§ 3.55 p.m.
§ Mr. James Prior (Lowestoft)
I beg to move,
That this House rejects the Consultative Document, Dock Work, and the further proposals for ports reorganisation.This debate takes place against the background of the publication of the consultative document, the recent dock strike in London, the state of the economy and tomorrow's Budget. I have never been one of those who wished to minimise the problems of the Government. I have generally tried to give Labour Ministers the benefit of the doubt. But I must say that after recent days and weeks I am disposed to do so no longer.
What is the Secretary of State for Employment doing at the Dispatch Box? Why is he here in view of his known attitude over the European Community? I presume, in view of the right hon. Gentleman's known views about his being overpaid, that he has now taken a voluntary reduction in his salary? After all, he said he was being paid too much. Presumably now that he is doing only half a job—
§ Mr. Prior
—he has taken a reduction in pay accordingly. [Interruption.] I always used to admire the right hon. Gentleman's integrity, if not his politics. When he sat below the Gangway he would state his views clearly. That is no longer the case. I do not think that many of us ever thought he would prove to be much of a match for those tough negotiators in the unions but we expected the right hon. Gentleman to act with true parliamentary dignity and his usual honour. I regret to see him where he is today. I do not think he should be here.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Robert Mellish)
Get on with it.
§ Mr. Prior
It is no good the Chief Whip telling me to get on with it. I will make my own speech in my own way. I believe very strongly indeed that there ought to be collective responsibility on the part of the whole Cabinet, and I do not any longer respect the right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary of State for Employment, for remaining a member of a Cabinet which is behaving in this manner. It is about time right hon. Gentlemen knew how much we on the Conservative benches and people in the country despise the attitude of the Cabinet. It thinks it can have its own view—
§ Mr. Walter Johnson (Derby, South)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it in order for the right hon. Gentleman to start a debate in this way when what he is saying has nothing to do with the subject under discussion?
§ Mr. Speaker
I deprecate personalities and personal allegations. However, the right hon. Gentleman was referring to the Secretary of State for Employment, who is to reply to the debate. I do not think I can rule him out of order.
§ Mr. Arthur Lewis (Newham, North-West)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I cannot and would never seek to disagree with your ruling. May I give you notice, however, in view of what you have said, that I may want to denigrate and question the honesty and integrity of a former Leader of the Opposition and a former Minister and call into question some of their statements and actions? Will I be allowed the same opportunity as the right hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior)?
§ Mr. Speaker
I deprecate personal attacks or reflections. As regards the hon. Member's question, I shall deal with that situation when it arises.
§ Mr. Prior
Perhaps I can deal with that point. I had not noticed that Government supporters were backward in criticising the Opposition. I do not see why Government back benchers should 42 resent it when I say what I feel. It is a disgrace to the House of Commons that some Ministers support a policy which is not that of the Government while continuing to be members of the Government. I think that the honourable thing for them to do is to resign. I think that many hon. Members on both sides take that point of view.
§ Mr. Arthur Lewis
That is my point. However, many Ministers of the Tory Government said that they were not in favour of the wage freeze. Yet they remained in the Government and caused the confrontation and the three-day working week. Therefore, to be fair, the right hon. Member for Lowestoft must take into account the actions of Tory Government Ministers who remained in the Government whilst they said they were not in favour of the three-day week.
§ Mr. Speaker
I hope that in the interests of the debate we can now move off this point. There are to be eight Front Bench speakers in the course of today. I therefore hope that we can resume the subject of the docks.
§ Mr. Prior
There is a considerable difference between an hon. Member voting against the recognised wishes of his party and Prime Minister and saying afterwards that he may not agree with every facet of Government policy.
Today we are discussing the threat of unemployment to dockers and inefficiency in our docks system. In the old days of casual employment the threat was the trade cycle. The system was humanised in the 1940s, and was ended eight or nine years ago when casual employment was abolished. Today the threat is the technology of containerisation. In 1972 that resulted in strikes in the docks followed by the Aldington-Jones recommendations, which boosted the recruitment of dockers in container depots and resulted in a generous redundancy pay scheme for a large number of dockers. Following that, there was a lull in strike activity and there was full employment in the docks.
In 1975 the trade cycle again turned down. There was new recruitment in the docks in 1974. All the old problems are now once again on the boil. There are fears of loss of jobs and of unemployment, which run very deep in the docks. Those fears are easily whipped up 43 by unscrupulous men. That is what happened on this occasion. If evidence was required, the statement made by the Prime Minister in Parliament on Thursday in answer to my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Huntingdonshire (Sir D. Renton) made that abundantly plain. The Prime Minister said:It is true that for a time the militants got control dishonestly and deceptively and gave false tallies of the numbers who were voting."—[Official Report, 10th April 1975; Vol. 889, c. 1409.]He went on to say that he felt that nothing could be done because of the deep sensitivity in the docks at present. I felt that that was a total negation of Government responsibility.
Let us examine one or two of the men who have been behind the recent troubles, such as Mr. Nicholson, Mr. Billy Powell, Mr. Eddie Prevost, Mr. Light and Mr. Turner. I understand that some of them are members of the Institute for Workers' Control, which aims to overthrow capitalism and achieve complete workers' control of all industry. I would have thought that they were not greatly interested in the workers. They are much more interested in the control which they might exercise thereafter.
The International Socialists are also stirring this up. I know that some Government supporters will not like this. However, a group of dedicated International Socialists and Communists in the docks have acted in such a way in the recent strike that a large number of decent dockers will lose their jobs.
I hope that the Government will inquire why Mr. Nicholson has been on the sick list for all these months. Has he been drawing supplementary benefit? Has he been examined by the regional medical officer of the Department of Health and Social Security? If not, why not? This man is able to play an active part in stirring up trouble in the docks, but is unable to do any decent work.
§ Mr. Mellish
I know some of the individuals concerned. I think that it is very unfair to use the privileges of the House to make a statement which I doubt whether the right hon. Gentleman would make outside. The employers of Brian Nicholson have never queried the position or been in any doubt. I do 44 not see why the right hon. Gentleman casts those aspersions on persons who cannot defend themselves.
§ Mr. Prior
I have not found Mr. Nicholson unable to defend himself so far. The employers have said nothing. All employers in the docks know what happens if they say anything. If we cannot raise these issues in the House, where can we raise them? What have I said about these five characters which is so defamatory to their records? I have said that they are International Socialists and Communists. Is there anything wrong in saying that? That is what they are. Some people would be proud of that fact.
On 1st January 1975, before the dispute began, there were 1,000 surplus dockers in London. Since that time, as a result of the dispute, 1,500,000 tons of cargo have been lost to the Port of London, probably for ever. That represents 15 per cent. of the total cargoes passing through the Port of London. It is likely to mean a further reduction of 15 per cent. in the number of dockers required. That is what Mr. Nicholson and what the Prime Minister calls "militants" have managed to do on behalf of the decent dockers of London.
There is a great deal wrong with the efficiency of our docks. In London a 12-man gang moves 50 tons per shift. The equivalent gang in Antwerp moves 350 tons per shift. [HON. MEMBERS: "Which cargoes?"] I refer to equivalent cargoes in London and Antwerp.
§ Mr. Prior
The United Kingdom has the worst record for dock strikes in Western Europe. Rotterdam has experienced no major strike for 30 years. Antwerp has not had a strike since 1955, and that strike lasted for only a few days. It is calculated that if dockers worked normally for their full shift, productivity would increase by 25 per cent.
§ Mr. Prior
I shall not give way to the hon. Gentleman.
It is not as if the situation were a happy one. It is most unhappy. It would 45 not be unreasonable, therefore, to expect that in the present economic situation the Government would come forward with some sensible modernising proposals—sensible, perhaps, until one considers the right hon. Gentleman's attitude to these matters.
There is no mention in this disastrous document of what should be the prime and overriding objectives—a reduction in the cost of handling exports, efficiency and speed, freedom of importers and exporters to choose how and where goods are handled, and more competition instead of less.
§ Mr. Mellish
I am sorry to interrupt; I know that the Chief Whip should not speak in a debate, but I am a Dockland Member of Parliament and I cannot take much more of the rubbish which we have just heard. I do not know where the right hon. Gentleman got his figures about cargo handling and output. In the dock industry in the last few years the labour has been halved, and this has happened without any disputes. There has been a good deal of injustice. If the right hon. Gentleman wants examples of the most appalling behaviour by dock employers I can give those to him, but I will not do so now because it would not help. Much of the output of our dock workers compares more than favourably with that in other ports. If the right hon. Gentleman wants proof of that, he should ask the ship owners.
§ Mr. Prior
The right hon. Gentleman, of course, is right to defend his constituents but he ought to have more knowledge than he has of what is happening in the London docks. If he wishes to know where my figures come from, I can pass to him a copy of Accountancy, which produced those figures some while ago, figures which no other publication has made any effort to refute. It is time that we came out with the facts for a change and faced up to the problems.
What do the Government intend to do? They have taken the most extreme demands of the Transport and General Workers' Union and have proceeded to put them into this document. They have taken the views of one small section of the Transport and General Workers' Union as against the rest of that union. Proceeding by new legislation, they will 46 seek to avoid the need for a public inquiry during which all the points which have been mentioned could come out into the open. That opportunity is denied by having new legislation instead of proceeding under the old Act. The interests concerned will be denied the opportunity of submitting their views to an independent tribunal. If those views could be submitted to an independent tribunal, we might get much nearer to the facts than has so far been possible in this House. The dockers are trying to claw back or obtain jobs which are now being done by other workers who are members of their own union. How unfair can one get?
Let me read the dockers' viewpoint as expressed in the Port newspaper of 9th April:Some method must be found to put registered men into these places and to phase out the men currently employed there"—"these places" referring to work which is not at the moment carried out by official dock labour. Let us have no more mealy-mouthed talk about it. The dockers are after the jobs of their fellow workers.
Where this did happen under Aldington-Jones and registered dock labour was put into, for example, a container company, Chobham Farm, this is the view of the employers as expressed in a recent report issued by the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service, in paragraph 79:… the company had subsequently agreed to employ registered men for cargo and container handling whilst still retaining its current work force. Those of the original work force who had remained had lost the jobs they had been engaged on since these jobs were now designated as dock work. All attempts by the original work force to register as dock workers had failed—they could not register through the trade union, since the TGWU had a policy of nominating only the sons of registered dock workers, and the employer could not nominate them since he was not a member of the relevant employers' association. Many of the original employees were now still engaged on menial tasks.It is grossly unfair, to put it at its lowest, that the thousands of people who at the moment are in work in places just outside the dock area and work in perfect harmony with their employers should now be pushed out of their jobs so that dockers can have them.
If there is a problem about the employment of "cowboys" in the loading of containers, why could it not be dealt with under a licence, which was one of the 47 recommendations put forward some while ago by the port employers, so that it could be done if there was a desire to do so? The truth is that there are no extra jobs available. All that would happen would be that jobs which at the moment are carried out by people who are not dockers would be handed over to dockers, and I do not believe that we should permit such a state of affairs. More jobs would be lost.
If the right hon. Gentleman had consulted the profession of commodity markets he would have learned why merchants avoid storing goods in premises staffed by dock labourers at the scheme ports. They do so because of the fear of strikes, higher costs, lower productivity and general inefficiency. I am in a position to speak with authority and knowledge because, as a former Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, I know something about the food distribution problems of Britain. I am aware that our efficient food distribution network is due to the fact that depots and warehouses are outside the control of the docks.
I now turn to the subject of the non-scheme ports, where there has been great development in recent years. One reason for this is the bad labour at the dock labour scheme ports. They now carry one fifth of the traffic, and in the live years from 1966–71 they increased the tonnage from 45 million to 70 million. The main objection to the non-scheme ports was that in a few cases there were the remnants of casual labour. The National Ports Council's survey, which looked into all this, came to the conclusion that of the people employed in the non-scheme ports 357 were employed casually and 2,553 were regular employees. We are dealing with a situation where the Government wish to bring the non-scheme ports into the dock labour scheme because 357 out of 35,000 dockers have been treated as casual employees.
In other words, if ever there was a case of taking a sledge hammer to crack a nut, this is it. The only trouble is that when one has cracked this nut, one cracks a hell of a lot else with it. This will only make industrial relations worse. The non-scheme ports would suffer all the worst problems of the scheme ports.
48 If one wants evidence of that, why do not hon. Members opposite take the trouble to ask the dockers of Felixstowe or Shoreham whether they wish to join the dock labour scheme? They do not wish to have anything to do with it at all. Why do we have all this talk from hon. Members opposite about participation? Have they asked the dockers of Felixstowe or Shoreham or other non-scheme ports whether they wish to join the scheme?
§ Mr. Eddie Loyden (Liverpool, Garston)
The right hon. Gentleman will be aware that at the National Docks Conference in 1972 the unregistered ports representatives agreed to the registration of their ports and of their jobs.
§ Mr. Prior
We have heard all that before. What we on this side mean by participation is people joining in and saying what they want to do, not just a few people who, by one tactic or another, have got into a position where they can say what they want to do. If the hon. Gentleman goes to Felixtowe—I hope he has been there as he talks with so much authority—and asks the dockers there what they wish to do, he will get a very clear answer. The answer is that they do not wish to join the scheme. They are happy with their conditions of work and pay. In fact, some are amongst the highest paid dockers in the British Isles today. Therefore, there is no reason why they should be taken over and brought within the dock labour scheme.
