HL Deb 04 November 1976 vol 376 cc1531-612

7.44 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be further considered on Report.

Moved, That the Bill be further considered on Report—(Lord Jacques.)


My Lords, before we actually start on the next Amendment I wonder whether I may take this opportunity to thank the noble Lord. Lord Jacques, for the very full and comprehensive letter which he has sent to me and to my two noble friends, Lord Drumalbyn and Lord Lyell. in which he clarified further for us the purpose and the content of Clause 7 which we were not able to get very clear on Tuesday. On reading that letter, which I did with great profit, I felt that it ought to be in the Official Report so that the many people who are in touch with us and have anxieties about this Bill might read it. I have therefore tabled a Question for Written Answer, to which I understand his letter can be the Answer and it will appear in Hansard tomorrow. I hope the noble Lord and other noble Lords will agree that it is helpful. I certainly confirm that the letter has been very helpful.

Nevertheless we shall need to study it and I may well need to return to parts of it on Third Reading. If tomorrow, when I am able to turn back to it, I decide, or my noble friends decide, that it will be so, we will endeavour to table appropriate Amendments in good time tomorrow. So may I thank the noble Lord and once again protest, in a general way, that we have to conduct our business in this rather extraordinary fashion.


My Lords, I acknowledge the thanks expressed by the noble Lord and would say that we are happy to be of some help.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Clause 8 [Cargo-handling operations in general]:

Lord LYELL moved Amendment No. 49:

Page 12, line 22, at end insert— ("( ) The Board shall not make a recommendation under this section if in their opinion the classification of the work would adversely affect the efficiency with which the operations constituting the work are carried out, or would materially increase the cost").

The noble Lord said, My Lords, this is the last of the series of Amendments that we were moving the other evening when we came to a halt against the clock, but I remember what the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, said then, both in reply to my moving some previous Amendments, Nos.47 and 48, and also earlier in Committee. When we were discussing this series of Amendments on Tuesday evening the hour was indeed late and I wonder whether we made the most rational use of all the time available at that late hour.

This Amendment must be linked to the previous series of Amendments to which I spoke together with my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn. Once again I would ask the Government whether they do not consider that this Amendment, with its particular reference to costs, contributes to the Bill. At earlier stages of the proceedings on this Bill in this House noble Lords opposite objected to the ability of the Board to discuss and decide its policy, since noble Lords did not believe that there would be sufficient expertise in this particular area of cost accounting among the membership of the Board. I submit that this is an unworthy remark on the overall competence of the Board. I am certain that the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, will appreciate that costing, and indeed extracting information from costing records, is as free as it is possible for it to be from the mystique and mumbo-jumbo that appears to be the case to any layman. However the Board will not consist solely of laymen, and thus I consider that the criticism that has been raised on this point and on others in connection with costs is not entirely accurate.

I should like to refer to one other point that was raised at a later stage in our last deliberations on this Bill when there was a comment on labour costs and overheads. One thing which seemed odd to me was the reference to the level of profits. I am sure the House would agree that only in economies which have a total monopoly of power. where complete monopolies are permitted and, indeed, tolerated, can an employer or port authority decree or aim at a level of profits in the costs which, lest we forget, are costs to the port users and consumers. This matter also affects the public interest which we were discussing earlier. We believe that this particular Amendment is sound. We believe it contributes to the Bill. We await the reply of the noble Lord, particularly in view of what has been said on this series of Amendments and on ones similar to it in the past. I beg to move.

7.51 p.m.


My Lords, we believe that costs ought to be taken into account, but not in the manner proposed by the Amendment. I would point out that we are dealing at the moment with Clause 8. Under Clause 8 there are two procedures before the Board can propose classification. In the first place they have to circulate, obtain information, give an opportunity for representations to be made, and then decide whether there is a prima facie case. If they decide there is a prima facie case, they have to start all over again and give opportunities for representations to be made. Finally, they have to decide whether it would be sensible in all the circumstances to classify the work. So there are two opportunities for submitting representations on costs to the Board.

In addition, after the Board have made their recommendations there is an opportunity of making representations to the Secretary of State. We attach great importance to that because we believe that employers might be reluctant to make representations on costs to the Dock Labour Board, which consists substantially of employers and employees, whereas representations could be made with complete confidence to the Secretary of State. We attach great importance to that and believe that that is the point when representations on costs, certainly overall costs, should be made. We think it is fit and proper that they should be made in that way.

The question of costs has never really been a matter for the National Dock Labour Board under the present Scheme. The cost before and after classification depends on many things which are solely within the province of the employer, or the employer and the trade unions with whom he negotiates. For example, costs depend on what mechanical aids there are before or after classification, and the question of whether or not there are mechanical aids is a matter entirely for the employer, or the employer and the trade unions, according to what the normal arrangement is. Secondly, the use of manpower is important in relation to costs, whether one man should be allocated to a job or not. This is a matter entirely for the employer in his collective agreement with the trade union. It has nothing to do with the Dock Labour Board. It has never had anything to do with the Dock Labour Board. Therefore, we think the Board should not be called in to deal with this matter under the new Scheme.

Finally, I would point out that at the Committee stage, the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, said, and I quote: I hope no noble Lord will claim against us that we are seeking to maintain low standards of employment or pay because that really would not be true, let alone fair."—[Official Report, 15/10/76; col. 669.] I suggest to the House that if this Amendment were carried it would be entirely fair—


Oh, no.


Would the noble Lord let me finish? It would be entirely fair if this Amendment were carried, for this reason. Take the case of an employer who has casual labour and who offers poor conditions—and there are some employers like that in this industry. This Amendment would seek to protect those employers who are giving the poorest conditions, because the poorer are the conditions, the greater would be the increase in cost. If this were carried out, it would be entirely fair to come to the conclusion that the Amendment was protecting the employer who, with casual labour, was giving poor conditions of employment.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, one or two questions on this matter? First of all, I have no doubt that it will be perfectly legitimate for employers to make representations, or for anyone to make representations, to the Secretary of State at any time. But if the Secretary of State is going to be the source of decisions on efficiency and cost and so on, ought there not to be a provision in the Bill specifically providing for representations to he made under this clause to the Secretary of State? It seems to leave it very loose just to say, "Oh well, the Board will look at everything else, but it will not consider costs and efficiency. If that is what you want, you will have to write to the Secretary of State". I should have thought that in that case there would be a possibility for all concerned to make representations to the Secretary of State on these matters. I know it appears in other clauses, but I cannot find it in this particular clause.

The second point I wanted to ask about was this. When we are talking about costs in a straight comparison of costs between what is going on at present and what would go on if the work were classified, the only thing that matters is productivity—nothing else. Productivity is the difference between the two, given the existing basis of mechanical aids. There can he no question of bringing mechanical aids into a straight comparison of that kind.

My third point is that there must be some ports in the country where casual labour, in the ordinary consideration of what it means (and we have been into this subject before) is the appropriate way for dealing with the port. If there is only one shipment a fortnight, or something like that, it is rather absurd to have a complete and regular team of employees as registered dock workers. In that case I should have thought it was perfectly legitimate to say that casual labour can continue to be used, casual labour being the people who are used when there is cargo to handle. That may be very fine. As I have said before, the same people may be doing several other jobs when there is no cargo to handle. Therefore I think the criticism of my noble friend's speech mentioned by the noble Lord might be fair in certain circumstances where casual labour was being employed and where it could be replaced on a sensible basis by regular employment— I do not think any of us would object in such cases to the work being classified—but not otherwise.

These are the sort of consideration one has to have in mind here. I myself would not have thought that the Amendment proposed really poses the kind of difficulties that the noble Lord has been creating; because I think they are difficulties which he has been creating. They are not really difficulties.


My Lords, I could not phrase my reply better than did my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn, who put it very fairly that the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, is creating difficulties. For the noble Lord to suggest that the incorporation of this clause would give employers the freedom to persist in practices which are totally outside the provisions of the Bill, and to assist in the continuation of casual labour, is totally wrong. I cannot see that the Amendment has any bearing on that at all. This is far into the realms of supposition.

Regarding the comment which the noble Lord made tonight—and indeed has made in previous replies to this type of Amendment—that the Secretary of State would be more discreet than other employers and employees, I wonder whether that is the case. By the time any representations go to the Secretary of State, I believe that it is far too late. In this Amendment we are discussing what the Board shall do. At the bottom of page 11 it reads: … in particular, as well as all other matters appearing to them to be relevant … the Board shall carry out various tests, which are set out in (a), (b) and (c) in this subsection. For the noble Lord to bring casualisation and decasualisation into this subsection is irrelevant.

The noble Lord also pointed out that costs are the province of the employer and the employees, but the prices charged by the employers and employees for the operation of loading and unloading cargo at the docks is the cost to the consumer. If the cost to the consumer is allowed to escalate, I believe that the growth of containerisation and other more cost-efficient methods of handling freight will inevitably be adopted. This has happened in certain cases, and I hope that this Amendment would go some way to alleviate the problems in larger ports where cost efficiency has been allowed to decline.

We are very unhappy with the reply of the noble Lord and I think that we ought to insist on this Amendment; but the noble Lord has pointed out that there is an appeal to the Secretary of State so I suppose we must grasp at that straw of hope. In no way are we satisfied with the noble Lord's reply and indeed his continual reference to the possibility, and, as he puts it, probability that employers are going to use this Amendment to keep down pay and conditions of employment at the ports.


My Lords, will my noble friend allow me to intervene? I hope he will support my request to the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, as to where in this clause we can find the provision for appeal to the Secretary of State. It is not in the clause but I find that Schedule 4 does provide for representations to be made to the Secretary of State. I understand it appears in paragraphs 11, 12 and 13.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

Clause 9 [Reference by Secretary of State to the Board]:

8.3 p.m.

Viscount SIMON moved Amendment No. 51: Page 12, line 39, leave out "take into consideration") and insert ("consider").

The noble Viscount said: My Lords, I am moving this Amendment on behalf of my noble friend Lord Airedale who could not be here this evening. As noble Lords know, my noble friend is very particular about the use of good English and he wants to know why, on page 12, line 39, the words "take into consideration" should be used, whereas at the end of paragraph 3 the reference is to matters which the Board were, "directed … to consider". A little earlier this afternoon noble Lords on the Front Bench opposite were complaining about a Conservative Amendment which had one unnecessary word. This time I think we might complain that the Amendment which the Government have drafted has two unnecessary words—" direct the Board to take into consideration", rather than, "to consider". I beg to move.


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, was kind enough to submit three drafting Amendments, all of which were what I would call stylistic. We accepted two of them. In regard to this one, on balance we would prefer to keep the words that are in the Bill on the grounds that we have consulted counsel and are advised that there is a subtle difference between "consider" and "take into consideration". The draftsman wishes to keep this in and we see no reason why we should not meet his wishes. I therefore hope that on this occasion the noble Lord might withdraw the Amendment.


My Lords, might I also put in a plea. I agree that there is a difference; that is why the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, has suggested the Amendment. The noble Lord said that it is a subtle difference but I think it is a fairly normal one. You ask somebody to consider something and when considering it to take into consideration other things. You do not ask them to take into consideration the thing you are directing them to consider. There is a real difference here.


My Lords, with the leave of the House, I wish to say that the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, made it quite clear that he had taken it for granted that they both meant the same thing and he was saving words.


My Lords, I am a little worried about the question of a subtle distinction. I can see that there might be a distinction between "taking into consideration" and "considering", though I do not know what it is. I can see that there certainly would be a distinction in taking something into account and accounting for it. I can think of many things in which my conduct might be taken into account by a judge without his having to account for it. This is a real point of difference if it is not a matter of verbiage only. If it is a matter of verbiage only, I can see no reason for not accepting the Amendment.

Viscount SIMON

My Lords, I am quite sure that my noble friend would not wish to divide the House on this issue. It would appear that the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, had better briefing than I had about this. He seemed to know what was in my noble friend's mind. I will of course, accept what the Government say. We will leave "take into consideration", but will the Government then consider themselves putting down an Amendment to subsection (3) so that the end of that subsection would read: to report to him our opinion on the matter they were directed by him to take into consideration".? That is, if there is a difference. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

8.9 p.m.

Lord DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 52: Page 13, line 10, after ("the") insert ("matter or").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the point here is small but I think it may be an important one. Subsection (1) reads: The Secretary of State may … direct the Board to take into consideration any work, done or to be done at premises in a dock labour scheme area … The work done or to be done plainly might be one matter or it might be more. If it is only one matter, the Board cannot and should not be directed to report upon other matters. If the word, "matters" alone remains as it is, then I think there is a danger that the Board might be expected to report on other matters than the ones which they have been asked to take into consideration. Of course, there might be more than one matter, in which case the word, "matters" would be appropriate. For that reason I have put down this Amendment, so that subsection (3) should read: The Board shall, within such time or extended time as the Secretary of State may allow them, report to him their opinion on the matter or matters they were directed by him to consider. I think it would be very difficult not to accept this, and if it is not acceptable I shall be glad to know the reason why.


My Lords, like the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, when I saw this Amendment I linked it with subsection (1), but I really reached the opposite conclusion as a result of looking at these words. It seems to me that almost certainly directing the Board "to take into consideration any work" et cetera must involve a complex of issues, a complex of matters. Almost certainly, therefore, "matters" is the right and complete word to cover the situation. I do not think that the Amendment is a necessary one; it does not seem to me in any way to affect the meaning of the Bill as drafted, because surely the plural includes the singular.

In relation to the noble Lord's last point, that the Board might report on matters which were not referred to it, surely that is covered if one reads on, the rest of line 10, … on the matters they were directed by him to consider". I listened with interest to what the noble Lord said, but I am afraid he did not convince me that this Amendment would in any way change the sense of the sub-section. Therefore, I am afraid I am not in a position to recommend the House to accept the Amendment.


My Lords, we are really on a very narrow point here, because the noble Lord has said almost all cases. I was merely dealing with the case where one matter is referred to the Board. He says that is covered in the word "matters", but not in that particular case. I cannot say that I agree with him, but 1 do not think it is a sufficiently important matter to divide on. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

8.4 p.m.

Lord DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 53: Page 13, line 15, after ("making") insert (", and their estimate of any additional cost likely to be incurred or saving likely to be made as a result of implementing").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this Amendment does not call for any great expertise or accountancy. What it does is to call for an estimate of the additional cost, or the saving, likely to be the result of implementing a recommendation of the Board to classify or to declassify work in premises in a Dock Labour Scheme area. The work in question might be work of a particular type in particular premises or it might be work of a specific type in several premises throughout the particular Dock Labour Scheme area. The calcu- lation in either case should not he difficult. We are on very much the same point as we were on before. It will depend wholly or mainly on changes in manning that would be involved, changes in rates of remuneration, contribution to levy, and so on. It might he necessary also to take into account records of absenteeism, industrial action in the area and at the premises, the cost of training and retraining, and similar factors. They are all manpower issues. The main point is that productivity should always be a consideration present in the mind of the Board when making recommendations in cases of this sort. I beg to move.


My Lords, I think it would be helpful in considering this Amendment to take a brief look at the purpose of the clause as a whole, as a background to consideration of the wording the noble Lord has moved. Clause 9, of course, enables the Secretary of State to refer classification questions to the Board. While the Board will have the major responsibility for deciding whether the current classifications of dock work are satisfactory (that is under Clause 2) and whether to recommend (under Clauses 7 and 8) classification for particular work, questions of Government policy may arise which would warrant an initiative from the Secretary of State. In these circumstances the Board has an important advisory role.

