HC Deb 22 March 1967 vol 743 cc1841-76

9.53 p.m.

Mr. Iain Macleod (Enfield, West)

I beg to move, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Temporary Restrictions on Pay Increases (20th July 1966 Levels) (No. 4) Order 1967 (S.I., 1967, No. 217), dated 22nd February, 1967, a copy of which was laid before this House on 22nd February, be annulled. I feel that I ought to apologise for troubling the House for the third time today, partly on the statement on prices and incomes, then on decimal currency, and now on this Prayer. I am getting in practice for the Finance Bill which lies ahead.

This Order arises out of the 1966 Prices and Incomes Act. We opposed the original Act. We opposed it even more fiercely when Part IV was introduced into it, and consistently and vehemently we have opposed the Orders which have been made under it.

Mr. Stanley Orme (Salford, West)

Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite are not the only ones.

Mr. Macleod

Perhaps we are not the only ones, but we are the only ones who voted against them.

In passing, I would say that it is pleasant to be debating this matter with the Parliamentary Secretary. This is the first time that I have had that opportunity. He will know of my affection for his Department. I am bound to say that it is very sad that he has to defend the sort of Motion which comes before the House today.

We had this afternoon from the First Secretary a statement that I found mainly incomprehensible and, where I did understand it, unfair. It has already been savaged in comment, and this Prayer is a very good illustration of what happens when a Government try to intervene in detail in statutory support of their prices and incomes policy. The basic facts are not, I think, in dispute, although it is fair to say—I have seen most of the parties to the dispute—that some of the parties look at some of the facts—naturally enough, perhaps—with a rather different eye.

As I understand the position, it is that the Press Association, Exchange Telegraph and Reuters had an agreement with N.A.T.S.O.P.A., now S.O.G.A.T., which expired on 30th September of last year. The union gave notice of termination of this agreement towards the end of April 1966; that is to say, before 20th July. At a meeting on 3rd November the management and union representatives together agreed on revised terms, which included a minimum increase of 29s. 6d. for employees aged 21 or over, and termination on 31st March, 1968.

In accordance with normal practice, this offer was then submitted to the union executive council, which approved it for membership ballot. The ballot was favourable. There then rose the problem of implementation, and another meeting was held with the union. The union suggested that the management should write to the Ministry saying that the management proposed to implement from 1st January, 1967. The management agreed to do so, and its letter contained these sentences: We propose to implement this Agreement with effect from 1st January, 1967. Payment will be made under the new Agreement in the week beginning January 23rd unless we hear from you before that date that this is unacceptable. The letter ended: A gross anomaly exists as a result of N.G.A."— that is, the National Graphical Association: and NUJ employees of"— the three agencies "— having received negotiated increases in 1966 on expiry of their two-year agreements while S.O.G.A.T. employees, the lowest paid section "— and I will return to that point later: on the expiry of their two-year agreement have not. The Minister's reply contested the question of whether or not there was a gross anomaly and also whether the question of the criteria of the lowest-paid worker should apply. It ended: Subject to further consideration … we hope that both parties will meet the wishes of the Government deferring this increase until the 1st July, 1967, at the earliest. Finally, all three chapels of the B.N.A.—the British News Agencies Association including Reuters, who are not directly affected by this Order—voted to strike for 24 hours in the first instance. Reuters subsequently withdrew the strike threat—

Mr. Charles Pannell (Leeds, West)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am of the opinion that the box on the Liberal bench conflicts with the protocol of this House about bringing cases into this place. I have noticed that previous Speakers have ruled that such things be taken out. Any reflection on the subject would indicate how undesirable this practice is. Once we start we almost have portmanteaus brought in. May I request you to ask Liberal Members to remove the object?

Mr. Speaker

This is a difficult question. I noticed that the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock) brought in a strange contrivance, which, I imagine, contained his speech on decimal currency. That has to go now, unless it is serving some useful purpose.

Mr. Macleod

I was observing that the Reuters strike threat—all three were for 24 hours in the first instance—was withdrawn and the Press Association and the Exchange Telegraph decided to pay from 1st January and the Minister, in retaliation, made this Order. So much for fact, I do not think the facts are in dispute. There may be more facts which one could add, but the basic facts are those.

Now I turn to comment. As I understand the position, of those concerned in these news agencies the highest paid received their 1966 advances just before, indeed one day before, the 20th July statement. They received them on 19th July. Therefore, the lowest-paid workers—this is very ironic—are being affected by this decision. This is why I came to this point as quickly as I could when the statement was made this afternoon by the First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Economic Affairs. It seems quite clear that the Government have no conception of what a lower-paid or lowest-paid worker is. Perhaps they are waiting once more for Mr. Aubrey Jones, who, I am bound to say, has very odd ideas of a low-paid worker. The higher paid workers got their award and the lowest-paid workers did not. That is what we are debating.

Those affected by paragraph (a) are about 200 in the Press Association. They are copy takers, typists, clerks, librarians, cleaners, maintenance men—those on the lower end of the scale. Paragraph (b) is even more strangely worded. It applies, I believe, to about 100 of a vastly larger number in the Exchange Telegraph and applies only to certain departments. One might ask why these particular departments are selected for mention in this Order. There is no doubt about the answer. It is that these are the departments in which S.O.G.A.T. is so strongly organised.

In all negotiations S.O.G.A.T. has always spoken for all the staff in the Exchange Telegraph and all staff have received whatever increases and improvements the union has achieved for them. But now this Order in Council has been used to differentiate between non-trade unionists and trade unionists. Management is now perfectly free to pay the former any increases it thinks fit. It may be that it will not do so, but who knows with certainty? It is very difficult with individual payments to find out. What is absolutely clear is that S.O.G.A.T. is being penalised by this Government in part, at least, because of the hostile attitude it has taken from the beginning to the Government's prices and wages policy.

Mr. Orme

Is it not a fact that this differentiation whereby trade unionists are to be victimised and non-unionists have the right to payment is the very thing which many of us in this House protested about at the very beginning of this prices and incomes policy, which we are now seeing is the result of Part IV?

Mr. Macleod

Exactly. The hon. Member has anticipated, and perhaps will recall as I read them, the words I used in the debate on the implementation of Part IV. I said on 26th October: I have one more general point. These particular Orders—this seems to me very curious coming from a Labour Government—affect only union members. Because they affect only union members, there is nothing to prevent non-union members from being paid any increase they can get although doing precisely the same work as those who are controlled. I never expected such a proposition to come from the Socialist Party."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th October, 1966; Vol. c. 865.] I remember very well Frank Cousins nodding agreement as I spoke those words. I remember the disagreement which came from the Government Front Bench on this issue.

My first point was in relation to the lower paid. My second point concerns the attitude towards S.O.G.A.T. and the discrimination in relation to the trade unions. One of the trade union leaders came to see me a day or so ago. He started by saying, absolutely fairly, that he was a Socialist but he had come to see me because I had tabled the Prayer. He told me that he was losing some union members who had handed in their cards because of the discrimination this Government are carrying out. Some may rejoice in this, but I do not. I believe that it is absolutely deplorable that the Government should use all their strength in this way to bring about this sort of situation.

Thirdly, there is the case which I mentioned that one of the news agencies—Reuters—although mentioned in the Schedule, is not estopped. The reason given by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on Wednesday, 22nd February, to the hon. Member for South-all (Mr. Bidwell), was that Reuters, unlike the others, had not been paying an increase in breach of that standstill. That may be so. It is only fair to say that there are some people who take a somewhat different view of the present situation.

