§ 3.50 p.m.
§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ The Minister of Labour (Mr. R. J. Gunter)
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
The purpose of the Bill is to restore the law affecting trade unions to what it was generally believed to be before the House of Lords' decision in the case of Rookes v. Barnard.
I should like to take this early opportunity of emphasising that this legislation is not intended to make any new departure in the law governing trade union activities. We are not legalising the closed shop, nor are we outlawing it. We are not opening the door to strikes in breach of contract, nor are we legislating against them.
The Bill is not designed to provide the answer to the grave and important problems of industrial relations which face us in the country today. It is my opinion that those problems require a different approach, and not necessarily a legislative one, beginning with a thorough examination of our present system of industrial relations and careful thought about the sort of system that we need in our modern society, and I hope to say more about that in a few moments.
I ask the House to believe that if this approach, this endeavour to come to terms with a fundamental problem, is to succeed, it must be made with the cooperation of both sides of industry and in the right atmosphere, free from suspicion and rancour. I hope that the Bill will help to fulfil those conditions.
I have no doubt that it will be argued today that the Bill is simply an attack on the freedom of the individual not to belong to a trade union. I reject this argument, and during the course of my speech I shall make clear my reasons for doing so.
The Bill is necessary because the decision in Rookes v. Barnard has thrown trade union law into confusion and created uncertainty about the position of trade unions and trade union officials if 1018 they threaten strikes in the course of their negotiations.
These are the main facts of the case. Mr. Rookes was dismissed from his employment because some of his fellow employees threatened to strike unless he was dismissed. The strike would have been a strike in breach of the workers' contracts of employment. Mr. Rookes sued the workers concerned, and he was successful in his action.
Mr. Rookes was successful because the workers, by threatening to break their contracts of employment, were held to have committed the tort of intimidation, and because there was no protection for anyone doing this to be found in the Trade Union Acts. The line of reasoning was new. It had never before been put forward by the courts.
There has been much debate among lawyers about the precise effects of the Rookes v. Barnard decision. There is something which my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General will be better able to explain than I am, but one thing is clear. Following that decision, trade unionists who threaten a strike in breach of contract may find themselves being sued for intimidation.
§ Sir Edward Brown (Bath) rose—
§ Mr. Gunter
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will allow me to develop my argument.
The fact that there is so much doubt about how far the effects of the decision extend makes the situation worse. Trade union officials are not lawyers, at least not all down the line, and they cannot be expected to understand the subtle distinctions which lawyers draw between one kind of strike and another—distinctions which by no means correspond with the difference between official and unofficial strikes.
How can a trade union official negotiate freely with an employer when he has the fear at the back of his mind that if he goes too far in warning the employer about the possibility of strike action he may expose himself to an action for intimidation? I suggest that this is a situation which under existing circumstances, cannot be tolerated. We must, therefore, restore the situation which was generally thought to exist 1019 before the Rookes v. Barnard decision if we are to create the right conditions for a full inquiry into the major questions of industrial relations.
§ Sir E. Brown
I should like to get clear whether it was the union which threatened to break the contract in the Rookes v. Barnard case, or whether it was the workers. From the judgments on the matter, I understood that it was the union which was threatening to break the contract.
§ Mr. Gunter
The workers were members of the union.
Rookes v. Barnard was, of course, a closed shop case. There are arguments on both sides of the closed shop issue. It is true, and I say it openly, and I have said it in public before, that the closed shop has sometimes been used to cause unnecessary hardship to individuals. There are cases where a man has been driven out of his job because he has quarrelled with his local union branch. There are cases where a man has suffered because he has genuine conscientious objections to joining a union. I condemn it. The trade union movement has a great and inspiring history, and a vital contribution to make to our modern society, and it ought to be above victimisation of this kind.
But if individuals have their rights, we must recognise that there are rights on the other side. It is natural that trade unions should want 100 per cent. membership. The higher their membership, the greater their bargaining power, and their power to defend their members' interests. Employees today recognise that they are entitled to good wages and good conditions, and the best way to obtain these is through strong union organisation.
It is not surprising if union members resent the fact that non-unionists can enjoy the improvements which the union wins, without paying union dues. As the Americans say, they have a "free ride" upon the backs of the majority. It is not for me to say that I would defend the closed shop, but I might add that I have never found any non-unionists whose conscience was so sensitive that he declined to take the rewards which flowed from union action. This is, there- 1020 fore, a problem in which the rights on one side and the rights on the other have to be looked at carefully.
The Bill, however, is not the place for action on those issues. The whole question of the closed shop in this modern industrial world needs to be looked at again from a practical and a social, as well as a legal, point of view. I believe that it will play a major part in the deliberations of the Royal Commission on Trade Unions and Employers' Associations.
I repeat that the Bill is not the place to conduct the argument upon this grave problem. The fact that Rookes v. Barnard was a closed shop case may lead some people to think that the Bill is intended to protect the closed shop. That is not so. I have opposed the closed shop throughout the whole of my trade union career, not because of a tenderness for the few who have conscientious objections, but for the other reason, that it means too great a concentration of power. All that we are trying to do is to restore the previous position, and the wider questions we must leave until the Royal Commission has considered them.
The Rookes v. Barnard decision raises issues going far beyond the closed shop. The point is that the principles enunciated in that decision may be applied to strikes in quite different circumstances and for different reasons. It is a matter of dispute how many strikes may be affected by the decision. From the practical point of view, it is enough that uncertainty exists in every dispute. It is inevitable that trade union officials, when they are involved in a dispute, should be wondering at what point they will start to run the risk of an action by the employer—or, indeed, a third party.
But surely everyone will agree that in certain circumstances workers and trade union officers will not be able to negotiate effectively, and carry out their jobs, if they cannot mention the possibility of collective action without the risk of legal action for intimidation.
It may be pointed out that there have been no comparable decisions of the courts since the Rookes v. Barnard decision. It may be suggested that this shows the decision has no general implications. I do not think that we can assume this. The trade unions have, no doubt, been careful to avoid the risk of an 1021 action. Probably even more important, responsible employers—and they are the great majority—have been taking the sensible view that good industrial relations are more important than an attempt to exploit a legal advantage. This is satisfactory so far as it goes. But it is not enough that the unions should have to depend on the forbearance of employers. They have a reasonable claim to have their position clearly defined by the law.
It may be thought that the Bill will encourage strikes in breach of collective agreements. This is not so. I would be the first to agree that there are too many strikes in breach of agreements and that we must do all we can to prevent them—though the faults are not all on one side. But the Rookes v. Barnard decision goes far wider than strikes in breach of agreements. It raises doubts about the safety of threatening any strike at all.
It is true that the employees in Rookes v. Barnard were bound as part of their contracts of employment by a no-strike agreement, so that the threatened strike would have been in breach of contract. But what was said in the House of Lords makes it quite clear that even without this agreement the strike would have been in breach of contract. Indeed—and this is why I am so anxious that the Royal Commission should look at the whole situation—almost all strikes, even if there is no no-strike agreement, and proper strike notice has been given, are in breach of contract. In the eyes of the law as it is today, as I understand it, a strike is a concerted withdrawal of labour in breach of contract.
The only way to strike without breaking the contract of employment would be to terminate the contract first—that is, for those concerned to give notice and leave their jobs, which would break their continuity of service and might mean the loss of pension rights and other benefits. It cannot be said, therefore, that the Bill removes a deterrent to striking in breach of an agreement. Because of the way the law views contracts of employment, Rookes v. Barnard affects threats of strikes whether they are in breach of an agreement or not.
It is this new obstacle to the freedom to threaten an employer with strike action when necessary—an obstacle that has no connection with whether the strike would be in breach of a collective agreement 1022 or not—that we must remove. What makes it worse is that in present circumstances trade union officials may well feel that they are safer to countenance unofficial action than to negotiate through the normal channels. One of the trade unionists against whom damages was awarded in the Rookes v. Barnard case was a full-time trade union official. The point is not entirely clear, but it is generally held that he was associated with the threat of the employees at B.O.A.C. to break their contracts of employment.
When the T.U.C. took legal advice about the effects of the decision, it was pointed out that a trade union official would be more likely to be held liable for intimidation on these grounds if he told an employer of a resolution his members had passed calling for a strike if their demands were not met, than if he merely hinted to the employer that there might be unofficial action if a settlement was not reached—or if he said nothing to the employer but turned a blind eye to unofficial action and left the employer to draw his own conclusion.
There is no advantage to anyone in this situation. It simply makes it more difficult for trade union officials to do their job in a sensible and constitutional way. This is something that must be changed. A basic feature of the law governing relations between trade unions and employers which had stood for nearly 60 years has been disturbed. We believe it right—without prejudice to the desirability of taking a long and thorough look at the whole of trade union law—to redress the balance without delay.
Let me turn now to the Royal Commission which is being set up to inquire into the rôle of the trade unions and employers' associations in modern society. I ask the House, whatever postures have been taken up, to view the Bill against this background.
The Commission will be able to examine deliberately and calmly the whole of trade union law. It will be able to survey dispassionately the relations between the trade unions and individual workers as they are in this country at the present day. It will be able to study and express its opinions on the closed shop and the position that individuals like Mr. Rookes may find themselves in as a result of the closed shop. The 1023 Report which will emerge from the Commission will be of fundamental importance for industrial relations and for the activities of trade unions and employers' associations. And I may say, in passing, that the examination which the Commission will make of employers' associations will be just as significant as its examination of the unions.
§ Mr. J. T. Price (Westhoughton)
I am glad that my right hon. Friend has referred to employers' associations, because in the context of this debate it is very important to recognise that employers' associations owe their legal existence to the trade union Acts. They are registered under the same legislation as are the trade unions. This is of deep significance in relation to what my right hon. Friend is now saying.
§ Mr. Gunter
That is true, and there are more of them than there are trade unions. I shall refer to the employers' associations in a moment.
What is in my mind, in the submission of the Bill, is to ensure that there are no unnecessary obstacles in the way of this thorough and searching review. If there were no Bill the Commission would start its work in a situation far from conducive to its ultimate success. There would be no sense in that.
I turn now to the terms of the Bill itself. It is quite a simple Bill. It provides, first, that in the circumstances of a trade dispute, it shall not be actionable in tort—or in Scotland be capable of giving rise to an action of reparation —for a person to threaten to strike in breach of his contract of employment. This is the straightforward case of an employee threatening his employer.
The Bill provides, secondly, that it is not a tort to threaten that a contract of employment to which the threatener is not a party will be broken. This may seem to be a curious conception, but it arises directly from the Rookes v. Barnard decision. The provision is needed to cover the position of people like Mr. Silverthorne, the full-time union official against whom damages were awarded in Rookes v. Barnard. Mr. Silverthorne could not be said to have threatened to break his own contract of employment. According to the judgment, however, he was associated with 1024 the threat of the employees who threatened to break their own contracts. In other words, his threat was that a contract of employment to which he was not a party would be broken.
Thirdly, the Bill provides that it is not a tort to threaten to induce another to break his contract of employment. This did not happen in the Rookes v. Barnard case, but flowing from it, there now exists the danger that a person might be found in some future case to have committed the tort of intimidation by threatening to induce a breach of contract. This might, indeed, be the common case so far as trade union officials are concerned. All these matters are dealt with in Clause 1(1).
Subsection (2) of that Clause deals with the question of how causes of action which arise before the Bill becomes law are affected by the Bill. It provides that proceedings brought in respect of such causes of action after the Bill becomes law will have to be decided in accordance with the provisions of the Bill. It would have been ridiculous to allow such proceedings to be settled under the old law—the application of which to particular cases is open to a great deal of argument—after this Bill, which clears away the obscurities, had reached the Statute Book.
Under Clause 2, the Bill does not extend to Northern Ireland. This is at the request of the Northern Ireland Government. The subject is one on which the Northern Ireland Parliament is competent to legislate itself. I understand that the Northern Ireland Government intend to introduce corresponding legislation.
I should like to say a few words, in conclusion, on the philosophy of industrial relations. I hope that the House will spend at least part of this debate away from legal technicalities and that there may be some reflection on the pattern of power within our society over the next few decades.
The changes of the past 25 years are often overlooked; the changes over the next quarter of a century will, in my opinion, be even more fundamental. We must bear in mind that the legislation of 1906 was made at a time when trade unions were hostile to society and society was hostile to them. Those unions were overwhelmingly of manual workers. It 1025 is true that men of good will, of all creeds and parties, understood the efforts of workpeople to fight exploitations, to win a measure of dignity and self-respect. But half a century ago few ever thought of the unions becoming part of the Establishment. It may be that the history books will mark the end of an era when the greatest trade union leader of all time, "Ernie" Bevin, was taken straight from his trade union desk into the War Cabinet.
Today, I repeat, trade unionism is accepted as almost part of the Establishment. Its power and influence have increased tremendously. The organisation of technicians, draughtsmen and supervisory grades proceeds apace. It will proceed at even greater speed in this world of increasing technical change. I see the concentrated power of organised workers, by hand and brain, growing and growing—a power and authority far removed from the days of 1906. The pattern of trade union organisation will change, tending to greater efficiency and order.
Side by side with this there is the increasing power of employers' associations, as they become more concentrated. We are seeing today the creation of one great industrial authority speaking with one voice for employers and management. In all this I see much that is good. I see that there will be greater efficiency; there will be greater order and, it may be, there will be greater discipline. But in all this there is also much danger. Two great blocs of power in industry, inevitably concerned with their own interests within industry, could, by the co-operation which we always look for between them, or by collusion in their own interests, do damage to the values that are sacred if a free society is to flourish.
Much will be said today about the closed shop. I would not prejudge the issue, but we had better note, here and now, that an increasing number of leading industrialists in this country are not hostile to the enforcement, as a condition of employment, of membership of a union. It fits in better with their modern ideas of order, authority and discipline. The arguments here will rage until ten o'clock tonight, I suppose, about how the conscience and the rights of the individual are to be safeguarded. This we must do, if our free society is to have any meaning, 1026 and yet, at the same time, have regard to the rights of majorities.
It is against this background of change in atmosphere, change in the techniques of production, that I have pressed for the establishment of a Royal Commission to look at the whole scene, to assess the requirements in a legal sense, to try to give us guidance upon the place and function of employers' associations and trade unions in a modern world. I therefore submit to the House that the restoration of the law as we thought it was for over half a century is a necessary step to a wider review. We must clear away the doubts and confusion, otherwise the work of the Commission would be prejudiced from the beginning. We want the right atmosphere in which this major exercise can be undertaken.
One final sentence. All this is dependent upon one condition, that when the evidence has been sifted and when we have the reflections of those charged with duty upon the Commission, the Government of the day must act fearlessly in the interest of the nation as a whole, so that we can come to terms with the deep and biting problems that now confront us.
§ 4.19 p.m.
§ Mr. J. B. Godber (Grantham)
The Minister has moved the Motion with the moderation and sincerity which we expect of him. We appreciate the way in which he put his case. If he has, perhaps, overemphasised one or two points, I will try to draw him back to the straight and narrow path during my remarks.
As the right hon. Gentleman pointed out, this is a short and a relatively simple Bill, but behind it there looms 12 months of active and sometimes bitter debate in public and in private. As the Minister has rightly said, it springs from the various interpretations of the Rookes v. Barnard judgment in the House of Lords and the effect that judgment is likely to have on the future interpretation of Section 3 of the 1906 Trade Disputes Act.
I have read and I have listened to a great many different views on this matter ever since this first came up 12 months ago. I do not propose this afternoon to attempt—indeed, I confess to the House that I am not competent to attempt—to analyse the judgments, or to comment on the various analyses, which have been 1027 quoted by others, in any detail. I would content myself at the start of my remarks with quoting a general comment which Lord Radcliffe made last October and which appeared in The Times of 23rd October, because I think that it is very relevant here. He said that "an extraordinary amount of nonsense" had been talked about the Rookes v. Barnard case. Many people had been more concerned to deplore what they chose to fear than to analyse the grounds of their alarm.
Lord Radcliffe went on:In the result, we have been entertained with such absurdities as the extraction of a single passage or sentence from this opinion or that out of five separate discursive judgments and the most dire consequences predicted as if each passage was itself a separate piece of legislation or almost a text of holy writ. The decision did not come anywhere near laying down a proposition that trade union officials, by declaring an absolute or conditional intention to call a strike, were rendering themselves liable in damages to the employer. What the case had done was to raise the question whether judicial thinking had got itself on to the right lines in the importance it accorded to breach of contract in determining rights and wrongs in the field of industrial disputes and strike action.That is what Lord Radcliffe said in summarising his views on the case.
§ Mr. Price
I do not wish to be unfair about this. This was quite obviously the personal opinion of Lord Radcliffe, who is an eminent authority, deeply respected in this House. I would tell the right hon. Gentleman that this opinion did not in any way remove the necessity of the man having to pay damages, and finding £4,000 in hard cash, nor all the consequential judgments which may flow from it in future actions in the courts.
§ Mr. Godber
I shall deal with those points. This is one opinion. I said whose opinion it was. There have been a number of different opinions and I shall come to this point when I deal with the reason for bringing forward this Bill at this time, instead of having given it further consideration.
I am aware that others have taken a very different view. The Minister of 1028 Technology, whom I do not see here, was the first trade union leader to express his concern and anxiety to me about it when I was Minister, and he has been wholly consistent in his attitude throughout. Mr. George Woodcock, on the other hand, tended to dismiss the case initially as unimportant when he was questioned about it on television the first time. His view later swung round very sharply and he certainly changed his mind. There has perhaps not been a more dramatic conversion since the conversion of St. Paul on the way to Damascus. His attitude thereafter has been one of almost missionary zeal to secure amendment of the law at all costs and without concern for the effect of such amendment on others. I did not find this same degree of urgency and concern shared by a number of other trade union leaders with whom I discussed this issue individually during the course of last summer and autumn. There was a difference of opinion between trade unionists when I was Minister, just as there has been between others.
I conceded at that time, and I concede now, that this case had created a degree of uncertainty which ought to be cleared up, in some way and at some time. It could be cleared up either by fresh case law or by fresh statute legislation. It happened that there was at that time another case pending before the House of Lords, the case of Stratford v. Lindley. I thought at the time that this case had some bearing on the issue and I felt that it was right to await the outcome of that case. As the House knows, in the event, it did not provide an answer, as the House of Lords decided in that case that there was no trade dispute within the meaning of the Trade Disputes Act.
It is worth noting, however, that when the Court of Appeal was considering Stratford v. Lindley, Lord Denning laid emphasis on the fact that Rookes v. Barnard was "a very special case," because of the "very unusual contract between employer and employees that no lock-out or strike would take place," and nothing which was said later in the House of Lords contradicted this. In the House of Lords' judgment in this case, I think that it is worth calling 1029 attention to an obiter dictum of Lord Upjohn, in which he said that Rookes v. Barnardcertainly did not decide that a trade union official would be unprotected by Section 3 of the 1906 Act when negotiating with an employer and threatening him with a strike.That is another view.
Meanwhile, I had announced the last Government's intention to set up a high-powered inquiry into trade unions and employers' organisations and said that that would be done at the beginning of a new Parliament. I considered that it could best be done after an election, and I am very glad that the Minister has gone forward with it. I promised at that time that I would direct the specific attention of the inquiry to this matter at the beginning of its task, so that if any new legislation were felt to be necessary, they could advise the Government of the day of the need.
§ Mr. John Horner (Oldbury and Halesowen)
Would the right hon. Gentleman inform the House whether his decision to ask this committee of inquiry to examine this legal issue was taken after he had read what Lord Radcliffe had said in The Times, or before?
§ Mr. Godber
It was taken a long time before, last June, in fact. I went further than this, because I offered if the trade unions felt that this issue could not wait, to set up the inquiry forthwith, at that time. Had they been willing then to co-operate with an inquiry, it should by now have been in a position to advise us clearly on this matter, and we would now have had clear and objective advice on what, if any, amendment to the law was necessary on this point.
§ Mr. J. J. Mendelson (Penistone)
The right hon. Gentleman said a little earlier that he had discovered, in his opinion anyway, certain differences of opinion among trade union leaders, that not all of them were strongly agreeing with Mr. George Woodcock. If he either had someone representing him at the Trades Union Congress, or received a full report of the proceedings, he would have seen that Mr. Woodcock's outline of his discussions with the right hon. Gentleman and his conclusions received the unanimous support of Congress. Why was he then not prepared, as Mr. Woodcock had asked him on behalf of the entire trade 1030 union movement, to put this matter beyond doubt and leave the inquiry for further consideration?
§ Mr. Godber
I am coming on to deal with the T.U.C. conference, and I shall quote one or two things which were said there. If the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) is seriously suggesing that after the T.U.C. conference I should have set up the inquiry to put this matter right by legislation, that would have required having another session of Parliament before the election. That was a limited period of time.
§ Mr. Mendelson rose—
§ Mr. Godber
I cannot give way again. This is a ridiculous argument which the hon. Member is putting forward.
This, in any case, is the background and this is the position which the present Government inherited. They have announced that they are going ahead with this Royal Commission to look into trade unions and employers' associations. I have already welcomed that, and I repeat that welcome now. I congratulate the Minister for having taken this very important step. I congratulate him particularly when I remember that the Prime Minister, speaking about such bodies at the T.U.C. conference last September, with the kind of comment which is so typical of him, referred to Royal Commissions as "bodies which take minutes and waste years".
Presumably he no longer takes this view or, if he does, then he is just agreeing to this Royal Commission because he wants to push the subject out of the limelight for a long period. The Minister has made it clear that he does not want that; he wants to go ahead with it. I was glad to hear what he said on this issue this afternoon. I am sure that this is of great importance, although one must bear in mind what the Prime Minister said at that time.
We have been given the terms of reference and the name of the Chairman of the Royal Commission. I had hoped that the Minister would this afternoon be able to tell us the names of the other members. I presume that we shall be told them very soon. The terms of reference, as given by the Prime Minister, are reported in HANSARD of 2nd February, col. 940. They are:To consider relations between managements and employees and the rôle of trade 1031 unions and employers' associations in promoting the interests of their members and in accelerating the social and economic advance of the nation, with particular reference to the law affecting the activities of these bodies; and to report.I do not think that these terms of reference are the best which could have been devised. In particular, I regret that it was found necessary—the reasons are not difficult to surmise—to put in the forefront of the terms of reference "promoting the interests of their members". I had hoped, and I am certain that the country expected, to see the public interest taking pride of place.
Nevertheless, I acknowledge that with these terms of reference, interpreted widely, both on the national interest and in bringing practice as well as law into account, if the Chairman is backed up, as I am sure he will be, by men of independent mind, much good can come out of this exercise.
Mr. Woodcock is fond of referring to the unions as outlaws, in the sense that there is no general body of law covering them. I have heard him say this many times, as, I am sure, has the Minister. The Royal Commission will no doubt want to consider whether this is a satisfactory state of affairs, both from the point of view of the trade unions and from the point of view of the national interest. I take it that the Royal Commission will have the widest possible opportunity of looking at the whole matter to see what new suggestions come forward in this field.
I come to one of our main complaints against the Minister and the Government, and it is that they have chosen to bring in this Bill at the same time as, or even before, they have established the Royal Commission. They are, therefore, prejudging one of the very issues that the Royal Commission should be looking at. This is yet one more example of the Government's inability to get their priorities right. I stress this. It is true that the Minister made it clear in his speech—and I am glad that he did—that the Royal Commission will have the opportunity to look at this issue in spite of the fact that we have legislated on it. He said that it would play a major part in their consideration. This is good.
It is very important that the Commission should be able to look at it. That 1032 being so, may I take it that this is intended as a temporary Act of Parliament—purely temporary in its effect? No period of time is given for it.
§ Mr. Gunter
I attempted to make it clear that in my opinion the restoration of the law as we had thought it existed for over 50 years was necessary to create the right atmosphere for the Royal Commission to look at the whole scene, considering this legislation in relation to that of 1906. Nothing at all is barred in the terms of reference.
§ Mr. Godber
That is not quite the point, although perhaps the first part of the Minister's reply covered the question which I was putting. I am asking whether the Act is to be temporary. At Blackpool, on 10th September, Mr. Woodcock specifically asked for a temporary amendment to the 1906 Act. I assumed that we should have temporary legislation. But I gather from what the Minister has in mind that this Act will stand until the Royal Commission has reported and that it may well be amended thereafter in the light of that report.
§ Mr. Mendelson rose—
§ Mr. Mendelson rose—
§ Mr. Mendelson rose—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Samuel Storey)
Order. The hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) must not persist when the right hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Godber) does not give way.
§ Mr. Mendelson rose—
§ Mr. Godber
I am usually very free in giving way. I have given way to the hon. Member on a number of occasions, but I cannot keep on giving way the whole time.
We have this point quite clear: although it is not specifically set down as temporary legislation, there will be no prohibition at all on the Royal Commission and we may well see an amendment of the Bill in the light of the Commission's Report.
1033 I have said that we welcome the establishment of the Royal Commission, and we shall certainly be ready to assist its deliberations in any way that we can, but in view of the precedent which the Government are establishing—they are establishing a precedent in bringing forward the Bill without waiting for the advice of the Royal Commission—I must make it clear that we must certainly hold ourselves free on our return to office to introduce legislation in this field in advance of receiving the Royal Commission's report.
§ Mr. Godber
If the hon. Member will keep quiet he may hear a little more to make this quite clear.
It is obvious that we shall be back in power long before the Royal Commission reports. If we see things which are necessary in the national interest, obviously we must be free to act and must not necessarily be held to wait until the final Report of the Commission. This is the point which I want to make clear in the light of what the Government are doing in anticipating the proposals of the Commission.
I come now to the whole issue of urgency, which is the only reason which has been advanced, or which could be advanced, for bringing forward such a measure at this time and for anticipating the Royal Commission's report. I have already touched on the many different views which have been put forward about the effects of the Rookes v. Barnard judgment. I have reminded the House of what Lord Radcliffe said on the subject. My learned Friends in the House will no doubt have a field day on this occasion in discussing the various legal possibilities. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, no."] I want to keep to the simple practical issues as opposed to the legal implications.
I have held from the start that whatever the legal implications with regard to third parties—and Rookes was a third party—cases of dispute such as may arise between an employer and his workers over a wage negotiation are in no way affected in practice by this decision. I call to the House's attention something which I said on the subject last summer. I pointed out: 1034In the great majority of disputes there is no intention to damage a third party. The job to get the employer to concede higher pay or otherwise improve conditions. The number of strikes that are intended to get an employer to do something that would damage a third party—mainly to enforce the closed shop, or to stop trading with some other firm—are well under 5 per cent. of all strikes. In the disputes where no third party is involved, Rookes v. Barnard would appear to have no significant practical effect. Employers have always been able to sue employees who strike in breach of a contract, but for obvious reasons they very rarely do so. An employer who brought such actions would probably harm himself by damaging relations within his firm, as much as anyone else.That was the position as I saw it then, and I still believe it to be the case. I agree that others have taken other views, but the fact remains that during the period that I remained at the Ministry not a single case arose in which either the workers themselves or union officials acting on their behalf were harmed or, as far as I am aware, were impeded by this judgment. I have been waiting for the Minister to tell us of some such case this afternoon, but as far as I am aware he told us of none, and I can only assume that none has arisen since then.
