HC Deb 03 May 1967 vol 746 cc540-662

3.31 p.m.

Mr. Michael Noble (Argyll)

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. 8) Order 1967 (S.I., 1967, No. 617), dated 18th April 1967, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th April, be annulled. This is one of a series of Orders which have been debated in the House over the last few months. They arose because the Government imposed the freeze on the arbitrary date of 20th July last year. In bringing forward this type of freeze, the policy of the Government was perhaps most clearly stated by the First Secretary when he was speaking to the Scottish Trades Union Council in Glasgow on 27th February this year, when he said: An income policy means progressive injection of greater justice and greater fairness. In considering this Order we have to look at the facts which have led up to it in relation to that statement.

It is true that the Orders which we have discussed have been of many and varied sorts. There have been occasions when one business in an industry has caused an Order to be produced. There have been others which related to much wider cases as this Order does.

If we look at the facts which led up to the making of it, the employers' association and the union concerned agreed together that a shilling an hour increase in wages should be paid to all their workers on 9th May, 1966—

Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Are we now discussing the Rothesay Order or the E.T.U. Order?

Mr. Speaker

We are discussing the E.T.U. Order.

Mr. Noble

The formal ratification of the award was delayed until 21st July, the day after the dire date of 20th, for three reasons. None of them was the direct responsibility of any part of the negotiating team. It is true that the E.T.U. wanted, as was quite reasonable, to delay ratifying the Scottish award until it had achieved the same or similar results in an agreement for England and Wales, and that agreement was ratified on 30th June. Unfortunately, a delay occurred for two further reasons. The first was that the E.T.U. had to elect its office bearers. The second one, which was also of no very great importance at the time, was that it is normal in Scotland for holidays to take place at the beginning of July and, therefore, ratification was postponed until the holidays were over.

On 5th March, 1967, 56,000 workers in England and Wales were given their 13 per cent. increase after the case had gone to the Prices and Incomes Board, which had certain comments to make about the form an which the increase was to be given, the productivity arrangements, and so on. However, it was given, in spite of the criticisms of the Prices and Incomes Board, because the agreement had been ratified on 30th June.

The people in whom we are interested today are not 56,000 in number, as was the case in England and Wales, but about 10,000 in Scotland. They were immediately put into some difficulty because the employers' association in Scotland advised its members on 6th March, which was the day after the English workers were given their increase, that its 600 members should pay the increase from that date. They had been told by their employees that, unless they could match the English position, they would create industrial difficulty, possibly resulting in strike action. The association, therefore, advised its 600 members to pay the increase, and they did.

Following that, as perhaps must have been known would happen, the award was frozen by the Order which we are now considering until some date later in the year—possibly 1st July, possibly much later; neither they nor we know. As the E.T.U. had advised might happen, that was followed by some strike action and certainly by a great deal of discontent.

In Orders of this sort, the Government have continually said to the House that they are bound absolutely by the terms of the White Paper and that they cannot possibly consider cases which were agreed after 20th July. However, I believe that the Government could have taken some action and could at least have tried to save what little face they have left in these negotiations.

I stress that these are not negotiations against any one union. Very often in these cases they are negotiations against an agreement between employers and unions who have come to an honourable settlement for the benefit of their trade in the way that these things have always been done in the past.

I want to touch on the provision in the White Paper (Cmnd. 3150) by which the Minister can invoke special measures where he believes that there is a gross anomaly. The words in the White Paper are: There may be exceptional circumstances in which some immediate improvement in pay is imperative to correct a gross anomaly. The Government have been remarkably coy in telling either the unions or the House what they consider a "gross anomaly" to me. This puts unions—as in the case of the E.T.U.—and the House in great difficulty, because the unions believed that if the increase for which they were asking, and which the employers gave, was forbidden, there would be such a gross anomaly that the position would immediately be corrected.

The only evidence that we have of the Government's views about a gross anomaly is in the speech made by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan), the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, during the debate on 2nd March on the problems of N.A.L.G.O. when he said: The White Paper is very narrowly drawn on this point. The kind of case which is meant to come under this heading is that for example of the colliery overmen and deputees, when there were large groups of men working side by side, one group with a salary increase, and the other without."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd March, 1967; Vol. 742, c. 746.] Those are the only words which the House has had which have sought to define a "gross anomaly". Those were the words of a Government spokesman on that day and I ask the Minister who is to reply to the debate to say whether that is the Government's policy, and whether that is what the Government intend to do. If the Minister would like to answer that now, it will save time, but as he is shaking his head I shall continue with what I have to say.

If that is the definition of an anomaly, the case for our Prayer today to annul the Order is made out, because at Faslane, at Ardeer, and at many other power stations in Scotland, people from the E.T.U. in Scotland are working side by side with their colleagues who belong to E.T.U. branches in England. As the Secretary of State knows, this is because so many large projects are going on in Scotland—due largely to plans for regional development which have been fostered for a number of years—that, inevitably, contractors in Scotland have not been able to take on all the work themselves, and the work has, therefore, been given to English contractors who are now working alongside their Scottish colleagues.

We feel that it is important to debate this Order this afternoon because the issue is not just simply whether these 10,000 people should be given a rise which their colleagues across the Border have been given, but because of the effect which this will have on a great deal of the rest of industry in Scotland at the moment. I know that within the limitations of order it is difficult to develop this as fully as one would wish, but one of the effects of Orders of this kind is that the only way in which people can get extra is to cross the Border from Scotland to England where different rules and different rates apply, perhaps, as in this case, just for a question of one day.

We know, too, that in its operation the freeze is bound to have the effect, particularly in respect of the big contractors, of helping those who come up from London where high rates of pay have been allowed. We have debated this on other occasions, but today in this Order the main disadvantage, which is perfectly clear, is that it is not necessary for workers to cross the Border to get a rise in wages. All that they have to do is to cross a building site.

There is already a shortage of skills in the electrical contracting business, and if Scottish firms are to lose their key men to their rivals working on the same site, or nearby, the long-term effect on the electrical industry in Scotland is bound to be disastrous. There is nothing that we can see, either in what the Government have said up to date, or in what they are trying to tell us in these Orders, which gives these businesses any real satisfaction that the problem will be tackled in a month's time, in three months' time, in six months' time, or in nine months' time. There is no certainty in this, and if there is no certainty for the contractors, how much less is there for the men who are affected?

It may be right that at times of economic crisis a total wage freeze should be made over the entire country. If that were done, none of these Orders would be necessary, because it would apply to everybody in the country, and that might be rough justice, but where the justice is not clear is in the fact that during the first three months of this year about 4 million workers were given an increase in pay of about £1,700,000. I know that in the same industries last year only 2,700,000 people got a rise of £930,000, which was considerably less. I know, too, that if one looks at the overall picture one sees that there has been a saving of about £1 million on wages paid out this year compared with last year and that there is practically no difference between this year's figure and that for 1965, but whatever these figures show, one thing which is abundantly clear is that these 10,000 people have been affected because of a purely technical problem of one day.

The First Secretary of State has said that the policy behind these Orders is to make certain that greater justice is brought to the workers. It is, therefore, impossible to see why the Government have brought this Order in now, or, indeed, at any time, because this is not a case, as with some other Orders, of giving increases to the lower-paid workers. The evidence is that these people are in what one might call the medium level scale, but what is intolerable—and it is intolerable not just becuse these happen to be men who live in Scotland; it would be equally intolerable if it were the other way round—is that people working side by side, day after day, on almost identical work find that one gets an increase and the other does not.

This is intolerable, because the aim of both the association and the trade unions in negotiating this agreement was that the two countries should move together. They realised the importance of having a level rate on both sides of the Border. They wanted this, and the employers were willing for this to happen.

The Government, however, have decided that because one agreement was signed on 30th June it can go through, but because the other was not signed until 21st July it cannot. They have decided to be obstinate about it. They have decided that in spite of all the arguments which have been advanced by the trade unions, by the employers and by others, they will stick to the technical detail of being 24 hours late in signing the agreement.

Later today we shall discuss another Order, so I shall only touch on it now. In the case of the second Order the Government may technically have a slightly better case because the Order was a little later than just one day, though they have morally a rather worse case. However, this will be debated later.

I think what is intolerable to this side of the House—and I hope the same feeling of revulsion is shared by a good many Members opposite—is that, in a case where there is perhaps the clearest possible example of anomaly having taken place in the series of anomalies that have been debated in the House, the Government should fail to take any action. I believe that they have done this simply and solely because they were afraid that if they gave way on this one they would then have to give way on the N.A.L.G.O. case, too. If this is so, then that makes it even worse—that in one quite separate case quite different people should be penalised so as not to cause the Government greater embarrassment in another one.

I cannot help believing that the Government feel as guilty about this as they do about any action they have taken during the last few months. I hope very much that the Joint Parliamentary Secretary, if he is to reply to the debate, as I think he is, will throw away the note which he has been given by his Department explaining the various reasons, which we have heard so often, why the Government can take no action, and realise that this is an appeal made with great sincerity by the House which itself believes that in this case justice has not only not been done but cannot possibly be seen to be done.

I hope that it will not be necessary to divide the House, but if it is I am certain that my hon. and right hon. Friends will do so, and that a good many hon. Gentlemen on the benches opposite, if they follow what they know to be right, will follow us into the Lobby.

3.52 p.m.

Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)

I rise to speak on this Order for two very good reasons. First, I myself was engaged in the contracting industry for many years and was working alongside electricians and, therefore, I have some knowledge of their problems and their conditions. Secondly, I am opposed to this Order. They are two very good reasons why I should speak here this afternoon.

I find that this Order is about the strangest one we have had in front of us since we have had this series of Orders— [An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear."] We have had some very strange ones in the past, as my hon. Friend the Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) agrees, but this is about the strangest, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Argyll (Mr. Noble) pointed out. I think that the facts he gave are not to be disputed.

The agreement with the employers' association and the Electrical Trades Union for England and Wales was signed on 30th June. This one was agreed one day after the announcement made in the House about the wage freeze. I think that I should draw attention to what actually happened at the discussion between the employers and the E.T.U. at that meeting. I have been very fortunate in having had a copy of the minutes of that meeting presented to me.

The convenor of the Labour Committee of the Electrical Contractors' Association of Scotland was Mr. J. R. Munro. Immediately, Mr. Munro referred to the statement in the House of Commons the previous day and particularly to the wage freeze on which a Government White Paper was to be issued very soon and later backed by legislation, and he asked the General Secretary of the Electrical Trades Union if it was the desire of the E.T.U. to proceed with the matters which had been discussed at the last joint meeting on 9th May, particularly those subjects on which tentative agreement had been reached. Mr. Chapple replied that the union's representative wished, if possible, to reach a formal agreement on wage rates irrespective of the Prime Minister's announcement.

I am quite certain that the electrical trade unionists' view was that in view of the fact that an agreement had been reached for the English electrical trade unionists in the contracting industry obviously there would be nothing to stop from becoming effective an agreement which was to bring them in Scotland up to parity—that nothing would be done to stop this particular agreement going through.

I understand very well the problem that the electricians have to face in the contracting industry. In this industry, in general, over the years we have fought very hard to get national wage agreements with the possibility of national wage rates, because it has always been precisely these anomalies between one area and another which have been a great source of irritation and conflict in the building and construction industry. I understand that parity was actually reached, although not in a national agreement, in 1965. This decision of the Government in not allowing this increase to go through means, of course, that this parity has been stopped. This must lead to a great deal of conflict, and unhappiness for the members of the Electrical Trades Union in Scotland.

I put to my hon. Friends on this side of the House, and to my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Government Front Bench, the situation where the Electrical Trades Union workers on the contracting side are working alongside their brothers who have come on big sites from Britain —[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] England. Although I am in favour of the Common Market I sometimes think of Scotland as a foreign country—I do not know why. Here we have this situation, where the workers from England and Scotland are working alongside one another. They come up from England, and, naturally, bring their rate with them, because this is part of the national agreement. If one is recruited in London for a job in Scotland one goes to Scotland with one's London rate or English rate. This is the agreement which exists in the industry. Here we have this difficulty where the workers are coming up from England and working alongside their Scottish friends, but receiving Is. per hour more.

There is another factor which is of very great interest. I have had supplied to me a copy of the stamp arrangement which exists for holiday pay for these workers in Scotland, and I understand that on 23rd May there was an increase in the cost of the stamps from 13s. 9d. up to 16s. per week and this increase was agreed to because it was anticipated that the agreement over the Is. an hour was coming off on 21st July, based on discussions which took place on 9th May. This is important, because on 9th May a tentative agreement was made.

I could speak at some length on this question. I understand why the workers took strike action. I am told that the Electrical Trade Union executive has not given its support to the workers who took strike action, thereby giving the Government—as is the case with most unions—the benefit of the doubt, reluctantly acquiescing in the policy put forward by the Government.

I understand that the workers were told that if they struck it would be a political strike. What amazes me is that in the present situation there have not been many more political strikes. Perhaps I am amazed because I am now in the House of Commons rather than on the factory floor.

I am getting a little tired of pleading with my right hon. Friends to reconsider their attitude concerning all these Orders. Almost weekly—sometimes twice a week—we are urging them to think again. But although I am a little tired, I shall do it once more, because we are now moving into a new situation. Whatever arguments we have had in the past, we know that the prices and incomes policy put forward by the Government is ending in an absolute shambles. On that basis, I ask the Government not to make the situation worse by pressing this Order. I plead with them to withdraw it now. Let them remove the anomaly that now exists between Scottish and English electrical workers.

I have had a slight altercation in the Press with the President of the Electrical Trades Union, and it might seem rather surprising that I should be defending the members of that union today. It should not be surprising, because these lads are part of the trade union movement, and the E.T.U. is an essential part of the building and construction industry, with which I have been concerned all my life. I therefore ask my right hon. Friends to withdraw the Order and to give the lads in Scotland a square deal.

4.3 p.m.

Mr. Edward M. Taylor (Glasgow, Cathcart)

My right hon. Friend the Member for Argyll (Mr. Noble) presented the case against the Order very effectively. It does not leave a great deal to be said. The hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) also dealt with the question in a very fair-minded way. This is an extremely controversial Order.

It was obvious from the beginning that the prices and incomes policy as outlined in the White Paper would involve many cases of injustice, but I doubt whether there can have been any Order so grotesquely unjust, so unreasonable and so irrational as this. It makes nonsense of the idea of fair play, and will do untold damage to industrial relations. We are, therefore, entitled to appeal to all fair-minded Members to support us in trying to persuade the Government to withdraw the Order, or to vote against the Government if they refuse to do so.

There are two questions which the Government must answer, the first concerning the anomaly and the second concerning the prior commitment. We have to ask ourselves whether this increase can be justified in terms of the White Paper. The first relevant question is: is there a gross anomaly? As has been said, an anomaly obviously exists in a situation where one man works at a rate of 8s. 6d. an hour side-by-side with a man whose basic rate is 7s. 6d. an hour. This is not a hypothetical situation. In almost every major contracting job in Scotland there are not two separate contractors, but five or six—some small and some large; some English-based and some Scottish-based.

In the case of Cockenzie the main contractor is F. H. Wheeler. There some men ate working at a basic rate of 7s. 6d. an hour and others at a basic rate of 8s. 6d. It is obvious that this anomaly will not be tolerated by the men, and that, rather than accepting the Government's decision, various subterfuges will be employed and changes of plans introduced to get round the anomaly.

I have heard from some men of the ways in which this Order is being defeated. In one case where the English rate was 8s. 6d. a cut was effected in the site allowance payable to the English contractors in order to bring the rate down to 7s. 6d., thereby conforming to the Scottish rate. This is nonsensical, because a site allowance is or is not justified on its own merits. In this case, it is Is. 6d. an hour. Changing allowances and wages in this way makes nonsense of good industrial relations.

At Faslane, the main contractor is Aldrich. I understand that arrangements are being made for the increase to be paid. How is this being done? I understand that it is done simply by transferring men from one payroll to another—from a Scottish-based company to an English-based company. This, also, makes nonsense of Government policy.

Another question arises in the case of Scottish employees going south to work on English sites. In almost every other industry, when a worker moves to another area he receives the wages and works under the conditions applicable in that area. That is the case with local government officers. If a Scottish local government officer moves south and is employed by an English authority he will receive English rates of salary.

On the site of Egburgh, in Anglesey, however, where a Scottish firm has the major contract, it has been made clear to the Scottish employees that they will have to work under Scottish conditions. They will, therefore, be receiving lower rates than their colleagues. This creates a completely nonsensical situation which cannot be justified in terms of merit, work or fair play.

When the Government know that these arrangements are being made between employers, unions and workers so as to get round the Government's policy the least they can do is to withdraw the Order.

We then come to the question whether a commitment existed. The hon. Member for Walton has referred to this matter. I have also seen the minutes of the meeting of 21st. It contains a clear reference to what was referred to at the last meeting on 9th May, when the Electrical Contractors' Association agreed to pay an extra Is. an hour. What clearer commitment can there be than the offer of an increase made on 9th May? The Commitment was clear, and it is obvious that everyone in the electrical contracting industry in Scotland knew that an increase would be given. Everybody knew what the amount would be, and that a commitment existed.

I turn now to the question of holiday stamps. The electrical contracting industry does not have a holiday pay system as do some other industries where workers receive pay whether they have worked or not throughout the year. In electrical contracting the payment is related to the weeks in the year which are actually worked. With a system like that, there must be some basis for the holiday pav. In this industry, if a man has his 50 stamps by working 50 weeks in the year, the idea is that he will get two weeks' holiday at his normal weekly earnings.

The Minister must answer a straight question. If there was no commitment or arrangement to increase wages by this amount, why, when the new cards were brought out on 23rd May, was an adjustment made in the holiday stamp which would increase the holiday pay by the equivalent of Is. an hour? If there was no commitment or arrangement, why were the electrical contractors so foolish or generous as to increase the holiday stamps on that day, only a few days after the meeting between the unions and the Electrical Contractors' Association? If the Government cannot answer this question satisfactorily, they must accept that there was a prior commitment and that the pay increase is, therefore, justified.

The White Paper on Severe Restraint said that only in very exceptional circumstances should an increase be allowed, and surely both the essential conditions exist here. First of all, a gross anomaly can be seen on sites in Scotland and England, and, second, a prior commitment existed. As it is not a legal decision by an independent inquiry, but a Government decision, we must look at the Order's effects and consider what good it will do for the nation and industrial relations.

There has been a two-week strike, and, if no assurance is given tonight, there could be further trouble. Housing projects in Scotland have been delayed as a result. The Minister of State for Scotland, whom we are glad to see present, will know of these delays and of those in school projects. In my own constituency, the new Queen's Park Secondary School has been held up by the strike and may not be ready for the new term. It might not be possible to make up for these delays. Overtime is the easy answer, but when men suffer such a flagrant injustice will they put forward the effort and initiative and enterprise required to catch up these last two weeks?

If we approve the Order, it will simply add to the flood of emigration which is now at an alarming level. It is at the all-time high of 47,000 net from Scotland every year. I met some electricians affected by the Order this morning and two told me that, in the Glasgow area in the past few weeks, 100 men have left the industry to go abroad or to go south for the increase which they cannot get in their own country. This is an alarming situation in Scotland, when our increase in production has fallen from 9 per cent. in 1964 to about 2 per cent.

We must also remember what will happen if we pass the Order. The English agreement was not a one-year, but a three-year agreement. The second stage, the further increase of 9d., may take place in September or perhaps, because of the new White Paper, six months from then. Are we to have the outrageous position of the second stage of the English increase, which will put the differential at 1s. 9d., before we get the 1s. in Scotland?

This is a possibility, but one certainty is that, if we do not reject the Order, the harmony which is essential between Scottish and English electrical contractors will be gone for at least a decade. Once a differential like this is established in an industry where differentials are intolerable, it will be very difficult to get rid of it.

It is incomprehensible to hon. Members on both sides that the Government were not prepared to make an exception in this case. The Secretary of State for Scotland is in the Cabinet, surely, to fight for us on these matters. He said that he would shelter Scotland from the harshest effects of the squeeze. Surely this is one of the harsh effects. Our claims need real protection. Why have we not had that protection? Hon. Members with fair minds on both sides will accept that this is a cast-iron case for an exception.

Therefore, why can we not have this elementary justice? In the long term, the effect of such an intolerable injustice on industrial relations in this industry will be very bad and will be there for a long time. There seem no good reasons for rejecting this wage increase. The Government are under a real obligation either to prove their case or to withdraw the Order. Anything else would be totally irresponsible. The Government will be judged, with their policy of industrial relations, on what they say this evening.

I was enormously impressed, as usual, with the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Argyll. He offered a compromise and a prospect of a harmonious settlement of the issue in the House tonight if the Government would say the word. There would be no crowing or recrimination if the Government are prepared to do what is right and sensible and obvious even under the terms of their own White Paper.

The Government have many questions to answer, but one thing which they will not be able to do, if they insist on going ahead with the Order, is to bring back the peace and harmony to this industry which should be there and which is essential for Scotland's industrial development. If the Government believe in that development and in justice and fair play—even if they believe in the terms of their own White Paper—they must agree to what we have asked.

4.17 p.m.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon (York)

The opening speeches from both sides of the House were a little jaded. Indeed, my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) said that he felt rather tired of making similar pleas. These discussions have followed a similar pattern in all our debates on Orders of this kind. We may be discussing a Scottish matter today, but the arguments behind the three speeches so far have been behind the opposition to any of the other Orders.

The basic question is: do we accept that there should be a prices and incomes policy with the backing of Government powers? However we wriggle within the difficulties of order about a particular case, ultimately, if we accept that there should be such a policy and the logic of the original White Paper on the standstill and the subsequent ones, it is almost inevitable that the Government should have taken this decision in this case.

In this case, there was a tentative agreement between the Scottish Electrical Contractors' Association and the E.T.U. for an increase of Is. an hour in May of last year. This agreement was stayed until the result of the English negotiations, which ended on 30th June. At that stage, it would have been impossible, in the terms of the White Paper, to say that there was an existing prior commitment in relation to Scottish electricians. There was a tentative agreement which was not by that time enforceable.

The White Paper, Prices and Incomes Standstill, says, in paragraph 22: An existing commitment may be defined as any agreement to increase pay or shorten hours or any offer to do so, which has been firmly accepted by or on behalf of the workers concerned on or before 20th July 1966. Hon. Members may take the view that it was wrong to define an existing commitment in those terms, but once one comes to the conclusion that it is desirable to have a prices and incomes policy, and that in the circumstances of last year it should be backed by statutory powers, normally a line must be drawn somewhere. When one draws such a line in any kind of relationship like this the nearer people are to that line the more unjust will the decision appear. There will be anomalies between those who made a firm agreement on 19th July and those who made a firm agreement on 23rd July, but, granted that a line has to be drawn and it is necessary to support the policy, clearly there was here no existing prior agreement.

I move to the argument about gross anomaly. It has been suggested that there are now in Scotland two basic rates, one for Scottish and one for English electricians; and that there is a Is. an hour difference and that this creates an anomaly which could have been corrected within the terms of the White Paper policy. Despite what my hon. Friend the Member for Walton said about parity between English and Scottish electricians before July last year, this is not so. There was parity on the hourly wage rates, but in Scotland, as distinct from England, it was possible for the members of the Electrical Contractors' Association to pay site payments and incentive bonuses. Any member of the English association who paid site payments and incentive bonuses was liable to be expelled from the association, but in Scotland there always have been these site payments and incentive bonuses.

There was always a disparity between the earnings in England and the earnings in Scotland.

There was another difference which is absolutely vital to the whole discussion of this problem. It is the question of mates. In England, there was a grade within the industry of electricians' mates, but in Scotland there was no such grade. In England, when the agreement had been reached on 30th June the matter was thereafter referred to the Prices and Incomes Board, which made a detailed report on the English position.

Mr. Heffer

Is my hon. Friend aware that the incentive schemes did not operate on all sites? According to the minutes which I have, the phrase, "in some cases ", is used, so it was not necessarily a principle which was working on every contracting job in Scotland.

Mr. Lyon

This may be true, but nonetheless there is a disparity even in Scotland and certainly between Scotland and England.

The Prices and Incomes Board investigating the agreement which, as the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor) said was an agreement for three years, came to the conclusion that the three-year agreement was not justified within the terms of the prices and incomes policy and the White Papers and that, therefore, it could not stand in toto, but that there had been a prior commitment within the meaning of the prices and incomes policy in relation to the first stage. That was an increase of 13 per cent., Is. an hour, and, therefore, that must stand.

