for his observations and to say that there is very great resentment all up and down England at the fact that the miners picketed the electricity works last winter and prevented the electricity supply authorities from getting their own coal stocks. That is carrying picketing very far, and I think that the Government have a duty to protect the community against that kind of extension of a trade dispute. I hope that the noble Lord will not say that that is not relevant, because one effect of my probing Amendment would be to prevent that happening.

I shall not press these Amendments because I can reveal to the House that similar Amendments were put down by Lord Thorneycroft in 1971, some doubts were expressed about their effect and he did not move them. However, I thought at the time that they were extremely interesting and I am glad that we have had a discussion about this. Reverting also to the Donovan Report, which has been so much quoted in your Lordships' House and in this debate, I recall a sentence by Mr. Andrew Shonfield on page 289, which says: But there arc other obligations, notably those which express the duty of trade unions to conduct their industrial relations in such a way as not to hold back improvements in the standard of living of the community as a whole, which need to be spelt out. I leave your Lordships with that thought and I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

5.18 p.m.

THE EARL OF GOWRIE moved Amendment No. 28: Page 10, line 29, at end insert— ("(2) The Secretary of State may make regulations governing the manner and circumstances in which the rights of this section referred to may be exercised but nothing in the said regulations shall enlarge or in any way add to the said rights. (3) Regulations under this section shall not come into force unless approved by resolutions of each House of Parliament.")

The noble Earl said: We now come to picketing. Donovan on picketing came to the conclusion that the law as it stood was broadly satisfactory. The Commission made a minority recommendation that picketing at home—and I think that the reference here is in paragraphs 876 and 877—should be excluded, although the majority of the Donovan Commission thought that such exclusion was unnecessary. We know that it was excluded in the 1971 Act and that exclusion has been carried forward in the present Bill. Both the major political Parties are in favour of going a little beyond Donovan's majority recommendation of that time.

Our Amendment goes even further beyond Donovan, and we do accept that that is so. The Secretary of State has himself given us the idea behind the Amendment because, on Second Reading in another place, he said that there would be a power to make regulations governing the manner and circumstances in which the right of picketing could be exercised, these being subject to Affirmative Resolution procedure. So the parentage of this Amendment lies firmly with the Secretary of State. He did not rest there, because he said that, in respect of the question of picketing, he had hoped to deal with it partly, … under new regulations or by a code to be introduced at the same time as we introduced the Bill, but that has not proved the best way of going about it."—[Official Report, (Commons), 7/5/74; col. 231.]

In other words, he had changed his mind. He went on to say that it was better to spell out the whole matter in the Bill rather than proceed by way of regulation.

So the Secretary of State says that, firstly he believes that to proceed by way of regulation is not possible and, secondly, that the whole thing ought to be spelt out in the Bill. He gave no reasons why he changed his mind from the carefully considered statement which he originally made on March 22. I do not think that he was making an "off the cuff" remark then; it was a considered and written statement. We have now reached the stage when it would seem that the Government had changed their mind and were not proposing any amendment to the Bill along these lines. For these reasons we are picking up the earlier, original suggestion by the Secretary of State, which we believe is sensible, that these matters should be covered by regulation, and our Amendment would give effect to this. I beg to move.


Perhaps if I intervene here it may save a little time. We stand firmly behind the provisions in Clause 12 in regard to peaceful picketing. These are, in substance if not in entirety, the law as it has been for a number of years, except for the amendment made by the 1971 Act in regard to picketing at a person's home. Certain changes in the problems of picketing have arisen since Donovan arising from the increased use of motor transport. There was a body of opinion, in which my right honourable friend shared, that one should be able to seek ways and means by which peaceful picketing would allow for vehicles on the road at the entrance of a factory to be stopped in order that the pickets may explain the position to the particular lorry driver.

My right honourable friend I think has in mind doing this by regulation, primarily, I suspect, because of the difficulty of producing the right formula for the clause. I take the view that regulations are not in themselves a suitable vehicle for making law. Regulations are there to implement what is a view, a decision, of Parliament—giving the Secretary of State the authority to use regulations for the implementation of it. I think I can say that the view of the Government is, that if there is to be any change in this field—I repeat if there is to be any change—it should be done by legislation and that the right place for it would be the Bill we have mentioned on a number of occasions, the Employment Protection Bill, which Parliament would be able to consider in depth and have the opportunity to amend, whereas a regulation has either to be accepted or rejected.

So I would ask the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, to accept, as I believe he does, that Clause 12 is substantially, if not in entirety, that which was in the 1971 Act and that if there is to be any change it ought to be done by legislation which is open to the closest scrutiny by Parliament. I ask him to accept, from my point of view at least, that the use of regulations is not a suitable way of making a change of a major character in the field of industrial relations.

5.24 p.m.


I do not want to prolong this debate unnecessarily. I found the speech of the noble Lord the Leader of the House a little disappointing, and I was indeed slightly surprised that he should have so explicitly disavowed the attitude towards regulations taken by his right honourable friend. If it is wrong to change the law of picketing by reference to regulations it must have been wrong for his right honourable friend to say he had it in contemplation, whether he had it in contemplation with regard to the particular matter he mentioned or not. I also thought that the noble Lord was a little unkind to the noble Lord on the Cross-Benches on the previous Amendment.

The fact is that this is a very difficult and crucial issue in industrial relations. The right to picket undoubtedly exists; the right to picket is difficult to police; that there must be some limit to it is, I think, universally admitted, and indeed is admitted by the fact of Clause 12. The law with regard to it has evolved over the years, sometimes as a result of quite unhappy episodes, and the need to formulate the rights of pickets is something to which we shall have to revert at some time or other in the near future. We refer again and again in these debates to the lessons of the past few years, and in reply to the noble Lord, Lord Hankey, the noble Lord the Leader of the House himself referred to them. I thought that he was perfectly right in the terms in which he did so, because undoubtedly the lessons of the events of, I think, the year before last rather than last year were that there were dangers about certain types of picketing. It was difficult to control; it is difficult for the union to control them; they were, if carried to extreme lengths, almost certain to lead to violence even if the original intention was peaceful, and it put the police in particular in an invidious position.

The noble Lord himself referred to the difficulty of identifying those who legitimately were picketing and distinguishing them by visual test from those who were not legitimately picketing. This is something that I would have thought could be dealt with by regulation and not by Act of Parliament. It would appear that advances have been made privately between larger unions, the police and the authorities of one sort or another. But of course we are not always dealing with the larger unions. We are dealing with all kinds of different people, and unless there be some kind of legal sanction behind the arrangements which are made it is precisely those who do not belong to the larger unions and who do not want to behave in a peaceful manner whom one is seeking by some means to isolate and control.

I am not myself persuaded that regulation is a wrong or improper way of doing this, especially if, as in the case of the present Amendment, the regulation is one of the variety which has to be approved by both Houses of Parliament by way of Affirmative Resolution. However, it would, I think, be perverse on our part if we were to force on the Government a power which they do not intend to use. The noble Lord, whatever else may have been defective in his speech, has been quite categorical that his right honourable friend would not now intend to use the weapon if it were placed in his hands. Therefore there can be no possibility of a sensible Division about this Amendment. I am a little disappointed about the reply we have had. but unless others wish to speak my noble friend beside me will no doubt wish to withdraw the Amendment at a suitable time.


Before the Leader of the House replies or the noble Earl withdraws the Amendment, may I say on behalf of noble Lords on these Benches that we too share the view expressed both by the noble Lord, Lord Hankey, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, that picketing is indeed an important matter. We too should welcome any early opportunity that it may be possible to provide to discuss this particular aspect of industrial relations.


I am quite aware of the questioning that is in many people's minds in the field of picketing. I expressed a personal view as to the method of regulation. That does not mean to say that it would be wrong. I accept that there is a need for this matter to be looked at fully and calmly, and I hope that the Employment Protection Bill, which this Government is obligated to introduce, will be a vehicle in which this can and ought to be considered. Then the matter of whether or not one uses regulations can be considered wholly calmly against the general background that arises from picketing.