In the old days the Labour Party used to say that organisations had to be nationalised or taken over by the Government because they were failing the nation. Now the situation seems to be the other way round. These are the only ports which are helping the nation. It is the nationalised ports which are failing the nation. However, rather than do the right thing, the Labour Party insists that they must be taken over. This is a hopeless proceeding for the future of this country.
What about the future? I hope the Secretary of State will allow more time for proper consultation with all the interested parties than he has shown any indication of allowing so far. When some of those who will be affected have written to the Department, they have been told to submit their written evidence, if possible, 49 within four weeks. The right hon. Gentleman knows that by this document and the legislation he will be taking away the right of objectors to put their cases to proper tribunals. Therefore, he has an even greater responsibility to see that there is ample time for consultation, to see these people himself and not to fob them off with some Under-Secretary in his Department. The right hon. Gentleman has a duty to see these people and to hear their objections. I hope that he will give us an unqualified statement this afternoon that he will be prepared to see the people who wish to put views to him.
The Secretary of State knows perfectly well—he must have been told by his officials, not by other interests because he has not bothered to consult them at all —that the extension of the dock labour scheme is not the answer. In fact, the scheme makes matters worse rather than better. Indeed, the scheme needs to be made more flexible, not extended, for London. Surely the right hon. Gentleman recognises that the right answer to help the dockers who are bound to be made redundant is to concentrate on providing and making new jobs, not trying to take jobs away from those who already have them. If the Secretary of State comes to this House with a scheme for re-employment or for spending cash to provide new jobs in the docks, we will wholeheartedly support him. We will also wholeheartedly support him if he brings forward a redundancy scheme to thin the industry down to the right size.
We cannot turn back the clock. We must go forward and provide new jobs rather than try the whole time to take away jobs from some people to give to others. That is no answer to the problems facing Britain. It is not right for us to feel that we are barred from discussing and stating plainly and bluntly the problems in the docks. Right hon. and hon. Gentleman opposite delude themselves if they think that there is no problem here. Much of the problem is caused by the militancy of a few acting against the interests of the many. I believe that we shall have done a duty to this country and to this House by stating these facts as plainly as possible. I shall invite my right hon. and hon. Friends, when the time comes, to reject this disastrous document.
§ 4.25 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Michael Foot)
At one point in the proceedings you, Mr. Speaker, complained that the House would have to endure four speeches from the Front Benches today. I can understand the feelings of any of those—
§ Mr. Foot
Fortunately, Mr. Speaker, we shall have to endure only four. We will watch carefully to see whether you endure the whole of the eight speeches. However, I grant that it is a difficulty for the House.
The motion contains two parts. The right hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior) has not referred to the second part of it. I am not complaining on that score. That will no doubt be dealt with by another of his hon. Friends and will be answered by my right hon. Friend the Minister for Transport when he replies to the debate. However, I must start by underlining the fact—I hope to underline it much more severely at the end of my remarks—that this is a most curious motion with extremely serious implications. I should like to spell out to the House at the end of my remarks what I think will be the consequences if the House is unwise enough to adopt the motion.
First, I will do my best to reply to several of the points made by the right hon. Gentleman. For example, he mentioned, as have others in these controversies, that what should be at stake—I am not denying the importance of the matter—is the efficiency of the transport system generally of this country. The right hon. Gentleman tried to claim, as have others, that the evidence shows that the non-scheme ports have shown themselves to be more efficient than the scheme ports and that that is proved by the general increase in traffic that has taken place over recent years. If the test of efficiency is to be applied in that way, the facts do not prove it because they are neutral on the subject.
The scheme ports and the non-scheme ports increased their traffic between 1969 and 1973. Some of the non-scheme ports have increased their traffic dramatically: Felixstowe 88 per cent., Harwich 43 per 51 cent., Mostyn 76 per cent., Portsmouth 46 per cent., and Shoreham 38 per cent. Those are quite considerable increases. But the scheme ports have also increased their traffic: Immingham 80 per cent., Great Yarmouth 66 per cent., Fleetwood 361 per cent., Sharpness 60 per cent., Southampton 118 per cent., Lowestoft, even with the sour and melancholy presence of the right hon. Gentleman to discourage it, 60 per cent. The 60 per cent. at Lowestoft compares roughly with the average at the other ports.
The figures show that 30 scheme ports have gained traffic and 17 scheme ports have lost traffic and that 27 non-scheme ports have gained traffic and 13 non-scheme ports have lost traffic in that period. The figures are roughly the same. I am not sure what the goal average on those figures is, but only the goal average between them would test the matter. Therefore, the figures do not bear out what the right hon. Gentleman said. I suggest that people should be a little more careful than the right hon. Gentleman has been in using these figures.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths (Bury St. Edmunds)
The right hon. Gentleman is right in what he said about percentages. May I give him a fact and ask for his comment? In the non-scheme ports the average time taken to clear goods varies from five to six days. In the scheme ports the average time varies from 13 to 20 days. Would the right hon. Gentleman care to comment on that comparison?
§ Mr. Foot
I should like to see, first, how the comparisons are made and, secondly, where the figures are tested. What I was doing—I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not blame me for this —was to take the precise test selected by his right hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft of the growth of traffic. I was making a comparison in general terms, which I think is a better comparison. I do not claim to be a statistician, but I should have thought that it was a broader and more apt comparison than that made by the hon. Gentleman.
The complaint made against me by the right hon. Gentleman is peculiar. What Tory Members are saying is that the Government's crime is that we are proposing to take action.
52 I fully agree with what the right hon. Gentleman said about the seriousness of the recent strike in the London docks. It was a most serious and regrettable strike and, I believe, a most unjustified strike. We have to see how we are to avoid such perils in the future.
I therefore claim that what the Government have done and, despite all the attacks which have been made upon myself, what I have sought to do is to see haw we can take action to deal with these problems. It is not just a matter of having more inquiries. The right hon. Gentleman talked about having fresh inquiries. The dockers have said to me clearly "We have had 17 or 18"—whatever the figure is—"inquiries. What has happened about them?"
I remind the House of one very important inquiry which was held. It was not conducted by some International Socialist or member of the Communist Party. It was the inquiry into the London docks in 1960 and 1970 by Mr. Peter Bristow, an eminent Queen's Counsellor. He produced a report which made many suggestions for dealing with the problem, suggestions not so different from those we have incorporated into our own document. He called for a new definition of "dock work". He made proposals somewhat along the lines contained in our document, although we have elaborated them further. That was way back in 1969 and 1970.
Many dockers have put it to me that they believed that the Bristow Report, which came after so many other reports by Lord Devlin and other eminent people, should have been carried into effect. The Bristow Report was presented to the previous Labour Government, who went out of office within a few weeks of its presentation. Thereafter nothing whatever was done about the report.
§ Mr. Foot
The right hon. Gentleman had not by then arrived at that eminent office, but there were several others. The right hon. Member for Carshalton (Mr. Carr) was there for three and a half years. The right hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton) was at the Ministry of Transport. The right hon. Member for Penrith and the Border (Mr. Whitelaw), who is now 53 Deputy Leader of the Opposition, was there for a few months. There was also the right hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. Macmillan). Nothing was done to deal with the dock situation in any radical way.
Nothing was done to deal with the dock labour scheme. The right hon. Gentleman asserted today that the dock labour scheme is an appalling disaster. Tory right hon. and hon. Members had three and a half years in which to think about the matter and act. Today the right hon. Gentleman did not have a single good word to say for the dock labour scheme. Indeed, he denounced it in every sentence he uttered. Such behaviour is not the best way of going about changing the dock situation. Right hon. and hon. Members who are not so familiar with these matters, like myself, should he more reticent when speaking on these questions.
If the dock labour scheme was such a disastrous affair as the right hon. Gentleman asserted, why did not the Tories do something about it in their three and a half years in office? They did not propose to do anything. Now they denounce us because we propose to do something about the 20 per cent. of docks which are out of the scheme. If it is such a disastrous scheme, why would they propose to leave 80 per cent. in the scheme? After all, for decades to come that 80 per cent. of docks will probably deal with the mass of traffic coming into and going out of this country.
As I say, for three and a half years the Tories were in a position to take action but took none. It was not for lack of anybody making suggestions. Mr. Peter Bristow's Report following his inquiry in 1960–70 was there when the Tories came into office in 1970. That proposed action. Then the National Ports Council recommended action and an elaboration of the scheme. Then the Tories had recommendations for action following the Aldington-Jones investigations. I know that some action was taken about severance pay and other such matters, but as regards extending the scheme, which is what we are doing, and seeing how it should be carried into other fields, nothing was done in the whole of that period. Now when we come forward with proposals for action—this is a great 54 crime, in this Government, of course—the Tories hold up their hands in horror and say "No, let us have some more inquiries."
§ Mr. Foot
If the right hon. Gentleman will preserve his patience for a few minutes, I shall try to explain to him what will happen. I listened to him carefully.
I said, first, that the Tories had three and a half years in which to take action. Although they claim that the dock labour scheme is disastrous, they did not do anything about it. They can be condemned on that score. On the other hand, if the dock labour scheme is working successfully, why do the Tories make these comparisons? If the scheme is successful, what is the debate all about? If the Tories will admit that the scheme is going well, as many dockers think—not perfectly, of course—we shall have made some advance in this debate.
I will deal now with the question put to me about inquiries. It is true that under the 1946 Act, and as the dock labour scheme is operated under it, there can be individual inquiries if there is to be an extension of the scheme. That is the procedure in the Act. When we sought to take action originally, because that is what we wanted to do and what we felt was required by the situation in the docks—action, not another inquiry —we considered whether the problem could he dealt with speedily by inquiries under the 1946 Act.
The more we considered the matter the more we came to the view that, so far from that process being speedy and effective, it would hold up the possibility of action, which is what we are all concerned about, for many years, and it would also hold up the possibility of tackling the problem of the definition of "dock work", which must be tackled at the same time.
It was no good dealing with one half of the problem and leaving out the question of the definition of "dock work". We had to combine the two.
55 I do not think that the House should object to what we proposed. I am a strong believer in the supremacy of the House of Commons. We said that the matter must be decided in the House.
That does not mean that the parties concerned will not be able to make representations. Of course they will. We have already sent out 10,000 copies of our proposals to some 400 bodies throughout the country. They will be able to make their representations to the Dock Labour Board, to the Secretary of State —myself—both before the operation and afterwards, but, most important of all—this is where I believe the supreme importance of the House of Commons resides—during the legislative process. When the Bill is going through the House every interested party will be able to see that the case it has submitted will be deployed.
I cannot see that anybody can object to that, unless the objective is to do away with the dock labour scheme itself. I greatly hope that the right hon. Gentleman will repudiate any such suggestion, because that could have dangerous consequences and would fly in the face of the recommendations of every important inquiry that has taken place into the docks.
The right hon. Gentleman's speech did not seem to take account of what was reported by those who made the investigations. He seemed to argue that all we had done is to take the views of the Transport and General Workers' Union. Of course we respect the views of that union. Why should we not? It is the union which has had the longest and strongest experience in dealing with this whole matter. However, our views are not based on that alone. They are based upon experience, history and report after report on this subject.
I could cite many examples, but I mention what was said by Lord Devlin in his report of 1955. It is still valid. At page 18, paragraph 33—I shall not read the whole paragraph, although to do so would not diminish its significance—it says:The fact is that, if the Scheme expired"—and that is how the right hon. Member for Lowestoft sometimes spoke— 56the first and most urgent task for all concerned would be to devise another one with all the essential features of the original.That is not Mr. Brian Nicholson talking, it is Lord Devlin.The Scheme must now be regarded as part of the structure of the industry. It is no use threatening to destroy common property; threats of this sort act as an irritant and disturb the minds of moderate men without deterring the extreme.Everyone knows how eager Labour Members are to support moderate men, but it is no use threatening to destroy common property. Threats of this sort act as an irritant and disturb the minds of moderate men without deterring the extreme. Therefore, the right hon. Gentleman is disturbing the minds of moderate men because he and the Conservative Party suggest that we should not proceed with our plans to extend the dock labour scheme.
We have sought to find a way of dealing with the problems of dockland by methods of peace and persuasion. It will not be easy. No one can be foolish enough to think that it will, after all the recent experience we have had, including the last dock strike.
Under the provisions of the scheme there has been a reduction in the number of dock workers employed. [Interrupt.] My right hon. Friend the Chief Whip, the right hon. Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish), says that there has been a reduction of 50 per cent. The figures are quite startling. The number of dockers has been reduced to some 30,000 compared with 70,000 or 80,000 some years ago. It would be utterly scandalous for such a reduction to be carried through under the general arrangements of the scheme and then, when the scheme was brought to this House, for anyone to say "Now we will discard it". Dockers would justly regard that as an outrage. The Government had to make up their mind. They had to act on the basis of whether to extend and fortify the scheme or whether to discard it.
§ Mr. Foot
The right hon. Gentleman has not followed the argument. If any hon. Members imagine that I came to the House with a prepared speech and did not listen to the right hon. Gentleman, they could not have listened to his speech or mine.
First, I applied myself to the right hon. Gentleman's claim about the comparison between the scheme and the non-scheme ports. I then applied my mind to what he said about inquiries. I now apply my mind to the implications of his motion.