It is interesting to note that the Board decided that even had it been reviewing the matter before July last year without any question of standstill it would have considered it unjust and unacceptable, but it would have had to accept it because of the principle in the White Paper that an existing commitment would be honoured. Therefore, a fresh agreement would have had to be negotiated. It went on to say that the reason that it would have found 13 per cent, to be unjustified was that there would not be the increase in productivity promised by the unions and accepted by the management when they made the agreement because the major increase in productivity was removal of the practice of having electricians' mates.

The Board assumed from the figures before it that that would mean ultimately a saving of about 9 per cent. Since it would save only 9 per cent., an increase of 13 per cent. was unjustified. It is interesting to consider the 9 per cent. What the English electricians were promising when they made the agreement was a saving by the removal of this practice of 9 per cent., but in Scotland the electricians could not make that claim because in Scotland there has never been the grade of electrician's mate. These questions have to be viewed separately. This is the answer to the main argument in opposition to this Order. In this case, we have to view electricians in Scotland and in England on the same basis. Their background and development of rates and practices could be different.

Although I agree that there has been a movement towards gradual parity, nevertheless there is a basic difference between the two. The Prices and Incomes Board, in paragraph 63 of its Report, referred to this matter. It spoke of the effect on other industries of the agreement and said: Electricians whose pay might be influenced less directly by the agreement include employees of Scottish electrical contractors and of other contractors outside the N.F.E.A. In Scotland, rates in the electrical contracting industry have in recent years followed those in England and Wales, and the Electrical Contractors Association of Scotland has already made an agreement with the E.T.U. for an increase of 1s. 0d. in journeymen's rates. The agreement—which is not covered by our reference—is for one year only, and this would have been effective from 5th September, 1966, but has been deferred as a result of the Prices and Incomes Standstill. Site payments, which members of the E.C.A. of Scotland were allowed to make, are to be discontinued. There is no provision for re-grading (mates are not employed in Scotland) or for Joint Industry Boards. To some extent that may be in conflict with the point I am making, but the Report goes on to say: We do not consider, therefore, that the agreement between the N.F.E.A. and the E.T.U., or any changes that may be made in it as a result of this Report, should influence future negotiations in Scotland unless there is a closer assimilation between conditions in Scotland and those in England and Wales. It went on to say, in paragraph (5) of the recommendations, on page 28: We have received an assurance from the Electrical Trades Union that they would not support claims for corresponding pay increases from their members outside the agreement unless the other conditions of the agreement— When we are talking about "the agreement" we are talking about the English agreement— the abolition of mates and regrading—were applied to them as well. The Prices and Incomes Board had received an assurance from the E.T.U. and could not simply act on the basis of comparability and say that the other parts of the industry could be viewed in the same light as those in England.

Mr. Noble

I understand the argument of the hon. Member he is saying that the English side of the E.T.U. was to have an increase in productivity because it had done away with mates. The Scots apparently did away with mates some years ago and, therefore, reached a higher level of productivity. If so, why should they not be paid the same rate as those in England?

Mr. Lyon

That was not the point. The point is that here was a major disparity between the English and Scottish contracting industries which was to be abolished in England and where, therefore, there was some argument for an increase. In fact, because there had been not only this disparity but others, the two industries must be treated separately.

It was accepted by the E.T.U., as appears from that part of the Board's Report which I have read, that different conditions applied in Scotland from those which applied in England. Mates was not the only one. There were others, mainly incentive and site payments. Therefore, it is not true that, because they are all electricians, it does not matter whether they are Scottish or English. It always has mattered.

There is no gross anomaly in their being treated differently now. The hon. Member for Cathcart said that on some sites in Scotland the Scottish electricians have had their pay reduced by Is. an hour because of the Order, but that English electricians are having their pay reduced by a reduction of Is. an hour in the site payment. This is because site payments are payable in Scotland, but not in England. There is, therefore, room for this kind of balancing between English and Scottish electricians. If there was no disparity, English electricians would have been paid Is. an hour less than their Scottish counterparts previously.

The Government, in this case, were bound to apply the principles they laid down in the White Paper. If those principles are properly and fairly applied, there is no question but that the Order is amply justified.

4.32 p.m.

Mr. Gordon Campbell (Moray and Nairn)

I must start by saying that I disagree with the hon. Member for York (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon), because, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Argyll (Mr. Noble) said, this is another gross anomaly over pay between Scotland and England which the Secretary of State for Scotland regrettably seems prepared to accept and to defend. In the debate on 2nd March on the question of the pay of local government officers, I and several of my right hon. and hon. Friends said that paragraph 30 of the White Paper on the Period of Severe Restraint provided for action in the case of gross anomalies, such as this and that of the pay of local government officers in Scotland.

This is not a matter where a whole group of workers have missed the date 20th July. Here, by accident, the Scottish electricians have been put months behind their English counterparts. In the debate of 2nd March the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland said that paragraph 30 of the White Paper was meant for cases where there were large groups of men working side by side, one group with a salary increase, and the other without."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd March, 1967; Vol. 742, c. 746.] In the case of the electricians there are several cases of men working side by side, some employed in England, some employed in Scotland, but all working in Scotland, some receiving the pay increase, and others not. Paragraph 30 surely applies in this case, on the hon. Gentleman's own argument. In this case, the Scottish electricians, on the Government's calculations, missed the date 20th July by one day only.

Now the Government, and the Secretary of State in particular, appear to have been caught in their own net. The only reason which we can see for the Government not now using paragraph 30 to straighten out this anomaly for the electricians is that it would appear then to be grossly unfair to the local government employees, who have already had their pay increase postponed and their application to be treated in the same way as their English counterparts vetoed by the Government.

All this points to the total ineffectiveness of the Secretary of State in removing anomalies harmful to Scotland arising from the Government's prices and incomes dictation; I will not call it a policy. Either the Secretary of State does not try to make his voice heard with his Cabinet colleagues, or they take no notice of him.

No one can blame the employers of the electricians for giving the increase to their staffs in Scotland. They saw the anomalies which would occur if they did not. Now, if the Government are to have their way with the Order, the employers will be compelled to withhold the increase and, unless I misunderstand the position, to withdraw the increases that have already been paid in some cases. Perhaps the Government will confirm whether this is so.

The damage which is being done to Scotland is not only the loss of pay to the electricians and local government officers in Scotland. The damage is also in the loss of confidence in the whole machinery of government which is starting to appear in Scotland. This is hardly surprising, if a system allows such glaring anomalies to occur. There are feelings of frustration which are understandable. The effect is damaging to the whole reputation of the system of central Government, for no system is proof against dictatorial methods in central Government.

The Order is dictatorial in the worst sense. Instead of using the available escape Clause, the loophole of paragraph 30, to remove the anomaly, the Order positively seeks to impose an accidental anomaly between Scotland and England. What are the Scottish Ministers there for? Why is the Secretary of State not standing up for Scotland? If he cannot do that publicly, why is he not successfully doing it in the Cabinet? This, after all, is the Secretary of State's chief task, and he has clearly failed dismally.

I understand that the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour is to reply to the debate. He has replied to many Prayers on prices and incomes Orders in recent weeks. This is not the usual kind of Order. This is not simply a pay dispute affecting the Ministry of Labour or the Department of Economic Affairs. This is, primarily, an anomaly between Scotland and England. The Government should take it far more seriously than they are doing today. Scotland should be able to look to the Secretary of State as the champion of her interests. Normally, one could expect to look to him also for a measure of leadership and inspiration to effort and enterprise in Scotland. Today we do not even have the basic protection from unfair treatment arising even by accident. All Scottish Members, on both sides of the House, should deplore this Order.

4.40 p.m.

Mr, Hugh D. Brown (Glasgow, Provan)

I apologise for not having heard the opening speeches, because of another commitment. I shall not, therefore, refer to the speech of the right hon. Member for Argyll (Mr. Noble), though I doubt that there was much new in it in any case because, having got the drift from the non. Members for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor) and for Moray and Nairn (Mr. G. Campbell), I can see that a lot of synthetic indignation is being inflicted on the House today. I am not sure whether this is generated by fear of the electricians or fear of the Scottish Nationalists, though I know that, in the case of the hon. Member for Cathcart, it is the Scottish Nationalists who are worrying him.

Most hon. Members who are prepared to be reasonable and to examine this question recognise that there is a problem. I hope that this is what we on this side at least would try to do. How did the problem arise? What steps were taken by the Ministry of Labour? Incidentally, I wish that the Ministry would speed up its replies to Members' Questions. I have had one outstanding now for between three and four weeks on this very subject. It is not very encouraging to those of us who are prepared to take the trouble, so to speak, to try to explain and justify the Government's policies that there is so much delay on a matter of great public interest in Scotland.

However, be that as it may, it is not enough merely to point out that there is a separate negotiating machinery for Scottish electricians. As my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon) pointed out, there are minor differences even within that major difference. These questions are, therefore, difficult for any outsider. This is, perhaps, one of the weaknesses of the whole attempt to bring about a prices and incomes policy. So often, we are involved in debates like this, discussing the general principles as we ought to do, but on specific cases such as the present, one is dealing with precise dates, with ½. an hour on here or ½. an hour less there, site payments, bonuses and the rest, so that it becomes difficult for us to do the job of the trade union in that detailed sense. I shall not attempt to do it.

Discounting the spurious indignation coming from the benches opposite, I recognise that we have here a problem to tackle within the Labour and trade union movement. Hon. Members opposite have nothing to contribute to the discussion. So long as the matter is seen in that context, the context of our trying to evolve a system of prices and incomes which is just—which completely escaped hon. and right hon. Members opposite for 13 years—we shall have the support of the mass of the people. None the less, as I say, it is a difficult job, and everyone recognises that.

Turning now to the specific case of the Scottish electricians, as I see it—I say this frankly—my impression is that there has been a weakness, if it can be called such, on the part of the trade unions and their members in the past in the sense that they have been, understandably, prepared to take advantage of the better bargaining opportunities in the affluent Midlands, London and the South-East which were created by the Tory Government. There has, therefore, always been an unfortunate tendency for unions which have separate negotiating machinery to try to take advantage of the, so to speak, easier bargaining climate in London and the South and then try to apply it to Scotland. I say that not just as a criticism but in an attempt to understand why so little attention has been paid by many of us who are now raising these matters to the jungle of wage structure and negotiating machinery which at present exists.

On the specific case before us, we are dealing with human beings and, after all, members of the E.T.U. are human beings.—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] It has taken hon. Members opposite a long time to find that out. We are dealing with human beings, and it is difficult to give people chapter and verse on these questions and say, "It is in the book. Whether you like it or not. it makes sense ". It does not make sense if they cannot see the sense in it.

Attitudes have been created by things which are not strictly relevant but which none the less go to make up the whole picture. There was, for instance, the discussion in May last year about holiday payments and the acceptance by the Inland Revenue that for tax purposes wages would be increased by this amount. Here, I address myself particularly to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, who, presumably, will reply—[HON. MEMBERS: "NO."] All right. It does not matter. I am prepared to concede that one sometimes gets good service from English Ministers.

I should like the Scottish Office to carry out an examination into the tender prices put up by electrical contractors based on the assumption that the wage increase would be paid. The Government may tell us that they are looking into it and trying to do this, that and the other, but these are all matters which were known to the electricians and, therefore, the sense of let-down was greater because they thought that this was, so to speak, in the bag.

We all have an obligation to think carefully on this question. We heard plenty from hon. Members opposite, when the import surcharge was put on, about the rising cost of house building in Scotland and elsewhere because of the surcharge. I want to be reassured that there has been no rise in house building costs simply because of increased charges put on by the contractors which they are not now entitled to include.

What is the bargaining position here? Is it true—is it possible for us to find out—that the E.T.U. had an offer from the Government that the increase would be allowed from July, provided that the threat to strike or the payments which had been introduced illegally by the Scottish contractors were withdrawn? Is there still room for a bit of bargaining? This, basically, is what hon. Members are concerned about.

Mr. J. Bruce-Gardyne (South Angus)

The hon. Gentleman has referred to payments introduced illegally by the employers in Scotland. Does not he accept that there was nothing whatever illegal in introducing the payments?

Mr. Brown

All right. We can split debating hairs.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne


Mr. Brown

Let us face the facts. Hon. Members opposite have been at this for about eight months now. As far as I am concerned, it is generally accepted that if there is a dispute which involves the Government in taking this sort of action by Order, the question of legality comes in. If that is the sort of argument which we are to have from hon. Members opposite on the electricians' case, they ought to realise—they have less excuse than anyone to be ignorant—that they do themselves an injustice and they mislead people outside by attempts to suggest that the Scottish contractors did not do anything illegal. [HON. MEMBERS: "They did not."] All right.

It might not have been illegal in the sense that they did not break the law, but every hon. Member knows that the Scottish contractors were just taking this on so as to create a situation in which the unions would be arguing with the Government. Some of us have been around a good bit in the political movement by now, and we can see these things.

Let us not argue about the constitutional position or the legality of what was done. The truth is that the Scottish contractors should not have paid the money. It did not matter what pressure was put on them by the union, they should have made quite clear at that stage that the dispute, if there was a dispute, was with the Government.

Mr. Stanley Orme (Salford, West)


Mr. Brown

Yes, they should. My hon. Friend the Member for Salford, West can make his own contribution. It is criminal in those circumstances for the employers, knowing that there would be Government action taken, to pay men the £2 a week increase and then take it away, blaming the Government. How naive can hon. Members get? Do they think that this was done on the basis of good faith by the Scottish contractors, looking after their workers?

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it in order for the hon. Gentleman to accuse a section of the public of behaving criminally in acting in a way which was perfectly in accordance with the law?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Sydney Irving)

Nothing that the hon. Gentleman has said is a matter for the Chair.

Mr. Brown

I have been a firm supporter of the Government and I am not raising these points because of the general application of Orders. I am trying to find out genuinely where the differences are that entitle us to accept a slightly different approach in these circumstances.

Most men are reasonable. If there is any possibility for the Government to try to give room for manoeuvre, to give a date in July, to give the assurance that they will examine thoroughly the differences—if, indeed, there are any—between the Scottish and the English electricians; I am satisfied that with the good will that exists we can overcome some of the problems.

I should like to be advised on the date and the kind of detailed negotiation that has already taken place between the E.T.U. and the Government. We are entitled to know that, I am not satisfied that the members of the union know all about what has been going on in this regard. I should like to be satisfied that there is a genuine attempt to recognise that there is an anomaly, an injustice, even though not in terms of £2 a week, arising from the fact that people doing an identical job are getting different rates of pay. If that can be recognised, even though it just means that we get an assurance that the matter will be examined properly, the Government will come out of this with some credit.

4.52 p.m.

Mr. John Peyton (Yeovil)

I should like, first, to tell my right hon. Friend the Member for Argyll (Mr. Noble), on the Front Bench, how much I appreciate the fact that the Opposition are taking up a Supply day to discuss two of the Government's Prices and Incomes Orders, because I believe that they are of far more importance than has yet been accorded to them in our debates.

I do not say this in an offensive way to the Parliamentary Secretary, but I think it a great pity that the Government have not seen fit to put up a more senior Minister. He has been sitting there—goodness knows, he has a weary task!—listening to the debates on these problems, but he has very few notes on some of the questions asked by some of his hon. Friends behind him. On this occasion he has had the moral support, if one can call it that, of various denizens of the Foreign Office—I mean of the Scottish Office. [Laughter..] That was a Freudian slip—I give the hon. Gentleman that. He has had the moral support of various denizens of the Scottish Office on this occasion, when he has had nothing before. Therefore, I suppose that he is on the whole, by a very small margin, better off.

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will be able to answer some of the substantial points that have been made. His hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) observed this afternoon that this was probably the strangest of all the Orders that we have had before us so far. I think I am right in saying that the last time we debated one of these Orders one of his Friends described it as the "grimmest" Order. We are likely to get various superlatives attached to each Order in turn as it comes up. I very much sympathise with the question put by the hon. Member for Walton, who asked why there have not been more strikes against the Government's prices and incomes policy. I can see that there is a very great tide of indignation against this thoroughly unreasonable, unintelligible policy.

The First Secretary of State should be answering the debate. I said the other day that it is very unfair that a Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour should be defending the lunatic lucubrations of the Department of Economic Affairs. If we cannot have the First Secretary here, we shall have to put up with the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, but let us have one or both of them here. It would be interesting to have the First Secretary here this afternoon to ask him how he applies the remark he made to the Scottish T.U.C. last February to this debate. He said that an incomes policy means progressive injection of greater justice and greater fairness. Had he made that speech last summer, when he could not have foreseen, or could say that he had not foreseen, the full consequences of his policy, that might have been justifiable. But he must have blinders round both his ears and eyes now if he can really still describe the incomes policy as contributing to fairness and justice when doing this sort of thing.

Your eyes are on me, Mr. Deputy Speaker. If I am erring I am only following the example of hon. Members opposite, though I know that that is no excuse.

My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor), with eloquence which always impresses me, referred to the question of gross anomalies and I want to return to that now. The White Paper indicates the possibility—and I very much hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will deal specifically with this point—that there might be circumstances of gross anomaly which would justify a particular increase being allowed. If that is the case, could we be given an example of a gross anomaly? I find it very hard to imagine a grosser anomaly than English and Scottish workers doing the same job side by side being paid at different rates because of the intervention of Government policy. It seems to me to be utter madness.

The hon. Member for York (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon), who made a speech and then dashed out, produced and quoted at length the Prices and Incomes Board Report. I thought that it was a very painful punishment to a patient House of Commons that we should be inflicted with that awful stuff. It is fast becoming my firm conviction that Hell is undoubtedly run by a sort of amalgam of the Prices and Incomes Board and "Neddy". I am certain that nothing ever gets done there, but chaos is obviously part of the treatment, and these two bodies must contribute their share of annoyance and vexation to the unfortunate victims in a way which almost passes understanding.

I have often heard my hon. Friends and hon. Members opposite inveighing at length against injustices to Scotland. On many of those occasions, as an ordinary English Member I have not only been able to remain in my seat, but also to remain dry-eyed, unmoved. But on this occasion hon. Members who represent Scottish constituencies seem to me to have a first-class grievance. I entirely agree with everything my hon. Friend the Member for Cathcart said. I was not sure that I entirely followed the hon. Member for Glasgow, Provan {Mr. Hugh D. Brown) in the inwardness of his argument, but my hon. Friend was good enough to explain to me that whereas the Scottish Nationalists did very badly in Cathcart yesterday they did very well in Provan.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman has made progress so far with only the slightest reference to the Order. I must ask him to deal with the Order.

Mr. Peyton

With respect, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I have been following this debate with great care and I have observed the great latitude accorded by the Chair on this occasion, presumably because we are not debating this matter late at night. I shall not trespass unduly upon your patience, but I hope that I shall not have rules applied to me that have not been applied to others so far.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

It may have been on that account that I have not pressed the hon. Gentleman earlier, but I must ask him to come to the Order.

Mr. Peyton

The next heading on the scrap of paper I have before me is, "The Order itself ". I believe that, when such instruments are put before Parliament, they should be firmly enshrined in the record. For that purpose, I do not intend to read out the whole Order, but I invite the attention of the House to paragraph 4(3) and to bear in mind that the Order governs the wages and working conditions of ordinary people. I ask hon. Members opposite who represent them what they think of this deathless prose. I quote: In a case where the normal working hours for the work are such as to fall within the meaning of 'normal working hours' given by sub-paragraph (2) of paragraph 1 of Schedule 2 to the said Act of 1963 (that is to say, where the contract of employment provides for a fixed number or minimum number of hours which exceeds the number of hours without overtime) remuneration for work in the number of hours without overtime, and for work in the number of hours with overtime, shall be considered separately, except that if the number of hours without overtime at the later time is less, the rate of remuneration for work in the number of hours with overtime at the later time for a period equal to the difference shall be compared with the rate of remuneration for work in the number of hours without overtime at the earlier time.

Mr. Cyril Bence (Dunbartonshire, East)

Explain it.

Mr. Peyton

It is not part of my rôle to explain such mumbo-jumbo. That is the privilege of the Joint Parliamentary Secretary and it is the privilege of hon. Members opposite who support such Orders in the Lobby every now and again to explain the meaning in detail to their constituents.

Mr. G. Campbell

My hon. Friend will notice also that there is, as usual, something called an "Explanatory Note", but that it is clearly stated: This Note is not part of the Order. Is not that significant?

Mr. Peyton

I have been here far too long ever to give any attention to an Explantory Note from official sources, because one learns that, if one reads a Note of that kind, all that can happen is a deepening of the mystery. I do not propose to weary the House with an explanation of this one.

I am sorry to embarrass the Joint Parliamentary Secretary with my sympathy, but it seems hard that he, a comparatively inexperienced Minister, should be called upon to defend this legalistic and hair-splitting operation. I find it intolerable that the consequences of the policy in this Order should be such that English workers side by side with Scotsmen doing the same job get different rates. This seems to me quite unacceptable.

I realise that people grow accustomed to Governments which fall short of their promises. People are no longer shocked as they should be when Governments do not live: up to the letter and spirit of their undertakings. But it is quite another matter when Governments by their policy, as in this case, procure the breach of a promise by someone else, because that really does damage.

I hope that hon. Members opposite will accept from me that I feel every bit as strongly as they do and that this is not a piece of political opportunism. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] It is always very dangerous to attribute insincerity. I did not do so myself and I hope that hon. Members will give me the credit for sincerity. I mean it when I say that this is not a political opportunism as far as I am concerned.

I believe that this kind of Government intervention is of the utmost danger both because it is impracticable and inefficient and because it sows deep into the community the feeling that no one is to be trusted and no promise relied upon. That is why I come here and speak every time such Orders are debated. I very much regret that we should be called upon to adjudicate upon matters in such detail. It is wrong for Governments to lend themselves to this kind of thing. It means that Governments must shoulder the burden, the full burden, of all that is unfair in industrial relations. It means that Government influence for good is lessened and that the contribution for harm is enormously increased.

Mr. Archie Manuel (Central Ayrshire)

The hon. Gentleman is draping himself in a white sheet about Government pledges. Does he not remember that Sir Winston Churchill said from the Government Front Bench, when challenged about broken election pledges, "You can stick a dozen into your programme. It does not mean that you have to carry any of them out"?

Mr. Peyton

This is the whole burden of my song. I have said that Governments have frequently broken promises and that the public have got used to it. Of course, it may be a shocking thing and it is why the reputation of politicians is not quite what we desire. The people are accustomed to Governments and politicians promising too much and to do things which, in the event, they are unable to do.

What I am protesting about is that it is far graver for the Government so to intervene in human relations as to procure breaches of promise by other people. I believe that Orders such as this are first-class examples of the fate which will befall the Government—any Government—and deservedly, who meddle in the details of a complex society such as ours and attempt to interfere in the very basic relations which exist between employers and employed.

5.9 p.m.

Mr. Bob Brown (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West)

I do not propose to take up much time because many points I intended to make have been put, more eloquently than I could have done, in two excellent speeches from my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon) and Glasgow, Provan (Mr. Hugh D. Brown). Nevertheless, it is fair to make some comparisons on this issue, but before I do so I cannot help observing that the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton) must surely have been talking humbug when he said how "big" the Opposition were in giving up a Supply Day to discuss these two important Prayers.

Mr. Peyton

The hon. Gentleman would do well not to bandy accusations of humbug about in a debate such as this. Quite apart from anything else, I merely said that I thought the Opposition Front Bench had been wise to give up a Supply day in order to discuss issues which are of very great importance to many of our people.

Mr. Brown

If I might re-emphasise the point, it smacks of hypocrisy for the hon. Member to suggest in his speech, as I understood it, that there was something "big" about the Opposition giving up a Supply day to debate these most important Orders. It is surely plumbing the very depths. I would have thought that the Opposition would be more likely to be discussing the two Orders on Scottish issues, appealing to the electors of England in the municipal elections next week.

It is regrettable that the electricians in Scotland have been caught by 24 hours. Nevertheless, any type of legislation that this House introduces must be adhered to, if it is to be effective. Sympathetic though we may be towards people who have been caught by one day, I feel that fair-minded people must agree with this.

I am sorry that my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) is not here, because I want to refer to what he said. He laid great stress on the fact that the trade union movement had seen the need to seek national wage agreements, because of the annoyance caused by differing area rates. I agree with him on this.

But he went on to say that in this instance parity was established by the two agreements. Now, he said, we have the wicked, immoral Labour Government undoing this parity. This is not the case. My hon. Friend the Member for York referred to site bonuses, but we have not even got parity in this country. My hon. Friend the member for Walton ought to know this better than anyone else. He ought to know that electrical contractors in London and on Merseyside pay rates different from those in the rest of the country.