One cannot help but feel that we have far too many industrial disputes in this country. If these is an industrial dispute there are bound to be pickets. There is one certainty; that is, that if pickets misbehave it is bound to be reported in the Press or shown on television. There are occasions—and I say this to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, because I think he will probably agree with me—when it is indeed remarkable how the television cameras somehow happen to be there when there are difficulties. How that arises I do not in any way wish to conjecture, but it is indeed remarkable, taking the few places where there are difficulties between pickets and those who wish to cross the line or otherwise, how the media somehow is able to be there.


Our debate, though short, has been very clear and helpful, and in eager anticipation of a kind of festival of peaceful picketing on television, as suggested by the noble Lord Leader of the House, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 12 agreed to.

Clauses 13 and 14 agreed to.

Clause 15 [Enforceability of collective agreements]:


I beg to move Amendment No. 29. According to my brief the effect of this Amendment is to make Clause 15 subsection (3)(b) more easily read. I commend it to your Lordships' Committee.

Amendment moved— Page 11, line 29, leave out from ("contract ") to end of line 37 and insert ("but a part of an agreement which by virtue of this paragraph is not a legally enforceable contract may be referred to for the purpose of interpreting a part of that agreement which is such a contract.")—(Lord Shepherd.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

5.34 p.m.

THE EARL OF GOWRIE moved Amendment No. 30: Page 11, line 38, leave out subsections (4) and (5).

The noble Earl said: I am glad to be able to move this Amendment because it is designed to avoid the risk of the collapse of current practices in regard to agreements and, therefore, by logical inference, an increase in the risk of worse industrial relations and more strikes. The Committee knows that the Industrial Relations Act 1971 required the assumption of legal enforceability unless otherwise agreed. I still believe that it is right in principle to expect this to be the standard, the norm, rather than the exception in industrial agreements. The law in other fields is not entirely consistent in ruling what constitutes a firm and legally binding undertaking between two parties, nor for instance at what point an agreement is understood to have taken place. In most circumstances, however, agreements are finally concluded and the parties are encouraged in their determination to keep to what they have agreed by the possibility, however remote, of legal sanctions. Legal sanctions are therefore a kind of useful underpinning to what are generally good practices. An attitude of mind bent on keeping rather than breaking agreements is surely healthy, and I have no doubt that on both sides of the House we should not dissent from that. Therefore, a law which says, in regard to industrial relations agreements, that they shall be assumed to be binding should, in my view, meet with the same general approval.

It was in response to that kind of logic and indeed in an attempt to meet the ideal for all legislation, to combine fairness with public approval and workability, that the Industrial Relations Act required this assumption of enforceability. However, I acknowledge that in this respect, as in others, the 1971 Act may have been ahead of its time—or possibly some people would say too idealistic.

We are not, as the Committee knows, attempting to reintroduce this Act, though at the same time we refuse to deny the principle of agreeability enshrined in it. It is a principle universally agreed that collective agreements should normally be binding. We now accept that we may have to move more slowly towards achieving this ideal. We recognise that there are sometimes advantages in negotiating if the legal enforceability clause is not automatically included. But we also recognise that what has resulted in practice is that virtually no collective agreements are at present being decided. That is a pity and the Amendment seeks to improve the situation. I beg to move.

5.37 p.m.


The effect of these Amendments is to nullify that part of Clause 15 which provides that any term in a collective agreement which prohibits or restricts the right of a worker to engage in industrial action shall not form part of any contract with a worker unless certain conditions are satisfied. By virtue of subsection (4) of Clause 15 it will not be possible for the terms of a collective agreement restricting strike or other industrial action—and in practice mainly the "no-strike clause" sometimes found in procedure agreements—to be incorporated into the individual contract of employment (and so become legally enforceable against the individual worker) unless the collective agreement specifically and in terms allows this.

The extent to which such terms of a collective agreement can become incorporated into an individual contract is a matter of dispute and difficulty and needs clarification which subsection (4) seeks to introduce. If workers are to be legally bound by the terms of a collective agreement negotiated by a union they should, I submit, be aware of that fact, and unions and employers should be clear what is being done when they negotiate the agreement. More specifically, it is right that if those making a collective agreement want to bind individual workers they should specifically agree to do so. If they do not, incorporation should not be possible. I emphasise that the provision does not prevent incorporation, nor does it prevent employers writing "no-strike" obligations into individual contracts even if there are no such obligations in the collective agreement. But in that case, the employee will be aware of the fact and will be made aware of the fact and will be free to disagree if he wants to.

The condition in subsection (4)(d) ensures that unions which are not independent cannot negotiate collective agreements which authorise the incorporation of "no-strike" clauses into individual contracts, and it is thought that it is right that individual workers should have special protection in those circumstances. As to subsection (5), which the Amendment proposes to leave out, this is necessary to override any provision to the contrary in any agreement, including a collective agreement or a contract with any worker. Without the provision of the subsection, subsection (4) could be rendered null and void, for example by a collective agreement itself.


The noble and learned Lord underestimated a little the usefulness of prior negotiation in this area. It seems to us there is no better way of preventing disputes and reducing the risk of their taking place, than that agreements having been properly negotiated and at some length, should be kept. In the case of procedure agreements there should be no excuse for breaking them before they have been exhausted. I recognise that trade union leaders are as keen as anyone to observe procedure agreements, and their opposition to what we seek to amend is part of that same and rather sad blanket opposition to the 1971 Act to which I referred earlier. I could tell from the tone of the noble and learned Lord's voice that he was not over-anxious to accept the Amendment. In order to get on with the business I therefore beg leave to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 15 agreed to.

Clauses 16 and 17 agreed to.

Clause 18 [Effect of abolition of National Industrial Relations Court on pending proceedings and decisions given]:

5.42 p.m.

LORD SHEPHERD moved Amendment No. 31: Page 15, line 34, after ("and") insert ("subject to subsection (10) below").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move this Amendment and, with permission, speak to Amendment No. 32. The purpose of these Amendments is first to give a discretionary power to the Secretary of State to authorise the Commission on Industrial Relations to make a report on a question referred to it by the N.I.R.C. which would otherwise not be made because the reference is treated as withdrawn when the Act is passed; and secondly to permit the C.I.R. to include in that report information which was given to it while it was examining the question under the 1971 Act.

When the Bill was debated in another place a number of points were made about the winding up of the C.I.R. Since the 1971 Act was passed the Commission has derived its work from two sources. First, it has carried out at the request of the Secretary of State inquiries into longer term problems relating to procedural agreements and other industrial relations matters in particular firms or industries, or more generally. The Secretary of State for Employment undertook not to wind up the C.I.R. until the Conciliation and Arbitration Service was in a position to undertake these functions.

Secondly, the C.I.R. reports at the request of the N.I.R.C. on statutory questions chiefly about bargaining rights. The Bill provides that these references should lapse when it becomes law. Concern was expressed in another place lest this meant that valuable work was wasted. In practice this concern was limited to a reference about recognition of unions for the white collar staff of I.C.I, limited. Most of the other references from N.I.R.C. will in fact have been completed by the time the Bill is law. The remainder consist largely of cases on which work has hardly started, some of which are highly controversial.

The I.C.I. reference is in a unique position as a considerable amount of work has been done and the main parties concerned want to see the results. The Secretary of State undertook to consult the C.I.R. to see if they could produce a report for the parties based on the work already done (mainly a survey of the 36,000 staff involved) even if this could not be done before repeal. The C.I.R. have told the Secretary of State that they can do this, but in view of the terms of Clause 18(7)(b), it seems advisable to give the Secretary of State specific power to authorise them to do this.

