HL Deb 28 September 1976 vol 374 cc346-63

11.10 p.m.


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

Moved, that the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Lee of Newton.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The LORD HENLEY in the Chair.]

Clause 1 [Grants and loans]:

Lord REDESDALE moved Amendment No. 1: Page 1, line 5, after ("may") insert (", by regulations made by statutory instrument and")

The noble Lord said: I shall be very brief, as I promised earlier. I hope that this will not be considered as any discourtesy to the Committee but many people are to speak later. If I do not argue these points very fully, the noble Lord with whom I have discussed this is, I am sure, glad of the opportunity just to discuss them. On this particular Amendment we felt that Parliament should be left to decide by Statutory Instrument. I appreciate that it is a relatively small amount of money that is being discussed, but I think it would be better if it were regulated by Statutory Instrument. Perhaps the noble Lord would tell us a little more on this point. I beg to move.


I sail hopefully into calmer waters on this Bill. The noble Lord's Amendments, particularly on Clause 1, deal mainly with procedures which the Government will make in paying out the money under the terms of the Bill, and although I rise to answer some of the Amendments the noble Lord will understand, and I remind the Committee, that this is not a Government Bill but a Private Member's Bill. To save time it would seem sensible for me to answer where the noble Lord's points strike on the intentions of the Government under the financial resolution.

The Bill already defines the purpose of the grant which the noble Lord's Amendment strikes on, which is to assist the bodies to provide advice, and the amount of the grant, which will be £30,000 a year, and the period for which the grant may be paid, which is five years from the date from which the Bill comes into force. The Secretary of State will have full discretion to impose any necessary term on the grants which will require the consent of the Treasury, but I find it difficult to see what the content of any proposed regulations could, or indeed should, be without introducing a certain amount of bureaucratic inflexibility over the minutiae of the advisory body, when all the main features of the grant, and in particular the total amount of money and the period for which it can be paid, are clearly stated in the Bill.


I am grateful to the noble Lord for that explanation, and I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord REDESDALE moved Amendment No. 2: Page 1, line 9, leave out ("such terms as he thinks fit") and insert ("normal commercial terms")

The noble Lord said: Briefly on this point, the Bill speaks of "such terms as he thinks fit", and although I appreciate that this money probably cannot come back, in putting down the wording as a probing Amendment, I felt that "normal commercial terms" would be rather tighter than just "such terms as he thinks fit". I beg to move.


Again this strikes at the powers of the Government under the terms of the Bill to provide funds for the body. I must say that on this Amendment I find it difficult to follow the noble Lord's reasoning. 1 am advised that the expression "normal commercial terms" in any event does not have a statutory legitimacy, if I may so put it, and I think it would be necessary to define the term. Indeed, the noble Lord might find some difficulty in defining the term. Another problem is that it is difficult to see exactly how it could be applied to the grant of money as opposed to a loan, which is also possible under the terms of the clause. The terms of the Secretary of State's discretion, which may be the point causing most concern to the noble Lord, will be concerned with ensuring that there is proper accountability in relation to the use of this public money, and with determining the way in which the grant should be paid to an approved body.


I thank the noble Lord for that reply, and I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

11.15 p.m.

Lord REDESDALE moved Amendment No. 3: Page 1, line 15, leave out ("grants and")

The noble Lord said: In connection with grants and loans, it would seem to us that it would be better if this were used only as loans rather than grants. I appreciate that we talk about "the body," but we do not know whether it is one or possibly two bodies at this stage and it would seem better that this should be discussed as loans, which would therefore be recoverable.


The power to make funds available to an approved body for on-lending is a crucial feature of the Bill. If the body is to be able to fulfil the role of encouraging the development of common ownership enterprises and co-operative enterprises it must clearly have the means to do so. The maximum amount of £250,000 available over the five-year period is, I know, considerably smaller than the Bill's sponsors had in mind originally. Within this rather low ceiling we wish to encourage the creation of a revolving loan fund which will be used and re-used. After five years the maximum amount which could be outstanding is £250,000 and no further public funds could be provided for a body under this legislation. That is the maximum amount of money we are discussing. We have given further consideration in recent weeks to the most appropriate form of the funding under this subsection and I will, despite the lateness of the hour, take this opportunity to tell noble Lords what the Government's intentions are.