Mr. Edward M. Taylor

In fairness to the hon. Member for Walton, he said that what had been established was parity in the basic rate for electrical contractors in England and Scotland. This is the point. It is nothing to do with earning site bonuses. It is the basic rate only, and in fairness to the hon. Gentleman that is what he said.

Mr. Brown

If we are to argue about basic rates, then the lesson to be learned from this debate is that it is high time that we accepted the fact that these dribs and drabs, up and down the country, are no good for the movement as a whole. When we were talking about wage rates, it is as well to remember that the Scottish housewife pays as much for her loaf of bread as a housewife in the Midlands or the South-East.

My hon. Friend the Member for Walton also referred to political strikes. I rather felt that he was sorry that there had not been more political strikes over the price and incomes policy. My hon. Friend ought to know that responsible trade unionists have always held the view that political battles can never be won by industrial action. It is quite wrong for anyone to suggest that the trade union movement takes industrial action on political questions. For generations, the movement has been built on the basis that industrial action shall be taken for industrial ends. I would never deny any trade union the right to take that kind of action.

The English agreement was signed before 30th July and this, within the terms of Government policy, clearly allows for a deferment of six months, which has happened. Against this, the Scottish agreement was out of time by 24 hours. It is regrettable that this should have happened, but, having said that, within the terms of the agreement, it is fair that it should be deferred until the period of severe restraint ends on 1st July. This will be a deferment of four months as against the full deferment in the case of the English agreement.

Having made these remarks, I cannot help feeling that the Scottish electricians, and other groups of workers who have fallen victim, if one likes to use that word, to the Government's prices and incomes policy, would be feeling very much happier if there had been some proportion of Statutory Instruments laid before this House demanding a temporary stoppage on price increases, which we all know are taking place far too often. If there is any genuine concern among Scottish electricians, English electricians, Scottish plumbers, Welsh plumbers or any other section of workers, it is over this fact, that there have been perhaps 10 times the number of Orders laid before this House affecting wages as compared with those affecting prices. I appeal to my hon. Friend to consult his friends at the Department of Economic Affairs to see that action can be taken on prices as well as on incomes.

5.18 p.m.

Mr. George Younger (Ayr)

I was particularly glad that the hon. Member for Glasgow, Provan (Mr. Hugh D. Brown) reminded us that we were talking about wage agreements which affect people. I wondered if he would pass on this information. in case it has not yet reached him, to his hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon).

In the course of his speech I began to wonder if he was under the impression that he was addressing an academic seminar, or some other academic body, because he had to dig deep into the intricacies, technicalities and legalities of this matter in order to develop what he thought was a defence of Government action in bringing in this Order. I would ask him respectfully, because I know that he spoke with sincerity, if he would remember that we are dealing with people's lives and their remuneration.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon

May I say that I have consistently supported the prices and incomes policy, because I sincerely believe that it is the most viable way of improving the standard of living of every man and woman in the country. Because I believe this devoutly, I am prepared to do this each time an Order comes before the House.

Mr. Younger

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for making that clear. This brings me directly to my next point, which is that we are not discussing whether we approve or disapprove of the prices and incomes policy. There are obviously differing views on this. My hon. Friends have made their views absolutely clear. But we are not discussing that. We can start our discussion from the fact that there is a prices and incomes policy, that it is enshrined in an Act and that it is being operated.

My second point also follows on the hon. Gentleman's remarks. We are not debating whether it was legally right that this Order should be introduced. From the facts clearly presented by my right hon. Friend the Member for Argyll (Mr. Noble), it is established that in terms of the Prices and Incomes Act the ratification of this agreement took place one day after 20th July.

Mr. Peyton

Does my hon. Friend realise how fortunate he is? He has the opportunity, which the rest of us have not had, of directing his question directly to the foster father of all this nonsense—the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

Mr. Younger

I thank my hon. Friend, I only wish that my hon. Friend, with his superior ability, were able to deploy the argument on the right hon. Gentleman with all his customary eloquence and charm.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Frederick Lee)

May I inform the hon. Gentleman that the Act was on the Statute Book long before I had anything to do with it?

Mr. Younger

We all agree that, technically, this agreement was ratified one day after 20th July. But we are discussing the method by which the Government are operating their own Act and introducing their own Order. It is open to the Government to say—and the Joint Parliamentary Secretary may say it in the course of the standard speech which he makes on these Orders—that, whatever legislation is produced, a firm point in time has to be decided at which it operates and that wherever we draw the line there are bound to be anomalies on either side of it. I entirely accept that view.

But when the legislation was introduced last July—and I am sure mat hon. Members will all recall this—one of the first cries made from this side of the House and, indeed, by hon. Members opposite was, "This may be a policy which makes some sense on paper. But think of the incredible anomalies which will result." Hon. Members on both sides, on television, in the newspapers, in weekend speeches and in speeches in the House, said that there would be anomaly after anomaly.

We were as rapidly told by the present Foreign Secretary, by his colleagues m the Government and those who helped him to pilot the Bill through the House that it was accepted that there would be anomalies in the operation of this firm dateline, but there was a clause in the White Paper which would allow such anomalies to be dealt with by a good, gracious and benevolent Government. The present Foreign Secretary, with his customary eloquence, did not entirely convince us that he intended to iron out every anomaly, but the fact that he was able to say that and to point to the relevant paragraph in his White Paper went a long way to allay the fears which many of us felt that by passing the Bill we were creating anomalies which were so absurd that they would not be acceptable to people who found themselves at the receiving end of the Orders.

What I have said narrows down our argument to a very small area, namely, why the Government, having accepted that there would be anomalies and having given themselves the power to iron out such anomalies, consider that the electrical contractors' pay agreement is not a gross anomaly. If we can establish that point, we shall have done a useful day's work.

There are various reasons why the Parliamentary Secretary should, even at this 11th hour—it is really after the 11th hour—ask himself whether he has possibly made a serious mistake in refusing to regard the agreement as an anomaly. First—and I do not make much of this because legally it has no weight at all—do not let us forget that ratification of the agreement was late by only one day. Admittedly, that put it on the wrong side of the line, but the fact that it was only one day late should start us off with sympathy for those who will be badly affected by the Order.

Secondly, it was not as if the negotiations had ended comparatively recently to 20th July. They had not ended on 10th, 5th or 1st July. As far back as 9th May it was well established and known by all those who took part in the negotiations—the employers side and the unions side—that the parties concerned had come together and decided that this increase was right and had upheld it thereafter for the one or two very good and understandable reasons which my right hon. Friend the Member for Argyll detailed. My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor) added the extra point, which was so well known, although I dare say that it would not hold up in any court, that it was so well understood that this amount had been agreed in all but the final stamping of the document that arrangements had been made to alter all the holiday stamp payments. This is a most powerful reason for sympathetically considering this case as an outstanding and gross anomaly.

The Government, having given themselves the power and having accepted that this situation might arise, have not had the courage to make what would undoubtedly have been a difficult decision and to stand up and say, as they should have done and should do now, "We always knew that there would be anomalies arising from the Act. We maintain, with all the advice available to us, that this is an anomaly and we are therefore prepared to stand against all those who criticise us and use the powers which we gave ourselves and allow this increase to be made ".

Of course, that would not be easy for the Government or for the Parliamentary Secretary. No doubt, workers in other industries would say, "This claim has been allowed. Therefore, our claim should be allowed." But is the hon. Gentleman so spineless and flabby that he is unable to stand up to the claims which might be made by other people if this decision had gone the other way? I have not noticed that members of the Government, whatever their faults from time to time, are so craven and frightened of standing up for themselves that they could not easily have stood up for themselves in those circumstances.

I have a horrible suspicion that the actual decision not to regard this as an anomaly was taken in haste, perhaps without realisation of its full enormity, and that hon. Members opposite now find themselves trapped within it and unable to take what I would regard as the very small risk of looking somewhat foolish and stepping down in response to pressure. It is understandable that they should be reluctant to do that, but I assure the Parliamentary Secretary that, as my hon. Friend the Member for Moray and Nairn (Mr. G. Campbell) said, there is no desire on this side of the House, and nor will there be if he decides to climb down, to crow over it, or to make it appear that it is a monstrous climb-down which should bring about the disappearance of the Government. It could be done with complete honour and with common sense, and it could be done virtually painlessly. Would it not be worth while to make a first-time effort and for the Government to realise that, having made a wrong decision, they should be prepared to step down and say so? I can assure the hon. Gentleman that that would increase rather than decrease his stature.

It is not as though this situation was a temporary local difficulty which will blow over in a week or two and be forgotten for ever. The ill-effects of the anomaly now existing between Scottish and English electrical workers working on the same site and working side by side are already apparent and will be reflected for many months to come.

There is the effect on industrial relations. No one can doubt that industrial relations, relations between unions and management and between men and management, cannot long survive the lack of confidence which may result from a difference such as this. My hon. Friend mentioned delays in work in progress and the serious matter of the school in his constituency which is being delayed by the unrest caused by this ridiculous decision. There is the more serious question of emigration, and we cannot shut our eyes to that and pretend that it does not exist.

There are innumerable ways in which people will get round the effects of the Order. I shall not give the examples which have been given to me, but I can assure the House that the number of examples of ways of getting round the Order which I have been given goes into double figures. It would be wrong to detail them in case that encourages others to follow those examples, but no hon. Member need think for as much as 30 seconds that the Order will work effectively in a water-tight manner for it will not. It is already riddled with every kind of method of getting round it and, although introduced with so much pain and grief, it is already ineffective and will remain so far as long as it applies. Is it worth all this business of bringing it in?

There is also the subject of future negotiations. Negotiations between unions and managment and between workers and management in a works or on a national scale depend on confidence and trust on both sides. Have the Government thought carefully of the likely result on future negotiations all over the country if all the time it is felt that because of some Government crisis, or a balance of payments crisis, or a mini-Budget, there may suddenly be introduced a "20th July "—whatever the date might be? If I were a union negotiator in a year or two's time and were under pressure to come to an agreement with the employers' side on a wage settlement which was going through the customary process, sometimes occupying several months, of reaching agreement, negotiations and ratification, I would be hurrying on to make sure that I got the stamp on the document at the earliest possible moment in case a "20th July" intervened and nullified the work of months.

The Parliamentary Secretary ought to be particularly concerned with this aspect, because lack of confidence will last through future negotiations for a long time if people are caught in this retrospective way. I hope that this will not be so, but I hope that in the Ministry this is something which is being seriously considered.

The hon. Member for Provan made his customary reference which comes in many of his speeches—I do not dislike it—to synthetic indignation. It has become one of his little terms and it comes every now and again. I can assure him that there is no trace of synthetic indignation about this matter on this side of the House. Secondly, if, as I expect, he has met members of the Electrical Trades Union who are involved in this situation, he will know that there is not a trace of synthetic indignation among them.

If he and his hon. Friends, many of whom dislike the Order very much to judge by many things, including speeches today, were prepared not only to speak their minds, as the hon. Gentleman rightly did, but to carry their disapproval to its logical conclusion and vote their convictions, there would probably be none of these prices and incomes Orders—certainly only a very few. If they had made clear that attitude and their intention to resist these Orders, the Government would never have reached the stage of putting through those which are most anomalous and difficult to defend.

The hon. Member for Provan has great responsibility on his shoulders—not his alone, but with his hon. Friends—because they have it in their power to straighten out this matter if they so wish. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will soberly reflect before 7 o'clock this evening on the fact that if there were anything like the semblance of a free vote at the end of this, as at the end of many other debates of this sort, he would not have the remotest chance of getting the Order through the House.

When that situation occurs, it is a serious matter for Parliament and something which all hon. Members, particularly hon. Members on the Government side should seriously consider. Is it worth putting through this ridiculous and unjustifiable Order when we know that a majority of hon. Members are against it? The Parliamentary Secretary would be well advised to think yet again even at this late hour and withdraw the Order.

5.38 p.m.

Mr. Neil Carmichael (Glasgow, Wood-side)

By this time, most of the details of the Order have been covered, but I should like to take up what the hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger) said about synthetic indignation. He linked his side of the House with members of the E.T.U., many of whom have been on strike, and suggested that the synthetic indignation of the one was related to that of the other. The lads affected by this Order in Scotland are genuinely indignant and I only wish that politics were such that we could have indignation from hon. Members opposite equally genuine about an Order such as this.

This is also true of the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton). He made a most interesting and entertaining speech, but while he and many of his hon. Friends can work up a certain amount of self-righteousness, there is no doubt that they are nevertheless using this occasion almost purely politically.

Mr. Peyton

I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman is ever capable of attributing to political opponents with whom he is in disagreement a measure of sincerity, or does he regard sincerity as something which only he and those who agree with him possess?

Mr. Carmichael

I frequently find great sincerity in my political opponents, but on an Order such as this and in circumstances such as this, it would be asking almost too much of hon. Members opposite to suggest that they ought not to jump on a political weapon with which to hit the Government.

I feel sad about this Order. I have all along supported the principle of a productivity, prices and incomes policy, but I find it difficult to support the operation of such a policy when I feel that its main purpose is to make something tidy rather than to see that justice is done—leaving aside entirely the question of ensuring that it is being applied with common sense.

A number of people have discussed at great length what occurred during the pre-negotiation period in this case. My hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon), in an erudite and exhaustive speech—the sort of speech which we have become accustomed to receiving from him in this type of debate; he always goes into a matter with thoroughness and care—was arguing rather on the wrong terms. The decision has already been made that the extra Is. an hour would be granted. I will not go into all the details of the case, although it is worth remembering that an increase in holiday stamps had been decided and only the date of the meeting when the agreement would be signed remained outstanding. It is ironic to think that the members of the Electrical Contractors Association and the representatives of the Union were probably looking at their diaries to see when the meeting at which the agreement would be signed should be held. Indeed, that meeting might have taken place on 20th July.

Because of these considerations we must examine this matter carefully. It is elementary to say that, whatever line is drawn, someone will fall on one side of it and someone will fall on the other. Nevertheless, there are many peculiar circumstances in this case. The main point to remember is that we are dealing not with a static group of workers, but with workers who must move from job to job. Indeed, it is essential that they do this if we are to maintain a high standard of living and a high rate of building.

I disagree with the right hon. Member for Argyll (Mr. Noble) who tried to draw a comparison between this Order and the one which we will be debating later. No such comparison can be made, for the later Order concerns workers who live and work in one part of the country and are getting the rate for the job in that area. I have no doubt that if those workers moved south to a new job they would get the rate established in that area. Equally, if a worker moves to a job in Scotland he gets the Scottish rate.

In the case we are considering we have the ridiculous situation in which Scottish electricians are working side by side with English electricians who have been employed at head offices in York, Newcastle or elsewhere—while the Scottish electricians were employed on the site in Scotland or from the Scottish sub-office—and there is 1s an hour difference between the pay they receive.

There are many instances of workers with 1s. an hour difference in pay borrowing each other's tools to do the job that they are both doing. There is total inter-changeability in this type of employment and that is why this case must be given special consideration. This type of inter-changeability has not applied to many of the other Orders we have discussed in the last few months.

I urge the Minister to ignore a great deal of what is said on this score by hon. Gentlemen opposite, irrespective of their motives. We have experienced the way in which they make political capital out of many things. He should, on the other hand, give great thought to the remarks of my hon. Friends who have spoken on behalf of these workers because he knows that we are not attempting to make political capital out of this.

Anomalies exist in rates of pay throughout the trade union movement, but the men accept these anomalies as part of the bargaining machinery. The anomaly we are considering is different because it is imposed from outside by the Government—and a Labour Government at that—and is having a great effect not only on those from whom we get our traditional support but in whom the traditional roots of the Labour Party are founded.

I say with sadness that this is one Order that I cannot, in common sense, support. I urge the Minister not to give a stock reply but to get down to the fundamentals of the problem and to examine the case thoroughly. If he does, he will realise that he and the Government would not lose face by changing their minds. Indeed, the Labour Movement as a whole would be injected with new life and vitality, particularly in Scotland. [Interruption.] Hon. Gentlemen opposite need not sneer about the results of the local elections. We did very well yesterday, considering the opposition we had from the mass media of the other side.

If my hon. Friend will reconsider the Order in the light of what my hon. Friends and I have said, he will see that we are right and that the Government should change their mind. This would give these workers the feeling that the Government belong to the people, that it is their Government. I am sure that such a decision would represent a turning point in the fortunes of the Labour Party.

5.46 p.m.

Earl of Dalkeith (Edinburgh, North)

It also seems a little sad when one finds hon. Gentlemen opposite whose loyalty—perhaps admirable loyalty, but sometimes, one feels, blind loyalty—to their party prevents them from doing what would be the normal and logical thing to do, which is to agree with the Opposition occasionally on the simple merits of the justice of a case. Instead, they take a different line, as we have heard in at least three speeches from hon. Gentlemen opposite today. They accuse the Opposition of being synthetic and spurious in their indignation and of humbug and hypocrisy. I am not a psycho-analyst, but I suggest that this could be interpreted as a sign of weakness in their argument.

We are dealing with a simple and straightforward case. My hon. Friends have adduced the arguments involved so well that I need not repeat them. I will, therefore, not make a long speech. As with so many Orders of this type, the Government are being masochistic to a degree which surprises me. The hon. Member for York (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon) summed up the position well when he said that when a line is drawn in legislation, the nearer one gets to it the greater appears to be the injustice. He was admitting that there is some element of injustice here—whether or not it is a great element is a matter of opinion—and this, therefore, highlights the Government's masochistic behaviour. It shows that when the Government make a bed of nails, they tend to lie on it, come what may.

In drawing up the procedure whereby they decide whether or not to implement an order the Government allow themselves a certain amount of discretion. My hon. Friends are merely asking that they use that discretion. Even the most sincere and devout supporters of the Government agree that this must be regarded as a borderline case. Indeed, we are discussing what my hon. Friends and I regard as a cast-iron case, let alone a borderline one.

I hope that when the Minister is considering his verdict tonight—and I trust that he had not made up his mind before entering the Chamber—he will consider some aspects involved in pursuing his present course. What will be the effect upon the Scottish economy? The hon. Gentleman has a junior Minister from the Scottish Office beside him, and I am sure that he will tell him that the Scottish economy needs skilled men if we are to progress into the future. If we create a deliberate anomaly between England and Scotland, such as there is in the present case, we are almost certain to do the reverse of what we are trying to do, which is to keep the skilled, trained Scotsman in Scotland and not try and drive him over the border.

I should like the Government to consider the effect upon morale in Scotland and the attitude of the population to Westminster government. By having this anomaly, the Government are merely enlarging upon the apprehensions, which are already showing themselves in recent local election results, that Scotland is getting a raw deal.

It is always difficult to be certain how one defines the word "gross", and it is equally difficult to say whether or not this is a gross anomaly. However, this is admitted to be an anomaly, and when the Government adopt a rigid and unyielding attitude, they are bound to breed a lack of respect for the whole of their incomes policy.

If it is to be succesful, even the most rigid statutory incomes policy must depend upon a considerable element of good will from the general public in recognising that it is fair. When it is so blatantly unfair, honest men and women are driven to deceptive ways of getting round it. Some of my hon. Friends have already mentioned the various loopholes which are available. There are a number of ways in which these difficulties can be overcome. By pushing forward an Order like the present one, the Govern- are encouraging honest men and women to cheat.

I feel sorry for the Joint Parliamentary Secretary, because he has an odious task to perform. It is possibly one of the most odious for any Minister in the Government, and I am always full of praise for the cheerful expression which he manages to keep on his face on these occasions. He must be becoming hardened to the pleas and arguments put forward from these benches. I only hope that he is not so hardened that he is past praying for or praying against and that, occasionally, he will try to believe that there is a genuine feeling on this side of the House not to make party political capital. He can be certain that we shall not crow about it if he relents. This is a genuinely felt case, and if he were to show good sense and accept our arguments, I am sure that he would earn a great deal of respect not only in the House but in Scotland.

5.54 p.m.

Mr. John Robertson (Paisley)

From time to time, one finds oneself in strange company. Today, I find myself agreeing almost entirely with the speeches which have been made by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite. However, if they wonder why hon. Members on this side of the House doubt their sincerity, it is because we have long memories. We can remember some of the speeches which they made in the past and, therefore, we are entitled to be suspicious about their intentions today.

Having said that, we all have to thank the Opposition for giving us the opportunity to discuss this matter at length. I do not like the prices and incomes policy of the Government. I have never liked it, and I said at the time that the reason why I did not like it was that it would give rise to the very situation which we face today.

This is a preposterous situation. It is not just a matter of Scottish electricians not being paid while English electricians are. People employed by Scottish electrical contractors are not being paid while others employed by English contractors are being paid. Scotsmen are employed by English companies and, conversely, Englishmen are employed by Scottish companies, because some Scottish companies have contracts in England and engage their labour locally. So it is much more complex than a mere difference between people employed in Scotland and people employed in England.

It has been suggested that it is the fault of the trade unions for not getting a national agreement. That, too, is preposterous. A trade union does not determine these questions. It discovers the body of employers with whom it must negotiate, and it negotiates. It cannot say to an employer that it wants a national agreement. If satisfactory arrangements can be made with the Scottish contractors, why should the trade union worry about the body with whom it should negotiate? Certainly no decision of a trade union can afflict one set of negotiations. It may be that, in the past, the Scottish electrical contractors felt that they could negotiate a lower rate than that being paid in England, but that is no longer the case.

Some comment has been made about earnings and rates. However, surely a trade union can only be concerned about negotiating a rate, and that was done. For at least five years there has been a clear understanding, nonetheless, that on basic wages the rates would be the same, and it did not require further negotiations for any agreement to be reached. But custom and practice have meant that the larger body of employers involved in the English negotiations determined what the increase should be, and that was then applied by the Scottish employers. To say that the present situation is the fault of the trade unions is to tell trade unionists that if they cannot get a national agreement they should strike and create trouble until they do. Who are we to tell employers and trade unions what they should do? We have no right to do that. I suggest that we should let the trade unions look after their own business because, in all probability, they know more about it than any Member of Parliament.

In their White Paper the Government have the opportunity to use their judgment in matters of this kind and to see that anomalies are not created, with a difference of a shilling between men on the same site doing the same job depending on an agreement being signed 24 hours later. If the words "gross anomaly" mean anything, they must cover a case of this kind. If they do not, they are meaningless, because this is a gross anomaly.

I am biased about this. A long time ago I forecast that this kind of situation would arise. I am not happy at having to make this kind of speech. I am not happy about criticising my own Front Bench, but I am asking them to listen to reason and not to perpetuate this kind of situation, because we shall pay for it in the future if we do. The Government have an opportunity to give the electricians a fair deal, and if they do it will pay dividends for everyone.

6.0 p.m.

Mr. Graham Page (Crosby)

I trust that the House will bear with me for a few moments if I deal with the form of the Order rather than with the merits of it. This debate, and indeed the speech of the hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. John Robertson), has shown very clearly that there are extreme anomalies in the application of the Order. The hon. Gentleman said that English trade union members who are employed in Scotland will receive the English wage rates, yet Scottish trade union members who are employed in Scotland will not receive rates equal to the English rates, which they would have received under the agreement to which the Order applies.

Where is that said in the Schedule to the Order? It says: Remuneration for work performed under any contract of employment"— and I stress the word "any"— the terms of which include, expressly or by implication, any of the terms relating to increases in wage rates agreed between the Electrical Contractors' Association of Scotland and the Electrical Trades Union on a certain date.

The strict interpretation of that Schedule would apply, I suggest, to the employment of English trade union members in Scotland, but the debate has shown that there is this anomaly in the application of the Order. I go further than calling it an anomaly. I think that there is a complete mystery about the Schedule. I do not believe that anyone can know to whom the Order applies, what trades, what grades, and therefore what individuals, what employers and employees, and what wage rates; and yet those who disobey this great unknown may be liable to a fine of £500.

The Order is made under Section 29 of the Prices and Incomes Act, 1966, and subsection (6) of that Section says: An Order under subsection (1) above may frame the descriptions of remuneration to which this section applies in any way I fear that the draftsman of this Statutory Instrument has taken that literally and has defined or described the remuneration certainly in any way, and in a way which is so vague that nobody can tell to whom it applies.

Let us look again at the description of remuneration in the Schedule to the Order. It does not define to whom the Schedule is to apply. It does not specify the employees, or the employers. On almost every other occasion when Orders of this kind have come before the House there has been a clear definition of either the employers, or the employees, and in many cases, the grades have been set out.

