HC Deb 24 May 1989 vol 153 cc962-91

  1. `(1) Any dock worker to whom the Scheme applied shall be entitled, on leaving employment as a dock worker, to a payment of £6,000 plus £3,000 for each complete year of employment under the Scheme.
  2. (2) Payments under subsection (1) shall be funded on an equal basis by the Secretary of State and former registered employers.
  3. (3) This section shall lapse ten years after the passing of this Act unless renewed by affirmative resolution of both Houses of Parliament.'.—[Mr. Meacher].

Brought up, and read the First time.

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Mr. Michael Meacher (Oldham, West)

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr. Speaker

With this, it will be convenient to take amendment No. 3, in line 12, leave out clause 5.

Mr. Meacher

New clause 1 is designed with a simple but important purpose: to offer to dock workers made redundant after the abolition of the dock labour scheme, a level of compensation which more closely matches that which is available in other industries. For dock workers made redundant in the first 18 months after abolition, the Government propose a lump sum of £5,000, plus £2,000 for every full year of work, up to a maximum of 1.35,000. Those made redundant in the following 18 months will receive £5,000, plus £1,000 for every full year of service, up to a maximum of £20,000.

We propose a lump sum of £6,000, plus £3,000 for each complete year of employment under the scheme.

Mr. Ernie Ross (Dundee, West)

That is not good enough.

Mr. Meacher

My hon. Friend says that that is not good enough. I take his point, but we shall be happy to settle for it if the Government concede it. It means that a dock worker who has served 15 years would receive £51,000 in compensation, and a dock worker who had worked 20 years would receive £66,000. Those may sound quite large figures, but they are in line with redundancy compensation currently being paid under other schemes.

The redundant mineworkers payment scheme is, in many respects, more generous than the Government's draft proposals for dock workers. Older mineworkers who are made redundant receive a lump sum based on age, length of service and pay, plus a weekly benefit. If those figures are added together, they amount to a substantial sum.

I have a British Coal press release, dated 7 October 1986, which quotes an average—I emphasise "average" —figure of £74,600 redundancy payment for men made redundant at the age of 50 to 54. Some will receive more than that. It is against that comparison that the Opposition have drawn up their proposals.

It is only fair to point out that the Government scheme for mineworkers has been replaced by British Coal's own scheme. Although it is not as generous as the Government's proposals for dock workers, under the British Coal scheme, redundant mineworkers with 15 or more years, service are paid an additional lump sum of £7,500, plus £500 a year for service aged between 16 to 34, and £750 a year for service aged 35 to 65. On top of that, statutory redundancy pay can be paid, so that the maximum total is nearly £40,600 for someone with maximum service who retires before his or her 60th birthday. That figure is considerably more than the one proposed in the Government scheme for redundant dock workers, especially those who lose their jobs in the second 18-month period after the abolition, when, as I have said, they will receive a maximum of only £20,000. In other words, they will receive only half as much as is payable under the British Coal scheme, which is itself less generous than the redundant mineworkers' payment scheme.

The level of compensation that we propose is not particularly out of line with the redundancy terms current in many parts of the private sector. I went to some trouble to obtain an Industrial Relations Service publication which reviews 22 redundancy pay agreements made in 1988. It quotes a good many examples in considerable detail. It tells us for example, that the Alliance and Leicester building society provides payments of up to £60,000 for some senior managers. It may be said that managers constitute a different layer of the work force, but another example given is Express Newspapers, which provides up to £50,000 for members of the National Graphical Association as part—not all—of the severance terms covering job losses caused by major reorganisation of the group. Those, too, are substantially more generous than what the Government proposed.

I am not sure whether the phrase "brass handshake" has been used before, but it seems appropriate. Such handshakes are now fairly common throughout industry. I have deliberately abstained from citing the growing number of golden handshakes of which we hear fairly regularly from board rooms. Only six weeks ago, however, amid all the fuss about Blue Arrow's £25 million loan to Peter de Savary—in which the right hon. Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit) was involved—we were told that Mr. John Sharkey has been paid off handsomely with a golden handshake of £225,000. All I can say is that he is lucky not to have been a docker; if he had been, he would have received about one seventh of that sum.

Again, two months ago, amid all the rumpus over the sale of three cemeteries by Lady Porter, it emerged that the lips of Westminster council's chief executive had been sealed with a £1 million golden handshake. It is a pity that the dock workers are not privy to a few more secrets. As people always say, what counts is not what a person does or how long he has been doing it, but who he knows—or, perhaps even more important, what he knows.

The new clause proposes that dock workers who have given a lifetime's service to the ports should receive proper and just recompense for the compulsory termination of their livelihood when, if they are over 50, they have little chance of obtaining an alternative job. Unemployment is significantly higher in the scheme port travel-to-work areas. I have checked the facts: male unemployment in those areas averages 11.5 per cent., which is well above the national average. I am not saying that that figure is absolutely correct—I believe it understates the position —but, whatever the correct figure, the difference in relative terms is substantial.

It has been calculated, moreover, that unemployed men in scheme port areas have less than a 40 per cent. chance of obtaining a job—and, of course, the older they are the smaller the chance will be. Those older men will be the most affected by the compulsory redundancies that are about to be handed out. The latest count of the ages of registered dock workers produced an average age of 46.7, largely because of the port employers' unwise decision to get rid of so many younger men. Now it is those above that age whom they are most anxious to displace. Already the average number of unemployed over-forties in scheme port areas is 24 per cent., and that number is undoubtedly set to increase significantly when the Bill is implemented.

We simply propose that older men who are deprived of their jobs by compulsory Government-instigated reorganisation schemes, and who in many cases will probably never be able to work again, should be compensated in accordance with best practice for the loss forced on them. "In accordance with the best practice" is the crucial phrase: I am not saying that the terms are mean, but they are not best practice and we believe that they should be. The Government's proposals do not meet our criterion, and we are seeking to improve them.

4.15 pm

It is not as though either the National Association of Port Employers or the Government cannot meet those obligations. I need not remind the House that corporate profitability now stands at its highest for at least a decade, and the port employers in particular have not been doing too badly in recent years. The annual report of Associated British Ports, the largest employer, shows profits of £38 million in 1987, a 46 per cent. increase. In the first half of 1988, the company's profits rose by a further 59 per cent., and dividends per share by 25 per cent. Sir Keith Stuart, chairman of ABP, described it modestly as "a highly successful year"—as well he might, as he increased his own salary by 23 per cent. in 1987 to £97,000. Last year, deciding that he must keep the wolf from the door, he increased it by a further 23 per cent. to a modest £120,000.

The Opposition say that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. If ABP is making profits hand over fist, if its chairman can pay himself a six-figure salary and greedily award himself a 23 per cent. increase two years running, and, above all, if it is to make an extra £20 million in profits from the scheme's abolition as it claims, it can expect to pay a proper whack to those on whose backs it has made those growing profits, and whom it now intends to throw on the scrap heap so that it can increase those profits still further.

The money is there. One side—the company, its shareholders and its managers—is receiving enormous increases; only the dock workers are not receiving that level of remuneration. It cannot be said that the Government are exactly pinched at present, with an unprecedented Budget surplus of over £15 billion. The redundancy proposals in the Bill have been costed by the Government at about £25 million. Our alternative proposals would cost about £35 million, not a great deal more.

Mr. Ian Bruce (Dorset, South)

Not much for a Socialist.

Mr. Meacher

As they have £15 billion or more to dispense with, an extra £10 million for making 2,000 people redundant is something that the Government could well afford. That was a very foolish interjection.

Our proposal constitutes a much fairer distribution of Government funds than general Exchequer Budget policy.

According to a parliamentary answer of 17 May, last year, 100,000 people in Britain with salaries of more than £70,000 per year have, over the past 10 years of Tory Budgets, received an average cut in their income tax worth no less than £37,550. If the richest people in this country who do not need a penny in extra assistance are given largesse by the Government of £37,550 each year, those whom the Government make redundant and who may never get another job deserve a good deal more than a one-off payment of less than £37,550.

In Committee, the only argument made by the Minister for Public Transport—not the Minister of State, Department of Employment, who is on the Government Front Bench today, but it is said that Ministers take collective responsibility—for refusing a better level of compensation for redundant dock workers was that higher compensation payments previously paid to miners were "exceptional". He stated: It is true that a few years ago some miners received much higher compensation payments than will be available under the Bill. However, I emphasise that the circumstances of the industry at that time and the miners who received such payments were exceptional. As though the abolition of the dock labour scheme is not highly exceptional. In trying to justify his claim that nothing special is proposed in respect of the docks, the Minister added: I should not imagine that the rate of loss of men from the industry would be entirely out of scale"— he meant, as a result of the scheme's abolition— with what has happened in recent years. However, the Minister's own figures reveal that abolition will, not surprisingly, be both out of the ordinary and exceptional. In Committee, the Minister for Public Transport also stated: The … £25 million that we have included in the explanatory and financial memorandum would cover between 1,500 and 2,000 redundancies".—[Official Report, Standing Committee A, 16 May 1989, c. 505–37.] That number of redundancies represents between 16 and 21 per cent. of the entire work force under the scheme. To get rid of one fifth of the work force and claim that such action is in no way exceptional is either cynical or extremely disingenuous.

