§ 2.53 p.m.1079
§ Moved, That the Report be now received.—(Lord Jacques.)
§ Lord SANDFORD
My Lords, I think it would be appropriate for me to make a few remarks on this Motion before we move to the first Amendment. There has been a great deal of exaggerated talk recently about defiance, delays and the defeats which we are inflicting on the Government. The latest example of some of these absurd remarks is to be seen in the Press today. When we come to a particular stage of a particular Bill there is an opportunity which one ought to take to rebut some of this nonsense. as to defiance, this is early days to be talking in those terms. As to defeat, all we are doing is obliging or inviting another place to look again at matters which we think require further attention. To judge from the correspondence and calls we are having from several unions, even today, their members are looking to Parliament—not just this House but both Houses—as they have every right to do, for the protection of their interests which they feel to be threatened. As to delay, I invite your Lordships to compare the procedures on this particular Bill as between the two Houses.
We have just handled the Committee stage of this Bill in the course of four sessions spread over less than two weeks in which every Amendment that was tabled has been considered, as opposed to the other place where only selected Amendments were considered, and in which all the Members of your Lordships' House have been able to take part, in contrast to the limited number on Standing Committee G in the other place. Compared with those four sessions occupying less than two weeks, the other place—some of whose Members are accusing us of delay—had 36 sittings, as compared with our four, spread over more than three months, in comparison with our time of less than two weeks. It is unreasonable to talk about this House causing delays when that is the actual situation.
Another point which is raised is that when the Tories are in power and leading this House everything goes much faster. That is not so. I looked up a comparable Bill which I had handled dealing with the reorganisation of the water industry. That was a longer Bill but it did not take so long in Committee. It was dealt with 1080 in three sessions. Nevertheless, instead of allowing only six days between the Committee stage and the Report stage, we allowed 13 days—twice as long. There is no question about everything going faster here when the Conservative Party is in power. It is simply not true.
The final point I want to make is the situation in which this haste places us. I should like to start by quoting the relevant part of the Renton Report. This concerns the intervals between stages of Bills.On some occasions there is too little time between the various stages of a Bill to permit Members of Parliament, Peers and those whom they consult, to give adequate consideration to the drafting of the proposed legislation and framing of Amendments. This problem is especially acute between the end of the Committee stage and the start of the Report stage"—which is where we are—especially on Bills of substantial length and complexity".I am sure your Lordships will agree that that is the case here.No doubt Parliamentary draftsmen also find themselves at a disadvantage when there is insufficient time between stages. We recommend therefore that, unless there is need for special urgency"—and we shall no doubt take different views about that—there should always be at least two weekends before the first publication of a Bill and the debate on Second Reading in the first House, 14 days between Second Reading and the start of the Committee stage, and on all Bills of considerable length and complexity, 14 days between the publication of the Bill as amended in Committee and Standing Committee and the start of the Report stage.It is because we have not had such time for consideration that we are in trouble. It has really not helped to try to push the business through as fast as this.
The first thing I should like to do is to compliment the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, and his Department, who must have exerted themselves in the most strenuous way in order to deal with this situation, and to apologise to him and his Department for the very considerable inconvenience we, in our turn, must have caused to them. What is happening is that replies to points on which the noble Lord under-took to communicate with us reached us—and I must say I am grateful to him for having copied them to all noble Lords who were concerned—at noon yesterday.
1081 That was too late to effect any of the Amendments we had been preparing and which had to be tabled by 5.30 in the afternoon. It was too late, because by that time we were locked in close consultation with a very considerable number of interests who wanted to see us during the course of the afternoon and with whom we were deliberating until 6 o'clock. By that time it was too late to table any Amendments resulting from that consultation. As a result, this morning the noble Lord has been confronted by a whole set of Amendments from us of which I was not able to give him any previous notice. We shall be debating that this afternoon. On top of that, I have had to table no fewer than eight manuscript Amendments which I thought it was important to get on the record today but which it was too late to have tabled last night. That is the basis on which we are having to conduct this debate. We start today with the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, not having seen any of our Amendments until this morning, with eight manuscript Amendments which he has only just seen and with the Amendments following Clause 12 incomplete.
§ Lord JACQUES
My Lords, I should like to make only one comment. I think I can fairly claim that the Government are not entirely to blame for the shortness of the interval between Committee and Report. It was agreed between the usual channels that there should be three sessions set aside for the Committee stage. At the second stage, before we had gone the whole of the time, the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, requested that we should finish at that point. He wished the next Amendment to be considered on the third day. I agreed, on condition that he gave us every co-operation to complete on time; that is, to complete the third session. Unfortunately, in the event we did not complete in the third session and a fourth session was necessary. That was largely because we did not work the full time on the second session, at the request of the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie; so I would say we are not entirely to blame. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, shakes his head, but I was the one who was personally involved.
§ Lord CARRINGTON
My Lords, if I may correct the noble Lord, the Government are entirely to blame for what has 1082 happened. They are pushing five Bills through Parliament in six weeks, which should take about six months, that is the reason.
§ Lord JACQUES
My Lords, I am not discussing the main issue. I am discussing the shortness of the interval which has occurred for this Bill.
§ Lord JACQUES
I am saying that the interval would have been greater had I not agreed to the suggestion made by the Opposition to curtail the second session of the Committee stage. I would only add one more thing; that is, if we really want to get on with the business I suggest that we cut this short and get on with the Report stage.
§ Lord MOTTISTONE
My Lords, would not the noble Lord agree that, even if we had completed the Committee stage in three sessions as was hoped, there would still not have been enough time to do all the work that was necessary between Committee and Report? We have been put under the most intolerable strain, and so have our advisers. I suspect that the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, and his advisers have also been under intolerable strain. The kind of time interval quoted by my noble friend is a much more reasonable one, but that would have been out of the question because of this absurd attempt to push through so much legislation in such a short period of time.
§ Lord SLATER
My Lords, when the other side were in power I christened the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, "Stonewall Jackson". In opposition, the Front Bench on that side of the House are a whole collection of "Stonewall Jacksons". They do not in any circumstances seek to see the Government get any of their legislation through if at all possible because, whatever the Government may seek to bring forward, they are stone-walling all the time. That is due to bad leadership on that side from the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and others, who ought to be able to control their people in a much better fashion and with a much better system than we have operating within this Chamber.
§ Lord LUCAS of CHILWORTH
My Lords, that is really an almost outrageous accusation to make. Part of the trouble is that there is so much legislation that people have now become used to the notion that an idea floated by way of legislation shall become law, irrespective of what Parliament has to say about it, whether this is in the other place or in your Lordships' House. Members of this House seek to do only that which they think is right. If on occasion anger and frustration on the other side, or indeed outside both Chambers of Parliament, arise, it is because of this ridiculous attitude that seems to have become prevalent that because a Bill has been introduced that Bill shall become law, whether or not Parliament has had any time to consider it, to amend it or to make it better if possible. That is the trouble. It has nothing to do with bad leadership on our part.
§ Baroness LLEWELYN-DAVIES of HASTOE
My Lords, I think perhaps this might be the moment for me to say a word. I do not think there is a Government in the world who exist who do not intend their legislation to become law, admittedly after proper discussion and so on. I should like to point out that, if the agreement which we have come to had been observed, there would have been exactly the correct fortnight of interval between one stage and the other. I think all sides of the House, including the Opposition, wish to make the best possible use of the time now within reasonable limits, and I suggest that we get on with the Report stage of this Bill.
§ On Question, Report received.
§ Clause 1 [Reconstitution of Board as body corporate]:
§ 3.9 p.m.
Lord SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 1:
Page 1, line 12, leave out ("twelve") and insert ("sixteen").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 1. It is the first of a number of Amendments dealing with the size and composition of the National Dock Labour Board. The context in which I want to propose this Amendment is to get the other place to 1084 think again about its size. Although my Amendment suggests that the membership should be increased to 16, I am not wedded to any particular number, except that I would hold to the view that it ought to be reconsidered and that some number larger than 12 should be substituted. This Amendment will secure that reconsideration.
§ The reason for moving the Amendment goes back to the initial Consultation Document of March 1975, in which at paragraph 34 the point is made that the proposals it contains would add considerably to the duties and responsibilities of the National Dock Labour Board. That is clearly so. At every point in this Bill we can see, by reading this clause and that, that the Board's responsibilities are to be wider, covering more functions, more activities and enterprises, and wider in a geographical sense as well. Certainly, the previous Board have not been able to master satisfactorily even their more limited agenda. The employers will still need to have the four people who have hitherto represented them, and the employees likewise. This would certainly not be the moment to argue for any reduction in the numbers of people on the Board to represent those two groups, even if the people concerned might be chosen for their width of vision. But in addition to those considerations, which completely preclude any question of reducing the number of the two basic ingredients, there are three separate factors which together call for additional members to sit beside these two main groups, and those three factors are as follows.
§ First, I should have thought that experience since 1946 has shown all along that it is difficult for a board consisting of only employee representatives and employer representatives in equal numbers to deal adequately with all the conflicts and tensions that arise. In fact, a confrontation situation is really built into the structure of the Board. In any case, they have not managed to do it, and that is one of the reasons why we have this Bill and have had to look so radically at the whole question of dock work regulation. That is one factor.
§ Another factor is that experience has also shown that a board composed of limited numbers such as this, and designed 1085 to represent limited interests, does not take properly into account the interests of those many people beyond those who are directly represented because they happen to work in the docks as employees or employers. It is perhaps in this respect that the shortcomings, the failures and the ineffectiveness of the National Dock Labour Board up to now have been most marked.
§ Thirdly, there is a further and different point that, with the greatly enlarged duties and responsibilities and with the enhanced status and increased role of the Board, it is important not only that other interests in the ports should be properly considered and weighed by the National Dock Labour Board but that many other interests outside the docks and ports, but nevertheless served by them and dependent on them and making use of them, should also be considered. They certainly need to be considered more than they have been in the past, and our belief is that this can be done satisfactorily only by a number of representatives which roughly balances and matches those whose duty it is mainly to represent the employers and the employees working in the docks. It is for these three reasons, coupled with the fact that the effectiveness of the National Dock Labour Board up to now has been so far from satisfactory, that I move this Amendment.
§ Your Lordships will appreciate that Amendment No. 3 flows from it naturally. I should have thought it would be helpful to concentrate particularly on this Amendment and possibly on Amendment No. 3 and not so much on the others, because it is only if this Amendment is accepted and sent to another place for consideration that it will be realistic to discuss any of the subsequent Amendments which are included under this clause. If we can get the agreement of the Government that the numbers should be reconsidered and that some enlargement should be thought about, then of course it will be entirely realistic to think about how that can be done, what consultation should be under-gone and what increase in the Secretary of State's discretion needs to be in-corporated in the Bill for it all to happen. My Lords, I beg to move.
§ 3.15 p.m.
§ Lord SHINWELL
My Lords, if the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, had put the 1086 proposition that instead of having 16 members of the Board, or even 12, it should consist of a chairman with perhaps two vice-chairmen, with power to consult assessors, experts and people employed in the industry, whether on one side or the other, responsible for the operations associated with the Bill, I could have supported him. There are far too many boards in the country. We are being cluttered up with boards. Even quite a number of Members of your Lordships' House are associated with boards—very influential, very useful, very constructive I have not the least doubt, but that is not the way to run business. You do not run business through boards; you run business through people who are constructive and who have the expertise.
Occasionally, I have had to refer to past experience. I have to go back to the nationalisation of the mines, or the nationalisation of electricity supply, which I had to deal with. I should never have appointed boards of that kind. I should have appointed a head of the coal industry, responsible for policy which could be corrected by the Secretary of State or by Members of both Houses of Parliament as and when necessary. That is what I should have done. We have had nothing but trouble as a result of having too many people on boards.
I cannot understand it. It is bad enough to have 12 members, but the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, wants 16. What are they going to do? Let us see what they are going to do. Will noble Lords look at what their operations are to be? They will do nothing but talk. They will talk and talk until they are black and blue in the face. They will engage in disputation. What is it that we are driving at? The Bill is bad enough, as I have said before, but this will only make it worse. So I suggest that we ought to reject the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, and that the Government should reconsider the matter and decide to have a chairman with perhaps two vice-chairmen, and those three persons should be responsible for the formulation of policy and should utilise all the expertise that exists on both sides of the industry.
§ 3.19 p.m.
§ Lord DRUMALBYN
My Lords, as usual, the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, has 1087 been both constructive and radical. Our Amendment was not so radical. After all, this is mainly a regulatory board, not a commercial board. Secondly, according to the rubric to Clause 1, we are talking about the reconstitution of the Board. As I see it, the Board have three roles. First, there is the administrative role—a continuation, more or less, of the 1967 National Dock Board. Secondly, there is the supervisory role—that is to say, keeping the local boards under review. Thirdly, there is the advisory role—advising the Secretary of State.
Surely the great difference between the functions of this Board and the Board which it is to replace is that this Board will have to formulate proposals on what work is to be done and by whom. This may mean exercising judgment as to whether work done by members of one trade union should be done by another trade union, with all the implications that that may have for industry, morale and industrial relations. The last thing that one expects from a body with these responsibilities is that it should have an inbuilt or, if you like, a built-in majority representing one particular interest. The Board have to consider not just the interests of dock workers and their employers; they have to consider the best and most economical way not only of handling goods within the ports but of seeing that the food, raw materials and exports are brought to the port and from the port by methods which will keep down costs in the interests of the nation and the nation's ability to compete in the world. For this purpose, surely the need is for a widely-based and balanced Board.
When a body like this is being reconstituted there is no particular merit in maintaining the existing Board and adding a minority of other members. The size of the Board does not matter very much. After all, most of the work will have to be done by the staff for submission to the Board—as the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, says, for discussion by the Board. However, the interests must be represented in that discussion.
§ Lord DRUMALBYN
My Lords, the noble Lord says, "Not at all" but in that 1088 case you have to devise other and much more complicated machinery. What matters is that the interests involved should be fully represented and that the public interest should be adequately represented, too. If the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, or the noble Lord, Lord Oram, or whoever is to reply thinks that 18 are too many, then there is no reason why the NJC representatives should not be cut to six, provided that they are matched by an equal number of other interests.
Perhaps the reason is the need to have as wide a representation as possible among the non-NJC members. The criterion should be: are those other interests adequately represented? Even by adding eight it will be difficult enough to ensure that all those interests are fully represented. There is transport; there is food; there are raw materials; there is finance; there is the law and the rest. That is why it seems to us that it is preferable to have a Board of 18 rather than a Board of 14. As my noble friend has said, the main principle is that there should be a balanced Board. The noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, may shake his head and think that this is not the right approach, but we are trying to build on what is there already, taking into account the changed circumstances provided for in the Bill.
