HL Deb 22 January 1969 vol 298 cc954-1020

4.2 p.m.

Debate resumed.


My Lords, if noble Lords had not been good enough to await until to-morrow the answers to their questions, I do not think we should ever have got back to the debate on the International Labour Organisation. But I have to recall your Lordships' minds from this local matter to the broader issues that have been put before us by the noble Lord, Lord Collison. Although those of us who sit on these Benches cannot claim to have such detailed knowledge of these complicated social and industrial affairs as those who have spoken and will speak later, we nevertheless wanted to join in the tribute to what we regard as a great and growing institution closely related to world-wide human welfare, and in doing so, of course, to thank Lord Collison and to express our appreciation of all that he has clone for this Organisation as well as for so many years for the whole cause of agricultural workers. I think I could allow myself the liberty of giving Lord Collison a free advertisement for an article he has written in the journal of the Industrial Christian Fellowship on the retraining of agricultural workers and their adaptation to new conditions. I found that a most moving little article which I hope will be widely read.

It is of course significant, as Lord Collison said, that the I.L.O. is one of the survivors—I do not know whether it is the only survivor, but it is almost the only real survivor—from the League of Nations. All the idealism that took shape in the League of Nations after the First World War perished on the rock of international strife and tension, and all that came out of it and is still recognisable is the International Labour Organisation. I think that is a most significant fact, because it seems to me to show that there are deep and human concerns which can make an appeal to people of all nations and can survive even bitter political and national conflicts.

It is most interesting to me to see that even in 1919 Germany became a member of the I.L.O. Whether they had much choice about it I do not know, but at any rate they joined and, in the different phases of their history, have remained mostly in the Organisation. One cannot help asking oneself whether we are not already seeing something like this same pattern of events in connection with the United Nations, because I think there are but few who can feel extremely optimistic about the work of the United Nations in the really difficult fields of international jealousy, fear and competition. But there is already a widespread recognition of the value of the work of the United Nations in such other fields as education and the care of refugees, and other philanthropic efforts. I think both these phases of human history are not without hope because they show that although at present we are hindered by our inherited political institutions, nevertheless there is still something to which one can appeal at a deeper level.

A good deal has already been said about the structure of the I.L.O.—its tripartite structure. I did not mean to use the word "structure"—I thought it might begin to sound a little theological. I mean the structure which includes Government, employers and unions. I think it was extremely interesting that, I suppose for the first time, in 1919 a large and important institution took account of these other centres of power besides Governments. It took account of places where power was beginning to be exercised, and I think in that way they were well ahead of their time. If we look at our own Parliamentary institutions I think that one thing we often have to ask ourselves is whether or not we are moving sufficiently with the times so as to make our political institutions really expressive of the current, contemporary centres of power. One might say, for instance, that in the development of the Life Peerage system in this House we are, in a fumbling way, trying to incorporate in the Parliamentary organisation representatives of those centres of power both of the management and the union side. All this is, I think, of interest to us, and it has a bearing on the White Paper that is at present being discussed, because as we have followed these discussions we have seen all the time that it is not a matter that could be left entirely to Parliament but depended greatly on the co-operation of other powerful institutions outside.

I have learned a great deal from studying the papers and publications of the I.L.O. I must admit that I knew little about it before this debate was put on the Order Paper; but this House of ours is (at least I find it to be) the most wonderful adult education college—nothing that is human is alien to us—and our experience widens every week as our minds turn to one subject after another. I must say that if anybody had asked me where the main centre of interest lay in the I.L.O. I should have thought of urban situations, industrial countries, labour disputes of the kind that we read about in our daily Press, and it has been quite a revelation to me to find that the I.L.O. really reminds me more of a missionary society than of a place where many of these bitter disputes are hammered out. I was very surprised and interested to learn how much of their work is concerned with the developing countries; how they devote great efforts to technical co-operation and development; how they recognise that agriculture is still the occupation of half the population of the world, and how much happiness and possibility of new life they are bringing in many parts of the world.

I was interested to see that two-thirds of their work in the realm of technical co-operation was to be found in Africa and in Asia. I was interested to see that rehabilitation of handicapped people and the teaching of new crafts suitable to them is an important subject of their work. All in all, I feel that this whole effort is so closely related to human welfare, so much in line with all the best understanding of the dignity of man which the Christian religion and other religions teach, that there ought to be these few words from these Benches in support of the Motion which the noble Lord, Lord Collison, has put before us.

4.12 p.m.


My Lords, I rise first of all to express regret to your Lordships at my need to leave the House at 5 o'clock. As one who has a great belief that those who speak should wait to the end I would not have dreamed of going away. But, as some of your Lordships know, I hold office under the Minister of Power and I am summoned to a conference throughout this evening over which I have no control as to time. I have already expressed to the mover and the speakers who follow me my regrets, and I apologise to the House for any seeming discourtesy when I withdraw. I could have chosen not to speak, but, while that may have saved your Lordships some time and boredom, it would have hurt me. My trade union life started, exactly as I.L.O. started, in 1919, and I should not like to miss the opportunity, which is probably the only one I am likely to get in this House, of paying my tribute to I.L.O., to those who did so much at the beginning, and to this country for all it did.

As I, on this nostalgic occasion, congratulate I.L.O. on its Jubilee, I congratulate my noble friend Lord Collison, not only upon moving this Motion, but also upon the way in which he has served the trade union movement and I.L.O. over the years. In my own United Nations experience I have known something of all he has done, and how he became a member of the Governing Body of I.L.O. All your Lordships will know that when he joined us he was Chairman of the Trades Union Congress, and subsequently has become a member of the Royal Commission on Trade Unions, about which we shall be talking in very different form some day in the future. Whatever people may think about the terms of the Commission's Report, and its recommendations, this much surely is true: that the Royal Commission visited countries, studying their laws and practices, studying the effect of the Conventions which I.L.O. had drawn up; and in their Report they have upheld very strongly the system of voluntary collective bargaining; the system under which Britain has achieved such great improvements in the conditions of her workers over the past hundred years. Of course we have not yet found the complete answer and we have not changed them sufficiently: there are still many things that require to be done. But as we are, by this Motion, put into a mood of reflection, let us not forget how much we in this country have led in these matters.

Reference has been made to the Declaration of Human Rights. We cart proudly claim that we needed no Declaration for us to move to give the first of them to people in this country. I sometimes wish that some of those who sit in other countries and try to tell us the things we should do, would try themselves in their own countries to do, some of the things that we did very many years ago. However, even in this country it has become too commonplace for people to belittle what we have done in these and other matters, and I seek to make may remarks this afternoon a reminder of what the world of workers owes to this country.

The I.L.O., my Lords, owes a debt to this country not just in respect of the 50 years in which it has been in existence, but because it is over 100 years ago that in this country we started to cure the first of these evils of lack of human rights. We have only to recall the agitations here which led to some of the reforms. We have no need to argue at I.L.O. or the United Nations. A hundred years ago we were stopping women and children crawling with coal behind their backs in the pits. We were stopping child labour in the mills. One hundred years ago we had already passed the first Factory Act in the world. Although, therefore, we celebrate the fiftieth year of the International Labour Office in this the second half of the 20th century, historically we are celebrating the outcome of 19th centure social agitation in this country.

The social reformers of this country soon learned that they had to move on. They first talked, therefore, of making workers' conditions better in Europe. As long ago as 1890 this country was taking part in the establishment, with 14 other countries, of the conference on this subject in Berlin. Then at the turn of the century the International Association for Labour Legislation commenced to translate the labour laws of various countries, which they did—in books which your Lordships may have seen in the Library—in their legislative series, and I congratulate I.L.O. that on its establishment it took over the preparation and publication of that series, and right up to this day still produces it.

I suppose that I have been more fortunate than most of my trade union colleagues in my 50 years. I had the chance of seeing what was being done for and in I.L.O., not only in the ordinary trade union official's way but because of my particular Civil Service Union activities and my connection with the Ministry of Labour. Harold Butler, of that Department, was, as has been said, the first Secretary-General of the Washington Conference, in 1919. I would remind your Lordships that although the Conference was held in Washington because it was supposed to be convened by the Americans, the plain truth was that they were so concerned with the Woodrow Wilson Paris Peace Conference crisis that, but for this country, the Washington Conference might never have been held. It was G. N. Barnes and Harold Butler, to whom reference has been made, who got the Conference going—a Conference which produced fine resolutions, having put lots of words on lots of paper, and produced no money to carry out any single thing about which the delegates had talked. So there were no offices, no staff, no plan for work; nothing but the spate of words. That is where the British Government stepped in. They provided free offices over the road, in Parliament Street, and the Treasury (and this was a pretty substantial thing for them to do) made a loan of £1,000. What came from other Governments?—only the services of two translators from France. Then the Home Office of the day, which then controlled the Factory Inspectorate, made available the technical help which was needed for the job.

Edward Phelan, of the Ministry of Labour, who was the first officer ever appointed by the I.L.O. and who in due course became its Director-General, in 1936 wrote, in his witty Irish manner, a book entitled Yes and Albert Thomas which illuminates much of those early days. The book refers to Albert Thomas sitting, working hard, but not liking his surroundings, in an office in a mansion in Park Lane with gilt mouldering on the walls. Phelan and Thomas were grateful that they had a back entrance whose address they were able to use to avoid the world thinking that the I.L.O. had been born in the aristocratic circumstances of Park Lane. Phelan records of the Third Session that it was held in the oak-panelled splendour of a palatial Chamber in the House of Lords. I am glad that the noble Lord referred to others of our friends. I think in particular of Sir Guildhaume Myrddhin-Evans, that wonderful little Welshman, to whom the I.L.O. owes a lot more than today it might remember. He was largely responsible for the difficult and complex negotiations which at the end of the Second World War led to the inclusion of the agreement which established I.L.O. as the first of the Specialised Agencies of the United Nations. Indeed, it was a tribute to the remarkable qualities which he had taken with him from the Ministry of Labour that the Standing Orders of the I.L.O. were suspended to allow him to go on for more than one year. He stayed for two successive years and he was then brought back for a third year. We all lament his loss. I lament the loss of another figure who I remember with affection, better known to most members of the public as a poet rather than as a Deputy Secretary in the Ministry of Labour, Humbert Wolfe. From 1926 onwards I saw him in attendance at the I.L.O. Indeed, it is from a piece of his poetic prose in his book Portraits by Inference that Phelan took his title Yes and Albert Thomas. Those who would like to see the real meaning behind that could do no better than to get both those books from your Lordships' Library.

What an international combination Phelan's book was. Phelan, a British civil servant, felt so strongly that in 1922 he insisted on becoming a member of the Republic of Ireland; he was writing a book about an ebullient Frenchman and was relying for some of his material and his title upon a British civil servant, proudly a Jew, of Continental origin. One other name I recall to your Lordships is that of Sir Frederick Leggett, who will be remembered in this country more perhaps as the great peacemaker for dealing with strikes. He was a valued member of the Governing Body of the I.L.O. for 14 years and its Chairman as long ago as 1937.

References have been made to the present Secretary General, David Morse, who has served for 20 years. What has not been said is that he lies in hospital in the United States recovering from an operation. There are many names of good friends of mine in this House over the last twenty years whom one could recall. I am glad that I am being followed to-day by my noble friend Lord McCorquodale, who I have known as a Member of the other place in a nearby constituency to mine in Surrey and who I have liked in this House and have known for his work as a member of the Governing Body. There are others in this House, some who are gone and some who are still with us, who should be mentioned: Lord Forster, who was the Chairman of the Administrative Tribunal, and Lord Devlin who for the last few years has been a member of the Tribunal. These are well known names and are the embodiment of what I have set out to make clear to your Lordships; that is, that we, with all that is still left undone, have done so many things through these who are our agents. And throughout there are all the other unnamed and unknown persons—unknown to the public at any rate—who serve our purposes.

Over the years members of Governments of all Parties have journeyed to Geneva. The Ministry of Labour has regularly sent its senior officials and others out there, particularly to deal with industrial arrangements, and has enabled them to play a very full part in the Organisation. Recently, the Ministry has made its contribution to the technical assistance provided by I.L.O., to which the right reverend Prelate has referred. The Ministry of Labour has helped in the development of countries by its technical assistance, and by sending its rehabilitation officers, instructors from Government training centres, and employment exchange managers as I.L.O. experts to countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America to pass on their skills to the people of those countries who need them. They have contributed, too, to the I.L.O. special programme for the training of labour administrators in the developing countries. It is another way in which the fraternal hand has been held out by this country to Commonwealth and foreign countries alike.

There was recently in your Lordships' House a debate on the United Nations Development Programme, a debate which was replied to by my noble friend the Leader of the House, a programme with which the I.L.O. is closely associated. It is interesting to recall that the body governing this matter is meeting this very day in New York, at its Seventh Session. It has before it the present programme to which reference was made in our recent debate and which involves 217 million dollars for nineteen projects already approved. Also on the agenda is a programme for 104 new, large-scale pre-investment projects for 1970, calling for a budget of 350 million dollars. That sounds a lot, whether one says it fast or slowly, and this kind of comment has been made to me by people why have merely looked at the figures. But when one recalls that the same countries involved in the discussion to-day spent last year for military purposes some 150,000 million dollars, then the to be spent on such projects is a tiny one. The military expenditure is 425 times that which is involved in the budget discussions which are taking place this week in New York.

