HL Deb 02 November 1976 vol 376 cc1175-248

7.55 p.m.

Report stage resumed.


My Lords, before speaking to Amendment No. 21, I suggest that we deal with manuscript Amendment No. 21B. It is to Amendment No. 21, as amended by No. 21B, to which I should like to address my remarks. I therefore move manuscript Amendment No. 21B: Line 5, leave out from ("employed") to end of line 7 and insert ("for a minimum of two years in work which becomes classified as dock work;"). My Lords, I am afraid that this is one of the instances to which I referred in my opening remarks in today's proceedings where, owing to the great speed and pace which is being urged upon us, this Amendment was not drafted in quite the form that had been originally intended. I do not want to say anything more to Amendment No. 21B itself, if the House will allow me to move it.

Lord SANDFORD then moved Amendment No. 21 as amended by Amendment No. 21B: After Clause 4, insert the following new clause:

Transfer from Extension to Main Register

.—(1) Subject to final determination by the local dock labour boards, transfer of men from the extension register to the main register shall be restricted to those—

  1. (a) who have been employed for a minimum of two years in work which becomes classified as dock work;
  2. (b) who have satisfied the Medical Officer of the National Dock Labour Board that they are fit to perform the work concerned;
  3. (c) who have attained the necessary levels of skill to perform the work in question; and
  4. (d) who have not, while previously employed in the port transport industry, accepted severance pay under any redundancy scheme.

(2) Where a person is employed on premises classified under the Act and is unable to meet the requirements of subsection (1) above, that person shall be allowed to continue in that employment on the extension register.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 21 as amended by Amendment No. 21B. We come now to a matter of some substance. We discussed it at some length, but I do not think as comprehensively as it might have been, at column 430 of the Official Report of 13th October. My noble friend Lord Gowrie said that his original version of this Amendment, together with two subsequent Amendments, was a probing Amendment seeking information from the Government about the number of jobs that would be created about recruitment, about transfer from extension to main register and about severance payments. He suggested that no new jobs would be created by the Bill and that its effect would be that the number of men on the main register unable to find work and consequently the demand for severance payments would be increased. To that the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, in brief replied that a minimum period of two years on the extension register would not always be required, for example, in the case of men working at a previously non-Scheme port that became classified and it would not be necessary for all registered men to have a high level of physical fitness or to have all the skills necessary to do any work that might be required of a dock worker. If there was to be any expansion of classified work such jobs would be given to men on the extension register thus reducing the need for severance payments.

All that we have weighed and considered. No mention was made by the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, of the case of men who had already received severance payments and whose jobs which they were now doing then became classified. I hope that he or the noble Lord, Lord Oram, will be able to deal with that point which was not covered adequately at that time. I want to stress that this Amendment (No. 21) has been tabled mainly to protect those men who are already on the main register and that it is an attempt to restrict entry on to the main register to those who properly qualify for transfer and who have not already received severance pay.

We have tried hard to give full weight to all the points that were made to us at the earlier stage, as follows. The current Amendment differs from the previous Amendment in a number of ways. The title has been altered to show that it deals particularly with the transfer of men from the extension to the main register rather than, as perhaps was not made clear last time, the initial recruitment to the extension register. In paragraph (a)—and this is the one which I have amended to make it even clearer—the Amendment seeks to comply with the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, that in some areas it might be necessary to place dock workers immediately on to the main register in cases where a non-Scheme port is brought within the Scheme.

In an attempt to control the size of the main register, however, we suggest that a period of two years should elapse between the time when a dock worker starts work and the date when he is placed on the main register, whether this time is spent on an extension register or not. In other words, if an employee has already been working for a minimum of two years at a port which is currently a non-Scheme port but which under the terms of the Bill becomes a Scheme port, that employee can be placed on the main register immediately, if and when the work that he has been doing is classified as dock work. I hope noble Lords opposite will realise that we have moved quite a long way in consideration of the points that they made to us about that.

Paragraph (b) we have also modified. This is the one that seeks to ensure that men are not transferred to the main register if they are not physically fit to undertake the job which they do. Noble Lords will recognise that as another modification. Though it is an obvious point, we should consider that in the light of past and present experience something of this sort should become part of the Bill, and the current experience is to take figures that applied in London this summer. We had on the London register 399 men in category B medically unfit for the full range of dock work and 1,000 in category A, fit for light duties only, amounting altogether to 15 per cent. of the registered work force. That is not a situation which we want to perpetuate and that is the reason for subsection (1)(b).

Paragraph (c) qualifies the original Amendment because the original version might have been understood to imply that registered dock workers should have the necessary levels of skill to undertake classified dock work. This was an objection which noble Lords put to us and we have tried to reflect that in the wording we have now used. If this new version were accepted it should ensure that men who transferred from the extension register to the main register have the necessary skill to maintain their present standards in the work which they are doing. Paragraph (d) remains as in our original Amendment mainly because we did not get the response we wanted from the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, to what we had said about severance payment. I will just make the case again because we think it is important, especially in view of the current economic situation generally and in the ports in particular.

We consider that men who have already received severance payments should be specifically excluded from transfer to the main register, otherwise, as my noble friend Lord Gowrie said, we shall pile severance payment upon severance payment, and we do not think that the general conclusions contained in Clause 10(3) will quite do. A specific exclusion for such men would reassure members of the work force who see potential job opportunities reduced by the possibility of such men being able to return to the main register, and it would also ensure that public money has not been wastefully expended.

All I have sought to do in introducing this Amendment is to explain what it is we are trying to do and the extent to which we have modified our position in the light of what noble Lords said to us at Committee stage. In the light of what they say now I may want to go back over the ground and say something further about the main reasons behind the need to have this clause in the Bill at all. But I hope we shall not have to revert to that and that we have satisfied noble Lords that the Amendment, modified in the light of what they said, is now acceptable to them. I beg to move Amendment No. 21, as amended by Amendment No. 21B.

8.12 p.m.


My Lords, the Amendment to the Amendment is a substantial improvement on the Amendment.


Oh, good!


It takes away half of my case; but the other half is so substantial that I am still confident. As I understand it, what the Opposition are saying is that before being transferred from the extension register to the main register the worker concerned must have satisfied four conditions: he must have been in the industry for two years; he must pass a medical examination; he must show that he has the skill to perform the task in question and he must not have accepted severance pay.

In view of the Amendment to the Amendment I shall make no comment on paragraph (a), but so far as paragraphs (b) and (c) are concerned the fact that a worker is employed in a particular job is prima facie evidence that he is fit and has the skill to perform it. There would be serious difficulties in imposing special tests of fitness and skill as the new clause provides. To give some examples, as I said at Committee stage, the Liverpool tally clerks, whose work is closely associated with that of registered dockers, are anxious that their work should be registered. Their employers likewise have been willing and eager that the Liverpool tally clerks' work should be registered, and they have been insisting upon registration for some time. That is the kind of work that would be registered under this Bill. I submit that it is quite unreasonable to expect the Liverpool tally clerks, who in some cases have been doing this work for the greater part of their lives, to now undergo a medical examination and a test of skill. I believe that is putting an unreasonable impediment in the way.

The same applies to the fish bobbers at Hull. I explained at Committee stage that all the fish bobbers in the North-East Coast ports are registered with the exception of those at Hull, and the dockers at Hull have been saying, "We have been left out of registration by way of an accident of history and we feel that, like the fish bobbers at other North-East ports, our work should be registered". There again, there may be men who have been doing the job for years. We think it is unreasonable that they should be expected to have medical tests and tests of skill before being transferred from the extension register to the main register.

My Lords, I come now to paragraph (d) which deals with severence pay. Paragraph (d) as drafted could operate in a completely arbitrary way. It could refer only to dock workers, but to non-registered men, since severance pay is not defined. For example, it might be seeking to exclude from the main register men who were employed at one non-Scheme port but who were made redundant and moved to another non-Scheme port. If this is not the intention, then the Amendment is distinguishing unfairly between men who are registered, and men who are not registered, but who both previously worked in the industry. If it is the intention, then the body responsible for taking the decision as to whether the conditions in paragraph (d) have been satisfied must be given the necessary powers to discover whether a man left a port industry employer voluntarily or under a redundancy scheme. This must involve functions of some kind.

With all these matters the Government believe that the best way to proceed is on a case by case approach in the light of a detailed examination of particular circumstances under procedures for consultations and discussions set out in the Bill. The Bill already enables the Board to recommend that particular workers should be allowed to continue doing the work, but not to be eligible for registration on the extension register, if they consider there are special reasons justifying this. This power is in Clause 10(3), and therefore we feel that the Bill is best left as it is.

8.17 p.m.


My Lords, there are two points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, which I wish to take up. I do not see why the noble Lord is so much against the medical examination. Admittedly, in past years, this has not been a requirement, but in my experience increasingly it has been a requirement for people when they change jobs, particularly responsible jobs. One imagines that if people are being moved off the extension register on to the main register there is some distinction between them. For example, when I changed my job a year ago I willingly accepted a medical examination, and, indeed, I was grateful for it because it said how extremely fit I was. That will not apply to everyone. But increasingly it is becoming the case that when people take on a job, a medical examination is the accepted thing. That is very wise, particularly for people over the age of 40 which one imagines, broadly speaking, these people will be. It could be to the advantage of the men to be medically examined. I suspect that what gave rise to the noble Lord's remarks was a natural reluctance for a medical examination, but it seemed that the people concerned are not moving with the times. This is part of the problem behind the arguments over this Bill: that people are trying not to move with the times. But the times do move on, and medical examination arguments do not really stand up in the modern world for this particular group of people.

As to the question of a test, as I read paragraph (c), there is nothing there to say that there is a test. One can be said to have attained a level of experience or skill on the "say so" of someone who knows what he is talking about. One does not have to have a test. The noble Lord laid great emphasis on the test. But if someone has been doing a job for some years, a test might be thought to be not only unnecessary but possibly even insulting for him. There is nothing here to say that the measurement of the attainment of the skill is as a result of a test. I suggest to the noble Lord that he is making rather more of a fuss a3out that than perhaps is reasonable.

To come now to paragraph (d), it seems to me we have a problem here. Admittedly, severance pay is not defined, but it is generally understood in this general theme of the Dock Bill that severance pay has a special meaning under earlier enactments, a meaning which is not used in wider circles. On the whole, outside the dock world, one talks about redundancy. I think the noble Lord had a point when he said that it might be unfair as between someone in a Scheme port who could get severance pay, as against someone else who was in a non-Scheme port and received redundancy money. The latter under this clause would not be restricted by it. This is perhaps something worth looking at.

On the whole, I think that what the noble Lord is seeking to do in this paragraph is to make quite certain that people do not get the same benefit from the funds available to the Docks Scheme time and time again as they move on from one place to another, or from one type of job to another. It seems to me perfectly reasonable that there should be within this Bill some provision to avoid duplication of payment of severance pay. Perhaps one must look carefully at the question of what is fair for one sort of man and what is fair for another sort of man. Apart from that, I think the principle of paragraph (d) is reasonable. I think the noble Lord was being too unkind to it in what he said.

Therefore, I suggest that paragraphs (b) and (c) are very reasonable. Paragraph (d) maybe requires refinement to take care of the particular point at issue, accepting the general view that it should not be possible for people to move on and get successions of severance pay. That would seem to be unreasonable to the rest of us who, in the end, have to pay for it. Perhaps the noble Lord might like to think again about his criticisms of this general clause. This proposition is a very reasonable thing which, if it were not in the Bill, would have to be in the Scheme. Because it indirectly affects more people than just the dock community, it is reasonable to put it into the Bill as guidance for the Scheme. It would seem that we must have something like this in order to ensure fairness both to the people concerned and to the people as measured against other types of employee and, in the end, in the public interest.


My Lords, may I put a question to the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, before he sits down? May I take, by way of example, a Liverpool tally clerk of, say, 55 years of age. He has been doing the job very well all his life, but now he is just a little failing in health and a little slower than he used to be. Does the noble Lord think it is right that he should have a medical examination and a skill test before becoming registered? His younger colleagues who had been doing the job for far less a period would get through quite easily because they would not be his age, or have his handicaps resulting from age. It seems to me unreasonable that that man should be handicapped in that way, bearing in mind that if he is sick in the future there is no question of sick pay under the Scheme. The Dock Board Scheme does not provide for sick pay or anything like that. Therefore I cannot understand the need for a medical examination. The Dock Board Scheme includes training, welfare, severance pay and pension.


My Lords, I was asked a question, so perhaps your Lord-ships will permit me to reply. I do not see that the mere fact of having a medical examination automatically rules someone out from employment. I should have thought that anyone aged 55, as the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, suggested, would welcome a medical examination in order to know what his health is like. It does not mean to say he would be ruled out just because he had had a medical examination. It does not mean to say that he would be ruled out of going on to the main register. It depends on what standards are set. One would hope at this stage that the Dock Scheme would provide guidance as to what standard should be set. It is just the principle of the medical examination that I would have suggested is very necessary at the age of 55. I was delighted to have that at 54. That is one point. Again the noble Lord used the word, "test" when he asked me the question. I tried to explain that there is nothing about a test. Surely a tally clerk who has been doing the job for a long time can be declared as adequately doing the job without having to do a test. We all know experienced people who can do all sorts of things very readily, which other people can describe as being done very readily, but who baulk at and find it difficult to do a test.

I quite agree with the noble Lord that it would be ridiculous to have a test, and there is nothing about a test in paragraph (c). I do not know where he has got it from. I suspect somebody had imagined it into the situation because they were thinking about much younger people. It may be that some noble Lords have had experience of making a judgment on the skill at performing their job of older people. If they have, they would under-stand quite well that you do not have to test them to do it. I have spoken long enough, and I hope I have answered the two points which the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, so kindly put to me.


