HL Deb 15 November 1976 vol 377 cc1022-5

76 Schedule 3, page 27, line 5, at end insert— 16A. 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 Commons disagreed to this Amendment for the following Reason:

77 Because it imposes undesirable restrictions on the classes of work which can be classified.


My Lords, I beg to move that this House doth not insist upon their Amendment No. 76 to which the Commons have disagreed for the Reason numbered 77. I beg to move.

Moved, That this House doth not insist upon the said Amendment, to which the Commons have disagreed for the Reason numbered 77.—(Lord Jacques.)


My Lords, I wonder whether the Government can help me a little on this one. The first Amendment on this makeshift Marshalled List that we have had for the first time today talks about the Secretary of State having powers, subject to all sorts of limitations, to extend contiguously to the new dock area. It seems to me that there is not an immediate possibility of cold stores which are remote from the seafront or the waterfront, outside the half-mile range which is now within the Bill, being considered for job classification as the Bill now stands. I should be grateful if the Government could give me reassurance that that is the situation.


My Lords, as I understand it, the noble Lord is dealing with cold stores slightly outside the half-mile area?


Yes, my Lords.


There are two possibilities there. First, if the work is already being done by registered dock workers, then it could be classified in accordance with the procedures, I think under Clause 4. If the work is not so classified, then before the work could be classified it would be necessary to have an extension of the limit, and an extension of the limit would involve a public inquiry followed by an Affirmative Resolution of both Houses.


Perhaps the noble Lord could help me further. The limit could be extended only contiguously to the now-defined dock area; that is, it could not be extended five miles inland?


My Lords, I should like to say that it is becoming clear now that this House is crumpling before the Government at the present time. It is insisting upon nothing. It is not insisting upon any of its Amendments; everything is being withdrawn; and I believe very strongly that, in the long run, that is not going to be any good for the Government or for this country. The proceedings this afternoon are absolutely farcical.

The Earl of GOWRIE

My Lords, from this side of the House I should like to point out that we are extremely pleased with the way things have gone. We do not like the Bill—we never have liked the Bill—but we think that the Amendments to the Bill are in accordance with what we have been fighting for over many long days, weeks and months (what seems like years), and are certainly in accordance with what was wished for by another place.


My Lords, I do not really agree with my noble friend Lord Boothby, for once. I think invariably I otherwise do, because he is a man of very great wisdom. But I should like to say that this Bill is being handled in the way in which I think it ought to be handled. I like to see an attempt being made by the Parties on both sides of the House to agree on things so far as they can agree them. I think that the trouble with our country is that we are at present in danger of magnifying and multiplying causes of disagreement, with a view to the Parties downing each other. If we go on doing that, my Lords, it does not matter which Party is in power, this country is going to sink under the waves of the North Sea. So I congratulate those concerned on the way in which they have done their business. However, I do not congratulate this House on the detailed manner in which it is being conducted. I would never have allowed OEEC to have the Amendments presented in this higgledy-piggledy way when I was chairman of it, and OECD would never have permitted it. It is very hard to understand these Amendments. I am delighted there has been a certain amount of agreement, but I think it has been reached in rather a hole-in-the-corner manner; and I wish we had had time to see these Amendments. I suppose I ought to have spent the night here, or come in at 9 o'clock this morning. It is difficult.

My Lords, what I really object to about this Bill is that it is not relevant to the affairs of the docks at all. The reason the Port of London has declined is because it has been extremely badly run. The docks in London will probably never get back to what they were, and the reason is not because the dockers have not had more power; the reason is because the dockers have had too much power, and have been too well looked after. I think this Bill will probably make the position worse, and will extend the troubles to other ports. But I do not want to make a Second Reading speech about this. I just wish to register a protest from these Benches that the measures we are considering with such haste are not more relevant. In conclusion, I congratulate everybody concerned on the way in which they have reached agreement.


My Lords, may I say that the answer to the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, is "Yes".


My Lords, perhaps it would be only reasonable to add that I do not think that perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, has quite understood the great effect of the change in the cargo-handling zone which has been brought about. We now have an area of half a mile round the actual port, instead of an area of five miles around the entire country. within which these changes can take place. I really think that is a considerable achievement. Although we have not had to do any opposing at this stage because the Government have very wisely I think, and very graciously, given way on things, we have nevertheless been saying "Content" to a remarkable number of Amendments from this side of the House, which is not always very usual when the other place sends us back the Amendments moved by this side of the House.


My Lords, I am rather confused in all this Second Reading stuff. What was it that the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, said "Yes" to, in reply to the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone? May I be reminded?


Yes, my Lords. The noble Lord asked: "If there was a possibility of an extension of the definable dock area or cargo-handling zone, would it be an extension of one mile or ten miles? Surely it would be restricted." The answer was, "Yes, it would be restricted".


But restricted to what, and by what?


My Lords, the question was, "Would it be extended only contiguously to an existing area?", and the answer to that is, "Yes".

On Question, Motion agreed to.