The C.I.R. should therefore be able in the course of August to complete a report on the results of the survey so as to provide an up to date basis of fact from which the various parties concerned can continue their discussions and negotiation, if necessary with the help of the new Conciliation and Advisory Service when it is established. The provision is couched in general terms, but in fact I understand that the power is only likely to be exercised in this particular case. Accordingly, I commend these Amendments to your Lordships. I beg to move.


This appears to be a tribute to the work of the C.I.R. and as such we welcome it.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move Amendment No. 32. Amendment moved— Page 16, line 8, at end insert— ("(10) Where a reference or a request by the Court to the Commission on Industrial Relations is treated as withdrawn by virtue of subsection (7)(b), the Secretary of State may authorise the Commission to make a report of its findings and recommendations on that reference or request to those persons appearing to the Commission to be directly concerned, and to arrange for the report to be published in such manner as the Commission consider appropriate, and paragraph 43(1) of Schedule 3 to the 1971 Act (disclosure of information) shall not apply to that report).—(Lord Shepherd.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 18, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 19 to 25 agreed to.

Clause 26 [Meaning of trade dispute]:

5.48 p.m.


Moved Amendment No. 33: Page 20, line 11, leave out subsection (3). The noble Lord said: This is a probing Amendment. It is designed to find out what are the intentions of the Government in putting in Clause 26(3) in the Bill which says: There is a trade dispute for the purposes of this Act even though it relates to matters occurring outside Great Britain. But can the Committee imagine any provisions which are more likely to multiply trade disputes inside our country? I am all for the trade unions being able to protect their members, but I find it extremely difficult to see why we should have a clause in this Bill which enables some body of people, probably not a trade union—I think trade unions are too responsible—to stage a dispute because of something which happens in Zambia, India or anywhere one can think of, such as the South Pole. One has to look at this in connection with the definition of a trade dispute in Clause 26(1). Your Lordships will see that a number of new provisions have been added, including matters of discipline, the membership or non-membership of a trade union on the part of a worker, facilities for officials of trade unions, and so on.

Would it be reasonable for a trade dispute to be manufactured because of something which happened in Greece, Chile, the Sudan or India? I ask this question because I find it difficult to believe this was the intention of the Government. I should like to know why they have put this in—and I think we are entitled to know. I have heard that it is because of the importance of international companies. If I.B.M. have a strike going on in America, would it be reasonable for them to be immobilised by a strike in some key components factory here on purely sympathetic grounds? I do not think it is. I do not think it is necessary for the protection of the interests of our workers. I am just as keen on that as anyone. I put down this Amendment to get an adequate explanation from the Government.


Sub-section (3) of Clause 26 provides that There is a trade dispute for the purposes of this Act even though it relates to matters occurring outside Great Britain, and the noble Lord, Lord Hankey, rightly wants to know why this provision is necessary.

The first justification for it is to be found in the great increase in the number and size of multi-national companies and enterprises in recent years. Multinational companies pose a legal problem in connection with industrial action because the occasions increase on which workers take action in support of workers in another country, very often workers employed by an enterprise integrally related economically with their own employer in Britain. It is felt that it is right that workers taking action in those circumstances should enjoy the legal protections which they would enjoy if they were taking action "in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute" within Britain itself.

I stress that what is coming to be known as "the golden formula", "in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute" still applies and with the exception of the Clause 11 immunity which we debated earlier, the immunities in the Bill hang on this golden formula, "in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute". It is unlikely, for example, that industrial action aimed at another country such as Chile or South Africa would be protected. Moreover, any foreign dispute would have to satisfy the description of a trade dispute in this country to attract the immunities. As I say—and I think it is important to say this as a reassurance to the House—the definition does not cover political disputes.


May I just say that I am not altogether reassured. But as this is only a probing Amendment, if I may with the permission of the Committee, I will reserve any comments I wish to make to discussion of a later Amendment.


To facilitate our business, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment. I thank the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor for what he said. I hope that he is not being too optimistic, for I think that this matter will need to be watched in future.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

5.54 p.m.

LORD HAILSHAM OF SAINT MARYLEBONE moved Amendment No. 34: Page 20, line 12, at end insert— ("so long as the person or persons whose actions in Great Britain are said to be in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute relating to matters occurring outside Great Britain are likely to be affected in respect of one or more of the matters specified in subsection (1) of this section by the outcome of that dispute.")

The noble and learned Lord said: It was this Amendment to which I referred a moment ago when I said that I would comment upon the speech of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor in his reply to the noble Lord, Lord Hankey. First, why do we want to know what a trade dispute is? This whole clause, including this Amendment, is devoted to the definition of what a trade dispute is. Why do we want to know? One reason—I think it is the most important and at any rate I shall confine myself to it—is that the immunities which are given to persons acting "in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute" depend upon that definition, and the immunities are attracted, if they are, and they are not attracted if they are not.

"A trade dispute" includes a number of matters contained in subsection (1) of what is now Clause 26. It includes membership or non-membership of a trade union, disputes between workers and workers—that is something else—matters of discipline and so forth. By subsection (3), as we heard in relation to the last Amendment, they include trade disputes which take place outside Great Britain. That is new; it is not part of the Act of 1906. So far as I remember, it was not part of the Act of 1971 and so far as I know it has never been part of the law. So if there is a dispute which may be a dispute between workers and workers, or a dispute between workers and employers which relates to any of the matters in subsection (1) which takes place outside Great Britain, none the less anybody—I stress anybody, not simply a trade union official, not simply a member of a trade union affiliated to the T.U.C., but anybody—can do this and attract immunity if it is done "in contemplation or furtherance" of the dispute outside Britain.

What is the justification for that change in the law? The only justification put forward on Second Reading and, so far as I can judge, from the remarks made by the noble and learned Lord a moment or two ago in answer to the noble Lord, Lord Hankey, has been that we must guard against the activities of multi-national companies. That so far as it goes is something which I understand. Whether or not I wholly agree with it, it is something which this Amendment is intended, and which I think succeeds, to accept in toto.

If, for instance, a company had a branch in France and a branch in Scotland or England, or elsewhere in the United Kingdom—it will not apply to Northern Ireland for that is another consideration—sympathetic action may be legitimate. It may not only be legitimate, but may attract immunity if it is done "in contemplation or furtherance" of the dispute which takes place in France. That is because the companies are either associated companies or multi-national companies as the case may be. That, this Amendment is intended, and I think succeeds in its intention, to concede fully, but of course the law as the Government propose it, whether or not they are aware of it, extends very much further than that.

Let us assume for a moment—and I do not in the least know whether it is a possible case—that the mines in Chile are or become nationalised and the Government of Chile form what is called a house union to which workers must belong if they want to earn their living in the nationalised mines in Chile. I have no knowledge whether that either exists or could exist, but under an authoritarian régime of the Right that is the sort of thing that could happen. A miner in Chile, not unreasonably, says, "I don't want to belong to a house union". It is all very well for the noble and learned Lord with all his legal know-ledge to say that that is not a political dispute and has no political bearing and if he looks at the text of subsection (1) of Clause 26 he is fully justified in saying that if he swears by the card.

However, the difference between that kind of dispute and a dispute between the régime and the Left is one which is more theoretical and legalistic than real. If, in fact, a battle between the factions in Chile arose and a Chilean corporation had an office or a branch in this country—but more likely an office than a branch for this purpose—it would be quite legitimate for the workers in that branch to say, "We are going on strike, too". That would be perfectly all right. But I do not see why anybody—and I stress that I mean anybody and not the trade union officials of a responsible union—such as a group of workers should be able to take action in contemplation or furtherance of that dispute so as to ruin a third party in Britain, which could quite easily be done, and attract the immunity which is given for internal purposes by this Bill.

Let us suppose, for instance, that a company has a contract with a foreign company which is in dispute and will be sued for damages if it does not supply the goods which are comprised in the contract which it has—damages which, if what it does is to withhold supply altogether, might absolutely drive that company into liquidation, with unpredictable social consequences for the shareholders and their children, wives and widows and any trustees or any pension funds which might have invested their shares in that company. Let us suppose, further, that a Left Wing group of students then said, "We will do certain things in contemplation or furtherance of the Chilean dispute which will cause you to break your contract with the Chilean company". It is not self-evidently right that they should be allowed to do it, with its effects upon our own people.