§ Lord SHINWELL
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, has experience of industry and he must know that it is quite unnecessary to have a board of 16, 18 or 14 members in order to determine what is best in the public interest. If you have a chairman and a couple of vice-chairmen at the top, they are quite capable of determining what is best in the public interest, having consulted everybody concerned. Moreover, what are we doing just now? When we are dealing with this legislation we are determining what is best in the public interest. There is a bit of a dispute between the two sides of the House as to what is best in the public interest, but that is what we are debating. We are preparing legislation which will eventually determine what is best in the public interest, and we are asking a number of people to decide how to administer it.
§ Lord DRUMALBYN
My Lords, the point is that it is not just one matter of public interest or one system which has to be decided. To a large extent the Secretary of State will decide that in the new dock 1089 Scheme. The point is to decide every single individual case. It is for that reason that one needs a widely based Board to make certain that the conclusions will lead to efficiency and will be seen to be fair.
§ 3.25 p.m.
§ Lord HARMAR-NICHOLLS
My Lords, the paradoxical situation is that the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, is right and that my noble friend is right. The real problem is whether one wants to nationalise the industry at all. The noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, is absolutely right that to have this number of people trying to make detailed decisions will waste time; and, more likely than not, they will not come to the best conclusion. The organiser of the Coventry Fête always said, "The idea is to have a sub-committee of three, with two who won't turn up, so that one bashes on". However, the problem when you do it on a national scale, which is what nationalisation means, is that you do away with the variety and conflict of several private ownerships.
Where there are various groups of organisations putting their points of view from their different standpoints, if one of them makes a mistake it does not bring down the whole house. It can make a mistake and overcome it because the others have not made the same big mistake and they can learn from it. Therefore, if we want efficiency and results the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, is quite right to say that this is not the way to achieve it. However, we are now in a situation similar to the man who asked for directions in the country lane. He was told, "You go along and turn to the left; no, you turn to the right. As a matter of fact", his informant said, "I wouldn't start from here". But we are starting from here and there is a nationalised Board that covers everything. Therefore one needs a big enough Board to give the impression that all of the considerations have been taken into account.
When, for those reasons, there is a bigger Board my noble friend is right. If you build into the Board four employees and four employers, you know that they go to every Board meeting with pre-conceived ideas which fit in with their general points of strategy and thinking, so they are not really good members of 1090 the Board. That is why on private enterprise boards—and I sit on a few of them—I believe in having non-executive directors as distinct from having it completely overburdened with executive directors. Executive directors who come from departments are biased in favour of their own department before they go to meetings. They are positively incapable of taking an overall view of what in this instance is the public interest. They have to make a success of their departments and they have definite ideas.
So if you must have a bigger Board in order to give the impression that everything is being taken into account—and now you have nationalised the industry I am afraid that that is what you have to do—and if you are to have four employees and four employers, it is wise to have more non-executives on the Board, since they are not precommitted, in order to add balance to the very commendable bias that the others bring to the Board. The only other way to do it is to reduce the number of employers and employees from four down to two or one. Then you can have something nearer to what the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, wants; namely, a smaller Board. If, however, you start from the point where there have to be four employees and four employers, which adds up to eight, then it is very wise that you should have on the Board at least more than eight others. Then, having taken advantage of the pre-conceived ideas of those two groups—honestly held and well intentioned ideas when they put their arguments—in order to balance their very natural and healthy bias there should be a non-executive majority that could come to a conclusion and take a rather wider view than could be taken by those two groups.
There is the paradox. The noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, is absolutely right. My noble friend is absolutely right. However, in the circumstances of where we start from it looks to me as though the Amendment, or something like it, is likely to bring the kind of efficiency that we want, so far as we can get efficiency, once we have made the drastic mistake of having nationalised the industry.
§ 3.30 p.m.
§ Lord POPPLEWELL
My Lords, I am rather perplexed by the arguments 1091 advanced for increasing the numbers on this Board from 12 to 16. Part of the propaganda of the Tory Party has been the need for reducing public expenditure, yet here is an outstanding example of a plea to give more jobs to the boys and increase public expenditure. The two things do not tie up. It is a well-known adage that if you want to make a thing efficient you do not want a cumbersome board in order to decide and carry out policy. You need a reasonable number. The larger the board the longer the discussion on policy matters and un-productive time taken by the board. Surely the best thing is a rather smaller Board to devote themselves to policy, with executive members to carry out the policy decided. In the past we in the Labour Party have been accused of the principle of jobs for the boys. But what is now happening? More jobs for the boys. If we look at the record we see the number of jobs that are available for the boys and now we have the plea for more. It just does not make sense.
§ Lord DRUMALBYN
My Lords, will the noble Lord allow me to intervene. When he is talking about jobs for the boys he will appreciate that the services which members of the Board, other than the chairman and vice-chairman, will be asked to perform are services which are not jobs. They are there in an advisory capacity and they are paid fees and allowances. Schedule 1(5) shows that these are not jobs for the boys.
§ Lord POPPLEWELL
My Lords, my noble friend Lord Slater referred to the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, a little earlier as being a Stonewall Jackson. I would not have attempted that but it is confirming what my noble friend Lord Slater said only a little time ago. The general duties of the Board are laid down here and are as defined under the relevant section. Increased numbers on the Board only lead to endless argument, difficulty and dispute. Surely the best thing is to have as small a Board as possible to represent the respective interests. Let the Board decide the policy and let the executives carry out the policy. We complain about the length of time these Bills arc taking to go though Parliament. I suggest that the two debates we have had on this subject, starting with the noble 1092 Lord, Lord Sandford, in the initial stages and the discussion now taking place, indicate—I will not altogether say filibustering but something very near to it, dragging out to unreasonable length discussion on the Bill.
My Lords, my mind has been working in the same direction as the minds of the noble Lords, Lord Shinwell and Lord Harmar-Nicholls. I had a premonition that, as constituted in the Bill, this presages a cosy feather-bedded industry run by warehousemen, employees and employers, and I do not think that the extra four mentioned in the Bill will be able to break out of that circle. Far from adding extra numbers, I think the right thing to do is to reduce the numbers who represent the employees and employers and bring in more outside people. At the next stage of the Bill we should reduce to two each the representatives of employers and employees and replace with four outside people to represent the consumers. After all, it is the consumers who are interested in the ports. We want to get our exports out and our food and raw materials in, handled as cheaply as possible. We do not want the thing to be bossed by employers, employees and warehousemen.
§ Lord MOTTISTONE
My Lords, to take up the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Popplewell, as we are all agreed that the Government should save money, surely the most economical course would be for the other place to chuck this Bill out altogether. That would save the money. As for the point of filibustering, with the greatest respect to the noble Lord I should have thought that his was one of the best filibustering speeches I have heard in this House for many a long day.
§ Lord JACQUES
My Lords, this is the Report stage and we should start as we mean to go on. Noble Lords are not allowed to speak more than once.
§ Lord SLATER
My Lords, I have not spoken yet. I was listening to my noble friend Lord Shinwell and he was talking 1093 about having only two or three people. He spoke about those who were responsible for nationalisation in the first place. Too much power can be placed in the hands of one or two individuals in certain industries in this country. Then, instead of making a success of what they are responsible for, it becomes a failure and someone has to come and extricate them from the position they have got themselves into; they begin to clamour for that form of assistance. As to the number of people recommended, I recollect that I had something to do with a service industry which had a board. It is the easiest thing to work a board. You can work a board by breaking 12 or 14 members into small sub-committees. They come back at the end of the month and report on their findings on particular aspects of the situation.
The noble Lord, Lord Popplewell, was informed that these people are there in a voluntary capacity and will be paid expenses and so on. That may be the case, but you still have to find the money for the chairman and the vice-chairman. God only knows what the fees for that will be. If a board is to work at all, the best way is to break it up. Leave the Bill as it is; leave the number as proposed in the Bill, rather than adding to it. The more you add, the more trouble you are bringing upon your own shoulders.
§ Lord LYELL
My Lords, this Amendment is broadly similar to the one which I tried to move at the Committee stage. We heard then from the Government that the Secretary of State would have the discretion as to whom he was going to appoint. Of course we want to accept this, but we are still concerned about the huge area and the huge range of interests which are or are likely to be or may be covered by the scope of this Bill. At the Committee stage I explained that we are still concerned that the employers and employees, not all of whom will be dock employers or dock employees, or even employers of registered dock labour or even registered dock workers. But we were also worried as to how they were able to obtain an effective voice on the Board. At the earlier stage we mentioned public interest and the consumers, and we shall certainly do that again later today, but I believe that the same arguments apply to this Amendment.
1094 First, this Bill will concern and will affect many persons beyond the confines of the dock area, both employees and employers. Secondly—something which has not yet been mentioned—the National Board will, even at its present size of 12 with a chairman and vice-chairman in addition, be much more of a policy board, leaving many of the day-to-day decisions to the local boards and, we hope, taking advice from them. Thirdly, the appointment of the chairman and vice-chairman will affect the Board, in that either or both of them will require to draw together the various interests represented, while at the same time avoiding a fifty-fifty confrontation which would lead to direct deadlock on the Board. Thus we believe that far more compromise will be needed than has been the case so far, because the position where the chairman or vice-chairman uses his casting vote will wreck the whole Board.
At the earlier stage of this Bill the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, quoted my right honourable friend Mr. Prior in another place, and indeed I requoted Mr. Prior. Both of us believed that at an earlier stage Mr. Prior had relevant arguments to this Amendment. On both occasions we were disputing the size of the Board. I do not believe that the changes we are proposing today will harm that Board, nor will they damage the interests which must be represented, because the question of its becoming unwieldy or ineffective or even inert will not arise solely from the size of the Board.
We believe that there is far greater risk when certain interests which ought to be heard or to be represented are not represented. The interests which are drawn into the scope of the Scheme may grow in number and in complexity, given the changing pattern of the freight and the cargo handling. It will be invaluable for the Board to have representations from outside interests whose knowledge of what will be dockwork will be most detailed. It is for that reason that I support this Amendment.
§ Lord JACQUES
My Lords, I first apologise to my noble friend Lord Slater; he spoke on the preliminary Motion and not on this Motion. Let us be clear when we are talking about nationalisation. Nothing is being nationalised. We are not talking about a board which is going 1095 to manage a commercial concern. We are talking about a board whose first function is to administer a dock labour scheme. That is its first and most important function.
§ Lord HARMAR-NICHOLLS
My Lords, I only wish to ask whether it is a national scheme that they have to administer or a regional scheme. If it is a national scheme, then that is nationalisation within the meaning of the word.
§ 3.43 p.m.
§ Lord JACQUES
Then, my Lords, we have a good deal of nationalisation in private enterprise. I suggest that I now be allowed to get on with my speech; I have not interrupted anybody else. The first and primary function of this Board is to administer the Dock Labour Scheme. That includes the organisation of dock labour, welfare, training, pensions and severance pay, and it is right that if that is its proper function the Board should consist largely of both sides of that industry. It is true that it has a second function; that second function is not to extend the Scheme but to make proposals for extending the Scheme, and those proposals arc decided upon by the Secretary of State. So far as the second of its two important functions is concerned, it is merely a body to make recommendations; it does not itself make the decisions. On the first and primary function of administering the Scheme, it makes the decisions. Therefore that is by far the most important of its functions.
When we consider the size of this Board, we have to count in the chairman and vice-chairman who are, of course, members of the Board. At the present time there are 10 members of the Board. Because the Board will have that second function of making proposals—no decisions—on the extension of the Scheme the Government have suggested in the Bill that there should be four additional representatives outside the industry, making a total of 14. We do that, first, for the reason which I have given, but, secondly, because we believe that for work of this 1096 kind a board of 10 to 15 is somewhere about right. As the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, mentioned a few minutes ago, we had the support of Mr. Prior on this point in the Committee stage in another place. At col.26 of the Official Report of the other place he said:We felt on the whole 14 was about right.So that in the other place the Opposition agreed completely that the Government are about right on the size of the Board. So our first opposition to the Amendment is that it would make the Board unnecessarily large.
But there is a second reason why we would oppose this Amendment. As have indicated, the main purpose of the Board will continue to be the administration of the Dock Labour Scheme. I think it would be unreasonable for the industry to be expected to accept a decision in which people from outside the industry were in a majority on the Board when the chief function is to administer the Dock Labour Scheme. We believe that is completely unreasonable and, in our opinion, it would not be acceptable to the industry. Furthermore, it would give rise to the kind of pressures which we ought to avoid.
In the appointment of the eight there are to be consultations with the TUC and the CBI—quite properly—but the employers in the dock industry are members of the CBI and the trade unions in the dock industry are members of the TUC and since they will obviously be dissatisfied, having been placed in a minority in the administration of their own scheme, hey will put pressure upon the TUC and the CBI for some additional members from the industry to be included on the Board, and for that to be put forward when those two bodies are consulted. So we shall create pressures which we should try to avoid. We have here an opportunity of avoiding that pressure; the proposals in the Bill avoid that pressure. We say that in total there should be 14 and that, as at present, only eight should be appointed by the Joint Boards Council. Instead of there being two from outside there should be six, because of the second function which the Board will have. We believe that gives a proper balance.
Someone suggested that we should reduce the number coming from the 1097 Joint Boards Council, but I would point out that, if the Scheme is extended, then the representatives from the Joint Boards Council will represent more people than they do at the present time. At present they represent the people in the Scheme ports. If more ports come within the Scheme, then they will represent more people and therefore there is not a strong case for reducing their representation.
It was suggested that, if there is an equal number of employers and employees, there will be deadlock, but that is not something new; that has been going on throughout the whole of the old Scheme. There has been an equal number of employers and employees throughout the whole scheme. We have had no deadlock there, so why should we expect deadlock in the future? We are inventing difficulties. I suggest that we should allow this scheme so far as possible to go on entirely as it was, but having four additional representatives, provided for in the Bill, to take care of the outside interests.
§ Lord SANDFORD
My Lords, I wish the record in the docks was such that we could, with confidence, leave everything to go on as it was before. But the fact that the Government recognise that that will not do is the reason for the Bill. We agree with them to that extent. I should like to wind up the debate on this Amendment by referring to the importance of the public interest, an Amendment which we have down as Amendment No. 9. It is a failure to have regard for the public interest to a sufficiently large degree to which a lot of our present troubles go back. Therefore, we set a great deal of store by that Amendment which we will come to in a moment. It needs to be imported into Clause 1 on the composition and size of the Board as well.
