§ [6TH ALLOTTED DAY]
§ Order for Third Reading read.—[Queen's Consent, on behalf of the Crown, signified.]
§ Mr. Speaker
Before I call the Secretary of State, I must tell the House that I have had requests to speak from a great many hon. Members. Therefore, I hope that there will be a certain amount of self-restraint in the length of speeches. Being greatly daring, perhaps I might hope that the Front Benches will also take some part in this process of self-restraint.
§ 3.56 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Robert Carr)
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.
By tonight, the House of Commons will have put its seal on the first comprehensive Industrial Relations Bill in British history, and so at last in this sector of national life Britain will be on an equal footing with all other advanced industrialised states, from socialist Sweden on the one hand to capitalist Canada and the United States on the other. So at last in this sector the British trade union leader and the British industrial worker will be on an equal footing with the union leaders and industrial workers in other countries in seeking their fair share of a growing national prosperity and hoping to catch up with the losses which, relatively to the workers and the union leaders in other countries, they have been suffering in recent years.
Anyone looking objectively at the position in this country can be in no doubt about the need for action in this field or about the fact that action is the wish of the majority of the British electorate. The fanatical and, as it has sometimes seemed, almost mindless opposition to the Bill—
§ Mr. Carr
—has been the act of a totally unrepresentative minority, cer- 548 tainly a minority of the country, and probably a minority among Labour Party voters.
It has been reported that last night the Leader of the Opposition, in exhorting his supporters to action, quoted the Agincourt speech:And gentlemen in England, now a-bed Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here…About half the Parliamentary Labour Party were in bed. Whether they think themselves accursed or blessed is another matter, and only they can say. In contrast, my hon. Friends were not in bed. They have been here day in and day out, night in and night out, and in thanking them for their unfailing support I am sure they know that they have been supporting the wish of the British people and have been acting in the true interests of the nation.
A point which I hope may not be controversial: I am sure that no Minister conducting a Bill could ever have been better supported by his Ministerial colleagues than I have been by my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General and my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State to my Department.
I will recapitulate briefly on the need for this legislation and what is in the Bill now that it has reached this stage. The British tradition in industrial relations has been one of national bargaining between national employers' leaders and national trade union leaders, and in this field we have a record in which we led the world and of which we can be proud. As a result, compared with other countries we have suffered for many years from relatively few major national strikes. It is these major and national strikes which clock up the large losses of working days, and our strike record measured in that way has been for a long period relatively good compared with that of many other countries. It has, of course, been worse than some. It has been worse than, for example, the Scandinavian countries, Western Germany and Holland. On the other hand, it has been much better than many others, such as Canada, the United States, Australia and one or two in Europe.
§ Mr. Carr
Our failure has not been in this sphere of national bargaining and in the breakdown of industrial relations, leading to the national strikes which give cause to these large losses—losses directly attributable to strikes—that are recorded. That is not where our failure has been. Our failure has been in the informal system of local bargaining at company and plant level which has grown up alongside the formal national system and which, particularly in the last 20 years, has grown considerably in importance as an activity, as an expression of shop floor interest and increasing shop floor power, and in the sense that it has contributed, compared with the national negotiations, to substantially increasing proportions of the pay and other benefits of the ordinary industrial worker in British industry.
It is here, in this informal system of company and plant bargaining, that the breakdown in the British system has occurred, so that compared with other countries we have had a large number of strikes. For many years about 95 per cent. of all our strikes have been unofficial in the sense that they have been, if not actually contrary to union orders, at least started without any union authority.
§ Mr. Carr
I said that they started without union authority, which is a very important point indeed. Most have been unconstitutional in the sense that they have been contrary to agreed procedures.
This type of strike may usually be small in scale. It may also usually be short in duration. It may not, therefore, directly produce the millions of man days lost clocked up in the strike figures recorded in that way. But this type of strike is peculiarly disruptive and damaging in a modern economy with a growing intensification of capital investment and a growing interdependence of one sector of industry on another—supplier to assembler to customer—and where stability of production is increasingly important; "important" is an understatement.
That diagnosis was agreed by the Donovan Commission, which said that the problem was peculiar to this country. It also said that the problem was both 550 serious and urgent. That was in 1968, nearly three years ago. Since the Donovan Report was published the position has got much worse. Indeed, it is this escalation which is one of the most serious aspects of the problem with which we have to deal and which makes action imperative.
This is clearly seen if one looks, as the Donovan Commission looked, at the record of the number of strikes throughout British employment outside the coal-mining industry which, for various reasons, has been a special case and where, thank goodness, the trend has been in the opposite and right direction.
§ Mr. Carr
The Donovan Commission pointed out that to obtain the trend of what was happening one needed to look at the picture outside coalmining. If one does that one finds that in the 1950s we averaged just under 600 strikes a year, and that seemed bad enough. There was not all that much variation in the number of strikes from year to year. However, the average for the 1960s was not 600 but 1,600 and the escalation became particularly bad as the decade drew to an end.
Thus, in 1968 there were over 2,000 strikes. In 1969 there was almost 3,000. In 1970 there were nearly 4,000. This has been the degree of escalation and, in face of this and in face of the fact that this type of action is peculiarly damaging to a modern economy, no Government with any sense of responsibility could let things slide and take no action.
The Labour Government recognised this fact. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, when Chancellor of the Exchequer, made the position very clear in his Budget speech on 15th April, 1969, when he said:Moreover, no observer of the British economy can doubt that the present climate of industrial relations is a serious obstacle to the attainment of our economic objectives and that the improvement of that climate should be a major aim of policy.He went on:In particular, we need to facilitate"—[Interruption.] This is what the then Chancellor said—
§ Mr. Carr
He said:In particular we need to facilitate the smooth working of the process of collective bargaining in industry and to help to prevent the occurrence of unnecessary and damaging disputes, of which we have seen all too much recently and which are totally incompatible with our economic objectives."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th April, 1969; Vol. 781, c. 1005–6.]That was the Deputy Leader of the Opposition—
§ Mr. Loughlin
On a point of order. I think it is true to say that on Third Reading one's remarks must be restricted to what is in the Bill and that one is not entitled to range over as wide an area as one might cover on Second Reading. Will you please see that the right hon. Gentleman's attention is drawn to this fact, Mr. Speaker?
§ Mr. Speaker
Throughout the discussion of this Bill the Chair has tried to be reasonably lenient. What is sauce for the goose is, of course, sauce for the gander. I hope, however, that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on both sides will bear in mind that this is a Third Reading debate.
§ Mr. Loughlin
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I think that is a very dangerous Ruling—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—if I may say so with due respect to you. It is axiomatic that in a Third Reading debate one can deal only with that which is in the Bill. I ask you to rule accordingly.
§ Mr. Speaker
It is for the Chair to interpret the rules of order reasonably. I prefer that right hon. and hon. Members stick to what is in the Bill.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lewis (Rutland and Stamford)
Despite the protestations of right hon. and hon. Members opposite in relation to what my right hon. Friend has just said, is it not noteworthy that the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stechford (Mr. Roy Jenkins), has been significant by his lack of support in opposition 552 to the Bill and by his lukewarm activities in the Division Lobbies last night and at other times?
§ Mr. Carr
I thank my hon. Friend for his remarks and the House will judge their force. I assure you, Mr. Speaker, and the House that I believe it essential in dealing with what is in the Bill to judge it in the context of what has to be done. That is all I am doing.
The point I am making is simply that the Labour Government believed that legislative action was necessary. They decided to define a policy, but events and figures showed manifestly that it failed. They believed that legislative action was necessary and urgent in 1969. I believe the facts show that it was even more urgent when we came to power in 1970. That is the genesis of the need for these measures. The Labour Government believed that legislation was an essential part of the remedy—so do we. Certainly no opponents of what is in the Bill offered any credible alternative but merely destructive criticism.
What is this legislation meant to do and what is it not meant to do? In view of some of the criticism levelled at it it may be more important to make clear what it does not do and what it is not meant to do and to destroy some of the misconceptions about it. That may be the best way to make clear what the Bill's real purpose is and what its effect will be.
First of all, it is not intended to seek to cure all the problems I have outlined by direct action of the law and, least of all, by punitive action in dealing with individual "offenders". It does not attempt to do that—to attempt it would be madness. We reject that type of solution absolutely, and it has no part in what is in the Bill.
Secondly, it is not intended to replace, in spite of all that has been said, nor does it replace, the voluntary system of British industrial relations by a legalistic system. Voluntary action is the main way in which we shall be able to solve our problems. But the history of recent years shows that voluntary action un-supported by legislative action to create new pressures and incentives for a constructive approach has no chance of success. Therefore, we regard the Bill as, and we are sure that it will prove itself to 553 be, an indispensable support for constructive voluntary action by managements and trade unions alike.
§ Mr. Carr
I would rather not give way in view of Mr. Speaker's request for brevity.
Again, the Bill is not meant to interfere with good existing arrangements in industry. In spite of the bad and deteriorating situation to which I have drawn attention—and it is very serious in some important sectors and, unfortunately large sectors of industry—let us not forget that in much of British industry and, thank goodness, in the majority of British firms relations are good and constructive and the Bill will not interfere with those areas. It will not impose disruptive change where change is not needed.
§ Mr. Carr
Where agreements are kept, for example, there need be no argument because of the Bill about making them legally binding. All we are concerned about is that agreements should be kept, not that they should be legally binding as such. Agreements must be good and they must be kept. Where that is so the legislation will not make any difference. So I say to all those managements, to all those trade union leaders at national and official level, and to all those shop stewards—and, thank goodness, they are in the majority too—in factories where relations are good the Bill will not cause them any difficulty.
The new procedures—for example, the new machinery for settling recognition disputes and for providing procedure agreements where they are not existent or are defective—are not for general imposition but for dealing with disputes. They are for protecting the drop-outs of the voluntary system, not for replacing that voluntary system. Where the voluntary system works as we all want it to work these procedures will not be necessary. They are there only for dealing with failures. Nevertheless, it would be foolish to stick our heads in the sand and pretend that the failures do not exist or that they are not serious and causing damage.
554 The Bill is not meant to settle industrial disputes in courts of law. Perhaps one of the big omissions in our debates has been any real attention to the importance which the Bill gives to conciliation. It gives conciliation a major part to play. When the Bill becomes law conciliation will have a bigger part to play in the country's industrial relations than ever before. There will be a considerable increase in the staff available to provide conciliation, both in my Department and in such institutions as the C.I.R.
Before the national industrial courts and industrial tribunals can even hear a case they are under a duty to ensure that the parties have had made available to them opportunities for conciliation. Before industrial tribunals can hear an unfair dismissal case conciliation officers have to try to reach a voluntary settlement. Before the procedures to which I referred a moment ago for dealing with recognition disputes can be used the Secretary of State is under a duty to attempt conciliation. When these cases have got to the C.I.R., the C.I.R. is put under a duty to try to reach a voluntary agreement between the parties.
Above all, the Bill's purpose is to provide pressures and incentives for constructive voluntary action. We seek to do this in five broad ways. First, the legislation provides a new comprehensive system of rules for managements, trade unions and individuals. It lays down for the first time what in the judgment of the community, expressed through this House, is unfair and what is fair in the conduct of industrial relations and in dealing with industrial disputes. Though we may differ—and, of course, these have to be subjective judgments—in our definitions of what are fair and what are unfair industrial practices, we ought not to differ in the concept of laying down for the benefit of industry and the community standards of what is fair or unfair in the conduct of industrial relations and in the procedures for solving industrial disputes.
Second, the Bill provides special procedures and machinery for dealing with certain intractable causes of disputes, such as disputes about recognition and lack of proper procedural agreements, and so on.
Third, the Bill provides special procedures for protecting the public interest 555 in disputes of major national importance. It provides for the possibility of a cooling off period in such a dispute where there seems to be reasonable cause to suppose that a further period for negotiation might avoid the dispute and the damage to the country which would flow from it. The second emergency procedure of that kind is the possibility of a secret ballot. Where the dispute is serious and the livelihood of the majority of workers in the industry concerned is endangered and where there is evidence of difference of opinion amongst the workers concerned there should be provision for a secret ballot to be held. One wonders whether the country and the workers might not have been better off if, for example, that provision had been on the Statute Book during the recent Post Office dispute.
Fourth, the Bill gives its provision for a code of practice which will lay down guidelines and standards which we believe can help to raise the average level of the conduct of human relations a lot nearer to the best. Let us remember that where the conduct of human relations in British industry is at its best, it is good by any international standard that one can find.
Fifth, the Bill lays down important new rights for individual workers throughout employment. The Bill is being misrepresented as a threat to the individual worker. It is being said that the Bill makes it dangerous even to grumble about conditions of work. That is utter nonsense. First, the ordinary mass of workers is absolutely protected under the Bill. No court can order them to work or not to work. The Bill bears only on those who induce unfair industrial action, and "inducing" means far more than grumbling. "Inducing" involves the concept of positive persuasion of other people—
§ Mr. Heffer
Is the right hon. Gentleman not saying that in future it will be perfectly permissible under the Bill for workers to grumble but if any of them attempt to do anything about their grumble by organising some sort of action to put their grumble right, if it is an unfair industrial practice under the Bill, then they can be in trouble and can find themselves before the courts, and if they refuse to pay the fines, which the right hon. Gentleman calls "compensation", they can ultimately be imprisoned?
§ Mr. Carr
No. The hon. Gentleman has got it wrong as usual. The only possibility of anybody finding themselves in prison is not under this Bill. It exists today. Anybody, whether he be a trade unionist or any other sort of citizen in this country, who persistently and flagrantly flouts an order of a British court of justice can in the last resort—
§ Mr. Carr
—find himself in prison. That is no different under the Bill from what it is today, and he certainly cannot find himself there for failing to pay compensation, because, as the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) knows, or should know, the possibility of imprisonment for civil debt has recently been removed by Statute. What the hon. Gentleman and so many people forget is that the individual inducer and leader of the industrial action, so long as he is acting for and on behalf of his trade union with the proper authority of his trade union, is protected by the Bill in a way that he has never been protected before.
It has not been uncommon for actions to be taken in recent years. There was the Torquay Hotel case of a few years ago. The order of the court—the injunction, as it was then called—was not just against the union but against Mr. Cousins, personally as the then leader of the union. Had there been contempt of court Mr. Cousins could have been personally 557 responsible. Of course the injunction was obeyed, as it always has been. But under our Bill an order can only be against the corporate body, the union, and not against the union official. Therefore, the union official is protected under the Bill in a way that he has never been protected before, as long as he is acting within the scope of his authority on behalf of his union. Far from taking away individual human rights, the Bill is an important new charter of new rights.
The Bill provides the right to join a union. It also provides the right not to be compelled to join. It provides protection against unfair dismissal by employers, and protection against unfair disciplinary action by unions. It provides rights to better contracts of employment for the individual and longer periods of notice. It provides rights to the individual to be told, as a shareholder is told, about the affairs of his company. The right to consultation will be a major item in our code of practice. These are important new rights. We are not taking away rights.
Finally, the pressure which the Bill will place on management is something which we have not heard much about but is very real. It provides pressures which will force management to recognise unions in a way which has never existed before; pressure which will force managements to give information, to consult, to initiate better procedures and to respond more quickly to grievances. Any employer who imagines that the Bill will automatically remove his problems and reduce his responsibilities is greatly mistaken. What it will do is to give employers a better chance and a more favourable environment in which to exercise their responsibilities and to provide real leadership.
Clause 2 of the Bill specifically states the primary responsibility of management in ensuring good industrial relations. As I have said before, if top management does not lead who can follow? The message, among others, which I want the House as it gives the Bill a Third Reading to send to industry is a message to boards of directors and top management. "The responsibility is yours", is what the House ought to be saying to them, and, "We are now providing the climate in which you can exercise that responsibility, and Parlia- 558 ment and the country will hold you to account if you fail."
The Bill offers no rapid magic cure. Changes in long established practices and attitudes cannot be effected overnight. The law cannot compel change. But the law can and does influence the way men think and behave, and that influence is continuous and cumulative. We believe that the pressures and incentives provided by the Bill and the code of practice which will soon be published under it, will inform and change opinion and will develop for the better the way in which managements and unions develop their procedures and attitudes and the ways in which they do their business together. We believe that it will be an influence for great public good, as well as great personal good for all who work in industry, in the years which lie ahead.
§ Mr. Speaker
Before I call the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle), I want to add to the Ruling which I gave earlier about the width of a Third Reading debate.
A Third Reading debate is not confined to the actual words or phrase in the Bill. It is concerned with the matters contained in the Bill and, therefore, a certain width of discussion is allowed. Although the discussion is not as wide as that in a Second Reading debate, it is wrong for hon. Members to think that they are limited to a discussion of words phrases and Clauses. The debate can cover the matters contained in the Bill.
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ Mrs. Barbara Castle (Blackburn)
I begin by congratulating the Secretary of State on having brought perhaps the most complex and complicated Bill in our parliamentary history to its Third Reading stage with so little physical effort to himself.
The right hon. Gentleman has moved the Third Reading, and I thought that his tribute to the Solicitor-General was slightly perfunctory. After all, the hon. and learned Gentleman has borne the heat and burden of the day. He is without doubt the real star of this legal relations Bill. He moved into No. 8, St. James's Square last summer to draft the Bill, and he is still drafting it. We have been voting on some of his second thoughts all night.
559 He has been put up to explain Clauses which no one else could understand, including the Secretary of State. I have in mind, for example, that tricky little trio of Clauses, 85, 86 and 87. As a result, whereas the right hon. Gentleman has contributed just over 1,000 column inches of HANSARD to our Committee stage and Report stage debates, the Solicitor-General has contributed nearly 2,000. It is he who stood at the Dispatch Box hour after hour interpreting his own law, even though he had to come back later, as he did on Clause 33, to tell us that his original interpretation was wrong. But, then, he is only an eminent silk. No doubt shop stewards will make a better job of it. The Solicitor-General has even been put on television, where that downbeat technique of his is very effective. I must congratulate him. He can throw away a trade union right in a throw-away line better than anyone on the Government Front Bench.
The job of the Secretary of State is very different. He is the genius of the generalisation and the manufacturer of the moral tone. In his Third Reading speech, with that rather trying analytical Committee stage behind him, he has been happily back on his own stumping ground.
It has been very interesting to see the dual roles in this little partnership. The Solicitor-General, the author and the interpreter of the legal framework, really has had to tell the House what the Bill is about, and only he can tell the House. The Secretary of State is more at home with the code of practice, and we learn from the Press that it is on that that he has been really busy in the last few weeks. While we have been trying to understand the Clauses of the Bill, the right hon. Gentleman has been in the background busily drawing up the code of practice, which we are now told is to be the most important part of the Bill.
Unlike the Bill, the code is reported to be really tough with management. It is said that it will really rub the nose of management in the fact that the creation of good industrial relations with its workpeople is its primary responsibility. We had a little passage on that theme just now when the right hon. Gentleman outlined the general principles in Part I which are to be the guiding principles for the Secretary of State, the C.I.R. and 560 the courts, with which, I dare say, the right hon. Gentleman had a lot to do. It was not before time. The right hon. Gentleman forgot to mention the duties of management until he received strong representations from the Industrial Society and until the omission was pointed out vigorously from this side of the House. All that I can say to the right hon. Gentleman is that the Industrial Society never had to pressurise me about my basic principles.
§ Mr. R. Carr
Then will the right hon. Lady explain why the spokesman on her side of the House chosen to speak on the Amendment which put into the Bill the primary responsibility of management opposed it?
§ Mrs. Castle
The right hon. Gentleman has just been telling us that his doctrine of good industrial relations starts with management. Therefore, it is his Bill with which we are concerned today, as we have been during the past five weeks or more. The introduction of this afterthought in Clause 2(2)(a), or wherever it is, is not in the provisions of the Bill. It is in the code of practice which the right hon. Gentleman told us had a very different legal status. He said that only yesterday and explained that that was why we could not amend the code.
§ Mrs. Castle
As my hon. Friend says, what is even more ludicrous is that we have not seen the right hon. Gentleman's code of practice yet.
We are now at the Third Reading stage, about to pass the Bill to another place, if the Government get their way. I suggest that nothing could be more indicative of the attitude of the Government and the subservience of their followers than that they should rush through the House the legal framework in indecent haste and then invite Parliament to discuss the principles.
Let us look at what the right hon. Gentleman says that he wants to achieve in industrial relations and at how his Bill is supposed to achieve these purposes. The intervention during the right hon. Gentleman's speech by my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Loughlin) was perfectly justified. At a Third Reading stage, we expect rather more than Second Reading homilies. We 561 are now concerned not with what the right hon. Gentleman says that he wants to do but with whether the Bill achieves his purposes. On television and in speeches in this House and outside it, the right hon. Gentleman has spelled out those aims. He spelled them out again today. They always sound impeccable. In the initial stages of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) turned to me and said, "If the Bill was really like that, we would be voting for it". [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] I know that hon. Members opposite love to take things on trust. But we have not had chapter and verse from the right hon. Gentleman to justify that, and I want to give some chapter and verse before they rush so happily to pass the Bill.
We are told that it is the Government's aim to strengthen trade unionism, that they want to encourage the voluntary reform of collective bargaining. We are told that the Government want to safeguard the right to strike. They had a go at my hon. Friend the Member for Walton about that. All the right hon. Gentleman wants to do, we are told, is to get at what he calls the genuine wildcat who breaks his agreement and defies his union.
What could be more innocent, and what could be more in keeping with Donovan? The only trouble is that it does not accord with what the Prime Minister has time and again promised his followers in the Conservative Party about what would be done to the trade unions. It does not accord with the rôle for which the Government have cast the unions in their political demonology, as the authors of all the country's economic problems, and the alibi for the Government's betrayal of their promises. Above all, it does not accord with the Bill itself.
The right hon. Gentleman has accused us of misrepresenting the Bill. My heavens!—one does not have to misrepresent it; one merely has to understand it That is why most of it has been drafted in terms incomprehensible to the layman, and even to those respected correspondents in the Press Gallery.
I start with the specious proposition that the Bill is designed to strengthen trade unionism. We learned a good deal about that one in Committee. Under cover of obeisance to the I.L.O. prin- 562 ciple that every worker ought to have the right to belong to a trade union, the right hon. Gentleman has built into our law, for the first time in our history, the statutory right not to belong to a trade union. That is a curious way to start on the reform of industrial relations, the reform of which, as Donovan pointed out, depends on the extension of the organisation of workers in trade unions.
Not only that. The right hon. Gentleman has made it an unfair industrial practice punishable under the law for anyone, employer or union, to do anything to "prevent or deter" anyone from exercising his right to non-unionism. Then he dares to say that the Bill reflects the philosophy of Donovan, when it was Donovan who dismissed the suggestion that one could or should equate the right not to belong to a union with the right to belong. For, as Donovan said,…the two are not truly comparable. The former condition is designed to frustrate the development of collective bargaining, which it is public policy to promote, whereas no such objections applies to the latter.So obviously disastrous are the implications of the Bill for the whole mental attitude of employers and some workers towards trade unionism that even hon. Members opposite, when we were discussing Clause 5 in Committee, began to feel uneasy. The hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. David Mitchell), of all people—who, I see, is springing to his feet, as usual, before the sentence is complete—put it to his right hon. Friend that what we have in the Bill is, in effect, an incitement to people not to join a union.
We honoured the hon. Gentleman when he exercised his independent judgment on the Bill and told his right hon. Friend that it did not achieve the ostensible purpose of strengthening the trade unions but did just the contrary. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Basingstoke was not alone. There were others who put it to their own Government. "It is all very well having the principle in Tory philosophy that everyone should have a right not to belong to a trade union, but what we are doing, when we pretend to build up the unions, is in fact, to undermine them".
So great was the pressure from both sides of the House that the right hon. Gentleman had solemnly to import into the Bill on Report a provision saying that it shall not actually be illegal for an 563 employer to encourage a worker to join a union. So much, therefore, for the mental attitudes behind the Bill.
The belated Amendment to which I have just referred is, of course, a laughable amelioration, for it does not begin to mitigate the rest of the bias in the Bill against trade unionism. Despite all our efforts, the right hon. Gentleman has not been prised away from the alien concept of the agency shop, a concept imported from elsewhere into the British system of industrial relations for the express purpose of embodying in our collective bargaining system the right not to belong to a union.
A 100-per-cent. union shop is still illegal under the Bill even if the employer has voluntarily entered into it, even if the employer says that it suits his purposes. In pursuit of doctrinaire hostility and a desire to gain the plaudits of the back benches at the Conservative Party conference, we have to go ahead with that disastrous formula which is the laughingstock of British industry.
The right hon. Gentleman's agency shop provisions mean that trade unionists are forfeiting what is to them a fundamental part of their collective strength, the right to refuse to work with non-unionists. All they are getting in exchange is the agency shop, where, if the employer agrees, it can be made a condition of employment not that workers belong to a union but that they pay contributions in lieu.
The right hon. Gentleman seems to think that redounds enormously to his credit, because, he said, he was not allowing the "free-rider" to get away with it. It is true that under this provision the non-unionist will have to pay in terms of contribution in lieu for the benefits which he receives from the work of trade unionists, but—for heaven's sake—the right hon. Gentleman would not have dared to make the claims he does unless he had made that minimal gesture of fair play. The important factor, as anyone who understands the realities of industrial relations knows, is that the non-unionist still does not have to pay in the most realistic terms of all, that is, in terms of an obligation to contribute his support to the collective pressure which alone can bring the benefits which he enjoys.
564 But even then, when the trade unions have jumped through that hoop, they have not jumped through all the hoops set for them by the right hon. Gentleman. If the employer refuses to turn a union shop into an agency shop—undoubtedly, there are numbers of employers waiting to jump at the opportunity—everyone has to go through the elaborate machinery at the end of which a ballot must be held.
"What is wrong with that?", asks the right hon. Gentleman, "Do we not believe in democracy, and do we not want to see democracy applied in trade unionism?". But he goes on to apply to trade unions a definition of democracy which would make parliamentary democracy unworkable, a definition of a majority under which probably none of us now in the House would qualify as M.P.s. I think that it was Winston Churchill who once defined a majority by saying that "one is enough".
The right hon. Gentleman reserves a special type of democracy for trade unions. They must win a majority of those eligible to vote, a principle which has outraged the sense of fair play even of the subservient hon. Members opposite. The right hon. Gentleman knows that it has been adversely commented on by everyone who is anxious to strengthen industrial relations. When we pressed him on the matter in Committee and put down Amendments to alter the requirement to a majority of those voting, he was adamant, saying that he was giving so much to the trade unions through his agency shop provisions that he should make it more difficult than that. The fact is that he is deliberately, through this formula, mobilising the law of inertia against trade unions.
§ Mr. R. Carr
Since the right hon. Lady is claiming to say what I said, may I make clear the sense of what I said? I pointed out that there were two sorts of ballot. One was the ballot for basic recognition, which was on a straight majority of those voting. The second was for something more special, the agency shop, and it required either a larger majority or, as we have chosen, an absolute majority of those eligible to vote. But the two things are different. The basic recognition is on a simple majority 565 of those voting, as in any other form of election.
§ Mrs. Castle
What we are talking about on the agency shop is the following situation. The right hon. Gentleman is taking away a trade union's right to win a 100 per cent. union shop for itself and is putting the agency shop provision in its place. Having done that, having made one existing right illegal, he says: "But I am going to give you another one". What does that right consist of? It consists of the fact that if the employer resists the suggestion for an agency shop the ballot provisions apply under which a union faces the impossible task of mobilising a majority of those eligible to vote. In doing this, the right hon. Gentleman is deliberately mobilising the law of inertia against trade unions. Misrepresent the Bill, indeed! Most trade unionists have only just begun to understand what is in it.
When the right hon. Gentleman was challenged on these points in Committee, he was perfectly frank and open about his philosophy. He said that there may have been a time when trade unions were weak and needed such devices as the 100 per cent. union shop, but that now the time had come to adjust the balance of strength in favour of what he called the nonconformist minority—in other words, adjust the balance of power in favour of the non-unionists. Even when it was urged upon him from both sides that this doctrinaire approach could have disruptive effects throughout industry, and that in particularly it would totally ruin certain unions—Equity, the National Union of Seamen and others were mentioned—he insisted that, although he would look at the matter, he was determined not to open the door to trade union rights so wide that too many unions could get through. So his concession, so-called, of the approved closed shop is hedged with so many restrictions as to be almost meaningless.
The right hon. Gentleman admits now, in the new Clause we have debated in the past few weeks, that it is right that the Commission on Industrial Relations should be able to decide whether a closed shop is needed to ensure satisfactory bargaining arrangements in an industry and so on. But when we asked whether a trade union could have the independent 566 right to approach the C.I.R. for such a rule we were told that that was going too far. Therefore, the union cannot exercise that right unless it has first won the approval of the employer to a joint application to the C.I.R. What is more, it is an unfair industrial practice—in other words, illegal—for the union to use its collective pressure to secure the employer's approval. It cannot use that pressure if the application to the C.I.R. is turned down.
Finally, if an approved closed shop is established, it can, like the agency shop, be challenged at any time by a disgruntled minority, and then again the union is up against the iniquitous principle requiring a majority of those eligible to vote.
Can the right hon. Gentleman, in the face of these details, which those of us who have been through the Committee stage have managed to master and understand, say that he is strengthening trade unionism? What he has done in the Bill in historic terms is this: the country should understand that he has redefined the rights of trade unions on a far more restricted basis than they had won for themselves through the operation of free trade unionism, and has then said that it is illegal to strike for any more than he has given, because he says that he has provided a legal remedy. Can the right hon. Gentleman really say that this strengthens the voluntary system of collective bargaining when Donovan pointed out that that means first and foremost strengthening the organisation of workers on which it depends? How can our voluntary system of collective bargaining be strengthened when employers and unions are denied the right that they have enjoyed for years, and exercised responsibly for years, to work out together in a free society the best arrangements and procedures in an industry to serve their joint interest?
I could not believe my ears when I heard the right hon. Gentleman say that it was iniquitous to suggest that the Bill was intended to interfere with good existing relations in industry. He said that it did nothing of the kind. But what if the good existing relations in industry comprise a voluntary negotiated closed shop or a 100 per cent. union shop? Will he leave that alone? The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that in using 567 general phrases of the kind he used he is deliberately misleading the country about what the Bill contains.
