HL Deb 08 November 1976 vol 377 cc12-97

2. 58 p. m.


My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill be now read a third time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a. —(Lord Jacques.)

Viscount ST. DAVIDS rose to move, as an Amendment to the Motion for the Third Reading, to leave out ("now") and at end to insert ("this day six months"). The noble Viscount said: My Lords, as your Lordships know, I am an Independent and in this matter I speak for myself. There may be many other noble Lords who perhaps envy me that freedom. When, as I have every intention of doing, I later divide the House on this matter there will be a number of noble Lords who will not accompany me into the Lobby, not because they are friends of the Bill but because they feel it inopportune to vote at this moment, because they are afraid of some constitutional consequences, or because they wish to take part in what I think will be a particularly useless battle between the two Houses on the Amendments.

In my view, if the Bill is read a third time today we shall waste a great deal of time, and I am no time-waster. I should like to see the Government's time put to better purpose and saved for other matters which I know they wish to use time for. I moved gradually to the point where I acted to table this Motion. I addressed to myself a set of propositions; when I came to the answers I decided to table the Motion. I think the best thing I can do for your Lordships is to explain the set of propositions which I addressed to myself and see how far you might agree with them. Some few noble Lords may agree with all. I expect many noble Lords to agree with most. I expect even the noble Lords who support Her Majesty's Government to agree with some.

When the Bill came to this House it was a bad one. There, I am sure, I have wide agreement. That is not of course a reason for throwing it out. We have passed many bad Bills through this House, many of them when asked to do so by the Commons; some, I am afraid, of our own proper motion. But it is something to remember. That is one point. It is not such a bad Bill now, but looking at the Bill as it was when it first entered this House, we know what the Government would like to replace in it. This must give us pause. How is the Bill now? I know that I shall have the agreement of just about the entire House, including the Government Benches, on the proposition that the Bill as it is now is a load of rubbish. It has been amended until it has practically no use. If that is so, and if the major part of the House agrees, I wish to ask: "Do we want to put rubbish on the Statute Book"? I admit that we have done so in the past, but is it a process which we should do happily? I believe the answer is, No. This again was a point which weighed strongly with me.

Have we the right to do what I intend this afternoon? The answer is legally, Yes. It has not been done very often, but then, on the other hand, we have seldon found ourselves in the kind of position we are now in. It is not something that ought to be done often. But it is something that ought to be done sometimes, particularly when the position demands that it should be done. There is another reason why we should just do it sometimes, say once in 20, 30, 40 or 50 years, and that is a legal device called desuetude. Many rights have been lost simply by not being exercised. For example, Her Majesty is now legally believed not to have the right to say, "No" to a Bill. There are many things which on paper we can do, but which in practice have not been done for so long that everybody says, "This has not been done for so long, you should never do it again." I believe this is a bad habit. Occasionally we need to use our old rights, simply so that we retain them, because some day we may need them very badly. That is our legal right.

The question is: Have we the democratic right to do this? Well, my Lords, we are not a democratically appointed House. Throughout my time here for a number of years I have always resisted the proposition that this House should be some kind of mock Opinion Poll, and that when opinion polls go up or down it should in some way affect what we do with Government Bills. That, I think, is a good and sound proposition. We are not in a good position to judge public opinion here. You may look into the eye of the public and think you know what the public means, when in fact what you are seeing in the eye of the public is only a reflection of your own face. This happens too easily.


My Lords, would the noble Viscount give way? He is making an assumption based possibly on his own experience. Many of us work very actively with all kinds of people and are as much in touch with the public as any Member of the other place.

Viscount ST. DAVIDS

My Lords, I am delighted for the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips. To some extent she is making the case which I am now proceeding with. In the course of making my speech, with a little careful dragging of cloaks, I thought that I might get some assent from the Government Benches, so let me continue. Last week something happened which was so different that it is out of scale with a mere public opinion poll. Last week the Government suffered three smashing defeats. This was not a mere murmur of disapproval; it was a shout from the people of Britain, from three widely spaced places, bitterly disapproving of what the Government are doing. I believe it to be right that this House should be a little deaf as to the movement of public opinion polls and, there, I think, the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, would agree. She would not like to see the House doing whatever it saw fit with Bills just because it thought opinion polls had gone slightly up or down. But, in a matter as grave as this, where movement as strong as this has been made, where people have so stoutly voted, I think we have not only a right but a duty to act. I believe that in this House we are all democrats and lovers of democracy. I do not believe we have a right to deafen our ears to shouts of that character. This matter has strongly moved me to table my Motion.

Now I want to come to another subject. There have been what I call so-called threats against this House if we take strong action. I do not believe there is any such threat. If by threats is meant some bipartisan change to this House, then I think almost the totality of noble Lords in this House would agree with me. But that is not what they mean when they threaten us; they mean a single Party change to this House. I believe this to be physically impossible. It would be impossible for this reason. Any Party which tried it would be opposed by the other side who would quite rightly say that it gave them the right on some future occasion to do the same. What is more, the Conservatives here have an enormous power which will never fall to the Labour Party. It is this: if the Labour Party carried out a unilateral change in this House and the Conservatives then proceeded to carry out another one at a later date, the Conservatives have the power to give this House the power to delay on any further constitutional change which would prevent this action from ever being taken again. The Labour Party must know this, as must the Conservative Party, so obviously there is no threat.

Now let us move to a more pleasant subject. What I suggest will actually help the Government. They will say that it will not. Of course, they must say that. They will say all sorts of things against what I am doing, but behind their hands they will say that it is a help. Many noble Lords on the Government Benches, and other Labour Party supporters else-where, are not happy about the existence of this Bill. The time that remains for us to deal with these five major Bills is devilishly short. Is it so terribly short that all kinds of extraordinary things have to be done if we are to get this business through at all? It would help the Government greatly if we could save them the time that is to be spent shuffling this Bill back and forth. And at the end of that time, are we going to give them their Bill? We do not know yet. We may even then throw it out, and if we throw it out then we will have wasted all this time. If that is to happen, it would be much kinder for the Government to chuck it out now.

There is a further point which certainly will help the Government. The Government would be very glad to see some part of their programme go, but if they threw it overboard there would be loud complaints from some of the Benches behind them, whereas if we, the wicked Lords, do it they will be able to say, "We didn't do it. We would have been happy to put it all through. It is those horrible Lords; they have chucked it out." That would strengthen the Government's hand considerably with their own supporters. obviously the noble Lords on the Government Front Bench must not say whether they agree with this. They must shake their heads off. It is their duty to do so; it is the only way that they can help themselves. Nevertheless it is a serious argument which, undoubtedly, they will have taken on board.

My Lords, what is the best that we can do with the Bill? Have we really to go through all the slow process of still more Amendments today, followed by all the remaining processes of shuffling it back from one House to another? What is to happen to the Bill when this occurs? Are our Amendments to receive careful, slow and serious consideration? No, they are not. We know already that the guillotine will come down, and that much stuff that has never been debated will be thrust back at us. Will the Bill come back any better than it is today? No, it is rubbish now; it will come back as harmful rubbish, if we let it. It would be very much kinder, it would be very much better for the country and it would be more in line with what we should do as a House and what we should do as democrats if we said this afternoon, "No further with this one. You have enough on your plate. Put this one to one side. Forget this one for the moment. Spend your remaining time on the rest of your legislation." Those of us like myself, who feel that this Bill is a horror, say that it is really time that something as bad as this, thrust through this House at a time like this, dividing the country, as this Bill does, should be thrown out of the window. My Lords, I beg to move.

Moved, That, as an Amendment to the Motion for the Third Reading, to leave out ("now") and at end to insert ("this day six months"). —(Viscount St. Davids.)

3. 14 p. m.

The LORD PRIVY SEAL (Lord Peart)

My Lords, I think it is right that I should intervene at the beginning of this debate because I take very seriously the action proposed by the noble viscount. I did not take his speech too seriously, but I take seriously what he may intend to do later. I expect that the House also senses the importance of this. After all, the noble Viscount's argument touches the whole constitutional standing of this House, our relations with another place, and our duty in a Parliamentary democracy. His is an argument to which noble Lords on every side of the House ought to give really critical examination and which I would urge you, without hestiation, to reject.

I shall leave detailed points about the Dock Work Regulation Bill to my noble friend Lord Jacques, and I am sure that he will answer them to the House's satisfaction. What I challenge is the noble Viscount's proposal that this House, unelected and not representative, should reject the Third Reading of a Bill passed by another place and put forward by the elected Government.

May I remind your Lordships that there is on the Order Paper for tomorrow a second Motion standing in the name of the noble Viscount, Lord St. Davids, and that he will then seek to reject the Third Reading of the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Bill? His action, in other words, has little to do with the merits of the Bill we are debating. It is a direct challenge to the elected Government and to the view expressed by a majority in another place. It ignores the constitutional traditions which have been built up to ensure the efficient working of a two Chamber Parliament. For we must be clear about this. If the Amendment is carried today the Bill is dead. There is no chance for second thoughts. It is just as if we had rejected the Bill on Second Reading. We should be saying that another place was wrong to pass it and that the Bill cannot be improved, even with the combined wisdom of both Houses.

Those are serious allegations indeed. If the noble Viscount feels so strongly, why did he not speak on Second Reading? What, after all, have we been doing since Second Reading on 30th September? The House has spent 21 hours in Committee and 12 hours on Report of the Bill. We have debated 200 Amendments, many of which have been agreed. I do not think it would be useful to comment in detail on the Amendments, some of which are of such a radical nature that they have mutilated the Bill. We on this side of the House are fundamentally opposed to many of the changes made. But I would ask the House whether noble Lords feel that they have done nothing useful in the seven weeks since Second Reading.

The House has, after all, agreed 60 Amendments to the Bill put forward by noble Lords on the Conservative Benches, the Liberal Benches and the Cross-benches. Although my noble friends argued against them, the Amendments were acceptable to the majority of your Lordships. The House in its wisdom must obviously regard these Amendments as improvements. What then is the sense of the House rejecting on Third Reading a Bill which it has passed on Second Reading and since tried to improve?

I do not think that I need labour this point. Those Members of the House who have taken part in debates on this Bill more energetically than the noble Viscount, will know that our debates have not been a waste of time. Your Lordships have very properly given the Bill close examination, and have done so in order that another place can look again at the points we have raised. For I must stress what I believe to be our constitutional role. It is not to reject. It is to revise. Everyone who has supported arguments for a second Chamber—and I am one—has emphasised its value for revision of Bills brought from the Commons. This House, if it acts responsibly, can complement the work of another place and share the burdens of Parliamentary democracy. But a two Chamber system will not work without certain conventions to cope with disagreements between the Houses. In the last resort confrontation leads to breakdown. So we have evolved these conventions.

We accept that in the event of disagreement it is the will of the elected Chamber which must prevail, subject only to narrowly drawn exceptions. Of course, we believe in the right of the people to choose their own Government. Whatever the arguments about that Government, that Government is there. Whatever the results of by-elections, that Government are still there. I am sure that the noble Lords opposite will be wise enough not to support the noble Viscount, however little they like this Bill. But the Motion would be seen as the weapon of the built-in Conservative majority if it were to succeed.

Briefly, the position is this. The Bill has now been passed by a majority in another place. The Bill has been heavily amended here, and yet the Commons have not even had a chance to consider the Amendments. It would be wholly wrong for your Lordships to throw this Bill out today. It would not be revision; it would be destruction.

Noble Lords may of course recall that the Opposition have already seen fit to throw out one Bill on Third Reading; that is, the Felixstowe Bill. That was an action with which I disagreed, but my one reason for referring to it today is to say this to noble Lords opposite. They justified themselves in throwing the Bill out on the grounds that it was not a Public Bill. The noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, said that it was nationalisation by the back door and that the Government should have proceeded by Public Bill.

While not in any way accepting his allegations about nationalisation or about the propriety of the British Transport Docks Board's actions, I am glad to know that things would have been different on a Public Bill. For this today is a Public Bill, and I should be driven to question the sincerity of any Member of the House who voted against the Third Reading of the Felixstowe Bill with the excuse that it was private and who now votes against the Third Reading of this Bill.

So, in conclusion, I urge your Lordships to see the Motion before the House for what it is: a naked attempt to override the elected House and to do away with the acknowledged role of the second Chamber. I say to the Cross-Benchers, who pride themselves on their enlightened independence, that they should beware of supporting the noble Viscount, Lord St. Davids. A vital role was foreseen for them in recent proposals for Lords reform, but I think they will betray the confidence placed in them if they carry this Motion. To all noble Lords opposite who have complained of guillotines and another place, I say that this Motion would cut off every chance for further debate there, and would be the cruellest guillotine of all. In the light of these arguments, I hope the noble Viscount will be willing to withdraw his Amendment; but if not, I must ask all your Lordships to vote against the Amendment and for the Third Reading.

3. 22 p. m.


My Lords, this is a terrible Bill. It is wrong, and it is unpopular. Most noble Lords opposite do not like it, either, as we know from what has happened during the Committee stage and the Report stage. So most of us in this House are agreed about that. I am not so sure, though, about what the noble Viscount, Lord St. Davids, is doing. I have some doubt about the wisdom of his tactics, not about what he seeks to do. I think that if we follow his advice we would be adopting rather a curious Parliamentary procedure: not, of course, that what he is suggesting is not proper. I hope that the noble Lord the Leader of the House will not use all his ammunition about the naked attempt to frustrate the will of the people, the inbuilt hereditary Conservative majority and how wrong everything is, because he has a long way to go before the end of the Session, and before long we may find these phrases becoming distressingly familiar unless, of course, he can find some new ones which express the same thoughts. I would not agree with the noble Lord the Leader of the House that it is improper to throw out a Bill on Third Reading. There is nothing improper about this House using the constitutional powers it has been given. Otherwise, why was it given them? Whether it is wise is another matter; but there is nothing improper about it.

My Lords, why I do not agree with the noble Viscount, Lord St. Davids, is this. We accepted this Bill on Second Reading, not because we liked the Bill but because usually we accept Bills on Second Reading, whether or not we dislike them, in order that we may examine them at our leisure, if the Government allow us to have leisure to examine them. We amend them and we alter them, and we think we improve them; and this is done at Committee stage and at Report stage of the Bill. As the noble Lord the Leader of the House has reminded us, we have had some long debates and some good debates, and I think some useful debates, at the Committee stage and the Report stage of this Bill; and, as he has said, the House has passed 60 Amendments.

Now we get to the Third Reading. It seems to me that it is perfectly possible, and possibly quite right on occasions such as the Felixstowe Bill, to say that, despite all that, your Lordships do not like the Bill and are going to reject it on Third Reading. But what does not seem to me very sensible, if I may say so, is to spend a very long time and a great deal of energy—we on this side, at any rate—in trying to improve and alter the Bill, and then to say that, in spite of all that, we are going to reject it; because if we do that I really do not know what on earth we have been doing all this time. If we do not send this Bill to the other place so that they may have a look at what we have done, then I really do not know the purpose of it all.

Of course, it is quite true that the Government intend, Whips willing, to pass a guillotine Motion in the House of Commons today limiting the discussion on Lords Amendments to six hours, I think, on each of the five Bills that we have been discussing over these last six weeks. I for one think that is disgraceful. We in this House have spent a very great deal of time discussing these Bills; and, indeed, in the case of one Bill—I think it is the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill—the Government themselves have made 40 Amendments of their own in this House. I think it disgraceful that they should limit discussion of Lords Amendments to six hours on each of the Bills. I think that that makes a farce of Parliamentary Government. Nevertheless, they will discuss some of our Amendments if we send the Bill back, and that will be better than nothing.

It would seem to me that what we ought to do is to send this Bill back to the House of Commons with the Amendments which we have made and to make up our minds what we are going to do when we discover what they are going to do with the Amendments, and whether they are going to discuss them. Of course, we shall have the interesting prospect of finding out how the House of Commons are going to give Reasons against accepting the Lords Amendments when they have not even discussed them. This will be an interesting political exercise which we shall watch with great care. But when that has been done and the farce has been gone through, then it seems to me that your Lordships will have to make up your minds what to do on the Amendments which we have sent to the other place. But, my Lords, to reject the Bill at this stage seems to me to be a waste of your Lordships' time, and I advise your Lordships not to support this Amendment.

3. 27 p. m.