My Lords, can I confirm one point the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, mentioned. He said that tally clerks might be slower, or not able to get around so quickly. It seems to me that this is the essence of paragraph (b), because it says they: have satisfied the medical officer … that they are fit to perform the work concerned". I think the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, would agree that one does not have to have the fitness of an Olympic athlete to perform the work of a tally clerk. The work of a tally clerk is different from that of a normal docker, who is attaching slings and pulling ropes and loading crates. The tally clerk would not need such a high standard of fitness as a docker doing general duties, or perhaps specialised duties of a certain type. I think Lord Jacques was weakening his own case when he said that there might have to be a medical examination which would show that the tally clerk was not fit even to do the tally clerk's job, let alone that of the general docker. I think that is the point my noble friend Lord Sandford was seeking to make.


My Lords, would not the noble Lord agree that it is one thing having a medical examination and a test of skill, however you may interpret "test", when you are entering a new occupation, but to have these tests in relation to the job you have been doing for years is a little untenable?


My Lords, I do not think the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, can be at all fair in saying that to undergo a medical test during the course of work which you have under-taken for a number of years is untenable. With great respect to him, that really is nonsense. We have, unhappily, suffered some accidents in underground railways; we have, unfortunately, suffered some accidents involving coaches; we have, unfortunately, suffered some accidents in factories as a result of the gantry-drivers dying. The cry has always come from the newspapers, from the general public, through the factories, through the trade unions, "These men should be insured to be fit to do their job where other people's lives are at stake". There are very few people in their heart of hearts who deny this. If one is going to undertake a job upon whose safety others depend, then one must be fit to do it. I am not talking about tally clerks, as the noble Lord was.


My Lords, may I suggest to the noble Lord that I am relevant in talking about tally clerks, because they are the kind of people who would be registered. The noble Lord is irrelevant when he talks about train drivers, because there is no question of their becoming registered.


My Lords, I am talking about people in docks who have jobs to do which may have a bearing upon other people's safety. We are talking of a crane driver who may be transferred from one scheme to another scheme, who may be transferred from one register to another, who may have been redundant in one place and come to another. All my noble friend is saying is that, before he shall qualify, he must satisfy four criteria, one of which is satisfying the medical officer of health as to his fitness to perform the duty. That is all it says; satisfy the medical officer as to his fitness. You cannot say, in a docks scheme, that that is all right for the straddle-carrier driver, for the crane driver, for some other group, and exclude this that and the other. All in, all out, because all being in does not preclude anybody, unless he is so unfit as to be at home in his sick bed. It is only to satisfy the medical officer of his fitness to perform that work. Nobody is asking a tally clerk to run 100 yards to satisfy the medical officer that he can run 100 yards, because his work does not call for that. If the noble Lord reflects on what he has said, that it is unreasonable to expect a man after x-number of years to subject himself to a health test, he must see that that is not fair. Wherever one is looking, as my noble friend Lord Mottistone said, throughout business and commerce, through schools, through the Services, we are now so very conscious that no undue stresses and strains should be placed upon people, that they are continually kept fit for their jobs, and if not move to others. There can be nothing wrong with this at all.


My Lords, may I remind the noble Lord that the Amendment is not asking for tests of skill and medical fitness for the purposes of public safety. If it had been, I would rot have responded as I did. It is asking for these tests before he is transferred from one register to another, which is quite a different matter.


My Lords, will not the noble Lord agree that the word, "tests" is in neither of these paragraphs.

Baroness SEEAR

My Lords, is this all in order? Are we not treating this as if it were a Committee stage?


My Lords, I think perhaps it will be necessary—I had hoped it might not—for me to rehearse rather fully the case underlying this Amendment, so that at the end of it I can ask noble Lords opposite to consider what I am about to say, and perhaps communicate with me and with my noble friends before the next stage, to see whether we can pursue it then. I shall have to decide what to do with this Amendment meanwhile.

To go back to the underlying situation with which this Amendment seeks to deal, the position is that the fluctuating demand for dock labour which makes the regulation of this industry so difficult has gradually evened out with the application of modern systems, and there has been a steady reduction in the size of the work force in most British ports. Unfortunately, partly because the medical requirements provided for in the Dock Labour Scheme have not been properly observed in ports such as London—and that is all water under the bridge—the industry now is having to carry a considerable surplus of labour, with the majority of that surplus in restricted medical categories. I quoted examples from the Port of London in introducing the Amendment. Just to reinforce that, the National Dock Labour Board have put the national daily average of surplus men at more than 5,000 during 1975, and the Port of London Authority are carrying between 1,250 and 1,500 surplus men today over the past year.

Noble Lords opposite are not satisfying us so far that they have looked closely enough at this serious problem. It is a problem which has been underlined for us again in the second report of the Joint Port Trade Development Committee set up by the PLA with representatives of all the trade unions concerned and of trade and industry using the port, under the chairmanship of Mr. Frank Cousins, and it was published this month. That report has had to recommend that the Government—that is us as taxpayers—should assume responsibility for at least some of the extra costs of this surplus manpower within the Port of London. The central fund administered by the National Dock Labour Board is suggested, into which the Government should pay an agreed sum for each person surplus to the requirements on any given day. It may well be that some such solution will have to be found. The Amendment does not have to deal with that, but this illustrates the basic problem. Some such solution will have to be found unless the medically restricted men, who form a consistent majority in this surplus manpower, can be persuaded to accept severance. That is a fact we have to face and deal with somehow; or else they have to face training to prepare them for other work which, as the noble Lord has been saying, may well be within their capabilities, such as tally clerks.

Meanwhile, this very large surplus of some 5,000 men is the shadow hanging over the future, not just of the port authorities trying to balance their work-force and make their operations profitable but also of all those further employers who may, as a result of this Bill, have all or part of their business classified as dock work, and find themselves in the same predicament as the port authorities are now. At present there are fewer than 300 employers of registered dock workers in the country, and port authorities carry-two-thirds of the 32,000 registered dock workers on their books. Ten years ago there were 1,300, so that is an improvement. How that can be sustained is a matter we come to on a later clause.

Under the existing Dock Labour Scheme when a licensed port employer finds that he is facing insolvency and closes down, those registered dock workers allotted to him are, as it were, returned to the local dock labour board to be re-allocated among the remaining port employers in the Board's area, and this adds very greatly to their burden because they are surplus to their requirements and a large majority of that surplus are unfit. This has meant an increasing burden for the main employer, the port authority, with private stevedoring firms being forced closer and closer to bankruptcy and closure themselves as they are compelled to carry more and more dockers surplus to actual requirement, most of whom are less than fit.

This Bill provides that operators of premises where work is classified as dock work will also become registered dock employers and, as such, they will almost certainly become liable to the levy imposed to provide finance for the new scheme, and also to the allocation and re-allocation of whatever number of registered dock workers the national or local dock labour board may impose upon them. This is the problem which so many people are so anxious about because it will not be a case of the operator of a cold store, or warehouse, or an inland cargo consolidation depot deciding how many men he needs to conduct his business efficiently and economically—that is what he has been used to doing; he will find himself also having to absorb the number of dockers, the majority of whom will be unfit, decided upon by a third party; namely, the Board, as his share of the surplus manpower. We really must grapple somehow with this problem, and this is what my Amendment seeks to do.

In the earlier stage in Committee, the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, admitted that this Bill cannot produce more than a handful of new jobs for the surplus dock workers. When we were dealing with what was Amendment No. 22 on 13th October, he said at column 435 of the Official Report: … we hope to transfer registered dockers rather than have to pay them severance pay. Certainly; but this is the sort of situation we are actually dealing with in the world as it is today. For some time the London Port employers, needing an additional two or three hundred fit men to work at Tilbury, have been trying to persuade some of those surplus dockers allotted to the up-river sectors of the port to transfer to Tilbury. Under the arrangements agreed when many of the up-river berths closed down dockers are entitled to extra for fares and turning-up money, and for extra inconvenience when compulsorily allocated to other sectors where work is available, and this is a situation which the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, said would arise. But this has not been enough to tempt—and this is something extra—the 500 men involved, although many of them live nearer to Tilbury than they do to the Millwall and West India docks.

About 700 dockers live near Tilbury but prefer to work in the Royal and Millwall docks despite the travel involved. The port employers offered a once only inducement payment to a maximum of £1,000 to try to persuade the men living near Tilbury to work there, nearer their homes, rather than up-river, and when the unions found that the Inland Revenue intended to tax such payment they refused to move unless the payments were made tax free.

If dockers will not move when they are offered a £1,000 inducement to work nearer their homes, on what does the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, base his hope, on which he set so much store, that they can be persuaded to transfer to jobs in cold stores and warehouses five miles or more from their homes? These are the kind of problems which exist at the moment, and this Amendment is our attempt to come to terms with it and deal with it. I wish the Government would indicate how they propose to deal with these problems, or alternatively help us to get this Amendment into better shape.

I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, agrees that in respect of paragraph (a) we have been successful. He has not said anything which leads me to suppose that there is much the matter with paragraph (c). I should like to believe that in paragraph (b) we have successfully reflected what he said before. Nothing he has said so far about medical examinations leads me to suppose that there is much the matter with this. So my inclination, having listened to this debate, is to press this Amendment into the Bill, but to continue to do what we can to improve it. If the noble Lord will write to us between this stage and the next stage we shall do whatever we can to make the Amendment fit the case. But the problems which I have just enumerated are the ones with which we are seeking to deal, and I hope that, noble Lords will agree that they are very real ones. I beg to move Amendment No. 21.

8.41 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 21), as amended, shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 73; Not-Contents, 38.

Abinger, L. Colville of Culross, V. Falmouth, V.
Aldenham, L. Cork and Orrery, E. Ferrier, L.
Allerton, L. Cornwallis, L. Fraser of Kilmorack, L.
Amory, V. Craigton, L. Gage, V.
Ampthill, L. Cross, V. Gainford, L.
Auckland, L. Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Geoffrey-Lloyd, L.
Balerno, L. Daventry, V. Gray, L.
Belstead, L. De Freyne, L. Greenway, L.
Berkeley, B. Denham, L. Gridley, L.
Boothby, L. Dormer, L. Grimston of Westbury, L.
Bourne, L. Drumalbyn, L. [Teller.] Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L.
Brentford, V. Dundee, E. Hankey, L.
Campbell of Croy, L. Ebbisham, L. Harmar-Nicholls, L.
Carr of Hadley, L. Elliot of Harwood, B. Hawke, L.
Carrington, L. Elton, L. Hornsby-Smith, B.
Chelwood, L. Emmet of Amberley, B. Ilchester, E.
Clifford of Chudleigh, L. Exeter, M. Inchyra, L.
Coleraine, L. Faithfull, B. Killearn, L.
Kimberley, E. Newall, L. Sandford, L.
Lauderdale, E. Norfolk, D. Sandys, L.
Lloyd, L. Northchurch, B. Sempill, Ly.
Long, V. O'Hagan, L. Sharples, B.
Lothian, M. O'Neill of the Maine, L. Strathcarron, L.
Lucas of Chilworth, L. [Teller.] Onslow, E. Strathclyde, L.
Lyell, L. Orr-Ewing, L. Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.
Macleod of Borve, B. Pender, L. Strathspey, L.
Mancroft, L. Rankeillour, L. Sudeley, L.
Margadale, L. Rathcreedan, L. Tenby, V.
Marley, L. Redesdale, L. Terrington, L.
Massereene and Ferrard, V. Reigate, L. Trefgarne, L.
Merrivale, L. Rochdale, V. Tweedsmuir, L.
Mersey, V. Ruthven of Freeland, Ly. Vickers, B.
Molson, L. Sackville, L. Vivian, L.
Morris, L. St. Aldwyn, E. Ward of North Tyneside, B.
Mottistone, L. St. Davids, V. Wolverton, L.
Mowbray and Stourton, L. St. Just, L. Young, B.
Annan, L. Hanworth, V. Pargiter, L.
Birk, B. Harris of Greenwich, L. Peart, L. (L. Privy Seal)
Blyton, L. Henderson, L, Phillips, B.
Brimelow, L. Hylton-Foster, B. Pitt of Hampstead, L.
Brockway, L. Jacobson, L. Popplewell, L.
Bruce of Donington, L. Jacques, L. Raglan, L.
Caradon, L. Janner, L. Ritchie-Calder, L.
Castle, L. Kirkhill, L. Rusholme, L.
Champion, L. Leatherland, L. Shinwell, L.
Chorley, L. Lee of Asheridge, B. Slater, L.
Collison, L. Lee of Newton, L. Snow, L.
Cooper of Stockton Heath, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B. Stedman, B. [Teller.]
Cudlipp, L. Lovell-Davis, L. Stewart of Alvechurch, B.
Darling of Hillsborough, L. McCluskey, L. Stone, L.
Davies of Leek, L. MacLeod of Fuinary, L. Stow Hill, L.
Davies of Penrhys, L. Maelor, L. Strabolgi, L. [Teller.]
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Mais, L. Strang, L.
Douglas of Barloch, L. Melchett, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Douglass of Cleveland, L. Morris of Grasmere, L. Vaizey, L.
Elwyn-Jones, L. (L. Chancellor.) Murray of Gravesend, L. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Fisher of Rednal, B. Northfield, L. Walston, L.
Gordon-Walker, L. Oram, L. Wells-Pestell, L.
Hale, L. Pannell, L. Wynne-Jones, L.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Airedale, L. Grey, E. Rankeillour, L.
Aldenham, L. Hampton, L. Rathcreedan, L.
Alport, L. Henley, L. Redesdale, L.
Amory, V. Hives, L. Reigate, L.
Ampthill, L. Hornsby-Smith, B. Rochdale, V.
Auckland, L. Kemsley, L. St. Just, L.
Balerno, L. Killearn, L. Saint Oswald, L.
Barrington, V. Kinnaird, L. Sandford, L.
Belstead, L. Lindsey and Abingdon, E. Sandys, L. (Teller)
Berkeley, B. Lloyd, L. Schon, L.
Clifford of Chudleigh, L. Long, V. Seear, B.
Colwyn, L. Lucas of Chilworth, L. Selkirk, E.
Cottesloe, L. Lyell, L. Stokes, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Macleod of Borve, B. Strathcarron, L.
Denham, L. McNair, L. Sudeley, L.
Dormer, L. Margadale, L. Swansea, L.
Drumalbyn, L. Massereene and Ferrard, V. Trevelyan, L.
Ellenborough, L. Molson, L. Tweedsmuir, L.
Elliot of Harwood, B. Mottistone, L. Vernon, L.
Emmet of Amberley, B. Mowbray and Stourton, L. [Teller.] Vickers, B.
Faithfull, B. Wade, L.
Gough, V. Newall, L. Wigoder, L.
Gowrie, E. Northchurch, B. Wolverton, L.
Gray, L. O'Hagan, L. Young, B.
Greenway, L. Platt, L.
Ardwick, L. Kirkhill, L. Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Brockway, L. Lee of Newton, L. Popplewell, L.
Caradon, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B. Raglan, L.
Castle, L. McCluskey, L. Ritchie-Calder, L.
Champion, L. Maelor, L. Rusholme, L.
Collison, L. Mais, L. Stedman, B. [Teller.]
Davies of Leek, L. Melchett, L. Stone, L.
Davies of Penrhys, L. Milner of Leeds, L. Strabolgi, L. [Teller.]
Elwyn-Jones, L. (L. Chancellor) Morris of Kenwood, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L. Murray of Gravesend, L. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Houghton of Sowerby, L. Noel-Buxton, L. Wells-Pestell, L.
Jacques, L. Oram, L. Wynne-Jones, L.
Janner, L. Peart, L. (L. Privy Seal)

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.

