Disputes as to, and Enforcement of, Requirement of Equal Treatment

Clause 2 – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 22nd April 1970.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Albert Booth Mr Albert Booth , Barrow-in-Furness 12:00 am, 22nd April 1970

I beg to move Amendment No. 37, in page 3, line 25, leave out ' an industrial tribunal ' and insert ' industrial arbitrators '.

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

I understand that it will be for the convenience of the House if with this Amendment we take the following Amendments: Nos. 36, 38, line 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43 and 45.

Photo of Mr Albert Booth Mr Albert Booth , Barrow-in-Furness

This is a further Amendment which embodies a view of the T.U.C., and on this one there will not be any argument about whether there has been recent prior consultation, because representatives of the General Council met my right hon. Friend the First Secretary on 18th February and expressed concern about this matter.

The Amendment proposes that industrial arbitrators should adjudicate in disputes on equal pay claims instead of industrial tribunals. Those who, like myself, have had the fortune, or misfortune, of representing employees before industrial tribunals know that at such a tribunal one usually faces three men, one of whom is deemed to be a work-people's representative, frequently somebody proposed by the trades council, one of whom is an employer's representative, and one of whom, usually the man sitting in the centre, is a lawyer.

The difficulty which one usually experiences is that of explaining to the lawyer what one is talking about when referring to the conditions which appertain in the factory or the place at which the person one is representing normally works. The worker is generally liable to be bewildered by the fact that the lawyer cannot understand any of the terms which he, the worker, comes across every day in his work place.

While the chairman of the tribunal, who is the lawyer, is undoubtedly completely independent, he is not knowledgeable about industry in terms of what happens on the workshop floor. His rôle is not only to be an impartial third party, but to advise on questions of law. It seems to me that when we come to consider what sort of tribunal should consider whether an equal pay claim is being properly met there will not be quite the same necessity for someone to have an understanding of the law as there is in industrial tribunal cases.

There will, however, be an even greater necessity to understand what happens in industry. Therefore, it is important that those who are to adjudicate should have a fairly sound working knowledge of the industry on which they have to adjudicate—or the industry whose wage claims they have to adjudicate whenever there is a contested claim by women employees seeking the tribunal's protection.

11.0 p.m.

If one is a lawyer among adjudicators, one may hear of working practices or of a job one has not previously heard of. I have had the experience of a chairman with no knowledge of the job or process concerned. If he asks what certain machines or tools are, the sort of answer he receives will depend on the sort of impression one is seeking to make with him. If one is seeking to make the impression that the job is different because it has a different name and must therefore, be different in value, the question will be answered in one way, but the trade union member will tend to answer in the contrary way, that the job is the same and of equal value. The distinctions will be meaningless in terms of equal pay claims.

It is reasonable to suggest that we need to have industrial adjudicators who know a lot about the industry which is to be discussed when they come to adjudicate. I am not suggesting that one does not need some legal knowledge, or that adjudicators do not need an appreciation of legal processes, but the knowledge of law they require is of a relatively small branch of the law, whereas the knowledge required about the industry from which the claims come has to be reasonably wide and is not the sort of knowledge which they can acquire by question and answer in the case before them.

That is the basis of the Amendment and I hope my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will be able to respond to this Amendment, appreciating, as she will by virtue of her post, the vast complications of considering claims if one has no detailed knowledge of the industry. It must have been her experience since she took over her difficult post, to have been faced with precisely the same sort of problem which lawyers face as chairmen of tribunals.

Amendment No. 36 proposes to remove Clause 2 (2), which empowers the Secretary of State to act on a woman's behalf by taking her case to an industrial tribunal. This subsection would, or could, advantage non-trade unionists as against trade unionists, since, judging by the interpretation which the Secretary of State put on this on Second Reading, it is evident that the Secretary of State would regard the sort of person requiring this protection as the sort of person not normally having trade union representation. My right hon. Friend would probably take the view that if a trade unionist went to a local branch of the Department of Employment and Productivity, and suggested that the Secretary of State should act on her behalf, the answer she would probably receive would be that she should get the union to do it for her.

It is not the job of Members of Parliament with trade union interests to support legislation which places the non-unionist at an advantage. There is a danger that tribunals would regard in a different light those cases in which they dealt with the Secretary of State, from those concerning local people or union representatives, since the very fact that the Secretary of State had referred a case to it would contain the element of approval by a Government Department. This will not make for the fairest consideration by tribunals.

We have to consider at what stage the Secretary of State should offer protection to a person who has gone to a tribunal. I accept that an element of State protection is needed, but it should be the same as that under the Redundancy Payments Act and the Contracts of Employment Act. That is to say, where it has been agreed before the tribunal that the complainant has a justifiable case for back pay and the employer still refuses to meet it, the Secretary of State should then act to see that the employer complies with the tribunal's decision. That is the Secretary of State's proper rôle.