Viscount SIMON

My Lords, I must begin by saying that I agree very much with the noble Viscount, Lord St. Davids, that this is a wretched Bill. There is, indeed, a very serious problem which the Government sought to face, but in my opinion—and I think I have said this before—they tackled it in the wrong way. I would be tempted to advise the House to support the noble Viscount's Amendment if I thought that the six months would be used by the Government to get down with all the people really concerned and produce a better Bill; but I am afraid I do not think that is a very hopeful thing, and in those circumstances I find myself very largely in agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Carrington.

We have spent a lot of time in your Lordships' House trying to improve this difficult Bill, and I think we have made some substantial improvement to it. I have recognised—I think that we on this side of the House have all recognised—that the Ministers in charge of the Bill here were really under compulsion to resist everything that was proposed, but I do hope that when the Amendments go back to another place, even though so little time is being provided, some guardian angel will select the Amendments which are really important, which really affect the working of this Bill, and will find time, not only to discuss them but to agree them. Otherwise, my Lords, we must await what comes back here and, as the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said, see what we can do about it.

I am not in any way an authority on the constitutional position, but I thought the noble Lord the Leader of the House went rather far in his constitutional arguments. After all, the last Parliament Act was passed by a Parliament in which, in the House of Commons, the Labour Party had a majority, and when there was a Labour Government in power. What were they doing in giving power to this House to send whole Bills back to another place, to invoke the Parliament Act, if they did not mean it ever to be used? I quite agree with the noble Lord: the convention is a wide convention and is used very sparingly, but I find it hard to accept that there is a convention that in no circumstances is a Bill rejected on Third Reading or, for that matter, even on Second Reading, if it became necessary.

This question does not arise at this moment because I have a feeling that the House will not accept the noble Viscount's Amendment and that we shall proceed to discuss all the Amendments, send the Bill to another place, and await the decision as to what they propose to do about the Amendments. In conclusion, I should like to say once again that I hope that the Ministers here who have heard the debate, who know the strength of feeling and, If I may say so, the strength of argument against many of the provisions in this Bill, will urge on their right honourable and honourable friends in another place that they should look at this issue seriously and see whether some of these Amendments should not he accepted.

3. 31 p. m.


My Lords, in so far as I have heard the debate, we seem to be arguing classics, as the great Mr. Bailey once called it—tactics. In the words of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, whom we were told on Sunday was holding his frisky Peers on a tight rein, Conservative Peers seem to think we are dealing with it as a matter of tactics. I do not understand the noble Viscount, Lord Simon. There are issues of great principle here which I will state shortly without arguing at great length, although I would be very willing to do so at any Labour Party or trade union conference called in the country. I think this is more than a matter of tactics between the two Houses. En the first place—as I think every one of us who has been in the Labour movement for a long time well understands—this is an arrangement between the Government and one trade union leader who is powerful enough to be able to dominate. This has been called, and is, the Jack Jones special responsibility Bill. Yet as an official and a member of the union of which Mr. Jack Jones is the general secretary I know that most of his members are against it. It means transferring jobs from others of his

members to the small group from which he himself came and to whom, I suppose quite properly, he feels a special responsibility.

But why should we enact a Bill because it makes Mr. Jack Jones—coming from the dockers, leading the dockers—a very special case in return for his having helped the Government to get their Social Contract through the union? It means that those sections of the same union whom I have the honour to represent are going to lose their jobs so that Mr. Jack Jones's special section can pinch them. I see no reason for this. Unlike the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, I have voted for those Amendments that I thought right on their merit, but I have always been against the Bill on what I saw to be its demerits. I am therefore free to go on saying that I think it is a demeritorious Bill which no free Legislature should ever pass.

This would not be the first Government to give special favours to their supporters and friends. That has happened through many of the years in which I have been in politics, and I have no doubt through very many of the years before I came into them. So I start with that as the least meritorious but still a very strong argument against it. I move up in order of ascendancy. Other trade unions are going to lose their rights; other workers, equally good trade unionists, are going to lose their rights. Members of the National Union of Railwaymen, members of the General and Municipal Workers' Union are going to lose their rights because of the fact that at the end of the day their jobs are also going to be taken by this small group of men for whom Mr. Jones speaks. Although we have reduced the five miles to half a mile we know very well—and I look straight at the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, who will find equally good tactical arguments for not fighting when this Bill comes back—that the five miles will be put back. The five miles will apply to Bletchley just as much as to Southampton; it will apply wherever any inland waterway runs and leads from a port. It will apply not to the docks nor to the installations of the docks alone but to anywhere where containers are unloaded and re-loaded, and millions—well, hundreds of thousands—of my fellow workers, my fellow trade unionists, are because of the passage of this Bill, going to be denied their just rights in jobs they have been doing under trade union agreements.

In the trade union movement we have something called the Bridlington Agreement which I do not expect the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, or the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, know very much about but which I would expect many of my friends on the Labour Benches to know a lot about. This was introduced almost 50 years ago to stop one union poaching on other people's members. This Bill breaks the Bridlington Agreement because it poaches one union's members' jobs, not for another union but for another section of that same union. With great respect to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and the noble Viscount, Lord Simon. I regard that as much more than tactics; I regard it as totally intolerable. There are trade union friends of mine in this House who may not think it politic to say so, but who know as well as I do that it is so. We take Transport and General Workers' Union members' jobs for a section of the transport workers. We now take other union members' jobs for a section of the Transport and General Workers' Union. I repeat to the noble Lord the Leader of the House that I would happily develop this argument in any forum of the Labour movement that he could organise and I would develop it at much greater length.

I now move up to the last point which, with great respect to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham, and the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, cannot possibly be a matter of tactics. If this goes through we are handing over to one very small section the ability to hold this whole nation up to ransom. I happen to think that Mr. Heath was wrong to pick the fight with the colliers at the time he picked it and over the issue on which he picked it. My Lords, Mr. Baldwin knew better than that. I am told that we are shortly to have an interesting new biography of Baldwin by a rather interesting little ex-colleague of mine. It is going to come out, so I am told, to say that Baldwin was rather better than he is normally thought to be. Like everything else that Sir Harold Wilson thinks, I always thought it a little bit sooner. But one thing I am told that he is going to say is that Mr. Baldwin was better than he is alleged to be, and the one thing that Mr. Baldwin knew that Mr. Heath did not know—and neither did Sir Winston Churchill then—is that you do not pick a fight with the colliers in February.

The only reason for my making this point is this. If on the grounds of tactics the Conservatives and Liberals abstain and this Bill comes back to us under the guillotine provisions downstairs, are we then going to throw it out? I suspect that there will be another tactical argument on why we do not do so. I want to make it quite clear that you could never have a Baldwin situation of May, 1926; you could always have a Heath situation in every month of the year—because any moment that the very tightly knit, very tightly organised, very small docks group of the Transport and General Workers' Union decided that nothing was going into or coming out of any depot—not just port—in the country, the country would starve within a week.

My Lords, ultimately I oppose this Bill on those grounds. I oppose it on the other two as well; but I have moved up in order of importance. As it seems to me, this House, exercising its proper and due rights, should really see my noble friend's Amendment as a serious invtation to the other place to re-think what they are doing. I know that a large number of the members of our Party are against it. I say "our Party"—the Party to which I used to belong but of which naturally I still think of myself as a member. We know that large numbers of our trade union members—and I am most certainly still a trade union member—are against it. We know that it cannot but hand over our responsibilities, our future, to a very, very tiny, very tightly knit, rather questionably directed, section of the community. This is the case of the mensheviks handing over to the bolsheviks in 1917.

Several noble Lords



Yes, my Lords. This is exactly the way it happened. This Bill is coming under the guillotine downstairs this afternoon. Should we postpone a decision or should we actually say: "It is out for six months. You can have your way at the end of the day, but you have to operate the Parliament Act in order to get it. Just guillotining 40 or 60 Amendments (or whatever is the number we are said to have moved) is not the answer."

I feel passionately about this. There are many libertarian, radical Socialists in this House who should feel the same way as I do. We do not hand over this to a Government in the other House which may or may not have a majority there—which has no majority in the country as well—in order to allow it to push it through; and the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and others will discuss whether tactically it is sensible for us to oppose it the next time round. It is wrong. I believe it as a trade unionist. I believe it—and please will the "holier than me" on the Labour Benches realise this—as a Socialist. It is wrong. It is no part of our business to let one small group have the power to throttle the country. If we say in answer to my noble friend Lord St. Davids today, "Not now, but in six months' time", then we are really making sure that they will take care of it. If everybody on that side of the House retires on tactical grounds, then I hope that some of us will stand up on grounds of principle against something which has no possible defence at all.

The Earl of ONSLOW

My Lords, may I say two things to your Lordships' House. First, I apologise for not putting my name down on the list of speakers. Secondly, I dislike this Bill as much as the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, the noble Viscount, Lord St. Davids, or my noble friend Lord Carrington. It is a Bill of privilege, a Bill of special pleading, a Bill to enable the more powerful of the Government's friends to have special and effective power over the rest of the country. I feel strongly that the Amendments must go back to another place. If they then do not agree with them, are stupid and guillotine them, that is a different matter. As we must allow the Constitutional processes to go forward, however much I dislike the Bill—and I dislike it as much as any of my noble friends—I regret to say that I find I must vote with Her Majesty's Government this afternoon.

3. 51 p. m.


My Lords, very few points have been made criticising the Bill and therefore I have a very light task. First, I should like to deal with two points made by the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown. He said that other trade unionists were going to lose their jobs to dockers. That is not true. This Bill so protects the workers already doing the job that out of the 200 Amendments moved in this House there has not been a single Amendment trying to improve the protection given to other workers. The Bill gives the workers doing the job complete protection. The noble Lord also said the Bill was going to take away the rights of unions and mentioned in particular the NUR. If he looks at the Bill, he will find that the dock railways are excluded from the Bill because we are satisfied that there are adequate arrangements made between the employer and the trade union concerned. The noble Lord also said that the Trades Union Congress was opposed to this. The Trades Union Congress has expressed its approval of the Bill through its Transport Committee. My Lords, I would ask the House whatever it does to take no damned notice of George Brown.

Several noble Lords

Order! Withdraw!


My Lords, if I may say so, I think it is a pity if, even in the heat of the moment, we do not observe the usual courtesies of the House, and particularly from the Front Bench.

Several noble Lords

Hear! Hear!


My Lords, I withdraw that. In its place I say that I hope this House will take no notice of the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown.


My Lords, I make no objection to either phrase. My Lords, —


By leave of the House!


By leave of the House, and just raising a point, my Lords, may I ask whether the noble Lord is aware that Alma Birk, said exactly the same to me about Felixstowe Docks, and look what happened.

Viscount ST. DAVIDS

My Lords, I think I should start by apologising to the noble Lord, Lord Peart, who said that I had not spoken on the Second Reading of this Bill. If he wants me to start speaking on the Second Reading of all the Bills of which I disapprove, I shall do so; but I do not think it would be altogether what he would wish, nor what the rest of the House would wish. There is a good reason why noble Lords should limit the number of speeches that we should make in this House. I carry out a self-denying ordinance and I speak with great care only on those Bills where my own personal expertise is known to the House, and the House therefore knows the value of what I am saying. In this matter, I am not speaking on personal expertise, I am speaking on a platform of public revulsion. This is a horrible Bill. There are three things your Lordships can do. You can follow me through the "Contents" Lobby simply because the Bill makes you feel sick. You can, if you disapprove of the Bill as I know many do on all sides of the House, simply abstain, or if you feel you really love the Bill, that you clutch it to your heart or so love the Government, you can vote against the Amendment and

ultimately for the Bill. These three actions are all possible. It is up to your Lordships.

What is going to be interesting on this Division is not so much the numbers as the names on the paper. This is what is going to be very interesting. I am going to take this Amendment through the Division Lobby simply so that we can see where everybody stands. I imagine that there will be very thin Lobbies, except possibly on the Government side. My own Lobby may not contain many, but it will contain those who are willing to stand up and say that they are sick of this Bill, who are willing to stand up publicly and say it and have their names down on the Paper as saying just that. I beg to move.

3. 56 p. m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 16; Not-Contents, 87.

Arran, E. George-Brown, [L. Teller] Hayter, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Glenkinglas, L. Monson, L.
Clancarty, E. Greenway, L. St. Davids, V. [Teller]
Clifford of Chudleigh, L. Grimston of Westbury, L. Spens, L.
Dudley, E. Hanworth, V. Ward of North Tyneside, B.
Effingham, E.
Ardwick, L. Hale, L. Pannell, L.
Aylestone, L. Halsbury, E. Pargiter, L.
Bernstein, L. Harris of Greenwich, L. Parry, L.
Beswick, L. Henderson, L. Peart, L. (L. Privy Seal)
Birk, B. Houghton of Sowerby, L. Phillips, B.
Blyton, L. Hughes, L. Platt, L.
Brimelow, L. Ilchester, E. Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Brockway, L. Jacobson, L. Popplewell, L.
Brown, L. Jacques, L. Ritchie-Calder, L.
Bruce of Donington, L. Janner, L. Russell, E.
Buckinghamshire, E. Kaldor, L. Sainsbury, L.
Burntwood, L. Kennet, L. Serota, B.
Burton of Coventry, B. Kilbracken, L. Shepherd, L.
Caradon, L. Leatherland, L. Shinwell, L.
Castle, L. Lee of Newton, L. Slater, L.
Champion, L. Listowel, E. Snow, L.
Collison, L Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B. [Teller] Soper, L.
Crowther-Hunt, L Stedman, B.
Darling of Hillsborough, L. Lovell-Davis, L. Stewart of Alvechurch, B.
Darwen, L. Lyons of Brighton, L. Stone, L.
Davies of Leek, L. McCarthy, L. Strabolgi, L. [Teller]
Davies of Penrhys, L. McCluskey, L. Summerskill, B.
Delacourt-Smith of Alteryn, B. Melchett, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Milner of Leeds, L. Vaizey, L.
Douglas of Barloch, L. Mottistone, L. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Douglass of Cleveland, L. Murray of Gravesend, L. Walston, L.
Elwyn-Jones, L. (L. Chancellor.] Noel-Buxton, L Wells-Pestell, L.
Fisher of Rednal, B. Onslow, E. Winterbottom, L.
Geddes of Epsom, L. Oram, L. Wynne-Jones, L.
Gordon-Walker, L.

Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly

On Question, Bill read 3a, with the Amendments.

Clause 1 [Reconstitution of Board as body corporate]:

4. 6 p. m.

Lord DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 1: Page 1, line 20, after ("State") insert ("from among persons not represented on the National Joint Council").

The noble Lord said: The effect of this Amendment will be that subsection (4) will read: The remaining eight members of the Board, and the chairman and vice-chairman, shall be appointed by the Secretary of State from among persons not represented on the National Joint Council…".

The object of this Amendment is to secure a well-balanced and widely representative Board which can reach sound and fair decisions. We have already carried an Amendment during the earlier stages of the Bill to ensure that there will be eight members appointed by the Secretary of State to balance the eight members nominated by the National Council for the Port Transport Industry, those consisting of four representing dock employers and four representing dock workers. There are two lots. Those I have mentioned now are the eight members appointed by the Secretary of State upon the nomination of the National Council for the Port Transport Industry. There will also be eight members who are appointed, as I have read out, which are the remaining eight members.

We have had considerable discussion in Committee as to whether the CBI and the TUC should nominate the eight people between them. The noble Lord, Lord Jacques, said that if that were done there might be no outsiders at all on the Board, because the CBI and the TUC would come under pressure to appoint people from within the industry so that the industry should have a majority on the Board. We are now all agreed that nomination should be restricted to the eight National Joint Council members and that the chairman, vice-chairman and the eight other members should be appointed by the Secretary of State after consultation with the National Joint Council itself, the TUC and the CBI.

It is precisely to avoid the possibility that the Secretary of State, who has to make the appointments, would come under pressure to appoint these ten members from within the industry itself, including the National Joint Council organisations already represented by the eight NJC nominees, that I am moving this Amendment. It will prevent the Secretary of State coming under such pressure. The Amendment makes it clear that the chairman, vice-chairman and the eight other members should not be appointed from among members already represented on the NJC; that is under subsection (3). It therefore relieves the Secretary of State from any pressure such as the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, feared and it ensures a well-balanced and widely representative Board. I beg to move.


My Lords, this Amendment is not entirely clear because it leaves open to doubt whether it means that the remaining eight members of the Board are not themselves also to be members of the NJC or that they are not to be members of particular interests represented on the NJC or that they are not to be members of the unions and employers' associations which together form the NJC.

