§ Baroness STEWART of ALVECHURCH
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What progress they have made in considering industrial democracy in the public sector.184WA
§ The LORD PRIVY SEAL (Lord Shepherd)
The Government have already set up the Committee of Inquiry to advise on questions relating to representation at board level in the private sector, and have also set in hand a study of the role of employees in relation to decision-making in the nationalised industries.
Industrial democracy in the public sector presents special problems because of the role of Parliament and local authorities as representatives of the electorate and, so far as the nationalised industries are concerned, because of the ultimate responsibility of sponsoring Ministers to Parliament. It is fundamental to the working of democracy as we know it that elected representatives take decisions and act in the interests of the community as a whole; that principle cannot be breached. But, within the need to preserve the accountability of elected representatives and the requirements of the public interest, employees and their representatives in the public services should be given the maximum opportunity to contribute their views on matters of legitimate staff interest.
Accordingly, a co-ordinated series of studies is now proposed, in consultation with the appropriate unions and managements, into the scope for the extension of industrial democracy—within the accepted principle which governs the operation of elected bodies—throughout the public services including both central and local government, and related bodies. These studies will not, however, cover the National Health Service within which steps have already been announced to extend substantially the arrangements for industrial democracy there.
Local government will be invited, through the local authority associations, to initiate the studies in local government. The studies in the Civil Service and other bodies will be initiated by the Departments concerned. The intention is that the studies should all be completed in time for the Government to be able to take an overall view of the private and public sectors after the Committee of Inquiry into industrial democracy in the private sector reports.
House adjourned at thirteen minutes before eight o'clock