§ 4.30 p.m.
§ House again in Committee.
§ LORD DOUGLASS OF CLEVELAND
I am concerned about the rights of the individual, and I say this in all sincerity. I say it with the sincerity of a Sunday school teacher and a fairly ardent Methodist; nothing could be more sincere than that. I was concerned as a young man—callow youth, if you like—when I was informed that I would have a deduction from wages imposed upon me, and we decided as a group of youths to go on strike. To our astonishment, nobody bothered about us going on strike; we just walked the streets for a few weeks and nothing happened. We then joined a trade union and things happened very, very quickly. The trade union took up our case. It was patently unjust that our wages should be reduced as they had been, and they were restored. From that time, nearly 60 years ago, I have remained a member of my trade union.
It fell to my lot in later years to become a representative of a union in a shop that was very badly organised, and although it has nothing to do with the debate I will tell your Lordships the reason. We had two defaulting branch secretaries who had run off with the money. We had the duty of going round to persuade our members to be members of the trade union. We started off with some 10 per cent. of membership in that particular shop and we made it 98 per cent.; one or two individuals refused to join. I put it to those of your Lordships who are trade union members, what would you do in those circumstances? I see that the legal fraternity, in the "Sayings of the Week" in the Observer last Sunday, said that they had a closed shop because they wanted to deliver the best service to their members and not have a competitive atmosphere introduced which would interfere with their efficiency of service. I think 1096 a craftsman could well argue equally with the lawyer in this particular respect, that he ought to have 100 per cent. organisation in his shop in order that he might maintain the efficiency of his services. One of the peculiar aspects is that it is a lawyer's bible that we have been handed which says that they should not. This is something that passes my comprehension.
We organised to 98 per cent., and a couple of men said they would not join. On behalf of my members I said to the management, "I am quite prepared that they should not join. I do not want them to join; but I do not want them to have the benefits that we have negotiated". And why should they? Two shillings a week was a good increase in those days, and we had negotiated two shillings. I said, "Why should they get this if they will not join the union?". The management were pretty adamant and they said, "They will get it, and you will not have a closed shop". The time went on until five minutes to ten on the Sunday night, when we were going to start work, and it was quite evident that if these two men started we would not start. At five to ten the management said, "They will have to join the union or they will have to leave". We used our strength. I was a little concerned. I have some morals. I do not like to force men to do things. But when I look at a bible of this character, nearly as long as the original Bible, certainly as long as most of the books in the Bible, which tells the unions what they have to do, I wonder whether I was right in having moral scruples at that time.
How do you deal with the rights of the individual from a strictly moral point of view such as will pass the test of any religious organisation represented in your Lordships' House? How do you give the man the right to have that expression? Only by bringing in an out-side body to make the decision. Most unions have a panel of members drawn from outside the union, completely independent of the union, to whom any man may make an appeal against any member of his organisation, against any official of his organisation, against the executive council of his organisation. How much more protection of the rights of the individual do you want? Will you get more from this book of words than 1097 from a panel of men prepared to sit down and listen to him and find out what his complaint is?
Turning to the right of the individual not to pay and the moral aspect of paying his money to a charitable organisation, what is our practical experience? I have had some. I have never met one man who refused to pay on moral grounds, except the one I am going to tell the Committee about. In the Midlands we had a divisional officer in charge of an area where a man claimed that because of his religious convictions he would not join the union. My executive council was quite moral in those days; they said to the divisional officer, "You must have regard to this man". He said "Yes, I must. I will respect his moral, his religious, obligations. If he does not want to join the union, he will not get the benefits of negotiations". The man immediately forgot his moral responsibilities and took: the increase in wages rather than not become a member of the union. I tell your Lordships this because it is our practical experience. You will have people climbing on the backs of sincere men simply in order to resist the payment of any money to a trade union, and indeed for the purpose of avoiding some trade union officials who work hard on his behalf. But if you have the organisation or panel that I mention you do not need any more.
I have listened to legal arguments in your Lordships' House as to whether one thing or another thing should happen. I have gone through all the clauses from Clause 94 onwards. I remember claims for damages against employers by trade unions in cases where a man has been injured; and it is not always clear if a man is injured because of the fault or negligence of the employer, whether he shall have damages. Sometimes the case has gone on for two or three years before a decision is come to. Do you want a decision two or three years after the event, or now? If you are going to have this legal phraseology you may have the reverse of what you want in this Bill. You can have delay after delay—and nothing is worse than delay in industrial relations.
You must get a spirit of goodwill inside the industry. A book like this Bill will not take its place; you have to get a 1098 different spirit inside industry. It may well be that you have to endure some strikes. I am not quite sure about that. It may well be that you do not have to give way immediately, as some firms have done, to an extraordinary claim. It may be that you will not be able to handle the situation of public servants going on strike and garbage piling up in the streets. Will it be done by a legal argument which lasts for one year, two years or three years, or by better understanding inside the industry itself? I think I speak with some authority. There was never a strike in the steel industry in all the 13 years when I was a chief executive officer of the union. Perhaps that is not quite true; there were one or two unofficial strikes, and we took the strikers to task and put them right. We explained to them that where there is an agreement it must be adhered to.
My noble friend Lord Williamson asked why we cannot have a short, sharp Bill on the sanctity of agreements. The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor made a very fulsome statement in answer to my noble friend, and said that it needs a legal framework. Well, you have got it. I warn the Government that when they come to the end of their term of office, this legal framework will bring all the burden of legal phraseology and argument down upon them at the time of the next Election. It would have been much better if they had said that an agreement, voluntarily entered into, should have the force of law, and left it at that. I would find difficulty in arguing that there ought to be some morality with regard to an agreement and the force of law in respect of that particular agreement should be rejected; but, by heavens!, I shall have no difficulty in arguing that these words are going to be a stumbling block to good industrial relations throughout the entire country.
I only wish that in the other place my colleagues—and, God forgive me!, I am no politician; I am only an industrial representative—had taken up the argument on a number of clauses they might have argued about, and left the others in the open, instead of simply resisting this Bill; because there are some good things in this Bill. My noble friend Lord Soper said that it is like the curate's egg, and because some parts are inedible nobody can eat it at all; the whole thing 1099 stinks. God forgive me!; I did not intend to use that language when I got up.
I have been looking, all the way through, for something that would enable the country in general to do what I think we were able to do inside the steel industry. If I felt a little bit hot, and if perhaps I neglected some of the courtesies of the House when we were talking about steel, it was because I cannot conceive how anybody can understand the feeling in a community like Irlam, where the whole of the steel industry is going to be closed down. When the steel industry in Manchester has been closed down, and when Scotland is afraid of what is going to happen there, how can the Government expect good industrial relations? The thing is fantastic.
I would ask the Government, when it comes to the rights of the individual, to forget a lot of this Bill, at least in regard to the closed shop. Do not bother to give us the rights in regard to the closed shop; we in the trade union movement will take them, right, left and centre, make no mistake about that. We will take the right of the closed shop whatever you do in this Chamber, and whatever the Commons do. Nothing can stop the unions from doing that. A hundred years of trade unionism says that it is inevitable, if we are to have good trade unions.
When I was General Secretary of my union there was an unofficial strike, the employers telephoned me and said, "What are you going to do about it?". If I did not have the membership, what could I do about it? It was because I had argued for a closed shop, because I had organised it, because I had achieved it, that the employers could say to me, "What are you going to do?" and expect an answer. What you people are doing with this Bill is to imagine that by a legalistic conception you are going to overcome all the inhibitions about employers we have had in the trade union movement for the past century. I would advise you on this matter to look into the history of the international trade union movement.
Robert Carr has said, "Let us have works councils". What a glorious conception! In Italy and in France, at the International Metal Workers' Confederation we used British, American, German, 1100 Belgium, French, and Scandinavian money to organise trade unions. The vans that we sent into the districts to organise them were overturned by the Communists. They were laughed at by the police, who stood on the side of the street. They were sniggered at by the employers, who stood on the other side of the street. To whom do these people go when they want an understanding with the trade unionists? They go to the works council. Who are the works council? They have no membership worth talking about. They are elected by the men, and they are politically inclined. What one finds now is that the trade unions of those countries are doing the work of the politicians of those countries. That is where you are driving us in this country, unless you are careful, with this adulation of works councils.
I advise noble Lords on the Government Benches to give the trade unions a power which they have the right to have at the present time. If you want a Bill demanding responsibility, put the Bill through, and do it very carefully—for it is possible to do it. But do not try to do it with a wholesale, legalistic book of words that is incomprehensible to almost everybody in this House at the present time.
§ 4.47 p.m.
§ LORD TAYLOR OF MANSFIELD
I warmly support the Amendment moved by my noble friend Lord Blyton. May I say to the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, that I had expected, and hoped, that he would be a little more forthcoming and expansive on this question of unfair industrial practices. However, I appreciate his difficulty. In fact, I not only appreciate his difficulty but I share it, for this reason: there are so many unfair practices laid down in the Bill and, on the evidence that has been given to us, there is still the code of practice to come; so I suppose that when they are all put together their number will be legion. It may be that the noble Lord did not want to anticipate the debate on clauses that may come later on, and that is my difficulty. How can I speak to this Amendment without referring to some of the clauses in the Bill? That is the difficulty we have.
I want very briefly to come to Clause 93, as did my noble friend Lord Shinwell. This and other clauses are bound up with 1101 Clause 1, and the Amendment which we have before us. My difficulty this afternoon in talking about unfair industrial practices is that they are merely referred to in Clause 1 and expanded in other clauses, particularly Clause 93. May I read the first few lines of Clause 93:It shall be an unfair industrial practice for any person,"—not "a member of a trade union," and not "a member of an employers' organisation", butfor any person, …(a) calling, organising, procuring or financing a strike".I should like to make one or two observations about financing a strike. We have been told that the Bill does not make strikes illegal. But if a Bishop or a vicar wants to make a contribution to those who are on strike in his area, will that be considered to be financing a strike? The noble Lord, Lord Belstead, shakes his head, but I should like him to explain when he comes to reply. We have many voluntary organisations, such as OXFAM, which are committed to making contributions to people who are in Poverty Street; under Clause 93, would these organisations come into the category of financing a strike?
Distance is no problem nowadays, and there has grown up a fraternity of good comradeship and good feeling between nations. The trade union movement has expanded its territory and, as my noble friend Lord Douglass of Cleveland intimated, is now an international body—and not merely in name the trade unions help one another and organise the International Free Trade Union Movement. If that Movement decided to make a contribution to some of its friends here in Britain who were needing help, would it be regarded as financing a strike in this country, and would it be guilty of an unfair industrial practice?
What I am suggesting is not something out of the imagination. It happened even before the international Free Trade Union Movement reached its present position. During the 1926 stoppage we in Nottinghamshire had no funds with which to give any strike pay because we had had so many strikes earlier, both local and national, and we were grateful to receive a substantial contribution from the trade union movement of Russia. It needs no 1102 stretch of the imagination to realise that, with the growth of comradeship and with feelings of generosity extending beyond territorial boundaries, that help could be offered now as it was offered more than 40 years ago. So, if the International Free Trade Union Movement made donations, not for the purpose of furthering a strike but to relieve the poverty which it caused, would action be taken against that Movement or against the recipients of that generosity? As we noted yesterday, there is a lot of ambiguity in this Bill and this is another example of it. I should like the noble Lord to enlighten me, and to give me some information about what I regard as the important points which I have raised.
§ BARONESS GAITSKELL
My noble friend mentioned international support for strikes here. During the postal strike there was support from the Continent and also, I believe, from post office workers in America. So we have a very recent example of support for a strike from outside this country.
THE EARL OF BALFOUR
It is my opinion that paragraph (d) of subsection (1) refers not so much to individual unions as to individual persons, and it is important that persons should have protection against unfair industrial practices which are fairly well described in Clause 5(2) and in Clause 20. What is even more important is that under Clause 103 an individual will have protection for the first time in history. Subsection (3) of Clause 103 refers to Clause 64, which is a "lead on" from Clause 63, which is basically the middle of Part IV of the Bill. For the first time an opportunity is given for a man to complain against an organisation of workers or of employers, as the case may be, in respect of an unfair industrial practice. I should particularly like your Lordships to look at subsection (7) of Clause 63. That says:No member of the organisation shall be subjected by or on behalf of the organisation to any unfair or unreasonable disciplinary action ….Surely what we are talking about is the sort of unfair practice by which people who have been members of unions—I am not talking about the employers' side of it at all; I think that has been fairly well covered—have sometimes been unfairly discriminated against and have had no real opportunity to appeal against it. 1103 I do not say that it often happens. I am proud to say that I have myself been a member of three unions, two in this country and one overseas, and I have usually found their affairs extremely well conducted. But I do know cases where, on occasions of a "go-slow", men have been quite severely penalised by their union, and in some cases I do not think altogether fairly.
I feel that this paragraph must stand the way it is, because otherwise it just would not read correctly; and, after all, in this very first clause all we are doing is to describe this briefly. It is the very introduction. It says:The provisions of this Act shall have … the purpose of promoting good industrial relations in accordance with the following general principles, …";and then it sets out… security for workers, protected by adequate safeguards against unfair industrial practices, ….You cannot cut that out. It is only a description. Part V of the Bill—Sections 92 to 94—really deals with other unfair industrial practices; it somehow does not refer to the individual. At least, that is my interpretation of the Bill.
§ LORD CONESFORD
I have the greatest respect for the noble Lord, Lord Douglass of Cleveland, who has had the most distinguished career as a trade union leader, but I wonder whether he is right in supporting this particular Amendment on any of the grounds that he mentioned. Perhaps I may say to various trade union leaders who have spoken from the other side that I experience a violent desire to disagree with them when they say that this Bill is a lawyer's paradise. I am a very rusty lawyer, but if anybody thinks that this is my idea of paradise I can assure them that it is not. I think that, if I could have chosen the length of Bill with which I personally might have been happy, my view would have much more resembled the views of the noble Lord, Lord Williamson, than perhaps the views of those noble Lords who think vie want an enormously long Bill. Nevertheless, it is quite clear that there is a great volume of opinion that holds that a great deal has to be spelled out. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Donovan, who speaks with such great authority, thinks that quite a long Bill is required; 1104 so does the Department which produced it; and so do many other people. So I think we have to reconcile ourselves to the fact that it is to be a long Bill, in which case it becomes all the more important to consider what it is that we need to discuss in great detail.
Now in the speeches that have been made in support of this Amendment allusion has been made to many extremely difficult subsequent clauses, creating and defining unfair practices, which, when we come to them, of course, we shall have to discuss very carefully. Incidentally, I think that, as a matter of construction, a good many mistakes have been made in considering what those subsequent clauses mean; nevertheless, I certainly will not discuss them now. I thought there was a very great deal to be said for the short interruption of the noble Lord, Lord Robbins, addressed to the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, when he was making his speech. He said, "Is it part of your case that there is no unfair industrial practice?" I cannot believe that there is any noble Lord opposite who thinks that there is no such thing as an unfair industrial practice. But if there is any unfair industrial practice on the part of either the employer or the men, of course it needs mention in the subsection with which we are now dealing. Passing this paragraph will not prevent any noble Lord opposite, when we come to those clauses that create and define the unfair practices, objecting to them either in principle or in detail, and I think it must be then that we have our debate, and we should not attempt to debate in advance extremely complicated clauses which come very much later in the Bill.
But I should like to say one thing to the noble Lord, Lord Douglass. He spoke with great force on the subject of the closed shop, and I have no doubt that, when we reach those clauses in which that is involved, we shall have important debates. But I hope he will take it from me and others that the issue of the closed shop is not quite as simple as he has sought to represent to the Committee this afternoon. There are very serious questions of human liberties that can be concerned. There is even the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, approved by the United Nations very many years ago. Those questions have their application to this problem. It is not a simple 1105 one, and I shall not discuss it now. The object of my intervention is to say that noble Lords opposite can preserve every right to oppose, and possibility of opposing, It he subsequent clauses that define the particular unfair industrial practices, but they are not being logical in objecting to the mention of unfair industrial practices in this paragraph unless their view is that there can be no such thing as an unfair industrial practice either by the men or by the employers.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
I am grateful to my noble friend who has just spoken because he has made it possible for me to shorten my speech, since those are the sentiments that I was going to express and he expresses them with the added authority of a lawyer, albeit, as he says, rusty. But I am sure that, all the same, the Committee will have taken very careful notice of what he has said.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
Not all of them. Rightaway the noble Lord puts his finger on a point which is of very great importance. Everyone agrees—and this is a point that arose in debate as the noble Lord, Lord Slater, was speaking about his experiences in the coal industry—that nobody should be allowed to upset the apple cart, to do anything which would be contrary to safety, and that workers should be suitably qualified for the job. We maintain that there should be this freedom, which is set out in Clause 5, to be or not to be a member of a trade union. Its effect is that the pre-entry closed shop will no longer be possible.
When we come to discuss these matters in the appropriate clauses we should be able to see just how far the objectives indicated by the noble Lord, Lord Douglass, are likely to be fulfilled by the Bill. I think that he will find that, while in the agency shop, for example, ostensibly there is the right for people not to belong to a trade union and to pay a contribution, in practice the effect will not be very great because it will be in the interests of the individual, particularly 1106 if he has to pay the same contribution, to participate in the affairs of the union With great respect, I do not think that this will interfere with the freedom and security of the worker, which is what we are discussing here. On the other hand, as has been said, it is possible for things to go wrong. In paragraph 107 of the White Paper, In Place of Strife, I noted the words,prejudices and unfair treatment are not a management monopoly.I think we all know and recognise this.
The Donovan Report and the White Paper both indicated that there should be some form of appeal. Under this Bill, the appeal will be to the Registrar, to the industrial tribunals or to the Industrial Court. In all these cases it will be possible for conciliation to take place before that happens; and this may take a little longer. The procedure, however, is going to be informal, and I do not see things being spun out in the way feared by the noble Lord, Lord Douglass. These are the wider issues that we shall come to in the different clauses.