There are already very great difficulties in requiring the Secretary of State to determine whether particular interests are or are not to be represented on the NJC. To mention one, the National Amalgamated Stevedores and Dockers has members in some ports and is represented on local joint councils for certain ports. But it does not have an actual member at the national level. The wording of the Amendment would leave some doubt as to whether a NASD member could or could not be appointed to the Board. It is not the intention that either the chairman and vice-chairman of the Board, or any of the members not nominated by the NJC would be appointed from among those on the present National Dock Labour Board who are nominated by the NJC—that is, the National Association of Port Employers and the Transport and General Workers' Union.

However, the Bill could give rise to changes in the negotiating arrangements within the industry. One reason for providing (before the Bill was amended) for a period of up to two years on the extension registers for workers whose work is classified under the procedures of the Bill, was to take account of the views of the parties about the need to change their collective bargaining arrangements to take account of the new situation. While the Bill specifically provides in Clause 6(7) that no obligations of any kind can be imposed on employers and workers in the matter of collective bargaining arrangements, they could voluntarily decide that it was sensible to seek to join the National Joint Council for the Port Transport Industry. Thus, other trade unions, and just possibly employers' associations, would be in a position where they might wish to seek representation on the NJC. However, the main intention of broadening membership of the Board is to ensure representation for the unions and employers' associations with membership among those whose work could be considered for classification as dock work. The Amendment could lead to a situation where a union could have a small group of its members in one part of the country covered by the NJC. It could, therefore, have some form of representation at national level—possibly, in conjunction with other unions—and yet it would automatically be precluded from having a representative among the appointed members on the National Board.

It would be possible to envisage a situation arising in the future where all the trade unions, which had any real interest in work which might be considered for classification, were debarred from having a representative on the Board among those appointed by the Secretary of State after consultation, because they could all be said to be represented on the NJC. That would be most undesirable. So far as the chairman and vice-chairman are concerned, while it is unlikely that it will seem desirable to appoint people closely associated with either side of the NJC, it seems unnecessary to rule out the possibility altogether. These are most important matters, but we believe—as the Opposition do when they are in Government and drafting legislation about appointment to public boards—that they can safety be left to the good sense of the Secretary of State and those whom he consults.

Viscount SIMON

My Lords, I am afraid I did not find that explanation very satisfying, because the aim of the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, is to see that these other eight are neutrals. I appreciate that there are difficulties and, as the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, said, unions might wish to join the National Joint Council if they are not on it. We now have the problem that we are on Third Reading and there is very little that we can do. But forgetting for a moment the difficulties in another place, which are their problem and not ours, would it not be a good idea to pass this Amendment and then let honourable Members think of a better definition if they want one? Surely it would be very advisable for these eight additional members to be neutral.

The noble Lord said that it would not be the intention of the Secretary of State to appoint people who were already deeply involved through the National Joint Council. This would apply equally to members of smaller unions which were seeking to join the National Joint Council. I am just wondering whether, if we passed this Amendment—I do not know whether the House will wish to do so—it could be looked at in the very short time that appears to be left before it goes to another place, to see whether a suitable form of words could be thought out which would give effect to what the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, himself wants to achieve; that is, that these eight members should not simply be replicas of the National Joint Council members.


My Lords, may point out that I have already said that it is not the intention of the Government that the eight appointments should come from the National Joint Council.


My Lords, I think that the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, has given us the kind of assurance that this Amendment sought to achieve. I am not certain that his reasons for rejecting the Amendment are very sound, although there may be some possibility of misunderstanding in the Amendment as there is in a good deal of this Bill. For example, one is either represented or not represented, but one cannot be indirectly represented and the object of the Amendment was to ensure that those unions which were not directly represented on the NJC had an opportunity of being represented.

I doubt whether there is any great misunderstanding about this, and in a case like this we are tempted very much to press the Amendment for the very good reason which the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, gave, and I am grateful for his support. But, on the whole, at this stage it seems that we have got enough from the noble Lord, Lord Jacques. He has one or two conciliatory Amendments down, and I think we have enough from him for me to beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 2 [General duty of the Board]:

4. 18 p. m.

Lord SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 2: Page 2, line 28, leave out ("adequately") and insert ("effectively").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 2 and will speak, to some extent, to Amendment No. 3 at the same time. I admit that we have had some assurances, on points such as the one raised by this Amendment, resulting from discussions on earlier Amendments, particularly those to which the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, replied at column 721 of the Official Report for the Committee stage and at column 1245 for the Report stage. What we were pressing on the noble Lord at those points, and at many other points, was the fact that the public at large have an interest in the docks, as the noble Lord has recognised by a Government Amendment to Clause 2 to insert the words "having regard to the public interest". We are glad to have that, and I hope that the other place will be glad to see it there.

However, the chief interest of the public is that the docks should be efficient, and that the Board should recognise them not just as an arena in which they umpire a private scrap between the dockers and the employers. We have also sought to persuade Her Majesty's Government that the resources of capital and manpower should be effectively deployed in the interests of efficiency—that is the reason behind my Amendment No. 2—and that unnecessray cost burdens should not be permitted, whether they fall on employers, consumers or public funds. That last thought is the one comprised in my Amendment No. 3, a different version of which I moved at Report. As I say, we have had assurances on some of these points, but we were not satisfied with the assurance that we received on Clause 7 and therefore we had to press our point of view to a Division. Perhaps I should say that the former Clause 7 is now Clause 8. We contented ourselves with a rather weak explanation and assurance that was given at col. 1245 of the Report stage, an assurance which fell at the stroke of midnight last Thursday when we were discussing what was then Clause 7. At that point we did not press the Amendment, but looking back, I think that was more out of compassion for the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, than because we were convinced by his argument.

In the course of the present stage we have another opportunity to strengthen the Bill in this respect by Amendment No. 17 which stands in the name of my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn. However, my purpose in moving this Amendment now is to find out whether the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, can add any more to his assurance that the Secretary of State, the Board and the local boards will have regard to the general propositions which are expressed by these two Amendments of mine, Amendments Nos. 2 and 3, and by the Amendment expressed by my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn, Amendment No. 17. If the noble Lord were able to give us such an assurance I, for my part, would not feel that it was necessary at this point to press the Amendments. I beg to move.


My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, can help me. Would he wish that I should reply to the two Amendments, Amendments Nos. 2 and 3, to which he has spoken or is he hoping that my noble friend Lord Jacques will say something in connection with Amendment No. 17? It seems to me to be a little difficult to range over the whole question of cost and efficiency in relation to these two Amendments, but I do not know what is the wish of the noble Lord.


My Lords, may I say, with the leave of the House, that I appreciate the noble Lords' difficulties; no doubt they have separate briefs on these Amendments.


My Lords, they are quite consistent.


Yes, my Lords, I am sure that they are. I want an assurance that our anxiety, which is a general and also a consistent one—that the public's interest that the docks should be run efficiently and be cost effective and that productivity should loom large in all that the Board does—is not well-founded for reasons which I do not think have been fully deployed by the Government. We were not satisfied at Committee and we moved an Amendment to Clause 7. We were only partially satisfied on Clause 8 and now I rather regret that we did not press our Amendment. However, it would be valuable if noble Lords could draw on their briefs and do their best to assure us that where efficiency and cost effectiveness are stressed in the Bill this is adequate to ensure that efficiency and cost effectiveness will be given the necessary priority.


My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for his indication. My response must be that I should prefer to reply to Amendments Nos. 2 and 3. Then the noble Lord must either decide what he wishes to do in respect of those Amendments or wait until he has heard my noble friend on a later Amendment. I do not think that I need to take very long over Amendment No. 2 which has been moved by the noble Lord. To some extent the word "effectively" which the noble Lord seeks to move into the Bill in place of "adequate" is an improvement on the word "efficiency" which he sought to move into the Bill during the Report stage. However, as I listened to the noble Lord I heard him again use the word "efficiency" and I noted that he made very little reference to his Amendment, which is to insert "effectively". I gather that it is still the noble Lord's intention that this Amendment should bear a relationship to his general thesis about costs and efficiency throughout the Bill, but at this stage may I say that although "effectively" is, as I have indicated, a somewhat better word than "efficiency" from the Government's point of view, it is not good enough.

According to my researches into the dictionary the word "adequate" means "sufficient" or "such as meets the case." If one puts those phrases into the clause it conveys the sense that we have in mind, whereas the synonyms for "effective" do not read so smoothly and do not have an adequate or suitable meaning. They are "having power to effect". "causing something" or "successful in producing a result or effect". If the noble Lord cares at some point to weigh up those synonyms, I believe that he will regard the word "adequately" which is contained in the Bill as more suitable for this purpose. I am not pre-empting any discussion that the noble Lord may wish to have later about costs, but in relation to this Amendment I think I must advise the House to reject it and to retain the word "adequately".

Since the noble Lord spoke to Amendment No. 3 as well, may I say a little more because it might be helpful if I illustrated what the Government have in mind. At the Report stage the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, moved an Amendment which would have required that consumers' and public costs should be reviewed and I explained why that was not acceptable to the Government. In moving the insertion of the word "particularly", I suppose that the noble Lord still seeks to meet the same end that he had in mind at the Report stage.

I undertook to look at the position which has been reconsidered and, as I say, perhaps a specific illustration may help to explain the difficulties that we face in accepting the Amendment. If as a result of their review under Clause 2 the Board were to conclude that a new training course should be introduced to provide skills which were in insufficient supply, the Board could properly be expected to cost such a proposal. That is why at the Report stage I said to the noble Lord that we should have been more sympathetic to an Amendment which made Clause 2(4) (c) read something like the probable cost of implementing the proposal", which is a more general phrase. However, the noble Lord has not moved that kind of Amendment.

As the subsection now reads, the Board would have to do more than take into account the probable cost of implementing the proposal. If the Board proposed that employers should pay for the cost of the training course that I have instanced, then the Board would have to set out the effect on the levy or specify the charges which they would propose to make to employers when they sent their dock workers on the course. But if one considers the sort of specific detailed proposals which the Board will be making to the Secretary of State under Clause 2, then it really does seem to the Government that the existing phrase, "the probable cost to employers" is as far as it is reasonable to go. What the Board cannot do, for example, is to form any view on how each individual employer will respond to any increase in the levy or to a charge payable for improving training facilities, because that depends on the individual decision of each employer.

If, on the other hand—and I think this is the case—the implication of the Amendment is that broad costs, such as the cost to the consumer, should be examined, then I recall that I explained the Government's attitude to that proposition during the Report stage. As I said then, overall labour costs are one element in port charges; port charges are but one element in the transport costs; and transport costs are one element, and a small element, in the final cost of goods to a consumer. Therefore, since the effect of the Amendment that the noble Lord has moved would be to widen the requirement beyond what we consider to be practical of implementation, I am afraid I cannot recommend your Lordships to accept either of these two Amendments.

4. 31 p. m.

Viscount SIMON

My Lords, if I might speak briefly to Amendment No. 2 only, I must say to the noble Lord that without poring over a dictionary it seems to me that, "effectively" is a far better word than, "adequately" in this sentence. What is the purpose of deploying skills, aptitudes and experience unless you deploy them effectively? Otherwise, the deployment achieves nothing. "Adequately", on the other hand, is a word which really requires to be qualified by saying adequate for what purpose. I would have thought that if the noble Lord would look at it again he could hardly fail to agree that, "effectively" is a better word here. If we put that word in, I can hardly believe that another place, busy as they will be with the Bill, will even notice that we have made a difference and put in a much better word.


My Lords, if I may follow the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, I must say that I disagree with him entirely. On a previous occasion I raised the point in regard to the word, "adequately" that you could take different dictionaries and probably get different interpretations for that word. He will probably know more about this than I do because his standard of education is much higher than mine. I followed what the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, was saying, and I began to wonder what he wanted from people engaged in this type of industry. He did not put forward a case. He is already challenging them, before this Bill is passed, as to whether they are going to be efficient, as to whether they are going to pull out every stop they can to achieve that productivity which we talk about in industry, which employers, whoever they may be, would like to see. To me that is a sort of insult to the people engaged in these forms of industry. It does not do any good to any type of industry if you challenge at the beginning whether people are going to do everything possible to make the industry in which they are engaged efficient, so that it will show positive results on behalf of those responsible for their employment in their particular capacity and for the running of the industry.


My Lords, if I were a member of the Board—which I hope I shall not be—I would be very puzzled to know exactly what was expected of me under subsection (3)(a). The word, "deploy" has different meanings, as the word "disposition" to which I drew attention also has different meanings. What are we to understand by this? Are we to understand that the Board is to keep under review the extent to which dock workers are adequately deployed, or are we to understand that it means the extent to which dock workers adequately deploy their skills, aptitudes and experience? There are two entirely different meanings of "deploy". It may be indeed that there is a sort of combination between these two, and what is really meant is the extent to which dock workers are adequately deployed having regard to their skills, aptitudes and experience. It is very difficult to know exactly what this is intended to mean. I think if you put in the word, "effectively" it makes the interpretation a little easier, because we are then talking about the extent to which the skills, aptitudes and experience are effectively deployed, and this is related to the skills, aptitudes and experience of dock workers as a whole. It is a difficult bit of drafting. All I would say is that I think it is easier to understand if the word, "effectively" goes in rather than if the word, "adequately" goes in.

I should like to comment on the next Amendment, also. The words here are, the probable cost to employers of implementing the proposal". We are talking here mainly about a proposal either for deployment or for adjusting the strength and disposition of the labour force, as I understand it. So I would have thought in this case the noble Lord may be right in his interpretation. We are not talking about the cost of implementing proposals dealing with classification; we are talking about proposals for adjusting the strength and disposition of the labour force and deploying the skills of the existing dock workers. In this case what seems to me to be the important consideration is the probable cost to employers of implementing proposals for those purposes. I think the noble Lord was quite right to suggest that we should leave the other question of the costs of doing the work for later consideration.

Viscount SIMON

My Lords, if I might have leave to speak again, I do not think the meaning of this clause is nearly as difficult as the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, makes out. It seems to me that what the Board are asked to keep under review is that the skills, aptitudes and experience of dock workers are effectively deployed. By that I take it to mean that if you have some dock workers who are particularly skilled in loading containers, using container cranes, which requires a very high degree of skill, you do not put them on to some other job. Equally, if you have men skilled in stowing the old fashioned type of cargo, which is again a very highly-skilled job, you do not put them on taking bundles of timber off ships. That is what I would take it to mean, and it seems to me a very sensible provision.


My Lords, I had hoped, having listened to the noble Lord's explanations, at this and at other points in the Bill, at the two previous stages, and having adjusted the Amendments we had originally proposed to meet the Government's wishes, that they would find no difficulty in accepting this one, and from what the noble Lord says it sounds as though he nearly did. But I was also hoping for some rather more robust assurances about the general stress on effective deployment and efficiency, and something in response to Amendment No. 3. I do not think that this is the moment to have a lot of Divisions on the matter. I am sorry that the Government have not used this opportunity to respond with a more robust statement of their attitude at this point, but I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 4 [Secretary of State to prepare new Scheme]:

4. 41 p. m.

Lord SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 4: Page 4, line 6, at end insert ("but the whole of any area so designated must be comprised within a definable dock area")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 4, and at the same time to speak to Amendments Nos. 5, 6, 9, 10, 12, 19 and 20. These last minute Amendments are, I am afraid, the result of having had to handle this Bill at such indecent haste. I think it has been a travesty of proper Parliamentary procedure. In all the 30 or 40 Bills I have handled from this or the other Dispatch Box, I can never remember one where the pressure of time has been worse than on this one. I recall last Session dealing with the Community Land Act, a massive Bill of far greater complexity than this, but that was really quite straightforward compared with dealing with this one and the pace with which we have had to contend. For instance, last Friday the Hansard for the night before was available at about 9. 30 in the morning. That covered our proceedings up to 10 o'clock, but they actually went on until 12 o'clock, so with no record of what had happened for the last two hours we had to consider what Amendments we wanted for this stage and have them tabled by 4 o'clock in the afternoon.

In those circumstances, it is extremely difficult to have time to reflect and read through the Bill thoroughly to see the precise effect of what one is trying to do. But I have to go on and say that I am indebted for the help of the noble Lord's Department in putting into workable shape the general proposition which we imported for the first time at Committee stage; namely, of a more limited dock area of half-a-mile extent round an existing harbour as opposed to the enormous five mile wide cargo zone. That was the work we did at Committee stage when we introduced this geographically much more limited idea of the half-mile round the harbour which could then in due course become a Dock Labour Scheme area.