I anticipate that the Secretary of State will normally support an approved body's on-lending activities by means of grants rather than loans. This seems a sensible arrangement and will be likely to achieve the desirable degree of flexibility and autonomy for the approved body in its relationship with the borrowing enterprises. It should be borne in mind of course that the on-lending of public funds by the body will be subject to the control spelt out in regulations to be made by Statutory Instrument under sub-section (3) and, naturally, approved by Parliament. There need be no fear that the body could foolishly or recklessly grant money to an enterprise for an obviously unworthy and unviable project. It will not have the power to do that. The only way in which money can be made available to enterprises under the Bill is by way of loans which will be monitored by the body under the terms which I have mentioned. Once the live-year period is over, no more grants may be made to the body for on-lending. By then I am hopeful that the body will be operating successfully and quite independently of Government, covering its administrative expenses through the interest generated by its lending activity. I hope that that background, which I apologise for going into at some length, will help the noble Lord in explaining the Government's thinking on this point.


I am grateful to the noble Lord for giving such a full explanation, which has been most helpful. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

11.18 p.m.

Lord REDESDALE moved Amendment No. 4: Page 2, line 5, leave out ("may") and insert ("shall"),

The noble Lord said: This is tabled for clarification. This concerns the use of the word "shall" by regulations as opposed to "may" by regulations. This alteration would seem to make it more definite, although I appreciate that there may be a legal aspect to the matter. I am not sure whether it is "may" in the sense that it might happen or whether he has a choice. Perhaps the Minister could clarify the point.


To be truthful, I am not sure whether it is "may" or "might" or "shall" or "will," but I can give the noble Lord a categorical assurance that the Secretary of State will lay regulations, whatever the Bill says he must do, and I hope that that reply will prove satisfactory to the noble Lord.


I thank the noble Lord for such an honest answer—


I always give honest answers.

Lord REDESDALE—and I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


Amendments Nos. 5 and 6 are, I gather, not being moved. In coming to Amendment No. 7, I must inform the Committee that if this Amendment is passed, Amendment No. 8 cannot be called.

11.20 p.m.

Lord REDESDALE moved Amendment No. 7: Page 2, line 19, leave out from ("enterprises") to end of line 20.

The noble Lord said: This is an Amendment of substance and the question is one of principle. It has been argued in another place at some length and I therefore feel it unnecessary to make too major point a of it. I can quite see that trade unionists may be appointed and I have no objection to that, but I do not see why trade unionists have to be appointed. It is up to the body in question, to appoint, and it can choose whom it will. I see absolutely no reason why trade unionists must statutorily be appointed here. It can happen and I am sure that it can be accepted that this is a perfectly feasible point.

To come to the question of Amendment No. 8 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, this makes virtually the same point. I do not know whether he may wish to push this to a Division but, for the present, I should like to move my Amendment and I look forward to hearing from the noble Lord the reason for the inclusion of this provision. I beg to move.


I should like to speak in support of both Amendment No. 7 and Amendment No. 8. However, I suggest to your Lordships that Amendment No. 8, which stands in the name of my noble friend Lady Seear and myself, is marginally superior. I need not go over ground that has been gone over many times before on many different Bills in your Lordships' House. For reasons put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, we venture to agree that it is undesirable that there should appear specific provision that there should be one or more representatives of trade unions upon the relevant body. This is a statutory sop to the trade union movement and really must cease to appear in practically every Bill we put on the Statute Book.

We should therefore like to eliminate the words in question and we agree with the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, that that should be done. We venture to suggest that an acceptable alternative is the wording proposed in Amendment No. 8, so that, instead of there being one or more representatives of trade unions, there should by Statute be one or more, employees of existing common ownership enterprises". They would in all probability be trade unionists, but the important feature of the Amendment is that it recognises that it is desirable that employees should be represented on the relevant body and that this should be done by employees who are experienced in the particular type of work they will be called upon to do. I therefore venture to suggest that Amendment No. 8 is, for the reasons I have mentioned, a trifle superior to the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale.


I assure the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, that this was not inserted as anything of a sop to trade unionists. I believe that in most of these comparatively young undertakings there is a need for considerable experience in industrial relationships in general. Both noble Lords made the point that there could be numbers of people who were members of trade unions and yet others who were not. It was suggested by somebody on Second Reading that closed shops were involved, but of course nothing of that type is envisaged. But there will have to be much discussion with relevant trade unions about their members. I have been round several of these undertakings and they will not mind me saying that, at this moment, some of them are not well acquainted with the agreements and regulations which govern the conduct of the trade unions with employers. It is a completely new field to them.