How can the right hon. Gentleman say that he is encouraging the reform of our industrial relations system and its procedures when he wraps up that system from top to bottom in the cocoon of conclusive presumption that any arrangements entered into by any body, anywhere in the train of negotiations, is intended to be legally enforceable, if it is jotted down anywhere, such as in the minutes of a local works council, unless the legal disclaimer required by the Bill is solemnly written into those minutes? Yet that is what Clause 33 means. We have not had a word about that Clause from the right hon. Gentleman this afternoon, but it is one of the key Clauses. It extends to an area that very few people outside the experts on the Bill have grasped, what had seemed a very simple principle of conclusive presumption that collective agreements at a national, company or plant level were intended to be legally enforceable.
This absurd show of legal enforceability is so ridiculous that, when we pointed out in Committee what the consequences of the Clause were, even the Solicitor-General admitted that this was perhaps carrying his passion for legal frameworks to the point of mania. But he assured us that we were wrong and that, as the Clause was drafted, it would be possible for a once-for-all disclaimer to be written into the minutes. Apparently, if a works council entered such a disclaimer in its minutes on the first day of its existence, that would give it a dispensation from legal enforceability for the rest of its life. This was so obviously contrary to the wording of the Clause—not only to legal minds but to laymen on this side—that we challenged his interpretation. He said that he would look again at it and if necessary re-draft it. On Report, there was no such redrafting. He would not even have come back to us and pointed out that he had given a false impression of the Clause if we had not brought it into our debate on a side wind through one of the new Clauses. Then he had to admit that he had been wrong in his interpretation and that we were right.
568 Did that mean that the Solicitor-General would alter his policy? Not a bit of it. It meant that the absurdity which we had pointed out would stand and that we would just have to put up with it. On Report, the Government seized a new opportunity to extend the scope of this law and not diminish it. To the Government, there must be no "no-go" areas in industrial relations, no corner into which the legal cohorts could not enter. Is the right hon. Gentleman surprised that, by Clause 33, he has alarmed every shop steward in the land? Perhaps he is not. Perhaps that is the aim of his policy. When he says on television that the only people who will suffer under the Bill are the genuine wild-cats, he shows a profound misunderstanding of the causes of unofficial strikes. One of our troubles is that the key point of the Government's philosophy is that strikes are caused by a handful of militants and that, if the law can only curb the freedom of the local leaders, there will be no "down tools" strikers and those loyal workers who gave a mandate for the Bill and who are only anxious to work in peace under this benign Government will breathe again.
Hon. Members opposite have not been able to realise what causes the strikes we have today, the vast majority of which spring from the ground swell of individual discontents on the shop floor. It is not the shop stewards who are inciting them; they are merely voicing the insistent demands of the people they represent. As everyone on this side of the House with practical experience of industrial relations has explained time and again, it is the shop steward who, in the overwhelming number of cases, is holding the discontent back, trying to avoid a strike and not inducing it.
If our industrial relations system is to work properly it is essential—I put this to the right hon. Gentleman in all seriousness—that the shop stewards be left free to respond to the pressures crowding in upon them according to their own judgment and in their own way, and should not be able to be told that they will be at legal risk unless they are acting within the scope of their authority—to be spelt out in future in detailed rules which are not only to be approved by the Registrar with far more discretionary powers than are given 569 under any other industrial relations law in any comparable country, but are also to be policed by him, by dissidents and by the Industrial Court.
The right hon. Gentleman has said, as he has told us before, that he does not claim that industrial relations problems can be solved by the direct action of the law. But we have heard this argument before. We have been told that this vast legal apparatus, spelt out in such complicated and confusing detail in this Bill of 150 Clauses, is to be kept in the background, that the legal powers are to be used only as a last resort, and that it is only a question of getting people into the right attitude of mind.
§ Mrs. Castle
It all sounds very plausible as the right hon. Gentleman puts it, but I suggest that he is in no position to make such a claim. What he has done is deliberately to deliver the control of this legal machinery into other peoples' hands. These far-reaching and pernickety legal powers are now at the disposal of any antediluvian employer in British industry whose bad industrial relations may be far more the result of bad management than they are the consequence of any militancy or indiscipline by trade unions. What he has done is to arm the bad boss in British industry with a whole apparatus of new legal powers. He has handed the control of those powers to any disgruntled trade unionist or non-unionist, to any disruptive minority that may be trying to challenge the union which is giving responsible and constructive leadership.
We on this side say that to hand these powers over to managements that have not been compelled first to put their own houses in order is, as Donovan pointed out, a criminal abdication of responsibility. The right hon. Gentleman does it because, for a long time, the Government have had only one political mission in life—to make the trade unions the whipping boy for their economic mismanagement. It stands out a mile that the right hon. Gentleman does not begin to understand trade unionism as we understand it. To us, it is not just a machinery by which men and women negotiate wages and piece work rates and so on, but a means of bringing an element 570 of democracy into what would otherwise be a totally autocratic environment. This is the whole history of British trade unionism. Unless and until trade unions were strong, the individual workers in British industry were at the mercy of high-handed managements.
When the Government say that trade unions are too strong and that the time has come to adjust the balance—that is the purpose behind the Bill—they show a total lack of understanding of what life is like on the shop floor in modern industry. The Government and hon. Members opposite do not begin to show the element of understanding of the uncertainties and anxieties that crowd in on workers today. If they think that workers feel strong, then they had better get a wage earner's job on the shop floor. Are the workers strong when, at any moment, a remote rationalisation of industry under technological development may bring redundancy, perhaps the end of a man's working life? Of course there is a conflict of interest in industry. Of course to management a worker is just one of the means of production, but to the worker his job is his whole means of life, and he has no rights as a citizen unless he can protect that basic right.
It is said that trade unions are too strong. Does the worker feel too strong when unemployment is rising at the present rate and when workers know that it is part of the Government's economic policy to allow unemployment to rise? Can the Government be surprised when men and women hit back? They hit back out of a sense of weakness and defencelessness.
§ Mrs. Castle
Under the right hon. Gentleman it is soaring ahead. He knows perfectly well that the unemployment under us which he has criticised was the by-product of a desperate but successful struggle to put right the balance of payments, and we left the Government a record balance of payments surplus last year of more than £600 million, a firm basis on which the Government could have built policies to overcome inflation if they had gone the right way about it, if they had said that first and foremost their overriding priority was to win the 571 co-operation and confidence of the trade union movement. But they started at the other end.
The existence of inflation is another cause of deep anxiety on the shop floor. When we look at the figures of wage demands, we have to remember the men and women behind them and perhaps striking behind them, for these figures merely represent an attempt to keep abreast of the cost of living which is constantly going up. The Government have things the wrong way round.
The Government will justify the Bill to the country in the context of inflation, and they will give everybody the impression that strikes are the cause of inflation. In fact, it is inflation which is causing the strikes. It is a matter of historical fact that a rapid rate of inflation is often accompanied by an increase in militancy, for the very reason I have mentioned, that a man uses his union to exert collective pressure from the shop floor as the only weapon he knows which he feels may have an immediate effect.
The right hon. Gentleman began by giving us an analysis of the strike problem. Inflation has been the reason why strikes have been markedly on the increase in recent years. It is only just over a couple of years ago, perhaps three years ago, that more than 50 per cent. of strikes were about issues like the right to trade union recognition, unfair dismissal, some arbitrary action by an employer. We could deal with those causes by positive measures, such as those in the Bill which we put before Parliament. A solution to those could be found by a proper machinery for unfair dismissals.
A solution could be found by first placing responsibility, as we placed it, on management to communicate, to consult, to take workers into its confidence, to provide an opportunity to maintain the status quo when there is a dispute, so that the management does not just railroad through a change of working practice on the shop floor, but, if it finds that it is meeting resistance, withdraws its proposal until it has persuaded its workers that a change must come.
But the percentage is changing and in the last couple of years the bulk of strikes have been about pay. That is to 572 be explained against the background of the inflationary problem which plagues us all. What is happening under the Government's policy is that the whole, or the major, responsibility for solving our troubles is being placed on the trade unions, and this runs through the Government's entire policy of holding down wage increases to deal with inflation. So of course strikes go on.
The right hon. Gentleman has not kept up to date with his analysis. He said that, fortunately, we had had relatively few major national strikes. Not under this Government ever again.
§ The Solicitor-General (Sir Geoffrey Howe)
The right hon. Lady is saying that during the last couple of years inflation has been the major cause of strikes. Why was it, then, that the Government of which she was a member at the time of her right hon. Friend's Budget speech two years ago expressly abandoned their prices and incomes policy, which was presumably aimed at inflation, in order to replace it by the urgent implementation of legislation designed to curb strikes?
§ Mrs. Castle
The hon. and learned Gentleman is wrong. The Labour Government never abandoned their prices and incomes policy. What they did was to say that the value of a statutory prices and incomes policy had come to an end, that a statutory prices and incomes policy could never work for any more than a short time in an emergency situation, such as the post-devaluation era in which it was highly successful in helping to keep down inflation. What we said was that we had to establish a voluntary prices and incomes policy and put forward our legislation for the reform of industrial relations.
The right hon. Gentleman knows that we rejected and repudiated all the methods in his Bill. What we have said in our industrial relations reform all along is that we must begin by genuinely strengthening trade unions and by creating an attitude in British management in which it would be prepared to recognise and discharge its own responsibilities.
The right hon. Gentleman said that there had been relatively few major national strikes in this country. Not any 573 more under this Government. It is immensely significant that, whereas the Government are trying to justify the legislation to the country on the ground that 101 million working days were lost through strikes last year, they are perfectly aware that 6 million working days were lost through the Post Office strike alone. That was because the Government used the postal workers as an example for the discharge of their incomes policy.
The right hon. Gentleman said, "If only we had had a secret ballot in that strike, the result might have been different". Is he so out of touch as not to know that that strike, too, was the product of pressure from below, not the result of inducement, or incitement, or financing, or procuring by any of the leaders in that movement? Of course in the end the ballot was against the strike continuing, because the Government had set out to drive the Post Office workers into the ground. [Interruption.] I know how hon. Members opposite dislike it, but this is the reality of industrial relations. Of course there are problems. There is the problem of inflation and the problem of rising strikes which reflect all the insecurities and uncertainties which inflation brings.
How do we solve that problem? Do we do it by dividing the nation, alienating the trade unions, making that the first act of our policy, as though we can solve any of the problems in our society by making outlaws of the organised workers of the land?
This Bill will not solve the problems of our strikes and certainly not the problems of our society, because it has turned the priorities on their heads. As the strike figures go up, as they will continue to go up under this Government, this Government will respond in the only way they know—by going on to more and more repressive measures against the trade unions like a drug addict who doubles the dose when the dream fades. That is why we say that the Bill is irremedial, that is why we oppose its philosophy and methods root and branch.
No doubt the Government will get the Bill tonight, but what happens then? That will be the time when the laughter on the Government benches begins to die away. Does anyone opposite really think that this Bill will bring about 574 industrial peace? We can no more amend this Bill than we can reform this Government and that is why we shall get rid of both.
§ 5.21 p.m.
§ Mr. Tom King (Bridgwater)
I have to admire the technical skill of the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) and the way in which she manages to produce the bricks which she does with some pretty synthetic straw. With the greatest respect, while I recognise her proficiency and the academic attention that she has brought to this subject, I was left, after hearing her speech, with the overpowering impression that she lacked the direct contact with industry, the direct draught of industry that is a notable contribution from other of her hon. Friends.
It was very much the speech and approach of an onlooker to the subject. She has my sympathy. I could feel genuinely for her in her position. She made the comment about a majority of one being enough when quoting Sir Winston Churchill, but the team that she leads has been defeated through much of the night by a majority of over a hundred and I can see her problems.
The country will draw its own conclusions from an incident which occurred half way through her speech when the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) found it necessary to draw attention to the lack of hon. Members present. Three Opposition Whips then appeared in the Chamber to try to back her up. I will certainly withdraw if this was purely a coincidence—
§ Mr. William Hamling (Woolwich, West)
If the hon. Gentleman had used his eyes, he would have seen that there were three Opposition Whips here already, all anxious to speak in the debate.
§ Mr. Heffer
Now that the hon. Gentleman has mentioned my name in this context, let us have the position quite clear. I asked my hon. Friends behind me how long some of them were likely to be involved with the lobby of trade 575 unionists who are here today from all parts of the country because of this Bill. My hon. Friends informed me after investigating the position that my other hon. Friends were likely to be some considerable time because there was a large number of lobbyists coming in to see them about the Bill and to urge them—and I hope hon. Members opposite—to do something about getting rid of it.
§ Mr. King
Of course I accept what the hon. Member says. I was under the impression that he was concerned about the total lack of support. There was only one hon. Member in the corner opposite and otherwise the benches above the Gangway were virtually deserted.
Before I deal with the reasons for supporting the Bill and what I believe it will do, I wish to refer to something that I believe it will not do. Considerable reference has been made to the introduction of certain aspects of American labour legislation and it has been immediately adduced by the Opposition that we must automatically expect the worst aspects of the American labour situation to be introduced as well.
Anyone with any understanding of the American situation, with a knowledge of the labour rackets and of the labour violence there knows perfectly well that violence is, sadly, a major feature of the American scene. In a nation that has as its folklore heroes such people as Jesse James and Billy the Kid, the land of Al Capone, Tammany Hall, Huey Long; a nation which has behind it the death of such people as John Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, we know that violence is writ large on the American scene. This is not a feature or tradition of the British way of life. The only folk hero who is perhaps enshrined in the British way of life in the same way is Dick Turnin, and I would certainly not mention him because one of his more famous exploits was to shoot one of his colleagues named Tom King.
Another reason why I believe that there is no justification for saying that the major problems which it is recognised exist in the American situation will be authomatically introduced here is referred to in an interesting article written by Professor Gould of Wayne University, a former lawyer for the U.A.W. He con- 576 eluded his appreciation of my right hon. Friend's Bill with this reference to the American law:On balance, however, the Conservatives seem to have borrowed some of the system's stronger points. And in a country with a better reputation in its respect for law one would think that the Industrial Relations Bill will stand a chance of influencing behaviour of British labour and management.In stating what I believe this Bill will do, I echo the statement of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State that this is no magic cure. In commending the Bill to the House, I join most loudly with him in commending it to the employers of this country because it is into their hands that it will go. Hon. Members opposite choose to see the worst in every situation. Everyone recognises that sensible employers have a very real, vested and practical interest in having good industrial relations.
It is the duty of the Government to ensure that there is a framework within which the employers have the best chance of achieving this. The broadcast in "24 Hours" in which Mr. Jack Jones took part has been mentioned. I was very struck by one thing he said. He said, "We will not have anything to do with this law. What we are going to do is to sort out our procedures with companies and management so that we do not have to use this law." If ever there was an endorsement for what I see as my right hon. Friend's intention in introducing this Bill it was exactly that I have no doubt that there will be no Member of this House more pleased than my right hon. Friend if the Bill's provisions for the courts never need to be used because the conduct of industrial relations is satisfactory.
A further benefit of the Bill—and it is one we must thank the Opposition for in part—
§ Mr. King
—is that its introduction and the debates upon it have drawn the attention of the people of this country to the problem of industrial relations. Hon. Members opposite have contributed to that in some of their more responsible contributions, leaving aside some of their more irresponsible behaviour. They have focussed attention on the problem of industrial relations. Those of us who have 577 worked in industry and hon. Members on both sides of the House who have union experience know that apathy is pretty hard to tackle and overcome. I was struck by a report which hon. Members may have seen this morning of a survey by Professor Hugh Clegg which was done in connection with the General and Municipal Workers Union.
A study was made of certain large branches, and it showed that an overwhelming proportion of the members of those branches had no idea who the general secretary of that union is, and secondly that an overwhelming number of members of those branches had no idea of what are the rules and procedures of the union. That sort of lack of knowledge among unionists can give no satisfaction to any hon. Member. I hope and believe that hon. Members on both sides will support and welcome what this Bill does to induce a real and practical and much greater interest among people on both sides of industry in the problems of industrial relations.
At all times througout our discussions of the Bill our attention has been drawn to the problems and difficulties and the so-called obstructions; but no attention has been drawn to what I believe are the very real oportunities which this Bill provides for unions. There is a book which hon. Members may have read, called "England, Their England" and there is in that an account of an American film producer who, as so many Americans do, had a slogan on his desk, and he, to show what a smart chap he was and how he was a chap who never missed an opportunity, had on his desk confronting his every visitor the slogan, "You get up early but I am up all night." That may not be a slogan which will commend itself on this day to hon. Members of this House, but, to my mind, if unions do get up early on this Bill and study the opportunities which it gives them they may well find that it can benefit their unions and their membership. I have discussed this with hon. Members opposite and they have admitted to me that there are certain aspects of this Bill which can do that. I have drawn my right hon. Friend's attention to certain aspects of the agency shop provisions, which are still a little vague, but which could provide opportunity for positive inducements to unions in increasing union member- 578 ship. I support what my right hon. Friend says, that it may well be found that an outcome of this Bill is a substantial increase in trade union membership.
The right hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn has made the point that unions will lose certain power, certain sanctions which they have of compulsion. This may not be, even from their point of view, an entirely bad thing, because it may be that they will achieve far greater results—quite apart from far better results, far greater results—by a voluntary system by which the unions will sell the benefits of union membership and not, as can so easily be the case, fall back on compulsion. Certain hon. Members, it is quite clear, have never entertained this concept and have not recognised the possibilities in this. I would ask them, does it not concern them, who espouse the cause of trade unionism and who themselves believe very strongly in its benefits, that trade unionism has not made greater progress in this country? It is a fact that trade unionism in traditional areas is static if not actually declining. This must be a matter of great concern to them and to many people.
I have been looking at the figures of membership of trade unions and I believe statisticians could established by a graph that there is a decline in the trade union membership in the areas and activities where one would normally expect it to be, and that is irrespective of any legislation. I believe that one of the reasons for this is the bad public image which trade unions have. Whether this image is fair or unfair, this is because of public belief that there is an element of compulsion, there is an element at times of intimidation, and an element of irresponsible use of power.
I believe that under this Bill, in which the rights of trade unions are quite clearly defined, as also are their opportunities, it will be possible for unions to operate more openly, more frankly, and this may well be the way in which they may establish a much more reputable standing in the community than that which they have enjoyed in many areas. I further believe that if they put this into operation in a palpably democratic way their image could be improved.
In recent incidents over the Bill the unions were less than frank in their dealings with their membership, certainly 579 over the second strike; there was a rather partial interpretation of rules in deciding whether there was or was not time for a ballot about the strike on 18th March. This must be a matter of great concern to hon. Members on both sides. I was particularly struck by an interview with a man from a plant in Wiltshire where members were refusing to go on strike. He felt very strongly that they had not been consulted. This was one incident which I saw—
§ Mr. King
The hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) may try to shout me down, but we know that there were many such incidents, and if he believes in trade unionism, as I know he does, and in responsible trade unionism, I think that he will be genuinely concerned about this incident, because he knows, as I know, that while there are responsible trade unionists there are also people who are always causing the problems, and I would have thought that this sort of incident would have been of concern to those who genuinely sympathise with the trade union movement and who have its interests at heart. There were a number of shop stewards supporting the men. One of the men, obviously a traditional shop steward, who obviously had very strongly supported the union he belonged to, not a chap with a chip on his shoulder, and who had worked with the union willingly said, "If this is trade unionism, then I do not want to know; I feel I and the lads have been let down."
Hon. Members opposite may say that that is a lot of nonsense and they can carry on in the same old way and trade union leaders can carry on in the same old way, but I would advise them to give some grave thought to this point.
§ Mr. Orme
The hon. Gentleman is making an attack upon members of my union. I know the programme to which he has referred. Perhaps he would care to refer to the 1½ million members of my union who responded to the call with enthusiasm. We recognise that there will never be 100 per cent. unanimity. Never mind about looking around Wiltshire, the hon. Gentleman should look at what happened in the rest of Britain on 18th March.
§ Mr. King
The country knows the answer to that intervention. Anyway, I did not have to go looking for that example. It appeared on television. I do not think that it was a programme that the hon. Member could have seen. It was "Points West", which is a West Country programme; but the hon. Gentleman can check the details. The hon. Gentleman can shoot this point down or ignore it; he is entitled to his opinion, but this warning should be uttered.
The problem, not just of democratic representation, but one which is exemplified in the Bill and which I hope that my right hon. Friend's code of practice will further bring out, is the need for communication. If the union were within its rights, and if the leadership were taking the right action, it certainly did not convince a considerable number of its members, and there was a failure of communication.
I hope that communication, which is the first principle of management, will be an area which my right hon. Friend will ensure is carefully considered. This Bill, like any other Bill, is complicated, but its basic provisions can be explained. I trust that the Government will do all they can to ensure that the Bill is explained in simple language to people working in industry. Communication is a difficult problem. I worked in a company which in 80 years grew from 300 employees to over 25,000. The problems and the techniques of communication change and are very difficult. Many different techniques are employed. In all aspects of industrial relations, good communications at all levels are invaluable.
I have had to issue to fathers of chapels copies of agreements that the union has made with me because the union men could not obtain copies from their own branches. There are problems of communication on the management side, too. This is a problem fundamental to the improvement of industrial relations. Failure in this respect is a far bigger element in stoppages than is appreciated.
Finally, I echo what my right hon. Friend said. This is a genuine attempt to strike a fair balance between what it is recognised must be competing forces and competing power structures in our modern industrial society. It would be 581 foolhardy to even begin to introduce into this area a Measure which was obviously prejudiced. It is essential that any new Measures of this kind must be recognised in the final analysis when they are fully understood, fully explained and properly communicated, to offer fair and reasonable opportunities and responsibilities to both sides of industry. It is because I believe that my right hon. Friend has achieved this balance that I commend the Bill to the House.
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Charles Loughlin (Gloucestershire, West)
I hope to speak briefly, acceding to Mr. Speaker's request, so that other Members can speak.
The hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Tom King) has again evidenced by word and by emphasis an anti-trade unionism that it would be very difficult to find elsewhere. He talked about our need to sell the benefits of unionism on a voluntary basis. We have been doing that for years. I began doing so when I was 18 and I have never ceased doing so, I am only one of hundreds of thousands of people in the trade union movement who are doing precisely that.
The Secretary of State has on occasions charged this side of the House with distorting the purpose, intent and provisions of the Bill. This afternoon the right hon. Gentleman told us how wonderful the Bill was and said that union members will by this Measure be protected as they have never been protected before. The right hon. Gentleman should tell the T.U.C. that. The Government assert that the Bill is solely for the benefit and protection of the trade union movement, or that a consequence of the Bill will be that trade unions will be protected to a greater degree than ever before, yet the whole organised trade union movement—not the militants, not the Left-wingers, but the whole of the T.U.C., including every moderate trade union leader—has rejected the Bill out of hand and said that it is not prepared even to co-operate in its implementation.
The Secretary of State has made many statements about the Bill. This afternoon he got into somewhat of an argument with this side about whether people would go to prison under the Bill. On 582 Second Reading and in some of the earlier debates in Committee, when we suggested that in consequence of certain Clauses it would be possible for trade unionists to go to gaol, the Secretary of State swore almost that it was not possible under the Bill for anyone to go to gaol.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Dudley Smith)
My right hon. Friend has never made any secret of the fact, right from the outset of these discussions, that any person who is sufficiently determined to go to prison can go to prison, but he spelled out very conclusively today the fact that contempt of court in any sphere of activity, quite apart from trade unionism, can earn that ultimate penalty in rare cases.
§ Mr. Loughlin
The hon. Gentleman should read some of the speeches the Secretary of State has made and some of the replies I have received when at earlier stages I have alleged that the Bill will do this to trade unionists. We reject the Bill. When I say, "we", I am talking not only about my right hon. and hon. Friends but about the whole of the trade union movement.
§ Mr. Loughlin
No. It is in fact an attack on the trade union movement. It is alleged to be a contribution to industrial relations. I gather that an hon. Member asks where some of my hon. Friends were last night. The hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Tom King) made a point about that. I thought that it was so infantile that I would not refer to it. I say that for one good reason. There is not a single, honest Member in this House who does not know what went on last night. We were deliberately allowing certain hon. Members to go home, and we did it on a rota basis. Everybody knows that. This is a disciplined party. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Of course it is. I cannot understand the hypocrisy of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite. When we were in Government they did precisely the same.
§ Mr. Loughlin
Not for the moment, thank you. Hon. Gentlemen opposite kept sufficient of their troops here to see that we had to keep almost the whole of our troops here. It is a legitimate Opposition tactic to save their own troops at the expense of the Government. Every honest hon. Member knows it.
We reject the Bill because it is an attack on the trade union movement. It will not make a single contribution to industrial relations in this country. I thought that the hon. Member for Bridgwater nearly got to the point of the problem in British industry at the end of his speech. The problem in British industry is possibly the failure of communications between both sides of industry all along the line of command. In particular—I put this forward as my point of view—I think that there is a failure in British industry to appreciate the required qualities of its lower ranks of supervision. This is one of the keys to the improvement of industrial relations.
If we had set up seminars throughout British industry to talk to management and to the trade union side on the best ways of creating the leadership qualities in the supervisory grades at the lower levels, we should have made a greater contribution to future industrial relations than the Bill will ever make.
The Bill is an attack on the trade unions. It will not make the slightest contribution to industrial relations. It is so obtuse in every possible way that men and women in industry will have to spend more time thinking in terms of what the Bill is about than about the jobs which they are doing. I am talking about shop stewards and union officials. The Bill will impose an onerous burden on the central officers of every trade union because they will be charged with the responsibility for thousands of their officials—branch secretaries, branch chairmen and almost all committee members. The central office officials will be charged with the responsibility for all officials of the union, irrespective of the geographical area in which they live. If any one of them makes a mistake, the union funds will be at risk. If that is not an attack on the trade unions, I should like to know what it is.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle), towards the end of her speech, said that the Bill was 584 a cornerstone in the economic policy of the Government. I, too, believe that it is a cornerstone in the economic policy of the Government. What we are seeing today in Britain is a return to the type of economics which we had in the mid-1930s in which some would stand on their own feet and the rest would crawl on their knees.
There will be about one million unemployed by the end of the year. There has been attack upon attack on the standards of living of our people in the nine months that the Tory Party has been in power. It is essential for them in those circumstances to shackle the trade union movement to ensure that it cannot conduct the struggle for improvements in the conditions of the people that it represents. I reject the Bill, equally as I reject the Government.
§ 5.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Robert Adley (Bristol, North-East)
I hope that the hon. Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Loughlin) will not mind if I do not comment in detail on his argument in my brief intervention although I shall quote one case from one of my Gloucestershire constituents.
The two particular points in the Bill which I find attractive concern the rights given to individuals. I should like to mention two cases, which have been brought to my attention by constituents, where hardship has been created which, when the Bill becomes law, will not be tolerated. I take, first, the "unfair dismissal" part of the Bill, particularly Clauses 20 and 22(1)(a). It seems significant that the Opposition have chosen not to mention this part of the Bill which provides the working man with a greater degree of protection against unfair dismissal than has been available to him before.
This case concerns a man of 63 years of age, for whom I have been seeking help, who has been dismissed without prior warning after working 11 years for a particular company. Under Clause 22(1)(a) I am convinced that he would never have been dismissed had the Bill already been law.
The second point concerns the "rights of workers". I refer here to Clause 5(1)(a). A constituent of mine, who has 585 for many years been a member of the Transport and General Workers' Union, sought to leave that union and join another organisation, N.A.F.T.O., because of the changed circumstances of his employment. When he sought to change his union he received a letter from the T.G.W.U., and the words which caused him great unhappiness were:and therefore as you are already a member of our organisation, I must refuse to accept your resignation or to allow you to join another organisation.I do not consider that a matter of which the T.G.W.U. can be particularly proud. I am glad that under the terms of the Bill this restriction on the freedom of my constituent will be outlawed, and the quoted case is in the process, I hope, of being withdrawn by the union.
§ 5.59 p.m.
§ Mr. William Hamilton (Fife, West)
I have not taken part in these debates before, partly because I just could not understand the Bill. Nor can one debate this Bill, because it is completely different from the Bill which was first published. That may have been my hon. Friend's point in suggesting that the Minister himself could not debate the Bill, because it was not available. The Government took advantage of the guillotine procedure to produce a completely different, second version of the Bill. They went so far as to prevent any debate on any Opposition Amendment on Report, and many of their own were withdrawn for tactical reasons during last night's sitting.
So we do not know what the eventual Bill will be. But even if we assume that the main principles were embodied in the original version, I find it an incomprehensible legal jungle, a veritable paradise for the legal profession, who will undoubtedly wax fat, until the Act is hacked from the Statute Book by a future Government. This is our main point against the Bill.
586 I agree with the hon. Member for Bristol, North-East (Mr. Adley). We have never denied that there are some desirable facets in the Bill, and safeguards against unreasonable dismissal are one such. I had the same kind of case to which the hon. Member referred, but there is no need to wrap that up in so much legal jargon. In human relations, the less one invokes the law the better. To the extent that one invokes the law and seeks to wrap it up in a Bill as complex as this, to that extent human relations are made more inflexible.
§ Mr. Hamilton
The hon. Member is presuming a little too much, but I will leave my hon. Friends who have been actively engaged in the Committee stage of the Bill to deal with that.
§ Mr. Hamilton
I was about to say that it is good as far as it goes, but my hon. Friend's point makes me condition my answer to the hon. Member, that it is not enough to say that he has an appeal against dismissal—
§ Mr. Hamilton
I doubt whether it is. It is not much satisfaction to him to know that he has been unsatisfactorily dismissed if he cannot at the same time claim his right to be reinstated. The one must follow the other if there is to be any advantage.
But I agree that there are some good parts in the Bill. That is why my right hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) stated official Labour Party policy on Second Reading. He qualified the statement made in the first place by my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer). There is no doubt that this party reserves and must reserve the right to appeal such parts of this legislation as we feel damage the trade union movement and make no contribution to the solution of industrial relations problems.
§ Mr. Heffer
Let me make it absolutely clear that there was no qualification and no contradiction between what I said on the first day of the Second Reading and what my right hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) said on the second day—that this legislation will be repealed.