What we are discussing at the moment is a proposal to leave out of Clause 1(1)(d) which begins:the principle of freedom and security for workers, protected by adequate safeguards"—the words which follow—namely:against unfair industrial practices, whether on the part of employers or others.There will be, and there are, some practices that are designated in this Bill as unfair about which noble Lords opposite have reservations. I venture to think that they will have rather fewer when we come to discuss them in detail. But, equally, there are a great many of these unfair industrial practices which I am certain they will unreservedly support. As the noble Lord, Lord Douglass, said, there is much in this Bill that he supports; and I am sure that he and all noble Lords on the other side would support the banning of these unfair industrial practices. One has only to look at the list of what are the unfair practices on the part of the employer or those in employer situations: infringing a worker's right to join a trade union (I will miss out, infringing the worker's right not to join a trade union, for this is a matter of greater controversy); refusing to employ a person because of his union membership or non-membership; dismissing an 1107 employee unfairly; the breaking by a party to a collective agreement of any part of which is a legally enforceable contract. I do not think we could object to that. It will be for those who enter into an agreement to decide whether or not it should be a legally enforceable contract. But there are any number of these examples. For example: to conduct or threaten a lockout during a recognition dispute while the issue is being considered by the industrial court or by the C.I.R. and for a period after the C.I.R. has reported on it. A number of these practices are on the side of the employer; others are on the side of the employee, the worker and the unions, it will be generally agreed that there are a number of practices designated as unfair which should in the interests of freedom and security of the worker be retained in the Bill.
Why are they called unfair industrial practices? It is to single them out as practices that will go before these particular kinds of tribunals and keep them out of the ordinary civil courts of the land. I should have thought this was an objective that noble Lords opposite would have been glad to pursue. I do not think that there is a very great deal in principle against the inclusion of these words. The right course, I submit, as my noble friend Lord Conesford has said, is to let these words remain as they are and to decide which shall and which shall not be unfair practices when we come to them. This is the right and logical step to take at the present time. I do not know whether I need detain the Committee by following up all the points that have been made. If any noble Lord wishes me to deal with a particular point I will do so.
I should, however, like to make one further observation. In Clause 93 it is made an unfair practice to "aid and abet" what is already an unfair practice. There cannot be anything wrong in that. If somebody is doing something which is wrong there cannot be anything wrong in saying that it is wrong to help him to do wrong. I think that a lot has been made of this section. I hope that we shall not at this stage go into the many aspects of the Bill which are complex and will need explanation; for they will get explanation when we come to them.
§ LORD DAVIES OF LEEK
Frankly, it is no good trying to get away by quoting the speech of the noble Lord who said he was a rusty lawyer. He is not rusty, and he has a high I.Q. But I can quote against him other lawyers who also are not rusty. The Donovan Commission itself said that the legal right not to be a trade unionist was "designed to frustrate the development of collective bargaining". That is stated in the Donovan Report. There is another point. In another place the Minister was interrupted about the famous Justice Sargant case of 1924. What did Justice Sargant say. He said that for many years past no one had questioned the right of a trade union to insist, if they are strong enough so to do, under penalty of strike, that an employer or group of employers should employ none but members of a trade union. It is no use bandying the words of one lawyer again another. It has taken a hundred years to create a trade union movement; and with one swoop it is now being taken away. The noble Lord was beginning to discuss the agency shop (Clauses 11 to 16) which has not yet been touched on in either House. I hope that we shall get the opportunity to go into this in greater depth later.
§ LORD BEAUMONT OF WHITLEY
Some great lawyers think alike, anyway. Lord Conesford's very telling summing-up of the argument coincided to a remarkable degree with the speech made in another place by my honourable and learned friend Mr. Emlyn Hooson. They came to it independently, but it seems to me a common-sense approach to this Amendment. While we are talking of lawyers, may we dispose—one hopes for the rest of this Committee—of the theory that lawyers are involved in a closed shop. I am no lawyer; I have no brief for lawyers; I think that the legal profession is riddled with restrictive practices. But it is not a closed shop. No one has to pay the Bar Council or the Law Society anything, and they are the negotiating bodies on behalf of the various professions.
As the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, said, the real point is: do you think that there are such things as unfair industrial practices? If you do, surely people should be protected against them. I do not see how anyone who has had any experience of industry or politics could come to any 1109 other conclusion. From time to time we in the Liberal Party come up against rather glaring examples of unfair industrial practices. Very often, when a person is suffering some injustice from his union—it happens from time to time—he does not go to the local Labour Party and will not go to the Tories; but he Comes to see the Liberals. My noble friend the Leader of the Liberal Party will bear me out when I say that I can remember several well authenticated cases over the past few years in which people have come to us; and we, as individuals, have tried to intervene on the side of justice. There are unfair industrial practices, and people should be protected from them. That is the point of this part of the clause, and I believe that this Amendment should be resisted.
§ 5.22 p.m.
§ LORD DIAMOND
Those of your Lordships who have been privileged to listen to all the speeches, particularly the speeches from noble Lords on this side of the Committee, can have no doubt about the depth of feeling or the sincerity of those who have spoken. It would be invidious to mention names, but I was particularly interested to hear not only my noble friend Lord Blyton who moved the Amendment—some time ago now—but also my noble friend Lord Douglass of Cleveland, who speaks with such knowledge and authority, and with such moderation based on a life of moderation in his official capacity. One is therefore a little disappointed that the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, when replying to the debate was obviously unaffected by the depth of feeling and the sincerity with which views had been expressed.
There is more than one aspect of this with which I should like to deal. First, to get the debate in some shape, I recognise, as we all do, that here we are not discussing the substance of the various clauses which hang on this general principle and which give it life. But we cannot refer to this Amendment without giving examples in the Bill to justify the need for the Amendment, which is what my noble friends have done. Unless one is an irresponsible fool, one cannot allow this part of the clause to go by undebated and then at a later stage, when the provisions of the clause are being implemented, say, "But we do not like this at all, and we are fundamentally opposed to 1110 it." How can we be heard to say that we are fundamentally opposed to it unless we give notice at the very start that we do not like the whole approach? And that is what we are doing. We are saying that we do not like the whole approach. Furthermore, we are saying that the words in paragraph (d), without any reference to unfair industrial practices, would serve the Government's purpose, and express the principles, quite adequately. The clause refers to "the following general principles", and therefore, for the purposes of the Bill, there is no need to define and to limit the safeguards in the way that the words which we propose to remove would do.
I am saying, first, that it was essential for us to have this debate, although we recognise that we were not dealing with the substance of the individual clauses which derive from this principle; and, secondly, that those who spoke did so with great sincerity. I am bound to refer to that because I am going to come back to the attack on their sincerity made by the noble Lord, Lord Belstead. That is why I have mentioned it twice, so that I shall not be misleading the Committee. Thirdly, I am saying that the purposes of the Government could be well and adequately described by the clause in its amended form.
A telling question was put by the noble Lord, Lord Robbins, and picked up, wisely, by the noble Lord, Lord Cones-ford. The question was: is it our view that there never can be, or there is not, any unfair industrial practice? First let me say, to clear the air a little, that what we are talking about here is not unfair industrial practices just as an expression of unjust dealing in industry. We are talking about a term used in the Bill, which is the heading of certain clauses, and which has a legislative result in this Bill. So if the two noble Lords who put the question are asking me: are we on this side of the Committee satisfied that never in industry is there an injustice, the answer is that we are not. Of course there is injustice. We are saying that the individual injustices are capable of being dealt with within the Bill in particular ways, and we shall discuss those when we come to them.
Those ways do not include the overall description of "unfair industrial practices". This is something quite different. It is, as it were, a term of art introduced 1111 into the Bill. In particular, we are completely, utterly and fundamentally opposed to certain of those "unfair industrial practices" which go to the very heart of the trade union movement and traditions. So we are saying that there is no need at this stage to have words of this kind, which presume a willingness to have certain malpractices dealt with in a particular way; and at this stage there is no need to have words of this kind which, so far as I am concerned (I was born under the Zodiac sign of the Bull), are like a red rag. Many of my noble friends have spent a lifetime in the trade union movement. I do not mean merely a lifetime working in the pits or on the railways; I mean a lifetime as officers in the movement, learning at first hand, day after day, the actual facts of trade union life.
I am putting to your Lordships that it is not necessary to have these words; that it is unwise to have these words. The method of dealing with individual injustices, which, good heavens! we know abound, was considered in depth by the Donovan Commission. Their conclusion was that there are much simpler ways of dealing with these injustices than the overall method of slapping upon them the title of "unfair industrial practices", with all that follows from this Bill. I refer your Lordships to paragraphs 1069 and 1070 of the Donovan Report which set out the difficulties. They set out the difficulties and propose remedies for them, but the remedies proposed are not those proposed in the Bill. They do not at all share the nature of industrial practices.
THE EARL OF DUDLEY
May I ask the noble Lord whether he remembers the wording of paragraph 618 of the Donovan Report, which is as follows:The safeguards proposed in the preceding paragraphs are designed to protect individuals against unfairness or injustice …
§ LORD DIAMOND
I am grateful for the support which the noble Earl has given me. He has made it perfectly clear that the words "unfair industrial practices" are not what Donovan is recommending. He was not referring to that, but to injustice. I, too, am referring to injustice. Donovan, in various parts of his Report, makes recommendations on how injustices should be dealt 1112 with, but they are not these recommendations. There is no reason, therefore—if we are to consider, objectively and constructively, proposals for remedying unfairness and injustice, and have regard to the very careful inquiry which was made by the Donovan Commission—why we should make life more difficult for ourselves at this stage by prejudicing our future discussions, by including this particular definition of protection against safeguards.
THE EARL OF DUDLEY
I should like to point out that the words used include "unfairness" as well as "injustice".
§ LORD DIAMOND
I do not oppose the word "unfairness"; I do not oppose the word "injustice". Of course there is unfairness and of course there is injustice. What we are talking about in this Bill are legislative provisions, especially those in Clause 92 onwards, which are described in this way. Part V of this Bill is headed, "Other Unfair Industrial Practices". The clauses state that "It shall be an unfair industrial practice for any person", to do so and so. That is what we are talking about. I am trying to eliminate the confusion which has clearly existed between our natural objection to injustice and a method of dealing with problems which is described as the unfair industrial practice method. That is what I am trying to distinguish between. I am saying that amongst those so-called remedies against unfair industrial practices are issues which go to the very top of the trade union movement. We have no doubt on our side that the effect will be considerably to reduce the usefulness of the trade union movement. We have no doubt that that goes wholly against the main conclusions of the Donovan Report which recommends a strengthening of trade unions, especially at local levels, so that bargains may be made in which all are involved and which therefore may stick.
It is unnecessary for me to answer those allegations, which have been made on the basis that it is a fair comment—these words which we seek to remove—because "whether on the part of employers or others" are words included in the Bill. We do not distinguish between employers or others. That is not the issue at all. Nobody has ever suggested that this clause should be amended in 1113 some way to leave in employers and to leave out employees. The complaint is against the method of dealing with unfairness and injustice and the illustrations of them as they emerge in the Bill, and which are wholly opposed both to the Donovan Report and to trade union traditions, and which we are satisfied will result in weakening the trade union movement at a point where that is not desired in the interests of industry and of the community generally.
A question has been asked—and I will come back to it again—as to whether there is such a thing as an unfair practice. I suggest that we should walk rather slowly and carefully before reaching decisions on what is morally right and morally wrong about unfair practices. The Times said about this:It is the office of law in such matters to maintain the rules of fair fighting.This did not refer to battles, but to fighting as between employers and employees. No doubt that is a fair expression of an Establishment point of view. That statement was made 99 years ago. It was made at the time of the result of the Regina v. Bonn case, where Mr. Bunn and his colleagues were being hurried off to jail. I have no doubt that that was a fair summary by The Times of the morality of the day in relation to trade unions and to those who were attempting to work together to defend their standard of living. The Times does not call it an unfair practice; it calls it fair fighting in an industrial matter.
I do not think we want to rush into making decisions as to what is morally right and what is morally wrong, having regard to what future generations might decide about us as we decide about them. All I would say is that it would be far better to argue the cases individually as the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, suggested, when they come, and not to have our minds prejudiced in any way, or our attitudes assumed, or our rights of debate pre-empted by having agreed to words which can only lead to provisions which are wholly opposed by us and wholly unsatisfactory to us.
May I now come back to the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Belstead. I hesitate to delay your Lordships, as I have often hesitated to do on this point, but I will do it as shortly as I can in the hope that we shall not need to go into 1114 this matter again in the course of our debate. I will not say that the noble Lord used an unfair industrial practice, but something which I am bound to call an unfair debating practice. Let me say why. The noble Lord challenged the sincerity of those of us who support this Amendment. The noble Lord asked how, having regard to the White Paper In Place of Strife, we could hold the views we are putting forward. I am sure that that is not at the front of his mind, but nevertheless it was implicit in what he said. I want to make a statement quite clearly on behalf of all of us on this side: that the views we are putting forward we believe are being put forward with complete sincerity. It is for your Lordships to judge. We do not challenge the sincerity of any opposite view that is being put forward. We should not be good democrats, we should not be democrats at all, if we did not accept that the views of the Government, with which we intensely disagree, are views that the Government sincerely hold. That is the first comment I would make to the noble Lord, Lord Belstead.
Secondly, may I say that, coming from a Government which in Opposition refused to support a particular White Paper and abstained from voting (I speak from experience in another place and I am sorry that I have not bothered to check what happened in your Lordships' House), a Government including the Leader of the Opposition of that day, it is an odd comment to say that they are entitled to challenge the new Opposition on their views and attitudes about it. Thirdly, I would say that the White Paper and the Bill are wholly different. Everybody knows that the White Paper was never reproduced in the form of a Bill; it was for discussion and consultation. Our complaint is that the Government have refused consultation. I want to make it clear that the White Paper and this Bill are almost in all respects totally opposed. If your Lordships wish me to go through them clause by clause and provision by provision and explain this I would be glad to do so, if challenged and the House wishes me to do so, but it cannot be done fairly under an hour.
The fourth and most important thing is this. It is true that there are in the White Paper certain provisions which were not in the Bill introduced by the 1115 Labour Government and which are no part of our present thinking, because we have changed our minds. And if this House says that nobody is entitled to have second thoughts about anything, then I do not know what are the functions of the House of Lords at all. So I would respectfully say that I hope we need not spend more time on the comparison between a White Paper issued for consultative purposes and the Bill which is now before the House. I hope that it will not fall to any of my noble friends to have to say, "I believe what I am saying." I should have thought that that was taken for granted in your Lordships' House. There is nothing in that White Paper or in our present thinking which in any degree supports what is proposed to be omitted by this Amendment.
I hope, therefore, that the Government will accede to our Amendment. It will not prejudice full discussion. It will aid a full and fair discussion of subsequent provisions in the Bill and it will help forward very much those on our side who feel so deeply and so bitterly about the proposed remedies which are des-
§ cribed in the words. "unfair industrial practices".
§ LORD BEAUMONT OF WHITLEY
May I ask the noble Lord a question? I welcome, as I think must all your Lordships, his wise and benevolent words about not imputing any form of deceit or insincerity to opponents, but I wonder how he himself manages to fit this in with the remarks he made last night to your Lordships in reply to my noble friend Lord Byers, when he said:I share the view of all those noble Lords who expressed those sentiments, that the purpose of this Bill is to curb the power of the unions."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26/4/71, cols. 1041–2.]Now the Secretary of State and various other Members of the Government have repeatedly said that this is not their intention. Surely the noble Lord. Lord Diamond is impugning their sincerity.
§ 5.46 p.m.