8.48 p.m.

Lord LYELL moved Amendment No. 21A: After Clause 4, insert the following new clause:

Local Boards

.—(1) Where under subsection (2) of section 4 above the Secretary of State shall make orders designating areas as dock labour scheme areas, the Board shall be required to establish local dock labour boards responsible for areas as may be determined by the Board.

(2) Each such local board shall be constituted with any independent chairman and such numbers of members as the Secretary of State shall designate. Excluding the Chairman, an equal number of such members shall represent respectively employers and workers engaged in commercial and industrial activities taking place in the local dock labour board area as determined.

(3) The Secretary of State shall appoint the independent chairman of each such local board after consultation with the Board, the Confederation of British Industry and the Trades Union Congress.

(4) The Board shall appoint members of each local dock labour board other than the independent chairman after consultation with the Confederation of British Industry and the Trades Union Congress.

The noble Lord said: This Amendment is broadly the same and, I should like to think, aspires to achieve the same ends as one I moved in Committee. Noble Lords will be aware that local boards will, under this Scheme, have a number of overriding and, we believe, vital duties to perform. They will be taking decisions on whether or not to classify any work as registered dock work, and it is to this, among other aspects, that I come.

The cargo handling and port industries have such a wide public interest that any decisions taken by local boards will concern a far larger cross-section of commerce and industry than might at first be apparent. We have already discussed the need for the National Board to consider the wider public interest, but the local boards will be taking decisions that are far more practical in application. For this reason the composition of these boards requires careful deliberation. Noble Lords will note that in subsection (3) of the proposed new clause the National Board, the CBI and the TUC will all be consulted by the Secretary of State when he appoints the chairmen and vice-chairmen of the local boards.

Noble Lords will see also that the Amendment allows the Secretary of State discretion in deciding such numbers as he sees fit to comprise each local board. We consider, however, that the chairman and vice-chairman have the most important role in local boards, because at all times the chairman has to beware of being compelled to use his casting vote and so far as possible the local boards must act in consensus and any threat of confrontation, deadlock or split between employers and employees must so far as possible be removed.

Matters of discipline at particular ports and harbours and within the dock areas could cause some small problems. Indeed, there may even be great problems. But we feel that employee representatives will adopt a responsible attitude in this particular area, espeicially when they are sitting on a board with representatives of other employees in other industries within the local board area.

This aspect will be, we believe, the key to the success of local boards and we consider that in this particular respect subsection (2) will be most important in that the local board will implement the provisions of the Bill and the new Scheme within what I call the "parameters" set out by the National Board. This process of acting as a link between the policy making of the National Board and the practicalities of industrial relations in the port industries will be the major factor in the success of the new Scheme which is being drawn up.

Certainly we take the point which was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, when we were discussing an Amendment similar to this one at Committee stage, when he said that he considered that to write into the Bill the term "to represent" had a somewhat dangerous connotation in that such representatives might be likely to form up in respective camps and there would be the traditional deadlock between employers and employees. But once again we consider the chairman and vice-chairman to occupy the most important role of these local boards so that deadlock must be avoided.

Noble Lords will also notice in sub-section (4) of the Amendment that the National Board will appoint the members to the local boards and we hope that this will mean that the overall policy will have some chance of being successfully implemented at the local and practical level. We believe it right for the National Board to consult both the CBI and the TUC before making such appointments since both these bodies will be the channels through which industrial relations in the local board areas can, and we hope will, be settled. This Amendment w e hope contains the flexibility desired by the noble Lord, Lord Oram, in his comments at column 428 of our Committee stage debate. Paragraph 6 of Schedule 2 does indeed give the power to the National Board to set up local boards, but we wonder whether the noble Lord, Lord Oram, would agree that this particular paragraph gives the required boost to the local boards, because as we see it and as the paragraph seems to be set out, it enables local boards to be considered, as we regard it, as something of an after-thought while we here consider that they should act as the executives of the National Board's policy. My Lords, I beg to move.

8.54 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to support my noble friend in this particular new clause. It seems to me that there is a gap in the Bill. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Oram, at Committee stage said that this was something which would be in the Dock Labour Scheme so why put it in the main Bill, but it seems to me that than is at variance with the rest of the Bill, even without the Amendments with which we have sought to improve it over this past month. It goes into a lot of detail of various sorts and, as was said earlier by my noble friend, the local boards are a key element. The noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, enforced that. Though he did not like the wording, I think he liked the idea at Committee stage. The local board is a key element for the implementation of the new Dock Scheme and it seems to me to be extremely odd that there should be no mention of it, not even an outline plan. After all, this clause, the wording of which I hope will now satisfactorily meet the needs of the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, sets out the basic parameters. It does not go into any detail of any significance at all. I should have thought, therefore, that not only is it an essential part of the Bill—and I hope the Government will accept it as such—but it has also got over the deficiencies which the earlier Amendment had.


My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, said, we went over this ground fairly fully in Committee stage. He has explained the change that he has brought in to meet the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder. The difference between the approach of the Bill to the local boards and the approach of the new clause is that the Bill, as it stands, provides that matters relating to the establishment of local boards shall be solely a matter for the new Dock Labour Scheme.

The new clause which the noble Lord has proposed seeks to specify in the main legislation the composition of the local boards, the manner of their establishment, and the appointment of their members. I fully accept that the composition of local boards will be of great importance. It is not a case, as the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, suggests, that they are something of an afterthought. That is not the case. What divides us is how they should be brought into being and not any consideration of whether they are important or not. The point is that the appropriate membership of the boards can be decided effectively only in the light of the functions they will have to perform. Since that can be determined only by the Scheme it would seem logical that their composition should likewise be a matter for the Scheme. The noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, suggested that in some way the Bill's present proposal in regard to the local boards is at variance with the rest of the Bill. But it seems to me more that the Bill's proposal is a logical consequence of the rest of the Bill.


My Lords, would the noble Lord not agree that the text of Amendment No. 21A leaves the composition of the National Board? It is only the outline that is here and it seems to me that that absolutely meets what he is saying. It is left totally flexible with just the framework. Every board has to have a chairman. It is the only thing which is specified outside the National Board and seems to meet his requirements absolutely.


My Lords, that is a matter of judgment and in my judgment the provisions in the proposed new clause are not as flexible as the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, suggests. Furthermore, changes in the Scheme, and consequently changes in the appropriate composition of the local boards, could well become necessary to adapt to changing circumstances in the industry. It will be important that there should be the necessary flexibility in the arrangements to ensure that such modifications can be made expeditiously. It is therefore considered right that these matters should be dealt with in the Scheme.

The Amendment is no doubt inspired by the concern that the interests of those who may be affected by the extension of the Scheme should be adequately represented on local boards. Under the 1967 Scheme, a local board must consist of an equal number of persons representing dock workers and persons representing employers of such dock workers. The Scheme provides that they shall be appointed by the National Board on the nomination of the relevant local joint committees of the National Joint Council for the Port Transport Industry. Each local board is required to appoint its own chairman and deputy chairman, but every such appointment is subject to the subsequent approval of the National Board. I suggest that there is no question that these arrangements would be inappropriate under the circumstances of the new Scheme, and it is accepted that provision will have to be made so that interests brought within the Scheme are properly represented on local boards.

Subsection (2) of the new clause proposes that members of a local board shall be representatives of employers and workers engaged in commercial and industrial activities taking place in the local dock labour board area … This envisages that interests other than registered dock workers and their employers may be involved in the operation of the Scheme, and such an arrangement would run counter to the long-established principle of joint control of the Scheme to which the Government—and I must make this quite clear—are firmly committed. It has in the main been successful in the existing Scheme, and we believe that it should be carried into the extension of the Scheme.

It is true that the Bill provides for the representation of outside interests on the National Board, but there is an essential difference, because it is only the National Board which will have the power to make recommendations to the Secretary of State for the classification of work. I am not sure that I heard the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, aright in his introductory sentences, but it seemed to me that he was saying that in some way the local boards are responsible in respect of the classification of work. That is why I insist that it is only the National Board which will have power to make such recommendations, and that is a crucial distinction between the National Board and the local boards. Any involvement of local boards in the procedures adopted will be at the direction of the National Board, which alone will have the power of decision.

Perhaps it would help noble Lords if I say that no firm view has yet been taken on the detailed provisions to be included in the draft Scheme for the composition of local boards and related matters. Some views have already been expressed, but further consultations will be needed with those concerned before a final decision can be taken. I assure the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, who moved this Amendment, and the other noble Lords who have joined in, that the debate on this Amendment has been a useful one. Even though we conclude that the Amendment itself is not an appropriate one, I assure noble Lords who have spoken that the views that they have expressed in this debate will be fully taken into account.


My Lords, I share the interest shown by the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, in the composition of the local dock labour boards, which clearly have a crucial part to play if the Scheme is to be successfully administered. The reservation I still feel about the wording which has been put forward in the proposed new clause is really the sentence which begins: Excluding the Chairman, an equal number of such members shall represent respectively employers and workers … I cannot help querying whether it is desirable to appoint a board on which there are equal numbers of people who are specifically there to represent their particular class, to represent the employers or to represent the workers.

The local dock boards will have important functions to perform, one of them being, of course, certain disciplinary functions. It seems to me that if there is this wording then quite inevitably the employers, on each occasion that a disciplinary problem arises, must stand together, because they are there to reprsent employers, not to solve the particular dispute. Similarly, the workers' representatives must stand together; and in those circumstances the disciplinary proceedings will in effect become a trial by the chairman alone. If that is what one wants, one might as well say so. I am doubtful about the wisdom of endeavouring to appoint boards in this way, with two halves specifically ordered by an Act of Parliament to represent their own particular section of the community.


Certainly, my Lords, I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, for the comments that he has just made on the Bill and for his (I hope I can call it) qualified support. I accept the reservations that he again introduced. I think I must clear up one point with the noble Lord, Lord Oram. I perhaps did not make myself totally clear on the matter of the classification of what would be dock work or not; I am sorry. This would be, perhaps, carried out by the National Board, but I think he would agree with me that the National Board would in very few circumstances disregard the opinion and the recommendation of the local board. Probably that is what I meant, and I am sorry I was unclear in that particular respect.

I was also grateful for what the noble Lord, Lord Oram, had to say. It was a little softer, and our two points of view were a little nearer to meeting than they were last time. But I think noble Lords are aware that we are running out of time in our deliberations on this particular measure, and there is not a lot more time for us to discuss and to close our respective points of view so that we can come to some workable agreement. I must say that I cannot share the opinion of the noble Lord, Lord Oram, that the Amendment is inflexible. We hope that our particular qualification so far as the Secretary of State is concerned would give him the flexibility and the framework to implement and to operate the Scheme or give recommendations so that the local boards could carry out the policy of the National Board at a local level. We accept that the functions to be performed will be decided by the Scheme, but certainly—and I believe this applies to many of us—I am not totally convinced by the argument that the noble Lord, Lord Oram, put forward that the local boards were considered to be an after-thought. He said they would be considered in the Scheme. I should have thought that a small paragraph at the end of Schedule 2 did not bring out the importance which I think Lord Oram himself admitted belongs to the local boards.

It was for this purpose that we raised this Amendment again. We had altered certain details in the hope that it might be more acceptable. We are slightly mollified by the noble Lord's comments this time. I do not think it is our intention to press this Amendment, but we should like to see whether we can get even nearer the Government's point of view. We have had a reasonable amount of success since the last stage of the Committee and the noble Lord, Lord Oram, has made conciliatory noises this evening. I wonder whether, if we raise it at the last stage, we can get any closer. With that, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 5 [Objects of the new scheme]:

Lord SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 23: Page 5, line 1, after ("section") insert ("and section (Transfer from Extension to Main Register) above").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 23 because, having moved and pressed Amendment No. 21, it will be necessary for that new clause to be referred to at this point. I hope the noble Lord will agree with me to that extent, even if he may not agree with the substance of the new clause that we have moved in.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

9.11 p.m.

Lord LYELL moved Amendment No. 24: Page 5, line 10, after ("provide") insert ("and the local dock labour board may allow").

The noble Lord said: This Amendment is relevant to Amendment No. 21A which I have just spoken to and withdrawn. I believe that this small Amendment provides a valuable safety warning, if I may call it that, to the National Board, in that the local boards will have to implement the National Board policy at the local dock level. Surely the local board which will be set up by the Secretary of State, so we were told—with the appointments filled by the National Board, as we had hoped, but we shall see what the Scheme has to say about this—should have the first and most important say in work which may or may not be classified, and it will pass on its recommendation to the National Board. Since the local hoard would have full and satisfactory representation from employers and employees and other interests, we hope that the local board will have the power to issue the small caveat as exemplified in this Amendment. I beg to move.