That may be a matter of argument and it could be that people would take more views than one about it; these things are largely matters of opinion. However, what is beyond dispute is that it is wholly outside the philosophy which the noble and learned Lord has now twice used in this House to justify subsection (3) of the clause; it has nothing whatever to do with multi-national companies or companies which are associated with one another internationally; and it has nothing whatever to do with the rights or duties of trade unionists as such in this country.

I will not fling around any charges of bad faith about this, because I have no reason to do so, but my view, for what it is worth, is that if you think about what this really means in terms of actual practice, the law is far too widely stated in the Bill as it is. By this Amendment we have sought to take full account of the Government's philosophy of defence, and now that the point has been brought to their attention—and how near to a political strike these foreign disputes may come, according to the nature of the régime that may exist in hundreds of other countries; one has only to think of Cyprus, Uganda, the African countries, Chile, Spain and so on—we cannot help hoping that the Government will reconsider the view that they have taken.

Having regard to the fact that a trade dispute can include work disputes between workers and workers, may I refer the Committee to the extraordinarily wide definition of "worker" which is contained in the other definition clause of this Bill. It is the following clause, now numbered 27. It does not include only people who are actually in work; it includes people who work, or who normally work, or who seek to work (a) under a contract of employment; or (b) under any other contract (whether express or implied, and, if express, whether oral or in writing) whereby he undertakes to do or perform personally any work or services for another party to the contract who is not a professional client of his; or (c) in employment under or for the purposes of a government department (otherwise than as a member of the naval, military or air forces of the Crown or of any women's service administered by the Defence Council) in so far as any such employment does not fall within paragraph (a) or (b) above, otherwise than in police service ",

If, therefore, you have a student who is working or who seeks to work in the; summer vacation he can, I think, come within that definition.

May I suggest seriously to the Committee that we are not, in fact, discussing a light matter. The Government have deliberately chosen to introduce into this law, which we have now heard about almost ad nauseam and which was designed to get rid of what they described as the troubles consequent upon the Act of 1971, something which is absolutely new. They have justified it on a ground which is admittedly limited; namely, the desirability of allowing sympathetic action in the case of multinational or associated companies. In fact, of course, it goes much wider. I beg to move.


May I ask the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham, a question? On the face of it, it sounds very shocking. On the face of it, it sounded rather shocking to me when I first heard it, but let us consider what it really means. Does it not really mean the face of things to come? Does the noble and learned Lord, and do noble Lords in this Committee feel shocked when they hear of trade agreements, and not trade disputes, which have effects on workers in countries all over the world? There may be a trade agreement which affects workers in, let us say, developing countries. Does that shock noble Lords? I do not think that it does. It happens only in the case of a trade dispute. Trade unions are not allowed to show any sympathy to workers in other countries. In some cases, it may be that there will be bad results from this. All the same, I think that the time has come when we should not be so shocked about a clause like this. As I have said, if we looked at trade agreements and not at trade disputes we should find that there were countries which had restrictive practices which harmed us to a very great extent. Therefore, we should perhaps look at it in quite a fresh way.


I am not sure whether the noble Baroness began by saying that she wanted to ask the noble and learned Lord a question, and I was not quite sure at the end of it what the question was. However, I should like to answer the question if I can divine what the noble Baroness really means. The Government-have justified this unusual clause, which attracts immunities to all and sundry, by the solitary argument that it is necessary for international or multi-national companies, and all I am saying is that there can be no sort of relationship between that kind of justification and what the noble Baroness has just put to me. I quite agree that there are international repercussions by all sorts of agreements and all sorts of restrictive practices of one kind and another, and I do not think that I am shocked by one or the other. All I am saying is that to give a position above the law to a class of our own citizens in this country—not confined to trade unionists or trade union officials—which can have disastrous effects and will, in many cases, have disastrous effects upon others of our citizens, cannot be justified either on the grounds that the Government have sought to justify it, which I have allowed for in the Amendment, or, so far as I can see, on any other grounds at all.


I have listened with great interest, as everybody does, to the noble Lord, Lord Hailsham, having read carefully sub-section (3) of the clause which states: There is a trade dispute for the purposes of this Act even though it relates to matters occurring outside Great Britain". The noble Lord then suggests that at the end of that we should insert, so long as the person or persons whose actions in Great Britain are said to be in contemplation or in furtherance of a trade dispute … Then the noble Lord piles Pelion on Ossa by going into a long ramification in semantics dealing with the possibilities abroad of there being trouble in Chile or Timbuktu. In passing, we are told that nothing like this appeared in 1906, which shows the massive imagination of the Tory Party rampant in this noble Chamber. They go back to 1906 and yet they are urging us to join the Common Market!

The international ramifications of the trade union movement are growing. My noble friend referred to the international Confederation of Free Trade Unions which have to deal with possibilities such as this all over the world. We are raising a number of fears. Aunt Sallies have been put up to knock down. All the noble Lord has done is to add a piece of redundant verbiage warning us what will happen if there are political problems. They are defined here. The Lord Chancellor—and both the noble Lords who have spoken from the Front Benches have attained that high Office—has spiked the definition by the words "trade disputes". We have a definition in Clause 26.

Without tiring the Committee, whose perspicacity is known all over Britain, we have the definition of a trade dispute. Why add this to frighten people? Whether or not we like it, we have the free movement of workers under the Common Market. Businessmen in Italy, France, Lichtenstein or Luxembourg can contract for a local government contract here, or vice versa we can put contracts there. Our workers could be moving. Their conditions may not meet conditions which are necessary there, or the conditions of Italian or Greek workers may not meet our conditions. All this is safeguarded by the careful drafting and the careful definition of a trade dispute. I beg noble Lords not to support this Amendment. This debate has been good for the purpose of airing fears, but nothing else. My noble friend hit the nail straight on the head with her short and effective speech.


I am not rampant regarding this argument, and you might expect, from my former professional position, that I should immediately jump down the throat of (his Bill. However, I recognise that there is a very real problem here that in the world as it is—and, as the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, has said, even more in the world that is coming—there is a reality about the wish of trade unionists to respond to activities by their colleagues in other parts of the world. There may also be a similar desire by people who are not trade unionists.

With the greatest deference to the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek, I think this is not a very careful piece of drafting. It attempts to be careful but it produces one simple and rather crude proposition which will cover a great deal more ground than it is intended to do. If one was not born yesterday one must realise that this clause as drafted will be interpreted politically. I am trying to think of the situation as it will then look to the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary of the day. Whatever Government he belongs to, he should be using the facilities provided by the trade union network as well as those provided by his own servants. He should be the person who is best informed on a political situation anywhere. This kind of activity will have political results, and he should make his own judgment. I would not think it was right to feel that under this Bill he was having his hand almost artificially forced by action taken in anticipation of anything that he, or (in the spirit of earlier to-day) she might wish to do.

This draft paragraph ought to be considered in the light of this discussion. At the moment it is too crude and it is a little unrealistic. In default of anything else in the procedural situation I should at this stage prefer the Amendment, although it is not necessarily the best possible way of altering this clause. I am trying to think of the interests of Foreign and Commonwealth Secretaries of the future.


This Amendment evidently seeks to restrict the application of Clause 26(3) to multinational companies. But, in fact, it severely restricts the operation of the subsection and, in my submission, does not sufficiently take account of the nature of the multinational problem. The difficulty is the concept in the Amendment of a dispute abroad having an effect on a party to the dispute in this country. Many disputes abroad concerning a multinational company with a plant in Great Britain are unlikely to have any effect on the British plant. Industrial action by the British trade union in that situation—for example, in support of a dispute in another part of a multi-national company involving foreign workers whom the union thought were not being paid enough—would not be protected. The Amendment would deny the possibility of sympathetic strikes in the British part of a multinational company in support of the workers in the non-British part. The Government do not agree with that limitation. Indeed, it would destroy much of the object of Clause 26(3).