In using those words, we adopted a term that was already in the Bill. But I must confess that we overlooked that the same consideration applies to the definition or designation of these dock areas as applies to the definition and classification of dock work; that is to say, you have to provide in the Bill for two stages in each category. In the way that Schedule 3 lists what may and may not be classified as dock work, other processes in the Bill (culminating in classification orders in Clause 11, as it was, which is now Clause 13) specify in point of policy and in particular cases that what are the things that can be classified, are to be classified.

In exactly the same way, in dealing with the dock areas we need two definitions. One is in this set of Amendments I am now introducing and which we want to see inserted in the Bill, which prescribes the limit of what may be designated a dock labour area and in which various parts of the Bill will apply in Clauses 6, 7, 8, 9 and Schedule 3. But again as with classification orders, in respect of dock work it will be the new Scheme and the Amendments thereto which will actually designate the dock labour area within the definable area that may be defined in due course as a Dock Labour Scheme area.

I hope that noble Lords will agree that if we have this concept in we need to have the same two stages in respect of areas as is already provided in the Bill in respect of work. That is the purpose of these Amendments. They do not add or subtract anything from the general concept we have added. We have checked the general line of our thought with the Department and had some help in working out with them how it should be done in order that the general idea which has been incorporated in the Bill at Committee stage is workable. I beg to move.


My Lords, I am sure we all appreciate the clear and acceptable way in which the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, has explained this Amendment and those which are similar to it and which he listed. He prefaced his remarks by a complaint about the time-table. Without entering into the whys and wherefors of the general Parliamentary situation in which we are, within those limits I accept what he said about it having been a particularly tough job which he and his colleagues and I and my colleagues on this side and others elsewhere have taken on board.

I use the word "acceptable" about the noble Lord's introductory speech. I should not like that to mean that the change upon which these hinge is in any way acceptable. Of course we maintain the position that the basic Amendments which were made during Committee stage are entirely unacceptable to us. But having regard to the fact that those Amendments were made then, as the noble Lord has explained, these Amendments are necessary because, as the Bill now stands without them, it would be impossible to look at work in an area to see whether it should be classified as dock work without having previously applied the Scheme by order to that area. It is a sort of horse and cart situation, and we cannot be sure which is the horse and which is the cart. I would say that the Amendment appears to us to remedy this situation. Beyond that, I do not think that the Government have any further comment to make.


My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord. I think it behoves the House as a whole to send back to the other place Amendments which, however unpalatable they may be to the Government, in fact actually work.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Lord SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 5: Page 4, line 7, leave out from beginning to ("comprise") and insert ("A definable dock area shall").

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Lord SANDFORD moved Amendments No. 6: Page 4, line 14, leave out from beginning to ("within") in line 15 and insert ("A definable dock area shall not include any small harbour or any place").

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 6 [Objects of the Scheme]:

Lord SANDFORD moved Amendments No. 7: Page 5, line 49, leave out ("dock labour scheme area") and insert ("definable dock area").

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

4. 50 p. m.

Lord JACQUES moved Amendment No. 8:

Page 6, line 8, at end insert— ("() The Scheme shall not impose any obligations on dock employers who do not for the time being employ workers on classified work.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this Amendment has been tabled to meet concern which has been expressed that, because there is no definition of dock employers as used in Schedule 2, it might be possible for the Scheme to impose obligations on employers in the docks who are not undertaking classifiable work. On Report it was explained that the Government did not believe that there would be any reasonable doubt about the enabling powers in Schedule 2. But the Scheme does impose obligations and requirements which are backed ultimately by criminal sanctions and is concerned with the raising of a levy. Therefore, it seemed right to put the matter beyond doubt, whether reasonable or otherwise, which is what the Amendment does.


My Lords, we are always grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, when he introduces Amendments so kindly and pleasantly. We are grateful for this one, which establishes beyond peradventure that the Bill means what it is intended to mean, and I hope that he will accept our grateful thanks.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 7 [Review of what is now dock work]:

Lord SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 9: Page 8, line 7, leave out ("any dock labour scheme area") and insert ("any definable dock area").

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 8 [Loading and unloading operations]:

Lord SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 10: Page 8, line 16, leave out ("dock labour scheme area") and insert ("definable dock area").

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Lord JACQUES moved Amendment No. 11: Page 9, line 24, after ("(b)") insert ("after considering any representations received from employers and trade unions concerned and").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this Amendment is designed to make it clear that the Board must consider any representations made by employers and unions before reporting to the Secretary of State under this clause. This brings the clause into line with the procedure under Clause 9 and Schedule 4, where the Board are required to consider representations made in response to the first and second notices.


My Lords, once again we are grateful for this point of clarification. This is a helpful and important Amendment and we are grateful to the noble Lord for it.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Lord SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 12: Page 9, line 34, leave out from ("premises") to end of line 36 and insert ("outside a definable dock area").

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 9 [Cargo-handling operations in general.]:

Lord SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 13: Page 10, line 42, leave out ("dock labour scheme area") and insert ("definable dock area").

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

4. 54 p. m.

Lord DRUMALBYN moved Amendments No. 14: Page 11, line 32, leave out ("(a)").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, it might be for the convenience of the House if, at the same time as we discuss Amendments No. 14, we discuss Amendments Nos. 15, 16 and 17. This group of Amendments is simple in purpose but rather difficult to explain. The clause relates to recommendations to the Secretary of State by the Board that work be classified if it comes within Schedule 2(1) as being work which may be classified for the future as dock work and if it is work that is done or is to be done at premises in a Dock Labour Scheme area. The Board may also recommend that not all the work, but some specified part of it, may be so specified. Subsection (5) lays down three grounds in particular which the Board may treat as prima facie grounds, subject to the next subsection, for recommending classification. These grounds are that the work … is, or is to be, done by way of substitution for other work previously done by registered dock workers, whether at the same premises or elsewhere … within a Dock Labour Scheme area. Your Lordships will recall that the Bill as originally drafted said "within the cargo-handling zone", which covered all premises within five miles of the sea or within any major inland waterway. As the Bill stands—we must constantly remind ourselves of this—it is a good deal more restricted in scope. The second ground is that the work … is such that those employed on it need training, aptitudes and experience the same as, or similar to, those of registered dock workers … And the third ground is that the work …is for the time being done wholly or mainly by workers employed as casual labour. The next subsection provides that none of these three grounds and no combination of them is sufficient by itself to justify classification and requires the Board to take account of other considerations "appearing to them to be relevant", in particular the considerations set out in that subsection. The fact remains that as the Bill stands the Board may proceed to consider work for classification if any of the three criteria I have mentioned is satisfied.

Bearing that in mind, I ask: does it make sense to consider work for classification merely because those employed on it need training, aptitudes and experience similar to the training, aptitudes and experience needed by registered dock workers? No wonder, for example, it was necessary to exclude the railways from the Bill, otherwise they would have been caught here. That expression would cover all forms of the handling and movement of goods—loading and un-loading at factories, marshalling yards, warehouses and cold stores—even if the goods were going to another inland destination, and it would even cover the movement of goods within factories, warehouses and so on. Who can tell whether such goods would never be shipped abroad? Is it sensible that all forms of cargo handled wholly or mainly by casual labour should be eligible for consideration by the Board for classification?

We have frequently argued in our debates on the Bill that there are many ports dotted around the coasts, particularly in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, where the work always has been done by casual labour; men brought from their other activities—not necessarily unemployed men—when they are needed to load or unload cargo. In these places the work has never been wholly or mainly done by registered dock workers. There are many warehouses within five miles of the sea where nobody has never heard of registered dock workers. It is obvious that both of these criteria should be taken in conjunction with lie first criterion—this is so dear to the hearts of the Party opposite, or at any rate to some of them; I would not say "all" by any means—namely, that the work is done or is to be done by way of substitution for work previously done by registered dock workers.

We do not accept that criterion. We require, however, that it is fundamental to the Bill and that is why we are opposed to the Bill. But given that fundamental criterion, we believe that it should be the basic one for considering whether or not work should be classified. My Amendment would make it so. We understand the Government's wish to decasualise, but only in appropriate circumstances. We have pointed out that there are many circumstances in which it would be wholly inappropriate to do so. I appreciate that the subsection says that the Board "may" treat such cases as prima facie grounds. It is not bound to do so; it does not say "shall". Nevertheless, we believe that it should do so only where there has been, or is to be, what the Bill calls substitution.


I explained at Committee stage the Government's reasons for believing that any one of the grounds should constitute prima facie grounds for making a recommendation. This Amendments would make it obligatory for work in question to be in substitution for work previously done by registered dock workers. This would prevent groups of workers who have a very good case for having their work classified from being able to do so. We return to our old friends, the Liverpool tally clerks and their employers, who believe their work should be registered work. They work in close association with registered dock workers. But their work is not in substitution for work which is previously done by registered dock workers. Even though they and their employers think their work should be classified, it could not be classified if this Amendment were carried.

This applies similarly to our friends in fish bobbing at Hull. As I explained at earlier stages in the Bill, the work of fish bobbing is classified or registered work at all the North-East ports except Hull. There, fish bobbers say that they have been left out as an accident of history and feel badly done by. If this Amendment were carried, the fish bobbers at Hull are not doing work in substitution for work done by registered dock workers and, therefore, it would prevent their work from being classified. Also, if any new installations were opened at existing Scheme ports away from existing installations that is not covered by the existing classification, and the trade to be handled by these installations was new, then the work could not be in substitution for work at present done by registered dock workers and could not therefore be classified even though it has to be done by casual labour. For these reasons, we would hope that the noble Lord would not press his Amendments.


My Lords, before my noble friends reply, may I say that I am not clear about one thing the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, said? It seems to me that subsection (5) says, The Board may under that Schedule determine that there are prima facie grounds for making a recommendation … I cannot see anywhere in the clause that they cannot make a recommendation unless there are prima facie grounds. Am I wrong in that interpretation? If so, where does it say so? It would seem that the exclusion of tally clerks, or these other people the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, talked about, would not be the case if it were possible for the Board to make a recommendation when there are not prima facie grounds. It seems to me that subsection (6) rather encourages that view. It seems to encourage the Board to look more widely than the prima facie grounds in subsection (5). Therefore, if subsection (5) is tightened up, it would seem that no great harm would result and it would not spoil the cause of the tally clerks. Perhaps the argument of the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, needs changing.


My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, could enlighten us at this stage. In most debates on this issue, the noble Lord appears to be something of a conjurer. He always mentions the Liverpool tally clerks, but he produces these work people who I understand go by the name of fish bobbers". Can he indicate what they do? Do they load fish, gut it or fillet it? Is this an example of the Monty Python show, or what? Clearly they are an interesting category of workforce, but so far in my researches, or indeed in reading through the Bill, I have not been able to decipher exactly what these people do. I should be more than interested, indeed grateful, if the noble Lord could enlighten the House.


Fish bobbers? They bob! I think it is clear that they do some-to the fish as distinct from merely handling it as cargo. They are responsible for gutting. They load and unload and are then responsible for gutting the fish and seeing it to the market.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for that explanation.


The answer required by the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, is in Schedule 4, paragraph 7: If after considering such representations the Board determines there are prima facie grounds for making a recommendation under section 9 … and so on.


I also have some misgivings about the experience and aptitude of the noble Lord in returning always to the tally clerks. The trouble about tally clerks, as an example, is precisely illustrated by what I am trying to do, because the experience, skill and aptitude of tally clerks is not by any means confined to dock work. They may have grown up alongside dock work, but they could be equally useful in a wide range of other activities. This tally work is not particularly the sort of skill that one expects of a docker. They may have very good claims, but this is an a ordinary claim of one body of men who want to be recognised in a particular context. I do not think that the noble Lord's quotation of tally clerks as an example is a good reason why we should not have as a pre-condition the question of sub-situation.

The same really applies to training, aptitudes and experience similar to those of registered dock workers. A very wide range of people in the transport industry have training, aptitude and experience similar to registered dock workers. It follows that if we leave the Bill as it is, the range of people who could be classified is almost infinite; certainly anybody who is involved in loading, where any export consideration arises at all. We think this is far too wide and that is why we propose the Amendment. I suspect that fish bobbers is a red herring and I am sure that tally clerks are red herrings, too. I am inclined to think that the noble Lord should allow this to go forward for consideration by another place.


My Lords, I regret that we could not possibly do that. Making it obligatory that there has to be a substitution for work done by registered dock workers will have far-reaching effects for the future. There is any amount of work closely associated with dock work that ought to be classified, but this Amendment would prevent its classification, no matter how closely associated it was with dock work. In our opinion this Amendment is an undesirable one which we could never accept.

5. 10 p. m.


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, in answering me referred to Schedule 4, but I have looked at Schedule 4 and it does not really satisfy me at all. I should redirect him to subsection (6). It seems to me that all this play on prima facie is not comprehensive because the Board are encouraged to look much more widely, and I cannot see that the main line of his argument against my noble friend's Amendment is a valid one. I think that this matter needs to be looked at again and that it should perhaps be allowed to go through at the moment so that it can be looked at in another place.


My Lords, I think that the noble Lord is wrong in saying that it places an obligation on the Board because subsections (5) starts with the words, "The Board may …". It includes another phrase which gives them some flexibility: if it appears to them that… There is no clear, certain obligation at all. There is plenty of discretion.


My Lords, first, with the leave of the House I wish to comment on what the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, has said. If there are no prima facie grounds, the Board cannot send the second notice and therefore the procedure would come to a halt. There would be no recommendation. A recommendation can be made only when the Board, after they have received the first group of representations, are satisfied that there are prima facie grounds.

I should now like to comment on the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Sandford. The Board may under that Schedule determine that there are prima facie grounds for making a recommendation if it appears to them that the work …is, or is to be, done by way of substitution for other work previously done by registered dock workers, whether at the same premises or elsewhere … We start with that. The other two points come later. This is obligatory; it is obligatory in the sense that they cannot move unless they are satisfied that it is by way of substitution.


Surely that is one of three alternatives —if there are such things?


My Lords, may I, again with the leave of the House, make a suggestion to the noble Lord? The word, "may" governs the whole subsection and there is no question of there being an obligation from which the Board cannot escape. Furthermore, they have discretion to determine what they have to determine, if it appears to them that the work… But there is no need to refer to some hard and fast criteria. It is against that background that my noble friend is arguing. All he is arguing is that the Amendment should be put in so that another place can have another look at it. He is not saying, though he might well do, that it would make a clear improvement to the Bill, although I believe it would. His only reason for doing it is so that another place should have another look at it. I think that to have a massive number of Divisions at this stage is not a good way to proceed, but it is very provoking if the noble Lord is not able to answer my noble friend more efficiently than that. I think that the case which has been made out is a very strong one and I urge the noble Lord to accept it. It really cannot do any harm. The noble Lord certainly has not shown that any harm can be done, and this would enable another place to have another look at this point.


My Lords, again with the leave of the House, I must insist that if we have this Amendment then it is obligatory that the work must be in substitution of work previously done by registered dock workers. The Board may under that Schedule determine that there are prima facie grounds for making a recommendation if it appears to them that the work is … But it must be in substitution, otherwise they cannot do it. Therefore everything I have said is absolutely right.


My Lords, the question is, on the one hand, to what extent there is work which is dock work that is not at present being done by dock workers, and secondly there is the extent to which there is work which is likely to be classified which has not been treated as dock work in the past. I do not understand what work this second class of work is. The noble Lord has not given any examples to show that there is any such work. I should have thought that the only work that is entitled to be classified is work which is being done in substitution for work which was previously done by registered dock workers. I cannot see any reason why any other work should be classified. We are talking of work which, is, or is to be done, by way of substitution … We are not talking of work which is to be done in the future and which would be classifiable, because obviously in a case like that the work would be classified—if it is classified and it is to be done in the future and it is certainly classifiable. I do not see how that can be a second class. If it is work that is to be done in substitution, then that is the first class we are talking about, but if it is entirely new work which is not being done in substitution, then I cannot see what kind of work that would be. If it were clearly dock work it would he classified as dock work and this particular question would not arise. I think it is worth having another look at this, where it is very difficult to see what the future would be and the way in which in practice these various provisions would be interpreted in circumstances which cannot be foreseen. It is for that reason that I am suggesting that it would be a wise course to look at this again.


With that I cannot agree.


My Lords, in that case I feel bound to test the opinion of the House on this matter.

5. 18 p. m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 14) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 104; Not-Contents, 88.

