HL Deb 10 March 1975 vol 358 cc31-125

House again in Committee.

3.56 p.m.


The noble and learned Lord, Lord Salmon, in his powerful speech talked about Section 5 being swept away, if it were opposed and the opposition carried. But, of course, this section has not been a permanent or long-lasting part of the law at all. The basic purpose of the Bill before your Lordships is to restore the position to what it was before 1971. If the noble and learned Lord, Lord Salmon, and others who think like him, feel so strongly about this, it is difficult to understand why they did not do something about it before 1971. The position was exactly the same then as it would be if the section were now, in his words, swept away.

Another objection to this section which I and many of my noble friends certainly oppose, is that it rests on the dangerous assumption that you can, in fact, control trade unions by law. This is something that has often been attempted. It arouses enormous and in the end irresistible opposition. I should think that your Lordships would by now have realised that you cannot control trade unions by law. This section restores some aspects of the Industrial Relations Act, in that it gives access to the High Court for the purposes of getting injunctions and so forth, which was exactly the part of the Industrial Relations Act objected to so bitterly by so many citizens and members of trade unions.

There are—and we must accept it—certain things that cannot be secured by law; it may be a pity, but, in fact, we all recognise this in other fields. We all realise that it would be impossible, for instance, to introduce prohibition by law, because it simply would not be observed, or to stamp out prostitution by law, because that would not be observed. We do not try to do these things, because we have learned from the experience of other countries that this kind of thing cannot be done by law. This applies if one tries to give special rights to people to go to law in trade union matters—not to a tribunal, because this talks about the High Court as well as tribunals—to get injunctions; then, if they are defied, the Court has to put a number of people in prison, and we know from long experience what happens thereafter. It is extremely unwise, in my submission, to have particularly subsection (4) of this section in the law.

The noble and learned Lord seemed to base a great deal of his argument—particularly at the end of his speech— upon his fear that some union, or unions, may be taken over and penetrated by Communists; he might have added Maoists and various other horrible people. This is the danger that the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, was talking about the other day. We have heard this kind of thing for the whole of my lifetime, the last 40 years; there have always been people saying that this union is being penetrated, and it often is, and this Party is being penetrated, and it often is, and this National Union of Students' organisation is being penetrated, and it often is; but, before now we have always been wise enough to rely on trade unions and similar bodies themselves resisting this penetration and beating it off. Sometimes they are slow about it and do not realise what is happening, but over and over again in my lifetime in the end I have seen men rise up because they do not like what is being done in their name and throw out these people (who are always a tiny majority) who have penetrated them. This has been the case for decades.

In my submission, it is much wiser to rely on the good sense of members of trade unions and, for that matter the Labour Party and other similar bodies, to do as they have always done. We have always had this attempt at penetration. It has never led to the horrible results that the noble and learned Lord depicted, and, in my submission, it is far better in this respect, too, to rely on the tried methods which we have used in the past; relying on the good sense of our members of trade unions in this country to resist this kind of penetration which has been attempted for decades and which has never succeeded because it always produces the counter force that destroys them.

4.2 p.m.


Section 5 of the principal 1974 Act was put into the Bill on the Motion of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone. That was on 22nd July 1974, and on that occasion I ventured to intervene in the debate. I said then that I had considerable sympathy with the purpose of the Amendment which is now Clause 5A of the principal Act of 1974. However, I wanted to await the further discussions that were taking place with the Trades Union Congress about the manner of the appeal to be provided for members of unions expelled or excluded from unions and to see whether something satisfactory could be provided, either by the trade union movement itself or independently of it. My survey of the whole situation, however, went further than trade unionists alone. My reason for that was was that in the discussions with the Trades Union Congress, on what is now called the Social Contract, this very point was raised because the Donovan Commission, which had not suggested that closed shops should be made unlawful, had nevertheless recommended that an independent tribunal should be created for the purpose of hearing appeals by employees who felt that they were being wrongfully refused permission or expelled from their unions with serious consequences to their employment.

But the members of the so-called Liaison Committee of the Trades Union Congress, who were looking at the Social Contract, raised the objection that the lawyers had their own disciplinary machinery as did the doctors and the accountants. Professional men can be expelled from their professional organisations and deprived of the right to follow their profession by a disciplinary committee upon which there is no lay member at all. It is entirely within the profession, leaving any person who is aggrieved with the right to appeal to the High Court. A trade unionist has the right to appeal to the High Court and nothing in any Bill has removed the Common Law right of a trade unionist to go to the High Court.


With respect, the noble Lord is wrong. I know that he does not mean to mislead the Committee, but there is no access that I am aware of, apart from Section 5, to the High Court for unreasonable exclusion or expulsion from a trade union. Under Section 5, of course, there is a right of access to the Industrial Tribunal. But there is no right apart from that, and it is precisely that right which is being removed if this Amendment is not passed. So far as doctors are concerned, of course they have a right of appeal to the Privy Council, which is not a medical body, and I think the noble Lord will see that the GMC, which is the disciplinary body, have members otherwise than of the doctors' profession.


I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord. I accept the correction that the right of appeal to the High Court by a trade unionist is for wrongful dismissal or if he were excluded from a union. As I understand it, if he were unfairly refused admission to a union which resulted in dismissal from his employment, he would have the right to go to the High Court to claim damages for wrongful dismissal. I think I am right about that position. As regards the General Medical Council and the right of appeal to the Privy Council, I accept what the noble and learned Lord has said.

When the Solicitors Bill was before the House of Commons, I was then leading on this subject for the Opposition, and I stressed very strongly indeed the neeed to include in any disciplinary machinery lay membership of the appeal tribunal. Eventually, when that Bill was passed, there was provision for lay membership of the disciplinary tribunal, although the majority of members of the tribunal were still solicitors. I mention this only because it was thrown at us by the Trades Union Congress when we raised this matter very firmly indeed in the discussion with them. The Trades Union Congress said, "Why are we thought to be unworthy of conducting disciplinary machinery of our own on lines comparable with that of the professional bodies? Why should trade unionists be thought to be unreliable in the administration of justice and fair dealing whereas the professional bodies retain rights which are not conceded to the trade union movement?" I think that was a fair point, though at the time, and in my own speeches in another place, I said that that was really no answer to the question. What should be done is that the fullest right of appeal to an independent tribunal should be extended to any person who was deprived of the opportunity of following his employment or vocation by arbitrary exclusion or expulsion from an organisation, membership of which was an indispensable condition of doing the job. That is a principle which I think one can reasonably adhere to, but, unfortunately, we are considering this matter in a very unhappy context.

I am bound to say that the Bill before the Committee today has become a political necessity to Her Majesty's Government because this is part of the Social Contract. This is part of the Labour Party's Manifesto. We are dealing today with the last threads of the Industrial Relations Act 1971, and as my noble friend Lord Gordon-Walker has just pointed out, nothing was done to amend trade union law in this respect in all the years up to 1971. Then it was included in an Act which the trade union movement found totally unacceptable. We all saw the unhappy consequences of the 1971 Act. The law was defied; it became unworkable. Happenings occurred which introduced new features into the behaviour of trade unionists; such as strikes for political—not industrial—purposes.

All that was a very sorry consequence of the foolish action of the Conservative Government in 1971. The Government of the day declined to discuss with the Trades Union Congress the main principles of their proposed legislation. They were prepared only to discuss matters incidental to the application of the principles which the then Government had resolved. That was a tragedy; it was a disaster. There was no peace, politically or industrially, so long as the Act remained on the Statute Book. As I told your Lordships on 22nd July 1974, I was concerned, on behalf of the Parliamentary Labour Party and the Trades Union Congress, from the beginning to the end of the talks on the Social Contract, and it was part of our agreement that the 1971 Act should be repealed in those respects and that we should accept some alternative basis for the hearing of appeals by aggrieved employees or trades unionists.

What has happened in the interval between 22nd July 1974 and now is that the Secretary of State for Employment has discussed the matter with the Trades Union Congress, and has impressed upon it the very strong desire in many quarters to see a tribunal set up which could be accepted as really independent and could be regarded as a reliable appeal tribunal, both from the point of view of the trades unions themselves and of their members. The Secretary of State, in a speech in another place on 12th February this year, explained that the Trades Union Congress was ready to set up a tribunal with an independent chairman and independent members. The chairman would be a distinguished person with legal qualifications and the tribunal would be completely independent. It would be set up in consultation with the Conciliation and Arbitration Service, with the chairman being appointed in consultation with the Secretary of State himself. What the Secretary of State urged upon another place was that Members should give this new machinery a trial and, if it did not work satisfactorily, other steps could be taken.

I know your Lordships will say that all we are talking about is the nature of the tribunal to which an aggrieved person shall go. That is quite true. On this Amendment we are not discussing the closed shop or anything else. We are discussing only the form of appeal-the way to exercise the right of appeal—in the case of an aggrieved person. The choice lies between a statutory tribunal and one of the kind which the Trades Union Congress is prepared to set up and which the Secretary of State recommended in another place should be accepted.

We are confronted with the fact that the House of Commons has, by a substantial majority, decided on the course which we are now asked in your Lordships' House to reverse. I believe this to be an important consideration. I am sorry to say—because the law is in an unsatisfactory state—that it is necessary, in my view, for the Government to discharge in full their pledges to the trade unions, and this is part of the understanding reached with them in the discussions leading up to the Social Contract. I think it would be wise for your Lordships to accept the advice, to let the Trades Union Congress have a go by allowing it to appoint this independent tribunal in consultation with the Secretary of State and the chairman of the Conciliation and Arbitration Service, and let them begin work and see how it goes. I feel that, whether we like it or not, the Trades Union Congress and the unions in general would have more confidence in a tribunal of this kind than in any alternative form of appeal.

I say this in conclusion. When all is said and done, and when an appeal is over, if there is any question of receiving back into employment a person who has had to leave, whose membership of a union has been restored and who might be expected to resume his employment, but who is not acceptable to members of the union it is extremely difficult to see how that decision of the tribunal can be enforced. It is the good will and the confidence behind such decisions that will achieve the purposes we have in mind. After all, we are dealing with the comradeship of a trade union and the other members of the trade union are entitled to have something to say on whom they shall have and whom they shall reject for membership of a union which provides the fraternity, the cover and the protection for which employees look to trades unions. However, because of the closed shop situation, we all admit that where the power of the union to decide who shall and who shall not be a member may deprive a person of his employment, some other right of appeal should be provided. That is what we are talking about now.

My strong advice is that your Lordships should accept what the Trades Union Congress proposes and what the Secretary of State recommends, and, if there is anything wrong with that, then further steps can be taken.

4.17 p.m.


I wonder whether I may ask the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, for his opinion on one point. I really wanted to speak on Amendment No. 5, but I should like to ask the noble Lord this question now. I accept the advice of the noble Lord and I think we all realise the authority with which he speaks, but I feel that there is a stumbling block. I was Chairman of the Council on Tribunals for six years, and my difficulty is one which really arises on Amendment No. 5. Why in this tribunal, which it is suggested should be set up by the TUC, is it not conceivable that the rules of procedure should be approved by the Council on Tribunals, which is not a judicial body and to which I believe no exception was taken in the past, prior to the 1971 Act? I wonder whether the noble Lord could comment on the point of the Council on Tribunal's procedure, because it concerns what he was talking about.


I do not think the Council on Tribunals came into the proposal which was made by the TUC.


Perhaps either the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham, or the Minister could clarify one point to which I do not see the answer. I believe it is the case that professional bodies have a right to expel members for unprofessional conduct—a matter which, with professional bodies, is usually defined. But do they have a right to expel members arbitrarily or to display unreasonable discrimination, which is what we are trying to guard against here? Would a member of a professional body, if he were excluded as a result of arbitrary or unreasonable discrimination, have a right of appeal?


If the noble Baroness will forgive me, I suggest that she is confusing two quite separate conceptions. If a person wants to become a doctor, barrister or solicitor, he has to pass certain examinations and, if he passes them and is otherwise of good character, he is then admitted to practice. That is a professional qualification and that is how he practises. In addition, there are disciplinary bodies that can expel for certain specified offences, one of which usually is behaving in a manner unworthy of the profession. In those circumstances, in the case of a barrister he has an appeal to the judges sitting as visitors of the barristers; in the case of the General Medical Council, which is a statutory disciplinary body, he has an appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council; and—I speak subject to correction by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor—if he is a solicitor he goes to the disciplinary committee which is not a committee of the Law Society itself but one for which the Master of the Rolls is responsible, and I think he can appeal to the Master of the Rolls from that. There is an ultimate appeal to an outside body in each case, the expulsion has to be for a defined offence, and the admission is on a professional qualification of passing certain examinations in skills and knowledge.


But the expulsion about which we are talking is not for unprofessional conduct but for arbitrary discrimination or dismissal on unreasonable grounds.


One cannot turn a man out of the legal profession unreasonably, but only for a specified offence of the type I have been mentioning. The same is true of the medical profession, and I think certainly the dental profession. They all have slightly different rules but I think that, in general, this is true of all professions.


So far as solicitors are concerned, there is an ultimate right of appeal to the High Court.


I thought that was the case, and I am obliged to the noble and learned Lord for that information.

4.23 p.m.


When I listen to debates of this type I am reminded of the many years that were spent by people looking after huge numbers of workers, as I did, in, for example, an engineering factory—and that was long before the provision which is in Section 5 obtained. It is easy when discussing this issue to get oneself into a most artificial atmosphere, and as I look round this Assembly I see many of my noble friends who like myself, have spent most of their lives trying to get people into trade unions, not trying to throw them out. It really is remarkable to imagine that we should spend our days, and many of us our nights, trying to achieve that latter objective in order to produce some Machiavellian scheme by which we will sling them out. When I listened to the noble and learned Lord describe what could happen to our trade unions, I began to wonder whether he really believed that if those of us with practical experience felt that that could happen to our trade unions we would now be opposing this Amendment. If we really believed that, we should be moving it rather than opposing it.

Let us consider the atmosphere in which such events might happen. For many years I had charge of 30,000 people and I never once came across any of the issues which have been referred to by the noble and learned Lord or the mover of the Amendment. Indeed, if a member of a trade union believes that discrimination has worked adversely in his case he has a number of remedies. In the first place he can go to his branch, and if he feels, for example, that he is being victimised, he can put his case. Every trade union has rules and in most large unions there is always a final appeal court. In the case of my union we have a final appeal court which is composed entirely of lay people. Any individual member can take the executive council, the president, the secretary or any member of the official hierarchy of the union before that final appeal court. And I repeat that they are lay members who do not look kindly on officials who try to knock lay members about, if I may use that phrase. Knowing how that final appeal court operates, I say with respect that I would trust its decisions—decisions made by my colleagues—at least as far as I would trust the decisions of any judge or jury, because I am aware of their integrity and honesty. If, as my noble friend Lord Houghton of Sowerby pointed out, a man is still dissatisfied, he has a right of appeal against unfair dismissal.

We also have the fact that the TUC is proposing a tribunal arrangement and it is clear that in no way will that be a sort of cover-up for any individual trade union. Whenever a case from an individual trade union comes before that body, no member of that union will be permitted to take part in the making of its decision. Anyone who knows the set up in the British trade union movement, and especially of the General Council of the TUC, knows that they would bend over backwards to ensure that there was not the slightest chance of any such body being a rubber stamp for an individual trade union. I assure noble Lords that that would never happen. I therefore ask your Lordships when considering this sort of matter to recognise that one is sitting in judgment, as it were, on a trade union movement which can vie with any in the world for integrity and honesty. Despite what the noble and learned Lord was saying, it has proven itself over the years with the one exception when a certain minority group got charge of the ETU.


I want to make it plain that I was not casting the slightest doubt on the integrity of the present tribunals. Indeed, I went out of my way to say that nobody could possibly doubt them. I was simply trying to say that we should keep Section 5 or something like it in case the optimism which has been expressed against penetration succeeding in the future turns out, as unfortunately it may, to be unjustified.


The British trade union movement has been in existence for the best part of 200 years and some years ago the TUC celebrated its centenary. The terrible things which some noble Lords seem to think might happen have not happened. I could understand such comments if they were directed at the CBI, which has no history behind it and which does not have the sort of experience which the British trade union movement has. I do not say this lightly, my Lords, but it could happen that some extremely Right-Wing people might take charge of the CBI; but I see nothing along those lines in the Amendment. Surely, with regard to the lawyers themselves, it is not asked that they should pass judgment on what could possibly happen in the coming by and by. They have to deal with facts, and I am asking the Committee to deal with them. None of those matters which have been asserted as being possibilities has ever come about. There is a series of checks at branch level, at the level of a final appeal court, at the level at which the TUC wishes to set up its tribunal and, finally, at law. Surely, those are enough checks for any people to put up with?

4.30 p.m.


The noble and learned Lord, when speaking in the course of the debate, warned the Committee with almost extreme gravity that if the Amendment were not passed it would be the end of liberty. That is what he said, but it comes rather quaintly from a member of a profession which, in the last century, and even at the beginning of this century, used its powers in the courts in order to prevent ordinary people associating freely in a trade union, and which placed every possible impediment in the way of reasonable organisation among working-class people. I remember the Osborne judgment, and the Taff Vale judgment. What is it that troubles the noble and learned Lord as, apparently, it troubles other noble Lords on the other side of the Committee? It is to afford protection for workers on the shop floor against arbitrary expulsion from a trade union. It would have been interesting had the noble and learned Lord, in the course of his speech, cited a substantial number of instances in which men had been expelled by their trade unions. We could then have formed some estimate of the gravity of the situation. The fact is that there have been few instances of men being expelled from their trade unions, taking into consideration the vast number of trade unionists in the United Kingdom and the substantial number of trade union organisations.

However, in the matter of affording protection for workers against indiscriminate and arbitrary action, let me ask this. If a matter has gone through the trade union branch, up to the executive council of a union and then—under the suggestion made by my noble friend Lord Houghton of Sowerby—a trade union tribunal is formed under the sponsorship of the Trades Union Congress, what is the situation? If there is no power vested in the trade union to expel a member, it is possible—indeed, highly probable—that the men on the shop floor who initiated the action to bring about his expulsion will find ways and means of dealing with the situation. It is not necessary to invoke the aid of law; it represents no difficulty whatever. Indeed, few of the cases have been cited. Ever since the Industrial Relations Bill was passed by your Lordships' House in 1971, few of the cases have been those where men have been "sent to Coventry"—to use the familiar expression.