The effect of this clause and of Clause 11 is that the Secretary of State cannot proceed to make an order classifying or declassifying work without the Board having first considered the question. The procedures which the Secretary of State must follow are that he must first consult with the TUC and CBI before deciding to give the Board a direction. Then the procedures, when he has given the Board a direction, are broadly similar to the procedures required under Clause 4(1) for the preparation of a draft scheme; that is, he must publish notice of the fact that he has given a direction, inform persons interested where they can obtain a copy of it and give at least 60 days in which representations can be made to the Board.

The point in relation to this Amendment is that the procedure is deliberately much simpler and more direct than that which the Board is required to follow under Clause 8 and Schedule 4 when it is determining whether to recommend to the Secretary of State that specified classifiable work at premises in the cargo handling zone should be classified. Therefore, we do not think it appropriateunder this clause to require the Board specifically to examine any of the prima facie and other grounds which the Board is required to take into account under Clause 8(4) and (5) or indeed any other specific matter. We do not think it is right to single out costs, as the noble Lord would propose, any more than, for example, industrial relations questions or any other considerations.

Moreover, I would ask the noble Lord to consider that the Board is required to give reasons for not making or for making any recommendation, and the Secretary of State has to publish the report and the action he proposes to take on it. Therefore, I would suggest that there will be full public scrutiny of both the report and the action that the Secretary of State proposes. For these reasons, particularly that the procedure has been deliberately kept simpler and we want to keep it that way, I hope the noble Lord will not wish to press his Amendment.

8.20 p.m.


My Lords, it seems as though the Government are particularly keen to keep out this question of costs and efficiency. We ended on that note on Tuesday. I should have thought it rather necessary that this particular facet of the workings of the results of any recommendation should be something that the Government would be the first to encourage. It does not seem quite right to say that the Board will make a report and the Secretary of State will make it public, because the question of the effect of costs and savings will not be obvious to the public. The public is not in a position to judge whether this is a fact or not. They will have views. They may make protests. They may do all sorts of things, but the Board, if it performs its functions properly, is in a particularly strong position to do that.

There are other factors like industrial relations, and indeed they have a bearing on costs and savings, and it might be that it would improve this particular subsection to include those, too. At least this is taking us some of the way down the line. In this day and age, when costs and savings are so important, when the National Economic Development Organisation is setting up special groups of people to study how there can be savings, how investment can be better directed, it is the theme of the day, it is reasonable for an Amendment such as that of my noble friend to be treated as of paramount importance. It is something that I should have thought the Government, rather than saying, "No, we don't like your Amendment because we think it is taken care of in other ways", would have said to themselves, "Let us have this direction to the Board; and if we think that we also want them to take into account possible industrial relations consequences of a recommendation", which indeed I think would be a very important added thing, "we will take on board what the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, has had to say, and at the next stage we will add industrial relations to it, because these are things that the Board must consider".


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for his full explanation on this particular matter. He pointed out that this is rather a different kind of case altogether. The whole clause deals with something that the Secretary of State himself has been brooding on, and wondering what to do about, and he then refers this to the Board and says, "What do you think about it?" That is the essence of it. In the course of thinking about it, I would have thought that it would be natural for the Board to consider the question of cost. The noble Lord will have certainly appreciated by now that something which is worrying us very much indeed is that the Board is in danger of making its recommendations without reference to cost. Therefore, every possible indication that it should be cost conscious should be put into the Bill. This is our view.

I do not think I can say more about that, except to say that, as the noble Lord said, it is not a question of recommendations being appealed against and representations being made by other parties to the Secretary of State; so that even the Secretary of State may not be adequately considering the cost factor in this case. I should have thought he would have looked to the Board to give him advice on this aspect. I need not say any more about this. The noble Lord, I am sure, will consider this. If he agrees with us, he might put down an Amendment in an appropriate form; as my noble friend Lord Mottistone says, possibly with the addition of other matters that they ought especially to consider. I shall not say any more. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

8.25 p.m.

Lord SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 54: After Clause 9, insert the following new clause:

Appeals concerning classification

.—(1)If any person being an employer of persons carrying out work to which sections 7, 8 or 9 apply, or any trade union recognised for the purposes of collective bargaining by any such employer shall dispute whether any work should be classified as dock work which falls within Part I of Schedule 3 and not within Part II of the Schedule or claims that any work should not be classified or should cease to be classified on the grounds that it falls within Part II of Schedule 3 and not within Part I of that Schedule.

(2) Any such notice under this section shall state—

  1. (a) the name and address of the person giving the same and the facts entitling him to give such notice;
  2. (b) the nature of the dispute identifying the work in question and the facts relating thereto in sufficient details to enable a reference to be made hereunder including the address or description of the premises at which such work is carried on;
and a copy of such notice shall be sent by the person giving the same to the Board and to all other persons being employers and trade unions as aforesaid and in any way concerned or interested in the subject matter of the dispute.

(3) If the dispute or claim is not resolved, withdrawn or otherwise settled the Secretary of State may refer the dispute for decision to the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service or to an Industrial Tribunal.

(4) No report or recommendation by the Board and no order made by the Secretary of State relating to such a dispute or claim shall be made while the dispute or claim stand referred to the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service or to an Industrial Tribunal.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 54, and to apologise to the House that I did not realise that the two manuscript Amendments that I had to move on Tuesday would not by now have been incorporated in the main Amendment. As they have not been, I think what we have to do next is to get those two Amendments to the Amendment into Amendment No. 54, and then I will speak to the amended Amendment.

Lord SANDFORD moved Amendments Nos. 54A and 54B as Amendments to Amendment No. 54: Line 6, after ("dock") insert ("work") Line 9, at end insert (", he may give notice to the Secretary of State.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 54A, and think it would be for the convenience of the House if I also moved Amendment No. 54B, as I do not think there will be anything to be said about that, and then we can get on with the amended Amendment. I beg to move Amendments Nos. 54A and 54B.

On Question, Amendments to Amendment agreed to.


My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 54, as amended. I should like to start by outlining this Amendment because it appears in a different form from that which we discussed at Committee in column 1141 of Hansard. I have modified it in a number of respects in the light of what the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, said then. The first point where it differs is that in response to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, the fourth line of the Amendment reads: … whether any work should be classified as dock work", and that is the important distinction. Subsection (1) then goes on to include not only disputes and issues as to whether work should be classified but also as to whether work should cease to be classified.

The other change is in subsection (3) where, apart from a slight alteration in the general wording of the first line, we are not laying an obligation on the Secretary of State to refer the dispute but just giving him the power to do so at his discretion if he wishes. The further change in subsection (3) is that we are offering as an alternative a reference to the Industrial Tribunal as an alternative to the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service. Subsection (4) has been modified so that the delay in the processes of implementing Clauses 7, 8 and 9 do not have to be held up until the matter is resolved but only while the matter stands referred. That is to say, it can be withdrawn. The reference can be withdrawn, though not resolved, in order that the process can go forward. I hope that those explanations are sufficient to show the extent to which we have tried to respond to the points made by the noble Lord opposite. Before going into the precise way in which we think this will be helpful, I should like to make a rather broader point.

Many of us are now getting calls and are being approached by groups of workers, union officials, shop stewards and members of unions about the Bill because they are now coming to realise more clearly than they did when the Bill was in another place in May just how serious and real are the threats to their jobs and livelihoods. Another reason why this is happening is that some of them also realise that unless somebody in your Lordships' House—it is curious that they have chosen some Peers on this side as well as some noble Lords opposite—tables an Amendment on their behalf there will be nothing more that the other House can do to defend their interests.

We are now at the stage in the progress of the Bill when the Commons, however vigorously they are approached on either side, cannot themselves make any more Amendments; all that is left for them is to consider Amendments made by your Lordships. My main reason for wanting to see this and a number of other Amendments to Schedule 3 in the Bill by the time we finish tonight is in order that the Commons will thereby be enabled to reconsider what we have done and take account of representations which I am sure will be made to them as they are now being made to us. That is by way of a preliminary to the Amendment and some of the others that follow.

When we discussed this Amendment in Committee the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wigoder, properly asked us to distinguish between issues which had to be decided by the courts, among which were questions of interpretation as to the meaning of the words in Schedule 3(1) and (2) where it is set out what work is classifiable and what work is excluded from classification. That, I would agree with the noble Lord, Lord Jacques—he made the point strongly and his remarks are to be found at column 1135—is a matter for the courts. There is another matter for the courts, and that is whether at any point the Secretary of State or the Board exceed their powers, and Lord Jacques was right in stresssing that that is a matter for the courts, too.

Having said that, I want to make it clear that there are various stages which will arise or be anticipated in the course of implementing Clauses 7, 8 and 9 where action is taken by the local board, the National Board and the Secretary of State who, in various ways, will have to come to a judgment about what work included in Schedule 3(1) as being classifiable will in fact be classified. That is a matter of policy under the processes provided by the Bill, and as those decisions become known—and of course they can become known at all sorts of preliminary points—the parties involved will find themselves getting into dispute and argument over what the implications will be for them. The first thing we need to provide for is that they can at some point, and the earlier the better, appeal to the Secretary of State in the matter and give him the opportunity to draw in whatever conciliation machinery seems to him to be appropriate.

There are all sorts of ways in which the disputes and issues will be anticipated as details about the proposed scheme or operation of Clauses 7, 8 and 9 become known, and several of these were mentioned in Committee. Some noble Lords opposite rightly made the point that disputes between workers may be resolved by a single union, and the T&GWU is a case in point, where dockers and lorry drivers may find themselves in dispute when it is known that work is to be handled in a particular way. I accept that, and that union will be well placed to do that. Other noble Lords made the point that the TUC would be able to solve interunion disputes, and so they would and one would want to see that happening. But I think noble Lords will agree that there will be other disputes which will involve not only unions but also employers, and when that happens it is not appropriate for the TUC to be the arbitrating and conciliating agent because employers are not members of the TUC. That is a case where it would be useful for the Secretary of State to be able, though not obliged, to refer a dispute or claim to either of the two bodies set out in subsection (3).

In addition to all this, we have provided at various specific stages the opportunity for a public inquiry if a representation is made and the matter cannot be resolved. That will play its part as well. I hope noble Lords will agree that it is desirable to make available in the most serviceable manner all the machinery that can play a part in the operation of the Bill in an area of work which is, alas, notable for the strife and contention that goes on. I am particularly anxious to hear what noble Lords have to say about sub-section (3), because we have incorporated in it a reference to two bodies each of which was mentioned as being suitable to play a part in the original Consultation Document.

At paragraph 14 of that Document we read: The interpretation by the courts of some of the provisions in the present legislation which are concerned with defining the scope of statutory control has had the effect of limiting what was generally understood to be the Scheme's application and thus has narrowed the employment opportunities for registered dock workers. This has proved harmful for industrial relations. The courts have inevitably become involved in these questions because of the present arrangements for determining disputes about the application of the Scheme. Industrial tribunals are required in the first instance to settle whether the work carried out by a particular employer is or is not dock work against statutory definitions. We entirely agree with that, but for that to be implemented the industrial tribunals need in our view to be mentioned on the face of the Bill, and that is why we have put it in.

Further on in the Document we read: in the event of any question arising about whether any operation fell within the new definition of port transport work, it is proposed that that question would be determined by the Central Arbitration Committee of the ACAS". There it is in the Consultation Document and we think it should be in the Bill, and that is why we have put that in. We have done our best to stick to our original intention but at the same time incorporate all the points that noble Lords made in Committee, and we have been greatly helped by the observations of Lord Wigoder.

Viscount SIMON

We should like from these Benches to support the proposed new clause, but before we come to a decision I am wondering whether the Committee would permit me to ask two questions, one of the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, and the other of the noble Lord, Lord Jacques. I regret that I was not able to be present in Committee when this matter was discussed. The question I wanted to put to the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, was this. We know, as I am sure noble Lords opposite know, that some complaints have been made and fears expressed by employees who do not quite see whether they are going to have their jobs safely secured if certain work is classified—employees who are themselves members of the same trade union as embraces the great majority of the registered dock workers.

If the only body that can serve a notice on the Secretary of State is a trade union recognised for the purposes of collective bargaining I am not sure that these people will be quite happy, because I suppose that, strictly speaking, what a trade union does is done by the executive committee or by the general secretary in the name of the executive committee. If these members of the union themselves feel that they are being hard done by—they may be right or may be wrong and I am not arguing that point—it will not do them much good to say, "Your trade union can make representations". They could say, "We asked our trade union to make representations when the Bill was first being discussed and they refused to do so". I wonder, therefore, whether the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, could tell us whether consideration has been given to widening slightly that particular phrase.

The question that I wanted to ask the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, is a different one and is perhaps rather wider. I believe that it arises on the present clause, and certainly it arises on some of the clauses in this part of the Bill. It is a matter that was raised very briefly on some other Amendment and it is this. I am not clear whether a port employer is entitled to employ a registered dock worker on work that is not classified. We divide the work into classified and unclassified and we know that non-registered workers can be employed on unclassified work and, equally, that they cannot be employed on classified work. I think that this point was raised in the discussions that we had about driving a motor car or a van, and the question I want to ask is, is there anything in the Bill or in the Scheme in embryo that does not allow an employer to employ a registered dock worker on work that is not classified? Subject to those two questions—and perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, would answer me when he is replying to the Amendment, and I shall be interested to hear what the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, has to say—I would support the Amendment.


My Lords, that is an important question and I think I should go very slowly so that I may be easily followed. The intention of the Amendment as it stands is not absolutely clear, but it suggests a right of appeal on the question of whether work falls within Part I of Schedule 3 and outside Part IT. I shall therefore deal with that first, since that is clear. As was said in Committee, the Government's view is that questions as to whether or not work is properly classifiable are questions that are rarely likely to arise in practice. If work is a border line case where there is doubt whether it is properly classifiable, it is unlikely that the Board would consider it for classification, and it is still less likely that the Secretary of State would wish to classify it. Quite clearly, the vires of his order would be the subject of attack.

It seems likely that any such cases would arise not in relation to the facts (it will normally be clear enough what the work is) but in relation to the interpretation to be placed on the words of Schedule 3, and this is a question of law. ACAS is not a suitable body to determine such a question, any more than is the central arbitration committee as was proposed at the Committee stage. I refer the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, to the proceedings in Committee where I explained fully how the Government under the Consultative Document had had consultations and, as a result of those consultations, had had no hesitation in saying that the central arbitration committee was not a suitable body to which to refer a question of law.

The work of industrial tribunals involves them in determining cases in which there is dispute both as to the facts and as to the law. On balance, it is not considered that they would be appropriate bodies for determining pure questions of statutory interpretation. Industrial tribunals at present have jurisdiction to determine disputes as to what is dock work for the purposes of the 1967 Scheme, but they are operating in a situation in which the procedures that will be provided by the Bill for establishing the facts are not available to them. Decisions of industrial tribunals about dock work have also ended up in the courts on a number of occasions. Since 1967, six of the 20 cases heard by the industrial tribunals have subsequently gone to the courts.

Baroness SEEAR

My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord. He said that this was a matter of fact and not of law, but it is not either. The clause makes it clear that the work is classifiable but the dispute is about whether it should be classified. That is a matter of judgment, not of law or fact.