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, made the tempting suggestion, in which he was followed by my noble friend Lord Hawke, that we ought to have a nice small, crisp, executive body. If I may say so, that was a constructive and radical proposal. If the noble Lord put down an Amendment to that effect, there would be many to applaud it, but if I put down an Amendment to that effect, it would be regarded as a wrecking Amendment, because, as my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn, has said, we are not 1098 starting from scratch. We hive to build on what is here already.
My noble friend Lord Harmar-Nicholls posed a dilemma. I am afraid I have to agree with the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, that it would be impractical, unrealistic and politically "not on", to use the Bill as an opportunity to reduce the Board in size to something which would be crisp and executive in style. As my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn reminded your Lord-ships, we are not dealing with an executive board, but with a regulatory board. That is their main function. They have a staff which will take various executive decisions and steps from day to day. This Board is one which deals with matters of policy and regulation in a complex and strife-torn industry and will have to contend, as the Bill is implemented, with a growing, not a diminishing range of interests.
My Lords, I said at the beginning that there is no magic in the figure that we have proposed. Any change will have to be a change upwards. All I am seeking to do is to import into the Bill an Amendment which will have the effect of inviting another place, on whose decision so much will rest, and properly rest, to think again about size.
§ Lord SLATER
My Lords, does the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, not think that his suggestion will be unwieldy? Why is he sticking to a figure of 18? Why not 20?
§ Lord SANDFORD
My Lords, I have just said that I am not wedded to any particular number. Number 16 is the one on which my Amendment is based, but I want, by importing this into the Bill, to secure a reconsideration of the size of the Board by another place. The most important thing in the Bill is to get right the composition of the National Dock Labour Board. Many of the ills in the industry go back to the ineffectiveness, the shortsightedness and the narrowness of outlook in a number of places in the industry. Alas! the Board itself cannot be excluded from that. Alas! it is one of the factors which has contributed to the desolation we see in the London and Liverpool Docks.
Before we pass the Bill, we must ensure that the shortsightedness, the pettiness and the bitterness which has dealt such damage in dockland does not spread, by 1099 the same ineffectiveness in the Board's structure, to the ports and the docks which are at present efficient and prosperous and through which the lifeblood of this nation flows. Do not let us forget—and I am sure noble Lords opposite are only too well aware of this—that we have enemies in our midst who see only too clearly that this is the case, and that the lifeblood of this country flows through the docks, particularly in the form of our export trade. Our contention is that we need a widely based and properly balanced Board to do battle with this very considerable force.
My Lords, I conclude by saying that this Amendment is there, not in order to prescribe a Board of that particular size—because I would not claim any kind of omniscience as to what precise size of
§ Board is best—but because I believe that another place needs to reconsider it now that the Bill has been debated in both Houses. The second reason for wanting this Amendment in is that, unless it is in the Bill, it will be unrealistic to discuss the other important matters included in Amendments Nos.2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8, all relating to Clause 1, all of which require a degree of enlargement and flexibility in the Board itself. I beg to move Amendment No. 1.
§ 3.57 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 1) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 105; Not-Contents, 87.1101
|Allerton, L.||Emmet of Amberley, B.||Newall, L.|
|Amory, V.||Energlyn, L.||Northchurch, B.|
|Ashbourne, L.||Erroll of Hale, L.||Nunburnholme, L.|
|Atholl, D.||Exeter, M.||O'Hagan, L.|
|Balerno, L.||Faithfull, B.||Onslow, E.|
|Barnby, L.||Ferrers, E.||Rathcreedan, L.|
|Belhaven and Stenton, L.||Ferrier, L.||Redesdale, L.|
|Belstead, L.||Geoffrey-Lloyd, L.||Reigate, L.|
|Berkeley, B.||Gray, L.||Rochdale, V.|
|Bessborough, E.||Gridley, L.||Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.|
|Bourne, L.||Grimston of Westbury, L.||Sackville, L.|
|Brentford, V.||Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L.||St. Aldwyn, E.|
|Campbell of Croy, L.||Hanworth, V.||St. Davids, V.|
|Carr of Hadley, L.||Harmar-Nicholls, L.||Saint Oswald, L.|
|Carrington, L.||Hawke, L.||Sandford, L.|
|Cawley, L.||Hornsby-Smith, B.||Sandys, L.|
|Chelwood, L.||Inchyra, L.||Sharples, B.|
|Clancarty, E.||Killearn, L.||Spens, L.|
|Clwyd, L.||Kinloss, Ly.||Stamp, L.|
|Coleraine, L.||Kinnaird, L.||Strang, L.|
|Cork and Orrery, E.||Lauderdale, E.||Strathcarron, L.|
|Cornwallis, L.||Long, V.||Strathclyde, L.|
|Craigavon, V.||Lucas of Chilworth, L.||Strathcona and Mount Royal, L|
|Craigton, L.||Lyell, L. [Teller.]||Strathspey, L.|
|Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Mancroft, L.||Sudeley, L.|
|Daventry, V.||Margadale, L.||Tenby, V.|
|De Freyne, L.||Marley, L.||Thomas, L.|
|Denham, L. [Teller.]||Massereene and Ferrard, V.||Trefgarne, L.|
|Derwent, L.||Mersey, V.||Vickers, B.|
|Drumalbyn, L.||Molson, L.||Vivian, L.|
|Dundee, E.||Monck, V.||Waldegrave, E.|
|Effingham, E.||Morris, L.||Ward of North Tyneside, B.|
|Elles, B.||Mottistone, L.||Wellington, D.|
|Elliot of Harwood, B.||Mowbray and Stourton, L.||Wolverton, L.|
|Elton, L.||Munster, E.||Young, B.|
|Airedale, L.||Gardiner, L.||Murray of Gravesend, L.|
|Amherst, E.||Garner, L.||Northfield, L.|
|Amulree, L.||Gladwyn, L.||Oram, L.|
|Banks, L.||Gordon-Walker, L.||Paget of Northampton, L.|
|Birk, B.||Hale, L.||Pannell, L.|
|Blyton, L.||Hankey, L.||Pargiter, L.|
|Brimelow, L.||Harris of Greenwich, L.||Peddie, L.|
|Brockway, L.||Henderson, L.||Platt, L.|
|Bruce of Donington, L.||Houghton of Sowerby, L.||Popplewell, L.|
|Buckinghamshire, E.||Hunt, L.||Raglan, L.|
|Burntwood, L.||Hylton-Foster, B.||Ritchie-Calder, L.|
|Byers, L.||Ilchester, E.||Roberthall, L.|
|Caradon, L.||Jacobson, L.||Rusholme, L.|
|Castle, L.||Jacques, L.||Sainsbury, L.|
|Champion, L.||Janner, L.||Seear, B.|
|Chorley, L.||Kirkhill, L.||Shinwell, L.|
|Clifford of Chudleigh, L.||Leatherland, L.||Simon, V.|
|Collison, L.||Lee of Newton, L.||Slater, L.|
|Cooper of Stockton Heath, L.||Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.||Stedman, B. [Teller.]|
|Crowther-Hunt, L.||Lloyd of Hampstead, L.||Stewart of Alvechurch, B.|
|Darling of Hillsborough, L.||Lloyd of Kilgerran, L.||Stone, L.|
|Davies of Leek, L.||Longford, E.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Davies of Penrhys, L.||McCluskey, L.||Taylor of Mansfield, L.|
|Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L.||MacLeod of Fuinary, L.||Wallace of Coslany, L.|
|Douglas of Barloch, L.||Maelor, L.||Walston, L.|
|Douglass of Cleveland, L.||Mais, L.||Weidenfeld, L.|
|Elwyn-Jones, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Maybray-King, L.||Wells-Pestell, L. [Teller]|
|Evans of Hungershall, L.||Melchett, L.||Wigoder, L.|
|Fletcher, L.||Morris of Grasmere, L.||Wynne-Jones, L.|
On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.
§ 4.5 p.m.
§ Lord DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 2:
Page 1, line 13, at end insert—
("( ) The chairman and the vice-chairman shall be appointed by the Secretary of State, after consultation with the National Joint Council, the Trades Union Congress and the Confederation of British Industry, as being impartial as between employers and workers and between one trade union and another and between one employer and another.")
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, your Lordships will be glad to know that I can be quite brief on this Amendment. Its purpose is to secure that the chairman and the vice-chiarman should both be independent and also be seen to be impartial. They should also be acceptable to the National Joint Council, to the TUC and to the CBI. It may be, and I hope it is, the intention of the Government that they should be independent. If so, I suggest to your Lordships that the Bill should make that intention abundantly clear. So many interests have to be reconciled that the chairman and the vice-chairman must be people accustomed to obtaining agreement and to carrying the Board with them. They certainly do not need to be experts in cargo handling. They do need to be experts in handling 1102 people, the staff, the Board, the local boards, the Press and the public, and the rest.
§ These considerations do not apply to the non-NJC members—that is to the eight, those members we have just increased from four to eight. It seems to me better, therefore, to make separate provision for the appointment of the chairman and vice-chairman. So there are these two propositions that I put before your Lordships' House, first, that the chairman and vice-chairman should be independent and should be seen to be impartial; and, secondly, that the provision for their appointment ought to be different from the provision for the appointment of the four members we have just increased to eight. I hope that the Government on reflection—and I realise they have not had much time to reflect—will agree with these propositions and will accept this Amendment, at least in principle. I beg to move.
§ Lord JACQUES
My Lords, the Secretary of State would certainly not wish to appoint as chairman or vice-chairman anybody who he believed would fail to pay proper regard to the relative merits of opposing arguments or who would prejudge situations without due regard to the facts. We believe this Amendment 1103 would narrow the field and in some ways be undesirable. It would narrow the field because in order to get a strict guarantee of impartiality one would almost be compelled to go to a university, a civil servant, or a lawyer. Most other people in public affairs are connected either with the employers' or the employees' side of industry. This we think unnecessarily narrows the field for the choice of chairman and vice-chairman.
We also think that the chairman and vice-chairman should be people who are acutely aware of the day-to-day problems arising in the industry. That is the first essential, that they should know the industry and should know the problems that arise from day to day; because their principal function is the administration of the Dock Labour Scheme and in our view that should be the first priority. What matters most in these appointments is that there should be confidence in the people appointed, and we believe that this can best be achieved by consultation with the TUC, the CBI, and the National Joint Council.
We understand the intentions behind the Amendment, but we find it extra-ordinary that the noble Lord should want to state it in legislation. This is something entirely new. For example, the Employment Protection Act provided for the appointment of the chairman of ACAS, a very important position applying not just to the docks but for the whole of industry, but Parliament did not seek to lay down the kind of thing which the noble Lord is seeking to lay down. They had confidence in the Secretary of State and the likelihood of his appointing somebody who would be a fit and proper person to be chairman. Similarly with the Manpower Services Commission. Legislation had to provide for the appointment of a chairman, but Parliament did not seek to lay down the kind of thing which the noble Lord is seeking to lay down when they passed the Employment and Training Act 1973. We think the Amendment narrows the field; we believe that in some ways it is undesirable, and finally we think that it is unnecessary to put in legislation what the noble Lord seeks.
§ 4.12 p.m.
§ Lord MOTTISTONE
My Lords, would not the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, agree 1104 that the opening remarks of his speech were somewhat at variance with what he said later, in that he said that the Secretary of State will never appoint an unsuitable person, and he then went on to tell us that he must have the ability to choose someone who might find himself coming from one side or the other of two contentious, or two potentially contentious, parts of the Board that we are discussing. He quotes examples of the selection of the chairman of ACAS and the chairman of the Manpower Services Commission, but would he not agree that there is a considerable difference in both those bodies? So far as ACAS is concerned, I do not think that anybody would suspect that there would ever be marked contention within the administration of ACAS itself as between the members of its managing board.
Again, although no doubt there are differences of opinion within the Manpower Services Commission—and I perhaps can claim to have a little knowledge of what it might be like, having served under a training board which is somewhat similarly constituted—the differences of opinion are not very acute problems, whereas what is worrying us all, and why we are trying gradually to work this Bill into a shape which is acceptable to all of us (by that I do not mean all of us in this House, I mean all of us in this country) is that there is a record within the dock industry generally of contention, of strife, of people getting at loggerheads with one another, which is rather greater than either of the bodies which the noble Lord quoted, or indeed any other public body that could readily come to mind. I would suggest, therefore, that this is a rather special case, and that my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn's Amendment deserves rather special consideration as a result. I would very much like to think that the Government would not dismiss it on the grounds which the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, advanced.
§ Lord SHINWELL
My Lords, is it not obvious that the Secretary of State, in deciding to appoint a chairman and a vice-chairman, or two vice-chairmen, or anybody, is likely (I will not rate it higher than that) to consult with representative interests? That always happens anyhow. What is wrong with this Amendment is that it includes the term "impartial". I would be delighted if somebody would 1105 explain to me how it is possible to be impartial. It always reminds me of the mayor of a particular industrial centre who sought to ingratiate himself with the electors, and who, on his appointment, assured them that his intention was to be neither partial nor impartial.
Who is an impartial person? A Conservative? One would hardly expect that. A Liberal? Hopeless. They have got fixed ideas. Labour? Well, we have based our whole philosophy on decisions reached in the 1920s and 1930s. Who else is impartial? A judge? No, I am having none of that. The fact is that it is impossible for anybody to be impeccable in this matter of being impartial. It cannot be done. It has never been attempted, and for a very good reason.
I would suggest that the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, if he wants, can have the rest of the Amendment, but excluding the term "impartial". When he has done that, then it is practical; otherwise it is quite hopeless. In any event, if he withdraws the term "impartial" he does not require the Amendment, because I know from experience in Government that when people have to be appointed to various boards, corporations, or what have you, a great deal of discussion takes place. There is discussion with the Civil Service; discussion with a great variety of people, and indeed very often before a person is appointed you have to hawk all round the place to get somebody. Very often suggestions have been made to people who are reluctant to accept appointments on boards that if they watch their step and keep their noses clean, in due course they might be awarded a CBE, or an OBE, or even indeed a knighthood. I know all about this caper, and I suggest to the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, who is a very practical person, that he should display his pragmatism by withdrawing this Amendment.
§ 4.18 p.m.
§ Lord SANDFORD
My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Lord is really right about all this. There are two things. First is the search for the impartial person, and I agree that that is difficult; and secondly is the freedom of the Secretary of State to consult widely, and my Amendment No. 8 is designed to secure this. I do not think it is there at the 1106 moment. Perhaps I could deal with the impartiality of the members of the Board. The fact of the matter is that hitherto this has not been secured successfully, and that is one of the problems we are dealing with. The Board has been made up of two components in a situation of confrontation. That is what has made the Board so ineffective, so I think my noble friend is right in requiring something to be said about this. There are many other boards where it has long been the custom for the members on it to be as impartial as possible, and their impartiality is the quality that has been sought, but I suggest that it has not been the case in the National Dock Labour Board hitherto. That is one thing.