The dock labour scheme cannot stay still. Every docker I have spoken to in recent months agrees with this. Many employers wish us to go back on the scheme. It is no good the right hon. Gentleman saying that that is not the case, because it has been advocated in many quarters. Some people say that we have reached the stage where we could abandon the statutory protections of the scheme and return to some other form of collective bargaining. Quite a number of people advocate that, even if the right hon. Gentleman does not. A vast majority of dockers agree that if we are to keep the scheme and make it work effectively we must extend it and ensure that we shall not be undercut by unfair competition from other ports. That is a perfectly reasonable proposition.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lewis
The right hon. Gentleman has mentioned the action he proposes to take. Under that action, if there is a strike it will be "one out, all out" There will be no competition within the docks. Furthermore, at present there are competitive docks which, without any action by the Minister, have better strike and better productivity records. Why does the right hon. Gentle- 58 man wish to change that? Some people think that if the Government were to take no action it would be better.
§ Mr. Foot
I have already dealt with some of the questions which the hon. Gentleman has raised. I have dealt with the comparison between the scheme and the non-scheme ports. There is no suggestion under the dock labour scheme that if there is a strike in one port, there is bound to be one in another port. The last strike was an illustration of that. The hon. Gentleman does not have accurate facts.
I turn to the central question on the motion. It is not a question of the Government wishing the House to support their proposals. We ask everyone in the country to study them carefully. They are proposals for action. We want that action to take place as speedily as possible. We know, better than some dockers, that the legislative process takes some time in this House. The dockers are even more impatient than I am to see this legislation on the statute book. It can make a great contribution to industrial peace in the docks.
I do not say, and no one could possibly claim, that it will do away with all the difficulties. It will not. I am not claiming that peace will be ensured for ever once this consultative document is translated into legislative form. This document provides the means whereby the extension of the scheme and the changes necessary in dockland to bring the docks into conformity with modern technological and industrial conditions can take place. Those changes can take place peacefully by people appealing to a proper system of procedure and by dockers looking to the House of Commons to provide them with some redress. It is no good saying that dockers do not follow these matters carefully. They do. Some of the most serious strikes in the London docks since 1945 have been over the detailed wording of a clause in some new provision. Therefore, they are studied extremely carefully.
We believe that this document provides a method of making the change in a peaceable and sensible manner. I hope that everyone will study it carefully and make their representations, and we shall proceed to produce a Bill as speedily as possible and present it to the House 59 in order that it can become the law of the land.
I should have thought that the Opposition would at least have reserved their fire until we came to the legislation itself. I say this most seriously. If the motion were to be carried—Heaven forbid!—it would cause a disaster in dockland. I said at the beginning of my speech that I thought that the strike which took place recently in the London docks was unjustified. But if the motion were to be carried, it would almost make that strike retrospectively justified. [Interruption.] Yes, that is what hon. Gentlemen are saying. [Interruption.] It has nothing to do with blackmail. If the House of Commons says—and this is what the motion asks—that we reject this scheme for strengthening and extending the dock labour scheme, if the House says "No" and puts up a bar to that, it is an encouragement to the dockers to do something different.
I am in favour of the doctrine of the dockers looking to the House of Commons for redress. But it is right hon. Gentlemen opposite who, in their slipshod motion, are interfering with that. A vote for this motion put down by the right hon. Gentleman and his right hon. Friends—they should have been more careful—is a vote for disruption, chaos and despair in the docks. If the news went out from the House of Commons that at the first opportunity we had slapped down the proposals for dealing with the problem, we would indeed have played into the hands of the very elements to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred.
At the beginning of his remarks the right hon. Gentleman made some references to me. He is perfectly entitled to do so. I am not complaining on that score. However, recently the right hon. Gentleman was making some comments in another sphere.
§ Mr. Foot
No, I am concluding my remarks. I dare say that the hon. Gentleman will have a chance to intervene in the debate.
However, the right hon. Member for Lowestoft intervened in another sphere. I 60 gather that he appeared on 11th January 1975 on the radio programme "Desert Island Discs". He was asked the question:What are your feelings about, in due course, leading the party?His answer was:Well, I was Mr. Heath's Parliamentary Private Secretary for the whole time that he was Leader of the Opposition and I think that being Leader of the Opposition is the most difficult job in British politics.There is something in that.It's much easier to be Prime Minister than to be Leader of the Opposition. I think that having been with him has taught me that it is a job, perhaps, that I could do if I were asked to do it in a few years' time.All I can say is that if the right hon. Gentleman is entering the competition in a few years' time, let him learn from the motion today. If ever a fatuous motion was tabled by an Opposition on the Order Paper of the House of Commons, this one could take the prize. Here is a motion designed to say to dockers up and down the country that this document, which at last promises some action, is to be repudiated by the House of Commons. If the House did that it would be taking a step which would have consequences of the utmost seriousness for the docks of this country.
§ 4.54 p.m.
§ Mr. Ian Lloyd (Havant and Waterloo)
I should perhaps begin by declaring an interest, which is well known to the House, in that I am associated with a major British shipping company which quite obviously has an interest in the docks and dock work. But in this context I think I can do no better than to read a general declaration of the interests of British shipowners, who have been mentioned in the debate, which I take from the annual report of the Chamber of Shipping of the United Kingdom. It reads as follows:The importance to the United Kingdom economy of an efficient port system cannot be overstressed. We as a country live by our exports and imports. Port delays and interruptions, excessive costs arising from restrictive labour practices, or inefficiency on the part of port management, all undermine the efficiency and economy of shipping services—so dependent upon quick ship turn-round—and this becomes even more vital as ships become more sophisticated and expensive. Shipowners, by reason of their experience of ports worldwide, are in a unique position to appreciate this and to assess comparative performance in this country.61 This section concludes:Shipowners do not view the extension of public ownership of itself as providing any magic key to the comparative efficiency which is essential to the national economy.That is a specific and, indeed, a general declaration of interest.
I make this further point. Every one of my constituents and every constituent of every hon. Member has a real and specific interest in this matter today.
Perhaps I may for a moment divert the attention of the House to the origin of this dispute by taking the House back to the year 1957, when the technological device which gave rise to this dispute was first created or produced at Port Newark, an auxiliary port of New York, by a man by the name of C. S. McLean, who invented this device. He was what is known in the United States as a trucker. In the United Kingdom he would be known as a lorry operator. He found that his lorries were being delayed for 10, 15, 24, 48 or 68 hours in Port Newark. The idea occurred to him that it was technologically unnecessary for large lorries to be driven either to warehouses or to the dockside and, piece by piece, physically unloaded or, piece by piece, physically loaded into ships. He thought "Why not lift the back of a lorry straight off and put it straight into a specially designed ship?"
That was the beginning of containerisation. Mr. McLean said "Let me take a considerable sum of my personal money in doing this. "All of his friends said "You are a fool. You will lose your shirt." He said "No, I shall not." He bought five surplus wartime ships—C3s—and adapted them for the carriage of containers. He adapted a considerable number of his lorries for containers. He started the first major ocean-going container service in the world.
I was fortunate in visiting Port Newark in 1958. I saw this service, and one which followed shortly on its heels, between San Francisco and Hawaii before I returned to the United Kingdom. At that time the capacity in which I spoke was as chairman of the United Kingdom Committee of the International Cargo Handling Association. I warned everyone—because this was a public organisation—that this device would reach the United Kingdom and extend itself gener- 62 ally throughout all our deep-sea and coastal shipping. I made this point impartially. However, I was regarded as being very far-fetched and illusionary. It was said that this was something peculiar to the United States and that it would not spread. But it has spread.
However, one other piece of information that I returned with is particularly relevant to the argument today. I was told by the employers on both the east and west coasts of the United States that there was one most important consideration in the successful operation of container shipping as it then was. They said "For Heaven's sake keep the loading and unloading of containers outside the docks." That was their specific and unequivocal advice. The reason was simple, namely, that the productivity which they were achieving outside the docks was about two and a half to three times that which was achieved inside the docks.
§ Mr. Lloyd
The wages were about the same, and there is no reason why that should not be so. However, the real point is that this is a new technological device, developed to meet a specific need —the tremendous growth of world trade —up against a conservatively-minded mechanism at world-wide ports. In a space of time far shorter than I and many other people anticipated, it has become the major technological method of handling high-value bulk cargo.
In presenting this document to us with a good deal of enthusiasm, the Secretary of State made some remarkable statements. He said that we should be doing something about this document. If one is making general comments on the basis of the record of this Government over the past year or so, about doing something or not doing something, in this sphere or in any other, I know what my choice would be. The Government are not doing something.
The Secretary of State asked us to compensate by action. How can we compensate by any legislation in this House for what, essentially, is docker inaction or obstruction? The Secretary of State said that nothing was done by the Conservative Government. Does he know why nothing was done by us? This is one of the most 63 dangerous centres of irresponsible power in the kingdom. The Secretary of State knows it, and he himself is most reluctant to confront and to handle this centre of irresponsible power.
The right hon. Gentleman said that we had no intention of extending the scheme. That is a fair criticism. Of course, I was not privy to Cabinet decisions on this matter, but I know that there were grave reservations throughout the shipping and docks industries about the implications of the dock labour scheme as it operated in 1971 and 1972.
What is it about dock work that it must be uniquely defined? Why do we not have to define the work of a compositor, and pass legislation so that the interests of compositors may be safeguarded? Why do we not legislate to define the rôle and work of a nurse, so that nurses may be safeguarded by legislation in this House? This case is not made at all. This is a uniquely dangerous sector of irresponsible power. That is why the House has found it necessary, down the years, to deal with it by legislation.
The Secretary of State went on almost to ring the roof—which would not be unusual for him—when he said that we were afraid to disturb the minds of moderate men. Who is talking? The Secretary of State for Employment in a Government who, in the past year, have done more to disturb the minds of more moderate men than have almost any other Government in our history. If five dozen immoderate dockers—which is the ratio that we are discussing—are to command the attention of the legislative machinery of this House, as opposed to 5 million moderate men who are not dockers, what sort of balance are we considering?
The problem is essentially a fundamental and simple one. There is an unavoidable clash in this sphere, as in any other, between progress and security. Progress demands the adoption and widespread implementation of a new technology. Security demands that the process of achieving that change should not be too damaging to the men involved in the old technology. This is widely recognised. But these problems are not solved by legislation. Legislation can only restrain and impede the pace of change. It may be necessary 64 that it should impede the pace of change, or reduce it.
The damage done by change to important and significant groups in society may be considerable. But when the point is reached at which the legislative machine is used to such effect that change is seriously and severely diminished, the price that we pay for security greatly outweighs the advantages that we take from progress.
If nothing else, surely we have learned that both objectives must be approached simultaneously. Neither one nor the other, if it is allowed to dominate 100 per cent., is likely to be effective, because it will be self-destructive. We cannot say that security shall be the 100 per cent. paramount consideration for any one working group. That security can be achieved only at the price of slowing down the pace of change throughout the rest of the community, and the rest of the community pays.
Equally, there is no point in saying that a given type of technology should be the overriding consideration in determining our policy. The effect of that would be to produce such obstruction and reaction that no change would be possible. The twin horses must be ridden together. Only then can we make progress. The Secretary of State knows in his heart that we shall not make progress in this area by following this extraordinarily destructive document.
§ 5.6 p.m.
§ Mr. Hugh Delargy (Thurrock)
This is a short debate. Several hon. Members wish to speak. Therefore, being a selfless man, I shall make only few brief remarks rather than deliver the speech which I had prepared. However, I want to make one or two points in reply to some of the statements which we have heard so far from Opposition Members. I want also to make some exhortation to my right hon. and hon. Friends.
We have heard talk today, especially from the right hon. Members for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior), of Communists and International Socialists and a very small gang of people persuading thousands of dockers to go on strike. In other words, they rigged the ballot.
The chief reason why I intervene in this debate is that I represent Tilbury, 65 which is the largest and most important container dock in the United Kingdom. In addition, it has more than 20 other sheds where conventional docking can take place. Unfortunately, most of them are not being used at the moment. No one quite knows why, but many people make guesses.
Somewhat belatedly, the workers at Tilbury were involved in the recent strike in London. It is suggested that the voting was rigged. I think that there were about half a dozen meetings, though I was not present at them. But I can say on good authority—of men whom I know and whom I can trust—that at most of those meetings the majority voted to stay out. I underline the word "majority". The majority of men who voted to strike unfortunately were not a majority of those entitled to vote. At the end, when something more like the majority of dockers attended a meeting, they voted to return to work. In Tilbury, they returned at once. Some went back to work that very day. So I hope that we shall not hear any more about votes being rigged.
It has been said—I have said it myself —that the dockers should have been satisfied with the assurance given by the Secretary of State for Employment about a five-mile corridor where they could work and not the road hauliers. Some people have taken the dockers' refusal to accept that as meaning that they had no confidence in my right hon. Friend. This is not true. My right hon. Friend recently visited Tilbury and there met the employers, trade union officials and shop stewards, and he knows very well that they were as impressed by him as he was by them.
What makes the dockers suspicious is that they are tired of being given assurances. The right hon. Member for Lowestoft talked about independent tribunals, but over the past 20 years there have been nearly as many inquiries. Most recently, we have had the Aldington-Jones Report, the Report by Professor Hunter and the Bristow Report, as well as the report of the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. They have all been expertly and expensively done, but, although all of them were almost totally in favour of the dockers, that was the end of it and nothing else happened.
66 The dockers now want an assurance written into the law.
Other people do not need such an assurance. There is no need to assure a nurse that a navvy will not do her job, for she already knows that very well.
§ Mr. Keith Stainton (Sudbury and Woodbridge)
It is a fact that the size of the work force in agriculture, coal mining and the railways has declined percentage-wise over some time by more than has been the case in the docks.
§ Mr. Delargy
That may or may not be. The hon. Gentleman must excuse me if I cannot see the relevance of that.
§ Mr. Stainton
Why single out a tiny minority when it is only symptomatic of a much larger and more general situation in which no other particular protection has been sought?