§ Mr. Hamilton
I will not incite a quarrel between my colleagues. We have enough hon. Members on the other side to fight with without fighting among ourselves.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) made a point which concerns all the trade unionists to whom I have spoken in my constituency. That is, that Clauses 5 and 6, I believe, provide for what has been referred to, probably exaggeratedly, as literally a charter for blacklegs and non-unionists. In so far as there is a consistent philosophy enshrined in the Bill, it seems to fly in the face of the basic concept and principle of the Donovan Commission, as enunciated in paragraph 80, where the Commission made it clear—we would agree on this side—that there is room for improvement in industrial relations and procedures, but…without destroying the British tradition of keeping industrial relations out of the courts.When the Government continually and continuously go out of their way to say that this Bill is based on Donovan. they are speaking contrary to the facts. When the Minister chastises the unions for exaggerated claims and for giving out distorted versions of the Bill, he should be sure that he is innocent of those charges himself. The Bill flies in the face of the summaries produced by Donovan for the solution of this problem.
I thought that the Tory Party was rather strong on tradition. To put it as kindly as I can, they want to preserve and improve existing institutions—
§ Mr. Hamilton
But they will not do so in this case. They will destroy or will play a large part in destroying the existing institutions and procedures by this Bill.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn and the previous Labour Government wanted to legislate in this field. 588 There is probably a case for legislation. The unions have never sought to operate outwith the law. They have operated within the law for a century and more, but the law must be a lubricant to the voluntary principle in industrial relations and not an irritant. We should not shovel a cartload of sand into the works, which is what the Bill, I fear, will do.
The hon. Member for Bristol, North-East made the specious claim that one of the advantages of the Bill was the safeguarding of the rights of the individual. I suppose that he would make that claim for Clauses 5 and 6, on the right not to be a member of a union. One of the spokesmen on the television programme last night made it clear that this is the very antithesis of collective bargaining. It weakens the union movement—quite the opposite of what the Government are claiming.
For the first time in British industrial legislation, we are enshrining in the law a charter for the rights of a blackleg and a non-unionist. In the Government's attempt to deal with unofficial strikes, the Bill seeks to retain the yardsticks as to what are unfair industrial practices and what are breaches of contract. We have had selective quotations today about the Post Offices workers and the A.E.F., with the assertion that, if there had been democratic procedures, and a ballot by these workers, they would not have struck.
We never had that kind of argument when the doctors refused to sign sickness certificates. They were in breach of contract and they never had a ballot. There was never any criticism of the doctors and we have never heard any from that side of the House. They cite Post Office workers and engineers, but not doctors. When I asked the Minister to deduct from doctors' salaries certain moneys because they were in breach of contract, he refused to do so.
Once one tries to define in law things like unfair industrial practices and breaches of contract, the lawyers step in and wax fat. There is an infinite variety of gradations in such practices and breaches, and these matters will have to be decided by lawyers, who have a vested interest in time in the law courts. Time is money to them. Once they start arguing about these things, all sorts of difficulties will arise.
589 Clause 34(2) says thatit shall be an unfair industrial practice for any party to the agreement not to take all such steps as are reasonably practicable.What on earth does that mean? How many hours of paid argument will the lawyers need to define the indefinable? This is why Donovan said in paragraph 454 of its Report that legal jargon like this should not be included in any Measure. It is likely to increase bloody-mindedness on the shop floor, which is what the Government are claiming the Bill will reduce.
Not only are the Government seeking to place this straitjacket on the unions, but they bolster up their threats to strikers, and unofficial strikers in particular, with threats about freedom of speech and the written word. I was not aware of this until I listened to the debates on Clause 85, in which the Solicitor-General confirmed my worst fears.
I feel strongly about companies producing arms for South Africa. Occasionally I write in a Sunday newspaper, and if I continue to try to persuade workers to strike against firms which manufacture arms which are to be sent to South Africa, I will be liable under Clause 85. This is a damnable intrusion on my freedom to write and say what I wish about the immorality of sending arms to the regime in South Africa. This intrusion is being made by a party which is supposed to believe in the freedom of the individual to write and to say what he pleases. This is an absurd and obscene provision.
The same can be said in this connection about politics. If I go outside the House and campaign for industrial action on behalf of the nurses—I have campaigned on their behalf for many years, both inside and outside the House, because I regard them as one of the most exploited sections of the community—I must not say, "Why the hell don't you strike or get some other unions to strike in sympathy with you?" because I would be liable under Clause 85.
§ Mr. Adam Butler (Bosworth)
Would the hon. Gentleman describe the circumstances in which he might be persuading nurses to strike?
§ Mr. Hamilton
The nurses would not strike. In my example I would be trying 590 to incite other trade unions to strike in sympathy with them, and that would be illegal under the Bill. I see no reason why I should not have the right to focus attention on the exploitation of nurses. They would not strike, but the doctors threatened to do so. They are both in the same National Health Service, but the doctors got the cash. There is much injustice and unfairness about the Bill.
Wild exaggerations have been made on both sides about the Bill. I concede that the Measure has some good parts which we would want and which would be in legislation passed by a Labour Government—[Interruption]—but, on balance, the Bill will create far more friction than it seeks to remove and far more industrial strife than we have had hitherto. Hon. Gentlemen opposite need not accept my word for that. Some of the most reasonable trade unionists are saying precisely this.
I have fought Communists all my life. My principal opponent at most of the General Elections I have fought since 1945 in West Fife has been a Communist, so I know what militancy is in trade unions and politics. Nobody need accuse me of being even Left wing. Nevertheless, all the most reasonable trade unionists I know are unanimous in fearing the Bill and its consequences.
I beg the Government to use the other Chamber—I confess that the House of Lords has a sudden attraction for me; it has a great part to play in this matter —because large sections of the Bill have gone completely undiscussed by this House as a result of the disreputable guillotine procedure which the Government have introduced.
All parties—including mine, unfortunately—have said that one of the principal responsibilities of the other place is to give the Government a chance for second thoughts and to improve proposed legislation. The Government now have the chance to use the second Chamber. I hope they will use it—to kill the Bill.
§ 6.18 p.m.
§ Mr. Ray Mawby (Totnes)
I thought that the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton) made his most telling point when he spoke about the right of free speech and the need to allow people to comment on matters 591 of the day and feel completely free to do so. This right must, of course, be reciprocal. It cannot be bestowed on one section of the community and deliberately denied to another.
I was glad that the hon. Gentleman raised this point because it is the one issue on which I shall concentrate, as I wish to be brief. Throughout these proceedings much has been said about the democratic procedures already operating in trade unions. Hon. Gentlemen opposite have claimed that because of this, we do not need a Registrar of trade unions. Indeed, a number of unions have said that they agree with that view and will not even register.
Why do we insist on having such a Registrar when there is no evidence, it is said, that members of unions have been ill used by their fellow trade unionists? To put the record straight, I will show why we need a Registrar and, in demonstrating this, I will quote a particular case. I have the correspondence here, and I will deal with it as briefly as I can. It is between the then general secretary of a trade union and one of its members.
The first letter was from the general secretary. It was dated 18th July, 1956, and headed "Cyprus Emergency Fund". It starts:Dear Sir and Brother—That is a very good start, but the letter goes on to draw the attention of the member to a report which had appeared in the Daily Mail of 25th May, 1956. The general secretary of the union made the following direct quotation from the article as it appeared in the Daily Mail:The British boys in Cyprus are keeping their heads in the belief that the terrorists will get their just reward in the courts. This action of sending money to the other side is bound to lower morale and may do great harm. Thousands of our union colleagues have loved ones in Cyprus—and now their money is being used to shoot them in the back.The letter then goes on:From inquiries that have been made I am led to believe that it is possible that the person referred to in the report is your goodself. In view of the fact that the disclosure of the business of the Union to any outside source is a breach of the Rules of the Union, it will be necessary to refer the facts to the Executive Council for their attention.592 The member's comment on a matter of public knowledge had appeared in that newspaper, and he received this letter from the general secretary of the union—[HON. MEMBERS: "Which union?"] The union was the E.T.U. The sting is in the tail of the letter:I wish to make it quite clear that in giving consideration to any further action they may require to take in accordance with the provisions of the Rules, the Executive Council will be bound to take into account any statement you may submit to this office.
§ Mr. James Hamilton (Bothwell)
The hon. Gentleman has cited this so-called irregularity in a trade union. Who was the general secretary of the union at that time?
§ Mr. Mawby
The general secretary at that time was Frank Haxell.
This brings us back again to the voluntary procedure which the T.U.C. says it can operate. How did the E.T.U. get rid of the Communist control? That was not done by the T.U.C. doing anything. Two members of the union went to a court—they used those nasty lawyers referred to by the hon. Member for Fife, West. The court found in their favour, and that was the beginning of the end of that union administration.
The important thing is that here we have a situation in which a union member is told, "You may be charged with committing an offence, but you will be entitled only to a written defence". There was no nonsense about the member having a right to be present to hear the charge and the evidence submitted, and certainly no rubbish like the right to examine witnesses, or even an assurance that his written defence was taken into account.
The member stated in his written defence:Further, as I have received no information from Branch or Head Office since June, 1955 on this or any other matter, it is difficult to visualise how I could disclose it in breach of Rules.That suggests that the member was commenting on a matter of public knowledge and was not improperly divulging any of the union's business. In other words, he was using that freedom of speech about which the hon. Member for Fife, West talked.
§ Mr. John Mendelson (Penistone)
But does not the hon. Member see that we 593 are objecting to his quoting this example from 1956 because he knows very well that the situation in that one union was wholly unrepresentative of the British trade union movement. It is just as unfair for him to quote that as being typical of the trade union movement as it would be for us to quote the case of Capt. Ramsey as a measure of the patriotism of Conservatives.
§ Mr. McNamara
I, too, remember the hon. Member making an allegation here about the trade union, about people being threatened, about violence and all sorts of things. I said to him, "Tell us where it is," and he then told us. Then I asked him had any action been taken by the police, or had there been any conviction, or was it just another of those things that went on, and the hon. Gentleman was not able to tell me.
§ Mr. Mawby
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, because I said at that time that I did not have the facts with me. Two days after I made my statement in the House the Western Morning News made an investigation. It quoted a police spokesman who, asked why there had been no prosecutions, said that a number of cases—
§ Mr. David Stoddart (Swindon)
The case quoted by the hon. Gentleman took place at a certain time in the history of the Electrical Trades Union, as it then was. Would he not agree that subsequent happenings in the normal courts, 594 without this Bill, showed that the union leadership at that time and, in particular, the general secretary, were corrupt and completely unrepresentative? They were displaced by the members of the union themselves through their other leaders in the normal way, by using the trade union rules and the courts—and without this Bill.
§ Mr. Mawby
As I said before, when the allegations were made of the fiddling of the ballot it was not put right by the T.U.C., and yet we are told that we do not need the Bill because the T.U.C. can operate all these things. It was brought about by two members risking £70,000 in costs, which was what happened at the end of the day—£70,000 in costs. Those members risked that sort of figure for costs to go to the High Court, which most hon. Gentlemen opposite obviously do not like because they do not like lawyers and dealing with courts. Yet those members went before that court and the court found for them. Can the hon. Gentleman, or any other hon. Gentleman, stand with his hand on his heart and say that there are no rules in any unions which can still take away the right of the individual member? I quote a valid case in which this member was tried in his absence, and then he was finally told the decision of the executive committee.
§ Mr. Ronald King Murray (Edinburgh, Leith)
On a point of order. The hon. Gentleman has read his letter twice. Are we in the process of having a Third Reading of the Bill or are we to have a third reading of the hon. Gentleman's letter?
§ Mr. Speaker
That is not strictly a point of order. The hon. Member who is speaking has been somewhat provoked. I, too, have been studying my Henry V: "Men of few words are the best men". —and I would add, whether standing or sitting.
§ Mr. Mawby
I intended to speak briefly. There has been a certain amount of provocation and that can be my only excuse for going off the rails a little.
595 The Registrar will be able to make certain that this type of anti-social proceedings would not happen or would not be as likely to happen in the future. But, on the other hand, there is nothing in the Bill which institutes fines on employees. If someone goes to the local bench and feels that the magistrate has treated him badly, he will probably go away saying that he does not like that particular magistrate, but he does not normally throw an inkwell at the magistrate and so put himself in contempt of court. In the same way, the average man will not commit this sort of contempt of court.
Unless it is an association of free men, a trade union is nothing and is a great disgrace to the original founders. The Bill will help us back on our way to industrial sanity.
§ 6.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Hugh Jenkins (Putney)
In introducing the Third Reading of the Bill—if I may return to the subject—the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State said of this rather tattered collection of altered remnants of legal jargon which is now posing as a Bill, that it was a Bill which introduced in this country the sort of thing which was common in other countries. This has been a theme of the Government all along. The right hon. Gentleman said they are seeking to introduce here the type of law which exists elsewhere. But this was exposed some time ago by Professor Clegg, who said:The Industrial Relations Bill proposes to transform British industrial relations from the world's least-regulated system into the most-regulated to be found among all the democracies. It intends the new Industrial Court to have quite extraordinary powers, alien both to British traditions and to foreign judicial systems.Those remarks were published in the Observer on the 17th January, on the first publication of the Bill. It is no wonder that Professor Clegg was fired. Quite clearly that was the reason. He exposed the true nature of the Bill right from the beginning.
It is not true that what is happening is the introduction on to the British scene of things which are common elsewhere. The transformation which the Bill seeks to make will force our industrial relations to fit into a handcuff system tighter than 596 anything else in the free world. Whether it will succeed is another question which we shall discover only in practice. But there is at least a sufficient chance that it will succeed for us to be rather frightened about the Bill. There is a sufficient chance, even if it did not succeed, that the industrial strife which would be brought about in preventing it from succeeding would be so serious as to have a very deleterious effect upon our whole social and economic life. Therefore, we have a Bill which deserves very serious treatment. We on this side of the House have tried to give it that treatment from the beginning.
In many ways, this is perhaps the most extraordinary Bill that has ever been placed before Parliament. It is drafted out of theory, and mostly out of legal theory, by men without any practical experience of the trade union movement, against most of the expert advice from Donovan and elsewhere, and it seems likely, at almost every point, to achieve the exact opposite of what it sets out to attain.
As the right hon. Gentleman said, in the world league table of time lost through industrial disputes Britain has hitherto held a low position. That is a fact which I was interested to hear said. We have not heard much of that sort of talk from the other side of the House until now. At this stage, they tell us that we are a country where relatively little time is lost in strikes. What is the need for all this legislation if we are a low time-lost country?
We have held a low position compared with the United States and others in this league. But with the importation of the American system, we shall get American results. The system provides the results. There will be fewer declared disputes but 10 times the amount of time lost. The consequence of this system is that one reduces the number of disputes, but when one has a dispute it is a big one and loses a great deal of time. That is the consequence of introducing the American system.
I agree that unofficial strikes are inconvenient, but if we have to choose—and unless we have perfect managements and saintly workers, we have to choose—then surely short strikes, with easy ventilation of grievances and easy rectification in 597 most cases of grievances and little time lost, are surely better than long strikes, which are what the Government have chosen. Apparently the Government have chosen long strikes, fewer in number but with much more time lost, and they judge that that is better than the inconvenience and technical and economic dislocation resultant in a series of small strikes.
They are entirely wrong. On all the evidence before the House, that choice is incredibly foolish and damaging to the country and everyone in it. The Bill should be given a new short title:A Bill to weaken trade unions and to increase the amount of time lost in industrial disputes.That new short title correctly describes the consequences of this Measure.
It might be said that in Germany, which also has a stronger legal framework, even less time is lost than under our system. That is true. The Germans are traditionally a law-abiding race. They carry out orders without the arguments that we have. Six million Jews are dead to prove that. However, lack of democracy in the trade union movement of the Federal German Republic is balanced by greater democracy in industry. By this Bill, the Government are trying to destroy trade union democracy without conceding industrial democracy. A Bill which purports to extend freedom is destructive of liberty. A Bill to reduce strikes will increase them, and a Bill to increase democracy will reduce it. As a result of it, I believe that we shall move into an unprecedented period of industrial uproar in which workers will be forced to fight for the maintenance of traditional liberties instead of getting on with their jobs. For that reason, another consequence of the Bill will be a serious fall in production.
In order to deal with unions which have many unofficial strikes, to give the Government their case at its best, they have introduced legislation which, among other things, will cripple a union which has no unofficial strikes. I refer, of course, to Equity. It is widely believed that the Government have made concessions which will enable Equity to maintain its union shop. That is widely believed by hon. Members opposite and even by some on this side of the House.
598 Certainly it is believed by the Press. However, it is quite untrue. The Government have done no such thing. Although the Government know that Equity cannot function with the pretended concessions that they have made, they cannot make any significant concessions without provoking a revolt on the benches behind them. The Government cannot allow this union to operate in a manner in which it can carry out its job without upsetting hon. Members behind them and without allowing other unions in the same situation the freedom to which Equity has a right.
The entertainment business probably produces a greater net plus balance of trade surplus per man-hour than any other in the country. Its survival depends upon two planks. The first is the union's ability to keep out the lay-abouts, scroungers and star-struck kids who will descend upon the business. Once we remove the protections that Equity at presents holds out against free entry into the business, that is the inevitable result. Once we remove the element of pre-entry closed shop which exists and against which the Government set their faces, and once the union is prevented from regulating entry into the business, that is what will happen.
The president of Equity has said that the association is gradually moving away from free entry into a situation in which a qualification of experience is demanded and, in various areas, work may be offered only to existing members. Free entry was the cause of wholesale unemployment in the industry. Its reintroduction in present circumstances, with short-term employment, with advertising spots on television running for only a few seconds, and with the cassette revolution round the corner, will cause such chaos that Equity will be bound to take whatever action is open to the union, at whatever cost, to prevent what the Bill seeks to permit.
The second plank upon which the entertainment business rests is Equity's ability to enforce national agreements upon recalcitrant and bogus employers. The business used to be full of such employers. Gradually they were eliminated by the power of Equity to say, "Use the national contract and pay the minimum conditions, or there will be no show.", 599 and to say to the unemployed actor who might be tempted to take such a job, "If you walk on that stage, you will never walk on another". That was not an agreed closed shop or an agency agreement with the employer. It was a matter of the union exercising its rightful power upon recalcitrant employers.
Contrary to popular belief, the entertainment business is a hard and desperate one. Only upon such firm and unequivocal foundations has it been possible to build the structure in which the higher arts of the theatre can flourish in our country. The new Clauses provide that Equity can have a closed shop —and so can the National Union of Seamen—where the employer agrees. But that is not where the union needs it. It needs it where the employer does not agree. It is for that reason that I say, "Thank you for nothing". The Bill provides that substantial employers shall conform and that delinquent employers can get away with it. A closed shop cannot be enforced without the agreement of the employer in circumstances where it is impossible to obtain it. Once again, I say, "Thank you for nothing".
The Government are about to destroy the Theatre Councils which were built by their Tory predecessors. They have revealed themselves as the enemy of all who receive wages and salaries. Backed by an irresponsible and ill-informed Press. the Tories have conned the nation into giving them the power to commit this mischief.
I do not believe that they will get away with it, but, in the process of defeating them great damage will be done, not merely to institutions like the Theatre Councils but to the very social cohesion of the nation. Very well. But the Government cannot say that they have not been warned. We must still try to stop them in another place, where there will be further opportunities to return to the struggle to improve this Measure. It will then return to this House where, although we shall not then be able to eliminate the Bill, we shall try yet again to make it less harmful and less dangerous.
§ 6.48 p.m.
§ Mr. David Madel (Bedfordshire, South)
After long hours of debate in 600 Committee and on Report, our different attitudes have been made clear. What has not been made clear is the attitude of many managements in British industry both to the content of the Bill and to the likely timetable of their operating it once it becomes law.
These managements are wise to stay their hand. They probably recognise that there has been so much Press coverage on the obligations and rights of trade unions that, without the benefit of the publication of the code of good industrial practice, managements feel that their obligations under the Bill have not yet been fully appreciated.
Managements must recognise that defective procedure agreements which are in need of remedial action are the pivotal point in improving industrial relations. Both sides of industry will make full use of Clauses 35 to 40 because the Industrial Court can provide them with helpful guidelines as a means of improving procedure agreements. Companies now realise that lasting industrial peace cannot be achieved unless the procedures for dealing quickly and fairly with disputes are vastly improved. I am certain that these Clauses will nudge managements on whom the ultimate responsibility lies to improve procedure agreements.
We are right to assume that it will be some time before those Clauses will operate to make agreements legally binding and that this will become the rule rather than the exception. This initial reluctance by both sides of industry is occasioned by the fact that neither side is as yet sufficiently confident of its ability to undertake all the obligations of a legally binding contract, and does not wish, at this stage, to risk legal proceedings, with the consequent souring of industrial relations.
Both in Committee and later comparisons have been made with the legally binding contracts which operate in the United States. Many American unions are willing to make agreements which are legally binding because, from the much higher contributions that their members pay, the unions are able to enter pay negotiations with highly trained economists and lawyers in whom the members of the trade unions place great confidence to secure the best terms, which are able 601 to be understood by everyone, on a legal basis.
This is something which everyone agrees contributes to the creation of better teams of negotiators, which British trade unions should emulate. Equally, if we are to get these Clauses on legally binding contracts working, employers must emulate American employers in providing far better facilities for trade union officials and accelerating training and the enlargement of personnel teams to adjust to modern industrial conditions.
Clauses which deal with the disclosure of information to employees, the right of an employee not to be unfairly dismissed, and the recognition of trade unions go a considerable way to meet trade union objections to previous industrial practices. In a previous debate an hon. Member referred to the Bill as being mainly concerned with the balance of bargaining power in industry. If this country is to enjoy the benefits of the Bill, it must first produce many more managers who are social engineers of the highest quality, and therefore as the Bill begins to make itself felt in industry we must make sure that the country understands and gets increased management education.
§ 6.54 p.m.
§ Mr. John Pardoe (Cornwall, North)
I do not intend to deny my difficulty in deciding my attitude to the Bill as a whole. There are undoubtedly parts which any reasonable man will accept, but any man who tries to base his judgment of the Bill as a whole on the rational free play of common sense will be in difficulties.
I recognise, first, the importance of good industrial relations. I recognise that trade unions are, and must remain, within the law. I recognise the Government's right to devise a legal framework in which industrial relations can play their part. I recognise the need for reform. I also recognise, as some hon. Members on this side of the House seem not to recognise, that the Government ought to be interventionist in these matters. I was particularly glad to see that according to this morning's Guardian restrictive practices and monopolies legislation will be toughened up.
A further difficulty in deciding exactly where I stand on the Bill is the difficulty of distinguishing between the Bill that 602 we find in some of the speeches of the Secretary of State—and because I believe him to be an honest man I believe that that is the Bill in his mind—and the Bill as it appears on paper. They are not the same thing. The speech which the Minister made this afternoon might have persuaded us to say, "If that is all there is, what is so wrong?", but when we read the details and realise the extent of the Bill's provisions, we have our doubts.
The Minister said that this was the first comprehensive industrial relations Bill in our history. It is, but it is a tragedy of lost opportunities. I want to consider the Bill briefly under its three possible headings—its philosophical objections, its practical objections and its procedural objections. Clashes have occurred between some of my Liberal colleagues and other hon. Members on both sides of the House. I ask hon. Members to recognise that there are deep philosophical differences in considering industrial matters of this sort, as the speech made on 27th January by the hon. Member for Birmingham, All Saints (Mr. Brian Walden) clearly showed. He showed the differences between the collectivist and the individualist approach—the contrast between the group and the individual.
I take the view that there are great dangers in giving loyalty to a group—contrary to what the hon. Member said. I believe that there is a danger of creating a mindless obedience to the rules of the group, and that that philosophy has a more fit place in the sermons of a public school chaplain than in the speeches of a tribute of the people.
The right hon. Gentleman said that under the Bill every man and woman would be free not to become a member of a trade union. The right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) has said over and over again that she objects to that provision. I recognise that because of their history and because of the development of the trade union movement and their close connection with it, many hon. Members on this side of the House will agree with the right hon. Lady's view on that question.
I do not share that view. I believe that a fundamental liberty is at stake. But even if I believe that people ought to be members of a trade union—and I 603 do; I am a believer in 100 per cent. trade unionism—and if I also believe that the person who does not want to become a member of a trade union may, in the majority of cases, be nothing but a crank, nevertheless I believe that he has the right to be a crank, and that the Government are right to introduce that principle.
§ Mr. Dan Jones (Burnley)
Surely the hon. Member must recognise that these so-called cranks never fail to take advantage of the benefits obtained by the trade unions.
§ Mr. Pardoe
Indeed—and that is the great difficulty. Liberty must be paid for, and perhaps that is the price that we occasionally have to pay for an essential liberty.
I am equally opposed to the Conservative attitude in almost every Clause—the attitude of toying with the corporate State. They have conceived the Bill in terms of the relationship between the trade unions on the one side and the employers' federations on the other, and most of the essential Clauses are conceived in those terms. I do not believe that those are terms on which we can solve our industrial problems.
In industrial relations Liberals are not offering a pale imitation of anything; there are more things in the Liberal heaven and earth than are dreamed of in the philosophies of either of the other parties.
§ Mr. Gower
I am not saying that the hon. Member necessarily agrees with his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson), who has made some excellent speeches and many interventions in these debates on nearly all these issues. The hon. Member will be aware, however, that his hon. and learned Friend, while expressing the kind of views that he himself has expressed, has generally come down in favour of the Bill. I wondered whether the hon. Member agreed with his hon. and learned Friend to that extent.
§ Mr. Pardoe
My hon. and learned Friend has also made clear those points on which he parts company with the Government and the Bill—and a very formidable parting of company it is. Even 604 by my reckoning there are things in the Bill that are acceptable and positively welcomed—more things than are welcome to members of the Labour Party. Nevertheless, I am now making reservations. The Liberal philosophy on industrial relations would be opposed equally by both the other parties—by the Conservatives because they would recognise it as post-capitalist, and an attack on capitalism, and by the Labour Party because they would recognise it as an extension of democracy and, therefore, an essential weakening of trade union structure at the centre. They would oppose any Liberal Bill for those reasons. The opposition would come equally from both parties.
I want to turn to the practical considerations mentioned by the Minister and to set aside the question of philosophical attitudes. I ask, "Will the gill work?" Presumably the Bill's main purpose is to reduce the number of strikes. I query that purpose. There are occasions when strikes are mere symptoms of a malaise. In a sense, they are often the rash, or the spots which appear on the skin's surface, and merely show the disease. In many instances the Bill merely represents a scratching of the rash, and is just as useless as a cure of the disease.
Then let us judge the Bill by the right hon. Gentleman's own claims. He said this afternoon, "Our problem"—referring to Britain—"has been in the informal system of company and plant bargaining"—in other words, unofficial strikes—"This kind of strike is peculiarly damaging". I doubt if the right hon. Gentleman will be saying that in two or three years' time when the result of the Bill has been to shift the emphasis from the unofficial strike to the official strike and when there has been a substantial increase in the number of official strikes and the number of work days thereby lost.
I do not believe that the Bill will reduce disputes. It may indeed even replace some strikes by something much worse, but few strikes will be stopped by it.
The right hon. Gentleman mentioned the provision for the ballot. He even mentioned it in connection with the postal strike. I must disabuse him. It would 605 indeed have been very tempting to suppose that all those postmen who were on strike were on strike because they were part of a mindless essembly of workers who were driven on by a Communist faction in the trade union. We have all seen letters to this effect in some of the national papers. It is not on.
I will disabuse the right hon. Gentleman from the Cornish experience, because there are few parts of the country that are less union-militant than Cornwall. It is almost impossible to get people to join a union there. I spend a lot of time trying to persuade people to join a union for their protection. I went to meetings of postal workers when they were on strike and made one or two remarks to the effect that the leadership had led them into a strike which they clearly could not win—they were then in the third week. It was they who said that they had forced the national strike upon the leadership. I was left in no doubt at all that had there been a ballot among Cornish postmen over 80 per cent. would have voted for the strike, even though they were then in the third week and they had when they started expected to go on for only three or four days.
I do not believe that the ballot will stop strikes in this way. A good trade union leader will not take his men out unless he believes that he has considerable support behind him.
The Secretary of State then said that the enforceability of contracts will make no difference where contracts and agreements are good and are kept. I maintain that it will make no difference even where contracts and agreements are bad and even where they are not kept. It will have very little effect indeed on this situation.
The idea that it will have little effect has been the Government's excuse and answer to so many of the points which have been raised in the course of debates on the Bill. Hon. Members have said, "But it will do this, that or the other thing", and then one of the Government spokesmen had said, "That is a gross exaggeration. It will have no effect. Nobody will use it".
If it is not to be used and if it is to have no effect upon such situations, I do not believe that it was worth all the fuss and bother of bringing it in.
§ Mr. Pardoe
Certainly not. I discussed this at some length in the debate on the Consultative Document. Of course it is possible that some kinds of legislation can create a climate, but I have looked in vain in these debates for any indication that this Bill can create a moral climate. I do not believe that it can. I believe that that is where it is fundamentally different from the Race Relations Bill, which is on a great moral principle and which is undoubtedly advancing the frontiers of man's humanity to man.
The right hon. Gentleman put emphasis on the code of practice. I would be prepared on trust to agree with him. In the very early stages of our debates I tabled an Amendment demanding that the code of practice should be published before the Bill became law, but the right hon. Gentleman turned that Amendment down. We still do not know wbat the code of practice is going to be. However, since the right hon. Gentleman turned down that Amendment, some strange rumours have been emanating and perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would confirm whether it is true that the gentleman who was brought in from the Conservative Central Office Research Department to write the code of practice has now left and has been replaced by a body of civil servants who do not happen to agree with the first draft that he concocted.
If we ask the questions: will the Bill improve industrial relations, or create greater harmony, or create greater productivity, or check wage inflation, the answer to all is "No".
Again I take the right hon. Gentleman up on one point. He said that British industrial workers will be on an equal footing with those in other countries. He is wrong. On Tuesday of last week my right hon. Friend the Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) asked the Prime Minister concerning Henry Ford whether he did not recognise that the success of Mr. Ford's industrial enterprises in Germany were in some measure due to the fact that in Germany workers had works councils and were given considerable power to elect directors on to the 607 board of directors. The Prime Minister replied as follows:The right hon. Gentleman is correct in saying that this is one feature of the structure of German industry. Whether I put the same emphasis on it as he is prepared to do in achieving harmonious industrial relations, I doubt."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th March, 1971; Vol. 813, c. 1185.]That again is a fundamental difference between the Conservative approach to industrial relations and ours.