When I put forward this view last summer I was upbraided by Mr. Woodcock. But I am fortified in my view by a document issued by the T.U.C. in September last year. I have referred to it on a previous occasion, but I make no apology for referring to it again. That document, called "Rookes v. Barnard: Opinion of Leading Counsel", contains two opinions by leading counsel, one dated March, 1964, dealing with Rookes v. Barnard, and the other dated August, 1964, commenting on the outcome of the Stratford v. Lindley case.
I will leave others to delve into these aspects in detail if they wish. I merely wish to refer to the introduction and I will quote the last three paragraphs of it, which stated:Although believing it to be their duty to correct any impression that the legal implications of recent cases are not serious and to inform these officers of the actual state of the law, the T.U.C. General Council do not wish to give the impression that all unions or indeed any union will necessarily find itself in the immediate future faced in practice with additional legal difficulties. Industrial relations and collective bargaining have always been to a very large extent conducted on a voluntary basis and even in so far as the law can be applied in this field it has not been usual for any of the parties concerned to have recourse to the courts.1035The General Council have come to the conclusion, on consideration of the balance of probabilities, that unless and until there is some further development—or unless a particular union has reason to think that it may be affected by the decision—the best thing for unions to do is to continue on the assumption that whatever changes may have been brought about in the law it still remains unlikely that unions will find in practice that there has been any change of any consequence.Though the General Council are most anxious not to create exaggerated and unnecessary fears about the immediate practical consequences to be anticipated from the change in the law, they must nevertheless point out that the legal consequences of Rookes v. Barnard constitute a threat, however remote, to normal trade union activities. The General Council must and will continue strongly to press for amending legislation.That shows clearly that the T.U.C. were agreeing largely with the view which I had expressed throughout; that, in fact, there was no really urgent issue involved here. They used the phrase "however remote" in their last sentence. I claim, therefore, that the demand for urgency cannot be sustained and that this matter should have been remitted either to the Royal Commission or to a smaller independent inquiry for advice before legislation was brought forward.
§ Mr. Mendelson rose—
§ Mr. Mendelson rose—
§ Mr. Godber
I am not prepared to keep giving way to the hon. Gentleman who, in any case, is continually interrupting me.
§ Mr. Godber
I will not. The hon. Member can make his own speech in his own time.
I was saying that this claim of urgency cannot be maintained. I noted 1036 with interest that The Times, in a leader today, stated:The rush"—and "rush" was the word used—could only be justified by a real and immediate risk that trade unions would be hobbled and of that there is little sign.It is clear that the case has not been made out.
I will make one general comment on the issue of breach of contract. It is, I suggest, for consideration whether the time has not come in our industrial development when far more importance should be paid to the honouring of contracts over fixed periods. Indeed, the Minister said something similar himself. The three-year wage agreement is something that is growing in this country and it should be encouraged. To encourage it would surely be in accord with what the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs is endeavouring to achieve.
This is exactly the sort of issue with which Section 3 of the Trades Disputes Act, 1906 was directly concerned and with which the Royal Commission must concern itself. It is one more reason why the Bill we are discussing should not have been brought forward at this time, or that it should be stated to be strictly temporary particularly since it is a matter on which we should be looking for advice from the Royal Commission.
There is another consideration worthy of mention; that the Bill will safeguard anyone who induces others to strike in breach of contract. We all know cases where trade union authority has been set at nought by the activities of unofficial leaders. I am sure that the Minister knows of them, just as I do. If such a Bill as this is to be brought forward, it should at least have been drafted to give immunity only to those acting specifically under the authority of the executive of the union concerned, thus helping to strengthen the authority and the discipline of the union leaders.
I think that I notice the Minister shaking his head in disagreement. If so, I remind him that probably his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister would agree with me. He should not shake his head in disagreement too soon, because his right hon. Friend made a rather similar point on 7th September when, speaking at the T.U.C. conference, he said, according 1037 to the Press report which I have with me:One anomaly of the present confusion regarding the law is that the nation can't afford a rash of wildcat strikes. One is too many and yet this legal position places a premium on wildcat strikes.The Bill still continues a premium on unofficial strikes, so I ask the Minister to bear in mind what I said and what his right hon. Friend said and to keep an open mind.
I come to an even more important point and one which was touched upon by the Minister earlier. The discussion of the Rookes v. Barnard judgment has almost always centred on the difficulties that could arise for trade union officials in wage negotiations. I have shown how unfounded are some of the fears that have been expressed, but what about the other side of the case? What about the question of intimidation of the individual? Very little has been said about Mr. Rookes in recent months, but is it claimed that it was a miscarriage of justice for him to receive damages? Is it wrong for a man to have some means of redress if he is forced to lose his job simply because he has ceased to be a member of his union? I have no doubt that if such an issue were put to the people of the country an overwhelming majority of them would support the right of the individual to protection.
I know that many trade unionists as well as many hon. Members opposite set great store by the attainment of the closed shop. A closed shop achieved by voluntary means is one thing. One achieved by coercion or by threats is another; and for a large and powerful trade union to harry and hound a man and drive him from his employment is the negation of justice. Tyranny is no less evil if it is the tyranny of a trade union than if it were the tyranny of a despotic ruler.
§ Mr. Emlyn Hooson (Montgomery)
I would be grateful to the right hon. Gentleman if he would say whether or not he has received legal advice to the effect that the Bill would, in fact, reverse the decision in the Rookes v. Barnard case. Is he advised that that decision would have been different had the Bill been passed?
§ Mr. Godber
I will leave my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for War- 1038 wick and Leamington (Sir J. Hobson) to argue that one and any other points of law when he winds up the debate for the Opposition later. I will not be led into that path. I said at the outset that I intended to deal with the broad issues.
Trade unions grew up in this country to provide protection for the individual worker against his employer. The worker is entitled to protection from exploitation by his employer, and he gets it. But is he not equally entitled, if the occasion should arise, to protection from being driven from his job by others? This is the real nub of the case. These cases may not be frequent, but others have certainly existed besides Mr. Rookes. I have with me a letter which I received last weekend. I would be glad to show it to the Minister, and although I will not quote names I will quote one passage from it. The writer states that his dismissal has been demanded by local officers of the trade union but that his employer has refused to submit to this demand.
The letter states:This situation came about purely as a personal vendetta by one of the officials. If the proposed Bill to immunise these officials from legal action because of issuing a strike threat becomes law, presumably I shall have no redress at law if these persons are able to so intimidate my employers that they submit to having to dismiss me.Here is a man who has this actual case before him at present. I will let the Minister have the letter, because I think that he should see it. I bring it forward, not as a cold case of history but one that is actually happening now—
§ Mr. J. T. Price
This principles applies also to trade associations, which are also trade unions, and which may be coercing an unwilling member to do something he does not wish to do and who suffers great financial loss because of that coercion. Will the right hon. Gentleman agree that the principle comes within the ambit of his comment?
§ Mr. Godber
Certainly. Of course, the Bill will apply to employers' organisations, too, and so will the Royal Commission, so these matters will be considered exactly similarly for both employers and employees. I do not make distinctions here but only bring forward a genuine case that I thought would be of interest to the House. I am no enemy of 1039 trade unionism. No one who knows my record could pretend that I am, but I say that every case of victimisation of an individual by a union does grave harm to the good name of trade unionism as a whole.
The case of Rookes v. Barnard brought a salutary check to those who thought that they could drive a man from his job with impunity. It was not for this that the judgment was said to be fraught with danger for the unions, but because it was feared that the tort of intimidation would be invoked over a much wider field. I have already questioned the validity of that fear, but if, for the sake of argument, I were to accept that there was something in it, I would say that it does not entitle the Government, in seeking to cover something that they genuinely feel they ought to cover, to take away the protection of the individual so hardly won by Mr. Rookes. The Bill, as drafted, not only safeguards the legal position of the trade union official engaged in wage negotiations, but also takes away the particular safeguard of the individual third party, as in the case of Rookes.
I should like to ask a specific question of the Minister. If the Bill secures its Second Reading, will he be willing in Committee to accept an Amendment designed to exclude from the Bill's protection intimidation intended to injure individual workers? Will he, in other words, be willing so to amend the Bill that such protection of the individual worker as Rookes has won will remain, and only the wider implications of the judgment be nullified? I do not know whether the Minister would like to answer that question now, but perhaps his right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General will do so later.
We ought to have an answer on that point, although I must say that even were the Minister to give that assurance I could not advise my hon. and right hon. Friends to support his Bill because of the several arguments I have marshalled against it. However, that assurance would at least show that the arguments advanced publicly for this legislation are the only ones influencing the Government. It would, therefore, be valuable to have that assurance. If we cannot have it, we on this side can 1040 only assume that the protection of the individual plays no part in the consideration of the Government.
At this stage, it is reasonable to recall to the House the last paragraph in the Queen's Speech, delivered at the beginning of Parliament on 3rd November—105 days ago. That paragraph began:In all their policies My Government will be concerned to safeguard the liberties of My subjects.Here is one way in which they can safeguard those liberties, and I very much hope that they will do so.
After all, the Prime Minister is involved here. On 17th November last, my hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) asked him:Before the Prime Minister redeems his pledge, will he consider whether he is quite certain that it is right to give trade union leaders the right to force people out of employment under the protection of the law?The Prime Minister replied:Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will study what I said in a speech to the T.U.C. on this question. I said that we were concerned with putting right that aspect of the law which was never thought to have been in doubt 60 years ago. I said that we did not intend to raise any fundamental question of human rights in dealing with it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th November, 1964; Vol. 702, c. 192.]I have here a Press report of what precisely the Prime Minister said on that occasion. After criticising me at some length, he said:… we will legislate to put the matter of legal interpretation beyond all doubt. I am advised that this can be done clearly, briefly and crisply without raising the issues of human rights or public policy.If, in fact, the right hon. Gentleman said that, I do not know with what advice he was armed, because the Bill is not what the T.U.C. proposed at that time and, presumably, put to the right hon. Gentleman then.
In fact, the Bill does involve the freedom of the individual, and I have suggested to the Minister a way in which he can get out of that difficulty. I know that he will want to put the mind of his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister at rest on this matter. The Prime Minister having given that clear undertaking, I am sure that the Minister will wish to honour it—
§ Mr. Horner
I can tell the right hon. Gentleman that I have here the speech that Mr. Wilson made to the T.U.C.—[HON. MEMBERS: "Order."] I was at that Trades Union Congress and heard Mr. Wilson make his speech—
§ Mr. Horner
I am obliged to you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I heard the Prime Minister, before he took office, make that speech to the T.U.C. I think that he was endeavouring to indicate to the T.U.C. that in any amendment that might be sought, as we now seek, to amend the Trade Disputes Act of 1906, any safeguard given to trade union officials would be given in the context of prosecution for a trade dispute, and it is in the context of trade disputes, and not in that of the issues raised in the last five minutes, that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister was speaking.
§ Mr. Godber
I am sure that the House will note with interest what the hon. Member has said in defence of his right hon. Friend, but my hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury asked a specific question on 17th November, and was referred by the Prime Minister to that speech. I have reminded the House what the Press report is, and from that it is quite clear that the right hon. Gentleman referred to issues of human rights. It was with that point that I was dealing, so I hope that we shall have from the Minister a firm assurance about it.
I listened with interest to what the right hon. Gentleman said at the end of his speech. He said some things that would make us all think. There were some very carefully chosen phrases on the wider issues that are all involved in regard to the future of the relationship between trade unions and employers and the needs of the State. I think that most of us would agree very largely with his general points. At the same time, I must tell the right hon. Gentleman that I do not think that the Bill is the right way to help, and I am sorry that he has brought it forward in this way.
I want to see our trade unions moving forward, and modernising their structure and their outlook, and I look to the Royal Commission to point the way for- 1042 ward. I am as concerned as anyone to see that those engaged in normal industrial negotiations on wages and conditions of work have the protection necessary to carry out their normal functions. I do not believe, however, that this case has had any serious practical effect calling for urgent action. I have shown that in advice to its own members, the T.U.C. concurs in that view. I have acknowledged that the present uncertainty should be cleared up, but I consider that legislation should await the advice of the Royal Commission, or of a smaller body of inquiry. If the Bill should go forward, I attach great importance to incorporating in it safeguards for the individual worker on the lines I have mentioned.
For the reasons I have given, I do not think that the Bill should have been brought forward at this time or in this form. I must, therefore, advise my right hon. and hon. Friends to vote against its Second Reading. I ask them to do this in the interests of the country as a whole, but also in the long-term best interests of trade unionism.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Bernard Conlan (Gateshead, East)
This is the first opportunity that I have had to participate in a debate in the House since the electors of Gateshead, East did me the honour of electing me as their Member of Parliament. It is a very great privilege to serve as the representative of this north-eastern constituency, and I know that hon. Members will not misunderstand me when I say that I hope to serve the interests of this constituency for a very long time. The Gateshead, East constituency consists of a little less than half of the County Borough of Gateshead itself and the whole of the urban district of Felling.
The constituency is situated on the south bank of the River Tyne, a river which plays an extremely important part in the economic life of that region. The area has suffered more than its share of unemployment, especially in the years before the war, so much so that the unemployed in those days were compelled to combine with their colleagues in the marches on London to draw attention to the perilous plight which was caused to themselves and their families as a result of the shortage of work.
During more recent days this very same problem has been rearing its head once 1043 again, and even today the level of unemployment in this area is still somewhat higher than the national average. The principal industry of the constituency is light to medium-sized engineering, with a little shipbuilding and a small amount of mining. I am sure that we would all welcome additional diversification of industry in this region.
At this stage I should like to pay a very warm and sincere tribute to my predecessor, Arthur Moody. He served in this House for nearly 20 years, for the last 14 of which he served the residents of Gateshead, East. He served them loyally, faithfully and well. I know that his constituents loved and respected him and I am sure that we all wish him a very long and happy retirement.
At this moment of time I am extremely grateful for the usual courtesy which is shown by the House to a Member when making his first speech in debate. I am also reminded that it is desirable to be non-controversial when making a maiden speech. If I should fall somewhat short in this respect, it is not that I am unmindful of the traditions of the House, nor is it that I am not trying very hard to be non-controversial. It is merely that the subject today is so important that I think it is a matter upon which one should express one's views very clearly indeed.
I welcome the Bill. I am sure that the Trades Union Congress and the whole trade union movement will do the same. The proposals contained in the Bill, as has already been made perfectly clear, are very limited indeed. They will do no more than restore the situation which was generally believed to exist before the Rookes v. Barnard decision. But this step, modest though it is, will achieve something extremely important. It will ensure that the Royal Commission, sitting under the chairmanship of Lord Donovan, will receive the wholehearted support and co-operation of all trade unions.
This country's record of industrial relations is no worse than that of any other major industrial State, but I believe that it is far worse than it should be. For instance, why is the record of management-worker relations in some firms so deplorably bad and in others exceptionally good? Why, judging from some 1044 newspaper reports, do the causes of so many strikes appear to be extremely trivial? Why are so many avoidable frictions permitted to develop until largescale stoppages of work occur? These are some of the questions which I want to pose this afternoon.
I came to the House direct from the workshop floor. I worked for a progressive and enlightened engineering firm where stoppages of work were almost entirely unknown. This was not just a fluke. It is not that just a few people are employed by this firm, because it employs many thousands of people. It is not that the firm is fortunate to be situated in a particular geographical area, because the firm has many factories and these are located in different parts of the country. The short answer is that the firm is convinced of the benefits of joint consultation at every level and it has practised this for over 45 years.
This is not to say that difficulties and problems do not arise, but I know from my own personal experience as a shop steward, negotiating on all questions that are likely to arise in modern industry, that workers can have confidence in an arrangement whereby all their problems, no matter how small, can be discussed and resolved around the conference table before they escalate into major difficulties.
The benefits are clearly obvious. The company has no troublesome strikes. It has no loss of production due to stoppages. It has a contented labour force. It has a public image of which it is entitled to feel proud. For the workers the benefits are also obvious. They have good and cordial working conditions, they have relatively higher earnings, and they have continuity of employment.
I relate these facts merely to show what can be done in industry, given the will and determination on both sides. The great proportion of strikes in industry are caused by what is alleged to be victimisation of shop stewards and also by what is believed to be arbitrary dismissals of workers. I often wonder, when disagreement exists domestically on these matters, if the sting, heat and emotion can be taken out of such disagreements by the question being referred very quickly indeed to a local area board, upon which representatives 1045 of workers and of management who are unconnected with the particular dispute can sit to hear evidence and make a joint recommendation to the disputants. This thought might be worthy of further detailed consideration at some future date.
The popular picture of shop stewards is one that is extremely distorted. In some circles they have even become the most maligned section of the community. It would be idle for me to deny that some shop stewards may act irresponsibly and even foolishly, but the vast majority of shop stewards are conscientious and hard-working men and women who are doing an extremely difficult job of work under trying circumstances. I am sure that it is grossly unfair and inaccurate to refer to managements as the bloated capitalist class who live on the backs of the workers, especially when a large section of British industry and services are held in public hands. But it is equally unfair and inaccurate to refer to British workers as poor dears who do not know what things are about. Both these assertions are extremes and are as irrelevant in describing the modern constituents of British industry as a penny-farthing bicycle would be in Parliament Square.
A worker's right to withdraw his labour is, to my mind, sacrosanct, but it should be deployed only as the ultimate sanction when all other means of resolve have failed and when the issues are of such importance as to justify this action. With over a century's experience of large-scale industrial negotiations behind us, and with industrial relations techniques developed to such a high level, surely we can conduct our working lives much more satisfactorily than we are doing at present.
§ 5.12 p.m.
§ Sir Edward Brown (Bath)
I, like the hon. Member for Gateshead, East (Mr. Conlan), rise for the first time to address the House and I should like first to tell the House something about the constituency which I am proud to represent. It has a history almost matching that of this House beginning when a Prince of Wessex was driven into the swamps and discovered that the water there possessed a healing balm. Not only did it cure his pigs of swine fever but it cured him of disease. As a result, Bath became a 1046 place of healing and since then people have been visiting the city over the centuries.
When the Romans came to Britain they heard of the fame of Bath and they have left us there a heritage of Roman baths which even today are still pumping through the warm water with its curative properties. Georgian architects also visited the city with the result that we have inherited glorious Georgian buildings. I am puzzled that since one of the kings of England was crowned in Bath the city has never had a Royal Charter. This is a distinction which may well come our way in the future.
Many famous men have been associated with Bath—among them Pitt, Nelson and Sheridan. In recent times the freedom of the city was bestowed upon another famous man, the late Sir Winston Churchill. The city is famous for its festival. It is an international city, and it is also an industrial city. There is a large industrial undertaking on its outskirts. The city has now come full circle in that only recently a charter has been granted to it and it has become a university city.
It would be very wrong if I did not pay a tribute to my predecessor, Sir James Pitman, who for 20 years represented the city in this House with, I am certain, not only the affection of the people of Bath but also the utmost respect of both sides of the House.
As one of those who seek the indulgence of the House for a maiden speech I am in a difficulty in that I speak from that side of the House which opposes the Second Reading of this Bill. I should say at the very beginning that I am a person who is well versed and well trained in the arts of trade unionism. When I tell hon. Members that I have been a group officer of my union for 18 years, a branch chairman for nine years, and a negotiator in a factory which employed 2,000 people, they will realise that I have had some practical experience in this field.
I have been worried for a great number of years about the freedom of the individual. There is too much talk in trade union circles and elsewhere, including for example the T.U.C. conferences, about trade unionism and not so much talk about the trade unionist. Over a number of years I have been involved in quarrels 1047 in my own factory not with the management, with whom I had good arrangements for consultation, but with trade union members in disputes over demarcation between one union and another. I bring to the attention of the House the cardinal fact that in the E.T.U., with which I have had quarrels, one can get out of the union in only three ways. One can conveniently die, one can be conveniently expelled or one can resign. If that is freedom there is greater freedom as a subject of Her Majesty than there is under the laws of the trade unions.
It is because of this and because of the introduction of the present Bill that I am now making my maiden speech. I am not a lawyer but, as I understand it, under Clause 1(1,a) of the Bill, trade unions will be able in law to enforce a closed shop. They could have enforced it by coercion without the law, but the Bill reverses the position which was put right by the Rookes v. Barnard case. I want the House to realise that if it passes the Bill it will be striking a blow against freedom.
The freedom which the House will be taking away from the individual is not the freedom of a man who resigns from a trade union, as in Rookes v. Barnard, and is coerced by people being asked to break their contracts, but the freedom of a man whose action, whatever it may be, brings upon him expulsion from the trade union. This is where coercion comes in and this is exactly what is provided for in paragraph (a). When the Bill becomes law a non-unionist can be told by the unions that it is legal for them to threaten to break a contract to bring him into a union.
I should like to quote to the House from an editorial called "Freedom" where it is stated thatThrough our domestic policies there runs three golden threads—dynamism, compassion and concern for the liberty of the individual.It was not the late Sir Winston Churchill who said this, nor was it Mr. Kennedy. It was the present Prime Minister. I invite him to honour the liberty of the individual by joining us in the Lobby this evening.
A quotation from the New Daily of 12th July, 1961 reads:I have never favoured the idea of making a man join the union. I think a trade union 1048 is something which one should be proud to be a member of, and I am proud to be a member of it. It should be within the power of our organisation to persuade people to come in.This was said by a right hon. Member of this House, the Minister of Technology. As the Minister of Technology has said that and believes in exactly the same things as this side of the House is expressing now, perhaps he also will join us in the Lobby tonight when we divide on this issue.
I do not want to be controversial, but there is some difference of opinion about what the Bill will actually do, and, with respect, I cannot accept what the Minister said today. Clearly, in the Rookes v. Barnard case, the union went in, but what the Minister did not tell us was whether the firm was prepared to recognise what it did or whether the workmen were prepared to break their contracts at the request of the union. This has never been made clear.
Although we may talk about good industrial relations, there must be give and take on all sides. In 1965, we have now come full circle since 1875 when a very famous Conservative statesman, on that side of the House in those days, brought in the right to strike for the people of this country. But we must remember, in all humility, that there are 9 million people organised under the banner of the T.U.C., and Clause 1(1,a), if it becomes law, can be a means of intimidation against the other 13½ million people who are at work. It is for those reasons, very sound reasons, it seems to me, that I shall join my right hon. and hon. Friends in the Lobby tonight against the Second Reading.
§ 5.21 p.m.
§ Mr. Julius Silverman (Birmingham, Aston)
It is my privilege to offer my congratulations and those of the House to the two maiden speakers who have just addressed us, my hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead, East (Mr. Conlan) and the hon. Member for Bath (Sir E. Brown). They spoke well. They spoke sincerely. Notwithstanding the controversial nature of the subject and the custom that maiden speeches should be non-controversial, they spoke with considerable vigour. I am sure that the House enjoyed listening to them, and we look forward to their contributions on future occasions.
1049 As has been said already in the debate, the right to strike is one of the essential features not only of trade union rights but of the democratic rights of the people of this country. The right to strike is, of course, exercised very sparingly by responsible trade unionists. On exceptional occasions, or after negotiations have failed, it is the last shot in the locker. But, without the right to strike, trade union negotiation would be quite meaningless because it would have no teeth and there would be no power to go to the employer with the ultimate sanction and the only sanction which trade unions have.
It was for this reason that, in 1906, the Trade Disputes Act was introduced, with the idea of reversing the Taff Vale decision and restoring to workers, or, perhaps, creating for workers, an unfettered right to exercise their democratic liberty to strike without fear of the legal consequences, without having to look behind their backs, without having to study legal textbooks or to refer to legal decisions to see whether it was the correct thing to do or not. That is what everyone understood to be the position in law as regards trade unions and the right to strike until the Law Lords' decision in the case of Rookes v. Barnard in January last year.
There has been a good deal of judicial or legal dispute as to what the law was in the days immediately preceding the Rookes v. Barnard case. The decision of Mr. Justice Sachs was unanimously reversed by the Court of Appeal and the decision of the Court of Appeal was reversed when it came to the House of Lords. Now, however, fortunately or unfortunately, the decision of the House of Lords is the law of the land and, in our view and the view of the trade unions, it constitutes a threat to the right to strike.
It was said by one hon. Member that the Bill gives support to unofficial strikes. I do not think that it does. In fact, precisely the opposite is true. If trade unionists, trade union leaders and officials, are threatened so as to prevent them from exercising this right, it will be exercised just the same, but exercised unofficially. To my mind, that would be the effect of the decision in Rookes v. Barnard and certain other decisions which have followed. It was not the only one. The 1050 right hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Godber) has already referred to the case of Stratford v. Lindley, and there is another case, Lindley v. Bowles, which, I think, has not yet come to a conclusion.
All these cases, in so far as they inhibit trade union leaders from exercising their rights, will play into the hands of leaders of wild-cat strikes. Where there is no scope or provision for official strikes, where official trade union leaders and responsible shop stewards are unwilling to do whatever they ought to do because they are afraid of the consequences, other people will take their place. This is why I am confident that, if the law is allowed to stand as it is, it will not only be an inhibition against the rights of official trade union leaders but it will tend to encourage wild-cat strikes. If the law is allowed to remain as it is, unofficial strikes will multiply, and this is one of the reasons for the urgency of this legislation.
The Rookes v. Barnard case introduced some striking new points of law going far beyond the question of the closed shop. In this connection, I looked up one or two references in Modern Law Review of May, 1964. On page 257, it is said:Professor Jenks, commenting on the cases which culminated in 1901 in Quinn v. Leathern and Taff Vale Railway v. A.S.R.S., wrote: 'The House of Lords had first invented a new civil offence (civil conspiracy) and had then created a new kind of defendant against whom it could be alleged'. In 1964, in Rookes v. Barnard, the House of Lords invented a new extension of civil liability, and then reduced to insignificance the protections of the Trade Disputes Act, 1906, which should have been a defence against itThe article goes on to say:The House of Lords in Rookes v. Barnard, has now extended such tort liability once again in a trade dispute. Briefly, their lordships decided, for the first time, that threats to break a contract can be tortious 'intimidation', on a par with threats of violence; and that the 1906 Act does not protect such 'intimidation'. An element of what might justly be termed mystification could be thought to lie in placing this kind of threat into a category where it can at once be equated with such things as threats of violence. As 'intimidation' the contractual characteristics can, as we shall see, more easily be forgotten.I think that is correct. This is a new departure in the law which, incidentally, extends beyond the question of trade unions and touches upon the whole subject of contract and tort, which, at some stage, the lawyers may have to look at.
1051 The effect of the judgment would seem to a layman to be quite perverse. It means that to strike is legal but to threaten to strike becomes an act of intimidation and, therefore, an act of tort for which there may be a court action. To most laymen, this will appear to be nonsense. I am a lawyer but it certainly appears to be nonsense to me. Yet that is the law today.