§ Mr. Delargy
I am singling out the dockers because other people are taking the jobs that they think should be theirs. That does not apply in other industries.
§ Mr. Ian Lloyd
Over a decade 50 per cent. of the names of commodities in international trade are totally new because they are made by totally new processes and totally new occupations.
§ Mr. Delargy
Once again, I do not see the relevance of that remark. These men are saying that containers should not be handled by other people who are brought in from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Middlesbrough or somewhere else just to do that job in London or Tilbury. That is what they ask, and they are not asking too much. That is what the row is about, and that is what the strike was about. Like my right hon. Friend, I think that the strike was unfortunate, but I understood it and I understand the suspicions of the dockers, as will anyone who knows the dockers.
That is why I urge the Government to implement this legislation as soon as possible. The dockers will not be content with an assurance for much longer. The last time I raised the subject in the House, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport told me that I was too impatient, that the legislation needed great preparation, that the drafting was complicated, and so on. I hope that he remembers that I reminded him that there was 67 no difficulty, because several years ago a Ports Bill passed all its stages in the House of Commons and would have become law within a few weeks had there not been a General Election. All we are asking is that that law should be extended and should include the unregistered ports and a firm definition of what a dock worker's work is, as my right hon. Friend has said. If those things are done, I feel sure that there will be peace in the docks for years to come.
There is an idea of mine that will not please everyone and may displease some dockers in London and not every docker in Tilbury, but it is worth considering. It is that Tilbury should be separated from the Port of London and become an independent port. When we come to the great debate, in which I hope to take part, I shall give my reasons for saying that.
I repeat that if the Government hurry this legislation and include those matters that my right hon. Friend has mentioned —the unregistered ports and the definition of a dock worker's work—there will be a long era of tranquillity in the docks, and that is important for the whole nation.
§ 5.17 p.m.
§ Mr. Alexander Fletcher (Edinburgh, North)
The Secretary of State has restated the intention of the Government to ensure that the coverage of statutory control of the employment of dock workers should be appropriate to modern conditions. That is something that I personally would not dispute—indeed, it is something that my hon. Friends would not dispute—except perhaps to say that some sections of the dock workers have shown considerable reluctance to reveal an equally appropriate awareness of the need to change their attitudes to meet modern conditions and the way in which these affect the industry. I would suggest to the Secretary of State that many of the difficulties with which he has to deal stem from this substantial, if minority, point of view among dock workers.
The consultative document rightly reviews the benefits that dock workers have received from the employment scheme over the years. Although accepting the need to keep these matters up to date, it seems to me that a review of dock 68 employment should include some assessment of the reasons why some work previously regarded as traditional dock work has gone to other areas outside the main ports and why some ports outside the dock labour scheme have expanded at the expense of ports within the scheme. If the Secretary of State considers that new types of employment have deliberately avoided dock areas, he should be able to state clearly and from independent sources why that has happened.
I know that the right hon. Gentleman and other right hon. and hon. Gentlemen have criticised the large number of reports that have been presented on this subject, and I do not dispute their criticism, but the kind of report to which I am referring would not be protective of the type of work but would analyse and criticise the ports and the method of work within ports within the scheme and ports not included in the scheme.
There is nothing to be gained, at least in the longer term, by continually talking of the rights of dockers, on the one hand, without, on the other, stating their duties and responsibilities, particularly in the light of the work that our larger ports have lost to European ports. The Secretary of State might find that an ounce of frankness today would save him a ton of trouble and disappointment in future and that it would be better if he took a more imaginative line on this subject rather than constantly putting on a pair of protective spectacles when looking at every labour problem in the ports. Ministers should look at the situation objectively before yet again seeking a remedy in legislation, in compulsion, in restrictions and in reducing the choice and freedom of movement of management and workers in an essential industry.
The Government should say why, in 1975, it is necessary to force employers into this scheme, and why it is necessary to force members of one union to make way for members of another union or for a different section of the same union. The only likely result of the Government giving preference to one trade unionist over another must be to set a match to an already explosive situation in inter-union relations. Certainly it will do nothing to improve industrial relations or the essential freedom of other trade unions to negotiate employment for their members.
69 If warehousing and container companies prefer to operate outside the dock areas, they and their employees must have good reasons for doing so. These companies enjoy good industrial relations with their employees, many of whom are former dock workers who have moved voluntarily, without compulsion on either side, into this new employment.
The Government should be aware of their responsibilities towards companies engaged in warehousing, cold storage and container work, many of which play an important part in the preparation and distribution of food supplies at competitive prices to consumers. I wonder whether the Secretary of State has dared to calculate the inflationary impact of his proposals.
I should like to comment on the consultative document because I believe it could provide the basis for a further storm of inter-union dispute. What I say may help to answer some of the points which obviously the hon. Member for Thurrock (Mr. Delargy) has difficulty in understanding.
If it is conceded, as the consultative document recommends, that a specific section of a union has a prior right to replace trade unionists who are happily employed elsewhere in a different, if related, type of employment, why should this principle be confined only to dock workers? Should not the National Union of Mineworkers have a similar claim to the work of drilling for oil in the North Sea? Should not redundant car workers have a statutory right to replace traffic wardens—at the same wage rates as those car workers enjoyed in the car manufacturing industry? This is the sort of dangerous nonsense which the Government are indulging in with the complacency of yet another "peace in our time" approach to industrial relations.
I am sorry to say to the Secretary of State that yet again this policy is bound to fail. It will not bring peace in our time, or even in the near future, in solving problems in the docks—because a protective policy will not work compared with a fair policy involving competition.
§ 5.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Eddie Loyden (Liverpool, Garston)
The House will welcome this opportunity to debate the docks if only for the purpose of remedying some of the 70 distortions and misleading statements made by Opposition Members.
Central to those Opposition arguments has been the challenge whether the consultative document is necessary, or even desirable. The Conservative contributors to this debate have spoken of the long history of troubles in dockland, but, unfortunately, they have not given the reasons for those troubles. It is for the precise reason that the Labour Government wish to alleviate the situation that they have outlined action in the consultative document.
From the time of decasualisation the docks industry has gone through many dramatic changes. Conservatives well know that during the period of casualisation the conditions and wages in the dock industry were among the worst in British industry. The hiring system that obtained in the docks industry was similar to conditions in a cattle market. Such a system had the effect of squeezing several hundred men into a pen where they were driven to holding up their books to the hirer to show him that they wanted work. If there was no work, home they would go. Dock workers rightly organised themselves in trade unions to fight those conditions. Ultimately it was a Labour Government who ended the casual nature of the industry's work. That was the beginning of a new era in dockland.
Since those days a number of events have occurred which have caused some concern to dock workers—and I emphasise that they are matters of real concern to those who work in the industry. Opposition back benchers did not mention the fact that most of the work previously was performed on the site of the dock. Since much of that work has now moved elsewhere, men are concerned about their future, and, indeed, about their jobs. The people responsible for the movement of that work were the people who managed a large section of the industry. I worked in the dock transport industry for 28 years, and therefore, I know something about problems in the industry.
The hon. Member for Edinburgh, North (Mr. Fletcher) mentioned warehousing and cold storage. Following negotiations, the London dockers reached agreement with the cold storage employers. That agreement was to the effect that those employers would not set up 71 cold storage facilities in areas outside the docks. But even the then Prime Minister was unable to find out that the Midlands Cold Storage Company which developed outside the docks industry and employed non-dock labour was part of the same company and that it had closed its operations in the docks industry. Those employers entered into unfair competition against those who were employed in the industry. That was a clear example of the devious role played by employers. By an act of deliberate policy they moved work away from dockland—work which was previously performed within the confines of the docks.
I should like to get one thing clear in view of what has been said by Opposition Members about inter-union disputes. Inter-union disputes occur only when unscrupulous managers and employers bring about situations where work which normally would be performed in the docks is taken away from the docks. When the practice over the years has involved the transmitting of cargoes from the point of production or manufacture to the dock, the dock worker has not claimed that work as his.
I should like to refer to "groupage" work, which dock workers claim to be their work—in other words, work involving the stuffing and stripping of containers which do not go from manufacturer to the docks but are loaded at places outside the dock industry, in conditions which are by no means comparable with those obtaining in the docks and at quite different wages. The situation reached such a point that at one time we were stuffing and stripping containers with prisoners. Is it any wonder that dock workers became concerned about developments?
Against that background dock workers began to seek some form of legislation to protect existing jobs and, if necessary, to bring back work to the industry which had been taken away. The best way to deal with this is by extending the scheme. This does not mean that the dockers are saying that non-registered workers who are doing the job now should become unemployed, except in those circumstances where the employer has established a "cowboy" outfit in order to undermine the position of dock workers and their 72 employment. One reason why they are asking for an extension of registration is so that the conditions that prevail in their industry can be guaranteed outside dockland.
I turn to the question of the container base versus the registered dock worker. After proper negotiation and consultation with the workers through the trade union machinery, the container base at Aintree on Merseyside ultimately became a registered base. It now employs registered dock workers. That position was not reached without pain, but certainly there was no upheaval for the two sections of the industry.
The trade union movement and dock workers have proved that, given the right sort of climate and the absence of ruthless employers, they are able to get together and decide these issues to the satisfaction of the parties concerned. The Aintree container base and the Speke container base are examples of where workers have come together and considered a problem, with the result that the problem has been reduced to nothing.
§ Mr. Ian Lloyd
In a sense the hon. Gentleman is making a case for the specific guarantee of the dock worker against technological change. Why should the guarantee given to the dock workers be so much greater and more specific than that given to employees in the aerospace industry, and be enshrined in legislation? Many of the aerospace workers had to move under difficult conditions when there was a large decline in our missile industry.
§ Mr. Loyden
I do not accept the analogy drawn by the hon. Gentleman. The dock industry has recently gone through a dramatic change. We are talking of an industry where, by acts of deliberate harassment, the movement has been away from dockland. I worked for the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company for 28 years. I know the practice that prevailed amongst the management there. The ports were left in a derelict state. Reinvestment in them was running at a low level. The profitable side of the ports, the cargo-handling side, was being taken over by private enterprise. Is it any wonder that the ports of this country are in such a state that there is a need for massive capital investment to update 73 them and make them competitive with countries where this advancement has already taken place?
The managers of the ports—I am thinking particularly of Merseyside—were the main customers. Therefore, the customer ran the outfit—for whose benefit? He ran it for the benefit of the customer. We have heard of examples of the 1964 rate for hiring a crane, at 12s. 6d., still prevailing in 1971 and 1972. The people who at that time were in charge of the port authorities and the docks boards were satisfying their own vested interests in the ports and not the well-being of the ports throughout the country.
That is why the Government are saying that we have reached the point where, first, there is a need to clarify the position of dock workers in relation to their employment. We must not permit the jungle that occurred recently in the docks industry. Before we proceed to the question of public ownership and the establishment and strengthening of the National Dock Labour Board, we must ensure that the definition of "dock work" about which we have heard nothing from the Opposition benches—is established so that dock workers have a clear definition of what their work is. Secondly, we must introduce, through a later Bill, the public ownership of the ports. We must bring sanity into what has virtually become a jungle.
The debate will be of value. Because of what has been said from the Government Front Bench, it will give confidence to dock workers that the Government intend to carry out what they say about the definition of dock work. It is not going to be an easy job, and nobody here should think that it will be. There has to be a bringing together of the conflicting industries and a solving of the stresses that are present in the industry. If necessary, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment should be involved, so that some of the areas of conflict can be hammered out and we can define the future of an industry which not only will become more efficient but must offer greater security to the dock worker. He must work in an industry in which he knows that his future is safe.
§ 5.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Keith Stainton (Sudbury and Woodbridge)
I feel particularly privileged to be called to speak, because I represent Sudbury and Woodbridge, and however remote and rural that constituency may sound it embraces the port of Felixstowe, to which reference has been made frequently, in terms of praise, not just today but on other occasions.
However much I agree with the analysis of the hon. Member for Liverpool, Garston (Mr. Loyden), who has just spoken of the turmoil of dock history—and I concede the obscurantism of the ship owners and the port operators in the past—I can look at the matter only through the eyes of Felixstowe dock. I am talking not only about employers but about the whole complex.
When I was first elected to represent Sudbury and Woodbridge, Felixstowe was a silted harbour with one 1,500-ton coaster lying there. I visited it on another occasion and found that in addition there were a couple of barges. It is now a port which handles 4 million tons of cargo per annum.
So far as I am aware, there is no body of opinion in Felixstowe, be it management or labour, which is so desirous of achieving what the Secretary of State proposes in the consultative document that it thought to turn out in either of the last two General Elections in any strength to make its views known to me. The proposals were all adumbrated in the last Labour Party election manifesto.
In the course of my canvassing in Felixstowe and my frequent contact with the Felixstowe dock, I was asked searching questions expressing the anxiety of dockers employed in Felixstowe as to what the consultative document would mean and how it could possibly improve their own status and security. It could be that there is something in the document which assists in guaranteeing employment. We shall have to look at the legislation. It may be that security will be bought at the expense of ossification of traffic. Perhaps some traffic that quite properly should come to Felixstowe will be prevented from doing so—even though Felixstowe can handle it better than Avonmouth—because the interplay of the National Dock Labour Board in the different ports would preclude that.