I make it clear that I have no criticism of Reuters, either of the management or of the men. It is perfectly all right to me if they can get the increases. What has happened is that the increases backdated to 1st October, 1966, under a wage structure review have been paid by Reuters. I think I am right in saying that the Ministry, in the last day or so, has given a similar blessing to a move by Exchange Telegraph.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour (Mr. Roy Hattersley)

indicated assent.

Mr. Macleod

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary confirms that that is so.

I put it no higher than this. Some people at least think it is strange that the union which withdrew its strike should have been promptly rewarded. After all, if these increases were not affected by the standstill, why were they not paid when they were due last October? If they were due, why were they put forward as an alternative to implementing the wage structure which I have discussed? I am sure that the Government take a different view on this. It may be that they have a completely satisfactory answer, at least from their point of view. However, it is right for me to draw the attention of the House to the fact that some disquiet has been expressed on this matter.

I come briefly to my last point—the question of the effect on pensions. I have here the Press Association's announcement to monthly paid S.O.G.A.T. staff. No doubt similar documents could be found for Exchange Telegraph. The point here is extremely important. Pay has been issued to these people at a higher level. The Minister has now ruled that their pay has to go back to the level of 20th July. It therefore follows that their pay has been reduced and that their pension or their liability to pension has also been affected.

The Press Association, very helpfully—I am sure that the others also did this—has suggested: S.O.G.A.T. staff who are members of the Annuity Fund and within five years of retirement are therefore strongly advised to consider contributing to the Annuity Fund on the basis of their salaries at the rate current for the week ending 25th February, 1967 so that their pension and other benefits will reflect the higher salary they would have continued to receive but for the 'freeze' Order. In other words, they have a choice—either to pay the appropriate contributions on a salary which they are not getting or to lose part of their pension benefit. I cannot think that the Parliamentary Secretary will not feel ashamed at having to defend that position in this and so many instances.

In due course we shall naturally press this matter to a Division. No doubt, some hon. Members opposite will abstain. I wish that they would do more, but I understand the House of Commons. The rest will support the Government, and they will doubtless be acclaimed as loyalists. In view of the account which I have given, which I do not think can be challenged on any major point, one may well ask, "Loyalty to what?" Loyalty to the doctrine of fairness? But the Order is grossly unfair. Loyalty to the principle of helping the lowest-paid workers? But it is the lowest-paid workers who are being penalised by the Order. Or, finally, loyalty to trade union principles? But the trade unions are themselves being discriminated against by the Order, which the Government will invite their supporters to support in the House. I am sure that we all really know that, including, I would guess, the Parliamentary Secretary. The Order is shabby. It is in part vindictive, and therefore the House should not tolerate it.

10.12 p.m.

Mr. Sydney Bidwell (Southall)

As my hon. Friends and, I think, most right hon. and hon. Members opposite realise, I am fairly new to this debating Chamber. But, as many of my hon. Friends also know, I am not new to the trade union movement or the difficulties of negotiating in industrial relations.

It is perhaps an odd situation that on this occasion I find myself substantially in agreement with most of what the right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod) said, but I am sure that it is not the first time that some very odd or strange bed-fellows have found themselves in the same position of repose. Perhaps I can console myself by thinking that his position is substantially on the right side of the bed and mine is substantially on the left side of it.

The representatives of the workers concerned, members of the Society of Graphical and Allied Trades, came to see me at the House about the problem. Some of them were friends of mine because of a former occupation I followed. When I listened to their case I was very tempted to ask some of my hon. Friends to join me in putting down Prayer to annul the Order, because I felt so incensed at the injustice against these workers. I also thought that the whole case showed up the inadequacies of the Government's prices and incomes policy, as exemplified in the Prices and Incomes Act.

I am therefore very glad today to find that it is substantially going back into the melting pot. It must, because the whole trade union movement is opposed to it in its existing form—not only the whole trade union movement but also, apparently, the chairman of the Labour Party. I think it is obvious that the Opposition, in bringing this case forward this evening, are shedding a lot of croco- dile tears about the rights of trade unionists. Nevertheless, I feel that it is my duty, and that of many of my hon. Friends who think as I do, to take advantage of this opportunity to give the retreating aspect of the Government's incomes policy a further shove.

It is true, as the right hon. Gentleman said, that after I had heard of this case I put down a Question to the First Secretary of State asking him not to make an Order. His reply was that an Order had been made restricting the remuneration of certain employees of the Press Association Limited and the Exchange Telegraph Company Limited to what they were receiving before 20th July, 1966. He did not make an Order in respect of Reuters Limited because that company, unlike the others, had not been paying an increase in breach of the standstill. I heard a little about the history of this, and it smacks very much of victimisation, because I understand the situation to be that other employees have had increases, or have been promised them, back-dated to last April.

There is an enormous amount of overlapping of the work between Reuters employees, Press Association employees, and Exchange Telegraph employees. I am not surprised, therefore that the S.O.G.A.T. branch issued a statement in which it said that it considered the Order in Council, if operated, would put their wages back to a level which was unjust and unprincipled, particularly in view of the fact that S.O.G.A.T. catered for the low-paid workers and prior to the freeze there had been increases made—I understand substantial increases—to members of the National Union of Journalists and to members of the National Graphical Association who are higher-paid workers in the print industry.

They said it was unjust because it would merely increase the already substantial difference in wages between themselves, the lower-paid section of the staff, and the rest of the employees, and that the Order would apply to one-third of the staff, and that one-third would be the lowest-paid.

Members of S.O.G.A.T. on whom the Order in Council is imposed also negotiated a wage increase in 1966, but it could not be paid because of the standstill. The new but frozen agreement contained a wage increase of £1 9s. 6d. a week on the basic rate of £14 12s. 6d. established in October, 1964, and the Order in Council if applied means that the S.O.G.A.T. members alone among employees of the three news agencies, the Press Association, Exchange Telegraph and Reuters did not have an increase in wages for almost three years.

They said that the Order was unjust because it discriminated against the lower paid. Many of the workers were lower paid according to the figures which I have mentioned, and they also said that it was unprincipled for the following reasons, namely, that all three associations had negotiated an increase, that the S.O.G.A.T. agreement was for an increase of £1 9s. 6d., that the Order was to apply only to S.O.G.A.T. members of the Press Association, to some members of the Exchange Telegraph Company, and that it did not apply at all to members employed by Reuters.

S.O.G.A.T. chapels in the Press Association and Exchange Telegraph Company pressed for the implementation of the agreement, and after strike notices had been handed in the managements of these two agencies agreed to implement the increase with effect from 1st January, 1967. Reuters' chapel withdrew their strike notice under duress, and as a result the new agreement was not implemented in Reuters. The Order in Council did not affect them later on. However, the management of Reuters had informed the employees that the Minister had agreed that the cost-of-living bonus should be paid in April, 1967. I understand that it has been, or will be, back-dated to October of last year. We are now left with the position that S.O.G.A.T. members on Exchange Telegraph and the Press Association do not know exactly where they stand, because in the freeze their cost-of-living bonus has already been included, and so other groups of workers are going forward.

Another point which puzzles them is that apparently the Order was applied to departments where S.O.G.A.T. members were employed, and it is common gossip that a number of other employees, who were not caught up in collective bargaining arrangements, have had increases in emoluments in some way or another.

