HL Deb 19 October 1976 vol 375 cc1130-208

2.55 p.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.]

The Earl of GOWRIE moved Amendment No. 67: After Clause 9, insert the following new clause:

Appeals against classification

(" .—(1) If any person being an employed of persons carrying out work which sections 7, 8 or 9 apply or any trade union recognised for the purposes of collective bargaining by any such employed shall dispute whether any work is dock work which falls within Part I of Schedule 3 and not within Part II of that Schedule, he may give notice to the Secretary of State.

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

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

(3) Unless the dispute shall be withdrawn or otherwise settled the Secretary of State shall refer the dispute for decision to the Central Arbitration Committee of the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service.

(4) No report or recommendation shall be made by the Board and no order under section 11 of this Act may be made by the Secretary of State until a dispute relevant to such report or order and referred to the Central Arbitration Committee under subsection (3) above has been finally decided.").

The noble Earl said: After long interruption we now return to the appeals section of this Bill, and it is our contention that it is better to deal with appeals at this stage of the Bill, that is to say, before we reach Clause 11. Our contention is that we ought to be able to envisage the possibility of appeals before we get to the orders in Clause 11 which are the effects of the principle we have been discussing. In short, we want to get the appeals against the principle first, rather than the appeals simply against the effects.

The point of our new clause is to specify circumstances in which an appeal can be made as to whether any work is or is not dock work. The new subsection (1) extends to Clauses 7, 8 and 9 the general provisions dealing with the whole of the dockers' corridor. We say in the new subsection (1) that if an employer of persons—and I now quote from the new clause— … or any trade union recognised for the purposes of collective bargaining … shall dispute whether any work is dock work which falls within Part I of Schedule 3 and not within Part II of that Schedule, he may give notice to the Secretary of State. That means that the Secretary of State is, therefore, in a position to do something; he has to do something. But we say that a notice under this provision shall state the name and address of the person and the nature of the dispute identifying the work in question and the facts relating thereto in sufficient details to enable a reference to be made hereunder". In short, if there is still a disagreement between an employer and the union about whether work should be classified in such an instance as dock work or not, we say that the appeal should first go to the ACAS, and if it cannot be decided there it should eventually go to the Central Arbitration Committee.

What we are trying to do, in short, is to find yet another way of avoiding inter-union industrial conflict. It has been a consistent theme of those of us on this side of the Committee that most industrial disputes in Britain are in fact inter-union disputes. What we feel happens in practice in many ports, should there be a dispute between groups of men as to whether work should or should not be done by registered dockers, is that the two unions will first try to solve the dispute, and in their attempts to resolve the dispute naturally they will bring in the employer, because the employer is involved. A frequent practice at the present time is for an official, if that is the right description of him, of the ACAS to come along and do his best to resolve the dispute.


May I interrupt the noble Earl; I do apologise. He made an important statement. What evidence has the noble Earl for saying that most of the disputes are inter-union disputes? I was not aware of that fact, if it is a fact. I should like to know whether there is evidence of that before it goes on the Record.

The Earl of GOWRIE

I can tell the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek, how to go about collecting this evidence. He should look carefully at all industrial disputes during, let us say, the last five years. He takes a red pencil and a green pencil. He can use the green pencil for those disputes which are mainly concerned with quarrels with the employers, and he can take the red pencil for the disputes which are demarcation disputes, and the like. In fact, he will find that the red will very largely outweigh the green—may I just finish the point: the point is not a contentious one, as noble Lords opposite seem to think. Obviously when people are working within a single economy, within an advanced industrial economy such as ours, there will be demarcation disputes and the like. This is simply common sense. If you like, this is what unions partly exist to try to resolve.


The noble Earl makes the assertion that most of them are, and now instead of giving any figures to support it he gives this weird explanation, which I am sure no one requires because they would know how to get down to the root causes of all these difficulties. Will the noble Earl now amplify his statement and give the numbers of the disputes which support the allegation that he has made?

The Earl of GOWRIE

The noble Lord will remember that we spent a great deal of the last Session discussing the Employment Protection Bill, which was a Bill, now an Act, put forward by the noble Lord's noble friends. It seems to me that part of the point of all our deliberations on the Employment Protection Bill was to try to lessen the degree of demarcation inter-union disputes within our industrial economy. I do not think that that is really a contentious point at all.


Do I understand that the noble Earl has no figures to support his case? It is just an assumption that he is trying to imply?


May I give the figures? About 8 per cent. of industrial disputes are disputes between unions.

The Earl of GOWRIE

The noble Lord, Lord Jacques, is not picking up my point. I am not talking about disputes which necessarily result in industrial action, or in strikes. I am talking about the day-to-day management of union affairs. If the noble Lord is solemnly going to tell me and the Committee that most, or a very large part, of perfectly justified, perfectly professional, perfectly useful union activities are not designed to avoid such demarcation disputes in our industrial economy, I simply, with respect to him, do not believe him. I do not think that that shows the kind of acquaintance we would expect of him as to how the Trades Union Congress in this country really works.


May I thank the noble Earl for his reply. He has now admitted that he was using an emotive statement, not backed by fact but merely by fancy. May I say to him that, being ambidextrous, I was brought up with a red pencil in one hand and a green one in the other.

The Earl of GOWRIE

Obviously I have inflamed noble Lords opposite, and this is not my intention. I did not wish to inflame noble Lords opposite.

Several noble Lords


The Earl of GOWRIE

I do not see what noble Lords are asking me to withdraw. I am simply making the point and after that I will pass on, withdrawing if you like, that noble Lords opposite spent a great deal of last Session setting up ACAS; admitting that a conciliation and arbitration service would have to exist within our industrial economy. Are they now denying the usefulness of their earlier work?


We are saying that ACAS is mostly needed where there are disputes between employees and employers, and not between unions.

The Earl of GOWRIE

Well, I shall put the point on one side, but I have to say that I do not accept that this is the case. It seems to me to be a valuable and needed service in any industrial economy that there should be the right procedures for appeals, whether it is between unions, between employees and employers, or not. I do not see why it is upsetting to noble Lords to acknowledge that such disputes can exist. I do not think it an anti-union point whatever.

May I pass on—and I think in a way this connects our little argument, and I apologise to noble Lords opposite if I have inflamed them; I certainly did not mean to do so—and say that we feel, as I said on both last Wednesday and Friday in the earlier stages of this Bill, that this Bill makes increased demarcation disputes much more likely because dockers will be given the statutory right which, we would claim, no group of workers has ever had before in the history of the country, to claim the work of another group of workers. Because this right is there in the Bill, we claim that there must be an appeals procedure, and what better appeals procedure than to use the ACAS which noble Lords opposite, the Government themselves, set up last year? I beg to move.

3.6 p.m.


Could the noble Earl explain some words of this Amendment on the last line but one in the first page? It says: employers and trade unions as aforesaid and in any way concerned or interested in the subject matter of the dispute. The word "interested" seems to carry this very wide and throws a very onerous responsibility on the person making a complaint. All sorts of people can be regarded as "interested" in problems which are the subject of a dispute.

The Earl of GOWRIE

Were I a Minister I suppose I could say that I would look at the noble Lord's point. It seems to me perfectly clear that maybe the noble Lord is on to a valid point here, but if you have a dispute you have parties to a dispute and those parties are interested in the dispute. What we are concerned with is an appeals procedure here to try and get the differing interests of the parties sensibly sorted out.


A great deal is being said about the workers in the docks and the workers in the establishments which are liable to be taken over under the provisions in this Bill. I am concerned about the working of the British economy and the interests of all the businesses which use the docks. I want to say that the efficient operation of ports and docks is absolutely essential and vital for the working of our economy and for the full employment of our workforce. I have been engaged a great deal in export promotion, and you would hardly believe the difficulties which have been met.

In a previous speech in your Lordships' House I mentioned some of the difficulties which have occurred. For instance, a man who exports buses to America can no longer use the port of Southampton because the facilities there are bad and the buses are often rifled during the night. He now drives them through Dover and ships them from Antwerp. One often hears it said that the reason that ships do not come into the port of London so much any more is because it is too far up the river. Antwerp is even further up the river and their trade is increasing enormously. This is incredibly bad for the enormous number of gifted workers in our motor car industry, machinery industries, and engineering industry, and all the other industries.

I want to know whether, when the dockers receive these great facilities which no other group of workers, to my knowledge, have ever received, the Government are going to make sure that these abuses do not continue to occur, because they are abuses. I do not say this in order to be abusive. I am really speaking from the Cross-Benches. I am speaking because I have experience of this matter and it breaks one's heart to hear of the things that happen, and the things that are said to one by ships' captains and ships' owners abroad who will not send their ships to the great British ports. Our dockers have to some degree cut their own necks because they have not kept the business of dock work in good order. If the unions would stop strikes which are in support of people who really misbehave, this might now be put right. If we give the dockers these facilities, a great many other industries and firms such as the noble Earl mentioned are going to be interested, and I think they are entitled to be consulted. But I should like to know what the Government have to say about improving the use of the facilities in our ports because that is what is really relevant for the future or even survival of the British economy. Whether one group of men does the work or another group of men does not matter much. The relevant thing is whether the ports are efficient, up-to-date, and soundly run.


May I ask my noble friend whether there is a misprint in the Amendment? The first line reads: If any person being an employed of persons … Should that read "employer" or "employee" of persons?

The Earl of GOWRIE

It should be "employer".


I urge my noble friend not to be too eager to water down his proposed new clause as a consequence of the interventions of noble Lords opposite, who I think misunderstood the point my noble friend was making. My noble friend and indeed the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, will remember that I sent to both of them a copy of a petition that was handed to me last week by shop stewards and trade unionists at one of the works in Peterborough who felt that they might be affected by the Bill. As the result of an Amendment which noble Lords passed the other day, those people in Peterborough are clearly now outside the boundary where they would be affected. Nevertheless, at the time when they thought they would be affected, those trade unionists were very disturbed at the possibility of members of another trade union or part of a union with more power than they had coming there and affecting their livelihood.

The whole temper of what they said to me, the whole spirit behind the petition which I passed on to the two noble Lords who are leading in this Committee stage, and the whole purpose of what they had in mind was that if it came to the point when there was a dispute and they felt that they were being affected by the intervention of another union, they wanted to feel that they had some appeal procedure at which their point of view could have been impartially and objectively taken into account. Thus, meeting that particular circumstance, which is real and on the record, confirms, I should have thought, that this new clause is desirable in order to keep equanimity among the various members of the different trade unions who do not see eye to eye on the effects of the Bill.

Lord Jacques tried to suggest that the inter-union point need not be taken greatly into account because, he said, only 8 per cent of disputes were inter-union disputes. I think that if the noble Lord examines that 8 per cent. he will find that the effect of them was very harmful indeed and that they usually occurred in areas where it is likely that the very strength of the nation's economy could be undermined. Just because the figure is 8 per cent. does not mean that the problem of inter-union differences can be passed over as though it does not exist, for the 8 per cent. is confirmation that it exists and that, in turn, is confirmation that some appeals procedure where both sides can feel that their points are being objectively examined is more desirable than ever. I therefore urge my noble friend not to be too eager to water down his proposal in recognition of the intervention of noble Lords opposite, who I do not think really understood the point he was making.


Perhaps I may bring back the Committee to the subject of the Amendment, which is what we are here to discuss. The new clause does not provide a procedure for appeals against classification generally but only as to whether work is legally capable of being considered for classification. That is the important point to remember and that is the issue behind the Amendment. We ourselves had similar thoughts and noble Lords will find in the Consultative Document Dock Work that we envisaged a procedure under which questions as to whether work was port transport work would be determined by the Central Arbitration Committee, so our thoughts were on the same lines as those of the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie.


May I ask the noble Lord to help by saying in which paragraph of Dock Work those same ideas appeared?


I do not have the number to hand, but I will have it looked up and let tile noble Lord know. As a result of consultations, it became clear that the matter would be completely inappropriate for the Central Arbitration Committee. That Committee was set up under Section 10 of the Employment Protection Act 1975 and is concerned with matters of arbitration about terms and conditions of employment; it is in no way competent to give findings on the proper interpretation of words and phrases in legislation. That function is for the courts and should remain for the courts. That is now our attitude, after exploring the whole idea fully, long before it was an Opposition idea.

We are not opposed to appeal, but we say that an appeal should go to the proper place and that the interpretation of words in a Statute is not a matter for the Central Arbitration Committee but for the courts. Since it is a matter of the interpretation of words in the vast majority of cases, noble Lords should bear in mind that in general there will be no dispute and no problems whatever. There will of course be borderline cases and in those cases we do not believe that it will be possible to surmount the tests which are in Clause 8. In any case, I would remind the Committee that the Secretary of State, in deciding whether to classify work, would wish to be entirely satisfied that it was classifiable; otherwise the vires of any order would be open to attack. As a last resort there is of course the question of the courts, the final place for appeal. I can now answer the question I was asked by the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone; the reference to which I referred in the Consultative Document was in paragraph 31.


May I ask the noble Lord to say who would be the parties to any court proceedings? Would the Secretary of State or the Board be one of the parties? If there was doubt about this, who would be the other party? Would it be the person challenging and could that be any person?


I understand that it would be the interested party who objects and the Secretary of State; they would be the parties.


I am bewildered. I remember having to fight two very tough Elections while great criticism was being thrown at the then Industrial Relations Bill. It was said that it was the most wicked thing ever to be sought to be placed on the Statute Book. That was said by my opponents. The main basis of their criticism was that it was supposed to take trade unions to court. They thought it was wicked that the court should be the arbitrator and they said that those with the wigs and gowns were not the people who understood. Now, however, if I understand the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, aright, he is saying that while this matter could be kept in the area of trade union understanding, he would prefer it to go to the court. Thus, the wig and the pen are not so horrible now as they were when noble Lords opposite were using them as a propaganda weapon against something which was trying to straighten out the trade union problems of this country.


That is not true. I have not suggested in any way that anyone would take a trade union to court. I am suggesting that if the vires of an order made by the Secretary of State were attacked, the trade union could take the Secretary of State to court, which is quite the opposite. The noble Lord's intervention was, therefore, a bit unfair. Furthermore, we are saying that where it is a question of the interpretation of the Statute, that should remain a matter for the courts and not for the Central Arbitration Committee. It is the wording of the Statute that must be interpreted and we say that there should be an appeal but that it should be heard in the proper place, which is the court.


Because in our previous deliberations on the Bill it became apparent that the Government had no idea of the effect the Bill would have on Scotland—indeed, they appeared to have no regard to what effect it would have—this morning I took the trouble to make some inquiries in London to find out what effect it would have and the depot at which I made inquiries turned out to be manned by National Union of Railwaymen. When they were asked what effect the Bill would have on them and if they realised that it would have to be manned by dockers, the answer was, "This is now a matter before the House of Lords and they are amending the Bill. We will be all right when they have finished with it". Otherwise I foresee that the National Union of Railwaymen are going to be put out of work and it will then he manned by dockers. If that is not something which is going to cause inter-union strife, I do not know what is.


Under the Bill as it stands, the dock work which is done by the National Union of Railwaymen is not classifiable, but if the Amendment which the Opposition has put down today is accepted it will be classifiable, so I hope you put the blame in the right quarter.