I apologise if I have kept your Lordships for too long, but I do not apologise for the theme which I am trying to put forward; that is, that although we have done so much in this country, and have much yet to do, we have no cause to be ashamed of what we have done—efforts not only in a practical way, but by our own example.

Phelan's book, to which I have referred, gives a number of examples. May I quote one more, which relates to our work of 100 years ago and is very up to date to-day in relation to one or two countries to which I could refer? Phelan went on a visit to China and in Nankin was presented with a draft labour code. It bore all the marks of the revolutionary spirit of its authors. Thomas looked at it and passionately pronounced, "You must begin by prohibiting the work of young children and the exploitation of female labour". That is not bad as a thought for some people even to-day. I am not denying that we could do better in this country and that we could set more examples, if we tried. Like others, we have strikes and industrial troubles. Would that we had not! Of course, we moan about them and we think of the bad effects upon our exports. But we must keep all our thoughts and comments in perspective. I was reading only last week in the official Italian Press their denunciation of their workers. In the ten year period 1958 to 1967 the report said that in Italy they had lost by strikes 1,041 days a year per 1,000 workers. The report went on: In our European colleague country of France, they lost only 282 days a year per 1,000 workers. To conclude the argument, it said: In Great Britain, which now desires to join the Common Market, they lost only 250 days per 1,000 workers. Actually, my Lords, if the Italians had looked a little closer, they would have seen that we have done even better than that, although our Press headlines and our comments denounce our strikes. If they had taken the two five-year periods, they would have seen that whereas in the five years from 1958 to 1962 we lost 316 days a year per 1,000 workers, in the five years from 1963 to 1967 we lost only 184 days per 1,000 workers. I ask your Lordships to keep those figures well in mind. Even a small country like Denmark lost 404 days per 1,000 workers in its manufacturing industries over the 10-year period. If they wanted a real example they should have looked at the United States, which is boasted about so much as the great producer country to which the world should look, and which again in the last 10 years, as in every other period of years that any of us has ever looked at—and I have been looking at the figures for over 40 years—has the worst figures in the world. The United States lost 1,060 days per 1,000 workers over the past 10 years.

There it is, my Lords. Much as I deplore all that we lose by strikes, let us remember that in relation to the number of people employed we lose fewer working days through strikes than most other industrial countries in the International Labour Organisation. Also, the majority of our strikes are in industries that are strike-prone in every other country to which I have referred. None of that makes us have less regard for the seriousness of strikes, none of that can make us "cock-a-hoop" about our position but it is one reason why we have no need to denigrate our own country. So to-day I welcome this Motion, conscious of all that we in this country did to create the I.L.O., to get it going and to keep it going. And I am satisfied with the record of this country in the sphere of international labour.

4.33 p.m.


My Lords, I know that the noble Lord, Lord Crook, has to leave in a few moments, as he warned us, but I should like to thank him for his kind references to myself and to wish him every success at the next meeting to which he has to go, which I fancy will be pretty tricky. We in this House owe a great debt to the noble Lord, Lord Collison, for many things, but none more than for having started off this debate to-day and for having planned it in a way which I think must have been acceptable to every Member of this House, wherever he sits. I must say that I agreed with and cordially supported every word he said. I do not think I have ever done that before, but I certainly did on this occasion, and we are all very much in his debt.

The noble Lord, Lord Collison, is a modest man and he did not refer in any way to the tremendous amount of work that he personally has put into the Workers' Panel at the I.L.O. He has played a really leading part in that group, both at the Conference and on the Governing Body for many years, and, in particular, he is Workers' Vice-Chairman of the General Purposes Finance Committee, which is one of the most tricky things ever run in Geneva. We thank him for the work he has been doing.

As the noble Lord, Lord Crook, has said, I was privileged some years ago to serve on the Governing Body of the I.L.O. as one of the employers' representatives and, like the noble Lord, Lord Collison, I developed a warm regard—indeed, an affection—for the International Labour Organisation in general and the work that it has done, and, even more, for the work which it is now trying to do. I therefore welcome sincerely our discussion here to-day, because this is the opening occasion in Europe of the fiftieth anniversary of the I.L.O., and I know that considerable importance is attached to it throughout that organisation.

I should like at the outset of my remarks to pay my tribute to the selfless and devoted work of our Director General, that very great public servant, Mr. David Morse. We are all most sorry to hear that he is still in hospital after his recent operation. I understand, and I hope it is true, that he is making a very good recovery, and I am sure everyone in this House will want to send to him and to Mrs. David Morse, his selfless and devoted wife, our message of affection and to say, "Get well again quickly."

On a lighter note, one of the most enjoyable and successful functions that I remember during my period at the I.L.O. was the dinner which the British Employers' Group used to give to the Commonwealth delegates at the I.L.O. It was a function completely without protocol. There was only one rule, and that was that at the small tables no two members of the same delegation from the same country were ever allowed to sit together. Consequently, everybody met somebody new whom they had not known before, and sat beside them. I believe that dinner did a great deal to encourage friendly and valuable support among the Commonwealth delegates.

Owing to certain technical details, I understand that it was not possible to hold that dinner last year. I also understand that this coming year a new cocktail party, with food and all the rest of it, is to be given jointly by the Employers' and the Workers' Groups from this country. Possibly our Government representative may join in financially, but I do not know. However, I hope that this new departure will be as successful as the old dinner. I should like to pay a tribute to the late Lord Weir who started that dinner, which proved such an enjoyable and successful function, and for many years paid for it out of his own pocket.

As has already been said in this House, the fundamental feature of the I.L.O. is its tripartite make-up. Here we have employers, workers and Governments themselves meeting together to endeavour, each from his own standpoint, to improve standards, combat poverty and build up social justice with peace throughout the whole world. I am convinced that because of this tripartite feature the I.L.O. was able to continue throughout the war, and thus it has 50 years' unbroken service. My old chief at the Ministry of Labour, Mr. Ernest Bevin, was tremen dously keen about this. He it was who made firm friends with John Winant at the beginning of the war, when he was head of the I.L.O.; he it was who arranged that Mr. Phelan should go out to Montreal; he it was who in 1944 sent out representatives of the trade unions, and Sir John Forbes-Watson and others, to encourage the work right in the heat of the war. I only wish that he could be here to-day to see the result of the work which he regarded as of such great importance.

The old League of Nations died at the outbreak of the war. The new United Nations is still of a somewhat tentative character because, I believe, it consists of Governments and Government representatives only and is therefore a wholly political animal. The I.L.O., because of its tripartite nature, gains strength from the free association of different sections of different communities, and, while working most closely with the United Nations, maintains a very considerable degree of independence, which I think is extremely valuable. This is recognised by the United Nations and by U Thant himself, who indeed is entrusting to the I.L.O. agencies a very considerable part of the work which the United Nations wishes carried out by way of encouragement of the underdeveloped countries.

This tripartite idea, about which I am so keen, and especially the idea of the employers and the T.U.C. representatives working, meeting and arguing together on a world stage, has obvious benefits for us all, especially, as Lord Collison emphasised, in the way of bridge-building between ourselves and other nations. This in itself, I believe, is a vital part of our work. But of course there are anomalies and dangers in this tripartite organisation. Who knows what are the relationships between employers, workers and Governments in the countries behind the Iron Curtain, where they have only one Party? This makes for a difficulty when it comes to representation on committees. Yet, on the other hand, I would emphasise: is there not great value in the very fact that in these committees employers and workers from the free countries can meet and argue on equal terms with those from behind the Iron Curtain? And if, as we from this country all believe, freedom is what we are working for, is there not an opportunity here to sow the seeds of that belief in the minds of some whom we should not possibly meet otherwise?

At the Conferences, which are of course the shop windows of the I.L.O., there is a constant risk that far too much emphasis may be—and, alas!, very often is—laid on ideological and political differences, rather than on constructive work. Too much time—very valuable time—tends to be taken up in sterile political diatribes and quite inexpedient and unworkable proposals. I know the great efforts that are being made to get over these very human difficulties, and I would say on their behalf that the British employers' delegation have over and over again made it clear that while we hold firmly to the view that a free enterprise economy is far the best system to raise the standard of living of all—a free enterprise economy coupled, of course, with collective bargaining and a respect for the rights of all, workers and employers alike—yet we are none the less most anxious to work closely in an I.L.O. context with those who hold other political views, including those from behind the Iron Curtain. It is the actions which emanate from the Conference which are important, not the political affiliations of the delegates themselves.

I should like to say one or two words about the history of the I.L.O. from the point of view of the employers' delegation. For the record, on the employers' side the delegation at the first Conference in Washington in 1919 was led by Mr. Marjoribanks and Sir Greville Maginness, whom some of us knew very well. Then, Sir James Lithgow and Sir John Forbes-Watson dominated the scene all through the period before the war and during the war—in Sir John Forbes-Watson's case up to 1952. We in this country have always held (as, indeed, has the workers' side) one of the seats on the Governing Body. There was Sir Alfred Booth, Sir James Lithgow and Sir John Forbes-Watson; and then, from 1953 to 1959, Sir Richard Snedden. Then I myself was privileged to serve; and from 1963 to date Sir George Pollock has been our very worthy member on the Governing Body. He, indeed, was a member of the recent delegation to U Thant at the United Nations about the difficult and thorny question of South Africa, and the discussions held there were intensely interesting.

In the early years, the United Kingdom employers' policy—and indeed that of the major European industrial countries—was to try to ensure that the standards laid down in I.L.O. Conventions were such that our increasing number of competitors from other parts of the world would have to comply with the high standards observed by ourselves. There was therefore a considerable amount of self-help in the objects we had in view. We increasingly found, however, that for policy reasons the majority of Governments voted consistently with their workers' group, however unreasonable we regarded some of their demands, and that in consequence Conventions were appearing to become more and more unrealistic. Many of these Governments had no intention of ratifying the Conventions for which they voted, and this, indeed, was the reason why Sir John Forbes-Watson, immediately after the war, initiated his famous campaign against this situation. He persuaded the I.L.O. to publish tables showing how countries voted on Conventions and whether they subsequently ratified them. These tables are still published to-day, and I must say they make remarkable reading.

That campaign certainly had a considerable effect, and we can now say with satisfaction, I think, that on the whole the developing countries now refuse to vote for unrealistic Conventions. In fact, they are constantly complaining that they cannot comply with and consequently ratify many of the earlier Conventions, which are too advanced for them. As has already been said, the United Kingdom record on ratification is good; and we must always bear in mind that a Government may vote for a Convention as a desirable social objective even if for some special reason they may not be able to ratify it themselves immediately. What Sir John Forbes-Watson was attacking was the policy of many Governments at that time of voting for every Convention with no intention of ratifying it.

Since the war, the employers' policy has increasingly been that the I.L.O.'s original standard-setting activity has somewhat outlived its usefulness as the main I.L.O. activity. We feel, therefore, that the I.L.O.'s most important work now is in technical assistance to developing countries. The workers' group, on the other hand, seems to have clung rather rigidly to standard-setting as the basis of the activity of the I.L.O., and I was intensely pleased and gratified to hear the very wise words of Lord Collison when he said that these two activities were interdependent and should be regarded as of equal importance, at least. I think that goes a long way to meet what our friends have in view.

At the risk of boring your Lordships, may I say just a few words about one section of the work of the I.L.O. which has hardly been touched on so far tonight? It is a very important section that covers the maritime field. This is of peculiar interest to us, as a leading maritime nation which has been concerned with the qualifications, training, health and working conditions of seafarers. Indeed, seamen easily hold the record for the number of international instruments adopted on their behalf by the International Labour Conference—42 in all. As my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn has said, because of the fundamental differences between shipping and shore industries it was agreed when the I.L.O. was founded that maritime questions should be dealt with at special meetings, at separate sessions of the I.L.O. Conference, and not at general sessions. The second I.L.O. Conference ever held was a maritime session. There have been five since then and, as we have been told, the next is to be held in 1970.

As we might expect, the United Kingdom has played the leading part at all those meetings. United Kingdom representatives have been chairmen of both the shipowners and seafarers groups since 1946, and many of the United Kingdom arrangements, conditions and practices have been used as a guide in the formulation of I.L.O. conventions on maritime matters. These sessions have been notable in that they have attempted to set realistic standards attainable by developing countries. They have established the principle that maritime conventions can be implemented by national collective agreements as well as by legislation. This is an indication of the major role which the shipowner and seafarer groups have played in this part of the work of the I.L.O. The Joint Maritime Commission which looks after this field between conventions is in fact unique in that it consists of employers and workers without any Government representation at all. When it is essential that the Government should be brought in, a sub-committee can be arranged, as has been done many times.

The I.L.O. works closely wits other United Nations Agencies on maritime affairs, as on other affairs, and especially with the World Health Organisation over the co-ordination of medical facilities for seamen. Its most recent and most successful achievement has been the production of a Model International Shipmasters' Medical Guide and a co-ordinated scheme, which is world-wide in its operation, for medical assistance to ships at sea. However, my friends wish me to say that it is always necessary to ensure that the division of responsibility between the ever-increasing number of international agencies is defined as clearly as possible; and especially in maritime affairs. There is bound to be a tendency, especially for those most recently created, to be eager to demonstrate their usefulness. But this usefulness we have found is in fact diminished if they encroach on areas where organisations already exist, and have gained experience and developed expertise, and are already operating successfully. We would ask Governments to ensure that their affairs are dealt with by the appropriate bodies, and that their resources are not dissipated by duplication within the family of United Nations Agencies. Overlapping can be a cause of considerable embarrassment from time to time.