75 It is clear from correspondence with the Transport and General Workers' Union that there would be an averaging out of the employment factor throughout the region. The guarantee of employment might be underpinned, but we shall have to see what is in the Bill. It must be remembered that I am concerned not about the factual background—I can see all the points and disputes there—but have a legitimate interest to protect a port that has come into being in the last decade. That is not humbugged by other ports' inheritance. We have not got this kind of albatross. We are looking to the future. We do not want to chain ourselves to something that relates to the past and is irrelevant to our prosperity and progress. Perhaps there will be more job security, but there has been no threat to job security so far. One deduces that such job security could come about only by spinning work out among other ports in the estuary or East Anglia generally, or parcelling the work out to different ports in the country, perhaps to the severe disadvantage of Felixstowe's natural and proper rights.
The second ground on which I, representing Felixstowe, wonder why we have reached this conjunction arises from a circular front the Department of the Environment, signed by J. E. Sanderson of the Ports Directorate. I presume that on this matter I address myself to the Minister for Transport, who is responsible for the organisation of the ports. Paragraph 8, headed "Port Businesses", speaks of the nationalisation proposals for the docks. They follow on from the 1970 Ports Bill. The Minister will recall our encounters over that Bill and our wasted endeavours. The paragraph says:The proposals would also provide for bringing cargo-handling activities under public ownership and control.Although that is shorthand, one is entitled to ask precisely what it means, because it postulates a distinct overlap between the two situations. Or is it that one is working within the other? If so, what is the intermeshing?
Perhaps we have today blundered prematurely into a debate that should properly have been confined to the London situation. But we have arrived at this point, and I hope that I am putting my questions properly and pointedly.
76 Some specific points arise on the document entitled "Dockwork". Admittedly, it is a consultative document, and as it extends to a mere seven pages it cannot spell out many details. One wonders about such matters as specialised cargoes, such as wine. What about bulk liquid storage, tank farms and the like? There is no mention of that kind of topic.
In relation to the consultative document and the proposals for port or dock nationalisation in the circular from the Department of the Environment, it is most important to stress the grave uncertanties. I hope that I carry both sides of the House with me in this. We have been told by the hon. Member for Garston that there are uncertainties and anxieties among the dockers. They have been waiting and worrying. Equally, there are uncertainties among port owners, ship owners and all those who are involved in the operations of port traffic. The documents, which were promised some time ago, have taken a long time coming, and are still extremely vague, leave the whole matter in limbo for a considerable period.
For example, the consultative document talks about the five-mile corridor, with appeal, yet the other document provides for bringing cargo-handling activities under public ownership and control. One can read into that something which is not restricted by five miles but extends almost throughout the country generally.
On behalf of Felixstowe, I repeat my deep concern that there is no apparent demand for these proposals. We are a healthy, thriving organisation.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. George Thomas)
Order. The hon. Gentleman has had his turn. Many hon. Members want to speak.
§ Mr. Loyden
The hon. Gentleman appears to be speaking on behalf of Felixstowe dockers. When the Aldington-Jones agreement was reached, it was reached with the consent of scheme and non-scheme ports. That document included the extension of the scheme to cover ports such as Felixstowe.
§ Mr. Stainton
I was speaking on behalf of my constituents, on behalf of 20 per cent out of a constituency of 85,000, vastly exceeding in size many of the rotton boroughs of dockers' constituencies, including that of the absent Government Chief Whip, which I believe just about tops the 20,000 mark.
Twenty per cent. of my votes are in Felixstowe, and I perforce pay close attention to developments in the docks and to feelings at all levels. I am not conscious of any deep or widespread demand by dockers in Felixstowe for the extension of the scheme to Felixstowe. I have discussed the matter quite freely and openly, and I should be only too glad to take part in any meeting organised by the docks or the Transport and General Workers' Union. I am their representative in the House. They knew that the debate would take place today. We have discussed the matter previously. There may well be an ultimate advantage in security or guarantee of employment. But we have still to see that and its full implications spelt out.
Felixstowe is doing extremely well, and it has done extremely well precisely because it has been free from all those inhibitions that have so constrained and constricted the activities of Liverpool, London and Hull over recent years. That may be an accident of history. I do not care. The fact is that we are a thriving undertaking at Felixstowe. We shall watch the proposed legislation on dock labour and nationalisation extremely carefully, and if it contains anything that does not please us we shall shout out loud.
§ 5.48 p.m.
§ Mr. Walter Johnson (Derby, South)
First, I declare an interest as honorary national officer of one of the unions that organise workers within the National Docks Board.
I am disappointed that there has not been more discussion about the consultative document in the debate, but I am not surprised that the Opposition have not taken the opportunity to deal with it, because they have had no alternative proposals. When they were in Government, they did nothing about the situation in the docks. For the first time, we have concrete, sensible suggestions 78 which are worthy of consideration by hon. Members on both sides of the House. We all want to try to achieve a situation in which there will be peace in the docks. It is ruinous for our economy when we have the difficulties and troubles that we have had in the docks over the years.
The consultative document, which will receive further consideration, is worthy of much more attention than it has been given this afternoon. I am surprised that the right hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior) had the nerve to suggest a lack of consultation over the proposals. On many of the previous Conservative Government's proposals—particularly the Industrial Relations Act—there was practically no consultation. Yet the right hon. Gentleman complains about the lack of consultation on this matter.
The document explains that the Government took so long in drawing up the proposals because they wished the document to be fully discussed before specific proposals on nationalisation were brought to the House. This consultation is absolutely vital. The Government have not brought forward their concrete nationalisation proposals because they wish to allow time for full discussion of and consultation about the document.
We all know the difficulty of bringing forward legislation for the nationalisation of other ports, which is bound to be controversial. I ask my right hon. Friend in drawing up the legislation to pay specific attention to the position of the workers within the nationalised industry. This time there must be full representation of the workers on the board.
I will give an example of how worker representation can benefit ports. I had the honour to go as a representative of the House on a visit to Malta a few years ago, and I took the opportunity of going round the docks and ports. The docks in Malta at one time had the worst strike record of any docks in the world. Since there has been full workers' representation on the board—about six from either side, with the managing director in the chair—Malta has not had one major dock strike. I ask my right hon. Friend to take account of that in setting up the new board. In that way a much better atmosphere can be created.
79 In the set-up of the National Dock Labour Board there is provision for a part-time chairman with non-executive power. The managing director runs the board. I do not want to be unfair to the chairman, who cannot be here to speak for himself, but that set-up gives him the opportunity to opt out of his responsibilities in a difficulty which the organisation of which I am a member has within the nationalised docks section. The chairman says that he has no executive power to intervene in what could be a major dispute. As a result of the action which has been taken by my organisation, there will not be a strike because we have agreed that the matter shall go to arbitration. That is the responsible reaction of my organisation, not the result of the intervention of the part-time chairman of the board. It is wrong that a part-time chairman of an executive board should be able to opt out of his responsibilities when the going gets tough.
I ask my right hon. Friend to take note of the position of the workers within the present set-up. For example, what proposals are there for the Forth Ports Authority? Will the authority remain in its present position with the power it has at present, will it operate as a separate unit or will it be part of the overall nationalised board? The Tees and Hartlepools Authority and the railway traffic ports could be included in the same proposals. The Government may decide that the Manchester Ship Canal, with which the Manchester Corporation is involved, should be broken up rather than left in its present state. It is imperative that the workers within these groups should know precisely where they stand, and I hope that these questions will be answered when the nationalisation proposals are drawn up.
The consultative document goes a long way towards satisfying the aims and aspirations of the people who work within the docks. When the proposals contained therein are implemented there is likely to be a period of working together within the docks which will be of great benefit to the nation. I hope that consultation will continue and that the Government will bring forward their nationalisation proposals quickly, because nationalisation is the real recipe for peace in the industry.
§ 5.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Rees (Dover and Deal)
It is true, as the hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. Johnson) said, that this consultative document must satisfy the aims and aspirations of those, but only some of those, who work in the docks. The criticism that I level at the document is that it is far too partisan a document in that sense. It is directed to the aspirations, ambitions and interests of only one group of workers in and around the docks. To them I shall return.
It may be said, as the hon. Gentleman and others of his hon. and right hon. Friends said, that the document will achieve peace and tranquility, but I believe that it will be the peace and tranquility of death—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—yes, the death of vital, energetic, efficient ports, one of which I have the privilege to represent. I am concerned with the document and with any legislation that may follow it because I have the privilege to represent a non-scheme port run—it may surprise Government supporters to know—by a statutory authority of great antiquity and great efficiency.
Noticeably missing from speeches from the Government side is any emphasis on efficiency or the national interest. The hon. Member for Derby, South said that the Opposition had not studied the proposals. I like to think that I have, and I break them down into two—and that must be non-controversial. First, the proposals are to redefine dock work so that it shall embrace a whole range of activities that have, at any rate to my unbiased eye, only a tenuous connection with dock work as properly understood. Secondly—and this touches my constituents much more directly—the proposals are to extend the national dock labour scheme to non-scheme ports.
The first proposal must involve the extension of a monopoly. Hon. Members on both sides of the House should be extremely chary of extending monopolies. We should look with extreme distaste and suspicion on any monopoly, particularly on any extension of an existing monopoly. I challenge the Minister to say why he has not referred this redefinition to the Monopolies Commission. Why do we not allow the Monopolies Commission to apply the test of the national interest—not just the interest of the 81 Transport and General Workers' Union —to these proposals? I am happy to stand by the result. If the Monopolies Commission says that it is right in the national interest that this monopoly should be extended, so be it; we must order our affairs accordingly. But I doubt whether either the Minister will have the nerve to do that or the Monopolies Commission would come up with that conclusion—
Mr. Peter Rest (Derbyshire, South-East)
Or whether the Transport and General Workers' Union would permit it.
§ Mr. Rees
As my hon. Friend says, or whether the TGWU, or part of it, would permit it. A point that escaped the right hon. Gentleman is that not all branches of the Transport and General Workers' Union will necessarily find themselves unanimously supporting these proposals.
The second aspect of the consultative document is the extension of the national dock labour scheme to the non-scheme ports. In, I hope, not too naïve a way, I ask a simple question. I have no doubt that I shall be mocked by the intellectual mercenaries of the extreme Left. Are the non-scheme ports noticeably less efficient than the scheme ports? Do they serve the country less well?
I look for the answer to that question, in part, in the right hon. Gentleman's own document. Paragraph 12 reads:A number of ports which were previously very small and therefore not covered by the Scheme have expanded significantly because of changes to the patterns of trade and shipping and in the techniques for handling cargo.There we have it. It is only the smaller, non-scheme ports, such as I and my hon. Friend the Member for Sudbury and Woodbridge (Mr. Stainton) have the privilege to represent, which have had the flexibility, the skill and the forward thinking to adjust to the changes in the pattern of trade. It is all very well for the Secretary of State to shake his head, but why have not the ports of London and Liverpool adjusted? I shall willingly give way to the right hon. Gentleman if he will give a short succinct answer, but I suspect that that is beyond even his capabilities.
§ Mr. Rees
If we consider the ports through which the greater volume of trade is carried, we find, I suggest, that the larger ports have ossified under the impact of the scheme. It may be that there are other factors, but it can be said without fear of contradiction that the scheme has done nothing to make those ports more flexible in adjusting to changesto the patterns of trade and shipping and in the techniques for handling cargo.[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I refer to the right hon. Gentleman's document. If his hon. Friends do not like it, no doubt they will be able to say so when they catch the eye of whoever is occupying the Chair.
I have the privilege to represent a small and historic port that has expanded considerably. It is now the premier passenger port of the United Kingdom. Even in terms of trade it rates about third or fourth. I am worried that the ill-judged proposals of the right hon. Gentleman may damage its present well-justified position.
I say with utter confidence that if the national dock labour scheme were extended to Dover the costs of handling freight would increase by at least 50 per cent. What is the real reason for the extension? I believe that it is in deference to the susceptibilities of registered dock workers. Of course we are entitled to consider their susceptibilities. They are an important section of our community and they make their contribution.
What are the other factors and groups which we should take into account? What about the national interest? What about the consumers? What about the importers and exporters? What about the shipping lines? I heard no reference to any of those considerable bodies. They have been brushed aside in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman and in the speeches of his hon. Friends. It seems that they are of no account. It seems that the docks are to be run by and for registered dock workers.
The right hon. Gentleman has said that the ports over which registered dock workers have exercised their sway during the past decade or so have been undercut 83 by unfair competition. They have certainly been undercut, but why has the competition been unfair?
There are considerable practical problems which the consultative document and the right hon. Gentleman have glossed over. I instance the handling of freight, for example. I have no doubt that these problems occur in ports represented by hon. Members from both sides of the House and maybe even in the port represented by the Patronage Secretary.
Freight is handled in the port of Dover by at least three sorts of unionised labour —namely, the National Union of Railwaymen, the National Union of Seamen and the Transport and General Workers' Union. Even in the Transport and General Workers' Union there are those who carry a dockers' card and there are those who do not. How is the right hon. Gentleman to reconcile the aspirations of those four or five groups? Indeed, is the port of Dover within the scheme and, if so, to what extent? It is in part run by a nationalised industry, British Rail. Is Folkestone to be in the scheme at all? Is Dover to be split down the middle? Is one half of Dover to be in the national dock labour scheme and is the other half to be outside it? These are practical problems which the right hon. Gentleman has glossed over.
The right hon. Gentleman has told us that there is not to be any inquiry because the time has come for action. Those are fine words but they will butter no parsnips in East Kent. I want to know what representations the right hon. Gentleman is prepared to accept and the time limit that will be imposed. What will move him?