My Lords, I had assumed that Amendments Nos.24 and 25 were alternatives.


My Lords, I had hoped to speak briefly to Amendment No. 25. I wonder whether it would be in order for the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, to speak to Amendment No. 24 or whether it would assist the noble Lord if I were to speak to Amendment No. 25 now.


My Lords, are they alternative?


My Lords, I did not intend them to be so.


My Lords, in that case I will speak to Amendment No. 24. This is a new Amendment, unlike Amendment No. 25 which was discussed in Committee. It was explained in Committee that this type of Amendment is unnecessary because the words, "subject only to such exceptions as it may provide" enabled the Scheme to allow local boards to make exceptions in appropriate cases. This Amendment is less satisfactory than Amendment No. 25 because its intention and effect are unclear. It leaves doubt as to whether the local board discretion is to be limited by the Scheme or not.

The Opposition's apparent concern—and the new Amendment (No. 24) presumably represents an attempt to ensure this—is that the Bill itself should guarantee local boards the right to make exceptions irrespective of what the Scheme might say. This cannot be done as the Bill stands, because the establishment of local boards is itself a matter for the Scheme. The Scheme could establish local boards and guarantee them the right to make exceptions. The new clause "Local Boards", if carried at a later stage would have an effect so far as this Amendment is concerned. It would provide for the establishment of local boards independent of the Scheme.

If the new clause were added to the Bill, Amendment No. 24 could be held to mean that the Scheme would have to give local boards complete freedom to make exceptions as they wished—each local dock labour board would have a discretion to allow the employment of non-registered dock workers and this power would not be regulated in any way by the new Scheme. The power of local boards to allow the employment of non-registered dock workers along the lines of Clause 10 of the 1967 Scheme has been a part of the Scheme since its inception in 1947. But it is a limited power. Under the present Scheme, the local board has to be satisfied that the work is urgently required to be done and that it is not reasonably practical for it to be done by a registered dock worker. In other words, they can make a decision in an emergency. The Government's view is that, if there is a need for a permanent exception, then it should not be remedied by giving a local board power. The work should be declassified and be finished with.

The Government believe that the whole question of the employment of non-registered workers is a matter for the Scheme and that a power should be retained so that it could be possible to ensure common practices throughout the country. This can be done only if the powers of local boards are set out in the new Scheme and not in the enabling legislation.


My Lords, I am grateful for that. I will leave it to my noble friend to answer the points of detail. Our anxiety is whether it is right for Parliament to leave out of the Bill any reference to the existence of local boards. The noble Lord has continually reassured us that local boards will still be a feature of the scene and the Scheme will provide for them. I am sure that will be so. It will be impossible to operate and regulate the dock work without the local boards. They are such an essential and integral part of the whole scheme that I am still wondering whether we are right in Parliament not to include proper provision for them.

In the course of the debate on my noble friend's previous Amendment, we were seeking to find out whether it was possible to specify in the Bill that there shall be local boards and say something about them rather than leaving the whole thing for non-statutory provision. This is the main and underlying anxiety and the reason why we may need to return to this again. Clearly, we do not want to put into the Bill details which, as the noble Lord rightly said, would be better dealt with in the Scheme. This is the underlying reason behind our Amendments.


My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, for setting out his objections—if I could put it that way—to the Amendment. He mentioned one or two points that he raised at an earlier stage. I hope the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, will have an opportunity to modify or refurbish them in the next Amendment. My noble friend Lord Sandford has shown the way and said that it might be wrong to overburden the legislation at this stage. Things might be dealt with better in the Scheme. I take that advice, thank the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, and seek leave to withdraw this Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

9.20 p.m.

Lord LYELL moved Amendment No. 25: Page 5, line 12, at end insert ("except with the permission of the local dock labour board")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this Amendment is very germane to one which was raised at Committee stage. We have been talking about local boards in previous Amendments. The same reasons for moving the earlier Amendment apply in this case, except that Amendment No. 24 dealt with the exceptions to work which may be classified, and we believe that this Amendment is concerned with the exceptions and exemptions in the work-force performing the work at the port or the dock. We also believe that all the points relevant to local tradition and practice should apply in this case.

I should like to refer the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, to an earlier reply made at Committee stage when he mentioned exemptions. He also made some comments in column 439 of the Official Report which may hold out something of a straw or something even more substantial for me to grasp and towards which I would certainly reach. The noble Lord mentioned that local boards could authorise classified dock work to be done by dock workers, as he said, "in an emergency". Would the noble Lord be able to tell us whether he has any further news as to the intention of the Government to have a similar clause in the new Scheme, in the same way as I believe is done in Clause 10 of the 1967 Scheme? We should be grateful to know whether the noble Lord has any further news to give us at this stage.


My Lords, there are three points which I ought to deal with. Taking first the question of local boards mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, the Government are continuing the general procedure that was followed in relation to the present Scheme: that is the National Board was mentioned in the enabling legislation and the local boards were mentioned in the Scheme. We have every intention of continuing to do that.

Referring to the work to be done by non-registered labour and its authorisation, in the present Scheme there is power enabling a local board to authorise such work to be done in an emergency. It is the Government's intention to have powers not less than that in the new Scheme. The third point concerns cases where work should be permanently exempt. We believe the solution there is to declassify it. In this Bill, as distinct from previous Bills, there is provision for declassifying it and getting rid of it completely. We think that is the better method.


My Lords, may I just ask one question here? When we come to Clause 12 there are penal provisions involved for anybody who does that kind of work if they are not registered dock workers. I am not quite certain whether that might not require some special power in the Bill, so as to gain exemption from the penal provisions, even in an emergency. It seems to me that to do that by a doubly indirect method—first, through a scheme which is subordinate legislation and then possibly through some further direction from the Board—might well not provide the exemption from penalty that is obviously necessary in a case like this. It is common sense, my Lords, but the law has an unfortunate way sometimes of not providing for common sense and I think we have to make sure that common sense is provided for in the law.


My Lords, may I direct attention to Clause 12, page 15, line 29, the second part of which states: … then except in so far as provision excluding this subsection is made by the Scheme".


My Lords, I am much obliged to the noble Lord. I think that that covers the point.


My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, for his explanation. I agree with him that, where there is a need for permanent exemption, there should be declassification, and we are pleased that this Bill sets out the procedures for doing that. We were a little worried about temporary exemption, and were wondering whether, as the noble Lord suggested at Committee stage, we could have a further explanation on Report. But he has gone a little way in explaining the position, especially to my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn, so shall beg leave to withdraw this Amendment and consider the position.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord SANDFORD moved Amendments Nos. 26 and 27: Page 6, line 26, leave out from ("shall") to end of line 31 and insert ("comply with the provisions of Schedule 5 to this Act"). Page 6, line 32, leave out subsection (11).

The noble Lord said: My Lords, we are now returning to the delicate remedial surgery which the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, said we could probably consider all in one piece. I was not quite sure when he said it, and reserved my position to speak to these two Amendments separately, but I do not think there is any need to say any more. These two Amendments, together with Amendments Nos.57 and 68, do rather more elegantly what a different series of Amendments did in Committee. My Lords, I beg to move.

On Question, Amendments agreed to.

Clause 6 [Review of what is now dock work]:

9.27 p.m.

Lord LYELL moved Amendment No. 28: Page 6, line 42, after first ("the") insert ("National Board, after consulting each appropriate local").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the case for this Amendment is the same as that which we put earlier when we were dealing with local boards. Under the Scheme, we believe that local boards will have an overriding interest in indicating to the National Board the circumstances at the different ports, because we believe that the pattern of trade, and of cargo and freight handling, will probably have changed in the nine years since the last Scheme was set up. That is why this Amendment is a little different from Amendments Nos. 24 and 25. We believe that this matter is of more importance and calls for more urgency. I take the points made by noble Lords opposite, about the work and composition of local boards being matters for the Scheme, and I agree that we do not wish to over-burden local boards with precise duties at this stage. But we should like to hear what the noble Lord, Lord Oram, has to say about including the duties of the local boards at this juncture in the Bill. I beg to move.

9.30 p.m.


My Lords, what I have to say is comparatively simple and I hope that it will be accepted as quite straightforward. The noble Lord, Lord Lyell, is pushing at an open door in insisting upon the importance of the local boards. On that we are in agreement. However, the noble Lord must not assume that the door is open so far as acceptance of the Amendment is concerned because, quite frankly, it is unnecessary. The purpose which the noble Lord wishes to achieve will automatically be achieved. It will be quite impossible for the National Board to prepare the reports without consulting the local boards. It is the local boards only which have access to the necessary information. Therefore it would be elementary that the National Board should consult the local boards and consequently quite unnecessary to put in an Amendment requiring them so to do.


My Lords, why, then, object? I said earlier that we are a little anxious lest the local dock labour boards, which are clearly an integral part of the whole matter, should be left out. If local boards are to be established under the Scheme, I should have thought that it was rather important that the need for them to be consulted should be established within the Statute. Otherwise, it would be possible, although I do not think it is very likely, for the National Board to overlook the local boards or to take action without consulting them. I agree that it is inconceivable that they should do so at this point because it would be quite impossible for the National Board to prepare the report without getting information which can be supplied only by the local dock labour boards. Indeed, they are mentioned on the next page. However, I think it would be an improvement if all the cases where the national Board should consult or do something through the local board, or where it is desirable for this to be done, or where it needs to be done, were spelled out on the face of the Bill.

While I am on my feet, I wonder whether I might make a separate point. I should have liked to propose an Amendment to the rubrics to Clauses 6 and 7. The intention of the rubrics is to make the Bill clear to people who have to use the Bill and help them to find their way around it. The distinction between Clauses 6 and 7 is that Clause 6 refers to "Review of what is now dock work" in the 1967 Scheme ports while Clause 7 refers to "Loading and unloading operations" other than in the 1967 Scheme ports. If I am right about that, I should like to suggest to noble Lords that the rubrics ought to be amended in that sense in order to make the matter clearer to people who are finding their way around the Bill or the Act as it will be in due course. I am sorry to introduce it in this way but my advice is that it is not possible to move formal Amendments to rubrics. Now that for the first time we have reached a clause where I should like the matter to be considered, I feel that I should mention it now in order to get the noble Lord's reactions to it before we leave Clause 6.


My Lords, my quick reaction to the rubric point is that included in the rubric to Clause 6—"Review of what is now dock work"—is the word "now". I should have thought that the inclusion of the word "now" was the answer to the noble Lord's point. It distinguishes between the purpose of Clause 6 and the purpose of Clause 7. However, as the noble Lord has noted, this is not quite the time at which one can take up suggestions regarding other Amendments which might have been made. Regarding the particular Amendment with which we are dealing, he has acknowledged my point that the Board could not report as required in Clause 6(1) unless it consulted with the local boards. The noble Lord used the words "at this point"; he acknowledged that the wording was sufficient and it is that wording with which we are dealing. In so far as he would wish the existence and purposes and activities of local boards to be advertised, so to speak, or encouraged throughout the Bill, that is a much wider question. But in dealing with this particular Amendment I return to my point that it is unnecessary to have the words in.


My Lords, I am afraid that noble Lords may feel that I am becoming a trifle repetitive in trying to move these Amendments dealing with the local boards. I shall be fascinated to see how far we can go and how many further comments we can get from the noble Lord, Lord Oram. I fear we may exhaust his charm and kindness in rebutting our Amendments. He says that of course the National Board will have to consult with the local boards. If, as he says, this is so self-evident, and it would seem innocuous, we wonder why it cannot be written into the Bill at this stage. As I pointed out in trying to move this Amendment, it is a little different from Amendments Nos.24 and 25. We believe that it is very relevant at this stage and considerably more important. However, we take what the noble Lord says, that before the National Board can come up with a workable scheme it will have to make the fullest consultation with the local boards.

Of course the local boards will first of all have to be set up and then the National Board will have to consult them. I think there are 395 ports all round the coastline of the United Kingdom, and we believe that there will be a great deal of work which will have to be done by local boards. We believe that it is important that the Amendment should be written into the Bill, particularly in view of what the noble Lord, Lord Oram, has said is self-evident. He has given us very kind assurances that the local boards will be recommending courses of action to the National Board, but we believe that the Bill as at present drafted should contain the provision.

Industrial relations cannot be enforced by writing laws; nevertheless, this is not just a case of industrial relations. This is setting up a course of conduct and setting out rules of conduct for the National Board. Of course there are arguments for the noble Lord, Lord Oram, although we are not totally convinced by them. He says that the scheme would contain provisions, so we shall have to accept his assurances, kind as they are, at this stage and regretfully beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

9.40 p.m.

Lord ORAM moved Amendment No. 29: Page 7, line 35, leave out from ("until") to ("above") in line 36 and insert ("all those mentioned in subsection (3)").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this Amendment would allow other persons to whom a copy of a report has been sent by the Board to the Secretary of State under this clause at least one month in which to make representations to the Secretary of State. It was the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, who drew the attention of the Committee to this point. He questioned then why it was that employers and trade unions concerned should be allowed a month in which to make representations to the Secretary of State but not other persons concerned. We reviewed the matter in the light of what the noble Lord had said and I think he will agree that this Amendment meets the point that he made. If it is accepted it will make subsequent Amendments unnecessary. I beg to move.


My Lords, I should like to express my gratitude to the noble Lord. This is an eminently sensible Amendment which I think should be accepted.


My Lords, I should add my gratitude and admiration to the noble Lord for having done far more elegantly in one Amendment what I should have done inelegantly in three.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Lord AIREDALE moved Amendment No. 33: Page 8, line 5, leave out ("and section 7 below").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, perhaps we can discuss Amendments Nos.33 and 34 together because they deal with the same point. Clause 7 incorporates a definition of "cargo" and "ship"—a special definition for the purpose of Clause 7. There is also a special definition for the purpose of Clause 7 of "port" but it is not contained in that clause. One has to look to Clause 6 in order to find the special definition of "port". This is a trap for the unwary, busy lawyer because busy practitioners do not read the Statutes straight through; they dodge about and read only the sections which bear upon the particular problem they are considering, and it really is rather much to expect the reader to suppose that the definitions in subsection (1) of Clause 7 are incomplete and that if he wants to find the special definition of "port" he must look elsewhere in the Bill in order to find it.