The Earl of CORK and ORRERY

May I put a question on a matter of drafting by my noble friend Lord Gowrie. The ante-penultimate and penultimate lines of the new clause refer to: … all other persons being employers and trade unions …"— a rather novel concept and not a very easy one. Is it not possibly intended to read: … to all other persons being employers and to trade unions", on the one hand, or as another possibility— … to all other persons being employers or members of trade unions ". I feel that one of those must be right.

The Earl of GOWRIE

I do not feel unhappy with the sentence as I have drafted it, but my noble friend Lord Cork and Orrery has a lynx eye for these things and I will certainly look at what he has said. So far as I can see the preposition there governs both cases.


I should like to probe a little further with the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, into this question of why the Central Arbitration Committee are not suited for this sort of inquiry. It would seem to me that a great deal is being made of why the Government thought this way but changed their mind, and why we should go to the courts when there is this new body which is already making a tremendous name for itself in solving problems between people. Let us forget the fact that the people may belong to different trade unions. To a certain extent I would not go along very far that way with my noble friend. It is more a question of a dispute between people whose jobs have to be identified as to whether they belong to the one or the other.

It seems to me that the wording of this clause could be improved and happily we have the Report stage to do that. This clause would seem to be a very useful intermediate step, a way of using this new body to resolve problems which are going to affect individuals. Of course the individuals will be backed by trade unions, and they may be different trade unions or different branches of the same trade union. I would have thought that the important thing in industrial relations problems of this sort is to use a well-established body which people are coming to respect, because it is in being to deal with industrial relations and the avoidance of disputes between people rather than going in the first instance to the courts. As my noble friend Lord Harmar-Nicholls said earlier, certainly some five years or so ago noble Lords opposite were dead against the courts, and I must confess I was largely convinced by their arguments. I think they were right that you do not want the courts in these disputes and that is a very good reason to use the ACAS for these purposes. Possibly the wording could be improved or tightened up; there are all sorts of things that we could do or the Government could do on Report, but I would suggest that the principle which this proposed new clause is putting forward is in everybody's interest and is well worth supporting from both sides of the Committee.


We have a great deal of sympathy with this, otherwise we would not have contemplated the use of the Central Arbitration Committee in the original Consultative Document. I think everybody in this Committee knows that our sympathy lies in getting matters settled through ACAS and the Central Arbitration Committee rather than the courts. We are saying to the Committee that, in the particular circumstances—that is, the interpretation of the words of the Statute—it is not the function of the Central Arbitration Committee, nor is it equipped to make the kind of decision which would be required. It is essentially one for the courts and should remain so.

3.27 p.m.


I have been wondering why this Amendment has been proposed by the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie. Some of my colleagues seem to resent the submission of this Amendment in the absence of adequate evidence of inter-union disputes. I suggest that we forget all about inter-union disputes and try to discover why the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, has submitted this Amendment. I suspect that it is because he is hoping that there will be a great many inter-union disputes. He shakes his head in dissent, but what other reason could he have for advancing this Amendment? He is suggesting that his Amendment should be accepted as a separate clause after Clause 9. Had he looked carefully at Clause 9 he would have seen that all the provisions to prevent anything in the nature of inter-union disputes, or indeed any dispute at all, are contained in that clause. On the assumption that this legislation is carried through both Houses of Parliament it provides that the Board that is to be set up have to announce their intention not only to the TUC but also to the CBI, on the one hand to employers who may be involved and to the trade unions affiliated to the TUC, on the other, who are certain to be involved.

As a result of their submission to those very important bodies, when the Board receive their replies they will come to some conclusion. If there is any dispute in the Board, the matter is then referred to the Secretary of State who has to make further inquiries before any positive action is taken. That is all contained in Clause 9. What more is required? We cannot understand why this submission has been advanced.

There are bound to be some complications, but I do not believe that there will be many difficulties or obstacles in the way of implementation of the provisions of the Bill regarding who should handle the dock work remote from the dock side, because the matter will begin to resolve itself. Indeed, to use the language of the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, when he began this debate, that before we come to the fundamental principle of whether or not we should proceed with it we should decide appeals, is putting the cart before the horse. We have to decide whether the fundamental element of the Bill is to be accepted. If it is, we can then decide whether there should be appeals; but do not decide appeals before the case has been adequately heard. I do not suggest it is filibustering but it is very near it.


May I, on behalf of my noble friend, make a reply to the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, who has surprised me by being rather "off track". I suggest that what we are talking about is individuals and individual jobs and, with the greatest possible respect to the TUC and the CBI, they are very remote bodies with offices in this great City of London. They may be miles away and one of the problems in this country at the moment—and I know this from talking to individuals including both trade unionists and non-trade unionists—is that people find that their own unions are remote from them now that they have become so vast. They do their best, but they cannot really achieve local interest to the same degree. None of us can. This is our problem. We are talking about people whom probably none of us will ever see and we are trying to lay down laws which will meet their needs.

The great thing about ACAS is that it goes to people and talks to them on the spot. That is the important thing to do. Your Lordships cannot do that. The TUC and the CBI cannot do it themselves. They have to get reports from people. So, with the greatest possible respect, I suggest that this sort of leavening influence needs to be exploited to the full. In fact, I believe that the trouble is that, as a country, we cannot afford to have a big enough staff for ACAS, but that is another matter. I suggest to the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, that he is not following his normal theme of recognising where the problem of the individual creeps in. I suggest that this is a very important Amendment.


As a question of fact, the TUC has an inter-union disputes committee and this does a magnificent job of work. The facts are there for everybody to see in the annual report. All the cases of inter-union disputes are reported with the findings of the TUC, and the findings are invariably honoured by whichever party is found to be in the wrong. It seems to me that this is a protective clause. It suggests that the Secretary of State should consult with the TUC and the CBI. Although I have always said that the TUC is better organised than the CBI, I do not believe that the CBI is that far behind and I think it right that, where there is a suggestion that the TUC should be consulted, the CBI, representing those it does, should be involved as well. I say this as a question of fact: I do not believe that there is any doubt about the competence of the TUC to deal with the latent inter-union difficulty and to do so effectively.


I suggest that we are being led just a trifle astray by what I would, with every possible respect to the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, call the slightly provocative way in which the Amendment was moved. May I ask the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, whether the position is that there are two quite separate issues that might arise where work is classified as dock work? First, there is the issue, is the work properly classifiable in the sense that it comes within the provisions of Part I of Schedule 3, as being work that may be classified? As I understand it, the position is that the Government are saying that the issue there can be determined by reference to the courts and the noble Earl is saying that it ought to be determined not by reference to the courts but by reference to the Central Arbitration Committee. If that is the only issue—that is, whether work that has been classified is properly classifiable within the terms of Part I—would the noble Earl not agree that it might be that the courts are the more appropriate body, rather than the Central Arbitration Committee, to determine what is really a matter of law?

May I then ask if we are not perhaps getting a little confused with a wholly separate issue—that is, whether, when work is classified under Part I which is properly classifiable, it should have been classified or not? Am I right in understanding from the noble Earl that his Amendment does not deal with that situation at all but only with whether the work is properly classifiable? Also, am I not right in thinking that we have already dealt with the situation where work is classified which is properly classifiable and it is desired to dispute that? That is to be done by means of the public inquiry procedure which we have already written into the Bill in earlier proceedings in this Committee.

The Earl of GOWRIE

I think it may be for the convenience of the Committee if I now wind up the debate and answer some of the points made to me. It would seem to be a first rule of political life that when a fly is cast at one by a very experienced fisherman like the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, the one thing one should not do is to rise to it. But I have to say that I feel a little flustered at accusations of filibustering. No one who spent most of last night and even up to breakfast this morning in your Lordships' House would want to continue any kind of filibuster. I also minded a little (I shall not use as strong a word as "resented") the, I hope, teasing reference to my being eager to promote inter-union disputes, perhaps in order to vindicate myself against the guns of noble Lords on the Back-Benches opposite at the beginning of this debate. Seriously, no citizen of this country in our present economic state should be accused of wishing that.

What we are concerned with—and this is a point that has been made many times before—is that the Bill may create a great many potentialities for damaging, inter-union disputes. That will be bad for us. Let us suppose that, as noble Lords opposite have suggested, the Bill is entirely useful and beneficial. Suppose noble Lords opposite are right and that this is the kind of legislation that the situation in our docks, which we all agree is crucial to our economy, needs. Let us suppose that it is the best of all possible Bills that we could get on this matter. It is not my views that are causing trouble here. It is the fact that, as my noble friend Lord Harmar-Nicholls pointed out, there are very many groups of workers, and, indeed, of employers—I am not loading the whole thing on to employees—who are worried for their jobs and who think, rightly or wrongly, that, as a result of the Bill, jobs which are theirs may be taken from them. Let us acknowledge only that this worry exists. What we are here suggesting is a constructive attempt to build up, in effect, an appeals procedure lest such tensions and anxieties arise, as we believe they will.

The noble Lord, Lord Cooper—and I acknowledge his experience in this area—spoke highly of the TUC disputes committee. I would not wish to contradict anything he said but only to add as a footnote that, whatever one thinks of the TUC or the CBI, they are, as my noble friend Lord Mottistone said, perhaps somewhat remote bodies. However, let us waive that point and say that they are much more closely in touch than any other body. Then why did the noble Lord and his friends take the trouble to set up ACAS and the Central Arbitration Committee? If everything could be done by the TUC, the CBI and the Secretary of State in conclave, one would not need this kind of body.

It is no secret—and no embarrassment to me to admit it—that many of the principal energies of the Conservative Party in recent years have been directed towards trying to hammer out a policy on industrial relations. We have had the extraordinary experience, which may perhaps be our own fault, of seeing our own old Act, the Industrial Relations Act; both vilified and enshrined. That is to say, we have been attacked on every side for introducing it, and yet we find many of its provisions and procedures enshrined in subsequent legislation. The history of this is water under the bridge. It is past politics. It is a very interesting piece of political history, if I may say so, but what we have been trying to do—and this is where I feel our Amendment is pursuing our own and also the national interest—is to take industrial relations out of courts procedures, as my noble friends Lord Mottistone and Lord Harmar-Nicholls suggested, and not only out of courts procedures but also to some degree out of politics.

Time and again we have argued that industrial relations are too important, if you like, to be left to the day-to-day cut and thrust of Party political warfare, and as a result—we have not always won great popularity with our own troops, with our own political Party, on that—we have given great emphasis to the importance of the ACAS. It seems to us therefore ironic that we come back on a Bill of this kind and are rapped on the knuckles for trying to build up the ACAS and for being dubious of the role of the courts and the Secretary of State in this light.

All that said, I thank my noble friend Lord Mottistone for the remarks he made, but I do stand very strongly on the principle of appeals that we have here. I do acknowledge that many members of the Committee, including some who might be disposed to support me, feel that some of my wording is defective or that there are some aspects of the Amendment which are not entirely clear. I would therefore say to the Committee, and perhaps especially to the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, who last intervened, that I will on this occasion not press the Amendment. I will go away and try to tidy it up. But my impression, my feeling of the Committee, is that we on this side are wholeheartedly behind principle and we shall look to the Report stage for a chance to demonstrate our feelings.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 10 [Registration after work is classified]:

Lord DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 68: Page 13, line 33, after ("work") insert ("immediately").

The noble Lord said: This is a comparatively minor Amendment. We are in Clause 10 discussing safeguards for the existing workforce where clause states that the Board shall include in their recommendation to the Secretary of State, or their report to him without making such a recommendation, that any work which they have recommended for classification or have considered on the reference: should be classified, as to the safeguards which should be provided for the existing work force, that is to say those persons who will have been employed to do that work prior to its classification. I merely seek to point out that that leaves a time gap which I think should be closed. They are making recommendations at one time, and possibly, if those recommendations are accpeted or the Secretary of State takes action at another time, a later time, the classification will actually take place. Within those two dates there is room for changes in the existing workforce. It is purely to say that, because of that ambiguity, it would be better to insert the word "immediately" before "prior to its classification", so as to put the matter beyond any doubt at all. I beg to move.


The objection to this Amendment is that it would prevent the Board's making proposals in respect of workers who were normally employed on the work in question but for some reason or other could not be said to have been employed to do it immediately prior to classification. There might be workers who had been taken off their work to do some other work for a few days, or even a few hours. It could be open to doubt at least whether workers normally employed to do the work, but who were sick or on holiday, would be covered if the word "immediately" were inserted, particularly if they had long-term sickness and their jobs were being done by others.

It seems equitable that safeguards should be provided for workers who are in these categories; but it is certainly not the intention that provision should be made for all workers employed by the firm who happen to have been employed on this work at some point in the past but are now regularly employed on other work. The board would clearly not wish to make proposals in respect of such workers, not would the Secretary of State cover them in the order if the Board were to do so. We therefore have sympathy with the intention of the Amendment, but we feel that the Amendment would have those adverse effects, which I am sure the noble Lord did not intend.


May I say just one word on this subject? The noble Lord, Lord Jacques, has admitted that there are certain people in this connection who have to be protected, if that is the right word. Are the Government not prepared to try themselves to have an Amendment, so that these people will be protected?


No, they are already protected. They are protected in the Bill. The noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, is giving them less protection, and we are objecting to their having less protection. For example, if a man has been taken off the job for a few days or a few hours he would be excluded from the protection if this Amendment were carried. We want to give him that protection, the protection that is in the Bill. I would say to the noble Lord that the position is exactly the opposite to that which he has visualised.


I am grateful to the noble Lord for saying that he has sympathy with the purpose of this Amendment. For my part, I might have sympathy with the view that he has taken about the interpretation that is likely to be placed upon it. I should myself have thought that "the existing workforce" must mean the people who are on the books at any given time for the purpose of that kind of work. However, if the noble Lord is advised that that is not the right interpretation, I quite agree that, in line with the 1967 Dock Labour Regulations, there should be latitude in this matter. I hope that the noble Lord will do me the courtesy of having a further look at this matter to see whether my interpretation is correct or not. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 10 agreed to.

Clause 11 [Classification orders]:

3.48 p.m.

The Earl of GOWRIE moved Amendment No. 70: Page 14, line 3, leave out ("the cargo-handling zone") and insert ("a dock labour scheme area").

The noble Earl said: This Amendment is consequential on our Amendments on the zone. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

On Question, Whether Clause 11, as amended, shall stand part of the Bill?


May I say a word about this clause. In my view, subsection (4) of this clause is far from clear. I submit that while it is very neat, I am not sure that what is neat is necessarily sound. In this clause we are dealing with the power of the Secretary of State to make an order that work done at specified premises should be classified or declassified. Under subsection (2) such orders are to be made on the basis of the Board's reports under Clause 6 or their recommendations under Clauses 7, 8 or 9. As I understand it, Clauses 6 and 7 relate to reports and recommendations which have to be submitted to the Secretary of State within a certain time.

I think that the Secretary of State may cause the Board to consider recommendations or proposals at any time in regard to particular work on specified premises, which should be classified. Under Clause 9 the Secretary of State may direct the Board to consider particular work and to make a recommendation as to classification where it is not classified already, or declassification where it is at the time classified. But this does not apply to the other clauses, Clauses 6, 7 and 8. There is no question of declassification there because the act of classification is, so to speak, the culmination of the process in those three clauses.

So after the initial classification process the Board may, under Clause 8, initiate action for classification but not for declassification. The Secretary of State may initiate under Clause 9 action either for classification or for declassification. Nobody else can initiate action for either, however badly classification or non-classification may he working. I think that that is an important point—that there is no initiative from any other place. If one is not satisfied one simply complains to the Board and to the Secretary of State.