Many of my noble friends were not present when we debated the Industrial Relations Bill of 1971, which became an Act of Parliament. Overheated discussions ensued. Members of the present Opposition, who then occupied these Benches, were warned over and over again about their propositions which were found acceptable to a majority in your Lordships' House, but which were unacceptable to those of us now sitting on this side, who were sitting on the opposite side at the time. They were warned over and over again what would happen, and what we warned about has happened. There have been interminable disputes, chaos, upsets, disturbances, turbulence and all the rest of it. Is that a way to invoke the aid of law? To impose on a body of working-class people conditions which they regard as unacceptable has happened over and over again, as I have indicated, and those who have been responsible are those members of the noble and learned Lord's profession, those judges, vested with authority, who sought even to prevent trade union organisations existing at all—


I have never been, and certainly never will be, against the trade union movement. With regard to what my noble friend says about the past, I am not responsible for the sins of my fathers. I have always tried, and I do not think anyone doubts it, to discharge my duties quite impartially, and I have not today sought to defend the Act of 1971. I am not concerned with that.


I am not suggesting that the noble and learned Lord is responsible for the sins of his fathers. All I am suggesting is that he ought not now to commit any sin, of any sort. I want to protect him against himself, if I may say so with respect, and with all the reverence possible for a Law Lord. I must say that this debate is very nostalgic, because of what happened in the early part of the century. I appeal to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, for he will recall what happened when he occupied the Woolsack—how often we appealed to the then Government, myself in particular, and how, indulging in what might have been regarded at the time as a warning, we said: "Watch out, this is not going to do you any good; it is not going to do the country any good", and it did not. It possibly led to the defeat of Mr. Heath, and to the disarray that now exists in the Conservative Party.

Therefore, it seems to me that your Lordships' House will do itself no good, nor the United Kingdom any good, nor the working-classes, nor even the employer classes, by seeking to pass this Amendment. It is unnecessary. It is far better to dispose of something which has been a source of trouble. Of course, if Members on the other side of the Committee prefer otherwise, and want to use their majority against the minority on this side and against a decision taken in another place, they can please themselves. But if they do that, it will only invoke a further reaction against the very existence of this assembly. Better not do it!


I said a good deal about this matter during the Second Reading debate and wish to say only a few words now. I should like to support my noble and learned friend behind me. He made an extremely powerful speech, and I was very impressed with it. I do not quite know about "protecting our-selves from our sins" or from our fathers', but I am quite clear that it is the duty of Parliament to protect our workers from unreasonable and arbitrary discrimination. I do not think that knocking out this most desirable section from the principal Act of 1974 can be, or really ought to be, justified by reference to the negotiations which took place between the Labour Party and the TUC— which did not bind anybody else—when the Social Contract was being prepared. Although I support the Social Contract, I do not think that that was a reasonable condition to make.

The workers are preserving the right of appeal to the industrial tribunals in the case of unfair dismissals, and I do not see therefore that it is altogether logical for them to object to protection against unfair or arbitrary discrimination by exclusion from a trade union when that is also to be referred to the industrial tribunals. I should have thought that the industrial tribunals had earned thanks from everybody for the excellent work they do and that this was pre-eminently a case where they ought to have a job to do. I do not think that we ought to let this section go.

It is our duty to look at the substance of what is needed to protect our workers. I believe this is necessary in the new circumstances. I should like to say to noble Lords across the Gangway that we really have to consider this clause in the new circumstances which arise in the light of the Bill before us which will spread very much the application of the closed shop. The closed shop will mean that anyone excluded from a trade union will automatically be excluded from his job; he will not easily be able to find another job in the same industry. I think that this clause about the protection of the worker against exclusion from a union really receives a new importance in the light of the new circumstances which we are facing in this Bill. I shall vote for the Amendment.

4.41 p.m.


I find an air of unreality pervading this Chamber this afternoon. I came into industry in the year 1918 and I left it in 1949 to come straight into this House. In the early part of my career there was a closed shop the other way: that is, that no employer would employ a trade unionist. I remember that after the General Strike I had to travel the length and breadth of the country where the employers' organisations had my photograph circulated as a man not to be employed—one of those types that the noble and learned Lord had in mind; although I have opposed the Communist Party all my life. It was only when things began swinging towards rearmament, to the Second World War, that the closed shop came into fashion, the balance shifted and the trade unionists were entitled to say who they would work with. Let me state a principle. The Liberal Party are very fond of speaking about the rights of the non-unionist; they never speak about the rights of the unionist. A non-unionist, they say, has the right to say that he will not belong to the trade union. But I and my fellow trade unionists have the right to say, "I shall not work with him." For example, if you get a hundred men in a job and one man is what they call (in the historic term) a "rat" or" knob-stick", they, equally, have the right to say that that man's past and that man's character is such that they will not work with him. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, made some point of the fact that when you are dealing with the noble professions, you are dealing with people who have qualifications for their job.


I made no point at all. The noble Lord is under a misapprehension. I replied to an invitation by the noble Baroness, Lady Wootton of Abinger, to reply to a question of fact. I made no point. I am longing to hear a member of the Government defend this clause.


I recognise the noble and learned Lord's right to speak for the professions; but I speak with right for the filthy trades. That is what we are talking about here. Although he never meant to, the noble and learned Law Lord who opened the debate did so in terms which I found embraced an assumption as impertinent as it was unwarranted: that what was good for the professions was not good for trade; that what was good for solicitors and doctors was not good for engineers. If you speak about qualifications for doing a job, then very often the trade union ticket—and particularly my own trade union ticket—carries with it a qualification to do a job. There are various grades. There can be a closed shop within a particular grade where you do not recognise somebody outside that grade. I worked as a shop steward for about fourteen years in a closed shop immediately before coming to this House. I cannot remember any particular occasion when anybody was thrown out. There were certain people we would not have in, people who applied for jobs but who did not measure up to what we wanted. We were concerned with charge engineers, with responsibility over 300 square miles of territory; and qualifications entered into that.

We have to consider these things in context. It is very curious to think that when we debate the question of the journalist tomorrow, the argument will be put forward that this Bill does nothing but restore the Act to what it was before 1971. Before 1971, we managed to get on quite well in the trade union movement without this Section 5. Sitting next to me is the ex-Lord Chancellor who took that memorable case in 1961 known as the ETU case—which probably "busted" one of the greatest rackets of all time; so the trade union movement could look after itself before 1971.

There is another point to be stated. I rather thought that the noble and learned Law Lord got some of his brief from the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, last week when he talked about all kinds of things happening. The cure for Communist infiltration is to attend your trade union branch, to attend the local Labour Party meeting. I would have asked a question of the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, had I been able to do so last week, as to what missionary work he had done in either of those fields. If the Communists have not infiltrated into this country, it is because of the trade unions and the Labour movement; because, historically, anybody who understands anything about the Marxist dialectic knows that it is a well-known Communist technique to fragment the forces of the Left before they turn on to the Right. Therefore the historic mission of the Left in British politics has been to defend the Constitution and to defend the law.

We have done more to defend the law than all the Law Lords have ever done —in odd places, in trades union branches, in shop floor arguments. Everybody stood up to the heathen wherever they saw him. As a matter of fact some noble names have been associated with this. The late Lord Morrison did more in this respect than the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, will do in a lifetime. If the Labour Party never went Communist, it is because the rank and file up and down the country stopped it; and the rank and file of the Labour Party cannot be dissociated from the rank and file of the trade union movement for they are often the same people. We have been the defenders of the British way of life; we have stopped infiltration. I doubt whether your Lordships—or most of you—would recognise a Communist if you saw one. You have not seen him. They have got in all kind of places. We smell them out and we chuck them out I have no doubt that, if it were a matter of throwing out a Communist, we should not have had that high-minded disquisition at the beginning of this debate.

Why do you throw people out? In the case of the trades it is very often, I have no doubt, because people fall below the level of the other people in the shop. In the case of a national dispute, a man goes in at his peril—I am speaking of an official dispute and not an unofficial one—and other people will not work with him. I have never known a non-unionist who has refused to take the benefits which a trade union has won on the shop floor; they are only too glad to do that. All kinds of things occur from long experience— far too long to speak about today—but we did without this legislation before 1971. It may not be an argument that will appeal to an unelected House, but the repeal of the 1971 Act has been in the Manifesto of my Party in two Elections, so if there is any mandate from the people to do this we have it.


I wonder whether I may respond to the intervention of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham, who is most anxious to hear the views of Her Majesty's Government on this Amendment. He must be slightly naïve to expect that the Government's view has changed in any way since we debated this issue, because it must be placed to the responsibility of the noble and learned Lord that this part of the Act was included, against the advice of the present Government.

I should like to thank the noble Earl, Lord Mansfield, for the very moderate way in which he moved this Amendment. I thought he had a far greater understanding of the issue than the noble and learned Lord, Lord Salmon. If I may say so, the question of the infiltration of Communism into the trade union movement is completely and utterly irrelevant to the Amendment before us, and to the relevant section of the Act. I want to say that I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Pannell. I can speak from my own recollection. My father, who was a trusted Member of your Lordships' House, was national agent and chief organiser of the British Labour movement from 1923 to 1946. I suppose he broke up more constituency Labour Parties than any national agent has ever done.

We know a great deal about the Communist movement. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Pannell, that it is the Labour movement which sees them, understands them and deal with them. The noble Lord said that his speech was not meant to be provocative. I suggest that he reads tomorrow's newspaper to see how he has been reported. He will not have the same response as I believe he would have wished. So far as I am concerned, nothing divorces Communism from Nazism or Fascism, and it was the trade union movement which stood up against Fascism in Spain, when the appeasers of the political Parties were in full swing. So do not let us hear any more about the position of the trade union movement.

The question before this Committee is about the right to work and to belong to a trade union. When I spoke in July, I drew attention to the relatively few cases that came before the courts because of failure within the union machinery to give natural justice to trade union members. I do not intend to repeat those figures this afternoon, but the Committee should be aware that since Section 5 was passed there have been eleven applications to tribunals under that section. Four have been heard; all have been dismissed, and two have been withdrawn. Of the four cases heard and dismissed, one (against the AUEW) was by an inveterate complainant, who had made at least thirty complaints under the Industrial Relations Act, who had twice had costs awarded against him for vexatious applications and had never had a finding in his favour. The tribunal found no evidence of arbitrary or unreasonable action by the union.

The second complaint concerned expulsion from the Medical Defence Union. It is doubtful whether that body is a trade union for the purposes of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act, and the tribunal did not consider the case under Section 5, although they did consider a related unfair dismissal claim. The two other cases were complaints by NCB employees against APEX. The tribunal held that APEX acted in accordance with an agreement reached under the Bridlington principles in expelling the two complainants, who should properly have joined the NUM's clerical section instead. The two cases withdrawn involved complaints against the Union of Dyers, Bleachers and Textile Workers by members who resigned and were subsequently refused readmission. The difficulties were apparently resolved.

I set out those facts to show that the consequences and experience of Section 5 are no different from those prior to the Industrial Relations Act. In fact, the number of cases brought against unions for unfair action is very small indeed. The aim of any safeguard is surely to enable an individual to continue to enjoy the benefits of union membership and, above all, to ensure that a man does not lose his job over non-membership.


I hope my noble friend will not think it discourteous of me if I leave, but I have to address a union this evening in Cambridge.


I understand the difficulty of the noble and learned Lord, but it makes life rather difficult for the rest of us who have to take part in a Committee stage. A declaration of rights or a High Court injunction, such as Section 5 provides for, is no guarantee that these results will be achieved. They could have quite the opposite effect, by creating ill-feeling in an, individual's workplace—an experience we all know in regard to the Industrial Relations Act.

What I think we should seek to do is to see whether it is possible to devise machinery by which a man will get his job back. That, I should have thought, was the paramount duty. It is the Government's policy that safeguards should be provided for individuals who are deprived of union membership in a closed shop. Ministers have considered at various times the possibility that statutory provisions establishing a review committee along the lines recommended by Donovan might be included in an employment protection Bill, or that a code of practice might be included in that Bill rather than specific statutory provisions. They made it clear, however, that they would prefer to build upon existing union and TUC procedures to ensure that whatever was provided was fully effective, and that they wanted to discuss in more detail with the TUC precisely what form additional provision should take in order to be more effective in helping the individual.

Following extensive discussions between the Secretary of State for Employment and the TUC, the General Council of the TUC decided to set up an independent review committee to consider appeals from individuals who have been dismissed from their job as a consequence of being expelled from, or refused admission to, a union in a closed shop. The proposed review committee will have an independent person with legal qualifications as chairman and two other members. All three members will be appointed by the General Council in consultation with the Secretary of State for Employment and the Chairman of the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. It will be completely independent of the TUC in reaching its decisions. The Committee's composition is in many respects similar to the review committee proposed by Donovan. That would have comprised a legal chairman and two members chosen from a panel of unionists appointed by the Secretary of State in consultation with the TUC. The detailed procedures under which the review committee will operate will be for the TUC to work out in relation to existing individual union procedures for processing grievances. But the review committee will have to be satisfied, before it considers an appeal, that an individual who has been dismissed following expulsion or exclusion from a union has exhausted all internal union procedures.

The intention is that the review committee should discuss a case with the union and individual concerned, with a view to resolving the matter by agreement. If that proves impossible, the review committee will make a recommendation as to whether or not tthe individual should be admitted or readmitted to the union, and, if so, under what conditions. There would be a clear responsibility on the part of the union to act on such a recommendation for the review committee. Any union which expelled a member or refused admission to an applicant in circumstances covered by this procedure would take such steps as are necessary to ensure that the individual is made aware of his rights, both within the union and as regards appeals to the TUC review committee. The General Council intend that this review committee should be ready in time to deal with any cases which might arise immediately after the repeal of Section 5. They have circulated member unions telling them of what is proposed and of the intention to put the proposal to the next Annual Congress for formal endorsement.

I suggest there are very considerable advantages in the procedure decided upon by the TUC as compared with any statutory provision for appeals—particularly to a body divorced from the union organisation. Questions of exclusion and expulsion hinge primarily upon internal union organisation and affairs and can be most sensibly and competently dealt with within the union movement. But as a quasi-internal review body, the Committee's procedures can be properly coordinated with existing union and TUC procedures for dealing with complaints of unreasonable exclusion or expulsion and can take full account of the TUC's Bridlington principles in dealing with complaints of exclusion. Furthermore, if unions know that TUC machinery is available to pass judgment on their procedures and the way they are operated, they are more likely to ensure that an individual's complaints are fully and adequately dealt with under their own procedures than they are if the alternative is for the individual to appeal to a tribunal; this lessens the chance that an individual will finally be expelled or excluded.

I believe that the issue is a very simple one. We have had statutory machinery. It has been little used. We had no machinery before 1971. As a consequence of Donovan the trade union movement has improved its procedures. What we are suggesting is that we put trust into the trade union movement, a democratic organisation of some 10 million people; that they should use their machinery; that they should develop it as I have outlined, so that we can have the benefits of conciliation and judgment. Above all else, I believe that through this procedure and co-operation within the movement we are likely to see the number of cases to be relatively small and more men eventually going back to work alongside their mates where previously there had been difficulties. I suggest that what is at issue today is not a fundamental matter of great principle; it is to devise ways and means by which, among a group of men where there is difficulty, where one is expelled for one reason or another, there should be machinery to ensure that men can go back to work. I would suggest that all experience shows that it is within the trade union movement that we are likely to find it, and not within the courts of law which we have tried so recently and which so lamentably failed.


Will the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, state quite explicitly whether Section 5 of the principal Act stands? That would make the establishment of a closed shop agreement legal, or illegal. Does it prohibit a closed shop?


No, it certainly does not.


Neither one nor the other. The closed shop is legal under the 1974 Act.

5.7 p.m.


I should like to say just a few words on this Amendment, as I did on a similar Amendment at the time of our discussions on the Trade Union and Labour Relations Bill last July. May I begin by conceding a few points to noble Lords on the other side of the Committee. I do this speaking only for myself. In negotiating with trade unions for a number of years on behalf of a large organisation, I came to see some of the advantages of the closed shop in practice. I recall also that there was often machinery within the union concerned which enabled people under threat of expulsion successfully to appeal against that expulsion. In my experience it can be said that in general—I have to put it this way because I recall there were some exceptions—the closed shop did not of itself lead to illiberal practices. I wanted therefore to say to noble Lords on the other side—and I think I may call some of them "my noble union friends"—that I start by having some sympathy with the view that has been expressed on that side of the Committee this afternoon.

However, last July I supported, as did my colleagues on these Benches, the principle that, as under the Trade Union and Labour Relations Bill the closed shop was for the first time to have the sanction of the law in the sense that employers were enabled fairly to dismiss people who were not members of the appropriate union, common justice demanded that at the end of the day, after all the internal procedures had been exhausted, some legally enforceable and independent machinery should be set up under which in all cases people expelled from a union could have the right of appeal to an independent body. I am still of that opinion. It seemed to me of some significance that this afternoon this Amendment, which maintains protection of the individual in this way, had the support of a judge as eminent and respected as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Salmon.

I know well from my own experience that there are few issues on which trade union members feel more strongly than the issue of the closed shop. However, it seems to me that if this Amendment were accepted it would not be the case that there would be grave unrest among ordinary British working people. Even if there were a real danger of that happening, I suggest to your Lordships that it is still our duty to be constant in our support of the principle which, as I understand it, this Amendment seeks to preserve.

I was interested in what the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, had to say. I recall the impressive speech which he made last July accepting for himself the proposition that, in the closed shop situation, people expelled or excluded from a union should have the right of appeal to an independent body. I recall how nevertheless he asked us on that occasion not to insert a clause in the Bill which would have that effect, on the ground, as has been stated today, that the Government should first be given an opportunity to have further discussions with the Trades Union Congress. He has said this afternoon, and I respect his judgment, that we should leave it to the TUC itself to "have a go". That view has been confirmed by the noble Lord the Leader of the House. However, I suggest to your Lordships that we must judge the facts as they are.