I should have thought that it would be common ground between us all that one of the things we must ensure is decent industrial relations in the kind of enterprise we are seeking to set up. Therefore I assure both noble Lords that there is nothing in the nature of a sop in this. We want to use the trade unions' experience to the best possible advantage in setting up this kind of thing.

On the Liberals' Amendment, in which it is sought to substitute certain words for "trade unions", I ask them to consider that the only specific reference is to trade union member or members, but this does not in any way veto the right of the body to place upon itself its own employees who are not trade unionists and who are not representatives of trade unions. On those bodies I would expect to see accountants, solicitors—people with that kind of knowledge. I would want to see representatives of trade unions, for the reasons I have given.

But if the Liberals' Amendment seeks to delete representatives of trade unions, and to add the words which they have put in their Amendment, it seems to me that they are trying to veto the right of a trade union representative to be on the body at all. I am sure that the noble Lord does not mean that. Let me make quite clear that I am trying to put it to him that, in the context in which we are trying to create these bodies, to delete the right of the representative of a trade union, as it now stands, and to put in the word which the Amendment envisages, is almost to try to veto the right of the representative in favour of people who, quite frankly, are not in any way debarred from being members of the body. That we concede at once.

I have the impression in relation to both Amendments, particularly the Liberal Amendment, that there is a feeling that we are trying to prevent anybody who is not a representative of the trade union from being on the body itself. We are not doing anything of the kind. We are leaving it wide open for representation by every type of person whom they consider will be an advantage to them, including their own employees, as laid down in the Liberal Amendment. I hope that with that explanation the noble Lords will feel able to withdraw their Amendments.

Baroness SEEAR

I think that in fact the argument goes the other way. We are not in the least saying that the trade unions should be excluded. Nothing could he further from our intention. What we are contending is that there is no reason why automatically a trade union should be on these bodies and that the right to be on them should be written into the Bill. Just as the noble Lord has said that it is perfectly possible that the employee representatives would find their way on to these boards, so it is perfectly possible, with our Amendment, for trade unionists to find their way on to the boards. That is a matter for the board itself to decide.

I would also point out to the noble Lord that he said in his speech "relevant trade unions," but that does not appear in the Bill; it says "trade unions", not "relevant trade unions," which means that any trade union can go on. I would also make the point that while we accept what the noble Lord has said about the importance of having people who are experienced in industrial relations, it is perhaps the hope of some of us who support the Bill that the kind of industrial relations we will have in ownership organisations will be of a rather different order from the kind of labour relations we have in established industry, of which the trade unions have so much experience.


That may be the case, but I think that the experience of, for example, Scott Baders, the longest running common ownership enterprise, is that the trade unions have a vital and important role to play in the enterprise. That was put to me when I had the privilege of visiting Scott Baders a few months ago. I must say that it seems to me, without wishing to stray back on to any controversial ground—since I have just managed to get away from it—that the words "trade union" have much the same effect on noble Lords of both Parties opposite as they say the word "profit" has on myself and my noble friends behind me. We have recently—

Baroness SEEAR

The Minister must accept that the Liberal record in relation to trade unions is second to none. All we do not wish to do is to see this written into the Bill.


I am not prepared to enter into a debate with the noble Baroness about the Liberals' record on trade union flatters or anything else. I was merely making the point which the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, made, that this is a debate which we have had between the two sides of your Lordships' House on many other Bills on many other occasions. It is something which has come up in the past. I was not attempting to impugn the Liberal record and I apologise unreservedly if that was the impression that I gave the noble Baroness. Nevertheless, it is true to say that when the words "trade unions" appear in the Bill they draw criticisms from noble Lords and the noble Baroness opposite, and I think we have to accept that there is an area of policy difference between the two sides of the Committee on this.

I may say that I had the opportunity, while on holiday, of reading two research reports published by the Bullock Committee. I do not know whether other noble Lords have read them, but they seem to me to make out the clearest and most persuasive case for involving trade unions in enterprises where workers are expected to have a say in running the enterprise in one form or another, and the most persuasive case, based on experience in Europe, for showing that where trade union organisations have not been involved in the enterprise workers have not had the influence on management that was expected by the schemes which were set up. I would urge the noble Lord to read those reports, based on experience in Europe, if he has not had the opportunity to do so. As my noble friend has said, this provision in the Bill in no way excludes the inviting on to the body of people with other experience; and, of course, were the provision to be deleted it would not preclude us from ensuring that a trade union representative was on the body and that the Secretary of State approved only a body which had a trade union representative on it.

