General Principles

Orders of the Day — Industrial Relations Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 18th January 1971.

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Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral 12:00 am, 18th January 1971

The first Amendment which has been selected is No. 367 and it may be for the convenience of the Committee to discuss with it Amendment No. 345: in page 1, line 10, after 'freely', insert 'democratically'.

4.15 p.m.

Photo of Mrs Barbara Castle Mrs Barbara Castle , Blackburn

I beg to move Amendment No. 367, in page 1, line 10, leave out from 'of' to end of line 11 and insert 'orderly and freely conducted collective bargaining on a voluntary basis'.

May I begin by saying how glad we are that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Employment is fit to be with us this afternoon.

Hon. Members:

Hear, hear.

Photo of Mrs Barbara Castle Mrs Barbara Castle , Blackburn

We congratulate him on surviving two physical hazards, though I am afraid we cannot guarantee that he will survive a third political hazard that lies ahead of him, namely, the passage of this Bill. Indeed, we shall do our best to ensure that he does not. But our weapon will not be force; it will be argument. We hope that the Government will not use force against us by trying to railroad this Bill through without proper discussion. We had enough of that in the debates on the Consultative Document and on the Second Reading of the Bill, when the right hon. Gentleman and the Solicitor-General time and again refused to answer any of our questions on specific points. We hope that they will now give us the arguments and the answers for which so far we have asked in vain.

We think that this is a bad Bill and that it ought not to reach the Statute Book. We want a full democratic chance to explain to the country why it should not do so. I make it clear to the right hon. Gentleman that we shall not filibuster during this Committee stage. We shall not move Amendments for amendment sake. We believe that this is far too serious an issue. But in return we shall expect the Government not to evade our points and not to curtail discussion which is essential if the country is to understand what this Bill is all about. They certainly do not understand what it is about at present because the Government have refused to enlighten them.

Clause 1(1)(a), which I am seeking to amend, sets out the first of the principles which the Bill is designed to embody and which the right hon. Gentleman says will promote good industrial relations. This is an important provision. The Clause sets the framework of the whole Bill and is typical of the Government's handling of this industrial relations issue. The subsection sets up a whole string of apparently impeccable generalisations. Yet each word is of significance in terms of the Government's philosophy and plan of action. This is why we need to scrutinise the Clause extremely carefully.

It is important to remember that these principles are to be embodied in a code of practice, and it will be seen by subsection (2) that they are to be taken as guiding principles by the Secretary of State, the Commission on Industrial Relations, the Chief Registrar of Trade Unions and the whole panoply of courts to be set up under the Bill in performing their functions under this Act.

In the first place, I would regard it as a bad principle for a generalised code of this kind to be regarded as something which cannot be specifically enforced by law, but can be used by the Secretary of State in discharging his administrative functions in promoting good industrial relations and, in particular, by the judges in assessing fines. Therefore, the implications of the wording are very important.

Let us look carefully at subsection (1,a). Again it embodies the impeccable principle of collective bargaining freely and responsibly conducted; But what does that mean in intention and effect? In the debate on the Consultative Document, the right hon. Gentleman said that one of the fundamental beliefs on which the legislation was to be based was that … the best and probably the only way of determining pay and conditions of work in a free society is by a voluntary system of negotiation, free from State control …".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th November, 1970; Vol. 807, c. 632.] That has a hollow ring in the context of the exchanges we have just had about the postal workers' dispute.

The right hon. Gentleman has always maintained that this principle forms the big difference between his Government and the former Labour Government. The present Government believe that collective bargaining should be entirely free from Government interference. The right hon. Gentleman has always argued for setting collective bargaining free and concentrating on more orderly procedures in industry for the peaceful settlement of disputes. That is the fundamental belief which was spelt out to us a few months ago.

This subsection is presumably an embodiment of this principle. But is it? It says that collective bargaining should be freely conducted, but only if it is responsibly conducted. But the right hon. Gentleman knows that the great philosophic issue which was supposed to be the divide between us is: responsible to whom? Does it mean responsible to the interests of a union's members, which is what a system free from State control means; or is it to be responsible to something else and, if so, what? I remind the House again that we are not just discussing platitudes where it does not matter if we get their significance right. We are discussing a Clause which is contributing to the sanctions under the Bill.

We know how the so-called voluntary system of negotiations has been operating under this Government. In the dock strike, for example, the right hon. Gentleman pretended that he believed in this principle and intended to operate it. That is why at a time when we were on the edge of a strike which could have been avoided the right hon. Gentleman said that he would not intervene and attempt to get a settlement because it was not his job to lean on employers or unions. The right hon. Gentleman abandoned that pretence a long time ago. Everyone knows that the Government are now throwing their full weight on the employers not to yield to wage demands.

The Government have not been having spectacular success with private industry, I will be the first to admit. We have heard today of the recent wage award of £5 in the Chrysler section of the motor industry. In public employment, however, we now have the most determined pressure by the Government to hold down wages and an overt admission that that is their policy. The pressure is all the more sinister because it is not based on any clearly defined criterion with the Government saying that they were wrong and that we cannot afford as a country not to lean on employers to resist wage increases. It is not done by the Government saying that their policy for dealing with inflation is getting us nowhere and that we should discuss how to alter it. We have no debates in Parliament and no chance for effective examination of the new criteria. Instead, the right hon. Gentleman's pressure is now being exercised through the withdrawal of his Department's traditional conciliation services and the deliberate undermining of the principles of arbitration to which the Government pay so much lip-service. The result is that industrial relations are becoming not more orderly but increasing disorderly. We had the local government manual workers' strike—

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

If any Government are asking employers in the private sector to act with restraint, care and responsibility, is it not impossible for the Government's request to be treated with respect if they do not seek to do the same in the sector where they have a direct influence? Faced with a similar case, would not the right hon. Lady's Government have acted in the same way?

Photo of Mrs Barbara Castle Mrs Barbara Castle , Blackburn

I am saying that we now have a deliberate unilateral sectional attack by the Government upon the standard of living of their own employees. It is a deliberate piece of policy which is totally inconsistent with the principle which the right hon. Gentleman pretends to enunciate in Clause 1(1)(a) of the Bill.

The local government manual workers' strike again could have been avoided by the use of the Department's conciliation services. That dispute cost the country 800,000 working days. They were lost deliberately by the Government. It is nauseating hypocrisy for any spokesman of the Government to wring his hands over the 10 million working days lost last year when we know that the Government's policy is deliberately to precipitate strikes that could have been avoided as part of a show-down designed to undermine the voluntary system of collective bargaining—

Photo of Mrs Barbara Castle Mrs Barbara Castle , Blackburn

That strike could have been avoided by the right hon. Gentleman setting up a court of inquiry. He refused to do so, with the result that the parties themselves set up a court of inquiry.

We are discussing the Government's professed belief in a voluntary system of collective bargaining free from State control. Here were the two sides of an industry saying that the situation was absurd and that they should agree on a court of inquiry. They did so. They agreed on its membership and its chairmanship, and they also agreed to abide by the court's findings.

The findings of the Scamp inquiry were produced. They ended the strike. However, the one party to that process which has never abided by those findings is the Government. The Scamp inquiry committed the unpardonable crime of proving that the emperor had no anti-inflationary Clothes and that it is impossible to solve the problem of inflation by picking first on one section and then on another without regard to the overall picture or any kind of coherent criterion and trying to deal with the wage claim by whatever pressure that the Government can bring to bear.

4.30 p.m.

Following the Scamp inquiry the Government decided that they had better have a change of tactics in this situation. We saw that change of tactics in operation in the power workers' strike. The Government were afraid that something similar might eventually happen, so they decided, when they thought that just enough damage had been done to alienate public opinion, to set up a court of inquiry. But how heavily they leaned upon the unions regarding both the terms of reference and the chairmanship, and even, I suggest, regarding their own representative. Is the right hon. Gentleman telling the Committee that the first recommendation by the unions for their representative was accepted by him?

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

For the sake of the record, I think that the Committee, as well as the right hon. Lady, should know that the unions put forward three names which were acceptable, and one was chosen.

Photo of Mrs Barbara Castle Mrs Barbara Castle , Blackburn

Did the right hon. Gentleman take their first choice? Are we talking about freedom from State control or are we not? The right hon. Gentleman knows that we are doing nothing of the kind. He knows perfectly well that the unions and workers feel that the Wilberforce court of inquiry was set up with the determination that a certain result should be achieved.