My Lords, I have not said much, because I know that other speakers will deal with it, about the tremendous work that the I.L.O. is now doing in technical aid to underdeveloped countries. But if I may put in one personal plea—and I am sure that the noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill, who is to follow me will agree with this—I would hope that the I.L.O. with the World Health Organisation will not neglect the "population explosion" problem. This, if not dealt with in good time, will vitiate all their efforts throughout the world. I would assure them that the International Planned Parenthood Association stands ready to help them in all parts of the world on this matter.

As I have said, great preparations are being made to bring the I.L.O. more closely to the people, to strengthen their interest in, and moral support for, the Organisation. This debate is only a preliminary; and I hope that it will be regarded as a successful one. I trust, too, that the great organs of publicity will this year do their best to present the I.L.O. to the world as a unique and most valuable organisation for the welfare of mankind. In spite of all its difficulties—and they are many—the Organisation has made wonderful strides in the last 50 years. All I would add is: may it be given the strength and support to enable it to face all the new problems that are sure to descend upon it in the next period!

4.57 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to join other noble Lords who have thanked my noble friend for initiating this debate. I think nobody here would fail to recognise the invaluable work that has been done by the I.L.O., and I would not for one moment underestimate the contribution that they have made towards social progress. Nevertheless, I could only wish that a more practical recognition of this work had been forthcoming. In his opening speech my noble friend reminded us—and this has been echoed by other noble Lords—of the number of Conventions that have been ratified by Britain in the I.L.O. We must not think only of the number of Conventions that have been ratified; what we have to dwell upon is the importance of those Conventions which have not been ratified. That will be my subject to-day.

I recently read a pamphlet of the I.L.O. called, Action against discrimination in employment, in which it says: Certain forms of discrimination against women are still very widespread particularly in the form of greater limitations on employment and advancement, lower pay and the often prejudicial conditions of work of married women. With the rising proportion of women in the world work force it becomes increasingly important that the type of arbitrary inequality should be prevented. This was not written fifty years ago; it was printed in Geneva in November, 1968—three months ago. I have listened to speakers in this debate talking about the failure today to prevent discrimination against certain workers; but unfor tunately every voice here has been male. With the exception of Miss Bondfield, every individual who has been mentioned for his work over the years has been a male. Is it not therefore quite understandable that sometimes there cannot be an objective approach to this work?

On the subject of equal pay, I would remind noble Lords that this matter has been discussed ad nauseam in both Houses of Parliament. Therefore, this document, printed three months ago, is a reflection not only on Britain but on every developed country which has paid lip service to the I.L.O. for fifty years and yet has failed to honour its principles to women. I am ashamed to think that Britain is included among these countries. While Conventions Nos. 100 and 101 dealing with equal pay and opportunities have been ratified by 63 member-countries, Britain has still failed to do so. Eighty years have elapsed since the T.U.C. recommended that equal pay should be observed in industry; a Royal Commission has sat; innumerable Committees over the years have sat and supported the principle; and the Labour Party has voted unanimously for it at every annual conference. Yet successive Governments have allowed the exploitation of women's labour. They have permitted a woman to subsidise her employer to the extent of the difference between equal pay and the wage she receives. In this country, in 1969, when we are celebrating the anniversary of the I.L.O., the vast majority of women in industry earn between half or two-thirds of what they would receive if they were men.

My Lords, why should these women be denied social justice? The words "social justice" have been on the lips of every noble Lord who has made a contribution to this debate. Fifty per cent. of the workers in our factories—more in some cases—are women. But does each noble Lord look into his heart and ask why they have been denied social justice? I hope that the Government will give these questions of mine the most careful thought. I should like to ask what is to be the position of these women when the provision in the White Paper, In Place of Strife, comes into operation. Are those women who strike for equal pay to be compelled to observe the 28 days cooling-off period, or conciliation pause? My Lords, these women have been "cooling off" for eighty years. For fifty years they have listened to those who have sought to conciliate them, with cups of tea or otherwise. These are very serious questions which, being women's questions, have of course been entirely overlooked.

Are these women to be fined if they strike in protest at not receiving the rate of pay of the male immigrant doing the same job on the same factory floor? And if they fail to pay the fine, are their miserable wages to be attached? My Lords, are these women who are suffering a gross injustice to rely on a ballot among workers where there is a male majority which may well be prejudiced against women? If any noble Lord dares to say that these men are not prejudiced against women—well, we have evidence this afternoon that two of the most important Conventions, Nos. 100 and 111, have failed to be ratified. Can it be thought that if Conventions 100 and 111 applied to men, Britain would have failed to ratify them? My Lords, I would remind the Government that they have given the women who work in industry in this country a most wonderful war-cry—"Equal pay in place of strife".

I am very glad that the Government have been wise enough not to include imprisonment as a penalty, otherwise I feel that Holloway might be full at the next General Election. This is not an exaggeration. For how long do the Government think that women are going to submit to this injustice? Time is running out. If there is a massive abstention on the part of women voters at the next General Election, the Government will have only themselves to blame; and this may not be averted by the Government doing too little too late. I understand that the Government have issued a three-line Whip for the Ministers in another place to vote against the Matrimonial Property Bill which will help women; and I understand that the Government are supporting the Divorce Reform Bill which is adverse to women's interests. My Lords, it is time that the Government recalled the basic fundamental principles of the Labour Party which has always recognised that there are two sexes in the country and that both call for social justice.

When my noble friend winds up the debate, I know he will discuss the technicalities of ratifying a Convention, and I want to deal with that point. It is fallacious to argue that Britain can ratify international Conventions only when our national law and practice are in conformity with their provisions. That has been said. It is clear in Convention 100, if my noble friend will read it, that provided the Government use methods consistent with those for determining rates of pay as set out in the second paragraph of Article II and Article IV, ratification would be acceptable to the I.L.O. Now this does not mean that equal pay has to be implemented in full prior to application, and I think that one or two noble Lords, feeling the pricking of conscience, have said, "Of course we would not ratify unless we thought that we could implement it". The fact is, of course, that equal pay has not to be implemented in full prior to application.

I suggest, therefore, that the Government could start immediately to implement equal pay to women industrial workers for whom they are responsible. They are the employers. The Government to-day employ about 32,000 women in industry, and surely they could begin by granting equal pay to those women. That would show that the Government were completely sincere. Having started there, and given equal pay to 32,000 women, they could move on to other fields. I would remind the Government that failure to do this would provide a clear case of class discrimination, for women administrative and clerical workers employed by the Government have already received equal pay for work of equal value. I would remind the House that to get this equal pay women had to agitate. Women Members of Parliament had to parade the streets in the 1950's. The professional women, the clerical workers, the teachers, were not given equal pay because it represented social justice: they were given it only because women Members of Parliament demonstrated, paraded the streets, did everything to attract attention to this disgraceful discrimination against women.

Now history is repeating itself. We have to come here and, during a debate on the I.L.O., remind the Government about the industrial workers; these poor devils of women who sweat on the factory floor (I have said this before) on routine work, on piece-work; women who look exhausted, worn-out and old before their time. Do they not deserve the rate for the job? Do they not deserve the rate that the man on the same shop floor is getting? Not only do these women do their job in the factory, they run a home as well. A woman always does two jobs if she works outside the home. I say that here is the opportunity for the Government, as an employer, to give a lead to those employers who profit from the exploitation of women workers.

Why do the Government fail to give this lead? One answer seems to be that the Treasury also enjoys being subsidised by women's cheap labour. There is also a growing suspicion that the failure of the Government to recognise Convention 100 of the I.L.O. for their industrial workers is that it might set oil a chain reaction throughout industry as a whole. This unworthy motive is no doubt encouraged by those employers who have enjoyed their ill-gotten gains for many years at the expense of their women workers. I have discussed this with many groups of women all over the country, and it is not surprising that women believe that the Government are refraining from ratifying because they have decided not to give equal pay to their 32,000 industrial workers. Furthermore, I want to make it clear that the trade unions have said that they fully approve of equal pay for these women. Surely there is no obstacle. The Government cannot say that the trade unions oppose giving this small group equal pay. There can be no acceptable excuse for this injustice, and I hope that I have shown that the way is clear for this to be remedied in terms acceptable to the I.L.O. by the Government's working towards its implementation by means of a phased programme.

Finally, I would say this. I have appealed so often that it seems absurd that I should have to ask my colleagues in the Labour Party to recognise the injustice of this approach. The Labour Government have been in office for five years. I want to ask: When are they going to honour their obligation to the exploited women in industry and thereby give an immense stimulus to social advance?

5.11 p.m.


My Lords, it is always difficult to follow my noble friend Lady Summerskill when she is in fighting mood, not in my case because I disagree with her but because I am tempted to forget what I had intended to say in the desire to applaud her. I entirely agree with what she said, and I am delighted that she broke into what had been becoming perhaps rather a self-congratulatory concourse of masculine superiority in order to raise this issue. But although I agree with her entirely, and although I hope (though I expect that in her case hope tends to be diminished by experience) that the Government will take some notice of what she had to say, we are to-day specifically meeting not to bury masculine superiority or even the Labour Government but to praise the I.L.O. It is particularly to praise of the I.L.O. that I would wish to devote myself Even in this matter of the exploitation of women, it has usually been a good deal better than many of its masters.

The I.L.O. is the only organisation of the League of Nations to survive the League. Looking back, I think that it began under a star of good hope, even of gladness, in that its first Director-General was that remarkable character Albert Thomas, a French Socialist who was a great internationalist and who also had what not all Socialists, not all internationalists, and certainly not all administrators, possess—an immense pleasure in living, in the enjoyment of good food and the like, so that from the beginning he brought to the problems of the I.L.O. a great sense of humanity and was able frequently to drag the infant organisation away from those morasses of bureaucracy which lie in wait for all such organisations.

The I.L.O. has been enormously lucky—if it is luck—in its chief officers. It is to-day and it has been throughout. But, of course, it was not only the luck of personality that got the I.L.O. off to a good start. It was because it was established on the principle, already frequently referred to but at that time nothing like so commonly accepted as it is now, that there should be a tripartite approach of Governments, employers and trade unions. It is because the I.L.O. has always recognised and worked by this triple approach to problems that it has done what it has done, and it is because of this that, on the whole, its debates, and even its votes, unlike those of some international organisations, tend to be concerned with issues rather than to become bogged down by questions of national prestige. One of the best things about the I.L.O. is that members of its national delegations frequently disagree; and any organisation that is to be alive needs that kind of internal stimulus.

I speak not as many who have already spoken this afternoon have done, as participants in the I.L.O., but as an observer and commentator. I think that the I.L.O. was first brought alive to me by Ernest Bevin. Bevin, as your Lordships may know, was a man who learned enormously from experience. We all learn from experience, but he did so in a particular and special and deep sense. He once said that any wisdom he might have had came from grubbing in the hedgerows of experience. Often, when he had been "grubbing in the hedgerows of experience", he would ring me up or have lunch with me, particularly when I was financial editor, and later editor, of what he liked to call "my paper", the Daily Herald, because he had a feeling—unjustified, I hope—that if he did not keep an eye on me I might fall among intellectuals and be lost to the view of decent and "commonsensical" men. So he used to ring me up and say that he wanted to talk to me and tell me something that he had found, his latest experience.

I remember having such a session with him when he had come back from the first occasion on which he had been a delegate to the I.L.O. He said, what I think is profoundly true about the I.L.O., that the reason it matters is that the delegates talk not about politics but about problems. This was a continuing feeling in Bevin's approach, both as a trade unionist and later, as, I believe, a very great Foreign Secretary: the belief that if people could be brought to bring their minds to bear on problems, instead of devoting themselves to political differences, then there really would be hope of achievement. Perhaps he put his expectations too high. When during the war he helped to establish the first Indus- trial committees he said that he believed that by bringing together people working in similar occupations they would soon forget race and, talking about their trades, would produce friendships that it would be difficult even for war to break. That may have been a slightly optimistic assessment; but, my Lords, there is something in it. Part of the strength and success of the I.L.O. is that it does bring people together to talk about the things of which they know best—their work, their trades and their industries—and it brings them together in a setting in which Governments, employers and trade unions have been regarded for half a century (and this is a remarkable fact) as equals, with equal amounts to contribute. That, I think, is one of the things for which one should praise the I.L.O., and one of the reasons why it has survived when other international organisations have failed.

I was interested a little while ago to meet a young friend of mine who had been with my son at Cambridge—indeed, he had been my son's best man at his wedding—and who, as an economist, had gone into industry and was doing rather well in commerce and business. He then decided that he wanted, if he could, to make some contribution to international human betterment (to use larger words than he would have done), and he managed to get a job as an officer of the I.L.O. As I say, I met him a little while back, and I asked him: "How do you like it?" I was very much struck when he answered me in much the same words that Ernest Bevin had used more than forty years ago. He said: "I feel that I am doing something useful and positive, because we are dealing with real problems all the time." That, as I say, is the great thing that needs to be said. The I.L.O. has been based throughout its career on an attempt to bring humanity and common sense to hear on practical problems in the world, and I know of no better recipe for civilised progress than that.