The situation in Exchange Telegraph is extremely confusing. The Order in Council applies only to specific depart- ments and, oddly enough, those are the departments organised by S.O.G.A.T., says the statement. The departments which are excluded from the Order are non-trade union organised and it is therefore concluded that the Order in Council is specifically designed to discriminate against trade unionists in the Exchange Telegraph. For all these reasons it is considered that the Order in Council should be annulled by Parliament as unjust and unprincipled.

In listening to these representations I could not find an argument to suggest that the Order was not unjust and unprincipled. This kind of thing is one of the most glaring examples of the many injustices which are obviously coming out of what is not really a prices and incomes policy, but a groping towards such a policy, forced upon the Labour Government, some may argue.

I will give another example of the way in which the workers feel about it. In a letter addressed to one of the officials of S.O.G.A.T., the father of the chapel concerned said: Upon looking at the Order in Council that you sent us, my committee wishes me to put on record to you and to the Executive Council the following comments. That in naming certain departments this order has discriminated between union and non-union personnel at Extel House. This discrimination could have a very bad effect on the morale of this Chapel once the order takes effect, unless the reference to departments is deleted. In their deliberations with the Ministry, the Extel Management have indicated departments in which our members work. However, we do have members in other departments, and had we been involved in a prolonged dispute these members would have been affected. How would the Order have been applied then? The Order appears to us to lack both principle and common sense. The action our Chapel threatened to take, despite the various labels attached to it, was solely to back our Union, and actively support its policy regarding the wage freeze. This was done in spite of thinly-veiled hints from the Management that other workers, presumably non-union, would go ahead of us financially. We therefore look to our Society to do all they possibly can on our behalf. I do not envy the Parliamentary Secretary his job this evening, because he will be defending what I consider to be a crumbling policy. I have listened carefully to many of the other discussions on wages Orders. In his speech concluding the debate on the last occasion, my hon. Friend referred to Mr. Frank Cousins, the former right hon. Member for Nuneaton and the general secretary of the union which, incidentally, is the landlord of the headquarters of the Labour Party. He took as his norm £15 a week for the low-paid or lowest-paid worker—we get rather confused with these terms.

Some of the workers concerned in this case earn about £11 a week. On this occasion I would like my hon. Friend to throw away his brief. He is a fellow trade unionist and I would like him to attach his mind very closely to the substance of what is said in the debate. He said on one occasion, in answer to a critic, that the Government should have an incomes policy but it should allow people to break it. Of course it has been broken. He has talked about drawing a line but there is no line. There was free talk about criteria. What do the criteria mean? A criterion is an assessment of judgment, but there has been no fair and just application of the incomes policy up to date.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I want to help the hon. Gentleman. He cannot discuss the incomes policy in general. What he must do is apply it to this Order.

Mr. Bidwell

It is very tempting to want to do that, especially when the White Paper has just been published. This particular case is a glaring example of what can follow in the wake of the legislation. My hon. Friend the Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins) talked, on the last occasion, in terms of the three principal Ministers concerned charging about in the delicate china shop of industrial relations. That very aptly sums up the situation.

It has not been a hit-and-miss policy in my view; it has been a hit-and-mess policy. It has shown up hideous deformities, assuming of course that we had a correct distribution of the national income to begin with. No more glaringly than in this particular case are the inadequacies of the whole policy exposed.

10.26 p.m.

Sir Lionel Heald (Chertsey)

I am glad to be following the hon. Gentleman the Member for Southall (Mr. Bidwell), because I believe that this is a matter which should be discussed, as he has made quite plain he was discussing it. from a non-party point of view, but from the point of view of understanding what is the effect of an Order on this kind upon our constituents. We ought to recognise that this is a case where there was an agreement freely entered into by independent parties, involving an increase in their remuneration. We are interfering with that if we agree with the Order that we are now considering. We ought to know what that involves.

There are several matters upon which I believe the House is entitled to have an explanation, arising out of the White Paper issued today. We are surely entitled to know, if this Order is effective, what will be the future position. What will happen in July? I am very concerned, having had the opportunity of reading the White Paper since it was produced at 3.30 p.m. this afternoon, and considering it in relation to what we are discussing now. On the face of it, it would appear that in July this agreement will be allowed to go forward. I am relying here upon paragraph 25 of the White Paper which says: Commitments, the operative dates of which have been deferred 'at least until 1st July' … may be implemented from that day, unless the parties concerned agreed on a later operative date or the commitment is … the subject of a reference to the National Board for Prices and Incomes … On the face of it, that sounds very attractive, but when we look back at the previous paragraph, we begin to wonder what the situation will be. A little earlier in the White Paper we find the statement that: In the present economic situation … There can be no justification …for returning to the norm of 3–3½ per cent. per annum. Over the twelve months' period beginning 1st July, 1967, no-one can be entitled to a minimum increase;"—

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Sydney Irving)

Order. I must point out to the hon. Gentleman that he cannot discuss the White Paper. He must discuss the Order before us, relating to one particular case.

Sir L. Heald

I am giving reasons why we should not agree to this Order. The first reason is that unless we have an explanation of the effect of the Order on the future of these men under their agreement, which they have entered into according to law, we cannot make up our minds except in one direction, and that is to refuse it. [Interruption.] Of course, there are some people who do not like the law, except when it is in their favour, but in this case, as the hon. Member for Southall has pointed out, there is a serious question as to whether injustice is being done to these men. That is what I am concerned with. I take it that the hon. Member and I will be in agreement.

I was not being legalistic but was being very practical about this. We want to know whether these men, if they cannot get this increase today, will be entitled to get it in August. I am very doubtful whether they will, and I will explain why. Unless we are satisfied that that is so, I believe that hon. Members in all parts of the House will be very anxious to know exactly where we are going. How long are these men to be deprived of their rights under a legal agreement?

This is what is said, and I will be short about it: Over the twelve months' period beginning 1st July 1967, no one can be entitled to a minimum increase; any proposed increase … will need to be justified against the criteria set out below. That means, apparently, that steps will be taken to see not only that they do not get the increase now, but that they will not get it then either.

Paragraph 23 of this wonderful document which was produced this afternoon refers to the Report on Incomes Policy which was approved by the Conference of Union Executives", when the T.U.C. General Council stated that priority should continue to be given to encouraging settlements which promote productivity and to improving the relative position of low-paid workers. The Government accept the desirability of maintaining these priorities … When we look at the "Descriptions of Remuneration for Work" in the Schedule to the Order, we find that specific reference is made to doorkeepers, storekeepers and handymen, editorial and sports services, sports room, and so on. Can it be said that we know where we stand with regard to that matter?

We are being left in a state of great confusion on this matter. It is bad enough when men who are admittedly holding down the jobs which they are doing well and are classed very much as lower-paid workers are told that their agreement is not to be honoured today; but not to know where they will stand in July or for another six months or year is utterly wrong.

I do not want to pursue this matter further, but I suggest that we in the House of Commons tonight should realise that a statement was made in the House this afternoon without our having had an opportunity of reading the White Paper. We have now had an opportunity of looking at it, and this evening we begin to see the first signs of what it will mean. We ought to demand very careful consideration of the whole subject before we go any further.

10.33 p.m.

Mr. Stanley Orme (Salford, West)

I want to deal with the central theme arising from the Order. This is about the eighteenth Order to be made under Part IV of the Act. The number is considerable. This is what many of us said would happen: once we embark on the policy of legislation, there is no end to it.