It has been asked what effect all this will have upon official trade union leaders and unofficial strikers. Clearly, the answer is that the unofficial, the wildcat, striker will not threaten to strike; he will strike. That would not be a tortious act. On the other hand, the trade union official who gives due warning to the employers and threatens to withdraw labour as the last resort will be liable to court action. That is a fantastic position. It is not only bad for the unions but thoroughly bad for the country.
This is not merely a question of preserving the rights of trade unions. It is also a matter of preventing a deterioration of trade unionism and the multiplication of the sort of unofficial actions which all of us regret. That is why I welcome the introduction of the Bill. This matter goes far beyond the question of the closed shop.
There are two views about the closed shop. Not every employer is against it. To some people the person in a closed shop who leaves his union or does not join it is an honourable gentleman, a noble and valiant dissentient who should be encouraged. To the trade unionists who work with him he may be the rotten apple in the barrel. It all depends on how one looks at it. There are some places where the closed shop is appropriate and some where it is not, but I shall not argue now for or against it. All I say is that, if it leads to industrial disputes, it should be treated in the same way as other industrial disputes and should be free from any question of legal restraint, just as every other trade dispute should be.
There are many industrial disputes. In some, the workers have a good case. In others, they have a bad case. I should never say that, in every industrial dispute, the workers are right and the employers are wrong, but it is not the duty of the law to adjudicate on the case 1052 of the workers and decide whether it is good or bad. The right to strike should not be inhibited—that was the view taken when the Trade Disputes Act was passed—by the threat of legal action. That is the important point to bear in mind.
The hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) said that he was not sure whether the Bill would prevent another Rookes v. Barnard case.
§ Mr. Hooson
I am not saying that I am not sure. I am certain that the Bill will not reverse the decision in that case.
§ Mr. Silverman
I am not sure of that, although I agree that there is a certain lack of clarity in the legal effect of the Bill. But I believe it will not reverse the decision of the court in the case of Stratford v. Lindley, which I would ask the Minister to consider very seriously.
The central question in the case was, what is a trade dispute? Is a strike for recognition—the principle involved in the Stratford v. Lindley case—a legitimate trade dispute under the Act? It should be. A fight for recognition is as vital as any other dispute over wages and conditions but at present it is not a legitimate dispute. Perhaps when my right hon. Friend is considering the question of industrial courts and other labour legislation he will consider recognition as one of the legitimate matters constituting a trade dispute.
I hope, in contradistinction to some hon. Members opposite, that the Bill will be amended to strengthen it in certain respects. The object should be to bring the law back to what everyone thought it was before the Rookes v. Barnard case. I am not sure that the Bill does that, in view of other cases that have been decided and of matters contained in the judgment and obiter dicta of Rookes v. Barnard. I hope that the Bill will bring the law back to where it was, make the position of the union official stronger and free from fear and strengthen official trade unionism, thereby assisting the community by discouraging unofficial action.
§ 5.36 p.m.
§ Sir Tatton Brinton (Kidderminster)
I ask for the patience of yourself, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and of the House for yet another maiden speech, realising, as I do, that a multiplicity of such speeches tends to reduce the tempo and the tenor 1053 of the debate. However, they mean as much suffering for us as for you.
I have the honour to represent the Kidderminster constituency, a name well known throughout the world for nearly two centuries for carpets, and for the last fifteen years in this House for another fine piece of fabric of considerable beauty. That brings me to a tribute to my predecessor, Sir Gerald Nabarro.
For fifteen years Sir Gerald represented Kidderminster and during the whole of that time I worked most closely in his constituency association with him. He was a magnificent constituency Member. He looked after it extremely well and I need hardly tell you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, about his capacity in debate. It was a great tragedy to him and to us in the constituency when he was suddenly taken ill and had to withdraw from Parliament at the last election.
However, Sir Gerald is now completely restored to health and has recently been adopted as prospective candidate for the Conservative Party for the Worcestershire, South constituency. I have every confidence that we shall soon be seeing him back here, so I hope that the Office of Works has strengthened the woodwork and repaired the ceilings.
I do not mean it lightly when I say that I have the honour to represent Kidderminster. I was born and bred in it. I work in it and have lived in it all my life. My grandfather had the honour to represent it in this House about 80 years ago. I therefore have close connections with it.
About two-thirds of the population is urban and the rest live in the countryside. We include the town of Kidderminster, whose principal industry is carpets, but which has also a substantial amount of light engineering. We also have the Borough of Bewdley, one of the oldest in the Kingdom and a thriving port when Birmingham did not exist. Stour-port, another manufacturing town, is very close to Kidderminster and there is the small town of Tenbury Wells at the far end of the constituency, which has a very strong individual character of its own and, in between the towns, we have the most beautiful countryside in the Midlands and, indeed, in England. There is also, of course, a great deal of agriculture in the 1054 constituency as well as the industries I have mentioned.
I speak today as an employer. My hon. Friend the Member for Bath (Sir E. Brown) spoke from this side of the House from the trade union side. I do not speak from what I would call the opposite side of the table, because, as the Minister has truly said, there are strong bonds between employers and employers' associations and trade unionists and trade unions. I have had a great deal to do with union negotiations in my own industry. For ten years, I was a member of the national joint committee for the carpet industry and for a year I was its chairman, so that I have considerable knowledge of negotiations and, I may add, a very happy experience of them.
Fortunately, in my own industry the relationships between unions and managements have been extremely good. Apart from the normal, natural and proper friction which goes on as a minimum in any industry, there has been very little to point the finger at. It has been a very happy relationship and one of the things which has impressed me most about it has been that it has arisen from the common sense and good leadership of both sides of the table, particularly the trade union side.
I shall return to that in a moment, but I should like first to say that I regret the introduction of the Bill. The arguments have been made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Grantham (Mr. Godber) but, to recapitulate them, they are that we are awaiting the report of a Royal Commission on this subject and that one would have thought that nothing would be introduced in advance of it. As an industrial employer, the legal point seems to me to be rather tenuous. Hon. Members on both sides of the House have spoken about the importance of allowing trade unionists to carry out their normal jobs in a proper manner, but in negotiations around the table, groups of employers and trade unionists get together to hammer out the details and principles of a negotiation and do not start by saying "Who has the law on his side, and who has not?" They talk about right and wrong and fair and unfair, and that is what matters.
1055 As a man who is not a lawyer, it seems to me that the bad thing about the introduction of the Bill is that to the ordinary public, as to me, the Bill directly arises out of a case which no one on either side of the House would wish to defend, the case of a man threatened with losing his job because he was at outs with his union. This is the sort of case which the public does not like. I do not like it and the Minister himself does not like it. Yet, because of this one case on which this legal point arose, the Bill has been introduced. It does not appear that normal cases have led to a situation which would justify the Bill.
The Bill will have a bad effect and will produce a bad taste in the mouths of the general public. It will damage the image—I am sorry to use that terribly hackneyed word—of the trade unions in the eyes of the public. That is a pity. As an employer, I support trade unions and regard them as essential. However, the maintenance of good relations between unions and managements within an industry and between industry and the public and, within the unions, between the leadership and the rank and file is important. I will not deal with the subject now because it is to be debated on Friday, but we all agree that the maintenance of good relationships and confidence is essential.
Towards the end of his speech, the Minister looked into the future and tried to visualise the sort of power structure of the country over the next 25 or 30 years. He visualised a growing strength of the unions, professional associations and employers' associations and speculated about what the net result might be. Hon. Members and trade unionists ought to be thinking about this subject, for we are seeing the faint beginnings of this development even today.
In the old days, trade unions consisted of a broad cross-section of the intellect and character of the population at large. There were great men, average men and not so average men, just as could be found in every walk of life. From these men came Ernest Bevin and Arthur Deakin, who were great men of great intellect and tremendous strength of character. Our modern educational system will, we hope, provide educational opportunity for everyone to rise as far as he can in industrial 1056 or professional society at large, which is only human justice.
What will the result be? In the manual workers' unions at any rate, the cream which used to rise to the top and which was responsible for the very wise and statesmanlike leadership of those unions will have been removed at an early age and will have gone to the universities and become professional men, managers, technicians and even politicians, never going to the shop floor. Even if they ultimately become professional advisers to the unions, they will not carry the weight of those who grew up through the movement to the leadership. How will that old leadership of the past be replaced? This is the problem about which we should now be thinking. That may be a digression, but it has not yet been mentioned and it will be all-important in future.
I thank you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and the House, for your forbearance in listening to me in my first speech in this Assembly.
§ 5.48 p.m.
§ Mr. E. S. Bishop (Newark)
It falls to me to have the pleasure of paying tribute to the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Sir T. Brinton) on his maiden speech. I am sure that from today he can feel that he can take a more vigorous part in the business of the House. It seems strange that I should be paying tribute, although I willingly do so, because I am myself a new Member. I got over the ordeal of my maiden speech on the third day of this Parliament, and I now feel myself to be a fully-fledged Member. I am sure that we all appreciated the serious and throughtful comments of the hon. Member for Kidderminster and that we look forward to his future contributions, although there will be few occasions when he will be able to speak on a subject as important as that which is under consideration today.
It should be made clear that several hon. Members opposite have misunderstandings about the Rookes v. Barnard case. I hope that hon. Members opposite will do their best not to mislead the public—I appreciate that they are not doing so intentionally—for this is not a debate about the merits of the closed shop. The Rookes v. Barnard case arose because the position of trade unionists was not as clear as they had thought it to be under the Trade Disputes Act, 1906.
1057 Briefly to detail some of the features of the case, it should be made clear that this was not a David against Goliath, Goliath being the trade union, but was a case concerning a man named Rookes who was himself an active trade unionist and who did all he could with his colleagues before these events to ensure that the office where he worked had 100 per cent. trade union membership. The record shows that Rookes was one of those who went to the management to have this registered as a situation which obtained in the office where he and his colleagues were employed. He was quite happy in this situation. He had played an active part in his trade union, the Association of Engineering and Shipbuilding Draughtsmen, as it was called at that time.
It was only when he fell out with his colleagues on a certain matter because possibly he wanted to take what one might call unconstitutional action while his colleagues wanted to follow the procedure agreements, that he decided to leave the union. He was then affected by the circumstance of having helped to bring about 100 per cent. union membership in his office and he, having left the union, faced his former colleagues who insisted that the agreement that there should be 100 per cent. trade union membership should be maintained. He suffered, according to his allegations, and sued his former colleagues for damages for loss of his job and office.
Let me make it clear that this is not a closed shop issue, and I hope that the public will not see it in that way.
§ Mr. Horner
I want to get this clear. Is my hon. Friend saying that the union, having achieved 100 per cent. membership, then obtained agreement with the management that 100 per cent. membership should be maintained as a management policy?
§ Mr. Bishop
As I understand, that was the case. There was an agreement with the management, and I understand that the management, in its relationship with Rookes following this dispute, told him about the agreement to which he contributed by his intention and efforts, and as a result he left the company. It was not a matter of a man fighting against the tyranny of a trade union. If there was any tyranny, Rookes was party to it.
§ Mr, Aidan Crawley (Derbyshire, West)
The hon. Gentleman will find in the evidence in the case that Rookes said that he had asked one of the trade union officials whether, if he resigned from the union, he would lose his job, and he was told that he would not.
§ Mr. Bishop
Be that as it may, I think it still true to say that he was one of the people who helped to bring about the agreement with the B.O.A.C. on this matter. The right hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Godber) spoke about the protection of the individual and referred to it as being hardly won by Mr. Rookes. We must set those comments of the right hon. Gentleman against the situation which I have described.
If we talk about the closed shop, we must look at the circumstances in which people work in industry. I think that most right hon. and hon. Members here today would say that if we want to enjoy the privileges and rights of society we must accept some of the responsibility. Hon. Members talk about the tyranny of the closed shop. Let us consider the tyranny, if that be the correct word, of the legal and medical professions. There is a closed shop there. Let us talk about the tyranny of manufacturers and others who fix their prices. We have not forgotten that hon. Members opposite, by the Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1956, were the ones who gave power to the manufacturers to enforce rights and limitations in respect of those who wanted to sell their products at a lower price. All this is relevant to the context in which we are speaking.
At the same time, we must have regard to the situation in industry. The trade union movement is accepted as a vital and integral part of industrial society. I think that most responsible employers would recognise that a responsible trade union can play a very important part in achieving industrial harmony. It is sad to see on many occasions in the Press and elsewhere headlines referring to the alleged irresponsibility of trade unionists.
There is a multitude of men and women in the trade union movement who are the oil in the industrial society in which we live; they keep the machine going. In many ways, officially or unofficially, they help to ensure industrial harmony, despite the shortcomings sometimes of their employers. We must consider 1059 these people who are often the unsung heroes of our industrial society. If I were an employer, it would be very desirable to me that my workpeople were organised in a trade union, because I should know exactly where I stood in relation to them.
In talking about Acts of Parliament, we must consider the position of non-trade union members. In the Trade Disputes Act, 1906, and the Bill, there is reference to agreements with trade unions and to the right to strike. Therefore, we have a right to ask about the position of non-union members. How are they represented? Are they parties to contracts made by the trade unions, with their consent or otherwise, and on their behalf? These considerations are relevant to the problem which we are discussing.
The Bill will be very warmly welcomed by trade unionists throughout the country. I speak as one of them. I am proud to be a member of the Draughtsmen's and Allied Technicians Association, which is the new name of the trade union involved in the Rookes v. Barnard case. I speak for millions of trade unionists and workers in industry. I give a general welcome to the Bill, although I recognise that it has some shortcomings. One of my hon. Friends referred to the Stratford v. Lindley case, and the Bowles v. Lindley case, which raised new questions.
However, the Labour Party, before the election, gave a pledge that as soon as possible after it took office it would restore the position to what it thought it was under the Trade Disputes Act, 1906. That is its intention today, although, as I say, I do not think the Bill goes far enough. That may be remedied by the Royal Commission at a later date.
The hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) talked about the Bill not meeting the case. If that is so, I ask him and his colleagues to join us in the Lobby tonight and to play their part in Committee in making it work and in restoring the position. I invite them to do this because it is their responsibility.
We have heard from some hon. Members opposite that the Bill will give new concessions to the trade union movement. But it does not give any special privilege 1060 or concession to the trade unions. There is no favour in the Bill. It merely restores the situation to what we thought it was. If hon. Members opposite say that they cannot support the Bill, they are saying that they are not in agreement with the 1906 Act because they are supporting now, apparently, the position as decided by the House of Lords' judgment.
There are various matters in the Bill which should be questioned. We have a right to ask what exactly is meant by "agreements". It is known as a result of the Rookes v. Barnard case that a strike or a threat to strike involving breach of contract can result in trade unionists, workers, and full-time officials of trade unions being liable to pay substantial damages.
We in the trade union movement want to know where we stand with procedure agreements, which apply particularly in engineering. Under procedure agreements, as many of us know, there is, first, the domestic discussion followed by the works and local conference and, if satisfaction is not obtained, the central conference at the highest possible level. This procedure agreement, which is in operation in many places, can result in several months' delay before decisions are arrived at. It is in this situation that workers are entitled to know exactly where they stand.
If we are saying to workers that their grievances must wait for weeks and months before a decision is reached, we cannot be surprised if we have industrial unrest and other troubles.
§ Mr. Edward M. Taylor (Glasgow, Cathcart)
Would the hon. Member agree that within the procedure agreement a timetable is laid down concerning the maximum time for passing from one stage of procedure to the next and that although this might not be observed, it nevertheless exists?
§ Mr. Bishop
That may be so. This procedure which has been accepted can take up to three months, and in the process great discontent can arise.
It has been suggested in other quarters that if a union submits "proper notice", it can strike; but "proper notice" is for the purpose of terminating employment, whereas strikers hope to return to 1061 their jobs. If, by suspending employment temporarily, it is hoped to avoid carrying out the contract of employment, one may say that this is a kind of subterfuge. I think that it was Lord Devlin who, in the Rookes v. Barnard case, made the comment thatThe object of the notice was not to terminate the contract either before or after the expiry of seven days, but was to break the contract by withholding labour, but keeping the contract alive for as long as the employers would tolerate a breach without exercising their right of rescission.This means that all strikers are liable in the consequences to heavy damages if they exercise what they thought were traditional rights. They can be sued for damages by any party which considers that it has lost as a result of the strike. In the wider sense, this means that they can be affected by commercial as well as industrial contracts in that situation. This raises many doubts in the minds of trade unionists.
We have many people working in mines, factories and offices who are not blessed with having a solicitor at their elbow all day long to advise them on the exact meaning or interpretation of Acts which apply to them. Indeed, we know that even solicitors and judges can disagree about the meaning of an Act of Parliament. This was demonstrated in the case of Rookes v. Barnard. There is thus a duty falling upon us in Parliament to make clear as far as is resonably possible what Acts of Parliament mean and where people stand in relation to them.
There are one or two points concerning the Bill which are not clear and I should like in due course to have clarification. First, the Title of the Bill refers to it asA Bill to prevent actions founded on tort, or of reparation, being brought in respect of certain acts done in contemplation or furtherance of trade disputes.I wonder whether critics might say that this Title itself bestows certain favours, certain privileges and immunities on trade unions. I rather feel that the words in reference to trade disputes might have been left out of the Title so as not to restrict the situation.
Then, we come to mention of the trade disputes. Section 5(3) of the 1906 Act refers to trade disputes in relation to those engaged in them and states that 1062the expression 'trade dispute' means any dispute between employers and workmen, or between workmen and workmen".Here we may ask whether Clause 1(1,a) of the Bill really protects not only employers and trade unionists but employees. In the Rookes v. Barnard case, there was too the situation facing a full-time trade union official who was brought into the case despite his own position. It may well be that we could make the Clause clearer by adding, at the end of subsection (1)(1,a),whether by him or by some other person",so that paragraph 1(1,a) would read:that a contract of employment (whether one to which he is a party or not) will be broken by him or some other person, or".My next query concerns the situation arising from trade disputes. One can ask what does a trade dispute cover? The protections of the Bill and the Amendments which I suggest should apply only to acts done, as in subsection 1(1),in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute".My last point of query with the Minister relates to the reference to actions pending. Clause 1(2) apears to be an incitement to some plaintiffs to issue writs before the Bill is passed. I suggest that the Minister might consider this aspect to see whether protection could not be extended to those who may be concerned in actions before the Bill is passed. These points are all relevant.
I welcome the Bill. I believe that it will enable the Government to keep a promise that was made to the country before the election. I believe also that it can be improved in Committee. And I hope that some of the legislative questions arising from it, and the Stratford v. Lindley case and others, will be considered in due course by the Royal Commission.
The Royal Commission has a duty to be positive in all this. I do not want to go into the history of the trade union movement tonight, but we all know that a lot of trade union legislation has been agreed to by various Parliaments over the last 150 years in a spirit of hostility. We want to ensure that the Royal Commission will recognise that the trade union movement is, and has been for a long time, a vital and important part of our industrial society.
1063 It is only by clarifying these issues, by getting rid of irrelevancies and by looking at the matter in its fullest context that we can right the wrongs of the legislation which we are considering and ensure that trade unionists play a more positive part in the years to come.
§ 6.8 p.m.
§ Sir Lionel Heald (Chertsey)
In opposing the Second Reading of the Bill, I want to make it clear at the outset that I shall rely upon broad grounds of principle and not upon legal niceties. I should also like to say at the outset that I oppose the Second Reading in no spirit of hostility either to the trade unions or to the Minister of Labour.
As regards the trade unions, I do not believe that I need spend much time justifying what I have said, because during the time that I have had the honour of representing the Chertsey constituency I have consistently adopted the attitude that I regarded the trade unions as a most important element in our whole system. Indeed, it would be rather strange if I had done otherwise, because just over a hundred years ago an ancestor of mine was in this House who was closely associated with Benjamin Disraeli in the building up of the ideas of Tory democracy, which created such an impression at that time in the 1870s and not least in relation to the trade unions.
The Tories of that day were responsible for the 1875 Act, which was recognised at the time and has, I think, been recognised ever since as one of the cornerstones of the rights of the trade unions. It was the philosophy of the Tory democracy which led to that Act and other great Acts in other fields. It is a matter of regret that for many years that concept of Tory democracy faded out, but it must be generally admitted that since 1945 it has grown up again and become a great force in the country. It has always been one of the principles of that Tory philosophy that trade unions in their proper place, performing their proper functions, are to be supported and encouraged. I might perhaps add that my ancestor of whom I spoke had the rather unusual combination of being at the same time a prominent Wesleyan Methodist and an Independent Conservative Member of Parliament.
1064 I have always been very insistent that the system of trade unionism in this country has come to a stage where it requires a thorough reconsideration of its organisation, its structure, and its legal position. I have been glad to hear and read of the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour expressing the same view. In fact, he said that that must be done, and that if the trade unions did not do it themselves, sooner or later they would find that public opinion would insist on Parliament intervening.
When the previous Government announced their intention of appointing a Royal Commission, or a similar inquiry, I think it is right to point out, especially in view of some of his remarks in moving the Second Reading of the Bill, that the right hon. Gentleman said that he had no objection to such an inquiry, and, indeed, provided that it was brought about in the right way, and had a completely free hand, that he was in favour of it.
I say that because when we came to the General Election we found that there was no mention of an inquiry into the trade unions, either in the Labour Party Manifesto, or in any of the speeches, until the Prime Minister was asked about it on television, when he said that there was no need for an inquiry at all, and that a simple Bill would put everything right.
That having happened, when we came back here a number of us on this side of the House proceeded to raise the matter. I took a modest part in it, and wrote a letter which produced some correspondence in The Times, and it was also raised in the House. We took the line at that time that the Prime Minister was wilfully disregarding a grave problem which had been recognised to exist by the trade union leaders themselves, and was apparently determined to take no action.
We do not know what goes on behind the scenes in Downing Street, but I feel that I would not be suggesting anything improper if I drew attention to the fact that this afternoon the right hon. Gentleman said that he had "pressed" for an inquiry of this nature. I think that we can guess what happened, and that we ought to recognise that the right hon. Gentleman, however much we may disagree with him in other respects, 1065 has performed a great service in getting it accepted that there should be a Royal Commission with full power to inquire into the whole problem.
I do not want to occupy the time of the House in discussing the Rookes v. Barnard case. I disagree with the hon. Member for Newark (Mr. Bishop) in the way he approached this matter, because this is not a Bill to reverse that decision. It is a Bill to do what is stated in it, and that is the way in which we must consider it. There may be argument as to what the effect of that is, but that is what is being done.
Additional rights are being given as a matter of law to any person who acts in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute. He has those additional rights, and it is from that point of view that we must consider the matter. I am not, therefore, going to discuss the question of the precise legal effect of the Bill. After all, that is a matter for the Government and not for the Opposition, but we shall listen with interest to what we are told about it.
There seem to be two different points of view. One is that which has been expressed in various speeches today, and the other is that which was expressed in the document to which my right hon. Friend the Member for Grantham (Mr. Godber) referred, issued in September, 1964, and apparently representing the views of the T.U.C. who, if I may summarise, said that the legal consequences of the Rookes v. Barnard decision constituted a threat, "however remote", to normal trade union activities.
If that is so, we have the position that for the purpose of discharging the ordinary business of industrial negotiation the Bill is not really necessary at all. What, then, is it for? Is it, as some have been arguing, for the purpose of reversing the principles which lie behind the Rookes v. Barnard decision? If that is so, I support what my right hon. Friend the Member for Grantham said with regard to the impropriety—because I think that that is the only word—of anticipating the proceedings before the Royal Commission.
I was astonished to hear it said that the intention, to use a golfing metaphor, was to play a provisional ball; that it is not considered to be something which 1066 is to be regarded as a great question of principle, it is just to tide us over until we get to the Royal Commission. Surely that is a wrong thing to do, and I think that it was emphasised by the hon. Member for Newark, who suggested that opportunity should be taken in the Bill to clarify and perhaps enlarge the area of the expression "trade dispute".
That will be one of the outstanding questions, from a legal point of view, when the Royal Commission sits, and here we are with a proposal that a Bill introduced now should result in a Committee of the House sitting discussing what should be included in the expression trade dispute, and somewhere else a Royal Commission discussing the same thing. It seems to me to be a very clear demonstration of the vice of the Bill.
§ Mr. Bishop
I would have thought that hon. Members on both sides of the House would support me in my contention. Unless we can clarify what is before the House and later before the public we shall be doing a disservice. Clarification is what is needed here.
§ Sir L. Heald
I understand what the hon. Member is saying, but he does not seem to appreciate that at the moment there is a recognised definition of the expression "trade dispute". What we shall be discussing before the Royal Commissions is whether that is a proper subject to bring in for the purpose of providing a new definition, or, as some people think, providing an altogether new approach to the question. Many believe that to try to limit the question to trade disputes is to become involved in legal tangles.
My first objection is that it is premature. I cannot resist quoting what is said in a leading article in The Times today on the basis of the whole matter. It says:Trade unionists having worked themselves into a lather about it, it was natural for the leader of the Labour Party, which is in one of its aspects the political extension of trade unionism, to undertake to relieve their anxiety.That is quite understandable, but I suggest that it is not a justification for introducing a Bill which may have very undesirable consequences in a totally different direction. We start with the assumption that the Rookes v. Barnard 1067 decision would not interfere—as has been stated in the pamphlet to which I have referred—with the ordinary, normal procedure of industrial bargaining.
My hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Sir T. Brinton), whose speech we all listened to with great interest, was speaking as an employer. We have had three maiden speeches—one from an experienced employer and two from experienced trade unionists. These speeches have come from opposite sides of the House. On an occasion like this it was good to have such speeches, first because they came from men speaking as experts and not speaking from a political point of view, but saying what they believed, from their hearts, as Members always do in maiden speeches. They have placed most of us who have not had that kind of experience in a position where we approach the matter with due humility. Their speeches had the additional advantage of keeping the debate on a practical basis, with no heat or disagreement to disturb serious thought and discussion. We are grateful to them for that. We heard from them about the way in which these things work.
What we have not yet heard about is what will be the effect of the Bill, if it becomes law, in relation to the action to those who are not engaged in the ordinary, proper business of industrial negotiation. The Bill covers any person who is engaged in a trade dispute. It is not limited to trade union officials; it is not limited to officials of the great, regular well-known trade unions. Under the definition of "trade union" an organisation does not have to be registered; it does not even require an organisation to be permanent. It may be a temporary association formed for the very purpose of causing trouble. We all know that such organisations exist.
The extraordinary thing is that the Minister of Labour is bringing in and supporting a Bill which will give an entirely new legal protection to people who are engaged in those activities. There is nothing to prevent the Bill covering unofficial action, as has been suggested. One hon. Member opposite said that in any case unofficial strikes are always just strikes, not threats to strike. People must be innocent if they believe that, because we know that in many cases 1068 the mere threat of an unofficial stoppage, which would result in delaying the delivery of a contract, is the very thing that produces trouble and interferes with our trade and exports.