My Lords, I made it very clear that the intention of the Amendment was not absolutely clear, though I said that it was absolutely clear that it intended a right of appeal as to whether to work came within Part I but was outside Part II. I said that I would deal with that point first. In due course I shall deal with the question of judgment to which the noble Baroness has referred.

On balance, therefore, the Government are convinced that it is better to leave any person wishing to challenge the views of the Board or the Secretary of State on the question of whether work is classifiable to take the matter to the courts in the ordinary way. The Amendment as drafted says in subsection (3) that if a dispute or claim is not resolved, withdrawn or otherwise settled, the Secretary of State may refer the dispute. I emphasise that the word is "may". This means that if the Secretary of State decides to take no action, he and the Board may proceed. If it is the intention of the Amendment to enable the Secretary of State to seek such advice when he feels he needs it, noble Lords can be assured that no Secretary of State of whichever Party happened to be in office would seek to get an interpretation of a matter of pure law from ACAS or an industrial tribunal.

I come now to what I consider is a doubtful intention of the Amendment. It is not so clear as the point of law. The first part of the revised wording could be interpreted as meaning that disputes on matters of judgment or policy as to whether or not work which falls within the classifiable categories should in all the circumstances be classified ought to be subject to this procedure. The Bill already provides elaborate procedures, including under Clause 8 two opportunities for representations to the Board and a further opportunity for representations to the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State may, if he thinks appropriate, in consequence of representations made to him or otherwise, refer questions to ACAS for its opinion and advice. Thus the Bill already provides for ACAS to be consulted about industrial relations questions about which they are competent to give advice. Neither they nor an industrial tribunal are proper bodies to decide questions of policy such as whether the scheme should be applied to particular kinds of work. In the last analysis, that is the burden of the Secretary of State.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, and I think we have narrowed very considerably such divergences as there were between us. First, I wish to respond to the point made by the noble Viscount, Lord Simon. We considered whether it would be possible to put in any safeguard here for individual members or groups of members within a single trade union. There is a controversy, and there has been for a long time, between the lorry drivers who have business in the docks and the dockers who work there, both groups being members of the Transport and General Workers Union. On balance I felt that, not myself being a member of the Transport and General Workers Union, I did not want to attempt to assess, let alone criticise, the ability of that union to resolve disputes between the many groups that make up its membership. My feeling was that by putting this Amendment into the Bill and inviting the other place to look at it, several people there who are much more closely associated with the union could brine their much wider experience to bear upon the issue. But our job to enable them to do that is to get the Amendment into the Bill, and this is what in a moment I will be asking the House to do, and especially for that reason. If they choose to modify it in order to give groups within unions, or even individual members of unions, the right to trigger off this appeal mechanism, I should be happy, and it would certainly meet some of the points that are being made to us by such groups at the moment.

As to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, I am absolutely in agreement with him that on a very large number of points there are issues here which only the courts can decide, particularly the interpretation of what is classifiable within the terms of the Bill and what is excluded from classification; likewise with the vires of the Secretary of State. But I do not agree that the procedures set out in Clauses 7, 8 and 9 provide all that ought to be provided for those whose interests are affected by the implementation of Clauses 7, 8 and 9. It would be up to the Secretary of State to decide whether the dispute or the issue to which his attention is drawn by that notice is appropriate for one or other of those bodies, and if, as may well be the case, it is not appropriate, he will not refer it.

I am sure that there will be cases where disputes arise as a result of knowledge of what is to be proposed, or reported or recommended, and it would be a very good thing if the parties to those disputes could draw the attention of the Secretary of State to them at an early stage, and he could have the opportunity to decide whether to refer them to ACAS or to the industrial tribunal. This has been a useful debate, and the important thing now is that, having taken account of everything the noble Lord has said, I should move the Amendment into the Bill so that it can be among those proposals to be considered by another place.

8.55 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 54), as amended, shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 53; Not-Contents, 34.

Amherst of Hackney, L. Hacking, L. Rochdale, V.
Ampthill, L. Hanworth, V. Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.
Auckland, L. Hawke, L. St. Just, L.
Balerno, L. Hereford, V. Sandford, L.
Barrington, V. Hornsby-Smith, B. Sandys, L.
Belstead, L. Long, V. Seear, B.
Berkeley, B. Lucas of Chilworth, L. Selkirk, E.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Lyell, L. Sempill, Ly.
Campbell of Croy, L. Macleod of Borve, B. Simon, V.
Colville of Culross, V. Monk Bretton, L. Strathclyde, L.
Cork and Orrery, E. Mottistone, L. Swansea, L.
de Clifford, L. Mowbray and Stourton, L. [Teller.] Teviot, L.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Tweedsmuir, L.
Drumalbyn, L. Norfolk, D. Vickers, B.
Elles, B. O'Hagan, L. Ward of North Tyneside, B
Faithfull, B. Pender, L. Westbury, L.
Gowrie, E. Rankeillour, L. Winstanley, L.
Gray, L. Redesdale, L. Young, B.
Birk, B. Jacques, L. Pitt of Hampstead, L.
Brimelow, L. Janner, L. Ritchie-Calder, L.
Brockway, L. Kaldor, L. Snow, L.
Champion, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B. Stedman, B.
Collison, L. McCluskey, L. Stewart of Alvechurch, B.
Crowther-Hunt, L. Morris of Kenwood, L. Strabolgi, L. [Teller.]
Davies of Leek, L. Oram, L. Wallace of Coslary, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Parry, L. Wells-Pestell, L. [Teller.]
Elwyn-Jones, L. (L. Chancellor.) Peart, L. (L. Privy Seal.) Willis, L.
Gardiner, L. Peddie, L. Winterbottom, L.
Hale, L. Phillips, B. Wynne-Jones, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L.
Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment, as amended, agreed to accordingly.

Clause 10 [Registration after work is classified]:

9.3 p.m.

Lord DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 55: Page 13, line 43, after ("work") insert ("(whether or not they were actually doing it) immediately").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, we had a discussion on this at Committee stage, and the noble Lord replied to me that merely to put in the word, "immediately" would not cover workers who, as he said, … for some reason or other could not he said to have been employed to do it— it "being the work in question— immediately prior to classification.".—[Official Report, 19/10/76; col. 1144.] He went on to say: There might be workers who have been taken off their work to do some other work for a few days, or even for a few hours"; and he went on to say—and I do not quote him now—or who were sick immediately prior to classification.

This Amendment is designed to take into account precisely those considerations, so that the subsection would read: The Board: … shall include in their recommendation or report proposals, for the event that any work which they have recommended for classification or (as the case may be) they have considered on the reference, should be classified, as to the safeguards which should be provided for the existing workforce, that is to say those persons who will have been employed to do that work (whether or not they were actually doing it) immediately prior to its classification". This, I think, would entirely meet the point that the noble Lord was making but would not leave any scope for safeguards in the case of people who had already left the service, or something of that kind. In other words, it tightens up the drafting. The noble Lord may still feel that he wants more latitude, but in that case I think he will have to say why. I beg to move.


My Lords, there are two issues on which I want to comment: first of all, the technicalities of the Amendment; and, secondly, why we resist the Amendment. The addition of the words "(whether or not they were actually doing it)"does not, in our opinion, alter the position at all. Since orders normally come into force at midnight, it is likely that in many cases no one would actually be doing the work at the point of classification. The words do not resolve the problem at issue, because the doubt would not be whether the workers in question were actually engaged on the work at the point when the order came into force but whether they could properly he said to be employed to do it at that time. To gain the objective of the noble Lord, he would have to have those words instead of those that he has.

However, we are opposed to the Amendment on grounds more substantial than mere technicalities. The difficulty would be most obvious in a situation where some of the labour force were engaged on work which was not covered by the order, but where there was no difference between their terms of employment and those of others engaged on work which was covered. Notwithstanding the general intention to avoid so far as possible classifying part of the work of an integrated labour force; this may be desirable in some cases; particularly, for example, where the great majority were engaged on classifiable work. In such cases it might be hard to say whether some workers were employed specifically to do the work being classified, or were employed to do work of a kind which included the work to be classified. This sort of problem suggests that flexibility is needed to deal sensibly with particular situations, and that is what the present wording provides.

Furthermore, a check on whether or not the Board has taken all the circumstances of a particular case into account is provided by Clause 11(5) which allows the Secretary of State, when putting the Board's proposals under Clause 10 into effect, to do so with such modifications as he may think fit. We hope that with that explanation the noble Lord will see fit to withdraw his Amendment.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for that explanation. I hope he recognises that what one is concerned about—and I certainly am—in this case is to get the conditions as crystal clear as possible: otherwise there is a great danger of industrial dispute on that point. I should have thought that his claim for latitude is a claim for lack of clarity; and this can give rise to industrial disputes. This was the point of my Amendment. If the noble Lord is satisfied on that, then I must say he has to take the responsibility for it and I shall not press this further; but 1 think that in cases like this there is a need for the utmost clarity and the least possible latitude. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

9.10 p.m.

Lord SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 56: Page 14, line 10, leave out ("(not to be more than 2 years)") and insert ("(which shall be a minumum of 2 years)").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 56. This is no more than consequential upon Amendments Nos.21 and 21B which we made yesterday following a debate and a Division. I think it needs to be made here in order to make it conform with Amendment No. 21B.


I think I must remind the noble Lord that Amendment No. 21 was amended by Amendment No. 21B. In consequence, this Amendment is ill conflict with that revised Amendment. Under the new clause as it now stands, workers will be entitled to a transfer (if they satisfy the conditions specified) from the extension to the main register after two years' service on the work which was classified. In many cases, this could be as soon as their names are entered on the extension register.


I do not think I agree with the noble Lord but I shall read carefully what he has said. Amendment No. 21B which we made to Amendment No. 21 was not addressed to this business of a minimum of two years. That was already there. It was to make it clear that the period of time in which the worker had been engaged on this particular piece of work would count towards his time on the extension register before being transferred to the main register. In so far as the whole intention of Amendment No. 56 is to bring sub-section (4) into line with what we have done on Amendment No. 21, I should prefer to have it in the Bill now. If, after reading the noble Lord's words, I find we have not done what we intended to do (which was merely to secure conformity) I shall certainly undertake to put down another Amendment—as this is our Amendment now—at the Third Reading to do what the noble Lord thinks should be done. I hope that we have got it right. I should like to recommend that the House should accept this Amendment.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 11 [Classification orders]:

Lord SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 56A: Page 14, line 13, after ("section") insert ("and of Schedule 3 to this Act").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 56A. Its purpose, again quite a modest one, is to ensure that the Secretary of State when he is preparing orders under Clause 11 should have regard to Schedule 3 in just the same way as everybody else involved in the operation of Clauses 7, 8 and 9 also has to have regard to Schedule 3 as to which work can be classified and which work is to be excluded from classification.

The Secretary of State is not obliged to conform precisely to the recommendations in the reports that are made to him and which have taken Schedule 3 into account. We think he should therefore have regard to it when he makes the classification orders which are based on the processes in those preceding clauses. It may be that we have done more than we intended to do, in which case no doubt the noble Lord will tell us, but in the hope that we have made only this modest safeguard, I beg to move.


My Lords, I must advise the House that this Amendment is not nearly so modest as the noble Lord thinks. I accept that he put it forward in good faith intending only a modest change, but I should explain why, in the Government's view, it goes much too far.

This Amendment can only have the effect of making Schedule 3 apply to orders resulting from the procedures laid down in Clause 6; that is, to orders which preserve as dock work under the new Scheme work which was dock work under the 1967 Scheme or was so treated under that Scheme by custom and practice. That must be the case because recommendations under Clauses 7, 8 and 9 can be made only in respect of work that is within Part I of Schedule 3 and not within Part 11. In other words, the Amendment is completely redundant in respect of recommendations under Clauses 7, 8 and 9 for they are already linked with Schedule 3.

That being the case, we must look at the effect of the Amendment on Clause 6 orders. If the Amendment was passed then it would mean that at a stroke of the legislative pen some work which has been subject to the Scheme and performed by registered dock workers since 1947 will be excluded. The Government think that that is quite wrong. If there is a case for excluding work from the Scheme, the particular local circumstances should be carefully examined. That can he done under the declassification procedures in Clause 9. To do otherwise would be very serious indeed for industrial relations in the industry.

In our view, it is important that all work which is at present dock work or is so treated by custom and practice, should be classifiable under the new Scheme even if it is of a kind which would not he classifiable under Clauses 7, 8 or 9. At earlier stages the Government made it clear that we believe that work which is covered by the present Scheme will continue to be covered by the new Scheme. I believe that noble Lords opposite accept that proposition. I advise the House, therefore, that this Amendment would do severe damage to that proposition which unites the two sides of the House.


My Lords, accepting that, as the noble Lord says, there is work which is at present being done by dock workers which is not classify able as dock work, will he say that that sort of work which is, as I say, being done by dock workers at the moment and is not classifiable as dock work under Schedule 3, will not be a precedent for extending and classifying as dock work other work which comes outside Schedule 3? I think I am right in saying that it will not be a precedent, but I should like to know for certain that that is so.


My Lords, certainly, as I understand the noble Lord's point, that is the position. If in any way I am inaccurate in that I will let the noble Lord know so that at a later stage we can consider it again, but I think he has a valid point.


My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Lord would, with the leave of the House, do one more thing before I withdraw this Amendment; that is, to confirm that if we do not have any reference to Schedule 3 in Clause 11, the Secretary of State nevertheless will be bound by it in giving effect to recommendations from the Board under Clauses 7, 8 and 9. The Board are bound by it in formulating their proposals under Clauses 7, 8 and 9. The Secretary of State does not seem to be bound by it. But if the noble Lord can assure me that he is bound as much as the Board, the purpose of my Amendment is safeguarded.


Yes, my Lords: I think I can give the noble Lord that assurance specifically in relation to Clause 9(6). The noble Lord will see that it states: … the Secretary of State may at any time refer to the Board for their advice any question", and so on. That gives the Secretary of State considerable flexibility in relation to Clause 9; and I believe I am right in saying that he would not be bound under the two earlier clauses.


My Lords, with the leave of the House, that is not really what I wanted. The Board and everybody else involved in the operation of Clauses 7, 8 and 9 are obliged to have regard to Schedule 3 in the proposals that they are making. The Secretary of State does not have to do so. He makes up his mind about classification orders on the basis of the reports that he receives, but he is not obliged precisely to reflect the recommendations that are made to him. He can issue orders based upon those reports, but differing in some respects from them. What 1 want to know—and I think the House ought to have this clear before we move on—is whether, in any of those departures or variations which the Secretary of State makes from the variations that are put to him he is bound by Schedule 3 when he is dealing with matters that come to him under Clauses 7, 8 and 9.

I fully accept what the noble Lord said, and if we have inadvertently embraced matter to which Clause 6 relates— that is to say, work that is already dock work in 1967 Scheme ports—then we are going too far. I had not intended to do that. But I still want to be reassured about the extent to which the Secretary of State is bound in finally coming to his decisions on the classification orders.


My Lords, I hope that I have taken the noble Lord's point correctly. He will find the answer in Clause 5(4) which states: … the work that may be classified is any which (b) is within Part I of Schedule 3 to this Act and not within Part II of that Schedule. I wonder whether that comes nearer to the answer which the noble Lord wants.


My Lords, it goes some way, because that is the clause under which the Secretary of State has to act when he is preparing a scheme. But what we are all interested in is to what extent the Secretary of State is bound by Schedule 3 when he prepares his classification orders. But I am aware that we are not in Committee and are on Report, and perhaps we ought not to bob up and down any more. Therefore, I beg leave to withdraw this Amendment, but I am not absolutely satisfied and we may have to return to it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

9.24 p.m.