No doubt the noble Lord will say that anybody can make representations to the Board for classification or to the Secretary of State for either classification or declassification. But the Bill gives them no right to do so, and I wonder whether it ought not to do so. As I have said this clause may be neat, but is it necessarily sound? What worries me most is What on earth is the word "this" in line 25 supposed to refer to? I beg to move.


I have listened carefully to the points made by the noble Lord and I assure him that I will have a look at what he said and communicate with him.

Clause 11, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 12 [Effect of introducing the new Scheme]:

3.52 p.m.

The Earl of GOWRIE moved Amendment No. 71: Page 14, line 42, leave out paragraph (a).

The noble Earl said: In order to retain some semblance of control over the organisation of port employment, it is essential that the present system of licensing of port employers, which we would contend has been very successful in reducing the number of firms in the business over the past 10 years, should be retained. We feel that the Bill should be amended in order to retain licensing; that is to say, to retain the licensing provisions of the 1966 Act, an Act, I need hardly point out, brought into effect by noble Lords opposite and their honourable and right honourable friends.

I am engaged here in a probing Amendment because I want to hear from the Government why they are leaving out the licensing provisions of the old Scheme. As drafted, the Bill would, as I have said, have the effect of scrapping the present system of licensing port employers as the new Scheme was applied to areas at present covered by that licensing system. Both the port employers, who are subject to the present licensing Scheme, and the port authorities, who are themselves the licensing bodies, wish the system to be retained. It was introduced, as I said, by a Labour Government following the Devlin inquiry. It 'vas fully accepted by the industry and we contend that it has served a useful purpose.

Under the prelicensing arrangements—that is to say, before the 1966 Act—any employer could engage in cargo handling operations simply by obtaining registration from the National Docks Labour Board, and there are indeed no limiting criteria for so obtaining that registration. In the present circumstances, where we are trying to create permanent employment, it is highly desirable to maintain a control over both the quality, in terms of management and equipment and so forth, and the number of employers operating in any port, and the port authority has for these past 10 years been accepted as the appropriate body to carry a licensing system. We need to avoid creating difficulties in the field of dock labour employment, in particular where a new or unlicensed employer—a fly-by-night employer, to put it colloquially—recruited dock labour on to the permanent register and then went broke or closed down, leaving other employers to hold the baby; that is to say, the other employers would then find themselves faced with workers who had statutory rights under this legislation to retain their jobs, and of course the employers might not have jobs for them.

The Government have given no reasons for abandoning these arrangements, but they may have in mind their intention ultimately to reorganise the ports. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on one's policital point of view, we understand that the Government are in some disarray about their intentions as to port reorganisation, and if reports in the Press are to be believed it looks now as if this legislation will not, as we anticipated, be introduced in the next Session. But this notwithstanding, we believe that the licensing arrangements would in time be reviewed if and when such a re-organisation were pressed, if it got through your Lordships' House and another place; but that in no wise, our contention is, affects our need for it or to continue the Scheme at present. Our proposal is that the licensing system be retained in the ports where it now operates. There is certainly no need for it in the case of companies outside the ports and it need be introduced at ports to which the Scheme is extended only if those ports so select. I beg to move.


We agree with the noble Earl that licensing of employers has in the past served an exceedingly useful purpose, but we believe that its usefulness is now exhausted. Following the Consultative Document, and before the Bill was published, we received no representations to the contrary, and since the debate in another place we have had a further meeting with the National Association of Port Employers. The matter has been considered again, but it is not believed that any change should be made in the provisions in the Bill. When the Amendment was moved in the Commons—and today the noble Earl has said the same thing—it was readily accepted that licensing need not be extended to companies or ports outside the present Scheme. That position is only tenable if 9 years after decasualisation there is evidence that the kind of problems present in the Scheme ports before 1967 are likely to recur, or that they cannot be dealt with through the protections afforded by the Scheme. We have not received any such evidence. The number of registered employers has fallen from 1,300 in 1966 to 298 in March of this year. All the indications are that technological changes will bring about a further reduction in the number of employers.

As for the ability of employers to carry out the tasks which they purport to do, we do not think that this is a matter directly related to the manner of employing dock workers. It may well be that private and port authorities think it right to seek powers under the Private Bill procedures to control employers who operate in their ports—as some have already done—but it would be wrong to say that that was the purpose of licensing when it was introduced or that it was a proper function under the existing legislation. In other words, in relation to the regulation of dock work we believe that the licensing of employers has fulfilled a purpose but that that purpose is now exhausted, and we believe also that the Opposition's statement that it need not go into the non-Scheme ports is tantamount to admitting that it can also be discontinued in the Scheme ports.

Viscount SIMON

As I have some interest in this matter from days gone by, I should like to understand a little more clearly what lies behind the Government's thinking. I was very much involved with the port industry when the registration scheme was brought in, and it seemed to me a very useful addition to the arrangements. Of course, we arc going to have a new Scheme, and this makes the great difficulty of discussing it: we do not know what the new Scheme is going to contain. In the old Scheme, however, if you did not have registered employers then among whom would you distribute the surplus labour which arises when some employer goes out of business? At the moment they are distributed among the licensed employers. If there are no licensed employers, how are you going to decide among whom the surplus labour is to be distributed?


In that connection, may I also ask whether, in the case of an employer at whose premises there is classified work done but where there is also other work done, lie will be a registered port employer (or a registered dock employer, as he becomes later, I think), and will he be a registered dock employer only in his capacity vis-à-vis the registered dock labour that he employs?

This is a very difficult matter. There is a good deal to be said for continuing the licensing of dock employers, because they then know precisely where they stand. But this seems to be a nebulous arrangement. It is a consequence of extending the Scheme beyond the ports themselves, beyond the areas contained within the ports. I hope the noble Lord will go a little further than he has done, because it was a little difficult to follow exactly what he meant in his previous contribution.


What I am saying is this. It has been accepted by the movers of the Amendment, both in the other place and here today, that licensing in the non-Scheme ports would not become necessary if they become Scheme ports. That has been said by both the mover here and the mover in the Commons. We are saying that we accept that, and we go on further to say that we cannot understand why it is now necessary in the Scheme ports. Since we are now nine years from the decasualisation of labour, we think it has fulfilled its purpose.

The Earl of GOWRIE

The noble Lord said that he could not understand why it should be retained in the Scheme ports, if I followed him correctly. That was exactly the difficulty pinpointed by the noble Viscount, Lord Simon. Here is a Scheme; here is a system of licensing, which has placed obligations upon but has also given protections to employers. This licensing system is to be abolished under a Scheme which we as yet wot-not-of. We have feared that obligations on employers to provide efficient management services may not be there, but also that the protections to employers on the question of redundant dock labour having statutory rights to be employed by them also will not be in the new Scheme; and that is why we would wish to see it retained.

I said to the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, that this was a probing Amendment. I wanted the Government's reasons for leaving out the licensing provisions of the old Scheme; and my point is about existing ports within the Scheme. I cannot pretend that I find his answers very reassuring or very satisfactory, but I did say that I would not press the Amendment myself. If it is the Committee's wish that I should withdraw it, I will, but I think we shall have to have a more satisfactory answer on this at a later stage—and I hope that that will not be accepted simply as a formula by the noble Lord. I hope he will look at this real difficulty of the protection of employers, particularly, to see whether he can come up with some way to ameliorate the very great anxiety which has been expressed to us.


We shall certainly look at what has been said in this debate, but I also hope that the noble Earl will look at what I have said. I think I have made a complete case as to why it is no longer needed. It served a very useful purpose, but it is no longer needed. The Scheme will apply to both what are Scheme ports at the moment and what are non-Scheme ports, and there does not seem to be any logic in requiring licensing at one group of ports and not at another when they are both being subjected to the same Scheme.

The Earl of GOWRIE

I am sorry, but I must return to this. The noble Lord said that in his own view he had made a very complete case. Our contention is that his case could not be complete because he did not mention this anxiety by employers within the Scheme that they should be protected from the point raised by the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, and indeed by myself earlier, that in fact they might have statutory obligations to employees who had come into the Scheme because of non-registered employers. That is to say, I could set up some get-rich-quick outfit, if I may put it like that, within the Scheme; I could utilise the labour profitably to myself, to my company and to the workforce involved; but then, for some or other reason, I could withdraw from the activity I was promulgating and, under the noble Lord's suggestion, other employers would be left with statutory duties towards the workers that I had employed. This seems to me to be inequitable, and it also seems to be an arena where people might justifiably be anxious. So when the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, says that he has made a complete case I would point out to him that this anxiety has not been touched on by him once. What we really want from him on Report or at a later stage is some attempt to grapple with this anxiety, which I assure the noble Lord contains no political point but is very widespread.


Perhaps I may point out that licensing does not mean the end of registration and it does not mean the end of the duties and obligations which arise from registration. There was no licensing between 1947 and 1966. Licensing was introduced only to bring about decasualisation, which in the Scheme ports has fairly well been achieved. While we consider that registration may be desirable in Scheme ports or in non-Scheme ports which become Scheme ports, we are saying that licensing is not necessary in either. In reply to the noble Earl, may I say again that, following the debate in the Commons, we took the trouble to have a further discussion with the port employers, and, in spite of what had been said in the Commons, we again came to the same conclusion after consulting the port employers.


Is the noble Lord saying—he appears to be—that there was no criterion for licensing at all? Is it not the case that those who were licensed had to comply with certain requirements as to equipment and suitability to be licensed, and was it not then to a large extent on the basis of the license that they became registered port employers within the meaning of the 1967 regulations? This touches on the next Amendment, to which we are coming, because I do not really understand what is going to be the criterion for being a registered port employer if there is no requirement for licensing. Is it just a case of application and acceptance; and what are the criteria of acceptance? I do not really understand this; and it has particular relevance, of course, under subsection (4), where there are prohibitions against doing things unless you are registered. What is the purpose of registration?


I think there are two main questions arising here. First, I did not say anything about criteria in licensing; I did not mean to imply anything. I would not know what were the criteria so that I had no intention of making any implication at all. So far as registration is concerned, the main point is that only registered employers can employ registered dockers.

The Earl of GOWRIE

I think that we are still very unhappy here, but I gave an undertaking and will honour it. We will return to this at a later stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord LYELL moved Amendment No. 71A: Page 15, line 5, at end insert— ("Provided that, where a harbour authority continues after the coming into operation of the order to maintain welfare amenities which in pursuance of a welfare amenity scheme it had provided or was maintaining immediately before the coming into operation thereof, the harbour authority shall be deemed for the purposes of section 28 of the 1966 Act to be maintaining the amenities in pursuance of a welfare amenity scheme.").

The noble Lord said: It may be to the convenience of the Committee to discuss with this Amendment, Amendment No. 73A, because we believe that the two are linked. Noble Lords will see that the Amendments aim to cover the various amenities which are supplied in the ports around the coastline by the port authorities. As we understand it, when the new Scheme is introduced the financial provisions which will support these amenities will be in some danger. Clause 12(1)(b) seems to provide that as the new Scheme is gradually applied to the ports—and we find this in Schedule 1 to the 1966 Dock and Harbours Act—any welfare amenity scheme which is incorporated and set up under Part II of that Act will cease to have effect in relation to that port when the new Scheme comes into effect under the Bill. Also, in Clause 17—and Amendment No. 73A applies here—we find some powers for the Secretary of State to repeal Parts I and II of the 1966 Act when he may be satisfied that the 1967 scheme is no longer in operation for any particular port in Great Britain.

Section 28 of the 1966 Act gave powers to the harbour or port authorities to levy charges on the employers in a particular port so that the port authority could prepare some welfare amenities for the employees in the port and the port was able to set up these welfare amenities in pursuance of a particular scheme there. The 1966 Act enabled the harbour and port authorities to recover from the port employers some proportion of the cost of setting up and of running these welfare amenities. We understand that at least three of the ports in the United Kingdom— London, Liverpool and, I believe, Bristol—still rely to a large extent on this levy from the port employers to maintain these amenities.

We are seeking the Goverment views on this because we believe that, should the Bill go through in its present form so far as Clauses 12 and 17 are concerned, the port authorities will lose this power to obtain a levy from the port employers. We believe that these welfare amenities should not go by the board and that the cost of running them should not be borne totally without support by the harbour and port authorities. We should be glad to hear the Government's views on this.

4.15 p.m.


Part II of the 1966 Act requires the Board to prepare for each port a scheme for the provision and maintenance, whether by registered employers or by harbour authorities, of appropriate welfare amenities. The Factory Inspectorate (now a part of the Health and Safety Executive) are responsible for enforcement of the scheme. Provisions dealing with welfare amenities were included in the Docks and Harbours Act 1966 because in the circumstances then prevailing it was considered that this arrangement would be more effective in securing the expeditious provision of new amenities than the use of the regulation making powers in the Factories Act 1961. The "Scheme" approach had the advantage of pinning responsibility on those concerned; much of the past neglect in this field had been due to confusion as to who should be responsible. But it was envisaged that at a later stage welfare arrangements should eventually be covered by regulations made under the Factories Act. There is now provision under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 to make regulations dealing with welfare amenity. It is more appropriate that the Health and Safety Commission should be responsible for welfare in docks as in the rest of British industry. The Commission has been consulted and accepts these responsibilities.

The proposal to repeal Part II of the Docks and Harbours Act was first proposed in the Consultative Document Dock Work, issued in March 1975. The only comment on the proposal was to welcome the ending of what was generally regarded as unnecessarily complex and bureaucratic requirements. However, within only the past two weeks it has been pointed out that at some ports harbour authorities charge other registered employers both for the capital and maintenance costs involved in providing welfare amenities.

The Government are therefore considering this matter. It may well be that the power to make transitional and saving provisions under Clause 12(1)(b) and Clause 17(3)(b) could be used to preserve the right of harbour authorities under Section 28 of the Docks and Harbours Act to charge to recover the cost of maintaining welfare amenities if this seems satisfactory to all concerned. The intention would be to use such a power until such time as suitable provision can be made under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The Government believe this to be the appropriate legislation for a provision of this kind and that it would therefore not be right to perpetuate in effect these provisions in the 1966 Docks and Harbours Act.

Viscount SIMON

I listened with great interest to the noble Lord, Lord Jacques. I hasten to explain that I am quite out of touch with things, having been out of this industry for some years. There is a special difficulty here and I am sure that what the noble Lord has said indicates that he understands that. The difficulty arises that when we try to apply legislation like the Health and Safety at Work Act directly to the docks we come across the problem that premises on the docks are not always being operated by the same people. You may have a dock shed where for one week one particular firm of stevedores and their men may work and where for another week it is another firm and, perhaps, the port authority itself. This was the difficulty which necessitated these provisions under the 1966 Act to share the cost between the employers because the employers are not, as it were, anchored to any particular place of work. Therefore, if the port authorities provide the facilities, these facilities are being used by employees of a whole number of other people.

From what the noble Lord has just said, he recognises that there is a difficulty here. He rightly said that the transitional provisions provided for in Clause 12 may cover this point. But I am not sure that I would agree with him that it may in the end be found possible to apply directly the provisions of the Health and Safety at Work Act.