Those redundancies represent a far quicker rundown than has occurred in the past. In 1983, there were more than 14,500 registered dock workers but now there are only 9,400, which represents an average decline of 840 per year. Under the Bill, the Government intend to bring about between two and three times more redundancies than in the past decade. Why did they bring in the Bill otherwise? Of course its intention is to increase redundancies. Even the present Government, whose record of concern over unemployment does not place them in the first ranks of compassion, must acknowledge that that is an exceptional level of redundancy and one which commands an exceptional level of compensation.

New clause 1 will go a long way to countering some of the most malign consequences of this miserable little Bill. Given that the port employers have amassed huge profits in recent years, and have stated openly that they will make an additional packet out of sacking one fifth of their work force under the Bill, it is only right and just that dock workers should enjoy redundancy terms at least as good as the current best practice in other industries. I stress that we are not asking for a bigger pay-off that they can take and run with, because dock workers will receive those redundancy payments only if their employers decide to sack them. Redundancy will not be a choice that they can make for themselves. In those circumstances, we say that decency and justice require a more reasonable and upbeat deal than the distinctly unexceptional offer provided for in the Bill.

If the Government were as generous to dock workers and to trade unionists as they are to employers and to top-rate taxpayers, they would embrace the new clause with all the eagerness with which we press it.

The Minister of State, Department of Employment (Mr. John Cope)

As the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr.. Meacher) made clear, new clause 1 proposes a compensation scheme to replace that suggested by the Government. The Labour party scheme—although in fairness I should call it the Meacher scheme, because the hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Ross) has already made clear his view that his hon. Friend's scheme is not generous enough—is considerably more generous, and in some cases would pay the sum of £130,000. The Opposition scheme operates on a basis different from that included in the Bill and in the draft regulations that back it up, which amendment No. 3 seeks to omit.

The generosity of the Opposition's proposals gives an interesting insight into their view of the scheme's value to a registered dock worker. It is not only that the amounts of money differ but the entire basis is different, even though the hon. Member for Oldham, West, in his closing remarks, suggested that the basis of new clause 1 is essentially similar to that of our scheme.

The Government's proposals in clause 5 and in the regulations provide for enhanced redundancy pay for registered dockers who lose their jobs in the changes following termination of the scheme. The proposals in new clause I involve paying every registered dock worker who leaves the industry, for whatever reason, just because he is a registered dock worker. Under both schemes, the Government will normally pay half the cost, with the employers paying the other half. However, if an employer goes out of business and cannot meet his obligations, the Government's scheme will pay the entire cost so that the former docker will receive the full amount even if his employer becomes insolvent.

As I understand Labour's scheme, the Government would only ever pay half the cost, so if the employer cannot meet his obligation to pay the balance the docker will receive only half the sum due to him. That arrangement has some interesting consequences, to which I shall refer shortly. Perhaps it is intended to reward employees of profitable firms, for that is its effect. That is an interesting if slightly odd example of profit sharing. I certainly support the principle of profit sharing, but the Opposition's proposals are not a very sound application of it. I would rather see port companies negotiating more conventional profit-sharing schemes with their employees.

At first glance, the Opposition's improvements may seem modest, offering as they do basic compensation of £6,000 plus £3,000 per year of employment, compared with our proposal for initial compensation of £5,000 plus £2,000 per year of employment. Under the Government scheme, there is a maximum payable of £35,000, whereas the Opposition impose no limit, except the arithmetic maximum of £132,000.

4.30 pm

We are proposing that payments should be paid in full only in the first 18 months and at lesser rates, as the hon. Gentleman said, for a further 18 months. The Opposition have a theoretical time of 10 years—theoretical for a reason that I shall come to—but, crucially, the Government are proposing to pay dockers made redundant whereas the new clause proposes to pay any registered docker who stops dock work.

The Government's scheme has a taper as retirement approaches because, beyond the age of 62½, redundancy has a more short-term effect. That is one of the differences between a redundancy scheme and a scheme for paying former dockers whenever they leave dock work.

The last difference between the two schemes has a particularly interesting consequence for the older docker. Consider the case of two dock workers aged 64 approaching retirement. Suppose that both dockers had worked all their lives in the docks and been registered dock workers ever since the scheme started in 1946. One of them, whom I shall call Mr. Meacher in order to attract the Opposition's sympathy, was a little older than his colleague, whom I shall call Alf Garnett. My theoretical Mr. Meacher's 65th birthday falls just before Royal Assent, whereas that of my theoretical Alf Garnett falls just after. Both retire on the same pension, but Alf Garnett will receive an additional £132,000—£6,000 plus £3,000 for each of the 42 years of the scheme because his birthday was a week or a month after that of his colleague. That would be his bonus for being one of the last of the registered dock workers. I imagine that the theoretical Mr. Meacher would be furious about that, but, in contrast, the hon. Member for Oldham, West has recommended the scheme to the House and we shall presumably vote on it shortly.

That points up what I said about the different basis of the Opposition's scheme. The Opposition's scheme is a reward for having been a registered dock worker, but the Government's scheme is an enhanced redundancy scheme, which is what it sets out to be. We recognise that there may be some redundancies when the scheme ends. We cannot tell how many—nobody can. Overmanning is a consequence of the scheme. We realise that the relatively generous voluntary severance payments will stop and we aim to compensate at a suitable rate those who find themselves redundant as a consequence.

Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington)

May I ask a simple question? A number of my colleagues have been reliably informed that Sir Jeffrey Sterling, chairman of P and 0, has been ringing the Department of Employment —perhaps even the Minister's private office—on matters relating to the Bill and the possibility of industrial action in the docks. Will the Minister tell us exactly what those telephone calls were about? Were they about the proposals before the House today? It is in the interests of the general public and the industry to know about the special relationship that exists at times such as this between major business men and Ministers in Her Majesty's Government.

Mr. Cope

I know of no telephone calls of that sort to my private office or to the Department. For all I know, there may have been some to the Department, but certainly not to my private office, and I am not conscious of any having been received by the Department.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

Would the Minister automatically be informed of telephone calls on such matters by his Department's officials or by people in his private office?

Mr. Cope

That would depend on the content of the telephone calls, whether they were significant and what was happening. If they were significant, yes, I would be told.

Mr. Ian Bruce

Does my hon. Friend agree that one of the problems of making the terms of redundancy too generous is that people will decide that they want to be made redundant and will do everything possible to achieve that? I should have thought that hon. Members on both sides of the House would agree that we should be trying to encourage more employment in the docks. Therefore, to make the Government's already generous terms even more generous would be self-defeating.

Mr. Cope

That is one of the consequences, as I propose to explain.

Under the new clause, any registered dock worker who leaves dock work will receive the money. Why he leaves does not matter. He may have been convicted of and sacked for stealing. Examples were given in Committee of registered dock workers convicted of stealing whose employers were, under the scheme, made to continue employing them. But that is another story. Under the new clause, a registered dock worker of 30 years' standing who was sacked for stealing would nevertheless be paid £96,000.

Similarly, a docker with 30 years' service, sacked for persistent absenteeism—he might have got into the habit of bobbing off and not got out of it quickly—would, under the new clause, be paid £96,000, not for stopping doing the job—after all, that is why he was sacked—but for having been a registered dock worker. That is an interesting commentary on the Labour party's view of the value of the scheme to a registered dock worker.

I wonder what other workers in the docks think about the Opposition's proposal—if they are aware of it. Registered dock workers are only one third of the employees of registered port employers. I wonder what the rest of them think about it. For that matter, I wonder what members of the Transport and General Workers Union think about the proposals. We know from something that the hon. Member for Newham, North-East (Mr. Leighton) complained about in Committee that the TGWU has not been providing its supporters in Committee with much guidance, so it may not have seen the proposals. However, if it has not, it should look at them carefully.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, South (Mr. Bruce) said in an intervention, the Opposition's scheme will also provide registered dock workers with a considerable incentive to leave dock work. The lump sum payable is calculable at the time of Royal Assent and does not thereafter increase. A registered dock worker aged 40 with 20 years' service would immediately be paid £66,000 if his employer was solvent. If he worked on in the docks for another nine years, he would be paid £66,000 in nine years' time, again if his employer was still solvent. That demonstrates my hon. Friend's point.

Mr. Tim Boswell (Daventry)

I am relatively new to these debates, but can my hon. Friend illuminate one point? Under the new clause, would a registered dock worker be able to take some other employment for a period and then return to the docks, perhaps to a non-scheme port, having claimed the full amount of the large redundancy payment to which he had become entitled?

Mr. Cope

As the new clause stands, yes. In addition, such a man would be able to return to employment in the same port where he had previously been employed. He would he able to return to employment with the same employer after an interval and still qualify. I used the period of nine years in my example, but, under the new clause, after 10 years the scheme may or may not come to an end. There is provision for it to be extended, but only by leave of the House. In practice, that would not matter, since I assume that most former registered dock workers would have taken their money long before and left, even if they were to return, as my hon. Friend has said.