We can chart the passage. In recent times we have gone through the cases of the Denby Pottery workers and the limb-fitters, and now we have arrived at the P.A. We must be at the bottom of the pit in the Government's policy on Part IV. This is a mess of pottage, and this Order is one of the worst that the Government have introduced.

It is ironic that I should sit on this side of the House and hear the right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod) make the case for trade unionists as opposed to non-unionists while my right hon. and hon. Friends sit mute on the Front Bench. I never thought we would see the day when a Labour Government would bring forward legislation which made it possible for non-unionists to be awarded an increase whilst trade unionists were denied it. The case against the Order has been explicitly laid out by hon. Members opposite and by my hon. Friend the Member for Southall (Mr. Bidwell). The facts are not in dispute. I should like to know whether certain offices have been included in or excluded from the Order. Is it a fact that non-unionists have been paid this increase and that S.O.G.A.T. members have been denied it? We are entitled to an answer from the Minister.

The implementation of the prices and incomes policy has led us down the road where we chase a few innocent people—worthy citizens, who are producing the wealth of this country. They are being chased from pillar to post by the Government, who are seeking to justify a prices and incomes policy which has now been discredited in the eyes of the country. The publication of the new White Paper today is an indication that we are getting towards the end of the line.

Bringing forward Orders like this to try to plug a hole here and there in the prices and incomes policy reminds me of the story of the little Dutch boy sticking his finger in the wall of the dyke to try to stop the water coming through. In the end the water did come through. It is all very well for the Minister to laugh. He sees the matter very superficially. Those of us who have worked and lived in the trade union movement, however, regard the position as far more serious.

This Order is one cardinal error in a number of false steps taken in implementation of the prices and incomes policy, and I shall not be able to support it in the Lobby. The right hon. Gentleman has said that we can abstain. Of course, we will abstain. The right hon. Gentleman knows the situation. We are seeking to make known to our Government by the strongest means in our power the fact that we are opposed to this policy. We believe it to be utterly wrong. Whatever hon. Members opposite may preach about this tonight, I have not seen them summon up the courage to vote in our Lobby very often.

Mr. Andrew Faulds (Smethwick)

If my hon. Friend is opposed to the policy of the Government let him follow the logic of his views and vote with the Opposition—if he has the guts. Do not let him pretend that he cannot, and water down his action.

Mr. Orme

I do not want the advice of a paper tiger on my side of the House. My stand and convictions on this are well-known.

The Government should recognise the folly of this policy—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman is getting into a broad debate on the Government's prices and incomes policy, which he cannot do on this Order. I am afraid that he must concern himself with the steps leading up to the Order.

Mr. Orme

I am sorry, Mr. Deputy Speaker; when I said "this policy", I meant "this Order".

These Orders are causing grave concern among a section of the community upon whom we will call to give increased productivity for the wealth of the nation to create the social services which we on this side want. The Government ought to drop the Order. My hon. Friend ought to recognise the strength of the case against it. This would be a Gilbertian situation, if it were not for the fact that it is no laughing matter for the people involved.

I say to my hon. Friend as one trade unionist to another—I will not mention his union, because his general secretary is Mr. Clive Jenkins—that the Order is an indication of where we have arrived. I ask the Government, even at this late hour, to withdraw it.

10.42 p.m.

Mr. F. A. Burden (Gillingham)

The attacks from the Government benches are becoming more vitriolic with each Order that we discuss. The Parliamentary Secretary must have some disfavour for his duties here on these occasions—

Mr. Hattersley

indicated dissent.

Mr. Burden

I should have thought that he would agree, because he cannot be pleased at his hon. Friends' reactions. If he had to justify the action which he will take tonight before his general secretary, Mr. Clive Jenkins, he would need pep pills or a bromide.

One of the worst charges against the Government is that there is victimisation of members of S.O.G.A.T. because of the power of the union. It seems that the 18 Orders which have come before us—one wonders how many more will be, are directed at trade unionists. Small firms in which there are no trade unionists or very few are paying their workers higher wages and getting away with it. Hon. Members opposite have said that the Order is unjust and unprincipled and the Parliamentary Secretary must answer this charge from his own back benchers. This is the depth and strength of the charge. I hope that he will take it seriously and do his best to justify the Order, in view of the very strong words which have been used.

Looking at the Order, one cannot help seeing that among those who are to be denied any increase are doorkeepers and cleaners. The Government have always stated that they wish to see that the lowest paid workers still get some increase, despite the freeze, but in this Order the lowest-paid workers have been denied it.

We know that the average wage is £20 a week. If the hon. Gentleman understands this Order and its effect, surely he will be able to tell us what are the wages of the doorkeepers and cleaners who have been refused an increase. We should like to know whether they are the lowest-paid workers or lower-paid workers. How do their present wages compare with the national average?

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will be able to give me the answer tonight. I asked him a similar question when we debated the last Order, but, either because of pressure of time or because he did not know, he did not give me the answer—[Interruption.] Well, I hope that he will be able to give me the answer tonight.

We find also that handymen are included specifically in the Order. What are their wages? I suggest that they are not among the lower-paid workers, but among the lowest-paid workers. It is not surprising that we hear from hon. Members opposite that some of these men are being victimised—and I use the word now. Agreements have been entered into, and, in Order after Order, the Government are refusing to allow firms to honour the agreements which they have reached with trade unions. It is not surprising that the unions are losing members.

An extraordinary position has arisen out of the Government's policy. They represent a movement which grew to power from the strength of trade union support; yet here they are penalising the members of the unions on which they have relied in the past, while non-members are getting increases, and the Parliamentary Secretary knows it.

He has a great deal to do to justify this Order. I wish him luck, not only in the House but in the eyes of trade unionists in the country as well.

10.48 p.m.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour (Mr. Roy Hattersley)

I endorse and agree with all the chronology and detail outlined with characteristic moderation by the right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod).

Having agreed that the historical facts were right as set out by him, I must clarify one point. The initial error was his, but it was repeated and compounded by my hon. Friend the Member for Sal-ford, West (Mr. Orme) and the hon. Member for Gillingham (Mr. Burden). It is the simple but crucial fact of the people to whom the Order applies in two senses: first, whom it applies to within the establishments under consideration, and, second, why those establishments or parts of them appear in the Order.

As to the first of those senses, anyone who has read the Schedule and followed recent debates will understand how wrong it is to suggest, as was implied by the right hon. Gentleman and stated by my hon. Friend, that a trade unionist doing the same job as a non-trade unionist in the same firm, at the same bench and under the same conditions, would somehow be discriminated against.

The Schedule is quite specific. It applies to anyone who is "expressly or by implication" covered by the terms of the agreement between managements and unions. Of course, as my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, West said, it is in the nature of agreements that they are made between trade unions and managements. But the Order is quite specific in that it stipulates that its application is equal both to those members of the trade union who have an agreement signed on their behalf by their national negotiating body and those other employees in the firm who are equally covered by the agreement which the trade union has itself signed.