§ On Question: Whether the said Amendment (No. 5) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 58; Not-contents, 186.1117
|Archibald, L.||Hoy, L.||Sainsbury, L.|
|Ardwick, L.||Hughes, L.||St. Davids, V.|
|Bernstein, L.||Jacques, L.||Serota, Bs.|
|Beswick, L.||Janner, L.||Shackleton, L.|
|Blyton, L.||Kennet, L.||Shinwell, L.|
|Brockway, L.||Leatherland, L.||Slater, L.|
|Brown, L.||Lee of Asheridge, Bs.||Snow, L.|
|Buckinghamshire, E.||Lindgren, L.||Stocks, Bs.|
|Champion, L.||Llewelyn-Davics of Hastoe, Bs.||Stonham, L.|
|Crook, L.||Lloyd of Hampstead, L.||Stow Hill, L.|
|Davies of Leek, L.||McLeavy, L.||Summerskill, Bs.|
|Delacourt-Smith, L.||Maelor, L.||Taylor of Mansfield, L.|
|Diamond, L.||Mais, L.||Wells-Pestell, L.|
|Douglass of Cleveland, L.||Moyle, L.||Williamson, L.|
|Gaitskell, Bs.||Nunburnholme, L.||Willis, L.|
|Gardiner, L.||Phillips, Bs. [Teller.]||Winterbottom, L.|
|Garnsworthy, L. [Teller.]||Plummer, Bs.||Wright of Ashton under Lyne, L.|
|Greenwood of Rossendale, L.||Popplewell, L.|
|Henderson, L.||Ritchie-Calder, L.||Wynne-Jones, L.|
|Hilton of Upton, L.||Royle, L.|
|Aberdare, L.||Balerno, L.||Bessborough, E.|
|Ailwyn, L.||Balfour, E.||Blackburn, L. Bp.|
|Airedale, L.||Barnby, L.||Blackford, L.|
|Albemarle, E.||Barrington, V.||Bledisloe, V.|
|Allerton, L.||Bathurst, E.||Boston, L.|
|Alport, L.||Beauchamp, E.||Braye, L.|
|Amherst, E.||Beaumont of Whitley, L.||Bridgeman, V.|
|Amherst of Hackney, L.||Belhaven and Stenton, L.||Brooke of Ystradfellte, Bs.|
|Amory, V.||Belstead, L.||Buccleuch and Queensberry, D.|
|Ashbourne, L.||Berkeley, Bs.||Burton, L.|
|Byers, L.||Hacking, L.||Radnor, E.|
|Caccia, L,||Haig, E.||Ranfurly, E.|
|Caldecote, V.||Hailes, L.||Rankeillour, L.|
|Carrington, L.||Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. (Lord Chancellor.)||Rathcavan, L.|
|Chelmer, L.||Rea, L.|
|Chesham, L.||Halsbury, E.||Redcliffe-Maud, L.|
|Chester, L. Bp.||Hankey, L.||Remnant, L.|
|Clifford of Chudleigh, L.||Hanworth, V.||Rennell, L.|
|Clinton, L.||Hawke, L.||Ritchie of Dundee, L.|
|Clwyd L.||Henley, L.||Roberthall, L.|
|Coleridge, L.||Hives, L.||Rochester, L. Bp.|
|Colgrain L.||Hood, V.||Rochester, L.|
|Colyton, L.||Howard of Glossop, L.||Rockley, L.|
|Conesford, L.||Howe, E.||Rothermere, V.|
|Cork and Orrery, E.||Ilford, L.||Sackville, L.|
|Courtown, E.||Inglewood, L.||St. Aldwyn, E.|
|Cowley, E.||Ironside, L.||St. Helens, L.|
|Craigavon, V||Jellicoe, E. (L. Privy Seal.)||St. Oswald, L.|
|Crathorne, L.||Jessel, L.||Sandford, L.|
|Crawshaw, L.||Kemsley, V.||Sandys, L.|
|Cromartie, E.||Killearn, L.||Savile, L.|
|Cullen of Ashbourne. L.||Kilmarnock, L.||Selkirk, E.|
|Daventry, V.||Kindersley, L.||Sempill, Ly.|
|De Clifford, L.||Lauderdale, E.||Shaftesbury, E.|
|Denham, L.||Leicester, L. Bp.||Sherfield, L.|
|Derwent, L.||Lothian, M.||Sinclair of Cleeve, L.|
|Drumalbyn, L.||Loudoun, C.||Somerleyton, L.|
|Dudley, E.||Luke, L.||Stamp, L.|
|Dundee, E.||Lyell, L.||Stonehaven, V.|
|Ebbisham, L.||MacAndrew, L.||Strang, L.|
|Eccles, V.||Malmesbury, E.||Strange, L.|
|Effingham, E.||Mansfield, E.||Strange of Knokin, Bs.|
|Elliot of Harwood, Bs.||Margadale, L.||Strathcarron, L.|
|Emmet of Amberley, Bs.||Massereene and Ferrard, V.||Strathclyde, L.|
|Essex, E.||Merrivale, L.||Stratheden and Campbell, L.|
|Fairhaven, L.||Milverton, L.||Suffield, L.|
|Falkland, V.||Molson, L.||Swaythling, L.|
|Falmouth, V.||Monckton of Brenchley, V.||Swinton, E.|
|Ferrers, E.||Monk Bretton, L.||Tangley, L.|
|Ferrier, L.||Monsell, V.||Teviot, L.|
|Fisher, L.||Morrison, L.||Townshend, M.|
|Fortescue, E.||Mowbray and Stourton, L. [Teller.]||Tweedsmuir, L.|
|Garner, L.||Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, Bs.|
|Gladwyn, L.||Napier and Ettrick, L.||Ullswater, V.|
|Glasgow, E.||Newton, L.||Verulam, E.|
|Gore-Booth, L.||Northchurch, Bs.||Vivian, L.|
|Goschen, V. [Teller.]||Nugent of Guildford, L.||Waldegrave, E.|
|Gowrie, E.||Oakshott, L.||Willingdon, M.|
|Gray, L.||O'Neill of the Maine, L.||Windlesham, L.|
|Greenway, L.||Pender, L.||Wise, L.|
|Grenfell, L.||Perth, E.||Wolverton, L.|
|Gridley, L.||Platt, L.||Yarborough, E.|
|Grimston of Westbury, L.||Powis, E.|
Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ 6.0 p.m.
LORD DELACOURT-SMITHmoved Amendment No. 6
Page 2, line 3, at end insert ("and
(e) the principle of workers' participation in management.")
§ The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 6 standing in my name and that of my noble friend Lord Diamond. I am very glad to have the opportunity of taking part in the debate on this Amendment, although I must ten 1118 der my apologies to your Lordships for the fact that if the discussion proves to be a long one I may not be able to remain throughout it. This Amendment embodies a vitally important point, if indeed this Bill is to be credited with any claim to be comprehensive or constructive in the field of industrial relations. I think your Lordships will agree that at the present time an acceptance of the principle of workers' participation in management must be included in any body of principles which it is claimed animate a forward-looking programme of industrial relations.1119
§ Our country is to-day politically a democratic country, but it has not always been so. In the course of the last century it has become a more democratic country, in which every man enjoys in a full sense his full rights as a citizen, including the right to exercise the franchise, including the right to call authority to account and to explanation. As the noble and learned Lord, Lord Donovan, reminded us during the Second Reading debate, it was only just over a hundred years ago that, for the first time, any substantial number of working men in this country acquired the right to vote. Even then, by the Reform Act of 1867 the franchise was extended only to better-off working men living in the towns. During that period, and the period since then, at a quickening pace the political democracy of this country has been extended and consolidated, and the way in which this extension and consolidation has brought into political life and public life increasingly large sections of the population has enriched our national public activities.
§ While this development has taken place, and while working men and women, in increasing numbers, play their part as magistrates, members of local authorities, hospital management committees or Members of Parliament, industrially our country still tends towards autocracy. Although the development and increasing strength of trade unions has gone along with the growth of political democracy, in many industries or sections of industries the discussions which take place between trade unions and employers are very limited in scope. Their subject matter is often confined to the negotiation of wages and other basic conditions, though sometimes they embrace other matters. Many disputes arise over the maintenance of managerial prerogative, which means, in effect, the refusal of industrial managements to engage in discussion on matters which are of concern to workers but which the management choose to regard as matters for exclusive managerial decision, not to be brought within the subject matter of the normal discussions with the representatives of those whom they employ.
§ I readily concede that there are many employers who, to a greater or less degree, take a different view. I pay 1120 tribute to those employers, both in the private sector and, perhaps more widely spread in the public sector of employment, who have been prepared as a matter of practice to engage in more widely ranging discussions with the representatives of those who work for them. However, I suspect that a searching examination would show that they are the minority. Certainly over wide fields of industry, and over important subjects, the doctrine of managerial prerogative is still maintained. Incidentally, what an extraordinary phrase that is! Not matters of managerial decision; not matters of managerial authority or discretion, but matters of managerial prerogative. There are not many words which come to my mind which express so strongly a claim to have one's authority in no degree called into question; in no degree subject to the necessity of justification. I believe that in industry in this country we lose a great deal by the assertion of this prerogative, for there is so much scope over such wide fields for using the experience which workers have acquired in the course of their industrial tasks, and for building up their industrial knowledge.
§ Industry itself can benefit greatly if, in suitable ways, it can in these discussions between workpeople's representatives and employers involve the workpeople, and make available, as part of a common pool of knowledge upon which decisions may be based, that knowledge which workers have acquired by the practical experience of doing the job. Not only is the utilisation of this experience economically beneficial, it is socially and humanly necessary. The practice of utilising in a constructive way the experience of workers can have an effect upon them which to some extent mitigates the sense of alienation which, for one reason or another—and there are many reasons—many workers feel. There are many countries which by various statutory arrangements have sought to ensure that workers shall have an entitlement to a degree of influence upon management. The Federal Republic of Germany is of course an example which at once comes to mind.
§ I was most interested recently, when reading of the discussion that is taking place in the countries of the European 1121 Economic Community about the possibility of some kind of Statute which will establish a basis for companies operating throughout the E.E.C. with a degree of independence of national, fiscal and legal requirements, that it was envisaged that it would be considered by many appropriate to incorporate in the Statute embodying the concept of a European company provision for a measure of workers' participation in a supervisory council or supervisory board.
§ The Amendment which I am moving does not impose or introduce any statutory requirement upon anybody to do anything, save of course the guidance which various authorities under Clause 2 of the Bill are intended to seek in the principles set out in Clause 1. The form of words we are seeking to add to the clause makes no attempt to be precise. There is a vast range of possibilities of incorporating in different forms the principle of workers' participation in management. But while the Amendment is general in its terms and its effects, it does, I am sure your Lordships will on consideration agree, embody an element into this first clause of the Bill which is quite indispensable. We should be seriously amiss if, in making an attempt to set out principles within the scope of Clause 1, we omitted this provision. I therefore commend this Amendment to the Committee.
§ 6.13 p.m.
§ LORD BEAUMONT OF WHITLEY
The principle of workers' participation in management is in its essence one which has been a foremost plank of Liberal Party policy for many, many years. But the actual wording of this Amendment is not one which I like 100 per cent. It seems to give an unfortunate vision—the kind of vision which we who want to see a society such as the noble Lord, Lord Delacourt-Smith, has been speaking about, dislike seeing come up in our critics' minds. When there is talk about workers' participation in management, they immediately think of rather fast, busy, efficient managers of, say, middle management or top management level being hampered in what they are doing by a rather inefficient, ignorant form of control from below. That is not what Lord Delacourt-Smith is speaking about, not what I am speaking about, and not 1122 what any of us who have for a long time campaigned in this particular cause have spoken about.
We are speaking about the spread of consultation and decision-making all the way through industry; we are speaking about the spread of ownership of industry, and about the realisation that workers are in a very real sense much more the members of their company than are the shareholders. I am not saying that shareholders do not have their very just rights, but that in a real sense a worker is part of his company, part of his industry, in a way which I and others, including Members of your Lordship,' House, who are shareholders are not of a company in which we are shareholders.
We wish to see this principle brought into operation. We want to see political democracy spread to an industrial democracy. For in a modern industrial world, where a great deal of work and industry must be fairly soul-destroying, repetitive, without a large amount of interest in itself, where craftsmanship has to a certain extent disappeared, one can retain a semblance of humanity in the job itself, and one can avoid the alienation about which Karl Marx so rightly and tellingly spoke, if one can enlist in the running of industry the responsibility and the gifts of all the people who are concerned in it.
Sometimes when we speak about improved efficiency of an industry which really treats its workers as human beings, and as part of the decision-making machinery, we are told, particularly by our friends on the Left, that this is a kind of hidden plot of managers to get things working better. All I can say is that I wish more managers and more company directors realised the intricacy and effectiveness of this plot. It is nothing against workers' participation to say that, where it exists and is genuinely working, increased efficiency is obtained. That is not at all surprising because there is the harnessing together of everybody in the industry concerned, working for the good of the industry, for their own good, and for the good of the community.
To return to the wording of the Amendment, I understand that there are one or two noble Lords, particularly on our Benches, who do not like these precise words. I feel we should strongly support the Amendment for what it is 1123 trying to say and for what the noble Lord, Lord Delacourt-Smith, said; and if by any chance this Amendment is accepted, or we manage to carry it, we shall have an opportunity to amend the words on Report, if that is what we want to do. But the principle of workers' participation throughout in decision-making is not only a move towards greater efficiency; it is a necessary move towards greater humanity in industry. I am sure it must be supported.
THE EARL OF BALFOUR
May I put a question to the noble Lord, Lord Delacourt-Smith? Except in Clauses 10, 54 and 55, I cannot find anything in the Bill which seems to refer to the principle of workers' participating in management. I feel there is nothing within this Bill which covers profit sharing or workers actually participating in management. I feel it would be a help if we could know exactly what the noble Lord meant by this.
§ 6.20 p.m.
§ LORD BROWN
I am in support of many of the sentiments which lie behind this Amendment; but, in common with the noble Lord who has spoken from the Liberal Benches, I must reject the wording of this Amendment. It is common knowledge that for many years most of the trade unions in this country have rejected the idea of workers' participation in management. Indeed, I believe it is true to say that the Trades Union Congress confirmed this again last year. The fact of the matter is that associated with any company there are three groups, and management must take account of their views: there are the shareholders and their representatives, the directors; there are the consumers who, if they are not pleased will withdraw their custom; and there are the employees of all ranks in every company, and if management seek to change policies which matter to those employees then those employees can stop them doing so. This is a fact, not a figment of imagination. What is a figment is managerial prerogatives, because unless managements conduct the affairs of the firm within policies which are effectively agreed by representatives of every strata of worker—and in that I include everybody employed in the concern—then they will not be able to implement 1124 the decisions to which they seek to give effect.
This means that we are now in the situation where managers must get agreement on policy changes affecting conditions of work. Every experienced manager knows this to be the case, for if he attempts to implement some policy regarding wages or overtime, or night shifts or holidays, or whatever it may be, he will have a strike on his hands. What is missing is ally institution which is seen to exist, by all workers and by managers, within which the necessary degree of consent can be obtained. It is not a question of joint consultation, which many of us in this Committee know is rather a feeble thing. In many cases it amounts to no more than managers meeting representatives of workers and welcoming everything they say, so long as what they say is in accordance with their already preconceived ideas.
One has to get agreement from every strata of employee affected by a new policy and if one cannot get it then one cannot go ahead. Experienced managers know this full well, but there is no institution that is seen to be the instrument. Furthermore, it means that one has to obtain the consent of the representatives of every trade union in the company and every strata of employee. In effect this means unanimous consent of representatives—and this institution is missing. I have had experience of setting up such an institution and all I can say is that it works very well indeed.
Therefore, this Amendment should refer to the principle of workers' participation in agreeing the policies which affect their daily working lives, with management, so that management can work within those policies; and if in fact you get managers working within agreed policies, and agreeing not to change them without agreement, then you give managers full authority as long as their decisions lie within those policies. That is the way to give management more authority and at the same time to give workers and others in employment more participation in what they would regard as the management of the company but what I would regard as the formation of the policies within which the company is managed.
I would ask the noble Lord. Lord Drumalbyn, when he rises—as I have no 1125 doubt he will—to argue against the acceptance of this Amendment, whether it is possible for him to temporise a little and consider whether it is not possible at some later stage in our proceedings to have some Amendment to this clause which might bow to the analysis which I have just made, which describes a situation which actually exists in industry but which few trade unions and few managers seem to recognise as being in existence. Because the inevitability of agreement about policy is not recognised, we get workers and shop stewards claiming that management is authoritarian. It does not seem very like it to me to-day. I know who has the power in industry to-day, and it is not managers. You also get managers going around talking about managerial prerogatives. So managers think that they have a right to insist on certain things whether or not the workers like it, and millions of trade union members go on believing that management has the power to impose certain things upon them. These two things are not correct, and the sooner we get rid of these fantasy notions the sooner we shall be able to get together in industry in a sensible way to agree on these policies. This will be participation, and this is what will give management the authority which is necessary for the efficient running of a business.
§ VISCOUNT MASSEREENE AND FERRARD
I agree most heartily with every word uttered by the noble Lord, Lord Brown. In a company that I started we have very close liaison with the workers. I do not like the word "workers"; we are all workers. When I filled in the census form the other day, in answer to the question how many hours a day I worked I said, "fifteen hours a day". The only respite I get is when I come to your Lordships' House. We are all workers. However, I found that if you promote what, for want of a better word, I will call "a worker" to the Board, a great number of other workers are liable to say, "Oh, he's the boss's man", and you do not necessarily increase the good understanding that you want to have between workers and management. For a long time in this country we have had workers not only rising to the board but rising to control the company. We can think of several tycoons who started by selling matches and who rose to control vast industries. I suppose 1126 we shall not get that happening much longer, because nobody has to sell matches to-day, and in the future presumably they will draw their £25 a week in national assistance and will not have the energy or desire to rise to the top. However, let us leave that.
This Bill lays down certain conditions for improving the information to be given to management and workers in order that workers will be able to negotiate with full knowledge of the affairs of the company. I think the noble Lord who moved the Amendment said, quite rightly, that many companies to-day, and for a considerable time past, have close liaison and try to explain to their workers what is happening in the company. There are many share schemes for workers, designed to give them an interest in their company, but the trouble with such a scheme is that often the workers go and sell the shares straight away. What the noble Lord, Lord Brown, said is quite right. So far as I am aware, the unions have never really wanted workers to go on the boards of their companies. Although it is an attractive theory, and I am all for it, it does not always work out in practice as the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, appeared to think it would.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ LORD JACQUES
This is no theory; it actually works in practice, and it is highly relevant to this Bill on industrial relations, because if you want good industrial relations you will encourage workers' participation. Before coming to this House I had the good fortune of managing a substantial business for 20 years, a business which had a retail turnover of £25 million and had 5,000 employees. We had employees' participation throughout and consequently we did not have industrial disputes in the general sense of the phrase. First of all, two employees were elected to the board, and in addition in every department of the business we had a consultative committee with the manager of the department as chairman. This arrangement for participation by the workers throughout saved us a great deal of the difficulty that we should otherwise have had. It meant that when we were making changes of policy or changes in practice, or any kind of change which in any way affected the workers, we had the machinery readily available for proper consultation. We 1127 used that machinery, and consequently the changes that we wished to make were made very smoothly; but without that consultative machinery they would often have been extremely difficult to make.
Because management is appointed by shareholders it is assumed that management derives its authority solely from the shareholders; but in practice that is not so. We are now in an era when the workers are organized. Management derives its authority not merely from the shareholders but also from the organised workers, and the sooner we realise that and accept it as a fact of life then the better will be our industrial relations.
§ 6.32 p.m.
§ LORD STONHAM
I, too, wholeheartedly support this Amendment, with none of the reservations or doubts expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley or my noble friend Lord Brown. I think that workers' participation in management is potentially the most important factor in good industrial relations. I say this because of my own personal experience, but also because in other countries where it has been tried on a large scale this has proved to be the case. In West Germany, for example, I believe it is laid down by Statute that in every firm employing 20 employees there must be workers' participation in management. I was there some 12 years ago on a Parliamentary delegation which had the purpose of investigating industry, and, perhaps understandably, we visited only large firms; but in large firms in the chemical industry and elsewhere the extent to which this principle of participation has been carried was quite remarkable. There were workers' representatives on the board, and it was not then said, as the noble Viscount, Lord Massercene and Ferrard, suggested, they are bosses' men.
§ LORD STONHAM
There is no difference whatsoever in principle. I am merely saying Western Germany is a country which has experience of this, where representatives of the workers are directors of the company, and nobody accuses them of being bosses' men. It works.
§ LORD BROWN
Would the noble Lord allow me to make one comment? Is he aware that the German arrangements permit of the participation of these worker directors in the formation of policy within which the firm is managed, but does not allow participation of worker directors in the management of the company?
§ LORD STONHAM
I am aware of that; but I am also aware that the spirit and the industrial relations in those countries are such as would make the kind of Bill we are considering quite unnecessary. Perhaps understandably, I spoke to those workers' directors who happened to be the leaders in their own trade unions, and I asked them about wage disputes and how they got increases of wages. They got them by discussion, by negotiation, and there was no thought of industrial trouble or strife. I think this is understandable.