I am not sure whether all the employers would last that long. Any employer who had, say, 100 dockers with an average of 20 years' service would have to provide in his accounts at once on Royal Assent for a potential liability of £3.3 million. I strongly disagree with the hon. Gentleman's estimate of the cost of his scheme; it would be far higher than he suggested. I have not worked out what effect it would have on each of the companies currently employing registered dock workers, but it would make life extremely difficult financially for some of them. I spoke of a potential liability—

Mr. Meacher

The Minister appears to be having a great deal of fun. He is both frivolous and rather silly in his criticisms of the new clause. We are not drafting legislation —[Interruption.] It is true, and it is always the case with Oppositions. The new clause does not mean that any dock worker could simply choose to take the money and run. The payments are quite clearly to be given only after a dock worker has been made redundant by his employer. The Minister's figures are figments of his imagination.

Mr. Cope

The hon. Gentleman's comments are very interesting because they mean that the new clause has been tabled on a false basis. The new clause, together with amendment No. 3, removes from the Bill all provisions relating to redundancy. The Opposition could have left them in, but they did not. Yet the hon. Gentleman says that he does not support the basis of the clause. In that case, will he assure the House that he will not vote for it? The House is being treated in a rather peculiar manner. It has been presented with a new clause with which the hon. Gentleman now says he does not agree.

Mr. Michael Brown (Brigg and Cleethorpes)

This is almost a contempt of the House. The hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) tabled a new clause that, presumably, he hopes to persuade the House to accept. My right hon. Friend has devastatingly shown why it should not be accepted. The hon. Member for Oldham, West, obviously having been convinced by my right hon. Friend's argument, now says that he does not expect the House to agree to it. It is incredible that my right hon. Friend should be expected to respond in all seriousness, as he is doing, to the debate when the hon. Member for Oldham, West has admitted that his new clause is an absolute sham.

Mr. Cope

My hon. Friend is right and I find myself in some difficulty. The hon. Member for Oldham, West has given up his new clause before I have finished opposing it. I have more to say, but I do not know whether to proceed —[Interruption.] It appears that the hon. Gentleman still intends to vote for his new clause and to recommend his hon. Friends to do so. That is rather peculiar.

It is not right to reward men simply for having been registered dock workers.

Mr. Eddie Loyden (Liverpool, Garston)

It is time that the Minister stopped all this frivolity and dealt with the serious question before us. His behaviour today is similar to his behaviour in Committee. The Government are treating the Bill as a joke. The Minister should deal seriously with the new clause, because men's livelihoods is a serious issue, and should be treated as such.

Mr. Cope

I agree that it is a serious issue, but it is not a serious new clause. It clearly provides that there should be compensation for all registered dock workers. The Labour party is not alone in proposing that idea; others have suggested the same. I am glad that, apparently, the hon. Member for Oldham, West intends to withdraw it.

The Government's proposal provides for a maximum of £35,000, which is a fair and suitable sum in the circumstances. It compares reasonably with the voluntary severance payment now available, which is usually a maximum of £25,000, although under special arrangements some people have received as much as £35,000.

The Labour party's proposal—even if, as the hon. Gentleman now says, it applies only to redundancy—multiplies the present usual maximum by five. That is an enormous increase. The new clause is put forward on a false basis and does not deserve the support of eNen the hon. Gentleman. It tells us a great deal about the value that the Labour party places on registered dock work. It believes that maximum compensation should be increased fivefold. The new clause is fatally flawed, and should not be accepted by the House.

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Mr. George Howarth (Knowsley, North)

I support the new clause because there are several hundred dock workers in my constituency and several of them are good friends of mine. Dock workers are usually sensible and sound members of the community. If they had been here today to witness the Minister's frivolous contributions they would have recognised that it was just a poor, sixth-form debating society speech and not a serious response to the points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher).

It was only today that I had the benefit of reading the new clause, and my understanding of it is rather different from that of the Minister. If the drafting is in any way defective so that the new clause does not achieve what we want—enhanced payments for dockers who will he made redundant under the Bill—I am sure that my hon. Friend would readily agree to it being redrafted by the Government's draftsmen to ensure that our aims are achieved. The House has been treated to a 20-minute discourse of banal triviality that is unworthy of the Minister and does not help those whom we seek to represent.

My hon. Friend referred to generous payments—I prefer to describe them as further payments—to those made redundant. I want to make two points that, as yet, have received little attention. The old image of a dock worker heaving about heavy cargoes went out of the window with the mechanisation of the ports. I do not profess to be an expert, but I know from my acquaintances that dock work is now a highly skilled job. Those skills are constantly being reviewed and updated and the dock workers have to attend training courses to keep up with advances in technology. That is not uncommon. An increasing number of technical skills are required in most industries. The kind of skills that registered dock workers have cannot easily and readily be transferred to another industry. That is an important point to bear in mind when we consider compensation.

Mr. Nicholas Bennett (Pembroke)

The hon. Gentleman is making exactly the point that was made on Second Reading and in Committee—that because the ports have become automated the old dockers' jobs have disappeared. Many of the registered dock workers do not have the new skills that they need to use technical equipment, so they sit around ghosting the people who do the work. They need to be retrained for the new skills, but they will not get the new skills by sitting around and doing nothing while other people do the work.

Mr. Howarth

I was not a member of the Standing Committee, but it is fairly well known that employers have not provided the amount of training that is necessary for dock workers to use the new equipment.

Mr. Robert N. Wareing (Liverpool, West Derby)

They have refused to give training.

Mr. Howarth

Yes, they have refused to provide it.

Mr. Nicholas Bennett

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Howarth

Let me finish this point and then I will give way.

Many of the dock workers that I know, as well as many of the dock workers in Liverpool, are highly skilled. They use all kinds of complicated equipment to move cargoes from one place to another and to load it on to ships.

Mr. Bennett

It is quite extraordinary for the hon. Gentleman now to say—[Interruption.] I do not know what the hon. Member for Newport, East (Mr. Hughes) is shouting. He should try to intervene while the hon. Member for Knowsley, North (Mr. Howarth) is speaking rather than while I am intervening during the hon. Gentleman's speech. That would be more helpful.

The hon. Member for Knowsley, North ought to be aware that in Committee his side moved amendments to replicate the training scheme that is provided under the national dock labour scheme in the non-scheme ports. He is now telling us that the employers in the scheme ports are not providing training. The hon. Gentleman cannot have it both ways. Either they are providing training or they are not. Felixstowe, which is a non-scheme port, has an excellent training scheme. We want that to be replicated after the national dock labour scheme has gone into abeyance.

Mr. Howarth

I am not sure that that takes us any further. Our point is that there is not enough training. It is difficult to get the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Bennett) to understand even the simplest concept, but let me explain what we want. He should watch my lips. We want the best practices to be transferred to the dock workers training system. That is not necessarily a bad thing, so we can have it both ways. We can say that there is not enough training, and we can also say that where the best training is provided we want it to be replicated throughout the industry. It is as simple as that.

My hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West referred to the coal mining industry. It is a good comparison. It is not just a job that dock workers do. It is a way of life. A docker does not go to work for a certain number of hours a day where he carries out a certain job. A whole way of life is attached to dock work. As with the coalfields, there are whole communities of dock workers. There is a long tradition attached to dock work. A social network is based upon it. If we take away the employment of a registered dock worker, we take away not just a job for which he needs certain skills that cannot easily be transferred to another industry; we also take away a way of life that may have been in existence for several generations.

Mr. David Davis (Boothferry)

I should like the hon. Gentleman to explain exactly what are those skills that cannot be transferred. He talks about the automation of the ports. That means heavy cranes, forklift trucks and mechanical shovels. Most of the training for using that equipment is done in the construction industry. That would be an alternative use of dockers' skills. Forklift trucks and the mechanical handling of goods can be found in every factory and warehouse in the country. What is non-transferable about those skills? What are the greater skills that dockers claim to have?

Mr. Howarth

First, they have a combination of skills. Secondly, I do not profess to be an expert upon it but I understand that most of the equipment—[Interruption.] I can see that there is a lifetime of experience among Conservative Members of working with their hands in the ports. I doubt whether any of them have any knowledge of it whatsoever, yet they criticise the Opposition.

Most of the equipment is specifically designed and custom-built for work of that nature. It is not a question of dockers being able easily to transfer their skills to another industry. They have experience of using equipment for a specific purpose. That equipment is often not used in exactly the same way in other industries.

Mr. Tim Devlin (Stockton, South)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Howarth

No. I have given way quite enough.

For all those reasons, the level of compensation for which my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West has argued is appropriate and fair. Despite the juvenile behaviour of many of those who sit on the Conservative Benches, I hope that the Minister will take our point seriously. Even at this late hour, and even after such frivolous responses to it, I hope that he will accept the new clause.

Mr. Michael Brown

The Labour party's support today for dock workers is touching. It is a pity that the Opposition did not support the dockers yesterday. I represent the port of Immingham. Many registered dockers work in the port. I guess that they would have much more respect for the Labour party and the new clause if the Opposition had given a little more support yesterday to the dockers and had thought a little more about their future.

The hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher), referred to Associated British Ports and its profitability and to the need to use some of its profits to compensate the dockers. The dockers of Immingham would like Associated British Ports to be able to spend its profits on investment in the port of Immingham, to the tune of £30.5 million, in order to enable the port to attract the largest vessels in the world.

The port of Immingham was built in 1912. Its lock gates, which were installed in 1912, do not now allow the largest ships in the world to enter the port. Those ships have to go to Rotterdam. The port of Immingham—a scheme port—is trying to become competitive. It is trying to ensure the livelihood of dockers by bringing new jobs to the port, by expanding the port and by ensuring that the port can go forward into the 21st century. But what does the Labour party do?

Mr. Roy Hughes (Newport, East)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Brown

Let me finish this point and then I shall gladly give way.

The Labour party had its chance last night to demonstrate its genuine support for the registered dock workers of Immingham, so I am not taking any lectures from the Opposition and I advise my hon. Friends not to take any lectures from them about their support for dockers. When it came to the test of whether the Opposition were prepared to support the expansion of the dock industry, we found that their support was not there last night. Whenever the Opposition have had an opportunity to show it, it has never been there. We should bear that point very much in mind before we consider accepting the new clause.

Mr. Henry Bellingham (Norfolk, North-West)

My hon. Friend has made a very good point. Does he not agree that last night the Labour payroll vote, sponsored by the National Union of Mineworkers, was here to sabotage our Bill? Whenever the Opposition have a chance to help dockers, where are they? They are not here this afternoon.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Paul Dean)

Order. I realise that the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown) was still on his preamble, but he should come to today rather than deal with what happened last night.

Mr. Brown

My hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, North-West (Mr. Bellingham), who represents the port of King's Lynn, is doing his utmost, in a much more practica.' way than the new clause would ever do, to provide for the future of dockers. Conservative Members, by supporting the Bill and resisting the new clause, want to ensure that there is freedom in the docks industry to employ more dockers.

5 pm

The new clause is nonsense. We had the admission from the hon. Member for Oldham, West that it is a joke clause; he more or less said that. He objected when my right hon. Friend the Minister went to great lengths to advise the House about why we should reject the new clause. If I had been minded to support the hon. Member for Oldham, West on the basis that it must be right to increase the amount of compensation for someone being made redundant, my right hon. Friend would have been negligent in his duty to the House if he had not drawn my attention and the attention of other hon. Members to what could happen if we voted for the new clause.

A docker in the registered docks of Immingham could cease to be a registered docker, not through redundancy but voluntarily, because he saw an advertisement in the Grimsby Evening Telegraph for work in the non-scheme port of New Holland, four miles down the road in my constituency, or perhaps in Gunness, 14 miles down the road in the constituency of the hon. Member for Glanford and Scunthorpe (Mr. Morley). Under the proposals in the new clause, that dock worker could leave Immingham with up to £132,000 in his back pocket, and walk or take his car down the road to Scunthorpe, New Holland, Barrow or Gunness wharf and take a new job. My right hon. Friend the Minister of State was correct to draw attention to the effects of the new clause.

Labour Members should not say, "We are the Opposition; we do not have a constructive role to play in the House." Surely it is their duty to consider the consequences of new clauses that they table. It is just possible that some foolish Conservative Members, who did not listen with the care and attention that they should to Ministers at the Dispatch Box, might be tempted to vote for this extraordinary new clause. Thankfully, the hon. Member for Oldham, West more or less told the House that he did not expect the new clause to be taken seriously. My right hon. Friend the Minister takes his duties seriously. In his response to the Opposition he rightly drew the attention of the House to the consequences of the new clause.

The hon. Member for Oldham, West made unfair comments about Sir Keith Stuart. Sir Keith has been chairman of Associated British Ports since it became a private company. Before that he was chairman of the old British Transport Docks Board, which was a great favourite of the Labour party. Sir Keith should be congratulated on securing the future of dockers and on creating profitability for Associated British Ports, which does not want to sack every docker. It wants opportunities to create more jobs in the docks industry. The dock labour scheme and restrictive new clauses such as that proposed by the Opposition would shackle prospects for dockers and for the profitability of Associated British Ports. They would also restrict opportunities for more new jobs in my constituency.

We must resist the new clause because it would lead to a scandalous waste of resources. The compensation proposed by the Government is fair. It strikes the right balance and ensures at the same time that dockers can look to a future based not on the restrictive practices of the past but on their ability to seize the opportunities that exist in this great industry.

The dockers in my constituency know which political party stands up for their interests. They know what happened last night in the House, and they will be waiting to see what happens in the future. They will not be seduced by the new clause. That is not the way for the Labour party to buy the votes of dockers in my constituency. Those dockers know that only one political party will look after their interests. They know which political party safeguarded their long-term interests.

Mr. Roy Hughes

The hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown) has dealt with development proposals for the port of Immingham. My mind goes back some years to a time when similar proposals were put forward for the port of Bristol. Very wisely, as has been borne out by events, the Labour Government turned down those proposals. Subsequently, the Conservative party realised that there were marginal seats to be won in the city of Bristol. It stated that if it were returned to power at a subsequent election, it would give the go-ahead for development in Bristol. The dock was built as a result of authorisation by the Conservative Government, but it has been a disaster. Bristol could not give it away; it has become a heavy load on the ratepayers of the city.

I support the new clause which sets out proposals to try to combat the worst provisions of this hasty Bill. My hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) set out the case for the new clause. Throughout the proceedings in Committee, my hon. Friend was the voice of reason, as he was this afternoon. He gave glaring examples of people who have received huge amounts of compensation, but when we ask for a little more for dockers we are ridiculed. All we hear from the Conservative side is mirth and laughter.

Subsection (1) of the new clause says: Any dock workers to whom the Scheme applied shall be entitled, on leaving employment as a dock worker, to a payment of £6,000 plus £3,000 for each complete year of employment under the Scheme. That is not really generous when one considers that the Bill was introduced so hastily and that the livelihood of people is at stake.

In a press notice issued on 11 May, subsequently amplified in Committee by the Minister, the Government indicated that any dock worker made redundant within three years of the legislation receiving Royal Assent would be entitled to a special lump sum payment. For instance, if the dock worker was made redundant in the first 18 months, he would be eligible for a maximum of £35,000, based on 15 years' service. It is worth reminding the House of the provisions. The Government proposed that the payment would be made up of a lump sum of £5,000, plus £2,000 for every complete year of service. The mean side of the Government was revealed when they said that the amount of compensation will be tapered off for every registered dock worker over 62½ years old. For every three months by which he exceeds 62½ years when he is dismissed, his compensation will be reduced by 10 per cent.

In comparing new clause 1 with the Government's provisions, it is necessary to consider the age of registered dock workers. It tends to be an aged work force. My hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West said that that is due to the stupidity of employers in the past in getting rid of their younger employees. Only 19 per cent. of registered dock workers are under 40 years of age; 41 per cent. are between 40 and 50 and more than 40 per cent. are 50 and over.

Mr. Devlin

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Hughes

Not at the moment.

In the past decade I have witnessed many thousands of redundancies in south Wales in the coal and steel industries. This afternoon we have heard a great deal about the redundancy scheme for coal miners. It is worth reminding the House that coal had to be mined where it was found, and it was often found in the most inaccessible valleys. When a pit closes, a whole community is put in jeopardy, and, as a result of those pit closures, thousands of miners will never work again. Considering the arduous and hazardous nature of that occupation, when a miner in an isolated community is made redundant, one might say that it is an ending for him. He cannot simply cope with his new life.

In the steel industry, there were thousands of redundancies in Newport and Cardiff. When East Moors closed in Cardiff, 5,000 jobs went at a stroke. The steel industry was wiped out in the capital city of Wales. There were 6,000 redundancies at Llanwern and jobs have been cut drastically at other steelworks.

A few years ago, a social survey of redundant steel workers revealed the dire distress felt by many of those people. They had not found work, they had probably spent their redundancy money and many of them were likely never to work again. In Committee we were told many times that our dockers have adapted to new equipment and new working practices in the industry. But when they leave the ports industry, they are unlikely to take up unemployment in finance houses or microchip enterprises which are the nature of new industries in south Wales and elsewhere. The most likely outcome is that older workers in the ports industry will tend to stagnate, and as a result could create all sorts of social problems, particularly when they have spent their redundancy money.

We should like far more generous provisions for dock workers who will be made redundant. The problem needs to be tackled now. Only 9,400 registered dock workers remain in the ports industry. In 1983 there were 14,631, and since the inception of the scheme the number of registered dock workers has declined from more than 80,000.

What a farce is that old parrot cry that dockers have jobs for life. The redundancy provisions that the Government have set out do not meet the dockers' real needs.

Mr. Nicholas Bennett

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

5.15 pm
Mr. Hughes

I would rather not give way. I have heard enough from the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Bennett) in the past two years to last me a lifetime.

Dockers are justified in their belief that they are being badly treated. As late as 20 March this year, the Government suggested that they had no proposals to legislate in respect of the dock labour scheme. Shortly afterwards, like a bombshell, they pushed a Bill through Committee with all the finesse of an ancient steamroller. Throughout the Committee stage Labour Members tried to persuade the Government to pause and think again about what should replace the clock labour scheme. We recognise that the scheme may be a little out of date and need amendment, but we feel that there is a need for a national framework. The Government were not prepared to see reason. I note that they appear to be doing so in respect of lawyers and I feel that they are on their way to doing so in respect of doctors.