It is absurd to suggest, as the right hon. Gentleman did, that there is more benefit financially not to be in the union; that there is some benefit, some financial advantage in handing in one's union card, in that to do so entitles one to a wage increase. Of course it does not. When the right hon. Gentleman says that he had an application from a man who asked him, "How am I to advise my members who say that they wish to resign from the union because of the Order?". I have to tell the right hon. Gentleman that the advice he must give is quite clear. It is that the union representative or the shop steward must tell his members: "Resigning from the union does not entitle you to a financial increase." To do that gives no financial increase because the Order applies to everyone working under the agreement as outlined, and proposed for implementation on 22nd December.

Mr. Orme

What I was saying was not that men doing similar jobs were being victimised in relation to this, but that certain offices or departments which were organised under S.O.G.A.T. were held up under this Order but that other offices and departments that are perhaps not organised, not doing the same work, are excluded from the Order.

Mr. Hattersley

That takes me naturally to the second problem of definition which I said at the beginning I would make—why the two agencies are chosen for the Order, and why part of one of them is stipulated in the Schedule to the Order. The answer is quite simple and straightforward, and in no way sinister. The Order is made against those establishments, and those parts of those establishments which propose to break the line of the prices and incomes policy. The Government did not make the Order apply to people who were not proposing to accept that offer of a wage increase that was outside Government policy—[Interruption.] I do not understand the cause of the hilarity amongst my hon. Friends.

I do not know whether they are indicating that the Government should make Orders against people who have no proposal for a wage increase, or indicating that other departments, other firms, have implemented wage increases and have not had Orders made against them. If it is the second case, I can give them a categorical and absolute assurance that that is not so. Whether by voluntary agreement, which is by far the most preferable course, or by the working of the Order on employees in their establishments, the employees of the Press Association, Exchange Telegraph and Reuters are now receiving remuneration totally in line with the proposals in the Government's prices and incomes policy—

Mr. Burden

Is the Parliamentary Secretary really suggesting that there are not a great number of small companies which have given wage increases which have never been made the subject of an Order yet, and are unlikely to be? And is it not the fact that when other wage increases have been agreed there will not be anything that comes under the Order at all?

Mr. Hattersley

The hon. Gentleman keeps on asking me to give answers to questions he has not asked in the first place. If he is saying that people are receiving wages in excess of the prices and incomes policy, it is absolutely wrong. If he says that other firms are breaking the line of the incomes policy, I must say to him, as I must say to others of his hon. Friends, that they must produce some evidence to suggest that. When the evidence has been produced—and I quote again the much-discussed and argued case of Acrow, and cases that have been listed in the journal of my trade union—when actual instances are examined by my Department, it almost invariably suggests that, in fact, they do not break the line of the prices and incomes policy criteria.

Let us go back to the chronology of the case, to the facts as outlined by—

Mr. John Biffen (Oswestry)

The hon. Gentleman speaks with great confidence on this matter. But is he confident that every increase that has been paid to a systems analysts or a computer programmer has been authorised by his Department and that no such increases have taken place without his knowledge?

Mr. Hattersley

Of course, I do not make such an absolute conjecture, but I see the world in rather less absolute terms than the hon. Gentleman. I am saying that by and large the country voluntarily accepted the prices and incomes policy and those who have not accepted it have been caught by an Order. Every week the hon. Gentleman makes some unsubstantiated comments and believes, although he has produced no evidence, that he has scored a point. It will not do.

The right hon. Member for Enfield, West said rightly that the important date, the significant and fundamental date concerning the new agreement, was 22nd December. That was when the union and at least two of the managements came to the agreement on payment at the new rate. It is a significant date because it is a month after the publication of the White Paper on the Period of Severe Restraint and five months after the publication of the White Paper on the Standstill.

There is, therefore, no question that this trade union, a national union, strongly led and well-informed, had any doubt that the agreement signed on 22nd December would be in contravention of the prices and incomes policy, if it were paid on the date it originally suggested, 1st January. The union was deciding, overtly and formally, with all the information at its disposal, that it would ignore the prices and incomes policy as laid down by two Government White Papers.

Presented with that situation, the Government had to decide between three alternatives. The first is no doubt the one that would have been commended by the hon. Member for Oswestry (Mr. Biffen), that is, to abandon the incomes policy altogether. But I understand that it is not the one that would have been commended by the right hon. Member for Enfield, West.

The second alternative was to say, "We stick by the prices and incomes policy, but not for the militants. We have prices and incomes policy for those who agree, for those who comply, but when a union like this chooses to stand out against us prices and incomes policy can be breached for it."

The third alternative, which the Government rightly chose, was that incomes policy required that the line be held, that breaches should be resisted, and we put into operation the powers at our disposal to make sure that breaches were resisted.

It is significant in that situation to analyse the attitudes of the three managements. All three understood perfectly well, as did the union, that to pay the increases on 1st January was in direct contradiction of the Government's incomes policy. All three managements consulted my Ministry and were advised by my right hon. Friend that the proper course was to defer the increases until the end of the period of severe restraint. All three managements reported to their workers that that was the course that they intended to adopt.

The Press Association was immediately threatened with a strike on 3rd February, which would have been particularly damaging to it. As a result, it felt that it had to agree to pay the increases on 13th February, back-dated to 1st January. The Exchange Telegraph felt that it too had to break the incomes policy and pay increases from 1st January.

Reuters, threatened with a strike on 8th February, chose not to pay the extra 10 per cent. It has had no strike, and there has been no Order, because the Reuters management and workers are voluntarily observing the prices and incomes policy. That proves, first, the nature of the management, secondly, the wisdom of the union in that concern, and, thirdly—and perhaps most important—the virtues and values of having a cooling-off period during which both parties can consider whether they want to proceed in a head-on collision with the Government over prices and incomes policy.

The other two institutions decided that in the face of a strike threat they had, in their own commercial interests, to offer the wage increase, at a time which was totally unacceptable to the Government. For this reason the Section 29 Order under Part IV of the Act was made, including—and I emphasise, and re-emphasise this—those sections of both the Exchange Telegraph and the Press Association where there was, or was to be, a breach, excluding no one who would have made the breach, excluding no one who would have received an increase which was in excess of the terms of the Government's prices and incomes policy.

As I repeat most weeks on one of these Prayers, the Government's duty before they make such an Order is to make sure that an increase cannot be substantiated, cannot be defended, cannot be approved, even within the terms of the Government's prices and incomes policy.

Fundamentally, the point to consider in this regard is the one suggested by the right hon. Member for Enfield, West, namely, the criterion which decides whether or not a gross anomaly justifies a wage increase in excess of the general stipulations of Government policy. It is extraordinary for the right hon. Gentleman to suggest that the case in question was a gross anomaly.

The case in question was one in which traditional differentials had, over six to seven months, been broken. I do not believe that on reflection the right hon. Gentleman, many of whose views on British management are progressive, will go to the stake tonight, or on any other occasion, to defend the traditional level of differentials in British industry.

Mr. Iain Macleod

With respect to the hon. Gentleman, he is, as he was earlier, on an entirely false point. The phrase "a gross anomaly" exists in this case. It was not invented by me tonight. It was put to the hon. Gentleman in the letter which came from the management with the union's consent. It is not an invention of mine. It is the opinion of both management and trade union, but it is my opinion as well.

Mr. Hattersley

I do not understand the point which the right hon. Gentleman is making. He is saying that his opinion, which is totally false, totally insupportable, and in favour of nothing other than supporting traditional differentials, is the point of view of the trade unions involved. I am sure that it is. But it does not make it more right, more logical, or more desirable. The right hon. Gentleman offered that as one reason why the wage increase should have been allowed to go forward. I am saying that to interpret the phrase "gross anomaly" as something which is no more than a temporary destruction of traditional differentials is to misunderstand many of the problems of British industry in 1967.