This is an old issue which we have debated once or twice before, the question of whether the Health and Safety at Work Act and the Health and Safety Commission should cover all categories and not just some. We considered this on agriculture. The Government take the view that, having set up this body, it should cover all and should be able to use its experience of one field in another field. I am sure that while every occupation, especially docks, has characteristics of its own, there are other industries which have characteristics which are somewhat similar but not exactly the same. We believe that we shall get better results by putting this matter under the Health and Safety Commission, who will be able to use their very wide experience which we think will be helpful to the docks. We also think there may have to be a saving provision which can be made under the Bill.

Viscount SIMON

I fully agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, has said. The practical difficulty is not that nobody wants to draw on the experience of the Health and Safety Commission and make use of their expertise. I suspect there are not many industries in which the workforce of any particular employer is not anchored to a particular place of work but is constantly moving about. That requires some pooling of expenses and distribution among the various employers.


The facts stand up for themselves. It would involve some pooling; we think the supervision should come under the Health and Safety Commission.


I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, for saying that the Government appreciate that there is a transitional problem. I agree with the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, that in one particular wharf or shed facilities may be shared at some stage or another and therefore there would be the difficulty of finding who was responsible for particular aspects of employees. But as the noble Lord pointed out, this is a transitional period when the new Scheme comes in and he gave reasonable assurances that the Government will keep this matter under review while the scheme is coming in. I therefore beg leave to withdraw this Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4.23 p.m.

Lord DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 72: Page 15, line 28, leave out ("an") and insert ("a registered dock").

The noble Lord said: The subsection in which this Amendment falls deals with criminal offences, with penalties of a fine of not more than £400 on summary conviction or on conviction on indictment to a fine—and that means an unlimited fine, of course. It behoves us therefore to make certain that the people who are referred to in this subsection, who might come within the ambit of the criminal penalties, are very clearly defined. I hope I have taken down correctly what the noble Lord said earlier about registered dock employers. I understood him to say that a registered dock employer is one who employs a registered dock worker. If that is so, what about subsection (4)(c), which at line 27 says: … it shall be an offence…for a registered dock worker to do such work there otherwise than under an employer …". I hope that the noble Lord will be able to explain this. In order to give him an opportunity to do so, I have referred in my Amendment to "a registered dock" employer.

The difficulty that we are in here is that "registered" is defined in the interpretation clause in a rather curious way. It means registered under the 1967 scheme or under the new Scheme. As the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, said, we do not yet know what is going to be put in the new Scheme. By definition, we cannot know what a registered dock employer is going to be in the future. It is extraordinarily important, since we are laying down penalties, that we should know exactly to whom these penalties are going to apply. For example, subsection (4)(d) says that it shall be an offence, for a registered dock employer to engage a person for employment, or employ him, in either case to do such work there, unless the person is a registered dock worker". There we have the registered dock employer again but we do not have it in subsection (4)(c). I suggest that this is a fairly important word. I hope that I am not being pedantic and I hope that I am being logical in saying that if a registered dock employer is someone who employs a registered dock worker, then subsection (4)(c) cannot stand as it is.


Subsection (4)(c) creates an offence on the part of the worker. It is intended to preclude registered dock workers from working on a self-employed basis. The Amendment would also make it an offence on the part of a registered worker to do classified work if the employer for whom he was working was not a registered employer. It could be the case that the worker did not know the employer was not registered. It would, for example, create an immediate offence by the worker if the employer were for any reason removed from the register. We think that this is unreasonable and we believe that the Amendment is also unnecessary because it would be an offence under paragraph (a) for an employer to employ anyone to do classified work, as the noble Lord has told us. That makes the Amendment unnecessary, but the most important point is that it would be unreasonable on the worker.


I am not certain that I understood the logic of the penultimate remark of the noble Lord, but he has convinced me that there is good reason for not making this Amendment. I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Whether Clause 12 shall stand part of the Bill?

4.29 p.m.


The noble Lord, Lord Jacques, is always very helpful on these matters and I am sure he has tremendous experience about the transport of goods for the co-operative societies coming in through our ports. The point which concerns me is this. We give these great advantages to our dock workers in the organisation of our ports. So in return I think we should insist that there should be a correction of the abuses in our ports. I believe that the noble Lord agrees with me. The question is, how can we do it? Hitherto people have not wanted to make a fuss about abuses like the loss of a third of a great many consignments that come in and go out. For example, motor-car spare wheels, headlights and even generators are taken. This is very bad for our trade, but people have not wanted to make a fuss about it because there was no means of settling the disputes.

This is really a failure of industrial organisation and industrial relations. I quite see that the Government do not want it to go to the courts but should they not arrange that there should be an accepted method of settling these disputes without damaging strikes which harm our economy and the interests of other workers, and that these things should be sensibly, equitably and justly dealt with in a short time and the necessary corrections made?

I went so far as to take this matter up with the insurance industry. What happens at present is that importers and exporters just send the bill to the insurance company and the insurance company pays. The insurance people say they would rather pay heavy losses and charge good premiums than risk causing more touble at the ports by making a fuss or taking police action. This is bad for our trade, and it is bad for our workers at Coventry and Fords. It seems to me, to be fair, that as the Government have such good relations with the trade unions now—and I am very much in favour of the Social Contract—that there should be a counter-party to the Social Contract and that the unions should somehow help to get a procedure adopted which will put this thing right. Should we use the Conciliation and Arbitration Service? Like my noble friend Lord Mottistone, I am very much in favour of that. I think something should be done about it and I would be most grateful if the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, could be helpful on the subject.


I think there are two issues here: first, the general issue of conciliation and arbitration. I believe one of the most successful things that this Government have done is the setting up of the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service. Its record is far better than we ever imagined in the short period of time that it has been in existence. Its success is one of the reasons why we have had fewer days lost this year through industrial disputes than for many a year. That is in general, so there appears to be little difference between the noble Lord and myself on that issue.

Now I come to the dockers. We have had difficulties in the docks since 1970 but the record in the docks is not all that bad. I should like to point out that up to 1970 there had never been a comprehensive dock strike except the General Strike of 1926. The first one came in 1970 and was followed by another in 1972, and it was because there was ill-feeling that their work was being taken away from them and was being done by somebody else as a result of technological progress and they were left to do all they could within legal limits; that is, they were allowed to do picketing and anything else that was legal.

We are now saying in this Bill that there are more sensible ways of doing it than that and we are laying down procedures which will help the docker and whoever is in dispute with him—the employer who is now doing the work which otherwise would have been done for him. We have laid down procedures which will settle this peacefully and in an orderly manner rather than doing what we can under the law as it stands. Therefore, so far as I can see, we are entirely in line with the noble Lord.


With due deference, I do not think the noble Lord has really covered my point. The point is that when an importer has a third of his consignment stolen, what can he do about it? He cannot very well take legal action because nothing ever happens, and if he does the whole port goes on strike.


Listening to my noble friend replying to the noble Lord in the first place indicates to me that, if this Bill is passed in its present form, it contravenes the regulations laid down in the Bill, and people are left open to punishment. Anyone who has studied labour relations knows full well that if you have conciliation machinery between the two parties there is very little reason to worry. if there is a dispute it can be settled within a period of days with no worry at all.


May I revert again to the point I was dealing with before. I feel that with criminal provisions it is important to get this right; if the noble Lord will look at subsection (6) it says: In subsection (4) above "registered", in relation to a dock worker, means registered under the new Scheme, whether in a main register or an extension register whereas under Clause 15 he will find the word "register" subject to Clause 12(6), which is the one I have just read out, which means registered under the 1967 Scheme or under the new Scheme. I think it would be worth while for the noble Lord to ask his advisers to have a look at this so far as the registered dock employer is concerned.


We will certainly look at it again but I should like to reply to the noble Lord's point about thieving and industrial action. It has been my experience very often that management is to blame. I have spent almost the whole of my working life in management and where you get these circumstances management is largely to blame. It happens this way: they allow things to go on and then come down with a bang; but what is allowed to go on the workers think they can continue to do. There should be a thorough understanding with the trade union, and once there is a thorough understanding with the trade union that trade union will make it known to its members and in my opinion—and this is certainly based on my experience—you would not get the kind of thing that has been mentioned. In the societies that I managed thieving meant that the person was out. Everybody knew that and it was a fact.

Clause 12 agreed to.

Clauses 13 and 14 agreed to.

Clause 15 [Interpretation]:

The Earl of GOWRIE moved Amendment No. 73: Page 17, leave out lines 36 and 37.

The noble Earl said: This is the definitions clause. We removed the definition of "cargo handling zone" consequential on its earlier removal from the Bill. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 15, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 16 agreed to.

Clause 17 [Commencement and repeals]:

Lord LYELL had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 73A: Page 20, line 3, at end insert— ("Provided that, where a harbour authority continues after the coming into operation of the order to maintain welfare amenities which in pursuance of a welfare amenity scheme it had provided or was maintaining immediately before the coming into operation thereof, the harbour authority may (without prejudice to any other enactment or any instrument under an enactment which authorises a harbour authority to make and recover charges for the use of any welfare amenities) make and recover from the employers of persons using the amenities reasonable charges for their use by those persons.").

The noble Lord said: I spoke to this Amendment in connection with Amendment No. 71A. I was glad to receive some assurances from the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, and as a result I do not intend to move this Amendment.

Clause 17 agreed to.

Schedule 1 [Replacement of old Dock Labour Board by new Board]:

4.40 p.m.

Lord MOTTISTONE moved Amendment No. 74: Page 22, line 4, leave out from beginning to ("any") in line 5 and insert ("The Minister for the Civil Service shall be advised of").

The noble Lord said: As some noble Lords will know, I moved a somewhat similar Amendment last week on the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill. Indeed, the Government may perhaps feel that I am being a little tedious in repeating it, but I am directing the eyes of the Committee away from what might be called the good of the worker at the dock wall to the good of us all, so we are spared unnecessary over-government from the centre. I beg your Lordships' pardon for raising this matter again so soon, but I am guided in so doing by a very wise phrase I came across many years ago, written by Admiral Godfrey, the Director of Naval Intelligence for the first half of the last major conflict. He said: It is only by iteration that unfamiliar truths can be forced on stubborn minds".

The object of Amendment No. 74 and also of Amendment No. 75, which I ask the leave of the Committee to take together, is to ask the Government to consider in the wider sense whether it is necessary for the Civil Service Department to have quite such a tight say in the handling of terms and conditions of persons who are in subordinate employ, such as in this case the chairman and vice-chairman of the Dock Labour Board, and the other Board members. It seems to me that all these Acts of Parliament which we have been passing for quite some time now have within them a clause saying, "with the consent of the Ministry for the Civil Service".

I will not bore your Lordships with repetition of what I said in my speech last week. Suffice it to say I have practical experience of this kind of thing operating, which is perhaps rather more than have many of your Lordships. The problem is that, on the one hand, time is wasted when trying to negotiate with the trade unions new terms and conditions for junior employees. I fully admit that in this particular case, it is unlikely that the chairman, vice-chairman and members of the Dock Labour Board will at present belong to a particular trade union. But who is to know now the influence of the TUC may spread over the years? It is the principle I am dealing with rather than the particular case.

The fact of the matter is that because the rules are written so tightly as to require the consent of the Minister for the Civil Service, it means that changes in terms and conditions have to be referred to the Department which, happily, is not desperately overstaffed. Therefore, as there are more and more bodies of this nature about which details have to be referred to it, it is unable to deal with them as fast as is reasonable in ordinary industrial relations terms. Where junior staff, or pension funds and the like, are concerned, this, indeed, could be frustrating both for staff and management.

The second point is that in a subtle way, it deprives the Board or managing unit concerned of its authority. Everyone knows that in the last resort it is the Civil Service Department who will say " yea " or " nay " on the terms and conditions of the people concerned. Therefore, there has been a move on the part of trade unions to seek direct access to the Civil Service Department, on the principle that if you wish to negotiate terms and conditions you must do it at the level where ultimate decisions are taken.

Those are two examples of why tight control is written into many Acts of Parliament. I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Oram, when he replies, will say this is a well-established practice and maybe I am trying to turn against the tide in a Canute-like way. But at some time one must make a stand, particularly if one has had the privilege of experiencing this at the working end.

The point that really was not taken up by the noble Lord, Lord Winterbottom, when I raised the subject last time was that I am not seeking to question the need for ultimate Treasury and/or Civil Service Department authority for the expenditure of public funds, from which this particular type of clause stems. Your Lordships will see that in my Amendment I am merely asking that instead of the consent of the Minister being sought, he should be advised, with the object that it is obligatory to advise him so that the Civil Service Department can always know what is going on, but so that no delays need to take place while executive action is taking place by another Ministry working directly with the agency or board concerned. This is really a labour-saving and speeding-up process that I seek, without trying to derive from the long-stop authority of the Civil Service Department. That I do not question. It is an important point that by adopting my Amendment, not only here but in every other Act of Parliament where this will appear—and there are many new Acts because there is so much State control, but that is another argument—the authority of the subordinate bodies accordingly will be strengthened if there is only one Minister to deal with, and I hope that the working Minister with whom the bodies have to deal on a day-to-day basis will be someone who understands the problems of the subordinate bodies concerned. I beg to move.


I fully understand the motives of the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, as he described them in moving this Amendment. He is anxious to cut out any unnecessary steps in Government procedure. The noble Lord advocates his Amendment in terms of speeding up the process and so on. He asked whether the wording in the Bill is necessary. I would assure him that, as the Government see it, the wording is necessary. The noble Lord, said that i might merely say that it is a well-established practice. Well, I do say that, but that is not the sole basis of my case; of that I can assure the noble Lord.

There is a very practical reason for the Bill being drafted in the way that it is. It is standard practice to require the approval or consent of the Minister for the Civil Service in the case of compensatory payments of the kind covered by Amendment No. 74, and scales and rates, fees and allowances of the kind covered by Amendment No. 75. But there is a very respectable reason for this standard practice.

It is desirable that the levels of such payments of scales and rates should not vary widely from case to case. If it were left for each Minister immediately responsible in a board or body, without some Minister who has an overall view of these things, there could well be an imbalance, a getting out of line between very similar cases. It is for that reason that the Minister for the Civil Service is brought in, because he it is who is best placed to play that role that I have described, of ensuring that scales and payments do not vary widely from case to case. I commend the noble Lord for what he said; he is pursuing something of a campaign in these matters and hopes eventually to wear down stubborn minds. I think he will acknowledge that my mind is not very stubborn in these matters, but I warn him that on this occasion I may be a little resistant.


May I ask my noble friend whether, in the event of the Minister recommending a lower scale than might be prevailing elsewhere, the Civil Service would necessarily approve it, or would they say that a higher scale has to be paid?


I think the Minister for the Civil Service would call attention to comparable rates in comparable instances.


He would not only have to call attention to that; he has to approve it.


There would be discussion between the Ministers, and ultimately I agree, the Minister for the Civil Service would have to approve.


I thank the noble Lord, Lord Oram, very much for the temperate way in which he replied. I certainly would not accuse him of having a stubborn mind, and he will, of course, realise that I was making a quotation. But I would not be so naive as to feel that there are not lots of stubborn minds on this issue stuck away somewhere in Whitehall.