Lord SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 57: Page 14, line 34, at end insert ("after the provisions of Schedule 5 to this Act have been complied with").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 57, and will at the same time speak to No. 57E. These are no more than consequential Amendments to the main Amendment which we moved into the Bill relating to inquiries, the main substance of which is now included in Schedule 5. But if we have Schedule 5, these two subsections must be linked in the way that is achieved by these Amendments.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Lord SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 57E: Page 14, line 41, after ("State") insert ("after the provisions of Schedule 5 to this Act have been complied with.").

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 12 [Effect of introducing the new Scheme]:

9.25 p.m.

The Earl of GOWRIE moved Amendment No. 57F: Page 15, line 9, leave out paragraph (a).

The noble Earl said: My Lords, if noble Lords cast their minds back to the Committee stage, they will remember that we on this side of the House were not happy with what the Government had to say about why they are proposing to abandon the licensing scheme—the licensing of port employers and the registration of port employers respectively—and to remove it from the 1966 Act. As drafted, the present Bill will have the effect of scrapping the present system of licensing port employers as the new Scheme is applied to areas at present covered by the licensing system. Both the port employers, who are subject to the present licensing scheme, and the port authorities, who are themselves the licensing bodies, wish the system, a system which was introduced by a Labour Government in a 1966 Act, to be retained.

As an aide memoire, may I run very quickly over what this licensing aimed to achieve. The licensing system was introduced by the Docks and Harbours Act 1966 and is administered by the statutory port authorities. The Act lays down the criteria which must be satisfied by a port employer who wishes to obtain a licence. In particular, he must satisfy the licensing authority of two things: first, that he efficiently manages his business, or is likely to do so, and in particular that he makes efficient use of the services of his dock workers—for instance, by providing the necessary and proper equipment—or that he is likely so to do; and, secondly, that he is willing and able to provide permanent employment to dock workers employed by him and to do so at rates of pay and on conditions of service which are applicable under the national or local agreements in the port transport industry.

In addition to these two criteria, the licensing authority has the power to limit the number of employers of dock workers in a port to that maximum number which it considers to be compatible with the efficient and profitable working of the port. By comparison, there are non-qualifying criteria applicable to registration. If a business wants to carry out dock work it must obtain registration and employ registered dockers, not casual labour. But registration in these circumstances is granted automatically. A consequence of this before September, 1967, when the licensing system was introduced, was that there were many intermittent or casual employers. The number fell from 1,500 to 500 as a result of the introduction of permanent employment and, as noble Lords opposite and their honourable and right honourable friends intended, this went all the way towards preventing casual labour. At the Committee stage the Government, in the person of the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, said that because we on this side accept that the licensing of employers need not be extended to companies outside the proposed Dock Labour Scheme it should not be necessary within the Scheme—in short, that it should not be necessary at all—and that this is why they are leaving it out of the Bill.

We argue that the present Bill ensures that although we are going to have a new Scheme we do not know what it is to contain. The noble Viscount, Lord Simon, made that point at an earlier stage. We want dock employers to know exactly where they stand, particularly in regard to any statutory responsibilities they may have to dock workers who lose their jobs through circumstances quite outside the control of any individual employer or group of employers. I am thinking of the kind of situation that might arise as a result of the aim of this Bill to create permanent employment. We know that the 1966 Act was concerned with decasualisation of dock labour. It was also made in the climate of the Devlin Report; it tried to increase the efficient performance of management functions as well as protect the rights of service functions of workers themselves.

So it seems to us it is no good the Government's saying, as the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, said in Committee, that licensing of employers served a useful purpose but is now no longer needed. It may no longer be needed in respect of provisions designed to prevent casual labour from being employed, but we contend that it certainly is needed in respect of permanent labour being taken on by an employer who then, let us say, ceases trading and other employers find that they are then statutorily required to employ a work force surplus to their ability to trade efficiently. We contend that the retention of the licensing scheme would make this much less likely to happen and we feel strongly that it should so be retained. I beg to move.


My Lords, the licensing provisions in the 1966 Act served a useful purpose in the context of decasualisation, but the Government believe that they are no longer necessary. The number of registered dock employers has fallen from 1,300 in 1966 to 289 in 1976. Their number is likely to continue to fall. There is no reason to think that with permanent employment the problems which arose in the Scheme ports before 1967 are likely to recur or that any problems that might arise could not be dealt with by means of the protection under the Scheme. It is no part of the purpose of legislation relating to the employment of dock workers to seek to assess the ability of employers to carry out the task they purport to undertake.

It has been accepted by the Opposition in the other place that there was no need to introduce licensing, either at ports not covered by the 1967 Scheme or for employers doing cargo handling outside the dock area. It is the contention of the Government that if licensing is not required in non-Scheme ports which may become part of the Scheme then evidence must be produced to show why it is necessary only in the Scheme ports. No such evidence has been produced to us.

In point of fact it could be argued that licensing should be discontinued in the Scheme ports, having served its purpose; but since there is some decasualisation in the non-Scheme ports licensing is necessary there until we have got over the problem of decasualisation. In other words, there is a case for doing absolutely the opposite to what the Opposition are now seeking. We contend, and we have said, that licensing is no longer needed for its original purpose and it should not be retained for a purpose which is foreign to this legislation.

In Committee concern was expressed by the Opposition and was also expressed to the Government by the National Association of Port Employers that without licensing it would be possible for employers to set up for a short time as stevedores with a minimum of equipment when trade was brisk, make a quick profit and then go out of business, leaving their registered dock workers to be absorbed by the major employers in the ports. It seems most unlikely that given the highly mechanised handling now in use and the much higher labour cost of employing a permanent labour force, employers with limited resources would seriously consider the sort of "in and out" operation that appears to be feared. In the very unlikely event of this happening, the local dock labour board would be able to control the situation to a large extent by not engaging any additional men, and only allocating to that employer existing registered workers who could be spared by their present employers.

If the amount of trade for what was thought likely to be a short period was such that more workers were needed than were currently available from the register, supplementary workers might be employed. But similar arrangements would have to be made, in any case, if one of the major employers undertook the extra work instead of the man coming in with a view to going out shortly. In conclusion, without going into great detail, I would point out that even if this Amendment were carried, licensing of Scheme ports would still come to an end because no Amendments have been submitted to Clause 12(1)(b) or Clause 17(3)(a).

The Earl of GOWRIE

My Lords, with the leave of the House, one of the difficulties we have had all through this Bill is that Mr. Jack Jones has not been ennobled, because had he been so, we could ask him why he is so against licensing. I still find the attitude of the Government on this entirely incomprehensible. Here is a perfectly good working set of arrangements—


My Lords, I find the reference to Mr. Jack Jones somewhat objectionable. This decision was not made by Mr. Jones, but by Her Majesty's Government. There are no good reasons for the assumptions the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, has made.

The Earl of GOWRIE

My Lords, I do not know what the Parliamentary language is for "Pull the other one but that is certainly what I feel about it. What I am trying to get at is this: here is a set of sensible provisions which employers feel gives them some protection in, I acknowledge, a hypothetical situation, but one which could perfectly well arise. The aim of our proceedings, I would have thought, is to try to look at hew an Act may work out in practice.

As the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, said at an earlier stage, the difficulty here is that we do not know what the Scheme is going to be, or how it will work out in practice. This is one of the difficulties we have had in this whole salad of a Bill, which is why I made my little reference. The noble Lord, Lord Jacques, started off by providing the arguments that he provided on Committee, about the fact that we no longer need protections about casual labour. I acknowledged that in my speech, so he did not really need to answer that point. However, he has acknowledged as he did not acknowledge, I think, on Committee, that the port employers have expressed worries to the Government on this. The noble Lord said he has tried to allay their worries, but I have not heard that their worries are so allayed. However, if the noble Lord says in good faith that the Government have been in discussions with the employers, I am quite prepared to try to find out what the discussions were, and whether they feel the situation is more satisfactory now. In view of that, for the time being, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

9.39 p.m.

Lord LYELL moved Amendment No. 57B:

Page 15, line 18, at end insert— ("Provided that, where a harbour authority continues after the coming into operation of the order to maintain welfare amenities which in pursuance of a welfare amenity scheme it had provided or was maintaining immediately before the coming into operation thereof, the harbour authority shall be deemed for the purposes of section 28 of the 1966 Act to be maintaining the amenities in pursuance of a welfare amenity scheme.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, it might be for the convenience of the House if I were to move Amendment No. 57B and speak to Amendment No. 57D at the same time. I hope that will meet with the approval of the Government. These two Amendments were raised in Committee by myself and my noble friends. We understood then that the Government believed some provision should indeed be made to assist the port authorities when they need to collect levies from the port employers where the employees of these port employers use various welfare amenities in or around the port.

My Lords, it may have been that the Government misinterpreted the purpose of my Amendment, but the reply which was given by them in retrospect seemed curiously inappropriate. Is it relevant to consider the Health and Safety at Work Regulations? These may be provisions which apply, but in essence they are protective, or I might call them defensive, seeing that certain rules have to be, and indeed are, obeyed. We are still of the opinion that the port authorities need the ability to raise funds from the port employers, and above all to manage these welfare amenities. I wonder whether noble Lords opposite would agree that the management and raising of funds is indeed the duty of the inspectors and the Health and Safety at Work regulations. We hope that the Government will recognise the difference between the replies which we were given in Committee. We feel that these replies did not give the full details that we were seeking. I beg to move.


My Lords, in the debate which took place at the Committee stage, it was pointed out that the Government had only recently been made aware of the problems to which the Amendment was directed. It was also said that the Government were considering the matter. In the meantime, the Government are convinced that in principle it is more appropriate that the Health and Safety Commission should be responsible for welfare in the docks as in other industries. There is provision under the Health and Safety at Work Act to make regulations dealing with welfare amenities. Therefore, it would not be right to perpetuate, as the Amendment proposes, these provisions in the Docks and Harbour Act of 1966. However, it is accepted that there could possibly be a transitional problem with regard to the power of harbour authorities to continue to charge to cover the cost of providing and maintaining welfare amenities introduced under the existing welfare amenity schemes.

In the light of the discussions which we have subsequently held with those concerned, the best course for any transitional period would appear to he to continue the duties and powers of harbour authorities under Section 28 of the 1966 Act. We therefore propose to use for this purpose the transitional and saving provisions under Clause 12(1)(b) and Clause 17(3)(b) until suitable arrangements are made under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.


My Lords, we are particularly grateful for that reply from the noble Lord. At first I wondered whether we were going to he considering the same point as we were discussing in Committee, but the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, has pointed out to us that the Government have considered these problems. They have had a little more time to deliberate and to consult the port employers and it would seem that the measures outlined by the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, on behalf of the Government are going to achieve what we hoped the Amendment would achieve. We are very grateful for the assurances given by the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, and with that I would seek leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

9.45 p.m.

Lord ORAM moved Amendment No. 58:

Page 22, line 45, at end insert— ("10A.—(1) A person is not qualified to act as auditor of the Board unless he is a member of one of the following bodies—

  1. (a) the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales:
  2. (b) the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland;
  3. (c) the Association of Certified Accountants;
  4. (d) the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland;
  5. (e) any other body of accountants established in the United Kingdom and for the time being recognised by the Secretary of State for the purposes of section 161(1)(a) of the Companies Act 1948,
or is a person for the time being authorised under section 161(1)(b) of that Act as having similar qualifications obtained outside the United Kingdom. (2) A Scottish firm may act as auditor of the Board only if every partner of the firm is qualified so to act.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the House will recall that on this subject noble Lords opposite pressed for an Amendment along these lines. We had a very vigorous debate which we have considered subsequently, and I have pleasure now in moving this Amendment.


My Lords, I am indeed most grateful for the way in which the noble Lord has proposed this Amendment. I am gratified that he thinks we had a vigorous discussion. I thought that it was very much on a technicality; I had hoped that it would be fairly non-contentious. We are most grateful that the noble Lord has seen fit to include this paragraph in the Schedule; it achieves exactly what we had hoped to achieve.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Lord LYELL moved Amendments Nos 58E, 58F, 58B and 58G:

Page 24, line 25, leave out from ("of") to ("the") in line 26 and insert ("registers of dock workers and of employers of persons carrying out registered dock work").

Page 24, line 28, leave out ("dock employers") and insert ("employers of persons carrying out registered dock work").

Page 25, line 1, leave out ("dock employers") and insert ("employers of persons carrying out registered dock work").

Page 25, line 5, leave out ("dock employers") and insert ("employers of persons carrying out registered dock work").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, these are a series of Manuscript Amendments together with Amendment No. 58B on the Marshalled List. We believe these are drafting Amendments and hope that they will improve the wording of the Bill. With the leave of the House, I beg to move Amendment No. 58B and Manuscript Amendments Nos.58E, 58F and 58G.


My Lords, we are still not convinced that these changes are essential to Schedule 2. Subsection (3) of Clause 5 defines what is meant by "dock work" for the purposes of the new Scheme, and the term "dock employers" must mean the employers of dock workers performing dock work. Therefore, we do not think there is any question of employers of workers performing work which is not classified being affected in any way by the provisions of the Scheme.

These Amendments are technically deficient because they refer to "registered" rather than "classified" work. But if the Opposition still feel that there is doubt, then if they will withdraw these Amendments, we will undertake to consider it further and to make it 200 per cent. beyond doubt by tabling any necessary Amendments to cover these drafting points at Third Reading.


My Lords, once again we are 200 per cent. grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, that these doubts that we had in our minds will indeed be removed by swift Governmental action. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendments.

Amendments, by leave, withdrawn.

9.49 p.m.

Lord LYELL moved Amendment No. 58C: Page 25, line 25, at end insert ("except for qualitative checking and recording where inspecting and/or measuring and/or weighing and/or sampling is involved.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, Amendment No. 58C, we hope, is broadly similar to the one which I moved at Committee stage. I seem to remember that the noble Lord, Lord Oram, was then concerned, and indeed expressed at considerable length his worries about the use of the word "skilled". I hope he will see from my modified Amendment that this bone of contention has been surgically removed. The point that I raised on Committee, I believe, is still valid, in that these tests that I described are indeed carried out at the dockside or the quayside.

The noble Lord on Committee mentioned the Association of Commodity Cargo Superintendents, and, of course, we believe that this organisation is relevant in this particular case. However, there is a major difficulty in that much of the work indicated by the noble Lord, Lord Oram, concerning oils and chemicals, is carried out by other employees belonging to different unions from the one mentioned by the noble Lord. My main purpose in moving this Amendment is to ensure that the work which is carried out by workers other than registered dock workers can continue to be so. We understand that the position in the existing Scheme ports is covered under, first of all, Clause 5(4)(a) and (b), then under Clause 6(2)(a), and thirdly under Clause 6(5)(a) and (b). We believe that the combination of all these special and particular safeguards as to what work should, or should not, be classified would seem to protect the work which is at present carried out, and agreed to be so, by registered dock workers. It seems that the problems of Clauses 7 and 8 are not relevant, in that the type of work described by the Amendment would not be covered by handling cargo, nor necessarily by loading and unloading. I hope that this revised Amendment meets the problems raised, especially by the noble Lord, Lord Oram. I beg to move.

9.52 p.m.