The other component is the freedom of the Secretary of State to consult. I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, is right that this should be secumd, but if your Lordships look at the Bill you will see that only in respect of the chairman and the vice-chairman is this so. The members to which subsection (3) relates are appointed on their nomination or renomination of that body specifically to represent partial interests. There is no impartiality there; they are not designed to be impartial. As for the others, they are selected, maybe for impartiality but as the result of a limited amount of consultation which is specified in the Bill. The Secretary of State is, therefore, not free to consult where he will. On Amendment No. 8 we will come to a suggestion that he should be freed so that he could do what the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, suggested.
§ Viscount SIMON
Would the noble Lord elaborate on his statement that in the past the chairman of the National Dock Labour Board has not been impartial?
§ Lord SANDFORD
I am sorry if I mislead the noble Viscount or the Committee. I hope I did not say that. I thought I said that apart from the chairman and vice-chairman, the other two components were specially selected in order to represent partial interests.
§ Lord DRUMALBYN
I thank the noble Lord, Lord Jacques for his reply which was reassuring so far as it went. However, I do not think he has sufficiently 1107 taken on board the fact that this is a different kind of Board. As my noble friend Lord Sandford said, there are aspects of it which differ profoundly from the usual type of board. A provision of this kind may often say that the Secretary of State shall appoint the chairman, possibly the vice-chairman, and so many members to the board and that is because they are to be drawn from people with varying experience of different fields—industrial relations, commerce, finance and so on—and those fields are sometimes specified and sometimes they are not. However, this is a different kind of Board in that it consists of two arms, as it were, with the chairman as the head in between the arms. It is not unusual to have a separate provision for the appointment of the chairman and of course in Schedule 1 the chairman and other members of the Board are dealt with separately.
Lord Jacques said it was absolutely essential—so essential that he emphasised it—that there should be an intimate knowledge of the working of the ports. Has this always been the case? Have we not in your Lordships' House two distinguished people who have run port authorities who did not have very great day-to-day experience of the running of the ports beforehand? Surely by far the most important considerations are the others to which Lord Jacques referred, and that of confidence in whoever is appointed is paramount, for on that confidence will depend the personality and reputation for impartiality and fairness of the chairman. I think Lord Jacques went too far in saying that this would limit the field to a very narrow area indeed. People need not be said to be partial merely because they do not belong to the judiciary or because they are not barristers, accountants or, if it comes to that, even ministers of religion. The field is very much wider than that. There are people in many professions and areas of industry who could be seen to be impartial in circumstances of this kind. Nor do I share the rather cynical view of the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, who expatiated on his personal experiences.
I think there is something to be said for this suggestion, and if Lord Jacques does not like the word, "impartiality" perhaps he will consider, as a matter of common sense, in view of the different kinds of 1108 members of the Board, having a separate subsection for the appointment of the chairman and vice-chairman. That would make it much tidier, would not be without precedent and, in the circumstance of the case, would seem desirable. I do not propose to press the Amendment now and I beg leave to withdraw it.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Lord SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 3:
Page 1, line 18, leave out ("four") and insert ("eight").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is the substantive Amendment for which Amendment No. 1 was the paving Amendment and as we incorporated that in the Bill following the debate and division on it, I hope the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, will agree to our incorporating this one without further debate.
§ 4.27 p.m.
Lord DRUMALBYN had given Notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 5:
Page 1, line 20, leave out ("the National Joint Council").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, my Amendment No. 5 puts me in some difficulty because it is in a sense consequential on Amendment No. 2, but perhaps we can discuss the matter with which it deals on a later Amendment. In the meantime, I will not move it.
Lord WIGODER moved Amendment No. 6:
Page 1, line 21, after ("Industry") insert ("The National Consumer Council").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, it is idle to conceal the fact that we on these Benches have some grave reservations about the whole way in which this Board has now been constituted because it appears that the combined effects of the proposals by the Government and the Opposition are to create a Board containing as many warring factions as possible, artificially devised so that each can fight the other on equal terms. We have reached the situation in which the Government's proposals involve having eight members of the Board, four representing 1109 dock employers and four representing dock workers. Now, as the result of an Opposition Amendment, we have a further eight members, four appointed after consultation with the TUC and four after consultation with the CBI, and we find it difficult to believe that this will lead to the prospect of an amicable and harmonious relationship on the Board.
§ Indeed, we go further and doubt whether it is wise to direct the Secretary of State to have consultations with any particular interest before making appointments to the Board. We say in this modest little Amendment that if the Secretary of State is to be directed to have consultations with various bodies such as the TUC, the NJC, the CBI and the National Association of Warehouse Keepers, it is not unreasonable to add that he should also consult the National Consumer Council. This is in a sense a symbolic Amendment. I accept entirely the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, in Committee that no doubt writing in the National Consumer Council as one of the bodies to be consulted will in practice not affect the decisions of the Secretary of State. It will, however, formally give effect to the view that the Board not merely represents employers and employees but is taking decisions affecting the consumer.
§ Those decisions will affect the consumer because the result of the extension of the scheme will be to raise prices to the consumer. I do not need to go over the ground that was covered in Committee when it was made clear that the extension of the levy to employers who were not paying it at the moment was bound to raise prices. The fact that even more people would now he paid for a full week's work even if they were not doing a full week's work must raise prices. The fact that some small ports that depend on contented casual labour would not be allowed to do so, must raise prices. Indeed, your Lordships will remember that we ventured to ask the Government whether they agreed with the figures of the Cold Storage Federation that the resulting increase in costs might be as much as £6 per ton in the handling of goods in the cold stores. Your Lord-ships will also remember that the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, said that the Government were satisfied that that was an exaggeration but that they had made no attempt at all apparently to work out for 1110 themselves the likely increase in costs that would arise from the operation of the extension of the Scheme.
§ In those circumstances, we would suggest that clearly the consumer has an interest in the operation of the Dock Board and that therefore there should be given a token representation of that fact by this Amendment which requires the Secretary of State to consult the National Consumer Council, among other bodies, in making his appointment to the Board.
§ 4.32 p.m.
§ Lord SHINWELL
My Lords, if the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, is asking that the National Consumer Council should be consulted, I would accept it at once, but if his interpretation is that consultation means that some member of the National Consumer Council should be appointed a member of this Board, then I object. If it is merely a question of consultation, there is no reason why any objection should be raised to it, because if the Secretary of State has any common sense at all he will consult the National Consumer Council because obviously there is a consumer interest. If that is what the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, is proposing, then I hope that my noble friend Lord Jacques will accept it.
§ Lord DRUMALBYN
My Lords, may I say one brief word on this matter? I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, in this case. It seems to me that the Government has created the National Consumer Council and, having created it, it is only sensible to consult it in a matter where the consumer interest looms so large.
§ Lord JACQUES
My Lords, in moving this Amendment at the Committee stage, the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, laid great stress on the question of the burden that would be borne by the consumer. At col.319 he said:… it will very materially add to the burden that the housewife will have to bear in future."—[Official Report, 13/10/76; col.319.]That theme was taken up by a number of other speakers. I should like the House to bear in mind that four-fifths of the cargo that is handled already comes through Scheme ports, 80 per cent. already comes through Scheme ports. What is left is the remaining one-fifth. 1111 We made a calculation based upon an estimate which was made by the National Ports Council, a body which is completely independent of the National Dock Board and the matters which we are considering at the moment. Based upon that, we can say that if there was an increase in the costs or an increase in the revenues of the non-Scheme ports as a result of a spread of the Scheme, then the cost to consumers would be less than one-hundredth of 1 per cent. of the GNP.
§ Lord JACQUES
No, my Lords, I cannot. In the time we have had available, I have had to use what figures are available. I can tell you what the gross domestic product is and what the 25 per cent. increase would be.
§ Lord BYERS
My Lords, I do not honestly think that the housewife will be so interested in the £62 billion. What she really wants to know is what in the 25 per cent. in the non-Scheme ports is the tonnage handled and what will be the extra cost. In that way we can get it in either pence per pound or pounds per ton. What is the tonnage that will be affected here and by what amount will the costs be increased?
§ Lord JACQUES
Yes, my Lords, like a couple of pounds. It is so small that I cannot be very far wrong. It is infinitesimal. If it works out to be 25 per cent. of the gross domestic product, a 25 per cent. increase which we categorically deny is ever likely to happen, that works out to one-hundredth of 1 per cent. which is infinitesimal. We would not expect an increase of 25 per cent. in the non-Scheme ports for several reasons. First, one distinguishing feature of the ports industry is that in many cases it is capital intensive. A huge amount of capital is sunk in port installations and in cargo-handling machinery; it is these that are more significant in determining the charges and the labour costs. Furthermore, the passing of this Bill would not allow the Board in any way to interfere with existing collective agreements.
In Clause 5(7) the Bill specifically provides that the Scheme cannot be used to override existing collective agreements concerned with remuneration and hours of work. We think it is totally wrong to assume that there will be enormous increases of wages in the non-Scheme ports if the Scheme is spread. The issue of costs is so important that I should like to give a very brief analysis of at least one example of the propaganda that has received a good deal of publicity. A confederation of importers has claimed that if implemented the Bill would increase the cost of imports up to £150 million a year and that figure has been widely quoted. If true it would mean that every employee at existing non-Scheme ports concerned with handling imports would be costing his employer an extra £100,000 per annum. That is based upon the number of employees at the non-Scheme ports.
§ Viscount SIMON
My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord but he is just talking about the number of employees in small ports. What about the number of employees in warehouses?
§ Lord JACQUES
My Lords, I am dealing with what would be the cost of the spread to non-Scheme ports. If this figure of £150 million were true as being the cost of a spread to non-Scheme ports, then it would mean that each employee 1113 in the non-Scheme ports would cost the employers an extra £100,000 a year. Or, alternatively, it would mean that, as a result of the Scheme, it would need an extra 20 employees to do work which is at present being done by one man: an extra 20 for every one that is there now. If that were the position, there would be more workers in the non-Scheme ports handling one-fifth of the cargo than there are at present in the Scheme ports handling four-fifths. That is the kind of nonsense underlying the propaganda.
The statistical method used by this Confederation to achieve the figure of £150 million was totally inaccurate. Let me give an example. In comparing costs between the Scheme and non-Scheme ports, the Confederation quoted a number of examples of low-cost non-Scheme ports. But many of the so-called non-Scheme ports are already in the Scheme, and have been in the Scheme since 1946. In other words, the Confederation did not know who was in the Scheme and who was not. A body which does not know these elementary facts should not be taken seriously. A number of other assertions about costs have been made, none of which is based upon hard evidence. The procedures in the Bill for case by case examination of whether it is appropriate to apply the Scheme means that we cannot give accurate estimates except to say, from the arguments already advanced in this and the previous debate, that if there is any increase at all it is likely to be extremely small indeed.
I should now like to come to the question of representation. I believe that the Government's view was stated quite well by the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, himself. When we were debating whether or not there should be consultations with the Consumer Council, he said:… 'consumers ' covers a very wide band of the population. It is not just housewives, or consumer associations or anybody like that. It is industries and anybody who is importing or exporting through the ports and, indeed, many other trades and skills apart from what we understand as cargo handling and dock work."—[Official Report, 13/10/76, col. 310.]The Government agree with that. The best persons to represent those interests are the persons appointed by the two sides of industry in consultation with the TUC and the CBI.
Now I should like to come to this problem of consulting with the Consumer 1114 Council. Consultation for consultation's sake would be useless, and I think it follows that if there is going to be consultation then the Consumer Council have a right to expect that an appointment is likely to arise out of that consultation; otherwise, I would say that a provision for consultation is not worth putting into the Bill. We believe that they would expect an appointment arising out of the consultation. If there were to be an appointment arising out of the consultation then either it would disturb the balance which was implied in the Bill as it stood before we had a Division a few minutes ago or there would have to be an additional member. It is the intention of the Secretary of State that the Board shall consist of an equal number of representatives from each side of the industry. You have the eight appointed by the National Ports Council and you have an additional four or eight, as the case may be, who are going to be appointed in consultation with the TUC and the CBI. It was the Secretary of State's intention, and still is, that they should be in equal numbers. He will take notice of what the CBI and the TUC have to say, and if he appoints two employers he will also appoint two representing the employees' side. That is the intention.
There would therefore be a board on which there was a number of employees' representatives and an equal number of employers' representatives, but not necessarily from within the industry, because some of them would be appointed after consultation with the TUC and the CBI, and they would be expected to recommend people from outside the industry. So the appointment of a consumer representative would mean that either that balance would be disturbed or there would be an additional appointment. We believe that an additional appointment would not be satisfactory. At the present time there are equal numbers of employee and employer representatives on the Board, and we believe that that should continue. If one side wants to get a point agreed, it has to use arguments and pressure to break down the other side; and it has worked very smoothly in that way since the Scheme started. But if there was one additional representative as a result of consultations with the Consumer Council, then that person would be subject to enormous pressures from both sides, 1115 from both the employers' side and from the employees' side. We believe that that representative would be in an untenable position.
Consequently, having regard to the debate which we had at Committee stage, the Government feel that they should be prepared to accept the Amendment to Clause 2, that the Board should act in the public interest. This, we believe, takes into account not only the interests of the consumer but the interests of the community as a whole on the question of the use of manpower at ports. We believe that that is more important and gives rise to far fewer difficulties than consultation with the Consumer Council, which could give rise, and we think would have to give rise, to the appointment of a consumer representative.
§ 4.47 p.m.
§ Baroness PHILLIPS
My Lords, before my noble friend sits down, I must say that I think the Minister has put up a very unsatisfactory answer to this case. There are people in industry who do not seem to think that the CBI satisfactorily represents them, just as there are employees who do not feel that the TUC completely represents them. I am a member of the Consumer Council, and there have been cases in recent times showing that there is need for a third voice. If we are going to have, as we are indeed, a large number of new boards set up, it seems that this is the moment when the Government should see the force of this argument. I could not follow the logic in saying that this member would be in an untenable position (I think that was the word used by my noble friend) and under pressure from both sides. Surely, this would apply equally to any other member of the Board. If you are appointed to a post of this kind—and many of your Lordships will have had this experience—you seek, in a way, to represent your own interests solely, but you are always conscious of the fact that you must be the voice of that particular group. I think this would be a very good point of time for the Government to recognise that there is a need for a third voice, and that this will not be wholly covered by the two organisations that the noble Lord has named.