If the right hon. Gentleman wants to know why the postal workers are refusing to go to arbitration now, it is the deliberate development of Government interventionist policy between the Scamp inquiry and the Wilberforce inquiry.

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

Then I wonder why, as was pointed out earlier, the leader of the Union of Post Office Workers is so anxious for the services of my Department if it is so distrusted, as the right hon. Lady has just made out.

Photo of Mrs Barbara Castle Mrs Barbara Castle , Blackburn

Because the leader of the Post Office workers believes, as I believe, that the right hon. Gentleman has a responsibility to carry out his traditional statutory duty to conciliate. I am not talking about the Post Office workers merely wanting to talk to the right hon. Gentleman about arbitration; they want to ask him to behave as he claimed in the docks strike he ought to behave.

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

Order. I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Lady. I think that there could be a tendency to relate the debate too much to an individual matter like the threatened Post Office strike. I must ask the right hon. Lady to help me as much as she can by keeping strictly to the terms of the Amendment and not to go too far outside into what I know is very much in the minds of all right hon. and hon. Members at the moment.

Photo of Mrs Barbara Castle Mrs Barbara Castle , Blackburn

I do not want to stray out of order, but I assure you, Sir Robert, that this is absolutely central to my argument about the Clause. If you will allow me to take this a sentence further, you will see why that is so.

I am not dealing with just one particular threatened strike; I am dealing with a principle in which the right hon. Gentleman pretends to believe which is supposed to be embodied in the Bill. I am dealing with the word "responsibly" in Clause 1(1)(a). What do the Government mean when they say that they will embody in the Act the guiding principle that collective bargaining must be conducted responsibly? The Wilberforce Inquiry is central to that. The Government only agreed to set up an inquiry provided that they obtained the kind of membership, which one of my hon. Friends described earlier this afternoon, and terms of reference compelling the inquiry to take account of the national interest.

I asked earlier: what is meant by the word "responsibly"? Responsible to whom? Responsible to the interests of their members, or to something else? By their actions, the Government have shown that collective bargaining responsibly conducted means conducted in accordance with the Government's definition of "responsibly"; in other words, the Government's injection of the term, "the national interest".

The right hon. Gentleman might say, "Does anybody object to that?" But it is the direct opposite of what the right hon. Gentleman is professing to be embodied in the Bill. Indeed, because the right hon. Gentleman denies that he is embodying it in the Bill, we have never discussed in the House what should be the definition of "the national interest" in dealing with a particular claim. By including the word "responsibly" we are asked to give carte blanche to the Government to lean on one side in collective bargaining to get the result which they think they ought to have in their economic policy.

We now have the fantastic situation of an inquiry dealing with an important body of workers who have recently inevitably been involved in an important dispute with terms of reference not being defined by the House but being defined by Treasury officials. The definition of "the national interest", what is, therefore, behaving "responsibly", has not been given to us by Ministers. They are still hiding behind the pretence of the words in the Clause. They are still afraid to come into the open and admit that what they are operating is an incomes policy. They are afraid to define that to the country, because it would mean eating all the words which they used so freely before—

Photo of Mrs Barbara Castle Mrs Barbara Castle , Blackburn

I am sorry. I have a theme here which hangs together and I must be allowed to deploy it. If there is a chance later I will give way to the hon. Gentleman. I am in the middle of this thread of the argument.

What was the Treasury evidence which was put to the Wilberforce Committee? A full report was given in The Times on 15th January. That report states: The Treasury memorandum submitted yesterday to the Court of Inquiry into the electricity pay dispute argues that the current inflationary spiral can only be broken by reducing the level of wage settlements. I repeat, "only be broken". This, therefore, is what the Government mean by "collective bargaining … responsibly conducted".

Photo of Mrs Barbara Castle Mrs Barbara Castle , Blackburn

The hon. Gentleman nods. Let us have that admitted by the right hon. Gentleman.

I remind the Committee that a very different type of argument was used by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite during the election campaign of last June and was deployed by the right hon. Member for Bexley (Mr. Heath) when he was angling for power in those weeks before the election. For it was he who, on Thames T.V. on 30th April, said: I think you are being unfair to the unions and to the workers in saying that this price explosion is due to a wage explosion. Unfair to the workers to say that our inflationary spiral can only be broken by reducing the level of wage settlements? Every right hon. and hon. Member knows that this was not the argument on which the election campaign was fought and won, and it would not have been won if it had been. We had a very different line of argument then by the right hon. Member for Bexley, who said: You cannot blame workers for asking for wage increases. Why? Because the wicked Labour Government had put burdens on them as a result of devaluation—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I do not mind. Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite can say, "Hear, hear". But this is not the argument which the Government are now using. The Government are not saying, "You cannot blame the workers because they are trying to defend themselves against an inflationary situation." During the Election campaign right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite said that workers were understandably reacting to price increases which the right hon. Member for Bexley thought it was a priority to reduce "at a stroke". Instead, we have a total abandonment of any attempt to influence prices and we have a new Treasury doctrine that we can only have—

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Lady again, but prices and incomes are not strictly germane to the debate.

Photo of Mrs Barbara Castle Mrs Barbara Castle , Blackburn

I am extremely sorry, Sir Robert. As you know, I am the most orderly Member of the House. I assure you that what I am asking the Committee to look at is the first principle which we are told to accept in the very first subsection of the Bill, which is to form the guiding principle for the rest of the Bill. The principle is that we ought to have collective bargaining freely and responsibly conducted. I am trying to find out what that means, and I am adducing evidence that, despite the right hon. Gentleman's earlier words, the Government's actions show that to conduct collective bargaining responsibly means that one shall not be free to press whatever wage increases one can get, which is contrary to the impression that has been given hitherto.

Photo of Mr Michael Fidler Mr Michael Fidler , Bury and Radcliffe

I am obliged to the right hon. Lady for giving way, because she seized on my nod as a peg on which to hang a comment. I am trying to follow what she is saying. Is she arguing that no Government should be expected to ask that the national economic interest is borne in mind in interpreting responsibility?

Photo of Mrs Barbara Castle Mrs Barbara Castle , Blackburn

Of course I am not. All I am saying is that the right hon. Gentleman's statement on the Consultative Document was that the Bill would be based on three fundamental beliefs, the first of which, as I have already quoted to the House, was that "the best and probably the only way of determining pay and conditions of work in a free society was by a voluntary system of negotiations free from State control."

What I am trying to prove to the Committee is that the Government are operating the exact opposite, and that if we allow this word "responsible" to go through in this subsection we shall endorse, not the right hon. Gentleman's words on the Consultative Document, but the exact opposite. I am suggesting to the Committee that, in the context of a Bill the purpose of which is said to be to promote good industrial relations, this is a vital starting point because, against the background of the treatment of the Scamp inquiry, and against the background of what is happening over the Wilberforce inquiry, how can anybody in the House wonder that the Post Office workers are refusing to go to arbitration? They would be fools to do it, because they would be going into an arbitration system—[Interruption.] They would be fools to do it unless there is a greater demonstration by the right hon. Gentleman that he is genuinely trying to avoid this strike by using his traditional conciliation services.

We have had a perfunctory reference to it, but the right hon. Gentleman is not concerned enough about it to volunteer a statement. The matter has been dealt with by a Minister who is no longer even responsible for the day-to-day activities of the Post Office. We have had a statement designed to colour the whole background to the matter and to suggest that once again callous workers will plunge innocent people into unnecessary suffering.

The Minister has jeered at the General Secretary of the Post Office workers for saying, "I am sitting and waiting for a telephone call from the Secretary of State for Employment to ask us to meet him so that he can exercise his traditional rôle of conciliation". Instead of intervening to do that officials of the right hon. Gentleman's Department have had to tell the Post Office workers' union that the Minister is not available, that he is too busy with the Industrial Relations Bill. He is so busy imposing a legislative framework for industrial relations that he does not have time to try to stop another strike.

I say to the Committee that the Government's policy, as indicated by the word "responsible" in this subsection, is even now causing unnecessary strike after unnecessary strike, and that thousands of working days are being lost because the Government have not the courage to face the facts and say that they believe they were wrong in their previous policy and want to change it. Instead of that, we have this back-door method, and we have Government spokesmen speaking with different voices.