The Explanatory Note to the Order says: Copies of the Agreement referred to in the Schedule to this Order are available for inspection between 10 a.m. and 12 noon and between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. on any weekday (excluding Saturdays) at the offices of the Ministry of Labour.… What was available for inspection at the offices of the Ministry of Labour was not an agreement at all, nor a copy of an agreement, as stated in this Explanatory Note. What was available for inspection was a copy of the minute of a Joint Meeting of the Labour Committee of the Electrical Contractors' Association of Scotland and the E.T.U. held at 23 Heriot Row, Edinburgh, on 21st July, 1966, and, as has been said already, that was immediately after 20th July, 1966, the vital day when the wage freeze was announced.

This Minute of a meeting, which apparently the Minister thinks constitutes an agreement, starts by saying that the representatives of the E.T.U. wished …to reach formal agreement on wage rates, irrespective of the Prime Minister's statement. The minute goes on to refer to some previous minute of a meeting held on 9th May, 1966, the draft of which had been sent to the union, and had been amended on several points. The Minute refers to the Scottish Agreement and to the English one. Neither the previous minute of a meeting, nor the English or Scottish agreements, is available for Members to inspect. These are part, apparently, of the agreement reached on 21st July, but they are not the agreement referred to in the Schedule or in the Explanatory Note.

The Minute goes on to say that the Association were willing to concede the increase of Is. per hour on 5th September, 1966 and … the Association was willing to give consideration to other Clauses in the English Agreement. but we do not know what other clauses, because the English agreement has not been produced.

The contractors' representatives were asked how much of the English agreement they were prepared to accept, and then there followed a discussion about incentive schemes. The union representatives then withdrew, and on their return they stated that the Union representatives accepted the E.C.A. of Scotland reservations to the draft Minute "— which, as I say again, has not been produced either to the House, or to anyone who wishes to inspect this so-called agreement— as it now stood but they wished to raise one or two points. In fact, they raised three points, first, on the date on which the 1s. increase was to start, secondly, on jointer's wages, and, thirdly, on the five-day week.

There then follows the statement that the undernoted decisions were reached. Only one of these decisions relates to wage rates. This is the one which says that the operative date of the increase of 1s. per hour shall be Monday, 5th September, 1966. The other decisions are about material relating to jointers' wages, the consideration of a five-day week, and the setting up of a joint committee to consider incentive schemes.

This document is referred to as an agreement. It is impossible to understand from those words alone, what the agreement is. The whole reference to this in the Schedule to the Order is so vague that one cannot tell what the contracts of employment are on which any decision or agreement was reached, what the wage rates are to which the increase applies, or who the employers or employees are to whom the decisions or agreement apply.

It is true, as I quoted from the Act, that the descriptions of remuneration can be made in any way in the Order, but surely they must be descriptions? They cannot be just a vague statement, an indefinite indication, of what may be an agreement between the parties. This is of great importance, because, under Section 29(5) of the Act, If an employer contravenes this section he shall be liable—

  1. (a) on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding one hundred pounds, and
  2. (b) on conviction on indictment to a fine which, if the offender is not a body corporate, shall not exceed five hundred pounds."
There have been 10 Orders already made under Section 29. This is the 11th Order. Therefore, I think it is relevant to see whether, in the previous 10 Orders which the House has let through, there is any form of precedent for the vague Schedule to this Order. I have studied those other 10 Orders. I think there is not one which could possibly form a precedent for the present Order. If I may, I will refer briefly to them because they show in what way this Schedule ought to have been drafted.

We first had the Order relating to Thorn Electrical Industries, and that referred to periodic increases in the salaries of members of either of the contracting unions in the employment of Thorn Electrical Industries Limited". So there the employees were clearly defined.

There followed the Order relating to the Newspaper Proprietors' Association, in which the arrangements to which it referred were carefully defined in a fairly long Schedule, so that there could be no question that that Schedule indicated exactly who would be affected. It was followed by an Order relating to printers, and, again, the agreements were clearly defined by reference to the parties and the dates of the agreements to which the Schedule applied.

There then followed the Order relating to a particular firm and its employees, J. E. Hanger and Co., Ltd., and there could be no doubt whatever that from the description in that Schedule one could discover exactly the individuals who would be affected by that Order. There was one relating to Joseph Bourne and Son, Ltd. at the Denby Pottery, Derby, which, again, was specific in its reference to the employees. There was an order relating to road transport drivers employed by the Crown Bedding Company Birmingham, Ltd. There could be no doubt as to whom that Order applied. The Order relating to the employees of the Press Association went into considerable detail to set out the employees and grades to which the Order applied.

The grades were carefully listed in the case of the Birmingham Corporation, which was restricted in the remuneration which it gave to its employees in its transport department, and again there could be no doubt from that Order. There was the Order relating to the car delivery employees, and in that was set out a fairly long list of about 20 firms affected by the Order, and the employees to whom it referred were to be employees of any of the following employers". The Order which has not yet been discussed by the House, the Order relating to the Royal Burgh of Rothesay, again refers quite specifically to the staff who will be affected by that Order.

The Order which we have before us is, in my submission, wholly inadequate in its description, and the House would be well justified in throwing out the Order purely for that reason. When penalties are imposed by statute the crimes should be meticulously defined, and the more so if that crime is created by Ministerial order. The House and the country should be left in no doubt whatever of the action which will constitute the offence. This Order is a disgraceful form of delegated legislation. It shows an absence of care on the part of the Minister, and a discourteous casualness in the exercise of the power which Parliament has given him to bring about delegated legislation, a power which ought to be exercised with the greatest care when it is creating a crime.

6.15 p.m.

Mr. Ron Ledger (Romford)

I think that this debate has followed a pattern very similar to that of the debates on the other Orders, and it has become quite clear that the Opposition are really not concerned about specific anomalies which arise but use them in order to oppose the whole of the Government's policy on prices and incomes. This has become increasingly clear. There is a world of difference between the opposition of hon. and right hon. Members opposite and the opposition of my hon. Friends who can show that throughout their political life they have always been fighting for better wages and better conditions for various unions.

The hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton) was very upset when we doubted his sincerity. Well, I will stop doubting it the minute he can show me his record in supporting the electricians over the years in their struggle for better pay and better conditions. He was very quick to refer to my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon) because, having made his speech and then having sat through two and a half speeches, my hon. Friend went out for some reason.

The hon. Gentleman referred to this as though it was discourteous. I know that, in general, it is, but, having said how wonderful it was that the Opposition had chosen this subject for this debate, and how his Front Bench should be congratulated, the hon. Member then had to draw his hon. Friend's attention to the fact that the debate was still going on he then made his speech and immediately left the Chamber, and though he has been back on a couple of occasions he is absent again now. That is the test of sincerity; that is the test I apply.

During the years that I have been a Member of the House I have never heard hon. Members opposite make any sort of speech in support of the unions in their fight for increased pay—

Sir Fitzroy Maclean (Bute and North Ayrshire)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Ledger

No. The hon. Member has not been in the Chamber. I certainly shall not give way. I want to get to the end of this debate. I have been sitting here while the hon. Gentleman has not. I do not see why I should give way.

Sir F. Maclean

On a point of order. I have been here the whole time and have not left the Chamber since the debate started.

Mr. Ledger

Well, I have been watching very closely—

Mr. F. A. Burden (Gillingham)

Apparently not.

Mr. Ledger

The hon. Member has only just walked in. How would he know whether the other hon. Member was here or not?

Mr. Speaker

Order. I think that we had better get back to the Order.

Mr. Ledger

I was coming to it, Sir, having cleared this issue of the difference between the attitude of my hon. Friends and that of the Opposition to the Order. I wanted to make that quite clear.

It seems to me that most of the argument has been based on the question of anomaly. My hon. Friend the Member for Paisley (Mr. John Robertson) went so far as to say he expressed his opposition to the policy on the grounds that it would create anomalies. If he, like myself and many other of my hon. Friends here, has had any association at all with the unions in their fight for better pay and better conditions he must know that the law of the jungle system in wage increases, which has existed for years, does in itself create anomalies and has been the cause of the anomalies which were existing in this matter of pay. It is for this reason that I support the incomes policy.

Mr. John Robertson

I will not argue with my hon. Friend on his proposition about the law of the jungle if he will explain to me how it is that this Order and the decision of the Government assist in any way to bring about fairness.

Mr. Ledger

I would not try to argue that, because although I oppose the old system of wage negotiations, which always allows the strongest and more influential unions to win the day and the poorer unions to pay for it, I am not very keen on Orders of this kind. I do not long to see them come before the House. I am as sad as other hon. Members to see this Order; we all are.

We are all sad about the workers who, deep down, are entitled, we feel, to increases in pay, but who, because of Government policy, are told, "No, you cannot have your increase at this stage." But when there is to be a basic change in policy; when we are trying to change the whole unfair system of the economy, and rates of pay and remuneration, further anomalies are bound to be created. This is part of die price we have to pay.

If hon. Members opposite had really wanted to discuss wages today I would have thought that they could have chosen a much better subject than this Order, although one that is not entirely unrelated to it. They could have discussed the position of some of the Scottish people who work with the electricians in shops or stores. Some shop workers today earn wages which are only two-thirds of the wages of electricians. If hon. Members opposite were really concerned about the anomalies created by the present system of wage negotiations, that is the subject that they should have chosen for discussion.

I have heard my hon. Friend wind up debates on these Orders on a number of occasions. A very good case has been made out against this Order. However, I cannot see how that case can be conceded without creating anomalies in respect of cases which have not been conceded. If this is conceded it will create anomalies in itself. In nearly all the wage negotiations that I have been called upon to carry out the question of anomaly has arisen. It was said that an anomaly needed to be put right, but immediately the case was conceded another anomaly was created, if not within the union concerned then within another union—and another claim was put forward. Before we knew where we were we were back again where we had started from and nobody was any better off.

Government policy is attempting to change this situation and to give the poorer-paid workers a better deal. If the case against this Order were conceded the poorer workers—Scottish shop workers, earning very low wages—would ultimately have to pay the bill. Although we would have preferred a situation in which there was no need for this sort of Order, many of us support it because we believe that in the long run it will do justice to a greater number of workers.

6.24 p.m.

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

In an afternoon which has been characterised by some extraordinary speeches, the most extraordinary point made was that by the hon. Member for Bute and North Ayrshire (Sir F. Maclean), who said that if the Government refused to take back this Order—

Sir F. Maclean

On a point of order. Surely the hon. Gentleman shows ignorance of what has been going on. I have not spoken.

Mr. Hattersley

The most extraordinary point of all was that made by the hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger), who said that if the Government refused to take back this Order they would be doing so for fear of taking an unpopular course, and if they persisted in going ahead with it they would be insisting on taking the easy way out.

I would have thought that one point we all had in common—certainly a point in common between the Government Front Bench and hon. Members on this side of the House below the Gangway who have expressed criticism of the Order—was that it could not possibly be suggested that the Government's incomes policy was characterised by the desire to court popularity.

I am sure that the hon. Member will understand that for my part—and I am sure that this also applies to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster—there have been occasions during the last eight months when I would have liked to take the easy way out, or the popular course. Nevertheless, we have taken the view that our obligation, not only to the Government but to the country, was to apply the incomes policy, popular or unpopular. That is what we are continuing to do this evening.

Mr. Younger

I said that if the hon. Member withdrew this Order he would be taking the embarrassing course, not the unpopular course.

Mr. Hattersley

I think that the hon. Member went on to say—I do not want to argue this in detail—that we would be taking the easy way out. I hope that when he reads the newspapers tomorrow he will be able to decide whether the Government have taken the easy way, the difficult way, the dishonourable way, or the honourable way.

The second aspect of the hon. Member's speech to which I want to refer was his criticism of my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon). The hon. Member took my hon. Friend to task for a number of reasons. As I understood him, his chief complaint was that my hon. Friend was relying on fact and detail. He suggested that my hon. Friend had committed the unpardonable sin of reading Report No. 24 of the National Board for Prices and Incomes and of having something precise to say about its recommendations on wages and conditions in the electrical contracting industry.

I warn the hon. Member that if he believes that an incomes policy is not to be determined by detailed and precise analyses of the situation he will be disappointed with the Government's case. The Government do not believe that compassion is necessarily the enemy of accuracy, or that one cannot be consistent and humanitarian at the same time. The Government believe that these things can go together. They believe that accuracy, precision and consistency are elements without which an incomes policy cannot work.

Mr. Brewis

Are the criteria that the hon. Member has just mentioned more important than greater justice and fairness?

Mr. Hattersley

As my speech progresses I shall say a great deal about fairness and justice. But I reiterate that consistency, accuracy and precision must have a great deal to do with the Government's interpretation of their prices and incomes policy, and, in particular, with the interpretation of the main issue which the House is discussing this evening—the issue of "existing commitments".

Hon. Members know that the White Paper on the Standstill, published in July, 1966—Cmnd. 3073—talked in paragraphs 20 and 21 of existing commitments. The hon. Member knows that existing commitments were redefined in the White Paper on Severe Restraint, published in November, 1966, and also that the original definition of existing commitments was made by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on the afternoon of 20th July when he talked about "definite commitments ".

By "definite commitments" my right hon. Friend meant something very precise. He meant not at all what was meant by my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) who, with characteristic forthrightness, honesty and accuracy, described the agreement with the Scottish Electrical Contractors Association as a "tentative" agreement. Clearly, if the Government are to base their policy on existing commitments entered into, accepted and agreed before 20th July, they must be more than tentative agreements. They must be more than informal understandings; they must be more than tacit agreements; they must be firm, formal and notified decisions. If we want a yardstick by which to measure them, they must be agreements which cannot be altered after having been entered into. They must be agreements which are final and determined for ever.

Until 21st July the agreement covering the Scottish electricians was not a formal agreement of that sort. I am sure that, on reflection, the House will understand that if the Government are to draw a line taking in existing commitments, and are then to say that existing commitments are those which existed before 20th July, it will be quite wrong for the Government, arbitrarily and capriciously, then to say, "On this occasion we are prepared to bend, break, or change the line ".

Hon. Members opposite would be among the first to complain if, having set down a precise definition of what an existing commitment was—having said where the line was to be drawn and having determined the date by which existing commitments must be entered into—the Government took power to alter that definition and to change the law if they so chose. The Government took the view firmly and precisely that since they drew the line they must adhere to it rigidly and precisely. That is what they are doing on this occasion.

If we had chosen—as has been suggested on many occasions—to say voluntarily that 24 hours does not count, and to say that the existing commitments should be entered into before 20th July, but on this occasion 21st July will do, the Government would have had a special responsibility to those trade unions who have taken a voluntary course consistent with the rules of incomes policy for existing commitments.

I give two examples. I choose the first so that I cannot be accused of choosing an example to make my case from small and insignificant unions which the Government can order with impunity to follow the policy. It is that of the Pirelli Tyre Co., which had an informal agreement with the Transport and General Workers' Union on 12th July. It was ratified on 28th July, six days after the date on which existing commitments came into the field outlined in the White Paper.

That firm decided that, since the Prime Minister had six days before laid down precise rules and definite standards by which existing commitments should be measured, it could not in all conscience argue that its commitment was entered into before that period. It therefore understood the necessity to postpone the wage increase until 1st July. If it is prepared to accept that analysis voluntarily, is it not the Government's obligation to make sure that those parties which do not accept it voluntarily do so compulsorily?

The other example is even more dramatic. The Fire Brigades Union was literally negotiating a wage increase on 21st July, but said: Yesterday, in the House of Commons, the Prime Minister stipulated wage increases which could go on because they were existing commitments. Ours is clearly not such a commitment and we will postpone our increase in the knowledge that, even if we negotiated one today it would not be an existing commitment within the Government's meaning of the term. Therefore, we could not go ahead with it until 1st July. In the face of this sort of union taking this sort of stand and accepting the Government's policy as it is and as it is seen to be, surely the Government have an obligation to make sure that those few unions which choose not a voluntary path but to flout the intentions of the incomes policy are forced to obey the rules and play the game as it is played voluntarily by an overwhelming number of unions and employers—

Mr. G. Campbell

In either of the cases which the hon. Gentleman mentioned, was there an anomaly between Scotland and England?

Mr. Hattersley

I excuse the hon. Gentleman for his extraordinary over-eagerness. I am dealing now with the major contention of him and of his hon. Friends that this was an existing commitment. When I have concluded that part of the argument, I will turn to the gross anomaly argument, which has been advanced with equal force.

Therefore, we accept that the Government are simply drawing a precise line and sticking to it and saying, as they always say in terms of the incomes policy, that in a sense they are making a compulsory Order to ensure that the militant few have no advantages over the cooperative majority. That is why only 35,000 people are today covered by Orders. That is why a tiny minority of the working population have had wage increases postponed by this compulsory method. The majority of their workmates have chosen the voluntary sacrifice—for sacrifice it is.

The Government feel that it is their obligation, in terms of equity and justice—about which the hon. Gentleman spoke—to ensure that, while the 8 or 10 million are accepting voluntarily the incomes policy and the line drawn on 20th July, the over-militant few do not take advantage of the co-operation offered to the Government by an overwhelming number of working people.

I turn now to the suggestion that there was, somehow, an obligation on the Government to make sure that the rates in England and those in Scotland ran hand in hand. This is not the same as the gross anomaly argument, with which I shall conclude. There has been a suggestion that, irrespective of the idea of men working side by side on the same site and being paid not the same but different amounts, there is somehow an obligation to ensure that what was paid in England should automatically be paid by the Scottish electrical contractors.

I hope that the House will understand that there are two separate and distinct agreements which in principle need not go hand in hand and which, indeed, 18 months ago, had no similarity whatever. Hon. Member after hon. Member has talked this afternoon about custom and practice as if it were as certain as the Northern Star that, if the English electrical contractors got an extra 6d. an hour, it would follow in Scotland. Hardly more than a year before the negotiation of this agreement, the idea of basic rates in Scotland and England being the same was totally new to the industry. Only in June, 1965, did that first come about.

These are two separate agreements signed by two separate employers' associations and covering terms and conditions of service which are fundamentally different north and south of the Border—

Mr. John Robertson

I have been listening to my hon. Friend's argument about two separate agreements which are fundamentally different. Will he tell me what the differences are?

Mr. Hattersley

I was about to do just that.

The first difference, which I am sure my hon. Friend will regard as fundamental, is that all the negotiations in Scotland up to and including 1966 were for a wage structure based on the use of single electricians working on their own and doing their own job. But all the negotiations in England up to but not including 1966 were based on the concept of an electrician with an adult mate to help him. This is the great divide between the electrical contracting industry and Scotland and that in England.

A three-year agreement was negotiated in England; part said that the use of mates should be abandoned and part said that the payment should not only be made during the first year, but at the end of each of the second and third years. It is suggested that somehow the Scottish electrical contractors should take from that agreement one small part—the first year's additional payment—and automatically accept it, saying that they had an obligation to follow it. That is not something which the Government have an obligation to underwrite.

My hon. Friend the Member for York quoted those parts of the Prices and Incomes Board's Report which specifically criticised the idea that the English electrical contracting industry should negotiate a wage increase clearly and precisely tied to the conditions of service and nature of employment in their industry and that that increase should then be copied by other industries either in England or in Scotland, irrespective of whether the conditions were the same and irrespective of whether the attitudes were appropriate—

Mr. Edward M. Taylor

Would it surprise the hon. Gentleman to know that at Cockenzie, which is a big contracting job in Scotland, mates are being employed by English contracting firms at 8s. 2d., while time-served electricians are being employed by Scottish firms at 7s. 6d., which means that the mates are still there and that there is a differential even compared with them?

Mr. Hattersley

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for underlining my point. Attitudes, mores and practices in the two industries are very different. To suggest that, when one industry is making a fundamental revision of customs and practices, part of that revision should be arbitrarily hived off and made seem appropriate to the other industry has no logic and no connection.

I and the Government make no comment as to the propriety of the Scottish and English industries negotiating together and coming to a single settlement. That is clearly a matter for the unions and the two employers' associations. But it is not necessarily an inequitable decision by the Government if they say, "In the light of prices and incomes policy, we have no automatic obligation to ensure that what happens in England happens in Scotland at the same time." They are two industries with different attitudes and techniques and it is clear that they will from time to time negotiate different wage structures.

We have already heard this afternoon that it is wrong to suggest that the anomaly of two men working for different site contractors on the same site, one covered by the Scottish agreement and one by the English, doing the same job for the same hours, but taking home different money, is somehow the product of the prices and incomes policy. Before 20th July, separate Scottish and English contractors were working on the same site with the men doing the same job and taking home different pay packets.

Had my right hon. Friend agreed that the Is. should be added to the Scottish hourly rate and had it been paid in March this year, there would still have been Scottish and English contractors working side by side for the same hours on the same job whose men were taking home different pay packets.

It is no good my hon. Friends saying that while the earnings might have been different the rates were the same. The Ministry of Labour and my hon. Friends know well that the man on the shop floor or on the construction site calculates the justice and equity, not of the rates, but of what he takes home at the end of the week. The anomalies existing before this policy was operated would have gone on had this Order not been made.

As hon. Members opposite ask us to define the Government's views on anomalies I should like to make this absolutely clear. The Government believe that they have an obligation not to create anomalies by their prices and incomes policy. Quite clearly, they would allow an increase to go through if it was only the policy on prices and incomes that would create difficulty. I cannot agree that it is a reason for allowing an increase if one of the parties says, "We were anomalous before the policy was created, we shall be anomalous if it is withdrawn, please do not make us anomalous by allowing it to continue '. The Government are entitled not to accept that argument. The Government are entitled to say that and to make their attitude clear.

One of my hon. Friends said that it seemed that the unions did not know what was going on, that they had not been informed and that the Government had not done their job in explaining the policy. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and I have spent a considerable time since Christmas talking to individual unions on points about wage increases and explaining the necessity for and the propriety of our policy. The Electrical Trades Union was offered the same facilities and accepted them.

A few days before the Order was made my right hon. Friend and I met both sides of the industry and explained the case. Even after that, the First Secretary of State and the Chancellor of the Duchy met the union again to go over the ground and make sure that it had no illusions about where we stood and that the union understood the position. The operation of the Order was postponed to make sure of these negotiations and that the explanation was passed on. Knowing the efficiency of that union, I accept that what we expressed was passed on to the men and that most of the men understood the requirements of the policy and why we carry it out. That does not mean that they have not a great deal of regret that the policy operated against them in this way. It would be less than human for it to be otherwise. But the Government have done everything they can to explain the propriety of and the necessity for this Order.

One thing must be said about the dispute in the industry and the varied estimates of how many men were on strike up to today. Fortunately, the dispute is over. It is important to put on record the official point of view of the trade union about this matter and to establish that, although the trade union officially supports the policy in general, the officials of the union inevitably and naturally regret the Government's decision to impose the Order.

The strike was unofficial and it ended today because the executive made it absolutely clear that it could not give its support and approval, or in any way show sympathy for, what it described, and for what has been described in this House this afternoon, as a political strike. I cannot help but contrast that attitude with that of the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton) who showed some surprise and, I thought, a slight amount of regret that there had not been more political strikes. The secretary of the union instructed his men to conform to the requirements of Government policy.

Mr. Peyton

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will accept my assurance that there was not the slightest element of regret in what I said. I merely echoed the statement by the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) of surprise that there had not been more political strikes. I assure him that I expressed no regret.

Mr. Hattersley

Of course, I accept that assurance, but I am sure that the hon. Member will understand that when he makes speeches which I shall charitably describe as a bravura performance he stands a chance of being misrepresented. His glee seemed to be associated with some suggestions he was making to trade unions.

Finally, I must reiterate why the Government have an incomes policy and why Orders have to be made.

Mr. Graham Page

The hon. Gentleman said "finally" and seemed to be going on to his peroration. Is he disregarding my comments that the Order is invalid because of the vagueness of the Schedule?

Mr. Hattersley

No, I am not. I am being generous in giving way, but almost invariably when I have given way to an hon. Member it has been just when I was about to answer the point he raised.

The Government's incomes policy exists because we believe that during the last nine months it has been essential to provide the circumstances of wage stability. The policy exists in compulsory form because we know very well that while the majority of the population accept it on a voluntary basis there is a residue of people who will choose by efforts of militancy—

Mr. John Robertson

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Hattersley

No, not for the moment.

We find that they are prepared to be more militant. Because of that we have been required, now on 13 occasions, to define in general very precisely those few categories where the voluntary policy had failed and the compulsory policy had become necessary. We have defined them in this way so that they will include all those people who seemed likely to break the incomes policy were they not included in an Order. We have defined them in such a way as to include no one who would not be breaking the incomes policy if he were not included in an Order. We have no wish or intention to include those parties who are complying voluntarily.

