HL Deb 13 October 1976 vol 375 cc376-447

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do again resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Strabolgi.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House again in Committee accordingly.


The Earl of GOWRIE moved Amendment No. 10: Page 4, leave out lines 11 and 12.

The noble Earl said: I must apologise to the Committee, because I have for the moment mislaid my list of Amendments; but I can say that we are now going to debate the arena of the five-mile zone. What I am unable to tell the Committee at the present time are the Amendments that I wish to take with this Amendment. They are consequential, and I thought it would be courtesy if I could outline them as a package. Perhaps my noble friend Lord Lyell will be able to give me the information.


May I suggest that the noble Earl takes Amendments Nos. 10, 11, and 12 and then any consequential Amendments after that can be moved formally.

The PRINCIPAL DEPUTY CHAIRMAN of COMMITTEES (Baroness Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie)

I think it is incumbent upon me to say that Amendment No. 11 will fall because it is superseded by a later Amendment.

The Earl of GOWRIE

I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, for his intervention, which I hope is an indication of the post-prandial wellbeing and calm which is going to reign in this Committee from now on. Quoting from memory, we have Amendments Nos. 11(A) and 11(B). I will be taking with Amendment No. 11(A) the Amendments enumerated by the noble Lord, Lord Jacques. Amendments No. 11(A) and the consequential Amendments by the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, cover the debate upon the five-mile zone. Amendment No. 11(B) concerns the small ports and will be dealt with by my noble friend Lord Lyell.

It was clear from the debate before we adjourned that we felt very strongly about the public inquiry and the issues that were raised by such far-reaching changes in legislation as are proposed in the Bill. If we felt strongly about that, we feel a great deal more strongly—if that is possible—about the question of the five-mile zone. This formula derives from a relatively innocent attempt to solve a dispute within the London docks region. It theoretically gives to the Scheme which the Secretary of State is empowered under the Bill to propose, the possibility of declaring virtually every part of the British Isles, and all activities in this connection that take place within the British Isles, as if they were a dock area. It is this part of the Scheme which has caused such outside consternation, as we have seen. I am not talking simply of the political objections of my political Party, but the contentious area of one set of unions, one set of workers, feeling that their jobs and their livelihoods may be threatened by a Bill which is fundamentally drawn up to privilege another group of workers.

As I said, the reason for the five-mile limit is clear. It was originally proposed by the Bristow Committee in connection with London. That limit has now been extrapolated from London and applied to the whole country, and that is what we object to. What we now have, and in my contention in this Committee what we need to discuss, is a kind of map, not so much of a corridor but of an envelope around the whole of Britain, an envelope of five miles which at times extends into the heart of the country. I would remind the noble Lord who is to reply to this debate that this envelope would become even more sinister should there be such a thing as a national dock strike, because the five-mile envelope would effectively become a five-mile picketed or "no go" area through which port transport activities could not take place.

Those of you in the Committee who heard my earlier remarks will not, I think, believe of me that my objections to this legislation stem from any kind of desire to criticise or to clobber the dock workers. I have just mentioned the possibility of a national dock strike. I should be the first to acknowledge that the record in strikes of the docklands and dock workers is extremely good. It has been one of the better areas in our national industrial relations picture, if you take the long term—if you take a 50-year term. But there is no crime, no sin, in conducting a strike should you feel yourself, whether rightly or wrongly, forced to do so. What one is concerned with is not to limit the possibilities for strike action on the part of dockers but to limit it to their dispute and their profession.

It is often given out in Parliament, in the political system, in the media, that strike action takes place between groups of workers and some national establishment—employers, Parliament, Government, different political persuasions, or the like. In fact anybody with the smallest knowledge of British industrial relations knows that the vast majority of industrial disputes exists between one group of unions or workers and another. There are two points I am here contending: on the one hand this Bill is liable to increase the possibility of such inter-union disputes; and on the other hand that, as we feel may happen, should this happen the dockers will be put in a near monopoly position of the corridor which is being suggested.

I have studied as carefully as I can the Government's case for doing this. I have read what the then Minister of State, Mr. Booth, said in Committee on this issue, and we must be very aware that he is now the Secretary of State and formally responsible not only for the Bill but for the issues underlying it. I have no personal knowledge of the present Secretary of State but I know what his career has been and I know what I read. I have always thought of him as a very honest and very dedicated Parliamentary politician and someone whom, given one's political disagreements with him, one would be much more prone to respect than to have misgivings about. But in his attitude on the five-mile limit—and I accept that he is not the parent of the Bill but that his predecessor was—he displays a kind of humourless genius.

Noble Lords may be aware that at pressent there is a very successful play on in London by Tom Stoppard which deals with the attempts of a Parliamentary Committee to cope with the love lives of Members of the House of Commons. You would have to go to that play which is a talented piece of satire to find comparable language to that which the then Minister of State, now the Secretary of State, has been churning out in respect of his attempts to try to define the zones in this Bill. May I quote him? He says: The problems of determining precise boundaries of any harbour or dock estate can be quite considerable and have given rise to a number of the problems under the present Scheme where dock work is usually defined as particular types of operation within the port area or the vicinity of the port. That is the major reason why it has been considered necessary to use the mean high water mark as the point from which the five-mile limit should run rather than from ports or harbours. He goes on: We have checked a number of existing ports to give some guidance to the Committee about the effect of using this criterion. We are obliged now "— the British Government is "obliged now" in the Secretary of State's words— to use the metric depth of 6.1 metres as the test mark. Poole would not qualify as it is 5.5 metres, nor would Gloucester at 3.5 metres. Western Point at 4.6 metres would not qualify nor Anderton Depot, Goole, which varies in depth at the harbour mouth from 5.2 metres to 5.5 metres; Boston, King's Lynn or Lowestoft likewise. This is a case where the harbour-mouth depth in metres would act as a barrier. The idea of the future of the careers of the dockland community and of industrial relations as they are affected by dockland activities in this country being in the hands of a Secretary of State wandering round the coastline of England with a plumb measure really beggars description. It would mean that a major revision to this Bill may be necessary should there be some untoward silting up of an East Coast port. One would have to be trained less in contemporary drama than in St. Thomas Aquinas to follow this as a credible criterion for laying down where the writ of dockland activities should run.

I can imagine and believe that many of the Committee can imagine what might be said on this issue by noble Lords opposite were our positions reversed and we were in Government. I can imagine the noble Lord who is to reply to this debate saying, "My Lords, this is not the way to deal with industrial relations", or, "This is a typical Tory legalistic way of dealing with industrial relations". He would say, "You should not introduce the law into this delicate area of one union's relationship with another", or he might go on: "Have we not all learned from 1971, 1972 and 1973 that the law has no role in establishing the delicate relationship between one union and another, one group of workers and another".

I come to this next issue of the enormous potential for inter-worker disputes, inter-union disputes, which as we know lies at the heart of many of Britain's industrial relations difficulties and which is potentially created by the creation of this zone. I do not know whether your Lordships are familier with the phrase "Banana Seven". It sounds to my untutored ears rather like the name of a progressive "rock" group. In fact, it is a group of workers engaged in unloading bananas at the Geest plant in Barry. Because of comparable legislation, because of these attitudes, the employers were forced to continue to pay two groups of workers, one unloading the bananas and one which felt entitled to unload the bananas, in order to maintain industrial peace.

I would ask the Committee whether this is the way to improve our economic position at this time. We feel that the Bill can create disputes between one union and another as to who should handle work, and that there may well be a fertile area for disputes within the TGWU itself between the dockers' section and the non-dockers' section: that is what we have seen with the "Banana Seven" at Barry. These problems, I would contend, arise if work is to be reclassified as dockwork if, as we shall see later, an extension register is established and if vacancies occur on existing premises. We believe this will give rise to a fertile area for disputes. Will the Transport and General Worker member be allowed to take any vacancy that might occur? Will Lord Allen's USDAW insist on joining that union? Will the USDAW say it will not have him because he is a Transport and General member? All these possibilities for the proliferation of industrial disputes will continue, and the collective agreement may not cover the point of the closed shop, which again would mean that there would be the insertion of a Transport and General member. It may make it worse if two sections of that union, as I have suggested, are involved.

Your Lordships may think I am straying into rather technical areas of inter-union disputes—and I do not myself dispute that these can and do happen, because it is part of ordinary industrial relations, even in a country like Germany, where the industrial relations record is better than ours—but what will be the effect on the ways in which we earn our living? Let us take the contentious area where airports arc affected by legislation of this kind, even though it is primarily aimed at docklands.

An honourable friend of mine in another place who sits for a Scottish scat is very worried about the concern expressed to him by employees at Aberdeen Airport, and employees and employers in the oil industry who rely on helicopters plying out of Aberdeen for so many of their suppliers. I quote now from what he said in Committee in another place: The oil rigs are absolutely dependent on supplies, many of which come within the restrictions and criteria we have mentioned. Upon these oil rigs depend our oil development, and uncertainties are rife in those areas. May I also in passing refer to our former debate. That is again one of the reasons why we think the public inquiry route, the existing route, is the best one. If your Lordships think that I am simply citing in my own support one of my own political persuasion, may I call to my aid the right honourable gentleman the Member for Orkney and Shetlands who commands almost universal respect in this Chamber as he does in another place—


If the noble Earl will forgive my intervention, I think it is a rule in this Chamber that one can only quote verbatim what a Minister has said. One can paraphrase what other Members in another place say; but I think I am right in saying that one can quote from the official record only what a Minister has said.

The Earl of GOWRIE

I think the noble Lord may well have required that I stand corrected on that. I will use my powers of paraphrase, such as they are, in relating what Mr. Grimond said. He pointed out that freight charges were by far the biggest burden which his constituency has to bear, and that he felt an unsuitable proportion of these charges was in fact due to dock charges. He went on to say he believed that oil servicing was being affected by restrictive practices of dockers in the area and by the expenses of moving them around. He gave as an instance the case in which a mini-bus had to be sent to unload a parcel and that the act of unloading was done by 15 dockworkers. I would emphasise, as I said earlier, that this is not an attempt to criticise, to clobber or attack people who are engaged in the valuable and legitimate activity of dock unloading, but we are aware on all sides of this Chamber that restrictive practices take place throughout British industry. We are arguing at this moment that this kind of legislation will encourage that situation to an even greater extent.

I have dealt with the possibilities created by this legislation for inter-union disputes. We do not have to be very sophisticated politically to know that there have been right royal battles between the Transport and General Workers' Union and the National Union of Railwaymen about this proposed Bill; and the fact that some of those disputes have been hushed up does not detract from their seriousness. It seems strange to many of us that a union like the National Union of Railwaymen, which has long experience of seeing the road haulage industries "stealing" their traffic, may not be encouraged by this legislation to demand that certain types of road haulage should become a monopoly of their union. I, for one, pay tribute to their restraint so far in not having made that sort of claim, but I doubt whether that present position can go on indefinitely.

It is part of our thesis on the Bill that it is highly divisive within the trade union movement itself. I am conscious that at present—though this position may not continue for very long—it is difficult for a Conservative Member of another place or of your Lordships' House to make appeals for support among union members. In our media-orientated and media-conscious civilisation, the breakdown in relations that occurred in 1974 will take a long time to die. I recognise that, as a political realist. But that does not stop my expressing the view—which is supported from the sources of information I have from elsewhere—that the General and Municipal Workers' Union, the Union of Shop Distributive and Allied Workers and branches of the Transport and General Workers' Union itself, are in fact bitterly opposed to many aspects of the Bill and would like to see it modified.

The next debate we shall have, introduced by my noble friend Lord Lyell, will deal with the effects of this zone on islands and small ports. I believe that my noble friend Lord Mottistone, if he is in his place, will have something to say about the effects of this legislation on the Isle of Wight. Scottish Members in another place have been most incensed by the possible effect on the Western Isles, and again my noble friend will have something to say about that. Therefore, in trying to deal with the zone argument, we are not pre-empting what we may later say about the effects on small ports. This is extremely serious, because a mixed economy like ours—and I do not use that in a political sense, but in a commercial sense—which produces a great variety of goods on a small scale as well as on a large scale, is utterly dependent on casual labour and small ports for exporting local produce and helping to contain our balance-of-payments problems. We are concerned that this legislation will hit small ports and their activities very hard, as I think the next degate will show.

I should like to pay tribute, as others have done before in industrial relations matters concerning dockers, to the late Observer correspondent, Mr. David Wilson who, sadly, was killed in an accident two or three years ago. He wrote an important book called Dockers: the Impact of Industrial Change. What he said at page 49 of that book is as relevant today as it was when he wrote it. He was referring to the idea of a corridor. Saving the presence of the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, I think I may quote an author, if not an ordinary Member of another place. This is what he said: Employers feared that they might have to dismiss their own staff to take on dockers in the corridor and that wage inflation and all the worse aspects of dockland's industrial relations would follow. Working men were also worried because it affected their job rights, and the GTWU branch of the London International Freight Terminal at Stratford East threatened to tear up their union cards and join the National Union of Railwaymen en bloc if dockers entered their depots. We understand the Social Contract, and with qualifications, we respect it, but we do not say that it can gloss over the fact that these anxieties remain. Very little has changed and the anxieties of people working in the cold storage depots, which I cited in the last debate, for example, are heightened by having this rigid five-mile zone.

Again I am trying on purpose not simply to list to the Committee the objections of my own political Party to this legislation, although they are legion and strong. If I may paraphrase, as I think I must, an argument used by a Labour Member in another place, on the Floor of the House he asked the Secretary of State who invented the five-mile limit; he would not take any credit himself, or on the part of the union he represented, for this invention; he found it arbitrary and pointless; he was able to trace, as we all can trace, its origins to a particular dispute in London, but he contested that what was good for London was necessarily good for the rest of the country. And this is the strong part of our case.