Of course one recognises the need for a co-ordination of salaries and other benefits, but against that is the fact that there is a wide range of different types of subordinate body of this nature. In fact there is a recently published booklet, which I am sure many noble Lords will have read, showing the vast number of what one might described as patronage jobs in the care of the Government. There is an extraordinarily wide range of different sorts of salaries and remuneration which over the years one might have thought the Civil Service Department would have prevented arising. Perhaps even the system as it is is not working very well. I am being very serious; I am talking from a deeply felt practical knowledge of some parts of this. The fact is that these jobs are different; they, therefore, require different application, and there is a need, therefore, for guidelines rather than detailed instructions. I am sure the noble Lord is not suggesting that all people like this should go on Civil Service salaries, because they get all sorts of different rewards. It is also a question not just of salaries, but of terms and conditions generally. It is like your Lordships' expenses, for example; they come within this general purview. It would seem to me reasonable that guidelines would be better than detailed application. It is " consent " which sticks, because that is what causes the delay. " Advised " could give the Civil Service Department time to protest.

We come back to something we were plugging away at over the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill. There are many features in that Bill which make one think that the Government consider the people who are going to run those Boards are moronic idiots who could not be trusted with a child's pram, let alone a vast corportaion. There are aspects of it which read like that. The sort of people who are going to be the chairman and vice-chairman and members of this Board are responsible people; they are not going to recommend ridiculous figures and ask for ridiculous terms and conditions. The Secretary of State for Employment, who presumably is the Secretary of State within the meaning of this Bill, is not an irresponsible character; he is served by very good, capable advisers who are perfectly capable of running the show without having to go back to " Auntie Civil Service Department " for approval for every little thing, which is the way this is put into effect. Though I would ask your Lordships' permission to withdraw this Amendment, I hope the Government will give it rather more thought, and perhaps do a little pushing, joining me in this great battle to free us all from unnecessary control from the centre.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4.56 p.m.

Lord LYELL moved Amendment No. 75A: Page 22, line 45, at end insert— ("Provided that a person shall not be qualified to be so appointed as auditor unless he is a member of one or more of the following bodies:—

or of any other body of accountants established in the United Kingdom and for the time being recognised for the purpose of section 161(1)(a) of the Companies Act 1948; but a Scottish firm may be so appointed if each of the partners is qualified to be so appointed.").

The noble Lord said: This Amendment which stands in the name of myself and my noble colleagues concerns something that is very far from the matters we have so far been discussing. The noble Lord, Lord Jacques, touched upon it this afternoon; he believed that the wig and the pen had no place in industrial relations. This particular Amendment concerns another group of experts, if one may so term them. qualified persons who are allowed under the terms of the Companies Acts to carry out audits, members of various bodies, among whom are chartered accountants—and I have a minor interest to declare in that I am a member of one of the bodies in this particular Amendment.

The Amendment is referring mainly to the role of the auditor in relation to the accounts of companies, other concerns, and public bodies. The role of an auditor when dealing with these matters, we believe, is of very great significance. The appointment of auditors to limited companies in business and commerce is covered in Section 161 of the Companies Act 1948, and this deals with what we might term Companies Act companies. We believe that the appointment of the auditors to public bodies, such as this Dock Labour Board we are discussing, should be governed by similar considerations.

When Parliament is legislating for the appointment of auditors for the accounts of public bodies it specifically recognises members of certain accountancy bodies as properly qualified in the public interest to audit such accounts as may be presented to them. There is one major exception—and for reasons which I shall come to I do not think this particular exception is applicable here. This major exception is where it is provided in a particular Act or particular Statute that the accounts, or the financial considerations, details and records should be audited and verified by the Comptroller and Auditor-General. We believe that this particular public Board, the Dock Labour Board, is among the public bodies which should fall within what we might call the Section 161 qualifications of auditors.

Various other enactments have been passed in the last five years which contain this particular clause which we are seeking to insert, the subject of the Amendment; for instance, the Civil Aviation Act—the British Airways Board—and the Act relating to the British Gas Corporation both have a similar clause to this one. We believe that there is reason to insert this particular Amendment in the Bill. Noble Lords will be aware that there is a Companies (No. 2) Bill now in another place, and in Clause 13 of that Bill the various accountancy bodies mentioned in this Amendment are specifically mentioned as bodies recognised by the Secretary of State for the purpose of Section 161 of the old 1948 Companies Act. It might he thought that the financial provisions in this Bill are specifically referring to the Secretary of State and to the Treasury. I think it is Clause 3 that refers to the Secretary of State and how the Board may borrow such sums from the Secretary of State or from anyone else with his particular authority. We believe that the role of auditors as they carry out their functions for a normal limited company, or indeed in other public boards, as I was mentioning, is apposite to this particular Board, if we look at Schedule 2, paragraph 4, where the matters for the new Dock Labour Scheme include the establishment and collection of a levy payable by dock employers.

It has been felt that since funds are going to be collected on behalf of and from non-statutory and non-Government bodies, there ought to be a qualification that an audit should be carried out, as we understand it, in line with the thinking of the Board of Trade, as it was in 1948, and indeed as is carried on in the current Companies Bill which is in another place. In the context of the particular Bill we are discussing, the provisions of Clause 13 of the Companies (No. 2) Bill emphasise the point that strict control is very necessary over the appointment of auditors.

We see in paragraph 10 of Schedule 1 that the duty of the Board is to keep proper accounts, and to prepare such accounts once a year, and to submit the accounts for audit by auditors appointed by the Secretary of State. We hope that the Government will consider favourably this particular Amendment, because we understand that in various other Acts which incorporate similar bodies to the dock labour boards which we are discussing in this Bill, the qualifications of such persons who shall be empowered to carry out audits and are accepted as such by the Board of Trade are classified as set out in this Amendment. It is a relatively simple point and we shall be grateful to hear the noble Lord's opinion on this matter. I beg to move.

5.3 p.m.


I hope to persuade the Committee not to insert the words that the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, suggests, but at the same time hope to persuade the Committee that there is not a great deal in principle dividing the two sides of the Committee on this matter. The fact that we propose not to accept the Amendment and include these words in the Bill should not be taken to suggest that the Secretary of State proposes to appoint auditors who are not members of one of the institutions listed in the present Amendment. Indeed, the very reverse is the case.

The present National Dock Labour Board's auditors are of the highest reputation. They are members of an appropriate institution, and the Secretary of State has no proposal to make a change. However, the issue before the Committee is whether this requirement should be written into the Bill. At the moment the Bill requires that the National Dock Labour Board's auditors shall be appointed by the Secretary of State, as the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, pointed out, and I wonder whether anyone would suggest that anyone occupying the position of the Secretary of State would be liable to act irresponsibly in this matter of appointing auditors and act so irresponsibly as to appoint auditors who had not got satisfactory qualifications or reputations. I do not suppose that anyone would suggest that things would go that far. If they did—and let us suppose that that most unlikely circumstance should arise—then I suggest that they should look at sub-paragraphs (2) and (4) of paragraph 11 of Schedule 1. This requires that the Board's report for each year shall be accompanied by a copy of the auditors' report, and that that report shall be laid before each House of Parliament. So it will be the case that Parliament will be aware each year of the appointment of the auditors, and, through that, if there were any doubt about it there would be ample opportunity for Parliament to question the Secretary of State about the exercise of his function under the Act.

With those considerations in mind, I urge the noble Lord and his colleagues to consider whether it is necessary in this case to insert the detailed provisions proposed in this Amendment, because it seems to me that it is adding words which are really not necessary. I made this point in connection with another Amendment last week. I am sure that I have the noble Lord with me, not necessarily in regard to these words but as a general proposition, that if words are innocuous and unnecessary then we ought not to clutter up the Statute Book with them. Judgments will vary, of course, as between each particular set of words. My judgment is firmly that these words are not necessary. Therefore, I advise the Committee not to include them.

Viscount SIMON

I am astonished by the reply that the noble Lord has given to this. He says that we are all sure that any Secretary of State would appoint qualified auditors. Well, surely why not say so? If the noble Lord is complaining about the number of words, they could be shortened down by leaving out the names of the various institutions and saying, "Any auditor who is qualified for the time being to audit the accounts of a public company under the Companies Acts." That would reduce the number of words. It seems extraordinary to say, "Of course he will not appoint an unqualified person, so why do we have to write it in?"

Then the noble Lord went on to say that if he had by some mischance appointed an unqualified person, Parliament would be aware of it and could complain. But of course by that time the audit would have been completed, and though he might alter matters again next year it would not affect the accounts laid before Parliament. Could the noble Lord look at this point again?


Perhaps the noble Lord will want to look at it again. The common sense approach of the noble Viscount who has just spoken is right. To take up the words of the noble Lord in his reply, he asked whether anybody would seriously expect the Secretary of State to act irresponsibly. I do not think anybody would, but when you are framing this sort of protection, whether it is for a private company or as in this case a public concern, you have to work on the basis that somebody might be irresponsible. That is the reason you have to do these things. As regards the Companies Acts, private companies are asked to do many things which are against common sense. The idea of people doing the irresponsible things against which we provide protection in Statutes is inconceivable; but if you want to spell out these things and make absolutely clear that its standing cannot be questioned, you have to work on the basis that someone at some time might be irresponsible. The fact that in a later part of the Bill the matter must be brought to the attention of both Houses of Parliament and can be examined in that way is the long way round; better to take out insurance now simply by adding a few words to the Bill.

In my view the words proposed are neither innocuous nor unnecessary. If we want to put this organisation in the same position as every private company, then the words are both necessary and desirable. We never expect a Secretary of State to be irresponsible, but we must work on the basis that, like anybody else, he might be; so it is better to have a preventive provision of this kind.


It seems that the difference between the two sides of the Committee on this issue is that my noble friends want to lock the door before the horse is stolen while noble Lords opposite would rather wait until afterwards.


I reiterate what the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, said. We are unanimous in saying that the words are relatively innocuous. If the noble Lord, Lord Oram, believes that what he said is true, may I ask him to explain why words very similar to those we propose currently appear in, for example, the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill; the Iron and Steel Act, which incorporates the Briitsh Steel Corporation; the Industry Act 1975, which incorporates the National Enterprise Board; and the Policyholders Protection Act 1975, which incorporates the Policyholders Protection Board? Have those measures been spoilt because of the inclusion of these words? In the view of the Minister, do those Acts contain an unnecessary qualification? Why is it that only in respect of this Bill does the noble Lord say, "Of course the Secretary of State would not be irresponsible and therefore we do not need this Amendment?" I appreciate that there comes a time with legislation when one must call a halt because a Bill is becoming too long, but that is not the case here and if, in such important enactments as I have quoted, these words appear, we cannot consider that the Minister's reasons are adequate for opposing the Amendment, which is mild and innocuous.


I am not sure what constitutes a responsible auditor. I say that in view of the rather unfortunate balance sheets that we have heard about in certain quarters in recent weeks and months. Those balance sheets were audited meticulously and expensively by well-known firms of auditors on whose competence none of us would dream of casting the slightest aspersion. Should we judge the competence of a firm of auditors by whether the report which it presents to us finds that the accounts are meticulously drawn up and are absolutely in order, only to discover later that they are anything but in order? I am not suggesting that this proves that that firm of auditors is irresponsible or incompetent and it may be that the Committee is on the wrong foot. Should we not be demanding a far more exhaustive kind of account to be presented to us, rather than blaming some poor unfortunate auditor afterwards for putting his name to something which is quite fraudulent?

5.15 p.m.


My reply to my noble friend Lord Lee of Newton is that we all wish to ensure by one means or another that the auditors appointed are respectable and responsible. I acknowledge that the Amendment would go some way to make sure of that. That is not to say that there are not black sheep who are members of one or other of the organisations referred to in it; but, then, one cannot, when enacting legislation, take care of every black sheep who happens to be about. The question is what should be in the Bill in respect of membership and qualifications. I acknowledge at once what the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, said about similar wording being in a number of important enactments. Indeed, at 5.30 this morning I was more alert than I was expecting to be and I noticed in the Bill that we were then considering a provision not as long as that proposed in the Amendment but much more in keeping with the form of words suggested by the noble Viscount, Lord Simon.

The reason why I suggested earlier that in relation to this Bill we need not absolutely ensure this matter in this way is that the kind of bodies in the Acts to which Lord Lyell referred are in general much more vast and more complex, and their accounts are very different from those that are likely to be the accounts of the Board we are considering. However, I accept that it is not a very good argument to say, as the housemaid said, that the baby is but a small one. I listened with respect, as always, to what the noble Viscount said and I will undertake to look at it again, as he suggested. I would resist, and I think I shall continue to resist, the particular form of words suggested because I think it is unnecessarily complex; but if we can find a form of words perhaps in line with the Bill we were considering earlier, or in line with what the noble Viscount suggested, then, subject to what I said about it being a different kind of body that we are setting up, we can examine the matter again on Report.


I thank the Minister for that assurance. We were in danger of getting slightly away from the point I sought to raise when we seemed to get on to the subject of the colour of sheep and various unfortunate cases that have recently appeared in the media about the verification of balance sheets, and what the noble Lord, Lord Lee of Newton, said was of particular relevance to the accountancy profession; I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Oram, will in the course of the next year or two be engaged in fairly lengthy discussions with the bodies set out in the Amendment. We will study the Minister's remarks and it may be possible for us to trim down the length of the Amendment on the lines suggested by the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, or we might be able to find a suitable abbreviated Amendment such as that which the Committee was discussing at 5.30 this morning on another Bill. We need not, indeed must not, at this point go into the question of the colour of sheep and the whole question of auditing. That would be an intrusion into our present discussion of the Bill. I am obliged to the Minister for the assurance he has given and I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 1 agreed to.

Schedule 2 [Matters for new Dock Labour Scheme]:

5.20 p.m.

Lord LYELL moved Amendment No. 76: Page 24, line 31, leave out from ("rights") to ("termination") in line 33.

The noble Lord said: When we come to consider Schedule 2 to this Bill we on these Benches are a little worried as to the meaning and application of various portions of paragraph 3: … matters relating to dock workers and their work … Noble Lords will see that we seek assurance on amending part of this paragraph, particularly with relevance to discipline, in what I might call dockland or in and around the ports and harbours. Noble Lords will be aware that discipline between employers and employees and settlement of disciplinary matters in the dock is very complicated and difficult. We take note of what the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, had to say earlier this afternoon, that where matters can be settled in the docks it is best to do so without recourse to weird procedures, to which the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, referred, involving wig and pen. This is what we seek to do by this Amendment.

Noble Lords, particularly those who have experience of industrial relations in the ports and docks, might agree that there can often be disputes and arguments and differences of opinion regarding conduct, behaviour and various points which can and ought, so far as possible, to be settled in the employer's office, or possibly at the local level in the port or dock. We believe that discipline in these matters could give rise to industrial disputes, and we wonder whether it is necessarily something that should be part of the National Board remit and would ask what the Government have in mind on this point.

We wondered whether or not this Amendment goes some way towards enabling some disciplinary procedures to be operated by employers in a more normal way, as indeed they are for workers other than registered dock workers at ports, and indeed in every other industry in the country. We wondered why it is felt that discipline on the dock-side or in the port areas should be treated differently from elsewhere, outside dockland. We hope the Committee will not consider that this should mean totally arbitrary discipline at the whim of an individual employer, and that there are safeguards against this, though not necessarily in this Bill.

The practice generally in industry is that discipline by employers has to be, and is, founded on well tried and well publicised procedures with scope for such appeal as may be necessary, and above all for consultation with the relevant trade unions. We believe that this system works particularly successfully and well throughout industry, and wonder why such disciplinary procedures should be sought as part of the remit of the Dock Labour Board under this new scheme. I beg to move.