Looking at the Order, I find it rather difficult to understand the rather laboured point which the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) made. The Schedule to the Order is precise. It says three things. It refers to all employees who are employed by the Electrical Contractors' Association of Scotland—employed by them within the terms of the agreement—which that association signed with the E.T.U. That means that every firm which is a party to that agreement expressly or by implication is covered, every firm in that association is covered by the Order and must pay to its workpeople covered by this agreement no more than they were receiving on 19th July, 1966.

In the discussions which my right hon. Friend and I have had with the union and the management, whatever else was in doubt, the question of to whom it applied caused no speculation whatever. The E.T.U. and the Electrical Contractors' Association of Scotland know who is covered.

Mr. Graham Page rose

Mr. Hattersley

No. I must conclude. I have given way many times and it is almost seven o'clock.

Mr. Graham Page

The hon. Gentleman said that the Schedule applied to those employed by the Electrical Contractors' Association of Scotland, but it does not say so in the Schedule.

Mr. Hattersley

I do not think that I even said that. If so, I did not mean to say it. I said that all those firms which were members of the Electrical Contractors' Association of Scotland were covered. I went on to say that all those employees covered by the agreement and who had their wages determined by the agreement must receive from the date of the Order no more than they were receiving on 19th July, 1966. I believe that this is precise enough for the House; I know that it is for the parties, and I believe that it can go forward on that principle.

More important than that principle, it goes forward in the knowledge that, while the Government can quote, and this afternoon have quoted, examples of similar cases—with all the same mitigating factors, with all the same circumstances, with very comparable dates—where unions have agreed in what they believed, and in what I believe, to be the national interest, to making a voluntary postponement of their wage increases, the Government have an obligation to ensure that a few do not enjoy the fruits of militancy, do not jump to the front of the queue, do not enjoy all the benefits which the voluntary accepting unions have denied themselves.

This is why we have made the Order. This is why we are debating it now. This is why, in terms of equity, justice and fairness, the Government are entitled to ask their supporters to vote against its rescission in the Lobby this evening.

6.50 p.m

Mr. John Brewis (Galloway)

The Parliamentary Secretary has accused others of making muddled speeches, but his speech was more muddled than that of anybody else who has spoken today. One would think that the Government's policy Was equality and social justice, but the tenor of the hon. Gentleman's speech seems to be that, because the pay of some workers is anomalous, the pay of some shall be more anomalous than the pay of others.

An hon. Gentleman on the Government side seemed to suggest that wages should never be increased, because increases created anomalies between one set of workers and another. This is a very strange concept.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon

I do not remember ever having used such a strange argument. Perhaps it is the hon. Gentleman who is muddled. The purpose of my argument was to rebut the claim made from the Opposition benches that, because they had been moving towards parity btween the English and Scottish electricians, the Order had somehow disrupted that and created an anomaly which had not previously existed. I was simply using the argument to show that anomalies had existed.

Mr. Brewis

I am very sorry if I have woken the hon. Gentleman up. I was, in fact, referring to the speech made by the hon. Member for Romford (Mr. Ledger). However, I will carry on and talk about something which the hon. Gentleman said.

I come to the question of the payment to the English electricians who, I understand, previously had, perhaps not a restrictive practice, but a working rule that they should always employ a mate. They got their 1s. increase, which was a productivity increase because they would not need a mate. I cannot see that this is an argument for saying that the Scottish electricians, who have had a different system and who have not employed a mate, should have to accept a wage rate Is. less. Such an argument is completely and utterly anomalous.

What we should be talking about was put very well by the First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Economic Affairs in Glasgow on 27th February, when he said this: An incomes policy means the progressive injection of greater justice and greater fairness. I do not think that the Parliamentary Secretary's talk about unions using their overwhelming strength to try to break the Government'se policy, as he said in his peroration, applies here. I much prefer the statement made by the First Secretary.

It is completely anomalous that the Government, who have a Secretary of State for Scotland, were not aware when they introduced the Prices and Incomes Bill that it is comparatively usual for Scottish wage awards to come somewhat later than the equivalent English ones. I blame the Secretary of State and the Scottish Office very much that, when the Prices and Incomes Bill was going forward, they did not stand up for Scotland and ensure that this was one of the anomalies which had to be taken into account under, I think it is, paragraph 30 of the White Paper; that there was always this particular anomaly which stuck out like a sore thumb. The Scottish Office did nothing to put it right.

There is no doubt but that this position will lead to a great deal of difficulty in labour relations in Scotland. As my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor) said so eloquently, English and Scottish electricians are working on the same site but for different wages. The President of the Electrical Contractors' Association, Mr. Speed, has fairly criticised the Report of the National Board for Prices and Incomes on this matter as wholly destructive and devoid of a single new constructive suggestion. Mr. Speed has said that the pay freeze will do "untold damage" to future relations in the industry. This is true, and it is a serious allegation against the Government's policy, because in future everybody will make a tremendous rush to get their wage increases through before an imaginary deadline. This will lead to strikes if settlements are delayed. The treatment of these electricians will lead to great difficulties in Scotland in future.

I turn to the question of the anomaly, because there is specific provision in the Government's policy for the correction of anomalies. The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland used these words in the debate in March: The kind of case which "— the White Paper is meant to cover— is that for example of the colliery overmen and deputies, when there were large groups of men working side by side, one group with a salary increase and the other without."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd March, 1967; Vol. 742, c. 746.] That was laid down by a spokesman for the Government as being a typical case of an anomaly which could be dealt with under the Government's policy.

This is a perfect case where such an anomaly is occurring. I am not arguing about the 24 hours. Here two bodies of electricians are working side by side on the same contract. I assume that in making that statement the Under-Secretary was speaking for the Government and that that was Government policy. If it is not Government policy, the Under-Secretary is here and he can interrupt me. In this case, the Government have no grounds whatever for refusing this rise to the Scottish electricians.

6.59 p.m.

Mr. Noble

I shall detain the House for only a few moments to say how depressed and disappointed I am by the Parliamentary Secretary's efforts to answer the debate. He maintained very firmly that the most important aspect of the Government's policy was one of consistency, accuracy and precision. His speech may have been consistent with other speeches he has made, but it was not a speech marked by either accuracy or precision.

The points the hon. Gentleman made were largely invalidated, because he attempted, as the Ministry of Labour always can, and always will if given the opportunity, to quote rare cases where there are slight differences in the pay, conditions and mores of different types of workers. He then said that no two cases are the same.

Whatever effect the hon. Gentleman may have had on the Electrical Trades Union itself, if he tries to go to any building site in Scotland and explain to

those on the site why somebody working in exactly the same way, on exactly the same job, even if he has a mate who happens to be paid more than the Scottish one, should be paid a higher basic rate than a Scotsman doing the same job, he will be laughed out of court. Indeed, he should be laughed at tonight in the House.

The hon. Gentleman's not consistent, precise and accurate statements, but pettifogging excuses in an effort to show that this was not an anomaly, convinced no one. If he wants to convince the House—though I doubt that he does—that the Government have a precise definition of what is a gross anomaly, the least he could do at the end of this debate, when the question had been asked over and over again, was to provide a definition of some sort. But he did not. He could not. His sole effort was to try to maintain that, in some way, what is plainly seen by many hon. Members on his own side, by all hon. Members on this side, and, I believe, by 99 per cent. of the workers of Scotland, as a gross anomaly is not to be treated as such because the Government have not got the guts to say, quite simply, "We realise that this is a most exceptional case. It is a gross anomaly, and we shall accept it like that".

They will not do it because they are afraid that the Pirelli Tyre Company, a totally different case, or the fire brigades, a totally different case, will then say that the Government have weakened on a point which they had made on another occasion, however wrong it was when they made it. I hope, therefore, that my right hon. and hon. Friends will join me in the Lobby in voting against this Order, and that the many hon. Members opposite who have spoken against it will, as they should, join us in the Lobby, too.

Question put:—

The House divided: Ayes 238, Noes 281.

Division No. 333.] AYES [7.3 p.m.
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Blaker, Peter
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Bell, Ronald Body, Richard
Astor, John Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Bossom, Sir Clive
Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n) Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos. & Fhm) Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John
Awdry, Daniel Berry, Hn. Anthony Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward
Baker, W. H. K. Biffen, John Braine, Bernard
Balniel, Lord Biggs-Davison, John Brewis, John
Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel Brinton, Sir Tatton
Batsford, Brian Black, Sir Cyril Bromley-Davenport, Lt. Col. Sir Walter
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere Osborn, John (Hallam)
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Harvie Anderson, Miss Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)
Bryan, Paul Hastings, Stephen Page, Graham (Crosby)
Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N&M) Hawkins, Paul Page, John (Harrow, W.)
Bullus, Sir Eric Hay, John Pardoe, John
Burden, F. A. Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)
Campbell, Gordon Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward Peel, John
Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Heseltine, Michael Percival, Ian
Cary, Sir Robert Hiley, Joseph Peyton, John
Channon, H. P. G. Hill, J. E. B. Pike, Miss Mervyn
Clark, Henry Hobson, Rt. Hn. Sir John Pink, R. Bonner
Clegg, Walter Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin Pounder, Rafton
Cooke, Robert Hooson, Emlyn Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch
Cooper-Key, Sir Neill Hordern, Peter Price, David (Eastleigh)
Cordle, John Hunt, John Prior, J. M. L.
Corfield, F. V, Hutchison, Michael Clark Pym, Francis
Costain, A. P. Iremonger, T. L, Quennell, Miss J. M.
Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne) Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James
Crawley, Aidan Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Sir Oliver Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Rees-Davies, W. R.
Crouch, David Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead) Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Crowder, F, P. Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Ridsdale, Julian
Cunningham, Sir Knox Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey
Currie, G. B. H. Kaberry, Sir Donald Robson Brown, Sir William
Dalkeith, Earl of Kerby, Capt. Henry Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Dance, James Kimball, Marcus Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Davidson, James (Aberdeenshire, W.) King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Royle, Anthony
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Kitson, Timothy Russell, Sir Ronald
Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.) Knight, Mrs. Jill Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford) Lambton, Viscount Scott, Nicholas
Digby, Simon Wingfield Lancaster, Col. C. G. Sharpies, Richard
Dodds-Parker, Douglas Langford-Holt, Sir John Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Doughty, Charles Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Sinclair, Sir George
Drayson, G. B. Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Smith, John
du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'nC'dfield) Stainton, Keith
Eden, Sir John Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone) Steel, David (Roxburgh)
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral) Stodart, Anthony
Errington, Sir Eric Longden, Gilbert Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon)
Eyre, Reginald Loveys, W. H. Summers, Sir Spencer
Farr, John Lubbock, Eric Tapsell, Peter
Fisher, Nigel McAdden, Sir Stephen Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles MacArthur, Ian Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcarl)
Forrest, George Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross & Crom'ty) Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Fortescue, Tim Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Teeling, Sir William
Foster, Sir John Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain Temple, John M.
Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone) McMaster, Stanley Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Galbraith, Hn. T. G. Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham) Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy
Gibson-Watt, David Maginnis, John E. Tllney, John
Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Marten, Neil Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.) Maude, Angus van Straubenzee, W. R.
Glover, Sir Douglas Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Glyn, Sir Richard Mawby, Ray Vickers, Dame Joan
Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B. Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)
Goodhart, Philip Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Walker, Peter (Worcester)
Goodhew, Victor Mills, Peter (Torrington) Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Gower, Raymond Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.) Wall, Patrick
Grant, Anthony Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Walters, Dennis
Grant-Ferris, R. Monro, Hector Ward, Dame Irene
Gresham Cooke, R. Montgomery, Fergus Webster, David
Grieve, Percy Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh) Wells, John (Maidstone)
Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Grimond, Rt. Hn. J. Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Gurden, Harold Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Hall, John (Wycombe) Murton, Oscar Winstanley, Dr. M. P.
Hall-Davis, A. C. F. Nabarro, Sir Gerald Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Hamilton, Marquees of (Fermanagh) Neave, Airey Woodnutt, Mark
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael Wright, Esmond
Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.) Nott, John Wylie, N. R.
Harris, Reader (Heston) Onslow, Cranley Younger, Hn. George
Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Orr, Capt. L. P. B.
Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Mr. R. W. Elliott and Mr. More.
Abse, Leo Barnes, Michael Boston, Terence
Albu, Austen Barnett, Joel Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur
Alldritt, Walter Beaney, Alan Bowden, Rt. Hn. Herbert
Allen, Scholefield Bellenger, Rt. Hn. F. J. Boyden, James
Anderson, Donald Bence, Cyril Braddock, Mrs. E. M.
Archer, Peter Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Bradley, Tom
Ashley, Jack Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton) Bray, Dr. Jeremy
Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.) Binns, John Brooks, Edwin
Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice Bishop, E. S. Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Blenkinsop, Arthur Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper)
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Henig, Stanley Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles
Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W) Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret Parker, John (Dagenham)
Buchan, Norman Hilton, W. S. Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Hooley, Frank Pavitt, Laurence
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough) Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.) Pentland, Norman
Cant, R. B. Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)
Carter-Jones, Lewis Howie, W. Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.
Chapman, Donald Hoy, James Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)
Coe, Denis Huckfield, L. Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)
Coleman, Donald Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey) Price, William (Rugby)
Concannon, J. D. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Probert, Arthur
Conlan, Bernard Hughes, Roy (Newport) Pursey, Cmdr. Harry
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Hunter, Adam Rankin, John
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Hynd, John Rees, Merlyn
Crawshaw, Richard Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Reynolds, G. W.
Cronln, John Janner, Sir Barnett Rhodes, Geoffrey
Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Richard, Ivor
Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n & St. P'cras, S.) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Cullen, Mrs. Alice Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)
Dalyell, Tarn Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Robinson, Rt. Hn. Kenneth (St. P'c'as)
Darling, Rt. Hn. George Jones, Dan (Burnley) Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.)
Davidson, Arthur (Accrington) Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.) Rodgers, William (Stockton)
Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stratford) Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Roebuck, Roy
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Jones, T. A. (Rhondda, W.) Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway) Kelley, Richard Rose, Paul
Davies, Harold (Leek) Kenyon, Clifford Ross, Rt. Hn. William
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central) Rowlands, E. (Cardiff, N.)
Davies, Robert (Cambridge) Lawson, George Ryan, John
de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Ledger, Ron Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)
Delargy, Hugh Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton) Sheldon, Robert
Dell, Edmund Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock) Shore, Peter (Stepney)
Dempsey, James Lestor, Miss Joan Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)
Dewar, Donald Lever, Harold (Cheetham) Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N. E.)
Diamond, Rt. Hn. John Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Dobson, Ray Lipton, Marcus Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Doig, Peter Loughlin, Charles Skeffington, Arthur
Driberg, Tom Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Slater, Joseph
Dunnett, Jack Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.) Small, William
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter) Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Snow, Julian
Eadie, Alex MacColl, James Spriggs, Leslie
Edelman, Maurice MacDermot, Niall Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Macdonald, A, H. Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael
Edwards, William (Merioneth) McGuire, Michael Stonehouse, John
Ellis, John McKay, Mrs. Margaret Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
English, Michael Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen) Swlngler, Stephen
Ennals, David Mackie, John Taverne, Dick
Ensor, David Mackintosh, John P. Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) McNamara, J. Kevin Thornton, Ernest
Evans, Ioan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley) MacPherson, Malcolm Tinn, James
Faulds, Andrew Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.) Tomney, Frank
Fernyhough, E. Mahon, Simon (Bootle) Tuck, Raphael
Finch, Harold Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Urwin, T. W.
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Varley, Eric G.
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) Manuel, Archie Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Mapp, Charles Walden, Brian (AM Saints)
Floud, Bernard Marquand, David Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Foot, Sir Dingle (Ipswich) Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard Wallace, George
Ford, Ben Mason, Roy Watkins, David (Consett)
Forrester, John Maxwell, Robert Weitzman, David
Fowler, Gerry Mayhew, Christopher Wellbeloved, James
Fraser, John (Norwood) Mellish, Robert White, Mrs. Eirene
Fraser, Rt. Hn. Tom (Hamilton) Millan, Bruce Whitlock, William
Gardner, Tony Miller, Dr. M. S. Wigg, Rt. Hn. George
Garrett, W. E. Milne, Edward (Biyth) Wilkins, W. A.
Ginsburg, David Moorman, Eric Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C. Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Gourlay, Harry Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)
Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth) Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)
Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony Morris, John (Aberavon) Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Grey, Charles (Durham) Moyle, Roland Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)
Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly) Murray, Albert Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J. Neal, Harold Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon) Winnick, David
Hamling, William Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.) Winterbottom, R. E.
Hannan, William Ogden, Eric Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Harper, Joseph O'Malley, Brian Woof, Robert
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Oram, Albert E. Wyatt, Woodrow
Hart, Mrs. Judith Oswald, Thomas Yates, Victor
Haseldine, Norman Owen, Will (Morpeth)
Hattersley, Roy Padley, Walter TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Hazell, Bert Page, Derek (King's Lynn) Mr. McBride and Mr. Armstrong.
Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis Palmer, Arthur

7.14 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. 7) Order, 1967 (S.I., 1967, No. 608), dated 17th April, 1967, a copy of which was laid before this House on 17th April, be annulled. We have opposed each and every Order made by the First Secretary of State under Part IV of the Prices and Incomes Act, and we shall go on doing so until Part IV expires, and then it is probable that we shall take similar action on the numerous Orders that may well be necessary under a strengthened Part II. I understand that this is embarrassing for the Government and that they have frequently tried to refuse us time to discuss these matters. In particular, they did not wish discussion on prices and incomes matters before Whitsun, but we felt unable to join them in that conspiracy of silence and we have, therefore, provided a Supply day for these two discussions.

I am very glad that the Secretary of State for Scotland will reply to the debate. My speech will not be wholly complimentary to him, but all the same I am grateful for his presence.

We are invited to bring the full weight of Parliamentary pressure to bear upon the provost magistrates and councillors of the Royal Burgh of Rothesay so that we shall order them to break their pledged word to 20 of their administrative, professional, technical and clerical staff. That is what the Order is about.

The facts were spelt out by a number of hon. Members in the debate on 2nd March and I do not think that they are in dispute, although their interpretation may be. I shall, in particular, direct the attention of the House in due course to 27th May, 1966, the date when we were told Ministers heard of these proposals for the first time. I think that the course of events is as follows: the review began in October, 1965; there were formal negotiations in March, 1966; there was an agreement in May; and it was notified to the Department of Economic Affairs by way of the Scottish Development Department on 27th May. The request was for a reply in time to settle by early July.

Meanwhile, a two-year agreement for England and Wales had been concluded on 13th July. The Prime Minister's statement was on 20th July and the White Paper came on 29th July. On 13th September agreement was reached on a revised award of 7 per cent. over two years, payment to be postponed until March, 1967. On 20th January this year, N.A.L.G.O. was informed by the Department of Economic Affairs that the Scottish award did not qualify. On 13th February, the Burgh Council of Rothesay decided to pay the increase. The Secretary of State announced on 5th April—and we welcomed this very much—that the award satisfied the criteria of the new White Paper. Nevertheless, on 17th April, the First Secretary made the Order which I am now moving to annul.

So much for the bare skeleton of events. I now turn to the special representations made, although I regard them as a farce, for they have never had the slightest influence on the D.E.A., and nor did they this time. The representations were made by the representatives of the Royal Burgh of Rothesay, who pointed to the particular difficulties of such a remote area and to the declining population. In 1956, the population of Rothesay was 9,400 and in 1966 it was 6,600. The population of the whole of Bute has declined in the same sort of way. Rothesay pointed particularly to the difficulty it had in obtaining and keeping staff in an area which, although very attractive, is in many ways extremely difficult of access.

We have to remember that Rothesay, in common with many parts of Scotland, suffers from not having manufacturing industry and was, therefore, particularly savagely affected by the Selective Employment Tax and will not stand to gain from the proposed new employment premiums. So the council rejected the polite invitation from the Secretary of State to come to Edinburgh and sent him an equally polite invitation, I understand, to come to Rothesay. I believe that, in the event, the meeting did not take place at all.

I emphasise that, until this Order was made, Rothesay Council had done nothing illegal. It has acted most honourably. The next pay day is on 15th May and we will see what happens then. I make it clear that I do not encourage the council to break the law. The law may be an ass, as I think it is in this case, but it is the law and it is only right that, from the Opposition Front Bench, I should say this.

There is one particular point I would like the Secretary of State to deal with. On 5th April, in response to two of my hon. Friends he said, in the second part of his statement—the first part being about manual workers—that As regards administrative, professional, technical and clerical grades, the N.J.I.C. has today been informed that the Government accept that the increase which it has proposed satisfy the new criteria in the White Paper …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th April, 1967; Vol. 744, c. 214.] Let us be clear about this. This change of heart was brought about by Parliament, by pressure from the Tory Party, the Liberal Party and, to be fair, by a number of Socialist Members individually. The right hon. Gentleman said that he found this within the criteria of the new White Paper. He could have and should have found that it was within the criteria of the original White Paper because, if ever there was a gross anomaly, it is the two we are discussing as far as Scotland is affected.

When will this Order be withdrawn? On 1st July? If not, all others except the Rothesay employees can be paid from that date. Or will the Order be withdrawn on 11th August, when Part IV expires? That would penalise Rothesay for seven weeks. We are suspicious in this matter because, when we have raised similar points with the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour, he has refused to give any such assurance in regard, for example, to the Birmingham Corporation case and other matters. Therefore, I ask for a categorical undertaking that, if the House supports the right hon. Gentleman in this Order, it will lapse or be withdrawn on 1st July and that he will not hound the officers of the Royal burgh for doing what they hold to be their duty.

I said that I would return to the question of the date of 27th May. There is a direct conflict in the debate on 2nd March between what was said by the hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. John Robertson) and what was said both by the Under-Secretary of State and particularly by the Secretary of State. I usually find that, when a dispute is as to fact—interpretation is a matter for political debate—the answer very often is that both sides are right; and I think that this may well be the explanation on this occasion. I do not think it important whether a representative of the Department was or was not present at the earlier meeting. The point is that the Secretary of State said that … the first indication we got"— we", I assume, is Ministers— was on 27th May."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd March, 1966; Vol. 742, c. 780.] I find this incredible. This claim had been pursued for seven months, no doubt mentioned in N.A.L.G.O. journals and other periodicals. Of course the Department knew about it. In that case, the question arises as to why the right hon. Gentleman did not. I have some knowledge of these matters. When I was Minister of Labour, a schedule was put on my desk every fortnight giving the exact position of every claim, and not just agreements. A claim was born very often at a Whitsun or Easter conference of the union concerned and came to me often months before it reached the negotiating table. These schedules were made available in particular to members of the Economic Committee of the Cabinet and my right hon. Friend the Member for Argyll (Mr. Noble), in common with all Secretaries of State for Scotland in the Conservative years, was automatically a member of that Committee.

Is the Secretary of State a member of the Cabinet Economic Committee? Perhaps he will tell us, because this is very interesting. Why did he not know of this particular claim? If he is not a member of the Committee, why did no one tell him about it? The more he insists that he was virginally innocent of knowledge until 27th May, the more he makes it clear that he does not know what is going on in his Department. There are only two sorts of Minister—those who run their Departments and those who are run by their Departments. At the end of the day, Scotland will have little doubt that the right hon. Gentleman is in the second class.

It may well be that my hon. Friend the Member for Bute and North Ayrshire (Sir F. Maclean) may wish to argue this point, because I have little doubt that there must have been knowledge within the Department, and the Secretary of State will have to explain to us how a matter of such common knowledge was yet unknown both to him and to his Ministers. Naturally, in these two debates, the Government do not intend any discrimination against Scotland or against N.A.L.G.O. or against Rothesay. It just happen that way. Exactly the same point happened twice in the case of trade unionists, when I had to point out to the Government that trade unionists were, in fact, being discriminated against.

It was not the intention of the Government that this should be. They did not set out with this in mind. But this was the natural and inevitable consequence of the incomes policy, and it is what is happening again in this case. In the same way as there was no intention to discriminate unfavourably against Scotland any more than there was intention to discriminate against the trade unionists in the other cases, it has simply happened and it is happening in this case because of the negligence of the right hon. Gentleman.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Argyll drew the attention of the House—and it has been commented on three times—to the remarkable gloss put by the Under-Secretary of State in the debate of 2nd March about the definition of a gross anomaly. In proving, as he thought, his case in relation to N.A.L.G.O., he gave away—and this is one of the embarrassments of the Government—the whole case as far as the electrical contractors were concerned. He based his case upon large groups of men working side by side, one group with a salary increase and one without.

What happened, of course, because the contractors were exactly in that position, is that the Government knew well that if they gave way on the contractors' case they would have to give way on Rothesay. If they gave way on Rothesay they would have to give way on the whole N.A.L.G.O. case, and the First Secretary of State would not allow them to do so. So they had to try to "bluff it out". That is what they have been doing and what the right hon. Gentleman, when replying, will try to do.