Every time the Chancellor of the Exchequer opens his mouth the real policy of the Government comes clearly through. The one villain of the piece, says the Chancellor of the Exchequer—and he said it again only a few days ago—is the level of wage settlements. That is the only cause of inflation according to the right hon. Gentleman. There is none other. It is due to none of the things mentioned during the Election campaign. Prices have nothing to do with it. Government taxation policy has nothing to do with it. Increases in social service charges have nothing to do with it.

4.45 p.m.

The Prime Minister, when he was Leader of the Opposition, said during a television programme on 30th April that workers were reacting to deliberate Government actions that had put up their cost of living. What does the right hon. Gentleman think they are reacting to now if it is not to deliberate Government actions which are putting up their cost of living by increases in rents, food prices, school meals, prescription charges and the whole level of other social service charges? Are not these inflationary? Economist after economist has said that they are, but they are not according to the Chancellor.

Speaking to the City of London the other day, the Chancellor said again that the only answer to our inflationary spiral is to bring down the level of wage settlements, and it is this—

Photo of Mrs Barbara Castle Mrs Barbara Castle , Blackburn

I am sorry. I have already given away a number of times. We are in Committee and the hon. and learned Gentleman will have an opportunity to make his own speech. I do not want to take up too much time, because I know that many of my hon. Friends wish to speak to this very important Amendment.

We are seeking to amend the subsection in the way that I have outlined because there is a fundamental contradiction embodied in the Bill and it was spelt out very tellingly in the leading article in The Observer last Sunday, when it said: The main target of Mr. Carr's Industrial Relations Bill, apart from greater individual protection, is, the Government claims, to reduce unofficial strikes and to strengthen the hand of responsible union leadership in collective bargaining. Mr. Barber's aim, on the other hand, as confirmed by the Treasury's evidence to the Wilberforce court of inquiry into the electric power workers' dispute, is to induce or compel the official trade unions to reduce their wage demands. We are seeking to amend the subsection in the way that I have outlined because we believe that the Government are being hypocritical and are riding two horses. We seek to amend the subsection because we believe that the Government are defining the word "responsible" in ways that are deliberately increasing the threat and incidence of strikes. We want to make this alteration in the other Amendment to which reference has been made because the policy that it enunciates—

Photo of Mr Tom Iremonger Mr Tom Iremonger , Ilford North

Having dealt with the deletion of the word "responsible" from the Bill, can the right hon. Lady now say what she means about putting in the word "voluntary" because it seems that that word will deprive the Bill of its effect in enforcing employers to negotiate under agreements?

Photo of Mrs Barbara Castle Mrs Barbara Castle , Blackburn

Honestly, I do not think that the hon. Gentleman has understood the Bill, though I cannot blame him for that. He will have to take a lot of time off to understand it, though whether he will be any wiser when his right hon. Friends have finished with him I very much doubt.

We are talking about the principle on which the Government won votes by pretending they believed in it; the principle of flee collective bargaining or, as the right hon. Gentleman put it earlier, freedom from State control. By the words in the Amendment we seek to make explicit the right hon. Gentleman's pretensions.

Photo of Mr Reginald Paget Mr Reginald Paget , Northampton

As a matter of construction, how does my right hon. Friend say that "freely" means something different from "on a voluntary basis"?

Photo of Mrs Barbara Castle Mrs Barbara Castle , Blackburn

My hon. and learned Friend can choose his own semantics. I am satisfied that it is essential to insert these words because we have not got things on a voluntary basis now. We have Government interference with the employers in the public field, and we want to stop that Government interference there because it contradicts—

Photo of Mr Tom Iremonger Mr Tom Iremonger , Ilford North

What the right hon. Lady is really saying by the words she seeks to insert is that "voluntary" means "irresponsible".

Photo of Mrs Barbara Castle Mrs Barbara Castle , Blackburn

There are certain hon. Members on whom one's most careful explanations are wasted, so I shall not burden the hon. Gentleman with a repetition of what I said. I merely repeat that if the Secretary of State really believes that collective bargaining should be free from State control he will have no difficulty in accepting Amendment No. 367.

The thinking behind Amendment No. 345 is that the whole tenor of the Government's policy as outlined in the Bill is contrary to the theme of the Donovan Report. To deal with the broad basis would be out of order, but perhaps I may give an illustration. The effect of the Bill is to centralise and make more bureaucratic the working of industrial relations, whereas we all know that the central theme of the Donovan Report was that the formal centralised system had got out of touch with the informal system which was operating on the shop floor. Therefore, by seeking to centralise responsibility for the conduct of industrial relations, the Bill is pulling against the whole tenor of the Donovan Report.

It is not appropriate at this stage to go in detail into the Bill's effect on the shop steward's freedom of action, but we shall argue later very convincingly, as I hope, that by saying, as the Bill does, that a shop steward must operate only with the express authority of his own union or else be at legal risk, the Government are impeding the flexibility of negotiations on the shop floor, not least in productivity bargaining.

The fact is that the whole tenor in trade unionism in recent years has been to extend decision making down the line, as far as possible, devolving it on the individual member, whether through ballots or mass meetings or through the greater involvement of the shop steward. We believe that the way to fewer disputes and better productivity bargaining is through simply expressed and comprehensive local agreements which are respected and observed by the people concerned because those people have had a part in drawing them up.

This is not the stage at which to elaborate the examples more fully, but I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will agree that by saying that collective bargaining should be not only freely but democratically conducted we are expressing the tendency of all advanced thought that the way to get people to observe agreements is not by imposing legal restrictions on them but by involving them in the drawing up of those agreements, thereby getting them emotionally and morally committed to supporting them.

It is for those reasons that we press these Amendments. If the right hon. Gentleman believes what he has said up to now, he will accept them. If he does not, we shall know that the real Secretary of State for Employment is the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

[Miss HARVIE ANDERSON in the Chair]

Photo of Sir John Foster Sir John Foster , Northwich

The right hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) has built up an edifice of argument on the basis that responsibility is not in the conduct of collective bargaining but in the principles to be applied in it. I submit that her argument is quite irrelevant.

In this case, responsibility means that in collective bargaining neither side must resort to improper pressure, to wildcat strikes from the middle or to incitement to violence. The right hon. Lady is entirely wrong in claiming that responsibility affects the principle which one side may be putting forward.

The right hon. Lady's argument is that if the unions put forward a principle that other factors have increased the cost of living they will be acting irresponsibly. But there is no evidence of that in the Bill. The responsibility lies in the conduct of collective bargaining. It is entirely irrelevant for her to say that responsibility, in the Government's interpretation, means acting in accordance with the guidelines laid down in the Consultative Document.

I submit that, that being so, it is the end of the argument on the Amendment. The responsibility applies to conduct. The right hon. Lady never said a word about that, except to claim that in the view of the Government the negotiations would be conducted irresponsibly unless they went according to the lines laid down in the Treasury document.

If trade unions in collective bargaining put forward the right hon. Lady's argument about other factors affecting cost of living, that would not be irresponsible conduct on their part. They are entitled under collective bargaining to put forward arguments which may or may not be rejected by the panel. There is nothing to stop them from doing that. But the right hon. Lady says that the Government, in putting in these words, are limiting the power of any trade union in collective bargaining to put forward any economic arguments which do not agree with the Government's views. I believe that the right hon. Lady's argument is ill founded if it means what I say it means; and that there is no harm at all in the words in the Bill.

5.0 p.m.

Photo of Mr Reginald Paget Mr Reginald Paget , Northampton

I should first make my apology, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for my rather odd appearance. I came here with a bag to change and found that there was not a tie in it.

I completely agree with what the hon. and learned Member for Northwich (Sir J. Foster) has said. My right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) made a most interesting speech, enunciating many principles, some of which I agree with. But I fail to see that it had anything to do with these Amendments. The words "responsibly conducted" are not so much as to the result but as to the method. What those words mean is a matter of law, for a judge to decide, and not for the Government to decide. I submit, however, that the meaning of "responsibly conducted" is simply that of collective bargaining conducted by people duly authorised—people properly authorised to speak for the employers and people properly authorised, as trade union officials, to speak for the workers. I do not think that "responsibly" in that context can mean anything else.

I therefore urge the right hon. Gentleman to accept Amendment No. 367. I cannot see why on earth he should not accept it. I do not believe that it makes the slightest difference whether he accepts it or not. I hope that the Solicitor-General will consider this rather carefully. I gather that he is the author of the Bill. There is great pride of authorship, and that pride of authorship makes it extremely difficult to give away a line because one thinks that what one has expressed is better expressed that way than anyone else could do it. That may be so or not.