Alport, L. Elliot of Harwood, B. Netherthorpe, L.
Amory, V. Emmet of Amberley, B. Newall, L.
Ampthill, L. Faithful, B. Norfolk, D.
Atholl, D. Ferrers, E. Northchurch, B.
Auckland, L. Fraser of Kilmorack, L. Onslow, E.
Balfour of Inchrye, L. Gainford, L. Orr-Ewing. L.
Belstead, L. George-Brown, L. Penrhyn, L.
Berkeley, B. Gisborough, L. Rankeillour, L.
Boothby, L. Glendevon, L. Rathcreedan, L.
Bridgeman, V. Gridley, L. Reay, L.
Brooke of Cumnor, L. Grimston of Westbury, L. Redesdale, L.
Brooke of Ystradfellte, B. Harcourt, V. Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.
Caccia, L. Narmar-Nicholls, L. St. Davids, V.
Campbell of Croy, L. Harvington, L. St. Just, L.
Carr of Hadley, L. Hawke, L. Sandford, L.
Carrington, L. Home of the Hirsel, L. Sandys, L.
Chalfont, L. Hornsby-Smith, B. Savile, L.
Clancarty, E. Kemsley, V. Sharples, B.
Clwyd, L. Killearn, L. Somers, L.
Coleraine, L. Kinnaird, L. Stamp, L.
Colville of Culross. V. Lauderdale, E. Strathspey, L.
Cottesloe, L. Long, V. Tenby, V.
Craigton, L. Lucas of Chilworth, L. Terrington, L.
Crawford and Balcarres, E. Lyell, L. Teviot, L.
Cross, V. Macleod of Borve, B. Tranmire, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Mancroft, L. Trefgarne, L
Daventry, V. Marley, L. Tweedsmuir, L.
Davidson, V. Mersey, V. Vickers, B.
Denham, L. Monck, V. Vivian, L.
Derwent, L. Monson, L. Ward of North Tyneside, B.
Drumalbyn, L. [Teller.] Montgomery of Alamein, V. Ward of Witley, V.
Dudley, E. Morris, L. Wardington, L.
Ebbisham, L. Mottistone, L. [Teller.] Wolverton, L.
Eccles, V. Mowbray and Stourton, L. Young, B.
Ellenborough, L. Nelson of Stafford, L.
Ardwick, L. Greene of Harrow Weald, L. Northfield, L.
Aylestone, L. Greenwood of Rossendale, L. Oram, L.
Bernstein, L. Hale, L. Pannell, L.
Beswick, L. Hanworth, V. Peart, L. (L. Privy Seal.)
Birk, B. Harris of Greenwich, L. Phillips, B.
Blyton, L. Henderson, L. Pitt of Hampstead, L.
Bowden, L. Houghton of Sowerby, L. Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Brimelow, L. Hughes, L. Popplewell, L.
Brockway, L. Hylton-Foster, B. Ritchie-Calder, L.
Brown, L. Jacobson, L. Sainsbury, L.
Castle, L. Jacques, L. Segal, L.
Champion, L. Janner, L. Serota, B.
Chorley, L. Kagan, L. Shepherd, L.
Collison, L. Kaldor, L. Shinwell, L.
Cudlipp, L. Kennet, L. Slater, L.
Darling of Hillsborough, L. Kilbracken, L. Stedman, B.
Darwen, L. Kirkhill, L. Stewart of Alvechurch, B.
Davies of Leek, L. Leatherland, L. Store, L.
Davies of Penrhys, L. Lee of Asheridge, B. Stow Hill, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Lee of Newton, L. Strabolgi, L. [Teller.]
Douglas of Barlock, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Douglass of Cleveland, L. Lloyd of Hampstead, L. Vaizey, L.
Elwyn-Jones, L. (L. Chancellor.) Longford, E. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Fisher of Camden, L. Lovell-Davis, L. Walston, L.
Fisher of Rednal, B. Lyons of Brighton, L. Weidenfeld, L.
Foot, L. McCarthy, L. Wells-Pestell, L. [Teller.]
Gardiner, L. McCluckey, L. Winterbottom, L.
Garner, L. Maelor, L. Wynne-Jones, L.
Geddes of Epsom, L. Murray of Gravesend, L.
Gordon-Walker, L. Noel-Buxton, L.
Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.

5. 26 p. m.

Lord DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 15: Page 11, line 34, leave out ("or (b)") and insert ("and (a)").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this Amendment, No. 15, is consequential. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


My Lords, I now have to call the first unnumbered Amendment in the name of Lord Airedale, and I have to inform your Lordships that, if this Amendment is agreed to, I cannot call Amendment No. 16.

Lord AIREDALE moved his first unnumbered Amendment: Page 11, line 40, leave out from ("not") to ("make") in line 41.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, perhaps it would be convenient to discuss together the two Amendments which appear in my name on the separate sheet, because undoubtedly they sink or swim together. Subsection (6) seems to be extremely accident prone, but even as amended on Report, and even if it is going to be amended back in a few minutes' time to what it was in Committee, I still suggest to your Lordships that the first line and a half of subsection (6) really does not mean very much or get one very much further. In particular, I should have thought the words "and without more" are superfluous, following, as they do, the words "not on … those grounds alone". My Lords, if I am right about this, I wonder whether it would not be clearer simply to leave out this first line and a half and allow subsection (6) to come straight to the point and say that the Board shall not make a recommendation without considering, in particular, the matters which are then set out in paragraphs (a), (b) and (c). I beg to move.


My Lords, at the Report stage the noble Lord suggested these Amendments. We have given this matter very careful consideration, and I could go into technical reasons why we cannot accept the noble Lord's Amendment; but suffice it to say that we believe the present wording helps to emphasise that the prima facie grounds are not sufficient and that the Board must carry out a two-stage consultation procedure. As things happen, there is another case against the noble Lord which I had not expected to have, and that is that the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, has carried against the Government Amendments Nos. 14 and 15. If the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, insists on his drafting Amendment, he will frustrate Lord Drumalbyn, who has to move Amendment No. 16 as a consequential Amendment. I think that so far as the opinion of the House is concerned it is more important that Lord Drumalbyn should be able to move his Amendment.


My Lords, the last thing I would wish to do would be to frustrate the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, and the second last thing I would wish to do would be to divide the House on what is only a drafting Amendment. I do not think subsection (6) is quite as clear as it might be. I have done my best to improve it, but I have not succeeded and I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 16: Page 11, line 40, leave out ("more") and insert ("both").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, for his kind remarks. That makes Amendment No. 6 consequential. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

5. 31 p. m.

Lord DRUMALBYN moved Amendments No. 17:

Page 12, line 14, at end insert— ("() productivity in the performance of the work.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, throughout the earlier stages of the Bill we have been trying to impress on the Government that not only in present circumstances but at all times in a competitive world economic factors have to be considered. They cannot and must not be ignored. In considering whether work should be classified or declassified, as we are doing in this clause, we believe it is essential that the Board should be obliged to take into account whether classification would adversely affect the cost of doing the work. The Government seem to regard "cost" as a rather dirty word not be to mentioned in public. One would have thought that, in their view, it runs counter to the concept of the Bill. Moreover they have argued that it will be beyond the capacity of the Board to consider cost in its wider aspect. But, however productivity is calculated, surely the Board must at least consider whether classification is likely to increase the value added per worker per year, per week, per day or per hour, however it is calculated, or whether it is likely to reduce it. This is not a difficult calculation to make and it would be well within the capacity of the Board, but even if it were difficult we would still regard it as essential that it should be made in each case. In this case we are not considering matters, recommendations and proposals which are initiated by the Board but matters which are referred to them, and one would have thought that the recommendation contained in the report that they are going to send to the Secretary of State should be complete and that they should have considered everything. If they have not considered everything they can hardly make a recommendation. Therefore I should have thought that they must consider the question of productivity. The thought that changes could even be considered and recommendations made without counting the cost seems to me to be economic lunacy. I urge the Government and I urge your Lordships to accept this Amendment which merely requires that in considering what recommendations to make to the Secretaty of State they should look into the question of whether classification of the work would adversely affect productivity. I beg to move.


My Lords, we would suggest that there is no way in which classification of the work could affect productivity in the performance of the work. During the course of the Bill it has been made clear many times that there is no intention that either the Board or the Scheme should interfere in any way with collective agreements. The Opposition Amendment to Schedule 2 made in Committee would preclude the Scheme from saying anything about terms and conditions of employment. There is no way in which classification of work could alter any productivity arrangements under collective agreements. On the other hand, other productivity measures, for example, the purchase of new equipment or the introduction of new procedures, are in our view entirely matters for management.


My Lords, I must say it is curious how the Front Bench opposite changes its ground in considering matters of this kind. It is now telling us that the relative cost could not be changed, at least so far as productivity was concerned, by classification where at the present time the work is not regarded as dock work. I cannot follow this. Clause 12 indicates what is going to happen if the work is classified. Of course you are not going to have a great change in the cost overnight; we accept that. The work force in a ware-house will no doubt remain the same, but the work will be classified. But because the work is classified the cost per head of work done is bound to vary because the totality of the cost per head in respect of wages and conditions will have to be taken into consideration. Am I not right in thinking that as soon as the work is classified the levy will he payable in respect of the workers there, or is it the case that that will not happen until all the workers move from the extension register to the register of dock workers? In either case, it is plain that in the long run the cost of the work is bound to be affected. Am I wrong about that? Will the levy not by payable; will the terms and conditions upon which men are employed not vary?

We all know that once a man is on the dock work register he is on for life. If the employer is going to have to employ the same number of men who are on his books at the time of classification, whether or not they are all needed, it will be difficult to reduce the staff. That is going to change the productivity per head. At the present time he can say, "I am sorry you are not needed" and make a redundancy payment. That is a different calculation altogether. There must be some changes involved here. We have never got to the bottom of what is intended. We have heard from industry what they think is intended and what they think the effects will be and there is no doubt that in many cases the cost of the work force to the employer will increase.

Of course, there is the additional factor whether so much work will be done with the same force or not. It seems to me an extraordinary statement to make that it is not going to make any difference whether or not classification takes place. Surely we are right in thinking that the purpose of bringing the establishments which ask to be classified under the Dock Labour Board is to ensure similarity of conditions and terms of employment and to assimilate them to those being applied in the docks at the present time. Is that not so? This is the explanation we have had in the past. If that is so it cannot possibly be said that classification will not affect productivity.


My Lords, before the noble Lord replies for the Government, may I ask him whether he would not agree that the financial cost is very much a part of modern cargo handling? Surely, to reduce cost as far as possible without affecting other labour practices and also to improve measurable productivity, must be a matter for pride and something which the Board should aim to achieve when they wish to advise on classification. The Government, in both Report and Committee stages, have spoken of the non-relevance of cost and about new procedures and other labour procedures. My noble friend Lord Drumalbyn mentioned "lunacy". Why do the Government always take the dark side of the moon and totally ignore the brighter side of the question?

I read of one example in the earlier proceedings in another place. At Alexandra Docks in Liverpool, where I understand work is carried out by registered dock workers, cargo can be landed at …6.30 a ton as opposed to London loading and unloading with the same equipment dealing with the same type of cargo where the cost is …11.30. I believe that is a matter for pride. I understand that Alexandra Docks, Liverpool, is carrying out work which under the new Scheme would be classified. The Government have run away from any thought of cost. They look at the dark side. The noble Lord, Lord Jacques, has twice produced the argument that in seeking to produce cost effectiveness we are somehow seeking to encourage more casual labour. We are not. I think my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn has presented a reasonable case, and the Government having produced the same argument twice are now producing another argument which is still shaky and doubtful.


My Lords, with the leave of the House, may I draw the attention of the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, to Clause 6(2)(a). It sets out the objective of the Scheme. It reads: to securing stability of employment for dock workers and the creation and maintenance of a permanent labour force of a size and composition appropriate for the efficient performance of dock work; That is the object laid down in the Statute that the Secretary of State must aim at in preparing the Scheme. The levy has nothing to do with the rates of pay or manpower usage. They are matters for collective bargaining and are outside the Bill.

So far as the levy is concerned, I am prepared to defend that, as I did on Second Reading. The levy for the administration of the Scheme, for training and welfare, for pensions and for severance pay or redundancy, whatever you wish to call it, is 11 per cent. in total. That is not high. I was able to show that it compared favourably, for example, with the chemical industry. I would not regard that as a heavy charge on the employer. The employer is already doing some of these things obligatorily under the State Schemes. For example, he is making redundancy contributions. He will be relieved of those if instead he is paying towards the Dock Labour Scheme. I do not think that the levy is a matter which is going to make any real difference.


My Lords, I think that the noble Lord is consistently missing the point. The question is not whether the terms and conditions are more favourable or not; the question is simply whether in considering whether the work should he classified the Board should take into account productivity and the difference that is likely to be made in that respect by classification. That is all that this Amendment provides for. It seems to me absurd to say that they should not take it into consideration. However great the advantage may be in one way or another, the possible disadvantages (or it might be advantages) from the point of view of productivity ought to be taken into consideration. I cannot see how the Government can resist this. It seems to me so obvious and so fundamental in making changes of this kind. For Heaven's sake! let us know what we are doing when we are making changes of this kind. That is all I ask, and I think the noble Lord should concede this.

We have done our best to find a formula which will get away from the difficulties that were made in the past about the problems for the Board of calculating the costs. Productivity is not a difficult thing to calculate. It is already in the Bill that they have to consider whether the efficiency of doing other work is likely to be adversely affected. We are asking here about the efficiency of the work in question. Surely that too should be considered. I cannot see any argument against it whatsoever.

Viscount SIMON

My Lords, may I venture to disagree a little with the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn? He says that productivity is an easy thing to calculate. In fact, in this industry it is extremely difficult to calculate because there are so many different things involved. Apart from that, what he is asking should be calculated is the productivity of some future arrangement which has not yet started to operate. I do not see how you can calculate that when all that you will have are assurances from trade unions that this or that will be done and from employers that this or that will be done. You will never be able to measure the productivity until you see what actually happens.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

Clause 12 [Registration after work is classified]:

Lord SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 18: Page 14, line 39, leave out ("(which shall be a minimum of 2 years)") and insert ("(not to be more than 2 years)").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 18. I have to say that when we last discussed this on Report, the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, put forward one view and I another. He asked me to reflect on it. I have done so and I have to say that he was right and I was wrong. This Amendment restores the Bill to what it was before the Report stage.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 3 [Descriptions of work which may, and those which may not, be classified as dock work]:

Lord SANDFORD moved Amendments Nos. 19 and 20:

Page 28, line 7, leave out ("dock labour scheme") and insert ("definable dock").

Page 28, line 28, leave out ("dock labour scheme") and insert ("definable dock").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, these are consequential Amendments. With the leave of the House I should like to move Amendments Nos. 19 and 20 en bloc.

On Question, Amendments agreed to.

5. 48 p. m.

Lord MOTTISTONE moved Amendment No. 21:

Page 28, line 46, at end insert— ("18. 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 onto 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. 21. I must apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, because at Report stage on a similar Amendment I undertook to look at his remarks and if necessary modify my Amendment in tabling it; but for the reasons explained by my noble friend Lord Sandford earlier, the particular section of the Official Report which included the debate on this issue was not available at the latest date by which we have to table our Amendments. After seeking advice outside the House, I decided that the best course of action was to table the Amendment at the Report stage.

I have now had the opportunity of reading the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, at that stage which appear in col. 1607 of the Official Report. Regarding Lord Jacques's comments on exception (a), as I see it the answer is in the quay and the Amendment seems to make this clear. Regarding the noble Lord's comments in col. 1608 of the Official Report on exception (b) he misses out the significance of "integral". In his reference to the cargo handling zone, he gives point to the paramount need—I stress this— not to revert to that mistaken concept. If one forgets the cargo handling zone and one takes due account of the phrase, "as an integral part of the cargo handling operation", exception (b) seems clear.

Having dealt with the points that I said at Report stage I would bring forward, I should like briefly to make only two points to emphasise the need for this Amendment. I do not wish to repeat all the arguments made by myself and my noble friends in earlier stages of this Bill, but to limit myself to making two specific points. First, it seems to me that cold stores have unfortunately become a particular target for the dock workers. Perhaps this is because of their association with containers and because of the particular events in 1972 touched on by the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, on the fourth day of the Committee stage, at col. 382 and again on the second day of the Report stage at col. 1608 of the Official Report. It seems that, because the cold stores have become a particular target and entered what I called in an earlier speech the mythological area of this discussion, their position is treated in almost paranoic terms, and not always entirely rationally.

We on these Benches accept that, in relation to the exceptions (a) and (b) in the Amendment, it is reasonable for dock workers to extend their work into cold stores at the dockside, but we suggest most strongly that it is not reasonable for them to do this as a generality. This view has been endorsed by many trade union members who have telephoned from outside, and this day a workers' convenor from Leeds telephoned in to say how important he thinks it is that there should be no arrangement by which dock work jobs can be extended to his part of the world.