5.23 p.m.


My Lords, like previous speakers, I want to congratulate my noble friend Lord Collison upon introducing this Motion, dealing with an organisation that has been a great asset to the masses of the people throughout the world over the years. I was first introduced to the I.L.O. on the Metal Trades Industrial Committee nearly twenty years ago. So I have seen the I.L.O. drifting over these years to a large extent. I preferred the Industrial Committee to the annual meeting of the I.L.O., mainly because it was less political and more intimate, and compared like with like, which is an important background. I found that the work on the industrial committees was a great job of work. There were eight industrial committees, added to later by the Plantation Committee, and subsequently by a salaried and professional advisory committee in a similar class.

The unfortunate thing is that over the years these committees have drifted. When I went on to the Metal Trades Committee twenty years ago they met every eighteen months or two years. There were a number of regional committees, and various types of committees—ad hoc committees covering mines (not coal), timber, civil aviation, printing, food and drink products—and subsequently other advisory committees were set up. I assume that either the I.L.O. have not the staff to help these industrial committees more regularly, or cannot afford to pay for the committees. It must be recognised that an industrial committee costs about £50,000 to run, and the expenses for the workers and the employers on those committees are paid by the I.L.O., not by the Government. I think the work of the I.L.O. is somewhat impaired due to their lack of money. From year to year they operate on a shoestring. If it is a question of money, why should not the Government pay the expenses of the trade unions and employers on these industrial committees, and so ease the financial burden on the I.L.O?

The income of the I.L.O. is some £10 million a year, of which the United States of America pay nearly 25 per cent., the other £7½, million being paid by the rest of the world. I sometimes wonder why this £10 million is not increased. It is amazing that in this day and age, when nations are spending £40,000 million on war, preparation for war and defence, we can find only a paltry £10 million to run an organisation like the I.L.O., which is doing so much good for the masses of the world. If the problem is indeed lack of money, let us try to give the I.L.O. more income year by year No that it can call these committees together more often. I believe that the last time the industrial committees met—at any rate the one I was on—was after about a three and a half years' lapse. This is too wide a gap between meetings. Industry marches so fast these days that, if anything, the gap should be shortened and not lengthened. As I have said, if it is a question of finance, I hope that assistance will be given to the I.L.O. in getting the finance necessary to achieve their objective.

Of all the committees on which I have sat in the I.L.O. the one I enjoyed the most was the Termination of Employment Committee. This was a committee which dealt with a most important subject. It is one of the biggest committees at the I.L.O. with over 60 workers in its membership. It needed the biggest room in the establishment to house the committee. Every one of the workers on that committee realised that termination of employment was an important subject, because if we could legislate on this particular issue it would do a tremendous amount in dealing with problems of strikes caused by immediate dismissals. These arise through all kinds of funny things—perhaps because the chargehand or the manager loses his temper, and for many other reasons.

I remember the T.U.C. analysing this problem a few years back. It is an amazing thing that when a man is caught by a policeman, a police sergeant or a superintendent, doing something wrong, he has to be proved in court to be guilty. But in industry, oh no! When the chargehand, foreman or manager, says that you are guilty, you are guilty, and you are out. So we have found that time after time there have been strikes on this issue of instant dismissal for various kinds of things. On this committee we could see this at work. We could see that if we could get a good piece of legislation that would avoid this kind of thing we should be doing a good turn to our own people. And let me say this. Trade unions dislike unofficial strikes just as much as employers do. I say that for the trade union movement of this country. So we do not want unofficial strikes any more than the other side does.

We felt that we should try to find some procedure that would remove the cause of these strikes. Our Committee—the Termination of Employment Committee— were of the opinion that nobody should be discharged instantly for misconduct; instead, the case should go to a disciplinary committee, which some industries have to-day, and be proved before anything was done about the matter. This Committee when dealing with these problems also encountered another phase of industry which caused a lot of trouble. This was either side of industry arbitrarily making changes. In this world you cannot do anything arbitrarily. Matters must be discussed between the two sides. But there is nothing to stop you from doing this; this is the point. And consider some of the things that have been done! We thought that on this particular subject we could get through this Termination of Employment Committee a provision that neither side of industry should make arbitrary changes; if it did it would have to restore the status quo and refer the matter to an industrial disputes tribunal. This is the kind of procedure that would help trade unionists.

We looked at every aspect of this question, but did not get the conclusion we wanted. As a matter of fact, we did not want a recommendation; we wanted a Convention, and we did not get a Convention. We did not even get the recommendation we should have liked to get. There is no doubt about it, you can only get rid of unofficial strikes by removing the cause of those strikes. We shall not get rid of unofficial strikes by industrial penal codes of any description. An industrial penal code has existed in Australia for many years now. Year after year—you can read the papers if you wish—national trade unions are fined £500, and thousands of trade union representatives are fined £5 each. This has been going on year after year, and still goes on. It has not solved the problem of strikes in Australia. Pro rata of population, the amount of time lost in Australia because of strikes is four times as great as we lose in this country. So there is no argument that a penal code is the answer to this problem. It certainly is not. I hope that we in this country do not think that we will get the answer by a penal code, because it will not work. As I have said, we have to remove the cause of strikes if we want to achieve the objective. I think we can remove the cause. I think this is possible and I hope that it is removed, in order to prevent some of the unofficial strikes we have up and down the country.

There are one or two other small points I want to make. I do not want to speak for too long. Nothing bores me more than a speech, and I do not want to bore your Lordships. One point is the name—the I.L.O., employers and workers. Fifty years have gone by, and probably for the first fifty years it was right to call the employers "employers". But of course the word "employer" now at the I.L.O. is almost becoming a misnomer, because 75 per cent. of those a tending there are in management, and are not employers. On the workers' side there are quite a lot of workers now in the trade union movement who do not like the name "worker"—and I do not blame them, either. I refer to the professional workers and those in the higher salary groups. So it might be necessary to change the two names: to change the names from "employer" and "worker" to "management" and "employee". It would be much more appropriate, and easier to understand. I suggest that the I.L.O. have a look at this question to see whether it cannot get new names in this connection.

There is only one other matter I want to speak on very shortly, and that is the question of expenses paid by the British Government to the I.L.O. I have been there so many times and know sc much about it. The last time I was there was in 1967, and I think they gave me the magnificent sum of £5 2s. 6d. a day. I want to tell your Lordships quite frankly in this noble House that I do not intend walking around back doubles trying to find a hotel to suit the British Government. I think it is appalling when employers and top-level trade union officials, who expect a decent standard, hive to go round the back doubles to get a second-rate hotel. I hope that the British Government, or at least the Ministry of Employment and Productivity, which looks after this subject, will considerably increase those expense allowance and let those working on their behalf live in a bit of comfort.

5.36 p.m.


My Lords, may I say first of all how glad I was to hear the noble Lord, Lord Crook, say in effect that we in this country have the finest tradition of social reform of any country in the world, the Scandinavian countries not excepted. It is the truth. It should be shouted from the house tops, and we should never forget it. The noble Baroness, Lady Sumrnerskill, having thrown the first spanner, may I now throw the second? I propose to speak of one aspect, and one aspect only, of the I.L.O. That is with regard to the social conditions and safety of seafarers in relation to the registration of ships. The noble Lord, Lord McCorquodale, spoke accurately and movingly about the maritime Conventions—I think he said there were 46—of the last fifty years. He did not, however, mention the so-called "flags of convenience".

The position in regard to these flags of convenience is well summed up (I shall need, I am afraid, to quote it on several occasions) in paragraph 18 of the International Seafarers' Charter, which reads: A problem that continues to bedevil the shipping industry is that of the flags of convenience. It makes no sense, from the seafarers' point of view, that certain shipowners should be able, by the simple device of registering their ships elsewhere, whilst otherwise carrying on the operation as heretofore, to endanger the whole structure of working and social conditions built up by the seafarers through long years of struggle and sacrifice. Nor, in general terms, does it make sense that such shipowners should be able, by such a device, to contract out of the normal obligations which, in matters such as taxation, safety and technical standards, and legislative provisions, are incumbent upon other members of a national and economic community". So much for that quotation. Now, my Lords, which are these countries which, like prostitutes, hawk their national flags out without consideration for the seamen who serve under them? In the main, Liberia and Panama. There are others.

I propose to concentrate on Liberia, which is almost certainly the most callously unscrupulous of the lot. I wonder whether your Lordships know the facts of life about Liberia. It has a population of 1,016,000, of whom 90 per cent. are said to be illiterate. The average income is £86 a year. Yet this little country has the biggest merchant navy in the world. Twenty-five million tons of shipping fly the Liberian flag. And what is the record of this magnificent merchant navy? In 1967 a total loss of 213,000 tons, as against the United Kingdom loss of 18,000, and a Norwegian loss of 9,000. In terms of percentages, Liberia's losses were 0.94, compared with a figure for the United Kingdom of 0.08 and for Norway of 0.05, the Liberian figure being exceeded only by those of two other countries, Panama and the Lebanon, which also sell flags of convenience. As Mr. Blyth of the International Transport Workers' Federation said in a letter to Lloyd's List: Exceptionally high losses among those convenience' fleets cannot be disguised and should not continue to be ignored by the world's maritime authorities. Perhaps at this time I should declare my interest: that I am a name at Lloyd's; but I think your Lordships will know me well enough to know that I am concerned with the social and not the economic implications of this matter.


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Earl? I am sorry to do so but he was making a disclaimer and I did not hear what he was disclaiming.


My Lords, I was declaring—not disclaiming—the fact that I am a name at Lloyd's, but I was hoping that the House would realise that my interests in this matter are social and not economic. In fact, I believe that ships of convenience are not very economic propositions.

I am not suggesting that all those ships which fly convenience flags are what the former Belgian Secretary of the International Transport Workers' Federation called "coffin ships". On the contrary, some, particularly among the Liberian ships, are reasonably well found. But the loss ratios speak for themselves, and it is clarity itself that the countries concerned do not give a damn about anything except raking in the shekels. If they did, why should not they be parties to the International Maritime Conventions and Recommendations? I suggest that in the case of Liberia, at least, it is because, in the words of the Secretary of the I.T.W.F.: Liberia's standards are decidedly inferior to all others". If I may be forgiven this rhetorical question I would ask, are the Government going to sit back and calmly acquiesce in this situation? It is not a question of international morality; it concerns the lives and wellbeing of British seamen who serve in these ships.

There is, of course, an answer to these problems. The answer, even although it might mean the virtual disappearance of the ships of convenience, is to be found in a world-wide acceptance of what has come to be known as the "genuine link". There has been a great deal of legal argument as to what that link means and how far it should go, but the principle is—and here I quote from Article V of the United Nations Convention on the High Seas 1958: Each State shall fix the conditions for the grant of its nationality to ships for the registration of ships in its territory, and for the right to fly its flag. Ships have the nationality of the State whose flag they are entitled to fly. There must exist a genuine link between the State and the ship; in particular, the State must effectively exercise its jurisdiction and control in administrative, technical, and social matters"— and I emphasise social matters— over the ships flying its flag. In other words, each country with a flag for sale should have the responsibility for the ships which fly that flag. It must be able to hold thorough, expert and completely impartial inquiries into all types of accidents, especially those involving loss of life, and must publish the results. It must lay down manning scales; it must ensure that the ships' officers cease to be inferior to those who serve under the flags of the international maritime countries. Its ships and crews should cease to be at the mercy and caprice of the ship-owners, even where the good intentions of those concerned are not in doubt. It must insist upon the safety of the crews, which means that it must openly and officially ratify the relevant I.L.O. and I.M.C.O. Conventions and Recommendations. It should also implement them by establishing administrative and inspection machinery necessary to ensure that the terms and conditions of ratified Conventions and Recommendations are strictly observed. In short, it must be less concerned with revenue and more with human lives and human welfare.

My Lords, what do I ask of the Government, bearing in mind that it is only one of many Governments involved in these matters? I would ask that its representatives at the I.L.O. and other maritime organisations shall press, and press hard, for this "genuine link" between flag and ship, and that it will net lightly shrug off what it knows to be an odious infringement of the rights of seamen, including British seamen. When we had our debate on the "Torrey Canyon" nearly two years ago, I introduced the subject of flags of convenience, and the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, said that the matters which I then raised, and which I raise again to-day, were very much in the Government's mind, but that I should await the findings of the "Torrey Canyon" inquiry and that I should not press him. We have row had these findings and I would ask the Government to tell the House explicitly its views and its intentions.

5.47 p.m.


My Lords, I join with those other noble Lords who have thanked the noble Lord, Lord Collison, for introducing this subject. I particularly want to thank him because it enables me to pay a tribute to an organisation from which I derived enormous satisfaction by my having the opportunity of participating in its work.

If I understood him correctly, the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, suggestcd that the success of the I.L.O. rested on the fact that its subject matter was non-contentious. With great respect, I would suggest that the success of the I.L.O. rests on the fact that it has been Able to overcome contention after contention.


My Lords, would the noble Lord forgive me for interrupting him? In fact I said that its lack of publicity in the Press and on broadcasting may be due to the fact that its work was relatively non-contentious.