There is no legal nicety about this; the Bill will provide a protection that never before existed in law to people who organise unofficial strikes. In opposing the Bill, therefore, I feel that I am assisting the Minister. I am sure that he does not wish to encourage that kind of thing. That is the last thing he wants to do. But that will be the practical effect of the Bill. It will not interfere with the normal level of proper activities of trade union officials who do their jobs very well, but it will provide additional protection, which does not now exist, to many people who, as many hon. Members opposite have frequently said, can be regarded as Communist agitators. Is that a desirable thing? I should think not.
Let us assume that the Bill will do what some hon. Members have said they hope it will do, namely, reverse the Rookes v. Barnard decision. I say that to do that in advance of the Royal Commission is wholly wrong, because it cannot help impressing upon people's minds the thought that something is right, if these Houses of Parliament put it into a Statute as being right. It is rather horrifying to hear it said that it was contemplated as a possibility, if nothing more, that after the Bill became law the Royal Commission would reverse it. Some hon. Members have told us that the Royal Commission would never dream of doing such a thing, but that does not appear to be the case made for the Bill.
It has been said that the Bill is intended to do the job of putting the law back to where it was thought to be—but we are never told who are these people who thought the law was what it was; usually we think that it is the judges who tell us what the law is.
I want to refer the House to what was said by Lord Radcliffe in a very striking address at the Law Society's annual conference this year. He was referring to the Royal Commission and it goes to the very point that I am trying to make, that we should not do anything now which would create a climate of public opinion, or help to do so, which might 1069 have a certain effect on the Royal Commission; we want it to approach the matter in an impartial manner. Lord Radcliffe said:What is needed today and what I hope we shall get is a far reaching review by independent persons… Such a review should, I think, pause long upon the question whether it is what is called the right to strike that is really involved in the tensions that strain modern industrial society. No one, obviously, challenges an individual's right to withhold his labour. Nor does anyone challenge the right of association, in the sense that men ought to be free to combine for the purpose of industrial action and to withhold or offer their labour or their employment as an instrument of that action. What is in question is how far the power of such association, which is, freak cases apart, altogether a different thing from an individual's power, should be free to inflict damage of perhaps irreparable kind upon someone whom its members wish to subject or punish. One view is, apparently, that there should be no limit to the powers of such an association, provided that its actions lie in the area of what is or what its leaders honestly consider to be an industrial dispute. But then we need to think very carefully what is covered by this phrase 'industrial dispute'.… A different view is that, even within the field of industrial dispute, those powers are now so great and can be so catastrophic in their consequences to affect individuals that it is anarchic to leave them outside the reach of some controlling authority.Whether we agree with that or not, it is a very clear statement of a very profound problem. That is the kind of thing, I believe, that the Royal Commission ought to be allowed and encouraged to consider without any kind of previous prejudice at all. It ought to be left with things as they are, with the legal decisions as they stand, reading them altogether, and nothing but harm can be done by this House doing something which may have a prejudicial effect on that consideration.
For that reason, I oppose the Second Reading of the Bill.
§ 6.31 p.m.
§ Mr. John Horner (Oldbury and Halesowen)
I found it a little difficult to follow the argument of the right hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Godber). It seems to me that what he was saying was that nothing very much had happened anyhow, that it was not all that important; that anxious or overanxious trade unionists had read something into the decision of their Lordships which they were not entitled to read into it; that the Government were being over-hasty. The right hon. Gentleman 1070 then went on to say that should it come about that there was a change of Government, depending on what had happened meanwhile, a Conservative Minister would reserve the right to alter the Bill and go back.
§ Mr. Godber
I apologise for interrupting the hon. Gentleman, but I do not think that he quite understood my argument. I did not say that we reserve the right to go back on the Bill. I said that in establishing a precedent of legislating, in one sense, before the Royal Commission's Report, if we felt that there was some issue in the whole field of trade union relations where legislation was required, we might feel it necessary, but not on the issue of this Bill.
§ Mr. Horner
It is a matter of opinion how wide in the field of industrial relations any judgment should extend. To the Trades Union Congress the issue we are debating has the widest ramifications. It is held strongly that this issue strikes at the very root of the functions and of the ability to operate trade unionism. I was puzzled by the various references of the right hon. Member for Grantham to Mr. Woodcock, the General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress. The right hon. Gentleman suggested that it was not very much of a thing, after all, that Mr. Woodcock had discovered; that he was not very worried about it. The House is entitled to know precisely what is the attitude of the Trades Union Congress and the General Secretary on this matter.
I refer to what Mr. Woodcock said to the T.U.C. in another document which the right hon. Member for Grantham referred to—and it was referred to by the right hon. and learned Member for Chertsey (Sir L. Heald)—the document issued by the T.U.C. in September of last year. Mr. Woodcock said:I believe that the bulk of the employers, the big employers, the sensible employers, the employers who know as much about the collective bargaining system which I have been talking about as I do, will not take cheap advantage of a legal decision. I believe that to be so. They would be very foolish to do so. They have to live with us, just as we have to live with them. There is nothing for them to gain from a short, sharp quick profit in the courts. But there are many employers in this country who have not got long heads and who are greedy and who will snatch a quick profit if they could get it. Therefore, it is not right and we will not allow the Government to shield behind the absence—if there is 1071 an absence of actions in this field and say: 'Until we have many cases of people being taken to the courts, we do not see any need to amend the law'.Mr. Woodcock said:There was Rookes v. Barnard and Stratford v. Lindley. We do not have to have millions of cases.Dealing with the suggestion that the T.U.C. changed its mind because it put out the circular to which reference has been made, Mr. Woodcock said:We would have been entitled to take the most dramatic view of the implications of Rookes v. Barnard. Certainly the law is dramatic enough. If we have not taken the most dramatic view, it is because we have a very high sense of our responsibility for seeing that we do not cause panic where panic need not exist. But that again, I say, cannot be made the excuse for the Minister doing nothing at all about it.He also said:No trade union officer and no workman is safe at law under this present Act.We should say on our side that trade unions, by tradition, are not anxious to get involved in legal action. They do not want to become identified with those who believe that it is possible to determine industrial relations by going to law. I put it with respect to learned hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House that in many ways the law cannot deal with the sort of issues which arise in the day-to-day relationships between workpeople and their employers. I know that Mr. Woodcock had this very much in mind when he talked about trade unions being outside the law, to which reference was made by the right hon. Member for Grantham.
That being so, once it is clear that a decision impedes trade unions in their functions, in their normal legitimate functions, once a legal decision impinges on, as I have said, the very root and basic functions of trade unions, they have no alternative but to appeal to the Government of the day—as the Trades Union Congress appealed to the right hon. Member for Grantham when he was Minister of Labour—to do something about it. It would seem to me that the effect of the Rookes v. Barnard judgment, which has given rise to the Bill, has been amply demonstrated from this side of the House.
I do not want to go further, into the very difficult, tortuous avenues of conflicting views which bedevilled the trade 1072 union movement for nearly nine years, from the High Court to the Court of Appeal and to the Lords. This is all behind us. It will be a happy hunting ground for the legal profession for many years to come. I am concerned about the fact that we ought to get clearly in our minds what the Bill is seeking to achieve and what the trade unions want done.
I am obliged to my hon. Friends who have emphasised that this has nothing to do with the closed shop. This is not a sort of charter giving freedom to those who would exercise unjustified and unwarranted pressure upon people to come into the trade union movement. For about 25 years, I was the general secretary of a trade union which was very proud of its 100 per cent. membership, but strongly opposed to the imposition of the closed shop. Nevertheless, there are certain circumstances in which the closed shop is felt desirable, both by management and the trade unions. Let that be. This argument is not about the closed shop. This argument is not giving trade unions a privileged position.
I have heard much this afternoon about the right of trade unions to strike. There is no such right in this country; no legal right to strike exists. What the law has done over the last 60 or 70 years is to say to trade unionists, "If you strike, then, provided that you conduct yourselves in a particular fashion, and the strike is conducted within certain circumstances, you will not have imposed upon you heavy and onerous legal sanctions, which may otherwise be the case. But you move out of those circumstances at your peril."
In many countries there is a legal right to strike, but not in this country. That may be one of the matters which the Royal Commission should consider. In many countries, one is not involved in controversy if one breaks one's contract or if one goes on strike, because it is laid down quite clearly that a trade dispute does not involve contract or breach of contract. That is not so in this country.
Let it be said quite clearly that the trade unions are not supplicants asking for a privileged position. They are asking to be put in the position which everyone felt was the situation before the House of Lords' decision. If that were wrong, it 1073 has been wrong for a long time. If trade union officials and trade unionists are now in danger as a result of the Lords' decision, I cannot understand the argument of the other side that that dangerous position should be allowed to continue indefinitely or at least until the Royal Commission has made its report and legislation then ensues. It may be many years before such a decision is arrived at. I think it wholly wrong and unjust, and I am surprised that the attitude is adopted by people who claim to have experience in industrial relations that we should be asked to allow a situation to exist in which a number of years could elapse with this dangerous situation facing trade unionists and industrial relations generally.
I want to contradict the suggestion that trade unions have been accepted—as my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour suggested, amid many wise nods from the other side—as a part of the Establishment. I disagree. There was a question raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Newark (Mr. Bishop) as to whether the definition of a trade dispute could cover the endeavour of a trade union to win recognition. The right hon. and learned Member for Chertsey said that for that matter even to be raised created doubts in his mind about the wisdom of the introduction of the Bill, because it clearly went beyond the provisions of the Bill itself.
Trade unions are probably growing at a faster rate in what is known as the area of white collar employment than any other. Professional people are joining trade unions. There is one professional trade union at the moment, of course, which is threatening at least to abrogate its contract in three months' time. But the phenomenon of the spread of trade unionism among white collar workers is a characteristic of the present industrial picture.
The British Employers Confederation, so The Times informed us on 26th October of last year, issued a confidential document to member organisations. The document says, according to The Times, that there is a growing tendency for staff workers to join trade unions. It goes on:This is making it increasingly difficult for employers to resist pressure from staff unions for the negotiation of agreements. It is recognised that staff unions, because of the type of 1074 workers they represent, are generally more articulate, more militant, and more effective that the manual workers' unions and that any development of staff unionism on a major scale would present serious problems for employers.That is the view expressed in the employers' document, that any growth of trade unionism amongst staff employees would present serious problems. According to The Times the document says that firms are also to be asked to inform their local organisations… of every new sign or fresh development of staff unionism and to enter into no commitments before the matter has been discussed by the wages and conditions committee (of the confederation).The document points out that even where membership of staff unions is increasing, employers are under no obligation to recognise union representation. Even if recognition were granted to a staff union, says the circular,… this need not include the negotiation of wages and conditions of employment, but might be limited to informal discussions or to the laying down of procedure for dealing with requests and complaints. There is a danger, however, that once a staff union has been recognised for any purpose at all as representing the interests of staff workers, it will be encouraged to press for the full rights of negotiation.I raise that only because this is not 1906, nor 1871, but 1964, when one of the most powerful employers' organisations in the country has warned its constituent members against—the words are—" the danger of increasing staff union membership" and requires them to do nothing in the way of recognition except after consultation with the confederation and suggests ways and means whereby they can prevent trade unions from getting negotiating rights.
Therefore, when we talk about trade unions being in some privileged position, let us face the fact that in many countries this could not arise. It could not arise in Denmark, West Germany, or Italy. In those countries there are prescribed legal rights for recognition, legal rights for negotiation, legal rights to strike. It has been pointed out from the other side that the Bill does not precisely coincide with the public recommendation of the T.U.C. Be that as it may, I think that the provisions of the Bill are far more modest than the original recommendation of the T.U.C. There are many aspects of the Bill with which I would wish to deal at length. I shall not do so now, as 1075 they are probably more appropriate for the Committee stage.
I think that we in this House—and I speak with the due humility of a new Member—should have regard to the feelings and the opinions of ordinary people not only about the legislation for which we are responsible in this Parliament, but about the law generally. I think that I can speak with a little experience of what many workpeople have felt since Rookes v. Barnard—that the law is an ass.
There is the issue of intimidation. I am informed of one example which was quoted to indicate that the trade union official who, with his colleagues, informed an employer that a strike would take place if certain things were not done, was intimidating that employer. The lawyers produced the example of ships which were trading off the African coast in 1793. One ship fired a cannon ball into the canoes which were about to trade with the rival ship. That example was quoted.
When one is speaking to trade unionists at a union branch meeting, one has to recognise that, although these matters may represent very good law or very good judicial procedure, it is exceedingly difficult for the trade union to relate examples of that kind to the circumstances in which a trade union official, with his colleagues from the shop floor, thought that he was conducting the union's business, certainly in the way in which it had been conducted for many years in the generally accepted view of the relations between the management and trade unions on the issue of a strike. They then find themselves subject to most grievous penalties and find that the union suffers heavy damages involving them in costs which, I am informed, go well beyond £40,000.
This is a matter of major concern to the trade unions. It could not be put on one side. With respect, the right hon. Member for Grantham was wrong in suggesting that the Government are precipitate in their action. If these issues are allowed to continue, they only make good industrial relations, harmony and peace in the workshop and in the factory more difficult to sustain. For those reasons, I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour on having brought the Bill before the House.
§ 6.52 p.m.
§ Mr. Ronald Bell (Buckinghamshire, South)
Three reasons have been put before us in the debate for the introduction of the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour did not attempt in his speech, nor did anyone by way of interruption of my right hon. Friend the Member for Grantham (Mr. Godber), to suggest that there was any crisis in trade union relations which had been precipitated by the decision in Rookes v. Barnard or that there was some current difficulty which the trade unions and their officials were meeting in the conduct of their trade negotiations. There was no evidence of urgency and no argument of urgency.
The argument which was put forward first was that advanced by the hon. Member for Oldbury and Halesowen (Mr. Horner), at the beginning of his speech—that the unions should be put back in the position everyone thought they were in before. That argument was also used by the Minister of Labour and by many other hon. Members. The second and third arguments were that doubt should be resolved and certainty restored, which are perhaps the same thing. Almost every hon. Member speaking from the benches opposite referred to that.
May I take these one by one, beginning with the argument that we should put the trade unions back in the position in which everyone thought they were before? I suggest that it is far from true that everyone thought that they were in that position, and indeed that there is no justification for anyone having thought that they were in that position. First of all, when the Trade Disputes Act was passed through the House, in 1906, the Lord Chancellor of the day pointed out that the protection given by Section (3) to individuals was less wide than the protection given by Section (4) to trade unions, and that it was less wide in this respect that they would not be protected where there were threats.
Salmond on "Torts", which is the recognised textbook on tort, has long had the passage in it which was endorsed by the House of Lords in Rookes v. Barnard saying that there was a tort of intimidation. And then there is the precise point in Rookes v. Barnard. There was ready authority in two decided cases that a 1077 breach of contract was a wrong and illegal act in this context.
Those were the case of Cooper v. Millea, in Ireland, in 1938, where this specific point was decided, and the case of Riordan v. Butler in Ireland in 1940. While it is true that those are both Irish cases, they are not very old, and the same law applies in Ireland as here—and the 1906 Act was the Act being interpreted.
§ Mr. J. T. Price
Will the hon. Member tell the House how far these cases were taken in order to be quoted as case law? Did they go to the Court of Appeal, or House of Lords, or were they judgments of the lower courts? If they were not decisions of the higher judiciary, they should not be quoted in the House as case law.
§ Mr. Bell
The hon. Member may leave these matters to you, Mr. Speaker, but I give him the information that they were both decisions in the High Court of Ireland and that they are reported cases in the Official Law Reports.
Not only are they reported in the Official Law Reports, but that admirable textbook on trade union law, which I assume that every trade union official has in his office, Citrine on "Trade Union Law"—not Walter but Norman, but none the worse for that—quotes Riordan v. Butler as authority for just this proposition. I cannot understand why any trade union official in the head office of his union could not put out his hand, pick out the standard work on the subject and read this in it. These are decided cases for the proposition that this was the law.
§ Mr. Bell
Two—now three. These are the only decisions on the subject, and they were all one way.
I therefore suggest that the hon. Member for Oldbury and Halesowen used an incautious phrase when he spoke of putting the trade unions back in the position that everyone thought they were in before. I hope that he realises that he went a pod deal too far in thus describing the nature of the operation which the Bill is undertaking.
What is the degree of danger to trade unions which the decision, which the Bill is reversing, can cause? The 1906 Act, which the Bill proposes to amend, has 1078 been in force for about 60 years, and in all that time I know of no case in which this head of liability has been used except in aid of an individual—that is to say, it has never been used by employers against trade unions. In those three cases the two Irish cases and Rookes v. Barnard—it has been used in aid of the individual who was endangered by the coercive action of a large organisation. I will suggest in a moment that there are good reasons why that should be so.
But I suggest now that in view of the history which I have given, it is not at all surprising that the Trades Union Congress in that note of September, 1964, which other hon. Members have referred to, expressed the opinion thatit still remains unlikely that unions will find in practice that there has been any change of any consequence".It said that in the light of the long experience which it has.
As has been pointed out, there is really no trade dispute brought about in breach of contract which does not expose somebody to legal action because a strike which is in breach of contract exposes trade union members who are in breach of contract to actions for damages. It will be within the recollection of many hon. Members that after the nationalisation of the coal industry the Coal Board started to issue summonses in the county courts for damages against mineworkers who had gone on strike in breach of contract. The Board took the view, I suppose, that, once the State was the owner, that kind of conduct was immoral. The House will remember that that process soon faded out because, in practice, it is extremely difficult indeed for either trade unions or employers to proceed against each other by way of legal proceedings.
It does not do, in the long run, to follow that sort of procedure, because of the damage that is done to industrial relations by the issue of writs. As the T.U.C. note of September, 1964, stated, and from the practical point of view this is the crux of the matter:Industrial relations and collective bargaining have always been to a very large extent conducted on a voluntary basis and even in so far as the law can be applied in this field it has not been usual for any of the parties concerned to have recourse to the courts.That was based not only on the long experience of the T.U.C. in these matters, 1079 but also on the opinion of counsel which the T.U.C. obtained and published to the advantage of everyone. It was printed in extenso in the document of September last.
It offers, perhaps, the quickest way of finding out what the Bill before us is about, because on pages 13 and 14 of the document there appears the opinion of leading counsel, obtained and published by the T.U.C. Counsel points out that there are four sets of facts in which the recent decision might have importance. The first is:A strike is threatened unless the employer discharges a non-unionist man.That is Rookes v. Barnard. In that case, under the present law, there could be an action at the suit of the man for the damages he has suffered. The second is:A strike is threatened unless the employer ceases supplying X, with whom the threatener's union has a dispute".There, again, there could be an action. In both cases an individual and a union are mentioned.
In the first case, it is a non-unionist in employment and the union wants to winkle him out. In the second, it is an employer with whom the union has a dispute and it brings pressure on another employer to damage the man with whom it has a dispute. In those two cases the T.U.C. has been advised that the principle in Rookes v. Barnard applies. The third case is:A strike is threatened unless the employer takes certain work away from the members of union A and gives it to members of the threatener's union …In that case, also, there could be an action under the Rookes v. Barnard rule.
The fourth case is:A strike is threatened unless the employer pays higher wages.Here counsel advises that it is doubtful whether any action for intimidation will lie. One sees that, in those four categories, the one where it is a dispute between the employer and a union falls outside what we are considering today. The other three fall inside it, but the third is not affected by the Bill. The third will remain, if the Bill is passed, as it is now and, therefore, the Bill is concerned with the first and second; and that brings us straight to the heart of the matter.
1080 The Bill will alter the position in respect of the case of the non-unionist man whom the union is trying to expel from his employment and the case of the employer who has pressure brought upon him in an indirect operation against another employer. In each case, the House will observe, it is the individual X whom the union, the organisation, is trying to damage by intimidation. If that is correct—and it must be correct because I have taken it from the advice obtained by the T.U.C.—then the principle at stake here is the protection of the individual, and that is clear and specific.
§ Mr. Stanley Orme (Salford, West)
Since the hon. Member is making such a great point about the protection of the individual, would he care to comment on the question of protecting the trade union involved?
§ Mr. Bell
I intend to look at the other side of it, but I was, by a process of perfectly fair eliminations, pointing out what the scope and purpose of the Bill is, because there has been a certain amount of wide talk about its impact on industrial negotiations. I have related what the impact will be, according to the advice obtained by the T.U.C. I am saying that the point with which we are concerned mainly is the protection of the individual.
Lord Radcliffe, in a speech which has been quoted several times today—and it was, indeed, an outstanding speech—referred to… the consideration that is due from society to individuals who may be caught up in its giant processes.That is the point when we consider the vast employers' confederations and the powerfully established trade unions and when it is remembered that they can and do grind against each other, either employers against unions or one union against another, and somewhere in that giant process there is an individual who suffers most grievous injury in his personal life. It is he who will be—for whatever period of time I do not know—deprived of such remedy as the law gives him at present and as he has had since 1906 when this otherwise wide immunity for trade unions was introduced.
To summarise my objections—because it is time that we reached some short speeches on the subject and other hon. 1081 Members wish to make contributions; and I ask the House to forgive me if anything is lost in style in this process—I ask the House to reject the Bill because it will, first, make strikes in breach of contract respectable and because, secondly, it will facilitate the enforcement of a closed shop or any other restrictive practice by making available a summary and arrogant means of pressure.
I recognise the points which some hon. Members have put; that this kind of enforcement can take place by a legal strike. In the Rookes v. Barnard case the union could have put the pressure on without exposing itself to this kind of action by giving notice in accordance with the contract. In a moment I will say that it would be quite a good thing for that to happen, but, on the narrow point, it would encourage restrictive practices and the closed shop. There I make the point that while those practices can be enforced by lawful strikes, in practice that does not often happen, because if due notice under the contract is given to terminate contracts of employment, much thought is given first in the union head offices. There is that vital time for deliberation, for second thoughts and for compromise. If it can be done by a lightning strike called in 24 hours or 48 hours, decided upon on the shop floor, this kind of thing happens, not only sometimes but often, and happens oppressively to employer, employee and public.
Would it not be a very good thing in itself if we were to get used to the idea of giving lawful notice before strikes? I thought that we were moving in that direction in industrial relations. I realise that the notice might sometimes have to be a week, a fortnight or a month, and sometimes different periods of notice might have to be given. That difficulty could be overcome by giving notice corresponding to the longest period required which, I imagine, would never be longer than a month.
I realise that there are difficulties with pension funds. I would be much happier to see us trying to do something about that difficulty rather than casting this cloak of respectability over the strike called, and unnecessarily called, in breach of contract—
§ Mr. Hooson
On that point, would not the hon. Member contemplate the situation in which men are asked there and then to do something dangerous, and a shop steward calls a lightning strike in order to prevent it? How is notice given in that case?
§ Mr. Bell
I do not want to lose time dealing with rather fanciful cases—[HON. MEMBERS: "It is all right."] One does not get strikes because men are asked to do something dangerous. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about ships?"] The person who was asked to do something dangerous, the person who received an improper request to do something dangerous, would not be in breach of his contract of employment if he refused to do it. That is the easy answer, but I honestly think that the practical importance of that point is not sufficient to interrupt the advance of my telescoped summary.
The Bill is a movement in the wrong direction for another reason. Strike action as a normal negotiating technique is anachronistic, wasteful, and oppressive to the public. I once heard a rather astonishing debate in this House on labour relations in which the then Sir David Maxwell Fyfe almost asserted on behalf of my party that we would go to the stake for the right to strike—that it was a principle that we had stood for during the ages while the late Aneurin Bevan, on behalf of the Labour Party, said that strikes were an anachronism in the middle of the twentieth century. Such strange postures do we get into when we try to take a middle position in such matters.
I am rather more in agreement with the late Aneurin Bevan than with my noble Friend in this respect. If we are to have a successful and efficient economy, we should not take it for granted that strike action should continue on the scale on which it has continued in this country since the war. For that reason, also, I regret the Bill because—let us recognise it—it not only facilitates the strike, but casts a cloak of respectability over strikes called in breach of contract.
And in our close debate let it not be overlooked that the Bill goes so far as to strike, also, at the agreement in Rookes v. Barnard—the no-strike agreement. I know that Rookes v. Barnard 1083 did not turn on the no-strike agreement, but the Bill will divest any such agreement of its cogency because, in its present form, it will mean that if a union freely and voluntarily enters into a no-strike agreement with employers, for whatever period it may be, and then flagrantly breaks it and calls a lightning strike, it can do so with complete impunity. I cannot believe that this is a necessary change in the law, or one that in any sense is an advance towards better industrial relations.
I further suggest that reversal of the decision in Rookes v. Barnard is not justified as an isolated operation, even if it could be justified as a general recasting of labour relations. The Bill is not urgent. It is one-sided. We have had a great many gestures, bribes and the like in the past, and the time has now come for some tangible reaction from the unions themselves. If this is to be done now "pending" and "without prejudice" to the Royal Commission, I would point out that the Royal Commission is most unlikely to report before 1966—it will have worked very quickly as a Royal Commission if it reports by then—and there is no possibility of action on that report until 1967 or later.
I must suggest that the real motives in introducing the Bill are, first, to pay off a party political debt for trade union support—
§ Mr. Bell
It was not in the programme.
Secondly, and I want to be fair to the Minister—and I put this rather high in his case—it is cozening the unions to make them more receptive of some of his ideas for the improvement of labour relations. The Minister said this afternoon that he brought forward the Bill because it was necessary to create the right atmosphere, and I notice that in August last he saids:We will restore the legal position the unions thought they had before …on the very clear understanding that they will co-operate to the full in a broad inquiry into the position of the unions and their relationship to society.The Bill is a political gesture to the trade unions, made in what the Minister thinks is a good cause. Let us be frank about it on both sides. There is no need 1084 for the Bill. There is no urgency, no field of damage in which action has to be taken. It is done to sweeten the trade unions, first, as the price for agreeing to a Royal Commission, and, secondly, to encourage them, perhaps, to agree to other desirable changes.
The Bill represents a love dance performed by the Minister in front of the trade unions. This is the placatory worm offered to them. The right hon. Gentleman is rather more unfortunate than either of his right hon. Friends the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the First Secretary of State—and the Prime Minister—because they have managed to make these gestures to the unions by promises for the future, like the corporation tax in 1966, the capital gains tax in 1966, and so on. The right hon. Gentleman is the unfortunate Minister who has been chosen to contribute the current worm in order to give credibility to the amorous antics of his two colleagues.
That is not an operation about which I would have been worried in itself, but I am worried about it on another ground, on which I ask the House to reject the Bill. An operation of that character is all right if it is conducted in the abstract, or upon a broad field, but where, as here, it is conducted at the expense of wronged individuals who may suffer, in the intervening period, some grave personal disadvantage or loss, for which their sole remedy will have been removed, I cannot think that it is any longer a legitimate exercise in political snare laying.
Because there is this element of grievous damage to defenceless individuals, I ask the House to say that the Bill is a bad political operation and should be rejected in the Lobby tonight.
§ 7.21 p.m.
§ Mr. J. J. Mendelson (Penistone)
I want to say a good deal about the conduct in this matter of the right hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Godber). I have given him notice. I hope that he will return to the Chamber so that I can deal with it in his presence.