At this moment in time, registered dock workers are working in only six cold stores out of the 184 operating in this country and there is no good practical reason why this should be extended beyond the terms of the Amendment. Work in cold stores away from the docks, which is being done by other types of worker, has no connection with the main historical task of dock workers, the loading and unloading of ships. If there had been such a connection, there would be an argument for dock workers to claim a right to pack all the packaging cases and fill all the sacks throughout the land, which they will eventually handle. That is plainly nonsense.

We all have to accept that as conditions change, jobs do as well. Why should a particular group of workers get guarantees in a totally different environment? It was, for example, never suggested, at the time of the Beeching cuts in branch railway lines, that railwaymen should have an automatic right to drive the buses that replaced the trains in country districts.

My second point relates to the question of a split labour force. Because of their history and the nature of their main work, dock workers treat jobs differently from all other groups of workers. It is indeed often the case that groups of persons with a specialised task have their own particular attitude to their work and, in general, we all accept and indeed usually respect this. A seaman, for example, will see life differently from, say, a Bishop—except possibly in the case of my noble friend Lord Sandford. What is undesirable, both in the interest of cohesive management and of the contentment of the work force generally, is to import tightly organised persons with strongly held ideas, which may be alien, into a hitherto smooth running organisation. Dock workers unfortunately have acquired a reputation for neither integrating with the existing work force nor adapting themselves to the existing situation. This often leads to excess manning to do work which dock workers reasonably could, to the detriment of efficiency and costs, and to demarcation disputes to the detriment of the interests of other workers. This, from what I have discovered from talking to people, is what other workers fear more than anything else. They fear the introduction of this alien attitude into an otherwise reasonably contented work force.

We are all agreed that the overriding need of the country is for conditions to be established for harmonious labour relations. There is no difference of opinion anywhere in this House on that. It seems that the Government say that good labour relations can only be established if we give the dock workers all the opportunities they wish to press as a group for the maximum extension of a right to take on work of the types listed in Part I of Schedule 3 in cold stores wherever they are. We say this is not reasonable and indeed it is unfair to other workers, unless the cold stores are at the dockside or are an integral part of the cargo handling operation, and hence that the Government solution will lead to worse labour relations, not better. Continuing harmony is rarely established by giving into sectional pressure groups. Thus, my Lords, I ask you most emphatically to support me and my noble colleagues in this Amendment. I beg to move.

5. 58 p. m.


My Lords, I beg to support the Amendment moved by my noble friend, Lord Mottistone. In the debates on the issue of cold stores, we have never had an answer from the Government in relation to the division between home produced goods that may equally be held under controlled conditions, and goods which are imported. With the enormous development of the use of frozen foods, cold storage and fresh foods, we find ourselves in the position that there must be many of these units where a substantial proportion of their goods are produced in this country which never, under any classification, would be cargo. Are we to have two sets of employers with the rigidity that some will deal with the imported goods and others will deal with the home produced goods with undoubtedly increases in costs? Then of course if there have to be redundancies those will not fall on those under the registered scheme, but on those belonging to other unions.

We are entitled to know what proportion of these new, very large and very vital centres throughout the country are handling exclusively imported goods. Will the Government not look again at the very realistic Amendment put forward by my noble friend which seeks to give genuine cargo handling to those who traditionally have done it in the immediate vicinity of the docks, and take a realistic view of this tremendously expanded new and different industry where it is inland? In our view it should not be treated to be taken over by registered dock labour as of right.


My Lords, I should like to support my noble friend Lord Mottistone. I think he has done everything possible to meet the objections raised by the Government at all stages. I find more and more confusing the arguments raised by the Government in reply to what I regard as a very reasonable and, above all, very practical proposal put forward by my noble friend. During the course of our concluding debate on Report stage the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, made allusions to how the Government hoped to achieve some peaceful means of settling disputes with dockers in the warehouses and cold stores that we are discussing. One thing that he, and indeed, no other member of the Government, has been able to explain is why the Government are dealing with dock workers alone and thus causing unnecessary grievances on the part of other workers at the cold stores. I am sure the noble Lord will appreciate that cold stores are miles and miles inland and have nothing to do with cargo, and they do have these worries and grievances.


My Lords, surely the noble Lord will appreciate that we are concerned about dock workers only in those cases where the operation has been moved from the dock side but is still within the cargo-handling zone. It is work which was dockers' work, and until someone deals with that problem there will continue to be bad industrial relations.


My Lords, I had not finished: I was coming to that point. Just a little patience might have covered this point. I am sure that the noble Lord appreciates, along with other people, that cold stores are different from port-side warehouses, cargo sheds and the like because cold stores have mostly grown up since 1957 and there is increasing flexibility of labour and especially of the equipment which is needed to use that labour most economically and to achieve the greatest productivity. During the Report stage the noble Lord replied to a question regarding vacancies arising at a cold store which was operating a closed shop agreement. The noble Lord went so far as to say that this closed shop agreement could be modified between trade unions.

I am sure the noble Lord meant well; and he went on to say that there was a Committee, operating under the aegis of the TUC, which had been so far very successful in settling inter-union disputes. I believe we shall have to give them prayers and wish them good luck and benevolence all the way if what the noble Lord has said should come to pass, because if he really believes that a closed shop can be "modified" at the behest of one union, what can he say to the existing workers in cold stores inland? Let us not forget—this, I think, will go some way towards replying to the question put by the noble Lord, Lord Jacques—that under the Bill as it was originally worded these cold stores were classifiable at the wish of the Secretary of State. It is for that reason that I support my noble friend Lord Mottistone most strongly.


My Lords, first, in order to strengthen what I said about industrial relations. I have here a report from a panel of investigation into The current difficulties affecting the Transport and General Workers' Union and the Dagenham Cold Storage and associated companies That investigation arose entirely out of the kind of problem I mentioned, and it is that which we are trying to avoid. To turn to technicalities, in our opinion, the wording of the exceptions seems technically inadequate to achieve the intentions of the noble Lord. On exception (a), because of the uncertainty as to whether such work was to have been dock work by custom and practice, the noble Lord has satisfied himself. We say it is not clear as to where it was done, whether it was at the quayside or at the port generally. The noble Lord has said that he is satisfied that it means the quayside. As to exception (b), we do not think it is clear, because in Part I of Schedule 3, even though a cold store was away from the dockside it would still have to be regarded as an integral part of the cargo-handling operations. The definition of "cargo" in paragraph 8 of Schedule 3 applies to both Part I and Part II of that Schedule.

More importantly, we oppose this Amendment as a matter of policy. The Government consider that it must be possible to consider the classification of work in third party cold stores away from the immediate dock area. It has been the movement of such cold stores away from the docks and the refusal to employ registered dock workers in the new location that has been responsible for many of the industrial relations problems in the docks. It was also very largely responsible for the strikes we had in 1970, 1972 and 1975. I might add that the 1975 strike was referred to ACAS, and their recommendation to the Government was clear: the Government should proceed as soon as practicable. That was the advice given by ACAS to the Government and that is exactly what we are doing by means of this Bill.

The noble Baroness raised the question of having regard to the places where there were home-produced goods. I think I am right in saying that the Bill in its original state said that the Board, in considering any recommendation, must have regard for the proportions. I think I am also right in saying that since then the Opposition have carried an Amendment which says the Board cannot consider classification where the proportion is less than a half. The noble Baroness also raised the question of redundancies. As I pointed out earlier today, the protection of existing workers is so great in this Bill that of the 200 Amendments not one has been made to give further protection to the workers because everybody believes they were adequately protected. If they do not believe that I would say to them: "Move your Amendments: you have had plenty of opportunities." But the Bill goes as far as it is possible to go to protect existing workers, and that is why nothing has been done.


My Lords, would the noble Lord give way? How can he say that none of our Amendments has been put for the purpose of protecting workers, when Amendment after Amendment has tried to see that work either in small ports or in these cold stores is done by people who currently belong to other unions? The whole purpose of the Amendments has been to protect those very workers. I really cannot see how the noble Lord can allege that we have moved no Amendments to protect any classification of worker.


To protect existing workers, my Lords: you are concerned with protecting existing workers. In the Bill, we protect existing workers, and that protection is so good that not a single one of the Amendments produced by the Opposition has been put forward to improve that protection. Not a single Amendment has been made to improve that, because the protection was adequate when the Bill came to the House and I challenge anybody to deny that. What I am saying is fact. There has not been a single Amendment to improve the protection of existing workers, because that protection was already adequate. Therefore, it seems strange that it should be thought that, if there were redundancies, it would be the existing workers who would be redundant and not the dock workers. The safeguards in the Bill against that are perfectly adequate and they have not been the subject of Amendments to improve them.


My Lords, the noble Lord said that the safeguards are perfectly adequate, but they have to be proposed by the Board. We do not know what they are. We cannot very well argue about whether they are adequate, until they have been proposed by the Board.

6. 10 p. m.


My Lords, that is not so. The safeguards are not all made by the Board. The safeguards are that they can continue to work, or they can be put on an extension register, and if they do not go on to any register at all they can be left to do their job without any interference. There is adequate protection in the Bill. If the protection was not adequate, noble Lords would have been moving Amendments to give protection. They cannot have it both ways.

May I deal with the trade union points which were raised both tonight and on Report? During the Report stage in discussions on this Amendment, and again tonight, both the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, and the noble Baroness, Lady Hornsby-Smith, expressed special concern about the position of existing trade unions and, in particular, about what would happen when a vacancy occurred and the job had to be offered in the first instance to a registered dock worker, when there was a closed shop at the premises for one union and all the registered workers available were members of another union. This is a matter which needs to be considered before any decision is taken as to the classification of the work. There is full opportunity under the procedures for all the parties concerned to express any worries which they have on such matters. Clause 9(6) requires the Board to consider industrial relations questions, while paragraph 13 of Schedule 4 especially provides for a reference to the ACAS by the Secretary of State. The Bill specifically prevents the Scheme from interfering in any way with collective bargaining arrangements, or the membership or non-membership of a union. The TUC supports the Bill, and if there were differences between unions the Bridlington procedures, which have worked well, would in our opinion be relevant.

My case rests mainly on the question of policy, on the need for cold stores which have moved away from the docks, but which are within the cargo handling zone, to be classifiable—not to be classified but to be classifiable—and for the option to be there for it to be considered. It is by this means that we are providing proper, peaceful machinery for settling disputes. That is what we want to do, and that is why I said earlier that if noble Lords will not accept this peaceful method, they will be leaving the dockers to do what they can within the law, including all the picketing.

Viscount SIMON

My Lords, the noble Lord referred to paragraph 8 of Schedule 3, which includes the definition of "cargo". Looking at paragraph 8(c), would I be right in thinking that when cold store goods start from a ship and are handed over by the stevedore to an agent of the receiver, who then takes them to a cold store four or five miles away—such as the Dagenham cold store—by the time they arrive at that store they have ceased to be cargo?


My Lords, I believe that that is in consequence of an Opposition Amendment, so that the question ought to be addressed to them.


My Lords, the answer is, Yes. But that is not what I rose to say. I merely wanted to respond to what the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, said about the action which we have taken to protect the interests which feel affected by this Bill. If the noble Lord and his friends are saying that there are no work-people or trades unions who do not feel threatened by this Bill, it means that his Party have lost touch with the union movement to an extent which I can hardly believe.


My Lords, I did not say that,


But, my Lords, the noble Lord did say that we have done nothing to protect the interests of people affected by this Bill. I just confine myself to what we have done to Schedule 3. We have moved Amendment No. 58C on Report, we have moved Amendment No. 88 on Report, we have moved Amendment No. 92 in Committee, we have moved Amendment No. 62 on Report, we have inserted Amendment No. 63, with the agreement of the Government, which deals with protecting the interests of lorry drivers vis-a-vis dockers within the Transport and General Workers' Union, we have moved Amendments Nos. 64 and 65 on behalf of the riggers' association of the seamen, and the boiler-makers on behalf of the shipwrights, and we are about, I hope, to move an Amendment on behalf of two other unions whose members work in the cold stores. So that it is quite untrue to say that we have not taken any action to protect the interests of people who feel threatened by this Bill.

In addition to that, we have tried to ensure, by the new clause which we put in concerning appeals, and by the several Amendments which we put in concerning public inquiries, that where people's interests are affected by proposals and processes under this Bill the issues will be handled in public in the from of a public inquiry, and disputes can be referred by the Secretary of State to appeals machinery. I should have thought that that acquitted us of any inaction on behalf of the large number of interests who feel threatened by the Bill.


My Lords, with the leave of the House, I would say that the noble Lord is talking about an entirely different matter, because that happens to suit his argument. What was under discussion was whether people already doing the work could be ousted by dockers or made redundant, and I said that the protection of existing workers was so good that no Opposition Amendment had been moved to improve that protection. I was absolutely right, because there has been no such Amendment. The noble Lord is dealing with other issues.


My Lords, does not the noble Lord agree that if we had tried to introduce Amendments to ensure and solidify the rights of lorry drivers, we should have been told that they were out of order on the Dock Work Regulation Bill?


My Lords, with the leave of the House, I cannot understand why the noble Baroness uses that argument, because the Opposition moved an Amendment not to protect lorry drivers against loss of their jobs, but to protect those who were driving their vehicles into the docks, and we accepted it. So I cannot see how the noble Baroness can say that an Amendment would not have been considered, because one has been moved and accepted.


My Lords, I do not think we want to waste too much time on what we have or have not done, but I think that when the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, reads the Report of our discussions he will find that he has been batting away on the wrong wicket, and that he has been grossly exaggerating. I hope that he has not misled the House. There are two main issues. One is the question of the wording of the Amendment which might have been better handled if the Government had given us more time between the second day of Report and today.

But it seems from what the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, said, and from what I said, that it is a matter of opinion as to whether or not the wording is absolutely perfect, and I accept that it might not be. However, I am sure that it conveys the main sense of what we want to convey, which is that dock workers should be entitled to consider jobs in cold stores for classification, if the cold stores are closely associated with where the dockers traditionally work. The main issue between us is whether it is reasonable for the dock workers to say that they should be given the right for their jobs to be classified within cold stores that are remote from the sea front and have only a very tenuous connection—I would say no connection —with the main work that dock workers have always done throughout the centuries.

We cannot pursue the argument because it is a matter of opinion. People will say

one thing on the one side and something else on the other. But above everything this is a matter which, we now find, is so close to the heart of so many trade union members who work in cold stores all over the country, quite apart from the concern of employers in those cold stores who fear greatly the split labour force and the inefficiencies which are invariably introduced by the introduction of dock workers into their stores, that it is our duty as a House to give the other place a chance—whether they ever give themselves time to do so is another matter— to consider it. Therefore, I beg to move.

6. 21 p. m.

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

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 116; Not-Contents, 77.