My Lords, I apologise to the noble Lord. I thought he said what I previously stated. However, this does not alter the point I want to make, which is that the marvellous work—and I use the word "marvellous" quite deliberately—of the I.L.O. rests on its ability to be able to gather together not only people from all over the world, people speaking different languages, but people thinking differently and coming with completely different ideas as to how a particular problem should be tackled. I cannot speak for Government delegations, because I have never served on one, but I should be very surprised indeed if there were not a great deal of disagreement between Government delegations—progressive Governments and backward Governments; employers' groups that are progressive or backward. However, I certainly can speak with experience about the workers' group.

When one comes to deal with the subject on a committee one finds one is dealing with a certain amount of political undercurrent. Certainly it is true, as has been suggested, that one knows that in given circumstances the workers, the employers and the Governments will be speaking with their own voice, but that does not in any way destroy the truly tripartite character of the work of the I.L.O. But you do find, particularly when it comes to committee work, that you have to rely upon the staff of the I.L.O. This is where I want to pay my particular tribute. Tribute has been paid to the great men (and I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill, that we have left out women) who have participated in the work of the I.L.O. over the last 50 years. If I may anticipate the noble Lord, Lord Collison, I would mention only three British women who I believe have played a not inconsiderable part in the work of the I.L.O., on the committees: Dame Anne Loughlin, Dame Florence Hancock and Dame Anne Godwin. These women undoubtedly, from my personal experience, played as important a part as any of the other members of the British workers delegations.

But, as I was saying, I want to refer to the staff of the I.L.O., the people who are seldom heard of, who are unobtrusive but who make the work of I.L.O. possible. Without them it would not carry on. I refer not only to the translators, the interpreters, not only to the ordinary people working at the desks, but particularly to the heads of departments. We talk about the directorate, and I pay my tribute to the directorate and to the Governing Body, which determines policy; but it is the heads of departments, the people who do research, prepare reports, prepare draft conventions—these are the people to whom I want to pay my tribute. I sometimes think—and I may be doing them more than justice or less than justice—that they face their problem in this way. They know before they start that the employers, the workers and the Governments are going to look at whatever is being prepared from different points of view. They know that some of what they are going to say, something in the report, is going to please all three; something in it is going to displease all three; and when they draft the convention they draft it in such a way that it is impossible, or almost impossible, to have ultimate disagreement because there will always be something in the convention which will satisfy the workers, the employers or the Governments.

When we are criticising these conventions, those of us who have had experience of committee work which has resulted in either recommendation or convention would make this plea. It is true, of course, that many of the conventions are not what everyone would want them to be: they do not succeed in achieving all that everybody wants to achieve. But if you have been through the work of trying to get agreement, not only in the group but in the committee; if you have tried to gather together all the disagreements, and are able at the end of the day to have that convention adopted—never mind about ratification—by the conference, you know that you have achieved something in the face of very great difficulty. And it is the staff in the I.L.O. who, it seems to me, face crisis almost every day, because there is always somebody who disapproves of something, who wants something altered; and these men and women devoted to the organisation unobtrusively overcome these difficulties.

I wonder whether I might, in the presence of a member of the Governing Body, mention a particular case where the staff exercised their flexibility of mind. We had a committee of which the chairman was a member of the Government delegation of a country in the Southern Hemisphere. We came together and we had been there only two or three hours when it was quite apparent that he misconceived his duties. His idea was that he was going to tell us not only what to do but how to do it. This does not satisfy anybody, Governments, workers or employers. We went to the official who was servicing the committee. The problem is that it is impossible to turn out a chairman. What we did was to set up a sub-committee, remitted the whole agenda to the sub-committee and elected a new chairman. We did our job and reported back to the first chairman when we had got an agreement on the whole report. I mention this purely to pay a tribute to this flexibility of mind, this ability of the staff of the I.L.O. to meet crises of this kind. So I hope that when we are dealing with the great names past and present, when we are thinking in terms of the work done, we shall also think of, and pay a tribute to, those men and women whose names will never be mentioned: heads of departments, the people who do the research; the people I have mentioned as being those who make it possible for men to be great, and women to be great, in the I.L.O. and for the work to be done.

5.57 p.m.


My Lords, like other noble Lords, I should like to pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Collison, for introducing this theme to-day. It is perhaps in the nature of things that we are so involved in our domestic, economic and political problems that we do not frequently enough look at international organisations and take stock of them. I think this obsession with our domestic affairs sometimes precludes the ability to think in the internationalist terms which is demanded of us. We should all agree that in the nature of the world to-clay events happening in far off countries have their impact on our lives. The very nature of modern communications demands that we should increasingly think in internationalist terms. But not only should we think in internationalist terms; we should be deeply concerned about creating international institutions which are relevant to the kind of environment in which we live. And so it is important that we should spend a little time this afternoon talking about one of the veteran international organisations, the I.L.O.

I have always found in international organisations that although we get frustrated and become disappointed with those which are used too frequently as a forum for rival ideologies, we must recognise that we are building up in the world to-day a framework of functional international organisations which is significant. As a former servant of the United Nations, I appreciate that the real work of the United Nations was not done in the debating chamber in the Assembly. The real work of the United Nations was done in the organisations which had a specific job to do, be it the Food and Agriculture Organisation, be it the various relief activities of the United Nations, or be it UNESCO and other departments of the United Nations. We are in fact engaged in a race against time. If man is incapable of creating institutions of international government and authority to match the kind of environment in which we live, then mankind, like other species who have failed to adapt in time, will surely perish. And it is for that reason, because I believe this profoundly, that I am glad is afternoon to be able to pay tribute to the work of the International Labour Organisation, because here is an organisation which has a specific task and is discharging that task with ability.

Having said that regarding the general work of the I.L.O. and international institutions, I want to deal with a specific aspect of I.L.O. activity which has not been touched on this afternoon. Reference has been made to the pioneer, the leader, the inspirer of I.L.O., M. Albert Thomas. He was a great internationalist, as has been said by Lord Francis-Williams, and a great Socialist; but also he was a great Co-operator, and within a few months of the foundation of the I.L.O. in 1919 a Co-operative secretariat was established at I.L.O. and w tat has been a most effective and useful department was created. Albert Thomas believed that it was not sufficient to protect a worker only in his place of work and to ensure decent conditions of employment, but that social legislation should provide for workers to participate—a most popular phrase nowadays. In 1919 M. Albert Thomas said that social legislation required not only to improve conditions but to provide a framework in which workers would participate in and influence economic and social development. He also said that the Cooperative organisation provided that framework.

I know that in this country the predominant part played by the consumer co-operative organisation, an organisation responsible for the employment in the United Kingdom of 36,000 people and doing an annual trade of over £1,000 million, is inclined to influence our thinking about the co-operative idea. But the I.L.O. recognised that the co-operative idea had a much wider application than simply the running of grocery stores. In its technical assistance programme the I.L.O. provides for considerable services for the propagation and development of the co-operative idea. It makes available experts to advise and assist developing countries in their co-operatives. It provides fellowships and travel grants to students from developing countries to this country and other countries to gain experience in management as well as in cooperative ideas. It provides seminars it supplies teaching aids; it has established co-operative development centres in some of these countries.

I should like your Lordships to believe that this work is important. I believe that the co-operative idea, particularly applied in the developing countries, has a most important part to play in their economic and social development. One of the problems of overseas aid is surely that it humiliates the recipient and is often associated with paternalism. The co-operative development taking place in those countries is enabling people to create their own economic institutions and to play a full part in running them. As a matter of fact, having achieved political independence and the right to vote and to run their own affairs, many of those countries are now seeking for the economic institution which will match this political democratic concept; and the co-operative organisations which are growing rapidly in India, in Africa and in the Middle East are simply a reflection of that desire of people to run their own affairs, not only by electing politicians from time to time but by building up in their countries and owning and running their own economic enterprises.

This co-operative idea has many advantages over the remoteness and bureaucracy of State enterprises in many of those countries. It enables people to get a sense of dignity from the knowledge that they are building their own society and have control of their own economic institutions. That takes many forms. It takes the form of consumer "co-ops", service "co-ops", credit "co-ops". That is tremendously important in countries of a one-crop economy, where people have so often to borrow to tide them over until the next harvesting period.

There are transport co-operatives and health co-operatives. I have personal experience in some of those countries of going into villages where there has been great celebration because, by their own efforts, they have built their own health centre, run by their own "co-op", and have developed their own "co-op" for the marketing of cotton, sugar or cocoa or some other product. In the field of fishery co-operatives, again the I.L.O. has undertaken a number of studies and has supported a number of most successful enterprises. I believe that this is a lasting contribution for which the I.L.O. can take a great deal of credit, and I am glad that Lord Collison has given us the opportunity of paying this tribute to that work.

6.7 p.m.


My Lords, like everyone else, I am most grateful to my noble friend Lord Collison for allowing us to write into the proceedings of the House of Lords a tribute to the I.L.O. on this, its Jubilee. I only wish that we could hear a great deal more about the I.L.O. in its Jubilee Year, and in fact every year. As has been said by the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, unfortunately we do not get enough scare headlines out of the I.L.O., and it is now a tragic truth that in journalism and in the mass media good news is bad news and bad news is good news.

But I am here to pay a tribute to the I.L.O. from a considerable experience, not in sitting on committees or governing bodies or anything like that, but from actually seeing its work in the field. A great deal has been said, and rightly so, about its function in building up what I regard as the only substantial existing code of international law. So far as I am concerned, all other international law is simply comparative national law. We have now a substantial body of at least 100 approved and ratified Conventions. This is most inspiring, and it is in that sense, by inspiring example, that there is effectiveness in its recomendations.

But I want to deal with something else. I want to follow my noble friend Lord Taylor and deal with what is almost a neglected side, even more neglected than the other side of the work of the I.L.O.: it is the quite remarkable work which it does in the field. It is the down-to-earth job which we call technical assistance with which I want to deal. I may say that this is little known, even, I am afraid to say, sometimes within the itself. I do not think that the mandarins of Geneva fully appreciate what has been done by the people they have sent out as the missionaries in the field. These are the people who are in fact the industrial Albert Schweitzers. The I.L.O. has its own martyrs. Many have gone out to the remote and dangerous places of the world.

Dealing with this impression of the I.L.O. as an invigilator, a legislative body, I recall that when I was chief of the United Nations Information Mission to South East Asia I told a lively French photographer who was going with us that our assignment included the work of I.L.O. He said, "Mon Dieu!"—he did not really say "Mon Dieu!"; he used a five letter French word which is not fit for Hansard. He said, "We are going to the jungle to shoot filing cabinets". He was to discover, as we all did on that mission, the very exciting work which I.L.O. was doing in the field.

As in so many other things, the I.L.O. in its League days anticipated "technical assistance"; "technical assistance" as we now know it through other functional agencies of the United Nations. When, during the war, with the rest of the League in ruins, I.L.O. left Europe (where its preoccupations had inevitably been concerned with the industrial problems of the advanced countries) and went to Montreal, it discovered fresh opportunities. Under the leadership of John G. Winant—my friend and a friend of many people here, who later was to be the much loved and inspired American Ambassador in London—it became involved in the labour problems of undeveloped countries, the first venture by any international organisation into this side of technical assistance. The issue was forced by the need for war materials, particularly from South America—notably Bolivian tin. In the interests of productivity, but also of compassion, John G. Winant sent missions to Latin America to help to organise labour and to provide the nonexistent industrial relations, factory reg ulations, and social services for the workers.

As has been mentioned—and I remind your Lordships again—in the heat of that war, with the outcome still far from certain, the Allies met in Philadelphia where they planned for the counties still under bombardment, like Britain, and the countries still occupied by the Germans, the adjustments which would halve to be made when victory was attained. The I.L.O. at Philadelphia planned the demobilisation which, after the First World War, had been such a grotesque tragedy and had led to the miseries of the 'twenties. I ask everyone who is interested in that kind of history to look hard at it, because by its declaration at Philadelphia the I.L.O. made easier the change over to peace. One of the most constructive speeches of that time on this subject was that of our British delegate, George Tomlinson. The Philadelphia Declaration was in this sense, and in the sense to which I am also speaking, in the opening up of the undeveloped world, a great historic document.

In the past twenty years I have seen a lot of I.L.O.'s technical missionary work in the field—in Asia, Latin America and Africa. Not many people think of I.L.O. at work in the Sahara Desert, but I know its work there in the oases helping to develop crafts into industries. I have seen it in the Matto Grosso in Brazil, in the High Andes, in the Himalayas, in the Ganges Delta and in the Congo. People have forgotten, if the newspapers ever told them, of the I.L.O. missionaries who were stoned to death in Equador and who were immediately, as of the following day, replaced by courageous international volunteers of I.L.O. I have "sweated it out" both in terms or temperature and nerves with I.L.O representatives in the desperate days of the Congo, when I.L.O. with other agencies of the United Nations moved into the heart of Africa to help that broken-backed country. I think of I.L.O.'s work with the indigenous peoples everywhere—people we forget or just write about in anthropological textbooks—but particularly among the disinherited heirs of the Incas in the altiplano of Latin America, where it was the "anchor man" of the Andean Indian project, with the other agencies co-operating.