Some of my hon. Friends contend that the Secretary of State is a cypher and is ignored in the Cabinet. There is a good deal of evidence for that, but I do not take this view. I will make the charge much more direct. I think that, as the prices and incomes policy slid from its voluntary to its compulsory form—and this is why we are debating these two Orders—the right hon. Gentleman must have seen that Scotland would suffer, as we now know it is suffering. He must have known that, in general, Scottish agreements follow the English ones and, therefore, that Scotland, in particular, would suffer from the imposition of an arbitrary deadline.

Quite apart from the preliminary rumblings to which, as a member of the Cabinet, he must have been privy—he must have known something was going wrong with the economic management of affairs—we had the advance notice on 13th July, the full statement from the Prime Minister on 20th July and the White Paper on 29th July. That gives the Secretary of State from 13th July to 29th July, or two weeks and two days, to plead a special case for Scotland—not to plead it, but demand that Scotland should have special treatment.

This could have been done very simply because among the criteria which we are discussing in connection with Rothesay, and which we discussed a few moments ago in relation to the electrical contractors, was the question of a gross anomaly. All that was necessary was to write a paragraph to effect that: Whether there are parallel, or linked negotiations, and one agreement is completed and within the criteria of the White Paper before 20th July, then both agreements shall be permissible, if they are within the same criteria. If he had secured something like that, redefined or redrafted, perhaps neither of these debates would have been necessary, and all the upset caused in Scotland, and the fierce resentment there, as a result of these two, and other decisions, would have been avoided.

There is no need to make a special reference to Scotland. If any case, under the special formula that I have indicated had taken place, in which Scottish negotiations had been completed first, then some justice would have been done, rightly so, to those people from England and Wales. There is no particular harm in that.

When this matter was last debated in the House the Under-Secretary of State, talking of the N.A.L.G.O. scheme, of which we have a specific instance in the Royal Burgh of Rothesay, went out of his way to underline the impotence of the Secretary of State. He said: There is nothing in either of these White Papers which says anything about excluding Scotland, or any other part of the United Kingdom, from the effects of the freeze.…"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd March, 1967; Vol. 742, c. 739.] Indeed there is nothing, but there ought to have been if the Secretary of State was doing his job as a member of the Cabinet. We will vote on this Order unless sanity returns and the Order is withdrawn. We are considering what seems, on the face of it, to be a very small number of people—20. I have always argued that it is not so much the number of people that is important, but that if we seek to do justice we should seek to do it for 10 people, 20, 100, 1,000, or 10,000.

It is, however, a case of 20 people in a burgh with very special and difficult problems, which I am sure were forcibly put to the Department of Economic Affairs. I am equally sure that the Department listened patiently to the representations, but that they had no effect. The two points that I ask the Secretary of State to deal with are these. First, how can he claim that a discussion which has led to this Prayer, which was common knowledge for many months, inside and outside of Scotland, only came, in any real sense, to his knowledge, and that of his Department—which I find quite incredible—on 27th May?

Secondly, will he give us a clear undertaking that this Order, if it is carried, with whatever majority, even one so derisory as that secured a little earlier, will be withdrawn on 1st July, not a day later? Will he tell us why he made no efforts, knowing that these sort of agreements would affect Scotland, not in a general way but in a particular way, in those weeks leading to 20th July and the White Paper of 29th July? Now he finds himself with a great deal of resentment on his hands as a result of the two decisions, one which we have finished debating and one which we are now beginning to debate.

I have made it clear that I do not consider that the royal Burgh has acted in any way legally, and that is something that the Secretary of State must accept. What it will do in the future I have no more knowledge than he has, but I have made it clear, I think rightly, that I do not encourage it to break the law. Unless there is a change of heart we must register in the Lobby our opinion that this is a shabby method of proceeding, and that the Department in general, and in particular the Secretary of State, if they had no knowledge, should have had knowledge long ago, of what was being done to Scotland, especially to Rothesay.

7.36 p.m.

Sir Fitzroy Maclean (Bute and North Ayrshire)

My right hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod) has put the Secretary of State in a position where he has to plead guilty to a charge of either negligence and incompetence, or ineffectuality. Many of us have been wondering which it was for a long time, and we shall listen to him with great interest. Did he try to do something for Scotland in this and other cases, and was he ignored, overridden by his colleagues, or did he not even try?

What has happened once again is that the Government have got themselves, and worse still, everyone else, into a hopeless tangle in their attempts to interfere with a whole range of matters that it would have been far better for them to have kept their hands off. As has been pointed out, they have committed a gross injustice, a whole series of gross injustices, and now as in this case, even if they wanted to, they cannot get out of it without a serious loss of face.

The White Paper used the phrase "a gross anomaly." The Government's whole prices and incomes policy is riddled with gross anomalies. We could pick no better example of this than the instance which we are now discussing. The First Secretary, who is blatantly responsible for this deplorable state of affairs, said to the S.T.U.C. on 27th February: The incomes policy means that progressive injection of greater justice and greater fairness. What does this look like in fairness? It must have been obvious to almost everyone when this case arose that a gross injustice was being perpetrated. It was pointed out, both from this side of the House and by hon. Members opposite that about 20,000 N.A.L.G.O. members in Scotland were being paid officially less for doing exactly the same work as roughly 200,000 colleagues in England. Finally, under pressure, the Government yielded to reason and recognised this. Now they are committing more injustices. In our debate on 2nd March the Under-Secretary of State gave his now famous definition of a gross anomaly— …of men working side by side, one group with a salary increase, and the other without."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd March, 1967; Vol. 742, c. 746.] This exactly describes the situation at present obtaining in the I.C.I. works at Ardeer in my constituency, where Scottish and English electrical workers are doing the same job, side by side, at different rates of pay. But can the Government recognise an anomaly when they see one? Not they, as they showed by their attitude earlier this evening.

I return to the N.A.L.G.O. dispute at Rothesay. It is obviously unlikely that Scottish and English local government employees will be found "working side by side "—not that it would make any difference even if they were, despite what the Under-Secretary of State has said, as we have seen from the case of the electricians. The fact remains that they are doing the same work, and that surely is what should matter in a case like this anywhere except in the Socialist Utopia of red tape with which the Government have managed to entangle themselves.

In the end, on 5th April, the Secretary of State gave way over the N.A.L.G.O. award. He did so under pressure, not only from these benches, but from the Royal Burgh of Rothesay, in my constituency, which went ahead and paid its employees the increase morally due to them, as it was morally bound to do and legally entitled to do. But the date set by the Government for the implementation of the award was 1st July.

One would have thought that, having recognised, however reluctantly, the inherent Tightness of Rothesay's case, the Government would have been big enough not to try to stop it from continuing to pay its employees a fair wage—because that is what it is—between now and 1st July. That is what they have done, and that is what the debate is about. What is more, they have done so in the teeth of all the extremely cogent arguments deployed by Rothesay Town Council in its appeal against the Government's Order. The Government could not have been more misguided in their choice of a victim for their vindictiveness than when they picked on Rothesay. If ever there was a strong local authority case for paying an increase, it was the case advanced by the Royal Burgh.

We all know about the brain drain southwards and the problems of depopulation. We should know that nowhere are these problems more acute than in the Islands. Moreover, despite all the arguments advanced by various people, including myself, the application made by the County of Bute for admission to the Highlands and Islands, the crofter counties, was rejected out of hand by the Secretary of State. Therefore, through no fault of their own, the Isle of Bute, the Isle of Arran and the Cumbraes have the worst of both worlds, and that is something for which the Secretary of State must accept direct responsibility.

For many years, Bute has had all the same problems as the areas included in the official definition—

Mr. Speaker

Order. With respect, the hon. Gentleman is going a little wide.

Sir F. Maclean

With great respect, Mr. Speaker, the special conditions in Bute formed the main burden of the town council's appeal against the Order. These were points which it made, and thev are very relevant because they have a direct bearing on the difficulties which the town council encounters in attracting suitable employees.

Mr. William Hannan (Glasgow, Mary-hill)

On a point of order. If the hon. Gentleman is to be allowed to pursue that matter, would it not be equally relevant to argue that there are many other local authorities similar to Rothesay which may be put in the same position? Will we be entitled to widen the debate?

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Gentleman has alerted the hon. Member for Bute and North Ayrshire (Sir F. Maclean) to the dangers of pursuing what is out of order.

Sir F. Maclean

Thank you for that warning, Mr. Speaker. I will do my best to avoid it, if not to evade it.

The trouble is that to get from Bute to the mainland and back is neither cheap nor all that easy. High freight charges and high fares put up the cost of living on the island. The problem is aggravated by depopulation. This makes it harder than ever for the council to recruit the employees it needs. That is why it makes no sense for the Government to go out of their way, not to make things easier for the council or, for that matter, for the people of Rothesay, but to make them even harder than they are.

On 2nd March, the Secretary of State spoke of what he called the "rantings of nationalism". I think that he was very well answered in a letter which I received recently from the Town Clerk of Rothesay in which he says: That there is a certain amount of nationalistic feeling in the matter is indisputable, but it stems from the belief that certain Scottish employees are receiving an unfair deal ". That is what has encouraged nationalist and even separatist trends in the Isle of Bute.

The Secretary of State said that he would protect Scotland from the effects of the squeeze. The Under-Secretary of State came to his rescue when my right hon. Friend quoted him as saying "freeze". But even if he is not trying to protect Scotland from the freeze, but is trying to protect it from the squeeze, many people in Scotland have doubts about that. Certainly Rothesay and the Isle of Bute have not benefited very greatly from his protection, whether it be the freeze or squeeze which he is protecting them against. First, there is the Selective Employment Tax, which has hit very hard the service industries on which the island depends. Now there is this deliberate blow at the administration of the Royal Burgh.

This brings me to my final point: what will happen next? If the Order is not negatived, as I very much hope it will be, does the Secretary of State propose to try to pick out the local government employees of Rothesay for special penalisation by prolonging the Order, which I understand he can do, beyond 1st July? If this is his intention, for how long does he propose to prolong it? Secondly, if, as seems possible, the Council decides, in spite of everything, to continue to pay its employees the increase which we all agree, including the Secretary of State, is due to them morally, what does he propose to do? Does he propose to prosecute them?

Could there be a better illustration of the sort of tangle which the Government get themselves into with this sort of legislation and these sorts of Order? I hope that they will take the courageous and generous way out and drop this ridiculous and vindictive Order.

7.50 p.m.

Mr. Cyril Bence (Dunbartonshire, East)

This is the most extraordinary day in my life in the House of Commons. This is a fascinating spectacle. An extraordinary transformation has taken place in the attitudes of hon. Members opposite towards the remuneration of working people, a fantastic transformation. Never in the 17 years during which I have been in the House, and even before that, have I heard hon. Members opposite pleading for the rights of workers to have increased wages, whether the country can bear them or not, and demanding that employers should be encouraged to pay. I hope that this amazing transformation will continue for the next 50 years and that the Conservative Party will always encourage workers in every branch of industry regularly to put in demands for higher wages and encourage employers to pay them.

Now we have a plea on behalf of Rothesay in the Isle of Bute, one of the baillies of which some years ago claimed that it ought to be independent, like the Isle of Man. If it had gained its independence, we would not have had this Order today because, if it had had the resources, it would have paid this increased remuneration.

Mr. James Dempsey (Coatbridge and Airdrie)

Give them their independence.

Mr. Bence

I am certain that my right hon. Friend was fully informed about all the negotiations and all the demands for increases in the remuneration of N.A.L.G.O. members both in England and Scotland, but, unfortunately, he was faced with the problem that local authorities in Scotland have always insisted on separate negotiations with N.A.L.G.O. I do not recollect any previous Secretary of State pleading that the system of separate negotiations should be discontinued, especially in respect of the remuneration of local government officers.

Sir F. Maclean

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that Rothesay strongly supported the view that there should be a combined negotiating committee?

Mr. Bence

I am delighted to hear it.

Mr. Dempsey

When? It has been openly stated that N.A.L.G.O. has made every effort to have national negotiations, but effort after effort has been rejected by the employers' side of the Scottish negotiating council.

Mr. Bence

It has always been my impression that Scottish local authorities have always insisted on separate negotiations. There has been general agreement for many years that Scottish negotiations should be separate from those in England and Wales. There is strong support in Scotland for independence in negotiations, for a different wage structure, just as we have a different rent structure, a different rate structure and a different legal system. N.A.L.G.O. has always tried to arrange for negotiations affecting England and Wales and Scotland to be held conjointly, but the Scottish local authorities have steadfastly refused.

Immediately there is a crisis, such as we have had as a result of the free-for-all permitted for electoral purposes by the party opposite when in office, when hon. Gentlemen raided the kitty to such an extent that their successors were faced with a deficiency of £800 million—

Mr. Brewis

Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that generally the Scottish award resulting from N.A.L.G.O.'s negotiations comes later than the English? If so, surely the Secretary of State should have known what was coming and made an exception?

Mr. Bence

I have known my right right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for many years and I am sure that he will answer the arguments far better than I can. I have also known him long enough to be certain that he was alive to all the negotiations and that he would have done everything he could to warn the parties concerned that it would be far better, if they did not have joint negotiations, to get in their claims as quickly as possible. However, I am sure that my right hon. Friend will answer for himself.

Mr. Brewis

Can the hon. Gentleman give an undertaking that the right hon. Gentleman will answer it?

Mr. Bence

I know that my right hon. Friend will answer any legitimate question put to him, and give a very good answer at that. He always give me a good answer when I put a question to him. However, as long as organisations in Scotland or anywhere else, whatever they may be, always insist on having separate negotiations, they are always liable to be caught in a changed situation.

We have heard much today about workers working alongside each other and yet receiving different rates of pay. For a long time I worked in one of the biggest aircraft factories in Europe as a journeyman toolmaker. This was in 1938 when I worked alongside toolmakers who were doing a job on behalf of a firm from the Midlands and yet getting 4d. an hour less than I was, although they were in the same union. The extraordinary thing about it was that any attempt by the union to level up their rate to mine was refused by the employers. The only time when the employers agreed was when the then Government said that it was undesirable because of the existing situation.

In my industrial life I always found employers always ready to raise wages of certain groups of workers when the Government of the day, perhaps because of the crisis of war, were opposed to such an increase. The same was true about the movement of labour and the Emergency Orders during the war.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Eric Fletcher) rose

Mr. Bence

I thought so.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I was about to observe that we seem to be moving a long way from the Order before the House.

Mr. Bence

I am sorry, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but I feel so strongly about the Conservative Party making a plea concerning this anomaly of differentiation in earnings by people doing the same sort of work that I went too far. Those hon. Members opposite who have had any experience of industry will know that this situation has existed for 100 years. It is not a new situation created by the Order or by the prices and incomes policy. Even in the local government service there are tremendous differences of incomes. There are anomalies galore. I have been having a major argument with a Minister about an employee of one of the Scottish national institutions who is suffering from an absurd wage anomaly. I should be out of order to pursue it in this debate. Anomalies of this kind arise from the system which we have inherited, a system which has existed for a long time. I shall go on trying to persuade the Minister to change this anomaly. Anomalies are not a new phenomenon. They are as old as Adam. Hon. Gentlemen opposite tolerated them in local government for years and—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman must not carry his argument beyond the limited scope of the Order.

Mr. Bence

Reference is made to administrative, technical and clerical staff. The objection voiced by hon. Gentlemen opposite to the Order is that it affects the incomes of a group of people employed by the Burgh of Rothesay. I am sure that, even within that group, there are certain serious anomalies. If one compared the pay of those in that group in the Burgh of Rothesay with the pay received by other employees in other Scottish local authorities, one would find serious anomalies and injustices. That being so, is it not fair to ask what the Royal Burgh of Rothesay has done about it? In my experience, N.A.L.G.O. has made serious complaints about the unjust income relationships that exist within these groups, but we have heard nothing about such injustices in Rothesay.

When one considers the remuneration of lawyers and other administrative people, one must admit that, relatively speaking, the pay of some clerical staffs is frightful. I do not know whether town clerks would be considered administrative or professional people—I suppose they are both—but certainly they have an exaggerated level of remuneration compared with some clerical staffs. I understand that town clerks in England and Wales are not so well remunerated as those in Scotland, but perhaps town clerks south of the border do not have the same professional qualifications, or perhaps they hold different positions relative to the management of different local authorities. Nevertheless, I have heard N.A.L.G.O. officers express grave discontent about the differential that exists between the pay of many grades in local government.

Hon. Gentlemen opposite are unjustly criticising my right hon. Friend. I am surprised that the right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod) should accuse my right hon. Friend of not being aware of possible anomalies. Those who have known my right hon. Friend for the last 20 years or more know that he is extremely keen to spot anomalies wherever they exist and do something about them. I have no doubt that he is aware of the anomalies that exist in local government in Scotland.

I am satisfied that during the short period while the Order will operate, up to July, my right hon. Friend will have this matter in mind. I hope that when the period comes to an end, local government employees in Scotland will get the remuneration which, if they had put in their claim and negotiated at the same time as their English counterparts, they would probably have got. However, they did not put in their claim but waited to see what would happen—and 20th July intervened.

I hope that when they finally get the increases which have been negotiated on the same scale in England and Wales, an effort will be made by N.A.L.G.O., Scottish local authorities and the party opposite to iron out some of the wide differentials that exist in the wage structure of local government in Scotland. It must be remembered that those who perform the administrative tasks and those who do the arduous and menial work in local government all perform an important service. I hone that. when the time comes for the differentials to be sorted out, hon. Gentlemen opposite will be just as keen to bring any anomalies that exist into the open and increase the remunerative levels of some groups of workers employed by Scottish local authorities.

I urge my hon. Friends to do what I shall do, which is to support the Secretary of State when we vote later. We can take this step in the knowledge that we in the Scottish Labour movement have, in the Secretary of State and his staff, people who have these affairs well under control.

8.8 p.m.

Mr. Alick Buchanan-Smith (North Angus and Mearns)

I listened with interest to the speech of the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Bence), not only for the way in which he succeeded in ranging so wide in his remarks, but because he spoke in his usual entertaining manner.

The hon. Member chided the Opposition for supporting employers who want to give a wage increase. He thought that that was a rather odd view for us to be taking. In this case, the employers are the democratically elected members of local government. I assure hon. Gentlemen opposite that any anti-employer remarks that they may make—or which were made in the debate on the previous Order—are completely out of place.

The latter remarks of the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East were particularly strange, since he said that there had always been anomalies in local government employment generally. I suppose that it is the sort of argument that we must accept from hon. Gentlemen opposite. However, it is an odd argument because, taken to its logical conclusion, it means that one will never remedy these anomalies. Are they aware that the anomaly we are discussing has been produced by an arbitrary act of the Government and by the rigid application of their policy? This is an occasion, above all others, when hon. Members should get rid of an anomaly and remove what might be a precedent for other anomalies to be created in future.

Mr. Bence

I do not look on this as an anomaly. I did not suggest that it was one. I certainly said that there were anomalies, but that many of them arose because of the line or date that happened to be relevant. It is up to the individual, in many cases, to choose one or other side of the line. For example, when people get married they are able to choose a date which gives them a tax advantage. It is often a question of choice.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I compliment the hon. Gentleman on his ingenuity but, after all, this is the line which I wish to develop. This is not a matter of anomalies about dates. If so, it is failing to meet the main arguments put forward from this side in the debate on 2nd March.

The real anomaly is the discrimination of treatment of workers between Scotland and England. I do not intend to go over the arguments which we heard on 2nd March and in the earlier debate today, but I believe strongly that, in the application of the Government's prices and incomes policy, we have seen anomalies created between England and Scotland. In paragraph 30 of the White Paper(Cmnd.3150), there is the opportunity for a let-out and for the anomaly to be put right. We heard from the Under-Secretary in the debate on 2nd March how an anomaly of this type could slip through, yet it has become clear from this afternoon's debate that the Government have no intention of correcting any anomaly in respect of electrical workers or local government workers.

The section about anomalies was just eyewash to get support from their hon. Friends when this policy was first announced last July. It has become clear to me, during the course of the debate, that the Government have shifted their ground about what constitutes an anomaly, and that they have no desire for there to be any let-out or to be fair between England and Scotland.

The hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. John Robertson) argued that to try to remedy these anomalies would be entirely in the spirit of the White Paper, and similar arguments have been put forward from hon. Members on both sides of the House. I hope that the Government will show themselves to be reasonable, because it would be a victory for common sense if they did. What we have heard so far from the Government Front Bench does not give me very much hope that the Government will be reasonable.

Given that it is possible that they can get out of the difficulty which they have created for themselves, I hope that we shall not hear the same arguments which we heard on 2nd March. Then, the Under-Secretary went over the entire ground in relation to local government officers, as did my right hon. Friend the Member for Argyll (Mr. Noble) in opening the debate. In his speech, the hon. Gentleman did not disagree with many of the arguments put forward by my right hon. Friend, and the reason was that he relied on legalistic arguments and arguments that played with dates which we did not dispute. In addition, he played with apportioning to local authorities responsibility for the difference between Scotland and England.

It may help the Government to salve their consciences to try to justify the effects of their prices and incomes policy, but no reasonable person in Scotland would think that their arguments held water. If we are to be entertained to a repetition of them tonight, the Government will merely underline the fact that a weak argument is not made stronger by repetition.

On 2nd March, the Under-Secretary tried to cover the nakedness of his argument by an entirely legalistic approach. I hope that we shall not be entertained to the same spectacle tonight, because a naked Secretary of State is not a particularly beautiful sight—

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. William Ross)

How can the hon. Gentleman know that?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

One has only to study his argument. There is not even a fig leaf in it.

What concerns me is that, given that there is a loophole in the White Paper on Prices and Incomes, the Scottish Ministers clearly lack the will to make use of regulations which are possible to set right the anomalies.

The hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East said that he was quite certain that the Secretary of State was alive to what was going on in these negotiations between the middle and the end of July last year, but that is not shown up by the facts. The facts do not suggest that he knew what was going on, that he represented the interests of Scotland in the Cabinet, or that he tried to make certain that anomalies would be removed which might penalise workers in Scotland.

Why has the right hon. Gentleman not stood up for Scotland in this matter and taken advantage of the opportunities open to him under the White Paper? When he is fighting for Scotland in this House, he is not fighting against us, because we are here to support him. He has people on his own side to support him, too. when he fights for Scotland. In addition, he has the support of people in Scotland when he stands up for Scotland. The only reason why he does not get support in Scotland is that he is not fighting for Scotland.

One place where the right hon. Gentleman seems to have no support and where he has not the benefit of his hon. Friends and my hon. Friends behind him is in the Cabinet. He is the one person put there to stand up for Scotland. The place where he should argue for Scotland is not in the House and not in Scotland, because he has any number of supporters in both places, but in the Cabinet. It is there, when the prices and incomes policy was introduced last July, that he was not protecting the interests of Scotland.

After all, this debate on the Rothesay Order is only one example. We are seeing in this Order how Scotland is the victim of the freeze. On 2nd March, the Under-Secretary said that this policy would mean rough justice. Certainly it does, and it seems much rougher for Scotland. The Secretary of State talked about equality of treatment and how he would try to achieve it. It appears that some people are to be more equal than others and that, in his eyes, it is the people of England rather than those of Scotland.

When one studies the phrases which he used last summer, just after the freeze policy came in—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I must ask the hon. Gentleman to confine himself to the merits of this Order.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

Certainly, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I was about to finish my remarks.

I am trying to show that this Order is the result of the Government's freeze policy and the failure of the Secretary of State to fulfil the undertakings which he gave to Scotland last summer. I think that this is particularly relevant to the Order before us, because last summer I took some cuttings from the Scottish Press. On 12th September, the right hon. Gentleman was reported in the Scotsman as saying that Scotland had been sheltered by the Government from the full pressure of the economic squeeze … On the same date the Aberdeen Press and Journal said: Scots escaping full effect of freeze—Ross. That sounds very good, but that is not what has happened, because if the right hon. Gentleman had protected Scotland we would not have been debating this Order.tonight.

What I found much more significant was a headline in the Scotsman of 21st October,which said: Close watch being kept—Mr. Ross. That, too, sounds very nice, but it does not mean very much, because the trouble is that the Secretary of State does not protect Scotland; he only watches it. We do not want a spectator for Secretary of State in Scotland. We want someone who will fight for Scotland, not someone who merely stands on the sidelines and watches.

It is because the right hon. Gentleman is only a spectator and not a fighter that I oppose this Order.

8.21 p.m.