At the moment, the facts are that there is to be no legal machinery, no provision for appeal to an independent body, because it is not the Secretary of State who is to set up a tribunal; rather, it is the TUC which is to set up its own review committee. I know that it has been said by the noble Lord the Leader of the House that the TUC will consult the Secretary of State and the Chairman of the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service on this matter. I know, too, that the Chairman of this committee is to be a man with legal qualification and that the other two members are to be independent of the union involved in the case. But it is because this committee is to be set up by the TUC that, in the eyes of some at least, it may be thought to have, even if it does not, in fact, have, a bias towards the union rather than towards the individual.

The phrase that "justice should not only be done but be seen to be done" has perhaps become a little hackneyed, but I suggest that this is an occasion when that phrase should have application. However wise the TUC may have been in the arrangements they have made for the setting up of this committee—I recall that in winding up our debate on Second Reading the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, gave it as his opinion that in this matter their wisdom had been infinite—I fear that, because of the genesis of this committee, it will be regarded by some people not as a truly independent body but rather, and I say this with no disrespect, merely as a creature in the image of the TUC. To be consistent with the decision which we took last July and in the name of simple and visible justice for the individuals who may be concerned, for this reason I should like to give my support to this Amendment.


Before the noble Lord gives his support to this Amendment, because he is a very practical man may I pose this question: is it not the intention of the noble Lord to find some procedure whereby, if there is difficulty, a man should be taken back into the union and so get back to work? Does the noble Lord really think that in the present climate a legal body is likely to achieve that aim, as opposed to a body set up by the TUC? Which body does the noble Lord think would achieve the best result?


I had hoped that I had made it clear that in the first instance I agree that the machinery within the union is the machinery which should be used. However, at the end of the day, given the closed shop situation, that for the first time it is possible for employers to dismiss people for not being members of a union, I feel it is right that there should be some legally enforceable and independent machinery.

5.14 p.m.


Although I do not wish to prolong the debate for too long, I want to make one or two comments in connection with this matter. Reference has been made to the new arbitration tribunal being a creature of the TUC. This is an emotive expression. If it is a creature of the TUC, I think that the TUC has some responsibility to ensure that the decisions of that body are carried out. Whether the responsibility for the other procedure which is being suggested—that the matter should go to law—is as much the responsibility of the TUC as it would be if it were its own body that it was setting up in that connection, is a matter of opinion.

I have listened with interest to what has been said and, as I see it, there has been a turn-round of events. Some of my noble friends have said that the trade union movement was originally set up with a view to defending the workers of the country against their employers. If that is right, the situation has now been turned round: employers are now very concerned about defending the workers against the trade unions. This is a rather odd position.

The noble Lord who has left the Chamber to address the Cambridge Union—I understand that it is not the same kind of union as we are talking about now— made a remark in connection with the powers of the TUC over the trade union movement. First, we must be clear in our minds that the trade union movement consists of the people who are working on the shop floor. If one is concerned about defending an individual who may feel that he has been wronged, it must be made clear that the people who are responsible for laying down the rules of the trade union are the members; they are not laid down by the General Secretary or the Executive Committee. This happens only in exceptional circumstances where it becomes a legal matter and the Executive Committee have a legal responsibility to recommend a change of the rules so far as the union is concerned. Basically, however, the rules of the union are drawn up by the members. Consequently, there is a conflict of interest. If, for some reason or another, the trade union decides that a particular member is not to belong to the union, or he himself has left the union, I am assuming that the people who have drawn up the rules of the union are the people on the shop floor and that in those circumstances they have the right to adjudicate upon what should happen.

I had some experience, as many of us did, of what happened when the 1971 Act came into operation. Prior to that, we were left to deal with matters on our own. It could be alleged that, if one were trying to contest an Amendment which says that one does not want members to be expelled unreasonably, one is saying, "Oh, you do want people to be expelled unreasonably". I think one has to find out who set the hare chasing. It was not in the legislation prior to the 1971 Act. Therefore, there were very few occasions when this problem arose. The Government of the day, having passed the 1971 Act, used it on only one occasion. On no other occasion did they try to use the 1971 Act.

The other amazing matter is, that as I have been travelling around and talking to people recently—and though some remark was made in connection with the CBI, I am not one of those who wants to say anything derogatory about the CBI: they have their problems, as have the Trades Union Congress—I have found very few people in the CBI who want this Bill. I am wondering who is behind the two matters which we are now discussing. In those circumstances, I should have thought it would be in our interest to carry the Bill as it is and not become involved in these two problems, although it might be said that the understanding with the then Government and the TUC in connection with the Social Contract, which obviously everybody now accepts, has in it other things than wages, but the understanding between the Government and the TUC was in connection with removing these clauses. I am waiting to hear some employer say that he wants them. I am of the opinion that if there was a decision made in law that a member should be taken back into the trade union the responsibility will be placed on the employer and the trade union movement to solve the implications of the decision of the court.

In my experience the introduction of the law into industrial relations was not very good. Every agreement we made under the 1971 Act required an argument with the employer as to whether or not it was going to be legally binding. It was not really necessary to have any argument with the employer. Generally he agreed that he did not want his agreements to be legally binding. If they were legally binding and there had been any dispute the employer would have to go to court in order to enforce the agreement. So, even during the time of the operation of the 1971 Act, we got back to the situation whereby in a great many cases the employers opted for agreements to be not legally binding.

Prior to the time when we were involved with the Government in connection with the ballot, I thought I was quite capable of writing a general circular to my membership explaining the situation in connection with agreements between the employer and the union. But when it came to writing the circular arising from the exercise of going to the Industrial Relations Court, I found that in my office I had two leading counsel, a professor of law and three junior counsel, all writing out the circular which I used to do myself. I should have thought that employers would not want that sort of thing.

The relationships between both sides of industry in this country is good. The exceptions are the ones which get all the publicity. The noble Lord the Leader of the House has explained a number of cases which have arisen in recent times, where people have been expelled from their trade union. It all depends who wants to talk of these things. Some people say "Oh! well, there are only 10 million people in the trade unions, out of the 20 million people who are employed". I should have thought, if that were so and somebody was expelled from his trade union, that there were another 10 million places to which he could have gone. On the other hand, the trade union movement is so strong that it controls the situation and a chap is not likely to get any further employment in this country.

I would say this about the arrangements which the TUC have made. It is not really a creature of the TUC in that sense. The chairman is to be an independent man of legal training. We have a few such men in the trade union movement, and it would look a bit odd if we found our own solicitor from the membership of the TUC to sit. But the fact remains that he is to be an independent man of legal training, and the other two people will also be independent. I should have thought, if such machinery was in operation, that that would be the best way to arrive at a solution, if the position is as serious as people try to make out.

A noble Lord who has now left asked whether the TUC have some responsibility for the general operation of the trade union movement. Some of my noble friends have referred to the Bridlington agreement. I know of no occasion when any trade union has refused to operate a decision made under the Bridlington agreement. Until today there has been no challenge to the Bridlington agreement. When I say "challenge", I mean that no union has refused to operate the Bridlington agreement. I should have thought that if this new machinery was set up that would be the best solution.

I go back to what I said originally. The trade union movement does not want this Bill and I have had difficulty in finding any employers who want it. I believe they want to get back to the general understanding of good industrial relations, bearing in mind that the industrial relations in this country are good. It is the exceptions that get all the publicity. If the Amendment is not withdrawn I hope that even at this late stage the movers will give second thoughts to it. I cannot see how, if this Amendment is carried, it will improve the relationship between employer and employees, or will ease the situation. Even after a court has made a decision on this basis, it will still be left to the employer and employees to solve the problem. I should have thought that that would not in any way improve the industrial relations in this country and it would probably make them worse.

5.27 p.m.


We have had a very interesting speech from the noble Lord, Lord Greene of Harrow Weald, and all the points which trade union people wish to make have been made. The noble Lord, Lord Greene, said he has not heard of any employers saying they wished this clause to be waived. I remember the battle here during the passage of the Industrial Relations Bill when we had all night Sittings. I shall be corrected if I am wrong, but my recollect- tion is that no employer of labour on this side (then the Conservative Party) spoke in favour of the Bill. Certainly those with whom I have come into contact were not in favour of the Bill.

The noble Lord the Leader of the House has explained what will happen if this Amendment is withdrawn and if the Bill is operative without the emotional voting that will go on in the Library, the bars, and so on, if we go to a Division.


It is a very full Committee.


I have been an employer of some quantity of labour for about 40 years. When I say "I" I mean the company for which I work and whom I represent. In most cases we have had closed shops and seven active unions with which to deal. I cannot remember a case of anybody being thrown out of his union but I can remember many cases where members of a union have been disciplined for not doing their jobs properly and for disobeying union rules. I can speak of the days when the ETU was completely Communist-dominated and they behaved impeccably so far as we, the employers, were concerned.

When the Industrial Relations Bill was going through, we warned the Government of the day that they would cause nothing but trouble. Leaders of the Conservative Party over the years, like Churchill and Baldwin, have urged people not to use lawyers to settle industrial disputes. I urge you again to remember the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, saying "Don't do something for which you may well be sorry at some later date". Sooner or later we have to accept that the decisions in trade unions will be settled by the trade unions in a happy relationship with employers. I have had unhappy relation-ships because I have had two strikes in my time among people with whom I have worked every day, but we have patched up our problems with mutual respect for each other.

We have another chance this time. I urge the Conservative Party and the people, whether they are in the Chamber at the moment or elsewhere in the House, to withdraw this Amendment and give the TUC a chance to do something worth while, which I think they will do.

5.31 p.m.


I wish to enter a dissident voice from the ranks of the trade union movement and to base it upon the last two speeches which have been made. My noble friend Lord Greene of Harrow Weald said, if I remember his words correctly, that we were trying to make the exception the case. He went on to say—and he was supported by the noble Lord, Lord Bernstein—that of course the trade unions and the employers could get along most happily together so long as we never made the exception the case. It is that text on which I wish to preach because with great respect more harm can be done to democracy everywhere if we raise the idea of the corporate State. So long as the employer and the trade union (meaning the leaders of the trade union) get along together, all will be happy, nice, convenient and comfortable. It may be that every now and again some individual will suffer, but do not let us worry too much about him because if you try to take care of him you will upset the general happiness of our relationship with each other.

The noble Lord, Lord Greene, said that the trade union movement originally came to birth and was formed to oppose authority which dealt harshly with individual workers, and he thought it was amusing that now, however many years later, we are being asked by what he called "authority" to take up the position they were then taking up. But if I might just remind the noble Lord, Lord Greene, the Tolpuddle Martyrs were a small group of individuals fighting those who then had power. Those of us who take a contrary view to him are recognising—and he clearly knows this as well as I do—that trade union leaders, whether they be lay members or executives, or full time officials, can also, and in some cases do, exercise power arbitrarily to the detriment of the individuals.

A noble Lord: Oh, No!


Oh yes, indeed. If my noble friend wishes to interrupt he may do so, but indeed they do and individuals suffer as a result. As one of those trade unionists who is also a Socialist and who is in favour of individuals, I would say there is a stronger case to be made out than my noble friend will accept, in favour of the law in the days when we are able to make the law— or help to make the law—as we were not in the days of the Tolpuddle Martyrs or the early members of the NUR or in the days of the matchgirls' strike, which helped to begin the NUGMW, or in the days of the dockers strike which helped to begin my own union. In days when the situation is quite different, there is a case for trade unionists who are also Socialists and not believers in the corporate State to take the view that trade unions also need restraining from acting arbitrarily and unfairly.

The references to the Bridlington Agreement are wide of the mark. How many times do I know that trade union leaders have met other trade union leaders and decided to tell a whole block of people—never mind about the one—that they cannot stay in membership of the union they have opted to join; they must be handed back to the union they have decided to leave, because the Bridlington Agreement was so operated. How many times has a TUC Committee done this, and done it not on the basis of what the members wanted, not on the basis of what was opted for by the fellows, but on the basis of "If you don't scratch my back, then I won't scratch yours" or, under the Old Pals' Act, "Don't take the members of the Transport Workers' Union into the NUGMW; don't take the chemical workers into the NUGMW." Those of us who have been trade union officials for most of our lives know that it works on that basis. The references to the Bridlington Agreement are very wide of the mark. All of us—myself included, when I was operating in this field, when I was a Minister and, I suppose, now— prefer that the even tenor of our ways be not disturbed.

Of course, the noble Lord, Lord Bernstein, of Granada, managed to get along very well with the ETU when it was Communist dominated. But we were shown in the courts the price the members of the ETU paid in order to be Communist dominated, so that the noble Lord, Lord Bernstein, got along with them exceedingly comfortably and well. Of course, this can happen; of course, employers—ICI, Courtaulds, any employer you like to mention—would prefer not to have life disturbed. That is true of all of us, but it does not make a case, with great respect to my noble friends, for what they are arguing in favour of today.

In my view the trade union movement is now strong enough not to need to force people into membership. We are strong enough today as we were not, even when I began, which is 50 years ago; we are strong enough now to "sweat out"—if that is the expression your Lordships like—the 10 per cent. who might not want to join us. Incidentally, it is no answer to say that since we are only 10 million the one who does not want to be in the NUR can leave and take one of the other 10 million jobs. My noble friend really was not serious when he put that forward. You cannot tell a man in the docks, or a lorry driver in my own union who wants to operate as a container lorry driver, that he can go and take a lorry driver's job anywhere else. The answer is that he cannot do so. We are pushing things too hard and we are ending by being very mean to the fellows who want to protest.

Talking about the trade union section or the political section of the Labour movement, we grew so that people should be able to protest effectively. There is no more effective way of stopping people from protesting than taking away their jobs. In 1926, my father was put out of work by the employers. When he was nominated for a job on the Evening Standard he was put out by the appropriate printing trade union. Are your Lordships telling me that one is a wicked man, and the other is a good man? If a trade unionist loses his job for saying and doing what he thinks is right, the punishment is the same either way. Speaking for myself, I believe that one should stand up against the one as against the other. If fellows or girls wish to leave a union, for reasons that they deem to be right and proper, the one punishment that should not follow is the loss of their job.

I come now to the merits of the proposals. I listened to my noble friend the Leader of the House, who appears to have gone to debate at the Cambridge Union—


If the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, will allow me to intervene, lest he may think that the noble Lord the Leader of the House is guilty of discourtesy to the Committee, or even to the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, may I say that the noble Lord the Leader of the House has gone to attend to the matter of the industrial dispute which is directly affecting the House.


It is a pity that the noble Lord the Leader of the House went out before he heard my advice, because I could have helped him. I now come to the respective arguments. I listened to the noble Lord the Leader of the House telling us how it would work if we accepted the proposition of the TUC and a group of men went through the union machinery—and, quite often, it will be a group; I have known as many as 1,700 men leave one union, which I will not name, to come and join mine. The noble Lord the Leader of the House said that they should go through all the machinery which their unions provide, which, as my noble friend Lord Greene knows, can take a very long time—the branch can mess it about, the district committee can mess it about (we all know how much they can mess it about), and only after that appealing to the very people they are opposing. In that situation, justice takes a very long time, and is jolly unconvincing when you get it. Says the noble Lord the Leader of the House, "They can go all through that". When they have gone through all that, all the way up through the pyramid, they can go to the TUC committee, which will be some years later, by which time the whole intensity and urgency of the argument will be dimmed.

Then we will get this independent man with legal qualifications, and in the last nine months or so I have had some experience of independent men with legal qualifications. I have been trying to organise it so that people can buy their houses reasonably cheaply, and so on. May I tell your Lordships that I am not very impressed with the independence of some of these men with legal qualifications, especially as their fees are being paid by the TUC. There will be two other independent fellows—I do not know what they are independent of but, again, they will be paid by the TUC. At the end, they will adjudicate whether a man can get back to his job. The noble Lord the Leader of the House persuaded me that he believed his brief, and he asked, "Would you not rather the man had his job back?". What!—after he has been out of work for two years, after everyone he has tried has turned him down? It is unrealistic, and would not work that way. All that will be achieved by that is that there will be many a dispute on the way up. The fellows could not have been working all that time and, theoretically, the employer would have been paying their wages all that time. But since the two noble Lords who preceded me said that the employers would not want to be out of countenance with the TUC, they would not have been paying the wages and the fellows would have been on social security, or would have found some other job.

That simply seems to me to be a non est as a solution. It is cosmetics; it looks all right. I do not think there is a trade unionist in this Chamber, or anyone else who has been with me in the trade union movement, who believes it is anything else but cosmetics. The legal solution gives a fellow, or a group of fellows, a right to go to some legal body. But let us keep our minds on the group of fellows; not just on the exception for whom the noble Lord, Lord Greene, had such feelings. They all get there fairly early on. It is true that if you bring in the law the trade unionists can say, "We are not going to listen to it. We are not going to obey it. We will go on strike, or whatever."

I now come to my last point, which I think is tremendously important. The trade union movement grew, prospered, developed and finally came to its present position of being one of the estates of the realm by claiming the right of the rule of law, by resting itself on the law and by getting the law changed so that we could use it. The trade union movement grew, because we detested those who used the law against us. The early leaders of our movement were determined that we should have the same right, the same access to the law, as had the barons of industry and of the land before us. It is not really for us to reject it, when we grew up under it and grew because of it.

The basis of my present difference with colleagues and friends with whom I have worked is that we must not reject the rule of law at the end of the day, if we can win the rights of those in our group, by which I mean the trade union movement, who are dissidents in a land where the right to be a dissident is still respected, still admired and still upheld. The difference between us, and Mr. Shelepin when he gets here, is that by upholding the right of dissidents we uphold what our movement has stood for. If I had to choose between the two propositions today, I would say that each has disadvantages, each can be wrecked in the end by the trade unions not obeying the law. But for myself, for the reasons I have tried to set out, I would take the legal provisions and not what I would regard as the cosmetic and highly illusory provisions which were put to us by the noble Lord the Leader of the House.

5.49 p.m.


I would not have risen to speak had not my noble friend Lord George-Brown spoken in the way he has. I regret it and, as briefly as possible, I will tell your Lordships why. The assumption is that if we accept legal procedures and keep this section in the Act a man will get his job back if a lawyer so desires. That is the whole basis and tenor of the argument put forward by my noble friend. I have had some experience of the 1971 Act. Where a tribunal was completely independent and chaired by a lawyer, and had made a decision that an employer was wrong in discharging a man, one then had to make another decision, which was whether you could compel that employer to take him back; and it was only a small employer in some cases. If he did go back, would his life be so intolerable that it would not be worth while sending him back?