5.24 p.m.

Viscount SIMON

I completely disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, on this Amendment. If he asks why a different scheme should be adopted in the docks from elsewhere, the answer is that this has always been an essential part of the Dock Labour Scheme, and to cancel it at this stage would be unacceptable to employers as well as to the trade unions. Of course the actual disciplinary arrangements will be handled by the local dock labour board, not the national Board, although possibly the national Board will hear appeals from a local board. The local boards will have members drawn from the employers and from the trade unions. On issues such as discipline it is by no means impossible for there to be a true meeting of minds between employers and trade unions.

I agree that experience shows that perhaps men drawn from the trade unions, seeing matters from their point of view, are inclined to be more lenient, to give a man another chance; whereas men drawn from the employers, seeing matters from their point of view, are inclined to be a little tougher. In practice this has worked successfully. My recollection—and I do not know whether it has much worth—was that the principal complaint was sometimes that there would be pressure from those members of the Board who came from trade unions to reconsider a case. A man would be suspended and the Board would be asked to reconsider and bring him hack. When one thinks of people's livelihood I do not think that is too bad.

My impression is that representatives on the Board who come from trade unions are quite well aware of what indiscipline means, potentials such as the noble Lord, Lord Hankey, referred to, such as thefts from the docks, and would be prepared to impose suitable penalties, and that the members who come with the background of employers are, generally speaking, quite aware that in its administration justice has to be tempered in appropriate cases. It would be a most retrograde step to try to remove this arrangement which has worked well for a very long time.


Taking up the point made by the noble Viscount and asking the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, a question, am I not right in believing—and I am sorry I have not had time to check this—that the 1967 Scheme was based on its predecessors, but before industrial tribunals had the authority which they now have to take appeals of this nature? Would it not now be the case, under the recent legislation, that any worker, whether he be a dock worker or any other, has the right of appeal to an industrial tribunal, and that all workers now have the sort of privilege which perhaps in the period to which the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, was referring was rather pioneered with the dock workers? If I am right (and I fully accept that I may not be right) would it not be a good plan that the dock workers should not he seen to be treated any differently from other workers in this respect? This is the one thing we want to get away from, where it is unnecessary. If I am right, I would suggest that industrial tribunals would do all that is necessary. If I am wrong I should be delighted for the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, to tell me so.

5.29 p.m.


Paragraphs 14A to 18 of the 1967 Scheme are central to the principles of joint control on which that Scheme is based. The effect of these paragraphs is to provide disciplinary procedures for registered dock workers and in particular for their suspension and termination of employment. Under that Scheme such matters are under joint control. Decisions are taken by local boards which comprise equal numbers of persons representing registered dock workers and those representing employers. The legislation relating to unfair dismissal does not apply to registered dock workers and it would not apply to them under this Bill. Therefore it is necessary that they have some kind of procedure.

I give you an example of the kind of thing that could happen under paragraph 14A. In the case of serious misconduct, an employer may terminate the employment without notice and in other cases he can suspend a worker for a period of up to five working days. However, in both cases, there is a right of appeal to a local board. We believe that there should be such a right of appeal and that since there is a machinery established within the industry to deal with this there should be no change unless there is good reason. No good reason has been presented to us as to why this should be changed.

The Government think it right that there should be at the very least the possibility of including similar provisions in the existing Scheme in the new Scheme, particularly as they have been a feature of the Scheme since 1967. The Amendment would arbitrarily close this option. The Government are firmly committed to the principle of joint control and, if the new Scheme is to be so based, it is essential that the matters for which it is to make provision should include those that the Amendment would seek to delete. Effective worker participation in the industry through joint administration of the Scheme has long been established and any attempt to change the fundamental basis of the Scheme would be wholly detrimental to industrial relations in the docks. I believe that the same answer applies to what the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, was saying. Theoretically, he has a strong case but, in practice, it would disturb existing industrial relations because we have established practices.


I should like to thank the noble Lord for the reply that he gave. It has cleared up one or two of the doubts in my mind, though there are one or two other doubts that have been raised by this. I am still a little mystified as to why dockers should be treated differently, particularly as we now have the opportunity to unify industrial practice. But I take the point made by the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, and I imagine that conditions have not greatly changed since he left the active side of the port industry. Changes have taken place under the 1967 Scheme, and the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, spelt out the provisions of paragraph 14A. I am grateful to him and, though I may possibly ask a different question at Report stage to seek to tighten up the provision, at this stage I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

5.35 p.m.

Viscount SIMON moved Amendment No. 77: Page 24, line 37, leave out from ("workers") to end of line 40 and insert—

  1. ("(a) provision for training and welfare in so far as provision does not exist apart from the Scheme;
  2. (b) the administration of any severance in accordance with the terms of any national agreement of the National Joint Council or other relevant joint industrial negotiating body.").

The noble Viscount said: The noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, has been kind enough to allow me to propose the Amendment to which I put my name because it follows the speech that I made on Second Reading. The purpose of the Amendment is to remove what I believe to be a very serious flaw in the Bill as originally presented and as it passed through another place. I shall recapitulate as briefly as possible what I said during the Second Reading debate, for most noble Lords were here on that occasion. The position is that the Dock Labour Board, which jointly represents the trade unions and the employers, is, in so far as it is acting as a Board, there to administer the Scheme and to do the various other things set out in the Bill. While it is doing that, I visualise the Board as sitting round a table and a meeting of minds taking place between the members who come from an employer background and those who have a trade union background. Their whole purpose should be to weld the Board into one so that the members are jointly seeking the right course to pursue in carrying out their duties.

However, when it comes to discussing remuneration, hours of work and everything set out in paragraph 3 of Schedule 2, the members of the Board are performing a quite different function. The employers are sitting on one side of a long table and the trade unions on the other and there is a lot of hard bargaining going on. If these two functions are muddled up by being carried out by the same people, one of two things is likely to happen. One possibility is that the arguments—and let us admit that tempers are sometimes lost and that there is some rancour—during the bargaining sessions will be carried over into the Board so that the Board is divided into two right down the middle instead of trying to get together to pursue a common policy on the matters entrusted to it.

That is one possibility and, I believe, the more likely. The other is equally damaging; it is that when the representatives of the trade unions come to bargain with the employers and they do not always, as we know, achieve everything they want, the workers outside may begin to fear that their trade union officials have not done all they could because they are too close to the management. One of these two things is all too likely to happen and I urged on Second Reading that noble Lords opposite, particularly those with trade union experience, should give careful thought to these points before we came to the Committee stage to see whether this is really a wise provision.

There was some discussion about it on Second Reading and reference was made to an ILO Convention which it was thought we wished to ratify but could not ratify unless there were some provision of this kind. I hope that when the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, replies, he will explain quite where this ILO Convention comes in because I obtained a copy of it with the help of the noble Lord, Lord Oram, and I cannot see in what way we should be in breach of the Convention if we proceeded on the lines that I have suggested.

I go one step further in saying that if, technically, there is some breach, I wonder whether we shall be wise to ratify the Convention. Not all the wisdom in the world resides in the ILO, any more than it does ill the United Nations. Resolutions are passed and we do not have to adopt them unless we think that they fit in with our particular form and structure of society and industry. I feel that what I have suggested is really essential if the Board is to make a success of its task. If that is contrary to some section of the Convention, I respectfully suggest that we should not ratify the Convention rather than that we should ratify it and make the Scheme absolutely unworkable as, in my view, it would be. I beg to move.

5.39 p.m.


I believe that it will be helpful to the Committee to have the Government's view now. To the best of my knowledge, paragraph 3 of the Schedule has no relation to Convention 137. I certainly would not rely upon that to justify the paragraph. Paragraph 3 of the Schedule has been drafted deliberately in wide terms so as to permit maximum flexibility in the design of the new Scheme. But the Bill does not require there to be provision for any or all of the matters raised. There is no intention, for example, that the Scheme should fix in absolute terms remuneration, hours of work or holidays with pay, or disturb existing collective agreements in respect of these matters. But it may well be found desirable to make provision to set minimum standards. The scheme could be extended to employers and workers who were not parties to the National Joint Council agreements and whose pay, hours of work, et cetera, were not determined by collective agreement or even by a grant under the Employment Protection Act.

In its 1973 Report the National Ports Council said that in the special circumstances of the port transport industry the Council believed that there was a strong case for conformity by non-Scheme ports and wharves with those terms and conditions which are nationally agreed for dock workers by the industry's National Joint Council. The Government accept the validity of this recommendation in those circumstances where there is not a collective agreement. There is of course no intention that the Board should he concerned with collective bargaining or negotiations.

As far as training and welfare are concerned, the Board's function in the 1967 Scheme was to make satisfactory provision for training and welfare only in so far as such provision did not exist apart from the Scheme. It is not envisaged at present that the new Scheme will go further than this. But here again, we have to take into account the fact that there is no industrial training board in the industry and it may be desirable for the Board to he able to play a more positive role in training and in welfare.

The draft new Scheme is not sufficiently advanced for us to he able to say with any certainty what provisions will have to be made in the Scheme in relation to the matters listed in paragraph 3, and it is considered necessary that the options represented by those enabling powers should be kept open so that the Secretary of State, in drafting the new Scheme, will not be precluded from taking full account of the views of those concerned; that is, both sides of the industry.

Viscount SIMON

I am obliged to the noble Lord for his reply but I am afraid it does not get me very far. I noted what he said about training and welfare, but if he will look at Amendment No. 77 he will see that it still retains the paragraph which relates to provision for training and welfare in so far as provision does not exist apart from the Scheme, so training and welfare is taken care of.

It still seems to me that to include in the Scheme, as one of the matters relating to dock workers which is the concern of the Board, remuneration and hours of work, including weekly periods of rest and holidays, is really going very far. The noble Lord says that it is not intended. I was hoping the Government were going to accept this Amendment, because on Wednesday last, 13th October, Lord Jacques said: I would also point out that the Dock Labour Board is not concerned with negotiation of wages. Wages are negotiated in the National Joint Council. That is not the function of the Board at all."—[Official Report, 13/10/76; col. 323.] When I heard that I thought, "This is splendid, the Government are going to accept our Amendment". The noble Lord now says he wants to leave it in, in case, in some circumstances which cannot be visualised, the Board might want to do something about this. Quite frankly, I do not want them to do anything about it in circumstances not yet visualised, and that is why I should like to have those words removed from the Schedule. I do not know whether my noble friend Lord Lyell would want to add to that?


I would only add to what the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, has said, that our main and very serious objection, and our reason for supporting this Amendment, is that we believe there is a very great risk of the Board's acting—not consciously, not actually wanting to do so—as a passive harrier between employers and the employees in the matters of remuneration and hours of work, which we believe should be left to be settled on a much more local basis. I think the noble Viscount, when he was moving this Amendment at the start, said that in the main there are very hard bargaining sessions carried out between employers and employees, and we believe that this should be the forum for remuneration, hours of work and welfare and training, rather than its being under the aegis of the Board.

We do not necessarily believe, we do not necessarily say straight out, that the Board is going to be a hindrance in such matters, but we do believe that the risk of the Board's causing unnecessary uncertainty and confusion, and indeed mistrust, in many of these circumstances is too great. Indeed, the noble Lord has drawn attention to the ACAS, and we wonder, could this not be a better forum? Still we believe that it is far better done over a table, without the invisible watchfulness of the Board, and I would beg to support the noble Viscount's views and this Amendment.

5.48 p.m.


I found the noble Viscount's argument in this case very convincing, but I am still in some puzzlement about what the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, had to say about the permissive nature of the provisions in this Schedule. The Schedule is introduced of course, from Clause 5(1), Subject to this section, the new Scheme may provide for any of the matters specified in Schedule 2 to this Act. It does not say that the Board itself will necessarily have to administer all the things that the new Scheme provides for. The Government must have in their minds already a good deal of what is proposed to be contained in the new Scheme, and I should have thought that, above all, they would have this kind of problem in their minds, because it is so crucial. I do not know whether the noble Lord can lift the curtain a little for us and tell us what the Government have in their minds about this, as to whether the negotiation of remuneration will continue to be as it is now, or whether in some part there will be powers on the part of the Board to lay down minimum scales or merely to recommend minimum scales in different parts of the country.

Then, of course—this is something which we discussed right at the beginning of the Bill—that the new Board will be a very different animal from the old Board. The old Board, as I understand it, was virtually a sort of nucleus of the National Joint Council, four from the employers' side and four from the employees' side; but now, as the Government originally drafted this Bill, there will be four outsiders, so to speak, added to the eight NJC members or representatives. This is going to give an entirely different slant to the Board, and I should have thought it stood to reason that they should have nothing to do with remuneration if remuneration is to continue to be negotiated between the two sides.

We have always heard so much stress laid by trade union spokesmen on the need to have free negotiation; but what appears to be happening here—the noble Lord has said that this may not be quite so, but it does appear to be happening—is that the Board is being established in the field of remuneration as a sort of tertium quid, a third party, a piece of wadding between the two sides. If I understood the point of the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, on this, it was that it was very much better that the negotiations on remuneration should take place directly between the two sides and that there should not be a Board established between them. I can only think that that would lead to a great deal of confusion and probably a good deal of ill feeling at the same time, for the reasons he stated.

If only the noble Lord could tell us what the Government have in their minds we should know what advice to give them on this point. But at the moment, so far as I am concerned—and I suggest that other noble Lords may feel the same—no case has been established for having these words in the Bill. It is not so much for us to argue that they should be left out as it is for the Government to show cause why they should be in the Bill, and I must say that the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, has not yet established a case.

5.50 p.m.


I had better have another try. First, let us look at what I said on Second Reading. I said that the Board would not negotiate wages. I have repeated that. This is one of the occasions when I am on record before Hansard comes out. There is of course no intention that the Board should be concerned with collective bargaining negotiations. So, in effect, I have repeated what I said on Second Reading. I have here the ILO Convention 137, and in particular Article 22, which deals with the point in question. It says: In any case, dock workers shall be assured minimum periods of employment or a minimum income, in a manner and to an extent depending on the economic and social situation of the country and port concerned. It is our intention that the Scheme shall be such that it would allow us, so far as that paragraph is concerned, to be a party to the Convention. At present the Dock Labour Board can, when work is classified, require that local or national agreements shall be observed. I should point out that there is already a provision in the Protection of Employment Act which enables action to be taken for fair wages to be paid when compared with people doing light work. What we intend so far as wages is concerned is to allow the new Scheme to say that the minimum conditions of employment, as determined by the National Joint Council of the industry, shall be applied where there is no agreement. That is what we are after so far as wages is concerned: the minimum set down by the National Joint Council—not by the Board—which is similar to a JIC and which represents both sides of the industry. We intend that the Board shall be able to say that the minimum laid down by this other body, this joint body, shall be applied where there is no collective agreement or where there is no award under the Employment Protection Act.

Viscount SIMON

I do not find this very convincing. The noble Lord has

now brought in the ILO Convention 137—if that is it; but a little earlier he told me that that had no relevance to the argument, and so I was a little surprised when it was brought out of the locker again. Surely if we believe in collective bargaining the right course for those areas within the Scheme in which there is at present no collective agreement is to get a collective agreement there. That can be done with good will by the employers and the trade unions. It seems to me to be very dangerous to bring this aspect of industrial relations into the Dock Labour Board. I am not quite sure what view the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, and his noble friends will take, but I should like to seek the opinion of the Committee on this point. I should like to send the Amendment back to another place, and if they choose there to restore it we shall know who is responsible for saddling this new Dock Labour Board with something which I believe will make it unsuccessful in its efforts. I beg to move.