We want a reasonable Committee stage, and when this side of the Committee uses words which, even if the Solicitor-General considers them less graceful than his own, mean exactly the same thing, why not accept them? At least if he thinks that something sinister begins to emerge, let him explain what he thinks sinister. Does he really think that negotiations should not be orderly and freely conducted? Does he think that bargaining should not be on a voluntary basis? If he thinks that it should be freely conducted and on a voluntary basis, and if he finds that "voluntary basis" means anything different from "freely" in the Bill, he should say so. If there is a difference it might be a sinister one, but for my part I can discover no difference at all.

I am bound to say that I would find it impossible to support Amendment No. 345. The word "democratic" has been so enormously abused and is subject to such choice of meanings that it should not impinge on any Bill which is designed for precise expression. After all, we have had "people's democracies"; we have had "social democracies"; we have had "federal democracies"; as far as I know, in Spain, they have what they call a "Fascist democracy". It really does not seem to mean anything. If we went back to the original meaning, which was the Greek definition, one would be asking for negotiations conducted by all the employers and all the workers at a mass meeting—and God preserve us from that!

I feel that the right hon. Gentleman would be a little intransigient if he did not accept Amendment No. 367. This seems to me to be his opportunity.

Photo of Mr Albert Cooper Mr Albert Cooper , Ilford South

I have known the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. R. T. Paget) for years and have always recognised that he has a penchant for putting his finger on the pulse of things to the obvious embarrassment of his own Front Bench. As for the right hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle), I often wonder what would have happened if she had been around when Moses came down with the tablets. She would have put down so many Amendments to define these things that we would still have been arguing about them today if God had not imposed a guillotine.

The right hon. Lady seems to develop a temper which I find it always in inverse ratio to the strength of her argument. She would be the first to admit now that she has not put forward any argument of any strength whatever in moving the Amendment. She speaks about negotiations being free and says that the Government ought not to interfere. She says that the Government have leaned on employers and so forth. She must remember that for six years that was exactly what the Government of which she was a member did. They leaned on the employers night after night when these crises arose, serving tea and buns at No. 10 Downing Street at midnight.

Photo of Mrs Barbara Castle Mrs Barbara Castle , Blackburn

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that that is exactly what the Conservative Party is supposed to have repudiated?

Photo of Mr Reginald Paget Mr Reginald Paget , Northampton

On a point of order, Miss Harvie Anderson. Has this Amendment got anything at all to do with whether the Government lean on employers or on the workers or lean not at all?

The Deputy Chairman:

I am sure the hon. and learned Gentleman would agree that that is a matter for the Chair.

Photo of Mr Albert Cooper Mr Albert Cooper , Ilford South

We have had negotiated settlements at anything from 4 to 10, 14 and 17 per cent. over the last few months. When the Labour Government were in power and leaned on employers and trade unions, the settlements were of the order of 3¼ to 4 per cent. Are we to be told now that that Government did not interfere, that these were freely negotiated settlements? The right hon. Lady knows perfectly well that they were not freely negotiated, that throughout the whole of that period there was direct Government interference in all these trade union settlements.

Then the right hon. Lady talked about the Government's taxation policy as being part of a general inflationary settlement. Very well; I think that we would accept that. But we can also point out to her—if she will do me the courtesy of listening instead of cracking jokes with her hon. Friend—that the Labour Government increased taxation by £2,000 million. Was that non-inflationary? She knows that that was a major contribution to the wages spiral and one of the reasons why her Government had to insist on the 3¼ to 4 per cent. level of wage increases. She cannot get away from these facts.

The point remains that within the last 12 months of the Labour Government the right hon. Lady and the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. Harold Wilson) recognised that the wages policy which they had been pursuing was unworkable, and they abandoned it. So the flood-gates were opened, and this is the situation which the present Government find themselves trying to correct. It is no use the right hon. Lady coming here today in a white sheet. From my experience in industry, I can assure her that all negotiations are conducted between employer and employed in a responsible manner.

Photo of Mr Jim Sillars Mr Jim Sillars , South Ayrshire

The hon. Gentleman mentioned the opening of the flood-gates of wage increases. Perhaps he will explain why it was that when the £11,000 a year medical consultants got an increase of 15 per cent. the Government topped it up to 20 per cent. within two or three weeks of taking office.

Photo of Mr Albert Cooper Mr Albert Cooper , Ilford South

I still think that that is not enough for the services which the consultants give. I remind the hon. Gentleman that the interim stage for an increase in their salaries, though perhaps not to the level confirmed by the present Government, was agreed by the Labour Government. The hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis) has brought this point out during debates since then.

Photo of Mr Arthur Lewis Mr Arthur Lewis , West Ham North

It is true that the Labour Government may have agreed to that, but they did not impose taxes on the sick and the disabled, nor did they give millions of pounds back to the very rich and at the same time increase the amount of a settlement which was freely negotiated, which is what the Tory Government have done.

Photo of Mr Albert Cooper Mr Albert Cooper , Ilford South

I shall not rise to that, because it would only lead to the hon. Gentleman's embarrassment if I were to explain in detail all the tax increases promulgated by the Labour Government, which added up to the astronomical figure of £2,000 million.

Generally speaking, agreements in Britain between employer and employee are conducted responsibly, for the simple reason that businesses must operate profitably to pay their taxes and the salaries and wages of their employees. If irresponsible arrangements are entered into which increase costs to such an extent that goods cannot be sold either abroad or in Britain, there is mass unemployment. It is, therefore, in the interests of both sides to conduct their negotiations responsibly.

We need not define "responsibly". We know what it means amongst ourselves. [Laughter.] Perhaps the right hon. Lady does not understand. I can understand her inability to understand the meaning of the word, as she was a member of the Socialist Government for six years. I know that the words "responsibly" and "responsibility" are well understood by trade union leaders and by leaders of British industry.

Amendment No. 367 merely plays about with words which fundamentally mean exactly the same thing. I agree with the hon. and learned Member for Northampton that Amendment No. 345 cannot be supported.

Photo of Mr Robert Ellis Mr Robert Ellis , Wrexham

I support my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle). I object to "responsibly" because it is ambiguous and, more dangerously, question-begging. The Bill tries to do on a national, legislative scale the question-begging which frequently occurs in industry.

I will give an example in detail taken from industry of precisely what we on this side mean when we say that "responsibly" is not acceptable to us. Perhaps I shall be forgiven if I indulge in five minutes of sermonising to clear the decks whilst I explain to anybody who does not know and recapitulate to those who do know that, by and large, management in industry can be categorised in one or other of two types—organic management or mechanistic management.

I will explain the difference between the two, because the difference is important from our point of view. Mechanistic management is the traditional management we have all seen in British industry over the last 50 years. It is characterised by a hierarchical structure. The symptoms of mechanistic management are such things as the assumption of omnipotence at the top of the hierarchy—the assumption that the superior at a particular level in the hierarchy is more competent than the junior. It is characterised by the fact that the communication tends to be vertical and formal and consists largely of information going up and instruction coming down. It is characterised mainly by an individual at a particular level in the hierarchy acting to a specification laid upon him by his superior—that is, he is to make always what is called a programmed decision. Whenever he is confronted with a certain situation in industry, the individual will apply only the rules catering for that situation, rules which have been made previously by senior levels of the hierarchy.

5.15 p.m.

This is the typical mechanistic management structure in industry. It is rapidly becoming out-dated. There is any amount of documented evidence to support the contention that it is completely out of date for the situation many industries are now in.

The organic management structure is characterised by a loose and formal lateral arrangement whereby communication tends to be of a consultative nature horizontally between all the various people in the organisation. The communication is often verbal and informal. The authoritarianism, which is a typical symptom of the old mechanistic structure, is in the most developed organically structured industries replaced by a commitment to the business ends of the organisation.

That is a short description of the two basic types of management practised today. I emphasise that increasingly the most efficient and ablest firms are tending to move to the organic type of management structure.

This is a preface setting the scene before pointing out why we on this side object to "responsibly". Some time ago I was asked by the staff department of a major national industry to give a talk on the subject of handling a personnel problem. This is industrial relations on the micro-scale—where everything starts from. The staff department kindly gave me a brief from which to speak. The brief started in this way —"Handling a personnel problem". Step 1 was: determining the objective: how did the problem arise; how does it affect individuals, the group and the work; be sure your objective is not too narrow.

