HL Deb 15 October 1976 vol 375 cc657-724

11.31 a.m.


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 Jacques.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The EARL OF LISTOWEL in the Chair.]

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

Lord LYELL moved Amendment No. 35: Page 7, line 4, at end insert ("by virtue of having, for a substantial period, been performed exclusively by registered dock workers.")

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 35. Members of the Committee will be aware that Clause 6 of the Bill as we have it today concerns the classification of dock work. We are happy with the arrangement tinder this clause in general, with the slight exception of the term "by custom and practice". These are not merely fine-sounding words; we think they are apposite and very relevant to the Bill. Nevertheless, we believe that they are liable to a great deal of misinterpretation, and we hope that our tentative addition to the paragraph will clarify most, if not all, the uncertainty.

We wish to ensure that what is now accepted as dock work in the Scheme ports should become what we would call a starting point; perhaps it could be taken as a bench mark, when the classification of what is and what is not to be dock work is carried out by the Board. Your Lordships will be aware that all sorts of differing work is carried out in the different ports around the country. A great deal of confusion arises in many cases where work is performed from time to time by dockers, and at other times by other workers at the port—they might be seamen, lorry drivers; they might be employees of particular concerns whose cargo or freight is being unloaded from the ship. Differing circumstances will apply in ports in different parts of the country, and differing ports will deal with all sorts of trade and different types of cargo.

We believe that it is very difficult in general to distinguish such work, because it varies from port to port around the coastline. If we take Liverpool, which is one very large Scheme port where a number of examples are readily available, we understand there are about 11 categories of work performed there, and among those categories are cargo lashing, cleaning the holds or the tanks, and discharging what, for want of a better term, I would call safe liquids. I think we can take that as meaning non-flammable or non-pollutant liquids. Occasionally, they unload bulk cargo and sometimes non-dock workers will drive vehicles from one berth to another taking packing cases or containers from one ship to another alongside the quay.

All these tasks can be performed by dockers or non-dockers, but we believe that the work, so far as possible, should be logically and properly classified. We agree that subsection (2) gives a fairly precise definition of what such work could be, but purely on what has been performed in past years. Indeed, the Minister in another place mentioned the Port of Liverpool as being the site for 11 different trades, but in that port alone. If we took another port, say, Hull, Aberdeen, Dundee or Southampton, we might well find 20 or 30 differing trades, because all these differing jobs being done on the port site will vary as we go round the coast.

When the Minister was considering the Port of Liverpool as an example in another place, he agreed that some of these categories of work could, and indeed should, be classified, and possibly that in Liverpool it should be classified under a new local scheme. At the same time, this classification might not fit into our present definitions as they are set out in Clause 6, as we understand them. Are not the arrangements for representations as to what may or may not be classified under the later clauses which we shall be considering, Clauses 7 and 8, much more widespread? We believe that under the other clauses representations from people who might be concerned first of all with the loading and unloading of cargo and then cargo handling are much more widespread. We feel that the arrangements under this particular clause, Clause 6, are a little too loose. We would like to tighten up the definition more than a little so that at least this clause can attempt to produce some reasonable definition of classifiable dock work when the Scheme comes into operation.

11.37 p.m.

Lord DRUM ALBYN moved, as an Amendment to the Amendment; Amendment No. 35A: Line 1, after ("of") insert ("their being, and").

The noble Lord said: The point of my Amendment is a very simple one. It is simply to emphasise that work treated as custom or practice should be treated as current custom and practice, and that resort should not be had to what was custom and practice, perhaps a long time ago, or even not so very long time ago, as this could give rise to quite a lot of trouble. It is a small point, but I beg to move.

11.38 a.m.


I recognise that the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, supported by the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, have put forward the Amendment for the purpose of clarification, as the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, said. I also recognise that he feels that the present provisions are too loose for the matter to be properly understood. But I am afraid I must advise the Committee that they are seeking their clarification by a method which would make things much too restrictive. For example, it would mean that any new work started recently, or performed for only a short period of time, although it is recognised by all concerned as work which should be treated as dock work, would not he reported, although everyone recognised that it was dock work. Then it could not he classified under the Clause 6 procedures.

Thus, if there were a recent agreement that a container coverage depot outside the port area should employ registered dock workers, such work could not be reported and the Clause 8 procedure would have to be used. There could well be work done very largely by registered workers but on which non-registered men were occasionally employed for a short time. The aim of the clause, I should stress, is merely to secure reports of what is agreed to be registered dock workers' work. It is to get a report on the existing situation.

The noble Lord, Lord Lyell, referred to the discussions which occurred in another place. The Secretary of State said that he would consider whether these matters could be made clearer. Careful consideration has been given to this, but I have to inform your Lordships' Committee that it has not been possible to find a form of words which could better distinguish between work which is generally accepted as being by custom and practice dock workers' work, on the one hand, and work which, although partly done by them, is not so regarded.

I would call attention to subsection (3). This was inserted by a Government Amendment made at the Report stage in another place. It requires all those concerned to be sent copies of the Board's report, and this will make sure that any points of dispute are brought to the attention of the Secretary of State. He would then, by virtue of subsection (4), be able to refer the report back to the Board with his observations.

I hope I have been able to assure the Committee that this point, which was raised in another place, has been given proper consideration in the intervening period; but without making this clause much too restrictive for its purposes we cannot find any words which make the position any clearer.

11.43 a.m.


I should like to thank the noble Lord for his attempts to satisfy us. I must admit that I do not think we are very much further on than our colleagues were in another place. I am sure attempts have been made. Nevertheless we felt, and continue to feel, that "by custom and practice" is a little too open to misinterpretation, despite what the noble Lord has said about there being difficulty in finding precise words which would not add to the confusion and possible misinterpretation. But what we felt especially opposite in this Amendment was that there might be a case where skills or a need for a particular type of work might arise, now or in the future, or indeed while the Board is taking into account what is carried on at these ports in the immediate future or fairly near futute, within the next year.

There might be a need for a particular type of skill which had not been in use in that port or indeed, according to the dock area of the country, for two, three or four years, and perhaps dockers might, having performed those tasks three or four years earlier, have gone to other jobs, be carrying out other tasks, and have found work elsewhere. Then, owing to the changing pattern of trade—possibly there might be physical disturbances at some harbour, or a quay might collapse, or disaster might block a major estuary—a separate port would need to have skills which would have vanished from that port three or four years earlier, and immediately there would be a need for those skills to be reintroduced, possibly in a modified form.

We feel that there is a danger here that where these skills could be, and probably should be, performed as efficiently as possible, and that might or might not involve the employment of classified dock workers, there is a risk of misinterpretation—that should these new skills be needed within the next year, perhaps two years, there might be a feeling among registered dock workers to claim this type of work as their own, as registered dock workers, on the grounds that it, or possibly something fairly similar, might have been performed three or four years earlier. We believe that our Amendment restricts this possibility, and it means that there must be some continuity of work, that dockers must have performed this type of work within the last year. That is the point of our Amendment.

11.46 a.m.


From my own personal point of view I do not think I would wish to press my Amendment, because of course this clause has to do with the report of a factual situation existing at the time, and also that representations can be made by those to whom under subsection (3) copies of the report are given; so I think perhaps, if the noble Lord is unable to find a formula here, we shall simply have to rely on the right to make representations in any particular case. I hope my noble friends will regard that as sufficient in the circumstances.


Frankly, I think that the position is as summed up by the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn. I do not deny that there will be difficulties of implementation here. There are always practical difficulties that have to be examined on the ground and on the day, but I believe, after careful consideration, that those difficulties would be increased if the Amendment were to be written into the Bill; and the kind of situation that the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, referred to in his earlier intervention, in regard to Liverpool, I think will best be taken care of with the wording as at the moment in the Bill.

11.48 a.m.


I should like to thank the noble Lord, and indeed my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn, because I think my noble friend summed this up quite well. Representations are available. We just felt it was a matter of degree and that possibly it is better to involve people in consultations as opposed to sending out a report.

I take what the noble Lord had to say about subsection (3) and how this was added, and that it was hoped to give some kind of reassurance. It was just a thought that it might be a little better, if it were possible, to involve the recipients of a report at an earlier stage of the consultation. But I think the noble Lord will accept that this is a matter of degree. I hope that not too much ground divides us. With that, I would beg leave to withdraw.

Amendment to the Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

11.48 a.m.

Lord DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 36: Page 7, line 38, after ("representations") insert ("and the Board has considered and reported to the Secretary of State any representations made and their conclusions thereon.")

The noble Lord said: This Amendment relates to the procedure for considering representations made to the Board concerning reports made by the Board to the Secretary of State about the way in which the 1967 Scheme is currently applied in each port in relation to the various categories of work and the premises where it is being done in the 12 months before the appointed day. Under subsection (3) copies of the report have to be supplied to employers, to trade unions, and to "any other person appearing to the Board to be concerned". At least a month is allowed for representations to be made by employers and trade unions. May I refer to this point in passing. Curiously enough, it does not say that representations may be made by other persons interested to whom copies of the report have been supplied. Perhaps in answering this Amendment it might be convenient for the noble Lord to reply to that point rather than for me to raise it on the Question that the Clause shall stand part. I should like to know why it should be thought proper for employers and trade unions to make representations but not for other people who are acknowledged to be so interested that a copy of the report has to be sent to them.

It seems to me, to say the least, to be unusual that the Board should not be obliged under the Bill to consider any representations made. Some may think it is natural, but when you have an Act of Parliament in which there is no statutory obligation laid down then the answer can always be given, "But there was no obligation to consider this at all." I think it is necessary, and it is indeed reasonable to require the Board to include in their report their conclusions on the representations made, and to consider the representations, and that this should be said in the Bill. I recognise that we are here dealing with reports and not recommendations from the Board; in other words, we are dealing with facts as stated to the Board. But if the facts, or purported facts, are challenged in representations, it seems to me to be essential that the Board should be obliged to consider the representations and report them to the Secretary of State, and that the Bill should say so. I beg to move.


I wonder whether I may first attempt to deal with the subsidiary point that the noble Lord made concerning the different treatment of trade unions and employers, under subsection (3)(a) and (b), from those mentioned in (c) in relation to the powers under subsection (5). I am not sure of the position here, but I referred to the fact that subsection (3) had been inserted at the Report stage, and it may be that a consequential Amendment later on in the clause might have been considered. I am not sure whether that is the position, but I will look into it and we could take it up subsequently.

As to the noble Lord's main purpose in moving this Amendment, if I may suggest it, I feel that he was perhaps under a misapprehension in drafting it, because it seems to me that the Amendment presumes that representations which employers and trade union might make, having received copies of the Board's report, will be made back to the Board itself. That is not the position. Following the Board's report, action then rests with the Secretary of State, and representations would be made direct to him. He, of course, would consider those representations, and it might be that in the light of the representations that he has received he would wish to refer the report hack to the Board with his observations, under his powers provided in subsection (4), and ask the Board to consider whether they had misdirected themselves.

It is important, I think, to appreciate that it is not the intention under this clause that either the Board or the Secretary of State should consider whether or not work ought to be classified. This clause, as I think I indicated in dealing with the earlier Amendment, is entirely concerned with preserving how the Scheme is currently applied. Its aim is to classify as dock work for the purposes of the new Scheme descriptions of work which either are dock work for the purposes of the 1967 Scheme or are so treated by custom and practice; that is, work on which registered dock workers were employed during the relevant period. In other words, the Board can be concerned only with matters of fact and not questions of opinion.

I would urge the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, to consider my first point, or rather I think it was my second point, that he may have been under a misapprehension about whose responsibility it is to take action after representations have been made. It is the Secretary of State's direct and not the Board's; therefore I believe the objective that he is seeking is already perhaps better provided for in the wording of the Bill as it stands.


I am obliged to the noble Lord, but is not the position this: we are dealing, here, in contradistinction to the next clause, with the work in each of the ports where the 1967 Scheme is in force. As I said in offering this Amendment to the Committee, we are, of course, dealing in this clause with matters of fact. But it could be that the facts might be in dispute. After all if copies of the Board's report are to be given to the employers, to the trade unions and to other persons, there might be disputes about precisely what we were talking about in the last Amendment; that is, about what is in fact treated as custom and practice.

I do not see much point in passing the copies of the report to these bodies unless they are to be permitted to make representations on it. If they are to make representations on it, querying the facts, either the Board or the Secretary of State should receive those representations. I agree with the noble Lord that probably I was in error in saying the Board and not the Secretary of State, but whoever is concerned at that point should receive those representations and should then give those concerned an opportunity to be seen, if necessary; in any case, the Secretary of State should be under an obligation to consider those representations.