One of the amusing aspects of this debate, illustrated again by the speech of the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, South (Mr. Ronald Bell), is that it is a rehearsal and rehash of arguments which seem already to have been exchanged between the right hon. Member for 1085 Grantham and Mr. George Woodcock a long time ago. Most of these arguments are adduced this afternoon for the inspection of the House as if they were brand new. Authorship should be acknowledged.
The hon. Member for Buckingham. shire, South made great play with the point that in his view Rookes v. Barnard was nothing new. In his speech to the Trades Union Congress, the General Secretary, Mr. George Woodcock, said this on the same point, referring to the then Minister of Labour, the right hon. Member for Grantham:Then the Minister of Labour said there was nothing new in it.This is Mr. Woodcock reporting what the right hon. Member for Grantham had said:I have dealt with that point. When he said there was nothing new in it, I think that shows the difficulty we have had. There was a case, it is true, which crept in into the law books, the case I have already mentioned of Riordan v. Butler—and I believe there was one before that—which the legal experts will tell you went a long way, if not the whole way, towards laying down as law what was subsequently agreed to be law in Rookes v. Barnard.So it may be true, in a technical sense, that Rookes v. Barnard decided nothing new in the sense of legal history but a man who makes that point does not know the world he is living in. If you go into the street and tap anybody on the shoulder and say 'What do you think about Riordan v. Butler?', he would think you were asking about a wrestling match. Ask him what he thinks about Rookes v. Barnard and he knows Rookes v. Barnard. What is important is not a technical change in the law but the impact that a case has upon the public. Rookes v. Barnard had a tremendous impact.Therefore, it is no use the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, South, with his usual ability, trying to pretend that he is producing a brand new point which is of great importance on the Bill. This was one of the many points which the right hon. Member for Grantham had rehearsed to the General Secretary of the T.U.C. and which was answered very effectively in September of last year.
§ Mr. Ronald Bell
I cannot see how the hon. Gentleman has destroyed my point. Every union office, from which legal advice to union officials presumably goes, knew the state of the law, as it was set out in the textbooks, including Citrine, and as it has been decided in those two cases. Does the hon. Gentleman really suggest that trade 1086 union officials rely upon their memories of what the state of the law is and so do not get expert advice from their union? Incidentally, does he really believe that the ordinary man in the street knows anything about Rookes v. Barnard?
§ Mr. Mendelson
What I am suggesting and what the General Secretary of the T.U.C. suggested here in reference to the right hon. Member for Grantham, the then Minister of Labour, is that it is pure legalistic nonsense to argue that the tremendous potential impact of the Rookes v. Barnard decision can be explained away by rediscovering two cases which might have occurred in a period of 55 years. This is the point to which the House must address itself.
Today we have heard many opinions from people who have no very close links with the trade union movement. I represent a constituency in which 75 per cent. of the adult population are trade unionists. They have had many discussions in their trade councils and in their various union organisations about this case and the pending legislation.
There is a marked contrast between the conduct of the present Government and the conduct we experienced up to the General Election on the part of the right hon. Member for Grantham, who was then Minister of Labour. This point has been carefully noted in trade union circles. I do not normally take unkindly to the right hon. Member for Grantham. He normally makes a reasoned case. Only twice in six years have I become angry with him. I hope that that will not be necessary on too many future occasions. But I became angry with him this afternoon, and I hope that he will bear with me if I tell him why.
I was convinced that, unintentionally or not, on two important occasions in the course of his speech he was misleading the House. The right hon. Gentleman said that he felt that there had been some differences of opinion between trade union leaders over a period of time and that this, obviously by implication, was one factor which had weighed with him when he was making up his mind during that period. It was not the only factor. He mentioned other factors. When I asked the right hon. Gentleman why, when the trade union 1087 movement was unanimous in demanding what Mr. Woodcock called "this simple act of justice", he did not then give an indication of a change of mind, he tried to hide from the argument by telling me, "Do not be so foolish as to expect me to call a special Session of Parliament to do something about it".
That is not the point. It had become increasingly clear that there was unanimity in the trade union movement even whilst Parliament was still in session. Even when the T.U.C. met there was still time for the right hon. Gentleman to have made some declaration showing that he had changed his mind in face of the unanimous view of the T.U.C. He could not recall Parliament for a special Session, but he could have said on behalf of his party, as the Minister of Labour still in office, "I am prepared to accept this order of events. I am now convinced that the entire trade union movement is unanimous in demanding this. I am prepared to accept it. I am prepared to introduce a simple short Bill whilst continuing with my plans for a Royal Commission and for an inquiry".
This was one of the points which had been discussed in great detail between the right hon. Gentleman and Mr. Woodcock. We are in the fortunate position of having excellent documentation on this matter, because Mr. Woodcock, in a remarkable speech, reported to the T.U.C. a great deal about the discussions which had been going on between him and the right hon. Gentleman. All these points about an inquiry and the need for legislation had been discussed. It became quite clear that the right hon. Gentleman, who was then Minister of Labour, in insisting on an inquiry first was acting politically as well as in what he thought would be the best interests of good industrial relations.
I quote again from Mr. Woodcock's speech to the T.U.C. in December last year:If the Minister of Labour had as much concern for and as much faith in our collective bargaining system as we have, he would have done this simple act of justice. It is not an answer to say: 'You will have an inquiry and Rookes v. Barnard will be brought forward. Why should we suffer the dangers of Rookes v. Barnard while the inquiry goes on? It is the wrong way. Why should they bring Rookes v. Barnard forward? This is 1088 not the way to look at the problem, if they want to look at the problem of trade unionism. This is the difficulty of court action. They look at things in isolation. Nobody ought to look at Rookes v. Barnard by itself. If they want to look at it at all, they should take their time about it, they should do so as part of the general question of industrial relations and collective bargaining in this country not as another judicial act.So an inquiry is really not an answer to what we have been asking for. The General Council are not in general against an inquiry. We have made that clear. We are not demanding that Rookes v. Barnard should be wiped away and nothing else done. We agree that we want this simple amendment as a temporary measure. Then there may be cause for a general inquiry, not simply into Rookes v. Barnard, but into the whole question of trade unions, not only trade unions and the law but trade unions and society. The General Council would not be shocked or horrified at that inquiry if it were conducted in the right spirit and set up in the right way.That is the true spirit and I apologise for the inordinate length of the quoting, which I have never done before and I hope will not do very often in future, but it is important. It is important precisely because I assume that we are all concerned with the future of industrial relations and the important part which they play in all our economic plans for the future prosperity of the country. It is important for these reasons that the record should be put straight at the earliest moment.
The right hon. Member for Grantham is gravely at fault in not having accepted this view of the Trades Union Congress and not having fought for this view with his colleagues in the Cabinet if some of them took another view, as conceivably they might have done. The right hon. Gentleman had nothing at all to lose, because if he had accepted the necessity for puttting the minds of trade unionists at rest by introducing what they called a simple act of justice he would have had had an atmosphere of good will to proceed with an all-in inquiry by agreement with the employers' organisations and the T.U.C.
I am surprised at the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, South, who is normally very logical and was in stretches of his speech very logical today. I am surprised at his saying towards the end of his speech that he found some fault in my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour having done this for two reasons, one of which was to create a better atmosphere for this inquiry. My 1089 right hon. Friend who is now present missed this particular intermezzo. The hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, South then went on to describe the love dance which he thought my right hon. Friend was performing in front of the Trades Union Congress, and he made great play with the implied wrongness of introducing a measure of this kind, in which the trade union movement is deeply interested, and thereby profiting by having a better atmosphere for the Royal Commission and, as the hon. Member said, for future plans as well.
I do not know the mind of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour. He speaks for himself. I would not presume even to allege that I knew what moved him in detail when he came to make his decision, but if that was one of the considerations—to create an atmosphere of co-operation with the T.U.C. and the trade union movement—I say, "Well played. We want more of that". I say it because one of the real difficulties that has bedevilled in recent years and indeed for many years in the past some of the attempts by enlightened people on both sides of industry to bring about more sensible co-operation and to deal with some of the unnecessary obstacles that make industrial relationships more difficult, has always been the bad atmosphere created sometimes by economic events, sometimes by international economic crises beyond our control, and sometimes by political attitudes adopted by Governments in office. Anything that can be done to move to a better atmosphere is good work and cannot be the basis of criticism.
Another point that I should like to put on record concerns the argument about urgency. I am not picking on the right hon. Member for Grantham, but after all he is one of the most prominent speakers opposite on this subject, and the right hon. Gentleman made the point that he and his hon. Friends cannot see why there should be this urgency. They ask why we should not wait until the Royal Commission has reported and they say we are thinking in terms of pledges and political alignments. It is no secret that if one is going into an important phase of industrial relationship it is desirable that any feeling among trade unionists that they are not safe and secure in doing their normal trade union work 1090 should be removed at once. It is precisely the more responsible trade union officers who have been to the fore in asking for this Measure to put the position right.
I attended the T.U.C. in Blackpool as an observer, as I had attended 21 congresses before. I talked this matter over with hundreds of delegates, including responsible officers, general secretaries, national officers in various trade unions, and rank and file members. The most responsible were the keenest on this legislation.
A further argument has been running through this debate. After the argument about urgency it has been said, "All right, you have this view which many hon. Members have expressed but how does this tally with the advice given in the pamphlet sent out by the General Council of the T.U.C., which has been quoted at length on many occasions?" This is quite easily explained. It has been explained by the General Secretary of the T.U.C. and other T.U.C. officers. It is not beyond the thoroughness of the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, South and the thoroughness of the right hon. Member for Grantham and those who assisted and advised him to have found these references and to have produced them before the House as well as the one-sided view which they chose to give.
The Council of the T.U.C. said simply, "It is our duty to advise Congress that there are the greatest possible dangers involved in the Rookes v. Barnard position but we do not want the trade union movement to come to a stop. We are not going to create alarm and despondency which would make every trade union secretary feel that he could not carry on his day-to-day duties." The T.U.C. leaders took the long-term empirical view. They would have been guilty if they had not taken that view. We should have had the right to criticise the T.U.C. if it had confined itself to giving legal warning. The T.U.C. advisers combined sensibly, as leaders of the movement responsible along with the employers for the industries of this country, to tell trade union officers at the same time as they gave legal advice, "Do not think that this is a position in which you cannot carry on normal relations with the employers." This is what 1091 they did. Therefore, it is most unfair to try and construct an argument which puts into contradiction the two statements sent out by trade union officers of the T.U.C.
Other points have been brought forward in the debate but I leave them to some of my colleagues who are waiting to speak. I conclude by saying this to my hon. Friend. A number of us on this side have brought out points which are most important Committee points. There is concern in trade union circles, as he knows, that some of the implications and details of the Bill should be most carefully examined so that we may see how they apply not only to the consequences of the Rookes v. Barnard case but to other cases dealt with at about the same time. But these are Committee points. In all the experience and contacts which I have had recently with the trade unions in South Yorkshire and other parts of the country, I have found great support and approval for my right hon. Friend's decision and the Cabinet's decision to bring in the Bill forthwith, to live up to the agreement entered into and the pledge given. My right hon. Friend can be assured that trade unionists feel that he has made a good start by introducing the Bill at this early stage.
§ 7.41 p.m.
§ Mr. Aidan Crawley (Derbyshire, West)
In his fluent speech, the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) criticised my right hon. Friend the Member for Grantham (Mr. Godber) for not agreeing to the unanimous demand of the Trades Union Congress and introducing a Measure similar to this in the last Parliament. The hon. Gentleman said that the real reason for the demand was that the trade union movement felt itself endangered as a whole by the Rookes v. Barnard decision. I can only say that there is not much evidence that the trade union movement really felt itself so endangered.
There have been a great many strikes, a great many unofficial strikes, since Rookes v. Barnard. No surprising action has been taken about them. There have not been any surprising actions in the courts, and no one really imagines that, unless there were some quite exceptional case such as the Rookes case, there would be. In other words, the hon. Gentleman's argument does not stand up.
1092 My right hon. Friend was quite right not to bring in a Measure like this, even had he had the time, for the reason which he himself gave. He did not want to prejudice the inquiry into the whole question which he intended should be held. Indeed, I think that the Minister of Labour, in buying the good will which he speaks of and hopes to buy, may find that he has bought it at too high a price, the price of tying his hands and not being able to do some of the things he may want to do after the Royal Commission has reported.
The hon. Member for Newark (Mr. Bishop)—I am sorry that he is not here now—said that, although the Bill is about trade unions, in many matters where the unions are concerned the employers are concerned, also. This is perfectly true, but in a debate of this kind one cannot, each time one is talking about the trade unions, say that, of course, the employers are involved, too, and share responsibility. I hope that nobody will imagine, as one is talking only about trade unions, that one is not always conscious of the interdependence of the two sides. The whole House is.
Technically, I suppose, the Bill could be said simply to deal with the threat of a strike in breach of contract, but, like one hon. Member opposite, I confess that, when the law begins to make fine distinctions between a strike and a threat of strike, I feel that the law is an ass. Two Lords Justices have recently said in the Court of Appeal that, if a man is not actionable for calling a strike, it is absurd that he should be for threatening a strike. That seems common sense to me. The strike is a method of intimidation. Within certain limits, it is a legal method of intimidation. If a strike is a legal method of intimidation, then, surely, the threat to strike should be a legal method of intimidation.
If that were all that the Bill provided, I think that I should go along with it, but, of course, it is not. The right hon. Gentleman himself said in introducing the Bill, as the Prime Minister has said, that it is designed to restore the law concerning trade unions, the whole law, to what people generally, and trade unionists in particular, thought it was. What we are really discussing today is whether the limits within which the intimidation of a strike or threat to strike is legal are 1093 the right limits, whether the immunities from the consequences of a strike or a threat to strike which trade unions had in 1870, which they thought they had confirmed in 1906 and on subsequent occasions, are the immunities which they should have today.
The Government say that they are. In spite of the profound changes, to which the Minister referred, which have occurred in this country over almost the past century, in spite of the fact that all our institutions—Parliament, the Church, the courts of law, the rules governing industry—have been profoundly modified, the Government say that the one thing which should not be changed is the law relating to trade unions. What was right in 1870 is right today.
There are overwhelming arguments for saying that, in certain respects, the law should be changed. Relations between employers and employed have been revolutionised in the past 100 years. Many of our industries are now nationalised, and I do not suppose that anyone in the House, least of all hon. Members opposite, will say that the State deliberately exploits its workers. In private industry, the enormous spread of ownership has produced a situation today in which practically none of those who run our big industries are proprietors. They are trustees. They are all employees of the company, and their attitude towards their employees, the other employees of the company, is totally different from the attitude of employers in 1870 or even in 1906.
Even in companies where the employers are proprietors, the situation is utterly different. They are obliged to pay large contributions to national and industrial insurance of all kinds. They are limited by the Factories Acts, by the Restrictive Trade Practices Act and by other recent Acts, such as the Contracts of Employment Act and the Industrial Training Act. They have a great number of statutory obligations towards their employees. If one considers also what the State does for all of us who are employed, it is not possible today, as it was years ago, to say that employees are at the mercy of their employers, They are not.
The trade union movement has changed almost out of recognition. In 1870, or even in 1906, they were small 1094 trade unions struggling for recognition. Today, they embrace millions of people, although the trade union movement is not yet universal. It is still true that nearly two-thirds of the wage and salary earners of this country do not want to join trade unions. I understood the Minister to imply that all those two-thirds of workpeople are riding on the back of the trade unions, but he cannot sustain that argument. The rise in our standard of living is not due solely to the trade unions.
§ Mr. Gunter
I suggested nothing of the sort. I was speaking of non-unionists in a workshop or factory where the majority are unionists. The hon. Gentleman must not distort my words in that way.
§ Mr. Crawley
With respect, I do not think that there is any great difference. An enormous number of the great proportion who are not trade unionists work in factories where there are trade unions. I believe it to be true in the engineering industry, for instance, that there are still about 150 factories where there is still a majority of non-unionists. Even there, the right hon. Gentleman cannot maintain the argument that all the rise in the standard of living is due to the trade unions. Some of it is, of course, but some of it is due to quite other things, technical improvements, full employment and all manner of factors which are not directly the concern of the trade unions at all.
In some industries and trades where there are very few trade unionists, I understand that wages have actually risen higher than they have in industries where there are trade unionists. The right hon. Gentleman's argument does not stand up. I am not saying that trade unions have not played a great part, but the truth is—this is where the great change has come—that, from being small struggling institutions in years gone by, today, because they are organised, because they are strong in our key and basic industries, the trade unions are a formidable, economic and political force.
The whole state of the nation has changed. Sixty or 70 years ago, we were he leading industrial country—indeed, almost the only major industrial nation —and had a great empire.
§ Mr. Crawley
Not over the last 15 years. I have no regrets either of having belonged to the party opposite or having left it.
We lost our empire and today we are struggling to maintain ourselves as an industrial and trading nation. Of course, the power that any association, whether industrial or political, has to do damage to the community is far greater than it was in the days of our supremacy. The Government know and recognise all this. They have appointed a Royal Commission to look into these things—to look, with allied subjects, into the position of trade unions in a modern society. Yet, in the same breath, they come to this House and tell the country and the Royal Commission through this Bill that, on the key question of trade union law, they do not believe that there should be any change.
It is no good the Minister saying that the Bill does not prejudice the Royal Commission's considerations. It is no good his saying that he is only bringing in the Bill in order to get the right atmosphere among the trade unions. How is he getting the right atmosphere? Why will the Bill convince the unions that they should take part in the Royal Commission? It is for one reason only—the Bill tells the unions that the Government do not want a change in trade union law, and I bet that 90 per cent. of the trade unions believe that, if the Bill becomes law, then, whatever the recommendations of the Royal Commission, there will be no change in trade union law. That is the real evil of the Bill and the main reason for opposing it.
I believe that there are at least three ways in which trade union law should be changed, or at least where there is a very strong case for considering serious changes. First—and this may seem surprising—is in the case of official strikes which endanger the economy. Of course, I am not suggesting for one moment that official strikes are irresponsibly called. On the contrary, they are very rare; they are called with great reluctance and involve much sacrifice. We all know this. But I doubt whether, in the state of the economy today, interdependent as we all are, it is possible to call any official strike without risking our balance of payments and the economy.
1096 I think that there is a case for some further restraint. The right hon. Gentleman was right in saying that it is possible that action might lie, as the law stands, against instigators of official strikes, but I do not think that that would be the right action nor that the Bill is the right answer. But other countries have found means of interposing a statutory delay after the intention to call an official strike has been made.
The United States, Sweden and Holland all have means of holding up a strike, if the Government consider that it is against the national interest by referring it to a board of mediators or conciliators, as they are sometimes called. I am not suggesting that we should necessarily copy these countries.
§ Mr. Crawley
That may be so, but the American economy is not in such a delicate balance and I do not think that the other examples I have given—Holland and Sweden—are bad examples. I know that the right hon. Gentleman agrees that any official strike—any strike that endangers the economy—should be avoided if possible and I should be surprised if he did not welcome some statutory means of causing a pause during which people could reconsider.
§ Mr. Arthur Palmer (Bristol, Central)
What corresponding sanction would the hon. Gentleman suggest against employers in these circumstances?
§ Mr. Crawley
If employers were threatening a lock-out, which would also endanger the community—[Interruption.] I do not think that there is any other way in which they can endanger the economy to the same extent as a strike. I am not seeking to qualify this in any way. I think that, if employers did endanger the economy in such a way, some action of the same sort could apply.
There are other ways of changing the law. We could strengthen the system of arbitration by having mutually agreed arbitrators. [Laughter.] Hon. Members opposite laugh, but arbitration is breaking down whereas in many other countries it has high standing. Or, as the Minister 1097 suggests, the powers of the T.U.C. could be strengthened. I must admit that the T.U.C.'s failure to order an inquiry into the affairs of the E.T.U. and to get reforms in the movement has been rather discouraging, but there is a very strong case for strengthening the powers of the T.U.C. to try to ensure that no threat of a major strike which could endanger the economy could come about without a greater period of pause and thought than is possible at the moment.
The second way in which the law could be and should be altered is in relation to disputes between, as the 1906 Act put it, "workman and workman". Of course, at once one runs up against the difficulty of defining such a dispute and in the recent case of Stratford v. Lindley some of these difficulties emerged. But I do not believe that it would be impossible to have an impartial body which could define what a dispute between workman and workman is.
I am sure that, in the country as a whole, it is felt that an inter-union dispute which is really about a thing like boring holes in cement, or over who should put an electric wire through a pipe, or who should press an electric starter button on a motor, or about accusations that one union is poaching members from another, should not in these days be the cause of a strike or of the threat of a strike which brings disruption and may cause great loss of earnings to thousands of other workers not directly concerned and which, again, may endanger the economy.
I believe that there is overwhelming feeling in the country that this sort of thing should no longer be so. As the law stands, I think that there can be circumstances in which such a strike would be actionable. If that is so, it should remain so. I suggest that, provided one can define—and I am sure that one can do so—a dispute between workman and workman, that sort of dispute should no longer be considered a trade dispute. I believe that in the country there would be overwhelming support for a change of the law in that respect.
The third way in which I believe there should be some change in the law is in the case of unofficial strikes. Of course, one is aware that the number of unofficial 1098 strikes is comparatively small but for every unofficial strike that takes place many have been threatened. If anyone doubts that, let him study the newspaper industry and talk to the union leaders engaged in it. One of their chief complaints is that the employers are always so weak in giving way to threats of unofficial strikes, thereby undermining official agreements between the N.P.A. and the unions.
Many threats of unofficial strikes never become known and, of course, unofficial strikes damage not only the economy. The strike of 20 key men in a motor car factory, or an engineering works, can cause the loss of millions of pounds and the loss of earnings to thousands of other workers. It is also true that unofficial strikes are particularly apt to be those which affect the freedom of the individual. I do not think that any responsible union leader—certainly none among the many to whom I have talked—who would not like to see, as the right hon. Gentleman would, some means of checking unofficial strikes if it could be found.
I am not saying that unofficial strikes do not have many causes, some of them perfectly legitimate, but the chief cause is the endless time taken in wage negotiations. Over and over again one hears of negotiations lasting for a year, 18 months, or two years. People become "fed up" and impatient, and, although the suggestion is not new, I am sure that there should be some scheme of statutory timetables for negotiations. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman has ever thought that, as in certain contracts, if negotiations are prolonged in their various stages beyond a timetable, both sides should suffer penalties. This would be a way of hastening negotiations and would mean that both employers and trade unions which have funds attached to such penalties. That may be a way of getting rid of one of the chief causes of unofficial strikes, and it would also get rid of one of the most common forms of intimidation.
I suppose that unofficial strikes are most obnoxious when they are used to intimidate the individual, as they were in the case of Rookes. Of course, intimidation can take many forms and I am not suggesting that trade unions are 1099 the only people who engage in it. Employers often engage in it and even party Whips do, but today we are discussing the unions. One of the most flagrant forms of intimidation is in connection with the collection of funds on shop floors to support unofficial strikes. I am sure that hon. Members are familiar with many examples. It can be made very difficult for trade unionists or non-trade unionists to refuse to subscribe to the support of unofficial strikes, even though union rules forbid such subscriptions. There are cases when the unions have not even upheld their own rules. The forms of intimidation coming within the ambit of the legislation are strikes in breach of a contract mainly connected with the sacking of a man, or the employment of non-union labour, and I do not believe that it is true that nothing can be done.
For years I have advocated a system which is common on the Continent and by which no man can be sacked without having the right of appeal to an impartial body. There are now schemes of this kind in almost every major Continental country. I urged this idea on the previous Government and I urge it on this. If that action were removed, one of the chief causes of unofficial strikes would be removed and such a provision would take away the means of this form of intimidation.
Other hon. Members have spoken about the employment of non-union labour. So long as trade unionism is voluntary, and I cannot conceive of the time when it would cease to be, the rights of non-trade unionists must be equally protected as the rights of trade unionists. One of the unsatisfactory features of this controversy so far has been the equivocal attitude, not of the right hon. Gentleman, but of some other members of the Government, on this subject. During the election, in one of the electoral forums on television, the Prime Minister was asked whether he would support the right of a man not to join a trade union. He did not give a direct answer. He later said that this was something to be discussed with members of the T.U.C. and others.
In a speech at Bristol, the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Technology, referring to the tribunal the right hon. Gentleman has set up, said that in his 1100 view the most important thing was that no man should be sacked for belonging to a trade union. Of course I agree, but I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman would be as categorical in saying that it was equally important that no man should be sacked for resigning from a trade union.
Whether a man joins a union or resigns from a union ought not to be a cause of a trade dispute. It is not a trade dispute in any sense which most of us understand today. It ought not to be possible for intimidation to force men to join a union if they do not want to do so, or to force them out of their jobs if they resign from a union.
Unofficial strikes are one of the chief means by which members of the Communist Party exercise influence within the trade union movement. The evidence for this is, of course, overwhelming. London Airport, where the Rookes case itself arose, and at which it was not an isolated incident, is one example. In the five years before the Rookes case, there had been 72 examples of unofficial action, and in the court of inquiry held afterwards it was said that the chief cause of these incidents and unofficial strikes following was a cell of Communist shop stewards. Communists were involved in the Rookes case itself, of course. It was a Communist trade union official who said to Rookes, and who put it on paper, that in his opinion no man had the right at any time, or for any reason, to resign from a trade union.
In a sense, the Bill confirms that point of view. I do not want to exaggerate the danger of Communism in the trade union movement. There is a wide area in which it is not a danger at all, but, as several hon. Members opposite know, it is a serious threat in certain unions. A great struggle for control is going on in the National Union of Mineworkers and in the Amalgamated Engineering Union. We all know that the objects of the Communist Party within the trade union movement are political objects. It misuses the trade union movement for political ends, and the evidence for that, too, is overwhelming.
It is not only the famous E.T.U. case, but, as many hon. Members opposite will know, the inquiry into the London District of the Painters' Union, held by the union recently, and the inquiry into 1101 the National Union of Bank Employees have shown other examples. Many of our most distinguished trade unionists are fighting this battle day in, day out. The Government are not helping them by the Bill.
By telling the world and by telling the Royal Commission that they see no reason for a change in trade union law, the Government are making it easier for people who wish to misuse the trade union movement to do so. That is one reason, with all the others, why I shall oppose the Second Reading of the Bill.
§ 8.7 p.m.
§ Mr. Hugh Jenkins (Putney)
At some other time it may be appropriate to examine the rôle of the Communist Party within the trade union movement. I conceive it to be possible that the Royal Commission itself might wish to take evidence on this subject, but I do not think that this is the best occasion on which to pursue it. I suspect that by the passage of time, possibly by the nature of his present associations, the hon. Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Crawley) has forgotten one or two things which at one time might have been rather more evident to him. Perhaps he has overlooked the unique position which the trade union movement in this country occupies.
