I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave on this subject to the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent (Mr. Ellis Smith) on 19th February. Those who set up works councils are the best judges as to which of their functions, if any, can be most appropriately performed by sub-committees.
May I ask my right hon. Friend whether he has discussed this matter with representatives of employers' organisations and with the T.U.C., and whether he is satisfied with the response he has received from both bodies?
I have discussed it with both sides, but I must point out that most of these negotiations are not conducted with the T.U.C. The arrangements have to be made direct between the unions responsible for the wage negotiations and the industry concerned.
The policy of the Government in this matter is to encourage the most effective methods of joint consultation. In my view, the question of the precise form of machinery to be set up to ensure that consultation, is best left to the representatives of employers and workers to decide by mutual agreement.
In cases where, unfortunately, the men are not in a union, or where only a portion of them are in a union, what steps are taken? I am asking only for information.
I know of very few industries now in which some of the men are not in a union. It has to be remembered, and I would emphasise the point, that if these shop committees are to be effective, then they must have some discipline through executives of unions, or they may cut right across a general agreement and cause industrial disputes.