It is generally the case where representations are allowed that an Act of Parliament says, …and the Secretary of State shall consider those representations". It very often goes on to say, and shall give an opportunity to those making the representations to be heard". That is the underlying point. I agree that my Amendment, in the way I have expressed it, is not appropriate; but wonder whether the noble Lord would consider that point. It is the principle of the Act saying specifically that the representations must be considered, whether or not an opportunity is given for an oral hearing.


I will, of course, consider that point about the Secretary of State being required to consider the report. I should think that it almost goes without saying, but if it is necessary to say it, after further investigation we will see what should be done about it.

On the point the noble Lord was making about the facts of the local situation perhaps being in dispute, he will appreciate that in practice the reports can be prepared only by the local boards, on which both the employers and the trade unions are represented. It is likely, therefore, that all interested parties will know what the report is going to say and any disagreements as to the work which should be included will have been well aired at local level. So I do not think there will be any problem about people not having had full opportunity of knowing the facts, knowing what is to be reported and being able to discuss and dispute them, if need be, at the local level before the board makes its report.


What is interesting is that the noble Lord in that answer has made it all the more important that the other parties interested should be allowed to make representations. We know that, as he says, the local boards will have considered this matter and both sides are represented on it, but not the other persons interested. They are not represented on it. I think this has been a useful discussion because it has emphasised the need for the noble Lord to look at the point about the right of the other parties interested to make representations, as he has kindly said he will. With that, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

12.1 p.m.

The Earl of GOWRIE moved Amendment No. 37: Page 8, line 7, leave out ("the cargo-handling zone") and insert ("any dock labour scheme area").

The noble Lord said: This Amendment is consequential on our Amendments in the debate on the zone in Clause 4 which we held last Wednesday. If it would be convenient to the Committee that I give the precise Amendments, it would be consequential on Amendment No. 10 and on my manuscript Amendment No. 11A. I beg to move.


I accept that it is consequential in the way the noble Lord has indicated.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

On Question, Whether Clause 6, as amended, shall stand part of the Bill?


On the Question, that the clause stand part of the Bill, there is one small point on which I should like my noble friend to advise me. What is "a month" in the context of this particular clause?


I am afraid my noble friend has caught me out on such a precise definition, but I will make inquiries and let him know.


I think it should be more precise as to whether it is 28 days, 31 days, or whatever it might be.


Yes; I take the noble Lord's point and I will let him know.

The Earl of GOWRIE

Perhaps I can help bail the Minister out. Unless I am quite wrong, what "a month" means is a month from the appointed day by the Secretary of State after the Bill becomes an Act, should it become an Act. But the noble Lord opposite has, I think, pinpointed the enormously overriding and enabling powers which the Bill gives to the Secretary of State, and this is one of the things to which we on this side object.

Lord ORA1V1

The noble Earl has not bailed me out. I welcome his efforts, but my noble friend was asking for a definition of "a month"—whether it is a calendar month or a certain number of days. Someone else has bailed me out, and I can advise the Committee that it is a calendar month.

Clause 6, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 7 [Loading and unloading operations.]:

The Earl of GOWRIE moved Amendment No. 38: Page 8, line 16, leave out ("the cargo-handling zone") and insert ("a dock labour scheme area").

The noble Lord said: We claim that this Amendment is also consequential on Amendment No. 10 and my manuscript Amendment No. 11A. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

The Earl of GOWRIE moved Amendment No. 39: Page 9, line 32, after ("if") insert ("(a)").

The noble Lord said: We are dealing in this clause with what may or may not be classified as dock work by recommendation of the Board though, as I have indicated on several earlier occasions, the Secretary of State can of course have overriding powers here. Clause 7 looks at ports other than the ports which were within the 1967 Dock Labour Scheme which we dealt with under Clause 6. Clause 7 can bring such ports within the scope of the Scheme within a month of the appointed day—as the noble Lord has told us, a calendar month—after the Bill has become an Act. Your Lordships will remember that on Wednesday the Committee amended the zone from the five-mile envelope to a much more precise definition of a half-mile area from harbours, themselves more precisely defined in previous legislation than ports. We therefore claim that these Amendments are also consequential on that decision of your Lordships last Wednesday. It is the intention of our Amendments to limit the zone to harbours or to within half a mile of harbours, so what we do not want now is the Board recommending for classification as dock work, work that is carried on along the coastline outside these harbours, particularly as they can, of course, be so recommended before the Scheme comes into effect. I beg to move.


I am very pleased to agree with the noble Lord. In fact, Amendments Nos. 39 and 40 can be considered as consequential on earlier Amendments.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

The Earl of GOWRIE moved Amendment No. 40: Page 9, line 33, after ("Act") insert ("or (b) the work is done at premises which would be outside a dock labour scheme area designated under subsection (2) of section 4 of this Act.").

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

12.7 p.m.

Lord LYELL moved Amendment No. 43: Page 9, line 39, after ("efficient") insert ("and cost effective").

The noble Lord said: I think it would be for the convenience of the Committee if with this Amendment I might speak to Amendments Nos. 44 and 45 which are in the names of myself and my noble friends Lord Mansfield and Lord Gowrie, because we believe that these three Amendments are the first of several crucial points, above all in Clause 7, but in other ports of the Bill as well. This point in Clause 7 is, in our view, one of the most important in the clause and indeed has wider applications throughout the Bill because the common thread running through the three Amendments is that of costs and cost efficiency, and of financial viability to everyone concerned in operating and using all the ports. The clause considers loading and unloading—that is what it says in the margin—but, without entering into any semantic arguments, all the strands of the common thread are especially relevant.

First, we consider that the Bill must spell out in detail the duty of the Board to consider very carefully what will or could be the effects—and we believe they are as likely as not to be injurious—on the costs of the port should the Scheme be applied as far as loading and unloading are concerned at that particular port. I hope that no noble Lord will claim against us that we are seeking to maintain low standards of employment or pay, because that really would not be true, let alone fair. But I do not believe there is a question of fair or unfair in this; it just certainly would not be true. That is in no way what we intend, and in no way what we wish. What we seek by this series of Amendments is a written assurance that all factors relating to the costs of loading and unloading will be carefully considered, and we are seeking a written guarantee of that in the Bill at this point.

I referred earlier today to a slight lack of precision in Clause 6, but we believe that this aspect that we are discussing now is one on which we require the clearest indication that the Board shall—and that is very important; not may, or even might, or ought to—give consideration to the cost effectiveness of implementing the Scheme. As the Bill stands at present the word "efficient" can mean many different things to many of us, and to those of my noble friends on the Benches behind me the word does not imply actual and precise definitions of what efficiency could mean. We believe, especially in the present economic state of the country, that economic efficiency, especially in dealing with ports, and the exports and imports of our worldwide trade, is paramount.

Perhaps the noble Lord who is to reply may indicate that naturally the Board would certainly take into account the cost effectiveness of implementing the Scheme, and that our fears are totally groundless. I do not know which noble Lord is going to reply, but he may say that there is very little between us in intention on this. I am just surmising, but if that proves to be the case, why can he find any reason for not granting this Amendment substantially, if not totally?

The Second Amendment of the series of three to which I wish to speak at this point is concerned with the risk of unemployment rising, as we see it, through the financial implications of the full operations of the Bill. I mentioned the need for financial efficiency, for cost saving, and for flexible use of highly paid labour and equipment at all ports, be they large or, as I might call them, middling. We have heard in our previous considerations of this Bill in Committee, and we shall be hearing again later today and later on and in the next stage, that the smaller ports and the middling ports are particularly vulnerable to any increase in costs, however insignificant they may seem as part of a much larger port, a much larger estuary, or area. However large the particular area which may be served by this port, even if it is a fairly small port, if it is in a large area then any minimal increase in costs could well, and we believe will, have a considerable effect on the area served by that particular port.

What I have in mind in this particular case is where the Board deems the work of loading and unloading as requiring to be done by dockers, and possibly even in such cases as I mentioned earlier in discussing Clause 6, and these registered dockers would have to be brought in on what possibly might be a temporary or semi-permanent basis from outside the area served by that port. There is also the possibility of disagreement over how the work should be done, and indeed of differing practices which might be the practices of incoming dockers who might be learning different methods which would have to apply to that particular port and the trade which is carried on there. We have serious fears that should the Board not take into account, and be ordered virtually not to take into account, and pay special regard to the possibility that the port operations would be uneconomic under the Scheme, there is a great risk that there is going to be over-manning, with all the attendant risks of costs rising beyond what the users of that port can afford. Especially I believe this argument is apposite to the small ports. We believe that the only method of bringing the port into financial health in this particular case would be to lay off labour, or make it part-time or casual. All of these remedies are the evil which we, as indeed the Bill does, seek to eliminate.

The third Amendment to which I want to speak with this series is a lot more broadly phrased than the others, but I believe its meaning is similar and I believe is equally important. There cannot be a case for extending the Scheme to a port which already provides an efficient service to all the port users who export, or who may import through it, if indeed the work force, and everybody there, is enjoying benefits which are in most cases superior to the terms envisaged by the National Board. I am sure that the National Board will discover this when they carry out their inquiries around all the different estuaries, ports, and areas, and indeed throughout the country when they come to try to implement this Scheme.

In general this Bill, and particularly this clause and this series of clauses, 7, 8 and 9, is very comprehensive. The whole Bill is vast in its scope, and I believe it attempts to cover a whole host of points. Naturally it cannot be as precise as we feel might be desirable. But this particular clause is defective since in all the criteria, and in all the qualifications set out in the Bill and in this clause, nothing indicates that the Board shall primarily concern itself with the economic health of the whole port, the employers, the employees, the port users and, as the Government kindly through the noble Lord, Lord Oram, admitted at an earlier stage, the wider public interest. Indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Oram, in our last deliberations promised that the Government would take special consideration of the public interest, and we are grateful for that assurance. But we believe that these Amendments fall into a category of the public interest at large, and we also take to heart the comments made by the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, when he expressed his, and presumably the Government's, opinion that the rise in costs due to the implementation of the Scheme would be, I think he said, negligible. Perhaps he, or the noble Lord who is to reply, and indeed the Government, could give us a view as to how they are going to amplify this comment, because all of us on these Benches have the utmost concern over the implications of this particular clause on the financial health of the port industry as a whole.

12.18 p.m.


I should like to support my noble friend Lord Lyell and again emphasise to noble Lords opposite that, in my view, so much of this Bill has been drawn up on the basis of the major ports fully occupied, or substantially occupied, in the export and import trade, and many of them in the hub of great industrial centres. But, as framed so far, this Bill could very well include very small ports only intermittently used for exports in their own hinterland. There are, for example, areas in the West country, Wales, and in Scotland where it has been found efficient and viable that regular supplying ships should transport cargoes in those ports that are by no means fully used.

Any reference to the employment records of some of these areas where the hinterland is probably mainly agricultural, and where efforts have been made to create a balance of some industrial undertakings, will show that it is common practice there for many of the local community to take alternative jobs in different seasons, and that they do not lose by that. They have their summer period when they take jobs created with the tourist trade; at other times they may be perfectly adequately and well paid for the work they do when the demands in the docks are there for them.

My fear of the Bill is the effect it may have in areas where there may be five days a month of cargo handling, efficiently worked out by local exporters so they know that their loads go on a given day or that their imports come in at given periods in the year, knowing that they will be efficiently and, as all the statistics show, much more cheaply handled. If it is considered that this limited amount of cargo handling demands the Dock Labour Scheme, it is inevitable that those ports will be forced to have throughout the year and be unable to sack people who they know from the start they cannot fully employ legitimately throughout the year.

We must also consider many of the other unions because the Government have not made it clear what the position will be, for example, on cargoes which may be taken by road. Some of the international companies which send imports to us will have to be considered if their present vehicles coming across to these ports will have an area where the handler is changing, where the exporter to this country does not know who will be handling his vehicles or his commodities. They may be going far distant inland and it is important that we should have some analysis of cost effectiveness. On this issue, the takeover of the smaller ports must inevitably split the work between two unions and greatly increase the costs of those ports and possibly make them no longer viable.

12.22 p.m.


I strongly support the remarks of my noble friend Lord Lyell and I particularly endorse what my noble friend Lady Hornsby-Smith said; in fact she said much of what I would have said, so I will not bore your Lordships by repeating it. Of the three Amendments under discussion, I wish particularly to direct the Committee's attention to No. 44 because it is crucial to an understanding of the implications of the Bill and it is, if for no other reason, why it is essential that the Board should take cost effective factors into consideration in preparing its report.