Once I went to Chieng-Mai in the North-East of Thailand to assist at the opening of an I.L.O. shellac factory. This is a typical example of the "off-beat" activities of I.L.O. about which nobody ever hears, and I suspect sometimes Geneva itself does not always hear. Shellac ware was an indigenous craft in Thailand, but over the years the skills had deteriorated and what had in fact provided the domestic utensils had declined into porosity and shoddiness. Instead, cheap plastic utensils were being imported into a country which could not afford the international currency. I.L.O. moved into the North of Thailand; they brought in experts to improve the quality of the shellac materials and the handling of them; they introduced factory processes; they set up schools to train artists to recapture the classical designs in modern idiom. They restored the domestic ware for the people of Thailand and started a healthy export trade in the more artistic forms of shellac ware.

I have seen I.L.O. technicians training mechanics, restoring river traffic, improving not only factory conditions but the actual technical weaving methods in the textile industries of India and Pakistan. I have seen vocational training moving in to instruct at a level of common understanding. I have seen what my noble friend Lord Taylor has been referring to, the enormous work in the setting up of co-operatives. I have attended their training courses for higher management, middle management, and the training of shop floor technicians. I have seen their efforts to reconcile the essentials of mechanisation with the need for labour intensiveness, the use of manual labour in countries with swarms of unskilled workers; how in fact modern technology was creating hardship, because we still had to rely on the pay packets people could not have.

I have taken part in the Institute of Labour Studies, which was directed by Hilary Marquand at one time, and I have seen what you can do by bringing and introducing the young trade union leaders, the young management people, into the international scene. I repeat what has been said so often in this House this afternoon, that in that situation whatever is ideological disappears; you hammer out problems, and it is a wonderful college for international trade.

I have been involved also with the other side of I.L.O. which is dealing with the problems of radioactive hazards, and I have also been involved on problems of automation. So you see that the range of I.L.O. goes far beyond the very substantial, enormously important functions which it carries through as the law maker, the standard setter and the invigilator. There is a wide area of great activity which I would say, with my noble friend Lord Hill, is shockingly under-financed. We call upon these agencies to do work which in fact we do not enable them to do.

We did not go to the jungle to shoot filing cabinets. We saw the flesh and blood efforts of dedicated people changing the development structure of poor countries and trying to add a new quality to human existence and a new dimension to human aspirations.

6.18 p.m.


My Lords, it is most appropriate that thanks be expressed to my noble friend Lord Collison for initiating this debate on the I.L.O., especially on this the Golden Jubilee of the Organisation. Because he has had so many years of direct experience of the I.L.O. as a participant in the work of committees and the International Labour Conference, and because of his membership over the last few years of the Governing Body, there are few, if any, in the United Kingdom so qualified to speak from direct knowledge of the I.L.O. as my noble friend.

Despite the vast international coverage of the I.L.O., to take up a theme mentioned initially by the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, I would say that in broad general terms the knowledge and appreciation of the work carried out, and of the benefits which have accrued to so many millions of people, are surprisingly and deplorably small. In one sense that is to be regretted, but from another angle it may be much to the credit of the I.L.O. in the evaluation of its achievements. I would explain that somewhat paradoxical expression in that, arising from my own experience—and I am sure the same applies to most of your Lordships—publicity is usually in inverse proportion to unspectacular but solid achievement. Were the I.L.O. to be torn asunder by totally divergent disruptive discussions which terminated in acrimony, there is no doubt in my mind that the Organisation would achieve and maintain massive attention by the organs of publicity. But peace and achievement are not news; and so, in my opinion, that lack of publicity is just one of the many bases on which a judgment of the 50 years' work of the I.L.O. may be made and congratulations extended.

It is obvious that to survey the extent of the I.L.O. within the compass of even a very long debate would be impossible, although I know that, in addition to the exposition of the noble Lord, Lord Collison, many of the noble Lords who have participated in this debate have dealt with some of the important and extensive activities of this 50-years-young organisation. Because of my long association with industrial matters, I have a knowledge of many of those activities. If I do not mention even some of those of outstanding importance, that does not at all detract from my appreciation of what has been or is being done, or what has been achieved in those spheres of activity upon which I do not dwell.

There will, I am sure, be many references to a major achievement of the I.L.O. To have survived and to have so well carried out the role initially designed for it, having regard to the diverse characteristics of its membership, and in a world so unlike in 1969 that of 1919 when the Organisation was brought into being, is in itself an historic and outstanding achievement. One reflects upon the tripartite structure and the absolute international character of the members, and with difficulty one endeavours to recall any organisation of similar construction which has at any period survived for so long and, after such a fifty years, is as effective as ever, and in fact, in many respects, is even more so to-day than at any time in its history.

My Lords, apart from general contact with I.L.O. activities, my direct personal experience has been in the work of the Industrial Committees. Whilst that is the title usually applied, the precise term is Industrial and Analogous Committees, this including not only Industrial Committees as such but also the Advisory Committees on Salaried Employees and Professional Workers, the Committee on Work on Plantations and, where necessary, the tripartite technical meetings convened for particular sector. The phraseology defining the scope pf those Committees is important and interesting, and I crave the indulgence of your Lordships in quoting it. It is: to concentrate their work on concrete questions pertaining to their respective sectors; to ensure the greatest possible effectiveness for their conclusions; and to avoid overlapping between the activities of the International Labour Conference and those of the Committees. To this end, the scope of the Committees shall include: the consideration of particular and practical problems of the sector with which the Committee is concerned; the consideration of general problems on which the International Labour Conference has taken a decision, in so far as they affect the sector with which the Committee is concerned; and the consideration of problems which, while not having yet been dealt with by the Conference, present an immediate interest and directly affect the sector with which the Committee is concerned. Implicit in those regulations governing the activities of those Committees is the emphasis on the consideration of practical problems and specific issues.

There is no doubt whatever that the work carried out by the Industrial Committees, both directly, through advice tendered to the governing body, and also by the transmission of information by, and the influence of, participants within their own territories has had a major world-wide impact. Debates involving representatives of Governments and both sides of industry upon specific items affecting industry—using the word in its fullest sense—have over the years resulted in the transformation of conditions of work in greater or lesser degree almost everywhere. It would be virtually impossible to assess the economic and social results of policies so initiated and completely impossible to evaluate the benefits which have accrued to human beings—I can say millions of human beings—throughout the world, and including our own people.

My Lords, those with experience in our own country of the discussions between representatives of employers and work-people on labour codes of practice appreciate the problems and difficulties attendant on those discussions. With the addition of a third party, Government, the situation becomes more complicated. How much more complex then are the Industrial Committees, composed as they are of the tripartite representatives of all the varied nations affiliated to the I.L.O.? I would submit that this situation is prima facie even less promising, in terms of accommodation, than is the case with most Agencies of the United Nations. Yet, despite the problems, I suggest that the results are in the main more meaningful. I say that intending no disrespect to the other Agencies.

Perhaps a good reason for the success of the Industrial Committees is that the industrial delegates are people whose main job is to deal with the day-to-day running of undertakings. This is a most important factor, for although the views of employers' and workers' delegates are usually stated initially in opposing terms, nevertheless even if complete agreement is not reached progress towards accommodation is usually made—progress in practical terms, not theories. Wider economic and social implications are subject to assessment by the representatives of Governments, a necessary factor as in many cases legislation may ultimately be involved. Even allowing for the fact that decisions of the I.L.O. are not mandatory, nevertheless the vast number of conventions which have been ratified is weighty evidence of the estimation of their worth by Governments.

If I may refer to the theme which was mentioned by my noble friend Lord Hill of Wivenhoe, there has been in recent times some unease, especially among workpeople, that there is a desire in some quarters to restrict the work of the I.L.O., which would include the activities of the Industrial Committees. There is no case for such limitation. Recognising what has already been accomplished, and massive though accomplishments have been, even more still remains to be done. The rapidly changing world all the time poses new problems, problems to which solutions, and practical solutions, must be found. Those problems are not confined to particular territories. Although at a given time they may vary in degree and character, they affect developed, developing and underdeveloped countries; and in the world of to-day in one form or another the impact of such problems is not confined by territorial boundaries. In my opinion there is no institution comparable to the I.L.O. in dealing with the matters falling within its scope. I therefore hope that Her Majesty's Government will continue to give the fullest support to this outstanding international body, the I.L.O.

6.30 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Collison, must be very pleased indeed with the debate which he has initiated. He is himself to be congratulated on an excellent speech, and a number of admirable contributions have followed his. I hope I shall be forgiven if at this hour I do not mention them all. Indeed, at this stage of the debate little perhaps remains to be said. But I should particularly like to congratulate my noble friend Lord McCorquodale of Newton—a most distinguished employer, if I may say so—who, like the right reverend Prelate, is rightly keen on the tripartite idea, even if not necessarily in a theological sense. But as the noble Lord, Lord Francis-Williams, said, we are dealing with real problems here, and this is very gratifying.

Personally, I should like to say how happy I am myself to take part in the debate, for before the war I worked closely with the I.L.O. which I believe to be an eminently great and good organisation. I worked with it in Geneva when Sir Harold Butler and Mr. John Winant were the Directors, and I knew Edward Phelan and also, particularly, Humbert Wolfe—that great poet and civil servant. I was then on the staff of the League of Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and at that time the I.L.O. played a most imporant part—I do not think this has been mentioned in the debate—assisting in the resettlement and employment of German-Jewish and other refugees. I was a League official myself then, and I remember especially the work which they did in resettling people in South America.

It was gratifying then to work with two organisations which, despite the political and—shall I say?—the military impotence of the League itself, were themselves already doing valuable work which has led to the setting up of international standards which, through a large number of the Office's instruments, Conventions, et cetera, which we have been discussing this afternoon, have to a considerable extent already been achieved. And it is agreeable to hear now from the noble Lord, Lord Collison, and others who have spoken in the debate, that the I.L.O., as the oldest of the United Nations Specialised Agencies, has kept up its reputation. Indeed, much the same praise of its work can be expressed to-day as it was before the war, and perhaps much the same fears about the political work of the United Nations and the effectiveness of the Security Council.

My noble friend Lord Drumalbyn dealt with the whole question of the application and ratification in this country of the numerous Conventions. He and others have spoken of freedom of association and collective bargaining under Conventions 87 and 98, as well as safeguards against unfair dismissal under Recommendation 119. I agree, however, with the noble Baroness, Lady Summer-skill, who certainly livened up our debate a bit—she was certainly in fighting form—that we should look carefully at those Conventions which we have not ratified, including that concerned with equal pay. I wish I could argue this point in greater detail with her this evening, but obviously this is not the time or the place.

There has also been some discussion of the I.L.O.'s activities connected with technical aid, training programmes and general industrial investment overseas, and I should like to follow my noble friend on this particular line. That is not to say that I do not think that considerations of social justice, human rights and the setting up of international standards are not just as important. But, as I said, these have been dealt with pretty fully, and I think we all know that the I.L.O. itself attaches great importance —as do my noble friends Lord Drumalbyn and Lord McCorquodale of Newton—to the Organisation's activities in the field of technical co-operation.

As a fairly recent report by the I.L.O. on this subject points out, it is the diversity of circumstances that makes it necessary for the I.L.O.'s activities to be so varied. They are activities which may be carried on in a country of a few hundred thousand inhabitants, or a nation which is a sub-continent, or where the density of the population may vary from one to 300 people per square mile, with average incomes ranging from 50 to 900 dollars. In one area a peasant may be taught how to use a plough; good, intermediate technology here; in another a manager may be taught how to use a computer.

The participation of employers' and workers' organisations in this technical co-operation is very important—it does not, I think, take place systematically in other forms of overseas aid—and no one has contested the need for such participation. However, I gather that such participation is still far from being a fully accomplished fact. I should like to ask the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, for the Government's attitude to this problem, and what they consider the I.L.O. itself, the Government as well as employers' and workers' organisations, can do to ensure that full participation is put into practice.

I gather, too, that the I.L.O. is empowered to approach Governments under its own Constitution as well as b'' virtue of instruments adopted by the General Conference, and that when it communicates with national development planning institutions and units for the planning of technical co-operation it endeavours to show them how producers can play their part in development. I see that I.L.O. officials have instructions to get into touch with employers' and workers' organisations in order to inform them of their negotiations with Government services. This seems to me an admirable thing. However, although the Organisation may make suggestions to a Government, final decisions must clearly rest with the Governments themselves. I also observe that the I.L.O. think that possibly the best way of making progress in technical co-operation programmes is for the organisers themselves to take the initiative in making proposals, indicating for each project practical ways in which they could collaborate and eventually make a contribution.

There is clearly a great need—and this point I should like to stress and I have given the noble Lord warning of it—for the co-ordination of manpower and employment policies, not only in overall economic and social planning but also among the various services concerned with these policies. There is also a need for the I.L.O. to seek the co-operation of other international organisations in developing a common approach to employment and manpower planning in each region. Co-ordination is necessary, too, with bilateral aid projects and with other forms of international technical aid, and I should like to ask the noble Lord whether he thinks such co-ordination is now effective and how the Government place the I.L.O.'s work in this respect within the overall framework of our overseas aid which, as we know, amounts now to well over £200 million.