§ Lord JACQUES
My Lords, would my noble friend claim that the appointment of a Board to administer the National Dock Labour Scheme is the right time at which to make this representation?
§ Baroness PHILLIPS
Yes, I would, my Lords; because, as has been pointed out, despite the figures produced by my noble friend, there is, of course, the question of costing—and surely the Board is going to be involved in costing various projects—and, in the end, the consumer is the one who has to pay the price. The point has been made many times that the voice of the worker must be heard in relation to any scheme which is being set up, whether it be in private industry or in the public sector. Equally, the one who at the end of the day has to pay the price should also be heard. This is now becoming common practice. It has been asked for in the car industry, and it has been asked for on all sides. I think there is an excellent case here for including a consumer representative.
§ 4.50 p.m.
§ Viscount SIMON
My Lords, I was very saddened by the reply given by the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, if he will not mind my saying so, because he kept returning to the balance between the two sides. It seems to me that we have rather a poor outlook in the development of industrial democracy if we are going to go on with the idea that if you have a bipartite board people will always be on one side or the other. The whole object of having people drawn from the two sides of industry is that when they get on to this Board they try to see things through the same eyes, with perhaps a slightly different angle of vision; that they do not think of themselves as being six or eight members who are employers and eight members who are employees. It seems to me very sad that we should look at it in the way suggested. Regarding the Consumer Council, I would not entirely agree with the noble Lord that if you consult people they always expect to be represented directly—although I take the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, that in this case there may be a good case for that. If we are going to have four extra members, is it necessary for them to be identified either with employers or with employees?
§ Lord JACQUES
My Lords, that was the intention of the Secretary of State. The intention was to appoint two in consultation with the CBI and two in consultation with the TUC.
§ Lord SHINWELL
My Lords, may I with the leave of the House ask my noble friend a question? He agrees that there is no detriment to the Board in consulting the Consumer Council so long as it is not specified that somebody must be appointed from the Consumer Council. Is there not a psychological advantage, even from the Government point of view, that the Secretary of State should consult the Consumer Council to inform them of what is going on? Indeed, did it not occur to him when we were discussing earlier the question of somebody impartial, who is likely to be more impartial than somebody from the Consumer Council to express an impartial point of view? From the psychological advantage, is there not something to be said for accepting the Amendment?
§ Viscount MASSEREENE and FERRARD
My Lords, might I make a point here? Since this Bill is obviously going to increase the prices of goods to the consumer, I heartily agree with what the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, said. I think it will be unfair if the consumer is not represented on this Board. I would fully support this Amendment.
§ Lord COOPER of STOCKTON HEATH
My Lords, we are getting a little awry on this point. First, might I say that I am chairman of a consumer committee and I understand the pleas of the consumers to have rights of representation, but so far as the consumer is concerned the rights are continuous; it is not just on one occasion that the consumer wants the right to consult. Consumers want it all the time as problems crop up. This is surely a question of representation of a new Board—just one occasion—and the Bill is laying down how that Board should be appointed and who is to be consulted in that appointment. I think that this consumer argument for appointment to the new Board is fallacious. It is quite clear that this is an extension of the existing body to control labour relations. This matter has been discussed between the employers and the trade unions and the Government 1118 and this is a method that will be acceptable to the industry. You are dealing here with industrial representation. I do not think this debars the consumer. The consumer could make representations to the Secretary of State to be consulted on the effect of this Bill on costs and so on; but not on representation to the Board. This is a pretty domestic issue and it should be so because it must be done by the people who are going to work it.
§ Lord SANDFORD
My Lords, I should like to say just a word before the noble Lord decides what he is going to do with his Amendment. I personally am in some difficulty in supporting him because my own Amendment No. 8 is designed to free the Secretary of State to consult with whom he will, because it does not seem to me that he has the freedom he should have under the Bill. Therefore, I would not want to make a great thing about which particular people be consulted. On the other hand, I must say that I think in the debate we have had the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, has had very much the worst of the argument. I should have thought that if I had been in his shoes I should have wanted to give some fairly firm assurance that whatever is in the Bill—and I still think that my Amendment No. 8 has the edge on Amendment No. 6—the National Consumer Council was certainly among the bodies that the Secretary of State would consult in securing that consumers, port users and their employees were able to express a view about the appointments being made on this Board. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Cooper, that it may not be appropriate to have them there represented on it.
I would not agree with Lord Jacques when he said that everybody who is consulted about an appointment expects to be represented as a result of it. That is not my experience. In the course of three years in the Department of the Environment we had the business of forming and reforming and constituting a very considerable number of boards. We consulted far more widely than we eventually appointed.
§ Lord WIGODER
My Lords, may I first say how grateful I am to the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, for his kindness in seeing 1119 me personally yesterday and explaining his views on this Amendment. It was part of the courtesy that he has always shown in the course of the proceedings in this House on this Bill. I hope he will not think I am being discourteous if I venture to suggest that in his reply he was using a well-known forensic technique of totally ignoring the question and answering a quite different question firmly; because all the figures that he gave to demolish another set of figures were figures which have never been raised in this House at any time by me or by any other Member. The noble Lord gave some figures for the increase in costs where the scheme is extended to small ports. I would accept that this is not the major part of the increase to be expected. There were no figures given where the extension of the scheme was to warehouses and cold storage depots within the five-mile zone. It may be that the most substantial part of any increase in costs to the consumer will arise there.
May I add that your Lordships are discussing not the original Bill in the original form but a very different matter, the Bill in its present form. In its present state Clause 1(4) reads:The remaining four members of the Board … shall be appointed by the Secretary of State after consultation with the National Joint Council, the Trades Union Congress, the Confederation of British Industry and the National Association of Warehousekeepers.We must accept that at the moment as part of the Bill. It is not unreasonable in the circumstances to suggest that where
§ there are going to be eight further members of the Board the Secretary of State, in the light of the peculiar and important position of consumers in this matter, should also consult with the National Consumer Council. If he has eight members to appoint it may be that the Secretary of State will wish to consult with the National Consumer Council. It may be that he will feel there is a place available for someone to represent specifically the consumer interest on the Board. That is a matter to be left to the Secretary of State and is not determined by this Amendment.
I would only add that the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, drew attention to his Amendment No. 8 where he proposes to add at the end of this subsection the words:
and any other bodies appearing to him to have an interest in ports and cargo-handling".
May I suggest that there is nothing mutually exclusive between the two Amendments. His is dealing with quite a different interest from the consumer interest. In the light of the support that has been received from all parts of the House, I would suggest that there is a point to be achieved here by specifically referring to the consumer interest by way of this Amendment.
§ 4.59 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 6) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 120; Not-Contents, 63.1121
|Airedale, L.||Camoys, L.||Ebbisham, L.|
|Aldenham, L.||Carr of Hadley, L.||Elliot of Harwood, B.|
|Allerton, L.||Carrington, L.||Emmet of Amberley, B.|
|Amory, V.||Cawley, L.||Exeter, M.|
|Ampthill, L.||Chelwood, L.||Faithfull, B.|
|Amulree, L.||Clancarty, E.||Ferrers, E.|
|Atholl, D.||Clifford of Chudleigh, L.||Ferrier, L.|
|Auckland, L.||Cobham, V.||Fraser of Kilmorack, L.|
|Balerno, L.||Coleraine, L.||Gage, V.|
|Banks, L. [Teller]||Cork and Orrery, E.||Gainford, L.|
|Barrington, V.||Cornwallis, L.||Gray, L.|
|Belhaven and Stenton, L.||Craigton, L.||Gridley, L.|
|Belstead, L.||Cross, V.||Grimston of Westbury, L.|
|Berkeley, B.||Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Hampton, L. [Teller]|
|Bessborough, E.||Daventry, V.||Hankey, L.|
|Birmingham, Bp.||De Freyne, L.||Harmar-Nicholls, L.|
|Boothby, L.||Denham, L.||Hawke, L.|
|Bourne, L.||Derwent, L.||Hornsby-Smith, B.|
|Brentford, V.||Drumalbyn, L.||Hunt, L.|
|Byers, L.||Dundee, E.||Hylton-Foster, B.|
|Ilchester, E.||Munster, E.||Sharples, B.|
|Inchyra, L.||Norfolk, D.||Shinwell, L.|
|Killearn, L.||Northchurch, B.||Simon, V.|
|Kimberley, E.||O'Neill of the Maine, L.||Southwell, Bp.|
|Lauderdale, E.||Onslow, E.||Stamp, L.|
|Lloyd, L.||Orr-Ewing, L.||Strathcarron, L.|
|Lloyd of Kilgerran, L.||Phillips, B.||Strathclyde, L.|
|Long, V.||Platt, L.||Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.|
|Lothian, M.||Rankeillour, L.||Strathspey, L.|
|Lucas of Chilworth, L.||Rathcreedan, L.||Sudeley, L.|
|McNair, L.||Redesdale, L.||Tenby, V.|
|Mancroft, L.||Reigate, L.||Teviot, L.|
|Margadale, L.||Sackville, L.||Trefgarne, L.|
|Marley, L.||St. Davids, V.||Trevelyan, L.|
|Massereene and Ferrard, V.||St. Just, L.||Tweedsmuir, L.|
|Mersey, V.||Saint Oswald, L.||Vivian, L.|
|Meston, L.||Sandys, L.||Wade, L.|
|Morris, L.||Seear, B.||Wigoder, L.|
|Mottistone, L.||Selkirk, E.||Wolverton, L.|
|Mowbray and Stourton, L.||Sempill, Ly.||Young, B.|
|Annan, L.||Harris of Greenwich, L.||Pannell, L.|
|Birk, B.||Henderson, L.||Pargiter, L.|
|Blyton, L.||Houghton of Sowerby, L.||Peart, L. (L. Privy Seal)|
|Brimelow, L.||Jacobson, L.||Popplewell, L.|
|Brockway, L.||Jacques, L.||Raglan, L.|
|Bruce of Donington, L.||Janner, L.||Ritchie-Calder, L.|
|Caradon, L.||Kirkhill, L.||Rusholme, L.|
|Castle, L.||Leatherland, L.||Sainsbury, L.|
|Champion, L.||Lee of Asheridge, B.||Slater, L.|
|Chorley, L.||Lee of Newton, L.||Snow, L.|
|Collison, L.||Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.||Stedman, B. [Teller]|
|Cooper of Stockton Heath, L.||McCluskey, L.||Steward of Alvechurch, B.|
|Darling of Hillsborough, L.||MacLeod of Fuinary, L.||Stone, L.|
|Davies of Leek, L.||Maelor, L.||Stow Hill, L.|
|Davies of Penrhys, L.||Mais, L.||Strabolgi, L. [Teller]|
|Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L.||Melchett, L.||Taylor of Mansfield, L.|
|Douglas of Barloch, L.||Morris of Grasmere, L.||Vaizey, L.|
|Douglass of Cleveland, L.||Noel-Buxton, L.||Wallace of Coslany, L.|
|Elwyn-Jones, L. (L. Chancellor)||Northfleld, L.||Walston, L.|
|Gordon-Walker, L.||Oram, L.||Wells-Pestell, L.|
|Hale, L.||Paget of Northampton, L.||Wynne-Jones, L.|
§ Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.
§ 5.8 p.m.
Lord DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 7:
Page 1 line 22, at end insert ("to represent consumers, port users and their employees and others not represented on the National Joint Council but with an interest in the efficient working of the ports.").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is an Amendment about whom the eight members of the Council, referred to in subsection (4), are to represent. The outline of it is that the remaining eight members of the Board, and the chairman and vice-chairman, shall be appointed by the Secretary of State after consultation to represent consumers, port users and their employees and others not represented on the National Joint Council but with an interest in the efficient working of the ports. It is not intended to represent 1122 anything like confrontation between the two "eights"—to bring in rowing language here. It is intended to make clear that the interests of the dock workers and employers are not necessarily the same as the interests of those whom they serve.
§ In particular, there are mentioned the consumers, port users and their employees and others not represented on the National Joint Council. In a way this Amendment anticipated the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, on an earlier Amendment when he was talking about the enormous pressure that will be exercised by the two sides of the National Joint Council in order to get more members of the port employers and employees appointed among the additional eight. That was not the intention. It was suggested that the four should be increased to eight, so far as the members of the Board were concerned.
§ This is a totally logical approach. I do not agree with the noble Lord in thinking 1123 that necessarily employers and employees should be balanced in the eight. The interests should go very much wider than that. I believe that once you have a Council constituted in this way they will be much more likely to tend to lose their original identity in the general discussions. The danger is that if it is overloaded by one interest—that is, the interest of the dock workers and employers—you would get a kind of confrontation; whereas, if you have it clearly stated that the other eight members will represent, as I described it before, the wider interests, you will not get that kind of confrontation. You will have a much more rational discussion and approach within the Board.
§ If this Amendment is accepted, there will be no point in discussing who consulted with the National Joint Council as to whom should be appointed to fill these eight vacancies on the Board. They would have their eight and it is not sensible to run this as a kind of club to which other members will be admitted only after consultation with the National Joint Council. This would be quite wrong: it would be a mistaken way of reconstituting the Board. The purpose of reconstitution should surely be, as the next but one Amendment of mine shows, to make certain that there is due regard to the public interest. It is for that purpose that this Amendment was put down: to see that the public interest in the wider sense and in the interests of other port users and people connected with the ports should be properly represented on the Board. I beg to move.
§ Lord LUCAS of CHILWORTH
My Lords, I support my noble friend and agree with what he has said. One point has so far been left out of account as regards the constitution of the Board. Through the many hours of discussion, we seem to have moved dock work and port work into a very special position. My noble friend Lord Sandford referred to the ports as being the channel through which our lifeblood flows. If we accept that, and if we accept the main principles behind the Bill—preserving a certain amount of dock work, making things better and establishing who does this and who does that—it is even more vital that all those people who have any kind of interest concerned with that area of work 1124 should become involved. The only way that that can be done is to ensure that the parent body, the National Board, is fully representative of their interests. As we have agreed, it is the National Board who will administer, decide the policy and supervise, as distinct from the actual doing. It will be from that body that will flow the instruction, the authorisation, and so on, to the local boards. Therefore, provided that we get the constitution of the National Board right, there should be a smoother flow right down to the actual people who will do the work.
I feel that the Amendment moved by my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn would in some measure help to achieve this. A number of arguments might be made as to why the Amendment may possibly confuse certain things but, on the other hand, there is much to be said for having a situation in which people believe that their aims and objects can best be achieved in a certain way. Whether or not the Dock Board can do that remains to be seen, but certainly a great number of bodies believe that the Board will not be seen to be able to do the job unless they have these wider interests represented among its members, as suggested. It is for that reason that I support my noble friend.