I do not know how many of your Lordships in recent months have been trying to help people find jobs. I have, and there are no two ways about it but that all firms, for reasons which I need not elaborate, are having to cut down not only on what they have but on any ideas they might have had of extending their labour force at all levels, from the most senior managers down. It seems therefore that anything which will create an artificial right to a job for a particular group of people will have the sort of effect which Amendment No. 44 seeks to avoid. The reason, of course, is purely economic and maybe this country will enter into a brighter phase in the future, though I suggest it will not until noble Lords opposite are sitting on these Benches. Be that as it may, it will not happen quickly, wherever any of us are sitting in this Chamber, and therefore at this time it is particularly important, if the Bill goes through, that the question of cost effectiveness should be of the highest importance for consideration by the Board in preparing its report on what are effectively the jobs which should be classified as dock work.

There are other factors. It is generally recognised, certainly by trade union members I have talked to, that dock labour costs more. I will not elaborate on that now, partly because it is a matter of opinion as to how much more and it varies greatly from locality to locality and firm to firm; but the fact is that it seems to be generally agreed that it costs more and, if it costs more, then it is an important point to be taken into account, and this group of Amendments seeks to ensure that the Board does just that.


On behalf of those on these Benches I welcome and support this group of Amendments, though I doubt whether such support is necessary because I anticipate that the Minister will enthusiastically welcome it also. I say that because the purpose of this group of Amendments is to ensure that if the scheme is extended, the question of cost effectiveness will he taken into account. The noble Lord, Lord Jacques, made it abundantly clear earlier in our debates that the Government believe that extending this scheme to the small ports would reduce the costs involved. I remind the noble Lord that on Wednesday he said that the scheme, …is very little else but decasualisation of labour. And decasualisation of labour does not necessarily increase costs. It has been my experience over the years that when you have part-time labour, to come at your request at the time you want it, you have to pay more for it per hour than you pay for full-time labour". I suspect there is a logical fallacy somewhere in the contention that part-time labour is cheaper than full-time labour. But if that is what the Government believe, they will welcome these Amendments. Lord Jacques added in the next paragraph: There would, in the case of the dock industry, in our opinion, be some saving in costs, because of improved industrial relations."—[0fficial Report, 13/10/76; col. 322–3.] The noble Lord was perhaps overlooking the 79 strikes that took place in 1975 among registered dock workers and the comparatively small number of industrial disputes that took place in the non-scheme ports. But if he believes that an extension of the scheme will improve industrial relations and will lower costs, it must follow that he will welcome enthusiastically this group of Amendments. Indeed, he will have the small ports and employers clamouring to he included in the scheme. In those circumstances, these Amendments speak for themselves and I invite the Government to support them.


I hope that in replying to the two important points that have been raised the Government will be specific as to what is involved. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Wigoder, made plain that we are here dealing with mainly small ports, not with warehouses and so on in the cargo-handling zone. We are dealing with the loading and unloading of cargo in ports outside the 1967 scheme, and this is therefore a much more open field than ports under the 1967 scheme which were covered by the last clause we were debating. I imagine this would involve to a considerable extent the dealing with roll-on and roll-off cargoes and with containerisation in small specialised ports, but I hope that the Minister will he specific so that we may know exactly what we are talking about.

I entirely agree with what Lord Wigoder said and I think particularly of some of the ports in the outlying parts of Scotland where the people who load cargo on to ships or unload it from them are called to do that work when the ship heaves in sight and return to what are really their normal occupations when the ship finally puts out to sea again; as the noble Lord said, they have several occupations and handling cargo is one of them. It is not a casual occupation. There is nothing casual about it. This is part of their regular employment and we must be care ful about the use of the word "decasualisation". Quite plainly, however much more the chaps are paid for casual work, the cost would be enormously increased if they were in regular employment. I have seen estimates that in some ports the increase would be as much as 250 per cent. and might even go up to 500 per cent. if the postman and the person engaged in the fishing industry and the person with a croft of his own to run came along and their work was declared classified dock work so that they were permanently paid for all the time they were doing their postmen's job, their croft work and all the rest of it. It would be totally inapposite and I hope that the noble Lord will be able to deal with this kind of problem.

I also hope that he will be able to consider the problem of small ports. If small ports are to be manned by people who are "bussed" from larger ports, what would be the extra cost in terms of time lost in travelling from the larger to the smaller port? However, the major point here is that these factors should be taken into consideration by the Board. The Bill does not say this and it absolutely must do so.

12.32 p.m.


First, may I remind the Committee that the Bill distinguishes between loading and unloading, on the one hand, and other cargo handling, on the other? The tests and procedures in the latter case are much more stringent and I hope that the attitudes of your Lordships will reflect that fact.

Amendment 43 is the first of three Amendments down to Clause 7 (and two others to Clause 8) which are concerned with possible economic effects of classifying work as dock work. This Amendment, unlike the other four, relates solely to the criteria which determine whether the work calls for the engagement of a permanent labour force. During Committee stage in the House of Commons an Amendment was discussed which would have added the words "and more economical" after "efficient". Commenting on that Amendment, the Minister of State said that the intention appeared to be that the Board should consider questions of the cost of employing a permanent labour force on the work. He pointed out that, where an employer was currently using casual labour on a regular and constant basis to avoid paying National Insurance contributions and making proper pension provision, it could be argued that engagement of a permanent labour force would raise his costs. He stressed that it was not the intention that the Board should determine for this reason that such work currently being done by casual labour should remain outside the Scheme, and he could not therefore advise acceptance of the Amendment. The point which the Minister of State made then is equally valid as regards Amendments No. 43.

A great deal of consideration has been given to this question since the debates in the other place, but it is still felt that it would be undesirable to insert a specific provision of the kind mentioned in these Amendments. The phrase "countervailing considerations" used in the Bill means that the Board must take into account all the factors which are relevant to its decision whether or not to recommend classification.

At this point, I should like to comment on an issue raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Hornsby-Smith. She gave the example of a port where there was cargo on only five days a month and the people concerned with that cargo were normally working in agriculture. I would say that that situation—


I am sorry if I expressed myself badly. I referred to the area being agricultural in the main but I added that industries were there. I hope I never suggested that the agricultural workers were drafted in to do the dock work. I think I aligned it with the tourist trade. I am sure that the noble Lord would not wish to misrepresent me and I believe that, if he reads what I said, he will not draw the conclusion he has.


I am sorry if I have in any way misrepresented the noble Baroness. I certainly had no intention of doing so. I do not think it vital to specify whether these people are normally employed in agriculture or something else. I would say that if there is to be cargo on only five days a month the circumstances prevailing at that port would never pass the specific tests in the Bill for classification. Even if, by any remote chance, such a port did pass the tests, the Board is impelled by the terms of the Bill to take into account countervailing considerations. That is a last stop, as it were. However, I do not believe that we should ever get to the last stop in the sort of case mentioned by the noble Baroness.

I am, however, concerned about the question of financial viability which is inevitably raised when the subject of cost, cost effectiveness, economy is mentioned. In the Government's view, the Board could not have the expertise or the information necessary to take final decisions on financial viability. A judgment about financial viability would almost certainly require careful consideration of what, for the undertaking, would be sensitive commercial or financial information. The Secretary of State could justifiably ask for such information and the undertaking could supply it with the certain knowledge that confidence would not be breached. On the other hand, the Board might well feel that it would not be right to request such information—remember that there will be employers or, in other words, competitors on the Board—and, even if it did, the undertaking might quite properly feel that it was under no obligation to supply it. Therefore, the Board could, in many cases, be reaching views on the basis of partial information. These constraints would not apply in the case of the Secretary of State.

We believe, therefore, that the intricate questions of financial viability and whether the section of the work is concerned with loading and unloading or whether it should be the undertaking as a whole arc matters which must be dealt with by the Secretary of State who can reasonably call for the information and make a proper conclusion based on complete information.

Amendment No. 45 as drafted would mean that the Board could in no circumstances recommend classification if financial viability was affected. If the operations could be sustained only with the regular and constant use of casual labour it could well be right for the Board to recommend classification. To argue otherwise would be to condone the use of casual labour because the employer was, say, a man of straw who could not afford proper terms and conditions of employment. It would surely be wrong to argue that employers should not provide proper terms and conditions because they could not afford them.

We therefore feel that in many cases the question of financial viability will not be relevant. But where it is relevant—and there are many cases where it could be relevant—either for a section of the work or for the undertaking as a whole, we believe that it is best dealt with by representations to the Secretary of State who, without any breach of confidentiality, could he fully informed and come to a sensible decision based upon the whole of the information—


I may have missed this point, but is there any reference in the Bill to the duty of the Secretary of State to consider financial viability?


The recommendations of the Board have to go to the Secretary of State to whom representations can be made. He has to take into account those representations, and if they are on financial viability then he is concerned with financial viability.


Without wishing to jump ahead, perhaps I could help the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, by suggesting that if he agreeably, as I hope, will accept my Amendments Nos. 46 and 62, that perhaps would answer his problem about financial expertise which he says the Board would not have. I just throw that suggestion in so that my noble friends could perhaps bear it in mind.


I am not disposed to discuss Amendments Nos. 46 and 62, with which I entirely disagree. But I would add that one representative on a Board with some commercial knowledge is not sufficient to justify that Board being regarded as having the expertise for dealing with the question of financial viability. But there is more than expertise raised here; there is the question of whether the information would be supplied to the Board. I do not think that it would be supplied to the Board. One would not supply information to a Board on which some of one's competitors are sitting. I think that for the reasons I have given the information should be considered by the Secretary of State and he should come to his conclusion.


First, I should like to comment on the reply of the noble Lord, Lord Jacques. I may in appearance be one of the younger Members of your Lordships' House and I may be one of the more gullible, but I am amazed by the noble Lord's reply. The noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, suggested to the Government—indeed invited them—to support the, I hope, beneficial intentions behind this series of Amendments. I cannot stress strongly enough that we on these Benches, and I believe the whole of the Committee, want to help the port industry. We believe that the Bill may in its intention wish to help the port industry, but we disagree as to how the Bill is to do that, particularly in the sphere of the three Amendments.

I really cannot accept that any attempts to ensure cost effectiveness should be classified as I believe the noble Lord, Lord Jacques said in opening his arguments to Amendment No. 43. To say that avoidance of bearing financial responsibilities for running the port is indeed the target is absolute nonsense. I cannot understand why the noble Lord, and indeed the Government, wish to link any reference to cost effectiveness to any form of evasion of responsibilities. Why can the port employers and the users not reduce their costs, while at the same time carrying out these financial surveys and perhaps changes in the pattern of work carried out at the ports, in conjunction with the work force? Anybody who knows anything about the workforce at the small, medium or even large ports will know that one cannot achieve any worthwhile improvement in industrial relations without consulting the workforce and indeed the port employers. I cannot agree with the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, in his belief over the fears of my noble friend Lady Hornsby-Smith about the small ports. I have not found anything in the Bill which spells out this position. I wonder whether the noble Lord wishes to give me chapter and verse?—perhaps not yet.

The noble Lord, Lord Jacques, mentioned the composition of the National Board. I think I heard him right when he said that the Board would not have the financial expertise to consider cost effectiveness and efficiency of the various aspects of the port industry. I believe that that was one of the most damning comments about the National Board and about the Bill as a whole. I am amazed that the noble Lord suggests that there would not be financial expertise. Surely that would be one of the prime responsibilities of the Board as a whole, and particularly, I hope, of the employers' representatives on the Board. Would the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, really believe that the trade union representatives on the National Board would have similar inexperience of matters which concern them? I just cannot believe that.

The noble Lord may wish to stick to his position, but I find it quite amazing. It is utter nonsense to believe that employers are unable to provide well paid employment to their workforce due to financial costs and pressures. It is very much in the interests of the port employers to provide the best conditions for their employees, and in many cases at the ports which I have argued about, both today and at earlier stages, the employees are paid better than they would be, I believe, under the Scheme.

But I am completely amazed that the noble Lord believes that the National Board would not have at least one member and I hope two members—certainly on the employers' side—with a working knowledge of finance, financial efficiency and cost effectiveness. One such member of the Board might be a specialist financial member, but I should hope that even two, three or four other members, or even the trade union representatives would have more than a passing knowledge of these matters. I am amazed about this. I wonder what other noble Lords feel.


I want to reply to that. I wish to deal with three issues, starting with the question raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Hornsby-Smith. The case which she put would not pass the test in Clause 7 of the Bill, which is whether for its efficient performance the work requires a permanent labour force. Quite clearly the case which she cited, taking the facts as she gave them, would never get past that test—


I am grateful to the noble Lord for giving way. But with great respect to him, I must point out that the job is efficiently carried out, but it is available only during limited periods in some of these docks. I am not suggesting for a moment that the handlers at present doing that work are not fully competent and capable of doing it. But my fear is that because there are only limited periods, however admirably the work is carried out, over say a month, the implementation of this Scheme on these docks would mean that people would be paid for a month's work when there was only five days' work involved.