To sum up, our Amendments, and those related to it in Schedule 3, seek to improve a controversial Bill. We consider that our proposals offer a practical alternative to the concept of the five-mile cargo handling zone, one which will be acceptable at least to those who work within the docks industry. The Amendments observe the ambition or philosophy which is apparent behind the Bill, to use the words of my noble friend Lord Mansfield at Second Reading, but they seek to achieve the aims of the Bill in a fairer and more comprehensive manner.

One of the aims of the Dock Work Regulation Bill is to improve the terms of the 1967 Dock Workers Employment Scheme in order to provide greater job opportunities for registered dock workers and to regain the traditional dock work that has moved away from the docks. The Bill sets about doing this by extending the range of work which is classifiable as dock work by means of this zone. Our view is that the extent to which the provisions of the present Bill will achieve this aim is far from clear, for as yet the Government have not published any estimate of the number of businesses and employees that would come within the Dock Labour Scheme. In this connection I would recommend that the Committee should cast its mind back to the point made by my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn when he said that we cannot deal by Affirmative Resolution with matters which normally would be dealt with by a Green Paper.

There can be no doubt, however, that a blanket extension of dock work to cover coastal and inland areas in addition to recognised ports would bring within the proposed Live-mile cargo handling zone many premises, some of which are far from the sea and have never been connected with dock work in any way. Such businesses would undoubtedly suffer from the restrictions of the Dock Labour Scheme, and they could face the prospect of labour surplus to their requirements being allocated by the local Dock Labour Boards. Their employees would also be faced with problems arising from being placed on the extension register, with which we shall deal later, which could be regarded as being less favourable than their previous conditions of employment. This point is often missed when the safeguarding of dock workers' rights is considered.

In our efforts to produce a rational alternative to the geographical concept of a cargo handling zone we have been in contact with representatives of both employers and employees who would be affected by the Dock Work Regulation Bill. These consultations have disclosed that the key requirement is for a pragmatic definition of the terms "dock work" and "cargo", allied to a clear definition of the phrase "port or vicinity of the port", as used in the 1967 Act. Thus, we believe that our Amendments will achieve what is required, and we suggest that they provide a much more practical and constructive alternative to the cargo handling zone concept that so damagingly is being pressed by the Government.

8.25 p.m.


When the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, began his speech there was a little confusion as to the exact scope of the debate that he was suggesting we should undertake. I gathered from his speech that he was covering Amendments Nos. 10 and 11A and that he would wish to leave for our next debate the question of small ports. I wonder whether I may ask the noble Earl whether I am right in making that assumption?

The Earl of GOWRIE

Yes, the noble Lord is quite right.


Then I will tailor my remarks accordingly. I have a number of reasons why I hope that the Committee will oppose the suggestion that the five-mile limit should be taken out of the Bill and the half-mile limit put in its place. However, before I move to those arguments, may I make one or two comments on the speech to which we have just listened. In his opening remarks the noble Earl did what I think was done by a number of his noble friends at Second Reading and, indeed, what has been done in newspapers and in many ways since the Bill was introduced. That is to say, the noble Earl has referred to the five-mile limit as though there were going to be an automatic extension of the classification to all jobs remotely connected with the docks within five miles of the coasts of these Islands. That is not the case, as was explained at Second Reading, and as, if need be, will be explained by my noble friend Lord Jacques when we come to later clauses of the Bill.

The second claim made by the noble Earl was that this five-mile zone will hinder rather than help industrial peace—that it will cause inter-union disputes rather than remove them. First, may I repeat a point which I made at Second Reading in relation to the suggestion that this Bill is the source of great inter-union conflict. I made the point then that different unions had different views about the Bill, particularly in its unamended form when first it arrived in the other place, but that the Transport Industries Committee of the Trades Union Congress had subsequently issued a document, signed by 12 unions involved in working in and near the docks, expressing unanimous support for the Bill. Indeed, I believe that disputes are more likely to arise if we do not have the kind of machinery which the Bill provides to enable careful consideration of the work around the docks of this country, a planned approach to it and classification after full consultation with the organisations that are representative of the workers concerned. Therefore, I believe that the opposite is true with regard to the point made by the noble Earl concerning industrial peace.

The third point that I should like to make relates to the noble Earl's quotation of what was said by Mr. Albert Booth and his quotations at some length of the various ports and measurements. First, may I thank him for his personal references to Mr. Booth. I have the advantage of knowing him personally, and I assure the noble Earl that what he has gleaned about Mr. Booth from afar or through reading is entirely borne out by the character of the man. I was therefore a little sorry that the noble Earl went on somewhat to poke fun, particularly since the poking fun was entirely ill placed. The various depths of 3.5 metres and the others that the noble Earl quoted, and the various ports that would be excluded under these plumbing measurements that the noble Earl referred to, do not prove that Mr. Booth was absurd. He was using those measurements in relation to an Amendment moved by one of the noble Earl's honourable friends.

The Earl of GOWRIE

My honourable friends are not so silly as to be incapable of moving Amendments to show up the absurdity of the Secretary of State's position. It was exactly what they did in that instance.


They were putting forward an Amendment somewhat similar to some that we shall be coming to later, and it was Mr. Booth's purpose in quoting those to show how absurb the Amendment was.

It is important, in our view, that this Amendment should be rejected. The suggestion that the five-mile corridor should be done away with and that there should be a different kind of measurement, of which the half-mile limit is the principal part, are two provisions that we believe are quite unacceptable. The proposed distance of half a mile is far too short for practical purposes. The Bristow Report, to which the noble Earl has referred, proposed that work of the sort accepted as dockers' work should be done by registered dockers if it was done up to five miles from the waterside. That was, I think we all agreed, the origin of the five-mile proposal, and the employers concurred in that conclusion.

The Earl of GOWRIE

In London.


Yes, in London. The union representatives at that point were urging a wider corridor, of ten miles, I believe. It is quite true, as the noble Lord has interjected, that the Bristow Report was concerned only with London, but the principle was established by the Bristow Report and I think it is clearly of more general application. There is nothing very special about London.

Baroness SEEAR

I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord, but how can a quantitative measurement be a principle?


It is, as I explained on the Second Reading, the first test under which work will be classified. It is the first hurdle, if you like, and there are other hurdles which need to be leapt over before a particular job or group of jobs can be classified as dock work. I will not necessarily argue whether it is a principle or not, but it is a first good practical test. I would put it that way, perhaps, rather than as a principle. Although the Conservative Government at that time did not implement the Report, there have been examples, for instance, at the Aintree Groupage Terminal in Liverpool, which is some four miles from the waterfront, where registered dock workers have since been employed by industrial agreement. There are many other places where work which effectively replaces work formerly done by registered workers is done well over half a mile away from the docks. So it seems clear that the half-mile limit is not enough and that the five-mile limit suggested by Bristow seems to be about right. I will accept the noble Lady's point: it is not a principle; it is a pragmatic decision, but on the basis of pragmatism it does, in our judgment, seem to be about the right measurement.

The noble Earl's Amendment relies on harbours and the half-a-mile from a harbour. It is not considered that it would be practicable to limit the area within which work can be classified to an area, of whatever extent, within a given distance from harbours or harbour land. The reason is that the exact limits of harbours and harbour land at any particular harbour may not always be known without doubt, even at any given point of time, and the limits of harbour land will change over time, because harbour land is defined in the 1964 Act as land adjacent to a harbour and occupied wholly or mainly for the purposes of activity there carried on. In other words, premises could come within the scope, not because of deliberate policy under decision by both Houses of Parliament, as is the case with the proposed cargo-handling zone, but simply because the harbour authority had decided to add another acre or so to its existing holding. Moreover, the information the areas of harbours and harbour land is certainly not information which is generally accessible, whereas the mean high-water mark at any particular place can be determined from an Ordnance Survey map.

Those are the reasons why we believe the five-mile limit to be a practical one and why we believe the suggestion put forward in the Amendment of linking it to harbours and imposing a limit of half a mile should not be accepted by the Committee.

8.38 p.m.

Viscount SIMON

We from these Benches would certainly wish to support the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, in this Amendment, because we feel that the wide extension of the area in which decisions may be taken to classify work really makes the situation far too difficult for anyone engaged in this sort of business to appreciate fully. I accept from the noble Lord, Lord Oram, that there is no automatic extension, but to talk about a corridor all the way round the coasts of England, Scotland, and Wales really seems to me absolutely ridiculous. All of that area is then subject to the possibility that some installation within it will be classified.

I raised on Second Reading the question of whether it was possible to find out in advance whether if one put up an installation in that area it would or would not be classified, and I think the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, trying as always to be helpful, said, if I heard him right, that a person wanting to do this could judge by seeing what had been done in other cases; but I do not think we can rely on decisions taken by successive Secretaries of State to be always consistent with each other. It seems to me that under the present system it would be impossible to develop any warehousing business in this enormously long corridor with any certainty that one would be able to operate it under the conditions that are contemplated.

In speaking to the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, the noble Lord mentioned this question of the Secretary of State's being—as those of us who have had the privilege of knowing something about it know—a very sound person, but it does not follow that everybody who becomes Secretary of State later on is going to be so. I do not say we are legislating for an absolute fool to be Secretary of State, but without knowing who the Secretary of State will be, and the personal qualities of the present Secretary of State really do not come into the picture at all. The noble Lord went on to say—and I was interested to hear this—what had been done at the Aintree depot. That shows that without any limit at all arrangements can be made by ordinary industrial negotiation—which I understand noble Lords opposite favour—without reference to legislation, as they were, to establish work at the Ainree depot 4½ miles from Liverpool by registered dockers. If that can be done there, it can be done anywhere else where there is a case to be made, and I am surprised that the Party opposite, who have pledged themselves so much against legislation in dealing with industrial relations, should think that in this matter the queston as to whether or not registered dockers should be employed in a particular installation is a matter for legislation rather than negotiation. Why we should not have free negotiation and see what the result is?

I take the point which the noble Lord has made that it is difficult perhaps in all cases to reckon distances from harbour or harbour land, and perhaps there might be some possibility of some kind of adjustment there; but I certainly think that whatever centres are taken from which the measurement should go they cannot and should not be points on the sea which are miles from any harbour and which have nothing whatever to do with the handling of cargo. Consider a place like Littlehampton, which is certainly more than 5 miles from Shoreham. There are lots of pieces of our coastline which are miles from any harbour, and it seems to me to have no sense at all to think that these should be included in the zone. The noble Lord says that of course it does not follow that there will be an automatic extension. But think of the amount of work that is going to be put on the new Dock Labour Board in examining every proposal within this zone! Surely it is much easier to eliminate those enormous areas in the zone which in no conceivable circumstances could be the site of industrial enterprises of this kind. Why not take them all out? That is what the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, is suggesting in this Amendment.

I do not myself see at all why it is necessary or even useful to draw this enormous zone. We shall be coming later, I know, to talk about the small ports, but basically the problem—and I know there is a problem; I have worked with the Port of London and I know a good deal about the problem there—is about business which is transferred from within the port limits to just outside. But that does not apply at all to most of the country; it applies only to the periphery of an existing port, and it should be perfectly easy, as I see it, by way of ordinary industrial negotiation to determine where the line shoud be drawn in and around any particular port.

Even if this Amendment were accepted and the line were drawn half a mile round the port area, it would still be open, as we have already said, for negotiations to take place and for a warehouse outside that area to be manned by registered dock workers. So we warmly support this Amendment and hope that we shall be able to make some progress with the Government before we have finished the Committee stage.


May I elaborate on only one point that my noble friend Lord Simon has made. I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Oram, will agree that within the proposed five-mile zone there will be hundreds, even thousands, of employers carrying out work which corresponds to the work liad down in Part I of Schedule 3 as being work which may be classified. It must be of crucial importance to those employers to know whether the work is going to be classified or not in their particular place of employment because industrial decisions of great importance will turn upon that.

As I understand the Bill in its present form, if such an employer's work is not classified, does not come within the Scheme as at first drawn up, there remains power under Clause 5(9) under which the Secretary of State: … may from time to time make orders amending the new Scheme (either generally or in relation to one or more dock labour scheme areas), or altering the boundaries of any such area; and the powers of this section include power to consolidate the whole or any part of the Scheme as amended… That means, as I understand it, that at any time in the future an employer who has found that his work is not classified under the original Scheme may find that the work has subsequently been classified.

May I therefore ask the noble Lord, Lord Oram, if he agrees that the knowledge as to whether one's work is to be classified is of crucial importance to an employer, whether there is any way under the Bill in which an employer in the five-mile zone will ever know for certain that the work carried out at his place of employment is not going to be classified?

8.46 p.m.


I should like to explore just a little further this question of the history of the five-mile zone. My noble friend Lord Gowrie took it back to the Bristow Report, and this was generally agreed by the noble Lord, Lord Oram; but I would suspect it went back further than that, because was it not in 1962—and I am quoting now the late lamented Mr. Wilson about whom my noble friend talked—that on the American East Coast they first had this idea of zones of 50 miles? I suspect that Bristow, and perhaps the trades union members, who I understand were asking for 10 miles, got their idea from the Americans who asked for 50 miles and got it. But they got it for a coastline which is vastly more extensive than ours, for a country where the distance from one side to the other is 3,000 miles instead of about 100. And they got it only for containers in relation to a particular side of the business, whereas this Bill, if it is not amended, will cover a much wider area than just containers, and, what is more important, than just the jobs of the people who deal with containers.