§ Lord MOTTISTONE
My Lords, I, too, should like to support briefly the Amendment of my noble friend, because I think that his arguments and also those of my noble friend Lord Lucas are unanswerable. As I see it, what we are talking about are bodies which have to be consulted before the membership of the Board is established. We are not talking about representatives as such. It would seem to me that the more emphasis given to the Government's being seen to consult, the better. That would allay the fears which have been referred to many times in discussion in this debate—and I will not labour the point now—that is, that the interested parties feel that somehow the docks, on which our lifeblood depends, are not going to be run by a small, tightly-knit group of people who will have only their own interests at heart. I think it is terribly important that the Government should be seen—and I hope the Government like the thought of being seen, to be appreciated by the country, 1125 because they do not have many opportunities for that these days—to be agreeing to a suggestion which shows that they understand the problems and the concern of those who are affected in any way by the working of the country's docks.
§ Baroness HORNSBY-SMITH
My Lords, I should like to support the Amendment put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, because I feel that this Bill has been brought forward on advice from people who are used to the working of the large commercial ports where the Docks Labour Scheme operates. They have an obvious desire to extend it. One must not forget the very real fears of those people in areas which are likely to be taken over and put under this Scheme. They are afraid that their views and interests, their local experience and some of their local diversities will be ignored by a central juggernaut which is able to say: "What is good enough for London, Cardiff, or Southampton is good enough for the West Country and the more northerly parts of Scotland."
One has to appreciate that in many of these areas there is a tripartite interest in the docks. Some of the smaller ports have become viable because they have an area which is commercial and could perhaps be described as a commercial dock. They may have another and entirely separate area which is exclusively concerned with trawler fishing. They might also have a third, which is a marina. At the moment, they are locally run. People who know the area and know the demands get together and sort things out when occasionally there are rival claims by the different interests for land, space, harbourage or whatever it may be. But they very sincerely fear that when this great national Board comes in, the registered dock workers—perhaps in only one half of their small port—will be able to say, "Ah, but we have got all the might and muscle of this Bill and this national Board behind us." Those who serve other interests equally well, very much to the advantage of the community, feel that they will lose out every time if they want to challenge the facilities, space or whatever it may be.
Therefore it is essential, when there is in these ports this enormous co-operation between friendly rival interests which are doing different jobs that are wanted by 1126 the community, to allay the fears that there will be this "Big Brother" coming from London to a local port, through which most of the people will be appointed, because it will be said that they have experience of the registration scheme as well as experience of the big commercial docks. There are many homely little ports which do a wonderful job, which are viable and which work out locally what is required, and I believe that those interests, some of them exclusive to one area, should be taken into consideration by the consultation which my noble friend suggests in his Amendment.
§ Lord PARGITER
My Lords, before the noble Lord replies, I should like a little clarification of what is meant by the Amendment. It circumscribes the Secretary of State and it will no longer be simply a matter of consulting somebody and then making appointments. These are people who must be appointed to represent certain interests. I ask your Lordships to see how wide the Amendment casts. For example, should we have people who manufacture port equipment and machinery, which adds to the efficiency of the port or the workers in those industries? Just think, my Lords, how many different types you can collect before you get down to what this Amendment means, if everybody wants to push it to the logical conclusion. The Secretary of State could not possibly operate this provision and satisfy all those interests, and it would put him in an impossible position. I suggest adding the words, "Uncle Tom Cobbleigh and all", because that is practically what it would amount to.
§ Lord DRUMALBYN
My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Lord is under some misapprehension. We are dealing with Amendment No. 7, not No. 8.
§ Lord SANDFORD
My Lords, before the noble Lord replies, I wonder whether I may make one further point. I am looking forward very much to Amendment No. 9, because I think I detected a hint from the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, that he might be able to accept it—I hope so. If he does, then the Board will have a specific duty spelled out in the Bill to 1127 have regard to the public interest, and in those circumstances it is very desirable that it is made clear to these additional members, when they are appointed to the Board, that that is their purpose in being there.
§ 5.24 p.m.
§ Lord JACQUES
My Lords, whether or not we accept Amendment No. 9, I do not think that that should be only their purpose on the Board; it should be the purpose of the whole Board, if it is laid down in the Statute, and not the purpose of certain members who have been appointed. If the Statute says that the Board shall have regard to the public interest, then the whole Board will have regard to it; not a few additional members.
Amendment No. 7 does two things. We are concerned with the appointment of what I would call the additional members—four according to the original Bill, and eight according to the Amendment on which we divided earlier. The first thing which the Amendment does is to take away the right of the National Joint Council to consultation. In the Bill as it stands, in appointing these additional members the Secretary of State will consult with the TUC, the CBI and the National Joint Council. This Amendment takes away from the National Joint Council the privilege of being consulted. The Government consider that the National Joint Council ought to be consulted about all appointments to the Board, even where they are to represent non-NJC interests. The major task of the new Board will still be to administer the Scheme. All its functions are concerned with manpower in the port transport industry. We therefore think that if the Board is to work harmoniously the two sides of the industry ought to be able to express a formal view on appointments from outside the industry.
Secondly, the Amendment lays down the interests which shall be represented,… consumers, port users and their employees and others not represented on the National Joint Council but with an interest in the efficient working of the ports.We cannot understand why the TUC and the CBI, or even the NJC, should be consulted in regard to the consumer interest. I should not have thought that 1128 either the CBI or the TUC was an appropriate body to consult in regard to the consumer interest. I agree with what was said earlier, and if we are to have consultation on the consumer interest it should be with the Consumer Council.
There is one group of people, above all, who are interested; that is, the employers and employees who are doing work such as cargo-handling at non-Scheme ports which may be considered for classification, and these are not at all mentioned. So the group with the greatest interest has been ignored. According to the Bill, that group would be represented, because the CBI and the TUC would be consulted and would be able to choose the proper people to represent both their interests and other interests which are relevant. The Bill intentionally does not specify particular interests which the four other members should represent. It will be up to the TUC and the CBI to indicate which interests, in their view, most justify representation.
We believe that they are in such a position, with their first-hand knowledge, that they will not make the mistake which has been made in this Amendment. Their first thought will be that the people whose work is likely to be classified should be represented on this Board, whether they be employers in the case of the CBI, or employees in the case of the TUC. We have confidence in the process of consultation with the TUC and the CBI, and we are also confident that with the provision in the Bill the appointments are likely to be satisfactory to all concerned.
§ Lord DRUMALBYN
My Lords, if I understand correctly what the noble Lord has been saying, he expected that I would take Amendment No. 5 and this Amendment together. This Amendment, as it stands by itself, does not exclude consultation with the National Joint Council.
§ Lord DRUMALBYN
I thought I ought to make that point clear. I quite understand how this happened. The noble Lord has attacked the Amendment mainly on two grounds. The first ground was that it specifies two sets of people—or possibly three, because port users and 1129 their employees could be regarded as separate—and not others. In particular, the noble Lord said that those people whose work is likely to be classified should have been mentioned. It is not very easy to find a formula to do so. Had I found a formula to do so I should have used it. After using it the other way round to me before, the noble Lord is not able to put the argument to me that the Secretary of State will take into account those whose interests are obviously in need of being taken into account. Therefore I do not believe that this is a very important argument. It is the principle of the Amendment that I commend to your Lordships.
Put very briefly, the principle is that inevitably we have two sides. The one side consists of those who have a direct interest as dock workers or dock employers, while the other side consists of the rest of the country which has an indirect interest. The noble Lord may be right in saying that there are some who have a direct interest because their work is not at present classified as dock work, and that they are in danger of being classified under the Bill. I should have thought that it was perfectly obvious that these interests would be taken into account by the Government, for the very good reason which the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, himself found necessary to mention. The port users are obviously the direct customers of the dock workers and dock employers. Therefore they should be mentioned. The indirect customers are all the people in this country whom the port users serve: the manufacturing interest dealing with raw
§ materials, the ultimate consumer interest and so forth.
§ The Amendment makes quite clear what is intended. The noble Lord said that it is difficult to classify a consumer and that there are many people—manufacturers and the like—who are also consumers. So there is no particular difficulty about that case. The Bill already states that the National Consumer Council will be consulted. No doubt the Council will have views regarding the kind of consumer they would like to represent them—as, indeed, the Confederation of British Industry and the Trades Union Congress will have views regarding the kind of consumers that should represent them.
§ The point is that there should clearly be somebody to represent the interests of the consumer on the Board. Equally there should clearly be somebody to represent the interests of the port users. That may take two out of the eight members, which leaves six to cover a fairly wide range whose interests could properly be thought to be represented on the Board. Therefore, I should not have thought that this Amendment was in any way vague. I believe that A meets the case as succinctly as it is possible, in the circumstances, to meet it and I hope that your Lordships will support me in this Amendment.
§ 5.34 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 7) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 108; Not-Contents, 69.1131
§ Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.
§ 5.42 p.m.
Lord SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 8:
Page 1, line 22, at end insert ("and any other bodies appearing to him to have an interest in ports and cargo-handling").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, this point has been referred to sufficiently in the course of the earlier discussion on this clause for me not to need to add very much more. Perhaps I should stress my main reason in putting down the Amendment is that it seems to me that in the Bill as drafted the Secretary of State does not have the authority to consult as widely as we are all now agreed he should consult. For that reason I think this Amendment is needed and I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, will agree. I beg to move.1132
§ Lord DRUMALBYN
My Lords, of course this Amendment would not be after the Amendment last inserted. It would be before it; otherwise it would not make sense.
§ Lord JACQUES
My Lords, this Amendment would require the Secretary of State to consult with an indefinite number of bodies having an interest in the ports and cargo handling. There are hundreds of bodies who might claim to have an interest. Over 700 bodies, including companies, trade associations, chambers of commerce—
§ Lord SANDFORD
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord because I think it will save time? The Amendment reads:… and any other bodies appearing to him…It is entirely at the discretion of the Secretary of State how many he consults. 1133 I agree that without those words it would produce just the situation which I think the noble Lord is about to adumbrate to us.
§ Lord JACQUES
My Lords, I still stick to what I said; you are inflicting upon the Secretary of State the duty of having to consult with everybody who might have an interest. He may receive inquiries from 700 bodies who show an interest; they have shown the interest by making the inquiry. In point of fact, of the 700 bodies who applied for the Consultative Document over 400 sent comments. If this Amendment were in the Bill, it would be reasonable to say that the Secretary of State noticed that they not only had the Consultative Document but they made comments on the Document and therefore showed some interest. No matter how many bodies he consulted there would be others who would claim that they had an equal or greater interest to those who had been consulted. Finally, if this Amendment were carried most of those who would be consulted would be members of the TUC or the CBI, and in our opinion it is consultation with those two bodies which is a practical proposition. May I, with all respect, point out that that was the attitude taken by a Conservative Government when they were in office.
§ Lord SANDFORD
My Lords, I despair of making any headway in our efforts to get the consultations we need for the composition of this Board in order that it should properly reflect the public interest. For the last three hours we have tried over and over again and I despair of going on any longer. I would have thought that the wording of the Amendment made it quite clear that the extent and degree of consultation would rest with the Secretary of State. He would not be under any obligation to consult more widely than he wanted to.
Before I ask the leave of the House to withdraw this Amendment, could I ask the noble Lord to do this. Despite the wording of Clause 1, and subsection (4) in particular, could he assure me that the Secretary of State will be free and will exercise his freedom to consult more widely than is specified. My main fear is that he would be constrained by the clause as at present drafted and not 1134 permitted or authorised to go beyond the bodies specified in the Bill. I think that really would be unfortunate.
§ Lord JACQUES
My Lords, unless it is forbidden by the Statute the Secretary of State is free to consult with anybody, but of course he must specifically consult all the people named in the Statute.
§ Lord SANDFORD
My Lords, that helps us quite considerably, and with the assurance that the Secretary of State is free to consult and will consult as freely as he wishes I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 2 [General duty of the Board]:
§ 5.48 p.m.
Lord LYELL moved Amendment No. 9:
Page 2, line 11, after ("Board") insert ("having regard to the public interest").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, in seeking to move this Amendment I think the House would not want me to repeat all the points and arguments which I made on virtually the same Amendment at the Committee stage. Noble Lords will have noted how the debate then ranged far and wide. Indeed the Amendment gained what we regard as much valued and welcome support. The noble Lord who spoke for the Government recognised that the issues which appear before the Secretary of State in respect of the scheme are important and not readily discernable. There is also the problem of flexibility and, we believe, of relevance because all that has been said on the earlier Amendments concerning the composition and the numbers of the board is very important. The pattern of trade, of cargo handling and differing skills required of employees will also affect the decision which is going to be made by the Secretary of State. The port users, industry, commerce, the consumer and the Government all have a stake in the port industry and the Secretary of State has to reconcile these different factors of our life. Much has been, and we believe will be, said concerning the food industry, but our ports are even more important when we consider our exports of machinery and other industrial equipment and how these leave our shores. 1135 Our customers, be they in Europe or over the oceans, do not require excuses nor comments that our ports structure is being modernised. These customers want our particular goods. The Secretary of State must consider their interests, and indeed our national interest, when he is drawing up plans to modernise the port and the cargo-handling industry. We believe that he will bear in mind these points at all times. Nevertheless, we believe that the Amendment as set out provides at least some kind of yardstick against which his actions can be judged, both in Parliament and in the country.
§ The employment of registered dock workers provides emotive descriptions when this Bill and other similar Bills are discussed, but we think it right to have this kind of yardstick in the Bill so that the Secretary of State can be seen to be absolutely impartial. At the Committee stage the noble Lord, Lord Gram, wondered how we could define the public interest when we were discussing this Amendment. I do not necessarily consider that the Amendment will restrict the Secretary of State at any point, but I hope and trust that it will provide him with just a reminder of the main priority when he comes to prepare the Scheme.
§ Indeed, the Government made very conciliatory noises at the Committee stage and earlier in my remarks I mentioned that support was forthcoming from all parts of the House. We look upon the Amendment as a most desirable addition to the Bill. In connection with that, I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, who unfortunately temporarily is not in his seat. He wrote a letter to the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, and was kind enough to send me a copy of it, and in that letter were a number of favourable comments. I beg to move.