Finally, one cannot separate one's final decision on the Bill from the method of its introduction and debate. I realise that it has aroused very strong feelings. I happen to believe, however, that some of those feelings may in some hon. Members have been just a little synthetic. Even the right hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) in an editorial in the New Statesman pointed this out in an article headed "Politics by the Hour" when he said this:Overjoyed by this opportunity for earning the good will of the unions the Labour Opposition was busily preparing for a mammoth series of all-night sittings lasting into the summer.I do not mind if they stay up late to earn their money, but I will make quite clear why I went to bed. I went to bed because I was not prepared to take part in a mindless charade. I make no excuse at all for my attitude. Again, I would point to the fact that the right hon. Gentleman said, "boredom and contempt are likely to be the main popular reactions to these goings on." I believe that is the reaction of the public as a whole.
I believe that the Bill will do very little good to British industrial relations. After it all—all the hours we have spent and all the speeches—we would still have been better to have implemented Donovan untouched by human hand. For one who believes in parliamentary democracy as I do that is a sad admission, but because I have to make it I shall vote against the Third Reading of the Bill; and I shall do so, as will my right hon. and hon. Friends, for none of the reasons that motivate the right hon. Lady.
Indeed, the right hon. Lady's volte face and the antics of some of her colleagues and those of some of the mindless militants who have conducted political strikes 608 almost persuaded me to vote for this irrelevant Bill. I have resisted the temptation to do the wrong deed for the right reason, and I shall vote against the Bill because it is irrelevant to our problems.
§ Mr. Dudley Smith
Is this a personal decision of the hon. Gentleman, or does it go for his Liberal colleagues as well?
§ Mr. Pardoe
I am sorry if the Under-Secretary has been up rather late. I thought that my voice was working well—certainly better than his hearing. I said that I committed my right hon. and hon. Friends to doing precisely what I am now advising them to do.
I shall vote against the Bill because in the debate on the Consultative Document and on Second Reading we made it quite clear that we would support the Bill in the final analysis only if the Government were prepared to accept some reasonable Amendments. The Government have not accepted any Amendments. Indeed, large batches of Amendments have been washed away on the night tide.
One cannot conceivably vote for a Bill which has been handled in such a manner; and we shall vote against it.
§ 7.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Ian Percival (Southport)
I hope that the hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Pardoe) will not think me discourteous if I do not follow the details of his observations. There have been in the speeches so far so many interesting and provocative observations that I kept writing one down and then crossing it out to replace it with another. One such was a reference to lawyers waxing fat, which, like so many observations about lawyers, was very wide of the mark. But I shall resist rising to that bait.
However, I want to comment on the speech of the hon. Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Loughlin), who is not here at the moment. That was typical of the near-hysterical speeches of which we have heard so many, which are wholly without foundation. He made these extraordinary statements about people going to prison under the Bill, which we all know are not true; and the statements about all trade unionists being against the Bill, which we all know are not true. Even if one qualified that, as he may have done, by saying that all 609 union officials are against the Bill, that simply is not true—
§ Mr. Percival
I was about to say, if hon. Members will contain themselves, that of course many union officials are against the Bill—
§ Mr. Percival
But to say that they all are, as the hon. Member is now saying, from a seated position, which does not make it any better than saying it standing up—
§ Mr. Mendelson
The Prime Minister and the Secretary of State both started by talking about some opinion among trade union leaders. We challenged that on the first day that they said it. Surely the unanimous condemnation by the General Council of the T.U.C. and by the Croydon Conference and every affiliated union finally proves that what the hon. and learned Gentleman is saying is nonsense.
§ Mr. Percival
The hon. Member makes the mistake of thinking that the T.U.C. and the unions affiliated to it are all the trade unionists. We all have in our constituencies many good unionists —as good as any in the House or on the T.U.C.—and many of these are not against the Bill. Nothing that the hon. Member says can change that. It is so silly to have that kind of speech again on Third Reading. We are debating big issues.
This is the Third Reading of the first comprehensive Industrial Relations Bill which has ever been through the House, and I should have thought that a great event by any test, whatever one thinks of the Bill. I was sorry that the right hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) did not rise to the occasion but made another of those mocking, carping and spiteful speeches. By any test, the House must recognise that this is a remarkable Bill. Thousands — nay, millions—have greeted it with paeans of praise and large numbers have greeted it with screams of rage. I agree with the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton) in—
§ Mr. Percival
Hon. Members will remember that the hon. Gentleman said that he was not even a "Lefty".
I agree with him that each of those extremes is quite unjustified and I think that both spring from the fact that far more people have commented on the Bill than have studied and understood it.
I want to comment on the two extremes —first, the paeans of praise. I pay my tribute to the Secretary of State, the Solicitor-General and the Under-Secretary. I am sure that everyone will agree that this is for them a moment of personal triumph of the first order. But that apart, the Bill has in some ways received a little too much adulation. This is dangerous, because it can lead people to regard it as a panacea for all ills—[Laughter.] Hon. Members may laugh. It is important that we should make clear to the country where the Bill fits into the overall strategy.
I speak mainly as a lawyer—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I hope that, when hon. Members who are not lawyers speak, they will recognise that perhaps there is one aspect of this in which lawyers may know a little more than they do. As a lawyer, I want to refute in unqualified terms the suggestion that any lawyer believes that the law can take over, or solve the problems of industrial relations. The sole question—I know that my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench entirely agree with me on this—is what contribution the law can make to the efforts of others—
§ Mr. Percival
I hope that we can, in the midst of this frivolity and in the midst of such near-hysteria as we have heard on occasion, at least, on this Third Reading, have a quiet look at what the Bill does. I want to mention only three things, for those who say that it makes no contribution. Surely we can give up this huffing and puffing now and accept that the laying down of guidelines for the first time must, if there is any good will about, serve a useful purpose.
We must surely, if we all value individual freedoms, acknowledge that the Bill, for the first time, grasps a nettle and lays 611 down people's individual freedoms. To some hon. Members opposite, it may seem to go too far. I do not think that it goes far enough, especially Clause 5(1,a), where the rights to join an organisation are not wide enough, but those are Committee points—and I will not go back on them here.
§ Mr. Percival
I hope that hon. Members will at least recognise that one of the main objects and achievements of the Bill is to provide remedies for resolving difficulties, where no remedies existed before. In some respects some may be wrong and it may be fair to criticise the precise methods chosen, but surely the House can recognise that new remedies are introduced for resolving some of the types of dispute which we know to be all too common.
I thought that the hon. Member for Fife, West, although I agreed with him wholeheartedly on one thing, was rather carping about unfair dismissal. There are difficult provisions because one is dealing with a complicated situation and starting from scratch. Surely we can all agree that it is wholly desirable to provide a remedy for the man who, although his contract of employment has been properly terminated, may be justly entitled to some compensation. I hope that now that we have had a good discussion of these provisions in Committee—
§ Mr. Percival
Let the hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis) not get too worked up. I withdraw immediately what I said. The hon. Gentleman is right. On that occasion, I was not here. What I should have said is that we have had an opportunity to discuss the provisions among ourselves—[Laughter.]—yes, on both sides of the House. Despite my inaccuracy, I had 612 hoped that the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. John Mendelson), who laughs so heartily, would have said that he hoped that the provisions will achieve what they set out to do—to give a remedy which will provide compensation for men who lose their jobs in circumstances in which hitherto they would have had no rights at all. Now they may receive substantial compensation. I hope that, at this late stage, we shall wish these provisions a fair wind.
I want to turn to the screams of rage which we have heard. One of the most popular is that the Bill is a lawyer's paradise—a mass of technical jargon. I have some sympathy with that view. That part of Psalm 119, appointed for last Sunday, contains the words:Shew the light of thy countenance upon thy servant: and teach me thy statutes.I must say that I for one sang that couplet with some feeling. But it is a bad point to suggest that the Bill will not work because it is very technical. It is a bad point to say that the man on the factory floor will not be able to read it. He will not want to. There are lots of Statutes which are wholly beneficial to the man on the factory floor which he could not begin to understand if he tried. For example, there is the Employers' Liability (Defective Equipment) Act, 1969. The hon. Member for Bothwell (Mr. James Hamilton) and I served on the Standing Committee dealing with that Act, and I am not sure that we understood it.
§ Mr. James Hamilton
It is true that the hon. and learned Gentleman and I served on that Committee together and I am the first to admit that I did not understand the technicalities and legal phraseology. At the same time, however, I understood the practicalities because I have worked in that field all my life.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. After this exchange of compliments, let us get back to the Third Reading of the Industrial Relations Bill.
§ Mr. Percival
You will appreciate how agreeable it is, Mr. Speaker, to be able to agree across the Floor of the House on anything in this context. I agree with the hon. Member for Bothwell about the technicalities of that Act. They were difficult to follow. But we all knew, as the 613 man on the factory floor knew, that we were passing something beneficial to him, and the fact that he could not personally read it and understand it was immaterial. I do not think that the fact that a layman could not read and understand parts of this Bill has any great relevance to the issue.
Having been diverted by an agreeable agreement across the Chamber, I will leave out the next part of my speech and come to my conclusion. It has been claimed that we lawyers will immediately get a stranglehold on industrial relations —or that everyone will immediately fly to the arms of the lawyers. That is nonsense. I say that because I believe it to be true. These provisions are regarded by lawyers as last resorts and longstops. Most of our life is spent keeping people out of court. We never let them get into court unless everything else fails. Hon. Members have said, "If that is true, why set up all this paraphernalia?". That is a bad point also. Under the ordinary civil law, we have courts all over the country—quite a paraphernalia and establishment. That does not mean that people spend their lives in them. The vast majority of our people go through life without ever going into a court. But all the paraphernalia of those courts is there as a long-stop, and as a longstop only. If hon. Members opposite could just get it into their heads that lawyers have no wish to regard these provisions as anything but a last resort, they might well begin to have fewer misgivings.
Finally, I want to take up the point made by the right hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn at the conclusion of her speech. She asked us, "Does anyone really think that the Bill will improve industrial relations?" I am glad to have the opportunity to say, "Yes, I do." Given the minimum good will and cooperation, this Bill can make a contribution to better industrial relations. How big that contribution will be remains to be seen. We have to see how it works in practice. I hope that after we have gone through all the democratic processes here, we shall hear no more talk about non-co-operation.
§ Mr. Percival
The hon. Gentleman does not like this very much, does he? I believe that if in fact the co-operation needed to make the Bill work were withheld, the people of this country would not lightly forgive those who, by withholding that co-operation, would knowingly place their country at risk.
§ 7.27 p.m.
§ Mr. Stanley Orme (Salford, West)
I hope that the hon. and learned Member for Southport (Mr. Percival) will excuse me if I do not follow him on that last tack. I want to come at once to one of the central issues of the Third Reading. We arrived at this debate following the protracted urban guerrilla warfare waged last night against the Bill by the Labour Party. Some uncomplimentary things have been said by hon. Members opposite, which they are entitled to say, about our attitude. The right hon. Gentleman himself referred to the numbers involved last night.
We were aware that the Third Reading of the Bill would be the last major opportunity to express our opinion. We were aware that the T.U.C. petition, with over 500,000 signatures, was to be presented to the House today. We were aware that a lobby of leading trade unionists, headed by the General Council, would be at the House today. Last night, we opposed every Clause and every Amendment moved by voting for the longest time in succession in any British Parliament—certainly many times longer than when such a situation last occurred, in 1907. By that demonstration, the Labour Party showed that its opposition to the Bill had not weakened one iota.
That refutes the comments made by political and industrial commentators following the Croydon conference last Thursday and the remarks made by Ministers—quoted and unquoted—to the effect that the British Labour Party's opposition to the Bill was crumbling, that we should come to accept it, that we felt that it was inevitable, and that our resistance would no longer matter. I believe that the right hon. Gentleman himself was on record in one newspaper, and off the record in another, making that very point; he felt that we should come to accept the Bill and that we might as well face the inevitable.
615 In the light of what was done last night, and the organised manner in which the British Labour Party maintained its opposition, there is no foundation whatever for comments of that kind or for the idea that either now or in the future we shall accept the Bill or any part of it. Speaking from the back benches, I speak only for myself, of course, but I say that without fear of contradiction from any of my right hon. and hon. Friends around me now.
§ Mr. Nicholas Scott (Paddington, South)
The hon. Gentleman has referred to certain comments from this side of the House about the solidarity of the Parliamentary Labour Party in opposing the Bill. What would he say of the remark of a former Minister, reported in The Times this morning, that the Shadow Cabinet were making "bloody fools of themselves" last night?
§ Mr. Orme
We all have our problems. The hon. Gentleman knows that as well as I do, and I shall not embarrass him by giving examples from his side. Neither the Conservative Party nor the Labour Party is a monolithic structure. We have a form of collective freedom, but within that, individual freedom operates. I do not deny that 287 Members did not express a unanimous view, but the fact that only one or two can be found and called in aid is of great significance. The weightier evidence is there, and the actions of my right hon. and hon. Friends last night were an indication of their faith and their strength in opposition to the Bill.
I come to the position of the Liberal Party. We have had an interesting experience in relation to hon. Members on the Liberal bench. The hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson), I acknowledge at once, has frequently attended the debates and has made some very articulate and well-informed contributions. He was right to make them, even though they were all opposed to the view which I represent. But the Liberals have changed their attitude in an extraordinary fashion. They voted for the Second Reading. They voted for Clause 5(1)(b), the non-unionist Clause. A little later, they proposed a new Clause which would give workers the right to break contracts to take action 616 for such reasons as stopping arms for South Africa, and so on.
In other words, the Liberals have been selective in their approach. Tonight, they have arrived at a form of opposition to the Bill, though, having listened to the hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Pardoe), I cannot see why he does not intend to vote with the Conservatives on Third Reading. [HON. MEMBERS: "He has been converted."] If my hon. Friends think that I have converted the Liberals, they have far more faith in my powers than I have.
§ Mr. John Mendelson
I think that the Liberals are voting against the Bill tonight because they know that it is utterly unpopular among the electorate.
§ Mr. Pardoe
The hon. Gentleman makes a point of our voting for Clause 5 and then proposing a conscience Clause. Everyone recognises that there are issues of conscience at stake in any Bill of this kind. The hon. Gentleman's argument would deny the right of conscientious objection even in war.
§ Mr. Orme
The trade unions in this country have always recognised the right of conscience and have allowed people with genuine conscientious objections to contract out. When we challenged hon. Members opposite to show chapter and verse to disprove that, they could produce not a jot of evidence. That argument does not hold water.
The Bill establishes a legal framework for trying to administer industrial relations in Britain. It will not get off the ground. The Secretary of State has tried to encompass every aspect of industrial relations. Indeed, he made the boast earlier today that this was the first comprehensive Bill ever proposed in a British Parliament. But he has so framed the Bill to cover every aspect of industrial relations that, if it could ever work at all, it could work only within the legal framework which has been set up.
In Clause 57 and the provisions regarding registration, we start at the beginning of the road. We start there with legal sanctions and compulsions in regard to both registration and rules. From that everything flows. That cannot be denied Many of us have been charged with not being concerned with the freedom of the individual. I have refuted that already. 617 We live in a democracy. We have to accept that there is an elected Government, though elected on a minority vote, as there have been previous Governments elected on a minority vote. In a democracy, one has to accept the rule of the majority on certain aspects of life, and on others one can oppose.
In trade unionism, the collective freedom is not set against individual freedom. On the contrary, individual freedom operates within the collective freedom itself. If a trade union is democratic and has real freedom within its organisation, the chance of the individual being trampled is very remote. The T.U.C. itself has urged trade unions to ensure that their rules cover this point, and the Secretary of State will, I am sure, acknowledge that.
At the risk of boring the House, I will refer again to my own union, the A.U.E.W. Along with two or three other major unions, it will be one of the principal organisations affected by the Bill, and it operates in the major engineering industry. In my union, we have a policy-making body which is rank-and-file, and we have an executive council which is elected directly by the men themselves within the industry. Admittedly, I should like there to be 50, 60 or 70 per cent. polls, but this does not happen, just as it does not happen in municipal or Parliamentary elections—except, perhaps, in Northern Ireland and one or two other places. We are in a major city where the municipal vote, unfortunately, perhaps is not higher than 25 per cent., and the same is true elsewhere.
But in my union this is how democracy works. Where a member is disciplined by his branch for, say, not taking part in the 1st March or 18th March strike—let us not dodge this issue—he might be summoned to his branch. He is allowed to express his point of view and be represented. The matter then goes to the district committee. He has a right to be heard again, and then it goes to the executive council, which makes the decision. The member has a final appeal to a rank-and-file body of 11 members independently elected by the membership, with no control by any officer. The chairman is also a rank-and-file member, and the only officer of the union attending is the general secretary. None of the executive officers nor the president of my union attends.
618 This democracy works. I have seen it in operation and have taken part in it. As in the courts, a decision can be reversed by a higher body, reaffirmed by the next body, and so on. I wish that hon. Members could see the care and vigilance exercised. A final appeal court might go on for as long as two or three weeks while detailed individual cases are taken. A member has the right to challenge any executive officer and have any executive decision checked against the rules of the union, which is registered under the 1871 Act.
§ Mr. R. Carr
I have no reason to doubt the hon. Gentleman. If he is saying that the rules for disciplinary procedure within his union are so good and so democratic, the Registrar will be delighted and certainly will not interfere with them.
§ Mr. Orme
Trade unions are under more public scrutiny, quite rightly, than at any time. If an unjustifiable action is given publicity, so much the better. But when I get to know the details the matter is often not quite as I read it in the Press.
The democracy of which I speak operates on a free, independent basis, free from State interference, other than the law which we are all under. I have recognised that all along. I and my hon. Friends accept that the trade unions are no more outside the law than any other body or person. When we have free independent trade unions, open to the Press and television, when we have this democracy, to turn to the Registrar under this act to interfere will only do severe damage.
I have talked to some of the members of my union who have come here this afternoon—responsible officers, shop stewards, branch officials, full-time officers. I do not think that the Government appreciate the depth of feeling in the trade union movement. They are not dealing with the brain; they are dealing with the heart of the matter. In effect, they are impinging on rights that people feel almost instinctively. I have tried to express this feeling sometimes in the House, probably very inadequately, because I feel it also. I feel that it is democracy that I am talking about.
619 I have seen what is happening in other countries, including the United States and parts of Europe. I was in Czechoslovakia before Mr. Dubcek, the reforming Prime Minister, was overthrown, and I saw the demands there for a free Press, a free Parliament and free independent trade unions. Those are three cornerstones of our democracy. It cannot be denied that the Bill introduces a corporate approach that will remove one of those cornerstones. That is why we feel so strongly, so passionately and so deeply on the issue.
§ Mr. Tom King
I recognise the deep sincerity with which the hon. Gentleman speaks on this matter. He has spelt out what he believes is a model situation, and I think that he would put to the House a model structure of union rules. He then says that the Registrar will interfere in this model situation. For what reason would the Registrar seek to interfere with what the hon. Gentleman obviously believes is a model situation?
§ Mr. Orme
The hon. Gentleman can start with Clause 57, and go on particularly to Clause 61. If my union refuses to register as such it will become an organisation of workers, and then it loses certain rights, such as income tax concessions. If the hon. Gentleman looks at all the points itemised in Schedule 3, he will see that this is a real interference. I urge him to take into account our strength of feeling on the issue.
We are told that the Bill is to deal with strikes, particularly unofficial strikes and strikes that occur spontaneously. It is said that these are our major problem, and that they take place only in certain sectors of industry. Let us take a sore point in my industry, the engineering and general manufacturing industry. Let us look at the strengths and weaknesses in the car industry and car components industry, and not dodge the issue. Does anybody think that the Bill will improve the position there, when in many sections of those industries, unfortunately, an industrial jungle has already been created and is exceedingly difficult to untangle?
I hope that hon. Members were able to see the television programme the other night in which the Solicitor-General and the president of my union, Hugh 620 Scanlon, took part. Hugh Scanlon was asked what was needed to improve industrial relations, and he said that the first thing was a new procedure agreement within the engineering industry. When he was asked, "Have you been trying to get a new procedure agreement?", he said, "Yes, since 1922, when the last one was imposed upon us at the time of the engineering employers' lock-out." An argument about procedure agreements is not a simple matter. We are also talking about power in industry. The argument is not about making agreements enforceable but on the issue of the status quo. We are told that we need the Bill because trade unions are too powerful, that the balance has swung in their favour. When my hon. Friends and I move around the country visiting all sorts of factories and industries, how often are we met at the door by the shop steward and shown around the factory? Very rarely indeed. It is not a question of that. The Minister understands very well that the real crunch within the engineering industry comes on the question of managerial functions, and the point that in 1971 managements should not have the right to make changes without the workers first being consulted and the proposed changes going through the consultative machinery.
That is what they are asking for. Taking the York Memorandum as it is at present, it could take us anything from three to 18 months, but with the new procedure, agreements could be settled in most plants and most areas in the district concerned, while in a difficult case it could go to a central authority and the maximum period would be a month or two months. Is that too long to ask managements to allow the status quo to be maintained while there is discussion?
In the sort of situation which there is in industry today, with redundancies, with mergers, with all the uncertainty about employment, and which affects managers now as much as labourers or fitters, the workers want some form of security and want to have a right to be consulted—not just in name, not by just being told when the redundancies are posted; they want to be told about them before that, and they want to be consulted about methods of production and changes in methods of production which 621 take place at any plant. Is it too much to ask management to provide that? Is that a swing in favour of the workers? This is only to ask for a period of neutrality while the situation is being discussed. It is not a swing either way.
I know that hon. Members would not want me now to go through all the Clauses of the Bill; they have been gone through very adequately; but I would say to my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton), who made a very good speech, as he always does, and in a most affable manner, that having gone through many days and nights and weeks on this Bill, having looked at the number of prescribed unfair industrial practices, considering Clauses 85, 86 and 87, and what Clause 67 means about registration, and collective agreements under Clause 33, and what Clause 134 says about strikes, this Bill is heavily weighted against the trade union movement. In consequence, we are opposed to it.
That brings me to the politics of the matter and to the Croydon decision last week. There was a great deal of crowing following the Croydon decision. It was headlined that Mr. Jones and Mr. Scanlon had been defeated on their call for militant action. What those who crowed omitted to say was what was the unanimous decision following the endeavours of Mr. Jones and Mr. Scanlon to alter the T.U.C. decision. What was carried unanimously at Croydon? First, on registration, that affiliated unions should be strongly advised not to become registered under the Bill. Secondly, on repeal of the Bill when it becomes an Act, the resolution was that the General Council should seek from the Parliamentary Labour Party an explicit, unconditional assurance of repeal of the Act.
On collective agreements it was unanimously agreed that affiliated unions should take steps to ensure that they do not enter into legally binding collective agreements. Fourthly, on the Bridlington principles and the T.U.C. procedure for disputes, it was unanimously decided that the General Council will support affiliated unions which take steps to maintain and strengthen trade union organisations and existing T.U.C. procedures. This runs directly counter to the Bill because such steps would be an unfair industrial practice in many instances. I ask the Secre- 622 tary of State to notice—he must have read it—that, as to statutory bodies, trade unions shall be advised not to serve on the Industrial Relations Court; in the event of the Bill becoming an Act, that trade unionists should be withdrawn from the employed persons panel of industrial tribunals, and trade unions shall be advised not to serve on the Commission on Industrial Relations.
My hon. Friends will not have failed to see what Mr. George Woodcock said yesterday. He is still at the moment the Chairman of the C.I.R. He openly condemned this Bill and said it would not work because it was not on a voluntary basis. Many of us have a great respect for Mr. Woodcock, having worked with him for many years. It must be said that he must be in a very difficult position personally and I know that he must be thinking very hard and considering his personal position very closely indeed.
There was also the point about meeting the costs of unions in defending themselves against action taken against them, and authorising that assistance. Trade unions were criticised for not going more readily to the help of the U.P.W. during the Post Office dispute. The reason why they were not able to do that was they did not have funds which were transferable from one union to another for the purpose of helping a union in such circumstances. My word, we shall see such funds created now to fight this Bill and to assist unions fighting the Government as such. There was also a call for united action.
The Government are producing legislation which will be impossible to implement. If they start to force it into effect, it will bite in certain quarters and cause problems and industrial trouble. How can they carry it out when millions of people are opposed to it and see that it is not balanced at all? What sort of situation is that? What Mr. Harold Macmillan said the other day, as I read on Monday, was very interesting. He came out in support of the Prime Minister and of the Bill, but he said in a very interesting sentence:There are many battles which have to be fought and won, but they should be won in such a way that leaves behind no deep wounds.That is the advice of a former Conservative Prime Minister who could probably 623 take the temperature a good deal better than can the present Prime Minister. The inference of that sentence is that the Government are going to leave behind wounds so deep that the class issues in this country will be heightened, and there will be no healing of the breach and no co-operation with this Government while the Bill exists.
I return to the question of repeal. The Labour Party and the trade union movement must discuss this matter in the terms of the new T.U.C. decision. I know the terms of the motion which my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) had at the time of the Second Reading, but having talked with leading trade unionists and rank-and-file members up and down the country, I can say that they will accept nothing short of a total commitment by the Labour Party to repeal the Bill. They will accept nothing else. There is no doubt at all that this policy will be written into the policy of the Labour Party and of the trade union movement, if not before the autumn then certainly at the autumn conferences. This will be done.
The Bill, if it becomes an Act, will be for short duration, but it will do great damage to industrial relations. It will do nothing to solve strikes and it will do nothing to deal with wage claims. While it exists, it will be like a sore thumb in the middle of our economic situation.
I am convinced that the Labour Government and the Labour movement will be united in repealing it, and when we go to the country, it will be for total repeal. When we return as a Labour Government, after the traumatic experience of the Labour and trade union movement, which I went through as a Labour back bencher—although we now face the problem again under a Tory Government, but in a much worse form—we shall get our priorities right and we shall be going for growth and expansion, for industrial democracy and free trade unionism. That is what the repeal of the Bill means, and I beg my hon. Friends to support me.
§ 8.1 p.m.
§ Mr. Nicholas Scott (Paddington, South)
Hon. Members always listen to 624 the hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) with a great deal of respect and they did so through the Committee and Report stages of the Bill, and I was sorry that he ended his contribution to the Third Reading debate on that note. If the Labour Party is to go into the next election campaign with repeal of the Bill nailed to its masthead, I for one will look forward to that campaign with a certain relish. The Labour Party would be foolish to do so. We may not be able to convince the hon. Gentleman, even if the Bill works in practice, that there are benefits in it for trade unions and trade unionists, but I think that we will convince the mass of the people, as many of them are already convinced, that this is so.
The hon. Member talked very movingly from deep knowledge of his own union, the A.E.W., of the rules of his union and the many admirable procedures which it has for appeals and so on; but not all unions are as happily organised and those standards are not universal. The real lesson that might have been drawn from the E.T.U. case was not that reference to a court of law would have solved it, but that, if the Bill with registration had been enacted, those complaining about the corrupt hold of the Communist Party on the unions could have complained to the Registrar, and the Registrar could have investigated the matter and it could have been put right much more quickly and straightforwardly.
The hon. Member for Salford, West will not be surprised to learn that my interpretation of the events of last night differs from his. About half the Parliamentary Labour Party bothered to stay to fight in this "great crusade" against the Bill.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Miss Harvie Anderson)
There is no point in pressing the matter. If the hon. Member for Paddington, South (Mr. Scott) does not give way, the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) must resume his seat.
§ Mr. Heffer
On a point of order. The hon. Gentleman cannot make statements of that kind, be challenged and requested to give way so that the correct position of the Labour Party may be explained, and refuse to give way. It is not good enough.
§ Mr. Iremonger
With great respect, my hon. Friend the Member for Paddington, South (Mr. Scott) has not been here all the time, but many of us have. We do not have too much time now. We have been over all this before and it is a bad point.
§ Mr. Scott
I do not believe that the heart of the Labour Party was in that exercise last night. If we are all to quote from Henry V which seems so fashionable today, the speech to quote is that before that quoted by the Prime Minister in his Press release, or whatever it was, when the King said:Those who have no stomach for the fight let them depart.and they did; they were off last night. That is the real interpretation of what happened last night.
Today and through the months and weeks of its consideration by the House and the country the Bill has been sub- 626 jetted to a campaign of misrepresentation and misinterpretation the like of which I have never seen before about a Bill. Today, I want to consider three misapprehensions. The trouble is that hon. Members opposite get into a situation in which they go round the country putting advertisements in the newspapers and so on and eventually they believe their own myths, and they have trotted them out in the House today.
The hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton) wrote in the newspapers exhorting those making arms for South Africa not to make those arms. There is no reason why any hon. Member, or anybody else, should not make a speech, or write an article, if necessary exhorting people to strike in order that arms should not be sold to South Africa, so long as he is not exhorting them to do it in breach of their contract of service. As long as that condition is met, there is no restriction under the terms of the Bill.
Secondly, there is no provision in the Bill by which any person may be put in prison. I will not labour that, for the point has already been made.
Thirdly, hon. Members opposite have talked about fines and imprisonment. It was during the Committee stage that we reached the absolute absurdity when the the hon. Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Rose), speaking from the Opposition Front Bench, quoted Clause 54 as an example of a provision by which fines could be imposed. That is the Clause by which employers who fail to make returns of their procedure agreements are liable to a fine. The T.U.C. campaign and speeches such as we have heard in the House have led to a situation in which Labour Members have come to believe their own myths.
At last we come to the Third Reading. One of the most significant things is that we have now had three Ministers of Labour, as I still prefer to call them, on the trot—my right hon. Friend, the right hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) and the right hon. Member for Southwark (Mr. Gunter)—each of whom has been persuaded by experience in that office—my right hon. Friend by experience in the Department earlier and from studying the matter—that legislation was necessary. The right 627 hon. Member for Southwark has stuck to his guns. The right hon. Lady was first sold down the river and then, in order to re-establish herself inside her own party, she led the opposition to the Bill.
The right hon. Lady has talked a great deal about democracy, industrial democracy and democracy on the shop floor. It is our provisions for recognition which provide that the workpeople concerned shall ballot. Her provisions provided that the arrangements should be imposed by order of the Secretary of State upon those workpeople. It has been interesting to note that the closer her proposals came to those in the Bill, the greater the hysteria with which she has spoken from the Front Bench.