What kind of advantage does the right hon. Gentleman look for in the extension of the scheme to a port such as Dover? He and his document remain obstinately silent on all the points I have mentioned. I suspect that the only justification for the consultative document and for any legislation that may follow is the ambitions and aspirations of the registered dock worker members of the Transport and General Workers' Union. I suspect that this is just another clause that is being written into the social contract at the behest of Mr. Jack Jones. Perhaps he has been encouraged to make 84 another importunate demand to the right hon. Gentleman as a result of the experience of Mr. Shelepin. For all I know that gentleman may have been organising the docks in Odessa and Leningrad. Maybe we should be drawing on their experience. That is the kind of experience that may get a warm and emotional response from the right hon. Gentleman.
Over the years I have admired the right hon. Gentleman. I have admired his oratory and I used to admire his principles. I admired them at a distance because I was not then a Member of this House. I admired his defence of a bicameral legislature. I am sad to have watched him bend under the pressures of office.
§ Mr. Rees
Perhaps I have not followed the right hon. Gentleman's constitutional theories with sufficient care. I hope that I shall have an opportunity to do so in the near future. I have admired his grasp of history. It may be that he sees himself as a leveller. I must tell him that levellers were followed by military government. But now I must say something different to him. In so doing I borrow the imagery of someone whose oratory and radicalism even the right hon. Gentleman himself would respect. I say that he has ceased to be the watchdog of the House of Lords and has become Mr. Jack Jones' whippet.
§ 6.8 p.m.
§ Mr. John Prescott (Kingston upon Hull, East)
Due to the limited time that is available, it is difficult to know where to start in this debate. Many accusations have been made which can be proved to be totally incorrect merely by stating the facts.
The claim has been made that it has been decided by the Government that the time has come for action and that there has been no representation. It has been said repeatedly by many bodies representing both sides of the industry that something should be done.
85 The right hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior) did not spend much time dealing with the issue before us. He seemed to want to get a number of things off his chest. Not all of those issues were pertinent to this matter. We are discussing the extension of a scheme that deals with the conditions of service and the welfare of dock workers. We are dealing with an industry that has had to face considerable changes in technological and social terms. Many of the social changes have had ramifications not only in the docks but in many other industries throughout the nation. In many ways we have witnessed the holding back of industry arising from the difficulties that have faced the dock workers. Many of the dock workers in my constituency have pressed me strongly to urge the extension of the scheme.
I congratulate my right hon. Friend on introducing this scheme. It is not before time. There are a number of precedents on which he can rely. There is a clear difference between the two parties. On the one hand the Government are bringing forward this measure in an attempt to redefine dock work while the Opposition say that the measure should be delayed. They point to the inadequacy of the scheme. It is not only today that we have seen this attitude. There has been inaction by Tory Governments in the past which has led to total frustration. If there is one industry which has been plagued by history, it is the docks industry.
My right hon. Friend made a fair comparison of the difference between the two parties. Our approach is to seek a peaceful solution to a difficult problem. Pursuing the policies put forward by Conservative Members would lead to confrontation. We saw what happened when the five dockers went to Pentonville Prison. The solution to that problem found by the then Tory Government was to discover an Official Solicitor whom no one had found before. We seek to deal with the fundamental problems of the dockers.
It is possible to see the difference in attitude between the parties through their approach to the inquiries that have taken place over the years. We have asked for support and co-operation. The response from the dockers is to the effect that there have been all these reports, 86 co-operation has been given, but nothing has happened. The national dock labour scheme was born in 1947. That was an attempt to regularise the employment situation which was plagued by casual working. It was an attempt to do something to prevent the exploitation of labour in the industry.
In 1951, with the advent of a Tory Government, there came the Leggett Report which looked into the unofficial London dispute. In 1956 there was another report into the workings of the national dock labour scheme. In 1961 there was a joint industrial review on the conditions and problems in the industry. In 1962 the then Tory Government set up the Rochdale inquiry into the ports. Every one of these reports came to similar conclusions. This was shown in the report of the Devlin inquiry which was set up in 1964. It was made clear then that many of the industry's problems were due to the lack of security in the industry, to deficiencies in management and to the operation of the "blue-eyed" system. Those in the industry know all too well the bitterness that arose from that. There was also a deficiency in welfare conditions.
All these factors were identified by Devlin, as they had been identified earlier. Tory Governments have done nothing. The industry has done nothing. It is therefore incumbent upon us to impose a solution. The Government are taking the initiative today since the industry has patently failed to do anything. All these reports, confirmed by the Devlin inquiry, show that there were bad industrial relations and bad conditions generally. Devlin reported that there was a failure by the bodies concerned to do anything about decasualisation. Instead, these bodies spent too much time emphasising restrictive practices.
That is an interesting comment in view of some remarks today. Conservative Members should read some of those reports instead of relying on the consultative document. They should look at the National Ports Council's Report, the Devlin Report or the Rochdale Report. It took years to compile them. All the answers are there and they confirm my right hon. Friend's position.
The Devlin Report recommended that the first principle must be the preservation of the dock labour scheme. It also 87 recommended an end to decasualisation. The Government sought to do this through a number of measures in which they were supported by the dock workers, who praised their efforts. The results of these efforts were higher wages and better working conditions. As soon as this happened, the dock employers decided to get off the docks and to go where the labour was cheaper—to the small wharfs and the container depots. This was recognised by a Labour Government, who set up the Bristow Committee, which in 1969 recommended that the dock worker extension areas should go to five miles with a secondary recommendation of 10 miles. This principle is what the Government are attempting to implement.
The then Tory Government could have implemented that recommendation, reached by an impartial body. But they refused to do so. All that we got from the then Tory Government was the theory that the docks should stand on their own and that competition was to be the key. A number of us attacked that policy in 1970 and 1971. The then Government soon got rid of that policy generally, but they kept it for the docks.
The White Paper dealing with financial obligations created severe problems for scheme ports. When the Labour Party was in opposition I tried to make that point. The non-scheme wharves grew up all over the country. There were a number of them in my area which took millions of tons of traffic away from Hull. A port such as Hull which has spent £20 million of public investment and which has to cover the interest charges on that money cannot compete with such small wharves, where the comparable investment figure might be £30,000, particularly when those wharves receive subsidies for setting up.
Taking no account of labour charges Hull cannot compete on equal terms if all costs must be recovered. The National Ports Council made it clear that the labour costs in the non-scheme ports were half those in the scheme ports. Further, the non-scheme ports did not have the same good social conditions. The scheme ports had to pay a levy to cover pensions and provide for proper working conditions. whereas the non-scheme ports did not. That made the position even more unfair.
88 What did the Tory Government do? They set up the Aldington-Jones inquiry and the National Ports Council inquiry. Both confirmed the national dock labour scheme. Both said that the other ports should be brought into the operation of the scheme. When Conservative Members talk about efficiency they should remember that it is not just a question of whether it is cheaper to unload in one port as compared with another. There are social costs involved. The authorities in my area are complaining about some of the large lorries which are passing through because some farmer has decided to establish a small wharf.
Conservative Members should remember that £20 million of public money has been spent on our docks and that we are allowing traffic to be diverted elsewhere to save a few shillings. There is also the conference system which plays off one port against another for the sake of a penny or so. All this disrupts the transport system of our country. The ports are but links between transport systems. We must not think of this in strict efficiency terms. The social costs are just as important.
This should be appreciated by Conservative Members because the former Tory Government spent almost £50 million on redundancy payments to reduce the dock labour force. At the same time, they were allowing private investment to develop. The dock labour scheme cannot be divorced from the proposal to nationalise the docks. If there is a possibility of these common user wharfs setting up outside the nationalised sector, our problems will proliferate. There will be the same insecurity and its ensuing problems. I hope that my right hon. Friend will tell us how the dock labour scheme will fit, into the nationalised industry. Will it apply to all the people involved in the industry or only to the dockers? I hope that the common users' business will be brought into the nationalisation plan.
Dockers have made a contribution in the fight against the low wages paid to workers on foreign ships coming to the United Kingdom by withdrawing their labour. In so doing they have broken the contract law. I hope that legislation will be passed incorporating the right of dockworkers to do that, so that they may persuade foreign ship 89 owners to increase the wages paid to their seamen. That is the only way in which we can help the international brotherhood of labour and improve conditions of seafarers and dock workers in Britain and abroad.
§ 6.21 p.m.
§ Mr. Julian Ridsdale (Harwich)
It is a pity that we have not been able to distinguish between the problems of the major ports and of the smaller, efficient. non-scheme ports. The means proposed by the Government to solve the problem of the dock labour scheme for the non-scheme ports will cost the country at least £100 million. That disturbs me, since I am sure that the Government are trying to solve the problem in the wrong way. It is wrong to say that the Tory Government did nothing between 1970 and 1974. The ports industry is capital-intensive, not labour-intensive.
The objective of the Aldington-Jones Report was to modernise the industry. It included a generous redundancy payment scheme, providing for over £5,000 per head. Within one year of the publication of that report 2,500 dockers accepted the conditions. We wanted to continue that. Having heard the views of all those concerned in the industry, it was realised that imaginative solutions to the industry's problems should be produced. However, in order to do so is it necessary to cut out the efficient non-scheme ports?
I represent the British Railways port of Parkeston, to which the Government have not extended the dock labour scheme. During the dock strike of 1972 the port remained at work in spite of picketing by Transport and General Workers' Union militants. It is wrong to be vindictive to the non-scheme ports in an attempt to solve the problems of the industry as a whole.
The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott) spoke about conditions in Hull. Harwich is a privately-owned port. Although the dock labour scheme has not been introduced there, all the conditions recommended in the Devlin Report have been implemented. As a result, workers and employers feel secure. Most of those improvements were introduced before the publication of the Devlin Report. A great number of the workers do not want the 90 dock labour scheme to be introduced in Harwich.
At non-scheme ports vessels' turnaround is only six days, compared with 20 days elsewhere. The cost per ton is lower at non-scheme ports. The people at the non-scheme ports feel that the Government are being vindictive in not producing imaginative solutions to the problems of the ports industry.
The Secretary of State should read the excellent report of the Touche Committee, which deals with the problems faced by the continental ports and mentions the subsidies received by them. The Government should attempt to solve the problems of the bigger ports along those lines, at least to see that the EEC competition is fair between the major ports.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths
Does not my hon. Friend agree that the experience in Harwich and Felixstowe is that men and management work together as a team? Therefore, both productivity and labour relations are good. It is ironic that in the State-owned and publicly-run ports, which are often much larger, there is not the feeling of working together as part of a team. In other words, participation is not achieved by public ownership. Indeed, the opposite applies.
§ Mr. Ridsdale
I agree. However, there are good labour relations in the private ports and in some of the British Railways ports. But why are the Government trying to solve the problem in the nationalised sector by being vindictive against the private sector? It will cost the housewife and the country money. The Secretary of State has failed to deal with the problem. The scheme is becoming a number one enemy, not only of the balance of payments but of the British housewife.
It is important to realise what is happening in the continental ports. Hamburg received extensive help by way of capital grants and free dredging. That port would need to increase its port charges by 78 per cent. to cover its true costs. That is what the Touche Committee said. Antwerp, which is marginally less favoured, would need to increase its charges by 67 per cent., while Rotterdam and Dunkirk would need to increase theirs by 29 per cent.
91 Capital resources are scarce. We must try to assist the major ports by ensuring that the proper capital investment is made. The Government must look at the more realistic means of dealing with the problems of the larger ports. The problems must be separated. There is no need to turn on the smaller ports which are running efficiently and which enjoy the best labour relations, besides enjoying competitive costs.
I trust that the Government will look at the report of the Touche Committee and at other means of solving the problems rather than extend the dock labour scheme, which goes back to Methuselah.
§ 6.28 p.m.
§ Mr. Marcus Fox (Shipley)
I support the motion.
At the beginning of the debate we listened to the rhetoric of the Secretary of State. We were not disappointed. He made one or two surprising announcements. He agreed with the supremacy of Parliament and thought it inopportune that we should have brought forward this motion before the appearance of legislation. That is a new assumption. We make no apology for bringing this matter before the House on a Supply Day. We believe that it shows the hypocrisy of the Government. Tomorrow we shall hear from the Chancellor. It is not a Budget leak if I say that he will announce a massive deficit in our balance of payments and the need to take action. However, the Government are pursuing policies which will increase our indebtedness. It is no wonder that very few people now take the Government seriously.
My hon. Friend the Member for Harwich (Mr. Ridsdale) spoke of efficiency. I did not hear that word mentioned by Government supporters. We heard a lot about political dogma and party advantage. We heard much about pandering to the militants but nothing about the supremacy of Parliament. We heard about the supremacy of the docker. If the Government put the national interest first, they would give a decent burial to these proposals.
It is not, and never has been, our intention to attack the dock labour scheme in its entirety. We are attacking the extension of the scheme. If these two proposals are given a decent burial, there 92 will be few mourners—not the exporter or importer, not the man who works in the independent port, not the taxpayer who always foots the bill and who is getting rather sick of it, not the customer abroad who, if these measures go through, will have another reason for finding it more difficult to buy British.
Our case is simply one of common sense. We find the one-sided attitude of the Government disturbing. It puts the trade union in a very privileged position. The Government seem to have paid scant attention so far—though there may be time for a change of heart—to the port user and the employer. The weakness of the Government's case is instanced by the fact that they are legislating in this matter. They are afraid to seek an extension of the scheme under the existing Act because that would lead to a public inquiry. Hon. Members can imagine what would happen if the Government tried to move into Felixstowe, Dover, Harwich and Shoreham. My hon. Friend the Member for Sudbury and Woodbridge (Mr. Stainton) made this point clear. Would the net result be that industrial relations were better in the larger scheme ports? Far from it. The opposite would be the case. Try as one will, it is difficult to make out a case for the proposal to absorb these ports and wharfs into the dock labour scheme and further to extend nationalisation.