Step 2 in the brief was: get the facts; consider the record; what rules and customs apply; talk with individuals concerned; get opinions, and so on.

Step 3 in handling a personnel problem was: weigh and decide; fit the facts together; look for gaps and contradictions; consider their bearing on each other, and so on. Step 4 was: take action, with another list of sub-headings. Step 5 was: check results, with another list of sub-headings.

On the face of it, that brief was unexceptionable and straightforward. From the point of view of the Government, they will argue that what is expressed in the Bill is unexceptionable and straightforward. In fact, it completely begs the question of how to handle the problem, because it presupposes that there is only one basic management approach in each of the five steps, whereas there are at least two and possibly more.

For any organisation which is managed on an organic basis, in step 1—determining the objective—the purpose of the concern as a business will be in mind. Advancing the common cause of the business in real terms, as distinct from, say, in departmental terms, will influence the parties to the problem. There will not be undue concern with complying with the rules, as indeed the rules may be loose and ill-founded. In the mechanistic organisation, on the other hand, the objective will emphasise respect for authority, the status quo, conforming to the rules and procedures, and the arguments will readily acquire a legalistic flavour.

The second step in this brief—the need to get the facts—makes it easy for one to parody George Orwell. One might say that all facts are factual but that some are more factual than others. This happens when somebody is involved in a personnel problem. He looks at the facts from his point of view.

The manager, when getting the facts—if it is the manager who is dealing with the personnel problem—must take them into account in two ways. He must remember not only that in hearing the facts as stated by an individual he will inevitably weight them according to his prejudices—water them down or build them up, according to the circumstances—until he accepts what may be called the "acceptable fact", but that while this is an acceptable fact of his mind, it may he a downright untruth in the individual's mind.

This shows that quite a lot of discussion and patience may be necessary in arriving at facts which everybody can be persuaded to accept, particularly, for example, if they are facts about customs and traditions in relation to premises, procedures and so on.

At the end of the day, however, it may be that absolute agreement about the facts is not forthcoming. This is unfortunate, and, to that extent, it weakens the course of action finally accepted—very seriously or less seriously according to whether a management organisation is organic or mechanistic.

I have deliberately suggested disagreement about the facts to try to illustrate the difference between the two types of management organisation. I have implied that the manager searching for the facts to deal with a personnel problem—step 2 of my brief—is himself involved as a potentional protagonist and not as an external, impartial judge. I have not considered the third step but, rather, I have said that even in step 2 when getting opinions and talking with the individuals concerned, the manager should try to reach an accommodation between himself and the individuals on the true nature of the facts. To that extent, he influences people's understanding of the facts and may himself be influenced thereby.

I am not saying that the manager deliberately sets out to make an individual see the facts as he sees them, but, rather, that he should realise that from their various points of view individuals may be justified in understanding the facts differently; and until a reconciliation is reached between them, the problem will remain that much more difficult to resolve.

This is lateral communication at work, and there is a fundamental difference between it and vertical communication. In the lateral approach the senior and subordinate try to reach a common understanding and acceptance of the facts—the one influences the other—and when the moment arrives for step 3 to come into it, the gaps and contradictions have already, certainly in part, been resolved.

In the vertical mechanistic approach, however—which is the approach in which the manager is more in the position of a judge in a court of law—he takes evidence in step 2 and will be at liberty to rule out inadmissible evidence. He weighs the evidence in step 3 and applies the rules in step 4, when he takes action.

His assessment of the facts—that is, the senior's assessment—is presumed to be the correct one, and any junior's assessment is irrelevant. Accordingly, there is no attempt at a common understanding of the facts and any effect that the various protagonists' different assessments may have is disregarded.

I have tried to show in these first two stages of the argument of the brief the difference between these two basic approaches and how the word "responsibly" would, I believe, be accepted by those who are in any court set up by the Government the two people responsible from the point of view of the present status quo. In other words, the whole legalistic set-up of the Bill slants the word "responsibly" entirely in favour of a particular managerial point of view. It is precisely from this argument that I believe that the Amendment which refers to orderly and freely conducted collective bargaining is the point at which we are trying to get. It is in the conduct of the negotiations that the word "responsibly" comes in.

This is precisely what I have tried to show. These three points explain how, by assuming a particular approach, the whole question is begged. That is why I am happy to support the Amendment.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

I tended to agree with the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) when he said that the addition of some of the proposed insertions might not make a great deal of difference when the Clause comes to be interpreted. However, to do her justice, the right hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) seemed far more concerned to get the word "responsibly" out of the Clause than to get the other words inserted. Indeed, it was on the removal of the word that she laid most emphasis.

The right hon. Lady explained her doubts about the validity of incorporating the word, considering the history of the last few months. In other words, she and her colleagues who support this group of Amendments seem more concerned about including the word "responsibly" because of what has happened during these difficult months since the Conservative Government took office than about anything else, apart from the right hon. Lady's quotations of some of the remarks made by my right hon. Friend during the last election.

While I agree with the hon. and learned Member for Northampton that it is possible that the addition of these words would not he of great consequence, I put it to him that the exclusion of the word "responsibly" might have some considerable importance.

Photo of Mr Reginald Paget Mr Reginald Paget , Northampton

Perhaps the Minister could help us over this difficulty. Purely as a lawyer, I suggest that the word "responsibly" here could have one meaning only, and that is "duly authorised" that responsibly conducted negotiations are negotiations conducted between people duly organised by the two sides to conduct them. I do not think that it could mean anything else. If it does mean something else, then one might look for sinister meanings. Perhaps the Minister or the Solicitor-General would care to say whether my simple proposition is correct.

5.30 p.m.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

It is fairly obvious that the word "responsibly" can also mean "with a sense of responsibility". Most of the dictionaries give that as an alternative meaning. Any court interpreting the word "responsibly" would be inclined to take the view that it meant "with a sense of responsibility". I should have thought that the hon. and learned Member for Northampton, with his long court experience, would not exclude that meaning.

The comments of the right hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn about what my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State may or may not have said at the last General Election are completely inconsequential. We on this side of the Committee have a tremendous regard for my right hon. Friend, but he would be the last to claim that he did or did not say that a certain thing could have any effect on the interpretation of the Clause. I should have thought that the trade unions and the employers—all the parties in industry—would want to act responsibly in any negotiations.

Photo of Mr Eric Heffer Mr Eric Heffer , Liverpool, Walton

Are we to assume from what the hon. Gentleman is saying that his right hon. and hon. Friends act totally irresponsibly during General Elections?

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

No. What the member of any party says at a General Election is entirely irrelevant—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"]—hon. Members opposite have been Members long enough to know that one must finish a sentence—is entirely irrelevant in the interpretation of a Clause. The meaning of a particular word has no relevance to what anybody says in a political speech. No judge would say, "What did the Minister intend?". He would say, "What is the word in the Bill?"—and the word in this Bill is "responsibly".

I should have thought that the trade unions, like the employers, would wish to act with responsibility.

Photo of Mr Dick Douglas Mr Dick Douglas , Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire

We are contentious because the definition relates to the code of industrial practice for which the Minister will be responsible after the enactment of the Bill. It may have some persuasive influence in litigation before the National Industrial Relations Court or industrial tribunal. What the hon. Gentleman said was not correct.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

The right hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn laid great emphasis on the importance of what has happened in the last few months. Even if one take the hon. Gentleman's view, people negotiating in industry are living in a wonderful world of freedom compared with that in which they had to negotiate when the Labour Party was in office. The Labour Government framed a detailed code making it illegal for anybody to have any rise or increase in pay. They even made it illegal for people to receive increases to which the employers had agreed.

We are not seeking to do any of those things. Are we living in a world of make-believe? The Labour Party is trying to forget everything it has said or done. The Government's proposal is a generous, reasonable, orderly proposal compared with the very restrictive penal provisions in the Labour Party's proposed legislation.

While I see no danger in the insertion of some of the words proposed in the Amendment, I hope that the Opposition as well as the Government will realise the usefulness of having in a Bill of this kind a provision about responsibility and a provision that negotiations should be free. Collective bargaining should be freely conducted. I hope that all hon. Members agree that it should be conducted with a sense of responsibility.