There is a misunderstanding here. I am not saying whether they are doing the work efficiently or inefficiently. I am saying that in the circumstances which the noble Baroness gave us, where a cargo is handled five days a month, it would in my opinion be ludicrous to say that it required for its performance a permanent labour force. It would never pass that test in the Bill. Even if it did there is a long-stop, which is that the Board is required to take account of countervailing considerations, even after it has taken account of the tests in the Bill. Now I come to the main question.


Before the noble Lord leaves that point, I wonder if he could define a little what he means by "efficient performance". Does he mean being cost effective; and, if so, why does the noble Lord object to this Amendment?


I object to this Amendment because I have shown that there is already a provision in the Bill. Are you asking me to put something in the Bill twice? I have already shown that the question of the efficiency of the work is already covered in this particular clause of the Bill. In this particular clause, whether the work requires for its efficient performance a permanent labour force is one of the tests already laid down. The noble Lord is saying that it is the same test as cost-effectiveness. I am not going to argue about that, but if he is right it is already in the Bill.


The harbour authorities at Stornoway consider that, as the Bill is at present drafted—and I think they have had legal advice on this—it will cost them £25,000 a year extra. Does the noble Lord consider that cost-effective or efficient or does he think that the harbour authorities at Stornoway are wrong? Someone must be wrong somewhere.


I cannot accept their estimate of £25,000. I have not got the information on which to come to a conclusion whether it is either right or wrong. Nor have I got the information which would lead me to the conclusion that the work would or would not be classified. It is ridiculous to expect me to answer for a particular port the kind of question which has been asked.


But this was raised on Second Reading, and the noble Lord, Lord Oram, gave exactly the same answer. One would have thought that, if he was wrong there, the Government would by now have made inquiries on this very point to see whether they were right or wrong.


Inquiries regarding a particular port will be made when that port is under consideration. When that port is being considered, then the kind of factors which the noble Lord has put forward will be matters for consideration, but not in the meantime, not in the Committee stage of this Bill. The costs at Stornoway are not a relevant matter at this stage except by way of example.


Would the noble Lord not agree that in our present economic and financial situation it is grossly irresponsible of any Government to bring forward as far as Committee stage such a Bill as this, when they have so manifestly not done their sums on any part of the Bill as to what the cost to the consumer will be?


I think that is a completely unfair statement, and could not be fairly drawn from what I have said. What I have said is that it is quite ridiculous to expect me to answer questions on additional costs at one particular port, Stornoway. I was not dealing with the general issue of how much the overall costs would be and how much they would not be. I think that was an unjust inference that was drawn by the noble Lord. But I want, if I may, to continue.

What I am submitting is that there are tests in the Bill, and, in addition to those tests, there is a longstop. The Board must take into account countervailing considerations. That is the longstop. In addition, I am suggesting that if cost-effectiveness, economical running and financial viability are going to be considered, then they have to be considered on the basis of precise information—information which the Board can ask for and which employers are prepared to provide. I am suggesting that it would embarrass employers to provide that information to the Board in many cases—not in all—and that it would be much better if that kind of matter was left to the Secretary of State when the recommendations are made to him. The information can he called for by him or submitted voluntarily to him in the knowledge that it will not be considered by other employers in the industry, and that it will be considered by the Secretary of State as a confidential matter; and, having got the whole of that information, he will be more likely to have the expertise available for coming to a conclusion as to whether the recommendations of the Board are reasonable or otherwise.

I am not saying that cost should not be taken into account; I am not saying that financial viability should not be taken into account. But I am saying that it should be taken into account only after full information is available to people who have the expertise to come to some conclusion upon the basis of the information so available.

12.56 p.m.


The noble Lord has been telling us what he has not been saying, but I am astonished at what he has been saying because, in effect, he is saying that at the Board level there is to be no consideration of cost at all, or very little indeed.


I have said the opposite. I have said that the Board must take into account countervailing considerations, and I have said that countervailing considerations would include all representations which had been made to it. If representations had been made to it on cost, then it would have to take cost into account. What I am saying is that if there is the much bigger question of financial viability to the undertaking, then that is best dealt with by the Secretary of State by representations after the recommendations have been made to him.


The noble Lord now switches it on to the grounds that there are wider considerations. Surely, all along the way the Board must know how many extra men would be involved by classifying the work. They must find that out. They must also find out what is the comparison of wages and conditions as between what exist at the present time and what would exist if the work were classified. It is a fairly simple sum. It does not need great accounting and financial expertise in order to he able to be able to find that out, and it would be absolutely astonishing if the Board were not equipped with sufficient expertise to do that. As to financial viability, I think perhaps the noble Lord is reading rather too much into what the Amendment says. It is financial viability of the operations constituting the work, not of the firm as a whole. It is the financial viability of the operations, and that is a very different matter.

I think that this is so central to the whole question that the noble Lord must look at it again. In the first place he must accept these Amendments, and then change his attitude to this Bill altogether because of the absolute necessity for the nation as a whole to make certain that we are keeping our costs as low as we possibly can. It is all very well for the noble Lord to say—and I wrote down what he said—"It surely would be wrong to argue that the employer should not maintain proper terms and conditions because he could not afford them". In some ways, of course, this may not arise very much because if he has to pay more he can presumably put up his port charges; and in many cases there is very little option as to which port should be used. So it will not be the employer who is suffering; it will be the public, the nation, the producers, the users of raw materials coming in, and so forth. The noble Lord does not seem to have any conception of this.

Apart from the fact that what the noble Lord has just said uses an extraordinarily question-begging word, "the 'proper' terms and conditions", I wonder what would be said if that were taken to, the IMF. I put down in my notes here, "Tell that to the IMF". Of course you must consider what you can afford to pay your workers, and this is particularly what participation means. You have to sit down together and decide what is the maximum that you can pay your workers, while remaining viable. That was a most extraordinary statement. It will remain on the Record, and will illustrate very strongly the attitude of this Government to the whole of our national affairs.


Why does my noble friend give way every time noble Lords opposite come along with petty-fogging trivialities? Everybody understands what they are driving at. How is it possible to define the circumstances which would justify an employer doing one thing or the other in connection with the handling of cargo, or with the container problem? It is quite impossible to decide that in advance. They know that very well and if they do not know it they are more ignorant than I believe them to be. If they want to divide, then let them divide. Why bother? Anyway, it will do them a bit of good to divide. They will justify their existence.


Before there is any Division, may I just make three points? First, there will obviously be occasions when increases in costs are wholly justified, because there will be cases where an employer is escaping from his liabilities by the habitual employment of casual labour. I mentioned National Insurance and pension provision, and that increase in costs should not debar the Board from recommending classification. That is one danger that we see in these Amendments.

Secondly, there will be cases such as those mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, where it is simply a question of calculating what is the present labour cost and what would be the cost if it were a full-time labour force. That is something which the Board ought to take into account. Then we come to other questions which have been raised on these Amendments. There is, thirdly, the question of financial viability of part of the undertaking, or of the undertaking as a whole. I have said that, because of the need for getting full information for which the Board might be reluctant to ask or may not receive, that matter should be dealt with by the Secretary of State when the recommendations are made to him. I regret that I can give way on none of these Amendments. None of them is acceptable. Nor can I say that we are prepared to consider them.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.

1.11 p.m.

Lord LYELL moved Amendment No. 44: Page 9, line 40, at end insert ("and (iii) if classified as dock work can continue to be performed economically without any risk of the undertaking where the work is performed being rendered uneconomic with the consequent loss of employment.")

1.3 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 43) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 75; Not-Contents, 43.

Airedale, L. Gladwyn, L. Newall, L.
Allerton, L. Glasgow, E. Nugent of Guildford, L.
Amory, V. Gowrie, E. Powis, E.
Ampthill, L. Greenway, L. Redesdale, L.
Balerno, L. Grey, L. Renwick, L.
Banks, L. Gridley, L. Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.
Barrington, V. Grimston of Westbury, L. St. Davids, V.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. St. Helens, L.
Berkeley, B. Hives, L. Sandford, L.
Boothby, L. Home of the Hirsel, L. Sandys, L.
Burton, L. Hornsby-Smith, B. Sempill, Ly.
Caccia, L. Inchape, E. Skelmersdale, L.
Campbell of Croy, L. Ironside, L. Sligo, M.
Carrington, L. Kinnaird, L. Somers, L.
Clitheroe, L. Loudound, C. Spens, L.
Clwyd, L. Lyell, L. [Teller.] Stamp, L.
Coleraine, L. Mancroft, L. Strathclyde, L.
Craigavon, V. Marley, L. Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.
de Clifford, L. Masham of Ilton, B. Suffield, L.
Denham, L. Melville, V. Trefgarne, L.
Derwent, L. Merrivale, L. Vickers, B.
Drumalbyn, L. Monck, V. Vivian, L.
Dundonald, E. Morris, L. Ward of North Tyneside, B.
Elles, B. Mottistone, L. Wigoder, L.
Emmet of Amberley, B. Mowbray and Stourton, L. [Teller.]
Faithfull, B.
Brimelow, L. Harris of Greenwich, L. Peddie, L.
Brockway, L. Henderson, L. Platt, L.
Burntwood, L. Hirshfield, L. Sainsbury, L.
Champion, L. Houghton of Sowerby, L. Segal, L.
Chorley, L. Jacobson, L. Shinwell, L.
Collison, L. Jacques, L. Stedman, B.
Cooper of Stockton Heath, L. Janner, L. Stewart of Alvechurch, B.
Cudlipp, L. Leatherland, L. Stow Hill, L.
Davies of Leek, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B. Strabolgi, L. [Teller.]
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Lovell-Davis, L. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Douglass of Cleveland, L. McCluskey, L. Wells-Pestell, L. [Teller.]
Elwyn-Jones, L. (L. Chancellor.) Murray of Gravesend, L. Wigg, L.
Evans of Hungershall, L. Pannell, L. Wynne-Jones, L.
Goronwy-Roberts, L. Pargiter, L.
Hale, L. Peart, L. (L. Privy Seal.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Lord LYELL moved Amendment No. 45: Page 9, line 43, at end insert— ("( ) The Board shall not so recommend if in their opinion the classification of the work would adversely affect the financial viability of the operations constituting the work.")

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Lord MOTTISTONE moved Amendment No. 46: Page 10, line 5, at end insert— ("( ) The Confederation of British Industry and the Food and Drink Industries Council regarding the transhipment of food and other perishable goods.")

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 46 and to speak to Amendment No. 62 which is somewhat similar. In the matter of the writing of the report by the Board (which we have just been discussing) your Lordships will note that subsection (8) of Clause 7 says: The Board shall for the purposes of their report consult…and in particular consult— three public bodies which are listed. So far as Amendment No. 72 is concerned, when after going through earlier stages the Board is making recommendations about jobs that shall be considered as dock jobs, it is again asked "for the purpose of their recommendation" in Clause 8(6) to consult, …such persons as appear to them to be concerned with its subject matter; and they shall in particular consult— the three listed bodies.

There are three reasons why I suggest that these public bodies are not of themselves sufficient as consultees for the purposes either of writing a report or of making the recommendation. The first is that none of the bodies referred to is expert in the management of the activities in which the jobs will occur. They are public bodies which are not directly concerned with the management of companies. If it be argued that the National Ports Council will include members who have such management expertise, the implications of the Bill are that jobs will be considered in various forms of enterprise which will not necessarily belong to the National Ports Council. Therefore, the main and original purpose of my seeking to add to these public bodies free enterprise trade associations or groups of trade associations is that the expertise which is provided within the membership of such bodies shall he available for consultation in each of these two stages. There is no practical operating expertise available within the bodies mentioned so far.

The second reason for including, as well as the CBI, the FDIC (Food and Drink Industries Council) in both cases and the National Cold Storage Federation in the second case is that, as was made clear by me and by other noble Lords at Second Reading and in relation to other Amend- ments, one of the most important factors about the docks is that there passes through them 50 per cent. of the food requirements of this country, and the docks as they are today, let alone if they are extended, have potentially a stranglehold on the feeding of this country. I do not want to enter into any arguments about whether or not such a stranglehold will be used. That is not the point that I am talking about now. The fact is that because we all have to eat to live, because we are not self-sufficient in food and because a lot of the internal distribution of food goes in and around the ports anyway—even under the modifications in the Bill that we have agreed to in yesterday's Amendments—it is the food going through the ports which requires particular consideration with regard to its handling. It is the expertise of bodies who understand about the handling of food or, in relation to the cold storage people, the storing of food, that is of particular importance in deciding whether or not a job shall be declared a dock job. For that reason, I have added also the Confederation of British Industry and these food storage bodies in the two respects. These were my main reasons for putting down these Amendments.

However, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, who in his answers to the previous Amendment reminded me of another very important factor. He will remember that we spoke at length about the knowledge of financial matters that might be held by the Dock Labour Board or the local dock labour boards; how he questioned whether the employers would be prepared among other things to release information on financial matters to such a Board and how he argued, therefore, that the stage at which these financial matters should be considered in the greatest depth was when the affairs had got to the level of the Secretary of State. I am sure that the noble Lord will correct me if I have not got the gist of what he was saying.