So I suspect that we can really say that the origins of this five-mile limit, which horrifies anybody who looks at it reasonably dispassionately, are American. And when one remembers the rather scornful remarks of noble Lords opposite at the time of the Industrial Relations Act 1971, not to mention their friends and advisers in the Trades Union Congress, about importing American ideas into their Act of Parliament, and how later they went out of their way rather unreasonably to defeat it, one feels that it is a question perhaps not of the pot calling the kettle black, but of the pot making the kettle black in this particular connection, and that it really is a rather mythical beginning.

I believe, as I said in Second Reading, that one must have great sympathy for the dockers because of their past history. I suppose it sounds patronising and insulting, but I really believe that. I think also that if I were a docker I would think, "Aha, now is my moment; my Government are in power. What can I get? I can get practically anything because they all know that I can stop food coming into the country to a large extent now, let alone what more I can do. I can get much more power". Indeed, I suspect that if the Bench of the right reverend Prelates were given the potentiality of power that the dockers are promised, they too, for all their clerical leanings, would seek to get this sort of power.

The whole thing has, as it were galloped ahead by various inquiries, American precedents and one thing and another, and it has ended in a five-mile extension. The noble Lord, Lord Oram, says that it is not automatic; you cannot think of it that way; it is a wrong conception of a five-mile zone all round the country. Of course, he is absolutely right; it is not like that and, as he says, it is only to be put into effect in careful stages, even under the Bill before it has been improved. That is absolutely true. But if it is not frightfully important to have the powers there, why put them in? That is the point.

I think the Government, encouraged by a false idea of power, have captured a whole lot of past myths, added them together, jumbled them into this Bill and produced a potentially horrifying situation for the ordinary citizen. I am not really speaking about myself. I will not waste your Lordships' time at this stage because I shall be putting this argument more fully on Amendment No. 11B, but I have spoken to people who work in small ports and who were scared stiff. I have also spoken to people who are in quite different types of employment and whose fears after they have got to hear about this Bill I have personally sought to allay. One cannot blame it entirely on the Press. The fact is that if ever there was a case of trying to pass sledge-hammer legislation to crack a nut, this is it. It is a monstrous sledge hammer, because although there are all sorts of safeguards to make sure that it will not drop with a bang at the wrong moment and engulf some part of the country to which it does not apply, it is there, and it will always be there.

The noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, indicated that sort of thing, and therefore what we are saying in this Amendment is, "Don't be so greedy". I mentioned that word rather cautiously in my Second Reading speech, but I really think it is a question of being greedy to establish a power situation from which the rest of us cannot "get from under". Even if there are safeguards, we all know, with the greatest respect, that we cannot rely on assurances which are given from a Front Bench today when in three or four years' time there may be a different Front Bench. It might even he us—who knows? You might not be able to trust us, in another sort of way. Don't, for heaven's sake, give the reigning Government more power than is necessary. It seems to me that it is quite ridiculous by means of a false historical background to create that sort of situation.

In his final point, the noble Lord, Lord Oram, said that the five-mile cargo handling zone laid down in an Act of Parliament was better because at least you knew where you were—although I think I have slightly indicated that we do not, because the threat is quite monstrous if carried to its logical conclusion. I am sure it would not be, but just suppose it were. He said that was better than having a system whereby the harbour land could be extended arbitrarily—from the point of view of Parliament—by a local port authority and thereby effectively make a widening of what would potentially be in our Amendment, without Parliament having any say in the matter. I am not sure that that is not a bad thing in these days. Surely there is too much centralisation of Government, and when we come to harbours and people working around them, actual dockers and other people, if you bring the law into it—and noble Lords opposite have said this—workpeople will be in conflict.

If we have this situation, is it not better that it should be handled on a local basis? And if a local port authority thinks it would be wiser to extend the harbour limits of, say, Liverpool, is it not better that it should be done locally rather than by a blanket instruction from the centre, put into effect by the Secretary of State? Do you not think that that, coupled with the ability of the Secretary of State to intervene which is still left in this Bill, coupled with the public inquiry system, which at least makes sure that there is public argument about the things which matter, is really a better balance than trying to have an arbitrary sort of limit which frightens everybody and indeed threatens them? There is no reason at all why the Secretary of State should not use his powers under the Bill, if it is not amended in the way we say, to make sure that it is only dock registered jobs which function in (shall we say?) Winchester, if it so happened that somebody was unwise enough to build a cold store within the precincts of the city of Winchester.

That is a load of rubbish and surely we ought to think more about the individual views of people rather than what power we can gain for a particular group of people who happen to have been badly treated in the past and who now have in power a Government who are sympathetic to them. Is it not better to go slowly; to go at the pace that all of us can live at, rather than rushing it along and creating a great big bogey which will frighten all of us and probably in the end would not be put into effect properly?

8.58 p.m.


There were one or two points during the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, when I was encouraged to think that I had made some progress, particularly when he was expounding, with commendable clarity, if I may say so, on the points that I had been trying to make that the five-mile zone does not imply automatic classification within the five-mile zone of all work connected remotely with dock work. I am sure that when he see his words in Hansard they will be well worth studying, and I hope they will be given the publicity for which the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, was earlier asking.

The Earl of GOWRIE

I am so sorry; I am afraid my voce was not sufficiently sotto. All I said during the noble Lord's speech, to myself really and I did not mean it to be heard, was nor will the classifications necessarily extend within the half-mile limit. It is quite even between the two.


It is not automatic; I have the noble Earl with me on that point.


Perhaps the noble Lord will allow me to have my little say in the matter, and that is to hope that the further remarks will also be included in any publicity which is given to my remarks.


I was about to comment on some of those remarks. The noble Lord went on to say what a pity it was that these decisions were not going to be made locally rather than by some nationally imposed scheme. This is not the way in which it will work in practice. Information and opinion, facts and figures, will be fed in from the locality and the Board will take in the views, the decisions, the opinions and the fact of the locality in drawing up the national scheme; so it is not some super-scheme being bureaucratically imposed from above. It is in fact the case, as I said in my earlier intervention, that this five-mile zone is but the starting point for a process of careful consideration before classification takes place.

The noble Viscount, Lord Simon, said that the corridor was ridiculous, using language of a more violent kind than one usually expects from the noble Viscount. It is far from ridiculous. It is the first criterion in a series of criteria which will enable a planned extension of the Dock Labour Scheme to take account of modern developments. I thought I had the noble Viscount with me on this point on Second Reading. I remember he intervened and said that he agreed that the Dock Labour Scheme needs bringing up to date. I am glad that he still takes that view. That is what we are doing. We believe that because of technical changes in dock work, a properly planned extension of the Scheme is needed, and that will be brought about within the five-mile corridor.

Viscount SIMON

If the noble Lord, Lord Oram, will give way for a moment, what I meant to say and did say was that I thought the Scheme needed amendment. I think a properly worked out amendment of the Scheme is necessary, but I do not think that this is a properly worked out amendment of the Scheme.


I recognised on Second Reading that the noble Viscount was not going all the way with me, but he was admitting that the Scheme is out of date and that action is necessary to bring it up to date. Of course, we differ as to what kind of action is necessary, but I am sure that we are together on the need for action.

The only other point I need reply to is that raised by the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, who raised the difficulty—and I admit it is a difficulty—about businessmen anywhere within the zone suffering from uncertainty because of the provision that the noble Lord read out from Clause 5, combined with the corridor provision. There will, of course, always be some element of uncertainty, but at the point when the Scheme has been produced, a good deal of uncertainty will be removed from a large number of businessmen. The variations which might subsequently take place I believe will be quite rare and quite small, so a degree of certainty will arrive when the Scheme has been promulgated and approved. But I fully accept that there will continue to be uncertainty for businessmen.


The effect, of course, is that the Secretary of State wants to take power to extend the Scheme outside the five-mile zone.


Yes; for good and appropriate reasons. The uncertainty which will face businessmen must be seen against the history of dock labour as a whole. I indicated that I represented a constituency which is an important part of dockland in London. The uncertainty which the dockers suffered throughout their history was a far worse uncertainty than anything that any businessmen are likely to suffer under this Bill.

The main purpose of the Bill is to build upon the Dock Labour Scheme which the dockers treasure as the means whereby they were taken out of the dreadful conditions from which they suffered in history, into a better state of life. It is right that they should want this Scheme, upon which their welfare so much depends, to be extended and modernised. So I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, that there will be uncertainty, but at the same time a great deal of heartrending uncertainty will be removed.


I think the Committee will respect the feelings of the noble Lord, Lord Oram, and the sincerity with which he has dealt with this problem—and it is a very difficult problem—from personal experience. But surely at the present time we ought to be doing everything we possibly can to encourage investment and modernisation. Admittedly, in the past the dockers have experienced great uncertainty, but the effect of engendering uncertainty in business at the present time is to prevent investment and modernisation. One just will not get investment and modernisation if uncertainty is created. That is the first matter that must be borne in mind.

The noble Lord used a very carefully balanced phrase when he said that what the Government are aiming for is the planned extension of the Dock Labour Scheme to take account of modern developments. That is really saying that dock labour to some extent has been circumvented by people with initiative who are anxious to enable our goods to be more cheaply sold abroad and exported, and our imports to be brought in more cheaply to this country, by reducing the cargo handling charges. This is what they have done, and now the proposition is, because they have conferred this benefit on the country, their employees, and they themselves perhaps, are going to have their jobs taken away and handed over to someone else. This cannot be right. It cannot ever be right, unless the word "substitution" is used in the Bill.


On what grounds does the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, say that people are going to have their jobs taken away and someone else put in their place? On what grounds does he say that? Where is the evidence for that?


If this is not so, how is it that the noble Lord was able to say, in answer to a previous Amendment of mine, that dock workers would be transferred from places where there was no work to places where there was work? That can be done only by creating vacancies. The vacancies may well be created—I do not say in every case, but they may well be created by displacing people who are at present doing jobs which are not classified when those jobs are then to be classified. The noble Lord cannot deny that.


What my noble friend was saying was that we may get some circumstances in which there is a surplus of registered dockers at one place and a deficiency at another, and some of the surplus would be given the opportunity of going to the other place where there is work. They are not taking somebody else's work; they are going to fill vacancies which exist. I think the noble Lord made an unfair and unreasonable statement, because there is no evidence to support it.


There is no evidence because we have not yet started on the Scheme. We shall have to see how it works out. But very grave suspicions are widely held throughout the country on this; many people are in fear of losing their jobs to dockers and being replaced by them. The noble Lord cannot get away from that. We shall have to see how it works out. The noble Lord may be right or wrong; he may be right in some cases and wrong in others.

When any industry declines, there is always a temptation for those in authority to try to export their own unemployment, so to speak, by encroaching on the preserves of others. I am not in favour of preserves or shut-out situations and such like, but a man who is in a job and doing a job is entitled to keep it as long as there is a job to keep. If he belongs to a union he is entitled to go on belonging to that union so long as it remains in existence. It is not right to force people to switch from one union to another merely on the basis of some dogma, or five-mile zone. I remember that in a previous transport Bill an attempt was made to switch trade from the road to the rail. That proposal was dropped; it simply was not viable. Here we have a proposal for what is not at present dock work to become dock work along the lines I have suggested, in the course of taking account of modern developments. I do not think this is a reasonable or sensible proposition simply because what is proposed to be taken over is not dock work on any sensible definition.

It is very sad that so many jobs in the docks have been lost since the beginning of 1969; I believe somewhere between 24,000 and 25,000 jobs have been lost. Surely the right answer is to retrain those men for jobs that are really necessary, rather than classify some jobs artificially as dock work and then say, "Come and do that quite different job and we will call it dock work". Of course, I accept that simply because a warehouse or cold store is within the cargo-handling zone it does not follow that all the work there, or indeed any of it, will necessarily—the noble Lord says automatically, which is not quite the same thing—be classified as dock work. But it is clearly intended that all within the cargo-handling zone who have anything to do with the transport of goods are at risk.

The whole concept of a cargo-handling zone seems to be preposterous. One can say that the whole cargo-handling zone is to be a happy hunting ground for licensed poaching. In many areas there is very little to poach. Take the long indented coastlines of most of the West of Scotland and the Western Isles. Here are areas where a goodly proportion of the inhabitants have traditionally had two, three or four jobs, one of which was the handling of cargo. That is the economic way to deal with the situation. The noble Lord must not complain of ridicule about this, because the whole concept is so outrageous that I can only end by misquoting Shakespeare: This happy breed of men, This little world, This precious stone set in a cargo-handling zone. This girdle is obscene.

The Earl of GOWRIE

I think with my noble friend's words we have come to the end of this particular road. As I said on an earlier Amendment, I really think that once again the Government have made our case for us. We started by arguing both from these Benches and the Liberal Benches about the absurdities implicit in any geographical zone. Even our own Amendment has its absurdities. Of course we would rather not have the Bill in need of that particular Amendment at all, but at least half-a-mile is within sight of the sea and seems to have some sense to it. But, as was clear from the final speech of the noble Lord, Lord Oram,

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.

what is really at issue here, what is really the Government's intention, is to redress what they feel to be a present evil, or imagined evil, felt by the dock workers. If this is the case why set the limit at five miles, which in any case the Secretary of State can extend, so far as I can see, at whim? I think that my noble friends Lord Mottistone and Lord Drumalbyn, more eloquently than I can, have pointed out the absurdity, and beyond that the great danger in this section of the Bill, and I would therefore like to press my Amendment.

9.15 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 10) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 72; Not-Contents, 34.