I am sorry that the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, South (Mr. Ronald Bell) has left us, for he touched on this subject. Like some other hon. Members, he failed to see the law for the legislation, and the same point escaped the hon. Member for Derbyshire, West. It is that in a sense the trade union movement in this country is outside the law. Trade union law prescribes and always has prescribed circumstances and conditions in which the movement can have a licence to do things not normally within the law. It is quite different from other countries in which the right to strike is conceded.
One thing which the Royal Commission may do is to ask the basic question whether the time has come to look at the whole concept of the position of the trade union movement again and to say whether this profound change of bringing the entire movement inside the community should be embarked upon, or whether, on balance, it is better to leave the situation as it is and to preserve the 1102 trade union movement as a sort of licensed outlaw. The Bill is of importance to the trade unions because, being in the situation, as I have described as the licensed outlaw, the moment we tinker with a singlepiece of the licence we affect the situation profoundly. This is why I said that the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, South looked at the legislation rather than at the law. The circumstances in which the trade union movement operates are such that every piece of case law which has been established is valuable and cannot be lost. This is why the Bill is urgent and is essential and vital.
Sometimes we are perhaps in danger of losing sight of the facts in dealing with nomenclature. The words "closed shop" have been mentioned. They have been used in several different connections. What is a closed shop? It has been suggested, particularly by some hon. Members opposite, that it is the same thing as 100 per cent. trade union membership. It is not. That is not necessarily a closed shop. It is a union shop, an open shop, and 100 per cent. trade union membership is an aim and ambition which is desirable and absolutely necessary sometimes in carrying out trade union agreements.
There are circumstances in which no trade union can enter into an agreement with an employer unless it is in a position to say to an employer, "We will ensure that this agreement is carried out by everyone on our side". It can say that only if it is in a position to speak for all the men and women concerned. The use of phrases like "closed shop" and "union shop", as though they were interchangeable and pejorative, is something which should be avoided.
Let me give an example of the desirability for the extreme point of trade unionism, the closed shop—stunt men in films. These men often risk their lives when they do their job. Is it seriously suggested by hon. Members opposite that the small group of people who carry out this work shall not have the right to protect their own safety by vetting and by ensuring that nobody does that work unless they are satisfied that their lives can be placed in his hands? This is a group of people who do not only insist on the operation of a union shop. Not only do they say that all who are in 1103 must belong, but they take the further step and say, "We must control who comes in".
I spend only a little time on this point, but I think that it would be a mistake if the debate were to close without the case being made that it is not right for us to use terms without understanding what they mean, or to use phrases which have been given a pejorative connotation in the popular Press as though they deserved it. Before he left the Chamber, the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, South, having made a very long speech, expressed the hope that the speeches of those who followed his would be short. He found himself unable to face even that and decided to leave. There is, however, one thing which I should like to say before I close what I hope and think will be a short speech.
The Bill restores the position of the trade union movement at a time and in circumstances which make it particularly necessary to do so, and I want to say why. As I have said, the trade union movement is virtually outside the law. This means that because there is no right to strike, every trade unionist, when he goes on strike, is in breach of contract unless he gives proper notice. In many cases proper notice cannot be given and therefore there is no doubt that a breach of contract occurs.
Why is it that throughout the years there have not been thousands of civil actions suing trade unionists—because it has been possible to sue them? The answer is—and it is a great commentary on the nature of the society in which we live—that they have not been worth suing; they have had no money. But we are moving into a position in which, we hope, trade unionists will not be entirely dependent on their weekly wages and will have accumulated a reserve for the future. Trade unionists are becoming more and more people whom it may be worth while employers suing. This is particularly true, because, as has been said by my hon. Friends, the trade union movement is no longer limited to the traditional horny-handed sons of toil. There are members of it who earn a good deal more money than Members of Parliament, even in our newly acquired affluence.
1104 In a recent dispute which I had something to do with, the Actors Equity Association was asked why, as distinct from industrial trade unions when they were involved in disputes, it did not call out all the members of the union who were employed and why it allowed some members to go on working. The answer was that those members were under longterm contracts and could have been sued for thousands of pounds because the nature of the contract was such that they were worth that. Therefore, in the legislation which we contemplate it is necessary to protect all sections of the community because, in my judgment, the trade union movement will gradually embrace all sections of the community and will be responsible for people whose income is very substantial.
For this reason, it would be wrong for us to do any tinkering. The Bill seeks to repair the damage done by a piece of judicial tinkering. If we are to make the sort of profound change which some hon. Members opposite have suggested this Bill does not go far enough; it should go a great deal further. The Bill rectifies the present position to give time for an examination of the general situation and then, when the Royal Commission makes its Report, to give us the opportunity to examine the trade union movement broadly and to come to a conclusion, on which I have a very open mind, as to whether it is better to preserve the existing position, which has many advantages, including, although one might not appreciate it from reading the Press and listening to hon. Members opposite, a very low strike rate for a large industrial country like ours; or whether we should consider the integration of the trade union movement into the body of society, into the economic framework, and concede to it the right to strike. That is something for the future. I think that now, without any doubt, the House should give the Bill a Second Reading.
§ 8.19 p.m.
§ Mr. Emlyn Hooson (Montgomery)
I agree with the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins) that surprisingly, after all the fuss which has been made about it, this is a mild Bill. The mountain has been shaken and what has emerged is a veritable but, no doubt to the trade unions, reassuring mouse.
A good deal of exaggeration has taken place on both sides, first, on the trade 1105 union side about the effects of Rookes v. Barnard. Many fears expressed were grossly exaggerated and were brought into proper perspective only upon the publication by the T.U.C. of the opinions of leading counsel. On the other hand, there has been considerable exaggeration from the Opposition side of the House about what might follow from the passage of the Bill. I suspect that we are largely engaged this evening in a public relations exercise in reassuring the trade unions. It may well be that the Minister considers it necessary to reassure them to obtain their full co-operation in the inquiries that will take place under the Royal Commission.
There have been Royal Commissions into the trade unions before, but I do not think that with any previous Royal Commission the trade unions have themselves co-operated in the inquiry. In view of the changed conditions in our country and modern requirements we have to consider, it would clearly be of enormous ad vantage if the trade union movement were to co-operate to the full in any inquiry that will be undertaken by the Royal Commission.
§ The Attorney-General (Sir Elwyn Jones)
If the hon. and learned Member were assured by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour that acceptance of the Bill would be a vital factor towards ensuring the enthusiastic support of the whole trade union movement for the work of the Royal Commission, does he not regard that as an important consideration?
§ Mr. Hooson
I do, otherwise I should not have mentioned it. I have not had that assurance, but I suspect that it applies.
Sir Winston Churchill once described the trade union movement as the fourth estate of the realm, and so it is. It is as complicated, as proud and as stubborn as the other estates of the realm. It cannot be reformed easily. I have not had the great experience that some hon. Members have had on the shop floor, on the union side or on the employers' side, but have come into contact with trade unions; very often appearing for or against them, and sometimes in the Industrial Court. I know, however, that one cannot reform the trade union movement or bring it up to date or modernise 1106 it in the way that is necessary merely by paper plans or through pious hopes. We have to get the full co-operation of the movement if we are really to achieve progress. The question that the Attorney-General has just addressed to me is, therefore, of great importance in considering our attitude towards the Bill.
The Trade Disputes Act, 1906, has been mentioned a great deal during the debate and it is clearly the charter of the trade union movement. It was the first great Act of a great Liberal Government. Nevertheless, despite its august parentage, I am glad that the Minister of Labour regards it merely as an Act of Parliament and not as an act of God. I mention this because there has been a tendency in trade union movements to regard the 1906 Act as sacrosanct and something which cannot be changed.
Clearly, the Minister, in what I considered to be a very enlightened speech, full of promise of an enlightened approach to our industrial problems, foresaw that it is necessary to reconsider the position of the trade unions in the light of modern conditions and he considers that the 1906 charter is not, therefore, to be regarded as sacrosanct. It is absolutely right that this vital review should be undertaken, and it can be undertaken only by a Royal Commission which has time to go into the matter in detail and which has the full co-operation of the trade union movement. Nevertheless, it is still incumbent upon the Government tonight to set at rest the legitimate fears of many people arising from this Bill.
When the 1906 Act was passed, the trade unions were clearly voluntary organisations. There undoubtedly has been pressure over the years to change them into compulsory organisations. This is not a universal pressure. There are many trade unionists who regret this very much, as the Minister of Labour himself said, having fought against this tendency throughout his union career. Nevertheless, the public are conscious that there is this tendency towards the transformation of the unions, who gained their rights as voluntary organisations, into compulsory organizations.
A man who has to join a union to get a job is under compulsion to join. He is denied one of the basic rights of man, the right to work. The Minister clearly 1107 had in mind that this situation is one of the difficulties which must be tackled by the Royal Commission.
The effect of the 1906 Act was to redress the balance in favour of the weaker side in negotiations. There is no doubt that in 1906 the unions needed support and needed to have certain legal protection, particularly the protection of their funds and protection from the law of conspiracy as it had previously developed. It was not enough to give protection to the unions themselves. Because of the development of the law of conspiracy, it was also necessary to give protection to those officials of the unions who had to conduct negotiations on their behalf.
Mr. Eric S. Heller (Liverpool, Walton)
Would not the hon. and learned Member agree that compulsory membership applies not only to certain trade unions, but also to his own and similar professions?
§ Mr. Hooson
I am prepared to agree with that. This whole matter has to be investigated. Certain professional qualifications are, however, necessary to practise at the Bar, just as qualifications are necessary in medicine. This is an important aspect and this is what accounts for the alleged closed shop in the profession.
§ Mr. Heffer
If I served an apprenticeship as a joiner, should I not expect other joiners also to have the same sort of apprenticeship and, therefore, would I not have a vested interest in protecting my rights?
§ Mr. Hooson
Certainly. I entirely agree that other joiners should have the same qualifications, but that is no reason why a qualified joiner should be refused a job, simply because he is not in the same union as the hon. Member.
Since 1906 there have been great changes. At that time, it was not contemplated that we should have constant demarcation disputes and that constant pressure would arise for the closed shop, Since 1906 there has been a great growth in the power of the unions, and it is sometimes doubted whether they need all the privileges which were granted to them then. I am mentioning these matters to show that whereas I think that the right way to deal with them is through a Royal 1108 Commission, and the co-operation of the trade unions is essential to this, nevetheless there are grounds for legitimate public fears that the Bill seeks to give unions a power which would add yet another privilege to those which they obtained in 1906.
There are certain fundamental principles which I should like to set out which I think are important in considering trade unions in general, and the Bill in particular. First, the right to strike is clearly still a fundamental of trade unionism. This is illustrated by the fact that the doctors now find it necessary to threaten to withdraw from the National Health Service. Call it what one will, this is a threat to withdraw services, and the final sanction or the final weapon of any body of people who are dependent on wages, or remuneration in lieu of wages, such as doctors in the Health Service, against a decision that they do not like, is the threat to withdraw labour, which is in effect a strike.
§ Mr. W. T. Williams (Warrington)
If the doctors withdraw their services and I am affected as a result because they will not treat me, will I have a cause of action under Rookes v. Barnard?
§ Mr. Hooson
I am not prepared to give the hon. and learned Gentleman legal advice across the Floor of the House.
The second principle which I wish to propound is that trade union officials are entitled to protection when they are following their legitimate business. One of their jobs is to look after the interests of the individuals who comprise the union, and in pursuance of that job they clearly must have the necessary legal protection.
The third principle relates to situations where proper notice cannot be given of intention to break a contract. I interrupted an earlier speaker to cite the example of a man who is asked to do a job which he considers to be dangerous, and refuses to do it. Clearly, he is not in breach of contract in refusing to obey an unlawful order, but if he is threatened with dismissal because he disobeys, and other men come out on strike, they are in breach of their contracts, and it seems to me that this situation is unavoidable. There must be occasions when a strike takes place in this kind of, I hope, rare circumstance, when notice cannot properly be given.
1109 The fourth principle is that we should ensure that we do not grant unions the right to enforce compulsory membership, because the unions gained their privileges as voluntary bodies and are not entitled to the sanction of the law in pursuit of compulsory membership.
Lastly, one should ensure that no individual is denied recourse to the courts in defence of his own fundamental rights, and one of those is his right to work.
I do not suppose that anyone on either side of the House would dispute that those are essential principles for trade unions in the modern world. At any rate most hon. Members would not dispute that, and I gather from the speech of the Minister of Labour this afternoon that he would not dispute it. He certainly would disagree with his hon. Friend about the closed shop, for example.
§ Mr. Hooson
The hon. Gentleman did not mention it, but I was referring to a trade union becoming a compulsory organisation, and that is what a closed shop eventually entails.
As I understand the much discussed and much disputed case of Rookes v. Barnard, it was decided on three points. First, that there had been a threat to break a contract of employment. Secondly, that that threat was coupled with an intention to do injury to Rookes, the plaintiff. It was intended to deprive him of his job. Thus, one had not only an act, a threat, but one had that threat coupled with a specific intention to injure Rookes.
The third point found by the House of Lords was that neither the 1906 Act, nor any other Act, provided any exemption from legal liability to those who were responsible for the threat and who had that intention. As I see it, those are the three grounds on which the case of Rookes v. Barnard was finally decided.
What was essential to the decision was the intention to injure. I am not convinced that in its present form the Bill entirely revokes the principle of Rookes v. Barnard. It is for the Government to decide what is the legal effect of their own Bill, but it is open 1110 to dispute whether it revokes the whole principle of that case.
The implications of that case have been considerably misunderstood. As is indicated in leading counsel's opinion obtained by the Trades Union Council, it does not affect the right to strike in pursuance of the general purposes of a trade union. If a trade union is pursuing a claim for higher wages or better conditions, its right to strike is in no way affected.
Where doubt has been cast on the matter, however, is in connection with negotiations conducted by a trade union official in the normal pursuit of his duties. If he is negotiating with his employers and threatens a strike, or brings to the attention of his employer a resolution to strike passed by a branch of his union, is he then threatening a strike, and can he be sued not by a third party but by the employer himself? I do not know what view the right hon. and learned Attorney-General has formed on this matter, but it occurred to me that the speeches of Lord Devlin and Lord Evershed in the Rookes v. Barnard case, when Lord Devlin adopted a passage in Salmon on Tort, certainly envisaged an action being brought not only by a third party but by an employer.
This fear is probably unfounded, but it exists, and it is right that the Government should try to clear up the point. If it is one of the inhibiting factors against full co-operation by the trade unions in the Royal Commission inquiry, or if it could be an inhibiting factor, it is important that this fear should be removed.
From the judgments themselves it is very difficult to decide when a threat is not a threat. If I read the judgments aright, it was suggested by one of the distinguished and learned Lords that if an official politely mentioned to his employer that he wanted a certain course of action taken, and that the alternative might be a threat of a strike, it probably was not sufficient to amount to a threat so as to constitute the tort of intimidation. Nevertheless, this is a legitimate fear, which ought to be removed, and the Bill clearly removes it.
The problem is whether the Bill goes further than that and does what I think 1111 may not be justified. The Bill contains the wordsan act … shall not be actionable in tort on the ground only that it consists in … threatening.The right hon. and learned Attorney-General will consider whether those words, of themselves, are sufficient to reverse the whole principle of Rookes v. Barnard. In that case the act was accompanied by a second requirement, namely, an intention, and it is possible to construe this in such a way that it can be argued that where we have, first, a threat, and, secondly, an intention, or a stated intention, to do injury, the Bill does not reverse the whole principle of Rookes v. Barnard.
May I have an assurance from the right hon. and learned Gentleman on this question? Is it intended by this Bill to deprive a third party of his legal protection when there is an act deliberately aimed at him to try to force him to become a member of a union? How would the Government regard an Amendment put down in Committee—I can assure the right hon. and learned Gentleman that the answer to this is very important—to the effect that it should not be considered to be in furtherance of a trade dispute, for the purposes of this Bill only, for a person to threaten to break a contract of employment if the intention of that act was to force or induce a man to become or to remain a member of a union?
Could the Government undertake to amend this Bill sufficiently to reassure those who want to be quite happy in their minds that it is not to be used as an instrument to force people to join or remain members of a union?
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
The hon. and learned Gentleman is not suggesting, is he, that workers who actually went on strike because they did not wish to work with non-union labour would commit, either with or without this Bill, any offence? If they would not commit any offence by doing that, how can we justifiably make it an offence for a trade union official to warn an employer that this was likely to happen?
§ Mr. Hooson
I concede—I think it has been conceded from both sides of the House—the rather absurd position where 1112 if you threaten to strike you may be committing a tortious act but you do not if you strike.
What I think is right is this. I do not believe the Government intend the Bill to be aimed at the person, in the position perhaps of Rookes in Rookes v. Barnard, who does not want to remain a member of a union. They do not intend this Measure to be used as an instrument to force him to be a member of a union. As I understand the argument, what the Government wish to do is to protect the trade union official, the shop steward, when he is continuing his legitimate business of advancing union interests in the normal ways, when there are disputes which have arisen concerning wages, conditions, and so on. I think that hon. Members would be reassured if the right hon. and learned Gentleman could give an undertaking that the Government would consider sympathetically such an Amendment during the Committee stage proceedings.
Those of us on this bench think it very important to enlist the full co-operation of the trade union movement in the inquiry to take place under the Royal Commission. That is very important. We intend to vote with the Government for the Second Reading of this Bill, but what we shall do on the occasion of the Third Reading depends upon what action is taken during the Committee stage discussions. I think I speak for a great body of opinion in this country which thinks that we have an enlightened Minister of Labour who in his speech today showed that he is receptive to modern ideas for bringing trade unions up to date, and who thinks that the whole question of union relationships and the whole question of the future of trade unions should be investigated thoroughly by means of a Royal Commission.
Therefore, we support any step to obtain that course, provided that we are assured by the time of the Third Reading that this Bill is not to be, and cannot be, used as an instrument to deprive an individual of his protection by the courts when he is subjected to pressure to try to force him to become or to remain a member of a union.
§ 8.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Stanley Orme (Salford, West)
I think that the speech of the hon. and 1113 learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) has at least shown that not everybody on that side of the House is quite as pedantic on this issue as hon. Members of the Opposition have shown themselves during this debate.
I think that we have had our fair share of what I can only call 'unionologists", so-called authorities who set themselves up as experts on the trade union movement with little experience of that movement in any shape or form. We have seen displayed, in the speeches of the hon. Members for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Crawley) and Buckinghamshire, South (Mr. Ronald Bell), an unparalleled arrogance in their attitude to the trade union movement.
The points and the questions which they have raised are not so much on the Rookes v. Barnard case nor the amendment to the 1906 Act which the Government have put down. They have widened the sphere to the Royal Commission which has been set up and have tried to lay down terms of reference for that Royal Commission which will inquire into the trade union movement, and, in their opinion, bring about restrictions on the trade union movement which will make it easier to control that movement. If that is their desire, if that is their attitude, the trade union movement will not accept it.
I am convinced that it is not the attitude of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour, who wants to see this inquiry, not only into the trade union movement, but into the employers' associations, conducted in a spirit which I hope, when this inquiry has been held, will show that there are many things which can be done to assist the trade union movement and not to harm or upset it.
Many points have been made today about unofficial strikes, and there has been criticism of unofficial action. It arose in the Rookes v. Barnard case, which became an official dispute. Many hon. Members are unaware of trade union practice. A vast number of unofficial strikes which take place in factories, pits and other places of work and assembly become official at a later date; they are made official by the trade union movement. It is the Instantaneous action of members in association who take action against 1114 an immediate injustice which is seen as an injustice by their organisation. Therefore, much of this loose talk about many unofficial disputes is, in my opinion, completely unjustified.
It is 10 or 11 years since the Rookes v. Barnard case set out on the long journey which ends tonight in this Chamber. One of the members who was cited originally has now passed away. I have sympathy with Barnard and his friends, who have gone through a tremendous period of pressure and anxiety throughout this period and during the legal action in the courts. I believe that there has been far too much legal interference; that the lawyers only want—and have wanted here today—to extend their area of control and fetch under control the trade union movement. I believe that the smaller the amount of law which is applicable, the better for the trade union movement.
§ Mr. Hooson
Is the hon. Member aware that sitting to his left is his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dulwich (Mr. S. C. Silkin), whose brilliant conduct of the case resulted in Mr. Rookes getting damages?
§ Mr. Orme
That is the end product. I am not talking about that.
The question of legal obligations has been expounded in the debate. Hon. Members opposite would like to see all types of legal restrictions introduced whereby trade unions would have to abide by agreements and whereby there would be a statutory period for the announcement of disputes. All this is an extension of the legal interference with collective bargaining which has gone on for 50 or 60 years in this country—and I am of the opinion that an extension of this legal interference is not in the interests of the trade union movement. Union Members who have shown anxiety over the Rookes v. Barnard decision have expressed this anxiety in their own trade unions.
It has been said that there has been no other instance since Rookes v. Barnard which has affected the trade union movement. That is not true. The worry of the Rookes v. Barnard decision has been upon the trade union movement. I was a member of my own district committee only a few months ago, and we received letters from the executive council 1115 saying, "You must beware of that because of Rookes v. Barnard. You must not do that because of Rookes v. Barnard". This is impinging on the trade union movement and restricting it in its liberty and its actions. Because of that we must remove this anomaly, not, as the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery said, to give more power to the trade unions, but to put them back in the position which we all believed had existed since 1906.
After listening to the right hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Godber), I do not wonder that George Woodcock came away from meetings with the right hon. Gentleman, when he was Minister of Labour, a very bitter and worried man. If the refusal to introduce this legislation were based on the case which the right hon. Gentleman put to the House, it was a poor case. No wonder that George Woodcock, as my hon. Friend the Member for Oldbury and Halesowen (Mr. Homer) said, at the Trades Union Congress, bitterly complained at the treatment which he had received from the Minister of Labour in that period of negotiations.
May I put a question to the right hon. Gentleman? He says that he wanted to set up a Royal Commission. What were the terms of reference which the Conservative Government were prepared to offer to the trade unions for their cooperation if such a Royal Commission were set up? He knows that without their agreement to remove the Rookes v. Barnard barrier he would never have got the co-operation of the T.U.C.—and rightly so.
Lord Radcliffe's comments on the trade unions have been quoted. We had quoted a passage of his definition of what the freedom of the workers should be and what the law should be. Lord Radcliffe is a distinguished and learned judge, but in my opinion he knows little or nothing about the basic working of the trade union movement. I am prepared to say so in the House, based on the statements which he made on this issue.
I feel, therefore, that we must get back to the 1906 position in which the trade union movement was protected. I have come from industry recently, I have worked in industry and for a number of 1116 years I have been a shop steward in industry. Hon. Members opposite should stop talking about trade unionists and their demand for 100 per cent. trade union membership inside an establishment.
Incidentally, hon. Members opposite have completely missed the difference between 100 per cent. trade union membership and the closed shop. They just do not know what the difference is. When members of a trade union have, by their association, attained 100 per cent. membership in an establishment without the assistance of the management they have every right to want to protect that attainment, and one rotten apple in the barrel can ruin years of patient work by trade union officials and shop stewards.
It is always interesting to see how people who want to contract out of union membership never want to contract out of the benefits which membership has given them. They never say, "We will not take the holidays which the union has negotiated for us. We will pay back the wage increases which have been negotiated on our behalf and we will not expect all the other benefits". These people want all the benefits which collective bargaining and the association of union members have obtained for them, but they do not want the responsibility that goes with it. Union members who refuse to associate with these people are, in my view, right and it was with this fundamental point in mind that, after much endeavour by the trade union concerned to reach an amenable situation, it was finally forced to take the action in the Rookes v. Barnard case.
When it is said, particularly by hon. Members opposite, that there has been no alteration since the Rookes v. Barnard case, I hope that it will be borne in mind that I have given instances in my organisation—and I know that this applies throughout the trade union movement—to show that that is not so. There is also the Stratford v. Lindley case.
Unfortunately, some hon. Members opposite want to place more restrictions on trade unions. In one breath they talk about a free society with free trade unions, while in another they talk about placing shackles on unions. We can see through the attitude of some hon. Members opposite. I hope that that attitude 1117 does not go right through the party opposite, but I have my doubts.
The case made out by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour was a perfectly sensible and logical one. There are, of course, points in the small Bill we are considering about which we are not too happy, but I have no doubt that, as trade unionists, some of my hon. Friends will be prepared to examine it carefully in Committee and, perhaps, table some Amendments to it. Nevertheless, we accept the basic principle of the Bill. It has not been introduced a day too soon. It represents an assurance which was given by the Labour Party to the trade union movement because of the machinations of the right hon. Member for Grantham. All this could have been avoided had he accepted the sensible recommendations of the General Secretary of the T.U.C. Instead, he tried to send him away with a flea in his ear and now we are seeing the results of that action. I hope that the Bill will get the overwhelming support of the House so that we may show the trade union movement that the Labour Government back it in its just claims at present.
§ 8.58 p.m.
§ Sir John Hobson (Warwick and Leamington)
We started on a rather different note from that reached in the last speech by the hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme), but perhaps I ought not to comment further on that.
The Minister, in introducing the Bill, was at his most responsible and gave the House many things to think about outside the Bill. I do not think that, on the whole, he explained in very great detail the exact implications of the Measure and we rely on the Attorney-General to explain what, at any rate, the Government understand they are doing by this piece of paper we have before us.
I begin by paying a tribute, in which I know the whole House will join me, to the three maiden speeches we had today. The first was from my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Sir T. Brinton), who I am glad to be able to congratulate because he is an old friend of mine. Next, was the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Bath (Sir E. Brown). We were all delighted to hear his remarks, as we were interested to hear his spirited defence of the liberty of the subject. The hon. Member for 1118 Gateshead, East (Mr. Conlan) made a most agreeable speech about his own constituency, and spoke, as did the other two maiden speakers of theirs, of his long experience of industrial relations.
All three made extremely interesting contributions of a very high level, and set an extremely good note for our discussion of the important principle we are now considering. They all trespassed, I am glad to say, a little over the rule against being controversial, but not too far. I am sure that every hon. Member looks forward to hearing them again; and we all hope, and are sure, that they will contribute to our debates, particularly on the subjects of industrial relations and trade unions.
It was very interesting to have three maiden speakers from both sides of industry, each of whom had direct knowledge of industrial relations and each of whom could speak from his own experience of the excellence of joint consultation, and the excellent relations they had all enjoyed. It is true to say that industrial relations are very good throughout the greater part of industry, and we hope that they will long continue so. What we are here concerned with is the exceptional case, where there may be trouble, and where there is a breakdown of communication and a threat of strike.
I am very glad that we are discussing an amendment of the law affecting trade unions and that, by and large, the debate has been conducted in such a responsible manner and in such a serious and thoughtful way. I thought that the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) was right in saying that we had almost got to a position in which the 1906 Act was regarded as the tablets of the law. Certainly, since I have been in the House, there has never been a proposal to amend that Act, and it is high time we did begin to discuss amendment of the law affecting both trade unions and employers' associations.
It is bad when a subject becomes unmentionable. I always wondered, from the first time I entered this House, whether the Church of England or the trade unions would be first dealt with by legislation. It has turned out that we have had two Measures affecting the Church of England, and yesterday we discussed Sunday observance. I am glad, at any rate, that the question of amending the law affecting 1119 trade unions is not far behind, and that we are now tackling the subject, although on a very narrow front indeed.