Adeane, L. Ebbisham, L. O'Hagan, L.
Airedale, L. Ellenborough, L. Onslow, E.
Amherst, E. Elliot of Harwood, B. Orr-Ewing, L.
Amory, V. Emmet of Amberley, B. Pender, L.
Ampthill, L. Faithfill, B. Penrhyn, L.
Amulree, L. Ferrers, E. Rankeillour, L.
Atholl, D. Fraser of Kilmorack, L. Rathcreedan, L.
Auckland, L. Gainford, L. Reay, L.
Balfour of Inchrye, L. Gisborough, L. Redesdale, L.
Banks, L. Gladwyn, L. Robbins, L.
Barrington, V. Gowrie, E. Robson of Kiddington, B.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Greenway, L. Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.
Belstead, L. Hanworth, V. St. Davids, V.
Berkeley, B. Harcourt, V. St. Just, L.
Boothby, L. Harmar-Nicholls, L. Sandford, L.
Bridgeman, V. Hawke, L. Sandys, L. ([Teller]
Broadbridge, L. Hill of Luton, L. Savile, L.
Brooke of Cumnor, L. Home of the Hirsel, L. Seear, B.
Brooke of Ystradfellte, B. Hornsby-Smith, B. Seebohm, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Hylton-Foster, B. Sharpies, B.
Byers, L. Kemsley, V. Simon, V.
Caccia, L. Killearn, L. Somers, L.
Campbell, of Croy L. Kinnaird, L. Stamp, L.
Carr of Hadley, L. Lauderdale, E. Strathspey, L.
Carrington, L. Lindsey and Abingdon, F. Swansea, L.
Chalfont, L. Long, V. Tenby, V.
Clifford of Chudleigh, L. Lucas of Chilworth, L. Terrington, L.
Clwyd, L. Lyell, L. Teviot, L.
Coleraine, L. Macleod of Borve, B. Trefgarne, L.
Colville of Culross, V. Mancroft, L. Tweedsmuir, L.
Cottesloe, L. Marley, L. Vickers, B.
Craigavon, V. Mersey, V. Vivian, L.
Cross, V. Monck, V. Ward of North Tyneside, B.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Monson, L. Ward of Witley, V.
Daventry, V. Morris, L. Wardington, L.
Denham, L. [Teller] Mottistone, L. Winstanley, L.
Derwent, L. Nelson of Stafford, L. Wolverton, L.
Drumalbyn, L. Newall, L. Young, B.
Dudley, E. Northchurch, B.
Allen of Abbeydale, L. Gordon-Walker, L. Northfield, L.
Ardwick, L. Grantchester, L. Oram, L.
Aylestone, L. Greenwood of Rossendale, L. Pannell, L.
Bernstein, L. Hale, L. Peart, L. (L. Privy Seal)
Beswick, L. Henderson, L. Peddie, L.
Birk, B. Houghton of Sowerby, L. Phillips, B.
Blyton, L. Jacobson, L. Pitt of Hampstead, L.
Bowden, L. Jacques, L. Popplewell, L.
Brimelow, L. Janner, L. Ritchie-Calder, L.
Brockway, L. Kagan, L. Segal, L.
Brown, L. Kaldor, L. Serota, B.
Bruce of Donington, L. Kennet, L. Shepherd, L.
Castle, L. Kilbracken, L. Shinwell, L.
Champion, L. Kirkhill, L. Slater, L.
Collison, L. Leatherland, L. Stedman, B. [Teller]
Cudlipp, L. Lee of Asheridge, B. Stewart of Alvechurch, B.
Davies of Leek, L. Lee of Newton, L. Stone, L.
Davies of Penrhys, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B. Strabolgi, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Lloyd of Hampstead, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Douglass of Cleveland, L. Longford, E. Vaizey, L.
Elwyn-Jones, L. (L. Chancellor.) Lyons of Brighton, L. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Fisher of Camden, L. McCluskey, L. Walston, L.
Fisher of Rednal, B. Maelor, L. Wells-Pestell, L.
Fletcher, L. Melchett, L. Winterbottom, L. [Teller]
Gardiner, L. Milner of Leeds, L. Wynne-Jones, L.
Geddes of Epsom, L. Murray of Gravesend, L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.

Schedule 4 [Procedure for recommendation unders. 8]:

6. 30 p. m.

Lord DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 22: Page 30, line 37, leave out ("18th September 1967") and insert ("3rd December 1975").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 22. Here, at any rate, is an Amendment to protect the workers.

What we are talking about is the classification of work as dock work on the recommendation of the Board under Clause 9 and Schedule 4. It is provided that the Board may consider proposals for a recommendation with regard to work which comes within Clause 9, and in particular subsection (5), which we have just amended. Paragraph 8 of the Schedule provides that the Board shall not proceed further with consideration of these proposals if a qualified independent trade union which has entered into a recognition agreement in respect of the premises concerned before 18th September 1967 objects to the classification. The agreement must have continued in operation from the date of its conclusion to the time when the trade union objects. It should be noted in passing that this power to veto classification is conferred by the Bill only on the trade union and not on the other party to the agreement, the employer, though the employer is allowed, I understand from the Bill, the right to make representations. We do not object to that in this case.

It follows that the right of veto applies only in respect of agreements entered into some nine years or more ago—what the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, calls a long-established agreement. The validity of agreements, I should have thought, however, does not normally depend on the length of time they have been in operation. Indeed, the more recently an agreement has been made, the stronger, if anything, is its claim not to be interfered with, since circumstances are less likely to have changed in the meantime.

My Lords, this Amendment which we are now moving replaces the date 18th September 1967 by the date 3rd December 1975, which was—I have looked up and established—the date on which this Bill was introduced into the Commons. An Amendment of this sort was discussed both in Committee and on Report. It was not possible to reach a conclusion, because we received no advice or assistance on the appropriate date, given that, as we had made clear, the date in the Bill was quite unacceptable to my noble friends and myself. We invited the noble Lord to suggest another date if he thought it more appropriate.

The point I made on Report was that recognition agreements freely and lawfully entered into—indeed such agreements have been encouraged by the Government—ought not to be over-ridden by any Minister of the Crown for entirely extraneous reasons. If, however, the agreements were entered into in order to avoid the effects of intended legislation of which the parties to the agreement had had notice, it would not be wholly unprecedented to provide that immunity from interference would only apply to agreements entered into after the date on which the parties would be presumed to have had notice of the intended form of the legislation. It seems to me that perhaps for that reason the 3rd December 1975, the date on which the Bill was introduced into the House, would be a more appropriate date than the 10th February, which was the date when it was first discussed in the House of Commons.

The noble Lord, Lord Jacques, has claimed that acceptance of this Amendment would frustrate a principle of the Bill. The implication is that one of the principles of the Bill is precisely to override agreements—not, if I may say so, a very respectable principle. I would not, of course, go so far as to say that agreements should never be overridden—even recognition agreements—by legislation, but they should surely be overridden by legislation only when the agreements are not and never have been in the national interest, even though lawful at the time. I would submit to your Lordships that this could rarely, if ever, be argued in the sort of case likely to arise under this Schedule.

Once the whole or part of the work done on particular premises was classified, then to that extent the employer would be bound by the rules to be made under the new dock labour scheme, with all its provisions, including allocation of dock workers, redundancy, dismissal and so on; the recognition situation would be bound to change in time, probably quite quickly. In particular the implications for good industrial relations would be very serious, especially with only part of the work done on the premises being classified. The noble Lord, Lord Jacques, has maintained in effect that work which was once done by registered dockers and which has been replaced by work of a different character ought to be returned to registered dock workers; and if the Secretary of State so decides, those who are now doing the work should become registered dock workers, possibly via the extension register, whether or not that is what the workers concerned want. This is what he is arguing for. The noble Lord has said the Bill provides a sensible means of seeking the best solution to difficulties which have arisen through changes in the nature and location of dock work in recent years.

The difficulties that have arisen, as my noble friend Lord Mottistone has been pointing out, are difficulties that have always arisen whenever technological change has taken place. Of course, those who suffer from such change are bound to resent and resist it. The Luddites resisted, as my noble friend said; the railwaymen protested as freight went from the railways to the road, the miners protested as coal was replaced by oil, gas and nuclear power. Of course, new processes can replace the old on the same premises, with the same employer and the same workers, in some circumstances, given careful planning and good industrial relations and a favourable competitive situation. But that is not what has happened in the case of the changes we are considering. We have to look at things as they are and not as they might have been. We simply cannot turn the clock back.

I ask this: Are we in this Bill to establish the principle that wherever technological change takes place, the workers in the old processes should always operate the new processes? Is that the principle the Bill is seeking to establish? Or is the so-called principle which the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, says this Amendment would frustrate a special case in circumstances where, as the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, has said today, pressure is being brought to bear on the Government by powerful interests which find their privileges and their monopoly threatened?

If it is intended that in all cases the workers who have been doing the whole process should do the new process, it is wholly impracticable as a principle. The world simply cannot stand still until workers in the old processes are trained to do the work in the new processes. This would not be possible even if this country were halted in its tracks. It is quite unfair both to the employers who have had the initiative and enterprise to start up new processes and to the workers whom they have employed and trained to operate them that the industrial structure that they have together created should be replaced, or overlaid, as they are bound to be in the long run —and I have already argued this this afternoon —by terms and conditions of employment prevailing in organisations operating the old processes.

Where recognitions were already in existence before the Bill was printed and introduced in Parliament, the workers should be permitted, through their trade unions, to prevent classification if they do not want it. We have heard much talk about industrial participation and industrial democracy. Are the wishes of the existing workers not to he followed merely because the Government think it right to ignore them? There can be no possible justification for restricting the right of veto to those trade unions which entered into recognition agreements before September 1967, which was before the technological changes of containerisation, roll-on, roll-off, and the rest came to fruition. The operative date should be 3rd December 1975. I beg to move.

6. 42 p. m.


My Lords, the objections to this Amendment have been fully deployed both in Committee and at Report stage. The Government are convinced that its effect would be to frustrate a principal objective of the Bill, which is to make possible consideration of the classification of work which was done under the 1967 Scheme but has subsequently been transferred outside the port area and undertaken by unregistered workers. It would not be consistent with this objective to give the automatic right of veto as the Amendment proposes in respect of such work, and thus preclude thorough examination by the Board to determine whether it would be sensible in all the circumstances to recommend classification. The veto provision was made solely to ensure that long established warehousing, storage, packaging and cold storage Operations not related to work transferred from the docks and which are not connected with port operations should not be classified as dock work and therefore not subject to the Scheme.

The question was raised in Committee as to the extent to which the new techniques which have been developed in recent years have been in substitution for dock work. Without a detailed examination of the particular work and circumstances no meaningful assessment can be made. It is therefore all the more important that the Board should not be precluded by the veto from making a thorough examination of such work so that they may make an informed assessment under Clause 9(6). The fact that the right of veto is not accorded to a trade union, not recognised continually since 18th September 1976, has and will have, no effect on its recognition agreement or collective agreement in respect of terms and conditions of employment with an employer. It is again emphasised that the principles of the Bill as drafted have the support of the TUC Transport Committee and there has been so suggestion from that source that the Bill should be amended as the Opposition proposes.

Finally, I should point out that this Amendment is, in the present state of the Bill, quite superfluous, because under Schedule 3, paragraph 11, as added at Report stage, the agreement of both employers and unions is required before work can be classified whenever there is a collective agreement, irrespective of its date. I would suggest that you should rest upon the Amendment you have got through at the Report stage and not duplicate it at this stage.

Viscount SIMON

My Lords, from these Benches I should like to support this Amendment. In attempting to deal with perhaps a few particular cases the Government, in drafting this Bill, have thrown their net very wide indeed. The only unions which are in a position to comment on a proposal for classification, it is said here, must be subject to a recognition agreement since September 1967. That is over nine years ago. Surely in many premises where work of this kind is going on the work was started after that. It might have been started in January 1968. That is again nearly nine years. Are we saying that if an employer and his employees formed a collective agreement in 1968, that it can he overthrown because it was not created in 1967 when perhaps the premises had not even been built?


My Lords, we have not mentioned anything being overthrown. We have just said they cannot get a right of veto.

Viscount SIMON

My Lords, why should the trade union which has been working for all this long time not have the same right as one that has been working a few months longer? I do not understand any magic in the date of September 1967.


My Lords, that was the date when the 1967 Scheme came into operation.

Viscount SIMON

My Lords, I am obliged. That establishes what the date was, but what its relevance is I cannot see. It is perfectly reasonable for any business which has been created since 1967 up to the time of the Bill being introduced for the employers to be entitled to make a collective agreement, and for that collective agreement to continue. The noble Lord says that this can still continue, but the work can be classified. I think that is the noble Lord's argument. But does he say that the classification of the work makes no difference at all? My noble friend Lord Wigoder, who put his name to the Amendment, asked that question at an early stage at Second Reading, and asked whether it was a fact that people would not be affected at all by classification. I do not recollect that the answer was entirely satisfactory.


My Lords, I cannot answer that question unless I know what is meant by "people".

Viscount SIMON

The people working. We are in a dilemma here, and I am trying to understand this. Either the effect is that other people are going to be able to get this work or it has no effect at all. If it has no effect at all, what is the purpose of preventing people from keeping outside classification?


My Lords, I have replied to this question certainly twice, and probably three times. The people already doing the work are not affected in the sense that they would lose their job or be made redundant first. They are affected only in the sense that they could go on the extension register, and then on the main register and become registered dockers.


My Lords, what would happen if people did not want to become registered dockers? Or is it because of severance pay, and all the other special privileges the dockers have, that it is thought that all the people concerned will want to join them? Is that the case? Is it perhaps the case that this date has been selected because the thinking was, "Well, an awful lot of cold stores have been built in the last 10 years. We have had a lot of roads built. Dockers' jobs have disappeared out of all recognition in that time. We must be rather careful how we handle it. Let us think of a suitable date", and 1967 comes up as being a date for which you can find some justification. It seems to me that it is rather like that, and not a good fundamental reason. I strongly suggest to my noble friends that it is much better to have a date with a good fundamental reason; for example, the date from which the Bill started to be considered seriously I therefore hope that my noble friend will press the Amendment.


My Lords, we have gone over this ground a good deal and a similar Amendment was moved in the other place and carried with a very small majority. In view of the Amendments that have been made to the Bill, it is right that we should send this Amendment on for further consideration. It is especially right when one bears in mind that it is proposed that in some cases only part of the work should be classified, which would mean having in the same factory, warehouse, depot, cold store and so on, part of the workforce under one set of rules and part under another. That is totally unacceptable and is a prescription for industrial trouble.

I hope the House will feel that it is not right to attach too much importance to inter-union disputes or disputes between workforces at different premises. The important thing above all is to get good industrial relations within each set of premises. If good relations persist at present, it would be a great mistake to interfere with them in any way. Workers in premises where good relations exist should have the right to say through their trade unions, "No, we do not want classification". Remember, work may be considered for classification when it is work not only for export but for internal trade. It would be the greatest mistake in cases of that sort to classify either the whole of the work, because that would give rise to trouble, or part of the work, which would give rise to even more trouble, and therefore this veto should be reconsidered in another place.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.

6.53 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 22) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 103; Not-Contents, 62.

Amherst, E. Elliot of Harwood, B. O'Hagan, L.
Amory, V. Emmet of Amberley, B. Onslow, E.
Ampthill, L. Faithfull, B. Orr-Ewing, L.
Amulree, L. Ferrers, E. Pender, L.
Atholl, D. Fraser of Kilmorack, L. Penrhyn, L.
Auckland, L. Gainford, L. Rankeillour, L.
Balfour of Inchrye, L. Gisborough, L. Rathcreedan, L.
Banks, L. Gladwyn, L. Reay, L.
Barrington, V. Gowrie, E. Redesdale, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Greenway, L. Robson of Kiddington, B.
Belstead, L. Hanworth, V. Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.
Berkeley, B. Harcourt, V. St. Davids, V.
Blakenham, V. Harmar-Nicholls, L. St. Just, L.
Bridgeman, V. Home of the Hirsel, L. Sandford, L.
Broadbridge, L. Hornsby-Smith, B. Sandys, L.
Brooke of Cumnor, L. Kemsley, V. Savile, L.
Brooke of Ystradfellte, B. Killearn, L. seear, B.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Kinnaird, L. Seebohm, L.
Caccia, L. Lauderdale, E. Sharples, B.
Campbell of Croy, L. Lindsey and Abingdon, E. Simon, V.
Carr of Hadley, L. Long, V. Somers, L.
Carrington, L. Lucas of Chilworth, L. Stamp, L.
Chalfont, L. Lyell, L. [Teller.] Strathspey, L.
Clifford of Chudleigh, L. Macleod of Borve, B. Tenby, V.
Coleraine, L. Marley, L. Trefgarne, L.
Colville, of Culross, V. Merrivale, L. Tweedsmuir, L.
Cottesloe, L. Mersey, V. Vickers, B.
Craigavon, V. Monck, V. Vivian, L.
Cross, V. Monson, L. Ward of North Tyneside, B.
Daventry, V. Morris, L. Ward of Witley, V.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Mottistone, L. Winstanley, L.
Drumalbyn, L. Nelson of Stafford. L. Wolverton, L.
Dudley, E. Newall, L. Worcester, Bp.
Ebbisham, L. Northchurch, B. Young, B.
Ellenborough, L.
Ardwick, L Greenwood of Rossendale, L. Peart, L. (L. Privy Seal.)
Bernstein, L. Hale, L. Peddie, L.
Beswick, L. Henderson, L. Pitt of Hampstead, L.
Birk, B. Houghton of Sowerby, L. Popplewell, L.
Blyton, L. Jacques, L. Ritchie-Calder, L.
Bowden, L. Janner, L. Segal, L.
Brimelow, L. Kagan, L. Serota, B.
Brockway, L. Kilbracken, L. Shepherd, L.
Brown, L. Kirkhill, L. Shinwell, L.
Bruce of Donington, L. Leatherland, L. Stedman, B.
Castle, L. Lee of Asheridge, B Stewart of Alvechurch, B.
Champion, L. Lee of Newton, L. Stone, L.
Collison, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B. Strabolgi, L. [Teller.]
Davies of Leek, L. McCluskey, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Davies of Penrhys, L. Maelor, L. Vaizey, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Melchett, L Wallace of Coslany L.
Douglass of Cleveland, L. Milner of Leeds, L. Walston, L.
Elwyn-Jones, L. (L. Chancellor.) Murray of Gravesend, L. Wells-Pestell, L.
Fisher of Camden, L. Northfield, L. Winterbottom, L. [Teller.]
Fisher of Rednal, B. Oram, L. Wynne-Jones, L.
Gardiner, L. Pannell, L.