Airedale, L. Glasgow, E. Northchurch, B.
Ampthill, L. Gowrie, E. O'Hagan, L.
Armstrong, L. Gray, L. Onslow, E.
Auckland, L. Hacking, L. Rochdale, V.
Balerno, L. Harvey of Tasburgh, L. St. Aldwyn, E.
Barrington, V. Hawke, L. St. Davids, V.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Hives, L. Salisbury, M.
Berkeley, B. Hornsby-Smith, B. Sandys, L.
Boyd of Merton, V. Inglewood, L. Seear, B.
Byers, L. Kemsley, V. Sempill, Ly.
Campbell of Croy, L. Killearn, L. Simon, V.
Carrington, L. Limerick, E. Strathclyde, L.
Clitheroe, L. Long, V. Strathmore and Kinghorne, E.
Colville of Culross, V. Lucas of Chilworth, L. Sudeley, L.
Cromartie, E. Lyell, L. Swansea, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Macleod of Borve, B. Tranmire, L.
de Clifford, L. Masham of Ilton, B. Trefgarne, L.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Merrivale, L. Tweedsmuir, L.
Deramore, L. Monck, V. Vickers, B.
Drumalbyn, L. Monson, L. Vivian, L.
Elles, B. Morris, L. Ward of Witley, V.
Elliot of Harwood, B. Mottistone, L. Wigoder, L.
Elton, L. Mowbray and Stourton, L. [Teller.] Windlesham, L.
Ferrers, E.
Gisborough, L. Newall, L.
Birk, B. Jacques, L. Peddie, L.
Blyton, L. Janner, L. Pitt of Hampstead, L.
Brimelow, L. Kagan, L. Ritchie-Calder, L.
Brockway, L. Kirkhill, L. Stedman, B. [Teller.]
Champion, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B. Strabolgi, L.
Collison, L. Lovell-Davis, L. Taylor of Gryfe, L.
Davies of Leek, L. McCluskey, L. Taylor, of Mansfield, L.
Davies of Penrhys, L. Maelor, L. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Delacourt-Smith of Alteryn, B. Melchett, L. Wells-Pestell, L.
Greenwood of Rossendale, L. Morris of Kenwood, L. Winterbottom, L. [Teller.]
Hirshfield, L. Oram, L.
Houghton of Sowerby, L. Peart, L. (L. Privy-Seal.)

I shall not call Amendment No. 11 as it has been replaced by Amendments Nos. 11A, 11B, 11C and the manuscript Amendment No. 11D. I therefore call Amendment No. 11A on the supplementary Marshalled List.

I understand that Amendment No. 11A is not moved. So I call Amendment No. 11B.

9.24 p.m.

Lord LYELL moved Amendment No. 11B: Page 4, line 12, at end insert— ("(2C) The new dock labour Scheme shall not apply to a small harbour or to any place within half a mile (in a direct line) of a small harbour, being a place which is not also within a similar distance of a harbour to which this Act applies. (2D) In subsection (2C) above "small harbour" means a harbour or wharf—

  1. (a) at which the hours worked in the twelve months ended 3rd December 1975 by a person in loading cargo into, or unloading cargo from, ships did not exceed (on being averaged with the hours so worked by other persons so engaged during that period) 1,350; or
  2. (b) which cannot, at mean high water, accommodate ships of a gross registered tonnage more than 1,000 tons;
and for the purposes of this subsection "cargo" and "ship" mean the same as in Schedule 3 to this Act.").

The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 11A not being moved, in moving this Amendment it might be for the convenience of the Committee if I were to speak at the same time to Amendment No. 11B and to the manuscript Amendment No. 11D, which is an Amendment not on the Supplementary List but which I hope is in the hands of all members of the Committee.

Amendments Nos. 11B and 11D together seek to remove the smaller ports from the Bill, and I am sure that the Committee will bear with me while I explain the many reasons behind this proposal. Noble Lords will notice that under these two Amendments there are three criteria for the exclusion from the Bill of the small or smaller ports. First, we find the criterion of the hours worked in loading or unloading cargo from a ship at the port or harbour. Secondly, there is an alternative criterion of the size of the vessel according to its gross registered tonnage. Thirdly, in the Amendment to the main Amendment, the manuscript Amendment, we have taken as a criterion for excluding other ports from the provisions of the Bill those ports which already surpass the aims of the proposed Scheme. We shall of course be touching on other aspects of this at a later stage, but, in the main, those ports in this last category have grown in importance, particularly to the local communities served by them, since the newest Scheme was incorporated in 1967.

Indeed, the Minister in another place was at pains to point out that in almost all cases the ports, the wharves or the harbours that we are discussing have complemented rather than harmed the adjoining Scheme ports. I have many examples in mind, but the Committee would not expect me or any other Lord, I hope, to have a really firm grasp of the conditions at the 395, I think it is, non-Scheme ports in the United Kingdom, or indeed of the 123 non-Scheme ports in Scotland. Noble Lords will not be surprised that the North Sea oil service traffic has made a great difference to many of the smaller ports in Scotland, and indeed in the North-East and the Eastern seaboard of England. But, of course, often new skills and techniques are needed in these ports and in this particular traffic. These new skills which have been acquired at these new ports, apart from being developed within the last five years, are constantly changing.

Perhaps the Committee would like me to consider the three criteria for excluding the small ports. The question of the gross registered tonnage of ships handled at any of the non-Scheme ports, harbours or wharves is particularly germane to the Scheme. As we shall be seeing when we come to consider Clause 5, the objects of the Scheme include reference to regularising and stabilising dock work, not to mention decasualisation. Nowhere in that clause, nor elsewhere in the Bill, can we find any reference to the conditions which ought to, and which do, pertain at the small local harbours: but in most of these the pattern of trade is sporadic, it is seasonal or, indeed, it is irregular, or sometimes it is a combination of all these. Often these patterns are determined by geographic reasons; for example, shallow waters around the harbour, or perhaps difficult access to the harbour, wharf or port by road or even by rail, or possibly even by the trade carried on in the areas which are served by such a small port.

In most of the cases that could be covered by such examples, the trade could not possibly justify the engagement of a permanent labour force to carry out dock work either loading or unloading cargo, or indeed in carrying out general work which would not come within the category of stevedoring. One example concerns a small port in North Wales where timber if often loaded. There, the traffic is sporadic; the port is too small to take ships which go beyond 1,500 gross registered tons; and indeed, the facilities for both loading and unloading are more than adequate for the traffic. The users of this port are almost entirely small transport concerns which carry goods to or from the port when the need arises. The traffic into and, indeed, out of the port is the concern of the area within a radius of approximately 30 miles from the port. What would be the point of laying down conditions whereby the Scheme applies when the work of the port is done at present by skilled workers at the appropriate times?

What would be the point of causing port users at this particular port inordinate expense when they can obtain first-class service and often of a standard envisaged by the Scheme, but provided by persons able to work elsewhere when a port cannot open or offer them this employment? What would be the point of forcing present port users to take their traffic and trade to a Scheme port when such a change would increase their costs, sometimes doubling and occasionally trebling them? No noble Lord can conceive that such is the intention of the Scheme, yet we believe this would be the effect were this port and others like it to be included under the provisions of the Scheme. Also, there arc the hours worked at others of the 390-odd non-Scheme ports. The reason that the Amendment mentions an upper limit of 1,350 hours is broadly similar to the main reason for our alteration in respect of tonnage and small vessels.

Many ports and piers, landing stages and wharves, lie in what could be called deep or less shallow waters. Yet the other conditions I mentioned are equally relevant. The pattern of traffic is either seasonal or spasmodic, it may be local or just unorthodox. There are dozens of examples to be found, particularly in Scotland or in the South-West, Devon or Cornwall, where a port or wharf or quay could be said to provide an extension of inland transport. There are cargoes of, say, bulk liquids or cement or machinery which cannot travel as cheaply by roll on-roll off methods; and these can only be loaded or unloaded, for instance, in the Western Isles of Scotland or at remote corners of the mainland, by crane or other conventional methods. This is the kind of work that the dock workers in the Scheme ports carry out; yet the periods when such work can he carried out in small ports is limited, often by tidal considerations. Clearly, to have the Scheme applied to such small ports and such places would mean that they would no longer he able to offer their existing service at current prices.

The noble Lord, Lord Jacques, never said that the intention of the Scheme was to raise prices anywhere. I think he would agree with this. If the Scheme were to apply to these small ports, quays or landing stages the service would become very inefficient and far more costly. Life is difficult and expensive enough in these areas, remote from the main stream of our life. Surely the Scheme cannot be intended to apply to islands and these remote communities. Yet we understand it is going to do exactly this, or there is a risk that it may do so.

The third category in these group of Amendments is that of ports which are at present non-Scheme ports and which are already offering to their dock workers conditions of permanent employment. The noble Lord, Lord Jacques, mentioned that the Bill seeks to end casualisation of labour forces. I believe that we have a perfect example with such ports. These ports were mentioned by the right honourable gentleman, Mr. Prior, the Member for Lowestoft in another place, at the Committee stage. He drew attention to the Lloyd Williams Report in 1960 and how it considered that very strong reasons would be needed to change the status of a particular port in this category; how the Scheme is now, and how it was then, intended to guarantee permanent employment. So far as I can understand, such conditions apply at a number of, but not all, non-Scheme ports which cannot he categorised as small.

In many of these ports the pattern of trade has changed radically since 1967 when the last Scheme was brought into operation and the pattern of trade has changed rapidly in the last three years, At many ports, other non-dock services are provided. Indeed, without these non-dock services, much of the port traffic would be inhibited. Can the Scheme be intended to choke off trade in these ports?

The arguments I have mentioned for small tonnage ports are equally relevant; namely, that much traffic at these ports is complementary to that arising from Scheme ports, and that in many cases capacity to handle such traffic at the Scheme ports is limited or indeed nonexistent, and the imposition of the Scheme at these non-Scheme ports on such a port as I have mentioned would gravely affect trade in the area served by it. I cannot believe that the Government intend the Scheme to work in this way at any of these categories of small—or shall I call them "smaller"?—ports. For this reason, I beg to move the Amendment which stands in my name.


Amendment proposed: Page 4, line 12, at end insert the words printed on the Marshalled List, to which there is an Amendment No. 11C in the name of Lord Mottistone.


I was hoping not to take Amendment No. 11C with Amendment No. 11B. With the permission of the Committee, I should like to take that after we have dealt with Amendment Nos. 11B and 11D.


The Amendments should be taken seriatim. It should be Amendment 11C and then Amendment 11D. If it is the unanimous wish of the Committee, we will take Amendment No. 11D.


I was not aware that my noble friend was going to move Amendment No. 11D with Amendment No. 11B.


I spoke to Amendment No. 11B and 11D together. I only moved, I hope, Amendment No. 11B.


That is quite correct. The noble Lord had only moved Amendment No. 11B. Once the Question has been put for the first time, one takes the first Amendment to the main Question and the first Amendment is Amendment No. 11C in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone. When that is disposed of, we take Amendment No. 11D, the Manuscript Amendment.

9.37 p.m.

Lord MOTTISTONE moved, as an Amendment to the Amendment, Amendment No. 11C:

In subsection (2D)(b), line 2, leave out ("1,000") and insert ("1,750")

The noble Lord said: According to the procedure, I must move Amendment No. 11C. I apologise for having misunderstood the procedure. This is a great pity, because I would have much rather resolved the matter and in fact I deliberately put down the Amendments in such a way that we could take the Amendment without muddling it with Amendment 11B. However, the object of Amendment No. 11C cannot be considered without my speaking to Amendment No. 11B. If your Lordships will bear with me, I will do that. I understand that it is permissible to quote front Ministers in another place, though my noble friend was taken to task when quoting from other Members of another place. Mr. Booth, the Minister of State, at column 627 of the Commons Hansard said: My right honourable friend at Second Reading in Column 264 of the Official Report indicated very clearly that small ports where satisfactory arrangements had not been devised or a permanent labour force would not be brought within the Scheme.

At a later stage, in column 663, Mr. Booth said: Honourable Members will realise that my right honourable friend and I have always made clear our belief that third party ports outside the Scheme should, unless some special circumstances apply, be brought within the Scheme. We have taken the view it cannot help the industrial relations of the industry if, because of historical accident a small but significant proportion of third party loading or unloading are subject to a different control of employment. There is no doubt that this difference has given rise to considerable difficulties and continues to give rise to difficulties".

I interpret both those quotations to mean that the Government of the day do not mean to include small ports within the Scheme under their scheme whatever the circumstances or definition of small ports may be. If that is so, it would be wise to exclude small ports by the definition given in Amendment No. 11B from the Bill. If you do not want to get somebody in, why frighten them all by having legislation which enables you to put them in? It comes back to what I was saying on Amendment No. 11A: why frighten people? You may say, "Are they frightened?" The answer is, "Yes". As my noble friend Lord Gowrie said on an earlier Amendment, I am particularly concerned with the Isle of Wight.

I have taken quite a lot of trouble to find out what people think at all levels of employment. There is absolutely no doubt about it that they are worried. They are not worried for the immediate future but for the long-term future. They are not really worried that their job will get taken over by a docker, though that is in the backs of their minds, but what they are worried about is that somehow a relatively well-ordered relationship will be upset by importing an alien form of employee into their midst in small numbers—because there are only penny numbers in the Isle of Wight of people who could be remotely described as dockers, within the Bill without amendment. But there are some that could be, and what they are worried about is that they do not want people whose interests are quite different from theirs. Therefore they would much rather that there was some protection given, so that they should not be included within the confines of this Bill.