As the noble Lord knows, I work for a trade association, the Cake and Biscuit Alliance, and I have therefore the privilege of knowing how such bodies operate. I can assure noble Lords that my members are most reluctant—and will do so only under threat of legislation or something similar—to release information directly to Government Departments, particularly if that information is going to be compared with other information that somebody else may release to Government Departments. We have various ways and means of collecting information, but the most acceptable way is through the trade association. So jealous are my members of some of the information which they release that they will not do so even through the trade association; and in certain respects we have employed a firm of outside chartered accountants to handle the information which is provided on an anonymous basis.

These are the kind of measures which have to be introduced, but the only point which is relevant is that the trade association is an essential link in the chain. When these matters are considered and the financial viability of the proposals is taken into account, it would be useful if the trade associations concerned were consulted on an obligatory basis. Then they could, if asked, help to obtain information which may be needed relating to the points which were discussed in the last Amendment. They could do this more readily than Government Departments, unless Government Departments wished to be draconian about the matter—and my experience is that generally speaking they do not. Our dealings with Government Departments relating to these sensitive matters have been splendid.

The Government Department with which one deals in particular is the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, and it is mentioned in the subsection which I seek to amend. In the first of my Amendments, however, it is mentioned only in relation to fishery harbours and not in connection with food, but the subsection which is affected by my Amendment No. 62 is also concerned with food. I wish in no way to denigrate the good work and co-operation of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, even though its title is the wrong way round. We believe that food should be treated more seriously than agriculture, but that is another matter which I throw in for good measure. However, I do not want to denigrate what that Ministry may or may not be able to do. Nevertheless, I think that the Ministry would say that in many cases it is easier to obtain information of various kinds from employers if they deal with a trade association. If that is the case, the Government may think that I should have inserted the words "the relevant trade association" in the Amendment, but this was not what I was seeking to do.

It seems to me that overall confederations like the Confederation of British Industries and the Food and Drink Industries Council are more suitable bodies to be listed in an Act of Parliament. The Confederation will refer as a matter of course to the relevant subordinate trade associations if there are any matters upon which their advice and help may be necessary. That is the way that the CBI works. In order to cover a wide range of goods—which does not relate only to food, important though food is in this context—it is better that the CBI should be there so that its expert knowledge, or the expert knowledge available to it, can be made available. With the greatest possible respect to the Government, the expert knowledge of the CBI is greater than that of the Government Departments listed—and always will be because it consists of people who practise daily the art of running enterprises and businesses.

In conclusion, may I say that these additions, which can be treated only as additional points of consultation, are not points through which a train has to go. In both cases we are talking only about the consultative level. Furthermore, all we are doing is to spell out a few more points of consultation, because the opening phrase of the subsection concerned says that the Board will consult anybody whom they think is suitable—or words to that effect. In this Bill it is important to make sure that the Board go a little beyond what they think is suitable and are guided to make a specific point of consulting the experts in the field who actually employ labour and know about jobs.

1.25 p.m.


First may I draw the attention of the Committee to the clause concerned; namely Clause 7(8): The Board shall for the purposes of their report consult such persons as appear to them to be concerned with its subject matter". It is at this point that the CBI and the relevant trade associations would be consulted. May I remind your Lordships that the CBI has to be consulted also regarding the composition of the Board. Therefore, the CBI would have people there who would be able to speak for them when it was required that they should be consulted. The subsection continues: and they shall in particular consult —

  1. "(a) the National Ports Council…
  2. "(b) the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food… and
  3. "(c) the Secretary of State as to any relevant responsibilities of his (under the Harbour Act 1964, or otherwise)…".


Then paragraph (c) says: in relation to marine works in Scotland".


Yes, the Secretary of State for Scotland, in effect. These three people have to be consulted because they have statutory responsibilities, but neither the CBI nor the trade associations have such statutory responsibilities. In those three cases we are obliged to make it mandatory, but it would be a nonsense to make it mandatory in the cases which the noble Lord has suggested.

Let us suppose, for example, that the issue raised is timber handling. If this Amendment were carried, it would be mandatory upon the Board to consult the Food and Drink Industries Council and the National Cold Storage Federation in cases where it was completely irrelevant that there should be any consultation with them. Because the people concerned who are mentioned in the subsection have statutory responsibilities, it is mandatory for the Board to consult them in all cases. However, in the case of trade associations which may or may not be involved it is for the Board to decide and for those trade associations to be consulted when it is relevant to do so. I should also point out that if we give way on this Amendment there are many more trade associations whose goods are handled at the ports which would require that they should be consulted. Finally, I should point out that it is open to the bodies named or to any other interested parties to make representations to the Board because the Board are required to take those representations into account.


If I may take the three points which have been made by the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, the first was that some of these bodies may have referred to them a matter which is irrelevant to their interests. It is a fact that all trade associations and similar bodies—and, I suspect, major trade unions—have many things referred to them, particularly by good Government Departments and by bodies such as the CBI (which is superior to individual trade associations), which are seeking to make quite certain that people's interests are not overlooked by mistake. These matters are referred to you and you write in, or even telephone sometimes, and say, "Thank you very much but we are not interested in timber. Go ahead and do what you wish".

To turn to the noble Lord's second point, that the inclusion of the bodies to which I have referred would give grounds for including many more, as the noble Lord did not pick up my point about financial expertise (regarding which I thought I was helping him on the previous Amendment, although obviously he did not think that I was) I will not pursue it. As the noble Lord did not take that up I will not pursue that line, but had he been a little more accommodating I was going to suggest that I appreciate that the food industry aspects of this are special and do not cover all the ground, and, as I explained earlier, I included them only because they are so important to the life of the country; and I think it would be good for the Government, and not only for public relations, to be seen to be concerned about the food supply of the country. That is just by the way.

I was prepared to consider that the Confederation of British Industry covers all the relevant interests and I would be prepared to consider sticking to them only and dropping the food people if the Government want to deny themselves the opportunity of being seen to be interested in the food supplies of the country.


I do not think I can add anything useful to what I have already said; I should only be repeating myself.


In that case I shall have to consult with my noble friends, but it would seem to me that probably the best thing is for us to drop the matter now and to pick it up again at Report stage. Perhaps in the meantime I might be able to have a word with the Government spokesman to see whether we cannot find an accommodation which suits us both. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Whether Clause 7, as amended, shall stand part of the Bill?

1.32 p.m.


This is a long and complicated clause and I do not think we have in any way discussed the machinery of it; we have rather been discussing its contents. It is about the reporting to the Board of work done in loading and unloading cargo outside the cargo-handling zone; outside the ports where the 1967 Scheme is in force. I should like just to consider the time factor here, because there is not much sense in doing an elaborate survey of this kind if you are going to get into a muddle and produce chaos; and you also want to give time for accurate information to be provided and, where consideration is necessary, as it is by the Board, for adequate time to be given for consideration.

First, the employers must report any such work and also the minimum and maximum number of individuals employed to do it in the month beginning with the appointed day. They are given three months to produce the report of the work that is being done in that month. After the Board have received the report they then have to inform any trade union mentioned in it and the union is given one month to make representations. Within that time the union will often have to make inquiries locally and probably send a representative down to see the employer. Allowing for the time for the Board to inform the trade union, for postal delays and all the rest of it, obviously the time up to that point will be at least four and a half months. It seems that one month for the trade union to make representations is hardly adequate; but if they do not make recommendations within that time then, to put it colloquially, they have "had it".

What will they do? They will probably feel obliged to make representations without adequate inquiries having been made because it is the only way in which to preserve their position, and that will not help the Board. How will the Board know whether or not they have made adequate inquiries? There is no means really by which they can know, so they will have to treat all these representations with great care, and that takes time.

Then the Board have to sort out all the information and make a report to the Secretary of State on every one of the reports that they receive from the employers, if I read the clause correctly. For that they are allowed the remainder of the nine months from the appointed day provided in subsection (6)(b). Thus the Board also have four and a half months. Each statement from each employer has to be considered individually in the light of the requirements of sub-section (7), with which we have been dealing, where in considering the report the Board have to consider whether the work is such that those who are employed on it need training. Whether they need training is a quite individual thing—and I quote: need training, aptitudes and experience the same as, or similar to, those of registered dock workers; and, secondly, whether the work, requires for its efficient performance the engagement of a permanent labour force". We have just been considering what this requirement will mean and, quite obviously, it will mean careful inquiry at each of the premises to see how efficiently the work is being performed. Also in appropriate cases the Board have to consult the National Ports Council, the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the Secretary of State for Scotland and the interests particularly concerned— such persons as appear to them to be concerned with its subject matter"— that again is a considerably time-consuming operation; they have to do all this in four and a half months— or such extra time as the Secretary of State may allow in particular cases". I cannot see how they can possibly do all that work in the time provided. Admittedly the Secretary of State may allow extra time in the case of any particular work. I am not really clear what that means. Does it mean particular work at particular premises, or particular work in general? It is not so much the work as the harbours for which the extra time for consideration in the case of each harbour will be needed.

Let me ask the noble Lord this: First, the employers have to get under way. How does the noble Lord envisage that this will be "kicked off"? Is he going to issue circulars? Is he going to publish this when the Act becomes law, or is he going to rely purely on the legal advisers of the various employers subscribing in order to get the Act of Parliament? I really think that the noble Lord must give careful consideration to this because a penalty is involved. If they want to get the Scheme off the ground quickly, and the employers will only have three months to make the report, they must take special measures to see that all the employers are informed of the requirements of Clause 7—that is, all the employers in the small ports not covered by the 1967 Scheme. It is all right so far as the 1967 Scheme is concerned; there is no particular difficulty about that. Clause 6 is all right.

Most Acts of Parliament give the authority concerned the power to require information within such time as they may require in the notice rather than giving a specific time in which to do it. They say, within such time as is required in the notice, being not less than"— a certain period. I wonder why that was not done in this case? In fact in Clause 9(3) that is precisely what is done. It says: The Board shall, within such time or extended time…report to him their opinion on the matters they ese directed by him to consider. The Secretary of State may say, "Well, you are not just asking the Board to report; you are asking a huge number of employers to report, and therefore you must impose a particular statutory period". But almost the reverse is the case where you have so many people from whom to collect information, and you do require greater flexibility to meet particular cases.

It seems to me that there are other defects in the clause. It seems to me that so far as smaller ports are concerned, it will depend on the time of year when the appointed day happens to be, if there ever is one. The employer has to state the minimum and maximum number of individuals employed on loading or unloading cargo, and they must do that in regard to the individuals employed during the month beginning with the appointed day. It would well be that the number will be very different in certain ports at one time of the year as compared with another, and it will be purely accidental when the appointed day occurs. Sometimes in the year the number may even be zero. There is no requirement to say for how many hours the individuals were employed in that month. I do not see how, without that information, the Board can possibly form a sensible judgment on the matters on which they have to report.

How on earth can the Board decide whether work should be classified with the employers on the strength of the labour force and its permanency unless the Board know the number of hours at present being worked per month in the port? The Government have got their criterion wrong. First of all, you need the number of hours, and you need that figure over a much longer period. You can either get a figure for the number of hours worked for each month in the last 12 months, or you can strike an average for the last 12 months, otherwise you will not get the right answer. In some cases, you may get more than the average in that particular period, and in some cases far less than the average.

If the Government want a survey of this kind carried out, I believe they must allow whatever time is needed to carry it out properly. If they try to get a rush job, they will get—and deserve to get—a thoroughly unsatisfactory result. I wonder whether the Government or the Board have calculated how many extra employees they will need initially for this period of nine months when they are carrying out the survey. It has been argued elsewhere that there should have been a survey before the Bill had ever been drafted. These three clauses provide for that survey in fact. I suppose the Government feel they had better not have a survey, but must try to force it all into a certain time. I think they have reached the wrong decision here. Even if they want to specify a particular time, they must be more generous in the time that is allowed.

I should like to know what will be the extra cost of the extra employees who obviously will have to be employed for this survey. I should like to know how many extra employees will be needed to help the Secretary of State to examine the recommendations of the Board. From what the noble Lord has said, the job is going to be a good deal more onerous than we had thought. The Secretary of State will consider the cost aspects, and the cost aspects are so important. I hope that the noble Lord will find all the answers to these questions in his notes on clauses. If not, I hope that he will at least answer as many as he can today.

1.45 p.m.