In my own firm I started forms of workers' participation 35 years ago, and there were no difficulties about introducing it. The offer was made and accepted. Each workshop elected its representative by ballot, and in discussions nothing was barred; they were free to discuss whatever they liked, and they had executive powers as well. It was probably very crude, but it worked. I cannot say that industrial relations were any better because of the council, because they were very good before. There was never any thought of strikes or similar industrial trouble. We had none before, and we had none when they were consulted. There were some rather surprising results from the consultations; they did the managers a great deal of good. They were a very effective stimulus. When you have these consultations, when you bring workpeople into active and real participation in management and there is no holding back, the results are very good indeed.
It was said by one noble Lord that the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, will find reasons for disagreeing with this Amendment. I hope that the noble Lord will find reasons for accepting the Amendment. It is perhaps unusual for us to add something to the Bill, but really I think that this is the most important and most helpful proposal that has been made, and I would think that any noble 1129 Lord who has studied the subject, particularly those who have put it into practice, would wish unhesitatingly to support this Amendment and see it through.
§ 6.40 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT CALDECOTE
I agree with so many of the sentiments already expressed, and I fully accept the need for full consultation and discussion with all employees, particularly where change is going to take place. It is not only right, it is not only sound humanity, but it is good and wise and sensible and efficient management to bring everyone along with you and take advantage of the experience of every employee in the company. I reject entirely the idea of management prerogative in the sense that management can tell employees what is going to happen and do it, whether there is agreement or not. But I do not think enough emphasis so far has been put on the issue of management responsibility, which is of the very greatest importance in this discussion. It is all very well to have people expressing opinions, but ultimately somebody has to take the responsibility for deciding whether you do this or that, and on the rightness or wrongness of that decision may depend the employment of hundreds, of thousands, or hundreds of thousands of people.
I am worried about this Amendment. I know the sentiment behind it, which was so ably expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Delacourt-Smith, but the trouble is that it is not clear what precisely it means. It can mean a large number of things. It can mean that we must give to all employees the opportunity of promotion for training in management, so that they can reach the highest positions in management—to the board, perhaps. It can mean the principle of having a foot in both camps: of being an employee but being in management; wanting to have authority, but not to take responsibility for the decisions that are taken. Or, as has already been said, as in some German and French companies under German and French law, it can mean that it is necessary to have employees' representatives on the board. I sat on the board of a French company for some years. There were some employees' representatives on that board. They made absolutely no contribution to the 1130 management. They were not allowed to do so. They did not take part in the management at all; they were merely told by the chairman what was going on. There were other ways within that company of informing and consulting employees, but the mere fact of them being on the board made not one jot or tittle of difference.
Further, it can mean management by committee. It can mean employees on committees, either in the majority or in the minority. If anyone can tell me a worse way of managing a competitive business than by committees, I should like to hear it. Ultimately, decisions have to be taken by people—by a chap who carries the can when things go wrong, and gets the credit when they go right.
§ LORD BROWN
Is the noble Viscount aware that all companies are managed, in one sense, by boards of directors, and that they are always committees, according to the Companies Act?
§ VISCOUNT CALDECOTE
If the noble Lord is saying that the board of a company does the detailed management, I do not think he is really saying what he thinks.
§ VISCOUNT CALDECOTE
Setting the policies by a committee is a perfectly satisfactory function for a board; but to say you can manage a company by a committee is completely untrue, and I do not believe that the noble Lord believes it himself.
§ LORD BROWN
I have given the noble Viscount the opportunity to make his statement somewhat clearer than it was when he started.
§ VISCOUNT CALDECOTE
I am very grateful to the noble Lord. The fifth way of looking at this matter is that employees should be consulted and brought into decision-making and policy-making at the earliest possible stage. That seems to me to be entirely right, and I support that policy completely and try to do it as much as I can in the business with which I am connected. To that extent I support entirely the ideas behind the Amendment 1131 of the noble Lord. Because of the complete lack of clarity in the Amendment, and the fact that it can be taken in many different ways by different people, I believe it can only cause dissension and difficulties and would not add at all to the objectives of this Bill. If it could be altered in some way, as the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley suggested, it might be much more acceptable; but in its present form I shall certainly vote against it.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ LORD DAVIES OF LEEK
The first clause to this Bill says:The provisions of this Act shall have effect for the purpose of promoting good industrial relations …We then suggest the principle of participation in management: in other words, we are 100 per cent. behind the purpose of promoting good industrial relations. It has been part of a little task of mine to look up some of the wonderful things we were saying when we were fighting for our lives, and fighting alone, against the volcanic spawn of Nazism. We had marvellous committee meetings, and we had a Regulation, No. 1305, which, when we were fighting for our lives, depended entirely on the trade union movement restraining all its wage claims. In the factories producing Blenheims (one of my jobs was to see over some of this production) we organised participation by the workers. We were like Cromwell with his army—an army which was so puritannical that it frightened me historically. He believed it was absolutely essential for the men who counted (and in that time it was his troops) to know what it was all about.
I think in this day of spreading internationalisation, and the spreading ramifications of great firms, that more than ever there is a need for the workers—which is a very dignified word, either by hand or by brain, to know what is going on. As was said some years ago, that permits the interplay of experience; it taps the creativeness of the men; it gives scope to the human qualities of the management, and it permits the exploration of common lines of action. Granted that each scheme needs some testing of its arrangements, to see whether there is a chance for real joint initiative, and a joint service, on a wider plane between 1132 management and the participators, the workers' representatives. That is all we are asking here.
I see nothing wrong in this new approach to production, when we are approaching the end of the twentieth century. Some noble Lords may, like myself, have read some of the latest economic production figures. Economists have the gift of prophecy that always goes wrong—like the Governor of the Bank of England, Montagu Norman, in 1926, who wanted his prophecy carved in gold, and, six months later, it went wrong. We believe that fewer hours are going to be worked in the future. Ultimately, with mechanisation and the new methods of production that are taking place (which noble Lords know about as well as anybody else, and I will not bore the Committee by detailing them) within the lifetime of some of us in this Chamber, the working week may be one of only three or four days, and there needs to be a new approach. The opportunity for that new approach could be put into a Bill which, in its Preamble, says that its purpose is to improve industrial relations.
If noble Lords say that this is not clear, in the name of the Lord above and on the earth beneath, hardly anything in the damned Bill is clear so far as that is concerned. So do not blame us for a little romanticism in our semantics. Let all the marvellous drafters of Bills who stand in their legions behind this Government, discover the exact phraseology that at a stroke would pin down the meaning of what my noble friend on the Front Bench put forward. Despite the jocularity of my last peroration, I appeal to noble Lords at least to give way a little and say, "We will examine this idea, and see if the mighty legions of brains behind us, or in front of us, can reform this phraseology; but we accept the idea and will try and incorporate it in the Bill".
§ 6.50 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT AMORY
I intervene for a moment with the very greatest diffidence, because I fear that at any moment the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek, will apply the Indian death lock, and I do not want that to be applied to me at all. The noble Lord, Lord Delacourt-Smith, introduced this Amendment, as 1133 usual, with great moderation. It is a matter which it is clearly right we should discuss and debate very seriously indeed. I listened to the noble Lord, Lord Brown, as I always do, with great attention, because when he says, "It works", he is speaking from first-hand experience. He has made these things work, and we honour him for doing so.
I find myself very much in sympathy with what my noble friend Lord Caldecote has said. Though I have great sympathy with the idea behind this Amendment, I feel pretty sure that if it were to be introduced in its present form at this point of the Bill, it would lead to great confusion. We all know that when we experiment genuinely with this principle of participation in management, with which I am in great sympathy, we can easily reach a stage where divided responsibility leads not only to inefficiency but to discontent. I believe wholeheartedly in joint consultation, but I go further. I should be disappointed if joint consultation, when practised sincerely over a period, did not lead to participation in management in some ways. This is something which those of us who try to practise joint consultation should always try to keep ahead of us as our aim. We should be continually experimenting to see whether we can find some forms of participation in management that will not lead to divided responsibility, unhappiness and discontent, as well as to inefficiency. If this Amendment contained the principle of joint consultation, then I, for one, would have been glad to see it here in this Bill, and, if this is not the point for it, I hope very much that that principle will be encouraged in every way in some appropriate places in this Bill. We said yesterday that we are all looking forward to seeing the code of practice. If joint consultation is mentioned there, I hope that that will be mentioned not as an end in itself, but as a means of greater participation and involvement of everybody in a business.
§ LORD HANKEY
As I have several times recommended something like workers' participation in your Lordships' House in the past, I should like to be allowed to say one word. I think that the wording of this Amendment goes either too far or not far enough. The point is that there are so many different ways in which this can be done. The Germans 1134 have an excellent system of works councils. One noble Lord—I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Douglass of Cleveland—expressed doubts about this idea, but it works quite well in Germany. Another idea is the representation of workers on the board of management, and that undoubtedly works quite well. I have been talking to some German industrialists and they both told me the same thing. They said that the trade unionists did not really like it, because they felt that they became tarred. The directors were not quite sure whether they liked it, because they wanted to be all boys together and were not always sure that they wanted to have the trade union representatives there. But both of my friends said, "This really keeps us out of trouble more than anything else." One said to me, "Whenever industrial relations run up against trouble in our company, the first person we get is the trade union representative on the board, and he usually helps us to sort matters out. We really could not do without him."
I have another line on this idea, because I happen to be a vice-president of the European Institute of British Administration at Fontainebleau, and they used to run a course on industrial relations. Some years ago I was rather shattered when they brought in an American and changed the name of this subject to "organisational psychology". I thought it sounded very theoretical, but that really is not so. I do not know whether any of your Lordships read that interesting book by Servan-Schreiber some time ago, about the Americans. He drew attention to the fact that the Americans had developed an absolute genius for organising a company so that everybody put his shoulder to the wheel, and they really made it go along much faster than the Europeans. He said that American progress in industry was not so much due to the amount of capital or the technical excellence of their research, or their ability to use research, although those were outstandingly important. What mattered was that they got everybody to co-operate in pushing the wagon along.
I do not know whether the wording of this Amendment—"participation in management"—is right. I think that what we in this country suffer from is that management cannot manage. I 1135 believe that when we have passed something like this Industrial Relations Bill management will be better able to manage, but if they also get into the habit of consulting the workers and getting everybody to help push the wagon along, I am absolutely certain that industry will go even better than it would otherwise. So I hope that we can give this matter much further consideration. I hope that the Government will be willing to consider the general idea and that, possibly, the movers of the Amendment will be willing to withdraw it rather than press it to a Division, when it would be voted down, which I think would be a pity. I also hope that the Government will find means of givng consideration to how we can introduce some ideas such as this.
I agreed very much with the hint which the noble Viscount, Lord Amory, gave of his thought on this subject. The noble Viscount's interventions are invariably of the utmost interest, if I may say so with all respect. He mentioned the code of industrial practice. We have not yet seen this code, but it seems to me very possible that something could be usefully inserted in it which would cover this point and encourage people to do something about it. It is possible that if we put it into the Bill itself, it would start up all sorts of ideas with false perspectives. If it is put into the code, it is conceivable that it will start a great many people thinking actively, and perhaps they will be guided by some of the interesting remarks which have been made in this debate.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
We have had an extremely interesting and useful debate on this subject, and I feel grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Delacourt-Smith, for having raised this point. It is true that as organisations grow in size, the question of keeping everybody in touch becomes more and more difficult, and it is very important indeed that workers should feel a sense of identity with their enterprise and should be kept in touch with the decisions that affect their lives. May I make a comment on one or two of the remarks that were made. They carried for me a slight implication that worker participation or consultation is a good thing just for getting management by, and it is to be regarded in that way. May I say that I rather deplore such 1136 remarks. It seems to me that what we want to do is to get the two sides feeling completely complementary in a common enterprise. Until we can do that, we shall not really get the kind of atmosphere and attitude that we want to see in industry, nor shall we get the results.
It is true that this form of communication or consultation—which are different things, of course—is extremely important and can contribute a very great deal to good industrial relations. But it does not necessarily follow that it should go into the Bill at this point and in these words—and I take the point of the noble Lords, Lord Beaumont of Whitley and Lord Brown, on this. I should like to put this to noble Lords, so that we may all try to be at one in what we are seeking to establish in this clause. Even though they do not agree with what the rest of the Bill is trying to do, I should like to carry noble Lords with us in the intention of the introductory clause. It states:The provisions of this Act shall have effect for the purpose of promoting good industrial relations in accordance with the following general principles".It then goes on to enumerate four principles—collective bargaining, orderly procedures, free association and freedom and security for workers.
Now each one of these principles is embodied in the Bill. Whether one agrees with all the provisions or not, each of these principles is embodied in the Bill. What I think would be a little misplaced would be if we were to introduce here a principle for which there are no provisions in the Bill. Perhaps it is wrong to say that there are no provisions in the Bill. There is, for example, Clause 55, which provides for information to be given to all employees in firms of more than a certain size. There is also the provision for information to be made available for the purposes of collective bargaining. But the emphasis, of course, is very much put on collective bargaining; and it is interesting to see what the Donovan Report says on this particular matter. The Donovan Report has a chapter on Workers' Participation in Management, and if noble Lords look at that chapter they will find that the Report does not come out very strongly one way or the other so far as actual provisions are concerned. It looks at what is being done in France and Germany, as we have 1137 done in our debate this afternoon, but it does not come out very strongly one way or the other. It says:Although managers, if they are wise, will keep in close touch with shop stewards, they must also be free to discuss policy without being preoccupied with the risk that what they say may be misunderstood and lead to confusion on the shop floor, just as stewards must be free to meet on their own …and they have a good deal to say about consultation and communications in general.
The point I am trying to make here is that if we were to insert this new paragraph in this form there would be no real backing in the Bill to it. Noble Lords may say that this is perhaps a defect in the Bill, but what we put in here has some effect in the sense that subsection (2), as we have pointed out before, says:With a view to fulfilling that purpose"—that is, of promoting good industrial relations—those principles shall be regarded as guiding principlesby the particular people who have to adminster the Bill; and I do not quite see the role that this particular principle would have, in that light, for those who have to administer the Bill.
If you look at Clause 2, you will also see that here we are dealing with the code of practice to which my noble friend Lord Amory referred and also the noble Lord, Lord Hankey, and there the Secretary of State is enjoined to have regard tothe need for providing practical guidance with respect to disclosure of information by employers, and with respect to the establishment and maintenance of effective means of negotiation, consultation and communication at all levels";and it is this communication almost as much as anything else that we are really talking about. That being so, given the question of workers' participation in management, worker directors and that sort of thing, this would need substantive provisions in the Bill in order to be able to have any force so far as these principles are concerned.
The Government's view is that experiments in the different forms of worker participation are matters for the organisations concerned. Any legislation on this subject would be complicated, and might perhaps have considerable repercussions 1138 on company law. At the present stage, when the merits and forms of worker participation are the subject of debate between both sides of industry, and indeed within the trade union movement itself, it would be unwise to embody in this Bill the principle set out in the Amendment. If worker participation is a comparatively new and little-tested idea in this country, collective bargaining has proved itself to be the surest foundation for the conduct of industrial relations, and this is what Donovan says in his chapter on workers' participation.
§ LORD DAVIES OF LEEK
I apologise for interrupting, and I hope the noble Lord will excuse me, but I do not see the value of talking all the time in terms of collective bargaining for money. I am quite sure noble Lords realise that conditions, welfare and other things in places of work are often very important; and participation and consultation on things like that play as big a part in productivity, sometimes a greater part, as an increase in money wages.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
I entirely agree, and, of course, if the noble Lord will refer to the definition of "collective bargaining" he will see that it says:'collective bargaining' means negotiations with respect to terms and conditions of employment, or with respect to the making, variation or rescission of a procedure agreement, or with respect to any matter to which in accordance with this section a procedure agreement can relate".It can go very wide in dealing with procedure agreements on any aspect whatsoever of joint consultation and the like. So for myself I doubt whether there is any reason to include this principle among the principles in Clause 1.
There are various ways in which workers can participate in management. The most effective is through membership of a trade union which negotiates with management on all questions affecting conditions of employment, including, for example, the introduction of new machinery, manpower planning and deployment, and disciplinary and dismissal procedures. That is contained in the White Paper In Place of Strife in paragraph 49, and, of course. I entirely agree with that. But there was no provision for it that I can trace in the Labour Government's Bill and this is not yet, I would suggest to noble Lords, at a 1139 stage where we could give positive provisions other than those we have already provided for information, communication and the like. I say to noble Lords that this is a matter for experiment, and it may be possible, as my noble friend Lord Amory has said, to give guidance on this in the code, but I suggest to noble Lords that it would not be appropriate to put it in as a principle in Part I.
§ LORD DELACOURT-SMITH
I am sure other noble Lords will feel as I do—deeply disappointed with the reply which the noble Lord has made. Before this debate I was surveying in my mind the spectrum of possible responses which the noble Lord might make, and I am sorry to say that I awarded them in my mind marks from one to nine out of ten. But unhappily I must award the noble Lord nought out of ten for the response which he has made.
A number of points have been raised in the debate, and perhaps I may mention two of them. I am puzzled by those noble Lords who have said that the trade unions, and particularly the Trades Union Congress, have not been interested in this proposition. As the Donovan Report makes clear, the Trades Union Congress submitted this in its evidence, and quite a substantial section of the T.U.C. evidence is devoted to this matter.
The other point on which I should like to comment is the number of noble Lords in various parts of the House who have given support to the principle that we were seeking to advance here. We are very grateful indeed for that support, but sorry that it was qualified in one or two cases by noble Lords making it clear that. although they devoted a great deal of their speeches to expressing their sympathy with the principle, they felt that they would be obliged to vote against it.
I am puzzled and surprised at the line of argument which the noble Lord advanced in reply. First, on the proposition that there would be no back-up in the Bill, this is a matter which can easily be put right in the later stages of our discussion. But I would not accept that as a satisfactory argument even if nothing further were necessarily going to be added; because it has been the desire of the Government to present this 1140 Bill as a pretty comprehensive piece of legislation which in their view must subsist as the basis of our industrial law for some period of time. If one does not, in such a piece of legislation, take care to include in any declaratory paragraph (such as this first clause is) some of the most forward-looking propositions which one could reasonably include in it, one is in great danger of prejudicing the progress which those principles might otherwise make—because unfortunately there will be backward-looking people who will say that, since this or that is not among the principles enshrined in the first clause of the Bill, it is something which it is not proper for us to bring into our minds.