My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, has explained, he is bringing this Amendment forward hoping to meet the point which I made about the difficulty over the word "skilled". I did indeed say that the main difficulty that I saw in accepting the Amendment which was then moved was over the interpretation of the word "skilled", and I recall that the discussion centred largely on that point. As the noble Lord explained, the present wording of his Amendment is designed to avoid the use of the word "skilled". I can see that the noble Lord has made still further efforts to get the right wording, but I am sorry to have to advise him that in our view this word "qualitative" gives rise to much the same sort of difficulty as the word "skilled". It could be very much a matter of judgment as to whether a particular task of inspecting, measuring, weighing or sampling could be said to be "qualitative" checking or recording.

But there is a further difficulty. It could well be argued that simply checking that goods had not been damaged or spoiled in unloading from a ship involved qualitative checking. Similarly in a warehouse, checking that cases or sacks had not been damaged might be considered as qualitative checking. It seems reasonable that work of this kind—which would certainly not be "skilled" work on any interpretation of the work—should be capable of being classified.

In general the Government remain convinced that to try to find a satisfactory dividing line to write into the Bill on work in the categories covered by this Amendment is a hopeless quest. I commend the noble Lord for his efforts in this quest, but I am sorry to have to say that in the Government's opinion, as I am advised, he has not succeeded. But I think I made the points in Committee that if such work is of a genuinely specialised character requiring special skills not possessed by registered dock workers, then it would not satisfy the prima fade grounds in Clause 8(5).

I referred to such work in our earlier debate. If it was of a kind as to require the same or similar skills as those of registered dock workers, then surely it is reasonable that it should be capable of classification. In practice, I suggest that work which is clearly in the first category is very unlikely ever to be given even preliminary consideration for classification. Therefore, although I see the objective of the noble Lord, I do not think there is the kind of difficulty he is seeking to meet.

Viscount SIMON

My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, to indicate the kind of jobs he has in mind. I have been unable to grasp what it is he is trying to protect from classification.

9.56 p.m.


My Lords, in answering thenoble Viscount's question I may be able to define what we see as "qualitative" and the meaning we ascribe to the word. At an earlier stage I spoke about the timber importing trade, which is particularly relevant in that registered docker checkers, tally clerks or other persons who would be involved in such work, as is described in the provision, would be able to carry out and are indeed carrying out certain aspects of the work to which I referred. However, there is an element of this work—I will give a simple example—where the length, size or similar set of planks or amount of timber must be sorted and graded for onward dispatch to different warehouses. For instance, ash or oak might have to be sent to different warehouses and put on different lorries. I do not know whether each registered docker checker or tally clerk would be able to do that. He might have a handbook on the subject, I suppose, and of course I have given only a simple example of the type of work we have in mind.

The noble Lord, Lord Oram, said that I had tried again and failed yet again. Perhaps he does not appreciate that I come from north of the Border where we remember the story of Robert the Bruce. Unfortunately on this Bill we do not have that number of opportunities left to try and try again as the memorable spider tried until he climbed right up into the timber roof. I regarded the noble Lord's answer as unsatisfactory because he appeared to go into needless detail. The type of work he was describing—looking for damage to cargo or damage externally to containers, crates, or pallates or to the cargo itself is, I think, already covered in the provision. We do not dispute that. The type of work we have in mind is where it is of considerable assistance to the onward dispatch of goods and where it adds to the efficiency of the cargo handling to have somebody doing the work who has specialised knowledge. Noble Lords will see that I deliberately did not use the word "skill" in that reference; I referred to "specialised knowledge", and he may have acquired that knowledge over many years.

Indeed, we do not think that dockers would aspire to have these particular skills. We were also not convinced when the noble Lord pointed out that these special skills would be covered under Clause 8(4) because we believe that that provision would match up to paragraph 4 of this Schedule. In fact, I wonder whether the noble Lord would confirm that he was referring to Clause 8(5) because I think it is there that the question of training, aptitudes and experience similar to those of dockers appears. I think that both on Report and at an earlier stage of our proceedings the noble Lord referred to subsection (4). I believe that it is subsection (5) that he means.


My Lords, I thought had said subsection (5).


My Lords, I understood subsection (4) and, certainly, in the Official Report, when T was moving this Amendment at an earlier stage, it was printed as (4). However, we can let this pass and agree that it is subsection (5). We do not believe that the safeguards in subsection (5) give sufficient protection to these specialised techniques and the special knowledged required. I am afraid we have not been convinced by the noble Lord's reply. It seemed curiously defensive and did not meet my rather detailed question satisfactorily.

Viscount SIMON

My Lords, if I may have the leave of the House to speak again. I should like to say that I found what the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, said not entirely convincing. If dock workers are engaged, let us say, in discharging and delivering timber, they will of course deliver the packages of timber according to mark. The documents will perhaps say so many packages of oak or ash or, more likely, deal, but it is not for the dock worker to know whether they have been incorrectly described. He will deliver them according to the mark on the package and I do not believe that he has to know the difference between oak and ash at all, though, if he has been working regularly with timber, he will know a great deal more than one might think.

10.3 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 58C) shall he agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 45; Not-Contents, 39.

Amherst of Hackney, L. Hereford, V. Rochdale, V.
Atholl, D. Hornsby-Smith, B. Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.
Balerno, L. Kinnoull, E. St. Just, L.
Belstead, L. Long, V. Sandford, L.
Berkeley, B. Lucas of Chilworth, L. Sandys, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Lyell, L. Selkirk, E.
Campbell of Croy, L. Macleod of Borve, B. Sempill, Ly.
Colville of Culross, V. Monk Bretton, L. Swansea, L.
Cork and Orrery, E. Mottistone, L. Teviot, L.
de Clifford, L. Mowbray and Stourton, L. [Teller.] Tweedsmuir, L.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Vickers, B.
Drumalbyn, L. Norfolk, D. Ward of North Tyneside, B.
Elles, B. O'Hagan, L. Westbury, L.
Elliot of Harwood, B. Pender, L. Young, B.
Faithfull, B. Rankeillour, L.
Gowrie, E. Redesdale, L.
Ampthill, L. Harris of Greenwich, L. Ritchie-Calder, L.
Barrington, V. Jacques, L. Seear, B.
Birk, B. Janner, L. Simon, V.
Brimelow, L. Kaldor, L. Snow, L.
Brockway, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B. Stedman, B.
Champion, L. McCluskey, L. Stone, L.
Collison, L. Morris of Kenwood, L. Strabolgi, L. [Teller.]
Crowther-Hunt, L. Oram, L. Thurso, V.
Davies of Leek, L. Parry, L. Wells-Pestell, L. [Teller.]
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Peart, L. (L. Privy Seal.) Winstanley, L.
Elwyn-Jones, L. (L Chancellor.) Peddie, L. Winterbottom, L.
Gardiner, L. Phillips, B. Wise, L.
Hacking, L. Pitt of Hampstead, L. Wynne-Jones, L.
Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.

Lord LYELL moved Amendment No. 58D:

10.10 p.m.

Page 25, line 26, leave out from ("repairs") to end of line 27 and insert ("to crates, boxes, pallets and other articles into which cargo is packed for loading and unloading operations.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, once again we have an Amendment which is similar to one which I moved in Committee, but, as noble Lords will see, this time the Amendment would permit minor repairs to various boxes, crates and pallets where this is already done by dock workers or where it would be appropriate. The relevant word which the Amendment seeks to remove is "container". I referred to these items at the end of my remarks in Committee, and noble Lords will remember my pointing out that containers are made at present from steel, aluminium, GRP (which I understand is glass-reinforced polyester) or a combination of all these materials. From the inquiries I have made since Committee stage, it appears that there is no such thing as a minor repair should any damage to a container occur, because in all cases where a container is bent or buckled, or where one of the metal parts gets chipped, broken or damaged in any way, a specialist is needed, either to weld or to patch, or to realign the metal, or to repair in a major way the glass-reinforced polyester.

Such work, I think noble Lords will admit, really is beyond the range of even the most skilled docker who might have experience of such a thing on the dockside at present. Anyhow, such a docker would not require training in techniques utterly irrelevant to his main employment. But, of course, any major damage to a container would necessitate that container being removed, if necessary with its contents as well, to a specialised container repair depot. I consider, and I hope that noble Lords will agree, that any repairs, major or minor, to a container are in no way the province of registered dock workers, and I just wonder whether registered dock workers would wish to take the responsibility for such highly organised and very difficult work. But if the Government believe that this is the case, and taking into account Clause 8(5)(b), why do we need to have containers in this part of the Schedule at all? With that, my Lords, I beg to move.

Viscount SIMON

My Lords, I should like to support the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, on this Amendment. I must confess that when I first read it I had assumed that the Bill was using the word "container" in a rather general sense, as anything which contained something else. But, of course, in the shipping business for many years now the word "containers" has had this specialised meaning, and I think it would be rather unfortunate to leave that word in because it certainly would be mis-interpreted; and I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, that there could not be any intention of registered dock workers making repairs to containers.


My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, has said, this is a some-what similar exercise to the last one. He will not be surprised, therefore, if I respond in a vein somewhat similar to my last response. As he has said, in Committee he moved an Amendment to restrict the minor repair work which may be classified to work (the words then were)— involving unskilled general work in the dry coopering, needlemen and 'box knocking' categories". He has not this time gone into those sophistications. I said during that debate that the Amendment was too restrictive; it would prevent the classification of minor repairs to various articles, such as pallets used in the packing of cargo, and containers. As the noble Lord has this evening indicated, he indicated then that he was generally satisfied with what I said but criticised the inclusion of the word "containers" on the grounds that the repair of these would involve skilled work with metal and other materials. He has made a similar point this evening.

This Amendment varies the present wording of the Bill in two respects: by excluding the word "containers" and, secondly, by altering the final words from: used for packing or loading and unloading cargo", to: into which cargo is packed for loading and unloading operations". I must advise the House that the essential point that the noble Lord has put forward—that is, omitting the word "containers"—really achieves nothing because lie has included in his Amendment the words "and other articles". All containers would be covered by the term "other articles". There would be great difficulty in excluding special minor repairs to standard through-transport containers. That is clearly the intention because of this problem of definition.

The word containers", by itself, would presumably include bags, boxes and crates; but in any case the Government do not think that minor repairs to through-transport containers should be excluded. Registered dock workers at present undertake the restoration of damaged paintwork on such containers in some cases. The noble Lord has in mind, as he indicated, such jobs as metalwork, skilled welding or the treatment of aluminium. I do not think that these could possibly be considered to be minor repairs, because if a metal through-transport container needs such treatment its whole structure is affected and the subsequent repair is anything but minor. So I think that there are difficulties of this kind in relation to the noble Lord's Amendment.

Another difficulty that I would indicate is that there are international standards applying to the construction of containers so that the metalwork to which he refers is, indeed, a major operation. But there is the difficulty of definition in relation to minor work which prevents me from accepting this Amendment, even though once again the noble Lord, quite understandably, has tried to meet the criticisms that I made of his earlier Amendment.


My Lords, would it not be fair for the noble Lord to provide a suitable Amendment to establish what really was meant by "minor repairs". The trouble with this kind of description is that "minor repairs" can be almost anything or nothing. I know that when we are talking about containers we mean the big steel boxes and we are not talking about bags, boxes or sacks. These are dealt with by separate words. In the Bill the word "container" is followed by a comma. Surely that means that what we are talking about are these through-transported containers—not a box, not a bag, not a pallet or a crate that is used for moving goods in and around. This is, surely, a whole piece of equipment.

Certainly, in Southampton I know that registered dock workers carry out what they call minor repairs to containers. It is not only a question of international standards applying; because if a container is damaged on being brought off a boat for onward transmission into the United Kingdom, the international standards do not apply. Suppose it had a gash in its side. It is quite common practice for something to be stuck over the gash and that is called a minor repair. It is an ineffective repair but nevertheless that is carried out and that is the kind of repair, minor or otherwise, that gives rise to a potential claim or an extension of the activity into further work for repair. Once we have that, we are virtually going to encourage a new job to be created within the Dock Scheme area in substitution. We have had a lot of argument about that kind of thing.

We have always regarded the minor repair as being the knocking in of a few nails to secure a board in a wooden packing case, or something of that nature. If we move from steel containers—steel including aluminium of course—into some other material in the next few years then this sub-paragraph will not apply because of the technology involved, so my noble friend is quite right in seeking to secure the exclusion of a particular and important piece of machinery. If this wording is not exactly what the Government would like to agree is the intention behind the Amendment—and I am presuming of course that the Government agree with the intention—surely it is up to them to make suitable suggestions so that the intention can be clarified.


My Lords, I am very grateful for the support and above all the clarification that I have had from the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, and indeed the support from my noble friend Lord Lucas of Chilworth. As to the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Oram, that containers, as we understand them for this purpose—I had better call them a through-transport container—might require painting, I would submit fairly strongly that painting is hardly relevant to the safety or indeed the condition of the cargo. On the other hand, a dent in the metal or a gash or damage to the metal-work is indeed relevant to the cargo, its condition and its safety. That is why I might have made an error in thinking of minor repairs of any kind because I would submit that the noble Lord's example of painting is certainly not relevant to the condition of the cargo and certainly any metalwork, as he has agreed, would require to be carried out in a specialised workshop.

The noble Lord mentioned European regulations for metalwork and for containers going across the Channel to continental Europe and indeed across the oceans. I believe also for the rollon roll-off section there are the TIR regulations, and indeed I am interested to hear my noble friend Lord Lucas of Chilworth say that patching is allowed because I had understood that the TIR regulations were very strict about such practices.

The noble Lord pointed out as the very last thing in his reply that "articles might cover through transport containers. I might take that, but I would counter, if that is the word, that containers, as we understand them and as they would be interpreted in this Bill, would mean through-transport containers as indeed has been pointed out by the noble Viscount, Lord Simon. We have moved towards the Government's objections. I am only sad that there has been no more than—as I described it at Committee stage—a millimetric advance towards our position, if as much as that. But there is one point on which the Amendment is not perfect, and we could not be satisfied with the example given by the noble Lord, Lord Oram. However, it is fruitless to continue to argue about glass reinforced polyester, or new techniques that may come. Therefore, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

10.26 p.m.

Lord MOTTISTONE moved Amendment No. 61A: Page 26, line 10, at end insert ("and not including any normally operating in sheltered estuarial waters.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I should like to start by thanking the noble Lord, Lord Oram, for having agreed in Committee to look into this matter, and indeed for having written me a very full letter explaining the Government's attitude to the Amendment that I had down then. That gave me the opportunity to change my Amendment to the one that we have before us, I hope taking my lead from the noble Lord's letter and, indeed, from what he said in Committee. It seems to me that the kind of definition and the kind of change in the balance of the Amendment—I do not wish to repeat all the arguments that I put in Committee—would meet both my aspirations to safeguard the position of ships whose normal work is in enclosed waters, and which are not going to be used for long distance passages and carrying great cargoes for import and export from consideration under this Bill, and the very understandable objections which the Government had to my earlier Amendment. My Lords, I beg to move.