You may say, "Well, we have got Ministerial assurances that they will not be. Is that not good enough?" Unfortunately I happen to know that this may be so in Ministerial circles, but it is not entirely so in trade union circles. It has been said to me, "Oh yes, we shall have to look at all the small ports because small ports may get to be big ports". Probably very genuinely, the established dockers have got rather frightened by the fact that non-Scheme ports have blossomed forth since one or other of the last settlements with them over the past 20 years. Perhaps they have not stopped to think why they have blossomed, and blossomed not only in the interests of the employers who operate from them and of course of the country, which has had perhaps a rather better turn round of transshipment, but also of the employees in those areas.

However, putting that on one side, I can see that they would probably be worried about some of these small ports, not necessarily in the Isle of Wight, which is rather different, because I cannot believe that we shall become a main exporting centre for the United Kingdom; the depth of water makes that rather difficult to comprehend anyhow. Forgetting that for the moment, the Amendment we are talking about will cover other areas of the country which might expand in various ways. The great thing about the Amendment is that if it does expand, if a port which has at the moment employees who are working less than 1,350 hours in the year on loading and unloading cargo, or is able to accept only 1,000 ton ships, dredges itself so that it can handle bigger ships, or builds itself wharves so that its employees can be more fully employed, the protection of this particular clause does not apply to it. I should have thought that the dockers are not threatened by this and that this is a reasonable Amendment to cover them.

I want now, with the permission of the Committee, to move on to Amendment No. 11C which I did not want to do until I had heard the Government spokesman, but I am directed by my Lord Chairman on this point. The object of Amendment 11C not being a basic part of this Amendment is that it would seem to me that against the background of trying to seek criteria for what is a reasonable port to match the implications of Mr. Booth's statement, particularly that in column 627 which I quoted, the figure of 1,750 tons would be reasonable. Perhaps the Minister would like to listen to what I have to say, because I am rather directing these remarks to him as I am going to require an answer. It would seem to me that 1,000 tons and 1,750 tons are not so very different as between one and the other in order to meet the objects expressed by Mr. Booth in column 627 which I referred to.

It might perhaps be reasonable to ask the Government at this stage whether there would be a major difference in the number of ports which would be affected by this change or whether there would either be no change at all or a quite minimal one. I have given the noble Lord, Lord Oram, notice of my question and if he can give me an answer now, so much the better. Depending on the answer which is provided by the Government, I would seek leave from your Lordships to re-introduce this Amendment No. 11C during a later stage of the Bill. However, I am hoping that the noble Lord, Lord Oram, will be able to give me a satisfactory answer to my question.

9.46 p.m.


I am afraid there seems to be a slight mix-up. I am very briefly going to mention Amendment No. 11B, but before doing that I have to make an apology to your Lordships. During the Second Reading of this Bill I mentioned, quite correctly, that I was a local director of a local cold store and that I got no remuneration. In fact, when I got back to Scotland—a long way from the Isle of Wight—I found that I get £200 a year, but the Inland Revenue will take most of it.

Having now cleared my conscience, I should like to say that I am particularly concerned with all the small ports round the Scottish coast, and particularly the port of Stornoway in the Isle of Lewis. I shall not go through my Second Reading speech again, but I should like to bring out just one or two salient points. First, in the Hebrides every single thing that is brought in in bulk has to come by sea, which makes it more expensive than on the mainland of Scotland. That, of course, is a consideration. To include ports such as Stornoway would be completely ridiculous. There is already a perfectly good arrangement where the fishermen—and the fishing is largely seasonal—are loading or unloading cargo when they are not fishing. That applies especially to the salmon netting fishermen. So if these ports were included not only would you have higher prices to be paid by the population but you would also be having to pay more in unemployment benefit to people who will be out of a job anyway. I hope very much that the noble Lord will exclude practically every port North of the Clyde ports and the Firth of Forth, with the exception of Aberdeen, right round the coast of Scotland.


I should like to support my noble friend in pleading for the small ports. The noble Lord, Lord Jacques, earlier today referred to the consultation that had taken place; but surely that consultation was with representatives of the major ports with constant cargoes—the Newcastles, the Londons and the Liverpools—and I doubt very much whether there is anybody from Devon, Cornwall or Sussex, who will be affected by the five-mile corridor, who has been consulted in any way at all as to the effect on the small ports of these new proposals for this corridor. In the debate in another place, the Government spokesman appeared to have no figures relating to the number of dockers already employed in non-Scheme ports and the number of employers in container groupings outside the dock area which would come into the proposed five-mile limit, nor to the workers who could be affected by the five-mile limit where dockers might contend that the total delivery within that limit should be undertaken by members of their union.

In answer to the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, the noble Lord sitting on the Government Front Bench said this afternoon that the increased cost would be negligible. The Ports Association, which is a very responsible body, has published various analyses of the cost effectiveness of the labour employed in many of the smaller ports in the West Country and in Wales. Those ports have tremendous local interests and by determined efforts have been made operative and viable. The small ports have provided local employment because they are organised in a flexible fashion so that the maximum use can be made of them when the tides are appropriate. Their labour is linked not only to the seasonal produce which from time to time requires possibly 40 members in a work force but also to the occasions when the tides are so low that the cargoes cannot be shipped in that area, or alternatively to the time when there are no seasonal products or no particular goods to be shipped from those ports. That flexibility would go. If those docks were taken over under the Dock Labour Scheme the maximum required number of dockers, even if they were fully employed for only three months of seasonal exports, would be entitled under the agreement to be paid for twelve, not three, months of the year. How any responsible Minister can say that this is not going to put up the costs at these small ports and put some of them out of business is beyond my comprehension.

At this late hour I do not want to go into the figures, but a most detailed analysis has been made by the Small Ports Committee of the Ports Association, based on their balance sheets, the men that they employ, the wages that they pay, the cargoes that they handle and the seasons during which they handle those cargoes. If Her Majesty's Ministers would look at this analysis they would see that to impose this scheme on those small ports would bring disaster to them. It would make them completely non-viable and put some of them out of business. These small ports serve well the smaller industries in the West Country. The West Country has several very fine industries but nobody would suggest that it is a densely industrialised area. However, it contains industries like the china clay industry which makes regular shipments, and the industry knows when and how those shipments will be made. However, the china clay industry alone could not sustain a full complement of dockers for every day that might or would apply, who would have to be paid for under the new Scheme.

I support entirely the noble Lords who have spoken. I do not believe that enough consideration has been given to these areas. I speak in particular of the West Country but I know that what I say applies equally to Scotland and Wales. It may be that some people in high office in London think that what is good for London is good for Cornwall, but you try to tell a Cornishman that!

Viscount SIMON

I should have liked to contribute to this debate but I am rather lost. I thought that we were discussing Amendment No. 11C but the last two contributions appear to have been directed to Amendment No. 11B. Has Amendment No. 11C been withdrawn?


To clarify the matter, Amendment No. 11C has been moved. It is an Amendment to No. 11B, therefore it is quite in order to discuss both together. When No. 11C has been disposed of, No. 11D will be called. That, too, is an Amendment. Finally, Amendment No. 11B will be called, as amended or not.


Perhaps I might reply to the debate so far and the noble Viscount may, if he wishes, join in afterwards.

As I think the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, indicated, these Amendments seek to exclude small ports from the provisions of the Bill by three criteria, one being the number of hours worked; the second, the size of ships; and the third, the question of a permanent labour force and the standards of employment. The Bill's approach to the question of small ports is that the National Dock Labour Board will examine the situation at each port, as provided in Clause 7, to which we shall come at a later stage, and then report its findings to the Secretary of State. As the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, pointed out, several of my right honourable and honourable friends in another place have indicated—he gave actual quotations, I think—the view that a great number of small ports dealt with in the way that the Bill proposes will, through that process, be excluded from the Scheme. I should like, if I may, to give just one further quotation in support of that. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State said on Monday, 26th July: I recognise that there arc a number of small ports which, by their geographical location, irregular nature of cargoes and a number of other factors, will not be suited to the Scheme ". —[Official Report, Commons, 26/7/76, col. 163.] So, as the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, indicated, that is the approach to the Bill of the Government, as indicated in the quotations from the Minister.

We believe that the method suggested by the Amendments is not a suitable one. To attempt to exclude work at particular ports or harbours from the possibility of being brought within the Scheme by reference to, for example, the maximum size of ship which can be accommodated or the amount of dock work done there or any other criteria of this kind, such, for instance, as the depth of the navigable channel or the periods within which ships can enter, would not be satisfactory. These are various suggestions either contained in the present Amendments or that have been brought forward in other connections. Our basic reasons for opposing criteria of this kind are that they would be likely to lead to arbitrary and indefensible distinctions between port areas which are generally of a similar character. Introducing these criteria would be invidious, in that different decisions could he made concerning ports which in other respects are generally of a similar character. Moreover, it could sometimes be difficult to determine whether or not the circumstances provided for existed.

The first criterion proposed in (2D) of Amendment No. 11B has presumably been framed to exclude ports where loading and unloading work is effectively not a full-time job, although numbers of persons may be engaged on it at certain times. Clauses 7 and 8 already provide for the Board to take this sort of consideration into account in considering whether to recommend particular work for classification by the words: whether the work … requires for its efficient performance the engagement of a permanent labour force … It is an inappropriate ground for determining the extent of the area within which work can be considered for classification. In particular, labour requirements could well change over time with the development or decline of a port. Similar considerations apply in respect of the size of a ship; the position could change over time, and the maximum size of ship which can be accommodated is not necessarily a good guide to the amount of work performed at a place.

Perhaps at this stage I might reply to the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, because he kindly gave me as much notice as it was possible for him to give—it was not great notice, but I am not blaming him for that. He indicated in his speech that his is something of a probing Amendment, in order to see whether information can be given as to the number of ports which might be additionally excluded if 1,750 were put in rather than 1,000. I am afraid that in the time that has elapsed since he spoke to me it has been impossible to get that sort of information. I am not encouraging him to think that given more time it would be possible. I think that he was rather asking the impossible, because this sort of question arises: What would be excluded, that part of the harbour only which was not capable of taking a 1,750 ton ship or a 1,000 ton ship? In that case, Admiralty charts all round the coast would need to be consulted. It would be a very different exercise, as I am sure the noble Lord will agree.


Just straight off-the-cuff, would not the earlier Amendment that we discussed just now cover this by referring to the definitions of harbours and harbour land? I think that is (2A). I think it would cover that, because obviously, if it is a port part of which will handle only a smaller ship, part of whose wharves are worked on only for a shorter time, clearly it will not be excluded because it will be under the wider definition of (2A). I do not know whether my noble friend Lord Lyell would agree with that; but if that is so, I do not think we are bothered about that; we are bothered about a port whose maximum depth is capable of taking a ship of 1,750 tons or 1,000 tons and all of whose workers work less than 1,350 hours when loading or unloading cargo.


Yes, but I was directing my remarks particularly to the distinction which the noble Lord tries to draw between one size of ship and the other, and trying to indicate that the kind of information that would be necessary in order to answer that question is by no means easily accessible. It would involve a very difficult exercise of research which I do not think the noble Lord is really insisting that we should engage upon.


Before the noble Lord goes on, I think that the Hydro-graphic Department of the Ministry of Defence would whip it up jolly quickly. If the noble Lord is thinking only of civil departments, of course they would probably take three years, but he should try the Ministry of Defence.


Well, we shall see what we can do, but I would not offer any great hopes to the noble Lord.

The Government's general position on small ports, which I have indicated has been stated repeatedly during the Bill's progress through another place and in reply to a considerable amount of correspondence, is that the absolute exclusion of particular places, either by name or by reference to some standard criteria of the kind proposed in these Amendments, is not the most sensible way to proceed because such a wide variety of factors could be relevant. The Bill explicitly requires consideration to be given to whether the work in question requires for its efficient performance the engagement of a permanent labour force, which is one of the points made in the Amendment. If it clearly does not require such a labour force, the work will not be classified, and this was one of the factors in the mind of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State when he was speaking in the terms which I quoted.

So really what divides the Committee—and I hope it will not be too deep a division—is the method by which small ports can be excluded from the operation of the Scheme: whether it is done by the process indicated in Clause 7, by an examination of each particular situation by the National Dock Labour Board with the benefit of all the local information that it requires, or whether we attempt—and I think it would be a wrong-headed and vain attempt—to lay down the various criteria in the way that the Amendments are seeking to do. I think that is the wrong approach and the original method in the Bill is the right approach.

Viscount SIMON

I have listened with great care to what the noble Lord has said. Personally, I feel that it would be much better to approach the matter on the lines suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Lyell. I do not necessarily think that any particular criterion is the right one, although that is a matter we can discuss. But the noble Lord, Lord Oram, suggested—if I heard him aright—that the trouble was that if any criterion was laid down it would lead, or might lead, to arbitrary and indefensible decisions. I should have thought it was much more likely that arbitrary and indefensible decisions would be reached if all the small ports were referred to the Dock Labour Board independently. Unless one lays down some criterion, how on earth is the Dock Labour Board to decide what to recommend? It will he faced with an enormous number—and it is an enormous number—of ports to consider. Perhaps the noble Lord has in mind that the Dock Labour Board itself will lay down some criteria, because we all know that if one tries to judge an issue without having laid down any criteria the decisions will certainly become arbitrary and might become indefensible.

Another point I wish to mention is that although, as the noble Lord said, the Dock Labour Board, having considered the matter in relation to any Scheme, will report to the Secretary of State and make a recommendation for classification or not, as I understand it the Secretary of State need not accept the recommendation. He can either accept it or reject it, so we are not very much further when a recommendation has been made.