As I was tramping through the Lobbies last night, I happened to read a short piece from Voltare which seemed particularly appropriate—[HON. MEMBERS: "Which union is he in?"] He said:We live in curious times and amid astonishing contrasts: reason on the one hand, the most absurd fanaticism on the other; sauve qui peut.Anybody who has watched the Committee and Report stages of the Bill and observed the contrast between my right hon. Friend and the right hon. Lady will know on which side was reason and on which fanaticism.
I do not believe that the provisions for registration are onerous. If every company and charity have to comply with certain laws which society lays down and expects them to honour, I can think of no valid reason for trade unions not being expected to observe minimum standards laid down by society.
On the balance of rights between the agency shop and the closed shop, perhaps the oldest conflict in our society, the balance between freedom and order, I cannot, though I have looked at it closely, say that the solution which the Government have arrived at will be damaging to trade unions.
I should like to see a stronger declaration in the Bill about the duty of people to belong to a trade union normally. The exact provisions for the establishment of the agency shop will, I believe, be a considerable aid to trade unions, not an inhibiting factor, in recruiting members.
628 The Bill is based on the civil law, not on the criminal law. There are real benefits for trade unions and for work-people. For the first time, trade unions will have the right of recognition, the elimination in the agency shop situation of the free riders, and the right to information which they need on which to bargain for collective agreements. For workpeople there will be extended periods of notice for those with long service and, for the first time in our history, a dismissals appeals procedure, and they will be able to get information about the company for which they work. The whole concept and basis of the Bill is summed up in the language which it uses—fairness and unfairness. That seems to be the secret.
If I had to identify the one thing above all for which I believe the country looks from this Bill, it is that the unofficials, the militants, what the former Prime Minister in his more clear-headed times used to call the politically motivated men, will no longer be able to call strikes in breach of agreements and go scot free. It is common ground—as almost everybody who has studied the problem will agree—that the unofficial strike called by unofficial groupings is one of the most serious problems facing British industry. The Bill will provide a solution to that problem. I believe that it will lay the basis for an improvement in industrial relations. Unless we get that improvement, any other attempts to improve and expand our economy will founder. Those who oppose the Bill in the irresponsible way that some have will, I believe, be treated appropriately by the electorate at the next election.
§ 8.14 p.m.
§ Mr. Kevin McNamara (Kingston upon Hull, North)
If the hon. Member for Paddington, South (Mr. Scott) believes what he said in his peroration that this Bill will achieve he will believe anything. The Bill will not achieve any of the things which he wants. If the hon. Gentleman feels that he will stop the unofficial strikes and the militants by virtue of this legislation and the various sanctions which it imposes, he does not know the British industrial scene; he does not know what happens in a large factory complex, on a dockside, on a quayside, or anywhere. The unofficial groupings 629 will continue to exist. The hon. Gentleman and his leader should be trying to find a remedy leading to a situation in which grievances do not exist and in which these people will not have fertile ground on which to work. If the hon. Gentleman thinks that the Bill will supply such a groundwork he is mistaken. As my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) said, right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite are creating such a deep wound of resentment, such a great feeling about the whole issue, that they will find it very hard to get any co-operation.
The hon. Member for Paddington, South said that there had been considerable heat from the Labour Party and a sustained campaign of vilification and misrepresentation against the Bill. The misrepresentation has come from the Government. They have been trying to sell the Bill as some new panacea which would solve industrial relations problems and would suddenly do something to our economy which would set it alight, burning, and ready for expansion. It will do none of those things. The people responsible for our financial stagnation are right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite.
The hon. Gentleman made a wonderful Jesuitical point about distinguishing between urging people to take unofficial action as extraneous parties to a dispute and urging them to break their contracts. It may be said, in the particularly closely drawn example which he gave, that that might not be a cause of action under Clause 87. But all that a person has to say to a shop steward at Brough to be liable under Clause 87 is, "If I were making aeroplanes for South Africa, I should stop the job" or, "If I were on the dock loading Wasp helicopters for South Africa, I should stop the job." For a man to state his opinion in such words would make him liable under Clause 87. This is what the hon. Gentleman failed to face. This is the real danger, to which I shall come again in a short time.
Hon. Gentlemen opposite have said at various times today that we could have discussed this, that or the other. But we did not. The reason was that their own Front Bench was afraid of their own Bill. The more we examined and went into it, the more its imperfections 630 were revealed. No more classic example of bungling could be revealed than the fact that the Government yesterday had to withdraw 40 Amendments because, in their own timetable, they had not allowed sufficient time to enable them to be voted upon, never mind discussed, and they were withdrawn to save the following day's business. That is the kind of bungling which we expect from this Government.
This is a Government of complete contradictions. The Secretary of State today gave the impression that the Bill was good for trade unions. But this was not the impression given by the Prime Minister on Second Reading. The point which he made was that the Bill was to do with economic policy. The point which the Prime Minister was making in his speech was that trade unions had been too successful in getting real increases in wages for their members and, thereby, doing one of the jobs for which they had been created. Now, to prevent unions being so successful, it has been found necessary to introduce this legislation.
That is not the only contradiction. The Secretary of State and various of his cohorts went round the country condemning the "mindless militancy" of the A.E.F.W.U. executive and urging its members not to come out on strike on 18th March. On the other hand, when there is an unofficial strike against the wishes of the union executive, they go around condemning the action of the unofficial strikers.
The Government cannot have it both ways. They cannot demand either a strong executive and a weak rank and file or a strong rank and file and a weak executive. But this is what they are trying to do in the interpretation which they put upon it. In so doing, they are going back to the bad old days of trade unionism, "bad" in this sense being very much a relative term. When there was an all-powerful trade union executive—when we had the diktat coming from above and the gulf appearing between the executive and the rank and file member—we had far more disagreements and problems in industry than now.
My union executive has said that it will sign no agreement until the members involved have discussed it. That 631 is the best way. People will be saying, "The Transport and General should have insisted that the members accepted the latest offer from Ford." They cannot have it both ways. This is what this Measure is doing. At the start of the Bill we had a long discussion about whether this was the beginning of the creation of a corporate state. Government hands were thrown up in horror and it was said that this was not the case but that this was another nasty Labour exaggeration.
Yet let us look at some of the provisions of the Bill. For a start there is the creation of a hierarchy of work-peoples' organisations, the special register and the general register—that smacks a bit of Franco. Then there is an attack upon the independence of the judiciary. If we look at the terms and conditions of the appointments of the appointed lay members to this new National Industrial Relations Court it will be seen that they are appointed for a period of three years but the Lord Chancellor and the Secretary of State may remove any appointed member whom they think is unfit for office at any time. There are the seeds of it; there is the situation whereby members of a judicial body acting as assessors will be under pressures. This is very important and it is already reflected too in the Government's attitude to Hugh Clegg and Jack Scamp.
Then there is freedom of speech. We have already had that illustrated by the example I gave to the hon. Member for Paddington, South, the great liberal hope of the Tory Party.
§ Mr. Arthur Lewis
On a point of order. Can I ask you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to point out to the House the usual custom and courtesy that has existed for 25 years to my knowledge whereby hon. Members who have just made a speech wait at least to hear the following speech? My hon. Friend wants to refer to an hon. Member who is absent. I am not picking him out particularly because it happens both ways and the House gets into difficulties 632 because it is impossible to judge whether there has been a fair or unfair comment. As a courtesy to the House the Chair should point out that this is the usual custom.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Miss Harvie Anderson)
I doubt whether the House would appreciate that from the Chair but I am sure that the House has taken the point made by the hon. Member.
§ Mr. McNamara
My third point was the attack upon freedom of speech and my fourth is the imposition of procedure agreements, an action imposing upon people the conditions under which they will work without their necessarily having been asked about them, either through their unions or their employers. They have only one alternative—work or unemployment. My final point is the Clauses against sympathetic strikes. These points are the bricks which go towards the building of a corporate state.
§ Mr. Patrick Cormack (Cannock)
I appreciate the hon. Gentleman is speaking with great sincerity. Can he say what his views are on those members of unions who are brought before their unions and fined, as happened recently with those who refused to take part in the one-day strike?
§ Mr. McNamara
I will answer this point. The hon. Member could not have been here for the very fine speech of my lion. Friend the Member for Salford, West who dealt with this point in relation to his union in complete detail. I would refer him to my hon. Friend's speech. In my union, the Transport and General, and I have the rule book here, we have a system whereby at every one of our biennial conferences we elect six members to form an appeals committee, independent lay members of the union.
To them any decision, from the general executive council upwards to the branch of the union, can be sent and discussed on a proper basis. Members of my union, if they are fined or disciplined by their branch have an opportunity for an impartial investigation into their case, because every decision can be challenged. The hon. Member should get to know something about unions and union procedure. I would almost say that there is more opportunity in a trade union for a person, stage by stage to have his case 633 re-examined and further examined than exists even in our fine system of law.
§ Mr. Cormack
Is the hon. Gentleman really suggesting that that sort of union set-up is a more impartial judicial body than that which will be provided under the Bill?
§ Mr. McNamara
I am, certainly. In an industrial situation there are fellow workmen who know about the situation and the difficulties. If that is translated into a place where there is a lawyer and two highly respected people, all very experienced, with a beautiful knowledge of the law, good at parsing sentences, but ignorant of what is going on on the shop floor and the sort of pressures there, then they will not understand the occurrence which has led to the disciplining of a member.
There is a real fear of a corporate State here. This is why we need free trade unions. This is why trade unions are always the first to be attacked under any dictatorship. This is why we want to keep our trade unions within the law, not as part and parcel of it, not as a registered union, not as organisations which have to police their membership, and it could happen under an imposed procedure, but with a collective organisation with not only, in the words of my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, West, "freedom within that body" but freedom because of that body for the majority of working people.
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ Mr. David Waddington (Nelson and Colne)
I listened with care to the remarks of the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) and I thought his interpretation of the events of last night rather droll, but I will not dwell on that.
I appreciate the intensity of feeling on the part of hon. Gentlemen opposite on this subject and I do not challenge their honesty when they assert, in extremely eloquent speeches, that the Bill will deprive trade unions and their members of their legitimate rights.
I do not agree with hon. Gentlemen opposite when they put their case in that way, mainly because as I look back over events of recent months it seems that a remarkable thing has happened. Both inside and outside the House our oppo- 634 nents have been proving our case for us. For example, they often argue that the T.U.C. is able to carry out the undertaking it gave in June, 1969 and is capable of intervening when unconstitutional stoppages occur. Hon. Gentlemen opposite accordingly claim that this necessarily complicated legislation is not required.
In the last month the T.U.C. has been wholly impotent to prevent extremely damaging one-day political strikes from being carried out by members unions. How can hon. Gentlemen opposite seriously say that this legislation is not required when even the T.U.C. is unable to settle these unconstitutional disputes?
§ Mr. James Hamilton
The T.U.C. held a congress last week at Croydon. The hon. Gentleman will be aware of the two unions concerned, though only one was involved in the strike. How many demarcation disputes have occurred since the T.U.C. decided to intervene in these disputes?
§ Mr. Waddington
I cannot give the figures offhand, but I return to my central theme, which is vital in considering the points made by hon. Gentlemen opposite about the closed shop, which they support as a matter of principle. They consider it essential for union solidarity and to ensure, as the hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) said, that the interests of both unions and their members are sufficiently safeguarded.
The other day we had a one-day strike. It was called by the A.E.F. Many people who were working in closed shop conditions had to take part in that strike because it was called by their union. Is it not absurd that people who, as recently as June of last year, voted Conservative, principally because they wanted legislation of this sort, were compelled, because of the operation of the closed shop, to take part in a strike of that kind?
§ Mr. Arthur Lewis
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the mythical trade unionists of whom he speaks could not have known when they voted Conservative last June that this Bill would be introduced? Perhaps they voted Tory because they wrongly believed that the Prime Minister would, among other things, reduce prices at a stroke.
§ Mr. Waddington
The hon. Gentleman is not meeting my point. We went over 635 this ground the other night, when he was gracious enough to retract that phrase about the mythical character. I am telling lion. Gentlemen and my hon. Friends that a man has told me—and I have no reason to doubt him—that he voted for me in June last year because he believed that it was necessary to have an Act of Parliament which would establish a new legal framework for industrial relations. I am sure that hon. Members opposite will be fair enough to accept, for the purpose of argument, that I am telling the truth when I say that.
If I am right, they must accept that it is a rather absurd result of the operation of the closed shop that a man may be forced to go on strike, not in pursuit of a wage claim but in furtherance of a political policy and demand for which he has no sympathy whatever. The events of the last month, far from helping hon. Members to make out their case against the Bill, have added enormous weight to our claim that we should not allow the closed shop to continue as it has continued so far.
§ Mr. Ted Fletcher
Does the hon. Gentleman appreciate that when a man joins a trade union he signs a membership form saying that he agrees to abide by the rules of the union, and he is given a copy of the rules. Those rules set out certain circumstances in which district committees or executive councils can call on the members to follow their lead in industrial action. That is what a discriplined trade union does. That being so, does not the hon. Gentleman think that his mythical Tory supporter, having agreed to accept the union's rules, is morally bound to abide by them?
§ Mr. Waddington
The hon. Member has not followed my argument at all. I was posing the case of the closed shop, and the gentleman to whom I was referring never voluntarily accepted membership of the union but was compelled to become a member because there was a closed shop and he could not otherwise get a job. It is bad enough when a man has to join a trade union when he does not wish to do so, but it is very much worse, and the evil is very much worse, when a trade union which he did not wish to join takes him out on strike, not in pursuance of a wage claim but in 636 furtherance of some political policy with which he has no sympathy at all. I should not think that anyone here would accept the validity of that argument.
I have played some part in the various stages of the Measure, and I thought that the saddest occasion of all was when we heard hon. Members opposite solemnly asserting the right to picket a person's home. I can only again express the blank astonishment I felt when that argument was advanced. I appreciate all that is said, and said with a great deal of emotion, by hon. Gentlemen about the need to maintain the strength of the trade union movement. I understand their strong feelings when they talk about solidarity. But I believe that we are indeed living in a queer world if this fetish of solidarity is to be taken so far that a man's privacy is to be invaded, and he is to have thrust into his ears and down his mouth, at the doorway of his own home, the political opinions as well as the industrial opinions of people working at the same place as himself.
I very much doubt whether people outside the House have understood many of the arguments advanced in the Chamber. We seem so often to have been led astray for one reason or another. I am sure that no one outside understands what all last night's junketing in the Division Lobbies was about, and I do not think that it is very profitable to pursue that matter further.
I want to express the reasons why the Bill can make a useful contribution. The enactment of this legislation will in itself do good. Its passing will prove to others our determination to try to avoid wholly unnecessary strikes which have been so damaging to our interests in recent years, especially our export interests. We cannot over-emphasise the importance of convincing people overseas that we are at last trying to put our house in order.
I met a man the other night who was in the furnishing fabric trade. He had gone on a protracted tour round the Continent of Europe, trying very hard to sell his products, which, in the past, he had had no difficulty in selling in this country and abroad. Time and again he was confronted by potential customers who told him that the reputation of British industry on delivery dates was so bad that they were not prepared to place an order with him. They said this to 637 him in spite of his protestations that he had never been late on a delivery date in his life.
We have to face the fact that people are expecting us to put our house in order and to tackle the problem of small unofficial strikes which cause an immense amount of dislocation, quite out of scale to the problem which they are supposed to be solving.
From the point of view of workpeople, I feel very strongly that, whereas harsh words have necessarily and inevitably been used during the various stages of the Bill, the time has now come for restraint. If hon. Members opposite listen to what I am saying, they will understand how realistic I am being when I say that we look for restraint and common sense in the operation of the Bill by employers, and we look for, and I am sure that we shall find, restraint by the unions involved, which, in spite of their threats in recent days, will not attack those who, for instance, refused to join in these recent strikes. The time has come for a healing of some of the wounds. I shall try to help in that process.
§ 8.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Lewis (West Ham, North)
I know that you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, want to allow as many hon. Members as possible to speak. Therefore, to save time, I shall not give way.
It is amazing to hear the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Waddington) shedding these crocodile tears when we realise what has happened. I will not go into the details of the Bill because on Third Reading one should not deal with them. We should supposedly have dealt with them during Committee and Report stage.
I want to adduce reasons why we should oppose the Third Reading. To start with, we oppose it on the grounds which the hon. Gentleman touched upon, the so-called democratic procedure. Trade unions have been attacked for their alleged lack of democratic procedure. We have had no democratic procedure with regard to the Bill. It has been the usual custom and practice for the Government of the day, when introducing legislation, to introduce the Bill and to consult the persons and organisations mainly concerned. On this Bill the Gov- 638 ernment did no such thing. They never consulted the trade union movement. They bring in the Bill; we have the Second Reading; and within two days of the commencement of the Committee stage, when the Government said that there had been no filibustering or waste of time, immediately the guillotine is imposed against the wish not only of this side of the House but also of the other side.
Then we had the farce of the Committee stage followed by the so-called Report stage, when page after page of the Bill was not discussed and when pages of Government Amendments were not considered. The culmination came last night when the Government themselves had to withdraw several of their own Amendments since there was not sufficient time to get through the number of Divisions which would have been necessary.
After all that, the Government have the audacity to tell trade unionists how undemocratic they are and how they do not allow their members to operate proper, democratic procedures—
§ Mr. Lewis
No, I will not give way. A number of my hon. Friends wish to speak. After all, the Government imposed the guillotine. I did not. I voted against it. We are still under a guillotine. If the Government wanted to show their fairness and their belief in freedom and democracy, they should not have imposed the guillotine. I do not see why I should give way to an hon. Gentleman opposite and so deprive my hon. Friends of the opportunity to intervene in the debate.
Now we find the Bill in its Third Reading stage. The Government will win the day, of course, and the Bill will he sent to that great, democratically-elected "other place", not one of whose members has ever been elected or been responsible to anyone. Unlike us, the elected representatives of the people, who were not allowed to discuss these matters, they will have full, free and long-discussions with no guillotine. They will be able to say at length just what they like.
The other place will make Amendments, and those Amendments will come 639 back to us. If the Government reintroduce the Amendments that they did not move last night, without doubt those Lords Amendments will be guillotined when they come to us for consideration. In that way, we shall have imposed upon us, the democratically-elected representatives of the people, the wishes and desires of another place. Then the Government have the audacity to tell the unions that they carry out undemocratic procedures. What a lot of hyprocrisy and dishonesty on the part of this crooked Government—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] They are crooked, because they cannot honestly say these things when they deprive the elected representatives of the people of their democratic rights.
Leaving aside what is in the Bill and whether it is good, bad or indifferent, the Government's action is an attack on democracy. With the active connivance and support of the Government, the will of this House is being thwarted by a non-democratic, reactionary body. We have no means of doing anything about it. When the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne goes back to the person who complained about the lack of democracy in his trade union, perhaps the hon. Gentleman will point out to him and to trade unionists generally that a member of any union can go from the workshop floor right to the top of his executive council through democratic procedures, questioning and querying every point about which he has doubts.
I believe that I am the only hon. Member who can boast of being a member of three trade unions. The individual members of each of those unions can go through the democratic appeal procedure. But hon. Members in the House cannot do so. My hon. Friends and I are not allowed to debate the important issues arising from the Bill. We shall not be allowed to discuss the Lords Amendments.
For those reasons, and not merely for what is in the Bill, I shall certainly vote with gusto this evening as I have done throughout the proceedings on the Bill.
§ 8.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Adam Butler (Bosworth)
I follow the hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis) with a little trepidation, but I shall have the cour- 640 tesy to give way if anybody should wish to intervene during my speech.
I wish to record my view that the time allotted by the Government to debate the Bill, both in Committee and on Report, has been adequate for the purpose. But the use of the time allotted by hon. Members opposite has been such that, to my regret and that of many others, some Clauses and Amendments have not been debated. I suggest that in future debates hon. Members opposite should try to follow the valiant if unsuccessful effort of the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) in a recent Radio 4 programme. If hon. Members opposite had spoken for "just a minute" on the subjects that they were discussing, without repetition and without deviation, it would have helped our debates.
§ Mr. Dudley Smith
The point that I was endeavouring to make to the hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis) was that despite all the protestations about waste of time and lack of time we had about six hours' debate on the comparatively narrow picketing point.
§ Mr. Butler
The Committee debated the matter for five hours, and hon. Members opposite showed themselves to be quite at a loss to understand the Clause. They were corrected after that time by my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General.
I want to concentrate on the voluntary aspects of the Government's proposals for industrial relations reform. Two phrases have been bandied about. I was a little surprised that the right hon. Lady did not use the phrase "legal straitjacket" today, because she and her hon. Friends have used it from time to time. 641 Hon. Members on this side of the House have used the phrase "framework of law"; and, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said, we are proposing a set of fair and reasonable rules.
That is one good example of the two points of view that exist among hon. Members. I suggest that both the House and the country should decide which is correct. A straitjacket makes a man powerless. He can be controlled and directed at will, and can do little voluntarily. A framework of law provides a periphery and generally curtails peripheral and extreme action, and a set of rules points the way.
I ask which is the fairer description of the Bill. It is no empty claim or boast on our part that the Bill provides a framework of law within which can take place the voluntary processes of industrial relations—the individual relationships between boss and worker—with new and very suitable safeguards for the individual, and the process of free, responsible bargaining over wages and conditions without interference by the Government.
There is of course some compulsion. There is compulsion on the employer in regard to the greater length of notice he is now required to give to the individual, in regard to the compensation which he is required to pay for unfair dismissal, and the information which he is required to give to individual employees. There is some compulsion in the employer's relations with unions. For the first time, he is bound to recognise a union if a majority wish it so. Those are points at which compulsion applies with which, I am sure, hon. Members opposite would agree.
Slightly more contentious, perhaps, is the compulsion on a union or employer to accept a procedure agreement, that is, an agreement on procedures to be followed in the event of a dispute. It is generally agreed that the absence of a proper procedure is one of the causes of unrest and strikes in industry. Is it immoral, therefore, to compel procedures to be followed before the strike weapon is used? This is a perfect example—I have said it before, but I am not ashamed to repeat it—of how the Commission on Industrial Relations is required to get the parties to agree voluntarily 642 to accept a disputes procedure before finally, if they will not agree, an order is made.
The right hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn said that shop stewards should be completely free to act as they have in the past. One point in this context is how the Bill seeks to ensure that they are, or are not, authorised to call strikes. I understand that in the rules of the A.E.F., for example, a shop steward is required already to refer back to the district committee before calling a strike. That is the sort of point the Registrar will be looking for in the rules of unions, to make clear what the shop steward's responsibility is. If I am right in my reference to the rules of the A.E.F.—there has been no suggestion that I am not—that is one example of how the shop steward is already subject to a limitation on his freedom under the rules.
In the case of emergency situations, the Bill provides for compulsory ballots and for the cooling-off period. But these are compulsions within the law. The courts cannot order any individual back to work. Under our Bill, unlike the right hon. Lady's Bill, the Secretary of State cannot take direct arbitrary action. Indeed, in the case of ballots, it lays down that he must have reason to believe that 50 per cent. of the workers are against a particular dispute before taking it further, and he then has to justify the case with the parties concerned before the N.I.R.C. Is it unreasonable to use the democratic device of a ballot in a grave or emergency strike situation?
There is no compulsion on a union to have to have provision for a strike ballot, though I should welcome that, as I said last night. There is no compulsion, so here again is the voluntary process at work.
On the question of union rules, we have time and time again the emotive cry about the need for a State licence to operate.
§ Mr. Butler
This cannot stand up under even the most cursory examination of Clause 61 and Schedule 3. I will not bore the House with all the points that the Registrar is required to look for in union rules, but going through quickly we see that they include the election of 643 a governing body, the appointment of officers, rules on membership and the giving up of membership, the calling of ballots, and procedure for inquiring into complaints. All those things are already in the rule book of most trade unions in this country. Therefore, there can be no complaint, no reasonable, rational complaint, that unions will be required to have rules that meet these requirements.
Continuing registration of a union will be voluntary, as we made quite clear last night, but I suggest that it will become accepted, because of the risks run by a union that does not register. The enforceability of substantive agreements will also be voluntary, but I see this developing because of the benefits to be gained. Legal action, which has been a matter of concern to the House, if it is taken under the Bill will also be voluntary; that is to say, there is no compulsion on the union or employer to seek compensation for damages resulting from an unfair industrial practice by the other party.
A party will carefully weigh up all the consequences of such action, and in the event will rarely act. I say that with confidence because I believe that experience in America will be repeated here. Mr. Pat Lowry, who has been used as a witness for both the prosecution and the defence, and, therefore, may be considered to be a reputable witness, showed quite clearly that experience in America and his own opinion was that union and employer rarely, if ever, took the other to court, but that the threat of possible legal action was enough to bring the two parties together to end their dispute. That is a very good example of the law changing men's attitudes without having to be brought into effect.
Mr. James Thin (Cleveland)
Will the hon. Gentleman try to explain why, with these improved attitudes, the United States suffers about 12 times as many working days lost per 100,000 of the population as we do?
§ Mr. Butler
If the hon. Gentleman had been here in Committee he would have heard this matter debated many times.
§ Mr. Butler
But strikes in the United States generally take place at the end of a two- or three-year wage agreement, whereas the scourge of our industrial situation is that about 95 per cent. of them are unconsitutional, unofficial, taking place at any moment.
I nearly interrupted my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Waddington) to remind him of the situation in the automobile industry in this country last year, when, because of unofficial strikes occurring at a moment's notice, the Department has estimated that production losses amounted to one car in seven. That is the cost of strikes to this country. In America stocks are built up, and production loss as a result of strikes at the end of the three-year wage agreements are, therefore comparatively small.
I have only given a few examples of where the voluntary side of the Bill comes in but I think that these are sufficiently encouraging. Our proposals give rein to voluntary activities within industry. But I repeat what I have said on many occasions—that the onus still within the Bill is on management. For the right hon. Lady to suggest that my right hon. Friend has never put forward this idea before is total nonsense. If she had been interested in what the Conservative Party has been saying about industrial relations, she would have studied what my right hon. Friend had said at party conferences and in many speeches. He has made the point time and again that the onus of industrial relations is on managements and unions and individual workers, but primarily on managements, because they are the ones who take the decisions.
I remind the Opposition of the code of industrial practice which my right hon. Friend will be introducing within the next month or two. I hope that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State will remind my right hon. Friend of my remarks last night—that we are looking for greater debate than at one time seemed possible on the code.
645 I concude by talking about one freedom, or so-called freedom or right, which the Bill could be said to be taking away from the trade union movement. This is perhaps the crux of the matter. It is the total freedom to behave irresponsibly, to indulge in the sort of selfish behaviour which is threatening to bankrupt some of our industries. Most trade unions behave responsibly. The behaviour I have described in the work of minorities. But unions are still free to take action with only the interests of their members at heart. The only freedom they are forfeiting under the Bill is that freedom which must be and is gladly given up by individuals and organisations alike to allow them to live together in a free but civilised and democratic society.
§ 9.8 p.m.
§ Mr. A. E. P. Duffy (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
If the hon. Member for Bosworth (Mr. Adam Butler) did not go quite as far as the hon. and learned Member for Southport (Mr. Percival) in claiming the Bill to be remarkable by any simple test, at least he was at one with all his hon. Friends who have taken part in the debate in an uncritical acceptance of the Bill. We find that in itself disturbing. Inevitably, I shall go a little beyond that and apply one reasonable test of authority to the Bill.
Intellectually, I think that this is a disgraceful Bill. It not merely ignores the findings of the Royal Commission, which considered the subject for several years and brought to its labours all the most renowned, important and best qualified authorities on industrial relations; it has not brought to its own defence any analysis of its own. It is difficult, therefore, for us to respect the Bill and to avoid the suspicion that the Government are not concerned with love of collective bargaining but rather with the imposition, above all, of a complex legal system of penalties, including, ultimately and inevitably, imprisonment of workers and trade unionists over strikes and other forms of industrial unrest. If that were not enough, the Government even have the impertinence so to gear the trade unions to their intentions as to try to make them industry's policemen.
That of itself, however, is an indication of how little even the Ministers handling the Bill understand the essential 646 nature of trade unionism, how easily they have overlooked that trade union leaders are officials of democratic organisations in which the seat of power has always been most close to the membership, and in no union more than that of my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme).
The Bill is likely to widen the gulf between the leadership and the shop floor, despite the repeated claims of the Secretary of State that he is seeking to strengthen the authority of the trade unions. A trade union leader who has to spend much of his time reminding his membership, and particularly the shop stewards, of the possible legal consequences of their actions is hardly likely to inspire confidence.
My own union, the General and Municipal Workers' Union, along with many others, in recent years has devoted much time and experience to improving its own structure and communications, and it has invited some leading authorities, such as those to whom I made a passing reference, eminent authorities like Professor Hugh Clegg, to look at its structures and to publish their findings in official journals. The unions are prepared to look at themselves, to take advice and to modernise themselves, if only they are allowed to do so in a decent and democratic way.
My union believes that much of this work, which has gone on in all corners of trade union structure in the country, for the most part unrecorded, unpublished and unpraised, will be undermined by the Bill. What the Secretary of State demonstrably does not understand is that it is in the nature of trade unionism that authority should therefore be derived from those below. Trade union leaders can advise, can cajole, can persuade, some more successfully than others, and some unions are more authoritarian than others, but they cannot command. Hon. Members opposite cannot point to any trade union leader who is able to go on pushing his own membership around indefinitely.
§ Mr. Duffy
The Secretary of State's insistence—and this is a strange thing—on unions being more authoritarian can only divorce them from their rank and file, but at the same time to do the kind of job which we understand he wants 647 them to do, and which we want them to do, they must be the reverse, that is to say, more influential—but that means being less and not more authoritarian.
He is reminding the mass of trade unionists, and this is especially true of the shop stewards, who emerge from the scrutiny of the Donovan Commission, as the lynchpin of our bargaining system, that according to the Donovan Commission, most managers prepare to deal at this level and with this kind of worker rather than with full-time trade union officers, and most unions now recognise that. Contrary to popular belief, managers find them less militant than their members; this was stated in the Donovan Report. Yet the Bill did not mention them and it will assuredly make it more difficult to recruit them in future.
The Bill provides employers with a particularly neat way to get rid of troublesome shop stewards. We have an unfortunate precedent in my own city of Sheffield. Few shop stewards will feel confident about their legal rights.