7. 1 p. m.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill do now pass.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass. —(Lord Jacques.)


My Lords, it is interesting that the noble Lord can find nothing to say in support of the Bill that now leaves us, but perhaps not surprising. I should like to spend a minute or two, first with some courtesies to thank my noble friends behind me for their exceeding hard work through all stages of the Bill, and to the two noble Lords opposite who have done their best to make something useful of the past two or three weeks in the very trying circumstances in which we have found ourselves. But after those courtesies, which are quite sincere, I must also be candid. Here we send on its way a Bill which is totally irrelevant to rectifying the parlous economic condition we are in and, in many respects, more than likely, even though we have improved it, to add to the cost of food coming in through the ports and to the selling prices and delays borne by exports going out through the ports.

We have a divisive and partisan Bill in nature greatly increasing and enlarging the rights and benefits of one powerful and favoured group of work people, as the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, said earlier, against a number of smaller unions, with more skilled men but less important politically to the Party opposite. We have a Bill which together with four or five others has been hustled through this House with a haste which has made it impossible to consider its details thoroughly or to properly consult with the interests outside, people whose numbers and whose concern has grown as they have realised what is about to be perpetrated.

It is true that there are references in the Bill to the Labour Manifesto indicating some support from the Party opposite. But, despite that, though today has been an exception, on average there have been no more than 45 Labour Peers supporting their Government in the Lobbies, out of the 150 who should be available to them. The last noble Lord opposite, with whom I discussed this Bill because I valued his experience and who was at one time distinguished general secretary of one of the largest unions, many of whose members we know—even if the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, does not—feel threatened with this Bill, said that he was leaving on a long sea cruise. And by now he has left.

But it is not just a matter of lack of support and disarray in the Party opposite. Their claims to govern were never very strong from the start. Those claims have got weaker and weaker as time went by and now, since last week, the last faltering confidence of the electorate in their present Government is seen to have snapped altogether. But, as the noble Lord the Lord Privy Seal was saying, the Government are still there and we have to be content with our revising role.

In that respect I think we were heartened by the words of the noble Lord the Lord Privy Seal this afternoon when he stressed the importance, as he saw it, of this revising work that we have done on this Bill. He enumerated the Amendments which we have made and he went on to attach importance, as a senior member of the Cabinet, to the consideration that our changes will now receive in another place. But this same afternoon that same Government in another place have put the guillotine on all those Amendments. So what do we make of those remarks and assurances? All I can say is that we have done our best in the short time allowed to us to improve the Bill, to limit its worst effects, to give more emphasis to the public interest in the docks and, above all, to protect the interests of the work people who believe their livelihood to be threatened by this Bill and who show no sign whatever of being reassured by any of the reassurances that have been given so far.

Another place may well take a different view from us on some of the content and substance of the Bill. But I am certain it would be the view of all your Lordships, especially those who have taken an active part in discussing this Bill, that these Amendments, especially the last group to Schedule 3, the purpose of which has been to protect the interests of people who feel threatened by the Bill, should at least be carefully considered and discussed in another place if Parliament can ever deserve the confidence of the people it is supposed to protect.

Viscount SIMON

My Lords, I echo what the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, said by expressing our thanks to the noble Lords on the Front Bench opposite who have been extremely patient and courteous throughout difficult debates, sometimes putting us right. After all these weeks I still find this an extremely complicated Bill to understand and the noble Lords opposite have been very kind in putting us right when we were obviously wrong, sometimes putting us wrong when we thought we were right.

As regards the substance of the Bill, our views were expressed on Second Reading and are not in the least changed by what has been done. We have made some improvements and, if I thought some of them were going to stick, I would feel happier than I was when the Bill started its career in this House. I repeat what I said earlier to the noble Lord the Leader of the House. I hope the more important Amendments, and there are some of obviously great importance, will be given careful consideration in another place. I should like, because it is partly my own child, to recommend particularly that Amendment which removed from the scope of the Dock Labour Board the question of terms and conditions of employment. When I mentioned this aspect originally, I had very welcome support from the noble Lord, Lord Brown, whose judgment on these matters I always regard very highly. I hope that the Government will ask the Members of another place to look very carefully at that, and I hope they will not reinstate the Bill as it was.


My Lords, I add my brief remarks in sending this Bill happily on its way—if that is a good phrase. I wish to add my thanks to the courtesy and good humour of the noble Lords opposite, Lord Jacques and Lord Oram, as we have battered them from time to time through the late hours. If it is in order, I also wish to thank and congratulate the shorthand writers and compilers of the Official Report, whom I feel in the Committee stage, which was more than we normally handle in this House, did a wonderful job, as indeed at all stages, but particularly then.

With regard to the Bill, there is much that I could say. Personally there is one point on which I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Jacques; namely, that the dock work regulations require updating and therefore a Bill is necessary. It seems to me that this Bill meets even now the main points which the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, spelled out on Second Reading; to wit, the meeting of the ILO Convention No. 137. He specified that Clauses 2, 5 and 8 were the key ones which did this and we have scarcely amended those at all; indeed such Amendments as we have made to Clause 2 were in agreement with noble Lords opposite. The other point was that there should be some kind of equation between the terms and conditions of dock workers and white-collar workers, in relation to which, for some reason, the noble Lord said that this Bill was necessary, whereas it seems to me that the Employment Protection Act should be perfectly satisfactory. We had an interchange on this at one stage in Committee and I think that the noble Lord agreed that perhaps there are certain facets of the Employment Protection Act which would do but that the dockers wanted their own Bill. It would seem to me to be in character if that were so, but regrettable all the same.

The other point which the noble Lord made was that it was necessary for the Bill to cover an updating in the sense that it took account of all the previous Reports—Bristow, Aldington-Jones and so on. I would suspect that this has over-coloured the issue. Most importantly, I implore the Government—and certainly even recently it does not appear that they have very open minds on this point—not to be too wedded to the cargo-handling zone. It seems to me that the improvements we have made collectively in this House are improvements which make the Bill more palatable and more acceptable to people at this time. What the Government must do is avoid an updating which is more extensive in the direction of meeting the aspirations of the dock workers than the rest of us, expecially other workers, can accept.

All too frequently in recent years—and my own Party has not been blameless in this respect—legislation affecting human relations has gone further and faster than ordinary people can adjust to it. There are facets in the race relations legislation and the equal opportunities legislation—just to pick out a couple of examples—which are really disturbing people, and it does not matter that their disturbance may be unfounded; it does not matter that it may be misplaced. They are disturbed, and more than a certain amount of disturbance is not only bad for the country as a whole but is making life intolerable to live for various groups of people. The Government must not be in such a hurry to push us all in directions which a relatively small number of people think are theoretically good for us. Even if such people are right—and many of us have grave doubts about that—they will not achieve their aims by pressing ahead too fast, but will merely cause disquiet and unrest.

So I believe that the Bill is about as good as it can be. I think perhaps that it goes a little too fast, certainly it does not go too slowly, in the direction of making the adjustments, which the noble Lords opposite quite genuinely and rightly want, to update the dock work regulations. I absolutely implore the noble Lords, Lord Jacques and Lord Oram, with whom we have had so many discussions over these weeks and indeed months now, to try to convey to their friends in another place that they really must put out of their minds any sense of false pride. They must forget the politics; my noble friend Lord Sandford made clear what the situation was there—


But he did not forget the politics.


No, that is right; he made clear what the situation was there. I want to put in my point on the grounds of common sense and common humanity. I honestly believe that it would be worth noble Lords opposite making real effort to persuade their friends in another place not to be carried away by their own dogma but to see this as a genuine attempt by people who have been spending a lot of time and hard work to try to get it right, in a situation in which politics has weighed far less than it does in another place. This should be seen as a genuine attempt to improve what is a difficult human relations situation, with as good an understanding as we can make it of the problems of the dockers and of the others. For Heavens' sake! let them pay attention and please make this move as I implore them to do.

7. 16 p. m.


My Lords, I should like to add briefly to the congratulations expressed by my noble friends to the noble Lords, Lord Jacques and Lord Oram. However, I feel that we started off badly by suggesting that dockers were a privileged group, and we end our consideration of the Bill with that position absolutely confirmed. In whatever way the Bill has been amended, there is one thing that it has not done; namely, to bring dockers within the framework of the law. Within the past three days on the South Coast an unofficial committee has dictated for the second time in 12 months what work will come into and what work will not come into a port. When that position pertains other groups of people can hardly be expected to take much heart from a Bill of this kind. The Bill, even as it has been amended, sets one group above another group. It does nothing to encourage greater endeavour, greater productivity in the dock industry, an industry which is so essential to our very survival.

It has been said, somewhat emotively, that the dockers can hold the country to ransom if they have this Bill. I do not believe that the Bill has anything to do with that. Any group can do this if they so have a mind. I believe that it is the Government's job—the Government of the day—to set conditions that are such that that threat should not be necessary. Too often it is the case that the Government have not encouraged the total and full use of our resources to a common end, and that is because of these divisive and restrictive practices which are built into Bills of this kind.

I believe that the Bill fails quite disastrously to reflect the general feeling of the country in so far as this Government's current programme of legislation is concerned. I think that whatever the other place may do to the Bill and whatever we may do when it returns, there will remain a mark against one particular industry, and this cannot be in our general interest.


My Lords, I should like to say one or two words as a kind of valedictory message for the Bill, to send it on its way. No doubt we shall see it again, at any rate in part. My noble friend Lord Mottistone said he thought that the Bill was about as good as it could be. I cannot agree with that because I do not think that we have had enough discussion on it. The discussion at any rate has been compressed into too short a time. I believe that we could have done better with the Bill had we had more time to get to know what it really meant.

Let me say this. It is well known, I think, that when we are engaged on a Bill of this kind consultations go on behind the scenes. Such consultations have been utterly impossible in the case of this Bill. I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, would have been as willing as anybody else to have had such consultations, but they just have not been possible in the time-scale. I must say that, in view of the fact that in many cases during the time we have been considering this Bill the first time the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, and the noble Lord, Lord Oram, saw Amendments was on the very morning of the day on which they had to be discussed, they have done a very good job. Perhaps I may say this, too. We have Lord Jacques here, and I believe that this may well be one of the last Bills that he has to deal with in this House. I could have wished that the had had a Bill that could have produced more unanimity in this House; but, having said that, I must join with my noble friends on this side of the House in congratulating him on the way he has handled this Bill, and in congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Oram, too. We are accustomed to the cheerfulness of the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, in dealing with these Bills, and to the kindness he shows. Lord Oram has not been with us quite so long, but he has been meticulous and extremely kind in the way that he has dealt with matters that have come along.

My Lords, there are just three or four points I think I want very quickly to make. Perhaps the major problem in this Bill has been the cargo-handling zone. The Amendments which were made rendered it impossible, because the rest was moved out of the Bill at the same time, to consider the power to extend the zone. I think we ought not to take leave of this Bill without saying that we would oppose very strongly that power to extend the zone, whatever it may be. One must reach finality somewhere, and, for heaven's sake!, once we have decided what the zone should be, let us leave it at that. The second major change we have made is on the definition of "cargo"; and the third is on the whole subject of classification. These are extremely important changes, but there is one point to which I should like to draw your Lordships' attention, and that is the structure of the Bill and the way in which trade union affairs are being dealt with under this Bill.

One has to look back to In Place of Strife to find any kind of parallel to the powers of the Secretary of State to decide trade union affairs. It is true, of course, that the Secretary of State has to make orders, that they have to be laid before the House and that they are subject to the annulment procedure except in the case of the new dock Scheme itself. But if the two Houses of Parliament are to consider each set of premises covered by an order then we shall have a positive torrent of orders and representations made to Members of either House, and it will be impossible for Members of either House to keep up with this torrent of orders. It may be that the Government will decide to combine a lot of work done in different premises in a single order, and will bring it along in that form. In that case the opposite will occur, of course, and it will be impossible on such a composite order to discuss the circumstances of the various premises concerned. We seem to be in a complete dilemma here. Either there will be a torrent of orders, when they will come so thick and fast that it will be impossible for either House to examine them, let alone to discuss them, or else they will be grouped together in such a form that we cannot have a meaningful discussion about them.

There is something structurally wrong with this Bill and the one thing I do not like about it is the tendency towards bureaucracy that it shows. For a long time the trade unions have argued that, subject to the general law, they should be left to run their own affairs. Here is a step in a totally different direction. I do not know whether or not the trade unions have taken this sufficiently on board, but I am sure they soon will do so if and when the Bill comes to be worked. My Lords, I thought it worth while to make these comments because these are things we have not had an opportunity to discuss, particularly the question of the extension of the zone and the general bureaucratic tendency which this Bill shows.

7. 26 p. m.


My Lords, before we come to an end it might be in order for me to congratulate the noble Lords, Lord Jacques and Lord Oram, for the tireless way in which they have answered our questions and kept at it hour after hour, day after day. I think all of us admire them. Ever since I came to these Benches my own work and that of the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, seem to have been inextricably linked. I seem to remember that together we have been over many small orders, measures and other things before. All of us on these Benches, particularly, will hope to see him in the future, but possibly not so late at night, and possibly able to enjoy his work here more than might have been the case. But perhaps I might also intervene at this late stage in the Bill's progress to consider one or two of the major points that we have dealt with during the two periods on Report stage and the four on Committee that we have had in the case of this Bill. They have been extremely long and tiring, but I hope worth while.

The first main factor we considered was the public interest, and in this matter we were particularly pleased that we had powerful support from the noble Lords, Lord Shinwell, Lord George-Brown and Lord Wigg. We were also particularly pleased that the Government were able to agree an Amendment that allowed this particular interest to be incorporated in the Bill. We also felt that we should like to link to the public interest the matter of public inquiries, and we are pleased that this is now in the Bill and will at least be able to be discussed and considered further in the other place. The second major point which has been covered by a number of noble Lords, including my noble friend, Lord Drumalbyn, far more eloquently than I can is the matter of the cargo-handling zone. Of course, this has given rise to much uncertainty and confusion, but, nevertheless, we shall look forward to hearing what another place have to say about this concept.

We have also looked at costs and cost efficiency, and I am afraid that swords have been crossed at these Boxes and in the Lobbies. As to appeals against classification, we feel strongly about this matter. I am sure noble Lords opposite do and that the Government do as well. However, this has been one of the major points on which we stuck in the case of this particular Bill, and we shall be very interested to see what has happened to this concept when the Bill returns from another place.

My Lords, we have spent long hours here and elsewhere in dealing with this thorny Bill, which, as so many noble Lords have pointed out this evening, and indeed before, is irrelevant and also, we believe, the cause of much worry and concern. We have had representations from employers' organizations. from whole groups and deputations from the entire workforce at ports and docks. Some answers we have had from the Government but regrettably some we have not. However, in all that we did we from these Benches, at least, sought to improve the Bill. Whether we did or not has to be left to the judgment of the other place and, indeed, of the Government. All the Amendments, we believe, ought to have been discussed, and certainly it is regrettable that already at this stage, before the Bill has left us, the guillotine has been trundled out at the other end of the corridor.


My Lords, may I just say to my noble friend that I hope it was a slipped word. I should not like to leave everything that has happened to the other place. In view of all the reactions we have had, I hope we retain some freedom to do something about it.


My Lords, I would add my support to the noble Lord, Lord Harmar-Nicholls. I think this Bill will be on its way back, and that the next round of the contest will be on us sooner rather than later. We have sought to improve this Bill. We are most grateful to the Government and I should add a word of gratitude to my own Front Bench. I have been very much in the position of the noble Lord, Lord Oram, the junior partner. I have had three different partners for the doubles match on the Front Bench and I have been happy to receive instructions from all of them. I shall look forward to having many future contests with the noble Lord, Lord Oram. When this Bill is finally dealt with, we all hope that the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, will be able to continue, possibly in a more restful vein.

On Question, Bill passed, and returned to the Commons.

[The Sitting was suspended from 7.31 p. m. until 7.45 p. m.]