Although we cannot take a decision on the Amendment tonight, I hope that the Secretary of State will consider this further, and perhaps deal with it at a later stage.

Photo of Mrs Barbara Castle Mrs Barbara Castle , Blackburn

There are two separate points here. The first was my hon. Friend's concern about the type of tribunals. I found it a little difficult, in view of the hubbub, to follow all his points, but I hope that I have understood him. I understand that the Amendment, in substituting industrial arbitrators for industrial tribunals, seeks an alteration not in the procedure or sanctions but merely in the nature of the chairmanship. My hon. Friend said that he did not think this an appropriate case for a lawyer to be in the chair. As we have said previously, this is a matter for the procedural regulations, and does not need any Amendment to the Bill.

There are strong arguments for having lawyers on tribunals, because they are not arbitrators. They are applying the law to particular cases and if the women are to get their legal rights, this is what we must ensure. The industrial expertise which he rightly says is essential to these tribunals is provided by the representatives of the workers' and employers' sides. They are drawn from people experienced in industry for that purpose.

I therefore do not reject my hon. Friend's suggestion out of hand. There might well be cases in which one might wish to have non-lawyer chairmen, or what he would call industrial arbitrators. But is it a matter for the regulations. It is not necessary to amend the Bill in order to have chairmen from industry. We will consider the matter very carefully before drawing up the regulations.

By Amendment No. 36 my hon. Friend has reopened the argument which some of my hon. Friends have used before against my having a residual power to take the initiative in bringing a case before the tribunal. He seems to think that this would put the non-unionist at an advantage in relation to the unionist. I think that he is stretching the point a very great deal. In taking this power it is not proposed that I should be popping up every few minutes with this case and that, and doing the trade union's job for it.

That would be wrong. As I have said at every stage of our discussions, it is no part of my job in this legislation to make it unnecessary for women to join trade unions: on the contrary, I have made it clear the only way in which women will reap the full advantage from the Bill is by joining trade unions.

It is, therefore, only in the very minority of cases that the power is likely to be used, but I feel it necessary that, as guardian of public policy in this respect, I should have this residual power, so that in flagrant cases where trade union organisation is non-existent or very weak —and in dealing with women's legislation we are, unfortunately, always dealing with an area of very weak trade unionism—employers should not be able to get away with a grave affront to public policy because of the lack of this residual power.

I hope that my hon. Friends will accept what I have said, and that the House will reject the Amendment.

Amendment negatived.

Photo of Sir Douglas Glover Sir Douglas Glover , Ormskirk

I beg to move Amendment No. 14, in page 3, line 27, at end insert 'or by the representatives of such persons '.

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

With this Amendment it will be convenient to take the following Amendments Nos. 15 and 16.

11.15 p.m.

Photo of Sir Douglas Glover Sir Douglas Glover , Ormskirk

Our debate on Amendment No. 11 was all sweetness and light until the right hon. Lady the Secretary of State, who is notorious for it, allowed the vitriol to come out in connection with a perfectly innocent and sensible interjection on my part. That was rather foolish of her. It tempted us to change the atmosphere of the House from that of peace and quiet to, perhaps, that of party controversy.

The hon. Members for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Renée Short) and Barrow-in-Furness (Mr. Booth) made clear in that debate what a vital part the trade unions will have to play in this procedure but, as I understand it, under Clause 2 it will be the Secretary of State, and not the trade unions, who will make representations to the tribunal. If equal pay is to be implemented, it is vital that persons affected should be able to appoint their representatives, which in most cases could mean a trade union, but it could mean other organisations, to put their case to the tribunal. It is a great weakness in the Bill that this does not appear to be so.

The Under-Secretary said that he himself was not clear about the implications of certain things. There seems to be a certain degree of cloud about what is and is not covered. As I understand, under Clause 2 a person who feels that he is adversely affected and believes that the object of the Bill has not been carried out would have to make representations to the Secretary of State, who would make representations to the tribunal. Such a person would not be allowed to let his representatives make direct representations to the tribunal.

The hon. Member for Reading (Mr. John Lee), who is a lawyer, will appreciate that this will cause chaos. The ordinary, sensible way for any of the Bill to work would be for a recognised and accepted representative of workers, either through their association or their trade union, to be able to make representations. Hence the Amendment. In Committee, the Government refused to accept a similar Amendment which would have secured this desirable result.

I do not understand how the right hon. Lady envisages that the system will work in practice. We are talking about millions of people. If there is no machinery by which their representatives can make representations to the Tribunal, and if in every small factory workers who feel that they are adversely affected and that their employer is not carrying out the objects of the Bill, will have to form a committee and make submissions to the Department, it will not work in practice. There must be machinery on the ground so that anybody who feels adversely affected can immediately go to the local branch of his union or to some other organisation, which would then be responsible for making representations to the tribunal.