§ Lord MOTTISTONE
Like my noble friend Lord Lyell, I do not wish to repeat what I said on this same Amendment at Committee stage, but I think perhaps it is in the public interest to remind the House that as my noble friend said it is of paramount importance that it should always be in the forefront of the thinking of both the Government and the Dock Labour Board that the country is dependent for its food on the docks. As I said during the Committee stage, on every day 1136 of every year half the country's food comes through the docks. This means that it is extremely important that those who administer the docks, like the Dock Labour Board, should have that kind of interest—which above everything is the public interest because we must all feed—in the forefront of their thinking whenever they are making decisions as to how the docks should be administered and all the other things that they will decide upon under this Bill. Therefore I should—and I got an indication from my noble friend Lord Sandford on an earlier Amendment that perhaps this might be the case—greatly appreciate the thought that the Government also have appreciated the great importance of the national interest in relation to the docks.
My Lords, we have been reminded that we had a long and indeed vigorous debate during the Committee stage on this point, and I agree with the two noble Lords who have spoken that little purpose would be served in repeating those arguments, particularly as I am in a position to confirm the rumour that seems to be going around that the Government are prepared to accept this Amendment. I think that is all I need to say; but perhaps I may be allowed to say two other sentences, because I want to repeat briefly the view of the Government that these words are not really necessary. As I said at Committee stage the Board will be a responsible body and there is no reason to suppose that it would put forward proposals that it considers to be contrary to the public interest. That was the case that I put forward at Committee stage. However, as I have indicated, the Government are prepared to agree to this Amendment if the House considers—as I think the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, said—that it is desirable to give the Board a reminder of the public interest. If the House considers that to be a useful thing, the Government will not resist this Amendment.
§ Lord LYELL
My Lords, I am absolutely delighted that the noble Lord has been able to confirm what he calls this "rumour". Once again I should like to express how grateful we were for the nice way in which the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, sent a letter to the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, and to myself. Indeed, 1137 we are grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Oram, for the way in which he has accepted this Amendment and, above all, for the stress that he has laid on the public interest. I just hope that this Amendment will be taken as a yardstick against which the Secretary of State can judge his actions, and indeed can be judged, when he is considering this Scheme. I think it would be churlish and ill-mannered of me to say anything further, apart from the fact that we are extremely grateful.
§ 5.58 p.m.
Lord SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 10:
Page 2, line 12, leave out ("affect") and insert ("improve").
The noble Lord said: My Lords, in this greatly improved climate I beg to move Amendment No. 10 which stands in the name of myself and my noble friends, and perhaps I may link with it Amendment No. 11. These two Amendments do not radically alter the Bill, but they alter the emphasis in a way that I think is important. At the moment, the wording in the Bill reflects the rather neutral, passive and detached attitude of the Board towards developments in the modernisation of the docks. I should like to see the words changed as indicated so that they read:
… appear to them to improve, or be likely to improve, the efficiency of work classified under this Act as dock work".
That is not to say that they are not to continue to have regard to everything which is likely to affect dock work, including those things which are likely to impair it, delay it or hinder it.
§ Lord SLATER
My Lords, in view of what the noble Lord has just said, that paradoxically these words do not alter the Bill in any way, do I take it that these Amendments effect no alteration at all?
§ Lord SANDFORD
My Lords, I do not think that is what I said. I said that this does not seek to effect any substantial or radical change. It is not a very fundamental matter, but it is a shift of emphasis. That is what I am seeking to do, because my reading of the state of the docks is that the National Dock Labour Board has adopted—as I think I said—a somewhat 1138 passive, neutral and detached attitude to the progress of the modernisation of the docks and various steps which might have increased their efficiency. I should like to stress this, but at the same time make clear that of course they must have regard to those factors in dockland which tend to hamper, hinder and impair the work of the ports. I want to stress no more than that. I would like to get the reaction of the noble Lord to that modest and mild suggestion. I beg to move.
My Lords, when I saw that these two Amendments had been tabled, I wondered whether they had been tabled under a misconception. Having listened to the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, I believe that may well be the case. The noble Lord said that the Amendments were intended as a modest improvement, and to change the emphasis, but it is my understanding that they would do considerably more than that. In fact, they would entirely change the nature of the duties of the Board in Clause 2, and would do so in a quite inappropriate way.
The concern of the Board is clearly with developments likely to affect the performance of work. These developments might be developments which, to use the words of the noble Lord, would improve efficiency, but equally the developments might seem, for one reason or another, likely to lead to a deterioration in efficiency. It is a major intention of the clause that the Board should be on the look-out for changes likely to lead to such a deterioration and that, having spotted them, they should initiate action designed to change it.
On the other hand, there might be some developments in the situation which would lead to an improvement in efficiency of work, but they may not significantly affect the performance of dock work at all; for instance, improved recording systems. So if I may say so, if the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, will ponder what I have said, he will see that the effect of his Amendment would not be as he intended, and would bring about a situation which he himself would not wish to bring about.
§ Lord SANDFORD
My Lords, I am happy to accept the invitation of the noble Lord, Lord Oram, to look at what he has 1139 said. It certainly was not my intention to have that effect. By these Amendments my intention was that the Board would be encouraged to shift the emphasis from being less of the detached observer to more of a positive influence in improving the efficiency of the docks. I will certainly withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 6.4 p.m.
Lord SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 12:
Page 2, line 25, leave out ("adequately") and insert ("efficiently").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 12 which is akin to but not identical with Amendments Nos.10 and 11. This Amendment questions the value of the significance of the words "adequately deployed". I should have thought that, however one looked at it, it should be the duty of the National Dock Labour Board, in the course of their review, to see that dock workers are efficiently employed in the kind of deployment described as "adequately", which is really almost meaningless, unless you go on to define what is meant by "adequately" in that context, whereas the word "efficiently" is clearly what is to be desired. It is something which can be measured in a number of ways. I beg to move.
My Lords, I would hope to persuade the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, in connection with the two previous Amendments that, although I fully accept that he has a constructive purpose in moving this Amendment, his purpose is not really to be served by this Amendment. This subsection is concerned with the use being made of the existing labour force. In part, this clearly implies that this use should be efficient. It could well be that the existing labour force is deployed as efficiently as possible on the work available, but we might have the situation where there are too many workers for them all to be usefully employed, either in general or at some particular places where they are at present. If the noble Lord will look at subsection (3)(b) he will see the connection. Subsection (3)(b) requires the powerto adjust the strength and disposition of the labour force".1140 If the noble Lord will look at subsections (3)(a) and (3)(b) together he will see that his Amendment would not help the Bill.
§ Lord SANDFORD
My Lords, I am not sure that I do see that. In what way would the strength and disposition of the labour force be adjusted if it were not in the direction of making that deployment and disposition more efficient? I am sure that is exactly what we all want.
§ Lord SLATER
My Lords, would the noble Lord not agree that we can play around with words? What does the word "adequately" really mean? It means good. Why cannot we say "properly served" instead of "adequately"? We can play around with words and get a different interpretation. I think the noble Lord is wanting to be helpful on this issue, and I can see what he is after. But I do not think it will make any difference whatever if we put in the word "adequately" against the words already in the Bill.
§ Lord SANDFORD
My Lords, may I ask whether the noble Lord, Lord Oram, is going to answer my second point?
My Lords, with the leave of the House, in response to the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, I can say, yes, under subsection (3)(b) one would expect that any adjustment would be in the interests of efficiency. I agree. But the Amendment of the noble Lord proposes to change the word "adequately" to the word "efficiently" in subsection (3)(a). As I explained in my opening statement, the Board should keep under review the extent to which dock workers are adequately deployed. They may be efficiently employed; but it may be necessary to make changes, to persuade people to move. It may be necessary to have a different kind of deployment if there is too much labour in one place when the matter is reviewed by the Board.
§ Lord COOPER of STOCKTON HEATH
My Lords, I think there is a misunderstanding here. This sentence deals with the availability of work. It says:… are adequately deployed, having regard to the amount of such work that is available".1141 This registered Scheme is mounted in order to preserve work and share it out, so that if we put in the word "efficiently" it is rather a contradiction. It may not be efficient according to some tests of efficiency but it can be adequate if you have a fair share of the work that is going on. I think that is the intention.
§ Lord SANDFORD
My Lords, with the leave of the House may I say that I am grateful for that point from Lord Cooper because I think it has cleared my mind quite a bit. But I still think that the concept of greater efficiency needs to be imported somewhere here, and after listening to the noble Lord, Lord Cooper, and the noble Lord, Lord Oram, I think it is perhaps in paragraph (3)(b). At any rate, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment for the time being.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 6.11 p.m.
Lord SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 13:
Page 2, line 40, after ("employers") insert ("consumers and public funds").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 13 which is on quite a different point and it is in paragraph (4)(c). I want to move this because I do not think the paragraph as drafted is wide enough or precise enough. I do not think it will really do for the Board in formulating its proposals just to consider the probable cost of what they are going to do to employers. They obviously must consider that; but they could make proposals which were successful in avoiding any additional cost to the employers but would have the effect of passing the cost on to the consumers or to public funds. They ought not to be free to do that without having any regard to the effects on public funds and on the consumers. The clause as drafted would not require them to have any regard to the probable cost to consumers or to public funds, unless we put the Amendment in.
§ Lord MOTTISTONE
My Lords, I should like to support my noble friend's Amendment. It seems to me very important that the public fund's interest should be put into this paragraph in an appropriate place. It is very much a factor in these present days and one that really should not be overlooked at any 1142 time. As to the consumers, of course, their interests must be safeguarded, but I will not labour that point, because it was well argued on earlier Amendments. In the end the consumers are going to be involved, because ultimately extra costs fall on either the consumers or public funds; and even if they fall on public funds they fall on the consumers in another way. I suggest to the Government, therefore, that this is an Amendment that is well worth taking and it is possibly in accordance with their general thinking in having this clause in the Bill when it came to this House.
§ Baroness HORNSBY-SMITH
My Lords, I should like to support the Amendment. So often in discussions about increased wage costs, handling costs, freight costs or anything else, the employer is told, "Well, you can pass it on to the consumer". It is the consumer in the ultimate who will pay the additional costs that may result from such a scheme, particularly in the smaller ports. It is very essential indeed that we should have a realisation that at the end of the line it is the consumer who pays.
§ 6.15 p.m.
My Lords, I am not sure whether noble Lords opposite appreciated, in moving this Amendment, that in doing so they were criticising the actions of their colleagues in another place, because Clause 2(4)(c) was in fact inserted in the Bill in response to difficulties expressed by their colleagues there. I make no complaint that they should look carefully at what their colleagues have done, and if they find things are wrong there, as I believe they often are, they should try to correct them in this House. But I think they will find that this Amendment does not really stand up to examination. If the Amendment had simply made Clause 2(4)(c) read something like this, "the probable cost of implementing the proposal', a more general phrase, we should have been far more sympathetic, although it would not have taken account of the more particular concern expressed in another place about the cost to employers. But it is impossible for the Board to know the actual cost to consumers of any particular proposal. Port charges as a whole are only one very small element in the total cost of a particular product 1143 to the consumer, and therefore the Board could not make a meaningful estimate.
So far as public funds are concerned, your Lordships may be assured that both the Department of Employment and the Treasury would want to make their own estimate of any cost and examine such questions very thoroughly indeed. There seems no need to require the Board to duplicate the work that would be done in any case by other bodies. Moreover, if the Secretary of State needed a particular appraisal and it was not provided, he has always the powers under Clause 2(6); he could ask for such an appraisal to be made. With those points, I would ask noble Lords to reconsider their wisdom in putting this Amendment forward.
§ Lord MOTTISTONE
My Lords, the noble Lord said that it would be too difficult to work out the cost to the consumer. Perhaps I am getting the wrong point, but did not the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, in answer to an earlier Amendment, say that increased costs could be calculated as one hundredth part of 1 per cent. of gross domestic product? Therefore a calculation has been done which has a bearing on the sort of calculation that might have to be done under my noble friend's Amendment.
My Lords, I think my noble friend was referring to an overall costing based upon an assumption, I think it was from the Ports Council, which my noble friend did not necessarily accept; but given that basis, then some kind of calculation would be possible. The difficulty to which I was pointing here was the impossibility of calculating the effect on the consumer of any particular proposal which might be brought forward.
§ Lord JACQUES
My Lords, may I point out that I was dealing with a firm proposal. The question was what was the cost of loading and unloading at the non-Scheme ports. That was a known calculation.
§ Lord SANDFORD
My Lords, in the hustle that is being urged on us it is not always possible to remember exactly all the considerations that have to be borne in mind, and one of them is what one's colleagues in another place have been doing. 1144 All we are doing here is to add a refinement to what they have already done, not to contradict it; but even if we were doing the latter I should not be all that abashed. At the end of the day we have to do what we think is right. I am not too satisfied with what the noble Lord, Lord Oram, has been saying. I do not think the importing of the words of this Amendment into the Bill would require the Board to be able to make precise calculations about the cost to the consumers and the cost to public funds of what was going on. Obviously they will be able to examine the probable cost to the employers in the docks of implementing proposals with more precision than they will be able to apply to the other considerations, but they will be able to form some view of the probable cost to the consumer or public funds, and I should have thought that that is what they should be required to do.
However, what I should like to ask the noble Lord to do—and on Clause 2 we have got on very well and got through it in half-an-hour; he has accepted one of our Amendments, and I have withdrawn three of mine and agreed to consider them—if he would be prepared to speak once more, with the leave of the House, is to say that he, for his part, would be prepared to consider this particular proposition. It may be that my point could be met not by inserting those words exactly in paragraph (c) but by making an Amendment—and I think that he and his Department could devise it better than I could—to ensure that the broad costs to consumers and public funds were borne in mind in the course of formulating proposals under this clause. Would the noble Lord be good enough to say that he would look at it in that spirit and in that light, because if he would I should at this moment very happily withdraw it.
My Lords, on the point about public funds, I did not say that it was impossible for the Board to make a calculation in regard to a particular proposal. What I was saying was that it was not necessary for the Board to do it because both the Department of Employment and the Treasury would be doing this work, and we wanted to avoid a duplication of work of this kind. Therefore, I should not like to hold out any hope if I agree to what the noble Lord has said—and I, in general terms, 1145 would wish to. I would not, nevertheless, wish that to imply that I am likely to come back at Third Reading with an Amendment to this effect. I shall certainly be prepared to look at the position again.
§ Lord SANDFORD
My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 4 [Secretary of State to prepare new Scheme]:
§ 6.23 p.m.
Lord SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 14:
Page 3, line 38, leave out ("in draft") and insert ("and publish in accordance with the provisions of Schedule 5 to this Act").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 14, and to couple with it Amendments Nos. 15, 16 and 17.
My Lords, would the noble Lord allow me to interrupt? I agree that it would be appropriate to couple those with Amendment No. 14, but would he not consider also that Amendments Nos.26, 27, 57 and 68 are similar Amendments and might be considered all together?