I should like to refer the hon. Members for Liverpool, Garston (Mr. Loyden) and for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott) to the National Ports Council survey of 1973, in which Mr. Jack Jones played a prominent part. Paragraph 42 of the report, under the heading "Reputation for Productivity", stated:It has proved virtually impossible so far to establish exactly comparable hard factual evidence about the relative performance of different ports. What is certain is that ship-owners and shippers are given to making wide-spread assumptions and assertions about less flexible and so financially more onerous conditions, including overtime arrangements and rates, manning scales, and about the state of industrial relations, etc., at the major ports: in short, the image of the major ports as it appears to many customers, actual and potential, is bad. Both employers and unions at these ports must recognise the effects of these assumptions, even if they challenge their legitimacy. It is clearly in the national interest that some independent assessment be made which would help to prove or disprove these statements and lead to whatever comparisons are 93 possible on an inter-port basis, both nationally and internationally.This is what the Government are afraid to do. The least they should do before embarking on this course of action is to establish the facts which the nation has a right to know. Could it be that to Labour Members comparisons are odious—indeed, embarrassing—and that the non-scheme ports would come out of this far better than the larger ports?
§ Mr. Spearing
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. Many of his hon. Friends have assumed that many of the larger ports are nationalised and State-owned and that the smaller ones are privately run. The hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) in particular made that point. Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that in the Royal Docks, in the Port of London, over half the dockers are employed by private employers? Many dockers on the river are employed by private employers. In fact, private employment has found its difficulties in all sorts of docks, large and small.
§ Mr. Fox
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would not want me to wander down that path. Of course we are aware of those facts, and the situation should be examined as fully as possible. All I suggest is that we should discuss all these anomalies and see which is the best and most beneficial system for the nation.
Many examples could be given to prove the amount of time that is saved by shippers using the non-scheme ports. I am told by a shipowner in the Baltic timber trade that in six voyages to major scheme ports the average turn-round was 141.95 hours in port. Most of the trade is to the Trent Wharf, and the maximum time taken by any of the shipping, from arriving at Hull Roads to leaving the Trent Wharf, is 60 hours. Is it any wonder that employers and shippers prefer to use the non-scheme ports? As my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds said, taken as a whole the turn-round at non-scheme ports is five or six days as opposed to 13 or 20 days in the larger scheme ports.
Comparing our ports with our overseas competitors, the situation is far worse. Compared with Antwerp, Liverpool needs to treble its tonnage per gang; London 94 needs to quadruple it. To save embarrassment, I shall not bring Rotterdam into the equation. Suffice it to say that every time the London docks are brought to a standstill the dockers in Rotterdam must be drinking champagne. As has already been said, it is estimated that 15 per cent. of the traffic will now move abroad as a result of the recent tragic strike in our docks.
The Secretary of State on 15th July 1974 intimated his intention to extend the dock labour scheme, and he said:I am taking into account partly the recommendations of the Aldington-Jones Committee. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman thinks that its report was a minority report. In its final report the Committee said:'It is wrong that the scheme ports should continue to be exposed to unfair competition on terms and conditions of work from certain ports and wharves outside the scheme. In particular the Committee were at one in deploring the practice of casual employment which is still in evidence'."—[Official Report, 15th July 1974; Vol. 877, c. 33.]I take it that the Secretary of Statae believes that that situation still applies, otherwise he would not be contemplating legislation.
I hope that the Minister will tell us what is the up-to-date position, particularly with regard to conditions of employment, wages and pensions. My information is that in the vast majority of these non-scheme ports conditions are as good as they are in the scheme ports. As for casual labour, to talk in terms of 200 or 300 out of a total of 30,000 seems to me to present a very weak case for these proposals.
Is it not a fact that we in this country are failing to accept certain home truths? For the Secretary of State to tell us that we should be careful of what we say in case we stir up trouble is a very dangerous doctrine. Let me say what I believe to be the case and why the non-scheme ports are more efficient. In the non-scheme ports the men will work week-ends. They will work to suit the shipping and the tides. There are no restrictive practices. The men allow interchangeability between jobs if necessary. They allow interchangeability during all hours between ships. The men will discharge one hold and load another simultaneously. The ships are not undermanned. Under the conditions in the scheme, however, 95 ports would require extra men not fully employed. We all know that in London, Hull and Liverpool there is rigidity of hours of work especially at weekends. There is adherence to historic and outworn practices, and rotation of labour across the broad spectrum of activity dilutes efficiency. I am sure that the Minister, if he wishes, can reply to this in full.
How can the Minister for Transport possibly justify his statement on 20th August 1974 outlining his proposals for public ownership? The right hon. Gentleman said:The Government consider that this scheme would combine the advantages of comprehensiveness, efficiency and flexibility. It would avoid over-complicating the structure of the industry and minimise the diversion of management resources. Ports would continue to compete on service and on price.Those are all the old worn-out clichés to justify State control. The public are sick and tired of all these explanations. If the right hon. Gentleman reads his own proposals, he will know full well that the National Ports Authority, which he intends to set up, will be able to dictate to port authorities how to run their undertakings. How can that lead to initiative and competition?
I move quickly to a constituency point. The Government Chief Whip led me to think of this. I do not suppose that the Secretary of State will support me, but the largest employer of labour in my constituency is the wool textile industry. Times are not easy. That is why the Leader of the House found time to debate that industry a few days ago. A number of Labour Members supported our plea about dumping. I am surprised that they are not in the House now to draw attention to the serious matter of delay in exporting the goods of that industry.
The wage levels in Ebbw Vale are much higher than in my constituency. I take it that the National Coal Board or the British Steel Corporation is the largest employer in Ebbw Vale. But my constituents have a very low basic wage. What happens? As a good Socialist, perhaps the Secretary of State will support me. My constituents produce the goods on time. The wool textile industry exports about as much as the Scotch whisky industry. That is not a bad record. The 96 goods get to the docks on time. Then what happens? Two or three weeks go by and they are still there.
§ Mr. Fox
If the hon. Gentleman wants the evidence, I have a lot upstairs. There is a delay of seven or eight weeks in London, Liverpool and Hull. I challenge the Minister for Transport to deny that. He will know this from the letters he has received from many hon. Members.
Let me move away from the Secretary of State for Employment. Where is the Secretary of State for Industry? The right hon. Gentleman should be deeply concerned and ought to be here.
§ Mr. Fox
The Secretary of State for Industry is always fighting losing causes. Instead of giving subsidies, the right hon. Gentleman should be here opposing this kind of measure, which will delay and hinder our export performance.
From my experience in the Whips' Office, I know that many Ministers travel abroad and are paired, but they must know that the biggest criticism directed at Great Britain and at buying British is the uncertainty of delivery dates being met. That is where this legislation comes completely unstuck. It will do nothing to help in that respect.
That is why, in winding up the debate, I ask my right hon. and hon. Friends to support the motion in the Lobby and show our contempt for a Government who pay lip service to a mixed economy, in which private enterprise is supposed to have a place, and yet in practice show themselves to be the most Left-wing administration under which this country has ever suffered.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ The Minister for Transport (Mr. Frederick Mulley)
I do not think that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment was in any sense complaining about the Opposition having chosen this or, indeed, any other subject for debate. The debate is welcome because it will clear up a number of misunderstandings. Our complaint is against the attitude to the serious problems of the ports industry which is 97 exhibited in the terms of the motion before the House.
I do not want to follow the right hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior) in the kind of compliments that he introduced into the debate. I want to pay a genuine compliment to the Opposition. They are to be congratulated, at least in this area, on consistency. They have consistently criticised and opposed every measure that the Labour Government have sought to take to improve the situation in the ports industry, and when they have had power have done absolutely nothing about it. The motion exactly reflects that attitude today.
I bow to the master of the art if the clichés of my consultation document offended the hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Fox), but there were complaints earlier that the word "efficiency" had never come into our consideration.
First, as they are two distinct and separate matters, I should make clear the difference between the document "Dock Work", my right hon. Friend's proposals which are concerned with the security and conditions of port transport work, and the proposals for the reorganisation of the industry, for which I am responsible, which are concerned with the management, ownership and control of the ports. The two schemes are distinct but complementary. It is recognised in all quarters that in many respects my right hon. Friend's problems are more urgent than mine and should take precedence in legislation, but both are directed to the enormous changes which have occurred in the port transport industry in recent years.
In the first place there was the Devlin Report, which, in the 1960s, finally achieved the end of decasualisation. I hope that no hon. Member would now seek to defend the system of casual labour.
There has been a change in the pattern of our trade. The hon. and learned Member for Dover (Mr. Rees) put all this down to far-sightedness on the part of port operators. One significant change is that people are buying more of our goods nearer to us in Europe, affecting the short sea trade, while the volume of deep sea trade, which has been the basic concern of our older ports, has declined because 98 of the way the trade between this country and other parts of the world has gone on.
There has also been the technological development of very large ships—for example, in grain. The practice has been to break down the load into smaller ships or barges, and that has made possible the use of the smaller harbours.
§ Mr. Mulley
I shall be coming to that point later. Much as I usually like to give way, I agreed to take only 15 minutes because so many hon. Members wished to speak in the debate.
There has been another important change—containers and roll-on roll-off. That has meant a great change in the pattern of trade for our ports. Yet the proposition in the motion is that the Dock Workers' Employment Scheme, which has been virtually unchanged since 1947—nearly 30 years, for the majority of which time, sadly for the country, the Conservative Party was in Government—should remain unchanged. The motion says that we should not even look at it. Yet we have before the House a consultative document inviting anyone interested in any aspect to make representations with a view to bringing these practices up to date.
At the end of the period in office of the 1964–70 Labour Government Mr. Peter Bristow, QC, issued his report. If the proposals in that report had been implemented by the Tories, we might not have suffered the 1972 national dock strike and the present situation in the docks would have been much better. Then there was the Aldington-Jones Report. The report of the National Ports Council on non-scheme ports came in March 1973. Nothing was done to bring the ports up to date.
My right hon. Friend made a penetrating point when he said that the crime 99 that he and later on, I, I hope, will be perpetrating is that we shall be trying to do something. Britain's tragedy often is that for every one person trying to do something there are two people trying to prevent him. This may be reflected in the Opposition's attitude to our efforts in this direction.
The logic of the matter is this. If 80 per cent. of the port industry is in the scheme and if broadly—here I agree with the hon. Member for Shipley—wages at scheme ports, because of trade union organisation and not for other reasons, are broadly comparable in most cases, what can be wrong with bringing in the other 20 per cent.?
The Opposition do not want that. It was nonsense of the hon. Member for Harwich (Mr. Ridsdale) to say that we are being vindictive. His solution was massive subsidies for our ports on the lines of continental ports. I should be interested to know whether this is an official Opposition view, because it may have a bearing on the debate which is to follow. If it has been so bad for scheme ports over the past 30 years, why did not the Tories do something about it, when they had power?
As my hon. Friends the Members for Liverpool, Garston (Mr. Loyden), Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott) and Thurrock (Mr. Delargy), with their great knowledge and experience, have indicated, all the talk and lack of action have exasperated and frustrated the dockers and caused them to put more weight on the protection of the scheme than perhaps it justifies. There have been prevarications over the years. This is why it is important to act quickly.
The legislation which will have to be introduced by my right hon. Friend and myself will inevitably be more complicated than my hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock suggested. As my hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. Johnson) said, full consultation is both desirable and necessary in respect of both schemes.
The hon. Member for Sudbury and Woodbridge (Mr. Stainton) said that in the first consultative document on ports organisation issued last August there was a phrase about port businesses which he 100 did not find clear. Any port which is not a statutory port is at law technically a port business. The hon. Member and other Conservative Members who spent so many hours with me in 1970 on another piece of ports legislation will recall that there was the most frightful and fierce opposition from the Conservatives to the concept that port businesses should be brought under any form of public ownership.
In the last five years one port after another—nationalised and private—has been acquiring the port businesses in its ports and running them because it knows that this is the most efficient way of operating and because the profit is not in the dues and the rest of the port undertaking but in running the port businesses. That is why we have always taken the view that it is essential not only to have the ports as ports within the framework of public ownership but that the major port businesses involved should be similarly owned and should be part of the port undertaking.
That, broadly, is what my proposals set out to do. Through hon. Members every citizen will be aware of what we do We are carrying out the policy set out in "Labour's Programme 1973" and in our two manifestos last year, namely, that we would bring all the commercial ports under public ownership and control. This means 200 to 300 ports. Clearly it would have been wrong to try to bring these within one enormous administrative umbrella. We seek to retain the ownership where it is already, under public ownership—that is, a nationalised board, a local authority, or a public trust—but we shall also acquire the ports that are now in private ownership.
As is widely accepted within the industry, we want to extend the powers of the National Ports Council, to which I pay tribute. With its limited powers it has done an extraordinarily good job in its advisory capacity in recent years. We want to build that on to a national ports authority so that we can have central strategic planning of the requirements for our ports industry and yet, through having the quality of local management, retain that initiative which we agree is important in achieving both the representation of the workers in their place of work and also the sense of competition which is often a spur to efficiency.
101 If hon. Members have not had the second edition of my consultative document which takes account of the proposals we have had put to us since last August and which was published a few days ago, we shall be happy to send copies to then and to receive any observations about it. Copies are in the Vote Office.