These two Amendments seek to put that situation right and to remove the trap. They insert the definition of "port" for the purpose of Clause 7 in Clause 7 alongside the definitions of cargo" and "ship" in that clause. I beg to move.


My Lords, these two Amendments are very helpful drafting Amendments. We are indebted to the noble Lord and we unhesitatingly accept them.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 7 [Loading and unloading operations]:

Lord AIREDALE moved Amendment No. 34: Page 8, line 14, at end insert ("and "port" means the same as in section 6 above").

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Lord SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 35: Page 8, line 36, after ("of") insert ("work which is done at any small harbour as defined in subsection (6) of section 4 above or in respect of").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, what a delightful Report stage we are having! I beg to move Amendment No. 35 to the very last part of Clause 7(3). This is a clause which covers loading and unloading of cargo other than in the 1967 Scheme ports. On this side, we do not want all that is involved here to be applied unnecessarily to any port or activity, because it is a laborious and expensive procedure. My noble friend Lord Drumalbyn will be arguing in a moment that it will not really do as it stands, and if it is to operate at all it may have to be made rather more elaborate than at present. The purpose of this Amendment is to exclude from any of the operations of this clause the work which is done in any small harbour as at present defined in subsection (6) of Clause 4. It would seem only logical to do that at this point if it is done in Clause 4, because that takes small harbours as defined in subsection (6) (a), (b) and (c), out of consideration of the Scheme. Therefore we should not want it to be included, as it were, inadvertently in the operation of Clause 7.

I do not suppose noble Lords opposite will like this because they do not like the Amendments we have made to Clause 4, but I hope they will agree that while those Amendments are in the Bill, it would be sensible and right to include this Amendment as well. I shall be interested to hear what the noble Lord opposite has to say. I beg to move Amendment No. 35.


My Lords, before the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, rises to reply, I should like to add my support to the Amendment moved by my noble friend, since it was I who moved this particular series of Amendments in Committee, because I was particularly concerned with the position in small ports. In spite of comments such as "butchery" made by the noble Lord, Lord Oram, earlier this evening, I thought we had a flicker of support in Committee on the small ports aspect. I seek to support my noble friend.


My Lords, we do not like this Amendment any more than we like the principal Amendment. I must point out that this Amendment would place the onus upon the employer for deciding whether the harbour in which he has conducted his business was excluded under Clause 4(6). We do not think it reasonable to place such a requirement upon the individual employers, particularly since there would be criminal sanctions under Clause 7(5) if the employer took a wrong decision. This seems to us to be totally unreasonable.


My Lords, I agree with that. In order to avoid any such disastrous effects of one of our Amendments, we will take that point away and think about it. But I remind noble Lords opposite that we may return to it at the next stage of the Bill. I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

9.49 p.m.

Lord DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 36: Page 9, line 2, leave out from ("during") to ("the") in line 3 and insert ("each of the twelve months immediately preceding").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the noble Lord opposite will remember that on "Clause 7 stand part" in the previous debate in Committee, I went into a few difficulties that I foresaw in the operation of this clause. This Amendment refers to one of them, namely, the value of a statement such as is required under this clause for the purposes for which it is demanded. As I understand it, the purpose for which it is demanded is to show the amount of work that is being done in the various ports around the country. But if we are only going to do that for one month, it will not necessarily be representative of what happens throughout the year.

The Amendment that has just been discussed and withdrawn would, of course, have very much reduced the objections to this, because in the larger ports, I would imagine—I do not mean the big ports, but the larger ports between the small ports and the very big ports—the rate of movement of cargo in and out is probably a good deal more constant than it is in some of the small ports, at least. The difficulty is that this clause, in the way it is framed, requires anyone who does dock work or an employer for whom dock work is done in the period of one month beginning with the appointed day to put in this written statement, and the written statement is apparently to relate to that one month.

I have said that this is by no means satisfactory, because of the possible fluctuations in trade in many of the ports. For that reason the logical thing is for the report to relate to the 12 months before the appointed day, in the same way as is required in the case of 1967 Scheme ports under Clause 6(2). This is the logical thing to do. I quite recognise that the question is whether it is practicable, whether the statistics will necessarily have been compiled. But I do not think it would be possible for the Government to reach any kind of firm conclusions as to whether trade fluctuates in any of the ports in respect of which they receive these statements without inspecting all of them on the site. I put down this Amendment as being the logical and sensible thing to do, and I can only commend it to the House. I beg to move.


My Lords, I do not think there is any difference of principle between us here. If there is any difference at all, it is due to misunderstanding. The purpose of this survey based upon one month is not to determine whether to classify or declassify. Something much deeper would be required before coming to that kind of conclusion. The purpose here is a preliminary survey to determine priorities. After the priorities are decided, then there will be a full investigation, and it is upon that full investigation that the question of whether to recommend classification would arise.

We feel that it could put a lot of work upon employers to get out the information during the past 12 months for each separate month. We do not think that is necessary. In the case of many employers, the information would simply not be available; for example, they may know for each month how many were on the pay roll, but they may not know what work these people were doing, whether they were loading or unloading or doing other cargo handling. So far as the one month is concerned, by publicity they will be given preliminary notice of that. They will know that the information is required for the one month and, consequently, they will be able to keep the information without difficulty. We feel that to go back for 12 months would create difficultties for employers which ought to be avoided. I can assure the noble Lord that the Board will need to take into account the position over a much longer period if the question of classification is the question under consideration.


My Lords, before my noble friend decides what to say to that, I wonder whether the noble Lord could tell me for what purpose the information is required if it is not in order to form a view leading to a recommendation about classification? How is this information used? What is the purpose of it? What happens next?


My Lords, I think I mentioned that it was for the purpose of determining priorities. The Scheme will come into operation in the non-Scheme ports one after another. It is to determine which is the port which should be considered first, and then there will be a full investigation before a recommendation is made or not made on classification.

9.56 p.m.


My Lords, we gradually unfold the mysteries of this Bill. I am not clear what is meant by the priorities in this case. I take it that, before priorities can be dealt with at all, there has to be designation of the area in which the port is situated under Clause 4. In other words, one has to know whether or not it is a dock area. It is only then that priorities would be relevant. It seems that the first step that has to be taken is to designate those areas in which the Dock Labour Scheme is to apply; in other words, the Dock Labour Scheme areas.

I wonder whether the noble Lord could enlighten us on this. I have not yet been able to fathom what the stages in this Bill are. Clause 4 talks of the Secretary of State making his proposals for the new Scheme, "as soon as may be". We ought to have some idea what, "as soon as may be" means in this connection. Is it anticipated that he will do it before these reports and statements under Clauses 6, 7 and 8 come in? It seems very germane to the consideration of what information is required at what stage.

I share the mystification of my noble friend Lord Sandford as to the purpose of this group of statements. One would almost have thought that the Government had somehow lost some of the ports and they were reporting, so to speak, round the country. It is curious that they seem to want to get information which, at the best, is going to be very sketchy and, at the worst, could be positively misleading. I do not see how they can determine priorities on the basis of one month's return. I think that the Government ought to look at this again.


My Lords, this is a Report stage.


My Lords, there is such a thing as leave of the House, and I have asked a question.


With the leave of the House, my Lords, I can only emphasise what I said; that it is intended that the Board shall have the facilities for making a survey of non-Scheme ports and the purpose of this return is to enable it to make that survey. It will be sizing up the problem and then, after that has been done, it can designate, investigate and recommend classification if it so concludes. The first step is to size up the whole problem and that is the intention of the return.


My Lords, I am doubtful whether I am taking a step forwards or backwards. If the statement in sub-section (3) means the arriving at some sort of priorities, may I ask the noble Lord—because I am rather at a loss to understand the purpose—the point in referring that statement to a trade union under sub-section (6)? We will be discussing this on a later Amendment, but it would be helpful if the noble Lord could explain this in slightly more detail because there seems to be something of a clash here.


My Lords, I suspect that this is designed to save money and time. The trade union has the power of veto under the Bill, although perhaps I should not mention that at this stage because I believe that the veto comes under Clause 8 rather than Clause 7. Presumably this provision is designed to inform the trade union so that it can make its submissions immediately. At this stage it is merely a general survey and much further research will be required before there is a decision whether or not to recommend classification.


The mystery grows deeper all the time, my Lords. Fortunately, I have an Amendment down to leave out Clause 7, which means that we can debate this matter later. If that does not succeed perhaps we shall have to recommit the Bill in respect of Clause 7. The Government cannot have it both ways. Either the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, was right when he said to my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn that the purpose of the statement—and it is a very crude statement—indicating what has happened in these ports in one particular month will be used as a sort of broad indication on which the Board will make up its mind as to which non-Scheme ports are surveyed first (which is a defensible and respectable answer), or he should have said, as he went on to say, that in addition to that it is somehow going to save money to refer it to a trade union at that early stage and that that trade union will then use that information as a sort of trigger to some power it has of vetoing something, presumably the survey. This is too bizarre even to contemplate.

I will leave it at that for now because fortunately, as I say, we have an Amendment to leave out Clause 7. We shall then be able to have a general review of what has been said. However, if that is not satisfactory we may have to recommit the Bill in respect of Clause 7 and then, in Committee, thresh the whole thing out properly.


That would be quite unreasonable, my Lords. I was asked for an explanation and I gave it. I explained that there was a misunderstanding; the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, assumed that this report was sought for the purposes of determining whether or not to recommend classification. I am giving an assurance that that is not its purpose. Its purpose is a preliminary survey to get a picture as a whole and to establish priorities.


My Lords, with the leave of the House may I, in anticipation of withdrawing this Amendment, say that I do not know why the noble Lord made that assumption as to the reason why I was asking for this information? I did not know what it was all about and that was why I was asking for information. Perhaps we can come back to this matter when we discuss clause stand part. With the leave of the House, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment?

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 7 [Loading and unloading operations]:

10.6 p.m.

Lord SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 37: Page 9, line 23, after ("representations") insert ("to the Board").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 37. This is needed to page 9, line 23, because it is not clear on the face of the Bill to whom those representations should be made. The general logical trend of Clause 7 is that we start off with a statement which has to be put in by every employer and this, as it were, goes up the line, gets referred to a trades union, then the Board has to deal with it and it eventually goes up to the Secretary of State. We know from the debate in Committee that this particular representation does not go on to the Secretary of State for him to bear in mind when he deals with the recommendation from the Board but goes back to the Board for them to take into account before the Board makes the recommendation to the Secretary of State.

It is possible to misunderstand this. One or other of my noble friends misunderstood it at the previous stage and assumed that the representation would go on to the Secretary of State. I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, who assured us that that was not the intention and that the representation went back to the Board. But it must be made clear in the Bill, and we would like to hear what noble Lords have to say about it.


My Lords, this Amendment is unnecessary. In the context of the Bill it surely means that representations under Clause 7(6) must be to the Board. At that stage no report has been made to the Secretary of State, so the representations clearly at that stage are to the Board. I do not think that any additional words are necessary to make clear what is, I should have thought, already clear.


My Lords, perhaps this throws some light on the previous point about what the representations are likely to be about. I should have thought they were likely to be questioning the information given under subsection (4)(d), the name of any trade union which is concerned with the classification of the work.". The rest is more or less factual. That is supposed to be factual also but would be the thing that would interest the trade unions. Having said that, may I say that I agree with the noble Lord that one would read that as meaning representations to the Board if one read it carefully. I am bound to say, however, that when I first read it I also made a mistake.


My Lords, in view of that, and of what happened at Committee stage, I think it is a pity that the noble Lord cannot be persuaded to insert this Amendment in the Bill. It could not possibly do any harm. Two people have already made a mistake or been doubtful about it, and I should have thought that that was not very good going at this stage. When an enormous number of people have to start operating the Act, it may become quite serious, or at any rate lead to a lot of unnecessary confusion. However, we will not make too much of it. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

10.10 p.m.

Lord DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 38: Page 9, line 24, leave out ("nine") and insert ("twelve").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is a probing Amendment to see whether the Government have thought again about the basic time (let me put it that way) which ought to be allowed to the Board to make its report to the Secretary of State. I dealt with this matter in some detail at the Committee stage, and I showed that 4½ months were likely to be taken up by the preliminary stages, during which the information would be coming to the Board, trade unions would be informed and an opportunity would be given for them to make representations. That, then, leaves only 4½ months for the Board to compile their report, to make any visits that are necessary and to consult with the National Ports Council, the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and, of course, the Secretary of State for Scotland.

I should have thought that it was unnecessary to provide too tight a schedule on this. The longer you give, I think, the more likely you will be able to get in accurate information, particularly in cases of this kind. The likely-hood is that some statements may have to be referred back to ports because they are not in a correct form. So for the full time required before the Board would be able to report I should have thought 12 months was more appropriate than nine months. From the mechanism of working the Scheme, it is, I think, better to be on the generous side; and, as I say, I believe that the Government will get better results if they were a little more generous in the amount of time they allowed the Board to make its report to the Secretary of State. I beg to move.


My Lords, the Government's position is that they believe that in most cases nine months will prove a sufficient period for this purpose. The intention of this clause is that the work of loading and unloading ships at non-Scheme ports and wharves should be considered quickly and brought under the new Scheme as soon as is reasonably possible. The period of nine months from the appointed day allows the Board six months to undertake its consultations and make its report. We think that reasonable, and that the existence of a deadline will ensure that proceedings do not become unnecessarily protracted. There will no doubt be a few cases where a report cannot be prepared within the nine months. In these cases the Secretary of State will be able to extend the period under Clause 7(6)(b).