I turn now to the other criterion which might have entitled this claim to be taken and paid and allowed to go forward. This is the requirement to consider whether or not the workers in this industry were lowest-paid workers. I hope that the hon. Member for Gillingham (Mr. Burden) will listen to my figure with great care. He is right in saying that he asked the same question last week. He is wrong in saying that he did not get an answer. He received answers of enormous complexity giving him seasonal variations as well as flat figures, and if he checks in HANSARD he will see that to be the case. Let him therefore listen to the figures in this respect.

The old agreement entitled men to a minimum of £15 a week, rising after five years to £16—

Mr. Burden

I did not ask about general wages. I asked the hon. Gentleman to quote the wages of doorkeepers, cleaners, and handymen.

Mr. Hattersley

The hon. Gentleman must contain himself. I shall come to all these things. The old agreement was for a minimum of £15 a week, rising to £16 10s. in five years. The hon. Gentleman must understand that minimum is a minimum. This is at least what the men were getting, irrespective of the nature of the work. They were getting a minimum of £15 a week. I repeat what I said a week ago, that all the criteria for the lowest-paid workers which have been presented to us from sources which do not agree on many things, from sources whose views on the prices and incomes policy are very different—some supporting the policy and some rejecting it—suggest that £15 a week certainly does not, by any reasonable term, qualify as a "lowest-paid worker". Certainly not when the average earnings in the industry are £3 or £4 more than that, making the figure more like £18 a week. Certainly not when the suggested increase on the average of £18 is as much as 10 per cent. It would be fatuous to suggest that men of this sort can, in the terms of a redistributive prices and incomes policy, be regarded as the lowest-paid workers.

I turn to the fourth question of substance which the Government have been asked this evening, that concerning the nature of other increases which have been paid notwithstanding the Order. The right hon. Member for Enfield, West asked about the increases, either incremental or cost of living, for both are affected, which might have been paid in October, 1966, and which in the case of Reuters have been allowed for April, 1967. The right hon. Gentleman asked why, if the men concerned were entitled to this increase, they did not get it in October. I know that the right hon. Gentleman does not agree with the incomes policy, but I am entitled to ask him to read it. The answer is clear and certain. Existing commitments entered into before 20th July, 1966, come to be paid, within the terms of the incomes policy, six months after the operative date. As I add it up, April, 1967, is six months after October, 1966, and that increase is consistent with our concept of and proposals for the incomes policy.

Reuters are receiving the increases, both incremental and cost of living, for the simple reason that in the absence of a Part IV Order and in the absence of their agreement to the new proposals of 22nd December, Reuters are operating under the old agreement, the pre-July 20th agreement, which included stipulated commitments, tight commitments, precise commitments, enabling Reuters, under the terms of the incomes policy, to give increases six months after the operative date.

All the "concessions" which have been made to Reuters are not concessions at all. They are simply agreements which the incomes policy says they may have, and I want to make it quite clear to the House this evening that the same concession, if "concession" is the right word, the same agreement, is available to Exchange Telegraph and the Press Association.

In the view of the Ministry of Labour, the result of the Part IV Order is to have these two establishments working at least on the terms of the old agreement, the pre-July 20th agreement, and the terms of the old agreement stipulate incremental increases for men in their first five years of work, or for men from their first day of employment to their 21st birthdays. The prices and incomes policy makes it clear and precise that that sort of fixed incremental increase is acceptable to the Government. We make quite clear that this sort of increase entered into and agreed before 20th July, with an operative date some time after that, may be paid six months after the original date for payment. If the Exchange Telegraph owners, or the Press Association owners, or the unions at either of those establishments, wish to have from my right hon. Friend a written assurance that the benefits and increases to which they were and are still entitled under the pre-July agreement can be paid, then that offer is certainly open to them.

I emphasise this evening, as I have emphasised on the other five occasions since Christmas when we have made Prices and Incomes Orders, that it is not the intention to penalise the unions, to pick them out for specially unpleasant treatment. We are simply saying that they must hold the line of the incomes policy, for there is certainly no question of a legalistic interpretation which deprives the men who were the subject of a Part IV Order of the benefits which they would have legitimately received if they had chosen the voluntary rather than the compulsory path.

We are clearly aware that the majority of the country continues to choose the voluntary path and that the majority of the country is prepared to co-operate with the Government in voluntarily limiting wages. All the figures suggest that. All the figures suggest that it is not what the hon. Member for Worthing (Mr. Higgins) suggested that it was a week ago—simply a matter of deflation. Comparing this period with other periods, all the figures suggest that a voluntary incomes policy, with the overwhelming co-operation and compliance of the majority of the country, has been a material factor in keeping costs and the wages bill low.

Clearly, the Government treat it as their duty to make sure that the minority, who are not prepared to accept this voluntary principle, accept it in the interests of the community. We do not see it as our policy or duty to impose on them obligations and penalties which they would not have undergone had they taken the voluntary course first of all. We are therefore offering to the union all the benefits which it would have received had it gone on with the voluntary scheme rather than compelled us to make a Part IV Order. We are saying to it, as to other unions, that during this period holding the line of prices and incomes policy is essential to the economic well-being of the country.

I say to the House that holding the line in this case is a more straightforward example of the need for a Government policy than other Orders which we have had in the last few months. We are faced with a union which knew that it was breaking the incomes policy, and chose to do so. We are faced with a union which was well paid, but nevertheless was insisting on pushing its way to the head of the queue. We are faced with a union which has challenged the Government's prices and incomes policy, and whose challenge must be resisted, not because we object to the challenge, but because the policy is in the interests of the welfare of the nation.

11.12 p.m.

Mr. Charles Fletcher-Cooke (Darwen)

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary has not begun to answer the questions put by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Chertsey (Sir L. Heald). These may be legal questions, they may be legalistic questions, but the Government have chosen to take up the weapon of the law, and they must wield it with precision. If they take up this sword, they must be careful not to perish by it.

The question put by my right hon. and learned Friend was: what is the effect of this Order when the parent Act expires? There are three possibilities. I put the question of the Denby Order, and he said that he did not choose to answer until the Government made its intentions for the future clear. The Government have now made their intentions fairly clear about the future, but the hon. Gentleman still refuses to answer about this Order that we are debating. I do not see why either the men or the management should have this Order made upon them until the Government make clear what the effect will be when it the parent Act expires.

There are three possibilities. The first possibility, when it expires, is that the men will be entitled to the back payments from the date of the agreement, or the date when the Order bites. Is that right? If it is, it means that the management ought to put this money into a blocked account which ought not to be distributed in dividends or put into a profit and loss account in the general way. It ought to be put into a blocked account and the men will know that they will receive it.

The second possibility is that when the Order expires, as a result of the expiration of the parent Act, these contractual agreements are automatically paid, without restrospection, that is, they will be payable from 20th July or 1st August, or whatever is the correct date, without more ado. Is that the view of the Government? If it is correct, there again, people will wish to make their dispositions accordingly.

The third possibility is that this agreement, which was freely entered into in December, is killed for good by this Order, when the Act expires, and is not revived by its expiration, and a new agreement will have to be negotiated, presumably within the terms of the new White Paper. These are very important questions for the persons concerned, and not a single syllable has been given in reply, in spite of the fact that the Government have now made up their mind.