§ Lord SANDFORD
My Lords, I think that may well be so. I would prefer just to have these four in front of me, but I think I can give an assurance to the noble Lord that when we come to those others I shall be able to be very brief, but I would rather not be committed to regarding them as absolutely consequential at this stage. If I had longer to brood on this Report stage I believe I might be happy to agree with him. What we are concerned with here is the Amendments to do with applying the procedures of the new Schedule 5 to various parts of the Bill, and what we are doing here is to alter the way in which they are applied at this particular point, and the other Amendments to which the noble Lord referred do so in other different ways.
I think all that happens is that the reference to Schedule 5 is imported in subsection (1)(a), and there is enough in Schedule 5 for it to be unnecessary to spell things out as they are in paragraphs 1146 (b), (c) and (d). As we get on there will be other instances where we have been able to tidy the thing up, which I should like to be able to explain briefly. I hope that that is sufficient explanation for the way in which it is done here. I beg to move.
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, has used the phrase "tidy up" to characterise these Amendments. I accept what he says about the last four to which I drew attention, that he may wish to return to them briefly at a later stage. Yes, to tidy up is the purpose of these Amendments. I have in mind somewhat the picture of a butcher when serving some meat. He takes a good whack at the joint but does not hit it quite where he intended, and afterwards does a bit of slicing. I think on the Committee stage noble Lords opposite were butchers in regard to this Bill, not only in relation to the public inquiry but more particularly in relation to the five mile corridor. They did their rough, crude butcher's effort on that occasion and now they are finding that it was a very untidy thing and they have to do a bit of tidying up.
I think I need not emphasise that the Government remain utterly opposed to what they have done to the Bill in this particular instance in relation to setting up public inquiries. We made our position perfectly clear on Committee stage that we are totally opposed to the procedure, but nevertheless since that was done by your Lordships' House the Government do not wish to make any detailed comment about the more detailed tidying-up process, and will not seek to oppose these Amendments.
Lord SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 15:
Page 3, line 41, leave out paragraph (b).
Lord SANDFORD moved Amendments Nos. 16 and 17:
Page 4, line 4, leave out paragraph (c).
Page 4, line 10, leave out paragraph (d).
§ 6.30 p.m.
Lord MOTTISTONE moved Amendment No. 18:
Page 4, line 36, leave out ("1000") and insert ("1750").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, it was sad that the noble Lord, Lord Oram, ended on the note he did when he last spoke, because I felt that it was an opportunity for people to see that the Amendments which had been made were not butchering the Bill but were in fact giving it gentle treatment; that they were a genuine attempt to modify the Bill so that everybody, not just the dockers, might think it was reasonable for them, and that goes very much for people belonging to other unions. It will be a tragedy if the Government see this as butchering and will want to do some rebutchering of their own in another place. If only they could clear their mind and look at it basically! I appreciate that these remarks are out of order, in that they are not related to the Amendment, but I could not resist making them after what Lord Oram said.
§ Noble Lords will remember that in Committee I warned that I would re-introduce this Amendment, when I withdrew it at that stage in the hope that the Government would he able to look into the question of what the implications of this proposal would be and whether it would make any great difference moving from the figure of 1,000 tons as a limit which is in the Bill now. I must express my gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, for writing to me on the subject. I appreciate that he has been under even greater strain than we have, but sadly his letter did not reach me until I had tabled this Amendment. Nevertheless, I think that in the event it would not have affected the issue, but I thank him for his letter.
§ The noble Lord told me that the Government had been unable in the time available to them to carry out a survey of the sort for which I had asked. Of course, a survey means different things to different people and I should not have expected him to send a boat out with lead and line 1148 to find out what the situation was. I suggested to noble Lords opposite that perhaps they might have invoked the assistance of the Hydrographic Department of the Ministry of Defence, and I should be interested to know whether the Government did that, because, as I suggested earlier, they might have got a swift answer.
Lord Jacques went on to say that he had been advised that the depth of water required for a ship of 1,750 tons would be the same as for one of 1,000 tons. That is probably true. It would, therefore, seem to me that there is no difference in practical terms between having a figure of 1,000 tons or of 1,750 tons, and for that reason the Government may be prepared to accept the Amendment. Although the Government were unable to get the detailed information for which I asked, I was able to get some information myself from the British Ports Association, who said that an increase in the figure to 2,000 tons would bring within the definition ports such as Cowes, Ramsgate, Torbay and Whitby, and they went on:
You will appreciate that in some small Scottish ports, such as Stornoway and Lerwick, they have very deep water and so therefore the matter does not really arise".
They also said that they had checked with Poole and Weymouth, which are Scheme ports at the moment.
§ The noble Viscount, Lord Simon, expressed concern that it would make a nonsense if we introduced an Amendment which would exclude ports which were already Scheme ports. I agree, and I am assured that that would not be the case; those ports could handle ships of 1,750 tons now. It seems, therefore, that nothing would be lost against the framework of the Bill as we now have it to make this Amendment, which would serve as an added safeguard to those small ports where, for reasons which were advanced on Second Reading and in Committee, they have no wish to have a split labour force or to have a few jobs declared as dock jobs, possibly by misadventure. The Government may feel, as they have with recent Amendments, that here is one they can readily accept.
§ 6.36 p.m.
My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, said, he raised this matter in Committee and asked us to 1149 look in appropriate quarters for information that would support or otherwise his Amendment. It was thought that the best place to find the kind of information he was seeking was with the Shipping Department of the Department of Trade, and, as my noble friend Lord Jacques indicated in the letter to which Lord Mottistone referred, seeking the kind of information he required would he an expensive exercise. My noble friend wrote:In any case, I foresee considerable difficulties as I am advised that the depth of water required for a 1,750-ton boat could be the same as for a 1,000-ton boat".I assure Lord Mottistone that we looked seriously at the possibility of getting him the kind of information he wanted, but we must have certain standards of judgment as to how much expense can be involved. This is a standard of judgment which is used in relation to Parliamentary Questions. Governments of both persuasions have to insist on such a standard, and in this case it was considered that the expense involved would be far beyond that which is normally justified in seeking to satisfy noble Lords or Members of another place when they ask Parliamentary Questions. I hope therefore that Lord Mottistone will believe me when I say that we genuinely approached his suggestion but were not able to give him fuller satisfaction.
§ Lord SANDFORD
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Oram, did not answer my noble friend's question. Did he make enquiries of the Hydrographic Department of the Ministry of Defence or anywhere else in the Ministry of Defence? Because I cannot believe that an answer which would at any rate bear on the question would not readily have been available at very little cost.
I believe that that particular approach was not made, my Lords, but if it helps the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, I will see that an approach is made. I suspect, however, that the answer might well support the conclusions that have already been reached.
§ Lord MOTTISTONE
My Lord, I hesitate to correct the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, but it is not normally common to refer to such vessels as boats, except in the old days of the destroyer world, 1150 and we are not talking about destroyers. Ships of 1,750 tons will draw as much or the same amount as ships of 1,000 tons; therefore it seems to me that there is no reason why the Amendment should not be accepted, because it would not make any difference in the context of the Bill as drafted. Can the Minister clarify that point for me?
My Lords, if the noble Lord is saying that there is not much difference between the two, then we may as well leave it at 1,000 tons rather than raise it to 1,750 tons.
§ Lord MOTTISTONE
Not really, my Lords. The point is that one wants to exclude the small ports for the reasons that have been advanced in the past, and I will not labour the whole point again now. On the whole, the larger the ships which these ports will normally accept as being the exclusion point the better to protect the ports from being within the Scheme. But perhaps noble Lords opposite have a different viewpoint.
§ Viscount MASSEREENE and FERRARD
My Lords, I have some experience of this matter, having at one time been in shipping in a small way. Is the noble Lord, Lord Oram, aware that one can build a ship of 1,750 tons that draws less than a ship of 1,000 tons? An old ship of 1,000 tons might have a very deep draught, which shows that my noble friend Lord Mottistone has a point here.
I am conscious, my Lords, that we are on Report stage and constant conversation, so to speak, is not appropriate in these circumstances.
§ Lord MOTTISTONE
My Lords, I appreciate that. It was a question I had asked. In view of the uncertainty of this position and the fact that the noble Lord, Lord Oram, kindly undertook, in response to my noble friend Lord Sandford, to see whether or not the Hydrographic Department of the Ministry of Defence could assist him, not only much more cheaply but also more quickly than his other sources of information, I hope we might 1151 reconsider this matter at Third Reading and I beg leave to withdraw this Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 6.41 p.m.
Lord LYELL moved Amendment No. 19:
Page 4, line 38, leave out from ("basis") to end of line 41 and insert ("and where the terms and conditions of service are no less favourable than the national terms laid down for ports affiliated to the National Joint Council").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is in the manner of a drafting Amendment to the Amendment that I moved at Committee stage. Noble Lords will see from the Committee stage that the Amendment I moved then concerns the smaller ports which are dotted around our coastline. We moved an Amendment then which was accepted, but we believe that the original Amendment needed to be clarified and we hope that this Amendment will remove any doubts as to the meaning of Clause 4(6)(c). I beg to move.
My Lords, the Government take an attitude to this Amendment similar to that which I indicated in relation to the long list of tidying-up Amendments which the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, moved earlier. This is another tidying up. The Government remain resolutely opposed to the Amendments which remove the cargo-handling zone from the Bill which they regarded as totally wrecking. I concede that this Amendment is a drafting Amendment as the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, says and we would not wish to oppose it. But if I can momentarily become a butcher's assistant, there is one further piece of tidying up which I suggest is needed even in this tidying-up Amendment because ports are not "affiliated" to the National Joint Council. That body is comprised of employers and unions. I do not wish to make much of it but it is a fact I thought worth pointing out.
My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord the Minister one question? In the Amendment there is a reference to the "National Joint Council", but in the clause which is being amended the reference seems to be to the "National Ports Council". I wonder which is the correct one?
§ Lord JACQUES
My Lords, the National Joint Council is a joint council of port employers and employees. The National Ports Council is a completely independent statutory body concerned with entirely different things.
So, my Lords, with the leave of the House, that means that the clause as it now stands is incorrect because it refers to the National Ports Council?
I think not, my Lords. I believe that subsection (5) is the one to which the noble Lord is referring and that would stand as an appropriate body with which the Board should maintain regular consultation. I do not think there is any need to remove or to alter that.
§ Lord LYELL
My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Oram, for his comments on this Amendment. I had hoped that we had got it right, but I take his kindly correction—if that is the proper word to use—and also take his comments that he, might I say, "affiliated" to the earlier Amendments moved by my noble friend Lord Sandford. We felt that this was a reasonable Amendment and put it forward at the Committee stage. We shall have to see what will be the effect of this Amendment when the whole Bill is discussed in another place. I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Oram, for his correction and also for accepting the Amendment at this stage.
§ Lord SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 20:
Page 4, line 43, at end insert—
("(7) The Secretary of State may by order amend (or having made one or more previous orders under this subsection, further amend), by substituting some other number, the number of hours laid down in subsection (6)(a) or the number of tons laid down in subsection (6)(b) above.
(8) An order shall not be made under subsection (7) above unless a draft of it has been laid before Parliament and approved by a resolution of each House.")
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, this continues what I prefer to call a delicate work of surgery on a Bill which badly needs it and which because of time and pressure we are not able to approach with the delicacy which we should like. 1153 But once again, this imports not a change but a refinement to the new parts of the Bill incorporated at the Committee stage. It is not an Amendment to something which was done last time but it is done in order to introduce some measure of flexibility for which the debate on Amendment No. 18 illustrated the need.
§ The reference in what is now Clause 4(6) to "subsection (5) above" embraces three separate criteria for judging what is meant by a small harbour. Two of them are by reference to numerical factors—the hours worked at (a) and the tonnage of the vessel at (b). The discussion we have had about whether that should be 1,000 or 1,750 illustrates that there is room for debate as to what figure is appropriate. I have to admit that any figure in there is bound to be in some sense arbitrary and may not prove to be the very best in the light of experience.
§ Of course, those of us who regard this clause as being one in which we need to build in protection for small harbours for whom the operation of this Bill will be what will be a baleful and baneful business so far as we can see it, will think twice about giving the Secretary of State power to modify that protection or remove it by altering these criteria in what we would regard as the wrong direction. On the other hand, there may be occasions when we want to see the thing moved in the other way and therefore on balance I am in favour of giving the Secretary of State—whatever his complexion might be—the discretion to modify either of these in the light of experience. In any case, we should like very much to hear what the Government have to say about what we regard as a piece of very refined surgery. I beg to move.
My Lords, the Government, through me, do not wish to say very much because this, again, is a case of noble Lords seeking to improve upon the work—if that is the right word—that they did at an earlier stage. All I wish to say is that the Government are still totally opposed to Clause 4(6) and we would not therefore wish to divide the House on any Amendment which noble Lords opposite now see as consequential to provisions, which, in the view of the Government, wreck the purpose of the Bill. I think we would simply be 1154 taking unnecessary time if we entered into a debate on this kind of issue.
§ Lord SANDFORD
My Lords, I think probably the best thing, then, is to move this into the Bill. I do not feel strongly enough about it to want to divide the House, but I understand from what the noble Lord, Lord Oram, has said that he would not resist it. I think it introduces a flexibility into the consideration of what is a small harbour which would be welcome; and, therefore, on the whole and on balance, I think I should like to move the Amendment into the Bill without further ado.
§ Lord SANDFORD
My Lords, if it would be to the convenience of the House, as we were due to break at seven o'clock I would be very reluctant to embark now on introducing the new clause set out as Amendment 21, which will take us, I would judge, quite a considerable time. On the other hand, I am in the hands of your Lordships. I see that the two Front Bench spokesmen for the next business are now here, but if it was the wish of the House for me to make my opening remarks on the next Amendment for seven minutes I would of course be glad to do so. My original message was that we should try to keep the business going until not later than five minutes to seven. I am sorry that we have not been able to achieve that, but I can easily make a start if that is what is wished. On the other hand, I would not think that it would be a very convenient way to handle our business. I shall be happy to hear what the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, has to say.
§ Lord STRABOLGI
My Lords, I really did not want the noble Lord to make heavy weather of this. We always try to meet the Opposition and all your Lord-ships. If it is a question of only a few minutes, I absolutely agree with the noble Lord; and, in view of what he has said, if it is agreeable to your Lordships I think this might be a good moment to halt the Report stage until 7.45 in order to take other business. I therefore beg to move that further consideration on Report be now adjourned.
§ 6.53 p.m.