Yes, my Lords, I appreciate that. One scrap of valuable information we have obtained from what the noble Lord has just told us is that the priorities are priorities for being brought into the new Scheme, and not priorities for classification of dock work. My Lords, we are getting on. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 39: Page 9, line 34, leave out ("would be") and insert ("is").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is a rather curious Amendment to make, but again it is intended to obtain some information from the Government. This, I think I am right in saying, is an Amendment which was made at Committee stage. The point here is: On receiving the statement the Board shall… recommend that the whole or any part of the work specified in the statement, so far as done at the premises … be classified for the future as dock work.". Then the provision continues: the Board shall not so recommend if … the work is done at premises which would be outside a dock labour scheme area designated under subsection (2) of section 4 …". If it had been designated already the Board would know whether or not it was outside a Dock Labour Scheme. If it has not been designated the Board would not know whether it is going to be and therefore "would be" would be inappropriate. I am not certain—and this is not a political point; it is rather a grammatical point—whether "premises", that is, one premises, is singular or plural. In order to make the matter clear that I was dealing with it in a single context, I put down "is", treating it collectively. That could be changed to "are" if it were thought to be more elegant or correct.

The point again is that what we want to know is at what stage the new Scheme to be made under Clause 4 is going to appear and how soon it will be before the Dock Labour Scheme areas are designated. If I am right in interpreting what the noble Lord said on the last Amendment, the Government are going to do this piecemeal—to designate areas one at a time or certainly piecemeal—and it is very difficult to see what the correct words would be to cover that point; for the Board could not know for certain whether the premises in question would be outside a Dock Labour Scheme area if the area had not been designated as a Dock Labour Scheme area. If it had been, it would know and the right word is "is", and not "would be" or "is" or "are". But I hope the noble Lord will be able to tell us something of the time-scale. We cannot consider this Bill and get it into perspective without knowing the time-scale. Perhaps he could tell us in more precise terms what "as soon as may be" in Clause 4 is intended to mean.


My Lords, the noble Lord's second thoughts were best. Estate agents say, "These premises are desirable" and not "This premises is desirable".


My Lords, I would add to that, before the noble Lord answers, the substance of the question that it may be that "premises" like "assets" is a singular word but it is not an elegant word. Would not a better form of the Amendment be simply to say, "premises outside", obviating the whole question of whether it "is" or "are" but not "would be"?


My Lords, this is an Amendment to a previous Opposition Amendment made to the Bill at Committee stage. The previous Amendment was accepted by the Government as consequential to those Amendments to Clause 4 which removed the cargo-handling zone from the Bill. As this Amendment does no more than modify the Opposition's own wording, the Government would not wish to resist it. However, the Amendment would seem to create something of a nonsense. It would have the clear effect of preventing any work from being recommended for classification under this clause unless the place where it was being done was already within a Dock Labour Scheme area. But Clause 4(2) says that Dock Labour Scheme areas are areas for which the Scheme has been brought into force by order of the Secretary of State. The Scheme would therefore have to be applied in advance to all areas where it seemed possible work might be recommended for classification, even if none eventually was classified. The Secretary of State would have to decide what he thought he might want to do about an area so that the Board could make a recommendation about whether the Scheme should be applied. That would not be a sensible arrangement. I advise the Opposition not to accept this Amendment.


My Lords, I shall have to look again at what the noble Lord said. The one thing we agree on is that these words are in the Bill as a result of an Opposition Amendment. It is difficult to get any inkling from what the noble Lord said as to the answer to my question on timing. It looks as if, by and large, most of the classification decisions as to premises in particular areas will be taken before the new Scheme is made, at any rate before a particular area is designated as a dock area. That seems to follow from one of the things he said. But, nevertheless, there will be scope for classification after that. This does not bring us any nearer the time-scale. I regret that. I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

10.22 p.m.

Lord MOTTISTONE moved Amendment No. 40:

Page 10, line 15, at end insert— ("( ) The Confederation of British Industry regarding the handling of food and other perishable goods;").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, your Lordships will remember that a similar Amendment was moved by me at Committee stage. The noble Lord, Lord Jacques, was cavalier with it. Looking at the time on that occasion, lie may have been hungry as it was rather late after lunch. I was certainly hungry. He made two points: one, the Amendment was unnecessary because the CBI was going to be consulted about the composition of the Board and there would be people on the Board who would speak for the CBI. It was not necessary to ensure that they were consulted under the heading of subsection (9). Secondly, he made the same play about the fact that there might be subjects which might not be suitable for other employers' bodies which I had included. I did not entirely accept that point for the reasons given at the time.

I have accepted that it is probably reasonable for the CBI to represent all employers' organisations, notwithstanding the fact that food in particular is perhaps the most important commodity that passes through the ports, because we all have to eat. Therefore, I have modified my Amendment considerably. I hope it appeals more to the noble Lord, Lord Jacques. On the question of duplication, because the CBI has a say in the composition of the Board, I suggest that duplication already occurs in the Bill as put forward by the Government.

It will be noted that subsection (9) says: they shall in particular consult—"(a) the National Ports Council …". If your Lordships would turn to Clause 2(5) you will find this: the Board shall maintain regular consultation with the National Ports Council". So there is a certain duplication there which I should have thought was no more of a duplication than that which the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, was pointing out earlier. I do not really see that it matters if an important body has to be consulted. Where bodies are required to make decisions, perhaps that is another matter; but if it is just consultation, as I endeavoured to say at Committee stage—I will not go into further detail about it now—the question of food supplies of the country is very important and the Confederation of British Industry can be relied upon to look after the interests of the food trades. Indeed, they have given me an assurance that of course they will consult the trade associations concerned if they themselves are consulted under this proposed Amendment. It would therefore seem to me not unreasonable to include them in this subsection.

Finally, perhaps I might remind your Lordships of the point I made during Committee stage, which is that if they were consulted they would be representing in fact the only people who have the technical experience of running the industries which are concerned with the goods that have to be imported and exported. I do not know whether I should begin to talk about something else for a moment but, as I am just coming to my conclusion, perhaps I could have the attention of the noble Lord, Lord Jacques—


You have never lost it.


I am glad to hear that: how splendid. I might have lost my attention in the circumstances. But if I might just come back to my thread, there is in fact the important point that the other bodies which compulsorily have to be consulted under the subsection are themselves official bodies without specialist knowledge of the problems of the goods which have to be exported and imported—in particular, the handling of food and other perishable goods. So it would seem to me there is a special case and that this time perhaps the Government might accept this Amendment as being reasonable in the circumstances. if it pleases the House, I would be happy to consider with this Amendment No. 40, Amendment No. 50, which is very similar. I beg to move Amendment No. 40.


My Lords, like the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, I shall try to save time by speaking to Amendments Nos.40 and 50 at the same time. The effect of Amendment No. 40 is to require the Board always to consult the CBI under Clauses 7 and 8 on procedures in the way in which the Amendment indicates. Similar Amendments were tabled at the Committee stage, except that the requirement then was also to consult the Food and Drug Industries Council and the National Cold Storage Federation—


My Lords, if the noble Lord will forgive me, it is the Food and Drink Industries Council.


My Lords, I beg the noble Lord's pardon. The Government's position has not changed. Clause 7(9) and Clause 8(7) require the Board, for the purposes of their recommendation, to consult such persons as appear to them to be concerned with the subject matter. There seems to us to be no reason to single out food as a commodity for which there should be consultation with the CBI. Why food and food only? A further point is that the amount of food that is likely to be affected, so far as non-Scheme ports are concerned, is about 10 per cent. of the food of this country. About 50 per cent. of our food is imported, but 80 per cent. comes through the Scheme ports, so that a spread of the Scheme to the non-Scheme ports would affect only 10 per cent. of the food supply. I would also point out that the Amendment is also unsatisfactory, in that it provides for some consultation with the employers' side but not with the employees' side. That, we think, is undesirable.


My Lords, perhaps I might answer the noble Lord's questions before we conclude on this Amendment. I suggest that perhaps he is rather over-simplifying the case in trying to separate out the non-Scheme ports, the percentages of food and so on, because are we not, under this clause and the later one, talking about consultation with regard to the classification of jobs as dock jobs?


My Lords, what we are largely concerned about in Clause 8 is classifying as dock work that which has left the docks and is being done elsewhere as a result of containerisation.


Yes, my Lords; but not necessarily containerisation. It is the classification of jobs as dock jobs, and this is by no means limited to the non-Scheme ports. It will certainly apply in the non-Scheme ports, but part of our worries is that certainly in the Bill as originally written, though it is in much better shape now, there was all kinds of scope for all kinds of jobs, not just relating to containers, to be classified as dock jobs, and this applied to existing ports, to the hinterland above existing ports and it still applies to half a mile outside existing ports. All kinds of jobs could fall within the various classifications which the Bill now has, and there will be even more if it is ruined by another place when it goes back there. So, altogether, I do not think it is fair to imply that we are talking about only 10 per cent. of the food imports, because that is what goes through the non-Scheme ports. I suggest to the noble Lord that that is almost by way of being a red herring, and perhaps he should rap his advisers over the knuckles for suggesting such an approach to your Lordships' House.

So let us think for the moment about all the jobs that there might be in existing dock areas in the non-Scheme ports and the like, and consider why it is that I have sought to single out food and perishable goods—but particularly food—for special consideration, and for the CBI to be the agent for consideration. The reason is that we all have to eat, as I have said many times, and 50 per cent. of our food, on each and every day in every year, come, into this country through the ports. Therefore, we find ourselves in the position that if there is any form of an embargo on a major scale upon our importing and exporting we shall starve. It is as simple as that and it is very serious. I do not suppose that it will actually happen, but think what a weapon this is if a fair amount of safeguards are not contained in the Bill to try to make sure that a blackmailing power is not granted to relatively few people. It is the power that is important rather than whether it would be used.

This is one of the underlying threats in the Bill and why, in particular, we need to safeguard our food supplies. It is because of that threat that we believe the Confederation of British Industry ought to be an obligatory consultant when it comes to the two stages—both the report and, under Clause 8, the actual classification of dock jobs—because they represent people who will be able to give practical advice as to the effects of making this or that job into a dock job.

I would strongly recommend to the Government that the people who, in the end, stand to lose the most by not having the necessary regulatory powers contained within the Bill are the Government themselves. When it comes to threats of blackmail and stopping the food supplies, we shall find that it is the Government who are losing the battle, not anybody else. It is the Government's power to govern which in the last resort could be under threat from the Bill. We have to make sure that there are enough safeguards to prevent the Government's powers to govern from being threatened by this otherwise perhaps innocuous Bill.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

10.36 p.m.

Lord JACQUES moved Amendment No. 41: Page 10, line 37, leave out from ("that") to ("have") in line 38 and insert ("they").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, Amendment No. 41 follows an earlier Government Amendment to Clause 6 by giving others, as well as employers and the unions concerned, one month within which to make representations. I beg to move.


My Lords, again we are grateful for this Amendment as it follows very much the lines of the previous Amendment.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Lord SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 42: Leave out Clause 7.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 42.


My Lords, before the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, deals with Amendment No. 42, may I direct his attention to the Companion to the Standing Orders in which we read near to the foot of page 123: An amendment to leave out a Clause or Schedule is not desirable on Report if the purpose underlying the amendment is to initiate a general debate, rather than a genuine desire to leave out the Clause or Schedule".


My Lords, I absolutely agree. That is why so far I have done it only once. However, I am very glad that I did. While working on the Bill over the weekend I had a hunch that we might be left with one or two unresolved mysteries, but I must confess I had no idea that the mystery would deepen as much as it has. I agree absolutely with the noble Lord that this is a very undesirable practice and, had we had more time, I should have framed an Amendment instead, which is a much better way to proceed.

I do not want to have a very wide-ranging debate, but I want to probe the mystery that has arisen from some of the answers which the noble Lord gave to my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn. We must start by going to the overall purpose of the clause. So far I have rested my understanding of it on the Explanatory Memorandum to which I shall draw your Lordships' attention? Clause 7 requires employers, who are paid in the course of their business to load cargo into sl[...]ps or unload cargo from ships within the cargo handling zone"— that is the dock labour area now— during a period of a month beginning on the appointed day, to give details of such work and the names of relevant trade unions to the Board within 3 months of that day. There are specified exceptions"— and we have debated some of those— including work in a port where the 1967 Scheme is in force. Within 9 months of the appointed day the Board is required to report to the Secretary of State whether it recommends that such work"— that is presumably work of the same kind as that referred to in the statement— should be classified as dock work. It was on the basis of that statement, with all its shortcomings, that I, and I think my friends, had assumed that a final recommendation would be made as to whether the work to which the statement referred should be classified. Therefore I regarded Clause 1 as one of the clauses which would lead in the end to classification and a recommendation to the Secretary of State accordingly. What is the purpose of the statement if it is not the basis for classifying work? The noble Lord has now said that it will serve in some way to indicate the priorities by which ports are to be surveyed in more detail prior to being introduced—one after the other, I suppose—into the overall dock labour scheme. That is the impression he left me with.

The third question that follows is: If the work is not to be classified on the basis of the statement—and in the course of his remarks he has said that that is not the case, despite what it says in the Explanatory Memorandum—then we want to know on what information the decision to classify the work is to be taken. How is it to be arrived at? And, if it is not to be done as part of the machinery under Clause 7, under which clause is it to be done? If it is to be done under some other clause, does the statement referred to in Clause 7 play any other part different from that indicated in the Explanatory Memorandum or different from what the noble Lord has said about giving an indication of priorities?

The fourth question which we need to probe is what is meant by the trade unions vetoing something? What can they veto in this clause or anywhere else in the Bill? I hope the House will agree with me that these are mysterious matters which ought to be resolved now, or, if that is asking too much, in correspondence which will have to go into the Official Report between now and the next stage. I beg to move.

Viscount KEMSLEY

My Lords, I should like to support my noble friend in this case. I, too, have listened to all the debates on the various Amendments moved on this clause. I started by being very mystified as to what it was all about. I do not think I have learned a lot since, but trying to trace it through I found that starting, as it were, in subsection (2) one finds: … the employer … shall send to the Board a written statement … and then in subsection (4) one finds reference to the particulars required in the statement as to the number of individuals employed during the month. And then on to subsection (6) which says: On receiving the statement the Board shall"— (a) invite unions to make representations, and (b) recommend that the whole or part of the work be classified. If they receive the statement and invite the union to make representations, surely the representations might be made to the employer who originated the statement and not to the Board, as was pointed out by the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, when he said that the Amendment moved by my noble friend was no longer required.