It is in the spirit of wishing not to put one party in an unfair position but merely to provide a framework within which all parties would want to act responsibly that I ask the Committee to approve the wording in the Clause.

Photo of Mr Daniel Jones Mr Daniel Jones , Burnley

It is true that there were certain penal clauses in the Labour Government's proposals, but what the hon. Gentleman does not choose to remember is that they were prepared at the request of the T.U.C. to lay proposals on the table and to give responsibility to the proper people—the T.U.C. and the employers. I ask the hon. Gentleman to remember that and to request his colleagues to copy that example.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

The hon. Gentleman was a Member at the relevant time and he voted for two successive Bills which made it illegal for anybody to accept an increase in pay.

Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull North

My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Warrington (Mr. W. T. Williams) said on Second Reading that the Bill may well be a lawyer's paradise but it certainly will be a litigant's purgatory. This Amendment demonstrates that fact. The word "reasonable" is to be interpreted as "without improper pressure during the process of collective bargaining—the words of the hon. and learned Member for Northwich (Sir J. Foster)—"duly authorised"—the words of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget)—or "with a due degree of responsibility"—the words of the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower). If there was a justification for our saying that this Bill was a lawyer's paradise, it is to be found in the first line of the first Clause. We are starting on a difficult and dangerous road, as hon. Members have illustrated.

The danger in the argument of the hon. and learned Member for Northwich is this. When he talks about improper pressure being brought to bear when bargaining is taking place, he is assuming equality between the parties taking part in the bargaining as though both sides were equal partners. That is nonsense. Delay in negotiating, maintaining the status quo and the introduction of new machinery work to the employer's advantage and to the disadvantage of the employee when bargaining is taking place.

One of the most important factors in the industrial unrest of the past few years has been the frustration among working people at delays in reaching settlements, because every time there is delay an employer is buying time at the expense of working people.

Photo of Sir John Foster Sir John Foster , Northwich

Is the hon. Gentleman objecting to negotiations being responsibly conducted? Surely he is not in favour of collective bargaining being irresponsibly conducted? He must meet this point.

Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull North

Neither I nor anybody in the trade union movement has ever argued in favour of irresponsible negotiation. Our argument is that the word "responsibly" in the context of the Bill is an insult to both sides of industry—the trade unions and the responsible employers. If it were suggested that they were behaving irresponsibly, both sides would be quick to deny it.

Hon. Members opposite made a lot of noise when my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) tried to indicate that the purpose of the Bill was not the carrying on of free negotiation, because what we are witnessing is not free negotiation but Government interference. This is not a Bill to make unions strong or free or to bring about strong leadership. We are debating a Bill to curb wages. It has nothing to do with people being free, responsible and equal. It was not I who said that but the right hon. Member for Bexley (Mr. Heath), Prime Minister, who, on Second Reading, when talking about the past economic troubles of this country, which no one would deny, said: In this process the competitive pressures inherent in the existing system of collective bargaining and the consequences of industrial disputes, as of other forms of industrial disruption, have pushed up money incomes beyond what both sides of the House recognise to be possible in a productive economy. In other words, strong trade unions, militantly organised, put good wages in the pockets of the workers. It may be that there is a wages problem at the moment; I am not denying it. But to suggest that this Bill is meant to do other than curb increases in wages is hypocritical.

The right hon. Gentleman said: Both sides of the house recognise …", I am always worried about these very vague generalisations, when it is said, "We all agree about that" when, in fact, nobody has been invited to give his opinion. When the right hon. Gentleman said that both sides of the House recognise what has happened, I suppose he meant it in the same way as the statement that both sides were consulted prior to the election of the Speaker. In fact, nobody asked me about that; neither did the Prime Minister ask me for my interpretation of the economic scene.

The Prime Minister said: This, then, is the underlying problem. Even when the present rate of growth incomes and prices has been moderated, the problem will still be with us. It is possible for right hon. Gentlemen opposite to say that this Bill will not produce an immediate answer to this problem. But there is no doubt whatever"— and these are the important words— that it is a vital element in the longer-term strategy for dealing with it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th December, 1970; Vol. 808, c. 1135.] So it is a vital element to keep down wages. He said nothing about competition, about responsible trade unionism; he just made an argument for keeping down wages.

I should like now to refer to the Amendment relating to the word "democratically". My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) poured a certain amount of scorn upon that; but it is fundamental to the whole issue that we are debating. We are talking about voluntary organisations. We are talking about free people, entering freely into discussions about their own future, their working conditions and their wages, and having a free say in what type of agreements shall be arrived at. This was recognised by the Donovan Commission. This is the revolution which has taken place in trade unions in the past 10 to 20 years, with more power going from the leadership to the shop floor. The leadership is very careful about what agreements it will sign or will not sign until it has discussed them with the shop floor workers. This is proper, because this is what democracy is about. It is a case of the person on the shop floor reaching decisions about his own working conditions, environment and wages.

This is what we want. But this Bill reverses completely that trend which is taking place, and it does so in a number of ways which are fundamental to the whole of our debate. One of the great criticisms which used to be made of my own union, the Transport and General Workers Union, was that it was monolithic, that the union official, the executive, the general officers were not in complete harmony with the rank and file members. Indeed, one of the criticisms during the Pilkington dispute was of union leadership.

Yet the moment the unions try to adopt a more democratic and responsible attitude to their members lower down the scale they are criticised and charged with being irresponsible and giving too much power to the shop stewards and to the shop floor generally. This Bill makes it clear that the unions will be liable to enormous fines—in the case of my own union, a fine possibly up to £100,000—and that individuals will be liable to fines, with no fixed limit, for any unfair industrial practices; and this can do nothing but reverse the situation from one of decentralisation to one of centralisation.

We can say, "All our decisions will be made by shop stewards." We can say that "every trade union member is entitled to call people out on strike according to the rule book". I should like to see that get past the new Registrar. We are strengthening the central authority of the union by putting strict limitations on the legitimate day-to-day activities of the shop steward, and the full-time official, and we are introducing the full sanction of dreadful fines either on the union or on the individual. This can only lead to an ossification of the trade union movement, and this is something that we want least of all in our modern society As a result of the changes taking place in education, as a result of the mass media, people have become more and more aware of what is going on around them. They want to take part in discussions which are shaping their future. They do not want this heavy centralisation. That is why the word "democratically" in this Amendment is so important.

5.45 p.m.

We have seen in the unions a growth in the number of agreements which are reached and then are not signed or initialled by the trade union officials but which have been taken back to the shop floor, followed by mass meetings when people at the grass roots have been given an opportunity to accept or reject or modify. This is a practice which should be encouraged, and now the Government want to stop it. Basically, the real problem which arises is this. By its very nature a union, unless it becomes a heavy bureaucratic machine, is not geared to enforce and police the making of all agreements to ensure that they are legally binding and watertight.

Photo of Sir Edward Brown Sir Edward Brown , Bath

Clearly, if we are to have the situation which the hon. Member is putting to the Committee, in which we have to consult right the way down to the rank and file on the shop floor, is not the hon. Gentleman also arguing, on the same basis of equality and democracy, that we as Members of Parliament should go back to our constituencies and consult every one of our constituents, no matter what party they support, before we take a vote in this House?

Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull North

That is what the secret ballot is all about. When we went before the electorate we said to our constituents, "This is what we want you to agree with. If you agree with us you will vote for us." Of course, I exclude the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) from these remarks because he said that everything he says at an election is irrelevant.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

The hon. Gentleman knows very well what I said. I said that it was irrelevant in the context of this Clause, in the interpretation of its wording. How can that be relevant to what is said at the time of a General Election?

Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull North

I should have thought that in considering the reasons behind the introduction of legislation it was of tremendous relevance to examine words which hon. Gentlemen have used during an election campaign, particularly if they are now on the Front Bench. I should have thought that was most important, because that would enable us to decide whether action which is being undertaken springs from malice or from a desire for the public good.

Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull North

I will give way to the hon. Gentleman in a moment. The hon. Member for Bath (Sir E. Brown) suggested that a trade union official was on the same basis as a Member of Parliament. But there is a distinction. Is it suggested that trade union officials are in a representative capacity in the same way as we are? We argue that they are delegates to carry out the wishes of their constituent members, with the right of recall at any time. Now I will give way to the hon. Member for Ilford, North (Mr. Iremonger).