At this point we are reminded of what is perhaps the most disturbing feature of the passage of the Bill through the House, that is, the lack of discussion, the lack of opportunity for hon. Members on both sides of the House to explore these areas of doubt and uncertainty, above all, to have a continuing and con-what has been described by my hon. structive discussion. Instead we have Friend the Member for Birmingham, All Saints (Mr. Brian Walden), in a striking speech a few weeks ago, as the hostile polarisation of views which the guillotine procedure made inevitable. Thus it is a hazardous exercise for any of us to try to gauge what the effect of the Bill will be before it is in operation.
This might seem to be a step down from the position taken by some of my hon. Friends. Not at all. It is just as disquieting as their indictment of the Bill, just as depressing as their forecasts. It depends, as hon. Gentlemen have recognised, on how employers decide to operate it. What is probable, I suggest, is that the hopes of reform have now been set back for many years and that all too many employers will use this Bill as an authoritarian crutch instead of getting down to finding out why their industrial relations are poor, which was the 648 challenge, among others, of the Donovan Commission. Instead of doing this, they will turn to the law.
At this point I should like to go into a little detail on the rôle of the National Industrial Relations Court because we have not had an opportunity to do so in Committee. Those managers and trade unionists who genuinely wish to improve industrial relations may find, when they look at the Court, that there is little hope there. Its basic aim is not reform but rather to see that the law bites. As such the Court can hardly inspire confidence among trade unionists. The Minister laid great stress on the informality of the N.I.R.C. and the industrial tribunals which will operate below it in the districts, but the law has its own rationale. It will be hard to prevent lawyers' arguments from dominating courts which have lawyers and, in the case of the N.I.R.C., judges as chairmen.
The Consultative Document also proposed that the Court should include people withspecialist and practical experience of industrial relations on both sides of industry.It is noteworthy that in the Bill the requirementon both sides of industryhas now been dropped. The Government should not be surprised if the N.I.R.C., which consists solely of judges, employers and Conservative nominees—like those who produce the Black Books—is regarded as little more than a kangaroo court.
I am not in any way impugning the impartiality of the judiciary. Its impartiality is a byword, but it must be realised that no judge can go beyond the law. Mr. Justice Caufield in the recent secrets case was a notable exception, the first in 50 years.
Unfair industrial practices are defined by statute under the Bill. A judge will not be free to look at industrial practice and to decide himself whether it is unfair. He has to identify certain situations defined in the Bill and apostrophise them as unfair industrial practices. The independence of the judges therefore gives no security under the Bill, no guarantee of fairness between one section of the community and another. The judge is brought in merely to provide an aura of respectability, to lend himself 649 to the condemnation of a union officer who has to show that his conduct was fair.
If the Statute says that it is unfair, then the judge must echo the statute. A similar situation arises with the Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1956, when any restriction is against the public interest if it cannot get through one of the "gateways", one of the exemptions, of Section 21. Judges are powerless, for all their known impartiality, to declare something to be in the public interest when the Act says that it is against the public interest.
The situation in the Industrial Court will be the same under this Bill. The Restrictive Practices Court has an almost unbroken line of convictions until now. Only a minute percentage of respondents even bother to offer a defence or oppose condemnation. The same will presumably happen in the Industrial Court. A judge may hold the scales fairly, but he can do nothing about the lead weight which the Government have put in one pan. The judge will, in addition, be expected to take note of a politically drawn code of conduct—Clause 4—even if he is not bound by it, as he is bound by the definition of an unfair industrial practice.
So far, I have looked at the proposed rules of the court on the assumption that the judiciary is impartial. Impartiality has two aspects. It does not only mean willingness to allow all to be said in court which relevance and the rules of evidence permit, and in such a way it is able to carry its full weight. It also means an ability to bring to decision making a mind which can rise above all considerations of personal conviction and private feeling. The first type of impartiality I have conceded—and conceded to the detriment of trade unionists. The second type of impartiality is much rarer than is generally supposed, and its rareness lies at the very core of the problem posed by this Bill.
How are working men to view the judicial function proposed by this Bill as other than a political one? How are they to construe that function as other than protection for the employer? It has ever been the experience of working men of this country in the courts—[Interruption.]—Yes, that is how this party came into being. This is what triggered off that 650 development in 1901 which led to the Labour Representation Committee from which the modern Labour Party emerged in 1906. Those working men may have been mistaken, but I can only say that if we look at the literature of the times there can be no doubt that that was the prime motivation. They felt that Taff Vale was an unfair decision and that the weights were hopelessly loaded against them, and that the scales of justice were uneven. There is no doubt at all about that.
They also felt at the time, and working men have gone on thinking this ever since, that by the time judges reach the bench they are unlikely to shake off all the habits which their earlier experience formed. At this point, I merely want to explore the very simple truth that people who live differently think differently. So I am already wondering which judges the right hon. Gentleman will recruit for the National Industrial Relations Court.
I have looked at the membership of the High Court since 1954 and tried to decide which of them have some working-class background, which of them have some knowledge of trade unionism, which of them can be identified with a trade unionist father or a trade unionist uncle or a trade unionist brother, or even cousin. I am not impugning the impartiality of the judges. I am merely exploring the truth that people who live differently think differently. So I look at the judges, about 30 or 40, since 1954. I find half-a-dozen who had a grammar school education, but only one of whom, I am reasonably confident—thanks to the help of my hon. Friend the Member for Ince (Mr. McGuire)—also has a working-class background—only one out of 36 or 37 judges.
I look at the education of most of them. This in no way reflects upon them but, inevitably, they were educated at Winchester, St. Paul's, Rugby, Harrow, Downside, Westminster, Lancing, Charterhouse, Shrewsbury, Trinity College and so on. What will these future judges make of a Registrar who could turn out to be a real "hawk"? What will they make of the requirement for the trade union to use its best endeavours in negotiation and, equally, for the employers to bargain seriously? Will they allow for the varying degrees of "best 651 endeavours" that the exigencies of electioneering within his own organisation may impose on a trade union leader from time to time? Will they interpret the refusal by an employer to reveal his investment plans to trade unions as a refusal to bargain seriously?
Even enlightened managers may find their task more difficult than it was before—
§ Mr. Duffy
I will not give way. I have spoken for too long, and many other hon. Members wish to speak. It is not only to trade unionists that a large part of the Bill is capable of causing fear and reasonable opposition. The Bill has cast its shadow across the field of industrial relations. The C.I.R. has lost its trade union membership. There is growing apprehension about third party assistance in the settling of disputes. Obviously, the new institutions proposed by the Bill will be hard to staff satisfactorily. It will be even more difficult than usual to find the proper place of the public interest in collective bargaining.
These are just some of the reasons why a moderate trade union like the General and Municipal Workers' Union is as wholly and completely opposed to the Bill as any other trade union, as was borne out at the Croydon conference. That is why their members and other trade unionists in Sheffield have repeatedly applied some simple tests to the Bill. First, will it strengthen trade union organisations? Secondly, will it define and strengthen the role of shop stewards? Thirdly, will it make industrial relations easier? On all counts they cannot arrive at any other answer but, "No".
I believe that they have been helped by the quite remarkable opposition presented to the Bill by some of my hon. and right hon. Friends, to whom I pay tribute. I doubt whether the House has ever before seen anything like this concerted. purposeful, constructive and therefore successful opposition. Certainly all the evidence in the industrial centres, among the rank and file of the trade unionists, points to this.
There is no doubt among the rank-and-file members that the overall spirit of the Bill is authoritarian, anti-union and restrictive, and that if it becomes 652 effective it can only weaken their organisations and make the problem of industrial relations more difficult to solve than in the past. They have asked me—and I do so gladly—to oppose the Third Reading of the Bill.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Miss Harvie Anderson)
I hope that hon. Members realise that there are still many Members who wish to speak.
§ 9.27 p.m.
§ Mr. Raymond Gower (Barry)
I have listened to this long debate with great interest and I sincerely hope that the hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. Duffy) did not imply in his latter remarks that he thought that if he or I were on trial the justice administered to us would depend upon the background of the judge.
§ Mr. Gower
Then I warn him that it might well be that if there were such bias a judge who had had a hard time in his early years might be a harder person than one who had been more fortunate. All the history of our courts indicates that that is not the case. Our judges have established a high reputation for their impartiality.
§ Mr. Duffy
The hon. Member used the word "bias". I was careful not to. I thought that I had made it plain that in my opinion in terms of the quality of justice the background of a judge could not be discounted. As I put it—people who live differently think differently. By saying that I did not impugn the impartiality of our judges. Nevertheless, it ought to remind us that we cannot take their objectivity as absolute. We cannot take that of anyone.
§ Mr. Charles Curran (Uxbridge)
Is not the argument of the hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. Duffy) extraordinary? He is telling us that a judge, because he is a judge, is incapable of understanding the working-class point of view. Would he say that of Lord Donovan who sat in this House as a Labour M.P.?
§ Mr. Gower
I accept what my hon. Friend says, but I must proceed.
The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) said that we regarded the Bill as a kind of sesame for success, a magic formula. I thought that my right hon. Friend and several of my hon. Friends made it clear that this is not so. We have not suggested that we regard the Bill as a magic formula. Rather, we would say that here is a mere legislative framework to facilitate the creation of better industrial relations. We believe that with this framework all parties in industry will still need an infinite amount of patience, tolerance and co-operation, and that the art of conciliation will still have to be practised. There will still be a need for perseverance. All these qualities will be required to back up, to enforce, to make possible, some success within the framework of the legislation.
Whereas, on the one hand, some hon. Members opposite are not prepared to look at the Bill with any kind of objectivity, on the other hand, there is a danger that among the supporters of the Bill there are some perhaps who expect too much of it. I think that the Bill has great possibilities, but it would be dangerous for us to set our expectations too high based merely on its contents. However, used wisely and with the qualities to which I have referred, perseverance and the willingness to negotiate, I think that the Bill can help a great deal.
I echo the words of those who have emphasised the importance of the code of practice to which the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) referred. Some hon. Gentlemen opposite have complained that this code was not formally presented to the House before the Bill was introduced. I remind hon. Members opposite that the code is not designed, as is the Bill, to be legally binding. It would be inappropriate for it to be binding in that way. If, as my right hon. Friend has now promised, he will lay before the House a draft of the code for a preliminary debate and at a later date will have the revised final code presented in the normal way on the affirmative Resolution procedure, this will go a long way to meet some of the points put to him in Committee.
Hon. Members opposite have suggested that the Bill does nothing to help mem- 654 bers of trade unions. I suggest that there are some real advantages in the Bill for members of trade unions. It cannot be denied that there is a good deal of importance in the fact that, for the first time, we have set out and codified in legislation the right of an individual to be a member of a trade union. Hon. Gentlemen opposite may say that this was taken for granted, but the fact is that it has not been set out and enacted in this way before.
Whereas we understand the views of those who do not like the consequential Clause, as I describe it—the right not to be forced to join a trade union—we deem this also to be of tremendous importance. It is not that we in any way support those described by Labour hon. Members as blacklegs. We do not support or applaud those who neglect their trade union duties. Rather would we say that we have emphasised throughout that we, too, would like to see a very high proportion of workers as members of trade unions.
§ Mr. Alex Eadie (Midlothian)
The hon. Gentleman is arguing that a great concession has been granted. Many hon. Members on this side are miners' M.P.s. Will he tell me how I can tell the miners that they have the concession of being allowed to join a trade union?
§ Mr. Adley
The point really concerns the many people working for small companies. I cited the case of a constituent who I felt sure would not have been put upon by his employer if he had been able to join a trade union. We are trying to help people like that, not those with access to the large unions.
§ Mr. Dempsey
I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman for giving way, because he is one member of the opposition whose views I always respect.
§ Mr. Dempsey
Opposition to the Labour Party. As one who was secretary of a trade union that worked a closed shop principle, I can tell the hon. Gentleman that the employers were as keen on having the closed shop as the trade unions were, because they found it more efficient, more economic and more suitable to deal with one set of representatives than to negotiate with different groups of people.
§ Mr. Gower
I accept that it is easier and more convenient, but it is not necessarily more just. Convenience and ease are not necessarily our best guides in matters like this.
We have made one considerable exception. The hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins) pleaded for its extension. He said that no thanks at all were due for the exception which may enable Equity and the members of the mercantile marine to succeed in persuading the Registrar that theirs are special cases. I believe that the method used in the Bill is better than giving precise and express exceptions to Equity and the seamen, which would have been wrong. It is far more appropriate that we should have in the Bill, as we have, the special machinery which will enable them to qualify for exemption if they have the necessary qualifications.
Although we oppose the basic principle of the closed shop, I believe that our agency arrangements, which can be introduced, and our exclusion of free riders go a long way to remove the main objections which Labour hon. Members may feel to the course we have taken.
I also welcome the provisions for conscientious objection. The Bill would be poorer if it included no provision for such objection. We were told by the hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) and other hon. Members that this has always been done. I am sure that they will welcome the inclusion in the Bill of words providing for something that has always been done. If it has always been done, I cannot understand 656 why hon. Gentlemen opposite should wish to vote against it.
Extremely valuable to trade unionists arc the provisions in Clauses 20 to 30 dealing with unfair dismissal. Hon. Gentlemen opposite have been amiss in not giving fairer recognition to these provisions. If, as they say, legislation on this subject introduced by us makes them suspicious, they should welcome the inclusion of these provisions, under the compensation arrangements of which justice will be provided in many cases of dismissal which, in the past, have not been included in any legislation.
The Bill is also important because it makes possible the enforcement of agreements. I accept that no similar legislation has been passed before, but as Britain is facing such difficulties in competitive world markets, from the failure to deliver goods on time and from the non-honouring of agreements, it is vital for our national welfare that there should be provisions for the enforcement of agreements which are freely entered into.
An hon. Gentleman opposite suggested earlier that in no other sector of our human relations are there provisions for agreements to be enforced. That is completely wrong. Almost every contract into which the citizen enters is enforceable by law. There is, therefore, a serious defect in this part of our law, and the Bill will make agreements which are freely entered into enforceable.
§ Mrs. Castle
Is the hon. Gentleman in favour of agreements which have not been freely entered into being legally enforceable?
§ Mr. Gower
The right hon. Lady may object to the way in which this has been done in the Bill, but the parties to an agreement in industry will know from the commencement—[Interruption.] I hope that hon. Gentlemen opposite will allow me to answer the right hon. Lady's question.
If they enter into enforceable agreements, the presumption is that they wish to keep to them. The parties will know at the commencement that, when they enter into an agreement, it will be enforceable, the presumption being that there will be benefits commensurate with that fact. If those benefits do not exist, then presumably they will enter into, 657 and say they are entering into, a non-enforceable agreement. It seems absurd to many people that agreements of this nature should not be enforceable, and I believe that this is a strength and not a weakness of the Bill.
The registration provisions do not impose an unfair obligation on unions. The appointment of a Registrar has been criticised and it has been suggested that he may act unfairly towards unions. I cannot believe that he would, and there is no precedent in comparable legislation which suggests that he would. Where registrars have been appointed under other legislation, they have acted with the same impartiality as other officers of the court.
Whatever hon. Members opposite may say, there are no criminal sanctions here, and it has been very unfair and unworthy of them to have gone up and down the country suggesting that there are. The basis is civil enforcement, and only in the most extraordinary conditions of utter disregard by an individual of a court order can anything like a criminal sanction be enforced. The Measure is not of the penal nature that the party opposite intended to bring forward. We have brought it forward in good faith. It has its limitations, it is not perfect, but I believe that it can give our industry an opportunity to make a better show in the next few years than it has been able to make in the past.
§ 9.46 p.m.
§ Mr. James Hamilton (Bothwell)
Let me at once make it utterly clear that because many other hon. Members wish to take part in the debate I do not intend to give way at all, and I promise also to set a good example by sitting down as quickly as I possibly can.
A lot has been said about the T.U.C.'s inactivity and lack of competence in relation to disputes. It is a well-known fact that not very long ago, by persuasion and example, my right lion. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) got the trade union movement for the first time to accept some responsibility, and that, since then, many problems, particularly demarcation problems, have disappeared like snow off a dyke. Many trade unions have amalgamated, and as a result there is a desire to co-operate and a sense of responsibility.
658 Only a few weeks ago we had one of the finest demonstrations ever seen in London which proved conclusively that the trade union movement was capable of leadership of the very highest order. No one who took part in the demonstration was arrested, though no doubt many people of the opposite political persuasion were rubbing their hands and smacking their lips in anticipation of the movement bringing itself into disrepute. Those people were sadly disillusioned.
Employers must accept their share of responsibility for the allegations and libellous statements made against our movement during the course of the Bill. One hon. Member has told us that one of his constituents said that he had been unfairly dismissed. That man was not dismissed because he was not a member of a trade union or because he was not prepared to become a member of a closed shop. He was in trouble because he did not have a trade union to negotiate for him. This legislation should have been directed mainly against recalcitrant employers, and not against the trade union movement. Therefore, I put this point to him and to the House: many agreements at national level are freely negotiated over a long and difficult period. In the engineering industry, from the moment that negotiations are started, they invariably do not reach a conclusion until at least 14 months have elapsed.
I do not want to refer to procedural agreements in operation at present, because it is conceded by both sides of the House that the York Agreement is one of the worst agreements ever entered into by the employers and the trade union movement. Consequently, negotiations have once again been taking place with the engineering employers and the appropriate trade unions over a long and difficult period.
Last night I watched a television programme and it was rather strange that the person whom they all seemed to want to get after was Mr. Hugh Scanlon. They were afforded the opportunity to get after him. He was in the dock for exactly two minutes because they were not prepared to give him the opportunity to put the case which he can put for his union. They said, "Are you prepared to negotiate a new procedural agreement?", and he answered, quite firmly, "Yes".
659 That agreement is in process of finalisation. But the trade unions fall down with the employers because the unions are not prepared to be coerced in any way to sign an agreement knowing perfectly well that once the Bill is on the Statute Book, there is a possibility that they could find themselves in the courts. Let us not forget that the engineering industry covers three and a quarter million workers and it is our biggest exporter. Obviously we have to take cognisance of that industry and the trade unions in it.
On the closed shop, a great deal of the talk has been in relation to the free rider. As a trade union official before I came to the House, I say categorically that we have always had the conscience clause in relation to the operation of the closed shop. In the North of Scotland we have what are called the Closed Brethren. It is against their religious beliefs under any circumstances that they should join a political party or a trade union. They are allowed to pay their money to a charitable organisation. On the basis of what has been happening over the years, therefore, nothing new has been given to us in this legislation.
The House should also reflect on the congress held at Croydon only last week. Those of us who had the opportunity of watching that conference on television will readily concede, with no bias, that all the contributions, without exception, were statesmanlike speeches made by the general secretaries and presidents of all the unions in this country. Every one of the sneakers made it indelibly clear—some of them are deemed to be Left wingers, some are deemed to be middle-of-the-roaders and others are deemed to be Right wingers—that they were all united in opposition to this Measure.
Those of us who have travelled throughout the country, speaking at factory meetings, branch meetings and at demonstrations, find that the whole of the trade union movement is united in opposition to the Bill. If the Government believe that once the Bill is on the Statute Book it will be the panacea for industrial relations, they are living in cloud-cuckoo-land.
The trade union movement is united as never before in its determination to 660 fight this legislation. Once this Measure goes on the Statute Book, the point of view of those who have argued consistently and persistently that only the trade union movement can solve the problems of workers in industry will be proved conclusively.
I have always held to the view that the General Council of the T.U.C. must accept greater responsibility. Following the efforts of the last Government, the T.U.C. was persuaded to accept some of it. Now it must take a further step and become an authoritative body. The leadership given by the T.U.C. at the demonstration to which I have referred and at the Croydon conference has proved its ability to lead the country's workers. On that basis, along with my hon. Friends, I make no apology for the fight waged yesterday and in the early hours of this morning to try to prevent the Bill going on the Statute Book. As a responsible Opposition, it is our duty to do all that we can to stop this legislation.
We are now in a situation where, because of the guillotine, this Measure will go to another place for consideration by a non-elected body of people who will have an opportunity, unlike hon. Members of this House, of discussing the matter in detail. The new Clauses and Government Amendments which we had no opportunity to discuss will go to the other place, which will then decide whether they should be included in the Bill.
I willingly cast my vote against the Bill. I shall at all times put forward a view against it. I will demonstrate, remonstrate with and lead members of my own union against it.
When one considers the performance of the present Administration, it will not be long before my right hon. and hon. Friends resume office. When we do, I hope that the offending Clauses will be repealed, even if the whole Measure is not.
§ 9.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg (Hampstead)
I shall not pursue the flights of fancy of the hon. Member for Bothwell (Mr. James Hamilton). If he imagines that his colleages will be elected to govern the country before at least another four years 661 have elapsed, one wonders where he can have been over the past few months.
Tonight, we are nearing the end of the road on the Industrial Relations Bill. It is significant that, last night, only about two-thirds of the Opposition could be mustered to vote in the Division Lobby. Theirs were legitimate tactics, but I suggest that hon. Members opposite put their convenience before their principles.
Two claims have been made in this debate. The first is that the Bill will bring the unions into a proper relationship with the industries in which they operate. It will bring them up to date in the same way as companies have been. For the first time, it gives legal backing for an individual to have a right to protection against unfair dismissal, it provides for a vital cooling-off period and, in certain circumstances, for a secret ballot—both of them if the court agrees. Whatever may be said by the hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Pardoe)—who, like his Liberal colleagues, appears to have melted away—I am convinced that the bulk of the Post Office workers would not have struck if they had had a secret ballot.
The claim has also been made tonight that the Labour Party is the political arm of the trade union movement. If that is so it is certainly no strong left arm. As we have been told time and time again by hon. Members opposite, it was their policy to fight the Bill word by word, comma by comma, and line by line. All I would say to them is that if the trade union movement is satisfied with what it has got out of the party opposite it is time that it brought itself up to date and divorced itself from a backward, reactionary political party like the Labour Party and, like the trade union movement in Ameria, allied itself to no party and got the best it could get out of whichever Government were in power.
The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) and I were both here when the Bill received its Second Reading, and we heard what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said, but it seems that we heard two entirely different speeches. I know what the Prime Minister meant, but the hon. Member clearly must have taken a different view. He spoke about the persons to be appointed to the new court, and said how terrible it was that the Secre- 662 tary of State had the right to remove members if they were unfit. I am a justice of the peace and I can be removed at any time by the Lord Chancellor if he considers me unfit. I do not kick against that.
§ Mr. McNamara
I refer the hon. Member to the Prime Minister's Second Reading speech. On his other point, the National Industrial Relations Court is to be a superior court—part of the High Court. Puisne judges can be dismissed only by agreement of both Houses of Parliament petitioning to the Queen, but lay assessors can be dismissed, if necessary—putting it at its worst—at the whim of the Secretary of State or the Lord Chancellor. That is the point.
§ Mr. Finsberg
The hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins) shares the view of many hon. Members opposite that if a man is not reappointed to a post he is dismissed. As anyone who has anything to do with contracts knows, that is not true. Because Professor Clegg was not reappointed at the end of his term it did not mean that he was dismissed.
The only speeches from hon. Members opposite that I have respected in this debate have come from the hon. Members for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heifer) and Salford, West (Mr. Orme), both of whom have been passionately sincere and consistent in their opposition, whether the Measure came from the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) when her Government were in power or now, when my Government are putting these proposals forward.
I have had experience of dealing with conscience clauses. I have sat as a minority member on a local government committee when the Labour Party that was in control brought in the closed shop principle. I have seen a young nursery nurse aged 19 in tears because she had to say, in front of the committee, that she was conscientiously opposed to joining a union. The Bill will give such people as her a statutory right, so that they will not have to appear before any sort of inquisition.
I have had 54 letters from actors in my constituency on the subject of Equity. I imagine that Hampstead is somewhat heavily populated with actors. The provision that my right hon. Friend has 663 now inserted in the Bill provides the satisfactory cover for which many actors have asked in my interviews with them and their letters to me.
§ Mr. Finsberg
No, I have not the time.
Again, the problem of procedure agreements raised by the hon. Member for Salford, West is not so difficult as he maintains. I have been responsible for negotiating procedure agreements with a major trade union, involving about 10,000 people, and I have never found any difficulty in agreeing virtually overnight a sensible and practical agreement. The hon. Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Loughlin) knows the union to which I refer.
The country is behind us on this Measure. No Measure has ever been so well rehearsed in public as this. It was rehearsed as "Fair Deal at Work", and it was put to the country and discussed for about three years. The Trades Union Congress and the Labour Party took little notice of it, for three reasons. First, they did not think that we should win the election. Second, they thought that, if we did, we should not introduce the Bill. Third, they thought that, if we did introduce the Bill, we could be knocked over in the same way as the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition and the right hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn were by the trade union movement. But we are made of different stuff.
There is much in the Bill which will transform industrial relations from the mid-1800s to the end of the twentieth century. I welcome the Bill, for it will do far more than bring industrial relations up to date. It will be accepted. N.A.L.G.O. will register. Hon. Members opposite know that, when N.A.L.G.O. register, other unions will follow, and the T. and G.W.U. will be forced to eat its words.
The Bill will not stop strikes overnight. We have never claimed that it would. What it will do is provide a framework within which industrial relations can operate, not in the interests of the trade union movement, not in the interests of employers, but in the national interest.
§ 10.7 p.m.
§ Miss Bernadette Devlin (Mid-Ulster)
I realise that many other hon. Members wish to speak, but that is not my main reason for keeping my speech short. My main reason for being brief is partly the reason for my not having been here yesterday. Despite the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, I do not consider myself accursed for having been abed last night. Indeed, many of us still think the right hon. Gentleman accursed for attempting to put "In Place of Strife" through the House, and we have not forgotten it.
I intend to be brief because there are some things which do not brook discussion with the enemy, and this Industrial Relations Bill is one of them. There is much more room for action than for talking with right hon. Gentlemen opposite. Action rather than talking will show where true democracy and power lie in this country.
Right hon. Members opposite do not seem to understand the nature of trade unions. They do not seem to understand the nature of politics. They seem to think that the right to do and the right not to do are exactly the same, and that people's rights and their feelings are controlled by laws passed in this House, or in other similar establishments elsewhere in the world.
Let them remember that the trade unions and the working class of this country did not reach the stage which they have reached through laws passed by Tory Governments or by any Government. The eight-hour day, the 40-hour week, the end of child labour, and the like, were not won through arbitration. They were won through the only final weapon of the working class, the strike. [Interruption.] Hon. Members opposite seem to think that their inane and inarticulate mutterings can have some effect on what I am saying. I am always surprised by their inarticulateness. If they represent the employing class, if they are their friends, we have little fear for the ultimate success of the working class. That is the crux of the matter. They think that they have the power to legislate the rules of the game.
It is time right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite realised what the game is. We do not want to live in peaceful coexistence with our masters. 665 The trade union was formed to protect the working class against the very concept of masters and owners. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite think the trade unions are too strong—too strong, when still only 15 per cent. of the so-called private wealth of this country is in the hands of the people, and when 100 per cent. of the wealth of this country is produced by the working class. The unions will be strong enough only when 100 per cent. of that wealth lies in the bands of the people who produce it.
That, I say to right hon. Gentlemen opposite, is the name of the game. It is not peaceful coexistence. It is not your right to tell us how to play our hand; it is not your right to tell us how and when we should strike. It is not for right hon. Gentlemen opposite, for the representatives of the employing class or for the employing class itself to tell us when we will strike and when we will not, and whether or not we will belong to unions. It was a right you never granted us, and a right that cannot be taken from us, not by legislation.
§ Miss Devlin
I have no intention of giving way to anybody on the benches opposite this evening. Right hon. and hon. Members opposite have already had too much to say on the Bill and have taken a great deal of time in saying it.
How will the Bill be defeated? We know that it will not be defeated in the House. Many hon. Members who have sat through the nights and argued in the Committee debates have adopted a principled position. There are others on these benches who have not adopted a principled position. There are people on these benches, representative of the Labour movement, who talk about legislating against the unions, or legislating to control the unions. Nobody but the working class itself has the right to determine the organisation of the working class, and that is through the industrial trade unions.
Hon. Members find themselves today in a number of very peculiar situations. They have on their hands a problem known as the Irish question—and I refer to it only in passing inasmuch as it will be relevant to the Bill. They have 666 that problem on their hands because as far back as 1916—
§ Miss Devlin
With due respect to the Chair, I am not talking about the Irish problem but merely referring to it inasmuch as I wish to make a quotation relevant to the Bill, and that, I understand, is in order. What do you think to do with your laws? The quotation is:Do you think to conquer the people,Or that law is stronger than lifeOr than man's desire to be free?Well, we will have it out with ye,Ye that hath harried, and held, ye that bullied,and bribed tyrants, hypocrites, liars.That is a quotation from the people of Ireland in 1916, which echoes today from the workers of this country to the Government. I say to this Government that while the Members of this House may have sat in committees, many of us have talked to the officials of trade unions and, much more important, to those people who will defeat the Bill, the rank and file of the trade union movement on the shop floor and factory floor. Those people will decide whether law is stronger than life. They will decide whether, if the Bill passes into law, as it most probably will, the Government can make that law effective. I say to the Government, "You either abandon this Bill now or you go down with it".
§ 10.15 p.m.
§ Mr. David Mitchell (Basingstoke)
No doubt every time this House solves the Irish question, the Irish will change the question.
I have in my hand what is for this House dramatic new evidence to support the need for this Bill. It is a letter from the Ford Motor Company, which tells me that last year that company had no fewer than 155 disputes in its plants and that they cost it 682,000 man-hours. This year, it has lost, up to the end of the sixth week of the strike, 11¼ million man-hours. The letter says:The cumulative effect of this over the last two years, coupled with suppliers strikes…has been…to finally destroy our credibility with those people who buy our products…This has an effect in three different ways.667 The first is on future expansion. This, I remind the House, is one of the major manufacturing and exporting companies of this country. The letter says:…no further expansion is likely in Britain until such constant interruptions to production cease.The second effect is on Ford assembly plants abroad. It says:You will understand that Ford of Britain supplies cars in 'knocked-down' form to assembly plants all over the world. If the pipe line from Britain fails, the assembly plants also have to close and lay off their employees…two specific assembly plants in Australia and Portugal are now, as a result of their experiences, seeking to make themselves independent of Ford of Britain.