I have not got an up-to-date record of the number of the small ports, but when I used to be concerned with ports I remember that there were 102 members of the then Dock and Harbour Authorities Association, of which I suppose about a dozen were fair sized ports. That excluded many of what are called "marine works" in Scotland which were not in that Association. I do not think that many of those ports—tiny places, little quays here and there—have ceased to exist, so I would imagine that there are well over 100 cases that the Board will have to consider. Surely, even in the interests of saving time and labour it would be sensible to try to find some criterion below which one could say, "Do not let us bother about these at all". I do not necessarily say that the criteria proposed here are right and I must say that I am particularly uncertain about the suggestion made by the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, in Amendment 11C. This seems to me to be a little on the high side for his tonnage and as at present advised I would prefer Amendment 11B.

In any case, there might be room for discussion between the two sides of the Committee as to whether there is a better criterion. I find it difficult to accept, as suggested, that it is better to have no criterion at all and for each one of these cases to be looked at individually. I suggest that anyone who has had the task of, shall I say, choosing from a large number of candidates, giving marks for different qualities, knows how very difficult it is to choose from a large number of people, or a large number of ports, unless you have laid down criteria to help you decide whether they are within or without the limits.


The criterion is laid down in Clause 7.

Viscount SIMON

I confess I cannot carry this Bill in my head. What is laid down in Clause 7, if I have it right, is that the Board will consider a whole lot of matters. It is only right that it should be given some guidance as to what is or is not to be considered a small port for this purpose. That will still leave it discretion to recommend that ports that are above the criterion should not be included.

Casting my mind back to the Bill brought in by the Labour Government some time ago for nationalising the ports, there was there a criterion for small ports which were not to be brought in. I have not refreshed my mind as to what it was, but it may be that that would be a criterion acceptable to the Party opposite, because it was included in the Bill which, in the end, failed because of the General Election. I am sure that in that Bill there was some provision for small ports to be recognised by an easily calculated criterion, and possibly that could be looked at. I feel strongly that we are going to put an intolerable burden on the Dock Labour Board if we do not lay down some criterion of small ports. Also, we are more likely to get arbitrary or indefensible differences between ports if we leave each case to be decided ad hoc, so to speak.


If I may briefly acknowledge the earnestness with which the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, approaches this problem and his hope that it would be possible to legislate, it seems to me that the issue between us is that there are really such a wide variety of considerations that would have to be taken into account that any satisfactory writing of it into the Bill would be an enormously complicated business. As my noble friend Lord Jacques pointed out, within Clause 7 there are certain guidelines to the National Dock Labour Board. That gives them some guidance, but in my view the detailed considerations of all the local circumstances are much better dealt with by the process laid down in the Bill, rather than by attempting the very difficult task of establishing such criteria covering all the various factors.


I believe your Lordships would like me to dispose of Amendment No. 11C. With regard to that Amendment, and hoping that, with the best resources available to them, the Government will try to provide some sort of an answer embodying this Amendment, I ask the leave of your Lordships to withdraw this Amendment.

Amendment to the Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


I beg to move, as an Amendment to the Amendment, manuscript Amendment No. 11D: In subsection 2D(b), line 2, at end insert ("or (c) where the labour force is employed substantially on a permanent basis and where the conditions of remuneration and other service arc equivalent to those pertaining at other ports which are members of the National Ports Council;")


The Question is whether Amendment No. 11D shall be agreed to.


Have we disposed of Amendment No. 11B?


We dispose of 11D first and then move on to deal with 11B.


I should like to couple Amendment No. 11D to No. 11B. I understand that the procedure would be to move 11D at this stage.

10.16 p.m.

On Question, Whether Manuscript Amendment No. 11D shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 59; Not-Contents, 27.

Airedale, L. Gisborough, L. O'Hagan, L.
Ampthill, L. Glasgow, E. Onslow, E.
Armstrong, L. Gowrie, E. Rochdale, V.
Auckland, L. Harvey of Tasburgh, L. St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.]
Balerno, L. Hives, L. St. Davids, V.
Barrington, V. Hornsby-Smith, B. Salisbury, M.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Inglewood, L. Sandford, L.
Berkeley, B. Kemsley, V. Sandys, L.
Boyd of Merton, V. Killearn, L. Seear, B.
Campbell of Croy, L. Kinnoull, E. Simon, V.
Carrington, L. Limerick, E. Strathclyde, L.
Cromartie, E. Long, V. Strathmore and Kinghorne, E.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Lucas of Chilworth, L. Sudeley, L.
de Clifford, L. Lyell, L. Swansea, L.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Merrivale, L. Tranmire, L.
Deramore, L. Monson, L. Vickers, B.
Drumalbyn, L. Morris, L. Ward of Witley, V.
Elles, B. Mottistone, L. Wigoder, L.
Elliot of Harwood, B. Mowbray and Stourton, L. Winstanley, L.
Ferrers, E. Northchurch, B.
Blyton, L. Houghton of Sowerby, L. Morris of Kenwood, L.
Boston of Faversham, L. Jacques, L. Oram, L.
Brimelow, L. Janner, L. Peart, L. (L. Privy Seal.)
Champion, L. Kagan, L. Pitt of Hampstead, L.
Collison, L. Kirkhill, L. Ritchie-Calder, L.
Davies of Leek, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B. Stedman, B.
Davies of Penrhys, L. Lovell-Davis, L. Strabolgi, L. [Teller.]
Greenwood of Rossendale, L. McCluskey, L. Wells-Pestell, L. [Teller.]
Hirshfield, L. Melchett, L. Winterbottom, L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment to the Amendment agreed to accordingly.

10.24 p.m.


The Question now is that Amendment No. 11B, as amended, be agreed to?

On Question, Amendment, as amended, agreed to.


I understand that the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, wishes to move a manuscript Amendment by agreement between the Members of the Committee.

10.25 p.m.

The Earl of GOWRIE

That normally superlatively well-oiled machine, the Opposition Front Bench, developed a fly in the works some moments ago and my noble friend Lord Lyell inadvertently did not move Amendment 11A on the Order Paper. I had spoken to that Amendment, and so declared that I had spoken to it, with Amendment No. 10. We appear in sackcloth and ashes and the Government have been very reasonable about it, particularly in the light of some of the rude things we have said about the Bill, and I understand that they are disposed to accept it as a manuscript Amendment. We have of course voted on it. I therefore beg to move Amendment No. 11A as a manuscript Amendment: Page 4, line 12, at end insert— ("(2A) A dock labour scheme area may comprise any place in Great Britain which is within half a mile (in a direct line) of a harbour to which this Act applies or of the nearest harbour land adjacent to such a harbour. (2B) For the purposes of this section, "harbour" and "harbour land" have the meanings assigned to them by section 57 of the Harbours Act 1964.")


We should be loath to take advantage of the error on the part of noble Lords opposite and certainly I personally should be loath to take advantage of it because I am very green to the procedures of your Lordships' House and am quite capable of making a mistake at any time. I am therefore glad to accede to the noble Earl's suggestion.

The Earl of GOWRIE

I am afraid that the noble Lord, to whom we are grateful, is really saying that the grass is always greener on the other side.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

The Earl of GOWRIE moved Amendment No. 12: Page 4, line 13, leave out subsections (3) to (7).

The noble Lord said: This is consequential. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 4, as amended, agreed to.

10.28 p.m.

Lord LYELL moved Amendment No. 21: After Clause 4, insert the following new clause: .—(1) Where under subsection (2) of section 4 above the Secretary of State shall make orders designating areas as dock labour scheme areas, the Board shall be required to establish local dock labour boards responsible for areas as may be determined by the Board. (2) Each such local board shall be constituted with a chairman and such numbers of members as the Secretary of State shall designate. Excluding the Chairman, an equal number of such members shall represent respectively employers and workers engaged in commercial and industrial activities taking place in the local dock labour hoard areas as determined. (3) The Chairman of each such local board shall be appointed by such local board. (4) The Board shall appoint members of each local dock labour board other than the chairman after consultation with the Confederation of British Industry and the Trades Union Congress.

The noble Lord said: I hope the Committee will accept the gratitude of this, we hope, better oiled machine now, as we pass to another aspect of the Bill. This Amendment is concerned with the local boards which we understand will be set up under the Scheme. The local dock labour boards which are to be established for the various areas which are yet to be determined by the National Dock Labour Board, will be responsible for the actual process of classifying cargo-handling as dock work, or possibly not. These local boards will be taking decisions at working level and, we hope, almost at each individual site. Above all, these local boards will be responsible for the discipline of work, and therefore the composition of the local boards is of the greatest importance to the employers of dock labour at the various sites.

We believe that the dock work is too important not to have the widest possible interest to employers and employees, and indeed to outside interests. There may be some need for an independent element to break any possible deadlock between port employers and unions, which unfortunately in the past has led to the toleration of a certain amount of indiscipline and the incidence of a few restrictive practices in the docks. This problem could, we hope, be met by the appointment of an alternate chairman from the employers' and the dock workers' side, with possibly a casting vote, and as any total independence would not lead to a working and effective board, we believe that with such a chairman agreement would be made easier.

But in present circumstances, as we are discussing the Bill at the moment, the proposed Amendment seeks to offer the best opportunity for introducing board members who are not bound by the old Dock Labour Board rules and customs, because we believe that the key to any possible success with the local dock labour boards would rest with the eventual selection of any or all of the trade union representatives, particularly if officials from the union concerned with cold stores, inland depots and warehouses were to take at least one of the tour places for dock workers on the boards. Similarly, operators of the dock labour in cold stores and in these inland depots should be entitled eventually to one of the four places for dock employers. The present numbers are that two-thirds of all registered dock workers are employed by port authorities. For instance, in Liverpool there are only two other employers of registered labour in the port, and yet there are seven cold stores in Liverpool. We understand that one of them lies in the heart of dockland, and we are very pleased to note that relations in this particular cold store are, and have been for many years, really excellent.

But we come back to the perennial lack of discipline and the very great difficulty in finding some effective dispute settlement procedures. This difficulty is endemic in the port transport industry, where various employers have tended, under necessity and pressure, to concede demands rather than to take action which might be laudable but which nevertheless would have the effect of delaying ships. Other interests are now going to be involved, and ship movements need not necessarily always be an overriding consideration. Of course, there are strong arguments for shipping bodies and other consumer interests to have representation on the new National Dock Labour Board, but we wonder whether they are always needed on the local board, because they should not necessarily become involved in what are essentially industrial problems at a local level. Unlike the existing dock labour boards, the new one will be directly concerned with questions of pay and hours, welfare and, indeed, training, as well as pension schemes and benefits and the collection of the levy paid by dock employers.

We understand that the members of the existing National Board have made re-presentations to the Government against the Dock Work Regulation Bill, which they describe as unworkable in its present state. We understand that these re-presentations have complained that, eventually, power will rest with the local boards. It has also been reported that the Department of Employment has in mind retaining the existing local boards for various areas around the country—major ports such as London, Liverpool, Bristol, Hull and the South Coast, with possibly minor additions to the new members.

The whole question of obtaining workable arrangements for (may I put it) disentangling one set of port interests from another through the local dock labour boards is the main and, indeed, the only purpose of this Amendment. The board, we believe, must have the power to choose its own chairman, and I would commend subsection (3) of this Amendment, since those of your Lordships who have any experience of such boards at working level will know that the chairman's casting vote is indeed an ultimate weapon, and is one which is used with very great restraint. Thus we hope that our Amendment will do much to help relations within the proposed local board, and we hope that it will be a tool to aid negotiations within the local board and hence to continue to improve relations at the local level, which are much more industrial than the wider consumer interest. I beg to move.

10.35 p.m.


The Bill at present provides that matters relating to the establishment of local boards shall be solely a matter for the new Dock Labour Scheme. The new clause which the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, has moved seeks to specify in the main legislation, in the Bill now before us, the composition of the local boards, the manner of their establishment and the appointment of their members. I agree that the composition of local boards will be of very great importance but I would suggest that the appropriate membership of the boards can only be decided effectively in the light of the functions they will have to perform, and since the latter can only be determined by the Scheme it would seem logical that their composition should likewise be a matter for the Scheme.

Furthermore, changes in the Scheme, and consequently changes in the appropriate composition of the local boards, could well become necessary to adapt to changing circumstances in the industry. It will be important that there should be the necessary flexibility in the arrangements to ensure that such modifications can be made expeditiously. It is therefore considered right that these matters should be dealt within the Scheme, and I think that that is the essential difference between the provisions in the present Bill in paragraph 6 of Schedule 2 and the proposals that the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, has put forward.

This does not mean that we in any way disagree about the importance of the local boards and their constitution, but we regard it as important that their composition should be the right one in accordance with the functions that will later be determined. Therefore I would ask the Committee not to accept this new clause.


The local dock labour boards are clearly an essential part of the whole Scheme. We are grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, for raising this matter and making the proposals that he has about the composition of the local boards. I am bound to say that my noble friends on these Benches think, on the arguments as heard so far, that it might be better to leave the composition of the local boards to a subsequent stage and not to seem to write them in specifically at this stage.

I wish to draw the attention of the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, to two matters in the clause as at present drafted. First, subsection (2), the proposal that, apart from the chairman, an equal number of members of each local board shall represent employers and workers, is, I should have thought, a recipe for disaster when the local boards seek to deal with a disciplinary problem. Experience has shown that almost inevitably, whatever the merits of a particular dispute, the employers' representative will line up with the employers and the workers' representative with the workers. No one is satisfied that the decisions reached are in any way related to the merits of the case.