Photo of Mr Tom Iremonger Mr Tom Iremonger , Ilford North

I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman. Surely he is doing less than justice to himself as a lecturer in law when he quarrels with my hon. Friend who suggested that what is said, be it in this House or in any other forum, is irrelevant in the construction of Statutes. That is what my hon. Friend the Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) was talking about. He was talking about the construction of this Statute—a construction that will have to be made by the courts—and he says that it is not within the power of the courts to take into account what is said outside the Statute when construing its meaning.

Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull North

I would say with the greatest respect to the hon. Gentleman that he has not read the Bill properly; for then he would have seen in the Bill that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State will have power to introduce a code of fair and unfair industrial practices, and has to submit them to the House. The code is not part of the Bill, but the code has to be taken into consideration by the courts when they are deciding disputes which come before them under the terms of the Bill.

The second point the hon. Gentleman was making was about the construction of what is in the Bill. Yes, indeed, that is so, that the courts do go by what is in the Bill and not what we in this Committee or the House say. That is so, but the point I was making when I started was that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton, the hon. and learned Member for Northwich and the hon. Member for Barry all gave different interpretations of the Bill and of these words. I will give way to the hon. Member for Bath but it will be the last time I shall give way.

Photo of Sir Edward Brown Sir Edward Brown , Bath

What I was asking the hon. Member was, when he supports the use of the word "democratic", whether we as Members of Parliament should always go to consult our constituents and whether the same right should be conferred on trade unions to consult their constituents. I take the view that, since we come here to represent our constituents' views, and do not consult them continuously, trade unions should also be prepared to accept the democratically elected or appointed leadership of those responsible organisations.

Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull North

I can only say that if the hon. Gentleman really feels that, then he does not understand the nature of representation in trade unions, and the nature of the mandate of officials who go into negotiations on wage claims.

I would finish on this point. The importance of these words is that the trade union movement at the moment is developing new forms of democracy, of consultation with its members, and of enhancing their dignity and status. The measures contained in the Bill go completely contrary to that development within the trade union movement. They will lead the movement to be less democratic. They will cut away the initiative from local trade union officials and shop stewards.


Photo of Mr Enoch Powell Mr Enoch Powell , Wolverhampton South West

I hope that the Committee will decide to leave the wording of this subsection unaltered, and that for a very simple reason, namely, that it does not matter in the slightest.

This Clause, indeed, ought not to be, and perhaps in former times would not have been, a part of the Bill at all, and reading it one is led to regret the disappearance of the old custom of having a preamble to a Bill. In former times, before the words "Be it enacted" there would have been a shorter or a longer preamble setting out, in more or less tendentious language, the motives by which those who were presenting the Bill were moved. It would not have been part of the Bill. It would not have been, apart from Second Reading, a subject for debate. It would not have affected the enactment, or the interpretation of the enactment, but if those presenting the Bill liked to have it there, well then, they were welcome to put it there. I believe that this Clause is very nearly the old style preamble which our present procedure unfortunately compels us to put after the words of enactment instead of before them.

There has been a good deal of discussion in this debate as to the view which the courts might take of the wording of this subsection; but this subsection is hardly justiciable in any conceivable circumstances. There are only two functions, so far as I can see, which it performs. One—in Clause 2(1)—is to guide the mind of the Secretary of State in framing his code of practice, because he has to try to draw up a code of practice which, in his "opinion"—that is one stage removed— would be helpful"— that is a further stage— for the purpose specified in section 1(1)". Now, it is quite inconceivable, that whatever my right hon. Friend, or, indeed, any Secretary of State, put in his code of practice would be ruled ultra vires on the ground that manifestly no reasonable being could regard it as "helpful" for purposes as general as those set out in this subsection. In any case, it is the House, as has been pointed out, which will pronounce upon the propriety or otherwise of the code of practice. It would be no defence for my right hon. Friend, if sound objection were taken to one point or another in his code of practice, to say, "But I came to the conclusion that, in my opinion, it is helpful for the purposes set out in subsection (1)." So there is no practical effect in these words in relation to the code of practice.

Then we may look at subsection (2) of this Clause, which says that the authorities there enumerated are to regard—this is to be their mental condition— "as guiding principles" what is set out in subsection (1). I take, just by way of example and for brevity, one such authority, namely, the Chief Registrar, and his assistants, whose duties are set out in Part IV of the Bill. If we read Part IV we shall find that the Registrar will be required by law, in doing his duty, to have regard to very specific matters which the Committee will consider later and which are set out in that part of the Bill. Once again, I defy any hon. Member to conclude that the Chief Registrar, having done his duty in accordance with Part IV of the Bill, and having fulfilled the requirements there placed upon him, could be faulted on the ground that somehow he had failed to regard it as a guiding principle that there was to be "collective bargaining", however described.

The expressions in this preamble, this first Clause of the Bill, are not of a justiciable character anyhow. There has been debate upon the meaning of the word "responsibly"; and, no doubt, if it were a word which could be legally interpreted, the view taken by the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) would be cogent. But I submit that anyone reading these principles as they are drafted will recognise that the term "responsibly", and many of the other terms, are used simply in a popular sense. It is journalese rather than legal drafting which we find when we read this subsection.

Therefore, in discussing whether or not a word so vague as "responsibly", subordinate to a principle so general as "collective bargaining", the purpose of which is that it "shall be regarded as a guiding principle" by the authorities to whom the Bill gives specifying instructions later, the Committee is wasting its time, and holding back from consideration of the matters of real importance which will follow, when we get to the Bill itself. It is for that reason, since the matters contained in the Bill are, beyond dispute, of immense importance, that I would hope that we would allow this wording—which is perfectly ineffective whatever it be—to remain undisturbed.

6.0 p.m.

Photo of Mr Stan Orme Mr Stan Orme , Salford West

The elucidation which the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) tried to give has, in fact, confused the Committee. The right hon. Gentleman said that Clause 1 was tendentious, but I suggest to him that the whole Bill is tendentious. The right hon. Gentleman regretted the absence of a Preamble outside the orbit of the Bill and said that Clause 1 was a substitute for it. The Preamble having been moved into the Bill, we cannot allow it to go by without discussing its contents. Clause 1 lays down the principles of the Bill, and we are having a form of Second Reading debate on the Clause because it covers all the major aspects of the Government's intentions.

We have had from three learned lawyers three different definitions of the word "responsibility". The Clause states: The provisions of this Act shall have effect for the purpose of promoting good industrial relations in accordance with the following general principles, that is to say,— (a) the principle of collective bargaining freely and responsibly conducted;". Unfortunately, we cannot take those words at their face value. In talking about industrial relations we are dealing with an emotive situation where words sometimes have different meanings, and this is what makes the whole issue of collective agreements so difficult. If collective agreements are made legally binding, these are the sort of arguments we shall be faced with. We shall start with a word like "responsibility", about which there will be tremendous arguments in courts of law or in the Industrial Court, with the result that industrial relations will not go forward as they do now in a free and easy manner between employers and trade unions and without interference from a code of law, a code of conduct or the Government.

The central point about Clause 1(1)(a) is that for the first time the law will be brought directly into the centre of collective bargaining. I say to the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West that this is not a small matter which we can pass by for the moment until we get to the later Clauses. It is too important for that. The phraseology used in connection with collective bargaining is completely unacceptable. Although the words in the Amendment might be derided, they at least make it clear to trade union members exactly what we mean by the principle of orderly and freely conducted collective bargaining on a voluntary basis. The words may appear to be repetitive, but the point must be spelt out.

There is a complete contradiction in the Government's approach to collective agreements. When the Government were in opposition the Secretary of State for Employment night after night opposed the prices and incomes policy on the ground that trade unions would not be allowed freely to negotiate. The Opposition were opposed to trade unions being restricted by norms. Some Labour Members were opposed to the prices and incomes policy and voted against it, but it is obvious that they voted against it for different reasons from those of the Tory Opposition. The right hon. Gentleman did not then say, "I want the trade unions and the employers to meet freely, to be unencumbered and to be able to negotiate with one another, except for the public sector where the money will not be forthcoming beyond a certain norm".

After what has happened in the refuse collectors' dispute and the electricity workers' dispute, and the setting up of the Wilberforce Inquiry, which is biased and loaded against the electrical workers, with one ex-Tory candidate and one anti-trade unionist, pro-Tory, donator to the Tory Party

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

The hon. Member refers to Lord Wilberforce, who is a very distinguished judge and has been a Tory candidate. Has anyone suggested that the Donovan Commission was biased because Lord Donovan had once been a Labour Member of Parliament?