In many cases under the present Act those tribunals did not send a man back to his job because it was impracticable to do so. If the argument is that taking legal steps will enable us to overcome the problems that have been spoken about this afternoon, then the whole basis of that has been proved wrong since the inception of the 1971 Act, and it has had four years of operation. To deal with this clause in the manner suggested will not entitle a man, or enable a man to go back to his job.

In the trade union movement we talk a different language from the lawyers but we mean the same thing. The lawyer says "We have case law after the Act to decide how the Act should be interpreted". In the trade union movement we have precedents; we continually discuss precedents and they govern what is to happen in the future in 999 cases out of a thousand. What we on this side of the House are asking the Committee to do is to apply a legal procedure which is understood in the trade union movement, and not a legal procedure that will be imposed by Act of Parliament which has been proved to be impractical, so far as the problem we are discussing is concerned, since 1971. To retain the Act as it is will not entitle a man to go back to his job, and that has been proved by four years' experience.

The only other point I want to make is that in all the arguments which have been put forward here today it is only the Government who have put forward any examples and have given any cases to show what has happened. Not one case has been put forward by the Opposition to show that an injustice has been done by the procedure that we want to operate. I could expand on that and I want to expand on it, but time is getting short, and with that I will sit down.

5.53 p.m.


The time is now coming when we ought to try to bring this discussion to a conclusion, if the Committee will agree. I am afraid I must take a little time, but I hope, therefore, that I shall not be unduly dull. The first point I want to make is that I think there is a slight danger that the Committee may be losing sight of what this Amendment is about. This is a Bill to repeal certain sections of the principal Act of 1974, and this Amendment is confined to the proposal to repeal Section 5 of the Act of 1974.

Section 5 of the Act of 1974 does two things and two things only. First, it provides that a worker shall have a legal right, and the legal right which a worker shall have is not to be excluded from membership of or to be expelled from membership of a trade union. The first question is whether we want to legalise the abolition of that right. That is the first question but the second is this, and it is quite a distinct question. Section 5 of the Act of 1974 provides a remedy. The remedy is a swift and efficient recourse to an industrial tribunal. The industrial tribunal is a tribunal, admittedly independent, which has been operating, I believe, without criticism of any serious kind since 1964. The second question, therefore, and the only other question, is whether we want to legalise the abolition of the Act of 1974 so far as regards the remedy provided.

I believe, as I said on Second Reading, that this Act is irremediably bad. I believe it is a retreat from rationality. I believe it is a retreat from individual liberty and I believe it is a retreat from the rule of law. But the reason this Amendment was put down—and it will be true of another Amendment, not the next, but the next Amendment standing in the name of my noble friends—is that we wanted the Government to justify the legal consequences which they are invoking by the repeal of these sections, and we are now confined to the abolition of Section 5, the provisions of which I have correctly stated.

I was hoping to entice the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor into the debate, but he has observed an understandably discreet silence. The only member of the Government who has spoken, the Lord Privy Seal, gave us— and I am sure the Committee is grateful to him—an account of what the Trades Union Congress was proposing to do. But what he did not do was to justify the abolition of the legal right, or suggest that the remedy which he proposed, or the Trades Union Congress proposed, which is not in the Bill, would be either as efficient or as expeditious—and the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, thought it would be neither—as the one which the Government are taking away.

I want to examine, if I may, the various reasons which the Back Benches—at any rate, from the other side—suggested for rejecting the Amendment. The noble Lord, Lord Lee of Newton says that it is not necessary at all to have any legal right or any legal remedy. But, of course, cases of wrongful expulsion and wrongful exclusion have taken place. They have taken place in relation to unions. I have had them in my own professional experience, and won them. They have taken place in relation to clubs and the books are full of them. They do have them. May I say to the noble Lord, Lord Gordon-Walker, that he himself invoked the Electrical Trade Union, one of the bigger scandals of our time. It was not the Trades Union Congress who put that right; it was the courts who put that right, and it could not have been put right without the courts.

The noble Lord, Lord Gordon-Walker, now says "Do not bring the law into trades unions". But the Secretary of State throughout the passage through another place emphasised, if it be the case, that he was not proposing—and the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor emphasised at one stage in the last Session of Parliament that he was not proposing—to take away the access to the courts in a case where there has been a breach of natural justice or a breach of the rules of the trade unions. So what is the good of saying that you must not bring the law into trade unions in these circumstances? It is true that in his powerful speech the noble and learned Lord, Lord Salmon, said that as a matter of law the noble and learned Lord and the Secretary of State were wrong. I do not want to intervene in that dispute. The point is that the Government view is that there should be access to the court but not in this matter, not because of unjust exclusion or unjust expulsion.

May I say this, too, to the noble Lord, Lord Gordon-Walker. He says that you cannot bring the law into trade union affairs, but he is wrong about that. It has been brought in again and again in these disputes between unions and their members. In over a hundred years, and certainly not in my own professional experience, I do not know of a single case where a union has disobeyed the High Court under an injunction or a claim for damages. Perhaps the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor will know of one, but I do not. It is true that the unions disregarded the NIRC, but that is a very different matter. I hope that that disposes of the argument of the noble Lord, Lord Gordon-Walker.


Apart from the High Court, why is it that the National Industrial Relations Court is not relevant to what we are talking about?


Because the remedy we axe discussing today is that which universally the unions have obeyed, and not the remedy which they disobeyed. The truth is that they have obeyed the High Court where the High Court has said, "This is against natural justice" or, "This is against the rules of the union". That is what they have obeyed. To say that they will not obey it is, I should have thought, to do a real disservice to the great mass of the trade union movement which is law-abiding.

Then it is said on Section 5, despite the fact that it cannot be faulted on its merits, that it is part of the Social Contract to abolish it; that the Government are bound to do it as a political necessity. The noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, made a powerful speech in the last Parliament, and again in this, in which he supported the essence of Section 5, but he now says that it has become a political necessity because it is in the Manifesto. You can take one view about the mandate a Government receives when it is elected with a majority under our present electoral procedure—of which the Liberal Party disapproves—or you can take another. But I believe that the doctrine of the rubber-stamp mandate is not the doctrine of Parliament, but the doctrine of the Reichstag or of the Soviet Union. When a Party gets into power on a Manifesto, which is a prospectus, it is bound to justify what it says by reason and argument before it can enact it into law. What I seek to say to the Committee is that they have not done so on this matter. But then it is said that this is the hoary remains of the Act of 1971 and every trace of that horrid enactment must be removed from the Statute Book. I cannot remember what noble Lord said that, but it is just not true.

I ask your Lordships to look at Schedule 1 to the Act of 1974, which it is not proposed to remove. Without alteration that contains 30 clauses of the wicked old Act of 1971 without amendment. If we were to remove the proposal to repeal Section 5, we should only be reinstating the Act of 1974. We should not be reinstating the Act of 1971, although no doubt, like the proposals for unfair dismissal which occur in Schedule 1, its proposals happen to have had their origin in the disputed Act of 1971. What we should be doing is to reinstate the Act: of 1974 which, in its turn, gave effect to, I believe, the unanimous part of the Donovan Commission's Report, and to the view of both Houses of Parliament less than a year ago. So, with respect, that is nonsensical.

Although I believe that in each of its successive clauses that matter this Bill a retreat from the rule of law, from individual liberty and, above all, from rationality (because most of these arguments are not really reasonable and have not been justified) I am anxious not to wreck the Government's Bill. Further, as was pointed out by the noble Lord then in the Chair at the beginning of our discussion on this Amendment, the fact is that if the Amendment were carried the next Amendment, which is that of the Liberal Party, could not be discussed. I am anxious that it should be discussed, and, therefore, I am not anxious at this stage of the Bill to press this Amendment to a Division in case the Liberal Party were destroyed—

Several Noble Lords: Oh!


I beg your Lordships' pardon for a Freudian slip. I should have said "deprived" of its day in court: and in case it might also be alleged that I was using a probable majority in this House in an unreasonable way. I do not know what my noble friend may decide. May I say that I am glad to have him beside me on the Front Bench and that I congratulate him on what I think was his debut in that position. I shall not ask him to press this Amendment to a Division, at any rate at the Committee stage. But I must say that the Government have done nothing whatever to justify the principle which they have enshrined in the proposed repeal of Section 5. They have done nothing to justify the legislation of unjust exclusion, or unjust expulsion, which has to be read in the context of a possible closed shop.

I must point out to the Government that in doing this they are doing that which is plainly contrary to at least three of the Articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and at least one of the Articles of the European Convention which is legally enforceable. I would not in the least hesitate to ask the House of Commons to think again about this matter; that is what a revising Chamber is for. But for the reasons which I have given, and without in the least being convinced by the arguments we have heard, I would suggest that we proceed to the next Amendments when my noble friend has taken the course which no doubt he will adopt.


I intervene briefly, if only to dispel any illusion which the noble and learned Lord may nourish in his bosom that I do not support the Government in opposing this Amendment.


May I disclaim any such illusion?


I am delighted to hear that. The noble and learned Lord has at least succeeded in getting me on my feet on this matter, which is a serious one. It is at least comforting to us on this side of the Committee to note the commendation that has been given by the noble and learned Lord to the law abiding quality of the trade union movement. I wish he would portray a little confidence in it, for what is proposed by the trade union movement at this time is an entirely new departure in their own arrangements against arbitrary and unreasonable dismissal. During the previous existence of the closed shop before the Industrial Relations Act, there was no such machinery. I am not aware of any action taken at that time to remedy that situation, but now the Committee has been informed by my noble friend the Leader of the House of the nature of the independent machinery that is proposed, the undertaking that it will take effect when the Act comes into force, and the transitional provisions to ensure what is wanted.

As I understand it, the real issue in this debate is the admittedly difficult choice between whether a statutory protection—as provided for in Section 5 of the principal Act—is to be preferred to what is now proposed by the TUC. We have heard about some difference, if I may so describe it, between my noble friends who have had great experience in the trade union movement, but in this debate my noble friend Lord George-Brown is the odd man out. Of course, I use the word "odd" in no disrespectful sense. The others, with their prolonged experience, have affirmed that this is an experiment that ought to be tried and I respect very greatly indeed the combined judgment of the three or four who have spoken to that effect.

Let me say this. The Government have indicated, and I now indicate on their behalf, that if the machinery that is now proposed does not work we shall look at the problem again, and see that protection is given to the individual in employment against unreasonable and unjust exclusion. That undertaking I certainly give, but surely it would be a great mistake to reject the opportunity which is being given by the trades union movement itself which will, at the end of the day—as my noble friend Lord Greene said in a notable speech— have the problem of what to do when the courts have dealt with the matter, for the buck will then be passed straight to the shop floor, to the employer and the unions, as to what is to happen to the individual concerned.

My advice to the Committee, for what it may be worth in a matter where I take a political, Governmental view, is that it is surely right to give this machinery a chance. Let us see how it works. There is no evidence, as was indicated by my noble friend the Leader of the House, of harassment and excessive injustice being perpetrated by the present machinery. Certainly, experience since the principal Act has been in force has not pointed to that. Therefore, I beg the Committee to give the proposed machinery a try.

As regards the exclusion of the courts, the effect will be to exclude the power of direct reference to the tribunal at present contained in Section 5 of the principal Act. The difficulty about giving the right of direct reference is that it could result in by-passing the ordinary machinery of the trade unions—and almost all of them now have this—for internal regulation of problems of this kind. It would mean a by-passing of the ordinary trade union machinery by direct reference to the tribunal, which the Industrial Court itself, during the existence of the Industrial Relations Act, found so objectionable. The position of the courts in regard to rules of unions which are themselves unlawful remains. The action that an individual can bring in the courts against a union if the rules have not been complied with remains. The action that an individual can bring in the courts if the principles of natural justice have not been observed by a union remains. Indeed, the courts have shown what a powerful instrument they are in maintaining the rights of the individual in that situation. All those rights remain and are not affected by what is proposed by the Government in opposing this Amendment.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham, made a most eloquent speech on Second Reading about what he alleged to be the infringements of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that are, or would be, contained in the Act particularly if what is now proposed by the Government is maintained. While, of course, we all greatly respect that Declaration as a statement of aspirations towards the setting up of a common standard of achievement towards which all peoples and nations will strive, and while we appreciate its spirit, the Declaration is not a legal instrument, as the noble and learned Lord perfectly well knows. None of the propositions which he so eloquently and robustly directed at me personally has ever been put to the test. It will be interesting to know what will be the outcome in law when that does come about but, when the Universal Declaration—


I am sorry to interrupt the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, but he is going rather fast and something that he said raised a very important question in my mind. That was before his utterance on the general declaration of principle. He said that nothing had impaired the right of a person to appeal to the courts if the principles of natural justice were in question. The question that I wish to put to the noble and learned Lord—and I put it fully conscious of my status as an amateur— is: Do the principles of natural justice cover unfair dismissal, or do they not?

6.15 p.m.


The principles of natural justice, as I indicated in what I said, apply to an examination by the court of the rules of a union, to see whether they are themselves unlawful. They apply to the question which the court can ask itself as to whether the rules have been adhered to, and they apply to the general question of whether, in the circumstances of the case, the principles of natural justice have or have not been observed. I do not know that they apply to the limited field of unfair dismissal, which is what the noble Lord was asking about. However, the generality will remain and, as I have said, if what is now proposed by the TUC comes into effect, that machinery will come into being and will provide a tribunal in which trades unionists will, I apprehend, have at least as much confidence as in the proceedings of the High Courts of this country.

I am sorry to be going fast, but the hour is advancing and we want to come to a decision on this matter. I just want to touch on the point that was so eloquently raised by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham, who almost pictured me as some sort of new-found international criminal in this field. My point is this. Trade union membership is dealt with separately in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in Article 23(4). That article gives the right to joint and form trade unions, but it says nothing about failure to join. Indeed, it was the view of delegates like those of New Zealand and other countries that Article 20(2) of the Universal Declaration, which declares that no one may be compelled to belong to an association, had no relevance to the trade union aspect of the matter which was dealt with separately in another section.

However, this is an interesting matter which might form the subject of prolonged discussion in some moot, and it may well be that the noble and learned Lord and I will have an opportunity of discussing it at some other time. What I say now is that the trade union movement is offering an alternative procedure which is less likely to cause industrial disruption, and is more likely to reinstate the affected person in his job. I implore the Committee to give the new machinery a fair trial.


I am strongly minded to accept the advice of the noble and learned Lord, and in a moment I shall do so. This has been a long debate but it has not been unprofitable in the sense that many of the issues which occur later in the list of Amendments have already been ventilated and to an extent battle lines have now been drawn for the rest of this Bill. I appreciate that the Committee wishes to pass on to other business and in these circumstances I beg to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

6.21 p.m.

Baroness SEEAR moved Amendment No. 2. Page 1, line 8, at beginning insert (" in ").

The noble Baroness said: With your permission, my Lords, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 3 and 5, which are clearly complementary. I do not intend at this hour to speak at length because many of the points which we on these Benches wish to make in support of these Amendments have already been made in the debate on Amendment No. 1.

I wish, however, to return to an issue which has already been mentioned but which is a major one in connection with this Amendment; namely, that it is quite untrue to argue that the law has no place at all in relation to industrial relations. There has been law in relation to industrial relations since at least 1871 and, of course, the 1974 Act, whether amended or unamended, is in itself law in relation to industrial relations. The argument, then, is not whether there should be law on this subject but what law there should be and in what connection. It might help if we were to get that clear.

The three Amendments in this group and the one which preceded it concern a very important but, in fact, very limited area of industrial relations. The previous debate naturally ranged widely over a large number of matters which are obliquely connected—but I submit only obliquely—with the matters we are now discussing and on which, before long, I hope your Lordships will vote. What is being discussed here is no more and no less than the rights of an individual person or a small group of people excluded or expelled from a union. The vital and central point to remember is that a closed shop expulsion from a union or refusal of admission is to deprive a man from his chosen livelihood. This is what it is all about. It is not about a large number of the other, though interesting, issues which have been raised tonight.

What kind of protection is most appropriate to a person whose chosen method of livelihood is threatened? Let us be under no misapprehension about this. In certain trades and industries where a closed shop operates expulsion from a union, and the loss of livelihood that follows, leads to a drastic and permanent fall in the standard of living of the person concerned. Do not let us forget the best-known case of all, the case of Bonza v. The Musicians Union, in which Bonza, having been a musician, died scraping rust off Brighton pier. That represented a drastic change in a man's livelihood, his standing in society and his whole personal life. For these few cases this is a matter of the greatest possible importance, and it is much more a question of the importance of the protection of a small number of individuals than of the many wider questions of industrial relations which have engaged your Lordships tonight. It is a question of what kind of protection and security should be afforded to the small number—and I agree it is a small number—of individuals affected by these cases.

In this matter there is not a great deal of difference between the two sides of the House. I am sure that all noble Lords want justice to be done to these individuals. I am sure they are aware that in a small number of cases great hardship can be inflicted and they want it to be seen that society is falling over backwards to be fair to the individuals so threatened. I would not for a moment believe that noble Lords opposite, the Government or the trade unions wanted otherwise than to be fair to individuals in these cases and under such a threat. What we are talking about is how that justice should be carried out. The difference between us, as I understand it, is primarily whether there should at the end of the day be statutory enforcement, accepting all the difficulties of statutory enforcement but recognising that it is a great strength to a man to know that there is recourse to the law behind him at the end of the day.

My second important point—this is the main one on which this group of Amendments differs from the one we discussed earlier—is that we suggest that the tribunal to which such a person should appeal should be set up not by the TUC in consultation with the Secretary of State but by the Secretary of State in consultation with the TUC. Noble Lords will see how close we are getting. We say that, subsequently, if a trade union fails to carry out the requirements of that tribunal set up by the Secretary of State in consultation with the TUC, then there shall be resort to a court of law; this is the narrow difference between us. I shall not go through the many arguments which were rehearsed in connection with Amendment. No. 1, but I am anxious to emphasise a point which has not so far been made but which I believe will appeal to noble Lords opposite.