I would accept that in some respects it might have been preferable, had we had the time, to consider in much greater detail exactly who all the members of the body ought to be, what interests ought to be represented, and to specify all of them. That of course, would have the disadvantage of leading to a great deal of inflexibility as to who could be appointed. More thought could have been given to that; but in the time available between the Private Member's Bill having its Second Reading and, rather quickly in another place, getting into the Committee stage, there was unfortunately not time to go into that sort of consideration. I accept that noble Lords who have moved these Amendments have a valid point in criticising the fact that trade unions are mentioned to the exclusion of any other interests. It was merely done, I think I am right in saying, because there was not occasion to think in detail of who else might be on the body, although that sort of consideration is of course being given to the composition of the body at this stage.

I am afraid this is a matter which has been discussed at great length and voted upon in another place, and the Government's attitude is quite clear, I would hope that, having given the matter another airing in your Lordships' Committee, noble Lords might see fit to withdraw the Amendment.

Viscount LONG

I think the suspicion as to the words "trade unions" comes in here because there surely are other associations and organisations, like the Royal British Legion and, if I might say so, the Women's Institute, and others, who are entitled to be allowed to come in on this. Therefore, I think it is quite right that the Amendment should have been put down in order to allow others to come in and not just the trade unions. This was the fear on my noble friend's side—that it was just one body of people. There are other associations and organisations who feel that they are going to be left out of this. It is only right that other bodies or other associations should be included.


I hope the noble Lord and the movers of the other Amendment will accept what we have been saying, which is that, while we would not wish to exclude the type of people he mentioned—and, indeed, there is nothing at all in the Bill to exclude them—there is a very special role for the trade unions which is of vital importance. There is no other body which can do the work which we know, in co-operation with the management, the trade unions can do. There is no other body, quite frankly. It may well be that it is not diplomatic to put in one and leave out others. My noble friend has given an explanation of that. What I want to assure your Lordships is that there is not any sop here. I think that, if I have done anything in this your Lordships' House, I have made it quite clear that I am no stooge for any trade union at all, although I am a great supporter of trade unions and am a life-long member. If I thought there was mere "soppery" going to any union I would denounce it at once.

I want them here because they are going to be of vital importance in the field in which no other organisation can be so. But their presence will not put a veto on any other organisation being represented. I hope that the noble Lords will withdraw their amendment.


I am grateful for the reasoning put up. I also do not react totally like a bull to the red flag when it is waved by the noble Lord, Lord Melchett; but I felt, as circular arguments were mentioned in the previous debate, that this was a further circular argument that the noble Lord was raising over the fact of accountants coming up. I do not like it on a matter of principle. I would reserve the right to raise this again at Report stage, but at this point I would beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

11.37 p.m.

Lord WIGODER moved Amendment No. 8: Page 2, line 20, leave out ("trade unions") and insert ("employees of existing common ownership enterprises"),

The noble Lord said: The noble Lord, Lord Melchett, suggested that perhaps not sufficient thought had been given so far to the constitution of the relevant body. We on these Benches have given some considerable thought to it and have come to the conclusion that it will not help the relevant body in any way to carry out its duties if there is provided by statute that there should be on that relevant body one or more representatives of trades unions who may have no experience whatsoever of common ownership enterprises. In those circumstances, we regard the Amendment we have put down as containing a matter of principle. I beg to move.


I would venture to suggest that a relevant body is a promotional body. It is trying to sponsor the enterprises up and down the country. Therefore, I should have thought it was up to those who are beginning to form the relevant body to find a trade unionist who did have some experience in this field and to bring him in with them. I hope the noble Lord will not feel it necessary to press his Amendment.


I do not think I can add to what I have said on the previous Amendment because, as the noble Lord knows, much the same arguments apply. He has raised one important point which the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, took up and that is the question of the possibility of a trades unionist being brought on to the body who has nothing to do with common ownership enterprises and who has no sympathy with them. It may be that there is a slight misconception about how the body will come into existence. It is not for the Secretary of State to appoint people to this body. The Secretary of State merely approves the body and gives it money so that the body can on-lend the money and grants money to the body to pay its administrative expenses. The Secretary of State does not appoint anyone.