This first clause is intended to guide in particular the Commission on Industrial Relations. I have on earlier occasions said that I feared that the Government so far have not served the Commission for Industrial Relations very well. The Government have done a great deal already to prejudice its future work, and it will be most unfortunate if there were not included in the principles which are to guide the Commission (as well as the other bodies referred to in subsection (2)) a provision of this kind, which so many noble Lords who have spoken, in different parts of the House, recognise as representing a desirable element in industrial thinking or in thinking on industrial relations.
A variety of interpretations can be put on the phrase which we are suggesting should be introduced. I made this point, and I ventured almost to make a virtue of it, when I first commended this Amendment to your Lordships. But certainly one meaning of it, and the meaning to which I personally would probably be most sympathetic, is to widen significantly the scope of collective bargaining, to encourage the development of collective bargaining, so that it embraces a wider and wider range of topics. This is one of the most valuable interpretations to put upon that phrase. I do not regard what the Donovan Commission said upon this point as in any way sustaining the noble Lord in his opposition to our Amendment. On the contrary, I regard what the Donovan Commission said on this subject, and their belief that collective bargaining constructively approached would lead to the achievement of a greater degree of workers' 1141 participation, as an argument for this Amendment. This is one very reasonable interpretation, one very practical line, on which development can take place. This in itself would be a most valuable reason for putting this into the Bill, so that anybody who is thinking or talking about or, most important, practising, collective bargaining, will find encouragement in the Bill to widen rather than to narrow the scope of it.
At a later stage the Bill takes one very tentative step in this direction—and this occurred to me as qualifying the noble Lord's remarks that there was no further back-up for this idea. It proposes that there should be certain entitlements of trade unions to have information. This is a necessary step. If the noble Lord has not appreciated that what is in the Bill on this point—modest though it is—will be regarded by some interests as being a breach of managerial prerogative. I am surprised. I should have thought
§ that this point would already have been put to him. What we are saying is consistent with Donovan; it is consistent with any responsible approach to make collective bargaining wider and more fruitful. It is consistent with what is said in the Bill about greater information being available. It is essential that we should make sure that this phrase is included, because noble Lords in many places have seen the significance of it; that it is a forward-looking element, and that if we omit it, if the Amendment is rejected, we not only do not advance collective bargaining in this fruitful direction but we are in real danger, for the reasons that I have explained, of prejudicing the development of collective bargaining.
§ 7.16 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 6) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided Contents, 71; Not-Contents, 151.1143
|Amherst, E.||Henderson, L.||Ritchie-Calder, L.|
|Archibald, L.||Henley, L.||Royle, L.|
|Ardwick, L.||Hilton of Upton, L.||St. Davids, V.|
|Beaumont of Whitley, L.||Hoy, L.||Serota, Bs.|
|Bernstein, L.||Hughes, L.||Shackleton, L.|
|Beswick, L.||Jacques, L.||Shepherd, L.|
|Blyton, L.||Janner, L.||Shinwell, L.|
|Brockway, L.||Kennet, L.||Slater, L.|
|Buckinghamshire, E.||Leatherland, L.||Stamp, L.|
|Byers, L.||Lee of Asheridge, Bs.||Stocks, Bs.|
|Champion, L.||Lindgren. L.||Stonham, L.|
|Collison, L.||Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, Bs.||Stow Hill, L.|
|Crawshaw, L.||Lloyd of Hampstead, L.||Strabolgi, L. [Teller.]|
|Crook, L.||Loudoun, C.||Strange, L.|
|Davies of Leek, L.||Lucas of Chilworth, L.||Summerskill, Bs.|
|Delacourt-Smith, L.||Maelor, L.||Swaythling, L.|
|Diamond, L.||Milner of Leeds, L.||Taylor of Mansfield, L.|
|Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L.||Nunburnholme, L.||Wells-Pestell, L.|
|Douglass of Cleveland, L.||Peddie, L.||White, Bs.|
|Fletcher, L.||Phillips, Bs. [Teller.]||Williamson, L.|
|Gaitskell, Bs.||Platt, L.||Wise, L.|
|Gardiner, L.||Plummer, Bs.||Wright of Ashton under Lyne, L.|
|Garnsworthy, L.||Popplewell, L.|
|Greenwood of Rossendale, L.||Raglan, L.||Wynne-Jones, L.|
|Aberdare, L.||Belhaven and Stenton, L.||Carrick, E.|
|Abinger, L.||Belstead, L.||Chelmer, L.|
|Ailwyn, L.||Berkeley, Bs.||Chesham, L.|
|Albemarle, E.||Boston, L.||Clinton, L.|
|Aldington, L.||Brabazon of Tara, L.||Clwyd, L.|
|Allerton, L.||Bradford, E.||Coleridge, L.|
|Amherst of Hackney, L.||Braye, L.||Colgrain, L.|
|Amory, V.||Bridgeman, V.||Colville of Culross, V.|
|Ashbourne, L.||Brooke of Cumnor, L.||Conesford, L.|
|Balfour, E.||Brooke of Ystradfellte, Bs.||Courtown, E.|
|Balfour of Inchrye, L.||Brougham and Vaux, L.||Cowley, E.|
|Bathurst, E.||Burton, L.||Craigavon, V.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Caldecote, V.||Cranbrook, E.|
|Crathorne, L.||Hacourt, V.||Redesdale, L.|
|Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Harvey of Tasburgh, L.||Rennell, L.|
|Daventry, V.||Hawke, L.||Roberthall, L.|
|Davidson, V.||Hives, L.||Rochdale, V.|
|De Clifford, L.||Hood, V.||Rockley, L.|
|De La Warr, E.||Howard of Glossop, L.||Rothermere, V.|
|Denham, L. [Teller.]||Ilford, L.||Sackville, L.|
|Derwent, L.||Inglewood, L.||St. Aldwyn, E.|
|Drumalbyn, L.||Jellicoe, E. (Lord Privy Seal.)||St. Helens, L.|
|Dudley, E.||Kemsley, V.||St. Oswald, L.|
|Dundee, E.||Killearn, L.||Sandford, L.|
|Ebbisham, L.||Kilmarnock, L.||Sandys, L.|
|Eccles, V.||Lansdowne, M.||Savile, L.|
|Effingham, E.||Lauderdale, E.||Selkirk, E.|
|Elliot of Harwood, Bs.||Luke, L.||Sempill, Ly.|
|Emmet of Amberley, Bs.||Lyell, L.||Shaftesbury, E.|
|Essex, E.||MacAndrew, L.||Sherfield, L.|
|Fairhaven, L.||Malmesbury, E.||Sinclair of Cleeve, L.|
|Falkland, V.||Mansfield, E.||Somers, L.|
|Falmouth, V.||Margadale, L.||Stonehaven, V.|
|Ferrers, E.||Masserene and Ferrard, V.||Strang, L.|
|Fisher, L.||Milverton, L.||Strange of Knokin, Bs.|
|Fortescue, E.||Monckton of Brenchley, V.||Strathclyde, L.|
|Fraser of Lonsdale, L.||Monk Bretton, L.||Stratheden and Campbell, L.|
|Gage, V.||Monsell, V.||Suffield, L.|
|Garner, L.||Monson, L.||Teviot, L.|
|Glasgow, E.||Mowbray and Stourton, L.||Teynham, L.|
|Glendevon, L.||Napier and Ettrick, L.||Townshend, M.|
|Goschen. V. [Teller.]||Northchurch, Bs.||Tweedsmuir, L.|
|Gowrie, E.||Nugent of Guildford, L.||Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, Bs.|
|Gray, L.||Oakshott, L.||Ullswater, V.|
|Grenfell, L.||O'Neill of the Maine, L.||Verulam, E.|
|Gridley, L.||Powis, E.||Vivian, L.|
|Hacking, L.||Radnor, E.||Wigram. L.|
|Haig, E.||Rankeillour, L.||Windlesham, L.|
|Hailes, L.||Rathcaven, L.||Wolverton, L.|
|Hailsham of St. Marylebone, L. (L. Chancellor)||Reading, M.||Yarborough, E.|
Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ 7.29 p.m.
LORD DIAMONDmoved Amendment No. 6A:
Page 2, line 3, at end insert—
(e) the principle that employers are primarily responsible for the promotion of good management—employee relations in industry.")
§ The noble Lord said: I beg to move the Amendment standing in the names of my noble friend the Leader of the Opposition and myself. I do not think that I need to press this Amendment very much. If I could be assured that I need not do so, I would not press it any great length. I say that because the Government have already made known, in the Consultative Document and in speeches by the Secretary of State in another place, that they accept this view; I do not think that is overstating the position. I do not say that they accept the view that the Amendment should go in the Bill, but that the content of the Amendment expresses 1144 their own view. The Secretary of State said that there was a need for those who manage undertakings to accept the primary responsibility for the promotion of good industrial relations. I think that was said—I am relying on my recollection now—in connection with the code of practice rather than with a main principle of the Bill. Therefore, what can be the only dispute between the two sides is not whether this is a good statement of principle but whether it is a good statement of principle which ought to be included in this Part of the Bill.
§ We have, unfortunately, narrowly—fairly narrowly for your Lordships' House—been unable to persuade your Lordships to accept the previous Amendment. I say "fairly narrowly" because it was of the order of two to one, and previous Amendments have been lost by three to one and some by four to one. That is of considerable satisfaction to those of us who do our sums and who are in a permanent minority, and who have the prospect of being in a permanent minority for the rest of our lives. I 1145 say that in terms of the Labour Party in this House only, not of the other House as well. It is of some satisfaction to us to know that our arguments have been so persuasive, and no one could have been more moderate, more clear, or more persuasive than my noble friend, Lord Delacourt-Smith, who moved the last Amendment.
§ I said that unfortunately we were unable to persuade your Lordships as to the last Amendment going in. Therefore, I am the more encouraged to believe that this Amendment—which is clear, which deals with a principle which has been generally accepted, which is necessary to remind the public and especially those engaged in industry and in the management of industry—should be a form of words which has been broadly accepted by Government, both in their own Consultative Document in Clause 4 and in a speech by the Secretary of State in connection with the code of practice. I hope that we shall be able to persuade the Government that this is something which could well be included in the Bill.
§ It is absolutely essential that those to whom these principles are directed should have in front of them the whole time that the view of Parliament is that this responsibility is placed primarily upon employers. All good employers accept it. That is not disputed. Common sense enables one to see that. It can have an enormous effect on industrial relations. However, there are some employers who do not yet fully understand their responsibility, and do not accept it. Perhaps not the majority; my own experience is that the majority of employers, certainly the best employers in the country, accept this responsibility. Therefore, it would be all the easier, and cause no difficulty to the Government, if these words were included. It would be helpful to those who have to have regard to these words and whose attention is drawn to them in this Part of the Bill.
§ I need detain your Lordships no longer. There are many arguments and they can be adduced. I hope that on this occasion we are dealing with such common ground that the noble Lord will be able to gel: up and say that he accepts this view and will incorporate these or similar words in the Bill. I beg to move.1146
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
I should like to say at once that the Government unreservedly accept that the prime responsibility for promoting good industrial relations rests with management. Obviously, both management and unions have a responsibility in this area, but the heavier burden rests on management. As the noble Lord says, this was made abundantly clear by the Secretary of State for Employment in the other place when he moved the Amendment which now appears in Clause 2. This refers to the responsibility of management. It would create some difficulties to incorporate this principle in Clause 1, as the Amendment proposes. The Government believe that the best way to give emphasis to the principle is to leave it where it is in Clause 2. After all, what we are talking about is the behaviour of management, and guidance on behaviour will be given in the code.
As I have said so often, the principles in Clause 1 are guiding principles to which the statutory agencies in subsection (2) must have regard. They will also, I must admit, guide others concerned with the promotion of good industrial relations. However, they will not bind them. The most effective way of ensuring that this responsibility can be brought home to employers is not to include it as a principle. It will be more effective to do as we have done and require the Secretary of State to draft the code of practice with it in mind. That is the way in which it will have the most practical effect.
This is rather a difficult thing to say because obviously it can be misinterpreted, but if this Amendment were incorporated as a guiding principle in Clause 1 the statutory agencies would be bound to pay regard to it. That being so, the Industrial Court or a tribunal would have to start from the position that, on the face of it, prima facie, the employer was always to blame. That may simply not be true, yet it would place the onus on him to show that whatever the trouble was which was brought before the Court, it was not due to the fact that he had not taken due steps to accept his primary responsibility. That would tend to tilt the balance a little unfairly. After all, I am sure the noble Lord will agree with me, and I am sure the noble Lords behind him 1147 will agree too, that however loyal and devoted they are to trade unions they want to have an even balance in matters of this kind.
Therefore, I doubt whether it would be right to put this paragraph in as a principle here, because of the effect it would have on the way in which the courts would have to look at any particular matter. That surely is not what we want to achieve. What we want to achieve is that the managers should accept this principle as their primary responsibility and act accordingly. Therefore, although we accept that this is management's primary responsibility, we believe that it would be liable to cause some trouble if it were put in at this point in the Bill. However, if noble Lords feel strongly about it I am quite willing to have a look at it and see where we could appropriately put it in the Bill. I can give no promise, of course, that we shall be able to do that. We appreciate the point and we think it is important to bring home this primary responsibility to management. We are not convinced that this should be in Clause 1. But I undertake to see whether it would be practicable to have it somewhere else in the Bill, though I cannot give any firm commitment that I will succeed in doing so.
§ LORD POPPLEWELL
I think we should be grateful to the noble Lord for the effort he has made in this direction. This is an extremely difficult subject to deal with and there are faults on both sides. I know that where management has been reasonable and more free with the information they have imparted to their employees, generally speaking there have been marked results (because it indicates that the management have taken the employees into partnership as it were), with an appreciable improvement in the efficiency and output of the undertaking. This has happened in many small firms, which are not so efficient in their technical skills and equipment, and it is surprising how output has increased. I know that it is an extremely difficult thing to get across in larger firms, but management itself should take the lead. I know that there is conservative government in our trade union movement—I am one of the first to accept this—and many trade union leaders look askance at any question of efficiency and increased pro- 1148 ductivity efforts, because of the natural fear due to the fact that in the past the results of many of these efforts has been to put someone out on the street.
This Amendment links up with some of the discussions we had on earlier Amendments and though I was not present all the time, I shall certainly read the discussion with great interest. I am sorry that the Minister cannot accept the wording, though I understand the reason. But in this code of conduct, whatever decision the Minister comes to, it is important that it should be strictly laid down that this is the guiding line for management to adopt.
May I quote an incident which happened to me in the mid-thirties, I was representing my trade union at a wages inquiry, and on a question of amenities the management said that though I had a good case and they would like to meet me, the fact was that they had not enough money "in the kitty" to pay a fortnight's wages of all the employees. When I went back and told our members, it had a salutary effect and from that time on it led to good relations with the management. If we can get this across, not only to management but also to the trade unions, it would be very beneficial, and I hope that the Minister will find some way of embracing this, if not in the Bill (which I would prefer) certainly in the code of conduct.
§ LORD ROCHESTER
May I intervene to say that as a manager I fully accept that in trying to create the conditions in which good relations can flourish, it is management that should take the lead. This Bill may be needed to help regulate the activities of the trade unions and their representatives, but in the last resort this is a Bill about industrial relations and it certainly involves, as the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, has acknowledged, behaviour on the shop floor. There is no doubt in my mind that when it comes to trying to influence that behaviour, it is management who can and should do more about this than the trade unions. This is recognised, as the noble Lord has been good enough to acknowledge, in Clause 2 of the Bill. It seems to me that if the principle is sound for the code of practice, it is also sound for the Bill, and I very much welcome what the noble Lord has already 1149 said about the possibility of being able to do something about this at a later stage.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
May I intervene for a moment? I do not think that one can accept that because something is sound for the code of practice it is necessarily sound for the Bill, because the Bill is laying down rights and duties whereas the code of practice sets out to establish codes of behaviour, which would be difficult to establish in the Bill.
§ LORD ROCHESTER
I understand what the noble Lord is saying, but I must reiterate my own view. To my mind this principle is of such weight that it should find a place in the Bill and not merely in a code of practice. I think it might be no bad thing that management should have to show that they have done all that they should have done in this regard. If the Government are not able to do something about this, it might well create an impression in the minds of people which I am sure it is not the intention of the Government to convey, as the noble Lord has said. I hope that this will happen. If there has to be a Division, I shall be obliged to vote for the Amendment.
§ VISCOUNT AMORY
I shall only take one half-second to say that we have listened with interest to what my noble friend has said. I know that when he says that he will have a look at it, he means that he will have a look at it with the intention, if he possibly can, of meeting the wishes that have been expressed. If pressure is building up a little, I would add my mite of pressure from this side of the House, which may help him to prosecute his search for a solution here with the best chances of success.
§ LORD DIAMOND
I am indeed grateful to all noble Lords who have contributed to the debate, including the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn. All of us agree that the method by which management could best promote good relations in industry is their acceptance of the primary responsibility. The only question which arises is whether the code of practice—I apologise for mentioning this again I hate to nag, but we have not yet seen it—is an adequate medium for expressing the deep feeling we all have that this is something which should be brought to 1150 the attention of that area of management which does not yet fully accept it.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
May I intervene on that point? I should have thought that from the point of view of managers the code of practice was more likely to be on their desks as the handbook for consultation than the Act itself.
§ LORD DIAMOND
If the noble Lord is going to say—and it is a little unusual to say it at a time when the House is not overcrowded—that he proposes to bring in a code of practice and scrap this Bill, we shall reach agreement with surprising rapidity. But I do not think he is really saying that. I do not think he has had time to have dinner and the number of brandies to go with it in order to make such an emolient speech. I am sure that what he really understands is that the Bill will stand, and although the code of practice—I entirely agree with him—will be the practical document, will be on every good manager's desk, will be read by all and will be most helpful, nevertheless, there is an atmosphere and a presumption to be established which all those who have to look at this area of the Bill will want to understand. That presumption must be that it is the Government's and Parliament's view that the prime responsibility rests on management.