I do not put myself forward as an expert, but I think I have a degree of common sense. Unless the Amendment is accepted, I cannot see how the scheme will work—unless there is much more decentralisation than there appears to be under the Clause.

Photo of Mr John Page Mr John Page , Harrow West

If there are two nonmembers of trade unions and one member, what is to happen to the nonmembers?

Photo of Sir Douglas Glover Sir Douglas Glover , Ormskirk

The bulk of people will have a union to represent them. That is why the words " the representatives " appear. I am not saying that the Secretary of State should not have any right to make representations, because I accept that there may be people who are so under-represented that there may be only the right hon. Lady and her Department who could protect their interests. I do not wish the Secretary of State to be taken out of the provisions but I wish the trade unions to be brought into them. In many cases of small firms with nonunion labour it might be felt that the only way to have a grievance remedied was to approach the Department. That might apply to one case in eight.

Photo of Mr Philip Holland Mr Philip Holland , Carlton

The Amendment refers to " representatives of such persons ". They could appoint anyone they wished to make representations. If they were trade unionists, they would appoint their trade unions—but they could appoint someone else.

Photo of Sir Douglas Glover Sir Douglas Glover , Ormskirk

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I hoped that I was making that point clear.

If the Amendment is accepted, then no doubt in most cases the trade unions will make the representations on behalf of their members. But in a non-union firm, the employees might form a committee to become the representatives of the workers in that firm. If the Secretary of State is the only person who can make representations on their behalf, the Department will be inundated, certainly in the early days, by requests from people who feel that the Bill is not being implemented quickly enough in their organisations.

None of that trouble need arise if the Amendment is accepted. Under our proposal, no doubt in five cases out of six the trade unions would make the representations to the tribunal, but in a non-union organisation a committee might be formed—or they might even engage a lawyer. The Department would be involved only in a very few cases. If the Amendment is not accepted the Department will be bogged down with the administration of the Act.

Photo of Sir Elwyn Jones Sir Elwyn Jones , West Ham South

The Amendments seek to provide in the Bill itself for the right of organisations representing women employees and individual employers, and in particular trade unions and employers' associations, to take cases to industrial tribunals and to appear before them.

When the matter was discussed at some length in Committee, the Under-Secretary, my hon. Friend the Member for Doncaster (Mr. Harold Walker), undertook to consider whether the matter might not be dealt with in the Bill rather than in regulations. It was right that that undertaking to reconsider the matter should be given, because it is obviously of great importance that employees and employers, and indeed industrial tribunals, should have the assistance of trade unions and employers' associations in connection with the proceedings under the Bill.

On consideration, however, my right hon. Friend and I, too, still think that the Amendments are unnecessary and that the course proposed of dealing with these matters by regulation is the appropriate course. I hope that when I have explained what is contemplated, the mystery that the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Sir D. Glover) sees in the proposed machinery will no longer be mysterious.

In my view, it is not necessary—indeed, it may well be undesirable—that the Bill itself should contain a specific provision to cover the points which are raised in the Amendments. It is a sound general rule that if Acts of Parliament are not to be unduly lengthened, procedural matters should be dealt with in subordinate legislation. An illustration of the application of the rule is, perhaps, Section 3 (6) of the Lands Tribunal Act, 1949. It makes no specific provision for the representation of one person by another and it is noteworthy that the rules made under it—the Lands Tribunal Rules, 1963, which were made by a Lord Chancellor of the previous Administration—provide right of audience: In any proceedings before the Tribunal, any party may appear and be heard either in person, or by counsel or solicitor, or by any other person allowed by leave of the Tribunal (or by leave of the President or of the registrar in the case of an interlocutory application) to appear instead of any party ". That scheme and way of dealing with the matter is on all fours with what is proposed in the Bill and the regulations that will be made under it.

If in the Bill we were to depart from the rule that procedural matters should be dealt with in subordinate legislation, we should have to go on doing so in similar legislation hereafter. That, however, is not the only objection to the course that is proposed in the Amendments.

Although industrial tribunals are relatively new, they have been functioning for several years and dealing with cases relating, among other things in industrial relations, to the important matter of redundancy payments. The industrial tribunals which have been dealing with redundancy payments questions are set up by regulations and the procedure before them is dealt with in those regulations. It is imperative that those regulations should contain, as they do, adequate and appropriate safeguards to cover the position of trade unions and employers' associations, and, indeed, the individual non-trade unionist who may wish to bring matters before them.

My right hon. Friend is under a statutory duty under Section 46(1)(e) of the Redundancy Payments Act to make regulations to cover equal pay matters, and this she will have to do if and when the Bill becomes law. Moreover, she is under a statutory duty to consult the Council on Tribunals about the form and content of the proposed regulations.