The thinking behind the subsection is—multinationals are not the only justification for it and your Lordships will have to take one view or the other about it—that if industrial action in sympathy with a dispute occurring inside this country is to be protected, and it is, similar protection should be available in case of sympathetic action in support of a dispute overseas. With the vast increases over the past decade in international trade and foreign travel, together with the development of international institutions, especially in the economic field, workers are much more aware of what is happening in other countries.

For instance, reference has been made to the existence of, and the work of, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, for which I have had the privilege of appearing once in a case in Libya. I remember it vividly for one incident that occurred. I was regarded as something of a security risk when I arrived there, and that apprehension was greatly increased because I had sent a message to my clerk asking when the murder trial in which I was due to take part was to take place. A cable was sent to me care of the British Embassy in Libya which read, "Cable received, murder fixed for Wednesday, Eric." That resulted in considerable anxiety for the security police of Libya, and the merciful and timely intervention of Her Britannic Majesty's diplomatic representative to get me out of trouble.

Activities of institutions of that kind are a pointer to the changing world and the interrelation of industrial activity as between the countries of Europe, and indeed the rest of the world. Sympathetic strikes, as such, have always been regarded as lawful and were generally so, also, under the Industrial Relations Act. In our view, there is no essential difference between sympathetic action in support of a dispute within this country, and similar action in support of a dispute overseas. But I stress, lest this be thought to be going excessively wide, that the golden formuli "in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute" still govern the situation. As the noble and learned Lord pointed out in his speech, they indeed cover all the immunities in the Bill except for the Clause 11 immunity. Therefore, I submit that the Amendment excessively restricts what ought to be accepted as action which the law should not prohibit, but to which some protection ought to be given.


I think what the noble and learned Lord has said gives great ground for further concern in this matter. What we are suffering from in this country is the inability of our industry to get on with things. It is always subject to a dispute here or a dispute there. What is to prevent our dockers going on strike, one strike after another, because almost anywhere in this world there is some sort of dock strike going on—and why should it have to be a dock strike? If this clause stands as we have it in front of us now, our docks can go on strike about anything for an indefinite period and you and I have to pay for it, and our industry has to pay for it. I do not think that is right. In my view, this Amendment is the absolute minimum needed to put the account straight.


If I may, I should like to say one thing before my noble and learned friend makes up his mind. It seems to me that there is a great distinction between the Amendment which is proposed by my noble and learned friend in this case, and the Amendments which we dealt with yesterday which were closely concerned with the rights of trade unionists and of individuals in their relationship with trade unions. The speech which the noble Lord, Lord Hankey, has made is an example to me of a lack of realism in the handling of the whole problem of the trade unions, so far as this country is concerned.

I do not think for one moment that if this Amendment were put into the Bill it would make the slightest difference to the decisions of the trade union leadership, or indeed of the rank and file, in the circumstances envisaged by my noble and learned friend. It seems to me that this is just the sort of provision which tends to render legislation in regard to industrial relations and trade union matters in general ineffective, because it cannot be, and is not, applied in practice. Therefore, I hope my noble and learned friend will withdraw this Amendment because my reading (which is probably wrong) of this subsection is that in fact the real purpose of it is perfectly clear and it fulfils what we want to make certain; namely, that where there is a sympathetic strike in relation to an event overseas it is connected with a trade dispute and not a political dispute.


If I may just deal with the various speeches which have been made, I am afraid I did not understand, from beginning to end, the drift of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek. He spoke vaguely about the ramifications of redundant verbiage. Whether this was designed as a description of his own rather florid type of oratory, I do not know, but I both deny and resent the suggestion that I was indulging simply in semantics. I was particularly careful to set out the purpose of the Amendment and the mischief which it was designed to meet.

What I cannot help stressing—and I think this disposes of the point made by my noble friend Lord Alport a moment ago—is this. What this Bill licenses is the ruination of people in this country by sympathetic action in relation to disputes which have arisen outside it, making them break their contracts, or having the contracts to which they are parties broken to their disadvantage by other people. It can lead to bankruptcy, it can lead to liquidation, and the question which we are discussing is whether that ought to be done in contemplation or furtherance of a dispute which takes place outside this country, and in what circumstances.


Will my noble friend forgive me—


Not at the moment, but I will shortly. What we have to direct our minds to is this. The Amendment says, "Yes, by all means let there be sympathetic action by anybody who can be directly or indirectly personally affected". But simply the desire to do good to some party to a dispute outside this country ought not to attract immunities entitling them to destroy without compensation people who live inside this country. That is the point at which the Amendment is directed. It has nothing whatever to do with semantics, and anybody who thinks that it is just a dry as dust lawyer talking about some legal technicality is, to say the least, wholly at sea. Before I give way to my noble friend I contrast the Amendment which says that, with the effect of the Bill which says, "Yes, in any circumstances at all ruin somebody in this country, make him bankrupt because—


Absolute rubbish!


—because he is not allowed to keep his contract, or because other people are not allowed to keep their contracts with him. Allow it in all circumstances, provided only that the foreign quarrel can be classified as a trade dispute." That is the point to which the Committee has to direct its attention. I will now give way, not to the noble Lord who speaks from a sedentary position in offensive language which he so often uses, but to my noble friend.


Will the noble and learned Lord give way?


No, I will not. I am giving way to my noble friend.


Absolutely disgusting! Rubbish!


I was going to suggest to my noble and learned friend, and also to the noble Lord opposite, that the words used here, "a trade dispute for the purposes of this Act", relate to matters occurring outside and not to trade disputes only. The words go much wider than just trade disputes.


My noble friend is of course perfectly right. But I was directing my mind to the limitation which does exist, and to which the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor rightly drew attention, that although the act relates to matters occurring outside this country—and I accept my noble friend's correction, which was well justified—it must still none the less be done in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute in order to attract the immunities to which I was objecting. So I think we have it right now. Having said that quite plainly, I cannot seek leave to withdraw this Amendment. On the contrary, I shall invite noble Lords who are persuaded by my arguments to proceed to a Division.

6.30 p.m.


Somebody must lower the temperature and nobody but myself could undertake that. I must say that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham, this afternoon is not at his brilliant best. Yesterday he was fascinating, with that scintillating oratory and wealth of legal argument, 75 per cent. of which noble Lords did not understand—and as for the rest, it really did not matter. Let us examine the arguments of the noble and learned Lord. Of course, I must say at once that I agree, and I am sure all the Members of your Lordships' House would agree, that it would be regrettable, if as a result of a dispute which occurs in some foreign country, trade unionists in this country enter the lists and engage in the conflict, as a result of which a firm which has entered into a contract with a firm in another country, or with part of a firm in another country, is driven out of business without any prospect of compensation. I am bound to say it seems to be a hypothetical case.

But I go further than that. May I furnish an illustration; I have had little time to think about it, so it may be I am wrong. I am open to correction. Let us suppose there is a firm in South Africa engaged in industrial operations, and there is a branch of that firm in the United Kingdom. In South Africa, for some reason the firm decides to reduce the rates of pay of the workers in its employ, and those who were employed in a United Kingdom branch of the South African firm resent the action, for obvious reasons, because if their fellow workers in South Africa are forced to accept lower rates of pay, it may have a deleterious effect on the rates of pay of those in the United Kingdom. So the conflict begins. Would the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham, regard that as detrimental to our national interest?


If the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, would only read the Amendment, or listen to my speech, he would discover that the Amendment was precisely designed to cover that case in favour of the sympathetic strike.