My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, has said, we entered into correspondence arising from the debate in Committee. The Amendment which the noble Lord put forward then would have limited the application of paragraph 8(d) to, sea-going ships normally used for carrying cargo on the open sea. As the noble Lord acknowledged, I have written to him explaining that under Section 57 of the Harbours Act 1964, which is referred to in the Bill, both in Clause 15 and now in Clause 4, as amended, "harbour" means, … any harbour, whether natural or artificial, and any port, haven estuary, tidal or other river or inland waterway navigated by sea-going ships.". Therefore, the term "sea-going ship" is used in other legislation and has a well-understood meaning. Very strong arguments would be needed before changing a term which is already used in the definition of a "harbour"—a definition which was important in other legislation before the Bill was amended, and crucial after its amendment.

I went on to say in the letter that in the Dock Work (Regulation of Employment) Act 1946, under which the present Dock Labour Scheme is made, the term "cargo" is defined as including "anything which is carried in a ship or other vessel". That could technically be held to apply to, for example, goods carried in a rowing boat used as a ferry across a river. A sea-going ship "is one which is permitted to go to sea and is not restricted to sheltered estuarial waters, or to inland waterways. This gives a proper, clear distinction between goods which are moved by a non-sea-going ship or vessel, and thus could not be considered as cargo, and those which are moved by a ship which is permitted to go to sea and thus can be considered for classification. The number of occasions when sea-going ships do not put to sea is, we understand, quite small.

The Amendment moved by the noble Lord seeks to exclude that category of sea-going ships which do not normally put to sea. The number of such ships is small, so this minor change would not be a significant diminution of the work which may be considered for classification. However, there are serious difficulties about the drafting. If the ship is normally used only in sheltered estuarial waters, then it could, from time to time, put to sea. When it does put to sea, we see every reason why the goods which it carries should be considered as cargo. If the ship was, say, to put in at a wharf in the Port of London for a voyage to Rotterdam, the owners could insist that non-registered men were used to load and unload the goods because the goods would not be cargo. That would provoke the most serious industrial relations consequences and we do not think that that should even be a possibility under the Bill. Moreover, some sea-going ships of quite considerable size are being used to a greater or lesser extent in estuarial waters in order to trans-ship goods to a smaller port. A commodity such as grain, for example, is commonly carried in very large ships which can use only a very limited number of ports. We think that work associated with trans-shipment should be capable of classification.

I have gone into the matter in some detail, as I think the noble Lord will acknowledge, because he raised the matter on the earlier occasion and has sought to meet the points that were then made. However, I think that it raises difficulties which I have explained and I hope, therefore, that the noble Lord will not press his Amendment.

10.32 p.m.


My Lords, the mind boggles at the prospect of the kind of ships I am thinking of going into the Port of London and causing a major dock strike by misusing the terms which we are seeking to write into the Bill. I should have thought that this was highly unlikely and that the people concerned would he most unwise even to risk being in that position, whatever the wording of this Bill.

Perhaps I may suggest to the noble Lord, Lord Oram, that there has not been sufficient time for the Government to consider these Amendments. I apologise for the fact that as I put down my Amendment only yesterday there has not been time for the noble Lord and his advisers to consider the implications. I hope that the noble Lord will not take it amiss when I say that I feel he has given me a Let's think up an excuse" kind of reply rather than one of his usual courteous and carefully thought out replies, such as that contained in his letter, a good deal of which he read and which I very much appreciated.

It is getting late. Also we are nearing the end of the Bill. The sole purpose of the Amendment is to introduce a small safeguard to protect a very few people from having their jobs disrupted by the Bill, whatever form it ultimately takes. I think it is rather tragic that it has not been possible for the Government to give more consideration to the Amendment and show more understanding of the purpose behind it. However, in view of the time I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

10.35 p.m.

Lord LYELL moved Amendment No. 62:

Page 26, line 29, at end insert— ("10A. The work of persons employed in a business on premises occupied for the purposes of business where the terms and conditions of employment are mainly or exclusively the subject of a collective agreement unless the parties to the collective agreement further agree that the work in question may be classified.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, would it be in order for me to move Amendment No. 62A to amend Amendment No. 62 before I speak to that Amendment? If so, I seek leave to move Amendment No. 62A, the manuscript Amendment.

The CHAIRMAN of COMMITTEES (The Earl of Listowel)

My Lords, I think the noble Lord should move Amendment No. 62 first.


My Lords, I am indebted to the noble Earl. the Lord Chairman. In speaking to Amendment No. 62, I take into account the comments made by noble Lords opposite at the Committee stage. The House will remember that the Government then expressed concern that where both employers and employees, having a recognised agreement, wished to have work at a port or a dock classified, this should be so. We hope that our Amendment as re-drafted will do what the Government wish the provision in the Bill to make it do. What we seek to do by inserting this Amendment is to ensure that a satisfactory collective agreement is not, and will not be, affected by the Board classifying some work covered by the agreement. The other main object of the Amendment is to remove the possible causes of inter-union dispute, and even intra-union strife within the same union.

Perhaps I may ask the noble Lord who is to reply whether the Government have been able to confirm all that was said at an earlier stage about some tally clerks at Liverpool. All of us have recognised that such a group at such an important port is a very reasonable example in seeking to show the defects in our Amendment as it was then drafted. But the Amendment has been re-written, I would say mutatis inutandis, and we are of the opinion that should the tally clerks wish to have their work classified they could have their wishes fulfilled. But, secondly, are the Government quite sure that the tally clerks in Liverpool are in fact performing the work which is defined in Schedule 3? As we understand it, that is checking and recording and sorting cargo, or recording the handling or loading or unloading of cargo, because from inquiries that we have made it seems that most of this work in that particular port is performed by dockercheckers, whereas the 500 or so members of the clerical section of the Transport and General Workers' Union in the port of Liverpool are working mostly in offices around, the dock area, not in the warehouses, in the sheds or on the quaysides.

But the other main port where we find tally clerks is in London, and representations have been made to us that there are inter-union difficulties in and around the Port of London. For example, can the Government say that registered clerks in the Port of London are permitted to work in or around the warehouses and the cargo sheds? We are not sure that this is permitted, and in fact we understand that the work in these particular areas is performed by docker-checkers.

The Amendment seeks to allow dock workers the right to have their work classified, if they so wish, but not to upset an existing collective agreement. We hope the Amendment contains a reasonable safeguard for those who wish to have the work classified. We think that the Amendment meets the points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, at the Committee stage and thus we commend the Amendment. I beg to move.

Lord LYELL moved manuscript Amendment No. 62A as an Amendment to Amendment No. 62: Line 3, after ("of") insert ("that").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 62A.


My Lords, while we would not seek to oppose the Amendment to the Amendment, I would point out that in our view it is of doubtful value. The use of the word "that" usually implies reference to something which is earlier in the sentence. There is no indication as to what the word "that" is supposed to refer.


My Lords, I understood it, and I think if the noble Lord might grant it, it would be reasonable to assume that "that" refers to "in a business" in the first line. I hope we need not deal in what his noble friend called semantics at an earlier stage, but that is my understanding. We have not been to a court of law about it, but we understand the word "that" refers to "a business" in line 1.

The Earl of LISTOWEL

My Lords, the Question is that Amendment 62A, after ("of") to insert ("that") be agreed to. As many of that opinion say "Content". To the contrary "Not-Content". I think the "Contents" have it. Clear the Bar.

My Lords, Tellers for the Not-Contents have not been appointed pursuant to Standing Order No. 53. A Division therefore cannot take place, and I declare that the "Contents" have it.


My Lords, we have not had a chance of putting a point of view on Amendment No. 62. The broad effect of this Amendment is similar to that of Amendment No. 67 which seeks to give the right of veto to trade unions recognised in respect of work since 10th February 1976. This Amendment No. 62 goes even further in that the positive agreement of both the unions and employer is required before work can be classified, and there is no limit of time in respect of which the union must have been recognised. The same objections apply with even greater force.

The Amendment, if accepted, would frustrate one of the principal objectives of the Bill which is to make possible the classification of work which registered dock workers were performing under the 1967 Scheme but which was transferred outside the port areas and undertaken by registered workers. It would clearly be unrealistic and wholly incompatible with the intention of the Bill, that any employer or trade union recognised by him in respect of classifiable work should in effect unilaterally be able automatically to preclude such work being considered for classification. The Bill provides adequate opportunity for the views of all concerned to be taken into account before any new work is classified, and the views of trade unions and employers concerned would clearly carry considerable weight. But the Government are convinced it would be wrong that the Board's ability to examine classifiable work should be subject to the concurrence in all cases of both the employer and trade union recognised in respect of any such work as the Amendment proposes. We hope that with this explanation the Amendment will be withdrawn.


My Lords, once again the Government are conceding to the big boys with the muscles, and I should like to remind your Lordships that many of the highly skilled small businesses are very valuable exporters. Many of them may rent sections of ware-houses which they do not exclusively own, but nevertheless the handling of their goods, sometimes delicate machinery which may be only a small part but the most vital part of a great chunk of iron and steel.

Again, we find that the Government have given way to the massive companies. Because they can say that they own their own warehouses, their employees will be allowed to continue, within the half-mile limit or whatever it may be, possibly outside the dock area, to handle those goods. When it comes to the smaller firms then, however loyal and skilled the staff, whether they are handling antique furniture for export or highly technical pieces of equipment, they could well lose their jobs. I cannot accept the continual reiteration of the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, that it is the docker's right to take so many types of jobs from their fellow workers who have been working in their own skilled niche in their particular union.


My Lords, there is nothing in this Bill which enables a docker to take over the work of somebody else. Workers doing the work at present are fully covered and protected by the Bill.


My Lords, if I may say so to the noble Lord, we have had representations from many members in different trade unions who are working in what would be either the half-mile or the five-mile zone indicating that they have very real apprehensions: if the goods are imports they will have been handled by dockers to that zone warehouse within the half mile, which may be beyond the gates of what is physically the dock. They have very real apprehensions. If the noble Lord is now telling us that no one in the Municipal and General or USDAW or the warehousemen who have hitherto under union agreements been employed in these establishments will lose their jobs—that there will not be the possibility of their jobs being taken over within this zonal limit—that will allay a lot of fears. But many highly-skilled lawyers in the various unions have read this Bill, and that is not what they believe.


My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Lord could tell us—I am sure he is much more experienced in this field than I am—if the existing workforce in particular premises was subject to a closed shop agreement, what would be the effect of classifying the work as dock work when it was not classified as dock work before?


My Lords, It would have no effect whatever on the collective agreement.


My Lords, what effect would it have on filling vacancies? Supposing someone had to fill a subsequent vacancy in what was then classified as dock work, would it not mean that a registered dock worker would have to be admitted, and he, of course, could not be admitted because of the closed shop agreement? Where do we go from there?


My Lords, it would, of course, mean that the registered dock worker after classification would get the vacancy.


But he could not; it is a closed shop.


Yes, my Lords, but there is no reason why a closed shop agreement could not be modified as an agreement between the unions. It would make no difference to the collective agreement. As we have said many times, if there is a dispute between two unions, the TUC has a committee for dealing with such disputes and it is one of the most successful committees in the TUC.


My Lords, could the noble Lord clarify it a little further? If, as he says, the Bill without this Amendment is not going to lead to the upsetting of collective agreements, why is he objecting to this Amendment? Does it make things any different? It seems to me a little odd. If the Bill without the Amendment is going to protect the jobs of people who are not dock workers, the Amendment cannot make things worse for the chaps who are not dock workers. I do not see what he is objecting to.


My Lords, with the leave of the House, I will reply. I am objecting to the Amendment because it frustrates one of the principal purposes of the Bill. In the past few years the movement of work from the dockside a short distance away, within, if you like, the five-mile limit, has caused a good deal of bad industrial relations. We are saying that that work should be classifiable; that is to say, it should be considered for classification. We have provided complete safeguards for the people who are at present doing the work. But it would mean that a docker could take a vacancy, and we contend that it is better that a docker should take the vacancy rather than that the existing dock employers should have to pay excessive severance pay, which is the present position.


My Lords, with the leave of the House, does this Amendment prevent dockers from taking a vacancy?


My Lords, by this Amendment the trade unions and the employers could cause the work not to be classifiable, and, therefore, because the work was not classifiable, even though it came from the dockside, the work would not be available to registered dockers. We say it should be available, but that the existing workers should be fully protected.


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, has said that the workers should be protected. I think the example he gave of premises where there is a closed shop and should a vacancy occur a registered docker would be the first to obtain such a vacancy is one of the most terrifying replies certainly to this Amendment. I believe that although that particular reply may not frustrate the Bill it frustrates the good intentions of this particular Amendment. In the replies that the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, has given us—and he has been kind enough to give replies not just to me but to my noble friends behind me—I am afraid that he has gone less than half-way to satisfying not 200, not 20, and not 2 per cent.

11.4 p.m.

Lord LUCAS of CHILWORTH moved Amendment No. 63:

Page 26, line 30, leave out paragraph 11 and insert— ("11. Driving any vehicle whose use is mainly on public roads, whether inside or outside any dock labour scheme area; supervision of loading and unloading such a vehicle; seeing to the security of its load.").

The noble Lord said: I hope that in moving this Amendment we can move from the rather troubled waters of the last discussion into calmer seas. The Amendment is substantially the same as that moved by my noble friend Lord Lyell in Committee. It is different only in the

10.56 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 62), as amended, shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 46; Not-Contents, 40.

Ampthill, L. Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. Rankeillour, L.
Atholl, D. Hereford, V. Redesdale, L.
Balerno, L. Hornsby-Smith, B. Rochdale, V.
Belstead, L. Hunt of Fawley, L. Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.
Berkeley, B. Kinnoull, E. St. Just, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Long, V. Sandford, L.
Campbell of Croy, L. Lucas of Chilworth, L. Sandys, L.
Colville of Culross, V. Lyell, L. Selkirk, E.
Cork and Orrery, E. Macleod of Borve, B. Scmpill, Ly.
Craigmyle, L. Monk Bretton, L. Strathcona and Mount Royal, L
de Clifford, L. Mottistone, L. Tweedsmuir, L.
Denham, L. Teller.] Mowbray and Stourton, L. [Teller.] Vickers, B.
Drumalbyn, L. Ward of North Tyneside, B.
Elles, B. Norfolk, D. Westbury, L.
Faithfull, B. O'Hagan, L. Young, B.
Gowrie, E. Pender, L.
Barrington, V. Janner, L. Shepherd, L.
Birk, B. Kaldor, L. Simon, V.
Brimelow, L. Kennet, L. Snow, L.
Champion, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B. Stedman, B.
Collison, L. McCluskey, L. Stone, L.
Crowther-Hunt, L. Morris of Kenwood, L. Strabolgi, L. [Teller.]
Davies of Leek, L. Oram, L. Wells-Pestell, L. [Teller.]
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Parry, L. White, B.
Elwyn-Jones, L. (L. Chancellor.) Peart, L. (L. Privy Seal.) Wigoder, L.
Gardiner, L. Peddie, L. Winstanley, L.
Gregson, L. Phillips, B. Winterbottom, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L. Pitt of Hampstead, L. Wynne-Jones, L.
Houghton of Sowerby, L. Plurenden, L.
Jacques, L. Seear, B.
Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.

deletion of the word "normal from the phrase "normal use". It seeks to protect the work of some 200,000 people engaged in the road haulage industry and most particularly of about 40,000 of them who are directly engaged in haulage to and from the docks. I am hopeful that, when the noble Lord, Lord Jaques, comes to respond, he will be able to shed some light on our obligations with our friends in the EEC, particularly with regard to the movement of Ro/Ro vehicles. We withdrew this Amendment at Committee stage in order to have a further look at the question in the light of what the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, had said. We have set it down again at this stage because we could not find any good reason why this particular work should not be excluded.