In those circumstances, bearing in mind the redundancy provisions that we are discussing, is it any wonder that, when the dockers eventually held a ballot, they voted by no less than three to one for industrial action?

Even at this late stage I urge the Government to make more generous redundancy provisions. As my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West pointed out, employers are doing very nicely, thank you. In any case, the Government are paying half the redundancy money. If the Government were prepared to be more generous and accept new clause I, they might well avert a very damaging strike. We know the parlous nature of Britain's balance of payments at present. We know what happened today when interest rates rose by a major stroke. It is obvious that Britain is in serious economic difficulty and if there is a dock strike it will certainly he made much worse.

Mr. Boswell

I invite my hon. Friends to resist new clause 1. It is appropriate for me to speak in the debate precisely because I represent an inland midlands constituency which is almost as far away from the docks as it is possible to go. I hope to remind the House that it is very much in the interests of all parts of Britain and British industry that the Bill is passed substantially unamended.

We all have an interest in an effective, efficient and low-cost docks industry. I refer to my own experience, as for many years I have lived in my constituency as a practising farmer. Many right hon. and hon. Members will not be aware that Britain has moved from a traditional grain-importing role to a major grain-exporting role. We are now the fifth largest grain-exporting power in the world. That represents an amazing change, and to some extent it has come about in spite of the existing structure of our docks industry. I have had experience of sending grain on lorries from the midlands to all the major scheme ports, and to non-scheme ports, and it is clear that what we are discussing affects us all, whether or not we represent dockland constituencies.

There is the somewhat endearing myth, that the Labour party still likes to peddle, that no Conservative Member has any experience, direct or indirect, in any of those matters over which Labour Members claim to exercise great moral concern. I do not make a great deal of it, but it is relevant to mention that my wife's grandfather was a docker in one of the scheme ports in South Wales—[Interruption.] He worked hard in that job for 30 years and I have great respect for him. I have worked for most of my life among manual workers, although not in the docks.

I also have knowledge through my family—and in another context, to which I shall come—of the impact of redundancy on people, and I do not belittle the effect of that impact. It is sad, dramatic and shocking when a person is declared redundant. The issue is what we do about it—how we finance it and reach the right balance —and the proposals in the Bill represent the right balance.

There are several crushing objections to the proposed new clause, one of which has been rehearsed. I refer to the situation when somebody takes the money—compensation of up to £132,000—walks out of the door, walks round the docks, comes back in through the door, takes fresh employment and starts again as if nothing has happened. As the Opposition proposal is drafted, it is totally unworkable and out of the question.

Next, we must consider the wider question of the equity of what we are trying to do in these matters. Is it equitable that somebody should be able to receive compensation of that magnitude and then return to dock work, working alongside someone who has carried on working without receiving any compensation?

Mr. Gerald Bermingham (St. Helens, South)

Is it not equally inequitable for the managing director of a company in the City of London to take £250,000 or £300,000 in compensation because his company has been taken over, and then for him the following day to go to work for perhaps a completely different company? If the hon. Gentleman says that that is inequitable, he must accept that a great many people in the City would be out of work tomorrow.

Mr. Boswell

Many people in the City have lost their jobs recently, and not all of them have found other jobs. At least the hon. Gentleman accepts the important point —I fear that many of his hon. Friends have failed to accept it—that there are considerations of equity in these issues and that we must relate them to the economic situation of the industry. We must have in mind the dock worker who leaves and returns to dock work compared with the man who carries on working and does not receive compensation.

Next, compare the case of somebody who leaves under Labour's proposals with somebody who took severance pay under the previous proposals. Is it fair that one should receive such a large additional amount, having carried on in employment for only a short time?

There is also the wider question of equity in relation to other industries. Farming, for example, is not doing particularly well just now. The hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) will recall what happened to milk quotas and how many farmers left the industry. Nor should we overlook the issues affecting farm workers at that time. Many of us who have been active in agriculture would be pleased to take upwards of £100,000 to get out of the industry. We must therefore look right across the board when setting levels. After all, it is easy to be generous with someone else's money—particularly public money.

I referred to an interest that I had in redundancy issues. There is a proposal from the Plessey company affecting the town of Towcester in my constituency, which has a population of upwards of 6,000. The company has declared its intention to close some of its manufacturing facilities—without prejudice to whatever might happen in any takeover bid—and has said that 375 jobs will go. Although there may be some redeployment, it seems that there are likely to be about 300 redundancies.

Those people—whether or not they return to work and irrespective of their situation—would look askance at the scale of the compensation payments which the hon. Member for Oldham, West has suggested. As with so many Socialists, he is being fair to his friends but is disregarding all those whom it does not suit him to consider at the time.

The hon. Member for Oldham, West and his friends, inside and outside Parliament, in the unions and elsewhere, have connived at and supported a situation by which the dock labour scheme has continued to work to the disadvantage of the nation, to increase the costs of British industry and to threaten the position of the scheme ports. The hon. Gentleman is cast in the role of Samson. Not having brought the structure down by the direct method, he now awaits the conclusion of the scheme so that he can bring the whole lot crashing down around him. Redundancy payments on the scale he proposes would be the best way of achieving the destruction of the scheme ports which he claims to support.

This debate, as it should be, is about redundancy, but it is possible to over-emphasise the redundancy issue—to strain it beyond equity and prudence—for we must remember that there is work to be done in the docks. That work should be done in scheme ports released from the present clamping and confining scheme—

Mr. Ted Leadbitter (Hartlepool)


Mr. Boswell

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will forgive me if I do not give way. I am about to conclude my remarks.

They should be released from the confines of the scheme and be free to get on with their job of serving the nation's business.

Mr. Malcolm Bruce (Gordon)

I am pleased to have this opportunity—

Mr. Ernie Ross

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I appreciate that it is usual for the Chair to call to speak an hon. Member from one side of the House followed by an hon. Member from the other side. I am wondering whether you consider it fair, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to call, following the hon. Member for Daventry (Mr. Boswell), who is a supporter of the Bill, the hon. Member for Gordon (Mr. Bruce), a member of the SLD, who also supports the Bill. Should not the hon. Member for Gordon be considered to be on the Government side from the point of view of debating the proposed new clause?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I appreciate the point that the hon. Member has made and, having made it, I trust that he will not push his luck.

Mr. Bruce

I feel sure that those remarks of the hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Ross) will come home to haunt him on other occasions.

I support the Bill, although I find it extraordinary that it should have taken the Government 10 years to introduce it. Indeed, in the last few months they have still been actively defending the scheme. It is now a subject on which they have permitted their Back Benchers to let rip. The scheme must be phased out in such a way that it is quick and clean. As well as removing the restrictive practice, we must be fair to those who remain in the scheme at the end, and that is the nub of the debate on the new clause.

The points of equity that have been raised are important, and I assure Labour Members that I appreciate that many of them are sponsored by the Transport and General Workers Union and have dock workers, whom they wish to protect, in their constituencies. I do not dispute their sincerity in doing that, but they must also remember that there are many working people in their constituencies who feel that the scheme has gone on for too long and that they have been disadvantaged as a result of it. In those circumstances, there is a danger that they will alienate their supporters.

Mr. Robert Hughes (Aberdeen, North)

Will the hon. Gentleman tell me which of his constituents, apart from employers, have said that the dock labour scheme has gone on too long? Why are his constituents disadvantaged?

Mr. Bruce

In a sense, I am grateful for that intervention. As the hon. Gentleman knows, the conflict that arose within the scheme meant that we nearly lost our fish market for good. If the hon. Gentleman is suggesting that that would not have been a disaster for Aberdeen and its port as well as for his constituents and mine, I do not know what would be.

Mr. Hughes

The hon. Gentleman has not answered the question. He said that his constituents feel that the scheme has gone on for too long and that they are being disadvantaged by it. If I am fortunate enough to catch your eye later, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I shall respond in detail on the issue of the fish market. Which of his constituents, apart from employers, have said that the scheme has gone on too long and that they are disadvantaged? None of them is covered by Aberdeen harbour board.

5.30 pm
Mr. Bruce

Obviously, the hon. Gentleman does not regard employers as valid constituents. I do. Employers have told me that they think the scheme has gone on too long, and I think that those employers represent an important part of the constituency. They employ people, including some of my constituents. Their inability to expand employment in circumstances in which Aberdeen, as a scheme port, is disadvantaged adversely affects the interests of my constituents.

I am not quarrelling with the right of the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) to take a different view. I respect him for his view. However, as constituency Members of Parliament, we are elected to make our own judgments as to what we believe, in the light of local knowledge and local circumstances, is in the best interests of our constituents and our community. As I have said, the phasing out of the scheme is desirable for the port of Aberdeen and for ancillary employment in and around the area.