The Minister hoped that the argument on this interesting subject of trade unions and their legislation would rage until ten o'clock tonight. The discussion has to a great extent devoted itself to these generalities, but the fact is that we are discussing a very narrow and somewhat legal Bill, of limited effects and very limited results. I should like, to a great extent, to try to confine myself to the issues confronting us in this Bill, but before I do so, I would like to add to what my right hon. Friend the Member for Grantham (Mr. Godber) said in welcoming the setting up of the Royal Commission that we had promised, and which we are delighted that the Minister of Labour has now set up. We think that it is high time that there was a dispassionate, expert and high-powered investigation into the whole of the law affecting trade unions, and I am glad that as far as I know there has not been any voice of dissent in this debate from that view.
Trade associations and the industrial organisation of management have been regularly reviewed at intervals of 10 years or less, and I hope that the Royal Commission will begin a course in which we have regular investigation into how the law can contribute to industrial relations. Of course, it is the people who make up trade unions and employers' associations who are important and who can make a great difference in industrial relations, but they can be assisted if proper organisation and good law provide them with a framework in which they can sensibly perform their duty.
I was interested to notice that, when the Minister was congratulated on the efforts that he must have made to persuade his colleagues in the Government to allow the Royal Commission to be appointed for this purpose, that suggestion received the vigorous nodded assent of the Attorney-General, who was sitting next to the Minister. I think that we can take that as an indication that it was by no means, in the early stages of this Government, the view of the Government and of the majority of them that such a Royal Commision ought to be set up, and we are very glad indeed that it has now been set up.
1120 I come to the Bill and why it is being introduced. The Attorney-General asked the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery whether he did not think that it was very important indeed to get the co-operation of the trade unions. Of course we all think that, but we are a little mystified as to why trade unionists should think that they must have a quid pro quo for co-operating in an investigation which everybody, I should have thought, regarded as necessary. If we have reached a stage in our history when it is necessary to examine the law affecting trade unions and employers' associations again, why should the trade unions and the T.U.C. expect a quid pro quo? We know that this is exactly what the Bill is, no more and no less.
§ Mr. Gunter
The question of the quid pro quo was in the mind of the right hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Godber), when he was Minister. There has been no question at all of a quid pro quo on our part. The difficulty of the trade unions in this matter, if I may say so with great respect to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, is their justifiable and historic suspicion of lawyers and their getting together.
§ Sir J. Hobson
We have heard a great deal about lawyers today, but, after all, lawyers are only officers of the court. We come back again in the end, through the lawyer, to the courts and to the rule of law. This is a subject which touches very deeply the relationship between trade unions and trade unionists and the community as a whole, because it is through the courts that these adjustments have to be made.
I was saying that, although we recognise that there may have been anxieties, though we say they were unjustified, we think that it is very odd indeed that the trade unions should say, "We will not co-operate with a Royal Commission appointed to look into a legal position which is exactly the same as it was in 1906, unless we get something that we say we want".
§ Sir J. Hobson
The Minister says that, but he made a speech on 23rd August, 1964, in which he said this:We will restore the legal position the unions thought they had before these decisions, on the very clear understanding that 1121 they will co-operate to the full in a broad inquiry into the position of the unions".That exactly marries with what Mr. George Woodcock, the General Secretary of the T.U.C., said only about three weeks later on 10th September:I will not join in with an inquiry with any Government which refuses us this simple act of justice and common senseof reversing Rookes v. Barnard.
Does not that make it absolutely plain from both sides of the table that co-operation will not be forthcoming unless this legislation is passed? It may have been thought necessary to give a pledge to the unions that Rookes v. Barnard would be reversed in order to obtain that co-operation. We say that, although this may be one of the pledges which the Government have kept since they came to power, it is not one which should ever have been given, because if the Royal Commission was necessary it should have been set up willy-nilly.
The Minister said that the first reason why the Bill was necessary was to make the law what it had always been thought by everyone to be. This is the point made by the hon. Members for Birmingham, Aston (Mr. Julian Silverman), Newark (Mr. Bishop), and Oldbury and Halesowen (Mr. Horner). They all said, "We must restore the law to what" either "everybody" or "we" or "the trade unionists" "thought it was". it is an odd principle of law that, if either some or all or a section of the community can be found who have persuaded themselves that they are entitled to certain legal protection, the law must be adjusted to conform with that. This is not a principle of legislation which should be applied.
I cannot understand how trade unions could have proceeded upon the basis that they did, because, as my hon. Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire, South (Mr. Ronald Bell) pointed out, the legal adviser to the T.U.C., Mr. Norman Citrine, who wrote a book in 1950, made it perfectly plain that in circumstances such as Rookes v. Barnard when it did arise the Trade Disputes Act, 1906, would not provide any protection against an action by a person injured in the way that Rookes was.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman
Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman regard it as completely irrelevant that among the 1122 other people who thought that the law was different from what the House of Lords declared it to be was the unanimous judgment of the Court of Appeal? Is not that relevant at all?
§ Sir J. Hobson
That was a short time in the course of this actual litigation and it completely destroys the argument that the law should be altered to what people thought it was before litigation started. I cannot understand the principle that one legislates according to what people think the law is. I thought that the principle on which the House legislated was to see what was right, just and fair and convenient and then pass legislation in accordance with that, after discussion.
There has not been produced in the whole course of the debate any case that there is any urgency for doing this immediately. My right hon. Friend the Member for Grantham and my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Chertsey (Sir L. Heald) both pointed out that there had not been a single speech which indicated that there was real urgency. It is quite plain from the passages read out in the introduction to the T.U.C. booklet published in September last year that the T.U.C. did not regard the matter as one of particular urgency. There has not been produced in the course of the debate any evidence that there is any anxiety to rush in with this legislation.
This brings me to the next point, that if there is not the urgency for immediate and hasty legislation, surely this is just the sort of topic which ought to have been preceded by some sort of inquiry. The legal and the practical issues have to be co-ordinated and the views of lawyers and trade unionists are important here. The issues are very complex, important and exceedingly difficult.
This is just the sort of matter which I suggest neither the judges by themselves are able to solve nor, I respectfully suggest to the Attorney-General, the new Law Commissioners. Why are not the Government hastening on with referring this matter to the Law Commissioners? Or does the Attorney-General think that this is the last thing in the world that should be referred to them? I am glad to gather that the Minister of Labour appears to agree with me on this.
1123 I should have thought that this was exactly the sort of problem which the Law Commissioners are wholly unsuitable to consider, but this is exactly the sort of issue which ought to receive prior consideration by trade unionists, employers, politicians, lawyers and experts in industrial relations, because each and all of them are concerned with this problem. While it may be that a Royal Commission would take too long to consider it, I nevertheless suggest that it ought to be considered by at least some ad hoc body before we rush into legislation in the interests of one interested party only, and that is the T.U.C., which has said that it is going to have it and that the Government are going to give it to the trade unionists. The T.U.C. has said, "We want to have it or we will not cooperate", and here we have the Bill.
As to what the Bill does, I agree with some extremely distinguished lawyers that there has been great exaggeration of exactly what the decision in Rookes v. Barnard did. It certainly did not remove any immunity of trade unions or employers' associations from suit, even for the tort of intimidation in respect of their funds, and both are still fully protected by Section 4.
It certainly did not alter the position under Section 3 of the 1906 Act, that a trade union official or an officer of an employers' organisation, or members of either, can with impunity induce other members to break their contracts of employment if they are acting in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute. The protection given by Section 3 is quite unaltered in that respect by the Rookes v. Barnard decision.
I take the view that there is no decision by the courts, and it is very unlikely that the courts ever would decide, that the tort of intimidation would be committed, or that any liability would arise, if an official or member of a union or of an employers' association, in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute and intending to affect only the position of the other party to the contract of employment, were to threaten that the contract of employment would be broken or that he would induce others to break their contracts.
1124 This is what so many members of trade unions have been talking about this afternoon, the ordinary duty of the trade union official on behalf of his members and with his members to bring pressure on the employer to improve the terms of the contract of employment. This, I think, is the root fear which has led to so many trade unionists feeling that the decision in Rookes v. Barnard ought to be changed.
Let us see how the Bill deals with that. I concede that, if their fears were justified, something should, after inquiry, be done about it. But the Bill has two parts. Clause 1 (1,b) deals with inducing another to break a contract of employment to which that other is a party. This is the case of the union official saying, "I am going to call the men out in breach of their contract of employment." We know that Lord Denning and Lord Justice Salmon in the Court of Appeal thought that, because it was lawful to induce men to break their contract of employment, it could not, therefore, be the tort of intimidation to threaten to do what was, in fact, a lawful act.
I should have thought that that was clear law. It is supported by the opinion which was given by learned counsel to the T.U.C. He said that, in his view, the law at the moment was as stated by the Court of Appeal, in Stratford v. Lindley, by the Master of the Rolls and Lord Justice Salmon, and that this would now be binding on all courts unless another case should go to the House of Lords. I cannot understand how it could ever be a tortious act to threaten to do what is lawful under the 1906 Act. Therefore, in my respectful submission, paragraph (b) is wholly unnecessary.
We come back to paragraph (a), the threat that a contract of employment will be broken, that is, a threat that either their own contract will be broken or that some other member or fellow members of the union will break their contract of employment. The Bill draws no distinction whatever between whether the intention is to bring pressure upon the other party to the contract, namely, the employer, or whether the intention is to injure some third party.
A number of lawyers consider—the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery expressed this view—that the Bill, in fact, does nothing at all because it 1125 does not deal with the intention to injure or make clear whether it bites on the Rookes v. Barnard decision at all. I do not take that view, though I know it is fairly widely expressed in the Temple. But, if that be so, of course, paragraph (a) does nothing at all and it does not relieve trade unionists of any anxieties about the decision in Rookes v. Barnard. It is simply a nice piece of window dressing in order to lead trade unionists to think that things are better when, in fact, they are not, and no alteration of any kind has been made.
I do not take this view of the Bill. I think that it does bite both on the situation where the trade union official is trying to alter the contract of employment by negotiation with the employer and the position where the threat is intended to injure some third party who cannot himself rely upon the contract.
As to the two separate portions, I do not think that it is necessary to legislate for the first purpose. Lord Radcliffe said, in his address to the Law Society, so frequently referred to:I take it to be fairly clear that Rookes v. Barnard did not come anywhere near laying down a proposition to the effect that trade union officials by intimating an absolute or conditional intention to call a strike are thereby rendering themselves liable in damages to an employer affected.The same thing was expressed by Lord Upjohn and Lord Donovan in Stratford v. Lindley, and we have—do we not?—in the comments of counsel given to the T.U.C. the position that, where a strike is threatened unless the employer pays higher wages or otherwise alters the terms or conditions of employment, there will he no tort of intimidation. I agree with those views. I think that they are right.
Insofar as the Bill purports to give protection to the union official who is negotiating with an employer to alter, on threat of a strike, even in breach of contract, the terms of employment, it is unnecessary; he is already protected. One is left, therefore, with what the Bill does to him, and we have not yet had an answer from the Government as to whether they think it does it or does not. It repeals the Rookes v. Barnard decision which ruled that it is tortious for any person, with the intention of injuring a third party, to threaten his or any one else's contract of employment.
1126 Are we or are we not really reversing for the future the position established by the House of Lords in Rookes v. Barnard? I understand that, if the answer is that we are not, a considerable number of hon. Members opposite will think the Bill wholly inadequate and will no doubt vote against it. On the other hand, if all the Bill is really doing, and its sole useful purpose is to reverse the right of someone in the position of Mr. Rookes to succeed in damages when he is treated in the way he was, it is an unnecessary Bill and we should not approve it.
I think that the vast majority of the people were glad that the law was able to give protection to Mr. Rookes after the treatment he had suffered and the fundamental question is whether one thinks that a contract of employment, especially one containing a condition against strike action, should be binding on and enforceable against the employee, whether he be the doctor in the National Health Service, the star of show business, as was referred to by the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins), the highly skilled technologist, the fitter or the labourer on the shop floor.
The hon. Member for Willesden, West (Mr. Pavitt), in some questions on 1st February about the National Health Service, emphasised, by the nature of those Questions, the great importance of doctors remaining bound by contracts of employment, and the Minister of Health himself thinks that there is a good deal to be said for contracts of service, particularly long-term contracts of employment, being binding upon the parties. There is strength in that view.
There is the alternative view that, of course, contracts of employment ought not to be tested on whether or not a person can or should strike. But if one was to sweep that away one would have to provide the alternative test as to whether or not it was in the public interest that a strike should take place in particular circumstances. All these are matters for the Royal Commission to consider. Until it considers these alternative proposals and possibilities, we are in the position, rightly so, that contracts of employment are binding on all people, be they doctors, film stars, fitters, technologists, or people on the shop floor.
1127 If that is right, then we ought to see that the threat unlawfully to break contracts of service with the object of injuring third parties who are not able to rely on those contracts shall be unlawful and actionable. What we are doing with the Bill is scratching at the mere surface, tinkering, as the hon. Member for Putney put it. It is a bad thing to tinker with the law and that is all the Bill is doing. It does not begin to approach the major problems. The law in this respect is closely interrelated and one little part of the law cannot be affected without affecting other little parts. Once we start to interfere with one bit, we start to affect rights and interests in many other sections. The Bill does no more than scratch the surface without proper consideration of the implications of the legislation.
As my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Chertsey said, even if it is necessary for officials of the unions, the Bill will extend exactly the same privileges and immunities to every unofficial strike leader, to any wildcat leader of a strike and to any Communist agitator. All the benefits of the Bill, if they are necessary, as is said, for the officials of respectable trade unions doing their ordinary jobs, at least could have been confined to strikes called by officials acting in accordance with a resolution of their executive committee and with the union's rules. This could have been an opportunity for strengthening official leadership of the unions and doing something to defeat the position of those who embark on wildcat strikes, and the Communist agitators.
The fairness and necessity of the Bill can be tested by regarding it in reverse. Employers' associations are trade unions and their officials and members will be able to enjoy the benefits of the Bill, if it is passed. Of course, the prospects of lock-outs in present conditions of over-full employment are remote, but, while we hope that it will never happen and trust that it will not happen, one has to remember that if there were widespread unemployment and lock-outs became a weapon in the hands of employers, they would have the benefits of the Bill.
The converse of the Rookes v. Barnard case is that if in such conditions a district 1128 employers' association wanted to ensure that no union labour was employed on the shop floors of its members, it would be able to injure and damage the trade unions in the district by intimidating them and their workmen by the threat of a lock-out unless all their workmen withdrew from any union membership, even if there were a binding contract on those employers that there would be no lockouts. That is the converse of the case, the legislation which the Bill is providing for employers' associations, which are trade unions.
I would have thought that any sensible person, rationally and dispassionately considering this matter, would say that it was wrong that in such circumstances an employers' association and its officials should have an immunity of that sort. If so, it must be equally wrong, in the converse conditions of Rookes v. Barnard and over-full employment, that in these circumstances the trade unions themselves should be protected.
The truth is that the Bill is doing no more than reverse the decision of Rookes v. Barnard. The vast majority of the people have always thought that intimidation was a dirty business, and the country was glad that Mr. Rookes got damages and rightly believed that justice was done. I quote Lord Reid, in the House of Lords:Intimidation of any kind appears to me to be highly objectionable. The law was not slow to prevent it, when violence and threats of violence, were the most effective means. Now that subtler means are equally effective, I see no reason why the law should have to turn a blind eye to them.We are not against the closed shop or 100 per cent. union membership if they can be obtained by voluntary means and by persuasion, but we say that to obtain them by forcing individuals to join associations to which they do not want to belong by the tortious use of threats of intimidation is quite wrong and ought not to be legalised.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ The Attorney-General (Sir Elwyn Jones)
I noticed that the right hon. and learned Member for Warwick and Leamington (Sir J. Hobson) twice referred to over-full employment. I do not know whether that was a Freudian slip on his part. However, I was glad to notice that at the beginning of his speech he welcomed the Government's 1129 decision to set up the Royal Commission. That decision is, of course, the decision of the Government—the enthusiastic and unanimous decision of the Government—and what conclusion the right hon. and learned Gentleman was able to draw from some recumbent gesture of mine, I know not.
I should first like to repeat the congratulations which have been given to the three maiden speakers who made valuable contributions to the debate—my hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead, East (Mr. Conlan) and the hon. Members for Bath (Sir E. Brown) and Kidderminster (Sir T. Brinton)—all men with practical experience of industrial relations. I particularly liked the reference of the hon. Member for Kidderminster to Sir Gerald Nabarro, who he described as a piece of pile fabric of considerable beauty. I wondered for a moment whether the hon. Gentleman was about to recommend Sir Gerald Nabarro for preservation by the Society for the Preservation of Rural England. That might have been a very admirable solution to his problems.
If I may say so without desiring to introduce a note of undue controversy in a debate which has been full of good will and of serious consideration of the difficult problems of industrial relations which have arisen, I have detected a certain ambivalence on the part of hon. Members opposite towards trade unionism—on the one hand, eloquent speeches about the great rôle of trade unions in contemporary society and how important collective bargaining is, and, on the other hand, when the trade union leaders and the T.U.C. come to us and say, "Rookes v. Barnard has created a state of uncertainty and confusion in industrial law and has led trade union officials into a state of fear about their capacity to engage in negotiation, please alter the law to what we had for 60 years understood it to be", that is dismissed either as a threat of victimisation or contemptuously as something utterly unnecessary.
Hon. Members opposite cannot have it both ways. We cannot have responsible trade unionism, on the one side, and deny to responsible trade union officials the tools with which to do the job, on the other. The fact is that responsible trade unions are very worried about the state 1130 of the law on industrial disputes as it has been left after the decision of the House of Lords, sitting judicially, in the case of Rookes v. Barnard.
§ Sir Spencer Summers (Aylesbury) rose—
§ The Attorney-General
The hon. Gentleman has not honoured us with his presence in the debate until now, and I have much ground to cover.
There was an attempt by the right hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Godber) and by the right hon. and learned Member for Chertsey (Sir L. Heald) to derive the conclusion from the introduction to the T.U.C.'s publication of the opinions of counsel on Rookes v. Barnard that it detected a lack of urgency. But I observe this in the first paragraph of that introduction:Early in September, 1964, the General Council of the Trades Union Congress informed all the affiliated organisations of the T.U.C. that because the Minister of Labour had refused to accept their proposal for immediate amendment of Section 3 of the 1906 Trade Disputes Act, there could be no legislation to nullify the effect of the Rookes v. Barnard decision until after a General Election at the earliest.So that the T.U.C. was at once asking for immediate amendment.
Although it is true that the phraselegal consequences of Rookes v. Barnard constitute a threat, however remoteappears in the introduction, the final sentence is thatthe General Council, must and will continue strongly to press for amending legislation.The true trade union position was expressed by the most helpful speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Oldbury and Halesowen (Mr. Horner) when he assured the House that this matter was of major concern to trade unions and could not be put on one side. It was for that reason, and because we think that harm will be done to industrial relations if the position is not put right, that the Bill is introduced to the House.
For 59 years, negotiators in industrial disputes have thought that they could say with impunity both "If you do not do this, the men will come out", and "If you do not do this, I will call the men out". What the House of Lords appears to have said—I say "appears to have said" because the matter is most complex and not clear, and I certainly 1131 do not blame the right hon. Member for Grantham, when he spoke for the Opposition, in saying that it was a matter of great complexity; it is—is that there are some circumstances, although it is not clear what they are and their Lordships do not seem to have agreed among themselves what they are, in which, if an official says to an employer, "If you do not do this, the men will come out", that constitutes the tort of intimidation.
Their Lordships have said, and it is by no means clear, as to the second aspect of this matter—"If you do not do this, I will call the men out"—that that may not amount to the tort of intimidation, although I take the point made by the right hon. and learned Member for Warwick and Leamington that that was not the view of Lord Denning. But it is by no means beyond peradventure that another court may disagree with that view. That is the position that we are in.
What can at least be said is that whereas before Rookes v. Barnard the position of the industrial negotiator was clear, it is now full of obscurity. The object of this modest but highly technical Bill is simply to bring within the protection of Section 3 of the Trade Disputes Act, 1906, certain forms of industrial activity—namely, threats to come out on strike and threats to call other people to come out on strike—which the trade union movement for the last 60 years or so has always thought was so protected. The Bill goes no further than that.
It is limited in its scope. The protection it gives is limited, first, to acts done in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute. I am sorry that this is pretty dreary stuff—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—but I have been asked to answer some of these legal questions, and it is the unhappy task of the Attorney-General sometimes to have to try to answer them, so I hope the House will forgive me and bear with me in this task.
At the beginning of his speech the right hon. Member for Grantham drew attention to a case—I shall not give the name and address of the correspondent—which he thought would result in what appeared to be a bad case of a personal vendetta alleged on the part of one of the officials which, as a result of the Bill, would not 1132 be the subject of a successful action by his complainant.
All I can say is that if that correspondent can prove that he has suffered from a personal vendetta in matters unrelated to the furtherance of a trade dispute, and if, further, he is, as he claims to be, the victim of an unlawful conspiracy to obstruct the process of the law and the course of justice, and he can prove that, he has a multitude of successful causes of action which he can bring and which will not be affected by the Bill.
§ Mr. Godber
I introduced this matter which came to my notice in the last day or two, but I accept what the right hon. and learned Gentleman says. Surely it is also the fact that if it was not raised on the issue of personal vendetta, but if the threat was made by a union official to call out the other men to enforce this man's dismissal, without disclosing that it was a personal vendetta, would not this be parallel to the Rookes v. Barnard case?
§ The Attorney-General
When the right hon. Gentleman says, "without disclosing that it was a personal vendetta", I would imagine that the plaintiff in the action, if what he writes in his letter is well founded, would have evidence of a personal vendetta. That would be available to the court, and if it were proved, of course he would have a cause of action, because the matter would not then be a bona fide furtherance of a trade dispute.
The second limitation in the protection which the Bill gives is that it is confined to actions in tort. Actions in contract are not affected, and workers can, as before, be sued for breaking their contracts of employment.
Thirdly, the Bill is limited to threats with regard to breaches of contract of employment. Breaches of other kinds of contract, for example an employer's contract with his customers, are not affected. Contracts of that kind have never been within the protection of the 1906 Act, and they will not be protected by the Bill.
I was asked by the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) in his most attractive and helpful speech—[Interruption.]—it would be 1133 surprising if the Liberal Benches were not to give support to maintaining the principles of the 1906 Act, bearing in mind the bitter struggle they had against the Tory Party. They have indicated that at any rate in spirit and in principle they are with us in this matter.
The problem of reconciling the right of the individual worker with the needs and benefits of the majority is one of the problems that the Royal Commission will investigate. Although the Government would be very willing to look at any matters put down in Committee, this problem, like some of the other major problems raised by the right hon. and learned Member, will be eminently suitable for consideration by the Royal Commission, which will have a free rein over the whole course of industrial relations. As I have indicated, the Government have taken the view—and it is the view of responsible trade union opinion— that the Rookes v. Barnard decision will, unless amended, have an adverse effect upon industrial relations. It is our view that the Bill achieves the necessary amendment.
As the distinguished Professor Kahn-Freund, of Oxford, has pointed out, since the end of the First World War the general trend in our law has been to refrain from intervening in relations between labour and management. The matter was put with his accustomed vigour and clarity by Mr. Winston Churchill, as he then was, in 1911, in this way:It is not good for trade unions that they should be brought in contact with the courts, and it is not good for the courts."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th May, 1911; Vol. XXVI, c. 1022.]My hon. Friend the Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) seemed to think that the Bill was a wicked plot to make more work for the lawyers. On the contrary, its purpose is the exact opposite.
This retreat of the courts—as one might describe it—from the scene of industrial relations, which most people think is a very good thing, has been seen in the decisions which have been taken, for instance, in refusing to assist plaintiffs who consider themselves to have been injured by the effect of closed shop agreements. It is seen where, as in the great 1941 Crofter case, the courts emphasised the need for not hampering trade union action and for protecting the right to strike. In that 1134 famous case in 1941 Lord Wright, repudiated the notion that interference with an employer's right to freedom in conducting his trade was, in effect, a wrongful act at common law, and he uttered these important words:That right is not an absolute or unconditional right. It is only a particular aspect of the citizen's right to personal freedom, and like all other aspects of that right is qualified by various legal limitations, either by statute or by common law. Such limitations are inevitable in organised societies where the rights of individuals may clash. In commercial affairs each trader's rights are qualified by the right of others to compete. Where the rights of labour are concerned the rights of the employer are conditioned by the rights of the men to give or withhold their services. The right of workmen to strike is an essential element in the principle of collective bargaining.That essential element is now in some jeopardy, not, perhaps, because of the actual decision in Rookes v. Barnard but because of its undoubted implications. The essence of the Rookes v. Barnard decision is that it rests on the admission that the "no strike" clause had become part of the individual contract of employment. It is, therefore, said that Rookes v. Barnard was not typical, but the gist of the decision in Rookes v. Barnard—I address this to hon. Members opposite who have taken the view that Rookes v. Barnard can be dismissed as being of minimal importance and has not affected widely the industrial field at all—is the threat that to strike in breach of contract of employment is a tort; and the Act of 1906 provides no defence against an action based on that tort.
Therefore in our view it raises doubts as to the safety of threatening any strike action at all. Although it is true that Lord Radcliffe expressed the view that the effects of the decision are limited, nevertheless the view expressed by Lord Donovan, one the judges in the case who sat in the Court of Appeal, is not to that effect at all. On the contrary, he expressed the view that if the present judgment stands, it is clear that the protection hitherto thought to be afforded by Sections 1 and 3 of the Trade Disputes Act, 1906, is largely illusory.
It is in the face of that fear that this Bill is introduced. It is introduced because it will make the task of trade union officials to perform their functions effectively much more difficult unless they are given the protection that this 1135 Bill will give them. In our view it will make wildcat strikes more likely and possibly more common and accordingly, in the view of the Government, this Measure is now essential.
At the beginning of the debate the right hon. Member for Grantham paid, I thought, a somewhat grudging tribute to the Government for having introduced the proposal to appoint a Royal Commission. He made a somewhat preposterous criticism of the terms of reference by reason of the order in which it is set out by pointing out that the interest in accelerating the social and economic advance of the nation followed a reference to promoting the interests of the trade union and the employers' association sides respectively. But this Commission is a Commission to which the Government attach very great importance. The Royal Commission will be beginning its labours before very long. It is to the Royal Commission that many of the problems which have been raised in the debate in regard to industrial relations will be referred, but in the view of the Government it is very important that the work of that Commission should begin in an atmosphere free from the anxiety and the uncertainty which has been produced among trade unionists by the decision in the Rookes v. Barnard case. There is no question of a bargain or of an agreement.