The provision in the Bill merely says that for the body to be in a position to satisfy the Secretary of State there must be a trade unionist on the body. I can assure the noble Lord from my personal contacts with at least one group of people who are likely to form a body which, in my personal view, the Secretary of State may well approve, that the trade unionist whom they have in mind to appoint will be extremely sympathetic to common ownership enterprises; so that the fears that the noble Lord has raised will be groundless in practice.

There is another point, a practical one. At this stage it seems a little late to engage in a long and theoretical argument about the trade union role in representing employees and so on. If the Bill, as we hope on all sides of the Committee, becomes law by the end of the Session, the body will be recognised shortly after that. Unless the pound has continued to suffer even worse things while I have been on my feet, it will he in all probability a Secretary of State from my own Party who will be recognising the body. In practice, he will ensure that there is a representative of a trades union on the body. Even if it were another Secretary of State who were to approve the body, 1 am certain that the common ownership movement would wish for at least one trade union representative. Probably most members on the body will be trade unionists so that the practical effect will be very little. I urge on the noble Lord the danger of losing the Bill which we all support, and in particular his own Party, if he presses an Amendment to the Bill. In view of the fact that the practical effect will be very little, I hope that it might be possible for him to withdraw the Amendment.


May I deal with the points which the noble Lord has just raised. First, the prospect that the Bill might be lost is not one that we regard as a realistic prospect at all. We on these Benches have indicated perfectly clearly that we support this Bill in principle. It is apparent, if one looks at the timetable for your Lordships' House over the next six or eight weeks, that there is going to be a great deal more work involved in your Lordships' House than in the other place. There is no reason whatever to suggest that this Bill might he lost if this comparatively minor Amendment is insisted upon.

We have made it clear that this is not in any sense an anti-trades union Amendment. We accept that it is highly likely that the employee or employees of existing common ownership enterprises who are put on the relevant body will be trades unionists. We regard it as far more preferable in the Statute that that wording should be adopted than that the rather unhelpful wording which at present is in the Bill should be adopted.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.

Clause 1, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 2 [Common ownership enterprises and co-operative enterprises]:

11.49 p.m.

Lord REDESDALE moved Amendment No. 9: Page 2, line 36, after ("age") insert ("or").

The noble Lord said: If I may, I should like to speak to Amendments Nos. 9 and 10 very briefly. They deal with the definition where it speaks of— age, length of service or other factors of any description.

I feel very strongly that the phrase "other factors of any description" leaves the matter too wide open and could be misinterpreted wilfully. For instance, it could mean that people were left out because they were Conservatives or members of another trade union, for that matter. There are a number of areas here where "other factors of any description" is far too wide. I think the point is self-evident, and I beg to move.

Baroness SEEAR

While agreeing that

11.42 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 8) shall be agreed to,

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 37; Not-Contents, 20.

Airedale, L. Hacking, L. Onslow, E.
Barrington, V. Hanworth, V. Redesdale, L.
Brookeborough, V. Henley, L. St. Aldwyn, E.
Carr of Hadley, L. Hives, L. Sandys, L.
Carrington, L. Hornsby-Smith, B. Seear, B. [Teller.]
Clifford of Chudleigh, L. Kimberley, E. Shuttleworth, L.
Denham, L. Kinloss, Ly. Simon, V.
Elles, B. Lloyd of Kilgerran, L. Strathclyde, L.
Ferrers, E. Long, V. Suffield, L.
Gainford, L. Lyell, L. Tranmire, L.
Gisborough, L. Morris, L. Westbury, L.
Gladwyn, L. Mottistone, L. Wigoder, L. [Teller.]
Gray, L. Nelson of Stafford, L.
Boston of Faversham, L. Lee of Newton, L. [Teller.] Rhodes, L.
Davies of Leek, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B. Stedman, B.
Elwyn-Jones, L. (L. Chancellor.) Lovell-Davis, L. Strabolgi, L.
Goronwy-Roberts, L. Melchett, L. Wells-Pestell, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L. Murray of Gravesend, L. Wigg, L.
Hylton, L. Oram, L. Winterbottom, L. [Teller.]
Kirkhill, L. Raglan, L.

the clause as it stands is too wide, we should like to suggest that the Amendment proposed is too restrictive. We should prefer the Amendment which we have suggested—Amendment No. 11—which, while removing the very broad clause, adds instead the number of hours worked. This seems to give reasonable ground for excluding people if they are in fact working very short and limited hours in a place of work. We should like to see Amendment No. 11 rather than No. 10 accepted.