Secondly, as my noble friend has just said, when the statement is received by the Board, it decides what work shall be classified. There is no mention there of the priorities or full investigation which the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, indicated earlier, and I should like to have some information about it.


My Lords, I will first deal with the main issue, which is to leave out Clause 7. The effect of the Amendment would be to remove the special procedures for ensuring that non-scheme ports could, where appropriate, quickly be brought within the new scheme.


My Lords, if I may interrupt the noble Lord, I really think this would be a waste of time. I clearly indicated that it was not my intention to leave out the clause.


My Lords, I should have thought that the purpose was under the Standing Orders—Standing Orders makes that clear.


My Lords, the noble Lord of course read that part of the Standing Orders which supported his case, but if he had read on he would have found that it said: Such an amendment is not, however, out of order; it may, indeed, he appropriate when, for instance, a Lord wishes to learn the outcome of an undertaking given in Committee". That was what I wanted to do, and I thought that I had made it clear.


My Lords, I will deal with the points raised by the noble Lord when we were discussing Amendment No. 36. Subsection (6) requires the Board to tell the union which is named in subsection (4)(d) the contents of the statement so that the union can comment. Under Clause 4, the Board is responsible for issuing the first notice to both employers and unions, indicating what work is under consideration and what is carried out. The statement under Clause 7 is intended to fulfil the purpose of a first notice; in other words, to make clear exactly what is under consideration and where it is to be carried out.

There should be no argument about the information in subsection (4)(a), (b) and (d) going to the union. In the case of subsection (4)(c), we take the view that the union recognised by the employer would be aware of what the employer has said, so that he could make representations, for example, that the manpower situation in the month is untypical. The point of Clause 7(4)(c) is that it enables the Board to determine priorities and should lead employers and unions to say whether the figures in that month are typical. It will not matter in large non-scheme ports; it will only matter in the smaller ports. I think that clears up some of the points raised by the noble Lord.


My Lords, I really cannot say that that is in the least satisfactory. I asked the noble Lord four questions; I have not really received answers to any of them. The noble Lord has clarified a little of what my noble friend Lord Drumablyn asked before. I am afraid that this means we will have to raise the matter in some detail and put down a series of Amendments to probe each of the points when we get to the Third Reading. If the noble Lord would like to help me by writing to me on these points, I should be most grateful, because then the time we spend on this clause on Third Reading will be put to better use.

I must say that having listened to the discussion, and having ploughed through this clause, I am not at all sure that a more orderly way of dealing with it would not be to recommit the clause to Committee, and then we could have the kind of debate it seems to me we need to have. That is something I will think about between now and the next stage. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 8 [Cargo-handling operations in general]:

10.51 p.m.

Lord LYELL moved Amendment No. 43:

Page 11, line 5, leave out from beginning to second ("work") and insert— ("( ) Where more than one half of all the hours worked by persons engaged in the handling of cargo on the premises in any continuous period of twelve months within the preceding five years have been spent on").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, with this particular Amendment we come to Clause 8, which as the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, was saying, deals with cargo handling. The noble Lord thought that this was particularly apposite to work that had left the dockside and moved inland. I think that is a paraphrase of what the noble Lord said, but his meaning was clear.

My Lords, the Amendment that we are now discussing follows one which I moved on Committee stage, and as noble Lords who were with us then will be aware, it concerns work on premises which the Board shall not classify as that which must be done by registered dock workers. This is the vexed question of premises where there is what we would call a split labour force, where some handle cargo coming from overseas, either by roll-on or roll-off vehicle, or by inter-modal container, and where we find some employees handling home-produced goods.

Many of the fears expressed in respect of the Bill arise from work done in substitution for work at present or in the past few years carried out by registered dock workers at the port side. Noble Lords will notice that the Amendment attempts to give a definition of what we were seeking in a similar Amendment which I am afraid was not correctly drafted on Committee stage. It appears fairly reasonable where a small proportion of the work done is quantified in man hours, and is classifiable, that the major part of the work carried out on such premises should not be classified, but we cannot see that the figures would require to be taken in absurd detail in order to determine the basis for whether the work might or might not be classified.

My Lords, the Amendment itself does not affect any work which has been transferred from dock areas, so we hope we can discount fears from registered dock workers. The Amendment is concerned with the inland warehouses and stores where the employees are not, and never have been, registered dock workers.

My Lords, at the earlier stage I pointed out the fears of those unions who represent employees other than dock workers or transport drivers. There are also fears among employers at the inland depots that their existing agreements and practices, and the flexibility of their workforce, may be jeopardised by the Bill. Whatever has been said in this House on earlier stages of the Bill, these fears continue to be expressed to us by employers who already have satisfactory arrangements for dealing with a split labour force working on their premises. We consider this is a reasonable Amendment. It also seeks to define more clearly what we moved and intended to mean on Committee. I beg to move.


My Lords, I have not a long brief, although it is quite substantial, and on the second page I have a last sentence. The last sentence is that: "The Opposition wish to press the Amendment; the Government will not, however, seek to oppose it". I am prepared to leave it at that.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

10.56 p.m

Lord DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 44: Page 11, line 30, leave out ("other").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the purpose of moving this Amendment is to find out just how mischievous this particular clause is. This word "other" which I am moving to leave out comes in the sentence which says: The Board may under that Schedule"— that is, Schedule 4— determine that there are prima facie grounds for making a recommendation if it appears to them that the work— (a) is, or is to be, done by way of substitution for other work previously done by registered dock workers, whether at the same premises or elsewhere … What I want to know is just exactly what "other work" means and what are the limitations placed here. In this clause we are setting down the main conditions for the classification of dock work. This is laid down first of all in Clause 5(4) where it is said: … the work that may be classified is any which—

  1. (a) is done or to be done at premises in a dock labour scheme area; and
  2. (b)is within Part I of Schedule 3 to this Act and not within Part II of that Schedule".
Part I defines work that may be classified as dock work, and Part II excludes work and makes it not classifiable as dock work. That subsection starts with the disruptive words, "Subject to this Act". In other words, you are setting out a principle and immediately qualifying it. Here again Clause 8 starts up very nearly, but not quite the same—I do not know why it is different—" Subject to the provisions of this Act", and goes on: and in particular to subsection (2) below the Board may, in the case of any work done or to be done at premises in a dock labour scheme area and within Part I of Schedule 3 to this Act and not within Part II of that Schedule, report to the Secretary of State with a recommendation that the work, or some specified part of it, so far as done at those premises, be classified for the future as dock work". That lays down the principle of what may be done "subject to the provisions of this Act", and here we have what I think is one of the most objectionable provisions in the whole Act, the one I have read out. It refers to, "work which is done or is to be done by way of substitution for other work". What I want to know is whether "other" means different work. Must that work in all cases still come under Part I of Schedule 3, or is that somehow or other made invalid also by the qualifying words, "subject to the provisions of this Act"? We do not know where we are when you state principles of this kind and then immediately start to take away what has been made clear.

Noble Lords are well aware of our real difficulty here. We simply cannot understand why, when an employer has shown enterprise and initiative n finding ways of reducing transport and shipping costs, he should then be penalised in this way by having the work done on his premises classified as dock work when it was precisely because it was impracticable in the ports, because the difficulties were so great, that he simply had to go elsewhere, and moreover when he showed the initiative of adopting modern methods. For that reason, the system that he has established is going to be disrupted by classification as dock work for work which is done elsewhere—I should not have minded if it were done on the same premises—which has absolutely nothing to do with the work previously done by registered dock workers.

The point I am trying to make here from the point of view of clarity of definition is that the Board car make a recommendation if it appears to them that the work is, done by way of substitution for ether work previously done by registered dock workers … This, I take it, means different work done by registered dock workers. How can anybody say that a particular job on a particular premises is being done in substitution for some other work which at some time in the past was done elsewhere? I cannot understand it. You would have to identify the particular work done, the particular work for which it was being substituted, before you could operate this at all.

I disagree wholly with the purposes of this, but I do not believe that it will work unless the law is stretched considerably. I think that the noble Lord owes us an explanation. I suggest that the word "other" might be left out altogether, because I do not think it adds anything whatsoever to the definition. I should like to be assured that it means different work, and I want to be assured that it must at any rate be work which is defined under Part I of Schedule 3. My last point is that I simply do not see now you can identify what has been substituted for what. I beg to move.

11.4 p.m.


My Lords, I would support what the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, has said, and put a specific point by way of example to the noble Lord, Lord Jacques. Work which may be classified under Part I of Schedule 3 as dock work includes: … recording the time spent in handling, loading or unloading cargo. May we assume, as is not improbable, that at some time in the future that manual job will be replaced by computers? Am I right in thinking that under the provision as drafted, registered dock workers would have a right to the work of the computer programmers and would be entitled to the vacancies as and when there were shortages of existing computer-programmers? That seems to be exactly what the provision means.


My Lords, the omission of the word "other" would make no difference to the sense of the clause. If work is done in substitution, then the work for which it substitutes was necessarily "other" work, whether or not the word is used. The use of the word "other" helps make clear that there is a difference between the work which the Board is considering for a possible recommendation and the work which it is in substitution for. That deals with the use of the word. I think I can best deal with the matter in principle by answering the point made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wigoder, because in so doing I will cover the points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn.

The deletion of the word "other" would not in the Government's view affect such questions as whether skilled engineering work on complex machinery might be considered to be in substitution for work done by registered dock workers, in cases where that machinery replaced manual cargo-handling. This point was raised in Committee, in particular by the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, whose remarks can be found at column 384 of Hansard. Because the matter was raised, we have given it special consideration. The Government's view is that if the work is of a sort requiring specialised skills which registered dock workers would clearly never have been expected to do, had it arisen in the previous situation, then it cannot in any meaningful sense be considered to be done in substitution. In other words, we do not think that the work of an engineer who was looking after the maintenance of, say, a cold store, could be regarded in any way as work which was in substitution for manual work which was previously done by a docker as handling. I would say the same about the clerical work mentioned by the noble Lord. Recording by computer would obviously be in substitution for handwork that was done by, say, the tally clerk. In our view, work on computers requires a skill and is the kind of work that is never required of a registered docker and therefore could not be regarded as work which was in substitution. The ultimate result was in substitution but not the work itself; the work was entirely different.


My Lords, is there anything in the Bill—I do not think there is—which provides that the work is to be regarded as being in substitution only provided no special skill is required?


No, my Lords, there is nothing in the Bill to that effect, but in our view it is not work in substitution if the work is entirely different. The work is different. It is the effect that is the same and not the work that is the same.

Baroness SEEAR

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, for taking so seriously the point we raised in Committee about this subject. I agree with what he says about the intention of the Government in saying that it should not be in substitution, but I am still not happy—nor is my noble and learned friend Lord Wigoder, in view of the question he asked—that the phrase "work as it stands" means what Lord Jacques tells us it means. It seems to me that, "in substitution" as it stands must mean that work which is in substitution is work which is done "in the place of". While I am entirely in agreement with the meaning that the noble Lord has given to it, I very much doubt whether that is a proper interpretation of the wording as it stands. Could he therefore look at the wording again. We are in agreement as to what we would like it to mean but I very much doubt that it means that.


My Lords, I take the point that the noble Baroness has made. We will certainly have a look at this matter and will write to the noble Baroness and to other Members of the House who have taken part—in particular, the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn. We will look in particular to see whether any qualification is required in order to meet the point. I can assure the House that there is no difference on this issue between those who have spoken on this Amendment and the Government.


My Lords, I must make one comment on what the noble Lord has said; that is, that we all know that in this particular field the intentions of Government can be over-ruled from outside Government. It may very well be that a strong trade union will come along and say, "We think this computer work ought to be classified as dock work", however unreasonable it may seem. How can you distinguish? Where will you draw the line? There is a real difficulty here and it would be unsafe in the Government's own interest to leave this matter to the discretion of the Minister. He has been talking in the course of this debate today about pressures being brought on people before. Pressures can be brought on the Government, too, and they may be forced to change their intentions. Having said that, may I say that the noble Lord has been using the word, "different" in regard to work instead of the word "other". I very nearly left out "other" and put down "different". I wonder whether he might wish to consider this, especially as "other work" is used in another context on the next page of the Bill. Perhaps he could have a look at that in the meantime.


My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down I will make two remarks: first, we will certainly look at that. But, secondly, would he agree that he has stated the case for the Bill? He says that a trade union might take it into its head that computer work was in substitution and act accordingly. Might I point out to him that it can do that now and under the present law there is no proper procedure. We have provided the proper procedure. There has to be a recommendation from the national Board to the Secretary of State and the Secretary of State has to make an order. We are trying to get things working smoothly and, if ever I heard a case for the Bill, the noble Lord gave us it.


My Lords, with the leave of the House, I think I can treat that as an interruption because I have not yet withdrawn the Amendment. I agree with the noble Lord that what we are trying to do is two things: first, we are trying to make the Bill better; and, secondly, we are trying to understand what the Government intends by the Bill. That is what we arc trying to do at the moment. What we are saying in this case is: "All right, the Government have provided a better machinery here; let them make it better still." That is all. Can they look at it from that point of view? I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

11.14 p.m.

Lord DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 45: Page 11, line 38, leave out ("both") and insert ("more").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the noble Lord will have a note about this Amendment. It is perfectly clear. It will be within the recollection of the House that we were going rather fast at this time and somebody said, "Consequential" and an Amendment was passed which ought not to have been passed. This Amendment puts it right. I beg to move.


My Lords, does the first line and a half of subsection (6) really serve any purpose except to confuse, even as amended? Would it not be better to leave out that first line and a half and simply say: The Board shall not make a recommendation without considering …", and then follow the wording of subsection (6)(a), (b) and (c)? I think that first line and a half of the subsection is only confusing.


May I make two remarks? First, this is a matter for Committee stage, not Report stage. Nevertheless, we will look at the point and I will do something about it or write to the noble Lord.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

11.16 p.m.