I do not think that goes as far as saying, as the noble Lord said in his earlier speech, that this puts a kind of sense of blame on management: that on every issue that is raised management will feel that they have to answer an implicit allegation of blameworthiness. What we are seeking to do is to establish that the view that the Government hold, which has been expressed by Members of the three main Parties in your Lordships' House and which they therefore also hold, should be made clear, not only in particular to those who must have regard to these clauses but in addition to those outside, who do not need to have regard but whom we should like to have regard to these clauses.
In view of the very understanding reply which the noble Lord has made, and of what is implicit in Lord Amory's helpful addition, I am going to suggest to the noble Lord, Lord Rochester, that the most constructive thing we can do now 1151 is to invite the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, to consider carefully in which way we can have something more than a mention or a series of attitudes in the code of practice. I do not know about others, but I certainly should not insist on any particular place where it should be or on a particular form of words. The Government have made the position as to their view quite clear, and the Committee broadly share it: at all events, we have heard nobody take a different view. I should be grateful therefore, and I am sure the noble Lords, Lord Rochester and Lord Amory, as well as others who took part in the debate, would be grateful also, if the noble Lord would consider in what place, either here or elsewhere in the Bill, an indication of the Government's and Parliament's firm view can be embodied, and we can consider it again when he has had an opportunity to do this. In those circumstances, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 7.53 p.m.
LORD DIAMONDmoved Amendment No. 7:
Page 2, line 4, leave out subsection (2).
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
Perhaps I can suggest that it may be for the convenience of your Lordships if we discuss the next four Amendments together.
§ LORD DIAMOND
If it is the wish of the Committee. I certainly accept that they all refer to the same paragraph of the Bill, and come more or less in descending order of desirability. We can therefore consider them together, in the hope of course that the first Amendment will be accepted, but, failing that, the others are offered.
The first Amendment seeks simply to remove these references to the Chief Registrar of Trade Unions, the assistant registrars, the National Industrial Relations Court and anything to do with the legal rigmarole—what was called by my noble friend "legalism gone mad"—which is attached to this Bill, and which is the basis on which the Government seek to improve industrial relations. If we thought they would improve industrial relations we should accept them. But we do not think so, and we are not alone in that view.
1152 The arguments affecting each of these Amendments are similar. Let me deal first therefore with the principle affecting them all. The principle is that the way to achieve good industrial relations is on a voluntary basis, and not on a basis of compulsion, particularly compulsion through law and legal sanctions, organisations which have the right to refer to courts, and courts which have the right to impose penalties and imprisonment on those who in contempt of court fail to pay those penalties. This is what we think is going to do great damage to the progress of industrial relations which was taking place, and which has now come to a halt.
First, there is the Commission on Industrial Relations, which is mentioned in subsection (2)(a). The Commission on Industrial Relations was, in our view, making considerable progress on the basis of persuasion and consent. That is the basis on which we govern ourselves, on which Parliament works and human beings co-operate. This means understanding the need for it, understanding one another's point of view, having an opportunity of sharing in the decisions made, and therefore of a growing feeling of being committed to the decision, of sticking to it, and of having a sense of commitment and loyalty to that decision and to one another. This is the way in which we think progress has been made by the Commission.
But now the Commission will have to work on a different basis. They are now to have the opportunity of using law, and referring to courts to get their views compulsorily complied with. We do not think this is the way to make progress. We do not think that the time has yet come, or that it will come for some long time, when the processes of law and the whole paraphernalia of the law courts will be acceptable to trade unionists. It is not I alone who say this. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Donovan, made this clear in his Second Reading speech, in giving the history of trade unions and Acts of Parliament, when he said:Two consequences have inevitably followed: first, that workers came to regard the law as their natural enemy …"—[OFFICIAL, REPORT; 5/4/71, col. 40.]That is the one to which I am referring your Lordships at the moment.
1153 You may say that that is a situation which, much as it is to be regretted, has now evaporated. It has very far from evaporated. There are many reasons for this to-day. One of the reasons—and I speak with respect—is that broadly judges are drawn from a section of the community which does not have adequate opportunity of understanding trade unionists, the trade union movement, their attitude or their ethos. If you cannot understand those matters fully you cannot judge them fairly. The trouble about this Bill is that the Government are renouncing their responsibility for making decisions as to what is in the national interest, and putting very difficult political decisions upon the courts—in particular upon the N.I.R.C. It is not I alone who says that there is this difficulty, which no doubt will be reduced and possibly removed completely over the next two or three generations, because with the benefits of better education, and university education, it will be possible for the courts to be peopled by those who are drawn from all sections of the community.
The present position is that the unions regard the law as their natural enemy and those who have the decision-making process in the law courts are unable, through lack of experience of a broad enough section of humanity, to come to decisions which would be acceptable to those who are bound by them. I should like to read something which was said by a most distinguished judge, the late Lord Justice Scrutton:The habits you are trained in, the people with whom you mix, lead to your having a certain class of ideas of such a nature that, when you have to deal with other ideas you do not give as sound and accurate judgments as you would wish.Later he said:… it is very difficult sometimes to be sure that you have put yourself into a thoroughly impartial position between two disputants, one of your class and one not of your class.That could not be expressed more clearly, fairly or with greater authority by one who is aware of this difficulty. Those of us who have moved through a variety of levels of income, as I have, know the totally different ethos that can apply. The circumstances in my club in the West End are not identical with the circumstances in my workers' club in Gloucester of which I had the privilege of being a 1154 member. We know the classical story of the judge who was told that something happened at dinner time, and got the case wrong because he assumed that "dinner time" was sometime round about now, whereas everybody, except those who have not had the experience of mixing with those who have these habits, knows that "dinner time" means mid-day. I hope I am not detracting from the ability of either, or making comparisons which are unfavourable to either; I am only saying that there is a vast difference, and that you cannot judge fairly in matters in which human relations are concerned if you are unable, by experience, to have sufficiently full understanding of them.
I am putting to your Lordships (a) that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Donovan, is satisfied that workers as a matter of fact come to regard the law as their natural enemy, and (b) that the late Lord Justice Scrutton was equally satisfied that it is very difficult to make sure that you put yourself into a thoroughly impartial position, which is surely the first requirement of a judge, between two disputants, one of your class and one not of your class.
Naturally, we on this side take the view that everybody, including the Secretary of State, accepts that the way to promote good industrial relations is on a voluntary basis: that you really cannot get a bargain that will stick unless those who are parties to the bargain are voluntary panties and have had an opportunity of sharing in the decision and of reaching a sense of commitment and involvement. You have this situation with regard to the machinery of the courts and the difficulties of those who have the supreme responsibility of deciding fairly between people of different classes.
In all those circumstances, it is not surprising that we do not think this is the way forward. Although we are still on Clause 1, which is a clause of general principles, and although when we come to the later stages of the Bill we shall be able to be more precise with regard to these individual and absolute provisions, we take the view that the way to help forward industrial relations in this country at the moment is to completely exclude subsection (2). On the slight possibility that the Government 1155 will not favour eliminating that subsection and the words:The Secretary of State, the Commission on Industrial Relations",having been left in, then we suggest that the words:and the Chief Registrar of Trade Unions and Employers' Associations, and assistant registrars, to be appointed under this Act, in the performance by them respectively of their functions under this Act",should be removed. That is part of the paraphernalia which is so objectionable. It hits at the sense of freedom of the trade unions. The only way in which the trade unions could make their joint power felt was by sacrificing themselves, and their standard of living, in order to achieve this situation; and it is because they have, over nearly a century, established their present position that they are naturally unwilling to see that freedom whittled away. It will be whittled away if it can only be retained on the basis of there being a registered trade union which in turn has limitations on its freedom.
So whichever way you look at the problem the result will be the same: the trade unions will have a limitation placed upon their present freedom. I would far rather give the trade unions the opportunity to grow in responsibility and to grow in strength as we want them to, and as Donovan says is the only way of resolving our difficulties and getting rid of local and unofficial strikes. It certainly takes a little longer to grow in responsibility, but we have all witnessed this fact in all areas of human development: that authority comes first and responsibility follows. Certainly in this country responsibility follows. It may take a little longer, but the right answer is generally worth waiting a little longer for. So, naturally, we much prefer to see that there is an opportunity for the unions to grow where they should grow, where Donovan invites them to grow in strength and to develop the responsibility which was already being well developed.
It should not be forgotten that the Trades Union Congress took on and carried out additional responsibilities, not merely because it was willing to do so—it had always been willing to do so. It was able to do so because trade union opinion moved sufficiently to enable the 1156 T.U.C. to intervene in a way which it had no power or authority to do previously. What we should recognise is that all these documents—the White Paper, the Consultative Document and the Bill of the previous Government, the Consultative Document and the Bill of this Government—and the discussions based on them, are gradually influencing opinion in a way which we should all want. The details may be wrong, but they are gradually influencing opinion and we do not want that opinion to move backwards. Our fear and our belief, and my certainty, is that the adoption of a legal framework of this kind, for the reasons I have given, will unfortunately be a step backwards; and that will be a great pity because it is a very difficult flower to grow and to cherish and the slightest blast puts it back. I therefore hope that your Lordships will agree that the references to the Chief Registrar are not necessary, certainly in this Part of the Bill.
Then there is the reference in another Amendment to the National Industrial Relations Court. I need not refer to this again. The remarks I have made, which I am sorry to say have been rather longer than I had intended, will already have made it clear to your Lordships why we do not think that the National Industrial Relations Court can be of any help in improving industrial relations. It is so easy in a difficult matter to lose patience and to rely on force, where patience and persuasion are continually required. But force does not achieve what we want. Force does not achieve co-operation; patience and persuasion do. And if patience and persuasion will not achieve co-operation, force, because of the circumstances and the individuals concerned, will not achieve it. So we are saying that the best course will be to have nothing to do with subsection (2) at all; but, if that is not acceptable to the Government, then the other Amendments individually will be of some help. I beg to move Amendment No. 7.
§ 8.13 p.m.
§ LORD POPPLEWELL
I support my noble friend in his observations for the elimination of this provision. I do not expect for one moment that the Government will agree with us upon this matter because here, in my opinion, are the fundamental differences between the two 1157 sides of the Committee. We feel that, because of what the Trades Union Congress is now doing, and what is happening in the trade union world, it is much better to leave that body to resolve on a voluntary basis the difficulties that arise in our industrial life.
The change that took place in the T.U.C. when all the executives of the bodies affiliated to it were gathered together some four years ago, and they accepted the first weakening of the sovereignty of each individual trade union was a big step forward. The General Council of the T.U.C. have been working slowly and gradually along this line, and they have settled quite a number of disputes which would have disturbed industry considerably. They have done this without any headlines in the Press. On certain occasions when big issues have been involved the Secretary of the T.U.C., Mr. Vic Feather, has caught the headlines, and quite rightly so; he is entitled to them. But what I am referring to has been the work of the General Council since that important meeting of executives four years ago.
To change this structure in the way indicated by this clause, and to establish a separate Registry of Trade Unions, is something I cannot understand the reason for. To-day all trade unions have to be registered by a Registrar. They are certainly registered under the Friendly Societies Act. Of course, this Bill will be making a considerable change in the breaking away from the Friendly Societies Act and in the establishment of this new type of Registrar.
This new Registrar, when established, would have a wide variety of duties which we shall be dealing with. There is the registration of trade unions, and he will be concerned with a wide variety of other questions which I do not propose to go into at this stage. Moreover, the Bill establishes a new National Industrial Relations Court and industrial tribunals. From this background it is intended to build up a case law. The country will be split up into various divisions—almost like the law courts, the county courts and assizes—and from them ultimately, by way of courts of appeal, case law will be established. How difficult it is going to be to establish this type of machinery! We are told that one of the objects would be to encourage plant and factory nego- 1158 tiations and settlements. Where plants in different parts of the country are doing the same work difficulties will arise from the "leap-frogging" which will take place. Therefore, to establish case law—and that is what these provisions must mean if they are taken to their full fruition—will be extremely difficult. I think it will be a hopeless task because of the differentials which will be involved. It will be difficult to get the work-people engaged to acknowledge the situation.
Previously, as regards human relations in the industrial field, it has been felt better to leave it to companies and organised workers themselves to resolve their difficulties. From time to time it has been loosely said that this has put the trade unions and industrial relations above the law. Of course that never has been the case, because the law has always had the final say. But it is felt that so much of the personal touch is necessary—the personal, honourable understanding—that to attempt to build up case law will only accentuate the difficulties within industry.
The powers that are to be given to these bodies are powers to award compensation, to impose fines, and all the necessary paraphernalia that goes along with that. I do not think by any stretch of the imagination this can come within the code of establishing good relations in industry. It is much better to allow industry itself to work out these problems. It can be argued that this type of structure is available and is embraced on the Continent and elsewhere. I am referring to the legal code. I will not refer to America. We find that where this legal code has been embraced in Europe and elsewhere it has taken place consequent on post-war development, the whole of their economy and industrial relations having been totally shattered during the war.
In this country we have had the heritage of building up the trade union movement and industrial relations for well over a hundred years. Craft unions have developed, and sovereignty has been established by each type of professional, skilled workpeople. To break through that has been extremely difficult but, as I have said, there was a momentous meeting four years ago which took the first steps, and it is achieving good results. In my view it is exceedingly dangerous to 1159 disturb that, because of the difficulties of establishing case law. If the N.I.R.C. attempts to do this and to break it down to the plant, one can see that great difficulties will arise; and if it be that compensation is awarded against any group of individuals who break through this type of thing, very often the compensation will not be paid: and what ultimately will be the position? Will this ultimately mean that these people will be brought before the Law Courts and charged with disobeying an order of the N.I.R.C.? What will be the controversies involved?
These are matters which must be faced in connection with this subsection. I know it is hopeless to make this appeal, because it represents the differences that exist between both sides of the House on this Bill, but I draw attention to the dangers inherent in the Bill. Ultimately, when these come to fruition, the full consequences will rest upon the heads of the present Government.
§ LORD BELSTEAD
I wonder whether it would be of help if I were to break into the debate for a moment now. Subsection (1) of this clause establishes the general principles of the Bill, and I would suggest to your Lordships that those principles have been carefully drafted so that they do not merely express pious hopes but try to reflect the substantive provisions of the Bill. Therefore it is logical not merely that the principles should stand as a general statement of our philosophy but that the statutory agencies which are dealt with in this Amendment and which will implement the Bill should pay specific regard to the guiding principles. That is the purpose of subsection (2) which these Amendments seek to delete.
The functions of the statutory agencies, which are the subject of this Amendment, are spelt out at some lengths in the various parts of the Bill. Thus, Clauses 10 to 15 establish machinery whereby a trade union can, if it has the necessary support, set up and obtain an agency shop, and the respective roles of the C.I.R. and the N.I.R.C. are also defined in those clauses. In case that sounds somewhat glib, may I say that just before the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, was about to speak I refreshed my 1160 memory by looking at those clauses. They really give one a framework through which consultation and negotiation can continue at every stage. To give an agency shop example, there is the original joint application by a trade union or a joint negotiating panel, or by an employer to the N.I.R.C., the N.I.R.C. having to be satisfied on certain tests. There is the recognition factor; the reference to the C.I.R. for a ballot; the C.I.R. having to be satisfied that there is not a recognition claim pending, and then the ballot.
I put that to the Committee only to show that I have taken the trouble before replying to this debate to look at the procedure again, and to show that this is just one of the cases in the Bill where there is this machinery—yes, ultimately legal machinery, I know, but machinery in which at all stages there can be negotiation and consultation. The respective rôles of the C.I.R. and the N.I.R.C.—
§ LORD DIAMOND
May I interrupt the noble Lord? I am sure he will agree with me that a shot-gun wedding is one where neither the bride nor the groom is shot; it is one where they are married "voluntarily" at the point of a gun.
§ LORD BELSTEAD
It certainly can be that, but it is interesting that the Donovan Report, which the noble Lord quoted, said in paragraph 502 that they were not in principle opposed to the use of legal sanctions for the enforcement of agreed procedures, provided that collective bargaining had been improved. It is surely a central concept of the Bill that we are trying, across the board, to improve a great many things, of which collective bargaining is one. Therefore when it comes to the ultimate sanction in a tiny minority of cases, we hope that by means of this Bill the ground-work will already have been done.
There is more to it than that. The guiding principles will have to ensure that all the statutory agencies will continue to work along the same lines. Their functions will enter into it, both in the sense that they are implementing a Bill which reflects, I suggest, a complete philosophy about industrial relations, and also through the institutional links; that is to say, the right of appeal to the 1161 N.I.R.C., the decisions of the Registrar, of industrial tribunals, and references to the Commission for Industrial Relations. Since the agencies created by the Bill are related in those ways, a measure of consistency in their approach is all the more desirable. It is achieved in some measure by giving them a single set of guiding principles which are common to them all.
The noble Lord, Lord Diamond, rightly drew the attention of the Committee to the N.I.R.C. It may be for the convenience of the Committee if for a moment or two I set out the way in which the Government envisage that this new concept will operate. It will be something new in British justice. It will, it is envisaged, have the same status as the High Court; it will consist of judges, to whom the noble Lord, Lord Diamond referred, together with laymen who have special knowledge or experience in the industrial relations field. We feel that this is a system which has already proved itself at the industrial tribunal level, which also consist of lawyers and two laymen, and there is every reason to believe that in the new court laymen's views will prove to be as valuable as they have been to the tribunals in the past. The court will be able to sit anywhere in the country, and will, I hope, normally sit at places convenient to litigants. In the new court it would be envisaged that informality would be the keynote, and that there would be a number of other differences in procedure. The Government really do feel that in its composition, in its informality, in its attitude on a number of matters, the court will be a new departure, and it will be one of the cornerstones of our new policy.
I think it is worth pointing out to your Lordships that the words "just" and "equitable" are sprinkled all over the Bill with reference to the N.I.R.C. The noble Lord, Lord Popplewell (and I, too, as a layman, before these words were pointed out to me) was worried that case law would build up and that everyone connected with the Bill would be the prisoner, as he envisaged, of case law. I am not a lawyer, but the words "just" and "equitable" are sprinkled all over the Bill in connection with the N.I.R.C.; they are in the compensation clauses, in the unfair dismissal clauses, in the clauses setting up the N.I.R.C. I would think those words meant that cases 1162 are to be tried and decided entirely on their merits.