I should like to make one very brief point in support of my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn. I am thinking of three different docks. One has an eight-week circuit, in one case importing and in another mainly exporting fruit and vegetables. If the analysis is taken in December, it will make nonsense of the analysis. If it is taken in the height of the short season for exporting, the figures will be inflated. The same thing applies in a West country port where the only operation which is docker-handled is the importing of coal. If there is a very good summer when the stocks of coal are up, imports fade off, but given a heavy and severe winter the port carries a terrific load. I support my noble friend that this narrowing to one particular month cannot fairly reflect the conditions in docks which have seasonal variations in employment.


I should also like to support the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, on the question of the month concerned. If the Government took the trouble to read the Second Reading debate, they would see that one noble Lord—and I cannot remember who he was—spoke at considerable length of the exports of grain from Scotland over a short period of time. If the appointed day happened to be in that period, those ports would all be thrown completely out of order.


First, with regard to the questions of cost and manpower, these are in the usual place in the Preface to the Bill, where there is a paragraph dealing with the financial effects of the Bill, and the effects of the Bill on public service manpower. So far as concerns having firm periods which can be varied by the Secretary of State, I have no doubt that they are necessary. The Government have no doubt that there must be periods, but the periods must be reasonable. After consultation following the White Paper, and before the preparation of the Bill, we believed that the periods stated in this clause were reasonable. We certainly had no objection. Nevertheless, we will take into account what has been said by the noble Lord.


I should like to mention a drafting point. The first three lines of subsection (1) refer to "cargo", "ship" and "ports". The subsection proceeds to define "cargo" and "ship", but it does not define "port". So the reader might be excused for supposing that there was no special definition of "port" applying to this clause. But if he supposed that, he would be wrong, because if he had been reading the previous clause, he would have seen that subsection (6) says: In this section and section 7 below 'port' means…". so and so. I do not think it is good enough in a clause to publish an incomplete list of special definitions, and leave the practitioner to search the other clauses of the Bill to see whether there is some other special definition which applies to the clause he is considering, although that definition is not given in the list of definitions in the clause itself. So at the next stage I shall be moving an Amendment to insert into subsection (1) the definition of "port" which is missing from the subsection at present. I just mention that now so that the Minister will understand my reasons.

Baroness SEEAR

The noble Lord is, of course, technically correct in telling us that the manpower implications are to be found in the usual place, but since it finishes up the manpower forecasts by saying that the requirement, if any, for further staff in connection with the operation of the new Scheme, which will depend on the provisions of the new Scheme and the extent of its application, cannot at present be estimated, I really do not feel that that message gets us very much further.


If it cannot be estimated, I certainly cannot give a figure. Is the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, contending that the definition of "port", in addition to being in Clause 6 (6), should also be in Clause 7?


Yes. What I would move would be to leave out of Clause 6(6) the words "and section 7 below" and then in subsection (1) of Clause 7, at the end, insert: 'port' has the meaning given to it in section 6(6) above". Then you do not have to search from one section to another to find the special definition.


I should just like to thank the noble Lord for giving us notice that he is going to move the Amendment. Certainly it can be thought about from now.


Is not the only place in Clause 7 where "port" is mentioned where the ports in the 1967 Scheme are included in subsection (1)?

Clause 7, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 8 [Cargo-handling operations in general]:

1.57 p.m.

Lord LYELL moved Amendment No. 47: Page 10, line 31, after ("Act") insert ("and in particular to subsection (1A) below").

The noble Lord said: With Clause 8 we come to a series of Amendments dealing with a different concept, the second major concept that we shall be considering today. If I might suggest to the Committee that I could speak to four Amendments on the Marshalled List—at the moment I am speaking on Amendment No. 47—I should like to link with this Amendments Nos. 50, 51 and 57. I hope that this arrangement might meet with the convenience of the Committee. The problem that we on these Benches feel—and we hope that these Amendments might go some way to rectifying the problem—is one of the labour force at premises which may or may not be classified under the Scheme. The series of Amendments are concerned with Clause 8, and it is headed in the margin of our Bill "Cargo-handling operations in general".

We had a preliminary skirmish, if I could use that term, earlier in the week when my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn was told that in almost all cases cargo would have to be imported or exportable goods; in fact, that they would have to cross the sea. I understand that that is the definition which is given fairly clearly in Schedule 3. Indeed, we have to consult that Schedule for some indication of the definition of "cargo", as well as some—if I call them "mere hints", perhaps the Committee would agree, of what work may be classified as dock work.

If I may first of all speak about the first two Amendments, Nos. 47 and 50, the Committee will gain a better indication. In all the discussions that we have had earlier in the Bill much has been said about the changing pattern of trade in and around our ports—at least after the wise words of the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, we call them ports or harbours, but for the moment I will call them ports—about the differing and diffuse skills which are required to load or unload or to discharge the many types of gaseous, liquid and solid cargoes which arrive on or indeed leave our shores. Noble Lords will know that this type of trade never stands still and that the United Kingdom shippers and air freight specialists and other people handling exports and imports have to be competitive. This competition either arrives from elsewhere in Europe or grows within the United Kingdom.

So far as the former is concerned, competition arriving from elsewhere in Europe, rapid changes have, I would say, forced on the United Kingdom shipping industry into such diverse forms as roll-on and roll-off transport and containerisation, or even unitisation of bulk cargo, or much more specialised and skilled methods of shipping across the sea amounts of what we can call unorthodox freight. We shall be discussing these different and special cases later on in our deliberations on the Bill, but what I have in mind with these Amendments is mainly our large inland container bases and the food processing centres. Given that certainly over 50 per cent. of our total food supplies come from over the seas to the United Kingdom, these two industries are of the greatest importance to everyone in the country, because methods of transporting much of the food have changed swiftly, especially in the last nine years since the last Scheme came into operation; and that is a point we have to consider when taking the Bill as a whole and this clause in particular.

The use of refrigerated containers arriving either from Europe or from Scandinavia by roll-off and roll-on means, or as containers brought across the oceans in specially designed ships, has meant that what have already been described as traditional methods of dealing with these forms of cargo, of loading or unloading containers or of stopping or stripping these same metal boxes, have sometimes been moved inland, nearer to what are often the main centres of distribution.

Surely there cannot be anything sacrosanct about this particular work, or any reason why it should be totally, or indeed believed to be totally, reserved to dockers, if they were to make the claim that such work was theirs when it was performed in or around the dock area before these changes. But what has happened in the last nine years since the current, the 1967, Scheme was brought in is that completely new methods of packing and processing imported produce have been introduced and this has meant that much work has left the dockside areas, the wharves and the warehouses and is now carried out many miles inland. These new forms of work require very different skills and training from orthodox or traditional dock work but, unfortunately, the differences are often blurred and are subject to a certain amount of dispute; but, what is more, different unions have negotiated for the right to represent these new breeds of workers, if I can call them that, whose skills are developing very rapidly and have been developing from year to year. Thus we find that two unions, large and important unions, in particular the General and Municipal Workers' Union and the Union of Shop Distributive and Allied Workers, have had and continue to have widespread negotiating rights in the cold storage and food processing industries. Those rights are strongly recognised and they are established by almost all the employers in the industries concerned.

It is here that we come this afternoon to the nub of this particular programme of industrial relations in dockland, and also outside the dockland, because all along we have said during this Bill's discussions here that industrial relations in the port, or indeed in the cargo-handling industries or in any related industries, as these indeed are, have to be settled at the local level; yet this Bill seems to help the National Board to investigate and to alter what are excellent arrangements. Surely we, in particular on our Benches, have learned that interference in what are at present very good labour relations is the start of all the unrest and confusion, not to mention fear, that have been mentioned in connection with this Bill.

The Government in their wisdom have done precisely what we feared. They have sown confusion and apprehension among employers and unions, we believe needlessly. Indeed, in another place, the Member for Liverpool, Garston, Mr. Loyden, pointed out that there was at least one cold store which had been built in the Liverpool Dock area and he stressed that labour relations there were excellent. Sadly, such cold stores and container bases still continue to be regarded as some kind of Eldorado for certain sections of dock workers. Yet this laudable wish causes fears to the employers; they fear that they may have to employ dock workers superfluous to their present requirements. The noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, earlier in our considerations today presented this dilemma very clearly.

Likewise, the employees and their unions fear—reasonably or unreasonably, I do not know, but they have certainly so represented to many of us in this House and elsewhere—the arrival of what my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn might agree would be deployed dockworkers. Those employees who do not belong to the particular dockworkers' union concerned are afraid. They see that the arrival of these deployed dockworkers will be fertile ground for endless demarcation disputes and worries. We know that there is provision in the Bill for existing agreements between employers and employees to be honoured, but both sides in the container industry are apprehensive—I hope needlessly; we shall look forward to hearing about that. I hope noble Lords opposite will accept that this is not mere propaganda, as the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, would have us believe, or at least as he tried to have us believe in our last deliberations. I think he did mention the word; he considered much of the lobbying and the information we had received to be propaganda.


And before the propaganda a lot of scaremongering.


The noble Lord, Lord Jacques, has, if I may put it into a sporting parlance, achieved a right and left, in that I think there is a double amount of somewhat extravagant language there. I do not think it is necessarily scaremongering, and I have stressed that we on these Benches want to assist the process of helping in the docks.


I should be very happy to give the noble Lord clear examples, and give him the documents, of scaremongering.


Does the noble Lord wish me to produce examples at this stage? If I could have two minutes, I think I could produce from my files examples from a publication which I think goes under the name of Headlight, which I understand is the publication of the road haulage section of the Transport and General Workers' Union. They use somewhat unparliamentary language in referring to their brethren in the same union. I had probably better not risk quoting it, but they suggested there was "something" "to you, brothers", and there was a picture of one lorry driver bowing to a docker at the dock gates. This is a publication of the transport section of the Transport and General Workers' Union. I can produce a copy, if the noble Lord wishes me to, at a later stage. He asked for one example, and I hope I have given a partial reply at this stage. If the noble Lord wishes to say that this is scaremongering and propaganda, he is entitled to express that opinion. But much of the defence of the Bill which has emanated from the Government Benches here and in another place, and from around the country—I wonder whether it is necessarily propaganda—is in no way satisfactory.

Whatever the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, would call it, whether propaganda or scaremongering, connected to these fears that have been expressed to us, and I believe to many members of the Government and indeed to Members of another place who belong to other unions which are concerned in this industry, is the problem of how and where are to be spread the administrative costs which will be engendered by this split in the labour force. Should any concern or business where registered dockworkers are employed have to close down or otherwise reduce its labour force, there is going to be a responsibility on the National Board to provide, to see where alternative employment with other users of registered dock labour can be made available. Perhaps the noble Lord who is going to reply can inform us what should be the feelings of workers and employers at present working in the ports, and indeed of the users of these ports. I believe this is what lies at the root of our series of Amendments. These are indeed the fears expressed to us. I beg to move.

2.8 p.m.

The Earl of INCHCAPE

I should like to support this range of Amendments moved by my noble friend Lord Lyell, and particularly Amendment No. 51. I must first declare my interest. I am chairman of a merchant house which exports to most parts of the world, president of the Council of British Shipping, and chairman of a shipping company which also has road haulage interests. I am, therefore, a customer of the port industry in three capacities: as exporter, as ship owner and as road haulier. In each capacity I am very alarmed at the impact which this Bill could have on the haulage, warehousing, cold storage and packing industries, all of which are most important elements in any major port.

When I spoke in the Second Reading debate I referred to a recent speech of the Secretary of State for Employment, when he referred to the undesirability of splitting an integrated labour force in the docks by bringing some of them within the Dock Labour Scheme while others remain outside. Your Lordships now have an opportunity to avoid the risk of the sort of damaging split to which the Secretary of State referred. There are later Amendments which also attempt to deal with this problem. This one alone is not enough, but it is a good start. It would ensure that there was no risk of work being classified as dock work unless the majority of the work at the premises was classifiable. In these cases, at least, we will be spared the fragmentation of the workforce; we will avoid the workforce being split into main register dockworkers, extension register dockworkers and non-dockworkers.

It does not need much imagination to see that fragmentation would be bound to lead to inefficiency, high costs, demarcation disputes and other sorts of friction. This will hurt the customer and the proprietor, but it will also hurt the workers themselves. It could make the place a very unhappy one in which to work. It could also lead to the business, warehousing, cold storage or whatever it is, becoming uneconomic and uncompetitive. This would be a recipe for closure. The main register dockworkers might go somewhere else, but the extension register dockworkers and those not dockworkers at all might not be so fortunate, and the blame for those lost jobs would lie fairly and squarely on the Bill we are now considering. This Amendment provides a useful opportunity to avoid some of the risks of fragmentation which the Secretary of State outlined and which would be so damaging for all port users. I hope, therefore, that it is one which all your Lordships can support.

2.10 p.m.


I should like to support the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, in these Amendments. Of all the clauses of the Bill, I think that not one has given rise to more confusion and doubt than this clause, both with employers and employees, not so much with those who normally work and operate inside the docks, but those from outside the dock area who use, in part or in whole, the port services.