The House will recall that the Council on Tribunals was set up by Parliament to oversee the working of such institutions as the industrial tribunals as regards both the regulations which govern their practice and procedure and as regards their functioning generally to see that justice is done in their proceedings. I can certainly give an assurance that the regulations will provide that the rights with which we are concerned will be fully and adequately dealt with.

I understand that two points are raised by the Amendments: first, the right to institute proceedings; and secondly, the right to appear before the tribunals once proceedings are started. I have taken the opportunity of looking into what happens under the Regulations which deal with proceedings before tribunals under the Redundancy Payments Act. Those regulations, which were made in consultation with the Council on Tribunals, should furnish an appropriate precedent for the regulations that we shall make for equal pay cases.

11.30 p.m.

On the right to institute proceedings there is no specific provision in the redundancy payments rules for trade unions and employers' associations to be able to commence proceedings on behalf of their members. This is because it is entirely unnecessary that there should be such a provision. Trade unions and employers' associations are entitled to act in these matters on behalf of their members and it is accepted that they may do so as their members' agents. Since the redundancy scheme has operated trade unions and employers' associations representatives have appeared in hundreds of cases, and there has been no difficulty about their right to initiate proceedings and to appear before the tribunals.

These matters have never been called in question. There is no difficulty here, and there will be no difficulty under this scheme. As I have said, the power and authority of unions and associations has never been called in question, and those rights are being exercised almost every day, as they have been for several years. It would be very undesirable for us to call this right to institute proceedings into question, as accepting the Amendments might do.

An unwanted side effect of the proposed Amendment might be to create doubt where none now exists. There might well be a danger that unions and employers' associations could not act in redundancy matters on behalf of their members without our having to introduce some specific Parliamentary authority, which at present does not exist. This might cause considerable difficulties, and might undermine the whole position in respect of redundancy cases.

Photo of Sir Douglas Glover Sir Douglas Glover , Ormskirk

Surely, as a lawyer, the right hon. and learned Gentleman would agree that it is far better for the public good if something can be clearly laid down in a Statute, in simple language and few words, rather than be produced by regulations afterwards.

Photo of Sir Elwyn Jones Sir Elwyn Jones , West Ham South

I have sought to explain why, in legislation dealing in industrial relations, suddenly to try to do so now, when the matter is not in dispute and is accepted as permissible prac- rice would create nothing but confusion and doubt. The matter has been unchallenged and accepted for a long time.

The right to appear before tribunals—the right of audience and the right to address tribunals in the proceedings—is confined in courts of law to the legal profession, but in cases coming before industrial tribunals it is necessary and appropriate that trade unions and employers' associations should have the same rights of audience as the legal profession has in the courts and before tribunals. It is right that it should be spelt out in the regulations, as undoubtedly it will be.

For instance, in the Industrial Tribunals (Redundancy Payments) Regulations, we see, in Rule of Procedure 7(1) —on the subject of representation— Subject to Rule 3 (2)"— which is not relevant for this purpose— at any hearing of or in connection with an originating application a party may appear and may be heard in person or be represented by counsel or solicitor or by a representative of a trade union or of an employers' association or with the leave of the tribunal by any other person That is the kind of rule of procedure that we should adapt for the purposes of these equal pay references. Accordingly, the regulations are the right place to deal with this matter. It is the appropriate place, and while I appreciate the concern which gave rise to the Amendments, it is unnecessary to do what is proposed and it might create confusion where none now exists.

Amendments Nos. 15 and 16 were debated at considerable length in Committee. The Bill provides for the Secretary of State to take a question to an industrial tribunal when it appears to her that it is not reasonable to expect the women concerned to take steps to have the question determined. We consider that the provision is essential for the protection of women who might otherwise be inhibited, for fear of causing bad relations with their employer, from taking a case to the tribunal. It is especially necessary in situations where the trade union organisation is not strong and we believe that equal pay will have a wide application in such areas. It is not something which could be done by procedure or regulations, but is properly provided for in the Bill.

Amendment No. 15 would replace the Secretary of State's powers by a corresponding power for organisations representing the person concerned. This, I submit, would weaken the Bill because it cannot be assumed, in every case at any rate, that trade unions, even where there are trade unions involved, and there may be cases where there are not, would be willing to be active in taking equal pay cases to a tribunal. There are precedents for the Secretary of State taking cases to a court on her own initiative. The most useful precedent is in Section 19(5) of the Wages Councils Act, 1959. Under that Section, the Secretary of State can initiate civil proceedings in the courts to secure the payment of proper wages under the Act. Under Section 12 of the Agricultural Wages Act, there is provision in respect of the Minister of Agriculture of a similar kind.