§ LORD BELSTEAD
The principles of subsection (1) are of a more general application, and are to be followed by anyone concerned with good industrial relations. Indeed, it would be for the code of practice to amplify the principles and so promote their observance throughout industry. As principles, however, they cannot be imposed by statutory obligation on employers, employees or trade unions. These latter will be bound by the substantive provisions of the Bill, and that is why subsection (2) does not apply to both sides of industry but only to the agencies who exercise functions under the Bill.
I felt from the noble Lord, Lord Diamond's remarks that he held that the decisions of these bodies in subsection (2)(a) and (b) are going to be arbitrary. I do suggest that nothing is further from the truth, as the debates on the four principles we have had in the last day and three-quarters have shown; and it is because final decisions are not to be imposed by the Secretary of State but reached after every opportunity for voluntary agreement has been exhausted, and in many cases at the behest of a majority in a trade union for ballot, that we believe subsection (2)(a) and (b) are essential to good industrial relations.
§ 8.32 p.m.
After listening to the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, in reply to the comments and observations that have been made by my noble friends Lord Diamond and Lord Popplewell on this particular subsection, I begin to wonder why the present Government, who have had so many Ministers of Labour, now known as Secretaries of State within the Government, should come along at this particular juncture in this Bill and seek to force through legislation, by setting up forms of commission carrying with them judicial powers and enforceability, upon actions that might be taken by particular sections of the trade unions. Lord Popplewell made it quite clear to the noble Lord opposite and to the Government that the T.U.C., as the parent body of the trade unions in this country, has been able to take upon itself, with the 1163 consent of the unions affiliated to it, certain powers that it never had before. To-day we find that it is in a position whereby it is able to do certain things and enter into certain negotiations with Government Departments and the like such as it was unable to do before because the unions believed in retaining their respective identity as individual trade unions, although they were associated, as it were, to a parent body.
Every trade union in the country which is registered at the moment has its terms and objects of association so far as its membership is concerned. I am at a loss to understand why this Government, who have made so much play over the years against the building up of the Civil Service in this country, should now create these further Departments, which means an increase in the Civil Service set-up. The Minister and the Government cannot come along at this particular juncture to complain about an increase in the Civil Service as it now stands, operating through Government Departments, and the numbers engaged therein. The present Prime Minister was at one time associated with the Ministry of Labour. When he held office in that particular Department, why had he no prospects before him of putting such legislation to his Cabinet colleagues? Possibly it was because he was not so knowledgeable in regard to labour relations.
Labour relations in this country, as I understand them, are quite fair, honest and operative so far as the two sides of industry are concerned. It seems that what has got into the system of the Government is an attitude of mind of enforceability. It seems as though, on every occasion where the door can be opened, enforceability must be one of the prime moves behind their attitude and approach to the people in industry in this country.
I am going to pose a particular question to the Minister without Portfolio and also to the noble Lord, Lord Belstead: What about company unions? Where do they stand on this issue? What consultation have they had in regard to the C.B.I., to which these great bastions of industry in this country are affiliated and associated? Within types of industry in this country it is well 1164 known that there are company unions. What is their position? Here we see that the Trades Union Congress has taken extreme exception to the type of legislation the Government are seeking to introduce. As I see it, it is wrong for the Government at this particular juncture, when they have introduced certain principles within the clause, to have a judicial body to determine in regard to forms of dispute arising between the two parties engaged within certain forms of employment. I think it is high time that the Government, instead of coming along with this Bill, sought to give more freedom to the individuals inside industry instead of seeking to restrict their movement of operation.
That is what this Government are seeking to do. I am rather surprised, after looking back over the years and thinking of a number of people who are in the present Government and who have held high office, and particularly the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor—who is the legal bastion so far as this House is concerned, and on whom we depend so much for legal interpretations, and who has been a member of successive Cabinets and taken an active part in Governments of his own particular Party—that they, and he in particular, should have given support to the type of legislation contained in subsection (2). I am surprised even that the Minister Without Portfolio, who has held ministerial responsibility in successive Tory Governments, should lend his support to this enforceability encased within subsection (2).
My noble friend Lord Diamond is quite justified in moving, on behalf of the Opposition, the Amendment to have this subsection deleted. The views that have been expressed by the noble Lord who has closed for the other side in this debate do not carry any conviction at all so far as we are concerned; nor will they carry weight in getting the T.U.C. to change its mind regarding registration. I sincerely hope that the Government, if they are not prepared to take it out of the Bill, will have another look at the views expressed in opposition to it.
§ 8.43 p.m.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
I wonder whether I may express a view which has found little reflection in this debate, and 1165 that is the attitude of the white collar unions? I joined my first white collar union way back in 1907, and in 1910 the union to which I now belong. I want to say emphatically to this Committee that one of the most significant developments of the present time is within the white collar unions: a development which includes their absolute solidarity with the other trade unions in their opposition to this Bill. Indeed, it might almost be said that the most militant attitude in opposition to this Bill is found among the white collar workers, and those who have been associated with staffs, and even managements, of industry to-day. That fact must be in the mind of the Government when they are proposing this legislation.
I listened with almost fascination to the speech delivered by my noble friend Lord Diamond, because in that speech, while he dealt with the practical issues of this Amendment, he also dealt with the philosophy which is behind those issues. He quoted the noble and learned Lord, Lord Donovan, in support of his argument that the trade unions and the workers generally regard the law as their enemy. I would go even further than that, and say that the trade unions and the workers generally—and the workers increasingly—not only regard the law as their enemy, but regard the whole establishment of our society as their enemy too. That development is largely responsible for the insurgence and the strikes which are now taking place.
Philosophically it is interesting. Here is our Party on this side of the House, which has been in favour of State and Government action, now advocating the voluntary principle; and there is the Party on the other side of the House, which has been opposing Governmental and State action, now insisting that it should be applied to the trade unions I wish Members of the House who are now present, including, if I may say so, the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, had heard the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, but I hope they will read that speech because I know, from long experience, particularly of the Lord Chancellor, that he thinks deeply about the philosophy which is behind legislation.
1166 I was saying that I thought that the point which the noble Lord put, that the trade unions regard the law as their enemy, should now be extended to the Establishment, and indicate the rather curious contradiction between the philosophies of the two sides as they are considering this legislation. I believe that the noble Lord put his finger on the reason for this. All who know the history of the trade union movement, from the Industrial Revolution through the last century and the beginning of this century, its struggles, the General Strike, the miners' struggle, will know also that the trade union movement has been fighting against all the powers of Government and of industry to obtain quite elementary rights for the workers.
These clauses speak about "unfair practices". All industrial relations to-day are "unfair practices". There is not a single Member of this House, even the most conservative on the opposite Benches, who can justify the present distribution of wealth in this country, in which an insignificant group of our population takes great wealth to itself, and where you have deep poverty, workers in their thousands doing essential work for us and not even getting a living wage. No one can justify that. No one can justify, in the light of the wretched wage which the lowest worker gets, the enormous salaries which the heads of corporations, governmental and private, receive. No one can justify the values in our society where the "pop" singer, the footballer, someone who is not contributing to what is essential to our society, gets the greatest income, and the workers doing the greatest services very often get the least.
Unfair practices in industrial relations go right through from top to bottom of our industrial society. While those conditions last the trade unionists and the workers are not going to accept the power of Government, and the power of law, to control their conditions. I hope the day will come when they will be able to accept the law and the power of Governments, but workers will not accept them while the unfair practices throughout industry continue as they do at the present time. That is the real controversy between the two sides: the Establishment, standing for this unjust social order and this unjust social distribution, and the trade unions, the workers, the Labour Party, if it will 1167 get back to its deepest principles, standing for the right of the workers within that industrial system to gain their justice. The workers and the trade unions will not co-operate with the Establishment, with the law, with Governments, while they are denied their justice in this kind of way. I believe that that is the deep root issue between the two sides, and that is why the trade union movement and the organised working class, including those of us who belong to the white collar unions, will resist this legislation to the utmost.
§ LORD TAYLOR OF MANSFIELD
In rising to support the deletion of subsection (2) of Clause 2, may I say that I hope that what I say now—
§ LORD PLATT
May I intervene for a moment? May I ask what we are discussing? It is not subsection (2) of Clause 2.
§ LORD DIAMOND
As I moved the Amendment, may I enlighten the noble Lord? The Amendment is the first Amendment relating to subsection (2) of Clause 1, but at the suggestion of the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, I agreed that it would be for the general convenience of the Committee if we discussed, with that Amendments Nos. 8, 9 and 10. So we are, in fact, discussing Amendments Nos. 7, 8, 9 and 10.
§ LORD PLATT
I am much obliged to the noble Lord. That is not what the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Mansfield said.
§ LORD TAYLOR OF MANSFIELD
I apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Platt, if I said "subsection (2) of Clause 2". I understood the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, to state that the principles have been carefully drafted. That may be so in regard to the principles laid down in the Bill, but there are many more principles still to come in the code of practice. I would ask the noble Lord whether he has any knowledge of what those principles are likely to be, which have not yet been revealed to the Committee. The noble Lord stated that the National Industrial Relations Court and the Chief Registrar of Trade Unions and Employers' Associations are to be set up with the intention of trying to improve industrial relations. From the Government's point of view, that intention may 1168 be admirable. But the more I hear and the more I read the clauses, the more am I convinced that, however good that intention may be, it will come to naught.
I am reminded of the story of an ancient king. Towards the end of his life he wanted to build a temple, and he put this proposition to the old prophet, who said, "You had better let me think about that". He went back after a day or two and said to King David, "Now look here. You have not been as good as you might have been. Your hands are stained with blood and you have taken part in many wars. I am advised that it would not be proper for you to be responsible for the building of the temple which you have in mind. But I must offer this compliment to you. It was good, it was well, that it was within your heart." In other words, it is an admirable thing if one's intentions are good. But, in my humble judgment, all this legalistic business will come to naught.
The noble Lord, Lord Belstead, said that the various organisations which will be set up will be all right, both in attitude and in composition. But one must look at Clause 61 to see who the Chief Registrar of Trade Unions and Employers' Associations is to be. He will be a very admirable gentleman, I have no doubt, and very competent and capable. But the Chief Registrar will be drawn from one section of society. May I read the clause, which states:(1) Her Majesty may appoint an officer to be known as the Chief Registrar of Trade Unions and Employers' Associations…who shall hold office during Her Majesty's pleasure.(2) Any person appointed"—and this is the operative part—to be the Chief Registrar shall be a barrister, advocate or solicitor of not less than ten years' standing.The same rule will apply to those who are appointed as assistants, except that they will be all right if they have served an apprenticeship of five years.
The same rule applies under Clause 95 as regards the appointment of members of the National Industrial Relations Court. Subsection (2) states:The Industrial Court shall consist of—(a) such number of judges as may be nominated from time to time by the Lord Chancellor from among the judges … of the High Court and the Court of Appeal".The same rule will also apply to the industrial tribunals, as it does now. The 1169 chairman of an industrial tribunal is always a member of the legal profession. These newly created bodies, and the industrial tribunals which have been in existence for a long time, all come from the legal profession. While, as I have said, I do not doubt their competence or their ability, neither do I doubt their sincerity; but I fear they have not the every-day, up-to-date knowledge and experience so far as industry is concerned, and in my humble judgment that is the weak link in this particular legal chain as laid down in the Industrial Relations Bill. I suppose that on future occasions we shall have greater opportunity and more time to discuss the creation of this sophisticated legal machinery to interfere in the delicate matters of industry which affect, not numbers on a card, as I said on Second Reading, but men and women with emotions and feelings. That is why I think that this legal machinery will ultimately break down.
In conclusion, may I make reference to what Lord Brockway said about the white collar unions of to-day? I can remember the time when the general idea was abroad that trade unions catered only for manual workers; and that was the case so far as the composition of the Trades Union Congress was concerned. At one time it was made up solely of members of the manual trade unions. But in these last few years not only a noticeable but a very welcome change has come over the industrial scene. White collar workers are now anxious to become part of the trade union movement. May I mention one in particular? I refer to the National Association of Local Government Officers. I remember when I first became a member of the local authority at home. The members of that body—the clerk, the surveyor and the health inspector—would have held up their hands in holy horror at even the suggestion of their becoming members of the Trades Union Congress.
Let me say this so far as NALGO is concerned. They have not been a member of the Trades Union Congress, I think, for more than two or three years. First of all, they are a welcome acquisition to our ranks. Further, I think that they have produced one of the most convincing and best cases 1170 against the Industrial Relations Bill that has been produced by any part of the trade union movement—and I re-echo the sentiments uttered by Lord Brockway that whereas at one time the trade union movement, important in the counsels of the nation, was one-sided inasmuch as its only members were the manual workers, this new acquisition, with the infusion of ideas from a different angle—members who come from a different strata of society than the manual workers—is welcomed into the counsels of the trade union movement. Their opinions will be listened to, and their deliberations will be taken into account. In sitting down, may I repeat what I have already said and I have read much of what has been published so far as the case against this Bill is concerned. One of the best, one of the most convincing, one of the most devastating pieces of criticism against the Bill has been produced by the National Association of Local Government Officers.
§ LORD BERNSTEIN
I rise to support the Amendment proposed by my noble friend Lord Diamond. Good relations between employer and employee are not produced by a measurement of efficiency or by an edict from Government—any Government; and certainly not by legal action. Durable qualities, as Lord Diamond said, are required; toleration, and understanding of the qualities shown on the shop floor. Certainly more training is required, not only for shop stewards but for foremen, supervisors and employers.
The whole Bill is designed on the assumption that the Government have identified the enemy of good industrial relations as the trade unions. The suggestion is that the enemies are trade union bosses or the people on the shop floor. A lot of adjustments, as other noble Lords have said, have to be made in the understanding between employers and employees. Reasonable demands can come only out of patience, hard work and responsibility. From my own experiences, industrial peace requires hard work at both ends of the scale. Surely nobody believes that the Bill could work without the unions. The strange thing is that the code of practice has not been spelt out, but the legal side, the laws relating to unions, have been spelt out 1171 word by word. The Bill proposes legal sanctions against the unions, but only exhortations against the employers. You cannot have legal action taken against the people you work with to-day and think they are going to be your friends to work with you again to-morrow. It just does not bear discussion. The law can settle a troubled situation. A legal decision invariably divides two or more groups of people who cannot get on together.
It settles a business arrangement between two companies, two organisations, two groups of people who have been trying to take advantage of each other. But the law cannot settle any misunderstandings between the people you work with every day on the shop floor. It is hopeless. The law does not reunite people; it divides them—and perhaps that is as it should be. The noble Lord, Lord Diamond, quoted the late Lord Justice Scrutton. I wish that I could accurately quote Winston Churchill who years ago said that labour problems should not come near the law. He thought that the Judiciary was all right for criminal actions and civil matters but not for trade union affairs. I support the Amendment.
§ LORD LEATHERLAND
I should not have dared to speak but for the fact that my noble friend Lord Taylor of Mansfield referred to the white-collar unions. But before I follow him along those lines I should like to say that there are many unfair industrial practices of which we hear to-day—particularly in the City, particularly with regard to takeover bids, and particularly with regard to the mergers of vast corporations—which are more discreditable than many of the actions that take place in the trade union world. But this Bill pays no attention to them at all. My noble friend Lord Taylor has referred to the white-collar unions. I suppose that I have been what is called a white-collar worker for the greater part of my life. I was for a few years a local government officer and since then I have been a journalist—which, of course, is in one of the highest strata of our industrial society. I was glad to hear him refer to NALGO, the National Association of Local and Government Officers. They have come out wholeheartedly against this Bill. They are very respect- 1172 able, middle-class people who twenty years ago would not have dared to associate themselves with people who worked day by day in overalls. The clause that we are now considering will handcuff the unions, and therefore I support its deletion. It will hobble them just as does trade union law in totalitarian countries. We surely do not want to follow the example of countries like Poland, Spain and Soviet Russia. In this country we have a reputation for freedom which those countries cannot boast of.
I do not like strikes; I have never been on strike. I have nevertheless been associated with industrial negotiations. For some years I was father of the chapel in the daily newspaper where I worked. As your Lordships will know, the father of the chapel in a newspaper corresponds to the chief shop steward. Moreover, my brother is, and has been for many years, the personnel manager of one of the very largest companies in this country and so I have been associated during the whole of my working life with industrial relations. And if that were not enough, I was actively engaged in the General Strike of 1926—not as a picket, not as a striking miner, but as the person who wrote the majority of the words that appeared in the British Worker. I am only sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, is not here to-day because he and Harold Laski were my bosses on that occasion.
I have seen enough of industrial relations to understand the great suffering that is frequently caused by strikes. As I say, I do not like strikes; but sometimes they are necessary. You cannot have a well-armed body of employers fighting a body of workers who are themselves unarmed. I am old enough—I was 73 a week ago—to remember when my father was earning 26s. a week; and there were millions of people in those days who were earning less. The fact that the wages of the working population have been raised in the last forty or fifty years to what they are to-day is almost solely due to the trade unions of this country. I am sure that the unions have performed a very valuable national service. They may sometimes have made it awkward for some companies, but those companies, if they had any sense, modernised their methods and were enabled to carry on competitively despite the burden of the increased wages they had to pay.
1173 This Bill and particularly this clause will hamstring the unions and create a great deal of hostility. It will mean that the trade unions will be regarded as public enemies. That will probably provoke more strikes than the provisions in the Bill will at any time be able to avert. We have had assurances from noble Lords on the Government Front Bench that this is not an anti-union Bill. There are a good many supporters of the Conservative Party, outside and inside your Lordships' House, with whom I am on most friendly terms. If I may put it simply, they are very nice people. But we who have been reared in the Labour Party and in the trade union movement—where I spent 50 years myself—are always very suspicious of the Conservatives.