So far as we can see, the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, suggested only that the driving of vehicles would only be carried out by registered dock workers in the most exceptional cases. He gave two instances. We feel that, once one starts making exceptional cases that are not defined, the provisions rather fall. The two examples that the noble Lord gave were, we thought, somewhat negatived by the answer that he gave to my noble friend the Duke of Atholl who had asked whether, if registered dock workers were moving import and export vehicles round the dock area, they could not continue to do so. The answer was, yes, they could continue to do so. Therefore, the exclusion, by virtue of this Amendment, of this work would not upset any particular arrangement.

I do not wish to repeat the arguments that we put forward at the Committee stage with, if I may say so, some vehemence and with what we believe to have been the support of the Committee, because understand that the Government are inclined to accept the Amendment, presumably because of the arguments which we then put forward. I hope that that is so because the Amendment takes care of the points that my noble friend Lord Mottistone might well have raised on his Amendments Nos.59 and 60. It was in the belief that the present Amendment would be acceptable to the Government that he did not move those two Amendments. I hope that that will prove to be the case when the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, comes to respond. I beg to move.


My Lords, this is a matter on which little divides the Government and the Opposition. In Committee, the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, and others explained the concern of the road haulage industry that the paragraph meant that registered dock workers would evict lorry drivers from their cabs and seek to drive roll-on/roll-off vehicles on to the ship. I explained that the Government would never propose anything so foolish. Part I of Schedule 3 is enabling. It does not require classification of all work which is potentially capable of being classified. The Secretary of State had made it clear in another place that it was certainly not envisaged that the driving of lorries within dock estates should in general however he classified as dock work.

In the Committee debate, the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, raised the question of our EEC obligations to foreign drivers and whether the Bill was incompatible with them. The Bill itself cannot be incompatible because it is only an enabling Bill. If ever a recommendation was made by the Board to the Secretary of State which appeared likely to have an effect on EEC obligations, then he would of course ensure that there was no breach of EEC regulations before making a statutory order under Clause 11(1). It is, of course, only when the statutory order is made that the law is changed.

It is fair to put the question: but what if a statutory order were proposed? Would it be a breach of EEC regulations? Although it may seem unsatisfactory, our answer to that is that it might or it might not be. But it is certainly not a matter which could he decided without putting all the details of any particular proposals to Brussels, so that they could be considered against the First Council Directive of 23rd July 1962, and subsequent amending Directives.

But, as has been emphasised, it is certainly not the intention to interfere with driving of roll-on/roll-off vehicles. The tests in the Bill, and its general intention, would never lead to such a situation arising. But there are situations in which as a matter of practice, convenience or practice, or convenience, where vehicles are left in dock parks by drivers and driven on board by dockers. Dockers are also used to drive import and export cars and lorries to and from the ship. A further difficulty is that if a prime mover or lorry cab is linked to a detachable trailer, then the cab and the trailer, or trailers, have to be regarded as the vehicle. This means that a lorry cab which is normally used on public roads could, under the terms of the Amendment, come into the dock estate, attach itself to a trailer, move the trailer around the dock estate, and then leave the dock estate without the trailer. Such work is usually done by the docker, using a prime mover not normally used on public roads. If such a situation occurred, it would of course have serious industrial relations consequences.

So we still have objections to the Amendment and so far have not been able to conceive of words which would overcome the difficulties outlined. But in view of this and earlier debates, and the examples given by the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, in an earlier debate on paragraph 8 of Schedule 3, we would not seek to oppose the Amendment at this stage. However, we will re-examine the drafting and may return with further proposals at a later stage.


My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, would he clarify one position? It has been said so frequently that this Amendment, and previous ones suggested, would make it difficult in relation to loading or unloading cars for imports and exports. It is not comparing like with like. The purpose of those who have supported these Amendments is in relation to the vehicles which have cargo within them.

A car for export is not licensed to be driven on a public road until it gets into the hands of the owner and gets licensed, and cars of that nature, for import and export, are truly cargo. They are not vehicles containing cargo. We are concerned in the Amendment with the vehicles, the very specialised and very expensive vehicles, the handling of which calls for very great skill and familiarity with the vehicle. We are not concerned with cars for import and export which are in themselves the actual cargo and not the transporting vehicles.


My Lords, it is a question of getting words which would meet what the noble Baroness has said. We have not got those words at the moment, but we believe that we will get them.

11.14 p.m.


My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for his very full answer, particularly in relation to our EEC obligations. I was not terribly happy with his qualified acceptance of the Amendment, because in truth the Government have had ample time to consider the Amendment and the exact wording. It has been in this state ever since the Committee stage. I feel obliged to say that if they are proposing to make any drastic alteration—which, I understand, would have to be made by tomorrow afternoon—it may well be that we would have to be very strenuous in our opposition.

Let us look at what the noble Lord might wish to do. He might wish to amend this Amendment, or the Bill as it then will be, to provide for the movement of unaccompanied trailers by a prime mover to be driven only by a registered dock worker. They do that already in a number of docks. I will give the example which, of course, comes near to me at home, at Southampton. My understanding is that the Dock Board have given some restricted training to 26 out of their workforce of 2,500 to drive heavy goods vehicles, the tractor unit. There are four of them in the dock which are used for this purpose, and there is no argument about it, there is no difficulty. In the event of a whole vehicle—that is, a tractortrailer unit or a road train vehicle—that is left unaccompanied, it would then be consigned to somebody to ship on their behalf, and my understanding is that this then becomes goods and is moved by the docker. In the last instance, where another prime mover is used, the complication of the machinery is such that very few dockers have the necessary aptitude, and I believe that they usually sit in the cab, so ensuring that they do the work although somebody else actually does the driving.

These are the sort of things that we may very well get into on Monday, when we have the Third Reading, and I would be most reluctant, at that very late stage of the Bill, to have to take an aggressive attitude. So far as this section of the Bill is concerned, we have gone along with a reasonable amount of agreeability. I therefore urge the Government to accept the spirit of this Amendment, rather than to accept it while they look at it over the weekend and then introduce something else into the whole area of the road transport industry in so far as the Dock Work Regulation Bill is concerned, which may cause us on this side to take a kind of stance we would be most reluctant to take at a stage as late as Third Reading.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

11.18 p.m.

Lord LUCAS of CHILWORTH moved Amendment No. 63A:

Page 26, line 30, leave out paragraph 11 and insert— ("11A. Repair of any such vehicles, as referred to in paragraph 11 above, and their equipment.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, with the permission of the House, I beg leave to move this Amendment on behalf of my noble friend Lord Sandford. We discussed this briefly at Committee stage, particularly in regard to those matters which we have discussed again tonight in relation to Part I of Schedule 3. I do not think there is anything very controversial in this. In fact, one might almost consider it to be something of a consequence of the Amendment just accepted by your Lordships. The position really arises in the event of a vehicle or part of its equipment—and the part of the equipment which comes most easily to mind is the hydraulic or air coupling between a prime mover and a trailer unit—becoming damaged during the course of loading. If one of these cables (it is known as a "Suzie") is damaged, the vehicle cannot move, and it may be that this work might be claimed at some time as being a minor repair to an article used for the loading or unloading of cargo.

That is what that is about. We do not feel that any repairs of any kind should be carried out to a complicated piece of machinery other than by those people sufficiently trained and practised in the art; so that the Amendment is something of a consequential one upon Amendment No. 63 and would ensure that nobody at some later stage will feel that because damage is occasioned to some vehicle or part of a vehicle concerned with loading or unloading the repair should become dockwork.


My Lords, there is something wrong with this Amendment. It says, first, "leave out paragraph 11". To leave out paragraph 11 is to leave out the paragraph relating to driving. I am sure that that is not intended by anybody. So the Amendment is certainly defective. I do not think that the repair of any vehicle, whether or not used on the public roads, could be covered by Part I of Schedule 3. Part I of Schedule 3 deals with work which is classifiable.


My Lords, the noble Lord said that the Amendment is defective. We have just amended paragraph 11 by Amendment No. 63. We are now inserting paragraph 11A.


My Lords, as I understand it, paragraph 11 has been amended by Amendment No. 63. Now we have a consequential Amendment No. 63A which is seeking to delete paragraph 11. I am sure that that is not intended.


My Lords, I think it is intended to mean to leave out the new paragraph 11A.


My Lords, this is one of the difficulties that arises by our trying to do all this too quickly. if the noble Lord will deal with the substance of the proposed Amendment which my noble friend has just moved, I think that that would meet the case.


My Lords, I do not think that repairs to any vehicle, whether or not used on the public roads, would be covered by Part I of Schedule 3. Part I of Schedule 3 lays down work which is classifiable. We do not think there is anything in Part I of Schedule 3 which covers the kind of repairs mentioned by the noble Lord. The only paragraph likely to be applicable is paragraph 5, but vehicles are not of the same genus or class as containers, crates, boxes, pallets or other articles used for packing, loading or unloading cargo. We have no doubt that repairs to vehicles are not classifiable.


My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that categorical answer. I do not think that there is any point in my reviewing the exact terminology of the Amendment. I think that my noble friend Lord Sandford has suggested how this came to be. With that categorical assurance at the back of my mind, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 64: Page 26, line 34, at beginning insert ("(a)").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 64 and to speak at the same time to Amendment No. 65. There is no need for me to speak at any length because the main issue was dealt with, I think thoroughly, at the Committee stage. The noble Lord, Lord Jacques, then made a number of points which I think I have taken fully into account so that the new Amendment differs in three respects from the original. All I need to do is to mention those differences.

The phrase "and others to which he took exception has been omitted to comply with his argument that some perfectly legitimate classified dock work such as lashing, hatch opening and so on, is carried out by registered men. I have also omitted the provision that the work of riggers and shipwrights be limited to that which is carried on on board ship because, as he rightly said, some of it is carried on ashore. I have dealt with his criticism about the term" agreed by all the parties concerned "and modified that so that it reads— which is agreed by a majority of the employers and unions …". With those changes all the original arguments that I made for this Amendment stand and I beg to move Amendment No. 64.


My Lords, we at once acknowledge the change in the wording which is, of course, from our point of view, an improvement in the Amendment, but the new wording gives rise to other problems. As it stands, the wording majority of the employers and unions could mean the majority of both taken together, thus enabling several employers to agree a change against the wishes of the single union. If the wording were amended to the majority of both employers and unions it could still enable two small employers of 5 per cent. of the workforce preventing a change agreed by the one large employer with 95 per cent. Wording such as the employers of the majority of the workforce and the unions representing together the majority of workers would be better, but it could still be unsatisfactory if a large minority of either were against a change agreed by a small majority.

However, the objections to the Amendment on other grounds are stronger. The following points were made in Committee and still apply.

First, the work of riggers on board ship is in some places already done by riggers who are registered dock workers; it might well therefore he appropriate for classification as dock work elsewhere. This incidentally need involve no change in "local custom and usage"—the existing riggers could simply become registered dock workers—on the extension register.

Secondly, this is not a new problem; paragraphs 6 and 7 of Schedule 3, which are the ones which make the work of riggers classifiable, reflect the wording of the Dock Workers (Regulation of Employment) Act 1946. In other words, this problem has been with us for a long time and has not given rise to any particular difficulties. The Government nevertheless have paid careful attention to the views expressed by some riggers that their work should not be classifiable. This would represent a narrowing of the potential scope of dock work from the present position. The Government do not believe this would be sensible. It will be better to leave the matter to the procedures under the Bill, which mean that all the circumstances—including in particular objections raised by employers and/or unions and industrial relations implications—will be carefully considered before work is recommended for classification. In addition, unions will be able to veto classification in circumstances provided for in paragraph 8 of Schedule 4.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord. I think we have done as much as we can do now to get this Amendment into shape. The noble Lord still has some misgivings, some of which are perhaps justified and some of which are rather unjustified, but the right thing for us to do now is to move this modified Amendment into the Bill and the noble Lord and his Department can look at it and make those adjustments that he thinks might be necessary for Third Reading, if they wish. The main consideration is that this particular topic should be returned to another place for them to give some reconsideration to it and in that context I would commend this Amendment to the House.

11.30 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 64) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 47; Not-Contents, 33.

Ampthill, L. Gowrie, E. Rochdale, V.
Atholl, D. Hereford, V. Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.
Balerno, L. Hornsby-Smith, B. St. Just, L.
Barrington, V. Hunt of Fawley, L. Sandford, L.
Belstead, L. Kinnoull, E. Sandys, L.
Berkeley, B. Long, V. Seear, B.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Lucas of Chilworth, L. Selkirk, E.
Campbell of Croy, L. Lyell, L. Sempill, Ly.
Colville of Culross, V. Macleod of Borve, B. Strathcona and Mount Royal, L
Cork and Orrery, E. Mottistone, L. Tweedsmuir, L.
Craigmyle, L. Mowbray and Stourton, L. [Teller.] Vickers, B.
de Clifford, L. Ward of North Tyneside, B.
Denham, L. [Teller.] O'Hagan, L. Westbury, L.
Drumalbyn, L. Pender, L. Wigoder, L.
Elles, B. Rankeillour, L. Winstanley, L.
Faithfull, B. Redesdale, L. Young, B.
Birk, B. Houghton of Sowerby, L. Peddie, L.
Brimelow, L. Jacques, L. Phillips, B.
Champion, L. Janner, L. Pitt of Hampstead, L,
Collison, L. Kaldor, L. Shepherd, L.
Crowther-Hunt, L. Kennet, L. Snow, L.
Davies of Leek, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B. Stedman, B.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. McCluskey, L. Stone, L.
Elwyn-Jones, L. (L. Chancellor.) Morris of Kenwood, L. Strabolgi, L. [Teller.]
Gardiner, L. Oram, L. Wells-Pestell, L. [Teller.]
Gregson, L. Parry, L. White, B.
Harris of Greenwich, L. Peart, L. (L. Privy Seal.) Winterbottom. L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.

11.38 p.m.

Lord SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 65:

Page 26, line 35, at end insert— ("(b) such work as by local custom or usage is left to riggers and shipwrights. Provided that nothing in (a) or (b) above shall operate to prevent a change in the local custom or usage which is agreed by a majority of the employers and unions concerned.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I have already spoken to this Amendment. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Lord MOTTISTONE moved Amendment No. 66:

Page 27, line 22, at end insert— ("17. The work of persons wholly or mainly engaged in the storage of perishable foodstuffs under controlled temperature conditions, except—

  1. (a) where such goods are discharged directly from a ship into a cold store or on to the quayside adjacent to a cold store, and where by custom and practice the handling of such goods has been dock work; or
  2. (b) where a cold store or other premises for the storage of foodstuffs under temperature controlled conditions is or is to be established within a dock labour scheme area as an integral part of the cargo handling operation.")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 66. I do not propose to review all the ground that was gone over at Committee stage. We have sought to take account of the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, and to modify the Amendment, we hope to his satisfaction. However, it is perhaps worth pointing out one or two matters which, reading his Committee stage speech, made me think that he was suffering from certain misapprehensions which were not strictly correct.

In the first place, it was suggested that the changes which have taken place in cold storage siting over the last few years were in some way caused by a deliberate unwillingness to accommodate the wishes of the dockers. That is not the case. The changes in the pattern of cold storage have been due to the changes in the trading practices of the country. The noble Lord, Lord Jacques, quoted figures at col.382 relating to the Port of London which, until 1968, was the principal port of entry for imports of meat, butter and other commodities. For example, it then handled 97 per cent. of South American wheat, 86 per cent. of Australian meat and 67 per cent. of New Zealand lamb. By custom and practice, registered dock labour was employed in cold stores in London, as indeed it was in Southampton and Cardiff: in fact where ships were able to discharge direct to store or on to the quay alongside.