The provisions in regard to reinstatement in employment in the National Service (Amendment) Act, 1948, also included the power for the Minister of Labour to take cases on his own initiative to the courts. I submit that it has to be borne in mind in considering the rights conferred on the Secretary of State in this Bill that there is no provision in the Bill for the Secretary of State to operate an inspectorate along the lines of that in the Wages Council area. In the light of this it is not unreasonable for the Secretary of State to have the right to access to tribunals on behalf of aggrieved women in the exceptional circumstances where the situation might call for her intervention. Women are bound to come to her Department for advice from time to time, as they do, and in some cases it may be appropriate for her to take up their cases for them.

Amendment No. 16 would add to the power of the Secretary of State to take cases to an industrial tribunal a corresponding power for trade unions—not apparently for employers' associations—to take cases to a tribunal. This is similar to the thought that prompted Amendment No. 14 proposing that claims to a tribunal could be made by the representatives of the women concerned. They will certainly have the power to do that under the proposed regulations. If it is any reassurance to the House I will undertake that I will examine the regulations before they are introduced to ensure that they do give effect to what I have said.

I hope the House may feel that, while it was right to raise these matters to be sure that there is a proper right of audience and a proper way of dealing with these matters, in the light of what I have said the Amendment should be withdrawn.

Photo of Mr Thomas Boardman Mr Thomas Boardman , Leicester South West

I am grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for that detailed and helpful explanation. It is with some hesitation that I venture to challenge or question one or two of the assertions which he made.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman relied on this being a purely procedural matter. I suggest that it is more; it is fundamental. When, on Second Reading, the hon. Lady the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Renée Short) made an intervention, it was stressed that normally the person's trade union would take up the case. It was implicit that the right of representation would be spelled into the Bill, but the Attorney-General has relied on this as being appropriate for regulation as it is purely procedural, but I suggest that in following subsecution there are other matters which are no less procedural.

Subsection (3) refers to the procedure to be adopted in striking out claims and counter-claims and the like, matters which with all diffidence in the light of such learned opinion I should have thought appropriate for regulations. If they are to be in the Bill, it is surely no less right that this fundamental point about right of representation should be in it.

The Attorney-General expressed some doubt as to the consequences that would flow from this. If I understood his argument correctly, it was that it is unnecessary to put this in the Bill because it would appear in regulations and to put these words in the Bill might cast doubt on matters which are now clear. He referred to the Redundancy Payments Act as a precedent, but he said there was no statutory authority for the representation as it is now by custom permitted under that Act. The custom adopted under that Act is to be continued here and to give it legislative form and the authority of the Act might reinforce something which by custom is now accepted but which has no legal validity. That is the weakest of all arguments and it strengthens my support for the Amendments.

Photo of Sir Elwyn Jones Sir Elwyn Jones , West Ham South

The position as I see it is that the trade union or employers' association is deemed to be the agent of the working person concerned or the employers concerned. No issue has been raised about this; it is a simple problem of agency.

Photo of Mr Thomas Boardman Mr Thomas Boardman , Leicester South West

Again with great humility, I wonder whether the question of a union as an agent for an individual is clear beyond all doubt. Responsibility for the relationship between a union and members of a union is a rather special matter which I will not develop on this Amendment.

Photo of Sir Douglas Glover Sir Douglas Glover , Ormskirk

Another aspect which the Attorney-General has not covered is that under the Amendment representatives who might be a committee of a group of workers would not be covered.

Photo of Mr Thomas Boardman Mr Thomas Boardman , Leicester South West

I am much obliged to my hon. Friend. I had in mind a situation where a group of people who are not members of a trade union decide to appoint one of themselves or someone with specialised knowledge to represent them before a tribunal. To give legal validity to that, these words should be written into the Bill.

When the Attorney-General quoted instances where representation is allowed but without statutory authority, he did not go so far as to say that there was no precedent for having such words in an Act. No doubt he will correct me if I am wrong, but I believe many Acts provide that a person can appear by representatives before various types of tribunal. I have done no research on this, so I cannot quote one, but I would be surprised not to find a precedent for an express right of representation. I urge that the Amendment which allows a group of workers to appear in this way should be written into the Bill.

A later Amendment deals with the right to initiate proceedings. This should not be left to custom. Workers should know from the time the Bill becomes law that there is a right for representatives on their behalf to initiate proceedings before the tribunal. There is the rather different issue of the merit of taking out of the hands of the Secretary of State the power of initiation, but I will not develop that argument now.

I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman to reflect on the dangers to which he referred if these words are inserted, and weigh them against the undesirability of leaving the matter in doubt, a doubt which he has expressed in referring to the way in which custom operates in other cases.

11.45 p.m.