It was said earlier that we are only going back to an earlier situation, but that is not quite true, and I believe that noble Lords opposite know that the position is not the same as it was before 1971. It is widely recognised that the balance of power has shifted considerably to the trade unions in this country. This may or may not be a bad thing. It may be a good thing, but few people would deny that there has been a major shift in the balance of power. I believe it is also a fact with which noble Lords opposite will agree that there is a tendency at present to exaggerate the danger of that shift in the balance of power. There are sections of society which are exploiting the threat, for their own purposes, of the danger that comes from a greatly enhanced trade union movement. I suggest that if the Government accept this Amendment, agree that the tribunal should be set up by the Secretary of State and that there should be the ultimate recourse to a court of law, this would be evidence that the trade union movement was falling over backwards not to abuse its now-found power.

This of itself would do a great deal for public opinion in relation to the trade unions. There is much eivdence that they are not in all quarters the most popular organisations in society. It would be a demonstration that the trade unions were so confident of their position and integrity that they welcomed the Secretary of State setting up a tribunal and welcomed that, at the end of the day, they should submit their case to a court and be prepared to show openly in this way that they are subject to the rule of law like all other sections of society. This would be beneficial not only for the individual whose case needs to be heard but also, and perhaps even more important, for the relationship of the trade unions with the country as a whole and the relationship of the Labour Government with the country as a whole. I beg to move.

6.30 p.m.


On the previous Amendment the noble and learned Lord made a most impassioned speech which, if I may say so with gentleness which comes very much from my nature, was largely irrelevant to the Amendment before us. But I do not intend to make a long speech in reply to the noble Baroness. The area she was covering is one we spoke about on the previous Amendment. At the moment when the noble and learned Lord sat down, I thought that there existed a mood that we ought to take a decision. But the noble Baroness has suggested that Section 5 should be amended, and in such a way that, whatever gloss we may put upon it, it would be in a statutory form. I could, but I will not, explain again to the noble Baroness the attitude of the Government. It is not that we do not accept that there is a difficulty; that we accept, and we also accept that there is a need for safeguards against arbitrary dismissal or exclusion. The difference between us is solely as to the best method of overcoming this. We on this side, after all the experiences of the Industrial Relations Act in the past few years—and let us not forget that aspect—take the view that the best method available to us today is the one that I put before the Committee; namely, that the TUC should set up its own appeals procedure under a chairman appointed by the TUC, after consultation with the Secretary of State and CAS.

We think that this is the right way of approach and that we shall get the best results from the entire trade union movement if we adopt it. I accept that this proposal may prove disappointing. Certainly the law has proved disappointing. As my right honourable friend the Secretary of State has said in another place, if the proposals, which we have had before and which we are urging upon the Committee prove wrong, we should not hesitate to legislate to provide the safeguards that we all wish to see It may be that there is in the minds of some noble Lords—and I think this was hinted at on the previous Amendment—the thought that if what the TUC may propose, if the Bill has been passed as we should like it to be passed, proves to be not satisfactory, then Parliament would not be able to do anything about it. My noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor dealt with this, and I should like to emphasise that if that is the feeling of the Committee and if it would help meet some of the doubts of the Committee, then I would be quite ready to leave this section in the Act, with a proviso in the form of an Amendment that when the TUC machinery has been set up there should be a commencement order to come into force when the new TUC procedures come into operation. There would be no statutory body; but Section 5, which we are discussing, would disappear from our legislation.

That would certainly give your Lordships' House and another place an opportunity to consider the proposals that the TUC is putting forward. It would still be open to Parliament to give assent to the recommendations of the Secretary of State. In putting forward this suggestion, care would need to be taken over the Amendment; but if it meets a genuine feeling that the Government's proposals have substance, and since we are not sure what may yet emerge from the TUC proposals, I should seek to meet that doubt in the Committee's mind. It would be on that understanding. I think the noble and learned Lord wishes to intervene—


I think that this is a very important point and I want to get absolutely plain what it is the noble Lord is suggesting, because I am not sure whether or not I have understood it aright and I do not want any misunderstanding to arise. Is the noble Lord suggesting that he is prepared to leave Section 5 of the 1974 Act in existence until a commencement order which would begin to take effect when the trade union machinery was put into operation? If that is what is being suggested, then it is a suggestion which I have not heard previously, and which I should obviously have to discuss with my noble friends before I could come to a decision on the Amendment of the noble Baroness. But I should like to know what the suggestion is before I think about it.


I have here a piece of paper which does not make a great deal of sense, and therefore the noble and learned Lord will not, I hope, hold me too severely to task if I am not entirely accurate in what I suggest. What I am seeking to suggest—and I do not have the Amendment in my mind at present —is that there is doubt in the minds of some Members as to what proposals the TUC make. That I accept. What I should like to do is to devise a way by which Parliament will have knowledge of these proposals. My understanding is—and I may be wrong, but I will look at this between now and the next stage, and will put it forward at Report, to ensure that the present provisions carry on until such times—


That is Section 5 again?


If I may intervene, the intention is to avoid a gap between the coming into force of the new machinery and the ending of the existence of Section 5.


May I get it absolutely clear that what is proposed is that Section 5 remains part of the law of the land until a commencement order, and that commencement order will be made when the new machinery comes out? May I seek the indulgence of the Government, and ask in plain terms whether the commencement order would be subject to the approval, negative or positive, of Parliament?


I have this in mind, but I should not wish to commit the Government to a positive procedure. While it is quite easy for your Lordships' House to deal with such Motions there are difficulties in another place. These are matters which are discussed through the usual channels, but I have tried to put to the Committee some thoughts to meet some of the doubts that I have heard expressed. If it is the wish of the Committee I will examine the matter as to the Amendment to be put down on Report—


May I ask the noble Lord a question before he sits down? It is one thing to talk about machinery to be set up—and I am sure we should all like to examine that very fully—but what are the provisions, what is the code, that that machinery is going to administer? If the code is going to be something along the lines of subsections (1) and (2) of Section 5—obviously one would not wish to say it should be exactly the same—then this would be a great advance. But if the trade union machinery is merely to be a machinery to appeal on general grounds, that would be a different matter.


The purpose of this Committee was set out in a very comprehensive statement by the Trades Union Congress. I have not got that statement with me. But it seems to me that the issue we have been debating this afternoon relates to a statutory procedure and a voluntary procedure—the TUC procedure which we on this side have supported. Listening to the debate I have suspected that there has been an element of doubt as to whether the TUC proposition—its personalities and the like—may raise a question mark as to effectiveness. But the plea we have made throughout this Committee stage is for trust in the Trades Union Congress to set up the machinery and to administer it. I believe that often the personalities count more than the little words on a piece of paper. I do not ask that anyone should be committed to it, but if the Committee is interested in the proposal I have put forward then, if the noble Baroness will withdraw her Amendment, I am willing immediately to seek the drafting of an Amendment and to discuss this with the noble and learned Lord and the noble Baroness, leaving them full options at the next stage.

Baroness SEEAR

I am afraid that the crux of the matter is that we need to have something which is both independent and statutory. I regret this; but I am afraid that this is where we stand.


May I try to play my customary part of—

A Noble Lord: Honest broker!


I will not say that. I will say "honest"; but "broker" is perhaps going too far May I consider whether this could not be to some extent negotiable. Probably it is not negotiable in its present inchoate form; but the noble Lord said that we have our options open for the next stage. There are one or two differences between the Liberal Amendment —which I should have voted for—and what the noble Lord has so far discussed; and some of the differences may be negotiable and some may not. One of them is that they have turned round the machinery to say that the new tribunals will be set up by the Secretary of State and not by the Trades Union Congress, instead of the reverse which is what is at present proposed. I understood the noble Baroness to be saying that this was, very largely, to them, a breaking point. I wonder how far it ought to be a breaking point if other options are negotiable.

I share her desire that this should be truly independent. I also share her belief that if the Trades Union Congress actually appointed the personnel, it would not so appear ; but that does not mean that the Trades Union Congress could not create the machinery. That is a different option. If the Trades Union Congress were prepared to consider handing over the appointment of the personnel—or one of them, the Chairman perhaps—to the Lord Chancellor or to the Secretary of State, that would be independent, I think, within the terms of what the Liberals regard as essential. That is the first point.

The second point is that at an earlier stage this afternoon the noble Baroness, Lady Burton of Coventry, made an interesting suggestion in an intervention to the noble Lord, Lord Houghton. It was whether the Trades Union Congress or the Government would be prepared to consider discussing the machinery before they finally evaluated it to the Council on Tribunals—which is a public body not a court, and responsible in a vague kind of way to the Lord Chancellor—of which the noble Baroness was at one time a most distinguished chairman. If the noble Lord will say that these points can be discussed, with nobody committed to anything, it might be that one can bridge this gap. I am anxious not to make or break at this moment. If I had to vote I would vote for the Amendment, but I am anxious to give the noble Lord the Lord Privy Seal great credit for having thought of an interesting new suggestion. I am anxious that it should not break down at this stage when we have a Report stage in front of us.


I am not a lawyer; I am just an honest politician. I am interested in practicalities and the facts and not the theories. I have always believed that at the end of the day it is the quality of the membership of a tribunal which justifies its existence and the confidence in it. I remember discussing the other evening with the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, the problems of the Press. He said: " There was a time when we in the Press were gravely suspicious of the Press Council. Today, because of the quality of its membership, we have confidence in it." I feel that the division between us is a division between those who want to have a legalistic framework, thinking that something good will arise out of it, and myself and my noble friends on this side who feel that this informal procedure under the TUC is the best way of getting people back to work and into membership of the union. That fundamental issue still divides us.

I put forward the suggestion in the hope and genuine belief that if the names of the committee (or council, whatever name it may be given) were announced and if it were made up of representatives of the TUC of great eminence and trust— particularly so in the case of the chairman and his independence—the members of this Committee may say, "All right, if men of that stature are willing to serve in this particular capacity then, like the Government, we are prepared to give this new procedure an opportunity to prove itself". I put this proposal. I have to say straight away that the Liberal proposals—in my view, and certainly at this moment of time I cannot foresee any other—are not open to negotiation but that consultations can take place.

I should be misleading the Committee to say that the proposal I put forward was one to give opportunities for negotiating the general differences that are between us. I put it forward in the hope that by the nomination, the presentation, of men and women of distinction within the trades union movement to serve on the committee, this Committee would feel that it is a committee to whom it will be justified to give their confidence. That was the purpose of my suggestion. I should be misleading to suggest that any of the wider aspects that the noble and learned Lord spoke about were negotiable.

6.48 p.m.


We have done our best on these Benches to minimise the differences between this Amendment and the attitude taken up by the Government; but there remain two quite clear fundamental principles on which we are at issue. The first is an important one. It is described by the noble Lord the Leader of the House as a "legalistic framework". The use of the word "legalistic" has a certain emotive quality. The issue is this. Given that every noble Lord here agrees that in a closed shop situation it is important that a worker should have the right not to be unreasonably excluded or expelled from membership, is this one of the freedoms which is of sufficient importance to warrant being included in some form of legislation? We on these Benches believe that it is. We believe that after the unhappy experience of the last four years it would be a gesture of considerable magnanimity by the trade union movement if they were prepared to accept that in a matter that fundamentally affects the lives of ordinary people—it could be only a few such people a year—there might be something written into a Statute which the unions would accept.

The other difference is as to the way in which this tribunal which is to determine all these matters is to be set up. It may be that in the result precisely the same three people might be nominated under the proposals in the Liberal Amendment as under the proposals the Government are putting forward. But there would be the vast difference that the world at large would know and the aggrieved worker would know, that the tribunal by whom he was being judged was one appointed independently and not one with a majority of members appointed by a trades union council. It might be possible, for example, to determine the frontiers of the State of Israel by means of an independent committee of three, consisting of an independent chairman appointed by the United Nations and two other independent members appointed by the Palestine Liberation Organisation. It may well be that they would reach precisely the right answer, but it would be idle to pretend that in such a situation people would have confidence in the result. It seems to us that there are two principles here which the proposals made by the noble Lord the Leader of the House do not meet: the principle that there should be some statutory protection for the right of the individual, and the principle of an independent tribunal to ascertain whether that right has been infringed.


There is of course a fundamental difference here. The noble and learned Lord and the noble Baroness, when speaking to their Amendment, told us about the awful things that could happen to the individual; and one accepts that this is so. But they did not define what kind of thing would be held to justify men in refusing to work with another person. Let me put it this way: there is in existence the closed shop, and the noble Baroness referred to this in moving the Amendment. I do not happen to be very keen on the closed shop. I have never had one in the whole of my life; I have never asked for one and I have got on very wall without one. It was not really philanthropy on my part: I did not fancy informing the employers of my inability to organise a factory or that I needed their help in that way. Therefore I never asked for one and I think the agreements I got were quite as good as they would have been had there been a closed shop.

On the other hand, there comes a point where no trade union official can guarantee that he can carry out his side of a bargain unless he has the men in the factory behind him. If the trade union official has discussions and makes an agreement, the employer is entitled to expect that that agreement will be honoured, just as the trade union official is entitled to expect the same thing from the employer's side; and if you reach the point where individuals can opt out, certainly no trade union official can say, "I can honour my side of the agreement". Therefore I think the Liberals have to say—if I may say so with respect—what it is that they would deem to be adequate machinery to cope with the situation where men refuse to work with people who have in some way incurred their wrath. I believe it is not enough simply to say that it is a very bad thing when a man loses his job. Of course everyone will agree with that fact, but I do not think you can allow that liberty to become licence or to reach a point where a person can practically sabotage the efforts of both the trade union official and the employer to get a mutually agreed basis for their negotiation, so that you then say that, irrespective of what that group of people do, it would be wrong for individuals to say, "We cannot work with these people".

When it is suggested that we should have the power of legislation behind such a measure, we have to define what we mean. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham, will remember, I think, as a colleague of mine in the 1945 Parliament, that we brought along the fair wages clause without any legislative backing at all. It may not spring readily to his mind, but it was about 1946 or 1947 and it was done simply by a declaration. My old friend George Isaacs was then the Minister of Labour. Without any legis-

lative backing, that fair wages clause has stood the test of time. It seems to me there may be a lesson in that, whereas I do not believe it possible, for the reasons I have given, that words can be put into legislation which would cover the point made. But if the Government would agree—and I do not know whether or not they would—to make a declaration on rather the same lines as the fair wages clause, then we could probably reach the point where a declaration by the Government in both Houses would carry substantial backing by both trade unions and employers.

Baroness SEEAR

Nothing that has been said leads us to see fit to withdraw the Amendment, and we shall divide the Committee.

6.56 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 2) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 87; Not-Contents, 73.

Aberdare, L. Eccles, V. Monson, L.
Alexander of Tunis, E. Effingham, E. Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Amory, V. Elton, L. Newall, L.
Amulree, L. Emmet of Amberley, B. Northchurch, B.
Arran, E. Ferrers, E. Nugent of Guildford, L.
Astor of Hever, L. Gainford, L. Orr-Ewing, L.
Auckland, L. George-Brown, L. Penrhyn, L.
Balfour of Inchrye, L. Glasgow, E. Redesdale, L.
Banks, L. Goschen, V. Robbins, L.
Barnby, L. Gray, L. Robson of Kiddington, B.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Greenway, L. Rochester, L.
Belstead, L. Grenfell, L. Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.
Berkeley, B. Gridley, L. St. Davids, V.
Brooke of Cumnor, L. Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. St. Helens, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. St. Just, L.
Campbell of Croy, L. Kankey, L. Sandys, L. [Teller.]
Cathcart, E. Hanworth, V. Savile, L.
Chelwood, L. Hill of Luton, L. Seear, B. [Teller.]
Cork and Orrery, E. Hood, V. Selkirk, E.
Cottesloe, L. Hornsby-Smith, B. Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.
Courtown, E. Killearn, L.
Cowley, E. Kinnoull, E. Templemore, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Lauderdale, E. Terrington, L.
Daventry, V. Long, V. Trevelyan, L.
Davidson, V. Lyell, L. Vickers, B.
de Clifford, L. Macleod of Borve, B. Vivian, L.
Denham, L. Mansfield, E. Ward of North Tyneside, B.
Derwent, L. Merrivale, L. Wigoder, L.
Digby, L. Mersey, V. Young, B.
Drumalbyn, L. Monck, V.
Ardwick, L. Blyton, L. Champion, L.
Arwyn, L. Bolton, L. Collison, L.
Bacon, B. Brockway, L. Cooper of Stockton Heath, L
Balogh, L. Bruce of Donington, L. Crowther-Hunt, L.
Beswick, L. Burton of Coventry, B. Cudlipp, L.
Birk, B. Castle, L. Darling of Hillsborough, L.
Darwen, L. Houghton of Sowerby, L. Ritchie-Calder, L.
Davies of Leek, L. Hughes, L. Rusholme, L.
Diamond, L. Jacques, L. Sainsbury, L.
Douglass of Cleveland, L. Janner, L. Serota, B.
Elwyn-Jones, L. (L. Chancellor.) Leatherland, L. Shepherd, L. (L. Privy Seal.)
Evans of Hungershall, L. Lee of Newton, L. Shinwell, L.
Fisher of Camden, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B. [Teller.] Slater, L.
Fisher of Rednal, B. Snow, L.
Gaitskell, B. Lovell-Davis, L. Stedman, B.
Gardiner, L. Lyons of Brighton, L. Stewart of Alvechurch, B.
Geddes of Epsom, L. Maelor, L. Stow Hill, L.
Gordon-Walker, L. Maybray-King, L. Strabolgi, L. [Teller.]
Goronwy-Roberts, L. Melchett, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Greene of Harrow Weald, L. Milner of Leeds, L. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Greenwood of Rossendale, L. Paget of Northampton, L. Wells-Pestell, L.
Hale, L. Pannell, L. Wilson of Radcliffe, L.
Hall, V. Phillips, B. Winterbottom, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L. Platt, L. Wynne-Jones, L.
Henderson, L. Popplewell, L.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

7.3 p.m.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.


I am very much in the hands of the Committee. I do not know whether the Committee would like to continue; if so I am happy to do so. But if the Committee feels it would like a break for about half an hour, which is customary, then I shall be pleased to move that the Committee be adjourned.


I assume that the noble Lord recognises that the next two Amendments are consequential. Presumably he will be prepared at this stage, at any rate, to take them formally. I would think we could break as a Committee immediately after we have dealt with the next two Amendments.


I beg to move Amendment No. 3.