I listened intently to the speech of the noble and learned Lord. However, I may have failed to understand him, and that is my misfortune. But it seems to me that the noble and learned Lord is likely to be impaled on both horns of a dilemma, in that he is creating a fantasy. I can understand it. The noble and learned Lord is worried about the prospects of the Labour Party at the next Election. So are we all. It depends on one's point of view. If the noble and learned Lord delves deeply into the mistakes of the Labour Party in the presentation of this piece of legislation, all the better.

In the course of the debates we have had yesterday and this afternoon, the spectre of the Act of 1971 has been resurrected. The only difference is that it is now wearing different garments. I suggest that that is not going to accrue to the advantage of the Opposition. There were Amendments moved yesterday which may well have been justified, and which were carried with enthusiasm, almost with acclamation, by the Opposition. It did not worry me a bit. In the course of a very short observation yesterday, I said that I did not mind a bit if we were defeated. Indeed, the more we are defeated in this House, the happier we shall be. I am satisfied that as a result of the defeats we suffered yesterday, there will be a more militant atmosphere in the trade union movement.

We have been endeavouring to create an atmosphere of moderation. I support that enthusiastically because I am under no illusion. I shall say something now which may be regarded as unpleasant by many of my noble friends, particularly those associated with the trade union movement, but I dislike intensely some of the activities of my trade union friends. Sometimes we are exposed to a militancy which has no justification, which is sometimes inspired by Communist elements, and which sometimes is the result of other sentiments. If I had my way, I would invoke the aid of the law in order to deal with a situation of that kind. I have said this outside this House; I have written about it and, indeed, I have said it in an epilogue in a book I ventured to have published some time ago. I reject the idea that we must never invoke legal action in relation to our industrial affairs. We may go a little too far. In the Act of 1971, the previous Government went too far. The result exceeded their

expectations, and they have now resiled. I think that is a Scottish expression.


If I may interrupt the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, much as I echo many of his sentiments, he is making a Second Reading speech and is not attending to the immediate Amendment.


The noble Baroness, Lady Emmet of Amberley, is quite right. I would not dare to correct her. I confess that I was indulging, in the latter part of my observations, in what might be regarded as a repetition of a Second Reading speech which has been delivered on a previous occasion, but it ought to be said. I am trying to say, and I have said it more than once in this House, that I prefer consensus to confrontation. But we must accept the realities of the situation, and if that is a Second Reading observation, I withdraw it at once. It does not worry me in the least if we suffered four defeats yesterday, and it will not worry the Labour Party. It may create more militancy.

This Amendment is an exposition, an exhibition, and an example of the fantasies from which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham, occasionally suffers. That such a brilliant genius should suffer from fantasies is a great disappointment. The only way in which he can apologise for his misdemeanours, his almost uncivilised behaviour, which is quite contrary to his innermost sentiments but which I fully understand and applaud, is to withdraw his Amendment like a man.

6.40 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 34) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 98; Not-Contents, 69.

Aberdare, L. Cathcart, E. Deramore, L.
Alexander of Tunis, E. Chelwood, L. Derwent, L.
Atholl, D. Clinton, L. Digby, L.
Auckland, L. Colville of Culross, V. Drumalbyn, L.
Balerno, L. Cork and Orrery, E. Eccles, V.
Belstead, L. Cowley, E. Elles, B.
Berkeley, B. Crathorne, L. Emmet of Amberley, B.
Boyd of Merton, V. Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Ferrers, E.
Boyle of Handsworth, L. Davcntry, V. Ferrier, L.
Bridgeman, V. Davidson, V. Fortescue, E.
Brooke of Cumnor, L. de Clifford, L. Gage, V.
Brooke of Ystradfellte, B. De L'Isle, V. Gainford, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Denham, L. [Teller] Glasgow, E.
Gore-Booth, L. Lyell, L. Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.
Goschen, V. Macleod of Borve, B. St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller]
Gowrie, E. Margadale, L. Salisbury, M.
Grenfell, L. Massereene and Ferrard, V. Sandys, L.
Gridley, L. Mersey, V. Sempill, Ly.
Hailes, L. Middleton, L. Sharples, B.
Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. Milverton, L. Strathclyde, L.
Monck, V. Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.
Halsbury, E. Mountevans, L.
Hankey, L. Mowbray and Stourton, L. Tenby, V.
Hanworth, V. Newall, L. Teviot. L.
Hawke, L. Northchurch, B. Thomas, L.
Hereford, V. Oakshott, L. Tranmire, L.
Hood, V. Orr-Ewing, L. Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, B.
Hornsby-Smith, B. Pender, L. Vivian, L.
Killearn, L. Rankeillour, L. Wakefield of Kendal, L.
Kinnoull, E. Redecliffe-Maud, L. Ward of Witley, V.
Lauderdale, E. Reigate, L. Windlesham, L
Lindsey and Abingdon, E. Robbins, L. Wolverton, L.
Long, V. Rothermere, V. Young, B.
Luke, L.
Alport, L. Gaitskell, B. Platt, L.
Arwyn, L. Gardiner, L. Raglan, L.
Bacon, B. Garnsworthy, L. Rhodes, L.
Bernstein, L. Gordon-Walker, L. Rochester, L.
Beswick, L. Goronwy-Roberts, L. Sainsbury, I..
Birk, B. Greenwood of Rossendale, L. Segal, L.
Blyton, L. Hall, V. Shackleton, L.
Bowden, L. Harris of Greenwich, L. Shepherd, L. (L. Privy Seal)
Brockway, L. Henderson, L. Shinwell, L.
Buckinghamshire, E. Henley, L. Simon, V.
Burton of Coventry, B. Hirshfield, L. Slater, L.
Castle, L. Houghton of Sowerby, L. Snow, L.
Champion, L. Hoy, L. Stow Hill, L.
Collison, L. Leatherland, L. Strabolgi, L. [Teller]
Crook, L Lee of Asheridge, B. Summerskill, B.
Darling, L, Lee of Newton, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Davies of Leek, L. Llewelyn-Davis of Hastoe, B. [Teller] Wade, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Wells-Pestell, L.
Elwyn-Jones, L. (L. Chancellor.) Lloyd of Kilgerran, L. Wigoder, L.
Lovell-Davis, L. Willis, L.
Evans of Hungershall, L. Maelor, L. Winterbottom, L.
Feather, L. Melchett, L. Wootton of Abinger, B.
Fiske, L. Milner of Leeds, L. Wynne-Jones, L,
Fulton, L. Pannell, L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.

6.48 p.m.

LORD HANKEY moved Amendment No. 35: Page 20, line 17, leave out subsection (5)

The noble Lord said: I put down an Amendment on this subsection also because I cannot understand its object. I hope that the Government will explain it with real clarity. As I understand this subsection, its effect is that there could be a request for an increase of wages or an improvement of conditions in some firm or other, and that request might be acceded to, but notwithstanding that there has apparently been action in contemplation of a trade dispute. This, as I understand it, can trigger off action in any other industry nearly anywhere, under the provisions of the Bill.

I hope I am wrong, but if what I have said is right, then I would think that this subsection is a passport to read trouble. Even if we settle disputes, even if management is as co-operative as they ought to be, even if the trade unions are as reasonable as I think they ought to be and reach agreement with the employers, nevertheless somebody who wants to make trouble seems to me to be able to claim the protection of this subsection in making trouble somewhere else even after the event. I hope I am wrong. I should like to request the noble and learned Lord to explain why this subsection is necessary, why it does not run into the difficulty I have mentioned and exactly what its effect is. I beg to move.


Subsection (5) is intended as a clarification of the law concerning the definition of "trade dispute" and is to deal with the situation where one party (for example, an employer) accedes wholly or in part to any demand or threat made by another party (for example a union)—which if resisted would, have led to a "trade dispute"—and thereby no dispute or indifference arises. The T.U.C. were concerned about the Court of Appeal's decision in the Cory Lighterage case which arose when Mr. Shute was sent home on full pay by the Cory Lighterage Company after deliberately allowing his contributions to his union to lapse and making this known to his fellow workers. The alternative to sending him home would have been a strike of lightermen in London which would have quickly paralysed the port.