I hope that the Joint Parliamentary Secretary will ask your leave, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to answer these questions because it is ridiculous, and contemptuous towards the people who are concerned with an Order naming certain persons in certain departments—a very specific Order—that they should not know where they stand when the Order expires. There are three totally different possibilities, and no explanation has been given by the Parliamentary Secretary, either because he does not know or because he dare not say.

11.15 p.m.

Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)

I am sure that we all listened very carefully to the speech by my hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary. I am also sure that when we heard it, we realised even more clearly than before precisely how unfair this Order is. However, I will go into that in a little more detail later.

The statement of the Press Association chapel makes it quite clear that the members of the National Union of Journalists and of the National Graphical Association, who are the higher paid members of the staff, negotiated and received increases in wages during 1966 just prior to the imposition of the wages standstill in July of that year.

My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary made great play of what he called traditional differentials. If it is true—and I am accepting the view of the unions—that the higher paid section of the workers in this job have received an increase in pay, then it is not a question of keeping the traditional differentials. It is a question of expanding the differentials and making the position much worse than it was before. We made it quite clear that the application of the Government's incomes policy was grossly unfair and this, in my opinion, is a first-class example of its unfairness.

Then we are told, "If only they had accepted the old agreement, they would get a certain increase now, that this is in line with what they would get under the old agreement, and it is perfectly possible to pay this; but because they had negotiated a new agreement, arrived at by proper negotiation between the employers and the trade unions, which was then caught in the wages standstill, they cannot have the increase." I have never heard a more utterly ridiculous argument in all my life. I should like my hon. Friend to go along to the trade unionists in that shop and explain the situation to them. I am sure that he would be sympathetically received by the workers, who would understand the circumstances very well! It is too ridiculous for words, and I do not think we ought to be expected to listen to this sort of thing.

I want now to come to the question whether this Order operates for the trade unionists or the non-trade unionists. Again, we can only be guided by what the trade unionists say. They say that the situation in the Exchange Telegraph is extremely confusing. They say that the Order in Council in the case of the Exchange Telegraph applies only to specific departments and, oddly enough, these are the departments which are organised by S.O.G.A.T. The departments which are excluded from the Order are unorganised and non-trade unionist. This is a very clear statement by the trade union involved. They say, "Can you understand"—I can—"why the workers in the trade unions say 'It is discrimination against us'?"

The Parliamentary Secretary's answers are not satisfactory. We have been told that the mass of the trade unions accept this voluntary principle. We are told that they are all happy about it and that the workers in the country are delighted, quite voluntarily, to accept the wage freeze. I have yet to find these workers who are delighted to accept the wage freeze.

But let us for a few moments examine the word "voluntarily". The Government introduce a Bill which contains certain penal Clauses. It is like pointing a pistol at someone's head and saying, "Sweep that floor. If you don't, I will shoot you". He replies, "Right you are"—and does it. Afterwards, we are told that he did it quite voluntarily.

When we talk about what is voluntary and what is not voluntary, let us get this clear. This policy has nothing to do with voluntary acceptance. It is a decision of the Government. If the workers had carried out their opposition and gone on strike, the penal Clauses in Part IV would have come into operation. Perhaps the trade unionists should have challenged it. That is a matter for them.

It is quite clear that the whole of this prices and incomes policy, of which this Order is a part, has reached a situation in which the entire trade union movement, through the Trades Union Congress, have said, "No more. If we are to have an incomes policy, we will administer it ourselves".

This is an example of the bankruptcy of this particular policy. We warned the Government where legislation would get them. This is the crazy, fantastic situation into which we get when we have legislation of this kind.

I do not like to say more. I am a loyal member of this party. I was on a local authority for six years as a member of this party, and I never once abstained or voted against my party all the way through. I supported my party all the way through, and always would. But we are being asked to support this policy against the consciences of ourselves as trade unionists. I could never bring myself to support any of this type of legislation. I said that before the Bill was introduced, I have said it right through, and I have never supported legislation of this kind. I have no intention of doing so this evening.

11.23 p.m.

Mr. Iain Macleod

As mover of the Motion I do not need the leave of the House to comment briefly upon it. I wish to invite the Parliamentary Secretary to reply to some points, which I will briefly run over, which have been put with great force from both sides of the House.

First, on a small point, I do not regard this argument about Reuters as central to the case that I was making. But he was somewhat abrupt with me and asked whether I could not calculate six months. Indeed, I can. The point is that he was talking about the cost-of-living bonus of 6s. a week which was payable from 1st April, which is six months after October. I was talking about the wages structure review, which is what matters.

I have in my hand the staff notice from Reuters dated 8th March, which states that members of the clerical staff will be receiving increases in their salaries this week, under the company salary structure, which will be back-dated to 1st October, 1966". It would be helpful if the Parliamentary Secretary were not quite so abrupt on some of these matters and if he did not assume that one did not know what one had looked at.

I pass quickly from that issue to say a few words about the key issues. The first is whether this is or is not discrimination against trade unionists. I am certain that it is. The reason which the Parliamentary Secretary gave was that S.O.G.A.T. in one case deals with a very small minority of all those who could be affected, but it was negotiating by custom for everybody. Any increase which they obtained—this is the merit of trade unionism in this field—would be extended to people who were not trade unionists.

The Parliamentary Secretary says, however, quite rightly, that he can only, on the face of it, make the Order against those whom he knows to be planning to break it, which are the members of S.O.G.A.T. We have taken this point abroad, but this does not alter the fact that the hon. Gentleman is legislating in terms, in the Schedule in particular, about the departments in which S.O.G.A.T. is organised.

The hon. Gentleman can get all the assurances he likes from the companies—of course, they are given accurately, no doubt—but he cannot be aware of individual agreements made with people who are not trade unionists. He will agree with me that he has no ultimate sanction for those individuals except the ridiculous one of bringing an Order to this House to say that Tom Jones or John Smith should not be given the advance.

That is what the point is about. The hon. Gentleman has the sanctions, and we know it, for the trade union people. The sanctions are in the Act. We all know this. The hon. Gentleman completely missed the point which I, the hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) and many others have made. Clearly, this seems to be a matter of discrimination.

The hon. Gentleman should ask the House for leave, which I am sure would be granted, to reply to the points made by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Chertsey (Sir L. Heald) and emphasised by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke). A week ago it was a good enough excuse, perhaps, in response to this sort of point, that the Government's policy had not been clarified. Leaving aside the word "clarified", we had an announcement this afternoon about the next stage. The Parliamentary Secretary now has simply no excuse for not answering in precise terms the point made by my right hon. and learned Friend and I hope that, however briefly he has to do it, he will do so.

11.27 p.m.

Mr. Hattersley

I am sorry if the right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod) thought that I was terse with him. My intention was to be conciliatory. For a Wednesday evening, this has been a very conciliatory debate. I hope that I will have time to go through the points put by the right hon. Gentleman and I will take them in reverse order, because I am sure that that would reflect the priority which he would give to his questions.

In terms of what happens when the Order expires, the advice which I am given, the advice of counsel available to my Department, is that certainly there will be no question of a man being able to claim back pay for the period which was covered by the Order. I am sure that I do not have to tell either him or the hon. Members who raised the matter of the difficulties with which any judgment must be hedged around which is dependent on legal advice which is given but untested. The best advice available to us, however, is that back pay certainly could not be claimed in August when the Order expires.