5.55 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 77) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 118; Not-Contents, 53.

Airedale, L. [Teller.] De Freyne, L. Lauderdale, E.
Alport, L. Denham, L. Lloyd,L.
Amory, V. Deramore, L. Lloyd of Kilgerran, L.
Amulree, L. Dormer, L. Long, V.
Atholl, D. Drumalbyn, L. Lonsdale, E.
Auckland, L. Ebbisham, L. Lucas of Chilworth, L.
Avebury, L. Elles, B. Luke, L.
Balerno, L. Elliot of Harwood, B. Lyell, L.
Banks, L. Elton, L. Mackie of Benshie, L.
Barnby, L. Emmet of Amberley, B. Macleod of Borve, B.
Barrington, V. Erroll of Hale, L. Mancroft, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Falmouth, V. Marley, L.
Belstead, L. Ferrers, E. Meston, L.
Berkeley, B. Ferrier, L. Monck, V.
Blakenham, V. Fraser of Kilmorack, L. Mottistone, L.
Boothby, L. George-Brown, L. Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Bridgeman, V. Gisborough, L. Newall, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Gladwyn, L. Northesk, E.
Burton, L. Glasgow, E. O'Hagan, L.
Byers, L. Gowrie, E. Pender, L.
Caccia, L. Gray, L. Perth, E.
Caithness, E. Grey, E. Platt, L.
Carrington, L. Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. Redesdale, L.
Chelwood, L. Halsbury, E. Reigate, L.
Clitheroe, L. Hampton, L. Roberthall, L.
Cork and Orrery, E. Hanworth, V. Robson of Kiddington, B.
Cottesloe, L. Harmar-Nicholls, L. Rochdale, V.
Craigavon, V. Hawke, L. St. Aldwyn, E.
Craigmyle, L. Hewlett, L. St. Davids, V.
Craigton, L. Hives, L. Salisbury, M.
Cranbrook, E. Hornsby-Smith, B. Sandys, L.
Daventry, V. Ilchester, E. Selkirk, E.
de Clifford, L. Kinnaird, L. Shuttleworth, L.
Simon, V. [Teller.] Strathmore and Kinghorne, E. Vernon, L.
Somers, L. Swansea, L. Vickers, B.
Spens, L. Swaythling, L. Ward of North Tyneside, B.
Stamp, L. Terrington, L. Ward of Witley, V.
Strang, L. Tranmire, L. Wigoder, L.
Strathclyde, L. Trefgarne, L.
Strathcona and Mount Royal, L. Tweedsmuir, L.
Aylestone, L. Lee of Newton, L. Ritchie-Calder, L.
Blyton, L. Lloyd of Hampstead, L. Sainsbury, L.
Bowden, L. Lovell-Davis, L. Shepherd, L.
Brock way, L. McCluskey, L. Shinwell, L.
Champion, L. Maelor, L. Slater, L.
Chorley, L. Melchett, L. Stedman, B.
Collison, L. Milner of Leeds, L. Stewart of Alvechurch, B.
Cooper of Stockton Heath, L. Morris of Kenwood, L. Stone, L.
Cudlipp, L. Murray of Gravesend, L. Stow Hill, L.
Davies of Leek, L. Oram, L. Strabolgi, L. [Teller.]
Douglass of Cleveland, L. Paget of Northampton, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Greenwood of Rossendale, L. Pannell, L. Vaizey, L.
Hale, L. Pargiter, L. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L. Peart, L. (L.Privy Seal.) Wells-Pestell, L.
Henderson, L. Pitt of Hampstead, L. Wigg, L.
Jacques, L. Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L. Winterbottom, L. [Teller.]
Kirkhill, L. Popplewell, L. Wootton of Abinger, B.
Leatherland, L. Raglan, L.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.

6.4 p.m.

Lord LYELL moved Amendment No. 78: Page 24, line 44, leave out ("dock employers") and insert ("employers of registered dock labour").

The noble Lord said: This is just in the manner of a minor, probing Amendment on which we would seek the Government's opinion. In paragraph 4 of Schedule 2—I referred to this earlier in connection with the Amendment dealing with accountants—there is mention of: The establishment and collection of a levy payable by dock employers … We should like the Government's opinion on the words "dock employers" because, as we understand it, it is not 100 per cent. clear that levies would be made on employers in such premises as those which might be used part of the time or the whole time as cold stores, warehouses and other particular areas. That is why we suggest that the term "dock employers" might be changed to "employers of registered dock labour". This is not merely adding words to the Bill but, we hope, is clarifying the situation, because we believe it is a little ambiguous: and, above all, it concerns the payment of a levy. I beg to move.


The purpose of the Amendment is to delete the words "dock employers" and to insert "employers of registered dock labour", and it would mean that the levy would apply only to registered dock employers. Although Clause 12(4) of the Bill provides that, in general, work classified as dock work shall be done only by registered dock workers, exceptions may be made by the Scheme or by an order of the Secretary of State under Clause 11. It is envisaged, for example, that, as in the present Schemes, provision will be needed in the new Scheme to permit the employment of unregistered men on "dock work" in certain circumstances when registered men are not available to undertake the work. The Amendment as drafted could preclude the levy provision to be included in the new Scheme from applying in any form to employers in such circumstances. The levy is payable under the 1967 Scheme by employers in respect of unregistered workers employed by them on dock work with the permission of the local dock labour board. The paragraph as presently drafted will allow account to be taken of such circumstances in the new Scheme, and the Government believe it is necessary to have the enabling power to make such provision in that Scheme.

One can divide the levy into three elements. There is, first, administration and training and welfare; secondly, there is severance pay; and, thirdly, there arc pensions. What the Government intend to do is to take the views of the parties to find out which, if any, of these elements should be charged to the employers on their employment of non-registered labour. Clearly it would appear that some are relevant and some are irrelevant.


We should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, for his reply, which has probably given us a lot more information than we were in fact seeking by this Amendment. Nevertheless, we are grateful for his clear and detailed exposition of what he believed our Amendment was seeking. I hope we were not delving too much into unregistered dock labour under the 1967 Scheme, which I suggest would be classed as "tolerated". But the noble Lord has clarified at least one aspect of our Amendment. He has answered our question so far as that is concerned, and we should like to consider his comments. I therefore beg leave to withdraw this Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 2, as amended, agreed to.

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

6.10 p.m.

Lord TREFGARNE moved Amendment No. 80: Page 25, line 16, leave out from ("lighterage") to end of line 17.

The noble Lord said: I hope I shall be able to persuade the Government to accept the assertion that work that has always traditionally been dock work should remain dock work but that work that has not been traditionally dock work should not necessarily be entrusted to the dockers. Containers are a new phenomenon and therefore are not traditionally the prerogative of any particular group of people. When they were first introduced some 10 to 15 years ago dockers viewed them with suspicion and there were a good many minor local disputes about what is called the stuffing and stripping of containers. As the Bill is drafted, any container loaded or unloaded in cargo handling zones will need to be handled by dockers. My Amendment seeks to remove that class of work from the work that dockers do.

I mentioned a moment ago that when containers were first introduced dockers viewed them with suspicion and that there were numerous difficulties. Because of that, a number of inland container depots were constructed and came to be widely used. Those depots are now not operated by dock labour and, by and large, are working very satisfactorily. Some of them, however, are located in areas which will come within the ambit of this Bill if it proceeds as we expect. It is for that reason that I seek to move this Amendment. To be specific, I am moving an Amendment to line 17 on page 25 where under Part I of Schedule 3 to the Bill the stuffing and stripping of containers is listed as work which may be classified as dock work. I beg to move.


The noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, began by hoping that he could get the Government to admit a certain proposition. I think he defined it as follows: that work that has always been dock work should remain dock work and work that has not been dock work should remain not dock work. I am afraid that that is a proposition which, on behalf of the Government, I cannot accept, because embodied in the whole nature of this Bill is the proposal that work that is clearly done in substitution for what has been dock work should be classifiable. In the Second Reading debate—and I do not want to go back over the whole general purpose of the Bill—we said that in our judgment it is justified by technical changes which have taken place in the nature of the dock work. The Amendment that the noble Lord is dealing with points to one of the most important technical changes in recent years, the use of containers.

The noble Lord has explained that his purpose is to exclude stuffing and stripping of containers from work which may be classified as dock work. I am afraid that I must tell him that his Amendment is technically defective because that objective would not be achieved by the adoption of his Amendment, for this reason. Stuffing and stripping containers involves the handling of cargo and it would, therefore, in our view still be covered, even if the words "stuffing and stripping" were omitted. The noble Lord might ask why we have put them in. They have been included because it seemed useful to mention specifically this important activity so as to put beyond any doubt the Government intention that, subject to Part II of Schedule 3, the work of stuffing and stripping containers could be classifiable as dock work under the procedures of the Bill.

It is most important that stuffing and stripping containers should be classifiable. Such work when done within a short distance of a port is frequently work which is clearly done in substitution for work previously done by registered dock workers. Disputes as to whether registered dock workers should do stuffing and stripping at certain container bases have been responsible for many of the industrial troubles in the docks in recent years. Therefore I would suggest that the noble Lord's Amendment strikes at one of the most important considerations behind the Bill. It is clear therefore that the Government cannot recommend the Committee to accept it.


I do not think that I can accept for a moment that my Amendment is as defective as the noble Lord suggests, because, although I would accept the bald facts as he has stated them, I should perhaps have said earlier that this Amendment hangs together with Amendment No. 104A where, beyond peradventure of doubt, stuffing and stripping containers would become work which could not be classified. However, be that as it may, we are really concerned with the principle, which I am sure the noble Lord will accept is more important in this context. I think that the primary rebuttal of what the noble Lord has said is this, namely, that dockers have in the 15 years, say, that containers have been with us consistently rejected on some occasions the idea that they should allow anyone else to do them, and on others that they themselves should do them. As the noble Lord has agreed, there have been numerous disputes on this matter. It is for that reason, as I am sure the noble Lord will agree, that major inland container depots have been constructed. I am not suggesting that that is the only reason, but it certainly is one of the reasons. It is a matter of major principle. I am not going to press it now, but I reserve the right to consider the matter again more carefully and perhaps return to it on Report stage. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord TREFGARNE moved Amendment No. 81: Page 25, line 18, at end insert ("within 100 metres of mean high water mark of the sea or of a major inland waterway as defined in section 4 of this Act.

The noble Lord said: I suspect that I am going to have some more difficulty here, because the assertion with which I introduced my remarks to the last Amendment applies in this case, too, but to a different activity. This Amendment seeks to provide that loading and unloading of cargo principally from vehicles—but the Bill is not specific on that point—should, where it is within the confines of a dock area, clearly be dock work, but that where it is more than 100 metres from the waterside should not be work which may be classified. Again, I am advancing this Amendment on behalf of those warehouse operators who have warehouses alongside docks, not necessarily right in the dock area but close to dock areas, and who have not traditionally employed dock labour. The arguments in favour of this Amendment are very similar to the ones I have advanced. I hope that the noble Lord will be able to be more helpful to me on this occasion. I beg to move.


The noble Lord was in some little difficulty in connection with the earlier Amendment he moved, in that he had not mentioned a subsequent Amendment, No. 104A. I am wondering whether in connection with this Amendment (No. 81) he is not liable to get into just the same difficulty, in that I notice that there are two later Amendments in his name, one dealing with line 19 and one dealing with line 39, which seem to be on essentially the same point. Perhaps he would agree, though he did not mention them, that I might comprehend them in my remarks.


I am much obliged. I am sure that it will be for the convenience of the Committee if we followed that course.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN of COMMITTEES (Baroness Wootton of Abinger)

Does the noble Lord wish to withdraw his Amendment?


Indeed, not; I am waiting for the noble Lord to reply to the Amendment.


And I am about to give that reply. I am not sure whether the noble Lord has taken the opportunity to reconsider these Amendments in the light of the Amendments to Clause 4 which were adopted by the Committee.


The noble Lord is clearly trying to help me. I have considered the impact of the earlier Amendments upon my Amendments. It is fair to say that my resolution on these Amendments may have weakened somewhat since the passage of the earlier Amendments moved by my noble friend. However, I have moved this Amendment and I cannot be sure that the earlier Amendments which were carried will not be reversed by the Commons or at a later stage here. I should like to hear the noble Lord's answer.


I accept that. I was not trying to avoid giving the answer. I was making the point that the three Amendments that the noble Lord has put before the Committee include definitions of the sea and major inland waterways which are now removed as a result of an earlier Amendment. He is quite right: we can still discuss the Amendments, and who knows what may happen in later stages of the Bill? Discussion may be very valuable. As they stand, the effect of Amendments Nos. 81 and 84, taken on their own, is uncertain. "Loading and unloading cargo" is simply a special and major case of "handling cargo", and much "work in connection with the storage or warehousing of cargo" is also covered by paragraphs 1, 2, 4 and 5 of this Schedule. However, the noble Lord clearly does not intend to single out this particular work, since he has also tabled an Amendment to restrict the definition of "cargo" to goods which are within 100 metres of the sea or a major inland waterway (Amendment No. 89). If that Amendment were passed, both Amendment No. 81 and Amendment No. 84 would be superfluous, since goods would not be cargo and work with them would not be classifiable if done more than 100 metres from the sea or a major inland waterway.


The noble Lord is quite right. I thought it wise to give the noble Lord an alternative possibility of meeting a point I wanted to make.


I accept that the point I made was somewhat technical. I believe that it is helpful for the Government spokesman to make these technical points at an early stage. The main point is to discuss the effect of the Amendments, leaving aside drafting technicalities. In this connection, the Government's general argument as to why it is considered desirable for work to be classifiable anywhere within five miles of the mean high water mark was presented at an earlier stage. The Committee however took the view that a limit of half a mile from harbours, and excluding smaller harbours, was appropriate. These three Amendments would reduce the limit to a point where a great deal of work within the docks themselves—including work actually on board ship at many wharves in enclosed docks—would be excluded from classification. As has been made clear earlier, the half-mile limit is, in the Government's view, far too restrictive; a fortiori, therefore, a limit of 100 metres is even more defective. A limit of 100 metres would, as I have made clear, he unacceptable to the Government.


I am obliged to the noble Lord. Knowing of the difficulty with which we persuaded the Committee to accept the requirement for a half-mile limit, I concede that it is going to be more difficult to persuade the noble Lord to accept readily in some cases 100 metres. I shall therefore need to reconsider this matter, particularly in the light of the earlier Amendments which have been passed, and consider what is going to be the effect of this new arrangement (which was not originally envisaged in the Bill) upon the operators of warehouses whose interests I am seeking to protect by means of these Amendments. I therefore beg leave to withdraw Amendment No. 81.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

6.28 p.m.

Lord LYELL moved Amendment No. 82: Page 25, line 18, at end insert—

  1. ("(a) into or out of a ship or barge;
  2. (b) into or out of a warehouse to or from quayside or third party vehicle; or
  3. (c) from or onto quayside to or from third party vehicle.").