§ Mr. Mitchell
It is legitimate for me to read the letter. Because it is damaging to the hon. Gentleman's case, there is no need for him to interrupt. The letter goes on to deal with the sale of cars built in Europe and says:…Ford of Britain sells built-up cars assembled in Britain to any Ford national company throughout the world that wishes to buy them…One of the most distressing aspects of the last 12 months has been the…increasing pressure from…dealers' customers to be supplied with cars from Germany rather than from Britain.He points out the places and countries where this is happening. The reality is that no Government in this country could continue to allow that situation, of which I have given an example affecting one of our largest manufacturing and exporting companies, to go unchecked.
The hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins) said that, under the American system, there are longer strikes. But they are foreseeable—he admitted that. He went on to suggest that there was little damage in this country from many small, short, unofficial strikes. I have been looking at the figures. Little damage? Let us take British Leyland. Until November last year, since that company was formed of an amalgamation of the last purely British manufacturing companies, it had had three weeks only without disputes. Last year it had lost £35 million worth of car production.
§ Mr. Mitchell
I will not give way. It is late and it would not be fair to other 668 hon. Members if I gave way now. I am making a case which is backed by the reply I received to a Parliamentary Question recently about statistics of industrial disputes. I could easily have taken the figures for one particular year and compared them with another particular year which I had chosen to suit my argument. But I take the figures for the 10 years from 1950 to 1959. The average number of new strikes a week was 11 in that period. In the 10 years 1960 to 1969, it was 31; in 1970 it was 72.
No Government of any party—and the presence of the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) reminds us of it—could allow that situation to develop without doing something about it. My right hon. Friend was right to bring in this Bill—a modest, reasonable, fair-minded step forward. It has running through it a central theme—a theme which I would have thought acceptable to both sides of the House and which is certainly accepted throughout the country. It is the theme of seeking to raise the standards of both employers and union activities—for neither are perfect—to the best standards which are now entrenched and used by both sides of industry.
The code sets up a set of standards. So do the new conditions which employers have to fulfil. They have to give longer notice to long-service employees; they are compelled to disclose matters for negotiation; the larger firms are compelled to give annual reports to employees; employers are compelled to give employees in writing a statement of what they have to do if they have a grievance. Through all the major proposals the constantly recurring theme is raising the standards.
We come to binding agreements and the law. Would the trade unions today, if they had the power to seek redress through the law, use it, or would they say that they would have nothing to do with the law? I have been looking into this and I find that under the Terms and Conditions of Employment Act, 1959, trade unions have the right in certain circumstances to force an employer to comply with a national agreement. I found no fewer than 223 occasions when unions applied under that Act to secure benefits for themselves and their members. Yet they have the effrontery and 669 hypocrisy to pretend that they would not be prepared to use, or to accept the use of, the law in industrial relations.
Throughout the Bill one finds the continuing theme of raising standards. With the introduction of modern civilised procedures, we shall get at the cause of many of the industrial disputes from which the country suffers, disputes over dismissal, over union recognition, over the problems arising from the closed shop. In each case a modern civilised procedure will remove the root cause.
I give the Bill a wholesale welcome, but in doing so I give three warnings and I hope that I shall carry my hon. Friends with me. First, the public expect far too much to be achieved by the Bill—more than could possibly be achieved by legislation. [Laughter.] While hon. Members are cheering, my right hon. Friend is nodding agreement. Some people have the idea that purely by legislating we can solve the whole problem of industrial relations; we cannot. Inevitably the Bill has had to be brought forward more quickly than would be normal for legislation of this kind because it was so 670 urgently required. I regret that the procedures of the House do not permit us to have three committees sitting concurrently to consider different parts of the Bill, because that would have permitted far more detailed consideration of many Clauses which the time scale has not allotted us to consider as much as we should like.
Secondly, industrial relations are human relations. They are the way in which foremen and shop stewards, managements and union officials get on with each other. Many hon. Members opposite know in their heart of hearts that there is wild distortion and mistrust which means that there is not the good will which is essential for management and men to do their business properly with one another.
I make this simple appeal: I hope that those who have influence with the unions, with the T.U.C., once this Bill gets on the Statute Book will stop the theatrical opposition and try to restore the good will which is the very basis and heart of industrial relations and which this Bill can help support.
§ 10.26 p.m.
§ Mr. William Hamling (Woolwich, West)
That kind of penny lecture from the hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. David Mitchell) would come better from a member of a party which has not sought votes by "union bashing" for the last three years. That penny lecture would come better from a Party which has not consistently preached that something must be done about the unions—
§ Mr. Hamling
I am talking about Tory election propaganda. What I am saying is that we have been fed with propaganda, but not by the Secretary of State; he is far too sensible for that. It is the people behind him, at Tory Central Office, who have persistently preached anti-union propaganda. They have said that the unions are too strong, that the strength of the unions must be curbed. It has been said already in the debate that the strength of the unions must be curbed.
§ Mr. Hamling
The right hon. Gentleman was not in his place then but one of his hon. Friends said just that.
§ Mr. Carr
I am sorry if the hon. Gentleman mistook me. I was saying "No" to his interpretation of what Tory Party propaganda has been. My right hon. Friend the present Prime Minister, when Leader of the Opposition, made a speech to the party conference years ago in which he stated quite firmly that the trouble in this country was not that the unions were too strong but that they were too weak. The whole of our policy is based on that.
§ Mr. Hamling
I promised to speak for only five minutes and that intervention has cost me two. I remind the right hon. Gentleman that his hon. Friend who is to wind up the debate has half an hour in which to reply and if he cannot reply to a speech of mine lasting a couple of minutes in half an hour, then God help him.
Let me repeat what I said. Consistently from the Tory Party we have had anti-union propaganda saying that 672 the unions are undermining the economy, that they are responsible for the inflation from which the country has been suffering—[HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish."] That is what they say. All the ills from which this country is suffering are laid at the door of the trade union movement.
The Conservative Party do not want to strengthen the trade unions; they want to weaken them. This Bill is an irrelevance and a political trick to gain support for a Party who have not got the guts to get up and say what their real economic policies are. This Bill is a political manoeuvre from beginning to end and it will not work. The right hon. Gentleman said during the election that it will not stop strikes. They know that this Bill will not work. They know that the legal parts of the Bill are not understood even by the lawyers on their own Front Bench, still less by industrialists and still less by those in factories who will have to operate this law.
This Bill will not work. In any case it will not come into existence for three years. It is completely irrelevant to the present economic problems from which the country suffers. It is, at the same time, a political manoeuvre. It is a political provocation, which has been used by the Conservative Party. For some three months now we have had this anti-union campaign mounted by them. Not by the right hon. Gentleman, he is only the fall guy. The real villains are behind him. The real villains are the people in that party who seek to pretend that if only the unions were controlled, this country would be prosperous.
§ Mr. Hamling
No. I will not. I did not mind giving way to the Secretary of State for two minutes, but I will not give way now. I wish hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite would have the courtesy occasionally to listen to speeches in the same way as we on this side have done. By making those noises, and interrupting, all that hon. Gentlemen opposite are doing is preventing one of their own people from having a go in this debate. When the hon. Lady the Member for Mid-Ulster (Miss Devlin) 673 spoke she promised to speak for five minutes, and I do not want to be longer.
The Conservative Party has been saying for a long time that inflation has been caused by the trade unions. [HON. MEMBERS: "The hon. Member has said that already."] Many times have Members of the Tory Party said it. This Bill is a political exercise and a political diversion. [Laughter.] Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite are displaying an utter lack of seriousness in their approach to this problem. What they are displaying by their usual bad manners is their complete refusal to face the facts behind this Bill. They regard it as a joke—
§ Mr. Hamling
Hon. Members opposite regard their union bashing as something to giggle about. They regard attacking decent, ordinary working men who are shop stewards as something to sneer about and to be amused about. What the Bill does is precisely to attack that sort of person. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."] That is what this Bill is about. They want to deprive shop stewards of the power they have had in the past. That is what this Bill is about.
Hon. Members opposite want to blame all the ills of this country on the trade union movement. They do not want to face the electors about it. By their very propaganda they themselves have caused industrial strife for which they blame the unionists. All the industrial strife we have had over the last six months has been against the background of their propaganda and of their blaming the unions and of this Bill. Every capitalist newspaper which one picks up—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—the Daily Mail, the Daily Telegraph, The Times, the Financial Times—blames the unions. They all echo the propaganda of Conservative Central Office. That is the product of the Bill—
§ Mr. Hamling
That is the product of the Bill, and although the right hon. Gentleman personally does not believe in his own Conservative propaganda, he must accept responsibility for it, because 674 he is the front man for this Conservative attack on the trade union movement.
§ 10.35 p.m.
§ Mr. David Crouch (Canterbury)
I assure you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) usually speaks faster and covers more ground in the time allotted to him when he speaks in this Chamber. Above all, he is a man of great good humour normally, particularly outside. However, we did not get much evidence of that tonight.
§ Mr. Crouch
I accept that.
I should apologise to the House for making a brief intervention in the debate. I did not speak on Second Reading or on Report; nor did I take part in the Committee proceedings. My last speech in this House on industrial relations was some months ago. I am placed in some embarrassment when I remember the position which I took on that occasion which, certainly in my own mind, took some courage, because I came out wholeheartedly in support of the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) in her attempt to tackle this great problem of improving industrial relations.
Whilst there is much criticism today of the right hon. Lady for the manner in which she has conducted the opposition to this Bill—a measure which I wholeheartedly support—I recognise that we are in a political world, above all, in this Chamber and that the right hon. Lady has had to gather to herself her own strength, the strength of her party, and the strength of the trade unions, and I think we must admit that she has not done a bad job.
I had doubts, some two or three years ago, about the effectiveness of introducing legislation to improve and to perfect our troubled industrial relations. I speak as one who has spent all his working life 675 in industry, and in industrial relations. I felt that it might have spoilt the opportunity for the development of good industrial harmony and relations. My view was supported not only by trade unionists and shop stewards whom I had met in many parts of the country, but by senior, middle range and junior managements. But I have no doubts now.
In all the discussions on the Bill there has been talk about the need for a "legal framework." But I sense that hon. Members opposite are growing tired of that phrase. I sympathise with them. I prefer to think instead of a scaffolding within which we in this House of Commons, the Government assisted by the Opposition, and management in industry and in the trade union movement, assisted by all trade unionists, have to build a new house in our industrial society which will depend less and less on the scaffolding of law which surrounds it and more and more on the people within that scaffolding building that new industrial society which affords the only possibility for this country to go forward and to overcome its economic problems.
There are many hon. Members opposite, including the right hon. Member for Blackburn, the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) and the hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme), to whose speeches I have listened with great respect and attention over the years, who have the good will to achieve the building of this house. That goes not only for the hon. Gentlemen opposite who are listening to me but for those who, if they were in their places, would be occupying the empty green leather benches before me.
They have more than the good will to achieve this. I believe that, basically, they have the good sense to understand what is at stake. If we not make this Measure, when it is passed, something more than an Act, and if it is merely allowed to reside in filing cabinets in Whitehall and in trade union and industrial management offices, we shall achieve nothing.
We need the will to make sure that the three parties let it be known that we wish to give the country the leadership which it certainly needs and which we 676 have been striving to provide in the last few months. Only if we are united in endeavouring to see that the Bill is implemented shall we achieve these aims.
§ 10.42 p.m.
§ Mr. Ronald King Murray (Edinburgh, Leith)
The Secretary of State presented an attractive prospectus today, but that was after, rather than before, he had floated the Bill. However, it seems that this prospectus is not likely to win any subscribers, judging by the Liberals, for in the meantime the Liberal Bench has changed its stand on the matter. From voting for the Bill, Liberal hon. Members have gone through abstaining from voting with their feet in the early hours of the morning to their present position, in which they are repelled from, rather than attracted to, the Measure.
When considering a Bill of this kind, it is important to read not only the large but the small print. First, when considering the large print, we must bear in mind what was said earlier about contempt and imprisonment. This matter was first raised in the speech of the Under-Secretary on Second Reading, when, having charged my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) with having misled the House by hinting at imprisonment, he said:This is a civil Bill with civil law and there will be no-one sent to prison—He was unable to complete that sentence because at that point my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Rose) intervened to ask:Is that an undertaking?The Under-Secretary replied:The hon. Member asks whether that was an undertaking. There are no provisions in this Bill to send anyone to prison"—My hon. Friend the Member for Blackley again intervened and said:The hon. Member must know—we have had this out before at the Dispatch Box—that the ultimate way of enforcing these provisions must be by gaol. Whether this is criminal, civil or quasi-criminal—and the authorities differ—the ultimate end for a person caught under these provisions must be prison; otherwise, there is no way of enforcing it".—[OFFICIAL, REPORT, 14th December, 1970; Vol. 808, c. 1067–8.]It was only later, in Committee, that we finally got confirmation from other Government spokesmen that that was the effect of the Bill.
677 That is the large print. I wish to make it clear that, from my point of view, I entirely accept what has been said repeatedly by the Government—that the sanctions are civil sanctions—but that we have stressed that those civil sanctions end with an ultimate deterrent which does not seem to differ materially from the final criminal sanction.
Let us look at the small print in Schedule 2 on page 115, at paragraph 25. That is the only significant reference to the ultimate penalty of imprisonment for contempt. I stress that in presenting the prospectus in this relatively attractive way, the Secretary of State mentioned human relations and seemed to be suggesting that the Bill would help these in some way. It is an Industrial Relations Bill and not a human relations Bill. He is setting up an institution entitled the National Industrial Relations Court. That is not a human relations court.
In the code which the Bill seeks to set up, there is little doubt that the law is being compartmentalised and fragmented, because we are removing something from the general law of the land and putting it into a special compartment. In many ways this, rather than anything else, is the innovation of the Bill. It would be wrong not to point out that a step of this kind is bound to detract from the universality and justice of the courts and will tend to narrow, rather than widen, the quasi-legal concepts, such as fair and unfair industrial practices, and the law of contempt, which are stressed by the Bill.
There is a sensitive boundary of human relations which it would be wrong to ignore. This subject arose yesterday in connection with political strikes. We on this side of the House welcomed the assurance given by the Solicitor-General that in the Government's view political strikes are not struck at by the Bill.
Sympathy strikes are certainly struck at in that these are secondary boycotts. I hope that this does not mean that sympathy strikes of a different kind, in which the humanitarian element is dominant, are struck at. I have in mind the obvious situation which may arise where one group of workers is appalled at an injustice suffered by another group and, in that immediate spontaneous feeling, take action of some kind which is not 678 related to industrial action in the ordinary sense. I hope that, in the Government's view, political strikes are not struck at, and that the Bill will not strike at humanitarian codes.
Another point touched on by the Secretary of State was the question of what trade unions are for and what they are about. A matter which worries many of my hon. Friends and myself is that two of the most important functions of trade unions are to persuade and to combine. They were originally combinations which were illegal at common law. If they have any purpose, it is for persuading workpeople to combine in their common interest and to enable employers to understand a collective viewpoint being presented.
In that connection, I and many of my hon. Friends are worried by the constant use of the word "induce" in the Bill, and the difficulty of drawing a clear line, as the law requires, as to what is to be illegal and what is to be persuasion of a peaceful and legal kind. By their very nature, trade unions are for the collective protection of individuals' rights. That is as it should be. One cannot take away the "collective" nor the "individual". We must have regard necessarily to the quantity of persuasion as well as the quality—when many people have a common view, quantity is important and not just the quality of the arguments presented.
Here the concept which is important in trade union history and philosophy is of solidarity. I cannot help feeling that hon. Gentlemen opposite find that an alien concept to some extent—perhaps some of them do not. But perhaps they would he able to understand a little better what the concept of solidarity means for trade unions if they were to think in terms of allegiance to the Crown—which I am sure they understand—or loyalty to the Conservative Party, to a regiment or to a tradition.
If one thinks of concepts of that kind one is getting nearer to an understanding of what lies behind the strength of feeling on this side of the House about the closed shop, the agency shop and 100 per cent. union membership. There is a delicate balance of persuasion, consent and force at the boundary between any human activity and the law. The vital 679 question is whether the balance is correctly struck. If force comes into it too quickly, a project may be doomed.
In many ways, that is where the issue stands between the two sides of the House: the trade unions and the law. We on this side care too much for the trade unions and for justice to risk sacrificing either in a premature, shot-gun marriage.
§ 10.50 p.m.
§ Mr. T. L. Iremonger (Ilford, North)
One would be very insensitive not to value the note struck by the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh, Leith (Mr. Murray) in his closing words, and I hope to echo many of them. However, since I have promised to finish my speech by eleven o'clock, and since I am sure that he would prefer my hon. and learned Friend to deal with his questions, I shall not pursue them myself. I shall content myself with three comments, two of them about misunderstandings, and the third a general comment about the Bill.
The hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton) was right when he said that there are wild exaggerations being made about the Bill. He described it as "an incomprehensible legal jungle", and a number of hon. Members have said that it is a lawyers' Bill. But when compared with good journalism, all Acts of Parliament are incomprehensible. Equally, good journalism would be totally inadequate if it were subjected to strict construction in a court of law. It is unfair and childish to criticise the Bill on the ground that it is incomprehensible. At the same time, there is a note of truth in the criticism which should be heard and acknowledged. It calls for a constructive response which I am sure will be forthcoming from my hon. and learned Friend.
The Bill's principles are not incomprehensible. Clause 1, for example, is easy to understand. But the Measure as a whole is difficult for people to grasp—[Interruption.] The right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) may sneer, but, with respect, her own Bill was not exactly light reading. But this is no criticism. It is not even a criticism of Parliamentary draftsmen, who have problems that we do not have.
Our problem is to make people understand matters that they have a right to 680 understand. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will be able to do this in two ways: first, by a publication from his Department giving a detailed guide to the workings of the Bill for those who are concerned; and, second, by publishing a description of what the Bill does in more general terms for those who want it.
That brings me to my second point. I was grateful recently to have the opportunity of two long sessions with the shop stewards of a major undertaking in my constituency. When the discussion got down to brass tacks and I asked what was the trouble, they put their point of view to me in simple terms. These were not the bogeymen of Tory ladies' committees, with the best of respect to them—one would be foolish to ignore the fact that the whole of politics is made up of bogeymen—and any person who could not come to terms with these men would have something wrong with him. It is possible to talk to them, and I asked them to give me the guts of their objection. They told me that they are pround of their good industrial relations with their employers but that they are afraid that the Bill will make good industrial relations bad by cramming sensible and workable procedures into some sort of legal straitjacket.
I explained that to my right hon. Friend and he helpfully replied to it, both to me personally and in his speech this afternoon. I will send his speech to every one of the 126 people in the factory who wrote to me, and to the shop stewards who came to see me.
Coming, now, to this code of practice, it is absolutely vital that my right hon. Friend should consult abut this, that he should be seen to consult about it and that he should consult the right people, making special reference—the right hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn said something about this—to employers' unfair practices. [Interruption.] I did not join the Tory Party because I was on the side of the employers. I joined the Tory Party for rather better reasons, I hope. I do not want any unfair practices by employers. It is important that the employers should be put on test in the code of industrial practice, just as much as the other side, and my right hon. Friend must make sure that all parties are clear in that respect.
681 With respect to my right hon. Friend, we ought to have not just the code presented to us. We ought to have a draft for consultation. We ought to have a debate on the draft so that we can say what we think is wrong with it. We ought then to have a debate on the amended draft, and then we ought to have the regulations. I do not think that four parliamentary days are a heavy price to pay for being seen to try to consider the anxieties which are expressed and constructive suggestions which are made.
I thought my right hon. Friend was very wise to say that there is no magic cure in this Bill. Frankly, I am a little frightened at the hopes which seem to be placed on it. I have never maintained that it is possible to establish good industrial relations by an industrial relations Measure of this kind. [Interruption.] I believe that it is possible to remedy very bad ones, however, and it does not lie in the right hon. Lady's mouth to say that it cannot be done, because there are some very choice quotations from her own mouth about the importance of giving a legal framework to industrial relations. I have no doubt that she has had enough of "In Place of Strife" being thrown at her, and I sympathise with her in her difficulty.
§ Mr. Iremonger
If she loves it, the point is made. This Bill is merely, in principle, doing what she did. We may argue about the details, but what we are not arguing about is the fact that legislation has a proper part to play in industrial relations at the proper time, and the time had already come when the right hon. Lady wanted to introduce it.
Therefore, I have no apologies for the Bill, and I do not expect too much of it. [Laughter.] It is all very well to sneer, but it would be very foolish to expect too much from this Bill.
My final point is this: it would be a mistake because of the polarised passions which have been generated in this debate to under-rate, on the other side of the House, the support that this Bill has received.
I should like to read a letter that was sent to me, totally unsolicited—I was myself surprised at the depth of passion 682 that it revealed—from a constituent of mine who had already written to me supporting the Bill. He said:…you may be interested to know that at the Ilford…branch meeting held on the 2nd March the following motion, proposed by myself, was debated and then passed by 41 votes to 13 against:'This branch deplores the action of the A.U.E.W. Executive Committee in imposing strike action on the members in opposition to the Industrial Relations Bill.'This is a small beginning but is in keeping with the 'shop floor revolution' that is taking place and gives the direct lie to Scanlon's statement that he has no evidence of dissent among A.U.E.W. members. I and my supporters will continue our efforts to combat the attempts of the Scanlons of this country to create a state of industrial anarchy.That was not from me, or a Tory supporter of mine, as far as I know. It was from a trade union member, reporting what happened at his branch meeting. If hon. Members do not believe either what it says or the veracity of my quotation, the letter is available for anybody to see. Although this is not an easy matter, hon. Members opposite will find that they gravely misjudge the whole temper of the country and that of many of their own Supporters in opposing the Bill in the way they do.
§ 11.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Douglas Houghton (Sowerby)
I am sure that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite must be relieved that their last hour has come. I have no special claim to be assigned the honour given to me this evening, because the last speech that I made on the Bill was in the Second Reading debate, on 15th December last year, which seems many, many nights ago. In the intervening stages of the Bill my principal occupation seems to have been that of a Lobby marshal. Whatever hon. and right hon. Members opposite have got out of these long debates they have surely experienced some of the drama and the moving scenes of unity and emotion displayed by these benches. There has been nothing to compare with it since the historic battles in this House, and between this House and the House of Lords, 60 years ago.
There have been gibes about the form that our protests have taken, but when debate is denied us only demonstration is left. In any case, my hon. Friends and I are not accountable to hon. Members 683 opposite for what we do in the House; we are accountable to the people who sent us here, our constituents, the Labour movement, and the trade unions.
My hon. Friend the Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme)—who I am sure the whole House will agree has enhanced his parliamentary reputation tonight—expressed in his speech something of the depth of feeling that he and many others have about the Bill. That feeling is shared by many hon. Members on this side of the House. Hon. Members opposite have difficulty in understanding this depth of feeling because, as a class, they have never had to fight their way out of bondage.
Listening to the debate in the last few hours I have come to the conclusion that the claims made by hon. Members opposite about what the Bill will do have been written down quite a lot. It is a pity that those more moderate claims were not made in our earlier debates. The hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower), the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg) and the hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. David Mitchell) all asked the House and the country not to pitch their expectations too high about what the Bill might do. The truth is that my hon. and right hon. Friends have given the Bill such a hammering in the long Committee and Report stages that it is no longer able to stand on its own two feet; the Bill will go to another place only if it is taken there in an ambulance.
Before I come to the more unpleasant part of my speech may I be permitted briefly to make one or two personal references? The whole House must be grateful to the Secretary of State and his two colleagues on the Front Bench for their painstaking exposition of the Bill and their tolerance and patience throughout. We owe them a debt of gratitude.
On this side there have been feats of physical and mental endurance rarely seen in the House, by my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle), my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool. Walton (Mr. Heffer)—we shall miss him from the Front Bench when he goes back to the back benches—my hon. Friend the Member for Doncaster (Mr. 684 Harold Walker) and my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Rose). There has been some splendid team work on the Bill on both sides of the House.
I hope that it is not an impertinence for me to express the gratitude of the House to the Chair for its tolerance and understanding of the problems of this contentious Bill.
Last Thursday, 18th March, at the T.U.C. was a good day for moderation in the trade union movement, notwithstanding the provocations of the Bill. It was a bad day for the Government, and it was a rather poor day for this House. While respect for the law still prevails amongst the unions, even for bad law, references at the conference to the need to uphold our system of parliamentary Government were rather coolly received. That should be noted in the House for two reasons: first, because dissatisfaction with the parliamentary process for dealing with a Bill of this length and complexity, and containing such contentious proposals, goes far beyond the T.U.C.; second, because I think that we are seeing the first signs that the trade unions are joining the revolt of youth against politics and Parliament. [Interruption.] Those who observed the T.U.C. conference on 18th March can surely have got that impression.
The conditions and circumstances in which we come to the Third Reading of the Bill are a parliamentary outrage. It is apparently beyond the capacity of our procedures to keep up the pretence of parliamentary scrutiny and full debate on a Bill of this kind. This will not do. The hon. Member for Basingstoke a few moments ago made some suggestions on remedying our procedures. For a long time we thought that the only way to deal with the Finance Bill and its long Committee and Report stages was on the Floor of the House in one go. We have tried other methods, and those experiments have proved successful. We must seek a remedy for the frustrations and disadvantages of dealing with a Bill in this way.
Now a word about the mandate and the General Election. For the Government to claim a mandate for the Bill from the marginal result of the General Election last June is to claim the right of one half of the people to impose 685 objectionable legislation on the other half—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Oh, yes. Trade unionists and their families comprise about one half of the electorate. The rejection of any semblance of consensus on such a contentious matter is a dangerous act of political defiance. The Government are deliberately provoking class divisions. They are treating the trade unions as a social enemy.
When the Government say that, by pushing this Bill through the House under the guillotine, they are fulfilling an election promise, we are entitled to know what has happened to some of the other election promises. Government by manifesto may appeal to the scoreboard mentality in politics, but if they are to retain confidence a Government must always be representative, responsible and relevant—and this Bill is none of those things.
How can the Government claim that the Bill is representative of public opinion when so little is really understood about what it really means and when millions of organised workers who know better what it means are protesting so loudly against it? If the Bill is designed to strengthen the trade unions, to put power back into the hands of the trade union establishment, why was it that one respected trade union leader after another at the Congress on 18th March went to the rostrum to denounce the Bill? These men are not disciples of anarchy. I have worked with them; I know them; I was on the General Council with them. The Government claim that the Bill is intended to strengthen their hands, but they denounce it as doing no such thing.
The Government should pause to consider what they are doing. Why have we heard so little, during all these debates and controversies about the Bill, from industrial managements and employers? How guarded and lukewarm they are! They know that industrial relations mean working and living together and that lawyers and litigation and courts and damages will not make things any better. The Bill is no act of responsibility with its crop of industrial friction and trade union disruption at a time of serious inflation and unemployment. This is the very worst time to be going stubbornly on with a Measure conceived long ago in entirely different circumstances.
686 This is irresponsible Government. The Bill has little relevance to today compared with the more urgent need to find the alternatives to the growing chaos and collapse of the outmoded structure of management and much of our capitalist enterprise. This is the problem which is rapidly overtaking the conventional economic policies of the past; this is the problem which dwarfs our obsession about wildcat strikes and other signs of trouble, for which this Bill has only legalistic remedies to offer.
It will be six years next month since the Donovan Commission was appointed and three years since it reported. Much of the thinking and evidence upon which it was based is already out of date. The Bill was overtaken before it was drafted by the new threat to industrial peace which is the growing discontent of workers with their environment in the world of mergers, take-overs, international corporations, financial entrepreneurs and the depreciation and draining of the human spirit in the vast field of technology and of mass production. There is an indictment of modern Britain for you! Much of industry today is becoming unfit for human occupation.
The oppressive tyranny of the production line and the failure to distinguish between the worker and a battery hen will continue to make walk-outs and strikes and other forms of mutiny endemic in industry in Britain today. I believe that the impulses behind this movement cannot be contained within the framework of law, still less within the ingenious elaborations of this Bill. They have to do with management, with conditions and with the human factor. The Bill deals only with the symptoms underlying the malaise of human relations—and these are human relations. We talk of industrial relations but we are really talking of human relations the whole time.
Of the causes of disorder, bad management, bad as it is in some places, does not account for it all. I saw an article by Professor Reddin in The Times on 15th March which struck a note in my mind. It was entitled "What's wrong with the British?": a question many of our friends overseas ask from time to time. He suggested that our industries are afflicted not so much with the extension of the class struggle as with what 687 he calls the class "status schism" and saidStatus rather than knowledge is the basis for determining points at which decisions should be made.He criticises the stratification of management at various levels of management, and the division between management and employees, with a tendency for each level to dominate the levels below—and my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Loughlin) referred to that.
Professor Reddin says:I think the Bill is no more than a patch-up job.He says he does not think it will solve the basic issue. This Bill is an attempt to shore up the system by imposing prohibitions and punishments. It bears all the marks of failure to consult the T.U.C. and is not even put forward as the product of enlightened management.
In all the 16 days of this Bill, the authoritative voice of British industrial management has been virtually silent. Probably some employers are wiser than to welcome the invidious responsibility of picking up the various sticks in the Bill to beat their workpeople. I ask quite solemnly how dare a Conservative Government put British workers to the indignities of this Bill—men and women who fought and worked for freedom and against oppression?
The Government claim that this is a framework of law, of which the major part is in line with Donovan. This has been disputed time and again throughout our debates. The existing loose framework of law is to be replaced by a new and complicated network of law.
The Government plainly aim to make legal regulations and legal sanctions the main instrument of policy for changing industrial relations. This is entirely alien to our long tradition of voluntary action. This is where they have gone wrong.
The Bill sets up an entirely new structure of an industrial judicial system and even to take the House through the main points of the National Industrial Relations Court, Industrial Court and the Commission on Industrial Relations—even to give the merest sketch—would take more time than I would be justified in occupying just now.
688 One has only to look at this new juidicial system and the pressures of the Bill to realise that it will create a new industry, an industry of industrial relations law consultants and practitioners and although the hon. and learned Member for Southport (Mr. Percival) dissociated himself from the view of my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, West Mr. William Hamilton) I believe that the unions, union officials, shop stewards and employers and managers will have to enter the world of wig and gown where ambiguous words are construed, hairs are split, loopholes are found, and lawyers will bless the British constitution.