Sir John Gilmour (Fife, East)

The hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Bence) represented that this and the previous Order were putting hon. Members on this side of the House in the position of encouraging large wage claims. This Order has nothing to do with encouraging wage claims. We are discussing a Prayer to annul an Order which is stopping the payment of a freely negotiated wage settlement, a settlement which is being paid in another part of the United Kingdom, and which, so far as it affects wages in Scotland, was altered at the behest of the Government. There is, therefore, no question of us on this side of the House doing what the hon. Gentleman claimed we were doing.

What the hon. Gentleman said underlined the point made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod), that the whole fault lies with the Secretary of State for Scotland, because it is the fact that this is a negotiated wage which has been adjusted at the behest of the Government of which the right hon. Gentleman is a member which puts the blame fairly and squarely on him. We know that he is a right hon. Gentleman who always takes the responsibility, and carries it, and this is surely where it lies.

The hon. Gentleman went on to say that the fault lay with the local authorities because they had not negotiated the wage claim at the same time as it had been done in England. But this again reinforces what was said by my right hon. Friend, because the Secretary of State knew that this was happening. He knew that this was bound to happen, and he was, therefore, given warning. He knew that it was coming, and yet as far as we can see—although we still have to wait for his reply—he did nothing, and everything said by his hon. Friend reinforces the argument put forward by my right hon. Friend.

My hon. Friend the Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith) said that during the course of these debates the Government had shifted their ground. I think that this is true. When we discussed the pay of the electricians, the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour said that people were not interested in the rate for the job. All that they are interested in was the take-home pay. This is a fine argument when one is dealing with people who are paid at hourly rates, and who can work overtime, get site payment, and so on, but people employed in local government cannot earn extra money to take home. They do not have the opportunity of earning overtime, and I therefore think it valid to say that the Government have shifted their ground. People employed in local government cannot earn extra money by other means. This is the point which the right hon. Gentleman has to answer.

I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman would agree that this is a fair statement of the facts, but it seems to me that a review of the salaries of Scottish local government officers started in October, 1965, that formal negotiation started some time early in 1966, and that agreement was reached in May, and under the early warning system it had to be notified to the Government. Thus, far from it being the case that separate negotiations in respect of Scotland were falling far behind those for England, they had, in fact, reached a fairly final stage by 27th May, but because the proposal was made for a one-year agreement, with increases of about 3½| per cent., with rather more in certain cases, the Government asked that the settlement should be made for a longer period.

It was, therefore, known to the Secretary of State—and this, I think, rubs in the point made by my right hon. Friend—that this agreement was in the pipeline. When he saw what would happen he had the opportunity to see that a temporary agreement was made to safeguard local government employees in Scotland because of the policy which the Government were bringing in. This is where the responsibility lies on the Secretary of State. He had knowledge of this, because it was known through the Department of Economic Affairs that an agreement had been reached which did not appear satisfactory to the Department, and it was, therefore, asking for an alteration to be made. The right hon. Gentleman therefore had knowledge which made it possible for him to take action to safeguard local government employees in Scotland, but he failed to do so.

It is for this reason that I hope my hon. Friends, and, indeed, many hon. Gentlemen opposite, will support the Prayer.

8.27 p.m.

Mr. James Dempsey (Coatbridge and Airdrie)

I am beginning to wonder whether we are debating the Order relating to the Rothesay Town Council or discussing the merits of the Secretary of State for Scotland. It seems that the debate has gone rather wide and that it is now in order for right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite to make vicious attacks on my right hon. Friend. This was begun by the right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod). He described my right hon. Friend as a second-class passenger in the Cabinet. The right hon. Gentleman is the last person who should make references of that kind, because at one time he was Minister of Labour, and we know how unemployment rose in Scotland in those days. Unemployment gave rise to great concern then, and I wonder what the then Secretary of State did at Cabinet level to help the situation. Did he go in to fight for Scotland or was he merely a second-class passenger also?

Let us be fair when we are tackling this and see what is the duty of the Secretary of State for Scotland when we are dealing with an Order arising out of a policy which has been laid down by Parliament. We all know that the policy was devised because some people believe that having a proper incomes policy is one way in which there may be a more equit- able distribution of the wealth of this country, and in that respect it is a worthwhile venture, but if the right hon. Gentleman expects the incomes policy to be successful in one year, or three years, or even five years, then he falls down in my estimation, because the one country which did introduce such a policy did not see it reach completion for 20 years. So let us be fair and frankly say that in operating such a policy there are bound to be difficulties, and we have experienced some.

I am very surprised to hear the right hon. Gentleman refer to the electrical workers because I can recall that he and his right hon. Friends opposed the electrical workers getting an increase during the pay freeze of 1961. We can recall those days. The fact is that the right hon. Gentleman and his right hon. and hon. Friends have two hearts. One they wear when they are in government and the other they wear when they are in opposition, and they act accordingly.

As to this question of Rothesay Town Council and 20 persons receiving an increase while thousands of others have been refused, an extremely unfair situation is created. An inequitable situation would exist were this Order not to be approved, and I am very much surprised to hear all the arguments which have been given as to why there should be this state of affairs, all the reasons pouring forth from the benches opposite trying to explain the situation away and accuse the Secretary of State of being lethargic in his approach to Scottish affairs, apathetic about the interests of Scotland, inept in his handling of Scottish affairs.

This is not the time to instance the remarkable achievements of the Secretary of State—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—and if I were to try to do so, Mr. Deputy Speaker would stop me for going wide of this debate. But, for instance, look at industrial development itself. Would hon. Members care to quote the figures? It is the highest in the history of Scotland, and even during the recent difficult economic days we still had a higher development of manufacturing capacity and square footage of factory space than the Tories provided in their day—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Member was quite right when he said that to pursue this would be quite out of order.

Mr. Dempsey

I am very glad that you allowed me to make that one point, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

I am sure that there is confidence in the Secretary of State for Scotland—in Glasgow and Aberdeen, for instance. There is no question about that. [HON. MEMBERS: "Dundee? "] We know that there it is a tie.

On the whole, it can be said that in considering this Order we seem to look for the solution everywhere but in the proper place. Although by a democratic vote we altered negotiations to national negotiations, we did not negotiate as a United Kingdom negotiating authority. We have been fairly successful in attempting to obtain that, but there was the usual Scottish effort to revert back to Scottish negotiation. It has been decisively rejected.

For instance, in N.A.L.G.O. there was an attempt for a long time to have national negotiations in spite of the fact that there were elements which insisted on Scottish characteristics—Scottish types of educational courses and Scottish types of administrative training. These are understandable, but they are not a particularly logical reason for accusing the Secretary of State of being responsible for the delay in carrying out N.A.L.G.O.'s negotiations.

This was raised in the House long before the debate to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, and it was openly said that N.A.L.G.O. officials, on making application, had been advised to await the outcome of the English negotiations to give them some guidance as to what approach they should take in dealing with the problem. That was mentioned here in the House and ventilated during Question time. It would seem, therefore, that this was the attitude which resulted in delay and the consequence of agreement not being concluded until after 20th July. It is morally wrong to blame the Secretary of State for N.A.L.G.O.'s domestic policy and N.A.L.G.O.'s domestic failure. When looking at this problem I think we recognise—I personally do—the unfortunate situation in which N.A.L.G.O. finds itself, and most of us feel, indeed, that it has been regrettably misled in that respect. There are far too many Scottish negotiating bodies dragging behind the coat-tails of English organisations, and that can be said of Scottish joint councils when negotiating Scottish conditions. At the end of the day is it fair to say that the Secretary of State has responsibility for this decision on domestic policy by an organisation of that nature? In essence, that is what the right hon. Gentleman has said, supported by his back benchers. I say that my right hon. Friend is not responsible for such matters.

I have sympathy with N.A.L.G.O. in its efforts to set up proper national negotiations. It has tried to do this year after year, but has been unable to persuade Scottish local authorities to agree. The hon. Member talked about Rothesay Town Council being in favour of it. I would like him to quote an extract of any minute of that council indicating its support for such national negotiations. My experience leads me to believe that many Scottish local authorities, conservative in attitude, mind and policy, will oppose such a development because it might mean higher salaries and better labour conditions for local government employees. This is the root cause of the trouble. This is the element which creates opposition to the development of national negotiations.

Sir F. Maclean

I assured the hon. Member earlier that the Rothesay Town Council is in favour of combined United Kingdom negotiations on behalf of N.A.L.G.O. In a letter to me, the town clerk, who acted as assessor, has explained exactly how the relevant motion was put.

Mr. Dempsey

The hon. Member has made that point. I should like him to pursue that activity by voting in favour of this change of situation at the Scottish level. It would be interesting if he could pursue that theory and ascertain to what extent this expression of opinion has been implemented by the Rothesay Town Council. From my association with Scottish local authority bodies I know that there is an antipathy towards national negotiations and a deep feeling against them.

There is always the feeling that if they create a United Kingdom negotiating body some Scottish autonomy will be surrendered. There could not be a better example of this state of affairs than that of the bursars. They could benefit from a national negotiating machinery, but it would mean sacrificing some Scottish autonomy, so they will not agree. This indicates the rigidity of the attitude of local authorities in respect of a wide range of services, covering a multitude of Departments and sections serving Scottish people in general.

Understanding this very delicate and contentious preserve which Scottish local government representatives hold so dearly, it is wrong that my right hon. Friend should be accused of being responsible for not operating a salary or wage award, or for not sitting and continually gazing into the crystal ball so that he can anticipate the way in which Scottish organisations will move and negotiations will take place. He has much more to do than that.

It is unfair, especially, for the right hon. Gentleman who has had responsibility in a Government Department, and who knows what it means to be in charge of a Department, to make such an attack on my right hon. Friend. I regret that I cannot now list the contributions made by my right hon. Friend to the wellbeing of Scotland. It would be a pleasant task. I could break the record of my hon. Friend the Member for the Western Isles (Mr. Malcolm MacMillan) and speak for more than two and three-quarter hours. It is the people of Scotland who are enjoying the fruits of the Secretary of State's efforts. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I am very surprised to hear such choruses from the Opposition, who have been very quiet all day, and raised hardly a cheer for the right hon. Member for Enfield, West. I have raised the only cheer by mentioning the Secretary of State, which shows his popularity. When the debate is over and a decision taken, irrespective of the wild, scurrilous, irresponsible and irrational attacks of the right hon. Gentleman and his friends on the Secretary of State, my right hon. Friend will be as popular as ever.

8.40 p.m.

Mr. Ian MacArthur (Perth and East Perthshire)

One point in the speech of the hon. Member for Coatbridge and Air- drie (Mr. Dempsey) would command our agreement. He reminded us that my right hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod) knows what responsibility means. In that respect, he outshone the Secretary of State, who, throughout this unhappy affair, has neglected his prime responsibility to the people of Scotland, whom he represents at the highest level.

My right hon. Friend reminded us of the timetable which led to this miserable Order. He said that the N.A.L.G.O. salary review in Scotland began in October, 1965. Yet the other day, the right hon. Gentleman suggested that he did not know of the review until 27th May—

Mr. Ross

indicated dissent.

Mr. MacArthur

The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head. If that is not the case, I hope that he will deny it. Is he telling us that he knew of the situation before 27th May?

If so, why did he not act? Why did he not point out the gross anomalies which would follow holding back the pay award reviewed for so long, and properly and fully negotiated? If he denies either of these suggestions, he is at fault. My right hon. Friend was a shade too generous to the Secretary of State. If the Minister did not know of the situation before 27th May, who was advising him? What went wrong? If, as he now suggests, he did know what was happening before that date, all of us on this side and everyone in Scotland will want to know why he sat dumb and took no action.

The Order depresses me for a number of reasons. Clearly, this is the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs speaking through the mouth of the Secretary of State for Scotland. I reminded the right hon. Gentleman the other day of his splendid declaration in the heady days just after the 1964 election, when he was reported as saying: I decide things in Scotland. The Chancellor of the Exchequer cannot tell me what to do. I suggest that the First Secretary has certainly told the right hon. Gentleman what to do. Suspicious as I often am of the Secretary of State's ability and makeup, I cannot help feeling that, lurking somewhere in him, there must be a spark of kindness and understanding for the people of Scotland which is trying to break through the shell of harshness which the Government have forced on him.

The Order applies to Scotland the harshest interpretation of a bad policy. The right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends are using as scapegoats a small union and a small burgh. This is the shameful aspect of the Order. The small union, N.A.L.G.O., has acted responsibly throughout. It did so only the other day by not calling the strike which many of us feared might have resulted from the Government's provocation. The small burgh, the Royal Burgh of Rothesay, has acted responsibly and gallantly by honouring its word to its employees.

This brings us to what perhaps is the nub of this problem, the way in which this situation reflects yet again on the way in which this Government, by their policies, are constantly urging on the nation action which erodes the good faith of a contract. Not long ago when the Government found that their decrees were challenged successfully by the courts, they made illegality legal. Now, because they disapprove of the way in which the Royal Burgh of Rothesay is honouring its pledge to its employees, they seek to bring into play the enormous powers of the Prices and Incomes Act.

The hon. Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mr. Dempsey), who is not now with us—

Mr. Richard Buchanan (Glasgow, Springburn)

He will be back soon.

Mr. Mac Arthur

I hope so, because he used the word "equity" in support of his case. There is no equity in the provision that the Secretary of State is trying to force through the House tonight. This is a most inequitable business, forcing an action on an employer which is completely indefensible from every moral point of view.

It is not simply a question of debasing language. This action is an erosion of standards generally. In the whole world we are honoured for the way in which we keep our word. "My word is my bond" is a saying which has a wealth of importance behind it. Over and over again actions by this Government are forcing people with the full majesty of the law to break contracts and understandings properly and honourably entered into.

Mr. Hannan

The hon. Member will know that the right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod), when opening the debate, made quite clear that he did not want to encourage this local authority to break the law. What is the point that the hon. Member is making now?

Mr. Mac Arthur

The point is that the right hon. Gentleman has taken to himself powers which will make illegal actions which the Royal Burgh has taken to honour its word. If the hon. Member cannot understand that, he cannot understand our argument at all.

This is not only a question of debasing the standard of behaviour between employer and employee. I shudder when I see the slippery way in which this Government use words. Some of my hon. Friends have already reminded the House of the way in which the Prime Minister and later the President of the Board of Trade and other Ministers told the House that the development areas would be sheltered. This was said last July. We now have before us an indication of the sort of shelter the Government try to provide for the people of Scotland. It is significant that the application of it is to one of the smallest unions and a small burgh. It is a disgraceful application of a harsh and unjust policy.

With the memory fresh in our minds of how the Prime Minister and the President of the Board of Trade tried to slip through unpopular actions by saying that the development areas would be sheltered, we came to the abuse of language in the White Paper. It is quite clearly stated in paragraph 30 of Command Paper 3150, in relation to the freeze: There may be exceptional circumstances in which some immediate improvement in pay is imperative to correct a gross anomaly. Was the N.A.L.G.O. situation not an exceptional circumstance? Of course, it was. Was not there here a case for some immediate improvement in pay to bring the Scots into line with their English colleagues doing precisely the same work? Of course, there was. Was not this a gross anomaly which needed correction? Of course, it was. But the right hon. Gentleman and his right hon. Friends keep on preaching to us that there was no anomaly here. If the right hon. Gentleman cannot see a gross anomaly here, he has no concept of what words mean.

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us what would happen if the Royal Burgh of Rothesay were not to follow the result of the Government's forcing the Order through tonight? I do not suggest that the Royal Burgh will deliberately break the law although the right hon. Gentleman would have put it into an intolerable position. It is only right that the House should ask the Secretary of State what sanctions would be applied if the Royal Burgh were to take the view that it would go on honouring its word to its employees until 1st July, when in any case the new scale can come legally into operation.

I have been looking at Section 29 of the Prices and Incomes Act. It is an interesting thought that the wording of the Act may not apply, or may at least apply very questionably, to these employers. If I interpret subsection (5) correctly, the wording means: If an employer contravenes this section "— an employer contravening this Order would, I assume, be contravening Section 29— he shall be liable—

  1. (a) on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding one hundred pounds, and
  2. (b) on conviction on indictment to a fine which, if the offender is not a body corporate, shall not exceed five hundred pounds."
Will the right hon. Gentleman explain to the House how the Royal Burgh would stand? What is the status of the Royal Burgh? It is clearly the employer. If it were to defy the Order, what would the position be? Would it be fined £500 or, since I presume that it is a body corporate, would the position be wide open? Does this mean that there is no power of sanction; or does it mean that the Government, through the Secretary of State, I presume, could take any action against the Royal Burgh that vindictive-ness might encourage them to take? I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will explain that to the House tonight.

However, I still live in hope. A little while ago the Government majority melted away to 43. If 22 hon. Members opposite have the courage to act as I know that they want to act and join us in the Lobby, we could prevent the Order from going through. I still hope that this will happen.

Whatever the result tonight, I hope that the Secretary of State will stand back from the morass that he has got himself and the people of Scotland into because of his blind obstinacy and his refusal or unwillingness properly to represent the people he is supposed to represent. My great regret in all this is that this sorry affair has shown that the Secretary of State's eyes and, indeed, those of the Government as a whole, are so blinded by layers of red tape that they can no longer distinguish between right and wrong.

8.45 p.m.

Mr. Donald Dewar (Aberdeen, South)

I think that one of the things which possibly is not very relevant, but which has been particularly striking about this debate, has been the enormous emphasis which has been placed upon the part played by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland in this particular piece of business. I really had no idea that my right hon. Friend had become such a terrible bogeyman for the Scottish Conservative Party. I can only take it as a kind of very back-handed compliment which indicates just how formidable an opponent my right hon. Friend is in terms of Scottish politics.

It is also, perhaps, an indication of the desperate state—the very low ebb—to which the Conservative Party's fortunes have fallen in Scotland. We hear all their ill-directed abuse and rather desperate attempts to wrest any party advantage they can from flogging this cause celebre interminably in the House. It suggests that hon. and right hon. Members opposite are very much stuck when it comes to the political battle nowadays.

The Government have been accused of inconsistency in this matter. With that in mind, knowing that it was the kernel of the charge being made from the benches opposite, I listened with growing amazement to the enormous number of inconsistencies in the speeches of hon. Members opposite. We were told, for example, and very forcibly, too, that this was an example of deliberate discrimination against Scotland, that this was the most important issue at stake—it was the final hideous crime and ultimate condemnation of the Government's prices and incomes policy.

I do not for the moment accept that this was a case of discrimination. I think that there have been other cases concerning N.A.L.G.O. which went the other way; the negotiations over the plumbers' case is one example. But, even if that were not so, I cannot forget that, only a few hours earlier in the Chamber, when we were discussing the electricians, we were told that that was the final sin, the most glaring inconsistency and evidence of the impossibility of the prices and incomes policy, the fact being that workers on the same site were receiving two different rates of pay, whether it was happening in Norfolk, Wales, or in Scotland.

It seems that the Opposition are trying to have their cake and eat it, too, putting emphasis on different aspects or different alleged faults in the system as it suits them hour by hour.

Next, the Government were accused of shifting their ground. We were told that they had shifted their ground again and again. Yet, a few minutes after that charge was made, the hon. Gentleman the Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith) said that the Government had not given an inch, that they had been rigid and inflexible. On the one hand, the Government are charged with being weak, vacillating, unable to make up their mind and changing every moment, and, on the other, we are told that they are like political pillars of salt, not prepared to give an inch one way or the other.

We have been told that this dispute and the whole incomes policy question is a matter of legal niceties and technicalities, that any man of common sense and broad understanding, looking at the situation, would realise that this was a special case, that it was an example of an unworkable position which could readily be distinguished from all other cases on which the line has to be drawn, by the very nature of the prices and incomes policy.

I can only say that, as I go about and talk to people in all sorts of industries, people who have been caught on one side or the other of the deadline which determines whether the freeze comes into effect, I have the impression that everyone suffers from, perhaps, a misapprehension, thinking that his case is special, that his circumstances are unique and that the gross anomaly rule should have been invoked to give him a special concession.

But it just does not work that way. It is unfortunate that the very nature of this policy makes for rigid adherence to a dividing line. The moment one retreats from that or abandons it, one opens the floodgates—an over-used metaphor, but appropriate in this case, I think—and immediately invites widespread discontent and disillusionment.

The hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur), talked of the principle, "My word is my bond" in relation to Rothesay. He should remember that this is true of the Government, too. We are trying equitably to apply rules which we have laid down and which are easily comprehended. Once we retreat from that and make an exception of this kind, the hon. Gentleman will be the first to dicover anomaly after anomaly, quoting the precedent which this example would give. He now claims that this case is unique and could not be found again, but he would soon take what advantage he could from a concession and try to force through scores or a hundred other examples which, he would claim, called for special consideration.

We are talking tonight about two sides of one question. One side is the value of the N.A.L.G.O. case, and I am the first to accept that N.A.L.G.O., historically, has a complaint here. Obviously, we are all agreed that national negotiating machinery is the answer. I am interested by the revelation of the new attitude of Rothesay. It is a revelation to me to learn that Rothesay has been pressing, for any length of time at least, for the national negotiating pattern which we all recognise as the solution. I wonder when Rothesay was converted to this principle.

The other side of the matter is the position of Rothesay itself. Here is a small local authority which, to be fair, has blundered and stumbled into opposition to the Government, leaving itself in a hopelessly exposed position. I suspect that, in some way, it is a little appalled by what it has done. But it is in that position.

If one is talking about equity, is it equitable and fair to allow Rothesay to "jump the gun" in this way, to stand out in this way, to cheat all other local authorities which have had the responsibility and maturity to co-operate with the Government and to accept their decision and the necessities and dictates of national policies?

We have heard a great deal tonight about the response of N.A.L.G.O. I think that it was the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire who paid tribute to it, and I wish to associate myself with his tribute. Certainly, N.A.L.G.O. has been commendably responsible in many ways throughout the dispute.

My own City Council of Aberdeen was very tempted to follow Rothesay's example, but was held back for two reasons. First, it realised that it would be exceeding its authority if it moved to clash with a national policy decision, and the only result would be chaos and anarchy in local government. Secondly, and more important, it was held back by the attitude of N.A.L.G.O. itself.

It has already been said that the strike was called off, and N.A.L.G.O. has recognised its partial victory of getting the promise of payment in July, and has persuaded its members that further militancy is not necessary. I understand that it was made perfectly clear to people in Aberdeen considering this course of action that it would not be welcomed and would not be endorsed and formally supported by the N.A.L.G.O. organisation.

Rothesay is out on a limb in this in every sense. If we are talking about the responsibilities of office, and knowing what is entailed in them, it must be accepted that a very dangerous and alarming precedent is being set if a major political party, for reasons purely of petty party advantage, transitory party advantage, supports what is, in fact, a wildcat move. It is a gratuitously irresponsible move against the considered judgment of the national government. If they really support that, and if we have the misfortune to have the party opposite back in office, it may live very much to regret its actions just now.

This is a matter of immense concern. Why should Rothesay be allowed to get away with this, to stand alone while every other local authority in Scotland had the good sense and judgment to recognise its responsibilities? Why should we invite that kind of action merely because hon. Members opposite want to make a few fiery speeches which they may imagine will attract them a few peripheral votes in local elections in Scotland?

9.2 p.m.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. William Ross)

One of the best remarks made during this debate, a debate which I welcome and expected, was that by the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith) who said that we do not want any repetition. He was several hours late in making that suggestion, because I have listened to every word of this debate, even as I listened to every word of the debate on 2nd March, and I can assure him that there was an awful lot of repetition today of the main theme of that debate. Bearing in mind that we are dealing with an Order relating to the Royal Burgh of Rothesay, traversing the whole general policy and the whole debate we had at that time really was not appropriate from the point of view of what the Government propose to do, to which the party opposite objects.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

Does the Minister not know that if water washes over a stone for long enough it eventually wears a mark? When we have a Secretary of State with a heart of stone there are very strong grounds for repetition from this side of the House and for hopes that at the end of the day he may see common sense.

Mr. Ross

The Opposition must try occasionally to be credible. I say to the hon. Member and the right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod) and all the other hon. Members who have made various remarks about me, flattery will get them nowhere. It is only my generosity of spirit that has kept me rooted to my seat in silence whilst listening to these remarks.

I welcome the right hon. Member for Enfield, West to a Scottish debate. He has not been in one for a long time. I think that one of his last efforts was when he tried in vain to become Member for the Western Isles. I will not go back on that and on the things said in that delightful slanging match.

Another complaint I have about the debate is that there has been far too much talk about the "small" Burgh of Rothesay. Hon. Members opposite who have spoken in that way about it will get no thanks from Rothesay because Rothesay considers itself the queen of the Clyde and the greatest of watering places in that area. Let the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. Mac-Arthur) appreciate the measure of pride that there is in Rothesay, in its status and history and in the part it has played in Scottish tourist history as well.