There is a further small point about the new clause as drafted. If, under subsection (2), the local board is constituted with a chairman and various members, it does not appear possible, under subsection (3), that the chairman of the local board can be appointed by the local board. There cannot be a local board in existence until it has the chairman by virtue of subsection (2). This is a drafting point which could be put right later; but I would venture to suggest that it might be better for a provision of this nature, although discussed now, not to be written into the Bill.


I am grateful first of all to the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, for the qualified support, for the support at least for the idea behind the Amendment. So far as the case on representation in subsection (2) is concerned, we accept that he could have a point, where one has a confrontation in cases of discipline, where employers line up on one side and employees' representatives line up on the other. As I pointed out in my explanation in moving this particular new clause, we believe that a workable local scheme will not become apparent in the atmosphere of confrontation, and further negotiation is always needed at local level. We accept much of what the noble Lord, Lord Oram, has said; nevertheless, we feel that there is too wide an area of discretion in Clause 7 (I think that was the clause to which the noble Lord was referring) and we are not entirely happy about the criterion—if we can call it that—for the appointment of local boards. This provision is one on which we do not feel particularly strongly at this point. We have put it forward to hear what the noble Lord has had to say. At this stage, after the debates we have had tonight, I seek leave to withdraw the Amendment, with the possibility that we may reconsider it at a later stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

10.42 p.m.

The Earl of GOWRIE moved Amendment No. 22: After Clause 4, insert the following new clause:


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

  1. (a) who have served for a minimum period of two years on the extension register;
  2. (b) who have passed a medical examination to prove their fitness to perform "all" work likely to be required of a registered dock worker;
  3. (c) who have attained the necessary levels of skill; and
  4. (d) who have not, while previously employed in the port transport industry, accepted severance pay under any redundancy scheme.

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

The noble Earl said: With the leave of the Committee, I should like to move this Amendment and take Amendments Nos. 27 and 28 in my name. These are probing Amendments to inquire about the position of new dock workers—that is to say, dock workers who may become dockers under the scheme. What we want to know is whether under the Bill new dock workers can move straight from the extension register on to the main Register, or how quickly they can move from the one to the other register, and how the Government envisage such a movement. In these probing Amendments we restrict movement off the extension register on to the main register to two years or more. Also we make this transfer dependent upon local circumstances—that seems only sensible—and we ask that final determination be made by local boards.

Amendment No. 27 is linked to No. 22 because it deals with redundancy and severance payments and, indeed, with the whole question of whether it is fair that someone can take up employment and get compensated very quickly without working. We feel that the Government have not explained or commented on how many new jobs it is estimated will be created by the introduction of the new legislation. If the answer be nil, that no new jobs will be created—as has been suggested—we question the logic of a Bill which seeks to increase the number of registered dockers, in view of the sustained efforts that have been made during the past to reduce the number of men on the register.

The need for fewer men on the register has come about partly because of changes of building within the industry (which we have dealt with in earlier stages of the Committee stage), including the improved efficiency of handling methods with the introduction of containers and the like. We think that as a result of the Bill the demand for severance payments will escalate as increasing numbers of registered men are unable to find work. This is something we gave a warning about earlier. We should like the Government's response to it.


First of all, may I point out that in spite of the side heading to this new clause, "Recruitment", we are not dealing with that; what we are dealing with is people whose work has been classified and people who have been put on the extension register. I do not think that covers new recruits. I should also like to say that when I read the terms of this Amendment I was a little surprised because the Opposition in the other place have consistently been seeking in everything they said and did to protect the worker whose work was classified, whereas this Amendment seems to make it more difficult for the worker whose work has been classified and who has been put on the extension register.

The Earl of GOWRIE

I am grateful to the noble Lord, but as I said I put down the Amendment in order to try to find out the noble Lord's position and I am still trying to find that out.


The effect of the new clause would be that no extension register workers would be added to a main register unless they had been at least two years on an extension register. It also gives the local board discretion as to when, over an indefinite period, they would be transferred to the main register and in addition make such a transfer subject to the conditions of subsection (1), paragraphs (b), (c) and (d) in the Amendment. It would not be sensible to require all extension register workers to wait as long as two years before being given the full protection of the Scheme. There are a number of categories for whom a very short period on the extension register is likely to be reasonable—for example, those engaged in loading and unloading at ports not at present covered by the Scheme but which may be covered at a later date.

Secondly, there are some who are already employed at 1967 Scheme ports, such as Liverpool tally clerks, whose terms and conditions of employment and negotiating arrangements are already very closely linked with those of registered dock workers and it would be quite unreasonable for them to remain on the extension register for a period of two years. The extension register period is designed to enable adjustments considered necessary in industrial relations and negotiating arrangements to be made. This should not take more than two years.

For the period to be of an indefinite length over two years, and particularly to be subject to the decision of the local Board which could be open to varying and conflicting pressures, would create a most unsatisfactory situation of uncertainty both for workers and for management. It is in any case the clear intention that workers on such work, which has to be classified, should be looked upon as categories rather than individuals in respect of their inclusion or otherwise on an extension register and the period which they should spend on that register. It would be quite inconsistent with this intention that individuals should be subject to further specific tests before going on to the main register.

The period on the extension register is not conceived as being in any sense a trial period for the individual workers concerned. That would place them in an intolerable position. For example, a worker who suffered an industrial injury would have automatically to be treated differently from his fellow workers. He may be fully able to do the work which he is doing but not able to do the full range of work done by registered dockers. While the provision of subsection (2) in the new clause proposed is clearly envisaged as a safeguard of their personal position in some measure, this does not go far enough.

The Bill already enables the Board to recommend that particular workers should be allowed to continue doing work but not eligible for registration on the extension register if they consider there are special reasons justifying this—and that is under Clause 10, subsection (3). Paragraphs (b) and (c) of subsection (1) in the Amendment taken together seem to envisage that these workers should be required both to be fit to undertake all categories of registered work and also to have the necessary skills to do all such work.

This latter is quite unrealistic. There are few, if any, registered dock workers at the present time who have all the skills to do all the work which is done by registered dockers. In practice, many will have only the skill to do properly the work that they are doing. If, on the other hand, they are required to have only the skill to do, say, a clerk's job, it would be quite inappropriate to require them to have the level of physical fitness needed for a stevedore's work. We interpret the Amendment as meaning just this. I am prepared to rest there, but if the Amendment were being pressed I would wish to examine the drafting. I shall have observations to make on Amendments Nos. 27 and 28 when we come to them.

The Earl of GOWRIE

Far be it from met to disturb the noble Lord's rest, but we have in fact come to them. I talked about Nos. 27 and 28. I do not mind repeating what I said if it will be more convenient for the noble Lord.


I have taken Nos. 27 and 28 literally, for just what they say. I would say they are unnecessary and undesirable. They are unnecessary because workers on an extension register will retain all the normal statutory protections, including their rights under the Redundancy Payments Act 1965, because the exclusion of registered dock workers from the provisions of this and other employment protection legislation contained in Clause 14 applies only to workers registered in a main register and not to those on the extension register.

Clause 14 does what the Amendment intends, and therefore the Amendment is unnecessary. But I would point out that Amendment No. 27 is undesirable. The words are there to ensure that nothing in the Scheme can interfere in any way with these statutory employment protections set out in Clause 14. Without these words, which the Amendment seeks to delete, it might be possible for the Scheme to contain provisions which would in some way detract from these protections. So, in that way, it is not only unnecessary but undesirable.

10.53 p.m.

The Earl of GOWRIE

I said at the beginning that I had put down these Amendments to try to get some information from the Government. I think that is a legitimate ploy at Committee stage. What I was trying to find out, and what the Government have not explained, is how many new jobs it is estimated would be created by the introduction of the legislation we are discussing. We should like to have some indication from the Government as to what increase in the number of registered dock workers is envisaged.

We want clarification of the position of these men, now working as non-registered labour, within the proposed five-mile zone in warehouses, cold stores and the like, having already accepted severance pay of up to £5,250. If such premises are to be brought within the proposed scheme, would the former registered dockers be eligible for re-registration, having had their severance pay? If so, would they eventually qualify for additional severance payments? As I said at the beginning of the Committee stage, we do not object to the principle of severance payments, but the idea of severance payment being piled on severance payment is an enviable but irrational position.


No estimate can be made of the number of jobs that would be created, because it is for the National Board to make recommendations about where the Scheme should be extended. However, technological changes have taken work outside the immediate port areas. Therefore we might expect the Board to recommend extending the Scheme in expanding areas of cargo handling activities—for example, container groupage. The Bill contains proper protection for existing employees but also it expands job opportunities.

The Earl of GOWRIE

I will not press the matter further now, although I may return to it. It sounds to me suspiciously as though what we are really extending are protections and that while we extend those we may also be extending the severance payments which are protections for former adverse conditions in the docks. I am reluctant that this should become an aggregate system of transfer payments. However, I will look at what the noble Lord has said. I confess that he has blinded me with science; I did not altogether understand him. However, if what the noble Lord has said is satisfactory I will abandon the Amendment.


Before we go any further, may I say that we are hoping to save severance payments. First of all, if work is classified, the existing workers are protected, so that is not in question. If, however, there is expansion of the work which has been classified, we hope to transfer registered dock workers rather than have to pay them severance pay. Therefore, new employment would not go to any Tom, Dick or Harry who was not employed in this kind of work; it would go to registered dock workers to help to save their severance pay.


May I ask the noble Lord whether he is saying that as a result of the Scheme there will be more jobs available than would otherwise be available and, if so, will he say how the Scheme is going to provide for that?


I think that the misunderstanding here lies entirely in words. I am saying that more jobs will be available to registered dockers.


In other words, nobody is disagreeing that the Scheme will not increase the total number of jobs available. If that is so, does not the other part of the Bill to which the noble Lord has referred—namely, that protection is given to all existing holders of jobs for all practical purposes—mean that no extra jobs will be available for registered dockers?


All I am saying is that when work is classified the existing workers are fully protected; but if there is expansion then, rather than get labour from outside, we hope to transfer registered dockers instead of paying them severance pay. That is all I am saying—nothing more and nothing less.


I am sorry to press the noble Lord on this point but it is important. It has been said time and time again that the manning conditions of dock workers are better than they are elsewhere. When the noble Lord said that the Bill preserves existing employment but also extends job opportunities I took him to mean that it would extend the existing employment and give the opportunity of jobs as well. This is what we understood would happen because of the higher manning standards among dock workers. The noble Lord then qualified what he had said by laying emphasis on the fact that if there was an expansion the jobs would go to dock workers. That we quite understand. I wonder, however, whether the noble Lord would clarify the first part of his answer.


I think we disagree about what is the same work. I take the stand that people who have the training to stow goods into a ship are also very competent to stow goods into a container. They have the training and the right kind of experience. The ideal position would have been if what we are proposing in the Bill had been done years ago so that, as cargo depots developed, instead of paying severance pay to dockers we put them into the cargo depots to do the work. They are the ones who have had the experience and training in this. We have not done that; we have allowed other people to be trained to do dockers' work and that is why we have had trouble with the dockers.


Would the noble Lord not agree in that case that of course this Bill would have been much more suitable 40 years ago, but because it is not 40 years ago it is out of place?


I think the noble Lord knows that I am not speaking of 40 years ago; I am speaking of only a decade ago.


Well, I would suggest to the noble Lord that it was 40 years ago that this Bill ought to have been before this House rather than 10 years ago.


That is completely inconsistent with the opinion of the International Labour Organisation, for which this House usually has very great respect. This Bill is modelled on Convention No. 137, a very recent Convention of the ILO. The problems which arise here are not peculiar to this country and the remedies we are applying here are again not peculiar to this country. This is a world problem and the kind of solution we are trying to apply is also being applied elsewhere.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 5 [Objects of the new Scheme]:

11.2 p.m.

Lord LYELL moved Amendment No. 24: Page 5, line 20, at end insert ("except with the permission of the local dock labour board.").

The noble Lord said: Perhaps it might be for the convenience of the Committee if I were to speak to this Amendment at this stage. It is in the nature of a mere probing Amendment to seek some clarification from noble Lords opposite, from the Government. It is a simple Amendment which would seek to allow local agreements to be made which might allow non-registered dock labour to carry on or possibly even to start doing some work which in other areas outside this particular local area where we are seeking agreement would be done by registered labour.

We believe that this Amendment would allow an agreement in certain areas to facilitate some operations possibly in small ports but also in various individual warehouses and cold stores and other small areas where cargo handling might be carried on. It really is much of a small port request. Alternatively, in other non-dock work areas which are at present defined in the Bill this is just seeking a temporary exclusion from registration at the moment. It is merely a gentle request, and we would seek the Government's views on whether this might be possible to a limited extent just while the Scheme is being set up.


This repeats an Amendment which was moved in Committee in another place. It was said then that the intention of the Amendment was to give local boards discretion to allow local exceptions to the employment of registered workers on classified work, if this seems sensible in particular cases. In reply, the Secretary of State accepted that it might be necessary to include in the Scheme provision for local boards to allow particular exemptions. He thought that the words, subject only to such exceptions as it may provide in Clause 5(2)(b) were possibly sufficient to allow for a provision on the lines sought by the Amendment. But he undertook to consider the matter and on that understanding the Amendment was withdrawn.

It seems to my right honourable friend that there can be no doubt that the words, subject only to such exceptions as it may provide", would enable the new Scheme to allow local boards to permit the use of unregistered labour on classified work, as does Section 10 of the 1967 Scheme. Under that section the local board has to be satisfied that the work is urgently required to be done and that it is not reasonably practicable for it to be done by a registered dock worker, and it is the declared intention of the Government to include a provision allowing such exemptions to be made in the new Scheme.