Obviously, I am speaking not only as a constituency Member. However, I have the greatest knowledge about the area I represent. We have seen the development of ports competing with Aberdeen. That is true in other parts of the country such as Montrose and Peterhead. I want the ports to expand. There is room for Aberdeen, Montrose and Peterhead to develop their business. I should like to see the day, soon, when they will be able to compete on a fair and equal footing.

Having said that, and with due deference to the hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Ross), the point which is relevant to the debate on the new clause is that it is important to complete this process fairly, justly and honourably. I think that the Government have recognised the need to do that and have proposed a scheme which, at least on the face of it, seems to be reasonable. It provides for a maximum of £35,000 and an estimated total of about £25 million. Obviously, that depends on how many people are made redundant and how many are redeployed.

An important and relevant point needs to be made and it supports the basic reasoning behind the new clause moved by the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher). Both sides of the House admit that the average age of the remaining registered dockers is relatively high. It may be true that some of the dockers who are paid compensation will be re-employed the next day, but it is also true that some may never work again. The House should ensure that the scheme provides justice for those people. After all, they have stayed in a scheme that has given them continuity and security over a considerable period of time.

The thrust of the new clause, which tots up redundancy payments according to length of service and, by implication, the age of the individual concerned, gets the balance right. The hon. Member for Oldham, West said that the new clause is not perfect. Indeed, it is flawed. However, the Government would do well, given that they have taken 10 years to introduce legislation to abolish the scheme, to say that the settlement of the matter should be done fairly. After all, they introduced the Bill on the same day as they introduced a White Paper, they forced the Bill into Committee and then guillotined it and they have tabled no amendments of their own. Therefore, it is not unreasonable for them to ensure that the process is carried out in a way that minimises bitterness and maximises equity to all concerned and ensures that the transition is achieved without an extremely damaging dock strike.

I believe—I hope that I am right—that whatever utterances are made in the House, nobody wants a dock strike and nobody believes that such a strike would be desirable for the British economy or good for the ports or the workers. It would be helpful if the Government would say that, in the light of that, given that this is a final settlement and that they have taken so long to bring it about, they would tilt the balance of the scheme to ensure that those who have worked in the industry for a long time and have little prospect of being re-employed have a more generous settlement than is proposed now. However, as I have said, the general thrust of the Government's proposals are not unreasonable.

In those circumstances, the Government could have responded with a little more grace to the principle behind the new clause. It would help to ensure that the Bill leaves the House with my support—I do not qualify that—and with the feeling that the Government have shown some sensitivity and have tried to ensure that confrontation is removed. It would also help to achieve fairness and justice while removing a debilitating and restrictive practice that has existed for too long in circumstances that compensate those affected and liberate the scheme ports to compete fairly with other ports in the country.

Mr. Nicholas Bennett

The hon. Member for Gordon, (Mr. Bruce) suffers from the fact that he was not a member of the Committee. His hon. Friend the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) was a member of the Committee but he rarely paid a visit to it so he was not able to report what was going on. The hon. Member for Gordon may be interested to know that in Committee, the Labour party moved an amendment to increase the compensation to about £70,000. In the short time of two or three weeks since then, the Opposition have upped the ante by another £60,000. At the rate we are going, if the Bill is not on the statute book quickly, the Labour party will be prepared to offer £1 million by the end of the summer. The hon. Member for Gordon should remember that the Government are making an offer to dock workers which is considerably in excess of what has been offered to them in the past. I shall come back to the figures of the severance opportunities available under the Labour Government.

It is important to place on record the fact that the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) has admitted, during interventions in the speech of my right hon. Friend the Minister of State, that the new clause does not make sense and does not bear out the Opposition's intention. The hon. Member for Oldham, West has been in the House since 1970 and it is no good for him to claim that he does not have the resources or that he did not understand. He has admitted that the drafting is defective, but is still going ahead with it and intending to vote for it. He cannot then complain when my right hon. Friend the Minister points out that the new clause is defective. It would ensure that everybody made redundant or who chooses to leave the dock labour scheme for any reason would be entitled to up to £130,000 in a pay-off. Clearly, that is nonsense. People leave their jobs every day of the week and they are not able to collect £130,000 from the taxpayer or their employer. That is the purpose of the new clause, and I am surprised at the hon. Member for Oldham, West, having discovered and admitted that it is stupid and that he has made a mistake, being willing to press on with the debate and to press the new clause to a Division.

If law making is about anything, it must be about making sensible laws. The Opposition have been caught out and have been slipshod in their drafting, but it surprises me that they insist on continuing.

It is important to look at the issue of jobs for life. The hon. Member for Newport, East (Mr. Hughes) referred to that before leaving the Chamber. The simple fact is that the scheme did provide a job for life. It is no use pointing to the fact that the number of dockers in the scheme has diminished. It has diminished only as a result of voluntary redundancy. No docker who wishes to remain in the scheme has been forced to leave. That has been the problem. Those who like a cushy life and enjoy bobbing off to be a taxi driver or those who enjoy ghosting or want to sit in a portakabin at Grangemouth watching a colour television set to overcome the boredom that might result, have stayed within the scheme. That is why the average age of dockers in the scheme has increased over the years and that is why the scheme is described as giving jobs for life. Unless dockers choose to leave the scheme, they are in the scheme and on the gravy train for as long as they want.

Now Labour Members suggest that the amount of money that dockers receive should be increased considerably over the amount proposed by the Government. What is interesting is that when Labour Members had the power to determine those matters, they were not that generous. In 1975, the maximum severance payment was £5,250. Since January 1987, it has been £25,000, which is an increase of 376 per cent. in 12 years, mainly under a Conservative Government. In special circumstances, it may be necessary for employers to pay up to £35,000. Already under this Government, severance payments have been increased considerably and the Bill proposes to raise the limit to £35,000. When the Opposition had it in their power to decide the limit, they put it at £5,250, so how can they consider that the Government are being ungenerous in putting the figure up to £35,000?

It is interesting that the hon. Member for Gordon, in the usual Liberal tradition, split the difference and said we should give a bit more money. When the Lib-Lab pact was in existence for two years, there was no increase. The then Government kept the maximum severance payment at the same level. That contrasts with the Government's proposals in the Bill.

It ill behoves dockers in the scheme to complain about receiving £35,000 and to say that it is not a good pay-off when one considers the productivity and industrial relations record of the dock labour scheme. Since 1967, more than 4 million working days have been lost because of disputes in scheme ports. Since 1967, there have been 3,569 disputes in scheme ports. The number of days lost per year by dockers in scheme ports in 1988 was 10,663, which is 1,105 days lost per 1,000 employees, compared with 164 for all industries and services. The strike record for registered dock workers is more than five times as bad as that for the rest of industry. Yet the Opposition are saying that, after the dockers have had a lifetime of bobbing off and ghosting, after an appalling strike and industrial relations record and after a time when the Labour Government themselves were prepared to pay only £5,000, compared with this Government's offer of £35,000, we should up the ante, first to £70,000 and, three weeks later, to a suggested £130,000.

Mr. Michael Colvin (Romsey and Waterside)

I apologise for coming in late and hearing only the end of my hon. Friend's speech. The record is not bad everywhere. In Southampton, it has improved greatly over the past few years since the leaders of the dockers in Southampton took advantage of the very generous severance payments to which my hon. Friend referred, and ceased to be dockers in Southampton. They were therefore not eligible for re-employment as dockers anywhere else, so they took jobs on Merseyside, where they are now employed as industrial relations advisers. I can imagine nothing more guaranteed to ensure that Southampton has the edge over Liverpool when it comes to getting business henceforth.

Mr. Bennett

Everywhere in the country has the edge over Liverpool when it comes to strike records and industrial relations. It is interesting—

Mr. Loyden

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Bennett

No. As a former dock worker, the hon. Member for Liverpool, Garston (Mr. Loyden) knows about the strike record in Liverpool better than anyone else does. He has been an agitator in Liverpool docks and the reason that Liverpool is such an appalling—

Mr. Bermingham

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it not unparliamentary for one hon. Member in his conceited ignorance to call another hon. Member an agitator, as has just happened?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I have not heard anything unparliamentary.

Mr. Bennett

I am surprised that the hon. Member for St. Helens, South (Mr. Bermingham) believes that the term "agitator" is an insult in the Labour party. I always thought that it was an accolade there and guaranteed the reselection of Labour Members. We all know about the industrial relations record of Liverpool and the reason why Speke has gone down the plughole. We know about the appalling strike record in the car industry and the docks. I do not want lectures from the hon. Member for Garston about that.

My hon. Friend the Member for Romsey and Waterside (Mr. Colvin) spoke about Southampton. In the past two or three weeks, negotiations have been taking place in Southampton while the ballot has been carried out. Mr. Harryman, the Transport and General Workers Union shop steward there, has been censured by his union for trying to come to a local agreement about what happens at Southampton after the scheme comes to an end. It is sensible for a trade union official to recognise that the scheme is coming to an end, by the will of Parliament, and to get round the table to talk with the employers about how the port's future can be assured.