For instance, just before the House rose before Christmas I saw that the Minister for Overseas Development announced in a Written Answer in another place that, subject to Parliamentary approval, it was the intention of the Government to make an interim contribution to the International Development Association (I.D.A.) of £21.6 million—equivalent to one instalment of the United Kingdom's obligations under the second replenishment. Can the noble Lord say how this kind of contribution fits in and compares with what is being done through the I.L.O.? I know, of course, that I.D.A., as we call her, provides a very different kind of aid. But I know, too, that it is considered a rewarding operation and may ultimately achieve returns in excess of our outlay. I sometimes wonder, therefore, whether we should not channel as much aid as possible through this Association. I do not mean to imply by this that the kind of vocational training organised through the I.L.O., and mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie-Calder, is not very rewarding. I am sure it pays dividends, too, but these may be difficult to calculate. I was impressed to learn from the I.L.O. office here in London this morning that of the I.L.O.'s 650 advisers throughout the world one-fifth are from Britain. This must surely impress the developing countries in which they operate.

Returning to the question of how our contribution to the I.L.O.'s technical projects fits into our overall multilateral and bilateral aid, am I not right in saying that monies for the I.L.O. schemes come through the United Nations Development Fund, and that this country's contribution of £734,000 to the I.L.O. itself is concerned largely only with I.L.O. administration? If the noble Lord can give an indication of the amount of such aid from us which is channelled through the Development Fund to the I.L.O., I should be most grateful. I know that it may be a little difficult to arrive at a figure, but perhaps he could give us an indication of its order of magnitude. In addition to expressing the hope that co-ordination of our various aid efforts is now effective, I also hope that the links between the field services of the I.L.O. and of the U.N. development programme have also been strengthened. I do not think they have been completely satisfactory in the past. Then, of course, there is also the whole problem of dual responsibility; that is to say, responsibility of the Government concerned and of the I.L.O. itself. I should be glad to hear the noble Lord's views generally on these rather fundamental operational problems.

It is also, in my view, most important to ensure that all counterpart posts are properly filled in good time and that the persons selected have not only the necessary skills and moral fibre but are also sufficiently interested in the development of a project to throw themselves whole-heartedly into their functions. One of the alarming facts, as your Lordships all know, is that the economies of the backward countries are, apart from a few minor exceptions, moving so slowly. This is a matter which we have discussed in our debates on overseas aid. There is always a tendency for the richer countries to get richer and the poorer to get poorer. And it is the brain-drain from the less well developed countries which is really so serious. Moreover, on my journeys I have seen people who, having been trained in the West, have returned to their own country to take jobs where the skills which they have learned in the West are not used. There may not be many such cases, but it does happen.

I will not labour the point that in some countries instead of progress there is often stagnation. Nor, indeed, do I propose to grind into the earth the fact that world agricultural production has in recent years increased at only the same rate as the population. As the I.L.O. say, unemployment and under-employment continue to be a crushing threat to populations. An inexhaustible fund of manpower lies idle while incalculably rich natural resources remain untapped. Our great aim (or shall I say our great ideal?) must be to find employment for the entire working population of the world, and this should be not only an insurance against local unrest but also an insurance policy for world peace. How it will be possible to find jobs for all employable Indians, Chinese and, indeed, refugees from certain countries is, of course, the great issue, and I do not see how it can be resolved except by increased investment of both Government and private capital as well as strictly technical aid in those countries where under-employment is so serious. I think there is certainly some merit in channelling such aid through international organisations such as the I.L.O. There are counter-arguments, of course, to the effect that tied bilateral aid is better for both parties, but I will not go into those arguments tonight.

Above all, I think that everything must be done to improve management techniques in these developing countries, for so often it is not a question of a shortage of skilled or reasonably skilled labour but of management deficiencies which bring about the collapse of certain projects in developing countries; and I believe the I.L.O. should have an important role to play in this respect. There is in some countries a tremendous need for middle executives and foremen. There is certainly a shortage here; and management training is the only answer. I think this is a good field for the I.L.O. to operate in, in view of the fact that both employers and employees are tied in so closely with its work. In so far as training is concerned, I like very much the I.L.O. programme, to which the noble Lord, Lord Crook, referred, which is to be launched this year, under which regional I.L.O. teams will be set up in America, Asia and Africa consisting of specialists in manpower, economic development and other fields relevant to the expansion of employment and training. Incidentally, I see that the Netherlands Government and the relevant Swedish authority are putting funds at the disposal of the I.L.O.'s World Employment Programme. I do not know whether the noble Lord has the answer, but I wonder whether we are also contributing to this programme.

I had not intended to raise questions arising out of the Government's White Paper, In Place of Strife, which deals with our own domestic problems in industrial relations and our own union reforms, on which the Labour Party seem divided, but since the noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill, and the noble Lord, Lord Hill of Wivenhoe, have done so I can only say that we on this side of the House stand by the statements of my right honourable friends the Leader of the Opposition and Mr. Robert Carr which were made over the week-end. I would add only this: the mere you examine our own Conservative policy set out in Fair Deal at Work and the Government's White Paper, the more one is struck by the number of points of difference, in contrast to the relatively few and superficial points of agreement. But clearly it would be out of order to go into that argument this evening. No doubt we shall shortly be having a "cooling-off period" or a "conciliation pause" after the noble Lord has replied.

In conclusion, may I say that I greatly welcome this debate. As my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn and the noble Lord, Lord Carron, have said, the I.L.O. does not get much publicity, because so often goods news is no news. I should like to repeat my thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Collison, for initiating a most useful discussion, which I hope will make its contribution to an appreciation of working conditions not only at home but also in developing countries overseas, where I think the needs are even greater. I end, as others have done, by saluting and congratulating the Organisation and hoping that its Secretary-General, Mr. David Morse, will soon fully recover.

6.48 p.m.


My Lords, one of the problems of a debate of this kind is the danger that it will turn into a glorified panegyric, and that we shall not grasp some of the problems which, despite the excellence of the Organisation we are discussing, we ought to grasp. But I do not think that can be said of the debate to-day. I think it has been conducted with a vitality and Variety which put it rather high in the private record that I make for my own amusement. I give marks to particular debates, and I would put this one very high indeed. I think that a great deal of the credit springs from the fact that the Members of your Lordships' House who have taken part are people with a quite exceptional range of experience, and they have combined that with a great deal of imagination both in discussing problems critically and in looking to the future.

We have had a number of very distinguished trade union leaders, and the right reverend Prelate has made a valuable contribution. The employers' side has been a bit, I was about to say thinly represented, although I doubt whether I can apply that to the noble Lord, Lord McCorquodale of Newton. His vigorous personality, his own contribution, has shown what a unique form of co-operation we have—and I am not speaking of co-operation purely in the terms in which my noble friend Lord Taylor of Gryfe was speaking about it. But I believe that we owe much to the noble Lord, Lord Collison, himself. He may be embarrassed by the tributes that have been paid to him; but he has been a workers' delegate—or "employees' delegate," for the benefit of the noble Lord, Lord Carron, who is no longer here—to the International Labour Conference for a number of years. He is also a workers' member of the Governing Body; and here he represents and speaks not just for the workers of this country but for those of all countries who are members of the I.L.O. I would only say that he does honour to his own country in this; and the international respect in which he is held is something in which we all rejoice.

So many tributes have been paid to the I.L.O. that I was disposed to think (though I must not raise hopes too quickly) that I could dispense with a good deal of what I had to say. I will attempt to do so; but I think it is important that, speaking on behalf of the Government, I should put on record the attitude of Her Majesty's Government, which I know is shared throughout this House, to this Organisation. I am very glad, right at the beginning, to acknowledge the very special tributes eloquently made by a number of noble Lords not just to the Organisation and to those who participate internationally but to the officials and those who serve in it. My noble friend Lord Geddes of Epsom, in a brief but sincere contribution, made this point as did my noble friend Lord Ritchie-Calder who, in that enormously varied life of his, has seen the I.L.O. operating in conditions in which I think very few people are even aware it has to do. These tributes were echoed by others also.

The I.L.O., as we know, can look back on 50 years in the cause of peace and social justice. It is interesting, and very tempting, to go back over history. It is very tempting to remember Robert Owen's first initiative in the international field in seeking to set up international labour standards; there was that extraordinary conference in Berlin in 1890, which I think is written about in that remarkable book, The Proud Tower. And I am not sure that the Kaiser was not at that conference. I rather believe he was, though I was unable to check the facts before I came to speak.

But, as noble Lords have emphasised—and it has been emphasised by the I.L.O. itself, and by the Conference—that in the course of celebrating this Jubilee we should look to the future rather than to the past. But none the less it is a fact that, alone of the major organisations which formed part of the League of Nations, the I.L.O. survived the Second World War. There is one exception which I think is worth remembering; that is the refugee organisations. Some of them have changed their nature but still have survived. But the I.L.O., uniquely in the form that it was set up, has continued. As the noble Lord said, it has the full support of the British Government. I particularly appreciate, as those who knew him well also appreciate, the tributes to Ernest Bevin and the part he played.

My Lords, what has been the secret of the I.L.O.'s survival? Several noble Lords have pointed to the truth in this matter. The unique feature of the constitution is that it provides for the association of representatives of employers and workers as private persons. They are associated with the sort of decisions on policy which before 1919 were the preserve of the diplomatic representatives of Governments and are still, in a large part of the international field, the preserve of Governments. In all countries Governments may come and Governments may go—although I would not encourage the Opposition to be optimistic too early; régimes may change and even systems may be overturned. But within the area which is the concern of the I.L.O. there will always remain workers and employers, employees and managements.

Under any system of government the majority of the population fall into one or other of these two categories. They have their own problems, of powers, of relationship, of communication, but they have a common interest in the prosperity and success of their enterprise. It has been the achievement of the I.L.O. to provide the international forum for the discussion and synthesis of the different attitudes to this common aim and for spreading to the widest extent possible throughout the world the highest standards thereby achieved. Indeed, since "participation" is one of the popular catchwords of to-day, here is perhaps a rather striking example of an effective kind of participation.

The I.L.O. seems to have got the proportions right in this matter. Government do not just dominate. Certainly this is true so far as the British are concerned. There is the story, which is no doubt known to most noble Lords, of the representative of another country in Geneva who was overheard to say that the present Government of the United Kingdom showed a proper sense of fitness of things in that the worker member of the Governing Body for this country was a noble Lord, the employer member was a Knight and the Government member a plain "Mr.". Perhaps at this point I might say to the noble Lord, Lord Hill of Wivenhoe, who complained about expenses, that I sympathise with him. When I went to Geneva to negotiate the Aden Agreement I was personally between £20 and £30 out of pocket after a week. But, of course, in this we are all treated alike. These rates of allowance are set after Foreign Office inspectors have considered what is proper, and they are applied to Government officials and civilians alike. Of course, foreign exchange is short, and there are those whose capacity for consumption of one kind or another may be greater than others. None the less, I have noted the noble Lord's point, and I say that we all suffer under this particular bit of Government—I hesitate to use the term "meanness"; shall I say "cautiousness"?


Stinginess !


Well it is the "stinginesses" that we inherited from our predecessors.

My Lords, let me say something about the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary. We expect that it will have its parallel in Legislatures all over the world. It is suitable that we are taking note of it here, close to the place, the Robing Chamber, where that important meeting took place in 1921. Later this year we hope that Mr. David Morse (and I should like to repeat the tributes paid to him: his life is busy, but for anyone who goes to Geneva it is remarkable how he finds time to see people who want to talk to him) will visit this country. We plan to entertain him at an official dinner at which the First Secretary of State will be the host. We shall not undertake necessarily to offer him a bound copy of In place of Strife or the Conservative Central Office document on the subject; but this will be a pleasant and national occasion, and the T.U.C. and the C.B.I., as we know from my noble friend Lord Collison and from the noble Lord, Lord McCorquodale, hope to entertain, him. There will be a special ceremony in Geneva on June 18, and the First Secretary hopes to attend it. There will be a commemoration in this country, on October 29, of the opening of the first International Labour Conference which took place in Washington D.C., in 1919. But of course this is not just an occasion for ceremonial commemoration. We hope also—I think this is important, and one of the purposes of this debate—to take the opportunity of making the work of the I.L.O. better known in this country, particularly among young people.

This is one of the solid achievements, though I do not doubt that there Will be some people who will mock even the work of the I.L.O. and say that it is not creative—some of the destructive elements that we see. But here is something which is essentially constructive and sustained, and a special section on the I.L.O. has been included in a circular to schools in the whole of the United Kingdom, suggesting that it might be a special subject for study and indicating where further material may be obtained. The attention of the professional and specialist bodies with an interest in some part of the broad field of the work of the I.L.O. has been drawn to the occasion. Finally, a book has been specially commissioned, to be written by Miss Margaret Stewart, who is known to many of your Lordships, and this will recount the contribution that this country has made to the I.L.O.

Now, my Lords, let me turn to some of the more difficult and interesting matters, and in particular to the question of Conventions. The noble Lord, Lord Collison, has referred to the standard-setting activities of the I.L.O., and I noted the interesting points and the emphases which have been made. I would not attempt to join in that particular discussion. None the less, we can point, I hope, to the degree of success with which the I.L.O. has fulfilled the hopes of its founders, when we compare labour standards of to-day with those of 50 years ago. Standards then regarded as targets to be aimed at have now been generally achieved and often surpassed. Many of the early Conventions then considered idealistic or unobtainable have become outdated and are being brought up for revision.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that there are a number of Conventions which a number of countries have not ratified. I very much agree with the noble Lord, Lord Crook: this country has a great deal to be proud of in this connection and we are very high up on the list of countries who have ratified Conventions. But I must re-state our position—and I shall come specifically to certain of the points made by my noble friend Lady Summerskill—because it has been the position of successive British Governments.