What is involved in the two schemes will make an enormous contribution to the health, efficiency and better industrial relations in the ports industry, which, we all realize, is absolutely central to our position as a trading nation.
§ The Opposition, in proposing that the House should reject the proposals before
|Division No. 166.]||AYES||[7.00 p.m.|
|Adley, Robert||Eyre, Reginald||Jones, Arthur (Daventry)|
|Aitken, Jonathan||Fairbairn, Nicholas||Jopling, Michael|
|Alison, Michael||Fairgrieve, Russell||Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith|
|Amery, Rt Hon Julian||Fell, Anthony||Kaberry, Sir Donald|
|Arnold, Tom||Fisher, Sir Nigel||Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine|
|Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne)||Fletcher, Alex (Edinburgh N)||Kimball, Marcus|
|Awdry, Daniel||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||King, Tom (Bridgwater)|
|Baker, Kenneth||Fookes, Miss Janet||Kitson, Sir Timothy|
|Banks, Robert||Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd)||Knight, Mrs Jill|
|Bell, Ronald||Fox, Marcus||Knox, David|
|Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham)||Fry, Peter||Lamont, Norman|
|Berry, Hon Anthony||Gardner, Edward (S Fylde)||Lane, David|
|Biffen, John||Gilmour, Rt Hon Ian (Chesham)||Langford-Holt, Sir John|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)||Latham, Michael (Melton)|
|Blaker, Peter||Glyn, Dr Alan||Lawrence, Ivan|
|Body, Richard||Godber, Rt Hon Joseph||Lawson, Nigel|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Goodhew, Victor||Le Merchant, Spencer|
|Bowden, A. (Brighton, Kemptown)||Goodlad, Alastair||Lester, Jim (Beeston)|
|Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent)||Gorst, John||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)|
|Britten, Leon||Gow, Ian (Eastbourne)||Lloyd, Ian|
|Brotherton, Michael||Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry)||Loveridge, John|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Grant, Anthony (Harrow C)||McAdden, Sir Stephen|
|Buck, Antony||Gray, Hamish||McCrindle, Robert|
|Budgen, Nick||Grieve, Percy||Macfarlane, Neil|
|Bulmer, Esmond||Griffiths, Eldon||MacGregor, John|
|Burden, F. A.||Grist, Ian||Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham)|
|Carlisle, Mark||Grylls, Michael||McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)|
|Carr, Rt Hon Robert||Hall, Sir John||Madel, David|
|Chalker. Mrs Lynda||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Marshall, Michael (Arundel)|
|Channon, Paul||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Marten, Neil|
|Churchill, W. S.||Hampson, Dr Keith||Mates, Michael|
|Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton)||Hannam, John||Mather, Carol|
|Clark, William (Croydon S)||Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss||Maude, Angus|
|Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Hastings, Stephen||Maudling, Rt Hon Reginald|
|Clegg, Walter||Havers, Sir Michael||Mawby, Ray|
|Cockcroft, John||Hawkins, Paul||Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin|
|Cooke, Robert (Bristol W)||Hayhoe, Barney||Mayhew, Patrick|
|Cope, John||Heath, Rt Hon Edward||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Cordle, John H.||Heseltine, Michael||Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove)|
|Cormack. Patrick||Hicks, Robert||Mills, Peter|
|Corrie, John||Higgins, Terence L.||Miscampbell, Norman|
|Costain, A. P.||Holland, Philip||Moate, Roger|
|Critchley, Julian||Hordern, Peter||Molyneaux, James|
|Crouch, David||Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey||Monro, Hector|
|Crowder. F. P.||Howell, David (Guildford)||Montgomery, Fergus|
|Davies, Rt Hon J. (Knutsford)||Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)||Moore, John (Croydon C)|
|Dean, Paul (N Somerset)||Howells, Geraint (Cardigan)||Morgan, Geraint|
|Dodsworth, Geoffrey||Hunt, John||Morgan-Giles, Rear-Admiral|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James||Hurd, Douglas||Morris, Michael (Northampton S)|
|Drayson, Burnaby||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)|
|du Cann, Rt Hon Edward||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester)|
|Durant, Tony||Irving, Charles (Cheltenham)||Mudd, David|
|Dykes, Hugh||James, David||Neave, Airey|
|Eden, Rt Hon Sir John||Jenkin, Rt Hon P. (Wanst'd & W'df'd)||Nelson, Anthony|
|Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)||Jessel, Toby||Neubert, Michael|
|Emery, Peter||Johnson Smith, G. (E Grinstead)||Newton, Tony|
§ those to whom the consultative documents have been sent have had a chance even to comment upon them, show that consistency in talking plenty and doing little which is at the base of many of our troubles today and which we inherited from the Conservative Government. I call upon my right hon. and hon. Friends to reject the motion with the contempt that it deserves.
§ Question put,
That this House rejects the Consultative Document, Dock Work, and the further proposals for ports reorganisation:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 251, Noes 282.
|Normanton, Tom||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)||Taylor, R. (Croydon NW)|
|Nott, John||Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)||Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)|
|Onslow, Cranley||Royle, Sir Anthony||Tebbit, Norman|
|Oppenheim, Mrs Sally||Sainsbury, Tim||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Osborn, John||Scott, Nicholas||Thomas, Rt Hon P. (Hendon S)|
|Page, John (Harrow West)||Scott-Hopkins, James||Townsend, Cyril D.|
|Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)||Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)||Trotter, Neville|
|Pattie, Geoffrey||Shaw, Michael (Scarborough)||Tugendhat, Christopher|
|Penhaligon, David||Shelton, William (Streatham)||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Percival, Ian||Shepherd, Colin||Vaughan, Dr Gerard|
|Peyton, Rt Hon John||Shersby, Michael||Viggers, Peter|
|Pink, R. Bonner||Silvester, Fred||Wainwright, Richard (Colne V)|
|Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch||Sims, Roger||Wakeham, John|
|Price, David (Eastleigh)||Sinclair, Sir George||Walder, David (Clitheroe)|
|Prior, Rt Hon James||Skeet, T. H. H.||Walker, Rt Hon P. (Worcester)|
|Raison, Timothy||Smith, Dudley (Warwick)||Wall, Patrick|
|Rathbone, Tim||Speed, Keith||Walters, Dennis|
|Rawlinson, Rt Hon Sir Peter||Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)||Warren, Kenneth|
|Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal)||Spicer, Michael (S Worcester)||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Rees-Davies, W. R.||Sproat, Iain||Wells, John|
|Renton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts)||Stainton, Keith||Whitelaw, Rt Hon William|
|Renton, Tim (Mid-Sussex)||Stanbrook, Ivor||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon||Stanley, John||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Ridley, Hon Nicholas||Steel, David (Roxburgh)||Wood, Rt Hon Richard|
|Ridsdale, Julian||Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)||Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)|
|Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)||Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)|
|Roberts, Wyn (Conway)||Stokes, John||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)||Stradling Thomas, J.||Mr. Adam Butler and|
|Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)||Tapsell, Peter||Mr. Cecil Parkinson.|
|Abse, Leo||Cronin, John||Golding, John|
|Anderson, Donald||Crosland, Rt Hon Anthony||Gould, Bryan|
|Archer, Peter||Cryer, Bob||Graham, Ted|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Cunningham, G. (Islington S)||Grant, George (Morpeth)|
|Ashley, Jack||Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh)||Grant, John (Islington C)|
|Ashton, Joe||Dalyell, Tam||Grocott, Bruce|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston N)||Davidson, Arthur||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)|
|Atkinson, Norman||Davies, Bryan (Enfield N)||Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Davies, Denzil (Llanelli)||Hardy, Peter|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)|
|Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood)||Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)||Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy|
|Bates, Alf||Deakins, Eric||Hatton, Frank|
|Bean, R. E.||Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)||Hayman, Mrs Helene|
|Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood||de Freitas, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey||Heffer, Eric S.|
|Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N)||Delargy, Hugh||Hooley, Frank|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Dell, Rt Hon Edmund||Horam, John|
|Bishop, E. S.||Dempsey, James||Howell, Denis (B'ham, Sm H)|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Doig, Peter||Hoyle, Doug (Nelson)|
|Boardman, H.||Dormand, J. D.||Huckfield, Les|
|Booth, Albert||Douglas-Mann, Bruce||Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey)|
|Boothroyd, Miss Betty||Duffy, A. E. P.||Hughes, Mark (Durham)|
|Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur||Dunn, James A.||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)|
|Boyden, James (Bish Auck)||Dunnett, Jack||Hughes, Roy (Newport)|
|Bradley, Tom||Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth||Hunter, Adam|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Eadie, Alex||Irvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill)|
|Broughton, Sir Alfred||Edelman, Maurice||Jackson, Colin (Brighouse)|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||Edge, Geoff||Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln)|
|Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W)||Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE)||Janner, Greville|
|Brown, Ronald (Hackney S)||Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun)||Jay, Rt Hon Douglas|
|Buchan, Norman||Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)||Jeger, Mrs Lena|
|Buchanan, Richard||English, Michael||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)|
|Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green)||Ennals, David||Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Stechford)|
|Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)||Evans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen)||John, Brynmor|
|Campbell, Ian||Evans, Ioan (Aberdare)||Johnson, James (Hull West)|
|Canavan, Dennis||Evans, John (Newton)||Johnson, Walter (Derby S)|
|Cant, R. B.||Ewing, Harry (Stirling)||Jones, Alec (Rhondda)|
|Carmichael, Neil||Faulds, Andrew||Jones, Dan (Burnley)|
|Carter, Ray||Fernyhough, Rt Hon E.||Judd, Frank|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Kaufman, Gerald|
|Cartwright, John||Flannery, Martin||Kelley, Richard|
|Castle, Rt Hon Barbara||Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||Kerr, Russell|
|Clemitson, Ivor||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Kilroy-Silk, Robert|
|Cocks, Michael (Bristol S)||Foot, Rt Hon Michael||Lambie, David|
|Cohen, Stanley||Ford, Ben||Lamborn, Harry|
|Coleman, Donald||Forrester, John||Leadbitter, Ted|
|Colquhoun, Mrs Maureen||Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin)||Lester, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough)|
|Concannon, J. D.||Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd)||Lever, Rt Hon Harold|
|Cook, Robin F. (Edin C)||Garrett, John (Norwich S)||Lewis Arthur (Newham N)|
|Corbett, Robin||Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend)||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)|
|Cox, Thomas (Tooting)||George, Bruce||Lipton, Marcus|
|Craigen, J. M. (Maryhill)||Gilbert, Dr John||Litterick, Tom|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Ginsburg, David||Lomas, Kenneth|
|Loyden, Eddie||Parker, John||Swain, Thomas|
|Luard, Evan||Parry, Robert||Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)|
|Lyon, Alexander (York)||Pearl, Rt Hon Fred||Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)|
|Lyons, Edward (Bradford W)||Pendry, Tom||Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)|
|Mabon, Dr J. Dickson||Perry, Ernest||Thorne, Stan (Preston South)|
|McElhone, Frank||Phipps, Dr Colin||Tierney, Sydney|
|MacFarquhar, Roderick||Prentice, Rt Hon Reg||Tinn, James|
|McGuire, Michael (Ince)||Prescott, John||Tomlinson, John|
|Mackenzie, Gregor||Price, C. (Lewisham W)||Tomney, Frank|
|Mackintosh, John P.||Price, William (Rugby)||Torney, Tom|
|Maclennan, Robert||Richardson, Miss Jo||Urwin, T. W.|
|McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.|
|McNamara, Kevin||Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)||Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)|
|Madden, Max||Robertson, John (Paisley)||Walden, Brian (B'ham, L'dyw'd)|
|Magee, Bryan||Roderick, Caerwyn||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Mahon, Simon||Rodgers, George (Chorley)||Walker, Terry (Kingswood)|
|Marks, Kenneth||Rodgers, William (Stockton)||Ward, Michael|
|Marquand, David||Rooker, J. W.||Watkins, David|
|Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)||Rose, Paul B.||Watkinson, John|
|Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)||Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)||Weetch, Ken|
|Mason, Rt Hon Roy||Rowlands, Ted||Weitzman, David|
|Meacher, Michael||Ryman, John||Wellbeloved, James|
|Mellish, Rt Hon Robert||Sedgemore, Brian||White, Frank R. (Bury)|
|Mikardo, Ian||Selby, Harry||White, James (Pollok)|
|Millan, Bruce||Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Mitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen)||Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-u-Lyne)||Whitlock, William|
|Molloy, William||Shore, Rt Hon Peter||Willey, Rt Hon Frederick|
|Moonman, Eric||Short, Rt Hon E. (Newcastle C)||Williams, Alan (Swansea W)|
|Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Short, Mrs Renée (Wolv NE)||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)|
|Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)||Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)||Williams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)|
|Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick||Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King||Silverman, Julius||Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)|
|Newens, Stanley||Skinner, Dennis||Wilson, Rt Hon H. (Huyton)|
|Noble, Mike||Small, William||Wilson, William (Coventry SE)|
|Ogden, Eric||Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)||Wise, Mrs Audrey|
|O'Halloran, Michael||Snape, Peter||Woodall, Alec|
|O'Malley, Rt Hon Brian||Spearing, Nigel||Woof, Robert|
|Orbach, Maurice||Spriggs, Leslie||Wrigglesworth, Ian|
|Ovenden, John||Stallard, A. W.||Young, David (Bolton E)|
|Owen, Dr David||Stoddart, David|
|Padley, Walter||Stott, Roger||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Palmer, Arthur||Strang, Gavin||Mr. Joseph Harper and|
|Park, George||Strauss, Rt Hon G. R.||Mr. Laurie Pavitt.|
|Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley|
|Question accordingly negatived.|