In that case, the Court of Appeal found that, contrary to the submissions of the union, there was no industrial dispute. They argued that Cory's had completely acquiesced in the closed shop and there was only a dispute with the employer when legal proceedings were embarked upon. This completely removed any protection given by the Industrial Relations Act 1971 to the union and its authorised officials, despite the fact that the dispute was one with important industrial relations implications. It is felt that that resultant situation was unsatisfactory, so the clarification is to a rather special aspect of the law but it is felt that it would, so far as it goes, be useful.


I should like to thank the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, but I regret to say that he has greatly increased my fears about this clause because it appears that, although in the dispute mentioned the man did not press his claim to be employed, and Cory's agreed to his not working, if this clause had been in operation there would still be a dispute and, so far as I can see, the dockers all over the country would have come out.

I do not mind what the T.U.C. or anybody says, but is it really reasonable that this arrangement should apply in our country? I maintain that this clause is calculated to multiply trade disputes quite unnecessary. It means that our trade unions can be very reasonable and have good relations with the employers. They can present claims and the employers can be very reasonable and agree with them (and this is the situation which I should like to see obtain throughout our industry, but it does not), and yet, despite everybody being reasonable in any particular case, there is a dispute and anybody can do anything. This really is not reasonable. I should like now to precipitate a discussion on this matter and to hear what your Lordships think.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

6.53 p.m.

LORD HANKEY moved Amendment No. 36: Page 20, leave out lines 28 to 30.

The noble Lord said: I regret that there was no support for the last Amendment, but this Amendment is an attempt to probe the meaning of the word "worker", because it seems to me that the effect of this is that any worker employed by any employer can withdraw his labour on account of absolutely any dispute anywhere with any other employer regardless of the circumstances. Even allowing for sympathetic strikes, is this really a reasonable state of affairs? Reading this Bill, I must say that I have been astonished at the drafting of this clause. I thought that it must have been drafted by somebody who wanted to create the maximum number of occasions for multiplying industrial disputes, and I do not believe that it is in the interests of the country. I beg to move.


The effect of this Amendment would be to limit the definition of "trade dispute" to disputes between an employer and his own employees only. It would go against the whole trend of legislation and policy in this field, and would be wholly disastrous in its consequences.


If no noble Lord is to speak I shall withdraw my Amendment, but I repeat that I think that this is a bad clause, that the trend of policy in our country is a bad one, and we shall go to pot with it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 26, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 27 [General provisions as to interpretation]:

6.57 p.m.

LORD SHEPHERD moved Amendment No. 37: Page 22, line 30 (corrigendum), leave out ("or of another appropriate independent trade union").

The noble Lord said: I rise to move this Amendment in the confident hope that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, will speak in support of it, if only for one reason on which he laid great stress when moving two Amendments in Committee yesterday afternoon. On that occasion he could use the undoubtedly numerical strength of Conservative Peers to ensure that what he had in mind prevailed. On those two Amendments, the noble and learned Lord said that there had been a Division on them, and that there had been a margin of only one between the combined coalition in another place and the Government.

This Amendment seeks to delete from the Bill what I suppose will go down in Parliamentary history as the "Lever Amendments". I am not going to suggest or construe what might have happened in a Division if my right honourable friend had, in fact, been paired, but I think I can say that, if there was any element of doubt in regard to the other two Amendments, there is certainly reasonable doubt as to what the Commons itself had in mind when it supported this part of the Bill that Amendment No. 37 seeks to delete.

The purpose of this Amendment is to restore the definition of the union membership agreement to its original form by leaving out the words added by the Opposition in another place. The original definition accurately described the closed shop as it exists in practice. That is to say, an agreement or arrangement under which employees must, as a condition of their employment, become and remain members of a specified union, or one of a number of specified unions. That is essentially the definition used by Dr. McCarthy in his book on the closed shop and which was adopted, as I am sure the noble and learned Lord will agree, by the Donovan Commission.

The extra words inserted in another place at the instigation of the Party opposite, and with the co-operation of the coalition Members sitting on the right, produced quite a different effect. The words appear to mean that the only kind of agreement covered by the definition is one which gives employees a free choice between belonging to a union which is party to an agreement, and belonging to any other union which is both appropriate and independent but may not be party to the agreement. I am not certain whether this was the intention of the Party opposite when it moved the Amendment in another place.

I am not going to say that such agreements are non-existent in this country, but they are certainly not common, nor do I believe they are likely to become so. The reason is that the whole purpose of the closed shop is to establish a particular union or unions as fully representative of the employees concerned. I believe that Sir Geoffrey Howe himself, on behalf of his Conservative colleagues, has said that the closed shop has an important role to play in industrial stability. The insertion of the extra words runs counter to that purpose so that the definition in its amended form describes something which does not correspond with the realities of industrial relations.

It is rather like framing a definition of a "motor-car", which describes it as a vehicle which has four wheels and a rudder, and the drawing up traffic regulations based on that definition. The regulations will simply have no practical effect. People will continue to drive motor-cars with four wheels and no rudder, but the regulations will not apply to them. Similarly, what the Conservative Party in another place have done is to ensure that the provision of Schedule I to the Bill, about fair and unfair dismissal in the context of union membership agreements will not apply in a normal closed shop situation.

I cannot help but feel that the Amendment that was moved and accepted in another place does undue damage, not just to the Bill itself but to the concept and understanding of the clause and the closed shop. I have considered whether it is possible to make amendments to the Bill to deal with this matter, but so far I have not found a satisfactory answer. I suggest to your Lordships that in the light of what I have said it would be wise and sensible to accept this Amendment, not only on the basis of what I have already described in some detail, but also to take up what the noble and learned Lord said yesterday, that it would be right and proper to give another place an opportunity to reconsider the matter. Yesterday, of course, it was clearly an unquestioned one-vote difference. Here we had difficulty as a consequence of the Lever episode. I am suggesting to your Lordships that in a Revising Chamber the Conservative Party should now be consistent with their logic. They should support the Amendment which I have moved, and in so doing provide another place with an opportunity to consider this matter and to come to a clear and firm decision.


Before the noble Lord sits down, may I ask him a question? He has made a great deal of play about the coalition in the other House and the narrow margin by which this affair happened. Will he explain to me why out of more than 130 noble Lords under his command in the Labour Party he cannot muster more than 70 in the Division? If he really wants this Amendment, he has a balance of another 60 Peers whom he can call upon to put it through. Why is that not happening? The maximum number of Peers in Opposition to anything the Government have done is just under 100. Why is the noble Lord not keeping such a House that he can get through his own Amendment, and why should he have to make an appeal to the Conservative Party to accept it?


The noble Lord, Lord Byers, is going a little beyond the point. He rose and said "Before the noble Lord sits down", and it is a custom in your Lordships' House—which I think is true of another place and I look to a previous Father of another place—that if you rise under those circumstances it is to elucidate what has been said. If I may say so to the noble Lord, Lord Byers, he has abused this procedure. If he wishes to take me to task about the way in which my noble friends have come to support the Party, I will be happy to debate it later when the Question has been put. I have no apology to make to your Lordships as to the conduct and support of the noble friends who serve me on this side of the House.


If I might have the indulgence of the Committee for one moment, the noble Lord has no right to accuse me of abusing the Rules of this House. As he knows, I am fairly meticulous in upholding the Rules. If I spoke before the Question was put I apologise, but it is perfectly reasonable, when the noble Lord had argued about numbers in another place, for me to ask for elucidation to ascertain what he meant by not keeping such a House. I am entitled to speak as often as I wish on the Committee stage. If that is the way the debate is to be conducted I will do that. But the noble Lord is not right to accuse a colleague who has upheld the dignity of this House of abusing its procedure.