The Conservatives have always been anti-union. I remember the Bill that Sir John Simon introduced after the General Strike in the 1920's. It was hostile to the unions in every single word that it contained. I do not want to be nasty about this, but it is generally known that the Conservative Party is very handsomely financed by the big industrial organisations in the country. The reply must not be that the trade unions similarly finance the Labour Party. I am just saying that the big industrial organisations certainly finance the Conservative Party. I am sad to have to say that some of my lifetime savings were invested in a particular company which has contributed very handsomely to the Conservative Party. Unfortunately, I cannot do anything about that fact. The Conservative Party is very largely the mouthpiece of the employing organisations. The Bill does not say blatantly that trade unions must not exist; it adopts a more sophisticated approach. It merely puts them in handcuffs and hobbles them with a mass of legal machinery, so that most trade union officers and shop stewards will be afraid to take: he action which circumstances may justify them in taking.
Speaking as an old foxhunting man to many of your Lordships who. it may be, are at present fox-hunting men, I would say that you may ride a horse either on a snaffle or a curb; but even if the curb is made of gold and studded with diamonds, it is still a curb. Although the Bill appears to be respectable and very formal in its legal framework, it is 1174 a curb on the trade unions, and that is what it is definitely intended to be. The noble Lord, Lord Belstead, for whom I have a very high regard, gives us assurances that a code of practice is to be introduced. We are discussing this matter blindfold. We ought to have the code of practice before us now, because the various bodies mentioned in the subsection, which we are seeking to delete, link up with the code of practice to be introduced later on. I am very sorry that the code is not before us now.
This Bill is an anti-union measure. There is no doubt about that; so let us have no humbug about it. I agree that some of the activites of the trade unions are bad; there is no doubt about that either. They sometimes irritate us, and sometimes act in a most inconsiderate manner. But they defend the living standards of millions of men. Without the unions enjoying the power that they enjoy at present—although they sometimes abuse it—this country would be in a much worse and more chaotic state than it is to-day. I feel that this Bill will do great damage to Britain. It will make the trade unions, not outlaws, but the enemies of society. They will be looked upon as enemies by society, and they will look upon society as an enemy; and that will not be good for a Britain which is faced with all the difficulties of to-day. I am sorry that, so far at any rate, the Government have not been willing to give way on any of the Amendments proposed from this side of the Committee. I feel, therefore, that we have to oppose the Bill at every point and I support this Amendment as part of the war which will have to be waged against the Bill from the very first word in it to the very last.
§ 9.19 p.m.
§ LORD TAYLOR OF GRYFE
I am sorry to intervene at this stage, but have listened to the debate and I should like to do so before the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, speaks finally to his Amendment because, after the speeches I have heard on this matter, I am not satisfied that I can support the Amendment. What I am going to say is rather difficult to say from these Benches, and I confess that I came to listen to the debate and had no prepared comment on the matter. It occurred to me listening 1175 to the speeches of my colleagues and friends on this side of the House, that many of them dealt with the past and not with the present. It is so easy to conjure up the picture of the class war of the past and to justify the attitudes deriving from those experiences. I live in an area which is sadly hit by un-employment at the moment. It is part of my duty in that area, as part of a Government and private sponsored project, to try to attract investment to West Scotland where the unemployment rate is running higher than in any other part of the United Kingdom. Part of that exercise is to visit Germany and other countries which have a favourable balance of payments, to try to induce factory building and investment in this area. When I go to these countries with this in mind, the first question that is asked is: "What about your industrial relations? What about your strikes?" This is an impediment to overseas investment in this area. We have to face this as a fact of the existing situation.
While the noble Lord, Lord Bernstein, can quote Winston Churchill by saying that the law should not enter this field, Winston Churchill presided over this country, or was influential in politics, in a period of much happier industrial relations.
§ LORD TAYLOR OF GRYFE
Of course we had the General Strike. I am not talking about the General Strike, I am talking about the general pattern of industrial relations twenty years ago when agreements were signed by national officials of trade unions and by employers' associations and both parties accepted all the implications of those agreements. The noble Lord, Lord Popplewell, who was a member of the National Union of Railwaymen, knows that even to this day that practice has fortunately remained in the railway industry. But in very few other industries does this now exist. There is no longer the acceptance of the code which existed earlier whereby one signed agreements and these were implemented. We live in a period of increasing anarchy in industrial relations. I am sorry to hear commendation from the other side of 1176 the House, but that is a fact of life to-day.
I ask my noble friend Lord Diamond, when he is speaking finally to this Amendment, whether he does not accept that the voluntary system has broken down. The voluntary system is by all means a preferable system. It would be wise and right that the voluntary system should exist, but that has now broken down and one has to face the fact that it has broken down. The noble Lord, Lord Bernstein, says that the law divides the people. The law has always to preserve a balance. It has to preserve a balance between individual freedom and the community good. To say that we believe in freedom as such without reference to the community welfare or its impact on society as a whole is to behave as an anarchist and not as a democrat.
Trying to be quite objective about this Bill, some of my friends say that it is an anti-union Bill. Within this Bill there are rights for the workers established in law which were not formerly established in the law of this land—the right to join a union, and the right to protection against unfair dismissal. I am not suggesting that this Bill is a perfect instrument. We are only at the beginning of building up a reasonable code of labour law, and I hope that in looking at this Bill we shall try to discard some of the attitudes which are derived from our past.
I, too, have been involved in the trade union movement for many years, but I hope that we shall try to realise that we are living in a different era, in different days of industrial and human relationships in our society, and that we should try to build up reasonable attitudes. Certainly if we encourage the class war which has been emphasised in the discussions on this Bill, this Bill could be killed dead. It depends on a degree of co-operation on the part of workers and employers and the State to make it work. I hope that from the other side, as well as from this side, there will be an attempt to establish reasonable human relationships among people and to cultivate the middle ground rather than revert to the class war of the past, which can be damaging to all of us. For this reason I would welcome some assurances from my noble friend Lord Diamond when he is replying to the debate.
§ BARONESS LEE OF ASHERIDGE
I have no intention of delaying your Lordships this evening but I must say that I was profoundly shocked by some of the sentiments expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Taylor. Noble Lords opposite may laugh. I quite understand that the sentiments that have shocked me might cause laughter on the Benches opposite. The noble Lord said that we do not want to go back to the past and revive the class war. The noble Lord's memory ought to have instructed him that when we had a weaker trade union movement his father and my father, and our grandfathers, were victimised. They had to trudge from pit to pit and factory to factory.
When the trade unions were weak the leaders were victimised, and the leaders of the trade unions would still be victimised, and the rank and file would still be helpless, if we had to depend on the charity or the compassion of the Party to which noble Lords opposite belong. That is the history of the trade union movement. We want to go to a future in which there is participation. We know that we cannot build up our industrial strength unless there is good will between those who have the duty and responsibility of management and those who have to co-operate with management. But to have a noble Lord in this House, particularly on these Benches, talking virtually about the "good old days" of the trade union movement is a scandal and an outrage to our entire trade union movement.
§ LORD BERNSTEIN
The noble Baroness on my right said that she was shocked by the sentiments. I am shocked by his facts. I did not want to bring up the operations of my company, which operates in 14 countries in Europe, but I can assure the House that after the first whisky and soda, after the tasting of the new wines, the chateau bottle of vintages of France, of Savoie and of Italy, our partners in all these countries eventually say that they wished they lived in this country. Headline talk about trade unions barely gets beyond the second drink. I can assure your Lordships that the situation in Italy is not comparable to anything that we have had here in the worst of our times. My noble friend Lord Taylor is wrong on his facts, and I defy him to produce them to any responsible industrialist who operates in Europe.
§ BARONESS LEE OF ASHERIDGE
I have just been requested by my noble friend Lord Taylor to point out that in my references I was referring to the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe.
§ LORD TEVIOT
Like the noble Baroness, Lady Lee of Asheridge, I had no intention of intervening in this debate, but I should like to get one thing absolutely fairly and squarely: that where the noble Baroness referred to noble Lords on this side of the House laughing at the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, we were not laughing at him, but were agreeing with him. He has taken a middle course, and has echoed our thoughts in a correct and proper way.
Then I should like to address this remark to the noble Lord, Lord Leather-land, who said that noble Lords on this side of the House are against trade unions. I should like to ask him when—one instance of any debate that we have had in the past year, in the Second Reading debate on the Bill, or in the two days in Committee—noble Lords on this side have been against trade unions. We are for trade unions. We wish this Bill to go through, because it will be for the good of the people of this country. That is what the whole Bill is about, and why the electorate voted us back on June 18 of last year.
§ LORD DIAMOND
I sense that your Lordships might well feel that we have had a full and wide debate on these four Amendments, and you might wish now to come to a conclusion. I do not wish by saying that to suggest, particularly to my noble friend Lord Taylor, that what he said was not of the greatest interest and did not stimulate considerable thought. Fortunately we are on a series of Amendments which are being taken together and are the last Amendments on this clause. It follows that the next matter for discussion will be the Question, That Clause I stand part, and if I have the privilege of addressing your Lordships, then I will, if I may, respond to many of the points that my noble friend Lord Taylor made, and assure him that, while there is a considerable measure of agreement between us, and we want industrial relations to be improved, the way I see industrial relations being improved is not the way of this Bill.
1179 I do not want to disturb the atmosphere beyond that to-night. I therefore say to all noble Lords who have made this debate such a distinguished one how grateful I am, and return to the particular speech of the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, who put forward the Government's point of view. The Government's point of view is simply that the voluntary system is right; conciliation is right; every attempt to avoid reference to the law is right; but at the end of the corridor the law courts should be seen to be there to help if necessary.
I should like therefore to repeat the perhaps commonsense, although rather odd, intervention I made during the course of the noble Lord's speech, and to expand on it. I referred to a shot-gun wedding. I would say to the noble Lord and to the Government that we are quite satisfied, and could go on giving reference after reference to other authoritative persons who are equally satisfied that the best way of dealing with industrial relations, reducing strikes, enabling bargains to be kept, increasing productivity, enabling factories to calculate their production and be sure of their delivery dates—all these things—not merely by a voluntary system with a "longstop" of the law, but by a voluntary system. The first comment I made was in reference to the C.I.R., because the first Amendment proposes the elimination even of that. In case the noble Lord did not fully follow what I was saying, let me refer to one who I suppose is the greatest authority on the C.I.R., Mr. Woodcock. Mr. Woodcock, being questioned in an interview for the Employment and Productivity Gazette of February, 1969, said that he regarded the establishment of the C.I.R. as unquestionably the most important development in industrial relations in his lifetime. He then went on to say:I find it difficult to imagine a case in which they will be desirable or necessary.By "they" he was referring to enforcement agencies.I shall be stimulated to prove that if it cannot be done by the C.I.R. through voluntary persuasive means, it certainly will not be done by legislation.That was the view of the then Chairman of the C.I.R., knowing all the difficulties which the C.I.R. was faced with in having to deal purely on a voluntary basis, to 1180 persuade and get agreement in that way. That was why the first Amendment seeks the elimination of the C.I.R., because the C.I.R. is going to be supported by the long-stop of the law courts.
May I explain more carefully what happens at a shot-gun wedding? Neither the bride nor the groom gets shot, but the implication of a shot-gun wedding is that were it not for the gun there would be no wedding. The bride and the groom go before the appropriate authority and the bride, at whom the gun is in particular pointed, is asked the question—
§ LORD DIAMOND
I am sorry, I mean the bridegroom; I apologise. I am grateful to have caused such merriment opposite, especially among those who know how easy it is to make a mistake when one is on one's feet. I am grateful for the early and immediate correction which I accept completely. The groom, at whom the gun is particularly pointed, is asked the question (and I hope I get the words right): "Do you take this woman as your lawfully wedded wife?", to which he volunteers the answer: "Yes".
§ LORD DIAMOND
I am grateful for the appreciation of your Lordships that what happens in a gunshot wedding—
§ LORD DIAMOND
I shall get it right soon. What happens is that an agreement, which would otherwise not be obtainable, is obtained at the point of a gun; but whether it is a successful marriage is a matter of considerable question and doubt. One can only assume that as the parties would not have been married without the assistance of the firearm, it will not be a successful marriage.
The point I am trying to make is that where we have a situation in which voluntary co-operation is sought, it is not going to be a satisfactory answer to say, "If we cannot get voluntary co-operation by persuasion or by the voluntary desire of the parties themselves, then we will get it by 'voluntary' desire (the word 'voluntary' in inverted commas) with the knowledge that there is legal enforceability if this does not succeed." I hope therefore that the noble Lord will 1181 realise that we are not persuaded by the argument that there is to be an attempt to reach voluntary agreement; there is an attempt to have conciliation; there is an attempt to have all these things, if at the end of the road legal enforceability is seen to be there, and that is the method by which, even as a longstop, agreement is achieved.
So I am saying to the Government that this is not a method by which you can proceed; that Mr. Woodcock has said the same thing in the quotation I have just referred to. And, as we are speaking about shot-gun weddings, perhaps I may go further and refer very shortly to what the noble Lord, Lord Robens of Woldingham, said in the George Earl Memorial Lecture on November 30 last. He said:On a more practical level, it must be agreed that the icy iron precision of the law makes a strange bedfellow for the intimate, delicate fabric of industrial relations. Not many trade unionists or employers are versed in the diciplines or modes of thought employed in our courts. They are essentially practical men well versed in the arts of negotiations and compromise. By definition, these have flexibility and a pragmatism which cannot be reflected in a court, however informally constituted.When I opened this discussion with the Amendment I moved I do not know
§ whether my noble friend Lord Taylor of Gryfe was in fact in the Chamber. I referred to a number of matters which I do not think at this late hour your Lordships would wish me to refer to again, making it clear that we regarded this Amendment as a fundamental one because of the Government's approach and our totally differing approach. I recognise that this is not the substance of the matter the substance will occur when we reach the particular clauses which give effect to these courts; and indeed there will obviously be difficult debates and discussions when we get there. Nevertheless, in view of what the noble Lord opposite said—and he offered me no compromise or help of any kind—he obviously is not prepared to concede any one of these Amendments (we are discussing four together, each in reducing terms of desirability), and therefore we are bound to say to your Lordships that we must take the normal course of expressing our complete disagreement with this particular subsection of the Bill.
§ 9.43 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 7) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 43; Not-Contents, 130.1183
|Archibald, L.||Garnsworthy, L.[Teller.]||Popplewell, L.|
|Ardwick, L.||Greenwood of Rossendale, L.||Ritchie-Calder, L.|
|Balogh, L.||Henderson, L.||St. Davids, V.|
|Bernstein, L.||Hilton of Upton, L.||Serota, Bs.|
|Beswick, L.||Hoy, L.||Shackleton, L.|
|Blyton, L.||Hughes, L.||Shepherd, L.|
|Brockway, L.||Janner, L.||Slater, L.|
|Brown, L.||Leatherland, L.||Snow, L.|
|Buckinghamshire, E.||Lee of Asheridge, Bs.||Stonham, L.|
|Champion, L.||Lindgren, L.||Taylor of Mansfield, L.|
|Collison, L.||Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, Bs.||Walston, L.|
|Davies of Leek, L.||Maelor, L.||Wells-Pestell, L.|
|Diamond, L.||Milner of Leeds, L.[Teller.]||White, Bs.|
|Gaitskell, Bs||Phillips, Bs||Wynne-Jones, L,|
|Aberdare, L.||Bathurst, E.||Burton, L.|
|Abinger, L.||Beauchamp, E.||Byers, L.|
|Ailwyn, L.||Belhaven and Stenton, L.||Caldecote, V.|
|Albemarle, E.||Belstead, L.||Colville of Culross, V.|
|Alexander of Tunis, E.||Berkeley, Bs.||Cowley, E.|
|Allerton, L.||Bessborough, E.||Craigavon, V.|
|Amherst, E.||Brabazon of Tara, L.||Cranbrook, E.|
|Amory, V.||Bradford, E.||Crathorne, L.|
|Balfour, E.||Bridgeman, V.||Cullen of Ashbourne, L.|
|Balfour of Inchrye, L.||Brooke of Cumnor, L.||Daventry, V.|
|Barnby, L.||Brooke of Ystradfellte, Bs.||Davidson, V.|
|Barrington, V.||Brougham and Vaux, L.||De La Warr, E.|
|De L'Isle, V.||Inglewood, L.||Rhyl, L.|
|Denham, L. [Teller.]||Jellicoe, E. (L. Privy Seal.)||Roberthall, L.|
|Derwent, L.||Kemsley, V.||Rochdale, V.|
|Drumalbyn, L.||Killearn, L.||Rothermere, V.|
|Dudley, E.||Kilmarnock, L.||St. Aldwyn, E.|
|Dundee, E.||Kinnoull, E.||St. Helens, L.|
|Effingham, E.||Lansdowne, M.||St. Oswald, L.|
|Elliot of Harwood, Bs.||Lauderdale, E.||Sandford, L.|
|Emmet of Amberley, Bs.||Lothian, M.||Sandys, L.|
|Essex, E.||Lucan, E.||Savile, L.|
|Ferrers, E.||Lucas of Chilworth, L.||Selkirk, E.|
|Ferrier, L.||Lyell, L,||Sempill, Ly.|
|Fisher, L.||Mancroft, L.||Shaftesbury, E.|
|Fortescue, E.||Mansfield, E.||Sherfield, L.|
|Gage, V.||Massereene and Ferrard, V.||Sinclair of Cleeve, L.|
|Glasgow, E.||Merthyr, L.||Somers, L.|
|Glendevon, L.||Milverton, L.||Stamp, L.|
|Goschen, V. [Teller.]||Molson, L.||Strange, L.|
|Gowrie, E.||Monk Bretton, L.||Strathclyde, L.|
|Gray, L.||Mowbray and Stourton, L.||Stratheden and Campbell, L.|
|Grenfell, L.||Napier and Ettrick, L.||Suffield, L.|
|Grimston of Westbury, L.||Netherthorpe, L.||Teviot, L.|
|Grimthorpe, L.||Northchurch, Bs.||Teynham, L.|
|Hailes, L.||Nugent of Guildford, L.||Townshend, M.|
|Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. (L. Chancellor.)||O'Neill of the Maine, L.||Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, Bs.|
|Pender, L.||Verulam, E.|
|Hankey, L.||Platt, L.||Vivian, L.|
|Harcourt, V.||Radnor, E.||Wakefield of Kendal, L.|
|Harvey of Tasburgh, L.||Rankeillour, L.||Wigram, L.|
|Henley, L.||Reading, M.||Windlesham, L.|
|Hertford, M.||Redesdale, L.||Yarborough, E.|
|Hives, L.||Reigate, L.|
Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ House resumed.