In terms of whether the payment can then immediately go forward, the right hon. Gentleman knows well, because he asked my right hon. Friend the First Secretary several times earlier today, that there has yet to be a statement on powers. Until the statement on powers is made and until that White Paper is published, it would be improper for me—not merely inexpedient or difficult, but improper—to make any judgments about the outcome of cases such as this at the end of the period of severe restraint.

We have promised to continue to discuss the nature and extent of the powers with both the T.U.C. and the C.B.I. I am sure that, on reflection, the right hon. Gentleman does not want me to give ad hoc decisions about how individual orders should be applied or operated after the end of the period of severe restraint until those negotiations and discussions are completed.

I turn now to the point which is certainly the most important and which has caused most furore tonight: that is, the suggestion, despite what I have tried to say, that there is still discrimination against trade unionists. The right hon.

Gentleman is quite wrong to say that to make it essential for individuals, any Tom, Dick or Harry, in the lists included, to stick to the Order if they are not party by implication to the agreement between the union and management, it would be necessary to have a specific order relating to a specific man.

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will accept my repeated assurance that every Tom, Dick and Harry, as he chooses to call them, whether S.O.G.A.T. members or not, in the departments and the spheres included, is covered by the Order expressly or by implication. There is a sanction against them. The Order applies to them in the way that it applies to the man on the next bench who is a S.O.G.A.T. member.

There is no sanction against the departments which are not included, but those which are not included have not tried to pay an increase in excess of prices and incomes policy. If they were to do that—to take the extreme case, if Reuter's were to do that, which is inconceivable—of course a general Order would be made against them.

It being half-past Eleven o'clock, Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER put the Question, pursuant to Standing Order No. 100 (Statutory Instruments, &c. (procedure)).

The House divided: Ayes 119, Noes 168.

Division No. 300.] AYES [11.30 p.m.
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Hornby, Richard
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Eden, Sir John Howell, David (Guildford)
Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n) Elliott, R.W.(N"c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.) Hunt, John
Awdry, Daniel Emery, Peter Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)
Baker, W. H. K. Eyre, Reginald Johnston, Russell (Inverness)
Batsford, Brian Fisher, Nigel Kimball, Marcus
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Kirk, Peter
Berry, Hn. Anthony Foster, Sir John Langford-Holt, Sir John
Bessell, Peter Fraser,Rt.Hn.Hugh(St'fford & Stone) Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry
Biffen, John Gibson-Watt, David Loveys, W. H.
Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Lubbock, Eric
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John Glover, Sir Douglas Mackenzie, Alasdair(Ross&Crom'ty)
Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward Goodhart, Philip Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain
Braine, Bernard Goodhew, Victor Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.
Brinton, Sir Tatton Grant, Anthony Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Grant-Ferris, R. Miscampbell, Norman
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Gresham Cooke, R. Monro, Hector
Buck, Antony (Colchester) Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) More, Jasper
Burden, F. A. Gurden, Harold Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)
Campbell, Gordon Hall, John (Wycombe) Neave, Airey
Carlisle, Mark Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael
Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Hastings, Stephen Onslow, Cranley
Channon, H. P. G. Hawkins, Paul Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian
Clegg, Walter Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel Osborn, John (Hallam)
Corfield, F. V. Heseltine, Michael Page, Graham (Crosby)
Crawley, Aidan Higgins, Terence L. Peel, John
Currie, G. B. H. Hiley, Joseph Percival, Ian
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Hill, J. E. B. Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch
Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.) Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin Prior, J. M. L.
Digby, Simon Wingfield Holland, Philip Pym, Francis
Dodds-Parker, Douglas Hordern, Peter Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter
Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Ridsdale, Julian Stodart, Anthony Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey) Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne) Winstanley, Dr. M. P.
Royle, Anthony Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H. Worsley, Marcus
Russell, Sir Ronald Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley) Wylie, N. R.
Scott, Nicholas Walker, Peter (Worcester) Younger, Hn. George
Sharples, Richard Ward, Dame Irene
Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby) Weatherill, Bernard TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Sinclair, Sir George Webster, David Mr. David Mitchell and
Smith, John Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William Mr. Timothy Kitson.
Steel, David (Roxburgh) Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Abse, Leo Gregory, Arnold Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)
Archer, Peter Grey, Charles (Durham) Oakes, Gordon
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Ogden, Eric
Barnes, Michael Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly) Oram, Albert E.
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Hamling, William Oswald, Thomas
Bishop, E. S. Haseldine, Norman Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)
Blenkinsop, Arthur Hattersley, Roy Padley, Walter
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret Page, Derek (King's Lynn)
Bowden, Rt. Hn. Herbert Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Palmer, Arthur
Boyden, James Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.) Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)
Braddook, Mrs. E. M. Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Pavitt, Laurence
Bray, Dr. Jeremy Howie, W. Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred
Brooks, Edwin Hoy, James Pentland, Norman
Brown,Bob(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,W) Huckfield, L. Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.
Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury) Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey) Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)
Buchan, Norman Hughes, Roy (Newport) Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Hunter, Adam Price, William (Rugby)
Cant, R. B. Hynd, John Probert, Arthur
Chapman, Donald Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Rankin, John
Coe, Denis Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh) Rees, Merlyn
Coleman, Donald Janner, Sir Barnett Reynolds, G. W.
Concannon, J. D. Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Richard, Ivor
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)
Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Jones, Dan (Burnley) Robinson,Rt.Hn.Kenneth(St.P'c'as)
Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Jones. J. Idwal (Wrexham) Robinson, W. 0. J. (Walth'stow, E.)
Dalyell, Tam Jones, T. A. (Rhondda West) Rodgers, William (Stockton)
Davidson, Arthur (Accrington) Judd, Frank Rose, Paul
Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford) Kelley, Richard Ross, Rt. Hn. William
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Lawson, George Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, s.)
Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway) Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton) Shore, Peter (Stepney)
Davies, Harold (Leek) Lever, L. M. (Ardwick) Short,Rt.Hn.Edward(N'c'tle-u-Tyne)
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Davies, Robert (Cambridge) Luard, Evan Skeffington, Arthur
Delargy, Hugh Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Slater, Joseph
Dewar, Donald Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.) stonehouse, John
Doig, Peter Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Swingler, Stephen
Donnelly, Desmond McBride, Neil Taverne, Dick
Dunnett, Jack MacColl, James Tinn, James
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter) MacDermot, Niall Urwin, T. W.
Eadie, Alex Macdonald, A. H. Varley, Eric G.
Edwards, William (Merioneth) McKay, Mrs. Margaret Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
English, Michael Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen) Walden, Brian (All Saints)
Ennals, David Mackie, John Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Ensor, David Mackintosh, John P. Watkins, David (Consett)
Evans, Ioan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley) Maclennan, Robert Wellbeloved, James
Faulds, Andrew Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Wells, William (Waisall, N.)
Fernyhough, E. Mallalieu,J.P.W.(Huddersfield,E.) Whitaker, Ben
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Marquand, David White, Mrs. Eirene
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) Mellish, Robert Whitlock, William
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Millan, Bruce Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)
Foot, Sir Dingle (Ipswich) Milne, Edward (Blyth) Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Forrester, John Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)
Fowler, Gerry Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Fraser, John (Norwood) Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)
Freeson, Reginald Morris, John (Aberavon) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Gardner, Tony Moyle, Roland
Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick Mr. Walter Harrison and
Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony Murray, Albert Mr. Joseph Harper.