I only complained that the noble Lord brought in something completely irrelevant to what I had said in support of the Amendment, by using the device of asking me a question before I sat down. If the noble Lord wishes me to give him a description and an explanation of why we do not vote to a maximum strength, I could ask the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, and the noble Lord, Lord Byers, himself, and we could all come to the same view that in your Lordships' House our membership is made up of a large number of men and women, many of them elderly—


You are the Government.


Whether we are the Government or not, our membership is made up in the same way.


May I pour a little oil on this troubled water, so that we can get on to the Amendment and cool down a bit?


I am grateful. It is a unique experience for the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, to come and pour oil on troubled water. I only get a little indignant by the irrelevancies of the Liberal Party. If the noble and learned Lord could assist us in his attitude to the Amendment which T moved, I am sure the Committee would be grateful to hear from him.


The noble Lord might be grateful, but I think the Committee would be astonished! The noble Lord said at the beginning of his speech that he confidently expected me to support this Amendment, and if I had not known that he was joking he would almost have provoked me to a breach of Order. The other place has had an opportunity. The Bill came here and we were busy debating it. The noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack was taking copious notes; the Leader of the House had been indulging in his usual courtesies. We sent it back to them and they returned it with the information that the previous copy was not correct. The noble Lord now wants to fly in the face of the elected Chamber. I am not going to help him. I advise the Committee to vote against the Amendment.


All I can say to the noble and learned Lord is that he has many graces and a number of sins. He has added one; that is, lack of consistency. Many of us will look back on what he said yesterday and will refer to what he said to-day. We fully understand the predicament of the noble and learned Lord, and why he will not rise to the Amendment that I have moved. I am now going to give him the joy of voting against this Amendment.

7.10 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 37) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 56; Not-Contents, 96.

Evans of Hungershall, L. Lovell-Davies, L.
Arwyn, L. Feather, L. Maelor, L.
Bacon, B. Gaitskell, B. Melchett, L.
Balogh, L. Gardiner, L. Milner of Leeds, L.
Bernstein, L. Garnsworthy, L. Parrett, L.
Birk, B. Gordon-Walker, L. Raglan, L.
Blyton, L. Goronwy-Roberts, L. Rhodes, L.
Bowden, L. Greenwood of Rossendale, L. Sainsbury, L.
Brockway, L. Hale, L. Shepherd, L. (L. Privy Seal)
Buckinghamshire, E. Hall, V. Shinwell, L.
Burntwood, L. Harris of Greenwich, L. Slater, L.
Burton of Coventry, B. Henderson, L. Snow, L.
Castle, L. Hirshfield, L. Strabolgi, L. [Teller]
Champion, L. Houghton of Sowerby, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Collison, L. Hoy, L. Wells-Pestell, L.
Crook, L. Jacques, L. Winterbottom, L.
Darling, L. Leatherland, L. Wootton of Abinger, B.
Davies of Leek, L. Lee of Newton, L. Wynne-Jones, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B. [Teller]
Elwyn-Jones, L. (L. Chancellor)
Aberdare, L. Denham, L. [Teller] Killearn, L.
Alexander of Tunis, E. Deramore, L. Lauderdale, E.
Alport, L. Digby, L. Lindsey and Abingdon, E.
Atholl, D. Drumalbyn, L. Long, V.
Auckland, L. Eccles, V. Mackie of Benshie, L.
Balerno, L. Elles, B. Macleod of Borve, B.
Belstead, L. Ferrers, E. Mancroft, L.
Berkeley, B. Ferrier, L. Massereene and Ferrard, V.
Boyd of Merton, V. Fortescue, E. Middleton, L.
Bridgeman, V. Gage, V. Milverton, L.
Brooke of Cumnor, L. Gainford, L. Monck, V.
Brooke of Ystradfellte, B. Gladwyn, L. Mountevans, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Glasgow, E. Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Byers, L. Gowrie, E. Newall, L.
Chelwood, L. Grenfell, L. Northchurch, B.
Clinton, L. Gridley, L. Oakshott, L.
Colville of Culross, V. Hailes, L. Orr-Ewing, L.
Cowley, E. Hailsham of Saint Marylebone L. Pender, L.
Crathorne, L. Platt, L.
Crawshaw, L. Hankey, L. Rankeillour, L.
Daventry, V. Hanworth, V. Reigate, L.
Davidson, V. Henley, L. Robbins, L.
de Clifford, L. Hood, V. Rochester, L.
De L'Isle, V. Hornsby-Smith, B. Rothermere, V.
Ruthven of Freeland, Ly. Strathclyde, L. Wade, L.
St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller] Strathcona and Mount Royal, L Wakefield of Kendal, L.
St. Davids, V. Ward of Witley, V.
Salisbury, M. Tenby, V. Wigoder, L.
Sandys, L. Teviot, L. Windlesham, L.
Seear, B. Tranmire, L. Wolverton, L.
Sempill, Ly. Trefgarne, L. Wynford, L.
Sharples, B. Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, B. Young, B.
Somers, L. Vivian, L.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

7.18 p.m.

On Question, Whether Clause 27 shall stand part of the Bill?


I apologise for intervening at this moment, but I should like to seek some clarification on the Question, Whether this clause shall stand part of the Bill?, on an issue which I regret was not brought to my attention until it was too late for me to put down an Amendment; but I would hope that it could be considered before we reach Report stage. It concerns the position of the small trade union or staff association under the provisions of this clause which are to be found on page 21 at line 13, where we read: 'independent trade union' means a trade union which … is"; and then there has been added paragraphs (a) and (b). Now any major union with employee members in hundreds of companies would never be challenged under either paragraph (a) or (b). They are so massive that they would automatically be independent. But there are many small unions and small staff associations registered as trade unions which are confined to a very specialist group or industry, and I should like clarification from the noble Lord as to whether or not they will be put in an impossible position by the provisions of this clause.

It is quite common practice for union meetings to be held on company premises. It is common practice for many companies to collect the trade union dues: all perfectly worthy practices. It is quite often common practice for time to be taken up and work to be done in the company's time and at its expense. A major union will never be challenged under this clause—that is, "financial or material support"—but, in the case of a small trade union, specialist and very much aligned to one company, I believe that under this clause it could be challenged and put out of office because it could be held that it was materially to their advantage that its dues were collected and it used the typist or even the duplicator for union business. I am only concerned about the position and the independence of small unions which could be so challenged and I hope that the matter may be considered before we reach Report stage.


I hope that the noble Baroness will forgive me. I had some difficulty in fully understanding all that she was saying. From certain parts of your Lordships' House, the acoustics are not good, but I regret that I did not hear all that the noble Baroness said. Would she agree that I should have a look at what she has said on the Record, and I will get in touch with her and perhaps find a way in which we can deal with the point at Report stage? I apologise to the noble Baroness, but the acoustics are not good. Perhaps I should have intervened to ask her to move, but I thought it would be better to let the noble Baroness continue. I know that what she has said will be on the Record: I will look at it and will get in touch with the noble Baroness and see what we can do.


I am grateful to the noble Lord and I accept his undertaking.

Clause 27 agreed to.

Clause 28 agreed to.

Schedule 1 [Re-enacted provisions of Industrial Relations Act 1971]:

LORD SHEPHERD had given Notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 38: Page 27, line 29 (corrigendum), leave out ("or on any reasonable grounds to being a member of a particular trade union ").

The noble Lord said: I had intended to make a long speech dealing with the Amendment moved in another place, in anticipation, perhaps wrongly, that we might have succeeded on a previous Amendment. However, I suggest to the noble Lord, Lord Byers, that he might well look at the consequences to the Amendment which the Liberal Party moved in another place and which is now in the Bill because of the fact that your Lordships' House was not prepared to accept the previous Amendment. I suggest that the consequences should be studied, because I believe that your Lordships have, in fact, nullified the consequences of the Liberal Amendment in another place. With that explanation, unless anyone wishes to intervene, I shall not move the Amendment.


It may be for the convenience of the House if we adjourn the Committee for one hour until 8.25 p.m. in order to take other Business, and I therefore beg to move that this House do now resume.

House resumed.