Amendment moved— Page 1, line 9, after ("union") insert ("sub-sections (3), (4) and (5)").—(Lord Wigoder.)

[The Sitting was suspended at 7.5 p.m. and resumed at 7.38 p.m.]

Lord HAILSHAM of SAINT MARYLEBONE moved Amendment No. 4: Page 1, line 10, leave out paragraph (b).

The noble and learned Lord said: I move Amendment No. 4 on behalf of my noble friend the Earl of Gowrie. I am sorry not to see the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor here, because the point I am going to make is a point to which, without any disrespect to the noble Lord the Leader of the House, the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor is almost uniquely qualified to reply. Despite his many qualifications, the noble Lord the Leader of the House is perhaps not at his strongest on a point of constitutional law. I was anxious, as I said when I was supporting my noble friend Lord Mansfield—


May I suggest to the noble and learned Lord that he might speak to the generality of his case and then come to the legal point. If he does not trust my knowledge of constitutional law, I hope that I may then be able to deal with this matter.


I will seek to follow the excellent advice of the noble Lord. I was proposing to "tread water" for a minute or two, in the hope that something might transpire, and I was also proposing to be relatively short, which again is in the interests of the Committee. Obviously, these two requirements are mutually incompatible, but a reconciliation between the two is something which I will now seek. I cannot please everybody, but I will do my best to please as many as possible.

As I said when I was supporting the first Amendment in the name of my noble friends, we put these Amendments down in order to entice the Goverment to justify, if they can, the principles underlying this Bill on their merits. By "on their merits" I do not mean any more of this stuff about the Act of 1971, any more of this stuff about "Trust the TUC"— which I do not distrust anyway—or this stuff about my having put it into the Bill of 1974 or about its being in the Manifesto. I am making a straightforward appeal to reason. The Bill proposes to repeal Sections 5 and 6. We have dealt with Section 5 in one way or another and we are now on Section 6. As I explained in dealing with Section 5, I think it is a mistake for us on this Bench to seek to take out of this part of the Bill what, rightly or wrongly, the Labour Party regard as the heart of it. That is why I have said in rather plain language what I think of it, but have not pressed my Amendment nor that of my noble friend to the point of Division.

In my observations on Section 5 I described the Bill as a retreat from reason, a retreat from the rule of law and a retreat from liberty, and I explained why I did so. Section 5 dealt with the rights of workers as to arbitrary exclusion or expulsion from the trade union. Section 6 of the principal Act refers to provisions as to rules of trade unions and employers' associations. It provides that: The rules of every trade union and employers' association shall contain provisions in respect of the matters mentioned in the following subsections of this section. It does not state what the provisions shall be, but states what they shall contain. It is proposed to eliminate that from the law of the land. One of the provisions which it contains is that the rules of the trade union shall conform to natural justice. I take that as the extreme example. It is, however, the case that there are other examples, perhaps more esoteric but equally good. No one, so far as I know, has quarrelled with the provisions of Section 6 as a statement of what the rules of any reasonable trade union ought to contain. No one has suggested that any decent trade union does not already contain them, or that if it omits them it omits them otherwise than from inadvertence and not from vice. I am inviting the Government to justify the removal of Section 6 on these grounds.

With great respect, it is no good saying that this is an insult to the trade unions; that you ought to trust the trade unions; the trade unions always do what is right, and so forth. We are discussing this in the context of a proposed closed shop which is rendered legal by the Act of 1974. Like most Members of this House, I am a member of numerous clubs and numerous voluntary associations of one kind and another. If my club breaks the law or acts contrary to natural justice, it can be brought before the courts. I do not for that reason say that people do not trust the members of the Carlton Club to do what is right and that it is an insult to the Carlton Club, because the law says that they must conform to natural justice.

I am also a shareholder in numerous companies. But the Companies Act contains numerous provisions as to what the memorandum and articles of association of a limited company should contain. I do not say, being a shareholder of those companies, that the law is an insult to the company of which I am a shareholder or to the whole conception of limited companies, because it says that the memorandum and articles of association should contain some minimal provisions. On the contrary, I am rather grateful to the Companies Act for making sure that the company in which I own shares, or of which I am a member, is told by the law the minimal provisions which the memorandum and articles must contain—not always providing exactly what it should contain, but dealing with the subjects which it must include; and incidentally providing what is called "Table A" which gives a model set of rules which, if the company is lazy, it can copy without any disadvantage to itself. I regard that as an advantage, not a disadvantage. I am also a parent. The law says that I must not beat my children or hurt them severely. I do not know why—I sometimes wonder why myself—but I do not treat it as an insult to my parenthood.

I am delighted to see the noble and learned Lord and I will very soon come to the point. May I explain to the noble and learned Lord that I was expatiating on the subject in general, in order that he might enjoy the last vestiges of his supper. This I did at the invitation of his noble friend the Leader of the House, and I hope that the noble and learned Lord is duly grateful. As I was saying when the noble and learned Lord came in, being a parent with children, I do not regard the fact that the law says that you must not beat your children or do them serious injury, as an insult to me because I am likely to beat them. I simply say that I am delighted that the law imposes these provisions on other parents who are less conscientious than I am.

I cannot understand why the trade union movement, alone of all the institutions in this country—different from the Church, from the Free Churches, from voluntary clubs, from friendly societies, from provident societies, from limited liability companies—should say, if somebody states, "Your rules shall contain certain minimal provisions; for instance, that you should conform with the provisions of natural justice", "That is a great insult to us, because we always conform with the law and the provisions of natural justice. We are fairminded, responsible people. We do not want any laws affecting us, because we tend to have less than the ordinary ration of original sin with which other unfortunate mortals are condemned to live". I do not under-stand this argument. I do not know whether the Leader of the House or the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor can explain it to me. I had always thought that the rule of law was designed to protect the conduct of honest people by setting a standard with which less honest people might have to conform.

However, apparently, the rule of law as understood by the Labour Party and the trade union movement is different. The rule of law consists in passing those Acts of Parliament which are in the Manifesto, if possible without discussion and without amendment. This is not a doctrine which is consistent with Parliamentary Government. Now that the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor has settled himself down, I want to put a specific point which I was holding in abeyance until he was more comfortable and present in our midst.

I think the noble and learned Lord was present when the noble and learned Lord, Lord Salmon, made quite a considerable speech—at least I thought it was quite a considerable speech—from the Cross-Benches in connection with an earlier Amendment. There were things I agreed with in that speech and there were things I did not altogether agree with, but I thought the noble and learned Lord was treated with rather less than courtesy, both from the Government Front Bench and from some of the Back-Benches behind them. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Salmon, is a very considerable lawyer, an extremely liberal-minded man, one who has maintained both the rule of law and the rights of the individual with complete impartiality throughout a very long and distinguished professional life, and who is a great ornament to the Appellate Committee in your Lordships' House. I who have sat with him know how very distinguished, how very impartial and how very liberal-minded he is; and, lest it should be suspected that I have any politicial axe to grind in this matter, may I say that so far as I know the noble and learned Lord has never, in any phase or incarnation of his existence, been an active member of my Party or, so far as I know, a member of the Party at all. I simply admire him very much and, if it were not for the conventions of this House, I should be proud to call him my noble and learned friend —but perhaps that would be the kiss of death!


Not quite.


The noble Lord the Leader of the House said earlier today that he would prefer a bite in the leg from me than an accolade, so I must be careful upon whom I bestow my encomiums. At any rate, the point that I wanted to put to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor arises out of the speech of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Salmon, and may I put the point which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Salmon, was seeking to make because I think it arises on this Amendment more appropriately than on the Amendment to which he was speaking.

What the noble and learned Lord was saying was virtually this: the Secretary of State in another place and the noble Lord the Leader of the House this afternoon, strongly—and on this point extremely ably—supported by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, explained that in their view at any rate, and in their intentions certainly, there remained available to the citizen who finds himself wrongfully excluded from the trade union or wrongfully expelled in closed shop conditions, the ultimate right of appeal to the Common Law courts, either on the ground of a breach of the rules or on the ground of a breach of natural justice. This is their view, and I take it for granted that it is their intention because I have known all of them long enough to realise that they would never say a thing which they did not mean.

What the noble and learned Lord, Lord Salmon, was saying—and I am not saying necessarily that I endorse it—was that Section 6, which it is now proposed to repeal from the Act of 1974, expressly provides that the rules of a union should be in accordance with the rules of natural justice. It is now proposed, as a specific item in the Government's programme, blessed by two Manifestos and the Reich-stag doctrine of mandate, to legalise the removal of that provision from the law, and to say that the rules of a union shall be all right even if they do not conform with the rules of natural justice. That is the specific legal effect of this provision: it is to remove the requirement that the laws of a trade union should conform with the rules of natural justice— totidem verbis, if I may break for a moment into a learned language.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Salmon, was asking, what becomes of the right of the individual who has been treated contrary to the rules of natural justice, but in accordance with the new rules which are not in accordance with natural justice? How can he go to the courts and ask for a remedy? The noble and learned Lord, Lord Salmon, said— and this is vividly within my memory: " It is my considered opinion that he could not do so because the court would be bound to say, ' But the union has treated you in accordance with its own rules, so you cannot complain of the breach of the rules, and Parliament has expressly authorised the union to have rules which are not in accordance with natural jusice. Therefore you can have no remedy'."

When a noble and learned Lord, a member of the Appellate Committee of this House, expresses that as his considered opinion, we are at least entitled to hear the defence of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor against this indictment. In my judgment it is a very serious indictment indeed, because it means that although he has done so wholly unwittingly—as I fully accept because I am not making any charge of bad faith in this matter at all— the Secretary of State in another place, together with the two noble Lords who have led this House on this Bill, have misled your Lordships as to the effect of what they are doing. I fully accept that it is not what they intend, because they have said so, but I cannot necessarily accept so willingly that it is not the result of what in fact they are going to do.


May I—?


In a moment, yes, certainly. Your Lordships simply cannot afford to hastily part with a clause in the Bill when a member of the Appellate Committee of this House, with a life-time of professional experience behind him and one of the most distinguished lawyers in the land, says that the effect is different from that which the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor says it has. In addition to the rather general observations I was making, all I am asking is how the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor defends his Bill from the indictment brought against him by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Salmon. I will give way now to the noble Lord, Lord Slater.


I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham, for giving way. I should like to try to clear my mind. Suppose a factory is set up with a workforce of about 300 or 400 people, none of whom is a member of a trade union, and the time comes when it is considered desirable to start a trade union; they come together and they choose their officials and then draft a set of rules and regulalations covering that particular trade union. I may be wrong, but I assume that they must first have the consent and the approval of the Registrar General under the 1971 Act before that trade union can become operative. Am I correct in my assumption?


Yes, the provision of Clause 6 is that the Registrar General must approve the rules; but he can only disapprove them, in effect, under the Act of 1974 if they fail to conform with certain minimal requirements. That is what I was saying at the beginning of my speech. While his is the sanction, he cannot disapprove of the rules because he does not like them or does not think they are well expressed; he can only disapprove of them if they do not conform with the law, one clause of which—and I have chosen to take this as a test case—is that they should conform with natural justice. That is one ground on which he can refuse to recognise the rules of the trade union.


If I may interrupt the noble and learned Lord to ask a question, and also apologise for my profound ignorance: Is it possible to interpret the laws of natural justice in more ways than one?


I do not think it is, but it is very easy to apply them in more ways than one. The rules of natural justice are probably well known because of the large number of decided cases; their application to an individual case is sometimes a matter of extreme difficulty, as most of us have found in our professional careers. But of course under the existing law a registrar is subject to the supervision of the courts and ultimately of this House. On that the only point I am putting to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor is that he will have heard this afternoon the noble and learned Lord, Lord Salmon, take a view as to the result of what the Government are doing which he cannot but concede is wholly different from his own, and I should like to hear him answer what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Salmon, said this afternoon because I think its application relates to Section 6 rather than to Section 5, of which the noble and learned Lord was speaking. I am not seeking to lay down the law myself. It is an arcane subject. I had assumed, from what the noble Lord said and from what the right honourable gentleman the Secretary of State said in another place, that there was only one view possible about this. Another has now been expressed. I would respectfully ask the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor to clear up the doubt.


In the earlier part of his speech, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham, made many comparisons between a trade union and a company. As I understand it, the noble and learned Lord said that Section 6 lays down that the rules must comply with natural justice. We think that should remain. My question to the noble and learned Lord is this: does the Companies Act require the articles of association of a company to comply with natural justice?


No, it is a good deal more stringent than that, because it spells out the requirements in greater detail. One would think that the rules relating to limited companies over the last 100 years are a great deal more stringent than anything contained in Section 6. One would think that no one could be badly incommoded by a requirement that he should conform with the rules of natural justice. Some of the directors of limited companies find the provisions of the Companies Act extremely incommodious.

If I may say another word to the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, that leads me to revert to an argument I have put before in this House on this very subject. On the whole, anybody who has had experience—either professionally, as a shareholder, or as a director—with company law recognises that it is a great protection for the individual shareholder, and for the officer of the company who knows where he can go for guidance. Indeed, he can go to the courts to interpret it, and to members of the public who may wish to deal with limited companies. My theory has always been—and I have consistently said so—that if in about 1860, when company law first took its present form, Parliament, in its infinite wisdom, had laid down a parallel law for trade unions—not an exact analogy, of course, because they are not quite the same kind of animal—we should not be in the miserable situation in which we now are. People would have learned by this time that the law is a great protector and defender of liberty, and a great source of certainty where uncertainty at present exists.

My answer to the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, is that the law regarding companies is a great deal more severe in this respect. It spells it out in greater detail and is considered a good deal more restrictive than anything now proposed. I had concluded my speech, and I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, feels that I have dealt with his question as seriously as it deserves. With that, I beg to move.

8.4 p.m.


The noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, has raised an interesting and no doubt important question. The issue as to whether to state that rules should comply with natural justice really assists a person potentially injured by an infringement of the principles of natural justice is not one that is either self-evident or necessarily right. In my view, to eliminate Section 6, provided that the rules of the unions themselves comply with the principles of natural justice, would not damage the position of the individual trade unionist. It would fall to the courts in a given case to construe the rules if it were alleged that any particular rule was in breach of the principles of natural justice. This they would do, and whether or not a general rule saying that the rules should comply was present, it would make no difference to the task of the court in applying the principles of natural justice to the construction of the rules of the case. I remember appearing myself for the Football Association—

Several Noble Lords: Hear, hear!


A very splendid body—in an action brought by the Enderby Football Club which, following certain matters which I will try to be impartial about now in this neutral capacity, was subjected to fines by the Football Association for non-compliance with the rules. In the disciplinary proceedings taken by the Football Association, they were refused representation by counsel, and, indeed, I think the rules of the Football Association so stated. There was an examination which took place, I am happy to say, for quite a considerable time, because the matter was then thoroughly canvassed in the Court of Appeal, where the Court of Appeal decided in the end that a rule which denied the right of legal representation was not a rule in infringement of the principles of natural justice. There was a classic case of the examination of the doctrine in relation to the rules of a union, for this purpose the Football Association. If the rule had said there should be no right for the allegedly offending club to be heard, I have little doubt that the Court of Appeal, with the Master of the Rolls blowing many trumpets, would have taken a very different view. It means that with the law as it stands, the rules adumbrated and produced by the relevant unions will be subjected to searching tests by the courts and, indeed, the TUC has so advised the divers trade unions.

That, I think, is the answer to what the noble and learned Lord has called a constitution point. I am not sure whether it is constitutional or a legal point of a good deal of importance. But the fact is that in regard to trade union rules, the trade union movement has moved a great deal forward since the days when the Donovan Report drew attention to the need for producing a corpus of rules which really protected the position of individual members of the unions. Examination of the rules in recent years shows, I think, that an honourable attempt has been made to comply with the guidance of the TUC. Perhaps an interesting test as to whether they have effectively and, of course, in good faith done that—and I detect that the noble and learned Lord does not impune their good faith—may be indicated by the last Annual Report of the Chief Registrar of the Trade Unions and Employers' Associations, that there was little evidence of major shortcomings in union rule books, and no evidence of pressure from individual union members to have the rule books revised.

Therefore, it would seem, if that is right, that the apprehensions which apparently—I have no doubt also in good faith—trouble noble Lords on the other side of the Committee, are not justified by the event. In the view of the Government, the inclusion in the rules of a statement that these rules must comply with the principles of natural justice would not take the individual member of the union anywhere, would be otíose because they must comply with the rules of natural justice anyway, and therefore, in my most respectful submission to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, there is nothing in his point.


As I said, if the matter had rested with me, I would not have raised it. The point is that I would have been content to have accepted what was said by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor on Second Reading, or whenever it was he said it, which I cannot now recollect. But the point I was making was that now we have the considered opinion, and I am using his ipsissima verba, of the noble and learned Lord on the Cross-Benches, whose whole professional life has been engaged on purely legal matters and who will be, in fact, on the panel of salaried Law Lords who might have to decide this very point. The noble and learned Lord came to that conclusion, after a lifetime of experience which was wholly incompatible—and the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor really must accept the fact that he said in the hearing of the entire Committee this afternoon words which were wholly incompatible with the words which the noble and learned Lord has just spoken. When he says, therefore, that there is nothing in my point, I would say, in the first place, that it is not my point; it is that of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Salmon; and, in the second place, I think he is treating it in a rather cavalier fashion.

I shall not press this Amendment at the present stage, but I hope that the noble and learned Lord will consider the matter afresh when he has read in Hansard the report of the speech of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Salmon. Speaking for myself, I am not at all happy that the new provision, which expressly expunges from the law the provision that the rules should conform with natural justice, has the effect which he so confidently says it has, because I have heard somebody of equal authority to himself dispute the fact. It may be that before the Report stage, in order to clear the matter up, I will wish to put down a clarifying Amendment. But having heard the noble and learned Lord, who has responded most generously to my invitation to reply on this matter, although I was not content with the tone of his comments upon the speech of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Salmon, I would beg leave to withdraw this Amendment.


May I say that I will, of course, respond to the suggestion made that I should look at the point again. It was sprung upon me in the middle of a modest piece of refreshment in another part of the building. I cannot believe, and do not believe, that the repeal of the section would authorise trade union rules contrary to natural justice. But I will look at the point most willingly.