We have, for example, the question of import agents with warehouses for their supplies of goods who perhaps in their range have both home-produced commodities and imported commodities. The imported commodities, in the normal way, will be handled from the export countries by dockers, brought in by dockers, but once they arrive, if that warehouse is within the zone, then it would appear that if they wish to send some of their goods, even for export, to a faraway port, then indeed a southern warehouse—because these are goods going for export—might have to use dock handlers although the job would normally be done, and at the moment is being done, by road hauliers of the Transport and General Workers' Union. That would be the position if those goods had to be sent from a zoned warehouse and were going right across the country from the South to Liverpool for export to one of the Scandinavian countries.

Just imagine the confusion of warehouses which deal, say, with furniture. Some scion of the Foreign Office retires from a posting abroad. His furniture is sent home, duly embarked and disembarked by dockers, and is then in a warehouse within the zone. It may take him a couple of years to find the house of his dreams where he finally wants to retire, and all his furniture stays in storage all that time within the zone. Has it then got to be moved from the zone to, perhaps, the middle of Stafford-shire by dockers because it is imported goods? I do not understand how anybody cannot appreciate what the cost is going to be in split unions; two unions, one claiming that anything for import or export they will move, and the present unions which have dealt with all the handling within that warehouse, to and fro docks or locations—they may be another branch of the Transport and General Workers' Union, they may be the Municipal and General Workers' Union, or they may be USDAW.

There are warehouses where a proportion will always be circulating within the United Kingdom and there are goods where supplies are built up by imports and sales are made by exports. These, when within the zone, will be claimed as what should be handled by registered dock workers. Imagine the confusion when somebody holds stocks and has to keep two entirely separate administrative units of goods going abroad or within the country, or even going right across the country to be exported from a port there, which would normally be handled as an internal job by the road haulier side and by the general union warehousemen in that warehouse.

I really do not think that the Government have given sufficient thought and consideration, at a time when industry is doing its utmost to provide services, to hold down costs, to the effect this union splitting between jobs is going to have on many of the high service industries, whether it be agencies which stock food or those which stock other commodities.

Let us take, for example, an agency that, as part of its operation, imports foreign goods—maybe electrical appliances, maybe garments from Hong Kong, Italy or the Eastern countries. For the purpose of dealing with those imports they have got to have dock handlers within the zone. Let us suppose that the present representations of the CBI and the TUC to curtail certain imports were successful and came into effect. Immediately the quantity of Hong Kong or any other foreign garments that can be imported is slashed dramatically. But a firm is already landed with 30 dock handlers whom they cannot sack, whom they have got to continue to employ. If the extent of a firm's business activities decreases, who are the men who are going to be sacked—the USDAW or the General Workers' Union members?—because the employer cannot sack those who have been imported into the factory ostensibly to deal with goods that came in cargo handled and are now within the zone.

These are headaches, frustrations and a potential source of very serious and unnecessary demarcation disputes which Her Majesty's Government should have thought out more carefully, giving far more consideration to the representations made to them, before they produce a Bill which is going to provide nothing in efficiency, which is going to do very real harm in many spheres to labour relations, and which is certainly going to be a longstanding headache for those trying to conduct their businesses efficiently.

2.16 p.m.


The issue we are concerned with here is what is known as split premises. I understand from what the noble Lord said in leading this debate that he is regarding Amendment No. 50 as a paving Amendment. I should like to say that if Amendment No. 50 were adopted, it would have repercussions which I doubt whether he has thought of, and while I shall confine my comments at this stage to the main issue, that of split premises, if there is any question of a Division I should like to address the House on Amendment No. 50 by itself.

Split premises are premises which handle both cargo as defined in the Bill and home-produced goods. The Government accepted that there could be problems in such premises, particularly where there is an integrated workforce with everyone working under the same terms and conditions and doing work of a broadly similar kind. Therefore the Government put forward an Amendment to the Bill which has now become Clause 8(5)(c). But in introducing that Amendment the Government made it clear that the situation—and the right action for the Board to take—could be very different in premises where cargo-handling work was being dealt with by a group which was quite separate and which might be in one part of the premises, while non-cargo-handling work was being done in a separate part of the premises. In the debate in another place, it was explained that the possible situations were so varied and complex that it was not thought right to impose a specific prohibition on the Board but rather that split premises should be a matter for the Board to give specific consideration to—that is to say, to consider each case on its merits.

This Amendment seeks an absolute prohibition on the Board's recommending classification when "the majority of the work" done on the premises is not classifiable. There is no indication of what is meant by "the majority of the work"—whether it means man hours spent or tons handled or numbers employed. Likewise, in Amendment No. 57, "one half" is used without explaining how "one half" is to be calculated.

However, the main argument is that an absolute prohibition would wreck a major aim of the legislation. That aim is to enable the coverage of the Scheme to take account of what the ILO Convention on Dockwork called the social repercussions of the changes in cargo-handling techniques on the employment opportunities of dock workers. Unscrupulous employers—and there are always some—would be encouraged to seek to mix their businesses so as to escape their obligations to the docks industry. It is our view that the effect of the Amendment would be to help defeat one of the main purposes of the legislation.


May I make one observation. From what the noble Lord has said, it makes it all the more obvious that if the Board is to make recommendations on matters of the kind that he has been talking about, the Board should be, and be seen to be, absolutely impartial. This brings us back to what we were discussing at the outset; the balance of the composition of the Board.

2.21 p.m.


I cannot say that we are convinced by the arguments put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Jacques. He started his reply by mentioning separate parts of premises, and this might well be a reasonable example. However, another example that I would wish him and the Government to consider would be what I would call two lines, or sets of loaders of, say, dairy produce, butter, or food, who might be packing or unpacking for import or export, or perhaps re-export. Let us suggest that there is one line of packers, or process line, loading a roll-on roll-off container trailer where the driver, or another worker belonging to another union, may well be concerned with the loading, or some aspects of it, and yet the same workers belonging to the same union as those who were doing the loading would be loading another container which could easily be going by rail. We believe that this is another example which we should like the Government to consider. It is equally relevant to the case that the noble Lord mentioned of separate parts of the same premises.

When all has been said by the noble Lord and the Government, and by my noble friends, and despite the fact that the noble Lord said that this was written in by the Government, we are not convinced—and indeed many of the representations which have been made to us have shown that others concerned by this clause in the Bill are not convinced—by the noble Lord's argument, nor indeed by the Government's argument. I must stress that we are not satisfied. I do not know whether the noble Lord has any further comments.


We have made an Amendment to the Bill in Clause 8(5)(c), and I was trying to illustrate what the result of that would be on the consideration and ultimate decisions of the Board. Where there are two kinds of operations going on, one of which is classifiable and the other is not, and they are on entirely different parts of the premises, that would not be a very strong case for avoiding classification of the relevant part. Where there is an integrated labour force, then it is an entirely different matter, and of course there is a problem there which we recognised when we made that amendment to the Bill.


The noble Lord may feel that Clause 8(5)(c)—and I think it is the second part that deals with maintaining good industrial relations—is satisfactory, but I am afraid that we should like something even more definite on the lines of the Amendment. We do not feel that the second part of Clause 8(5)(c) is apposite or goes far enough to satisfy the fears that have been expressed to us. If the noble Lord has nothing further, or can give us nothing further on this clause, I am afraid we must seek to press this Amendment. Before we do this, I would confirm what the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, mentioned at the start of his reply; I do not think that from these Benches we are going to move Amendment No. 50. I think we shall be taking Amendments Nos. 47, 51, and 57 with this series of Amendments. The noble Lord mentioned that, if we wished to move Amendment No. 50, he would wish to make a separate reply. I do not think we intend to move Amendment No. 50, so I hope that he will not need to make a separate reply. With that, we stress that we want this Amendment in this Bill, and we seek to press it.

2.27 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 47) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 64; Not-Contents, 33.

Amory, V. Gowrie, E. Orr-Ewing, L.
Ampthill, L. Greenway, L. Platt, L.
Barrington, V. Grimston of Westbury, L. Redesdale, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Hayter, L. Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.
Burton, L. Hives, L. St. Davids, V.
Campbell of Croy, L. Home of the Hirsel, L. St. Helens, L.
Carrington, L. Hornsby-Smith, B. Sandford, L.
Clitheroe, L. Ilchester, E. Sandys, L. [Teller.]
Coleraine, L. Inchcape, E. Seear, B.
Daventry, V. Killearn, L. Sempill, Ly.
de Clifford, L. Kinnaird, L. Skelmersdale, L.
Denham, L. Loudoun, C. Somers, L.
Derwent, L. Lyell, L. Spens, L.
Drumalbyn, L. Macleod of Borve, B. Strathclyde, L.
Dundonald, E. Melville, V. Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.
Effingham, E. Merrivale, L. Suffield, L.
Elles, B. Monck, V. Trefgarne, L.
Elton, L. Mottistone, L. Vickers, B.
Emmet of Amberley, B. Mowbray and Stourton, L. [Teller.] Vivian, L.
Gainford, L. Ward of North Tyneside, B.
Gladwyn, L. Newall, L. Wigoder, L.
Glasgow, E. Nugent of Guildford, L.
Beswick, L. Hale, L. Murray of Gravesend, L.
Brimelow, L. Harris of Greenwich, L. Oram, L.
Brockway, L. Henderson, L. Pannell, L.
Champion, L. Jacobson, L. Peart, L. (L. Privy Seal.)
Chorley, L. Jacques, L. Shinwell, L.
Collison, L. Janner, L. Stedman, B.
Cooper of Stockton Heath, L. Leatherland, L. Strabolgi, L. [Teller.]
Cudlipp, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Lloyd of Hampstead, L. Wells-Pestell, L.
Elwyn-Jones, L. (L. Chancellor.) Lovell-Davis, L. Wigg, L.
Goronwy-Roberts, L. McCluskey, L. Winterbottom, L. [Teller.]

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.

2.35 p.m.

The Earl of GOWRIE moved Amendment No. 49: Page 10, line 32, leave out ("the cargo-handling zone") and insert ("a dock labour scheme area").

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

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Lord LYELL moved Amendment No. 51: Page 10, line 37, at end insert— (1A) Where the majority of work done on the premises is work which is not classifiable as dockwork the Board shall not recommend classification of any work done on these premises.")

The noble Lord said: This Amendment is consequential on Amendment No. 47. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

2.36 p.m.

The Earl of GOWRIE moved Amendment No. 52: Page 11, line 18, leave out ("(a)").

The noble Earl said: Once again we are dealing with the question of cargo handling. I remind the Committee that the context here is the power of the Board to make recommendations as to what can be classified as dock work. The Bill as drafted says that there are three grounds on which the Board can recommend that the work at any premises whatever may be classified as dock work. The original intention of the Bill, before our Amendments, was to apply a five-mile zone, a zone which would cover a considerable part of the industrialised areas of the country, I would say getting on for one-half of those areas, including in my view such unlikely candidates for a port as the City of Doncaster.

The Government also want powers to be able to classify any premises whatever within this enormous area as if they were cargo handling areas and as if effectively they were docks. The Government have said that they probably would not use these powers or that if they were to use them they would submit any decisions to other tests. Nevertheless, the Bill enables the powers to be used and one of our objections to the Bill is that it is framed almost entirely in what I would call the future conditional tense; it does not give us much information as to what may happen, only as to what it is possible for the Secretary of State to enact.

As your Lordships will know from our proceedings on Wednesday, we have amended this zone to the much more tightly defined area—we contend an area under the guidance of common sense—of half-a-mile from the waterway. We are now saying that we also need tighter definitions of the grounds even within this new context under which the National Board can classify work as being dock work. The Bill as drafted says that the Board can pick any of the three grounds itemised in Clause 4, whereas we say that they cannot pick any of them—that that is much too wide—but that they must have the subsection (1)(a) and that with that they must also have either (1)(b) or (1)(c). In other words, they must have two of the three grounds and they cannot leave it as wide as originally framed.

As I say, we have got rid of the five-mile zone, but this tightening is necessary to definitions of what may or may not be classified as clock work within the new half-mile zone. We arc anxious, as my noble friend Lord Inchcape said with great clarity on an earlier Amendment, to see that there is no increase in the possibility of demarcation disputes. I remind the Committee of the point I made several times on Wednesday; namely, that most industrial relations disputes in Britain are not simply between employees and employers, still less between groups of employees and any given Government, but may arise over demarcation disputes between groups of employees. The Government have stated that it is their intention that dock work be recognised as a skill involving specific kinds of expertise and training—the dignity of a profession, if you like—and we utterly agree with that, but if that is to be achieved then a much tighter definition of what dock work is or is not must be indicated.