Since 1968 the trade with our earlier traditional suppliers has changed dramatically and now the bulk of it comes from Europe through the most convenient ports. It also comes to a greater extent through home production, and it is this that has caused the decline in the Port of London, not a deliberate moving away from the area to escape dockers. Coupled with the reasons that I have given are modern means of transport and an improved road system in the country, and this has led to appropriate siting of the new cold stores to meet the new pattern of distribution. Another factor is the marked growth in the last few years of the quick-frozen food industry to meet the modern demand for convenience foods, leading to the construction of many new cold stores, some in inland locations to serve food distribution requirements. Having said all that, which is the main reason for the moves, and not perhaps the one that the noble Lord was rather giving emphasis to in his earlier speech, it must also be said that the experience of employers in the cold storage industry is that dock workers do not like working in cold stores and only do so when they have to because of a lack of jobs in the docks. When they do work in cold stores they tend to introduce alien working practices which are not only more costly but are disruptive of labour relations. So on the whole there is a reluctance to accept dock workers because of their past practices.

If one could be sure that this legislation was going to create a pattern in which they are not going to cause potential difficulties with other workers in cold storage areas and cold stores, perhaps one might be rather happier about the general picture of things and not seek to put forward an Amendment of this kind. But as it is. all the factors add together that the work in the cold stores in the main is not dock work, either by custom and practice or by the basis from which the development of the new cold store siting has come. Therefore, it seems to us that if we protect the existing position of dock workers, as the alterations to our Amendment seek to do, this should satisfy the Government, and I trust that they will happily accept this Amendment—certainly, perhaps, the noble Lord, Lord Oram, would accept it happily—and incorporate it in the Bill. I beg to move.

Baroness VICKERS

My Lords, I should like to support the noble Lord in this Amendment. I do so because I have not spoken since I made my speech on Second Reading, having been prohibited from doing so by another Committee, and therefore I was unable to support him when he spoke on the previous occasion. I should like to refer to Hansard of another place of 10th February of this year, at column 267, where it was stated by the Minister of State, when he was replying about dockers taking over warehousing, cold storage, drivers' jobs and all the other jobs around the dock: We have agreed … that long-established warehousing, storage packaging and cold storage operations, which are not related directly to work transferred from the docks and which are not connected with port operations, would most certainly not be classified as dock work and, therefore, subject to the new scheme". I am not doubting for a moment that that is a correct statement, but it would be convenient if the noble Lord would tell us that he agrees with it, and that it is what the Government intend in the future. When the noble Lord comes to reply, will he tell us what is meant by the phrase, "long established"? From what period does it date? It would make a great deal of difference to our views in regard to this Amendment if we knew these answers. Would he also tell us what is meant by, "unrelated to work transferred from the dock"? It would be very helpful if he could confirm that this is exactly what the statement means. This is one of the most important Amendments, because it deals with the feeding of the nation, with exports, and with the handling of home-grown food.

My Lords, as I understand it, at present there exists 450 million cubic feet of warehousing. That is present capacity. About 70 per cent. of the total warehousing of Great Britain is run by private companies, and the remainder goes to road haulage and the public sector. Unless the Bill is changed as was agreed on a previous Amendment, 67 per cent. of the total cold storage capacity lies within the cargo-handling zone. I understand that at the moment three unions are affected by the proposals, the Transport and General Workers Union, USDAW and the Union of General and Municipal Workers. Have these three unions been consulted? Have they agreed to the proposals in the future?—because it is a great change for them. As I understand it, the Bill creates uncertainty because 69 per cent. of all the warehouses are in the present cargo-handling zone and, as I have already mentioned, 67 per cent. of the total cold storage.

It is very difficult in the circumstances, when we need further cold storage, for any employer to commit himself at present to further expenditure until he knows where he is. In view of the fact that, I gather, the Secretary of State can also make an order extending the cargo-handling zone, or specifying additional areas, what worries me is the fact that the EEC may increase the amount of goods arriving by lorry on roll-on/roll-off ferries. The employees are worried about their position compared with the registered dock workers because they consider they may become second-class citizens in regard to the registered dock workers. I realise that in the future there may be a chance for them to register as clock workers if they so desire.

My Lords, I should like to refer to the question of cold storage undertakings with regard to employees. This matter was mentioned by my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn, who touched on the question of a closed shop agreement and the municipal workers union. If that part of the work, say, about 20 per cent., is deemed to be dock work, will all the employees be required to be placed on the extension register, or only 16 per cent. of such employees? If by then there is natural wastage and one or two of these employees leave, they can be expected to be replaced by registered dock workers of the Transport and General Workers Union. What is rather difficult is that there might be small premises in which there can be at least three different categories of employees with different expectations of job security, where previously there had been only one. Indeed, I gather there might he possibilities of conflict and uncertainty inherent in the new proposals, which I hope the noble Lord will be able to satisfy me is not correct.

My Lords, in identifying those for inclusion in the extension register, it is conceivable that some may not wish to become dockers. Are they going to be coerced or dismissed? If the redundancy situation arises in which the three categories of employees are the first to be selected, then there will be conflicting claims, which I am sure we all wish to avoid. There is also the need for persons working in cold storage and other ware-houses to be flexible, and I gather that for quick frozen produce there is a considerable increase in importation at the present time and they now fill about 130 million cubic feet. This is the figure I got in 1974. I gather that the Federation has members with cold stores in the dock labour scheme and outside it, and valid comparisons can be made.

Another point that worries me is that increased costs arise in many ways quite apart from theeffect of differing wage scales and the imposition of the dock labour hoard levy. Registered dock workers have a tradition of rigid manning levels and restrictive practices. They tend to be inflexible and reluctant to do work other than the basic movement of cargo. As I have mentioned, the position in cold stores is very different.

Calculations made by a number of cold stores show that very substantial increases in cost can be expected, which, of course, will put up the cost of food, which is one of the reasons why I am interested in the Amendment. Comparison of two stores doing comparable work in comparable buildings reveals that the labour cost per ton of the store in the scheme is 80 per cent. greater than that of the store outside. Other undertakings have made calculations in the light of what is known about the expectations of registered dock workers and conservative estimates show an increase in labour costs of at least 100 per cent.; in many cases the increase will be greater. For those reasons, I would support the noble Lord who moved the Amendment, because I think it is causing worry to employers, employees and the self-employed, as well as to our overseas customers. I think it is quite unnecessary to spoil the system which we have at present, because it is working well.

11.53 p.m.


My Lords, I shall first try to assure the noble Baroness. In the first place, I have no hesitation in confirming what. I said in my statement at column 399 at the Committee stage, which was the quotation given by the noble Baroness. I was asked what was meant by, "long established". A reading of that column will show that I gave a fairly clear indication of what was meant by "long established". I quote what I said: I will emphasise that 'long established' are the operative words in that sentence. This date"— 18th September, 1967— marks the completion of decasualisation with the introduction of the 1967 Dock Workers' Employment Scheme. Broadly speaking, it was also about this time that the far-reaching changes in cargo handling techniques, which have revolutionised the industry, were beginning to take place, with consequential changes in the nature and location of dock work."—[Official Report 26/10/76; col. 399.] I think that gives a fair indication of what is meant—warehouses which were established before those changes took place, which, as I said, was on or about 1967, roughly some ten years ago. So far as the attitude of the unions is concerned, there is no difficulty here. I made that quite clear in columns 400 and 401 at the Committee stage, and I can confirm that.

The question of a closed shop has been raised. May I refer the House to Clause 5(7): The Scheme shall not include any provision on the following matters—

  1. (a) the membership or non-membership on the part of a worker of a trade union or of any particular trade union;
  2. (b) the recognition of trade unions by employers or employers' associations, or any other matter connected with machinery for collective bargaining …"
I think the principal questions raised by the noble Baroness are answered by what I have already said.

I should like to go to the Amendment itself, particularly having regard to the time. The first part of this Amendment repeats what was moved at the Committee stage. Two exceptions, (a) and (b), have been put in to meet criticisms which I made in Committee. It is doubtful whether the wording of the suggested exceptions would be satisfactory to achieve their intention; for example, under (a) where exactly has the handling of such goods to have been dock work by "custom and practice"—on that quay or in the port generally?

Now I come to (b). Under the Bill, "cargo handling" means any work with goods coming from or destined for sea-going ships. Thus any such work in the cargo handling zone or within a Dock Labour Scheme area, as the case may be, is classifiable. Thus if the work in the cold store involves such goods and would therefore be classifiable were it not for this Amendment it would still be classifiable even with this Amendment, because the work of the cold store is itself automatically a cargo handling operation. However, wording could perhaps be devised to achieve the purpose if it were desirable to achieve it. The Government's view is, however, that cold storage work away from the immediate dock area and not now integrated with the loading and unloading of ships needs to be classifiable. As I said in Committee, the movement of certain cold storage facilities away from the docks, and the refusal to employ registered dock workers at the new location—particularly in London—has given rise to serious industrial relations difficulties, including, for example, the 1972 dock strike.

A major purpose of this Bill is to prevent any such difficulties recurring in the future. Part of the work on the quayside has been eliminated by using an integral transport system to move cargo. For this reason it is particularly necessary to ensure that work in cold stores handling cargo within the zone or area is capable of being considered for classification as dock work. The Government say that they are seeking peaceful means of settling such disputes with the dockers. They are doing it in this Bill. If this House adopted this Amendment, it would in effect be saying to the dockers, "We decline to approve the peaceful methods laid down by the Government. You will have to get on with it as you have in the past, by your picketing or any other means you have within the law".


My Lords, could the noble Lord clarify one point. Twenty years ago cold stores were in the main for imported goods. Does he differentiate between cold store capacity which is exclusively for imported goods? Is this quite distinct from large cold store space which, in the present day and age with entirely new processes, may be mixed with very considerable frozen produce which is the result of United Kingdom production and not imported production?


My Lords, I confirm that that is a very important matter for consideration before there is any classification, and indeed the Bill as it stood before amendment laid it down clearly that the Board had to take into consideration the proportions.


My Lords, I am a little at a loss, because I thought at one stage in his speech the noble Lord was going to accept the Amendment, but he then switched quickly and said that, though the modification we had made had certain satisfactory features, or words to that affect, the Government did not like it anyhow, which was, I thought, very discouraging. It seems to me that this is an important point which is worth pursuing a little further, and I do not accept all that the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, has said.

I should like to have a chance to read what he said. It seems to me that the Government, because cold stores have become a part of the mythical bogy world of the dock workers, singled them out to be a part of that area in which dock work jobs must be put, even if the cold stores have absolutely nothing to do with the docks. It seems to me that we need to study this more closely and to try to work out whether there could be an improvement to the wording. There were points in the noble Lord's speech at the beginning when he indicated that perhaps the wording may be acceptable to him if it was modified still further.


My Lords, I think the noble Lord is mistaken. I said that the Amendment was technically defective, and I gave examples of the defectiveness. I said that perhaps this could be put right, but nevertheless we substantially object to this Amendment for the reasons I gave.


My Lords, I understand that the noble Lord is not prepared to help us put right what he thinks are the technical failings because he does not like the Amendment as a whole?


We oppose the Amendment in substance.


My Lords, in that event we will have to do it ourselves, and I shall have to look forward to the Third Reading to see whether we can find an Amendment which we believe will meet the points the noble Lord made in his speech. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 4 [Procedure for recommendation under s. 8]:

12.3 a.m.

Lord DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 67: Page 29, line 13, leave out ("18th September 1967") and insert ("10th February 1976").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, we have skirted round this Amendment to some considerable degree already, and some might think that in view of the fact that we have already carried Amendment No. 62 that it was not worth while moving this Amendment at all. I do not propose to go in any depth into this Amendment. We take totally different views on the two sides of the House about it. We consider that an agreement is an agreement, whether it was made yesterday or 100 years ago, and it should not be overriden except for the strongest possible reasons. Recognition agreements are a kind of foundation. They are different from collective agreements; they are the sort of agreements which give the framework for collective agreements to be made. Collective agreements are altered, modified, revised, replaced, but all under the recognition agreement. This is about cases where there are recognition agreements in existence.

We believe that these should not be overriden, except if that recognition agreement was made in anticipation of legislation and very shortly before it, once the intentions of the Government were made known. Those would be the only possible reasons for overriding the agreement. This is our view. I do not know whether we have got the right date here. It might be, given the fact that this House has already shown the way it thinks on this, that the noble Lord might like to suggest another date instead of the 10th February; a date after which any agreement made would be an agreement made in order to anticipate the legislation and evade it. That seems to me the only possible reason—I do not say it is a very good reason—for overriding the agreement in this legislation. I think the real issue between us, an issue we have had between us before, is the necessity for agreements to be honoured.

Baroness SEEAR

My Lords, we support this Amendment. It seems to us that there can be no justification either in logic or in justice in choosing a date as long ago as 1967 for the recognition of an agreement of this kind. Therefore, we consider that the date proposed in the Amendment, or some other very recent date, should be adopted.


My Lords, the Government are entirely opposed to this Amendment. I gave the reasons extremely fully in Committee—they appear at columns 399 to 401, Vol.376, of the Official Report—and I have confirmed them several times in discussing similar Amendments tonight. Briefly, the Government position is that we do not intend that long-established warehouses and cold stores should be subject to classification. I was asked what I meant by long-established, and I said those established before the changes in transport, which was about 10 years ago. However, we intend that where cold stores and warehouses have been moved away from the docks but are within the zone—the cargo handling zone or the labour scheme area, as the case may be—the work should be classifiable so that, so far as is possible without injuring the rights of the workers already doing the job, any additional job should go to the dockers who have been thrown out of work at the dockside because of the movement of that work. That could happen if the Amendment were accepted because it would give any trade union a veto immediately to prevent it. We are opposed to that. We think that some care must be exercised in using a veto and we believe that the veto should apply only to the long-established, and that is why the date 1967 is given. We would not agree that 1976 gives the same result by way of substitution. In our view it gives an entirely different result.


My Lords, the noble Lord spoke of "any trade union" Under the Bill it would be only a qualified independent trade union. Surely that makes a considerable difference?


I accept that qualification, my Lords, but our position does not change.


My Lords, I am sorry that the noble Lord has not given this the sort of consideration that we wanted from him. He may find that the Bill goes back to the Commons with a date which is not the most suitable date from his point of view, given that some change must be made. The hour is too late for me to deploy the arguments on this matter, but I assure the noble Lord that there are counter arguments to those he gave and which appear at column 400 of the Official Report. They should be deployed, but this is not the time to deploy them; we need the view of a much fuller House. I will, therefore, beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 5 [Public Inquiries (Notices and Procedures)]:

12.9 a.m.

Lord SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 68: Page 30, line 38, leave out from ("subsection") to ("the") and insert ((1) of section 4, sub-section (10) of section 5 or subsection (4) of section 11 above apply").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, we now come to the last Amendment of this Report stage. This is what earlier we were referring to as some remedial surgery to an Amendment which we discussed in Committee and it provides a better way, we think, of relating Schedule 5 to the main body of the Bill. We have been into it all before and I do not think there is any need to explain it now. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.