These Amendments reflect, I know, the strong criticisms made by the Opposition at the Committee stage in another place. I fully recognise the anxieties that have been expressed that the existing form of words does not exclude the possibility that, in an undesirable and discriminatory way, members of an enterprise could make rules to exclude certain employees. The possibility is probably quite remote, but it exists and I would not wish to disguise the fact. The intention of subsection (1) of this clause is to provide a statutory definition of a common ownership enterprise which will be embodied in a certificate given by the Chief Registrar of Friendly Societies. The Government do not feel that the deletion of the reference to "other factors of any description" would in any substantial way detract from the value of the Bill, but I doubt the necessity of doing so.

It would be unfortunate, to say no more, if the chances of this Private Member's Bill reaching the Statute Book had been jeopardised merely by this deletion, but as noble Lords opposite have already seen fit to press an Amendment that argument no longer carries quite the weight that it had previously. My advice is that the present wording could in no way be construed as upholding an artificial restriction to membership on grounds of race or sex, contrary to the various laws prohibiting discrimination on those grounds. That discrimination would be illegal. The picture is less clear, however, so far as political affiliation or religious belief is concerned.

In view of this difficulty, I would propose to take the course of providing against the possibility of any financial aid under the Bill being made available to an enterprise discriminating on any of these grounds. It may be that this could be achieved by means of an appropriate regulation. under subsection (3). Alternatively, the same result might be achieved by making the grant by the Secretary of State to the body under subsection (2) subject to terms that specifically exclude the possibility of its being made to a discriminating enterprise. I am therefore quite prepared to give an assurance to the noble Lord, having regard to possible abuses of this kind, that the Government will re-examine the position and take any necessary steps to counter the potential danger arising from the exercise of the power to make undesirably discriminatory provisions in the rules of an enterprise.

The noble Baroness and the noble Lord have suggested removing "other factors of any description" and inserting another qualification—number of hours worked weekly. I agree with them that this appears to be a perfectly reasonable ground on which people might be excluded from membership. But it also illustrates one of the dangers of deleting "other factors of any description", because there might well be other grounds forexcluding people from membership besides the ones already mentioned in the Bill; and the one that is proposed to be added by the noble Baroness, which, in the particular circumstances of a certain enterprise, for example, might be quite reasonable grounds for exclusion, would on my understanding, be precluded if the words "other factors of any description" are taken out of the Bill. In other words, if they are removed from the Bill, the grounds listed in the Bill, and only those grounds, will be grounds on which people can be excluded from membership.

The noble Baroness has already mentioned one ground not listed in the Bill, which appears to be quite reasonable, and I agree with her. There may be others, and that seems to me to be a danger in deleting this factor. I have gone in some detail into the danger of leaving a rather wide exclusion in the Bill which it seems to me can be met quite satisfactorily. I hope that that will meet the points raised by both Amendments.


I must confess that I am not totally satisfied. Although it could be given by regulation, I should be much happier if it were included in the Bill. If the noble Lord is able to give an assurance that it will be reconsidered and that we shall have another form of words which we can discuss at Report stage, I am prepared to withdraw the Amendment. I am not prepared to do so, however, unless I know that the matter will be discussed at Report stage when I shall have the opportunity to raise it again, if necessary.

Baroness SEEAR

If the noble Lord is prepared to take that line, we, too, are prepared to withdraw our Amendment.


I am quite happy to give that undertaking, and perhaps it would be wisest if I were to write to the noble Lord and the noble Baroness before we reach the next stage of the Bill, setting out in more detail what I have in mind. I hope that that will satisfy them. I fully take the point that "other factors of any description" seems to go very wide. I hope that the noble Baroness takes my point that to exclude the phrase altogether and to limit the grounds in the Bill may turn out in the future to have been rather arbitrary: that there might be other grounds for excluding people from membership which would be quite reasonable. I hope that without altering the Bill we can meet one very narrow point: the possibility that people might discriminate against some employees in a firm by excluding them from membership unfairly in some way. It seems to me to be quite clear that the common ownership movement simply would not have those people as members, in any event. The only other danger is that that kind of enterprise might get some public money, and I am quite clear that the Government can ensure that they do not get any public money.


On the basis of what the noble Lord has said, I am prepared at this stage to withdraw my Amendment. May I take this opportunity to say that my other Amendments have been discussed and that I shall not be pressing them. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 2 agreed to.

Remaining clause agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported with an Amendment.