5.45 pm
Mr. Ernie Ross

I was a member of the Committee on the Bill. We have, no doubt, four or five hours ahead of us when we shall hear contributions from Conservative Members which will reflect their comments in Committee. The ministerial team has changed yet again because it was so weak, disjointed and hopeless that it has been necessary to draft in Ministers on an almost daily basis. They are incompetent and cannot handle their brief. The Chairman of the Committee had to lecture the Under-Secretary of State for Employment, the hon. Member for Teignbridge (Mr. Nicholls) because he was not doing his job.

We should therefore not be surprised about what we have seen in this debate. This debate is a continuation of the double act that the Tories have been running throughout the Bill. The straight man leads off, then the clowns come on behind. The clown who has just spoken, the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Bennett) was a member of the Committee. He has been joined here by other clowns who have been on other Bills, while he clowned around on this Bill.

Another clown is the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown), who stands up and says, "I am a friend of the dockers and I am fighting for the dock industry." Last night, this clown was so concerned about the dockers that he moved the Third Reading of the Associated British Ports (No. 2) Bill formally and did not say another word. That is the extent of his concern about the docks and what has happened to them. It is just one more example of how the Conservatives have attempted to steamroller legislation on to the statute book.

The hon. Member for Daventry (Mr. Boswell) made a point that needs to be dealt with immediately. He said that, under new clause 1, dockers could take a bonus and then immediately take a post somewhere else. That is also true under the Government's proposals. Under the Bill, there is nothing to stop a registered docker taking redundancy and then taking employment as a docker down the road or even with his previous employer. Let me put that on the record. The only difference between our proposal and the Government's is that, because we have a little bit more experience of work than the clowns have, we understand some of the problems.

The Under-Secretary of State for Employment should ensure that people are trained properly and that they have jobs to look forward to, rather than the dole queue. I am disappointed that he did not deal with some of the points I raised. He knows that the Select Committee on Employment has identified the over-50s as a special category, yet neither he, the Secretary of State for Employment nor the Minister of State dealt with those comments in Committee. I went through the Select Committee's comments in Committee and they are relevant to this debate. The Select Committee referred to life expectancy, the fact that an increasingly large part of the population is made up of the elderly and the nature of work. It also pointed out that there are people who discriminate against the elderly.

It is worth remembering who is discriminating against who, because the fat cats sitting on the Government Front Bench all earn more in a single year than they are proposing to pay to the dockers whom they will make redundant and send to the labour exchanges—

Mr. Michael Brown


Mr. Ross

Sit down.

Each of those Ministers earns more in a single year than they are proposing to give to redundant dockers, but there is no way in which we shall allow them to get away with that without at least attempting to increase the sum—

Mr. Bermingham


Mr. Ross

I should like to give way to my hon. Friend but there is not much time and we have a guillotine. I hope that we can have one more comment from the Minister in answer to some of the points that were not answered in Committee, because I should like to hear some answers tonight.

We are expecting the Government to say a little more. Once they have given the generous handout of £35,000, what will happen to the dockers? Does it mean that they will be on the dole for the rest of their lives, because if it does, I advise the Government that £35,000 does not go very far and that we shall not let them get away with it. We want more information.

The hon. Member for Daventry also said that there was unfairness. He is right—there is an unfairness. If my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) had caught your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, he would have identified the unfairness that exists right now. That lot on the Conservative Benches have been conspiring with dock employers to ensure that people such as the Aberdeen fish lumpers are leaving employment now under much worse conditions than those that will apply when the Bill receives Royal Assent. There is a conspiracy among Conservative Members and a lack of concern about those people who were convinced that they should take redundancy. Because of the difference made by one day, two people who work together in Aberdeen and who have applied for redundancy will get different terms. Any worker who did not know about the Government's plans and who applied for redundancy under the old terms will not be allowed to withdraw his application so that he can take advantage of the new scheme.

The peroration of the hon. Member for Gordon (Mr. Bruce) was about the only peroration that we have heard from his party because his hon. Friends were absolutely silent throughout the Committee stage. He reminded me, and I am sure my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North, of a fish person gutting a cod because of the way in which he said, "Let's be quick and clean and get rid of it." We are talking about human beings. We do not want to hear about a quick, clean end to the scheme, because we know that there will be problems long after its abolition. The hon. Member for Gordon got his just and appropriate reward in the treatment given to him by the hon. Member for Pembroke, who was the resident clown on the Committee.

If there was one thing that differentiated the Opposition and the Government sides of the Committee, it was that at least we tried. It may very well be that the wording of this new clause is not correct, but if it is not, would it not have made much more sense for the Minister to say, "I accept the intention of the new clause and if it is withdrawn, I will introduce an amendment or a new clause in another place to improve on the redundancy terms that are on offer at present so that some of the problems that the Opposition have identified can be dealt with"?

Unless we hear tonight that the Government will do something to ensure that the so-called generous payment that the Government are giving to the 46.7-year-old dockers who will leave the industry and who may never work again is supplemented by some training programme or some other provision to ensure that the redundancy payment is not all that they will receive from this Government or from any other Government for the rest of their lives, we shall pursue the new clause to a vote. It is clear that the Government do not care. We have a responsibility to speak for the dockers who will be made redundant.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) clearly identified, because of the intentions of those people who are at present constrained by the dock labour scheme, 2,000 dockers are now facing the sack. As soon as the Bill is given the Royal Assent, those 2,000 people will be left to the labour exchanges. We shall fight for as long and as hard as we possibly can, both here and in the other place, to ensure that those people get the maximum reward for the effort that they have put in to make our docks so successful.

The Minister for Roads and Traffic (Mr. Peter Bottomley)

The speech of the hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Ross) was the most appalling insult to his hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks). I have heard that on the Committee the hon. Member for Newham, North-West was one of the more entertaining Labour Members. To say that my hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke (Mr. Bennett) is funnier or more peculiar than the hon. Member for Newham, North-West is an insult. I hope that those Labour Members will sort themselves out, because that sort of disagreement brings the Labour party into disrepute.

The hon. Member for Dundee, West also referred to the fact that 650 registered dockers per year over the next three years might take severance and be made redundant. Since 1983—over the past five or six years, which is the sort of period that the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) would use—840 registered dockers per yea- have been taking severance. Therefore, our proposals will mean a reduction in the numbers leaving the industry—or rather, leaving the registered docks work side of the industry.

Mr. Robert Hughes


Mr. Bottomley

When I was a Minister at the Department of Employment, I remember the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) personally trying to resolve some of the disputes that were then threatening the future of Aberdeen. I pay tribute to him for that before giving way to him.

Mr. Hughes

After that, I am sorry to have to ask this question, but I must still put it to the Minister. What is the position of the fish market porters in Aberdeen who have no employer at the moment because, as was pointed out in Committee, the fish landing company went out of existence on 24 April? Are those people who are still working on a temporary licence with Aberdeen harbour board entitled to £35,000, or are they being pegged back to £25,000?

Mr. Bottomley

As I have been away from this subject for some time, I shall make sure that the hon. Gentleman gets an answer to his question, although I do not think that it will affect his vote on the new clause. I shall see whether an answer can be given to him during our subsequent debates this evening, because he has raised a serious point that deserves an answer.

We are considering a ghost new clause and I suspect that, by the time we come to vote on it, no one will actually vote for it, with the possible exceptions of the hon. Member for Knowsley, North (Mr. Howarth) and his hon. Friends the Members for Newport, East (Mr. Hughes) and for Dundee, West. Indeed, the hon. Member for Oldham, West, who moved the new clause, acknowledged that it does not do what he had hoped it would do—

Mr. Meacher

I did not say that.

Mr. Bottomley

The hon. Member for Oldham, West also acknowledged that by tabling amendment No. 3, which would get rid of existing clause 5, many of the protections that British dock workers would want to have would be swept away. I ask Opposition Members to consider what was said by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State, Department of Employment, who dealt both with the serious points and with the new clause that was tabled semi-seriously by the hon. Member for Oldham, West.

The proposal in the new clause is that a registered dock worker with 20 years' service, who leaves the industry for any reason whatsoever, should receive £66,000. We are dealing with a suggestion that a registered dock worker who leaves the industry for any reason after 30 years' service should get £96,000 and a registered dock worker with 40 years' service should get £126,000. That is the consequence of the simple arithmetic of the new clause.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke pointed out, when one considers the £5,000 that was available when the Labour party was last in government and the £25,000 and the other figures on offer now, one must realise that there has been a significant increase.

Mr. Bermingham


Mr. Bottomley

It would probably be better if I did not give way to the hon. Gentleman, although I acknowledge that he has been present for most of the debate. I am not sure that there is time for me to give way to him, but if I run out of things to say before six o'clock—in two minutes' time—perhaps I shall give way to him.

My hon. Friends the Members for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown), for Daventry (Mr. Boswell) and for Pembroke have treated the debate seriously. We want to see thriving ports that will compete equally. The proposals in clause 5 are that the ports should not compete equally for three years between the time of Royal Assent and the date on which the transitional arrangements come to an end, because the scheme ports will still have taxpayer contributions towards redundancies. That is the kind of competitive advantage that will die away at the end of the three years. It is right that there should be transitional arrangements in moving from the dock labour scheme to the post-dock labour scheme position. That is the argument for looking at the distortion that we now face.