With regard to the redistribution of power within the Bill, the aim of the Bill is to turn the tide of democratic control into autocratic control. This is the most fundamental aim of the Bill, but in recent years shop floor power has grown and union headquarters power has weakened. This has made for more trade union democracy, although many will complain that this has not been responsibly used at local level. The Bill is undoubtedly an attempt to put trade union activities at local level within the framework of law and regulation.
The Bill therefore seeks to reverse the trend of recent years which I believe to have been in the direction of democracy and which would have eventually been in the direction of more responsible democracy among trade unions. The Government want to reverse that trend by limiting the right of local leaders of groups of workers, whether shop stewards or not, to act for their unions without being clearly authorised to do so by the union's rules. This will not improve relations between trade union leaders and local leaders, as several hon. Members have pointed out.
We also find fresh mischief in the Government's agency shop proposals. There is plenty of scope for it in the provision that one-fifth of the members covered by an agency shop arrangement can challenge it every two years by asking for a ballot in which non-voting members could determine the result. The false character of the equation of the right not to join a union with the right to join a union was argued in the Donovan Report, but, notwithstanding that, the Government have enshrined this in the Bill as a basic human right.
689 Reference has been made to what we saw on television last night when a representative of management stressed that to decide not to belong to a union was equivalent to rejecting involvement in the responsibilities of democracy, and that is something which cannot lightly be conceded. Yet the Bill does that. There are many problems about the strike. Finally, we have the system of registration with its positive discrimination against non-registered unions. We find this particularly objectionable. The description "trade union" is denied to an unregistered body; it is to be denied legitimacy; it is to be known as an organisation of workers, not a trade union.
This is not so much a Bill as a Bible full of commandments and the wrath to come. It makes the mistake of relieving both sides of industry of their responsibilities towards each other. This is industrial relations by the book, giving little encouragement to positive effort to live together.
The petition which I presented to the House today and which was signed by hundreds of thousands of trade unionists asked the Government to withdraw the Bill. Should it become law, we on these benches will surely one day have the duty to decide its future. [Laughter.] That day will come; it will come far sooner than many complacent faces on the Government benches would like.
Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite already have a dreadful reckoning before them. They are not through with their economic policies yet; we have not seen what they are to be. All we have seen are the consequences of not having any.
It is my duty, speaking on behalf of the Parliamentary Labour Party, to refer to this question of repeal. The recent Croydon congress approved a recommendation of the Trades Union Congress that the General Council should seek from the Parliamentary Labour Party an explicit and unconditional assurance on the repeal of the Bill. We on these benches take note of that. [Interruption.] We always take note of counsel which comes from the Trades Union Congress.
This Bill would have been a better Bill if the Government had done the same. I can only refer to my speech on 690 Second Reading at col. 1152 of 15th December, 1970, which put the position of the Parliamentary Labour Party on the record. It is still our firm intention and desire to develop our constructive alternative to this Bill so to provide a firm basis for its repeal. That is the policy of the Parliamentary Labour Party—[Interruption]. It contains a firm message to the trade unions and to the people that we wish to work towards an accord between the trade unions and a future Labour Government that will produce the basis of industrial peace, that will provide the basis for economic growth, that will lead the country to prosperity. To accomplish this will surely be the most crushing rejoinder to the folies and mischief of this misguided Government.
§ 11.27 p.m.
§ The Solicitor-General (Sir Geoffrey Howe)
May I begin by joining the right hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) in the tribute which he paid to yourself, Mr. Speaker, and those who have held the Chair during the course of the proceedings on this Bill—
§ The Solicitor-General
May I also be allowed to express my appreciation of his courtesy for what he said about my right hon. Friend, my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary and myself. Passion has from time to time risen high in our discussions, but aside from that I should like to reciprocate his compliment. I do not know whether I should compliment or commiserate with the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) on his return, if it is intended, to the back benches. I am not sure whether his migration from one place to another has made more difference to the benches than it has to him. He seems to have remained notably unchanged—
§ The Solicitor-General
I must contrast the way in which the right hon. Gentleman commenced his remarks with the way in which the right hon. Lady chose to commence hers, because she made a comment about my right hon. Friend which many hon. Members must have thought was unworthy of her and the 691 occasion. She expressed the view that my right hon. Friend had been involved in what she described as minimum physical effort in the discharge of this Bill which wholly disregards the massive responsibilities he has had to discharge while the Bill has been before the House in Committee in the course of his other duties. It wholly disregards the fact that no Minister has devoted more thought to legislation for which he has been responsible.
Of course it is not the Bill of my right hon. Friend, still less is it, as the right hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) said, my Bill. It is the Bill of this Government and the party which supports them. It is brought before this House, as my hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke (Mr. David Mitchell) said earlier, for reasons which are plain for all to see and which no one from either side has sought to challenge—the poor and declining state of our industrial relations. The right hon. Member for Sowerby suggested that the Donovan Report was conceived in entirely different circumstances and by implication that this Bill was conceived in entirely different circumstances.
The only difference which is noticeable is that during the six years since Donovan was appointed and during the three years since "Fair Deal at Work" was published, the state of our industrial relations has continued to decline and the need for legislation of this kind has become more and more urgent. The whole country can see the rising toll of industrial action, the declining respect for collective agreements, the increasing abuse or misuse of power, whether by trade unions or by management, the insufficient regard in industrial relations for the rights of individuals, whether we regard them as employees or as members of trade unions—and, running alongside these, the erosion of the will and capacity of management to manage.
Those are the reasons why the Government, along, I may say, with almost all independent liberal opinion in this country—despite the astonishing retraction of the hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Pardoe) this afternoon, which was out of line with the opinions expressed consistently by his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Mont- 692 gomery (Mr. Hooson) throughout these debates—are convinced, with the country, of the need for major reform of this kind.
The right hon. Member for Sowerby sought to suggest, on some frail foundation, that the Government were seeking to put one half of the nation against the other half, were dividing the nation, were imposing the wishes of one part of the nation on the other. That could not be further from the truth. The reasons which have impelled the Government and the country to the conclusion that legislation along these lines is essential are the same as the reasons which impelled the last Labour Administration to exactly the same conclusions.
At that time the country had cause to admire the courage with which the hon. Gentlemen opposite committed themselves to the need for action. That is why—and I say this in all seriousness—it is tragic indeed that the Labour Party were obliged, in the first place, to drop their own plans for legislation, that they have been ultimately compelled to oppose this legislation and finally, and I say this with regret, to misrepresent it, so that we see this evening the right hon. Member for Sowerby talking in terms which cannot carry conviction about the present Government subjecting British workers to what he chose to call the indignities of this Bill. What absolute nonsense!
The reasons which impelled the right hon. Gentleman's party and Government when they were in office to the conclusion that change was necessary now cause the country to look to the present Government to carry out this task. That is the history which explains why the country has so little respect for the nature and the quality of the opposition to the Bill as it has gone through the House. It was at least a generous and important concession which the right hon. Gentleman made this evening when he talked about the long Committee and Report stage which the Bill has received. It is good to have that acknowledged. So far we have been confronted with wholly unjustified criticism of the way in which the Bill has been brought before the House. The Bill has been considered on the Floor of the House, let it be remembered, in response to the request made by hon. Members opposite. It has been under discussion on the Floor of 693 the House for 21 full days—longer than any other Bill since the war.
As for the criticism which has been advanced about the timetables under which it has been discussed, let it be remembered that they were put forward by the party opposite. The time which has been available has, in many respects, been squandered away. Let me give the House one example. One topic which was discussed in Committee was the question of whether or not the unqualified right to picket a person's home in the course of a trade dispute should or should not be withdrawn. This single question was discussed for four and a half hours—
§ The Solicitor-General
It was discussed in a way which the country must have found as confusing as the Committee did, because two quite inconsistent arguments were advanced by hon. Members opposite about that particular change. On the one hand, hon. Members opposite sought in that debate to suggest that by making this change we were striking a blow at the very lifeblood of trade unionism, taking a menacing step threatening the entire destruction of the trade union movement. In the next breath hon. Members opposite argued that the very concept of seeking to picket a person's home was so unthinkable, was so inconceivable, that there was no need to alter the law about that at all.
We reached the very pinnacle of idiocy last night, when we found hon. Members opposite voting solemnly in the Division Lobby against Amendments proposed to the Bill at their request. We found them at one point seeking to divide even against two specific Amendments which were supported by the right hon. Lady and all her colleagues.
§ Mr. Heffer
The hon. and learned Gentleman should really not try to mislead the House and the country. The two particular Amendments, so far as the Opposition Front Bench were concerned, were not divided upon, and the hon. and learned Gentleman knows that. I would, if I may, make just one other 694 point. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Oh, yes, because hon. Gentlemen a little earlier today had a parade in this House and tried to give the country the impression that the Government had scored a great victory—[HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."]—when, in fact, they only got to the Third Reading because the Government had to drop 42 new Amendments.
§ The Solicitor-General
I chose my words carefully, and the fact is that hon. Members opposite voted against some Amendments for which they had asked and sought to divide on others.
I turn now to the argument which has recurred time and time again during these debates, the suggestion that legislation to change the law is inappropriate in this field. I may say that the suggestion that the law is an inappropriate machine for changing the shape of society is a suggestion which comes ill from the party opposite, which is always only too anxious to reach for a Statute to solve almost every problem.
§ The Solicitor-General
The suggestion that the law which we are laying before the House is unduly complex similarly comes ill from the party opposite which is responsible for more complicated legislation than any other party in our history.
It comes a little oddly that hon. Gentlemen opposite should draw attention to the Bill and complain at its length when the House may be interested to know that the rule book of the A.E.U., which we were discussing yesterday, runs to 200 pages and contains 10,000 words more than the Industrial Relations Bill.
My hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, North (Mr. Iremonger) invited me to reaffirm what my right hon. Friend has already said: that it is certainly important that the Bill should be made plain to the people who have to work with it. As my hon. Friend suggested, it will be the subject of a clear guide to those who have to work with it.
There is nothing wrong in the suggestion that the law should play a part in this sphere. In this country, which is subject to the rule of law, it is in fact the law which defines all our other rights, duties and obligations in relation to each other. There in other spheres, as in indus- 695 trial relations, the law is the framework which can change attitudes, can reform institutions and can, as my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Southport (Mr. Percival) pointed out, be the backcloth and the longstop which can help to shape the way in which we behave towards each other.
The House may ask: what is there particular about the law as we have it in this sphere at the present time? There is one thing which is outstanding about the state of our industrial law at the moment. It is that the law, as we have it now, is an antique law, unreformed for many years. It is astonishing that in almost every other sector of our national life the law is in a state of constant change. The law affecting companies, the law regulating monopolies, the law organising industry and the law organising the social services are subject to regular and periodic review. The one law which has never been subject to any modernisation is the law affecting industrial relations. That is the first unique factor.
It has beeen increasingly apparent that the shape of that law has been subject to deliberate abstention. Industrial relations have been left, until recently, to unwritten rules. This country knows that our unwritten rules have increasingly broken down. Too often in recent times industrial relations have been left to what Sydney Webb described as "arbitraments of private warfare." That is a state of affairs with which no civilised society ought to live if it can avoid it. So the Bill lays down, as has been pointed out by my right hon. Friend, fair, reasonable modern guidelines, to which people on both sides in industry will respond almost always without recourse to law.
One of the most interesting comments on this was the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Tom King) when he pointed to the fact that Mr. Jack Jones only this week was arguing why he was now going to reform and introduce new procedural agreements with the employers with whom he had to deal to avoid having to take recourse to this law.
This is the effect of law in action. It is the way in which this House seeks to shape the institutions and habits of the people of the nation, and I am particu- 696 larly willing to defend this law in the area where we are seeking to redress the balance between the individual and the collective organisation.
Between individuals and employers we are making major changes for the first time. Several of my hon. Friends have pointed out that we are establishing a statutory system of appeal against unfair dismissal from employment. This is being done for the first time. For the first time also we are establishing the right of a worker to belong to a trade union—
§ The Solicitor-General
—which he can assert against his employer.
We put these proposals before the House because we agree with several of the points made by the right hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn. She said—and this is still true, even in our society today—that the individual has no rights as a citizen unless he is sure of being able to protect his job. That is why we are making provision for appeals against unfair dismissal.
The right hon. Lady also said it was wrong for the citizen to be threatened with the loss of his job by a decision of some remote body. We agree, but we also put forward the argument that it is not only the employing organisation which, in today's society, can exercise the sort of threat she has in mind. It must be acknowledged, because it is plain from our experience, that a person's livelihood and job can be as effectively threatened by the unfair decisions of trade unions and collective organisations—[Interruption.]—I hope hon. Gentlemen opposite will listen to what I am saying.
We agree, of course, as my right hon. Friend has repeated time and again, that membership of a trade union is something to be encouraged, and we applaud this. [Interruption.] As we were asked several times for this to be made plain, we voted last night for an Amendment in which my right hon. Friend has made it plain that an employer should be free to use his best endeavours to encourage union membership among all those who work for him. [Laughter.] It is no good hon. Gentlemen opposite seeking to laugh this off or brush it aside.
697 The Government believe—and hon. Members of the Liberal Party also believe, as do people of liberal conscience throughout the country—that individuals' freedoms also deserve to be preserved—[Interruption]—in the context of trade union organisation and membership.
Hon. Gentlemen opposite are fond of arguing that they wish to see the voluntary system of industrial relations preserved. So do we.
§ The Solicitor-General
Hon. Gentlemen opposite who are fond of arguing in support of the voluntary system must support this as well, for if voluntaryism as a principle is to be preserved and encouraged, as indeed it is—[HON. MEMBERS: "Ted's in bed; Ted's in bed."]——then it is a principle which deserves to be encouraged in the context of an individual's decision whether or not, in the last resort, to join a trade union. [Interruption.]
The question of an individual's membership of a trade union is not something which should, in the last resort, be a subject of coercion. It should be a subject of willing consent of that individual. Hon. Members opposite persist in declining to understand the facts about the legal profession. The legal profession, like any other, has a trade union that is quite distinct from its professional qualifications. I belong to my professional trade union as a matter of choice and quite voluntarily.
I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition is present, because he advanced this argument during the Second Reading debate. The right to practice in that profession depends upon a professional qualification. The decision as to whether or not to belong to the professional association is one that is entirely free for the individual himself to take.
I turn to another point advanced by the right hon. Lady in her speech and one which has been repeated time and time again. She has sought to suggest that this legislation will provide some 698 kind of way of helping the bad boss or employer.
§ The Solicitor-General
I welcome the opportunity of repeating what my right hon. Friend has said, that the Bill will provide a series of firm guidelines to promote good management. Managers will realise, and should realise now, that the Bill is designed to encourage good management. If they ignore that, they do so at their peril. The Bill lays down enforceable procedures for the recognition of trade unions and requires management to work out procedures for its employees and to notify each employee of the procedures which are applicable to him. The Bill requires employers to have regard to the rights of their employees not to be unfairly dismissed.
Finally, on a point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, North, the Bill contains provision for the code of industrial relations practice. I am glad to be able to affirm that the code will be published in its draft form, as the House was told last night—[Interruption.] Hon. Members opposite have an obsession about this.
§ The Solicitor-General
If I may be allowed to tell hon. Members opposite, the right hon. Lady's Bill, introduced on 30th April last year, also made provision—
§ The Solicitor-General
—and that code was to be laid before Parliament in exactly the same way as this code. But my right hon. Friend has given an additional undertaking that this code of practice will, in draft, be the subject of debate in the House. It is that code which will provide an additional set of rules to which management and employees will have to conform.
There can be no easy remedy available to bad management from this law. On the contrary, this law—
§ The Solicitor-General
May I comment now on the nature of the opposition from the trade union movement to this legislation? We are noting the growth of moderation in the attitude of the trade union movement towards this legislation. The country need not be unduly alarmed or dismayed by the reaction of the organised trade union movement as it is now being presented. In this country, as in others around the world, the organised labour movement is probably one of the most conservative of institutions.
It is worth remembering that in almost every other Western country where legislation of this kind has been introduced, it was the subject of massive protest at the time of its introduction. When Sweden's labour contract law was introduced in 1928, there was a demonstration outside the Parliament building of 400,000 people protesting about it. Today, that law is one within which the Swedish labour movement works and to which it is attached. It is well respected in that country. Similarly—
§ The Solicitor-General
No. The Government are confident that, with the passage of time, this Bill will redound to the greater security of industrial relations, and that our trade union movement will be glad to work and live with it. We recognise that the movement has an important rôle to play in the future of Britain, just as it has had in the past.
We assert from this side of the House that the laws within which industrial relations are to be conducted must be adapted to changing circumstances. The legislation with which we now live dates back to 1906. It may have been right at that time, but it is quite absurd to suggest that that legislation should survive and be right for us today.
Today, we can answer questions which were posed when the 1906 Bill was going through this House, 65 years ago this 700 week. The Attorney-General of the Liberal Government at that time asked these questions, and they are as relevant today as they were then:Are we sure that it is wise to remove from these unions and particularly from their agents a sense of responsibility? Is it right that their agents should move about with the consciousness that, whatever they do, the property of the unions will not have to bear any loss? Is that feeling likely to produce caution, prudence, self-restraint and regard for the rights and feelings of others? Is it not likely to have rather the opposite effect?The country can answer those questions today. The country knows that the time has come to change the archaic laws which have contributed to our present problems in industrial relations. The Leader of the Opposition and the right hon. Member for Blackburn know the answers to those questions, too. In their hearts, right hon. and hon. Members opposite know that we are right. So do the people.
I commend the Bill to the House.
§ Mr. Tom Driberg (Barking)
We have just listened to one of the most deceitful and evasive speeches—[Interruption].
§ Mr. Driberg
We have just been forced to listen to one of the most deceitful and evasive speeches ever made in this Parliament. [Interruption.] The next Labour Government will have to repeal this shameful act pretty damn' quick—[Interruption.]—and this Government's display of the naked reality of the class war will shock the country.
§ It being Twelve o'clock, Mr. SPEAKER proceeded, pursuant to Standing Order No. 43 (Business Committee) and the Orders [25th January and 15th March], to put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.
§ Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time:—
§ The House proceeded to a Division—
§ Mr. William Molloy (Ealing, North)
(seated and covered): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Did you observe the 701 behaviour and the position of the Government Chief Whip who, as he entered the Chamber and stood at the Bar of the House, seemed to us to be in a drunken condition?
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I have to put the Question now. I will come back to the point of order. The Question is. That the Bill be now read the Third time. As many as are of that opinion say "Aye", to the contrary "No".
§ Mr. Molloy
Before you had put the Question, Mr. Speaker, it seemed to us that the Government Chief Whip stood at the Bar of the House in a disgraceful drunken condition. I ask you, Sir, whether you would be good enough to defend the decorum of this House of Commons against this disgraceful and abominable behaviour when such an issue has been before the House. May I ask you whether you will give a Ruling on whether it is permissible even for the
§ Government Chief Whip to stand at the Bar of the House and conduct himself in a drunken manner?
Dr. M. S. Miller (Glasgow), Kelvin-grave)
(seated and covered): Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I ask you whether it is in order for the Government Chief Whip to come into this House and treat such a large number of right hon. and hon. Members of the House to the jeering show that he put up when he stood at the Bar?
§ Mr. Speaker
With regard to those two points of order—first, I had to put the Question before I could take the points of order. I had no option. At this time of night, at the end of a very long and hard day's night, a lot of things happen, are said and done, and the less attention we pay to them the better.
§ We will now proceed with the Division.
§ The House divided: Ayes 307, Noes 269.705
|Division No. 335.]||AYES||[12 midnight|
|Adley, Robert||Chichester-Clark, R.||Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone)|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Churchill, W. S.||Fry, Peter|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Clark, William (Surrey, E.)||Galbraith, Hn. T. G.|
|Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian||Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Gardner, Edward|
|Archer, Jeffrey (Louth)||Clegg, Walter||Gibson-Watt, David|
|Astor, John||Cockeram, Eric||Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Cooke, Robert||Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)|
|Awdry, Daniel||Coombs, Derek||Glyn, Dr. Alan|
|Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone)||Cooper, A. E.||Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.|
|Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)||Cordle, John||Goodhart, Philip|
|Balniel, Lord||Corfield, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Goodhew, Victor|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Cormack, Patrick||Gorst, John|
|Batsford, Brian||Costain, A. P.||Gower, Raymond|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Critchley, Julian||Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.)|
|Bell, Ronald||Crouch, David||Gray, Hamish|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Crowder, F. P.||Green, Alan|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Curran, Charles||Grieve, Percy|
|Benyon, W.||Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford)||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Grylls, Michael|
|Biffen, John||d'Avigdor-Goldsmid. Maj. -Gen. James||Gummer, Selwyn|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Dean, Paul||Gurden, Harold|
|Blaker, Peter||Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.||Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley)|
|Body, Richard||Digby, Simon Wingfield||Hall, John (Wycombe)|
|Boscawen, Robert||Dixon, Piers||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)|
|Bowden, Andrew||Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec||Hannam, John (Exeter)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Drayson, G. B.||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)|
|Braine, Bernard||du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)|
|Bray, Ronald||Dykes, Hugh||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere|
|Brewis, John||Eden, Sir John||Haselhurst, Alan|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)||Hastings, Stephen|
|Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher||Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Havers, Michael|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Hawkins, Paul|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Emery, Peter||Hay, John|
|Bryan, Paul||Farr, John||Hayhoe, Barney|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick(Angus,N & M)||Fell, Anthony||Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward|
|Buck, Antony||Fenner, Mrs. Peggy||Heseltine, Michael|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Fidler, Michael||Hicks, Robert|
|Burden, F. A.||Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead)||Higgins, Terence L.|
|Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton)||Hiley, Joseph|
|Campbell, Rt.Hn.G.(Moray & Nairn)||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.)|
|Carlisle, Mark||Fookes, Miss Janet||Hill, James (Southampton, Test)|
|Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Fortescue, Tim||Holland, Philip|
|Channon, Paul||Foster, Sir John||Holt, Miss Mary|
|Chapman, Sydney||Fowler, Norman||Hordern, Peter|
|Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher||Fox, Marcus||Hornby, Richard|
|Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame Patricia||Molyneaux, James||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate)||Money, Ernie||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Howell, David (Guildford)||Monks, Mrs. Connie||Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)|
|Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)||Monro, Hector||Soref, Harold|
|Hunt, John||Montgomery, Fergus||Speed, Keith|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark||Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)||Spence, John|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.||Sproat, Ian|
|James, David||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Mudd, David||Stewart-Smith, D. G. (Belper)|
|Jessel, Toby||Murton, Oscar||Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)|
|Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)||Nabarro, Sir Gerald||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.|
|Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)||Neave, Airey||Stokes, John|
|Jopling, Michael||Nicholls, Sir Harmar||Stuttaford, Dr. Tom|
|Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael||Sutcliffe, John|
|Kaberry, Sir Donald||Normanton, Tom||Tapsell, Peter|
|Kellett, Mrs. Elaine||Nott, John||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Kershaw, Anthony||Onslow, Cranley||Taylor, Edward M.(G'gow, Cathcart)|
|Kimball, Marcus||Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.)|
|King, Tom (Bridgwater)||Osborn, John||Tebbit, Norman|
|Kinsey, J. R.||Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.)||Temple, John M.|
|Kirk, Peter||Page, Graham (Crosby)||Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret|
|Kitson, Timothy||Page, John (Harrow, W.)||Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)|
|Knight, Mrs Jill||Parkinson, Cecil (Enfield, W.)||Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)|
|Knox, David||Percival, Ian||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Lambton, Antony||Peyton, Rt. Hn. John||Tilney, John|
|Lane, David||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Trafford, Dr. Anthony|
|Langford-Holt, Sir John||Pink, R. Bonner||Trew, Peter|
|Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Pounder, Rafton||Tugendhat, Christopher|
|Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)||Price, David (Eastleigh)||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Longden, Gilbert||Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L.||Vaughan, Dr. Gerard|
|Loveridge, John||Proudfoot, Wilfred||vickers, Dame Joan|
|McAdden, Sir Stephen||Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis||Waddington, David|
|MacArthur, Ian||Quennell, Miss J. M.||Walder, David (Clitheroe)|
|McCrindle, R. A.||Raison, Timothy||Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)|
|McLaren, Martin||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James||Wall, Patrick|
|Maclean, Sir Fitzroy||Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)||Walters, Dennis|
|McMaster, Stanley||Rees, Peter (Dover)||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham)||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Warren, Kenneth|
|McNair-Wilson, Michael||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David||Weatherill, Bernard|
|McNair-Wilson, Patrick (NewForest)||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Maddan, Martin||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas||White, Roger (ravesend)|
|Madel, David||Ridsdale, Julian||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Maginnis, John E.||Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Marten, Neil||Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.)||Wilkinson, John|
|Mather, Carol||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Maude, Angus||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)||Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher|
|Mawby, Ray||Rost, Peter||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Russell, Sir Ronald||Worsley, Marcus|
|Meyer, Sir Anthony||St. John-Stevas, Norman||Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.|
|Mills, Peter (Torrington)||Scott, Nicholas||Younger, Hn. George|
|Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Miscampbell, Norman||Sharples, Richard||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Mitchell, Lt.-Col. C. (Aberdeenshire, W)||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)||Mr. Reginald Eyre and|
|Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Shelton, William (Clapham)||Mr. Jasper More.|
|Moate, Roger||Simeons, Charles|
|Abse, Leo||Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.)||Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Cunningham, George(Islington, S.W.)|
|Allen, Scholefield||Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Dalyell, Tam|
|Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis)||Buchan, Norman||Darling, Rt. Hn. George|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)||Davidson, Arthur|
|Ashley, Jack||Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Davies, Denzil (Llanelly)|
|Ashton, Joe||Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.)||Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)|
|Atkinson, Norman||Cant, R. B.||Davies, Ifor (Gower)|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Carmichael, Neil||Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.)|
|Barnes, Michael||Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield)||Deakins, Eric|
|Barnett, Joel||Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles)||Delargy, H. J.|
|Beaney, Alan||Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Clark, David (Colne Valley)||Dempsey, James|
|Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.)||Devlin, Miss Bernadette|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Cohen, Stanley||Doig, Peter|
|Bishop, E. S.||Concannon, J. D.||Dormand, J. D,|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Conlan, Bernard||Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.)|
|Boardman, H. (Leigh)||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Douglas-Mann, Bruce|
|Booth, Albert||Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.)||Driberg, Tom|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Crawshaw, Richard||Duffy, A. E. P.|
|Boyden, James (Bishop Auckland)||Cronin, John||Dunnett, Jack|
|Bradley, Tom||Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Eadie, Alex|
|Edelman, Maurice||Latham, Arthur||Prescott, John|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Lawson, George||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Edwards, William (Merioneth)||Leadbitter, Ted||Price, William (Rugby)|
|Ellis, Tom||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Probert, Arthur|
|English, Michael||Leonard, Dick||Rankin, John|
|Fernyhough, Rt. Hn. E.||Lestor, Miss Joan||Reed, D. (Sedgefield)|
|Fisher, Mrs. Doris(B'ham, Ladywood)||Lever, Rt. Hn. Harold||Roes, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)|
|Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)||Rhodes, Geoffrey|
|Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Richard, Ivor|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Lipton, Marcus||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Foley, Maurice||Lomas, Kenneth||Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Foot, Michael||Loughlin, Charles||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Ford, Ben||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)||Roderick, Caerwyn E.(Br'c'n & R'dnor)|
|Forrester, John||Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)||Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Fraser, John (Norwood)||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Roper, John|
|Freeson, Reginald||McBride, Neil||Rose, Paul B.|
|Garrett, W. E.||McCartney, Hugh||Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)|
|Gilbert, Dr. John||MacColl, James||Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)|
|Ginsburg, David||McElhone, Frank||Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C.||McGuire, Michael||Short, Mrs. Renee (W'hampton, N.E.)|
|Gourlay, Harry||Mackenzie, Gregor||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)|
|Grant, George (Morpeth)||Mackie, John||Sillars, James|
|Grant, John D. (Islington, E.)||Mackintosh, John P.||Silverman, Julius|
|Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)||Maclennan, Robert||Skinner, Dennis|
|Griffiths, Will (Exchange)||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)||Small, William|
|Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||McNamara, J. Kevin||Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.)|
|Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||MacPherson, Malcolm||Spearing, Nigel|
|Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)||Mahon, Simon Bootle)||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Hamling, William||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Stallard, A. W.|
|Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill)||Marks, Kenneth||Steel, David|
|Hardy, Peter||Marquand, David||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham)|
|Harper, Joseph||Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard||Stoddart, David (Swindon)|
|Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy||Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John|
|Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith||Meacher, Michael||Strang, Gavin|
|Hattersley, Roy||Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.|
|Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis||Mendelson, John||Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley|
|Heffer, Eric S.||Mikardo, Ian||Swain, Thomas|
|Hooson, Emlyn||Millan, Bruce||Taverne, Dick|
|Horam, John||Miller, Dr. M. S.||Thomas, Rt. Hn. George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Milne, Edward (Blyth)||Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)|
|Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Molloy, William||Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. (Dundee, E.)|
|Huckfield, Leslie||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)||Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy|
|Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Tinn, James|
|Hughes, Mark (Durham)||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Tomney, Frank|
|Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.)||Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)||Torney, Tom|
|Hunter, Adam||Moyle, Roland||Tuck, Raphael|
|Irvine, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur (Edge Hill)||Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Urwin, T. W.|
|Janner, Greville||Murray, Ronald King||Varley, Eric G.|
|Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Ogden, Eric||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n & St. P'cras, S.)||O'Halloran, Michael||Walden, Brian (B'm'ham All Saints)|
|Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||O'Malley, Brian||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)||Oram, Bert||Wallace, George|
|John, Brynmor||Orbach, Maurice||Watkins, David|
|Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Orme, Stanley||Weitzman, David|
|Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||Oswald, Thomas||Wellbeloved, James|
|Johnson, Walter (Derby, 8.)||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Padley, Walter||White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)|
|Jones, Barry, (Flint, E.)||Paget, R. T.||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Palmer, Arthur||Whitlock, William|
|Jones, Rt. Hn. SirElwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen)||Pardoe, John||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.)||Parker, John (Dagenham)||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Judd, Frank||Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange)||Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)|
|Kaufman, Gerald||Pavitt, Laurie||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|Kelley, Richard||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Kerr, Russell||Pendry, Tom|
|Kinnock, Neil||Pentland, Norman||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Lambie, David||Perry, Ernest G.||Mr. John Golding and|
|Lamond, James||Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.||Mr. Donald Coleman.|
|Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.|