Lord DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 46:

Page 12, line 14, at end insert— ("( ) the cost and efficient performance of the work;").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, there are three Amendments here which are fairly closely linked, but I think this one is independent. They all have to do with the cost of the work which it is proposed to classify. Among the things the Board has to consider is whether classification of the work would adversely affect a number of things. One thing conspicuously missing from the things they have to consider whether classification of the work would adversely affect is the cost and efficient performance of the work itself. It goes on thereafter to specify that the Board should consider, whether classification of the work would adversely affect … the efficient performance of other work done at the same premises", but what about the work itself? Obviously, I think it should have to consider this and take it into consideration in making its recommendations. I beg to move.

Baroness SEEAR

My Lords, I should very much like to support this Amendment, if only because we had the astonishing statement made earlier this evening that efficient performance, as that term is normally understood, is not something which is the purpose of this Bill. We from the Opposition Benches should like to stress that efficient performance still must remain one of the purposes of the reorganised docks.


My Lords, the effect of the Amendment is to require the Board to consider whether classification of the work and the consideration for classification would adversely affect its cost and efficient performance. Whether classification would adversely affect the cost as well as the efficient performance of other work not being considered for classification but carried out at the same premises—


My Lords, would the noble Lord forgive my interrupting him? We were specifically not taking these Amendments together. I rather think he is wishing to take them together. Would it not be better to dispose of them separately?


I was proposing to speak to Amendments Nos. 46, 47 and 48, which in our view have a very similar purpose.


I have moved only one, and I did not ask the House to consider the others in conjunction with it.


My Lords, a series of similar Amendments were tabled to Clause 7 and to this clause at Committee stage. In replying to the discussion on Clause 7, I said that we would be prepared to consider the matter in relation to Clause 8, but not Clause 7. I repeated this when the Clause 8 Amendments were formally put.

The Government have considered this matter carefully but are unable to advise the House to accept any of these Amendments for the following reasons. First, the Amendments would direct the Board to consider whether classification would adversely affect "the cost of the work". What exactly is meant by the phrase? The cost of the work is determined not only by labour costs but also by the over-heads such as interest charges on fixed installations and machinery and also by the level of profits. It is probably not the intention of the movers of the Amendment that the Board should go into such matters or to require it to consider whether, if the application of the scheme seemed likely to increase costs, the employers' profit margins should be reduced so as to ensure that costs were not adversely affected.

We have also tried to consider what particular aspects of costs the movers of the Amendment might have in mind. Whenever the term, "efficient performance" is used in the Bill and it has rightly been pointed out that this is closely linked to the question of cost, the Board's attention is directed towards particular matters which may affect efficient performance. Thus, in Clause 7(7)(ii) before it was amended, the engagement of a permanent labour force and similarly in Clause 8(6)(b) and (c). These tests are most important and we think it right that they should be clear and leave the Board in no doubt as to what is expected of it.

Reading through the debates gave no clue as to exactly what the Opposition had in mind and what tests they thought appropriate. If the Opposition simply had in mind a generalised sentiment that the Board should not forget about or ignore the question of cost, we think that any Amendments on these lines are unnecessary because Clause 8(6) directs the Board to consider, all other matters appearing to them to be relevant". It is open to the employer and the unions in their representations to give precise examples of how they think classification would affect a particular aspect of all the matters comprehended in the term "cost". It really does the House of Lords' reputation as a revising Chamber no good to seek to include imprecise exhortations of the kind which are in the Amendment.

11.23 p.m.


Really, my Lords, I think it does the reputation of the noble Lord's advisers no good at all to suggest that he addresses us in those terms. Costs are well and easily identifiable by those who have to deal with costs and expenses day by day. There is no need to spell out in a Bill what you mean by "cost". There were various aspects of costs which the noble Lord told us about, some of which were relevant and a number of which might not be; but it is perfectly easy for any competent person—and one imagines that the Board, if themselves not competent, will have competent people to serve them—to identify the costs of particular work under different circumstances.

It is quite wrong, I would suggest, and indeed almost beneath the dignity of Parliament to spell out how costing should be done. It is a technical exercise which can perfectly easily be described in the terms in which this Amendment puts it. As to the question of "efficient performance" of work, this admittedly might be, in some cases, a subjective judgment. It is difficult to anticipate, when you examine a job in the abstract, exactly what, in particular circumstances, efficient performance will mean. But it should be perfectly possible, again for a competent person, to make a judgment on these lines.

It is necessary for the whole question of cost and efficiency to be particularly included in those items to which the Board's attention is directed. When he answered my noble friend, the noble Lord was almost complaining that the Board should have its mind directed in this direction. He said that they should consider in particular the beginning of subsection (6) as well as other matters appearing to them to be relevant. He implied that, if it was important, they would deal with it, anyhow. Then in another way he was saying that it is not important under this clause, and so therefore it is almost wicked to include it. That was the impression. The noble Lord will correct me if I am wrong.

The fact of the matter is that any work at any time must be seen against a cost and efficiency background. It is a fundamental for assessing whether work should be done at all, let alone who should do it. It seems to me ludicrous to suggest that it is wrong to include it in this clause. It is also wrong to suggest that it cannot be taken into account in the terms of this clause in a sensible way by reasonably competent people. As he has had to do this, I am sure the noble Lord understands exactly what I am saying. I suggest that the noble Lord thinks again before providing the same answer to the Amendments which follow. Perhaps, in the meantime, he can consider whether this Amendment is reasonable and do what seems to be sensible and agree with us that it should be accepted.

11.27 p.m.


My Lords, I started the proceedings on this stage by complimenting the noble Lord on the strenuous efforts he has been putting into meeting the requirements of the House. I am still full of admiration for what he and the noble Lord, Lord Oram, have done in the circumstances. He had not seen any of these Amendments until this morning. The fact that he has been able to answer them as well as he has is greatly to the credit of him and his Department. But from about the end of Clause 7—and certainly now—we have reached the point where I suspect that neither his Department nor the noble Lord have had the time to get to the bottom of what we are dealing with.

Maybe we should continue for a little longer; there is an understanding to go on until midnight. I do not think we can regard his answer as a satisfactory one. When the noble Lord reads this debate he will see perfectly well what we are getting at when we talk about costs. I mentioned one of them when dealing with Amendment No. 21; it is the cost of bearing a share of the 5,000 surplus men—most of whom are unfit—whom every employer of registered dock labour has to take on. That is one of the costs. There are many others which are simple to understand if somebody has had the time to address their mind to the Bill. I do not think any of us have had time to do this Bill justice. I doubt whether we are serving a useful purpose in going on much longer. We will do the best we can if this is what is wanted.


The noble Lord has been so courteous so far in dealing with Amendments that I am sorry he was provided at this stage with such an appalling brief. I have every sympathy with his advisers, because they have had a terrible time. I think their nerve must be beginning to crack at this point. When they had a thoroughly impossible case to defend, they committed the obvious error of attacking the opposing attorney. I think we shall have to come back to this later. It is a most unsatisfactory situation. My noble friend Lord Mottistone has absolutely torn to shreds the reply given by the noble Lord. I think the best thing here is to look at the other Amendments as a whole to see whether we cannot co-ordinate them in an effective way at the next stage. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

11.31 p.m.

Lord LYELL moved Amendments Nos. 47 and 48: Page 12, line 15, after ("the") insert ("cost or") Page 12, line 20, at end insert ("the cost or efficient performance of the work; or (iii)")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, if it would be to the convenience of the House, I should like to move Amendments Nos.47 and 48 together. At Committee stage I moved these two Amendments in conjunction with others which attempted to amend Clause 7. The noble Lord, Lord Jacques, in replying to Amendment No. 46, referred to these two Amendments. At Committee stage, the Amendments relating to Clause 7 were accepted, and the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, pointed out—


The noble Lord is mistaken, my Lords. The Amendments relating to Clause 7 were not accepted: they were taken to a Division.


My Lords, I apologise. They were taken to a Division and are now in the Bill. Those pertaining to Clause 8 were withdrawn because the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, pointed out in, I think, column 721 of the Official Report during Committee stage, that there were far stricter tests so far as costs were concerned which would have to be applied in Clause 8. He took great trouble to point out that he was prepared to look at the question of costs on this clause. Indeed, he gave us his answer earlier in reply to my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn over Amendment No. 46. I was going to ask the noble Lord what attitude the Government would take over costs and costefficiency, as they are crucial to this part of the Bill. However, the noble Lord gave us a fairly firm answer as to the Government's attitude to these concepts.

So far as cost and cost-efficiency are concerned, these are matters that the Board "shall consider". The problem of the port industry is mainly one of cost and cost-efficiency, not forgetting that there are other problems which cannot be quantified in money or measurable terms. We consider that the provisions of Clause 8(6)(c) have a major bearing on costs and finance. How else can any indication of efficiency, which is written into the Bill, be given or even quantified?

I am at a loss to understand, as also was my noble friend Lord Mottistone earlier, how work could be deemed to be efficient without any indication of how this could be measured. Efficiency is not merely some nebulous concept. Furthermore, we believe it would be a damaging blow to classification of dock work if this process were to lead to a measurable reduction of cost-effectiveness in respect of other work which would not be classified in any circumstances at all. Here I raise the same point which was raised earlier when speaking to Amendment No. 43 regarding the proportion of work done where there is a labour force which is split, with some performing work which is classified.

The same points are relevant here. Noble Lords will be aware of the strength of the provisions in subsection (6), where it is stated what the Board shall consider. Paragraph (a) deals with casual work, which we do not dispute; paragraph (b) deals with creating and maintaining an adequate labour force; and paragraph (c) is vital, because it deals with the effect of classification on the whole work force at a port or other premises. The noble Lord, Lord Jacques, hoped to be able to tell us whether he had had an opportunity for considering the points which I raised in Committee. I have put down these Amendments as he bade me do in Committee, and I now wonder whether he can give me any cause for hope, particularly in view of what he said on Amendment No. 46. My Lords, I beg to move.


My Lords, at the Committee stage I said, particularly when we were discussing a similar Amendment to Clause 7, that in our opinion the question of efficient performance was a matter for the Board, and it was right that it should be laid down in the Bill that the Board should give proper attention to the efficient performance of the work, which is done in this clause. I went on to say that the question of cost was a much more difficult matter and, in our view, was not one which could be handled by the Board. The question of cost, and the bearing upon the overall results of the business concerned, was a matter which should be considered by the Secretary of State rather than by the Board. We felt that the Board was equipped to deal with the question of efficient performance of the work, but not with the technical question of cost.

I also pointed out that it may well be that the employers concerned would not feel inclined to give information as to their costs and results to the Board, bearing in mind that the Board will consist mainly of employers and employees in similar businesses. We felt that it was much more appropriate, if representations were to be made on costs, that they should be made to the Secretary of State and full facilities are given in the Bill for representations to be made to him. We think that, while the Board should take into account efficient performance, any representation on costs should be made to the Secretary of State who will be able to treat the matter in confidence. The information will never be available to competitive businesses, and that is the most practical method. We feel that in the ultimate object there is no difference between us, but there is a substantial difference in the procedure which should be followed.


My Lords, I am a little confused by what the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, has just said, because he got me in a muddle over Clause 7. He has told us what he said about Clause 7, but we are now discussing Amendments to Clause 8. In column 720, the noble Lord said: When we were dealing with Clause 7 I went out of my way to point out that the Bill took a different attitude towards loading and unloading in Clause 7 and other cargo handling in Clause 8. The noble Lord went on to say: Arising out of that, I am prepared to look at the whole question of costs in Clause 8, but not in Clause 7. But so far as Clause 8 is concerned, I am quite prepared to look at the whole question of whether the costs cannot be introduced and if this matter cannot be, I am quite prepared to let the noble Lord know …".—[Official Report, 15/10/76]. It seems to me that this is slightly different from what the noble Lord has just said, and I would ask him to reconsider it in order to find out whether or not there has been a slight misunderstanding regarding Clauses 7 and 8.

As to the question of the advantage of referring everything to the Secretary of State so that there is no question of rivalry between corn panics, competent cost accountants can work on jobs per se without necessarily having to go into the details of what individual companies have in their accounts. In this kind of exercise may I suggest to the noble Lord that he could stick by what he said at the Committee stage and allow these Amendments, which involve costs, to Clause 8. It seems to me that they fit the line of thought of the noble Lord at the Committee stage.


My Lords, I said that we were prepared to look at it. We have looked at it and our conclusion is the one that I gave to the House a few moments ago.



11.42 p.m.


My Lords, I am tempted to reiterate that comment of my noble friend Lord Mottistone because the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, gave us various indications at the Committee stage which we were pleased to receive. I accept that the noble Lord has considered the matter and has given us his opinion at this stage, but he went on to speak about efficiency. I mentioned in my comments on the two Amendments that efficiency is written into the Bill. The noble Lord believes that the Secretary of State will be able to deal with the practical aspects, but I submit that it will be the port employers and employees who also will be able to deal, in a far more rational and practical way, with costs and cost-efficiency. I do not see why there should be any particular secrecy about it.

The noble Lord, Lord Jacques, is less than fair with many of the port employers and employees whose main object (and I believe that it is the object of us all) is to see that the port industry in this country becomes efficient. However, it is no good putting something which I referred to as "nebulous" into the Bill and just saying the industry will be efficient without giving any indication of how to achieve efficiency or how to measure it. Without some "teeth" being given to paragraph (c) I think that the paragraph as drafted is entirely nebulous. It may mean well, but that is a very damning phrase and is totally meaningless. However, I accept that the noble Lord believes that he has given us a reasonable answer. I cannot say that we are totally satisfied but, as my noble friends have pointed out, it is getting late and possibly we might reconsider the matter. I see that later on there are one or two more Amendments which are in the same vein. That said, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendments, albeit fairly reluctantly, at this stage.

Amendments, by leave, withdrawn.


My Lords, this might be an appropriate moment for me to move, That further consideration on Report be now adjourned.

Moved, That further consideration on Report be now adjourned.—(Baroness Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.