Some hon. Members asked whether those in the docks industry would be treated worse than those in the mining industry. Let me give some examples. A mineworker aged 27 with 11 years' service will receive a payment of £6,648. A docker in those circumstances—although, of course, there are probably no dockers that young with that length of service—would receive a payment of £27,000 if made redundant in the first 18 months after Royal Assent, or £16,000 if made redundant in the second 18-month period. Further, a miner aged 32 with 16 years' service will receive £17,468; a similar docker with similar service would receive the maximum payments of £35,000 or £20,000. It is important that we remember that the comparisons suggest that the transitional redundancy arrangements following Royal Assent are reasonably fair.

I recognise the point that was made by the hon. Member for Gordon (Mr. Bruce), who made a reasonably constructed speech although he did not make the case for the severely increased sums which are the aim of the new clause so inadequately expressed by the Labour party. At least there is agreement throughout the House, between the Labour party, the Social and Liberal Democratic party and the Conservative party, about the way in which the new clause was drafted. Its arithmetic goes far, too far, and when taken with amendment No. 3, its consequences are totally wrong. The House knows that the new clause is unacceptable. On some points, it acts to the disadvantage of former registered dock workers. No other worker is entitled to such generous terms. The clause has no logic, merit or friends. I urge the House to reject it.

Mr. Bermingham

The Minister would not answer a simple question. If one is 55, has 10 years working life left and is getting a maximum of £35,000—

It being Six o'clock, MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER proceeded, pursuant to the Order [8 May] and the Resolution this day, to put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 184 Noes 258.

Division No. 212] [6 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Archer, Rt Hon Peter
Allen, Graham Armstrong, Hilary
Anderson, Donald Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Howells, Geraint
Barron, Kevin Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)
Battle, John Hughes, John (Coventry NE)
Beckett, Margaret Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Bell, Stuart Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n &R'dish) Illsley, Eric
Bermingham, Gerald Ingram, Adam
Bidwell, Sydney Janner, Greville
Blair, Tony Jones, Barry (Alyn &Deeside)
Blunkett, David Jones, leuan (Ynys Môn)
Boyes, Roland Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Bradley, Keith Kennedy, Charles
Bray, Dr Jeremy Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Kirkwood, Archy
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Lamond, James
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Leadbitter, Ted
Buckley, George J. Leighton, Ron
Caborn, Richard Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Callaghan, Jim Lewis, Terry
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Litherland, Robert
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Canavan, Dennis Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g) Loyden, Eddie
Cartwright, John McAllion, John
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) McAvoy, Thomas
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) McCartney, Ian
Clay, Bob Macdonald, Calum A.
Clelland, David McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
Clwyd, Mrs Ann McKelvey, William
Cohen, Harry McLeish, Henry
Coleman, Donald Maclennan, Robert
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) McNamara, Kevin
Corbett, Robin McWilliam, John
Corbyn, Jeremy Madden, Max
Cousins, Jim Marek, Dr John
Cummings, John Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Cunliffe, Lawrence Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Dalyell, Tam Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Darling, Alistair Martlew, Eric
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Meacher, Michael
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Meale, Alan
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'I) Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Dixon, Don Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l &Bute)
Dobson, Frank Morgan, Rhodri
Doran, Frank Morley, Elliott
Douglas, Dick Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Duffy, A. E. P. Mowlam, Marjorie
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth Mullin, Chris
Eadie, Alexander Murphy, Paul
Eastham, Ken Nellist, Dave
Evans, John (St Helens N) Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray) O'Brien, William
Fatchett, Derek O'Neill, Martin
Faulds, Andrew Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Parry, Robert
Fisher, Mark Pike, Peter L.
Flynn, Paul Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Prescott, John
Foster, Derek Primarolo, Dawn
Fraser, John Radice, Giles
Galloway, George Randall, Stuart
Garrett, John (Norwich South) Redmond, Martin
George, Bruce Richardson, Jo
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Godman, Dr Norman A. Robertson, George
Golding, Mrs Llin Rogers, Allan
Gordon, Mildred Rooker, Jeff
Gould, Bryan Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Grocott, Bruce Rowlands, Ted
Hardy, Peter Ruddock, Joan
Harman, Ms Harriet Sedgemore, Brian
Healey, Rt Hon Denis Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Heffer, Eric S. Skinner, Dennis
Henderson, Doug Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Hogg, N. (C'nauld &Kilsyth) Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Home Robertson, John Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)
Soley, Clive Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Spearing, Nigel Wilson, Brian
Stott, Roger Winnick, David
Strang, Gavin Wise, Mrs Audrey
Straw, Jack Worthington, Tony
Taylor, Matthew (Truro) Wray, Jimmy
Vaz, Keith Young, David (Bolton SE)
Walley, Joan
Wareing, Robert N. Tellers for the Ayes:
Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N) Mr. Frank Haynes, and
Williams, Rt Hon Alan Mr. Nigel Griffiths.
Aitken, Jonathan Dicks, Terry
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Dorrell, Stephen
Allason, Rupert Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Amess, David Dover, Den
Amos, Alan Durant, Tony
Arbuthnot, James Dykes, Hugh
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Emery, Sir Peter
Ashby, David Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)
Aspinwall, Jack Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas
Atkinson, David Fallon, Michael
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey
Baldry, Tony Fishburn, John Dudley
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Forman, Nigel
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Bellingham, Henry Forth, Eric
Bendall, Vivian Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Fox, Sir Marcus
Benyon, W. Franks, Cecil
Bevan, David Gilroy Freeman, Roger
Biffen, Rt Hon John French, Douglas
Blackburn, Dr John G. Fry, Peter
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Gale, Roger
Body, Sir Richard Gardiner, George
Boscawen, Hon Robert Garel-Jones, Tristan
Boswell, Tim Gill, Christopher
Bottomley, Peter Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Glyn, Dr Alan
Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n) Goodlad, Alastair
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Gow, Ian
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Gregory, Conal
Brazier, Julian Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Bright, Graham Grist, Ian
Brown, Michael (Brigg &Cl't's) Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick Hanley, Jeremy
Buck, Sir Antony Hannam, John
Budgen, Nicholas Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')
Burns, Simon Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
Burt, Alistair Harris, David
Butler, Chris Hayes, Jerry
Butterfill, John Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) Hayward, Robert
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Heddle, John
Carrington, Matthew Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Carttiss, Michael Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)
Chapman, Sydney Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Chope, Christopher Hill, James
Churchill, Mr Hind, Kenneth
Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n) Hordern, Sir Peter
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Howard, Michael
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Colvin, Michael Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest) Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Hunt, David (Wirral W)
Cope, Rt Hon John Hunt, John (Ravensboune)
Cormack, Patrick Hunter, Andrew
Couchman, James Irvine, Michael
Cran, James Jack, Michael
Critchley, Julian Janman, Tim
Currie, Mrs Edwina Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd &Spald'g) Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Davis, David (Boothferry) Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Day, Stephen Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Devlin, Tim Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Key, Robert Sackville, Hon Tom
Kilfedder, James Sainsbury, Hon Tim
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield) Shaw, David (Dover)
Knight, Greg (Derby North) Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Lang, Ian Shelton, Sir William
Lawrence, Ivan Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe) Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Lightbown, David Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Lilley, Peter Sims, Roger
McCrindle, Robert Skeet, Sir Trevor
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire) Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Maclean, David Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Mans, Keith Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Marlow, Tony Soames, Hon Nicholas
Mates, Michael Speller, Tony
Maude, Hon Francis Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Meyer, Sir Anthony Squire, Robin
Miller, Sir Hal Stanbrook, Ivor
Mills, Iain Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Miscampbell, Norman Steen, Anthony
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Stern, Michael
Mitchell, Sir David Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Moate, Roger Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Molyneaux, Rt Hon James Sumberg, David
Monro, Sir Hector Summerson, Hugo
Moore, Rt Hon John Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Morris, M (N'hampton S) Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Morrison, Sir Charles Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester) Temple-Morris, Peter
Moss, Malcolm Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Moynihan, Hon Colin Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Neale, Gerrard Thorne, Neil
Nelson, Anthony Thurnham, Peter
Neubert, Michael Townend, John (Bridlington)
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Tracey, Richard
Nicholls, Patrick Trotter, Neville
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Twinn, Dr Ian
Norris, Steve Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley Waddington, Rt Hon David
Oppenheim, Phillip Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Page, Richard Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Paice, James Waller, Gary
Patnick, Irvine Walters, Sir Dennis
Patten, Chris (Bath) Ward, John
Patten, John (Oxford W) Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Warren, Kenneth
Pawsey, James Watts, John
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Wells, Bowen
Porter, David (Waveney) Wheeler, John
Powell, William (Corby) Widdecombe, Ann
Price, Sir David Wiggin, Jerry
Redwood, John Wilshire, David
Renton, Tim Winterton, Mrs Ann
Rhodes James, Robert Winterton, Nicholas
Riddick, Graham Wolfson, Mark
Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas Wood, Timothy
Ridsdale, Sir Julian Yeo, Tim
Roe, Mrs Marion Young, Sir George (Acton)
Rossi, Sir Hugh
Rost, Peter Tellers for the Noes:
Rumbold, Mrs Angela Mr. David Heathcoat-Amory
Ryder, Richard and Mr. John Taylor.

Question accordingly negatived.

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