I have been asked about the importance of the date 27th May, 1966. We had a debate on 2nd March, 1967, and it has taken hon. Members opposite until now to discover that something happened on 27th May. What happened then was that, officially, the Scottish Office was informed that a settlement was pending and we only were informed because this was the first time since a prices and incomes obligation had been laid upon the Joint Industrial Council so to report.

We were informed in a letter, the relevant parts of which I quoted in the last debate. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to read it because it was appreciated then by the people concerned that the Scottish settlement that was impending—what was said in the letter to be in general a 3½ per cent. increase—was not the same as the English settlement, which was a 7 per cent. increase for two years and that deliberately the Scottish local authorities had insisted on having a different settlement.

The Scottish local authorities knew that the English settlement was 7 per cent. for two years. They knew that it was likely to be acceptable. But they insisted on having what they called a settlement of 3½ per cent. for one year. They suggested that we might like further information. We said that we would like to see the actual settlement. When we got it, we discovered that it was not a 3½ per cent. settlement at all but a settlement that even they agreed latterly was 5½ to 6 per cent. for one year, which was quite outwith the then criteria and had to be ruled out. They were told of this. It was rejected on 13th July.

Then there is the question of our knowing what was going on. The right hon. Gentleman should know that this is a private settlement come to between two sides—employers and employees—and that the Government do not enter into it. That is exactly what happened on this occasion. He suggested that, somehow or other, we should have taken steps in the announcement of 20th July to make special arrangements ensuring that, whatever happened to English and Welsh workers, Scottish workers would be specially protected. He was once Minister of Labour. Did he ever do that? I remember all the speeches he made then. On one occasion he said, speaking of the nationalised industries: … we do intend to make clear to them and to everyone else our continuing determination that we will not finance inflationary awards, however these awards are secured, whether through negotiations or through arbitration. There was no question then of "Yes, but we will make special arrangements for Scottish workers." In the very same speech, he was drawing attention to the rising unemployment in Scotland. As he knows, at that time unemployment was as high as it is today, at a very different time of the year—a time when it ought to have been lower. The right hon. Gentleman should remember what he said: I would like to state the position of the Government. The Government is the largest employer in this country. In wage claims where we are the direct employer we will apply and we will be seen to apply the most stringent tests."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th October, 1957; Vol. 575, cc. 235–6.] The nurses knew that, the teachers knew that. The civil servants, the very people we are talking about tonight, knew that, and the right hon. Gentleman made no special plea for the Scots, even those in Rothesay. One of the settlements in which he was concerned in 1959—I assume that he was concerned because he knows everything—was in respect of A.P.T. & C. staffs in England and Wales, and it was not until three and a half months later that the settlement was made in respect of the Scottish local government employees.

The settlements have never been the same. There are, of course, injustices within the grades. Let us remember that N.A.L.G.O. is not the only trade union involved in this. The Transport and General Workers' Union is involved, as are the Municipal and General Workers, and the National Union of Public Employees. They are all members of the Scottish Joint Industrial Council. They are concerned to remove these anomalies too.

The right hon. Gentleman said that he had laid bare the skeleton of events. He missed out one or two events, and tried to put the emphasis on the wrong ones. He missed out the fact that Rothesay proclaimed that it intended, despite everything said by the Government, to pay the increase. He missed out the fact that Rothesay decided to pay an increase of 7 per cent. May I correct the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bute and North Ayrshire (Sir F. Maclean), who said that Rothesay had decided to pay the increase. The increase that Rothesay is paying is not the increase that was agreed, as far as I know. It is a straightforward 7 per cent. increase. It is not equivalent to "what it was morally bound to pay" and all the rest of it.

Let us appreciate what was really involved. Why were there no Scottish Front Bench Members speaking on this? if ever the flames of rebellion and insurrection were fanned, they were fanned over this Rothesay business, and over N.A.L.G.O. Until that moment most people in Scotland thought that N.A.L.G.O. was a place in Vietnam. They fanned the flames of rebellion and insurrection we had speeches from the hon. Gentleman which were quite unbecoming from someone who had been a responsible Minister, suggesting that others should do what Rothesay was doing.

If Rothesay had a good case, after all of the speeches and all the newspaper articles and television interviews, how many local authorities joined its standard of revolt raised on Canada Hill? Not a single one. The county council, of which it is the main member, did not support it. Did Ayr? It did not. It did not apply the increase.

Mr. Younger rose

Mr. Ross

The hon. Gentleman had plenty of time to make a speech and as I live in Ayr I know that Ayr did not pass any motion in support of insurrection.

Mr. Younger rose

Hon. Members

Give way.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I want to hear the debate.

Mr. Ross

Did anybody from Argyll join this insurrection? Did anybody from Aberdeen? The Hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor) intervened when one of his hon. Friends was saying that Aberdeen had joined Rothesay and that Rothesay was not alone. Aberdeen did not. Not a single local authority, large burgh or small burgh or county council joined Rothesay. Why not? Does the right hon. Member for Enfield, West know the kind of local authority with which he is dealing?

Mr. Younger

The right hon. Gentleman is an Ayrshire Member of Parliament, as I am, and he must know that he has no fewer than two letters from Ayrshire County Council giving the fullest support to the N.A.L.G.O. case.

Mr. Ross

The hon. Gentleman should have been listening. I was asking how many authorities had supported Rothesay.

I have a cutting from the Glasgow Herald of 15th October, 1963, when'the right hon. Member for Argyll (Mr. Noble) was Secretary of State. It is headed: Home rule on the Costa Bute". It says: Rothesay Town Council last night decided to campaign for self-government for Bute and for fiscal powers similar to those enjoyed by the Isle of Man … The mover of the motion ex-Baillie D. Dewar, is to consult with the town clerk … on framing representations, although no one is quite sure how or to whom these should be made … The Isle of Man and the Isle of Bute had similar histories under the Vikings, he said, and were part of the original Lordship of the Isles. He recalled that at one time Rothesay had its own Customs house, levied dues on ships going up the Clyde and its Provost had the title of Admiral of the Clyde". What did the right hon Gentleman do for poor little Rothesay then? He was in the Cabinet and must have known all about this

Mr. F. A. Burden (Gillingham)

On a point of order. This is all very amusing, but what has it to do with the Order?

Mr. Speaker

I must not attempt to make the right hon. Gentleman's case for him. I will call him to order when he is out of order. I do not think that the Isle of Man comes into it.

Mr. Ross

We are dealing with Rothesay. The right hon. Member for Enfield, West forgets that while he may not have been in the inner circle, he was in the Cabinet. I suggest that in his efforts to get back into the inner circle, he should not allow himself to be used as a party hack as he has been tonight.

The effect of the restriction Order is that as from 18th April payment to any member of the Rothesay staff of a salary higher than that actually in payment on 20th July, 1966, is illegal. This is what Rothesay has brought upon itself. Not only is the continued payment of the 7 per cent. increase after 18th April illegal, but any normal increments or promotional increases which have been correctly paid since 20th July, 1966, cannot continue to be paid after 18th April. The right hon. Gentleman asked me about this point.

The action of Rothesay Town Council, which has compelled the Government to make the restriction Order1, has had embarrassing repercussions for its staff. I am sure that officially N.A.L.G.O. would very much rather that Rothesay had been a little less extrovertish in its municipal eccentricities. It is understood that about 15 of Rothesay's 20 staff members affected have become entitled over the period since 20th July to normal increments, and the town council, as their employers, will have to seek, under the Order which we have produced to smooth the way, the Secretary of State's consent to make those payments after 18th April. Rothesay is aware of this and has been informed that any such application for consent will be sympathetically considered.

The town council's action may have another embarrassing consequence for its staff. Before making the restriction Order, Rothesay had paid a 7 per cent. increase for one month—that is, from 16th March to 15th April—which the right hon. Gentleman missed out. Under the restriction order, no further payment of this increase may be made before 11th August. Accordingly, the staff in Rothesay, unless before that date consent is given or the restriction Order is revoked—I cannot give the House any information tonight on the date on which it will be revoked; this may well depend on Rothesay's own attitude—will be unable to receive the negotiated award for the A.P.T. & C. staff which will be paid to staff employed by other Scottish local authorities on 1st July.

To protect them from this unfortunate consequence of their employer's action, it will no doubt be equitable to use the consent Regulations to ensure that the A.P.T. & C. staff in Rothesay shall be no better and no worse off than other such staff in Scotland. We have been criticised by hon. Gentlemen opposite for invoking the Act against a little authority. But what would be the state of affairs among other N.A.L.G.O. staff in Scotland and their local authorities, many of whom supported the claims which N.A.L.G.O. were making. What would be their feelings if Rothesay got away with it? Their feeling would be that their local authority should support them in exactly the same way. We are dealing with a very different kind of Prayer tonight.

I think that it was the hon. Member for Bute and North Ayrshire who asked about enforcement of the Order. The question of whether any enforcement action is required will arise only if an illegal payment is made. Nothing illegal has been done by Rothesay yet, including the 7 per cent. increase to which I referred, because it did not come under this Order. But if any increase in salaries above the level pertaining on 20th July is made after 18th April—the date on which the Order became effective—the town council will contravene the Prices and Incomes Act. It will then be for the Lord Advocate, not for me, to consider what action should be taken to enforce the Act and the Order. In addition, the auditor for the town council's accounts would be obliged to make an interim report to the Secretary of State who would then have to consider whether, in his opinion, the payment was illegal and should be disallowed, and, if so, whether a surcharge should be made on the members of the local authority authorising the illegal payment.

The Secretary of State may refrain from making a disallowance or surcharge if he is satisfied that persons liable to such surcharge acted reasonably or in the belief that their action was authorised by law, or that the circumstances were such as to make it fair and equitable that a disallowance or surcharge should not be made. The right hon. Gentleman will know this procedure. I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Doig) will remember this procedure: he was threatened with it when he was a member of Dundee Corporation.

Until any salary payment higher than that obtaining on 20th July is made, the question of a surcharge cannot arise, but if such a payment is made under the authority of the town council it will clearly be illegal and the members of the town council responsible will not be able to contend successfully that they believed that their action was authorised by law, especially after tonight's debate. Without prejudging the issue, I would find it difficult, to say the least, to refrain from imposing a surcharge, but these things are matters that lie in the future, and I hope that they will not arise.

It was suggested that we had submitted to pressure and had eventually decided that N.A.L.G.O. would have its pay increase met as from 1st July. Hon. Gentlemen opposite are completely wrong in suggesting this. The Government could not decide a date for this increase until such time as we had agreed the new White Paper and the criteria. This was decided when a policy for the period after 30th June had been settled. It was published on 22nd March and the way was then clear to consider the A.P.T. & C. salaries. I am sure that it came as no surprise to N.A.L.G.O. and the other members of the Scottish Joint Industrial Council, whom I had met during that time and who certainly appreciated the feelings of the Government in this matter.

Hon. Gentlemen opposite underestimate the difficulties involved—when, having embarked on a prices and incomes policy, one has a standstill agreement fixed according to a certain date—in making changes in the date. It is not so easy, I assure them. I have spoken to trade unionists about this. I remember speaking to a large audience of them in Dundee. If hon. Gentlemen opposite did not realise it, the trade unions certainly did. They realised that as soon as one makes a change in such a date for any one particular section, complaints come from all the other sections which have been held back.

In the circumstances, we have had a good debate, but I advise the House to reject the Motion.

9.27 p.m.

Mr. Iain Macleod

I will, with permission, address the House briefly before we seek to record our opinion in the Division Lobbies.

It is, of course, true—and we all recognise this—that although we are discussing Rothesay—and the Chair has been understanding in allowing some latitude—if the Government give way on Rothesay they will have to give way for the whole of the N.A.L.G.O. case in Scotland. That is quite clear, but my hon. Friends and I hold the view that the Government ought to do so; and, therefore, we are not impressed by the argument that Rothesay alone is concerned in this instance.

The hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Bence) said that he found it strange to hear Tories suggesting higher wages in these circumstances. I cannot think where he has been for the past year, because we have opposed every Order—not just some of them, but all of them.

Mr. Bence

The right hon. Gentleman mentioned the last year. What about the years before that?

Mr. Macleod

We have opposed every previous Order. In discussing each one we have suggested that the employers should keep their word, but the Government have suggested that they should break it. On each occasion we have suggested that the employers should pay higher wages, but the Government have suggested that they should pay lower wages. That is the issue of the Royal Burgh of Rothesay which we are discussing tonight.

The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State did not avoid—indeed, he impaled himself on it—the dilemma which was pointed out to him by my hon. Friends in forceful speeches and by my hon. Friend the Member for Bute and North Ayrshire (Sir F. Maclean), who is the constituency Member for Rothesay: that is, first, did he know? If he did not know, it is remarkable that he was innocent. Secondly, if he did know, why did he do nothing about it? This is the point we wish to make clear before we vote.

In the debate on 2nd March, both the Parliamentary Secretary and the Secretary of State said quite clearly that the first indication we got was on 27th May. The Secretary of State for Scotland added a very interesting word today. He said: The first we heard officially was on 27th May". In other words, he knew for a very long time that this argument was pending, he knew that the dilemma was coming and that this situation—

It being half-past Nine o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.

Ordered, That the Proceedings on the Post Office (Data Processing Service) Bill may be entered upon and proceeded with at this day's Sitting at any hour, though opposed.—[Mr. Crossman.]

Question again proposed.

Mr. Macleod

The right hon. Gentleman knew for a considerable time, although he does not deny the case which I made that he is no longer a member of the committee to which this information comes at once.

We asked him a number of questions. I do not wish to press him further about the one question which he did answer, because I realise that it is a matter largely for the Lord Advocate. He was asked what he would do at the next effective pay day, which, I think, is 15th May, if Rothesay persisted, which I have not advised it to do. This answer on that was fair, and I do not press him further on it.

However, we were extremely disappointed in the answer which he gave to the clear question which I put to him about when this Order will lapse. I asked if it will lapse on 1st July and be revoked

on that day. He said that he would give no undertaking and that it depended on what the Royal Burgh of Rothesay did. I do not like that sort of veiled threat from the Secretary of State. After all, he now invites the House to approve this Order, whereas we invite the House to reject it, he should say categorically when it will lapse. It would be a complete breach of faith if he did not revoke this Order on 1st July, and I am very dissatisfied that he did not make that clear tonight.

All the blether from the Secretary of State about what happened five or six years ago as a result of Tory policy has nothing to do with Rothesay, which I do not object to at all, but it has nothing to do with the enforcement of statutory legislation for prices and incomes. The party to which I have the honour to belong never dreamt at any time and would never dream of enforcing a statutory policy. These difficulties have arisen for Rothesay and for Scotland because there is a statutory policy.

A voluntary prices and incomes policy is one thing—and there is no need to make special provision for Scotland in this case—but when there are deadlines, and they are supported by making it an offence against the law, it becomes the duty of the Secretary of State for Scotland to protect Scotland from the inevitable consequences of it.

We know now that the right hon. Gentleman knew for a very long time that this would happen. What did he do between 13th and 29th July to protect Scotland and Rothesay? The answer is that he did nothing, and that is why we shall vote in favour of annulling the Order.

Question put:—

The House divided: Ayes 237, Noes 285.

Division No. 334.] AYES [9.35 p.m.
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Biggs-Davison, John Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N&M)
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel Buck, Antony (Colchester)
Astor, John Black, Sir Cyril Bullus, Sir Erie
Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n) Blaker, Peter Burden, F. A.
Awdry, Daniel Body, Richard Campbell, Gordon
Baker, W. H. K. Bossom, Sir Clive Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert
Balniel, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John Cary, Sir Robert
Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward Channon, H. P. G.
Batsford, Brian Braine, Bernard Clark, Henry
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Brewis, John Clegg, Walter
Bell, Ronald Brinton, Sir Tatton Cooper-Key, Sir Neill
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter Cordle, John
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos. & Fhm) Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Corfield, F. V.
Berry, Hn. Anthony Bruce-Gardyne, J. Costain, A. P.
Biffen, John Bryan, Paul Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)
Crawley, Aidan Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Sir Oliver Hooson, Emlyn Peel, John
Crouch, David Hordern, Peter Percival, Ian
Crowder, F. P. Hunt, John Peyton, John
Cunningham, Sir Knox Hutchison, Michael Clark Pike, Miss Mervyn
Currle, G. B. H. Iremonger, T. L. Pink, R. Bonner
Dalkeith, Earl of Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Pounder, Rafton
Dance, James Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch
Davidson, James (Aberdeenshire, W.) Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Price, David (Eastleigh)
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead) Prior, J. M. L.
Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.) Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Pym, Fancis
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford) Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith Quennell, Miss J. M.
Digby, Simon Wingfield Kaberry, Sir Donald Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James
Dodds-Parker, Douglas Kerby, Capt. Henry Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter
Doughty, Charles Kimball, Marcus Rees-Davies, W. R.
Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Drayson, G. B. Kitson, Timothy Ridsdale, Julian
du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Knight, Mrs. Jill Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey
Eden, Sir John Lambton, Viscount Robson Brown, Sir William
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Lancaster, Col. C. G. Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Errington, Sir Eric Langford-Holt, Sir John Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Eyre, Reginald L'ewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Royle, Anthony
Farr, John Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'nC'dfield) Russell, Sir Ronald
Fisher, Nigel Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone) St. John-Stevas, Norman
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral) Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.
Forrest, George Longden, Gilbert Scott, Nicholas
Fortescue, Tim Loveys, W. H. Sharpies, Richard
Foster, Sir John Lubbock, Eric Shaw, Michael (S'b'gh & Whitby)
Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone) McAdden, Sir Stephen Sinclair, Sir George
Galbraith, Hon. T. G. MacArthur, Ian Smith, John
Gibson-Watt, David Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Stainton, Keith
Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain Stodart, Anthony
Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.) McMaster, Stanley Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon)
Glover, Sir Douglas Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham) Summers, Sir Spencer
Glyn, Sir Richard Maginnis, John E. Tapsell, Peter
Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B. Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Goodhart, Philip Marten, Neil Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)
Goodhew, Victor Maude, Angus Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Gower, Raymond Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald Teeling, Sir William
Grant, Anthony Mawby, Ray Temple, John M.
Grant-Ferris, R. Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Gresham Cooke, R. Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Tilney, John
Grieve, Percy Mills, Peter (Torrington) Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.) van Straubenzee, W. R.
Grimond, Rt. Hn. J. Miscampbell, Norman Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Gurden, Harold Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Vickers, Dame Joan
Hall, John (Wycombe) Monro, Hector Wainwright, Richard (Coine Valley)
Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Montgomery, Fergus Walker, Peter (Worcester)
Hamilton, Marquess of (Fermanagh) Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh) Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Wall, Patrick
Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.) Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles Walters, Dennis
Harris, Reader (Heston) Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Ward, Dame Irene
Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Murton, Oscar Webster, David
Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Nabarro, Sir Gerad Wells, John (Maidstone)
Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere Neave, Airey Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Harvie Anderson, Miss Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Hastings, Stephen Nott, John Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Hawkins, Paul Onslow, Cranley Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Hay, John Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Woodnutt, Mark
Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian Wright, Esmond
Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward Osborn, John (Hallam) Wylie, N. R.
Heseltine, Michael Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth) Younger, Hn. George
Hiley, Joseph Page, Graham (Crosby)
Hill, J. E. B. Page, John (Harrow, W.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Hobson, Rt. Hn. Sir John Pardoe, John Mr. R. W. Elliott and Mr. More.
Abse, Leo Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton) Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)
Albu, Austen Binns, John Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)
Alldritt, Walter Bishop, E. S. Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)
Allen, Scholefield Blenkinsop, Arthur Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James
Anderson, Donald Boston, Terence Cant, R. B.
Archer, Peter Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Carmichael, Neil
Armstrong, Ernest Bowden, Rt. Hn. Herbert Carter-Jones, Lewis
Ashley, Jack Boyden, James Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara
Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.) Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Chapman, Donald
Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice Bradley, Tom Coe, Denis
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Bray, Dr. Jeremy Coleman, Donald
Barnes, Michael Brooks, Edwin Concannon, J. D.
Barnett, Joel Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Conlan, Bernard
Beaney, Alan Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper) Corbet, Mrs. Freda
Bellenger, Rt. Hn. F. J. Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)
Bence, Cyril Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-tyne, W.) Crawshaw, Richard
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Buchan, Norman Cronin, John
Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Hughes, Roy (Newport) Pavitt, Laurence
Cullen, Mrs. Alice Hunter, Adam Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)
Dalyell, Tam Hynd, John Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred
Darling, Rt. Hn. George Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Pentland, Norman
Davidson, Arthur (Accrington) Janner, Sir Barnett Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)
Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford) Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n&St. P'cras, S.) Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)
Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway) Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)
Davies, Harold (Leek) Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) Price, William (Rugby)
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Probert, Arthur
Davies, Robert (Cambridge) Jones, Dan (Burnley) Pursey, Cmdr. Harry
de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Jones, Rt. Hn. SirElwyn (W. Ham, S.) Rankin, John
Delargy, Hugh Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Rees, Merlyn
Dell, Edmund Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West) Reynolds, G. W.
Dempsey, James Kelley, Richard Rhodes, Geoffrey
Dewar, Donald Kenyon, Clifford Richard, Ivor
Diamond, Rt. Hn. John Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Dobson, Ray Lawson, George Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)
Doig, Peter Leadbitter, Ted Robinson, Rt. Hn. Kenneth (S.P'c'as)
Driberg, Tom Ledger, Ron Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.)
Dunnett, Jack Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton) Rodgers, William (Stockton)
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter) Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock) Roebuck, Roy
Eadie, Alex Lector, Miss Joan Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Edelman, Maurice Lever, Harold (Cheetham) Rose, Paul
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Ross, Rt. Hn. William
Edwards, William (Merioneth) Lomas, Kenneth Rowlands, E. (Cardiff, N.)
Ellis, John Loughlin, Charles Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)
English, Michael Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Sheldon, Robert
Ennals, David Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.) Shore, Peter (Stepney)
Ensor, David Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) McBridge, Neil Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton. N. E.)
Evans, Ioan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley) MacColl, James Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Faulds, Andrew MacDermot, Niall Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Fernyhough, E. Macdonald, A. H. Skeffington, Arthur
Finch, Harold McGuire, Michael Slater, Joseph
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) McKay, Mrs. Margaret Small, William
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) Mackenzie, Cregor (Rutherglen) Snow, Julian
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Mackie, John Spriggs, Leslie
Floud, Bernard Mackintosh, John P. Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)
Foot, Sir Dingle (Ipwicle) McNamara, J. Kevin
Ford, Ben MacPherson, Malcolm Stewart, Rt, Hn. Michael
Forrester, John Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)
Fowler, Gerry Mahon, Simon (Bootle) Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Fraser, John (Norwood) Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Swingler, Stephen
Fraser, Rt. Hn. Tom (Hamilton) Mallalieu, J.P.W. (Huddersfied, E.) Taverne, Dick
Galpern, Sir Myer Manuel, Archie Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)
Gardner, Tony Mapp, Charles Thornton, Ernest
Garrett, W. E. Marquand, David Tinn, James
Ginsburg, David Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard Tomney, Frank
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C. Mason, Roy Tuck, Raphael
Gourlay, Harry Maxwell, Robert Urwin, T. W.
Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth) Mayhew, Christopher Varley, Eric G.
Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony Mellish, Robert Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Grey, Charles (Durham) Millan, Bruce Wallace, George
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Miller, Dr. M. S. Watkins, David (Consett)
Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly) Milne, Edward (Blyth) Weltzman, David
Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J. Molloy, William Wellbeloved, James
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Moonman, Eric Whitaker, Ben
Hamilton, William (Fife, W.) Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) White, Mrs. Ei;ene
Hamling, William Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Whitlock, William
Hannan, William Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Wigg, Rt. Hn. George
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Morris, John (Aberavon) Wilkins, W. A.
Hart, Mrs. Judith Moyle, Roland Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Haseldine, Norman Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Hazell, Bert Murray, Albert Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)
Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis Neal, Harold Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)
Henig, Stanley Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon) Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchln)
Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.) Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Hilton, W. S. Norwood, Christopher Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)
Hooley, Frank Oakes, Gordon Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Ogden, Eric Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough) O'Malley, Brian Winnick, David
Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.) Oram, Albert E. Winterbottom, R. E.
Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Oswald, Thomas Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Howie, W. Owen, Will (Morpeth) Woof, Robert
Hoy, James Padley, Walter Wyatt, Woodrow
Huckfield, L. Page, Derek (King's Lynn) Yates, Victor
Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey) Palmer, Arthur
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Parkyn, Brian (Bedford) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Mr. Harper and Mr. Peter Walker.
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