I am most grateful to the noble and learned Lord. But the point was not exactly sprung upon him, because the noble and learned Lord, Lord Salmon, made his speech in the earlier part of the afternoon and, loath as I am to interfere with the refreshment of the noble and learned Lord, I am bound to say that if at about four o'clock somebody had said this about a Bill which I was sponsoring I would not have said that it was sprung upon me at ten minutes past eight.


But, equally, would not the noble and learned Lord agree that if this was a matter of such burning importance one would have thought that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Salmon, would have remained when this important aspect was to be considered?


I think this is really unfair. I, of course, hold no brief for the occupants of the Cross-Benches, but this is not the first time the noble Lord the Leader of the House has said it, and I think I ought to spring to the defence of the noble and learned Lord on this matter. Obviously, when one has committed oneself very long in advance to attend a meeting which is waiting for one's attendance, and failure to attend which would cause a great deal of inconvenience to a number of young people, there is very good reason for one's action. I know that the noble and learned Lord intended no discourtesy to this House. I think the noble Lord the Leader of the House has been a little unjust to him in his absence, for having kept an engagement of this kind. We are all of us from time to time faced with this kind of situation. He apologised to the Committee, and I think his apology should have been accepted in a more generous way than it has been.


I raised the question only on the strength of the point. My noble and learned friend has agreed to look at it. If it was a point of such constitutional importance there were opportunities, and I, as Minister responsible for this Bill, could well have been approached. What was said this afternoon was quite new; I believe it was new to my noble and learned friend. If it was of such importance, I should have thought there were ways and means by which the Government's attention could have been drawn to it prior to Committee stage.


I must rise to the defence of the noble and learned Lord. He explained very clearly and courteously —I think the Leader of the House may have been out of the House—


No, I was not!


He could not help what he had to do; some of us do occasionally have engagements which it is almost impossible to avoid. May I say that we have heard a very interesting legal discussion on this subject. As the noble and learned Lord has most courteously said that he will consider the points that have been raised, may I ask him to consider one or two practical points as well. The position which we now have is that a good many trade unions have very strong Communist participation. One thinks of the National Union of Mineworkers; Mr. Gormley is surrounded by all sorts of militants, and I have greatly admired the way he has dealt with them. One would like to think that there will be no attempt by union executives, when they get into that position, to change the rules for their own advantage.

If there are no provisions by which the unions are to be guided in framing their rules, what security can the noble and learned Lord give us that we shall not be faced with certain large unions really going Communist? We have had this in the ETU. Before we finally end discussion on this Bill I personally want to know whether, with the removal of Section 6, of the principal Act the decision of the High Court in the case of the ETU would have come down in the direction in which it did, which led to the election of my friend Sir Leslie Cannon. There are also other considerations which I do think it is fair to mention. There are all sorts of political aspects here. Some of the big unions wield millions of votes in the Trades Union Congress. If their rules were to be altered wantonly or arbitrarily because there were no principles laid down with which those rules should comply, might not this have a very serious effect on the tribunal which we are talking about the TUC setting up to deal with questions about unfair exclusion from a union? These things can be far-reaching. If I had not served in Communist countries and lived through two Communist revolutions, I would not raise these matters, but I can assure your Lordships that they are important.


Is the noble Lord aware that it is such statements as he is now making, as an exdiplomat, that are the cause of all the trouble so far as these Communist elements that we are constantly hearing about are concerned? I certainly take exception to the remarks made in regard to the National Union of Mineworkers, and the noble Lord ought to withdraw them.


This is a matter of fact. I am not making insinuations. You can read it in the newspapers every day. I should be very grateful if the noble and learned Lord would be so good as to say he will consider these practical questions along with the legal ones. I am not making accusations or insinuations, but I believe this to be important.


I merely rise in a temporary capacity as Leader of the House, to remind your Lordships that the Amendment has already, by leave, been withdrawn.


I have sought leave, but I have not yet been given it.


With great respect, leave was not given for the withdrawal of this Amendment a moment ago. I was on my feet. I do not understand the procedure. If the Amendment is to be withdrawn by leave, then the Committee should clearly understand that is what is afoot.


I apologise to my noble friend; I had not seen that he was on his feet. If I had, I should of course have encouraged the continuance of the debate.


There were in fact two noble Lords on their feet; one was the noble Lord who has just spoken and the other was the noble Viscount, Lord Hanworth. I therefore postpone my formal request.


Whereas I support a good deal of what the noble Lord, Lord Hankey, said, I would not quite put it in this way. What one should realise is that good rules for all unions are important, and I think this is probably a matter for the unions themselves in the present circumstances—and I am a pragmatist above everything else —to consider. The message I should like to leave is that the TUC and others should look carefully at this problem to see that every union has good rules. Though many noble Lords may laugh, when we were considering the Industrial Relations Bill those on the other side said, "What we want is strong unions" Many people did not believe them but I believe it to be true. What one wants today, even more than ever before, are strong unions who can control their members but do it responsibly. I am sure that few noble Lords in this House would disagree. I should like to put the gloss on what the noble Lord, Lord Hankey, has said. I believe that it is a point of vast importance although he made it possibly in a way not quite acceptable to some noble Lords on this side of the Committee. I hope that nevertheless they will accept its importance.


I will not keep the Committee for more than two minutes, but I think it is important to put on record that although the words "natural justice", used so freely in the discussion so far, were contained in the Amendment tabled by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, on 22nd July 1974, in moving an Amendment which is now Clause 6 of the principal Act, they were never once mentioned by him. The whole debate occupied two and a half pages of the Official Report, and now we have "natural justice", elevated to the highest form of principle, a term which the noble and learned Lord did not use when moving the Amendment in 1974. I wish to put this on the record: the noble and learned Lord has twice taunted me about the reference I made to certain things being in the Labour Party Manifesto and having been agreed in negotiations with the TUC. These, he said, should be subject to argument and debate in the democratic Parliamentary way and not rubber-stamped. Let me remind the noble and learned Lord that in 1971 the Conservatives put in their Manifesto that they were going to introduce an Industrial Relations Bill. They did so. They refused to hold discussions on that Bill with the Trades Union Congress. They pushed it through the House of Commons on a guillotine; they never accepted a single Amendment in the House of Commons from beginning to end, and that is what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, is apparently offering us as an example of Conservative Party democracy and the truest form of Parliamentary procedure.


May I add one word to this discussion? I think the bogey that has been raised about Communism has done much more harm to the trade union movement and to our country than anything else for a long time. Are we not proud of our freedom? Do we not take risks for our freedom? Let us look round the world and see the countries where the Communist Party is banned and judge whether we should like to emulate their Governments. After all, in any society we shall always have people whom I call "destroyers" or "spoilers" of any kind, call them whatever you like. Call them Communists or Fascists, but in a free democracy one will always have a certain number of people who will try to spoil the democracy. Call them whatever you like. To raise this bogey about Communism, which some of us have heard all our lives, does absolutely no good at all. We should be proud that we can contain these elements. That is what we should be proud of, and not frighten ourselves to death with the idea that we have a Communist Party which does not have one Member of Parliament.


As this is Committee stage, I believe I am entitled to say this without seeking formal leave. I do not think we should continue the debate of last Wednesday about Communism and subversion in the context of this Amendment. Secondly, it may be true (and I take it from the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, that it was true) that in 1974 when I inserted what is now Section 7 of the Trade Union Act of 1974 I did not mention "natural justice" specifically. I am delighted to know that the whole debate took only two and a half pages—I could only wish that this debate was to be equally concise. If I did not refer to natural justice it is because I did not imagine that anybody would seriously try to legalise rules which did not conform with it. I refer to the other remark of the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby. I forget whether he was with us; I do not think he was; nor was the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, who also made vociferous noises from a recumbent position. I spent night after night in this House arguing the merits of every single Amendment, both on Report and on Committee, and whatever else can be said about this Bill I do not think that anybody accused me at the end of the business of not being prepared to defend the merits of what was being done or not accepting Amendments. There were dozens of them. So let us not hear any nonsense of that kind, and with that pious hope let me again beg leave to withdraw this Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


I beg to move Amendment No. 5.

Amendment moved—

After Clause 1, insert the following new clause: (" . After section 5 of the principal Act, there shall be inserted the following section: — Rights of workers aggrieved by exclusion or expulsion from trade union to applay to tribunal. 5A—(1) A worker aggrieved by his exclusion or expulsion from any trade union, branch or section may apply to tribunal appointed for the adjudication of such grievances for a declaration that he is entitled to be a member of that trade union, branch or section. (2) The tribunal shall be appointed by the Secretary of State in consultation with the General Council of the Trades Union Congress and the Chairman of the Conciliation and Arbitration Service and shall have an independent person with legal qualifications as chairman and two other members. (3) The procedure at such a tribunal shall be in accordance with rules made by the Trades Union Congress and approved by the Council on Tribunals. (4) If at any time there is not existent such a Tribunal and such rules, such an application may be made instead to an industrial tribunal in accordance with industrial tribunal regulations. (5) Where any such declaration has been made either by the tribunal or by an industrial tribunal as the case may be and has not been implemented by the union, branch or section concerned with in any period specified in the declaration or if no such period is specified within a reasonable period, the worker may apply to the High Court or in Scotland, the Court of Session for an injunction, interdict or such relief (including compensation) as the court may think just and expedient in all the circumstances of the case. (6) Nothing in this section or section 2(5) above shall prejudice or in any way reduce the common law rights of a person who has applied to join, but not been given membership of, or who claims to be and to remain a member of, or who has been expelled from, a trade Union." ")—(Lord Wigoder.)


Amendment No. 6—Lord Goodman.


If I may intervene, the noble Baroness—I was going to say the Master of the Queen's Horse—the Chief Whip, said this afternoon that this Amendment would be moved at a later stage in the Bill, and that goes also for Amendment No. 7. They are not in my name, but it might be for the convenience of the Committee if I reminded your Lordships of this fact.

Baroness SEEAR

I confirm that this was in fact the arrangement made earlier through the usual channels.


If I may say so, this Amendment will be put down tonight for tomorrow's debate.

Clause 2 [Amendments of the principal Act] :

8.28 p.m.

Lord JACQUES moved Amendment No. 8:

Page 2, leave out lines 43 to 47 and insert— ("" (5A) For the purposes of this Act, employees are to be treated, in relation to a union membership agreement, as belonging to the same class if they have been identified as such by the parties to the agreement, and employees may be so identified by reference to any characteristics or circumstances whatsoever." ")

The noble Lord said: May I express the hope that on this and subsequent Amendments we might stick to the point? This is an Amendment to Clause 2(4). This subsection seeks to clarify what is meant by class of employees in relation to a union membership agreement and in the provisions relating to dismissal in Schedule 1, paragraph 6(5) of the 1974 Act. It makes clear that a class of workers may be identified by reference to any shared characteristics or circumstances and not just by matters related to their employment. In practice employees are excluded from union membership agreements because of age, present trade union membership, conscientious objection and so on. Therefore the subsection brings the definition of union membership agreement more in accord with industrial reality.

In the other place the Opposition introduced an amendment designed to make clear that the shared characteristics used to identify a class of workers are those which the parties have agreed and are not just any characteristics which people may happen to have in common. The Government accepted the Opposition amendment in principle but unfortunately the drafting was not quite prefect. The Government undertook to introduce an Amendment in this House—and this is it.

The amended subsection makes three points clear: first that the class referred to is the class covered by the union membership agreement; secondly, that the parties to a union membership agreement are the people who identify the employees within the class; and, thirdly, that the parties may refer to any characteristics or circumstances whatsoever in identifying a class of worker. The subsection, thus amended, will satisfy all the parties. I beg to move.

8.30 p.m.


I promise to stick to the point, but there are one or two questions which I should like to ask the noble Lord. This is a complicated and technical matter which I find rather difficult to follow, probably because this is an Amendment to a Bill which amends an Act. As I understand it, there are certain classes of worker who would not wish to be identified by common charac- teristics, irrespective of whether or not there happens to be a union membership agreement. There are two types of people who are particularly anxious about this point, and I should like to confirm with the noble Lord that their interests are covered by the present Amendment.

First, there are persons such as professional engineers—for instance, borough engineers—in local government. In their capacity they act as what one might call quasi-employers and it would clearly be quite unsuitable that they should be forced to join what amounts to a closed shop, and thereafter give instructions to fellow brother trade unionists. I am afraid that I have not put that very elegantly.

Secondly, there are certain other types of professional persons such as water engineers, who have a rigid code of professional conduct which, could involve them in a head-on clash if they were forced to belong to a trade union which advocated action in direct opposition to their code of professional ethics. I mention water engineers, because they have a duty not to do anything which might affect the safety or health of the people whose interests they serve. My understanding—and I hope that this is the case —is that the Amendment provides not an escape clause, because that might be a contentious phrase, but an easy way out for the classes of people whom I have mentioned. However, I should like to be sure of that.


I think I can confirm that. The position is that since the 1974 Act became law some lawyers have expressed the opinion that the identification had to be by reference to the employment of the people concerned. What the new subsection does is to make it clear that there can be identification of a class without reference to employment. For example, if there were a union membership agreement concerning local government officers, and that union membership agreement was being made between a local authority and Union A, it could under the new subsection say that it would exclude all members of Union B. I think that that satisfies the point which the noble Earl has raised.


This is an Amendment of some importance to the professional institutes, and I am a member of at least three such institutes. I know that the Government have recognised the problem here, but the question really arises as to whether their Amendment meets that problem. It is at least the thought of the associations themselves that the right which is intended, I think for a small minority, could be exercised only on the willingness of the larger union and the employees to allow them to be represented. If that is the case, this is not a satisfactory answer. The professions have their ethics and they are very high ethics, and they should be able to exercise them. I suspect that, along the line, there may be some objection to this from trade unions for various reasons which I can think of. But I cannot believe that anybody would not feel, bearing in mind the ethics of the institutes and institutions, that this was not a very important provision which should be made utterly watertight.

Baroness VICKERS

I should just like to ask one question. As your Lordships will know, quite a number of men are trained in Her Majesty's Forces and are given a qualification or a trade, though they do not go through a normal apprenticeship. I should like to know whether these men will be excluded, because many people join the Services— particularly the Navy and certain sections of the Army—and learn a trade so that they can earn their living when they come out. I should like to know whether this provision would exclude them in the future.


This clause, as amended, would not stop anybody. The clause attempts to give much greater flexibility to the 1974 Act. Instead of groups of workers, who are included in or excluded from an agreement, being identified in relation to their employment, we are now saying that they can be identified in any way the parties think fit. Therefore, this gives much greater flexibility for the purposes of including or excluding people from a union membership agreement.

I would say that if any Amendment is required on the lines suggested by the noble Earl, it would certainly not be to the present clause. This clause deals merely with the identification of classes for inclusion in or exclusion from an agreement, and it goes the whole hog and says that one can use any identification whatever for that purpose. Therefore, it is extremely liberal in its intentions.


May I ask the Minister whether he will consider the point that I have made, and see whether any further Amendment should be put down by the Government at a later stage of the Bill to meet what I am saying; that is, that in certain cases there ought to be a right for members of profesional institutions to be able to call themselves a class quite independently of what the employees or the union concerned may consider? Will the Minister see whether something on those lines can be done later to meet this very important point?


I suggest that the noble Viscount is here tomorrow to hear my reply to Amendment No. 13.


May I ask, on this point of identification, whether a group such as the professional engineers, who are a small minority and very easily identified, and who have asked me to raise this point because I have had some connection with them in the North of England, will be protected and able to operate through their own professional union?


There are two answers to the noble Baroness's question. The first is that, so far as this Amendment is concerned, they could as a result of it quite easily be excluded from a union membership agreement, so that the subsection is favourable to them. Secondly, regarding protection, I advise the noble Baroness to be present for the debate on Amendment No. 13 and, in particular, to hear the reply of the Government.

8.40 p.m.

Lord ROCHESTER moved Amendment No. 9: Page 3, line 4, at end insert (" and for the words " religious belief "there shall be substituted the word " conscience " ").

The noble Lord said: In moving this Amendment—


Before the noble Lord continues, may I suggest that it would be convenient to the Committee to discuss with this Amendment, Amendment No. 10, though it may be that we shall wish to vote on them separately, if we vote at all. They raise the same point.


The intention of Amendment No. 9, which concerns Schedule 1, paragraph 6(5) to the principal Act, which deals with cases where dismissal is to be regarded as fair, is to substitute the word "conscience" for the words "religious belief". I venture to move this Amendment only because I have some practical experience of the operation of the element of conscience in a 100 per cent. union membership situation. May I first agree with those who claim that the great majority of people who fail to pay or who cease to pay contributions in a closed shop situation do so for no better reason than that they prefer not to pay for benefits received. They are what are called "free riders", and I have every sympathy with those who object to such people boarding the bus and then failing to pay the fare.

I recall from my experience a few cases of people known as Plymouth Brethren who had conscientious objections to being union members, to associating with others in a union on grounds of religious belief. They were people who had Scriptural authority for claiming that they should not be grouped together with unbelievers. I do not recall any other cases, and it could therefore be said, for what my experience is worth in this matter, that conscience has hitherto coincided for this purpose with religious belief.

In winding up the debate on Second Reading the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, said he had been advised that industrial tribunals in the context of a closed shop had been able to identify the conscientious objector only when he was a religious objector. In support of that contention he quoted two cases; Hynds v. Spiller-French Baking Limited and Woolam v. National Union of Insurance Workers. Through the noble Lord's good offices, I have been able to obtain from the Department of Employment copies of the industrial tribunal's decisions in those cases. I have to tell your Lordships that what the noble Lord said on Second Reading about this matter is the truth, and that in the context of arbitration in this matter it appears that, until now anyway, it is only when conscience has been shown to be based on religious belief that it has afforded ground for exceptional treatment.

It was indeed with this and other points in mind that my noble friend and I framed Amendment No. 9, seeking to substitute for the words "religious belief" the word "conscience". We did so, first, because we saw no good reason for departing, as the Government did in the principal Act, from the exclusive test of conscience when it has been used since time immemorial, so far as I know, and found to work in practice in closed shop cases in industry, including tthe industrial tribunal cases to which I have just referred; when it is supported by the findings of the Donovan Commission—I refer your Lordships to paragraphs 603 to 617 of that Commission's Report—when it has proved effective in the matter of military service; and even, I understand, in those somewhat delicate questions that sometimes arise within the Labour Party when, under the Party constitution, the matter is dealt with by reference to this same test of conscience. Secondly, we felt, as conscience clearly includes religious belief, that if the word "conscience" were inserted into this Bill there would also be no need for the words "religious belief" to be in the Bill.