In the obligations imposed on ratifying Governments the International Labour Conventions have the status of international treaties, and we believe that it would be wrong to ratify any Convention before our own law and practice are in conformity with the obligations a Convention imposes. Some Conventions are so worded that although our standards are, in general, higher than those laid down, there are points of detail with which either our law or our practice does not entirely comply. The I.L.O.'s Conference Committee on the Application of Conventions has on a number of occasions deprecated the practice of ratifying Conventions before conditions in the ratifying country met the obligations they imposed. On the whole, we have pretty well avoided this pitfall. There is a temptation for those who are anxious for social progress to call for ratification of an I.L.O. Convention as a step towards reform, but I am sure we should all agree that ours is the right attitude because anything else debases the currency and must lessen the authority of the Convention.

Let me come to Conventions Nos. 100 and 111. These are concerned with fundamental human rights and therefore they have been much in people's minds during 1968 because it was Human Rights Year. I know some people have felt embarrassment—indeed some, like my noble friend Lady Summerskill, have felt anger—that this country has not ratified these two Conventions which are among those which have attracted the greatest number of ratifications by other member States of the I.L.O. Nonetheless, we are sticking firmly to the principle that we hold in this matter of ratification and I will deal with certain specific points on it.

Let me say that there is no question that the Government are firmly committed to the principle of equal pay. My noble friend will admit that I never dodge the points she makes but, alas! I do not often, I fear, satisfy her with my answers. But at least I give her an honest answer and I would say to her again, as I have said before, that in this whole area progress has been made. She will recall that we had an interesting debate on the employment of married women. I believe that progress is being made in the discussions which have been held with both sides of industry on its introduction, but we do not believe that this is enough as it stands.

The noble Baroness put her finger right on the point. She is perfectly right that this is not enough to permit us to ratify Convention No. 100 on the basis of the high standards of compliance which we set for ourselves. As she said, the fact is that the Government are responsible for determining the wages of industrial civil servants. They have, therefore, the legal power to ensure the application of the principle of equal pay to women industrial civil servants. But until they exercise that legal power my advice is—this is very much the view of the Government's advisers—that we should not be meeting the obligations of Article 2 of the Convention. Article 2 says that each member-State shall, by means appropriate to the methods in operation for determining the rates of remuneration, promote the application to all workers of the principle of equal pay. But it also says that each member-State shall, in so far as is consistent with such methods, ensure that application. I thought it important to deal with this frankly and clearly.

I would also say, since the noble Baroness referred to the proposals in the recent White Paper, In Place of Strife, that the White Paper itself does not discriminate between men and women, and the type of strike referred to is the strike which is carried out in defiance of, or despite, existing procedures, provided there is a satisfactory procedure. The noble Baroness, who argues her case with great thoroughness, pointed out that there is a danger here because in an official strike the men might dominate in relation to the ballot. I would only say to her, as she herself has said, that the women have waited a long time. All that this pay pause, this conciliation pause—and it is intended to be a conciliation period and not just a cooling-off period—achieves is to ask people to wait for 28 days. If the women have already waited so long, I do not think this is unreasonable. But we shall have an opportunity to debate this matter further in a different context, and I realise that this is a contentious part of the Government's White Paper.

The noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, asked whether we would now be able to ratify Convention No. 111 in the context of the Race Relations Bill. Of course we shall not be able to do so, because Convention 111 covers discrimination by sex as well as by race, creed and colour. I have already pointed out this fact. I think it is also worth noting, however, that in countries where the central Government determines all rates of pay for everyone it is possible for that Government to keep the rates for men down to the level of the rates for women. This makes it a little easier for them to achieve this particular ratification. But I should say that things are not going so smoothly in other countries either. Although 62 of them have decided to ratify the Conventions over half of these are being questioned by the International Committee of Experts on how far they have fulfilled the requirements of the Convention.

Let me turn now to this country's contribution to the financial support for I.L.O. It is a fact that the need is great, and the need for money is even greater, but we can all find areas which demand more funds. While we all wish that this Government were playing an even bigger part, I think that our record in relation to the I.L.O. is particularly good. We pay 9.14 per cent. of the I.L.O. budget. This is twice as much as Germany, for example, pays. And, of course, we contribute to the United Nations Development Fund, which finances the greater part of the technical assistance work of the I.L.O. It may well be that there will be some revision in contributions, but I take the point that if there were more funds, more could be done.

I should like to turn now to the interesting remarks of my noble friends Lord Carron and Lord Hill of Wivenhoe, but it is rather against my principles to answer noble Lords who are not here and who do not say that they are not going to be here. A number of my noble friends on both sides are very faithful. My noble friend Lady Summerskill, like others, always sits it out. I will not go further than saying, on the general point in relation to arbitrary dismissals, that there are some important provisions in the Government White Paper. I noted that the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, reserved his Party's position on this matter and that he firmly aligned himself, very properly, with his leadership, along with the noble Lord, Lord Sandford. I think that we shall have to discuss this subject another day, and I do not think that your Lordships really want me to debate it to-night.

The noble Earl, Lord Arran, spoke on flags of convenience. In 1958 the I.L.O. adopted a recommendation which provides that all ship-owning countries should ensure the application of international standards in these matters to all ships on their registers. This was a recommendation which naturally the United Kingdom was able to accept at once. The noble Earl said that this is not going far enough, and, by implication, that it is not working. This may well be something which we should look at in more detail on another occasion and I have noted what the noble Earl said. International action depends on the full co-operation of Governments, and not all the problems which arise are matters for the I.L.O. Some of them concern the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organisation. But a joint I.L.O.-I.M.C.O. Committee has been set up to consider safety, arising from the "Torrey Canyon" incident. The noble Earl raised a particular point, on which he implied that he had been fobbed off. But he will not be fobbed off this time, because I will write and let him have the state of play on the point he raised, as I will do to other noble Lords.

My noble friend Lord Taylor of Gryfe made some interesting statements on the I.L.O.'s contribution in the field of co-operatives. He pointed out, as have other noble Lords, that Albert Thomas was a man with many personal links with the Co-operative movement. In March, 1920, the I.L.O. set up an international centre for Co-operative research, information and advice, and I would entirely agree that it is right, and was to be expected, that the Co-operative movements of the world would make their own special contribution. All this activity culminated in the adoption at the 1966 I.L.O. Conference of a recommendation on the role of the co-operatives in the economic and social development of developing countries, which stated that the establishment and growth of co-operatives should be regarded as one of the important instruments of economic, social and cultural development, as well as of human advancement, in the developing countries.

I will deal with the intricate but important points which the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, raised. I am not sure whether the information that I shall give him covers all his points, but I will add to it, if necessary, afterwards. The I.L.O. regular budget finances only a very small part of its technical assistance activities—between 2 and 3 million dollars. By far the greater part, nearly 20 million dollars, is financed by the U.N. Development Fund. The Governing Council of the Fund approves technical assistance projects as they are put before it by each Agency and by the interested country. These, therefore, form part of a total United Nations aid programme financed from the same central source. We contribute on a voluntary basis to the U.N.D.P. funds. I am afraid that I cannot give a precise figure for the amount of our U.N.D.P. contribution which goes eventually to the I.L.O. but our overall contribution to the Fund is about 7½ per cent. of the total.

Co-ordination between all forms of aid is of course most important, and let me say also that it is a particularly difficult area. This is a matter which at the international level has engaged the attention of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations for many years. I think that the noble Earl knows that Sir Robert Jackson is at the moment preparing a special report to the Council on the subject. At the national level, the noble Earl may like to know that we have recently taken special steps to set up and maintain close contacts and consultation between our experts engaged in planning bilateral aid projects and those of the I.L.O. who are concerned with multilateral projects.

The noble Earl also asked about the participation of employers and workers in technical co-operation. As might be expected, the tripartite character of the I.L.O. naturally leads it to pay attention to this. The Governing Body of the I.L.O. only last November reaffirmed that proposals for technical assistance projects submitted by Governments, which also had the support of employers' and/or of workers' organisations, should receive special attention. It is obvious that co-ordination in the field between U.N. Agencies is most important. The I.L.O. is now engaged in an extensive decentralisation of its operational staff and is strengthening its field links with the U.N. Resident Representatives in countries receiving technical assistance. So I can assure the noble Earl that this difficult question of co-ordination is one in which certainly Her Majesty's Government are taking a vigilant interest. None of it, of course, detracts from the individual contributions of the devoted I.L.O. officials in the field.

There was a question on management training, but I think I will leave that, beyond saying that there again attention is paid in the technical assistance programmes of the I.L.O. to management training at all levels.

In 1919 the Ministry of Labour issued this small and, to my mind, historic document which I expect the noble Lord, Lord McCorquodale, and others will have seen. It is interesting to read it and to see that it is printed in the same sort of type as, in an earlier age, such documents as the Haldane Committee Report and others were printed. You see in it the names of George Barnes, who signed it; Samuel Gompers, Harold Butler, Arthur Fontaine and others. It is an extraordinary thing, looking back to that time, that this particular document should have emerged. It begins with the following words: The Labour Section of the Peace Treaty has not, perhaps, received as much attention as some other Sections dealing with burning subjects related more closely to the immediate issues of the War. It is safe to say, however,"— and this is very prophetic— that no Section is more pregnant for good or evil to the new world which is now beginning to take shape. That Labour Section of the Peace Treaty contains the Constitution of the I.L.O. of fifty years ago. The last sentence of the Preamble of the Constitution begins with these words, which are rather majestic: The High Contracting Parties moved by sentiments of justice and humanity as well as by the desire to secure the permanent peace of the world… We know that the signatories of that Treaty did not secure permanent peace. But we can surely find some grounds for rejoicing in the fact that the organisation which they set up in the spirit of justice and humanity has endured for fifty years. We can point to our own share in the origins of the organisation.

Reference has already been made to Albert Thomas and many of the other names of those days. But it was the British proposals which provided the basis for the plan for a permanent Organisation which was eventually adopted. That plan provided, as we know, for a tripartite structure of employers and workers to take part alongside Govern- ments in the work of the Organisation. This was a pretty revolutionary idea at the time, but it has proved to be one of the main strengths of the Organisation. The speeches of noble Lords who have taken part in this debate have shown that here is the quality of the I.L.O. at work, whether on the trade union side, the workers' side or the employers' side.

I should like on behalf of the Government, and I think of successive Governments, to say how much value we have attached to this Organisation and how gratefully we acknowledge our debt to the T.U.C. and the old British Employers' Confederation, now the C.B.I., for their contributions to the work of the I.L.O. over these years. Names have been mentioned. I will not take up time, but one must refer to men like Joseph Hallsworth, Sir John Forbes-Watson and Sir Alfred Roberts, whose names are recognised throughout the world.

When we look to the horizons of the future, we may as well compare it with the past. In 1919 there were 44 members; now there are 118. The population of the world has almost doubled in those fifty years. The labour force of the world will amount to just over 1,500 million in 1970. Over the next ten years over 280 million will be added, of which 226 million will be in the less developed regions of the world, and only 56 million in the developed regions.

This is the new perspective. This is the perspective that my noble friends have been talking about and the perspective that my noble friend Lord Ritchie-Calder has constantly taken opportunities to remind us about. The original purpose of the I.L.O. was to secure minimum conditions of life to the workers all over the world. The principal means of achieving this was to be the adoption of international labour instruments setting minimum standards simultaneously for all countries. Lot me quote again Mr. George Barnes in the 1919 pamphlet: In the past, social and industrial progress has often been hindered by the fear of individual States that improvement in the industrial and social conditions of their workers could only be purchased by the loss of trade in the international markets which would in the end prove ruinous. We still have evidence of that to-day. But the I.L.O. have had this unique opportunity to be both humane and hardheaded, to be idealist and realist. There are now 128 Conventions and 132 Recommendations to back it up. But in the world of to-day that is not enough. Practical help is needed throughout the developing world. They need help in surveying their resources; they need help in training for skills: and the I.L.O. is facing that challenge.

I could go on and talk even longer about the potentialities of what is being contributed. But it will be the machinery of the I.L.O., which has adapted itself to modern conditions in a quite unique and unrivalled way, which will provide a model of an international agency of which its like cannot be found anywhere else in the world. I think my noble friend Lord Collison was absolutely right to give us the opportunity of having this debate to-day.


My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, may I ask him this straight question: Do Her Majesty's Government favour or not favour flags of convenience with all they mean in terms of reduced safety and social security to seamen, including British seamen? I should be grateful for a straight answer.


My Lords, perhaps the noble Earl would like to put down a Question. It is a complex matter. It is not a question of what we like or dislike; it is a question of what exists in the world. I think the noble Earl is being a little unfair, because I have already promised that I will write to him on this matter.


Yes, my Lords: but I think the country would like to know.


Then the noble Earl can ask me a Question. In any case, what I like or dislike does not affect the issue.

7.28 p.m.


My Lords, I do not intend to add to what I think has been a very fine debate. However, I should like to take the opportunity of thanking all those who have taken part in it. I put down the Motion to do honour to the I.L.O., and of course I hoped for a satisfying and satisfactory debate. I feel that we have had this, and I think that other noble Lords feel so, too. I thank all noble Lords who have taken part, and particularly the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Leicester and my noble friend Lady Summerskill for her, as I thought, sharp but nevertheless necessary intervention, with which I agree. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.