The noble Lord said: This Amendment is in the nature of a probe and also to ask the Government whether they consider that the mention of loading and unloading cargo by itself is sufficiently definitive. Many of us have had a lengthy study of Clause 7 of the Bill. It starts off by saying: This section applies to any work of loading … or unloading cargo from ships. We looked for work which might be classified under Schedule 3 for some further definitions. We felt it was too vague. We have offered this particular Amendment because we felt it might be more apposite and more closely define what we believe the Bill should, and indeed tends to, define and mean by conventional loading and unloading of cargo: into or out of a ship or barge". We understand that is very important in certain ports, such as the Port of London. Also: into or out of a warehouse to or from a quayside or third party vehicle"— That is not freight being loaded into the owner's actual vehicle. Thirdly: from or onto quayside to or from a third party vehicle.

We felt this particular definition made the meaning of loading and unloading clearer. We seek the Government's views on this point. We did not seek to exclude anything but felt that the definition of loading and unloading was unnecessarily vague. I beg to move.


I understand the purpose that the noble Lord seeks to serve; that is, to get—as he sees it—a greater precision in the meaning of the words, "loading" and "unloading". But I think in seeking to get greater precision he would in fact make matters more obscure, as I shall try to explain. But may I first, as I did in an earlier Amendment, deal with certain technical objections, not seeking to advance them as being more than technical objections but they are worth putting on the record.

The practical effect which this Amendment would have is uncertain. "Loading and unloading cargo" is in fact comprehended within the phrase "handling cargo" in paragraph 1 of Schedule 3 although its special significance warrants a separate paragraph in the Schedule, particularly as it is used elsewhere in the Bill. The aim was to avoid any possible doubt about the matter because although one cannot load or unload cargo without also "handling" it, previous experience has shown the need for the greatest possible care in these matters. Certain court decisions about the definitions in the Dock Work (Regulation) Employment Act 1946 and labour schemes made under that Act were more restrictive than might have been expected and therefore the Government believed it right to put their intentions in this legislation beyond doubt. Since the phrase "handling cargo" would not be subject to the restriction in this Amendment, it is not thought that passing the Amendment would serve any useful purpose.

As I said, these are technical arguments, but the intentions underlying the Amendment also appear to be basically unsatisfactory. The three categories which the Amendment specifies, cover much of the work which might be described as "loading and unloading". There is of course no mention of a number of other important areas—loading or unloading on to or from conveyors or conveyor belts, timber pontoons or semi-immersible rafts, railway waggons or bulk liquid containers. There is no indication whether the Amendment intends the word, "barge"' to mean the same as, "lighter"; or whether the term, "vehicle" includes fork-lift trucks or straddle carriers not used on the public roads. It is a matter of great uncertainty whether the Amendment is seeking to include warehouses but exclude transit sheds, and include the quayside but exclude jetties, piers, wharfs or storage yards not on the quayside. These are points which I think illustrate what I said earlier; that is, in seeking greater precision the noble Lord may have raised all sorts of obscurities. But what seems to be clear is that the Amendment wishes to remove from the categories of classifiable work, loading and unloading of non-third-party vehicles.

This is presumably meant to cover the situation where goods and vehicles are in common ownership. If loading and unloading work were done on premises occupied by the business which owned the goods, then providing the work is done by employees of that business, it could not be classified as dock work because of paragraph 10 of Schedule 3. That would invariably be the case. But if the work is not done on such premises but on third-party premises such as a wharf or warehouse in a port or at a container groupage depot, then there seems to be no justification whatever for providing that the work should not be potentially classifiable as dock work. The loading and unloading into or out of third-party vehicles at that place would be classifiable and therefore it would be most unsatisfactory if the same operation on the same premises could, under no circumstances, be classifiable as dock work. The noble Lord said that he was probing for more information. I have given him a certain amount of information and I hope it is of the order of the information that he wanted. Perhaps some of it is a little complex to follow, but I hope he will read it and will return to the subject at a later stage.


I should like to thank the noble Lord. If the noble Lord thinks that what he has said is complex, I beg him to wait until we come to another Amendment standing in my name later this evening, and then we really shall get down to some very complex chemical terms. The noble Lord said that he hoped to clear up some facts, but he has done just the opposite, in that he mentioned in paragraph 2 that "loading and unloading" cargo could be perfectly well categorised as handling cargo, movement of cargo by means of manpower, machinery or lighterage. So would it not be more convenient to say this? He said that it was necessary to have the loading and unloading of cargo as it now stands in the Schedule, and I think that that part of his argument was the least convincing. Nevertheless, the intentions behind this Amendment, as the noble Lord suggested—


I think my noble friend is about to withdraw his Amendment, but before he does so I should like to say a word about it. I do not know whether other noble Lords are finding the same difficulty in understanding this Bill. I have tried very hard but I should really like to know, in absolute total simplicity, what is expected here. Let us take the first point. If one can remove from a process a stage, that must be to the economic benefit of the country. In other words, if it is possible to remove one loading and unloading in the course of transport from a point, let us say, in this country to a point in Germany, that is valuable, and of course this is what containerisation and other methods are all about.

The first example that the noble Lord took may have led somewhat to my confusion. The first example was, I think, more or less the roll-on/roll-off example where goods are loaded outside the port and then go straight on to the ship. It would be difficult to argue that the original loading of the roll-on/roll-off was classifiable within the terms of the Bill. But what I am still not certain of, apart from the remarks that he made immediately after giving that example, is whether the loading that is within the cargo loading zone, or whatever we call it—the dock labour area—is counted as loading if the goods are loaded, let us say, at an inland cargo warehouse, then delivered on to the docks and then loaded from the docks into the ship. Is that first loading considered to be cargo loading or is the cargo loading only the loading from the docks on to the ships? I should have thought logically it should only be the latter, and I hope that that is so.

It is extremely important in considering this Bill that we should be absolutely clear as to what is intended, because I personally, have heard different interpretations in different places. Before we part from the Amendment, I think my noble friend has done a useful service in bring out into the open some of the difficulties inherent in the definitions in connection with this Bill.


Surely some specified distance is necessary because the mere loading and unloading of cargo, as the noble Lord points out, may be by a third party vehicle. Incidentally, I venture to suggest that a railway truck is a vehicle. What happens when it gets to the other end of its journey? It is the same cargo and will have to be unloaded, but will not be subject to the same restrictions.


So much has been pouring down on the noble Lord, Lord Oram, that I hope it may be in order to allow him to reply at this stage while the questions and the slings are still fresh in his mind. Perhaps I might then conclude.


Since the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, was about to withdraw his Amendment, I was anxious not to interrupt him unduly. If I may refer to the last intervention by the noble Lord, Lord Somers, I do not think that distance is involved in this Amendment. It is more the nature of the loading and unloading operations that is under consideration. The noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, started off engagingly by suggesting that it is a good thing if we could make things one stage simpler. As a general proposition I would not dispute that at all. But it is my experience that, so often when one tries to do that, there is some complication lurking somewhere else which rushes in and what seemed a commendable operation in making it simpler in fact introduces complications. I think there may be something in that here.

As I explained towards the end of my earlier remarks, the Amendment would differentiate in the wrong sort of way between third party and non-third party vehicles, and operations taking place in different vehicles in the same location, doing essentially the same kind of work, would be treated differently as a result of the acceptance of this Amendment. With reference to the specific case given by the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, frankly I would prefer to take advice on that before committing myself to an answer. I see the significance of it, but if the noble Lord would agree, I should like an opportunity of looking at it in closer detail. Perhaps I can write to the noble Lord on that point.


That is very good of the noble Lord.


I, too, am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Oram, for his remarks and for the fact that he has answered the questions. I hope he will agree that valid points have been raised. The noble Lord said the more we try to define the Bill, the more difficulties there are. I hope he will accept that there are very many difficulties already as the Bill is drafted. The noble Lord himself spoke of differentiating in the wrong sort of way. We hope that there will be no question that we are differentiating in one way or another. We are seeking clarification. I hope there are no base or wrong motives behind differentiating.

We are seeking clarification because there is a great deal of confusion, as I think the noble Lord accepts. On the other hand, the noble Lord made a very full intervention before we had the admirable intervention of my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn who always seeks clarification, and I believe adds a great deal to the clarification of measures such as this. I think I must take the opportunity to read what the noble Lord, Lord Oram, has said, but on this occasion I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN of COMMITTEES (Baroness Wootton of Abinger)

I have to call the attention of the Committee to the fact that if the next Amendment, No. 83, is agreed to, I shall not be able to call Amendment No. 84.

6.45 p.m.

Lord LYELL moved Amendment No. 83: Page 25, line 19, leave out paragraph 3.

The noble Lord said: This Amendment is very much in line with Amendment No. 82 to which I spoke, and which I withdrew. I believe it is a question of work in connection with the storage or warehousing of cargo. I believe this is, I will not say unnecessarily vague, but many of the arguments I put to the noble Lord, Lord Oram, in connection with somewhat loose phraseology are applicable here, particularly in connection with the storage or warehousing of cargoes. I will not go into all the different types of transport, such as fork lift trucks. I think the noble Lord mentioned sledges. I am sure we can find a different means of transport in every different locality we go to. Would the noble Lord accept that we still find this a little vague, and I am wondering what the noble Lord can give us on this.

Viscount SIMON

When the noble Lord, Lord Oram, replies, could he comment on my feeling that this clause is extraordinarily widely drawn? It would surely include people working in the accounts office. They are doing work in connection with the storage or warehousing of cargo. I do not think they are meant to be be included, but it seems to me that the wording is quite extraordinarily wide.


I welcome the opportunity afforded by the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, and the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, to clear up some points in this connection. The paragraph is necessary to enable work which is not actual handling, loading or unloading, and is not in the specific categories mentioned in paragraphs (4) and (5) to be classified when appropriate. There is a range of miscellaneous and ancillary work which it may clearly be appropriate and convenient for dockworkers to do in certain cases and which do not directly involve the handling, loading or unloading of cargo at various places under the existing Scheme definitions. For example, registered dockworkers undertake sampling; they clean and sweep quays; they clean out railway wagons; they rope and sheet cargo on quays and in warehouses and sheds; they saw pit props. These are some examples of the kind of work that noble Lords are inquiring about.

Clearly, this indicates that there is a variety of miscellaneous tasks directly ancillary to cargo handling which it may sometimes be appropriate to classify. If the paragraph were excluded from the Bill, the effect would be to exclude from classification work both in ports and outside them which in many cases it might be appropriate to classify.

I come now to the point raised by the noble Viscount, Lord Simon. It is true that this paragraph, taken by itself, possibly could be interpreted in the way that the noble Viscount suggested; that is, to mean that all types of work carried out in connection with the storage or warehousing of cargo was work which could be classified as dock work. Taken by itself, this could mean not merely all clerical work, but also that of managers, company accountants, solicitors, or even, perhaps, the chairman. But the point I would like to draw attention to is that there are prima facie grounds in Clause 8(4) for restricting work which may be classified to work done in substitution for work previously done by registered dockworkers or work which is such as to require training, aptitudes and experience the same as or similar to those of registered dockworkers. I can see the noble Viscount is nodding his head, and I think he would agree with me, therefore, that accountancy and similar tasks would clearly be ruled out by the provisions of Clause 8(4), as would the great majority of clerical work.


Once again we are very grateful to the noble Lord for attempting—I think this time he has gone a lot further—to relieve our fears so far as this is concerned. He mentioned other skills; I think he mentioned accountants, lawyers and others, and I think we shall be discussing those other skills later on. I hope the noble Lord will accept that we are a little worried about the vague phraseology. We accept that it is "Work which may be classified". The noble Lord said there were many different tasks; I think he mentioned cleaning out holds, some jobs on ships and on lorries and railway wagons. In this context we accept that sometimes registered dockworkers will do these jobs and in other cases there will be non-registered dockworkers who may happen to be on the quayside; they may be lorry drivers or employees connected with third-party vehicles.

But we believe that there is a certain amount of apprehension when such very varied tasks are categorised under work which may be classified. This is what gives rise to a great deal of the confusion. This is why we are seeking further clarification, so that workers who are likely to be engaged in the tasks the noble Lord mentioned will know exactly what their job prospects will be, whether their work is likely to be classified, and hence they will have to become registered dockworkers or will be unable to continue doing work which they do, perhaps sometimes, perhaps all the time, perhaps 75 per cent. of the time, and the other 25 per cent. of the time it is done by registered dockworkers.

Will the noble Lord accept that there is a great deal of confusion and fear, certainly in our minds, and I am sure in the minds of many of these workers whose work may be classified. It is this which makes us ask for further clarification. Nevertheless, the noble Lord has made a very kind attempt to clarify this particular paragraph, and having said that I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

6.54 p.m.

Lord TREFGARNE moved Amendment No. 85: Page 25, line 20, leave out paragraph 4.

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 85 to delete paragraph 4 of Part I. I think that these particular tasks cannot be claimed, like the others, to be traditional dock workers' work. "Sorting, checking and recording cargo"; I do not really think one can envisage dockers, as they are colloquially called, doing that sort of work. "Recording the time spent in handling, loading or unloading cargo"; I do not think these are typical tasks of what we should call registered dock workers. I am not going to go through all the arguments again, but I believe that, if the noble Lord, Lord Oram, wishes to counter this proposal, he will have to deploy some different arguments from the ones we have heard.


I shall try to do just that. This paragraph is intended principally to enable classification, where appropriate, of the work of those who are generally known as tally clerks, and such work is at present done by registered dock workers at some Scheme ports and not at others. Tally clerks are, for example, generally registered in London but not in Liverpool. Those at Liverpool and other Scheme ports are known to want to be brought within the Scheme.

This is clearly, therefore, work of a kind which it should be possible to consider—I stress the word "consider"—for classification, because what is often an artificial distinction between registered and non-registered dockers performing basically the same jobs can lead to damaging demarcation and other industrial relations problems. I think that these words are necessary in order that this kind of work can be carefully considered before the Scheme is drawn up. I do not need to remind the noble Lord that this also is an area which has brought forward a number of disputes, and in order that they should be avoided in the future I hope he will agree that these are necessary words and will agree to withdraw his Amendment.

Viscount SIMON

I fully accept what the noble Lord says about the tally clerks. But I am a little puzzled—I do not know whether he can give us any further clarification—about "recording the time spent in handling, loading or unloading cargo". In most industrial enterprises, people who record the time spent on operations are very unpopular. I imagine people standing there with stop watches seeing how long it takes to unload a particular cargo. I do not know what is behind this.


I think I can offer a little help. At one port at least, Liverpool—which is an important consideration—one of the jobs undertaken by tally clerks is to record the time spent by individual employees in loading and unloading and other work of handling cargo for the purpose of calculating pay. This job would clearly not be covered by the words, "sorting, checking and recording cargo"; so it was felt necessary to add the words the noble Viscount mentions.

Viscount SIMON

I am much obliged.


I was, of course, aware that the words in this paragraph 4 covered those persons known as tally clerks, and I think I was also aware that in the Port of London, at least, tally clerks are registered dockworkers. My fear was that the types of work specified in paragraph 4, taken with paragraph 3, would cause some difficulty; that is, if the work specified in paragraph 4 was classified and took place inside warehouses. I am not going to pursue the point now. I shall need to consider this matter more carefully and consult with those people who are specifically interested in this point and perhaps return to the matter at the next stage. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


This may be a good moment to interrupt the Committee in order to take other business. It is proposed, subject to the completion of the other business, that the Committee should reassemble at 7.45. if that is acceptable to your Lordships. I beg to move that the House do now resume.

House resumed.