Is it not possible for an atheist to have a conscience?


I see no reason why not. All I said was that conscience included religious belief. I did not say that conscience could not include other things besides religious belief. Thirdly—and we regard this point as of considerable importance—in contrast to Schedule 1, paragraph 6(5) to the principal Act, if Amendment No. 9 were accepted and on some occasion an industrial tribunal found it possible to distinguish, in the context of the closed shop, between conscientious objection and religious objection, it would be possible for the tribunal to find accordingly. For these reasons it seemed to my noble friends and I that there was no need for any reference to religious belief in this Bill and that the well-tried test of conscience was perfectly adequate. If this Amendment is accepted industrial tribunals can continue, in the context of the closed shop, reasonably to apply the test of conscience rather than only religious belief.

It may be claimed by the Government that if this Amendment were accepted it would not give the conscientious objector the right in a closed shop situation to obtain employment, nor once in a job to remain in it. All it would do is to give a person in this category the right to obtain compensation if he were dismissed unfairly. I agree that that is all that this Amendment would do, and I can only say that on this matter we would much rather have the hole left. But, if I may say so without disrespect to noble Lords opposite, we have to make do with such crumbs of bread and scrape as we can find under the Government Front Bench. I beg to move.


May I speak to Amendment No. 10, because I take the view, rightly or wrongly, that it is better than Amendment No. 9. Both Amendments raise the same point. On the point of principle, I am wholly with the noble Lord who has just spoken, but may I give my reasons for saying that Amendment No. 10 is better than Amendment No. 9? I think it is manifest that "religious belief" is too narrow. What we are talking about—and it is as well to see the context of what we are talking about— is someone dismissed without compensation. It is not about whether or not there should be a closed shop—that is accepted. There can be, because the Act of 1974 legalises it. It is not about whether or not a man should be dismissed, because he can be dismissed under the 1974 Act and this Bill does not reduce that probability. The question is whether or not he is paid compensation; that is the only question we are considering.

As the law stood in 1974, he gets compensation if he has reasonable grounds for not belonging to a particular union, as he does where he has religious grounds. The noble Lord says, and rightly, that there are people with consciences who have no religious belief at all, or who can have conscientious objections based on grounds other than religious beliefs. I cannot believe that the Government ought not to respect them. On Second Reading, the Government said—the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said it, and so did the noble Lord, Lord Jacques—that hitherto industrial tribunals assessing these cases have used only the section in relation to religious belief. That, I think, is a pure coincidence and I am not prepared to accept it as a matter of law. I do not myself see how the Government can refuse to recognise conscientious belief. What I and my noble friends have done in Amendment No. 10 is to say that religious belief, which is not always reasonable—at any rate, which the courts cannot decide is reasonable—should be a separate ground.

I do not happen to think that the Ply-mouth Brethren are reasonable. I had a long argument with them on this very point when I was Lord President of the Council, because they did not want to join the Pharmaceutical Society. We discussed the Greek text of Corinthians II until I was throughly exhausted with it. But I ended with the view, as I began, first, that their religious belief is perfectly genuine ; and, secondly, that it is not reasonable. However, whether they be right or wrong, I cannot think of a less suitable tribunal to decide whether a religious belief is reasonable or unreasonable than an industrial tribunal consisting of a lawyer and two trade unionists. We think that "religious belief" should stay in, and it has nothing to do with "reasonable" when dealing with religious belief because everyone knows that one's own religious beliefs are entirely reasonable, and everybody else's are entirely unreasonable. This is one of the facts of life which I think we can all accept, religious or irreligious.

I have put in "conscience" because I think it necessary, but I have deliberately limited it to "reasonable grounds of conscience" because although a tribunal cannot by its nature decide whether religious beliefs are reasonable or unreasonable, it can decide, and has often decided, whether conscientious beliefs are reasonable. If a man is an atheist, or is operating on the same wavelength as an atheist, because his religious beliefs have nothing to do with objection which he claims to be conscientious, he ought to be able to persuade an impartial body that he is reasonable as well as being conscientious. So I see nothing wrong in that, and I think it is vastly superior to what is proposed in Amendment No. 9.

I do not find it possible to see how the Government can object to it. The fact of the matter is, first, that "conscience" is in the Labour Party's own rules of conduct, and I do not think it finds much difficulty in interpreting it, though it is not for me to say whether that Party interprets it sensibly or otherwise —that is no part of my case—or too restrictively, or too liberally, perhaps. But the conscientious objectors in the war were not limited to religious beliefs. The Donovan Commission pointed that out; there was no difficulty in identifying grounds of conscience as genuine or not genuine, reasonable or unreasonable, and in the most important field of military service during wartime there operated a perfectly rational means of deciding con-science.

There is a third example, which will appeal to the noble and learned Lord, who twitted me during discussion of an earlier Amendment with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which he, quite rightly, said is not enforceable at law, although we put our word to it. So he said, "We need not bother too much about that. We keep it in the spirit, but in trade union matters we take a broad-minded, latitudinarian view." It rather reminded me of a famous advocate called Martin O'Connor who, when he mentioned the sum of money paid into court, said, "Your honour, this is only a gross breach of professional etiquette and not a breach of legal procedure, so you can do nothing whatever about it"—


If the noble and learned Lord will allow me, I was not resting my case on the fact that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is not a legally enforceable document, but in so far as it has effect the noble and learned Lord quoted the wrong paragraph of it.


I think I did not, but I do not want to enter into that discussion again. I quoted sub-paragraph (2) of paragraph 20 which said that nobody should be compelled to join an association. But that is irrelevant to the point which the noble and learned Lord twitted me with, which was that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is unenforceable. I was not thinking that the noble and learned Lord was at his conspicuous best when he raised that point. I mentioned it only because I am now going to refer to something which is binding on the noble and learned Lord and which is a legal document, and which he will have to interpret legally, because he can be made to to so, and made to do so by a body outside this country; that is, the European Convention which says in Article 9 that everyone has a right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. So you can infer two things from that—one is that conscience is one thing and religion is another; and the other is that it can be given a legal meaning. Thirdly, if my Amendment is not accepted, the noble and learned Lord can find himself up before the Convention on Human Rights—and the sooner the better.

I think we are justified in telling the other place that they really ought to think again about conscience. This House has a very wide range of experience and, on the whole, we have many kinds of consciences in this House. I think we all want them to be respected and, even if we do not, the European Convention tells the Government that they have to respect them. I cannot believe that the Government will not accept my Amendment.


I think that this is a difficult matter. I agree that "religious objection" is too narrow. On the other hand, I doubt whether "conscience" is any more satisfactory. As for "reasonable grounds of conscience", I do not know what they are. I should say that most grounds of conscience are unreasonable, which means that they are not open to reason. We had this difficulty in the Parliamentary Labour Party. We had a conscience clause. We were not quite sure when people were justified in using it, and in the end we abolished it, and we abolished "religion" as well. We substituted "deeply held personal conviction" and that covers everything. I suggest this to my noble friends on the Front Bench as an acceptable alternative. At least they can, perhaps, persuade the Secretary of State that what is good for the Parliamentary Labour Party is good for trade unionists. But, seriously, the danger here is that "conscience" clauses, "deeply held personal conviction" clauses, have to be tested. "Religion" is more easily identifiable, because many people are aware of the religious convictions of their comrades and friends.

This relates to a sect called the Plymouth Brethren who are freely acknowledged to be covered by a religious or even a conscience clause. I do not think that we can equate membership of a trade union with operating compulsory military service. I think they are two very different things. One is a call to arms, to shoot, to kill; the other is a call to join in a peaceful activity, collective action and co-operation. I doubt whether the latter calls for a very wide field of conscientious objection. I believe that this matter was discussed quite fully in another place and religious conviction was believed to be the best of a very poor selection of definitions because of its easier identification; but if there are to be a number of people who claim conscientious objection and exemption from membership on those grounds it could lead to serious disputation and difficulty with regard to individuals.

Nevertheless, I think the principle of conscientious objection was clearly recommended in the Donovan Report. It used the word "conscience", but we might find an alternative for that. The late Lord Attlee said that conscience is a still small voice. The question is: where does the still small voice come from? Those who have a religion believe that these words come from a higher authority; others without religious beliefs probably say that this is the result of careful thought, self-analysis and conviction.

My father was a passive resister against the abominable Conservative Education Act of 1903, but nobody accepted his conscientious objection to paying education rates to support Anglican schools; so he went to prison. In my boyhood he went to prison for 14 days every year that I can remember until the First World War. There was not much consideration for concience there. But we are more enlightened these days. We give people greater freedom to hold views of their own and, if they are deeply enough genuinely enough held, we allow them to call them in aid to exempt them from something that they do not like doing. So I suggest that the Government might consider this again and see whether any suggestion that I have made is a more suitable alternative. But we must guard against doing something which will widen the area of disputation between individuals and their unions. In any case, I offer this sage advice to your Lordships for what it is worth.


I think it was the late Arthur Henderson who introduced a conscience clause into the Labour Party Constitution. I remember him, in 1931, I think, saying: I do not object to a man's conscience ; what I object to is organised conscience. He said that the plural of conscience is usually conspiracy. I think there is a great deal of truth in that. When we consider this as something individual, we must consider how catching it would be in the workshop. One chap gets away with it for the completely ignoble reason that he does not want to pay dues for services he receives. Having got away with it, he puts it all on somebody else. I hope it will never be advaned that refusing to join a trade union is a principle in itself or that it is a good reason to invoke any conscience clause.


Amendment No. 10 is very similar in content to one which was moved by the Opposition on Report in the other place, but that Amendment was rejected. Amendment No. 10 is, however, much less acceptable than the earlier Amendment which referred only to conscience rather than to reasonable grounds of conscience. Amendment No. 10 is vaguer, more difficult to interpret and more likely to give encouragement to free riders and those who would like to undermine the closed shop.

So far as Amendment No. 9 is concerned, conscience would almost certainly be interpreted more narrowly, probably only as religious belief. Nevertheless, it is still open to the same objections in principle and practice as Amendment No. 10. The inclusion of any statutory exception for conscientious objectors other than those who object on religious grounds poses problems in practice and is unacceptable in principle. The principle involved is that the law should not interfere with the free negotiation of agreements between management and unions on matters which are internal to the company. The closed shop agreement should be lawful if the management and the union agree that they will benefit industrial relations. Experience has shown that their de facto existence cannot be prevented by Statute; but it is not right that the law should, while allowing the closed shop arrangements to exist lawfully, at the same time take away from employers the right to uphold lawful agreement without having to pay compensation for doing so. The question of whether compensation is payable is the one issue at stake. The Amendment does not prevent a conscientious objector from being dismissed; the Amendment does not give him the right not to belong; it does not enable him to get a job if there is a pre-entry closed shop. The one issue at stake is whether or not he should get compensation.

Special provision has been made for religious objectors. Religious belief itself is a subjective matter; but it can be objectively recognised by those who are not believers. Furthermore, it does not attack their own beliefs by saying the unions are bad. It does not impinge upon the equally strongly-held convictions of other people. For this reason and because they are a small, readily identifiable group, religious objectors can be made the subject of a statutory exception. But other conscientious grounds for objecting to union membership cannot be clearly established and are very difficult to distinguish from self-interest. The Opposition have made clear in another place that they have no wish to encourage "free riders"; quite the opposite. But how are reasonable grounds of conscience to be distinguished from parasitical selfishness? What are reasonable grounds? That is a completely open phrase which gives tribunals no indication of what Parliament had in mind.

A man who says that he objects to unions in principle is taking a stand on an everyday practical matter affecting other people; a matter on which other people, including his fellow employees, have equally strong and legitimate beliefs in principle. Where there is a direct clash of freedoms of conscience of this kind, which view prevails must be worked out by those concerned. It is not possible to make statutory provision for the minority without interfering with someone else's rights. My noble friend Lady Gaitskell summed it up when we were debating the main Act last summer. She said that freedom for individuals could spell anarchy for the unions in undermining their hardwon rights to represent a bargain on behalf of employees.

The difficulties of establishing a realistic and objective meaning of "conscience", let alone "reasonable grounds of conscience", in relation to union membership is borne out by the experience of operating the Industrial Relations Act. In the context of union membership, tribunals have only been able to identify the conscientious objector when he is in fact a religious objector. Here I quote the case which has been mentioned already in this debate, of Hynds v. Spiller-French Baking Limited: In our opinion, ' grounds of conscience ' necessarily points to and involves a belief or conviction based upon religion in the broader sense as contrasted with personal feeling, however strongly held, or intellectual creed. That, I think, is quite clear, whether or not the noble Lord agrees with it.

The identification of a conscientious objector in wartime is not a good analogy with the industrial relations situation. A pacifist does not have to take a stand directly contrary to the beliefs of those with whom he works. He does not join the Army and then say that war is a bad thing. His position is more comparable with that of an employee who does not like unions and therefore avoids working in a closed shop. He may suffer some drawbacks as a result, but that is the outcome of his exercising his freedom of conscience.

One thing we ought to have learned in the last two and a half years is that if you give individuals the right of appeal to a tribunal with compensation at the end of the road, then, regardless of the merit of their case, many individuals will come forward because of the compensation involved. Furthermore, you will get people who, because they want an opportunity of snubbing the people with whom they work and with whom they have fallen out, will, if that is in addition to compensation, be all the more eager to go forward with their objection. We therefore believe that this will encourage vexatious complaints, and in our opinion it is not practicable and not justified.


I do not think we want to spend a great deal of time on this: I do not know what my noble colleague across the gangway feels about it. The noble Lord has read out his brief with, I am sure, complete conviction; but he has failed to carry any conviction at all with me. I have never heard so much nonsense in my life. In the first place, this does not encourage "free riders". The question is whether or not in addition to people with religious objections to joining not any union but a particular union, a man should be entitled to advance conscientious objections which are both reasonable and otherwise than religious. The noble Lord has Donovan against him, because I followed Donovan exactly, as one noble Lord pointed out—I believe it was the noble Lord, Lord Houghton. He has also got the European Commission on Human Rights against him; and he has the former Labour Party Standing Rules against him. But still he goes on in an obstinate way, saying that people should be dismissed without compensation even if they object on conscientious grounds. I really do not think this is good enough. I think the Government are being pigheaded and unreasonable and are trying to abolish conscience not only in the Labour Party, as the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, pointed out, but also in Parliament. I myself shall vote on my Amendment and invite my noble friends to do so.


Like the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham, I can-

not pretend to be satisfied with what the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, has had to say to us. We continue to feel that people with conscientious as opposed to simply religious objection should have a statutory right to compensation for unfair dismissal. I am in a little more difficulty than the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham. I continue to feel that our Amendment is —I shall not say vastly superior to his. as I am too modest for that, but marginally so. I am also, however, an accommodating fellow and, since it is not likely that he will fall in with our Amendment, and since my noble friends and I feel it is of great importance that some Amendment concerning this word "conscience" should go forward from this House, I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


I beg to move Amendment No. 10.

Amendment moved— Page 3, line 4, at end insert (" and after the word " belief " there shall be inserted the words "or reasonable grounds of conscience"").— (Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone.)

9.15 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 10) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 62; Not-Contents, 55.

Aberdare, L. Elton, L. Orr-Ewing, L.
Alexander of Tunis, E. Emmet of Amberley, B. Reigate, L.
Allan of Kilmahew, L. Exeter, M. Robbins, L.
Auckland, L. Ferrers, E. Rochester, L. [Teller.]
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Glasgow, E. Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.
Belstead, L. Glenkinglas, L. St. Davids, V.
Berkeley, B. Gridley, L. St. Helens, L.
Brooke of Cumnor, L. Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, St. Just, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. L. Sandys, L.
Byers, L. Hankey, L. Seear, B.
Campbell of Croy, L. Hood, V. Selkirk, E.
Cathcart, E. Hornsby-Smith, B. Strathclyde, L.
Chelwood, L. Killearn, L. Strathcona and Mount Royal,
Cork and Orrery, E. Long, V. L.
Courtown, E. Lucas of Chilworth, L. Templemore, L.
Cowley, E. Lyell, L. Terrington, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Mansfield, E. Tranmire, L.
Davidson, V. Monck, V. Vickers, B.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Mowbray and Stourton, L. Vivian, L.
Digby, L. Newall, L. Ward of North Tyneside, B.
Drumalbyn, L. Northchurch, B. Young, B.
Eccles, V.
Allen of Fallowfield, L. Fisher of Camden, L. Maelor, L.
Ardwick, L. Gaitskell, B. Melchett, L.
Arwyn, L. Gardiner, L. Milner of Leeds, L.
Bacon, B. Gordon-Walker, L. Morris of Kenwood, L.
Balogh, L. Goronwy-Roberts, L. Paget of Northampton, L.
Beswick, L. Greene of Harrow Weald, L. Pannell, L.
Birk, B. Greenwood of Rossendale, L. Ritchie-Calder, L.
Blyton, L. Hale, L. Rusholme, L.
Brockway, L. Harris of Greenwich, L. Serota, B.
Bruce of Donington, L. Henderson, L. Shepherd, L. (L. Privy Seal)
Castle, L. Houghton of Sowerby, L. Snow, L.
Champion, L. Hughes, L. Stewart of Alvechurch, B.
Cooper of Stockton Heath, L. Jacques, L. Strabolgi, L. [Teller.]
Crowther-Hunt, L. Kissin, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Darwen, L. Lee of Newton, L. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Davies of Leek, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B. Wells-Pestell, L.
Douglass of Cleveland, L. [Teller.] Wilson of Radcliffe, L.
Elwyn-Jones, L. (L. Chancellor.) Lovell-Davis, L. Wynne-Jones, L.
Evans of Hungershall, L. Lyons of Brighton, L.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

Resolved in the affirmative and Amendment agreed to accordingly.


It may be for the convenience of the Committee if we now adjourn the Committee stage. Therefore I beg to move that this House do now resume.


I concur. In the last Division I voted on my conscience, not on my religious beliefs!

House resumed.