Photo of Dr Michael Winstanley Dr Michael Winstanley , Cheadle

I feel like an intruder in intervening in this debate, in which, so far, the dialogue between the two sides of the House has appeared to be a continuation of private conversations in Committee. I do not object to that, with certain exceptions. It is not inappropriate to mention that the growing habit of the Government to appoint smaller Standing Committees, no doubt desirable from the point of view of Government back benchers, has the unfortunate side effect of eliminating Liberal representation on the Committees, and making it necessary sometimes for us to ventilate on Report points which might have been pursued in Committee had we been there to do so.

I understand from the Attorney-General that the points made by the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Sir D. Glover), which I support, are conceded, and that the Bill, when it becomes law, will work in precisely the way he desires. I was not sure what weight to attach to the Attorney-General's presence, since the Under-Secretary, in dealing with an earlier Amendment, said that the Government had had legal advice to keep certain words, but would, nevertheless, accept the Amendment. As the legal advice was ridden over roughshod on one occasion, I wondered whether I should attach great importance to it on this occasion.

The Attorney-General, in rejecting Amendment No. 15, pointed to the need for the Secretary of State to have a role in the institution of proceedings. Industrial tribunals are not appropriate bodies to deal with matters which require a detailed knowledge of the nature of the work and of the bargaining system. I am very much on the side of the hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness (Mr. Booth), who argued this on an earlier Amendment. The Bill needs conciliation machinery. What the Attorney-General has told us about the role of the Secretary of State as one of the persons to institute proceedings means that the Secretary of State can involve herself or her Department at an early stage. Does this mean that there will be conciliation procedures? Are we to see an extension of the conciliation procedures which already exist within the Department?

If the right hon. and learned Gentleman's rejection of Amendment No. 15 means that this is feasible, and perhaps one of the things which will work under the Act although not spelt out in it, I shall be reassured, because I have fears about the possibility of there being a gap between a feeling of complaint arising and the bringing of that complaint to an industrial tribunal. We need something in between by the provision of conciliation procedures. Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman's answer herald the existence or development of procedures of that kind?

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

We had from the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney-General a lucid and courteous approach to the Amendments. But I hope that he will not take it amiss if I say that it was just the sort of approach that sometimes makes non-lawyers despair of the law. It was clear and courteous, but, by its complete obsession with precedent, was completely out of touch with the feelings and the need for change.

One of the greatest difficulties, and not only in the law—as a Conservative I certainly feel it—is to combine respect for valued tradition and precedent with a proper awareness of the danger that one can be so hidebound by tradition and precedent that one will not adopt new methods and new approaches.

What were the right hon. and learned Gentleman's two main arguments about Amendment No. 14 and, perhaps, Amendment No. 16? First, he said that they were unnecessary. I think that possibly he convinced me that they are unnecessary. They are unnecessary unless one has no faith in what the Government say about their intention to introduce regulations, and we are not accusing the Government of lack of good faith. We are sure, when they say they will introduce the necessary regulations, that they will do so. But the matter goes beyond that.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman went on to say that the Amendments would possibly be objectionable because for one thing they might create confusion, might create doubts that what was an accepted right was no longer to be taken for granted. That seemed to me an extraordinary legalistic argument. If that is the way our lawyers, courts and judges work, it brings me back to my remarks about despairing of the law, but I cannot believe that it is the way.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, South-West (Mr. Tom Boardman) said, this is an accepted right but not a statutory right. The precedents which the right hon. and learned Gentleman quoted were not really on all fours with this case. First, the Bill deals with terms and conditions of employment. That is a more emotional subject even than redundancy payments, which is fairly near to this matter, although some of the other precedents he quoted are far removed from the psychological atmosphere of work in industry.

When dealing with terms and conditions of employment, it is necessary to recognise that it is just as well to state rights and not to expect people to understand these legal precedents, which may be commonplace and common knowledge to right hon. and learned Gentlemen but not to the public at large. That applies particularly in this Bill. This is surely a Bill in which ordinary people should be able to read and understand what their rights are.

The Bill was criticised in Committee as being in many places—and I so described it—gobbledegook to the ordinary person. So much of it is very unclear. I suppose, however reluctantly, we may have to accept that we cannot put into the Statute the main provisions of a Bill of this kind without talking in language which the ordinary man and woman particularly woman in this case—may find it difficult, if not impossible, to understand.

But, for that very reason, since it affects everyday life, I think that somewhere the Bill should make very clear indeed that a man or a woman can definitely, without doubt of any kind, turn to his or her trade union, or, if he or she is not a member of a trade union, know by the statement of a trade union's rights in the Bill—this would be a good reason for joining a trade union—that there is somewhere to go, first, to have their rights explained and, secondly, if necessary, to have them referred to, and be represented at, the tribunal.

There is a case here, which perhaps does not apply to other Bills, for stating this fact clearly in the basic Bill. I do not believe that the reasons given by the right hon. and learned Gentleman against doing that were nearly strong enough to override the practical day to day reasons for doing it.