Did I hear the noble Lord aright that it is the intention of the Government to allow such exceptions as are contained in this Amendment? Or is he half-way, or more than half-way, towards accepting the purpose of this Amendment? I was not entirely clear in what he said about how the Minister had promised to consider it in another place. I think the argument is that he did not give entire satisfaction and that is why we are coming back to this subject in Committee here. Did I understand the noble Lord to say that the Government are giving further consideration to this problem and are likely, or indeed able, to grant limited exceptions in limited cases?


What I said was that we have no doubt that Clause 5(2)(b) allows local boards under the new Scheme to permit the use of unregistered labour on classified work. That is already permissible under Section 10 of the 1967 Scheme. Under that section the local board has to be satisfied that the work is urgently required to be done and that it is not reasonably practicable for it to be done by a registered dock worker. It is the declared intention of the Government to have a similar clause in the new Scheme.

I think what the noble Lord probably has in mind is a more permanent exception. Our view of that is that if work needs to be permanently exempt it should never have been classified and the sooner it is declassified, the better.


I think I heard my noble friend saying that he was asking for this in the near future as a transitional matter and not, as the noble Lord has just suggested, as a permanent measure. From what I can see here it seems that the words, and subject only to such exceptions as it may provide in subsection (2)(b) would cover the case that my noble friend has in mind. I think the only difference is that he is saying, "except with the permission of the local dock labour board", but presumably the local dock labour board would also have to give its permission in the particular case. There does not seem to me to be much between the two.


I am saying that if there is a temporary exemption in an emergency it can be done by the Bill as it stands. Secondly, I am saying that if what is wanted is that whole categories of work at smaller ports should be subject to a continuing exemption, then it should not have been classified and the sooner it is declassified, the better. We do not want permanent exemptions. If something is wrong let us put it right by declassifying it.


I am half-satisfied by what the noble Lord has said. I am very satisfied that he believes there is a valid point and also that it is covered already under Clause 5(2)(b), but we are of the opinion that such exceptions, even though they may be merely temporary, require to be written into the Bill in the form in which this Amendment is set out. My noble friend Lord Drumalbyn suggested there might not be a great deal of ground I between us on this. I am willing to accept the hint from my noble friend. I am grateful for the reply of the noble Lord, or at least part of it, but I should like to consider this before the next stage. With that said, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord LYELL moved Amendment No. 25: Page 5, line 30, leave out ("the cargo-handling zone") and insert ("a dock labour scheme area").

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

11.11 p.m.

Lord DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 26: Page 5, line 33, at end insert— ("but no work shall be classified as dock work unless it involves the handling of cargo which has been or is to be conveyed by sea.").

The noble Lord said: I think I can deal with this Amendment quite briefly. The purpose of the Amendment is primarily to ensure that no work done in connection with goods which are being, or are to be, transferred from one point on the mainland of the United Kingdom to another point on the mainland of the United Kingdom shall be classified as dock work. In my view, it would be manifestly absurd if inland distribution were caught up in the work classified as dock work, even although it came within the description of "work" in Part I of Schedule 3.

There are any number of warehouses and cold stores which are mainly, if not wholly, concerned with the mainland trade. Some of them may well be located in Dock Labour Scheme areas, however those areas are defined. But the principle proposed in the Amendment is applied to them wherever they are located, and the principle is that "work" should not be classified as dock work if it is not dock work. Noble Lords may smile a little at that, but I think we surfer enormously in legislation from things being deemed to be this and that, and we really must stop this. Certainly it should apply to all warehouses and cold stores outside Dock Labour Scheme areas.

My noble friends put down Amendment No. 51 which is more specific, but it seems to me to be more narrow. It proposes that the Board shall not recommend classification for any work on premises where the majority of work is not classifiable as dock work. They also propose to remove the option given to the Board in Clause 8(1) to recommend either that all work done in premises covered by Part I of Schedule 3, or some specified part of it, should be classified as dock work. That option under their Amendment would disappear, but my Amendment would remove the option altogether to classify dock work which is not cargo as defined in the Bill as dock work.

How this Committee considers "cargo" should be denned in the Bill has yet to be decided, and we shall get on to that at the next stage, or perhaps on Tuesday. But I submit that the Amendment is entire common sense, and I think it is entirely wrong to define "work" as dock work if it is not cargo and is not in fact dock work. I beg to move.


With this Amendment two different interpretations are possible. First of all, the subsection confines "work" which may be classified to "work" within Part I of Schedule 3 and not within Part II of Schedule 3. "Work" in Part I of Schedule 3 relates to cargo, and "cargo" is defined in paragraph 8 of that Schedule as goods which are, or are to be, or have been, loaded as cargo in a ship…". A ship is defined as a sea-going ship capable of carrying cargo…".


We shall come to that definition in due course. But it seems to me at the outset that that appears to cover all goods that are imported. All goods that are imported have been loaded on a ship.


First of all, can we deal with the effect of the Amendment. The effect of the Amendment is to preclude the classification of work as dock work if it does not involve the handling of cargo which has been or is to be conveyed by sea. Would the noble Lord agree that that is the effect of his Amendment?


That is so, yes.


If that is the effect of it, the Amendment is unnecessary, because that is already covered by the Bill. The subsection confines work which may be classified to work which is within Part I and not within Part II of Schedule 3. The work in Part I of Schedule 3 all relates to cargo. "Cargo" is defined in paragraph 8 of Schedule 3 as goods which are, or are to be, or have been, loaded on a ship. A "ship" is defined as a sea-going ship capable of carrying cargo". For those reasons we say that the effect which the noble Lord seeks is already established in the Bill without the Amendment.


I am very glad to hear that, but as they say in Scotland I ha'e ma doots. We will come on to talk later about cases where the work done on the premises can be classified "in whole or in part" as dock work. If it is in part classified as dock work, then I take it that only that work which is being treated as cargo will be classified as dock work. But if the whole lot is classified as dock work, even although only part of it is in fact import or export, then this, in my view, would be entirely wrong. And there is an impression—I cannot say more than that—that where warehouses are involved both in export and import and in inland distribution the whole of their work will be classified as dock work, or, if it is not, at any rate the same conditions will apply in the factory as if it were classified as dock work. Is that right or wrong?


It would be possible for work which is not dock work to be classified if it was a small part of the work being done at the particular premises where that work became classified. But there is a clause in the Bill—I think from memory it is Clause 8(5)(c)—which lays down that the Board must have regard to the proportion of such work. I would say it could only arise where it was a small proportion; that is to say, if by far the greater proportion is imports and exports but there is a small amount of home produced, clearly it would not make sense to segregate it.


If that is so, what the noble Lord said previously is not absolutely correct. Nevertheless, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

11.20 p.m.

Lord DRUMALBYN moved Amendmet No. 29: Page 6, line 3, after ("accept") insert ("and fulfil").

The noble Lord said: We are dealing here with Clause 5(6), which says: In respect of any of the matters specified in paragraphs 1 to 3 of Schedule 2 to this Act, the Scheme may require dock employers and dock workers to accept obligations arising under a specified collective agreement (as for the time being in force) although not themselves parties to the agreement". My Amendment would insert "to accept and fulfil obligations". The obligations that the Scheme may provide are not spelled out in Schedule 2 in any detail, but they cover the obligation as well as the right of dock workers to do work that is so classified, and the obligations as well as the rights of dock employers in relation to dock workers and dock work, including their obligations in relation to employment, termination of employment, remuneration, hours of work, welfare, training, sickness and injury benefits, and pension schemes.

The obligations are those arising under a specified agreement, whether or not the individuals concerned are parties to the agreement. In other words, the obligations we are here talking about appear to me to be—and I hope the noble Lord will confirm this—placed on individuals. The dock employers will have obligations under the Scheme which they must fulfil. To that extent the addition of the words "and fulfil" make little difference, so far as they are concerned. In any case, if they do not fulfil their obligations they may well have a strike on their hands.

Considering the special rights and privileges that may be expected to be conferred on dock workers under the Scheme, as indeed they are by the present dock workers' order, it does not seem too much for the Bill to require them individually to fulfil, and not merely accept, the obligations which arise under any specified collective agreement. The acceptance may, or may not, be by individuals. I would imagine it would be more likely to be a collective acceptance. The Amendment would leave it to the Scheme itself, as is provided for in Schedule 2, to specify the consequences of not fulfilling their obligations in the case of dock workers as well as dock employers. That is as I understand it. It would be a good thing to provide that if there are obligations and rights here they should equally, both by employers and employees, be both accepted and fulfilled. I beg to move.


By legislation one can provide obligations and one can provide sanctions, but one cannot provide for fulfilment. In this particular case we provide for obligations in Clause 5(6). We provide for sanctions in paragraph 1 of Schedule 2. But we cannot provide for fulfilment. May I give an example—and I take one outside the docks. We can provide an obligation that a man shall not park in the road outside on Parliament Square, and we can provide a sanction, but we cannot provide that he then fulfils it. All we can do is apply a sanction when he does not accept the obligation, and what applies in the case or road traffic also applies in the case of the docks.


I agree that one provides the sanction where the obligation is not fulfilled rather than not accepted. It will be interesting to see, when the actual Scheme comes out, what encouragement the Government give to fulfilment. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


I have to point out that if Amendment No. 30 is agreed to, I cannot call Amendment No. 31.

11.26 p.m.

The Earl of GOWRIE moved Amendment No. 31: Page 6, line 32, leave out from ("areas)") to ("and") in line 33.

The noble Earl said: This Amendment is consequential on our carrying our earlier Amendment on the zones. I beg to move.


I must do two things here; first, I must try to explain the purpose of this provision in the Bill, and, secondly, I must then try to explain why the Amendment is unnecessary. It was thought that it might subsequently be appropriate for there to be provisions relating to particular geographical areas and it would clearly be convenient if such areas could be the same as the dock labour areas. Power to alter the boundaries of these areas means that they can, if necessary, be adjusted accordingly. Thus, what we had in mind in providing for the power to change boundaries was power to change them as between one dock area and another where circumstances required a change.

I come to why the Amendment is not necessary, even though the clause has been amended. Clause 4, as amended by Amendments Nos. 10 to 12, is over-riding; that is, the half-mile provision is overriding. The Secretary of State can therefore alter only within the half-mile limit. We say that the Bill as drafted has a useful purpose, that the Amendment is unnecessary and that therefore the Bill should be allowed to stand to fulfil that useful purpose.

The Earl of GOWRIE

I am grateful to the noble Lord, so long as he is saying that the Bill as amended serves a useful purpose.


No. What I am saying is that whether or not Clause 4 is amended, the provision in regard to the alteration of boundaries as between dock labour areas serves a useful purpose. In either case that is the position.

The Earl of GOWRIE

The noble Lord and I appear to wish to give each other the benefit of the doubt and, if that is the case, I beg leave to withdraw—


Before the noble Earl seeks leave to withdraw the Amendment, and because I wish to be perfectly fair about this, let me say that the real point at which the noble Earl must look is the one I am making; namely, that Clause 4, as amended by Amendments Nos. 10 to 12, is over-riding. That is our view and I think he will agree, after consideration and taking advice, that that is the essential point.


It may be that when we come to examine this provision it will appear that there is no reason for these words to be included, because there may prove to be no contiguous boundaries. It is only if the areas are contiguous that it would be possible to alter the boundaries. Presumably we are talking about two separate things here. We have, first, the Bill before it was amended, in which case the local dock board areas would, I imagine, in every case, go to the five-mile limit and the dock board area would be the spread along that limit of a certain number of miles, as the London one was, I believe, and it would be a case of deciding where that limit came and the next dock board area started. But with the Bill as now amended, the boundaries of areas must be determined simply in accordance with their distance from the harbour land and for that reason of course they cannot easily be altered. Therefore, I understand that my noble friend wants to take them out as being redundant.


I think we have to agree—it is a question of fact—that if the boundaries are not contiguous, then there is no purpose in these words; but we believe that there will be cases where the areas are contiguous and where, therefore, they will have a common boundary which might have to be changed.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Earl of GOWRIE moved Amendment No. 32:

Page 6, line 42, at end insert— ("() Where the Secretary of State

  1. (a) has prepared a New Dock Labour Scheme under section 4(1) above;
  2. (b) has referred a proposal to the Board under section 4(7) above; or
  3. (c) proposes to make an order under section 5(8) or 11(6) below he shall comply with the provisions of Schedule (Public Inquiries) to this Act.").

The noble Earl said: This Amendment is consequential. I beg to move.


I do not agree that it is consequential. It is consequential only in the sense that the Committee has apparently decided a principle and the principle is continuing here. That is the only sense in which it is consequential. The Amendment which we have carried dealt with an entirely different thing—it dealt with the new Scheme. This Amendment would call for an inquiry for many other things, such as any order for changing the cargo-handling zone, any order for amending the new Scheme or any order for classifying or de-classifying. Therefore, what the Amendment is really doing is saying that the principle which was settled in Amendment No. 9 in regard to a new Scheme—that is to say, that there should be an inquiry—shall also apply to all these other things. I suggest that that is not consequential, but since the Committee has decided in principle we would not challenge it at this stage. Had it been a different time of the day I might have said much more.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Lord DRUMALBYN had given Notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 33: Page 6, line 42, at end insert— ("(11) Before laying a draft of an order before Parliament the Secretary of State shall consider all representations made to him and may, if he thinks fit, afford an opportunity to any person who has made representations to him to be heard either by him or by a person acting on his behalf.".

The noble Lord said: I do not move this Amendment because it is covered by the previous Amendment.

Clause 5, as amended, agreed to.


We seem to have made good progress, and I suggest that this might be a good moment to finish for today. I beg to move that the House do now resume.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House resumed.