In the Bill, it is only necessary for one of the grounds in Clause 8(4) to apply. If the Amendment were carried the deletion of "(a)" would mean that paragraph (a) would become a precondition and either paragraph (b) or paragraph (c) would have to apply. It would mean that it would be a precondition that the work concerned must be in substitution for work previously done by registered dock workers. In addition, either paragraph (b) or paragraph (c) would have to be satisfied.

The Consultative Document Dockwork explained that the application of statutory regulations to the ports has remained virtually unchanged since the introduction of the Scheme in 1947 and that its application varied considerably from port to port. The Document went on to explain that this could be the result of local traditions and practices which remained relevant today as in 1947. But the present coverage could perpetuate unnecessary and artificial distinctions between registered and non-registered dock workers which can hinder improvements in industrial relations and efficiency and which no longer remain relevant in the rapidly changing conditions of the industry. If, therefore, the Amendment is passed it would be impossible for the Bill to ensure that statutory control of employment can continually remain appropriate to changing conditions.

It would mean, for example, that the Liverpool tally clerks, who have expressed a strong desire to come within the Scheme and whose work is, in many respects, closely integrated with existing registered dock workers, would have to remain outside because the tasks they perform are clearly not in substitution for existing work. The fish bobbers in all the main East Coast deep-sea fish ports are all registered except at Hull. Again, that group has said over many years that its exclusion was the result of an historical accident and should be rectified in the interests of both the men and the industry. If the Amendment were made, that could not he done. It would put a stranglehold on the Scheme. It would insist that things which are now out of date in the ports where the Scheme is already operated could not be put right.

Another effect of the Amendment would be that if existing Scheme ports sub- sequently opened new installations at some distance from the old port and those installations handled trade that was new to the country, then the Board would not, under the Clause 8 procedures, be able to recommend that the Scheme should be applied to such work. Such a situation would be a nonsense. Therefore the Government believe that there are certain circumstances in which it would be appropraite for only one of the prima facie grounds to be satisfied. With that explanation, I hope that the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, will feel that, in view of the repercussions his Amendment could have, he should withdraw it.

The Earl of GOWRIE

If I withdraw my Amendment it will not be because I am frightened of repercussions, for it seems to me that all I am doing is taking the words of the noble Lord and his colleagues from the Bill and trying to give them a tighter definition by insisting that the Board should consider the circumstances under paragraph (a). That seems to me to be entirely reasonable. I will not press the Amendment now but will look at what the noble Lord has said. However, I reserve the right to return to it at Report stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

2.45 p.m.

Lord LYELL moved Amendment No. 57: Page 11, line 25, at end insert— ("Provided always that the Board shall make no recommendation unless more than one-half of all the goods handled at the premises in any continuous period of twelve months within the preceding five years are cargo as defined in Schedule 3 to this Act.")

The noble Lord said: This Amendment is consequential on Amendment No. 47. I beg to move.


May I point out that the Committee is doing a foolish thing here? In one part of Clause 8 we are using the word "majority" and in another we are saying "one half" and in neither case are we saying what we mean. I feel that these Amendments are making a mockery of this House.


Certainly, the present Amendment says one-half of all the goods handled". If we wish to get into a definition of "all the goods ", we might look in Schedule 3 for a perfect definition. Amendment No. 51 spoke of the "majority of work done on the premises". If the noble Lord wishes to go into a debate on work done and goods handled or exactly 50.005 per cent., measured or not, perhaps we might do so, but I feel that it is a little more than the principle. Does the noble Lord want to go into the detail?


I am just saying that the attitude which the Opposition is taking is leading us to send Amendments to the other place which are quite unsatisfactory, apart from their purpose, and that this is making a mockery of this House. But by all means persist in it if that is what your Lordships want.


Can the noble Lord first define what he means by improving this particular Amendment? He asked me for a specific example. I gave him one off the cuff. Can he give me one now?


When we dealt with these Amendments I explained that no attempt had been made to define either "majority" or "one-half". There was no indication whether it was tonnage or the number of people employed or anything else.


In each case, I should have thought; and I think that the House may agree with me. Whether it is a majority of the persons or of the work done, the latter might be measured in tons and the former could be measured in terms of the numbers of people. I should have thought that it was fairly evident how one measures the majority of the work done.


Some work in a particular place is done by people alone; other work is done by people and machines working together. One could get all kinds of answers: there must be some criteria laid down in the Bill.


If the noble Lord is referring to Amendment No. 51 and is bringing in how we measure operators working on a machine—that is, by the amount of power used or the life of the machine, we could not go on. If the noble Lord has suggestions as to how this might be drafted, by all means let him put them forward, but we believe that this is correctly drafted and it indicates what we have in mind. Certainly our minds are in no way imprecise. I feel that the noble Lord is being a trifle extravagant in saying that we are making a mockery. This is well drafted and, I believe, means what we intend.


This Amendment does not deal with numbers of people but merely with goods. It uses the words, "half of all the goods". I can see that the Minister has a point here. What does "half the goods" mean? Does it mean half the total value of the goods or half the number of hunches of bananas or whatever it may be? This is not crystal clear and, whether or not the Amendment is agreed, I should have thought that this expression, "half of all the goods" needs further definition before we send the Bill back to the other place.


Is there not a simple way of dealing with this complicated matter? As I understand it, the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, is asking the Minister to reconsider it or accept it. There is a better way of dealing with it. As the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, is not very clear about it himself and it is obvious that he is a little mystified about the whole business, why does he not take it back and bring it up at Report stage when his mind has been completely clarified? Would not that be a better way of dealing with the matter?


If it is in order for me to reply to the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, I should say that the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, raised not one Amendment but two Amendments. I was addressing myself to the criticisms of the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, on Amendments Nos. 51 and 57. I understand that the matter concerning one-half of the goods is fairly clear. The noble Lord, Lord Airedale, has a point. But the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, asked me about the two Amendments. He said that it was not clear. I thought that we had disposed of Amendment No. 51, but perhaps not. That is my reply, I hope, to the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell.


Amendment No. 51 has been dealt with, but I can only say that when I saw these Amendments I did not think for one moment that they would ever be pressed to a Division; they were so imprecise. I said, "Well, these are probing Amendments" I was absolutely astonished when a Division was forced on Amendment No. 47, and I am also astonished at what is now happening regarding Amendment No. 57.

The Earl of GOWRIE

There is a very simple solution here. If the Government do not like the Opposition's Amendments all they have to do is phrase them in a better way and we should be delighted to support them.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

The Earl of GOWRIE moved Amendment No. 58: Page 11, line 26, leave out ("more") and insert ("both").

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

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Lord LYELL moved Amendment No. 59: Page 12, line 3, after ("the") insert ("cost or").

The noble Lord said: I believe that these two Amendments to which I wish to speak, Amendments Nos. 59 and 61, are very largely consequential. They deal with the same points as we were dealing with on Clause 7 so far as cost effectiveness and economic efficiency is concerned. We had a fairly intensive debate there. There are no major points which we would necessarily want to raise on these two Amendments, apart from the fact that Clause 8 is somewhat wider ranging. I have nothing more to add. I beg to move.


When we were dealing with Clause 7 I went out of my way to point out that the Bill took a different attitude towards loading and unloading in Clause 7 and other cargo handling in Clause 8. In the latter case there were much stricter tests and much stricter procedures. Arising out of that, I am prepared to look at the whole question of costs in Clause 8, but not in Clause 7. But so far as Clause 8 is concerned, I am quite prepared to look at the whole question of whether the costs cannot be introduced and if this matter cannot be, I am quite prepared to let the noble Lord know in time so that he can put down his Amendments at a later stage of the Bill.


I am very grateful to the noble Lord and to the Government for pointing out that there are other points involved beyond what we were discussing in Clause 7, and with that I beg leave to withdraw Amendment No. 59.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 8, as amended, agreed to.

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

2.55 p.m.

The Earl of GOWRIE moved Amendment No. 63: Page 12, line 28, leave out ("the cargo-handling zone") and insert ("a dock labour scheme area ").

The noble Earl said: This is a consequential Amendment.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Lord DRUMALBYN had given Notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 64: Page 12, line 44, after ("the") insert ("financial implications of any such recommendation as is referred to in subsection (1) and on any other")


The object of the Amendment is purely to get an explanation of what this paragraph means, because I find it difficult. I should be obliged if the noble Lord will explain what is meant here. I understand that this matter has been discussed while I have been replenishing myself. I do not wish to move the Amendment.

The Earl of GOWR1E moved Amendment No. 66: Page 13, line 19, at end insert ("and — (c) informing persons likely to be affected by any section he proposes to take of the procedure laid down in Schedule (Public Inquiries) for holding a public inquiry.").

The noble Earl said: We are now in Clause 9, where the Secretary of State gets his powers; that is to say, he can recommend to the Board, he can direct the Board to recommend to him (which seems to me to be a rather poohbahish and bureaucratic way of going about this) when work on any premises can be classified as dock work within the zone or within our amended half-mile zone. This is a small matter, but it pinpoints some of the inner contradictions and absurdities of the Bill. We might get a situation where a Board did not want to recommend this to the Secretary of State—that is, the Board which he has set up to make recommendations to him. Accordingly, he is given powers to direct the Board that it does make the recommendations which it does not want to make.

This seems an extraordinary way of going about things. I should like to know from the Government whether they can think of any precedents where this set of procedures is relevant. We know that under subsection (5) the Secretary of State must then publish the Board's report of the recommendations that he is directed to recommend to the Board; but then he is in a position to say whether or not he accepts these recommendations which he is directed to recommend to the Board. It is getting into a costly and absurd area of legislation that we should carry on in this way.

I also remind the Committee that in our debates from the beginning of Wednesday, on Clause 1, the Government were at pains to say that the Board would be virtually a perfect Board, in which case we want to know what all these hyper overriding powers are in aid of. I beg to move.


This Amendment has some relationship to the Amendment which we discussed on, I think, Wednesday, in relation to a public inquiry. I am thinking in particular of Amendment No. 32. I think that we got a little mixed up with the drafting of that Amendment, so my recollection is not too clear. But that Amendment provides for the new Schedule, relating to public inquiries, to apply in cases where the Secretary of State proposes to make an order classifying or de-classifying work following a report under Clause 9, although the Board has not recommended that such an order should be made.

This Amendment would require the Secretary of State to draw to the attention of those likely to be affected the public inquiry procedure in these cases. It would, however, also require him to do so when the action he proposed to take was in accordance with the Board's report, which is the more likely situation, although in such cases the new Schedule would not apply. I think that this is clearly inappropriate. In view of this, I think it would be preferable if the Committee were not to pass the Amendment that the noble Earl has moved.

The Earl of GOWRIE

I should like to correct the noble Lord on one thing. We did not get in any sense muddled up on the enumeration of Amendments connected with the public inquiry. I think our problems were with the Amendments connected with the zones. I hope the noble Lord will accept that. Your Lordships will remember that at the end of the debate on the public inquiry issue we divided and carried those Amendments; and, therefore, the question of a public inquiry is now firmly part of the Bill. On this Amendment I would simply say that this is yet another instance where our arguments about the need for a public inquiry hold good; but since we have won the point about a public inquiry earlier on, I do not wish to gild the lily and I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Whether Clause 9, as amended, shall stand part of the Bill?


Perhaps I may mention a drafting matter. I see that in subsection (1) we have the expression, "the Board making a recommendation", and then in the last but one line of the page we have the Board reporting to the Secretary of State "their opinion". Do "recommendation" in subsection (1) and "opinion" in subsection (3) mean the same thing? Secondly, under subsection (1) the Board have to "take into consideration" certain things, whereas in subsection (3) we have reference to "matters they were directed … to consider". This may seem (to use a colloquial expression) nitpicking, but if you have two expressions in one clause and they are slightly different, lawyers will argue till Kingdom come that there must be a difference because, they will say, "If there was not a difference Parliament would have used the same word". So, before the next stage, will the Government look at the drafting again and decide whether making a recommendation is the same as reporting their opinion; and will they consider whether taking something into consideration is the same as considering it; and, if so, will they bring the two expressions into line and use the one expression?


I am grateful to the noble Lord for suggesting that a careful answer to the points that he has raised might be more appropriate at a later stage, hut, off-the-cuff, I should have thought in relation to his first point that "recommendation" is a firmer, more specific word than "opinion", which is the second word to which he referred. "Recommendation" implies a recommendation that action should be taken, whereas "opinion" might be a looser series of views as a result of having taken the matter into consideration. But I will look carefully at what the noble Lord has said and, as he suggests, at a later stage we might have further comment on it.

Clause 9, as amended, agreed to.


It is not proposed to go any further on the Committee stage of this Bill today. I therefore move that the House do now resume.

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

House resumed.

[The Sitting was suspended at 3.5 p.m and resumed at 3.10 p.m.]