The other argument put forward by the right hon. and learned Gentleman against it was procedural. I do not want to spend time on that, because my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, South-West answered that point very clearly by pointing out immediately that there are other parts of the Bill which are clearly procedural. If we can write certain lengthy procedural parts into the body of the Bill, why cannot we write in about five words, even though they are procedural, to make clear to people reading the Bill what their rights are?

Thus far, I believe that I may be speaking not just for myself and my right hon. and hon. Friends, but for a number of hon. Members opposite, and a number of trade union leaders, trade unionists, and ordinary people outside the House. I realise that what I am about to say now about the powers of the Secretary of State may command less common consent than on another group of Amendments, but, nevertheless, I want to say it. We believe that we are right in having an overriding objection in principle to

Ministers getting directly involved in intervention in industrial relations. I argued this point in Committee at somewhat greater length, and I will not repeat it at this hour of night. However, I ask the House to accept that we believe that there is a principle involved here.

We are not impressed when the right hon. and learned Gentleman quotes precedents like the Wages Councils Act. The approach of lawyers at times makes us despair, because they delve back into the past. Surely, in 1970, conditions are totally different from what they were when the wages councils legislation was passed. The intention was that this sort of regulation should be temporary.

The Donovan Report, only two years ago, took up the point and tried to give the Government a push on in getting rid of wages councils; it encouraged their removal. In 1970, we ought not to be bringing into argument a precedent based on legislation enacted many years ago in totally different conditions which was intended to be temporary and which certainly we all wish to see made unnecessary as soon as possible. The right hon. and learned Gentleman has certainly not convinced us by his arguments.

We accept the good faith. We accept that the result which we want can be achieved without our Amendment, but we nevertheless believe strongly that the arguments for writing into the Bill the words at least of our first Amendment are much stronger than the arguments against writing them in, and if the Government will not think again I must advise my right hon. and hon. Friends to divide on the Amendment.

Question put, That the Amendment be made: —

The House divided: Ayes 121, Noes 179.