It is obviously desirable that a proper atmosphere should exist for the success of this vital Royal Commission. If, for instance, the witnesses on the trade union side, who are to give evidence before the Royal Commission, were to approach the task in a mood of bitterness and hostility, it is quite clear that the Royal Commission would not get off to a very good start. Accordingly, in the view of the Government it is highly desirable that that state of uncertainty should now be eliminated.
§ The decision of the Government to introduce the Bill, of course, in no way ties the hands of the Royal Commission or prejudges any of the matters which it will have to consider. Although hon. Gentlemen opposite may not be very interested in the work of this Royal Commission, the people who really do the work and earn the wealth of this country are interested.
I think that it was Keir Hardie, one of my predecessors as the Member for West Ham, South, who said,
You can get coal without coal owners, but you cannot get coal without coal miners.
Although I see—
§ Mr. David Gibson-Watt (Hereford)
With respect to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, does he not also remember that Keir Hardie said that as a matter of pure fact, it was the Tory Party which had more social legislation to its credit on the Statute Book than any other party?
§ The Attorney-General
My recollection of Keir Hardie is that there was no more bitter victim of Tory attack than that great Socialist. But I am being diverted into matters which are not perhaps immediately germane to the Bill.
I commend the Bill to the House. I do not agree with the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery that it is a mouse, nor do I enlarge it to the dimensions of a lion. [An HON. MEMBER: "A sprat."] I hope that the hon. Member was not referring to himself in that connection. Let us not introduce a note of controversy into the debate. The passing of this Bill is an important measure for the improvement of industrial relations in the country, in which the whole House ought to be interested.
§ Question put, That the Bill be now read a Second time:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 310, Noes 286.1141
|Division No. 60.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Abse, Leo||Bellenger, Rt. Hn. F. J.||Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics S. W.)|
|Albu, Austen||Bence, Cyril||Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Boyden, James|
|Alldritt, W. H.||Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Braddock, Mrs. E. M.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Bessell, Peter||Bradley, Tom|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Binns, John||Bray, Dr. Jeremy|
|Atkinson, Norman||Bishop, E. S.||Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Blackburn, F.||Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper)|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Blenkinsop, Arthur||Brown, Hugh D. (Glasgow, Provan)|
|Barnett, Joel||Boardman, H.||Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & Fbury)|
|Baxter, William||Boston, T. G.||Buchan, Norman (Renfrewshire, W.)|
|Beaney, Alan||Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Buchanan, Richard|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Holman, Percy||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Hooson, H. E.||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)|
|Callaghan, Ft, Hn. James||Horner, John||Norwood, Christopher|
|Carmichael, Neil||Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Oakes, Gordon|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)||Ogden, Eric|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Howarth, Robert L. (Bolton, E.)||O'Malley, Brian|
|Chapman, Donald||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Oram, Albert E. (E. Ham S.)|
|Coleman, Donald||Howie, W.||Orbach, Maurice|
|Conlan, Bernard||Hoy, James||Orme, Stanley|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshlre)||Oswald, Thomas|
|Cousins, Rt. Hn. Frank||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Owen, Will|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Hunter, A. E. (Feltham)||Padley, Walter|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Page,Derek (King's Lynn)|
|Cronin, John||Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Paget, R. T.|
|Crosland, Anthony||Irvlne, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Palmer, Arthur|
|Crossman, Rt. Hn. R. H. S.||Jackson, Colin||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Janner, Sir Barnett||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Dalyell, Tarn||Jay Rt. Hn. Douglas||Park, Trevor (Derbyshire, S. E.)|
|Darling, George||Jeger, George (Goole)||Parker, John|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n&St.P'cras,S.)||Parkin, B. T.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Pavitt, Laurence|
|Davies, I for (Gower)||Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred|
|Delargy, Hugh||Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||Pentland, Norman|
|Dell, Edmund||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Perry, Ernest G.|
|Diamond, John||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Popplewell, Ernest|
|Dodds, Norman||Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elywn (W.Ham,S.)||Prentice, R. E.|
|Doig, Peter||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Donnelly, Desmond||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Probert, Arthur|
|Driberg, Tom||Kelley, Richard||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry|
|Duffy, A. E. P.||Kenyon, Clifford||Randall, Harry|
|Dunn, James A.||Kerr, Mrs. Ann (R'ter & Chatham)||Rankin, John|
|Dunnett, Jack||Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central)||Redhead, Edward|
|Edelman, Maurice||Lawson, George||Rees, Merlyn|
|Edwards, Rt. Hn. Ness (Caerphilly)||Leadbitter, Ted||Reynolds, G. W.|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Ledger, Ron||Rhodes, Geoffrey|
|English, Michael||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)||Richard, Ivor|
|Ennals, David||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Ensor, David||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.)||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Robertson, John(Paisley)|
|Evans, loan (Birmingham, Yardley)||Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)||Robinson, Rt. Hn. K. (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Fernyhough, E.||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Rodgers, William (Stockton)|
|Finch, Harold (Bedwellty)||Lipton, Marcus||Rose, Paul B.|
|Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Lomas, Kenneth||Ross, Rt. Hn. William|
|Fletcher, Sir Eric (Islington, E.)||Loughlin, Charles||Rowland, Christopher|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Lubbock, Eric||Sheldon, Robert|
|Fletcher, Raymond (I lkeston)||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E.|
|Floud, Bernard||McBride, Neil||Shore, Peter (Stepney)|
|Foley, Maurice||McCann, J.||Short, Rt. Hn. E. (N'c'tle-on-Tyne, C.)|
|Foot, Sir Dingle (Ipswich)||MacColl, James||Short, Mrs. Renéue (W'hampton, N. E.)|
|Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||MacDermot, Niall||Silkin, John (Deptford)|
|Ford, Ben||Mclnnes, James||Silkin, S. C. (Camberwell, Dulwlch)|
|Fraser, Rt. Hn. Tom (Hamilton)||McKay, Mrs. Margaret||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Freeson, Reginald||Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross&Crom'ty)||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Galpern, Sir Myer||Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Garrett, W. E.||Mackie, George Y. (C'ness & S'land)||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)|
|Garrow, A.||Mackie, John (Enfield, E.)||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)|
|George, Lady Megan Lloyd||McLeavy, Frank||Small, William|
|Ginsburg, David||MacMiillan, Malcolm||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Gourlay, Harry||MacPherson, Malcolm||Snow, Julian|
|Gregory, Arnold||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)||Solomons, Henry|
|Grey, Charles||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)||Soskice, Rt. Hn. Sir Frank|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Mallalieu, F. L. (Brigg)||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Steele, Thomas|
|Griffiths, Will (M'chester Exchange)||Manuel, Archie||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||Mann, Charles||Stonehouse, John|
|Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J.||Marsh, Richard||Stones, William|
|Hale, Leslie||Mason, Roy||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)|
|Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Maxwell, Robert||Summerskill, Dr. Shirley|
|Hamilton, William (West Fife)||Mayhew, Christopher||Swain, Thomas|
|Hamling, William (Woolwich, W.)||Mellish, Robert||Swingler, Stephen|
|Hannan, William||Mendelson, J. J.||Symonds, J. B.|
|Harper, Joseph||Millan, Bruce||Taverne, Dick|
|Harrison, Walter (Wakefleld)||Miller, Dr. M. S.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Hart, Mrs. Judith||Milne, Edward (Blyth)||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Hattersley, Roy||Molloy, William||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Hayman, F. H.||Monslow, Walter||Thornton, Ernest|
|Hazell, Bert||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshaw)||Thorpe, Jeremy|
|Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis||Morris, Charles (Openshaw)||Tinn, James|
|Heffer, Eric S.||Morris, John (Aberavon)||Tomney, Frank|
|Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick (SheffieldPk)||Tuck, Raphael|
|Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret||Murray, Albert||Urwin, T. W.|
|Hill, J. (Midlothian)||Neal, Harold||Walden, Brian (All Saints)|
|Hobden, Dennis (Brighton, K'town)||Newens, Stan||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Wallace, George||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Woof, Robert|
|Warbey, William||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Watkine, Tudor||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Weitzman, David||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)||Zilliacus, K.|
|Wells, William (Walsall, N.)||Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)|
|White, Mrs. Eirene||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Whitlock, William||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)||Mr. George Rogers and|
|Wigg, Rt. Hn. George||Winterbottom, R. E.||Mr. Sydney Irving.|
|Wilkins, W. A.||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Agnew, Commander Sir Peter||Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Digby, Simon Wingfield||Jennings, J. C.|
|Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.)||Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Johnson Smith, G.|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Doughty, Charles||Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)|
|Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian||Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec||Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green)|
|Anstruther-Gray, Rt. Hn. Sir W.||Drayson, G. B.||Jopling, Michael|
|Astor, John||du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Eden, Sir John||Kaberry, Sir Donald|
|Awdry, Daniel||Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Kerby, Capt. Henry|
|Baker, W. H. K.||Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Kerr, Sir Hamilton (Cambridge)|
|Balniel, Lord||Emery, Peter||Kershaw, Anthony|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Errington, Sir Eric||Kimball, Marcus|
|Barlow, Sir John||Farr, John||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)|
|Batsford, Brian||Fell, Anthony||Kitson, Timothy|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Fisher, Nigel||Lagden, Godfrey|
|Bell, Ronald||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles (Darwen)||Lancaster, Col. C. G.|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Fletcher-Cooke, Sir John (S'pton)||Langford-Holt, Sir John|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm)||Forrest, George||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry|
|Berkeley, Humphry||Foster, Sir John||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone)||Litchfield, Capt. John|
|Biffen, John||Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'nC'dfleld)|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Galbraith, Hn. T. C. D.||Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)|
|Bingham, R. M.||Gammans, Lady||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)|
|Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Gardner, Edward||Longbottom, Charles|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Gibson-Watt, David||Longden, Gilbert|
|Blaker, Peter||Giles, Rear-Admiral Morgan||Loveys, Walter H.|
|Bossom, Hn. Clive||Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, Central)||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn|
|Box, Donald||Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)||McAdden, Sir Stephen|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. J.||Glover, Sir Douglas||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy|
|Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Glyn, Sir Richard||Macleod, Rt. Hn. lain|
|Braine, Bernard||Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.||Maginnls, John E.|
|Brewis, John||Coodhart, Philip||Maitland, Sir John|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Goodhew, Victor||Marlowe, Anthony|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter||Gower, Raymond||Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest|
|Brooke, Rt. Hn. Henry||Grant, Anthony||Marten, Neil|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Grant-Ferris, R.||Mathew, Robert|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Gresham-Cooke, R.||Maude, Angus|
|Bryan, Paul||Grieve, Percy||Maudling Rt. Hn. Reginald|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Mawby, Ray|
|Buck, Antony||Griffiths, Peter (Smethwick)||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Gurden, Harold||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.|
|Burden, F. A.||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Mills, Peter (Torrington)|
|Buxton, R. C.||Hamilton, M. (Salisbury)||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)|
|Campbell, Gordon||Hamilton, Marquess of (Fermanagh)||Miscampbell, Norman|
|Carlisle, Mark||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.)||Monro, Hector|
|Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Harris, Reader (Heston)||More, Jasper|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)|
|Chataway, Christopher||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Maccles'd)||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh|
|Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Harvie Anderson, Miss||Murton Oscar|
|Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Hastings, Stephen||Neave, Airey|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence(Portsmth, W.)||Hawkins, Paul||Nicholls, Sir Harmar|
|Cole, Norman||Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey|
|Cooke, Robert||Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Cooper, A. E.||Hendry, Forbes||Nugent, Rt. Hn. Sir Richard|
|Corfield, F. V.||Higgins, Terence L.||Onslow, Cranley|
|Costain, A. P.||Hiley, Joseph||Orr, Cant. L. P. S.|
|Courtney, Cdr. Anthony||Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)||Hirst, Geoffrey||Osborne, Sir Cyril(Louth)|
|Crawley, Aidan||Hobson, Rt. Hn. Sir John||Page, John (Harrow, W.)|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver||Hogg, Rt. Hn. Qintin||Page, R. Graham (Crosby)|
|Crowder, F. P.||Hopkins, Alan||Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)|
|Cunningham, Sir Knox||Hordern, Peter||Peel, John|
|Curran, Charles||Hornby, Richard||Percival, Ian|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame P.||Peyton, John|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Howard, Hn. G. R. (St. Ives)||Pickthorn, Rt. Hn. Sir Kenneth|
|Dance, James||Howe, Geoffrey (Bebington)||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Davies, Dr. Wynclham (Perry Barr)||Hunt, John (Bromley)||Pitt, Dame Edith|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Pounder, Rafton|
|Dean, Paul||Iremonger, T. L.||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
|Price, David (Eastleigh)||Soames, Rt. Hn. Christopher||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John|
|Prior, J. M. L||Spearman, Sir Alexander||Vickers, Dame Joan|
|Pym, Francis||Speir, Sir Rupert||Walder, David (High Peak)|
|Quennell, Miss J. M.||Stainton, Keith||Walker, Peter (Worcester)|
|Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James||Stanley, Hn. Richard||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter||Stodart, J. A.||Wall, Patrick|
|Redmayne, Rt. Hn. Sir Martin||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm||Walters, Dennis|
|Rees-Davies, W. R.||Studholme, Sir Henry||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David||Summers, Sir Spencer||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Ridley, Hn. Nicholas||Talbot, John E.||Webster, David|
|Ridsdale, Julian||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)||Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)||Whitelaw, William|
|Robson Brown, Sir William||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)||Williams, Sir Rolf Dudley (Exeter)|
|Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)||Teeling, Sir William||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Roots, William||Temple, John M.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Royle, Anthony||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret||Wise, A. R.|
|Russell, Sir Ronald||Thomas, Sir Leslie (Canterbury)||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|St. John-Stevas, Norman||Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Conway)||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.||Thompson, Sir Richard(Croydon, S.)||Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher|
|Scott-Hopkins, James||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Sharples, Richard||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)||Wylie, N. R.|
|Shepherd, William||Tilney, John (Wavertree)||Yates, Wiliam (The Wrekin)|
|Sinclair, Sir George||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Smith, Dudley (Br'ntl'd & Chiswick)||Tweedsmuir, Lady||Mr. McLaren and|
|Smyth, Rt. Hn. Brig. Sir John||van Straubenzee, W. R.||Mr. MacArthur.|
§ Bill accordingly read a Second time.
§ Motion made, and Question put, That the Bill be committed to a Committee of the whole House.—[Mr. Godber.]1142
§ The House divided: Ayes 294, Noes 301.1145
|Division No. 61.]||AYES||[10.14 p.m.|
|Agnew, Commander Sir Peter||Chichester-Clark, R.||Glyn, Sir Richard|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.|
|Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.)||Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Goodhart, Philip|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth. W.)||Goodhew, Victor|
|Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian||Cole, Norman||Cower, Raymond|
|Anstruther-Gray, Rt. Hn. Sir W.||Cooke, Robert||Grant, Anthony|
|Astor, John||Cooper, A. E.||Grant-Ferris, R.|
|Atkins, Humphrey||corfield, F. V.||Gresham-Cooke, R.|
|Awdry, Daniel||Costain, A. P.||Grieve, Percy|
|Baker, W. H. K.||Courtney, Cdr. Anthony||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)|
|Balniel, Lord||Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)||Griffiths, Peter (Smethwick)|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Crawley, Aidan||Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.|
|Barlow, Sir John||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver||Gurden, Harold|
|Batsford, Brian||Crowder, F. P.||Hall, John (Wycombe)|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Cunningham, Sir Knox||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.|
|Bell, Ronald||Curran, Charles||Hamilton, Marquess of (Fermanagh)|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Cos & Fhm)||currie, G. B. H.||Hamilton, M. (Salisbury)|
|Berkeley, Humphry||Dalkeith, Earl of||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.)|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Dance, James||Harris, Reader (Heston)|
|Bessell, Peter||Davles, Dr. Wyndham (Perry Barr)||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)|
|Biften, John||Dean, Paul||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Maccles'd)|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Bingham, R. M.||Digby, Simon Wingfield||Harvie Anderson, Miss|
|Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Hastings, Stephen|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Doughty, Charles||Hawkins, Paul|
|Blaker, Peter||Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec||Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel|
|Bossom, Hn. Clive||Drayson, G. B.||Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward|
|Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan)||du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||Hendry, Forbes|
|Box, Donald||Eden, Sir John||Higgins, Terence L.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. J.||Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Hiley, Joseph|
|Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Hill, J. E. B. (S, Norfolk)|
|Braine, Bernard||Emery, Peter||Hirst, Geoffrey|
|Brewis, John||Errington, Sir Eric||Hobson, Rt. Hn. Sir John|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Farr, John||Hogg, Rt. Hn. Qulntin|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Waltel||Fell, Anthony||Hooson, H. E.|
|Brooke, Rt. Hn. Henry||Fisher, Nigel||Hopkins, Alan|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles (Darwen)||Hordem, Peter|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Fletcher-Cooke, Sir John (S'pton)||Hornby, Richard|
|Bryan, Paul||Forrest, George||Horntby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame P.|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick||Foster, Sir John||Howard, Hn. G. R. (St. Ives)|
|Buck, Antony||Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone)||Howe, Geoffrey (Bebington)|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Hunt, John (Bromley)|
|Burden, F. A.||Galbraith, Hn. T. G. D.||Hutchison, Michael Clark|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Cammans, Lady||Iremonger, T. L.|
|Buxton, R. C.||Gar dner, Edward||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)|
|Campbell, Gordon||Gibson-Watt, David||Jennings, J. C.|
|Carlisle, Mark||Giles, Rear-Admiral Morgan||Johnson Smith, G.|
|Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, Central)||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)|
|Gary, Sir Robert||Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)||Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)|
|Chataway, Christopher||Glover, Sir Douglas||Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green)|
|Jopling, Michael||Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Speir, Sir Rupert|
|Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith||Murton, Oscar||Stainton, Keith|
|Kaberry, Sir Donald||Neave, Airey||Stanley, Hn. Richard|
|Kerby, Capt. Henry||Nicholls, Sir Harmar||Stodart, J. A.|
|Kerr, Sir Hamilton (Cambridge)||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Kershaw, Anthony||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Kllfedder, James A.||Nugent, Rt. Hn. Sir Richard||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|Kimball, Marcus||Onslow, Cranley||Talbot, John E.|
|King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Kitson, Timothy||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian||Taylor, Edward M. (G-gow, CathcarO|
|Lagden, Godfrey||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Page, John (Harrow, W.)||Teeling, Sir William|
|Langford-Holt, Sir John||page, R. Graham (Crosby)||Temple, John M.|
|Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Peet, John||Thomas, Sir Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Litchfield, Capt. John||Percival, Ian||Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Conway)|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'nC'dfield)||Peyton, John||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)||Pickthorn, Rt. Hn. Sir Kenneth||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Thorpe Jeremy|
|Longbottom, Charles||pitt, Dame Edith||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)|
|Longden, Gilbert||Pounder, Rafton||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Loveys, Walter H.||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch||Turton, Bt. Hn. R. H.|
|Luboock, Eric||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Lucas, Sir Jocelyn||Prior, J. M.L.||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|McAdden, Sir Stephen||pym, Francis||Vaughan-Morgan, Ht. Hn. Sir John|
|Mackenzie, Alasdair(Ross & Crom'ty)||Quennell, Miss J. M.||Vickers, Dame Joan|
|Mackie, George Y. (C'ness & S'land)||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James||walder, David (High Peak)|
|Maclean, Sir Fitzroy||Rawllnson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter||Walker, Peter (Worcester)|
|Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain||Redmayne, Rt. Hn. Sir Martin||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|McMaster, Stanley||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Wall, Patrick|
|Maginnis, John E.||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David||Walters, Dennis|
|Maitland, Sir John||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Marlowe, Anthony||Ridsdale, Julian||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)||Webster, David|
|Marten, Neil||Robson Brown, Sir William||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Mathew, Robert||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)||Whitelaw, William|
|Maude, Angus||Roots, William||Williams, Sir Rolf Dudley (Exeter)|
|Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald||Royle, Anthony||wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Mawby, Ray||Russell, Sir Ronald||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||St. John-Stevas, Norman||Wise, A. R.|
|Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Meyer, Sir Anthony||Scott-Hopkins, James||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Mills, Peter (Torrington)||Sharples, Richard||Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher|
|Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)||Shepherd, William||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Miscampbell, Norman||Sinclair, Sir George||Wylie, N. R.|
|Monro, Hector||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|More, Jasper||Smyth, Rt. Hn. Brig. Sir John|
|Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Soames, Rt. Hn. Christopher||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Spearman, Sir Alexander||Mr. McLaren and Mr. Mac-Arthur.|
|Abse, Leo||Buehan, Norman (Renfrewshire, W.)||Duffy, A. E. P.|
|Albu, Austen||Buchanan, Richard||Dunn, James A.|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Dunnett, Jack|
|Alldritt, W. H.||Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Edelman, Maurice|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James||Edwards, Rt. Hn. Ness (Caerphilly)|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Carmichael, Neil||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)|
|Atkinson, Norman||Carter-Jones, Lewis||English, Michael|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Ennals, David|
|Bagier, Cordon A. T.||Chapman, Donald||Ensor, David|
|Barnett, Joel||Coleman, Donald||Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.)|
|Baxter, William||Conlan, Bernard||Evans, loan (Birmingham, Yardley)|
|Beaney, Alan||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Fernyhough, E.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hn. F. J.||Cousin, Rt. Hn. Frank||Finch, Harold (Bedwellty)|
|Bence, Cyril||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Fitch, Alan (Wigan)|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Crawshaw, Richard||Fletcher, Sir Eric (Islington, E.)|
|Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Cronin, John||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)|
|Binne, John||Crosland, Anthony||Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)|
|Bishop, E. S.||Grossman, Rt. Hn. R. H. S.||Floud, Bernard|
|Blackburn, F.||Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Foley, Maurice|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Dalyell, Tam||Foot, Sir Dingle (Ipswich)|
|Boardman, H.||Darling, George||Foot, Michael (Ebtaw Vale)|
|Boston, T. G.||Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Ford, Ben|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Fraser, Rt. Hn. Tom (Hamilton)|
|Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics S. W.)||Davies, lfor (Gower)||Freeson, Reginald|
|Boyden, James||Davies, S. 0. (Merthyr)||Galpern, Sir Myer|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Delargy, Hugh||Garrett, W. E.|
|Bradley, Tom||Dell, Edmund||Carrow, A.|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Diamond, John||George, Lady Megan Lloyd|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Dodds, Norman||Ginsburg, David|
|Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper)||Doig, Peter||Gourlay, Harry|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Glasgow, Provan)||Donnelly, Desmond||Gregory, Arnold|
|Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & Fbury)||Driberg, Tom||Grey, Charles|
|Griffiths, David (Bother Valley)||Mclnnes, James||Roberta, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)||McKay, Mrs. Margaret||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Griffiths, Will (M'chester Exchange)||Mackenzie, Cregor (Rutherglen)||Robinson, Rt. Hn. K. (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J.||Mackie, John (Enfield, E.)||Rodgers, William (Stockton)|
|Hale, Leslie||McLeavy, Frank||Rose, Paul B.|
|Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||MacMillan, Malcolm||Ross, Rt. Hn. William|
|Hamilton, William (West Fife)||MacPherson, Malcoim||Rowland, Christopher|
|Hamling, William (Woolwich, W.)||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)||Sheldon, Robert|
|Hannan, William||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)||Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E.|
|Harper, Joseph||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Shore, Peter (Stepney)|
|Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Short, Rt. Hn. E. (N'c'tle-on-Tyne, C.)|
|Hart, Mrs. Judith||Manuel, Archio||Short, Mrs. Renée(W'hampton. N. E.)|
|Hattersley, Roy||Mapp, Charles||Silkin, John (Deptford)|
|Hayman, F. H.||Marsh, Richard||Silkin, S. C. (Camberwell, Dulwich)|
|Hazell, Bert||Mason, Roy||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis||Maxwell, Robert||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Heffer, Eric S.||Mayhew, Christopher||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Mellish, Robert||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)|
|Herbison, Rt. Hn Margaret||Mendelson, J. J.||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)|
|Hill, J. (Midlothian)||Millan, Bruce||Small, William|
|Hobden, Dennis (Brighton, K'town)||Miller, Dr. M. S.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke,)|
|Holman, Percy||Milne, Edward (Blyth)||Snow, Julian|
|Horner, John||Molloy, William||Solomons, Henry|
|Houghton, Bt. Hn. Douglas||Monslow, Walter||Soskice, Rt. Hn. Sir Frank|
|Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Howarth, Robert L. (Bolton, E.)||Morris, Charles (Openshaw)||Steele, Thomas|
|Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Morris, John (Aberavon)||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Howie W.||Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick (SheffieldPk)||Stonehouse, John|
|Hoy, James||Murray, Albert||Stones, William|
|Hughes, Ernrys (S. Ayrshire)||Neal, Harold||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Newens, Stan||Summerskill, Dr. Shirley|
|Hunter, A. E. (Fcltham)||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Swain Thomas|
|Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Noel-Baker, Ht. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)||Swmgler, Stephen|
|Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Norwood, Christopher||Symonds, J. B.|
|Irvine A. J. (Edge Hill)||Oakes Gordon||Taverne, Dick|
|Jackson, Colin||Ogden, Eric||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Janner, Sir Barnett||O'Malleey, Brian||Thomas George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Oram Albert E. (E. Ham S.)||Thomson George (Dundee, C.)|
|Jeger, George (Goole)||orbach, Maurice||Thornton, Ernest|
|Jeger. Mrs. Lena (H'b'n&St.P'eras, S.)||Orme, Stanley||Tomney, Frank|
|Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Oswald, Thomas||Tuck, Raphael|
|Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)||Owen, Will||Tuck, Raphael|
|Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Padley, Walter||Walden, Brian (All saints)|
|Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||Page, Derek (King's Lynn)||Walker, Brian (Doncaster)|
|Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Paget, R. T.||Wallace, George|
|Jones, R. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Palmer Arthur||Warbey, William|
|Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles||watkins, Tudor|
|Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Pargiter, G. A.||Weitzman, David|
|Kelley, Richard||Park, Trevor (Derbyshire, S. E.)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Kenyon, Clifford||Parker, John||white Mrs. Eirene)|
|Kerr, Mrs. Anne (H'ter & Chatham)||Parkln, B. T.||White, William|
|Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central)||Pavitt, Laurence||Wigg, Rt. Hn. George|
|Lawson, George||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Lcadbitter, Ted||Pearson, Rt. Hn. Fred||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Ledger, Ron||Pentiand, Norman||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)||Perry, Ernest G.||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|tee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Poppiewell, Ernest||Williams, W. T.(Warrington)|
|Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Prentice, R. E.||Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)||Probert, Arthur||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Lipton, Marcus||Randall, Harry||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Lomas, Kenneth||Rankin, John||Woof, Robert|
|Loughlin, Charles||Redhead, Edward||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Rees, Merlyn||Vates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|McBride, Neil||Reynolds, G. W.||Zilliacus, K.|
|McCann, J.||Rhodes, Geoffrey|
|MacColl, James||Richard, Ivor||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|MacDermot, Niall||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Mr. Sydney Irving and|
|Mr. George Rogers.|
|Bill committed to a Standing Committee pursuant to Standing Order No. 40 (Committal of Bills).|