Division No. 105.]AYES[12 midnight
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)Carr, Rt. Hn. RobertElliott, R.W.(N'c'tle-unon-Tyne,N.)
Allason, James (James Hempstead)Chataway, ChristopherEmery, Peter
Amery, Rt. Hn. JulianChichester-Clark, R.Eyre, Reginald
Awdry, DanielClegg, WalterFarr, John
Biffen, JohnCordle, JohnFortescue, Tim
Biggs-Davison, JohnCorfield, F. V.Fry, Peter
Black, Sir CyrilCostain, A. P.Gibson-Watt, David
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.)Dance, JamesClover, Sir Douglas
Body, RichardDavidson, James(Aberdeenshire,W.)Glyn, Sir Richard
Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir EdwardDean, PaulCower, Raymond
Brinton, Sir TattonDodds-Parker, DouglasGrant, Anthony
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)Drayson, G. B.Grant-Ferris, Sir Robert
Buchanan-Smith, Alick(Angus, N&M)du Cann, Rt. Hn. EdwardGrieve, Percy
Burden, F. A.Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)Hall, John (Wycombe)
Hamilton, Lord (Fermanagh)Maginnis, John E.Speed, Keith
Harrison, Brian (Maldon)Marten, NellStainton, Keith
Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.
Hastings, StephenMaydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.Summers, Sir Spencer
Hawkins, PaulMitchell, David (Basingstoke)Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Hiley, JosephMonro, HectorTemple, John M.
Hill, J. E. B.Montgomery, FergusThatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Holland, PhilipMorgan, Geraint (Denbigh)Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Hooson, EmlynMorrison, Charles (Devizes)Waddington, David
Hordern, PeterMurton, OscarWainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)
Hornby, RichardNoble, Rt. Hn. MichaelWall, Patrick
Hunt, JohnNott, JohnWalters, Dennis
Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)Onslow, CranleyWard, Christopher (Swindon)
Kaberry, Sir DonaldPage, John (Harrow, W.)Ward, Dame Irene
Kershaw, AnthonyPercival, IanWeatherill, Bernard
Kimball, MarcusPounder, RaftonWhitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)Powell, Rt. Hn. J. EnochWilliams, Donald (Dudley)
Kitson, TimothyQuennell, Miss J. M.Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Knight, Mrs. JillRamsden, Rt. Hn. JamesWinstanley, Dr. M. P.
King, TomRenton, Rt. Hn. Sir DavidWolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Lane DavidRhys Williams, Sir BrandonWorsley, Marcus
Legge-Bourke, Sir HarryRussell, Sir RonaldWright, Esmond
Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)Scott, NicholasYounger, Hn. George
Longden, GilbertShaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
MacArthur, IanSilvester, FrederickTELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross&Crom'ty)Sinclair, Sir GeorgeMr. Humphrey Atkins and
McNair-Wilson, MichaelSmith, Dudley (W'wick& L'mington)Mr. Jasper More.
McNair-Wilton, Patrick (NewForest)Smith, John (London & W'minster)
NOES
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)Fraser, John (Norwood)Mackintosh, John P.
Alldritt, WalterGardner, TonyMcMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)
Areher, Peter (R'wley Regis & Tipt'n)Garrett, W. E.McNamara, J. Kevin
Ashley, JackGolding, JohnMahon, Peter (Preston, S.)
Ashton, Joe (Bassetlaw)Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth)Mahon, Simon (Bootle)
Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham)Gregory, ArnoldMallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)
Bagier, Cordon A. T.Grey, Charles (Durham)Mallalieu,J.P.W.(Htiddersfield,E.)
Barnett, JoelGriffiths, Eddie (Brightside)Marks, Kenneth
Bence, CyrilGriffiths, Will (Exchange)Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert
Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton)Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)Mendelson, John
Bidwell, SydneyHamling, WilliamMikardo, Ian
Binns, JohnHannan, WilliamMillan, Bruce
Bishop, E. S.Harper, JosephMitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)
Blenkinsop, ArthurHarrison, Walter (Wakefield)Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)
Boardman, H. (Leigh)Hazell, Bert
Booth, AlbertHeffer, Eric S.Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Boston, TerenceHobden, DennisMorris, Charles R. (Openshaw)
Bray, Dr. JeremyHorner, JohnMorris, John (Aberavon)
Brooks, EdwinHoughton, Rt. Hn. DouglasMoyle, Roland
Brown, Bob(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,W.)Howell, Denis (Small Heath)Neal, Harold
Buchan, NormanHoy, Rt. Hn. JamesNewens, Stan
Carmichael, NeilHuckfieid, LeslieNorwood, Christopher
Castle, Rt. Hn. BarbaraHughes, Roy (Newport)Cakes, Gordon
Concannon, J. D.Hunter, AdamOgden, Eric
Conlan, BernardHunter, JohnO'Halloran, Michael
Crossman, Rt. Hn. RichardJackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh)O'Malley, Brian
Dalyelt, TarnJackson, Peter M. (High Peak)Orbach, Maurice
Davidson, Arthur (Accrington)Jay, Rt. Hn. DouglasOrme, Stanley
Davies, E. Hudson (Conway)Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)Oswald, Thomas
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)
Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford)Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn(W,Ham,S.)Page, Derek (King's Lynn)
Davies, Rt. Hn. Harold (Leek)Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)Palmer, Arthur
Davies, Ifor (Gower)Jones, T. Alec (Rbondda, West)Park, Trevor
Dell, Rt. Hn. EdmundJudd, FrankParker, John (Dagenham)
Dempsey, JamesKelley, RichardParkyn, Brian (Bedford)
Diamond, Rt. Hn. JohnKerr Mrs Anne (R'ter & Chatham)Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred
Dickens, JamesKerr, Russell (Feltham)Pentland, Norman
Dobson, RayLatham, ArthurPerry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)
Doig, PeterLawson, GeorgePrice, Christopher (Perry Barr)
Driberg, TomLeadbitter, TedPrice, Thomas (Westhoughton)
Eadie, AlexLee, John (Reading)Probert, Arthur
Edwards, William (Merioneth)
Ellis, JohnLewis, Ron (Carlisle)Rees, Merlyn
English, MichaelLuard, EvanRoberts, Albert (Normanton)
Evans, Fred (Caerphilly)Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy
Evans, loan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley)Mabon Dr. J. DicksonRose, Paul
Faulds, AndrewMcBride, NeilSillars, J.
Fernyhough, E.McCann, JohnShaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)MacColl, JamesSheldon, Robert
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)MacDermot, NiallShore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)Macdonald, A. H.Short, Rt. Hn. Edward(N'c'tle-u-Tyne)
Ford, BenMcElhone, FrankShort, Mrs. Renée(W'hampton,N.E.)
Forrester, JohnMcGuire, MichaelSilkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Fowler, GerryMackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Silverman, JuliusUrwin, T. W.Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)
Stater, JosephWainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Spriggs, LeslieWalden, Brian (An Saints)Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Summerskill, Hn. Dr. ShirleyWalker, Harold (Doncaster)Woof, Robert
Taverne, DickWatkins, David (Consett)
Thomas, Rt. Hn. GeorgeWatkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Thin, JamesWells, William (Walsall, N.)Mr. Ernest Armstrong and
Tuck, RaphaelWhite, Mrs. EireneMr. James Hamilton.

Further consideration of the Bill, as amended, adjourned.—[Mr. loan L. Evans.]

Bill, as amended, to be further considered this day.