Photo of Mr Stan Orme Mr Stan Orme , Salford West

The difference between Lord Donovan and Lord Wilberforce is the difference between chalk and cheese.

Photo of Mr Harold Walker Mr Harold Walker , Doncaster

Does not my hon. Friend agree that the difference is perhaps between a tribunal of three and a Commission of 10?

Photo of Mr Stan Orme Mr Stan Orme , Salford West

I accept what my hon. Friend says. When there is a dispute involving low-paid workers earning between £15 and £20 a week, we do not want to appoint a High Court judge or a judge of the court of appeal earning £15,000 or £25,000 a year to pass judgment on workers about whom he knows nothing and of whom he has no practical experience. Why should such people sit in judgment? Why do you think that the postal workers are not prepared to accept your impartiality? I am sorry, Mr. Godman Irvine. I am referring to the right hon. Gentleman's so-called impartiality.

The Government are trying to set up an incomes policy. After having opposed such a policy, voted against it and told the electorate that they were not in favour of an incomes policy, the Government are now operating an incomes policy that allows an increase in judges' salaries and allows solicitors to put up their own fees, with nothing said about the jumbo-jet pilots. We have double standards in this country. This is what I complained about under the last Administration, and I am certainly complaining about it now. We pick out sections of British workpeople and say that if we can hold back that section and make an example of it we shall be able to hold back the level of wage claims, but we can ignore increases for professional people and increased dividends and profits. These are the double standards which operate. Can one blame the postal workers, the electricity workers and the refuse workers for rejecting this type of philosophy?

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

Is my hon. Friend aware that there is a double standard in the Tory Party, in view of the fact that the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) has volunteered to go before the Wilberforce committee and argue that trade unions do not cause inflation or price increases?

Photo of Mr Stan Orme Mr Stan Orme , Salford West

I read that matter with interest and I hope that the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West will go before the tribunal. There are certainly some contradictions involved. Not long ago that same right hon. Gentleman was telling this House in the last Parliament that trade unions were irrelevant.

Hon. Members:

Get on with the Clause.

Photo of Mr Stan Orme Mr Stan Orme , Salford West

I will deal with this debate in my own way. If I am out of order, I am certain that I shall be called to order by the proper quarter. The point with which I was dealing is the central issue of collective bargaining. That is what this is all about. As my hon. Friend has said, the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West has stated recently that wage increases have no inflationary effects and that trade unions are not to blame for inflation. It is not so long ago that he was telling the country that trade unions were irrelevant and have no effect on the wages structure as such.

Photo of Mr Enoch Powell Mr Enoch Powell , Wolverhampton South West

There is no contradiction between the two statements. As a matter of fact, I have been saying both for many years.

Photo of Mr Stan Orme Mr Stan Orme , Salford West

Then I am amazed that the right hon. Gentleman did not vote against the Second Reading of this Bill. If he is to carry to its logical conclusion the lucidity of argument which he has at his command, then he should sometimes do so in the Lobby of the House.

I believe that the use of the word "responsibility" and the tenor of the Clause and its very tone and arrogance are examples of the manner in which this Government are trying to deal with the trade unions. They are doing so by attacking them centrally on wages. The strength of the trade union movement is such at present that it is improving wages, but there is a great illusion about so-called "mad" inflation.

Professor John Hughes, in an article in Tribune this week—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I would advise hon. Members opposite to read it—makes the point very clearly indeed that wage increases can inject a certain amount of growth into the economy. He points out that wages in this country are abysmally low compared with wages in other Western European countries. He says that there is much to be gained from higher wages. When I was in industry I always found that where the management was capable and responsible, the productivity increased and so did the earnings of the people concerned.

6.15 p.m.

The argument which at the moment is being used against higher wages, and the work of the Wilberforce Committee which has been set up to act as judge and jury on the whole industrial front, must be opposed. The T.U.C. was absolutely right to refuse to give evidence to that Committee and to avoid giving it an importance which it does not warrant. Who are these three people who are able to set themselves up in this way and who, the Government hope, will be laying the foundation of an incomes policy which can be imposed on the working people? Frankly, they are not going to have it.

I remember the Secretary of State opposite saying in the days of the Labour Government how the lower-paid workers had been left behind, and how the prices and incomes policy had not worked. At any rate, the lower-paid workers have learnt their lesson. They are now standing on their own feet. They are realising that they are indispensable in vital sectors of our economy. The right hon. Gentleman will not recognise that the electricity workers, the refuse workers, the postal workers, and car workers are vital to the economy. There are some other sections that we could perhaps get along without very well—and I am looking at a few at the moment on the benches opposite!

I have tried to put forward the argument that the first Clause is vital since it sets the tone of the Bill and, by its language, shows the Government's attitude. The Government have regarded this as so important that it has been put as a sort of preamble into Clause 1 since it is clearly entitled, "General principles". It is these general principles to which we are opposed, and we will continue to oppose them as the Bill goes through the House.

We will not convince hon. Members opposite by our arguments, but I hope that we can convince some people—certainly the trade union movement, who are learning very fast—that there is more discussion on trade unionism at the moment and a greater educational campaign going on today than has taken place since 1927. I believe that in a few months' time we shall be one of the most articulate, best educated and possibly the most militant trade union movements this country has ever seen. The Secretary of State had better be wary because this Bill will not help him but will destroy everything he stands for.

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

I should like first to say to the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) a personal "Thank you" for her kind remarks about me at the beginning of her speech. I wish to say to the House how much not only I myself but all my family appreciated the many messages we have had from very large numbers of hon. Members on all sides of the House in view of our little, shall I say, "accident" last week.

I come to the Amendments and, having listened to what has just been said by the hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme), I agree that he has a right to say some of the things he said. Whether one agrees with him or not, I suspect that even he may come to regret some of his last words. Although there is room and need for a militant trade union movement, so long as it is responsible—which is one of the words about which we are bothered in this Amendment—I would emphasise that if some of the implications in his closing remarks were to come true—and I hope that they were not meant—it would not be just the Treasury Bench or my right hon. and hon. Friends behind me who would be in strong disagreement with the hon. Member and those who think like him, but an overwhelming majority of the people of this country. Before he speaks like that again he should remember that.

Apart from that, in most of the rest of what the hon. Member was saying he, at least, had a right to talk as he did, because that is how he talked when he sat on this side of the House. That is how the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer)—who now sits on the Opposition Front Bench—spoke, against his right hon. Friends on the Front Bench. But that it not how the right hon. Lady spoke when she was the Minister. The Amendment is completely at odds with the attitude that the right hon. Lady and the majority of those who sit behind her took when they were on the Government benches.

There are a few hon. Members opposite—the hon. Member for Salford, West and the hon. Member for Walton are two examples—who have a right to say these things, whether or not we agree with them, but they are the exception and not the rule. It would be good for the honesty of British politics if hon. Members opposite remembered that.

Photo of Mr Daniel Jones Mr Daniel Jones , Burnley

The right hon. Gentleman is chastising hon. Members on this side of the House. Will he be precise and say whether, in his remarks, he is including the document, "In Place of Strife"?

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

Yes, I am including that in what I am saying. But I had even more in mind prices and incomes White Papers and prices and incomes Acts.

Photo of Mr Daniel Jones Mr Daniel Jones , Burnley

If that is the case, surely the Minister and his supporters ought to realise that "In Place of Strife "was buried out of existence by the T.U.C., and responsibility was given back to the T.U.C. Why should the Minister condemn something that is dead?

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

It is interesting to hear that "In Place of Strife" is buried. I was about to congratulate the right hon. Lady on its second birthday. It was born two years ago yesterday—17th January, 1969. Many of us will remember the passion, the sincerity and the urgency with which the right hon. Lady, the then Leader of the Opposition, the previous Chancellor of the Exchequer, the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Stechford (Mr. Roy Jenkins), and the whole Government Front Bench of those days—besides many but by no means all other hon. Members opposite—preached the necessity for that document.

It is interesting to hear what the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Dan Jones) says. If he really believes that "In Place of Strife" is buried the country will also be interested to know, because two years is quite a short time in politics, and a party that publishes a document in response to, and as its comment on, the report of a Royal Commission and then, two years later—after having told the country that it was essential in the national interest—has the effrontery to say that it is buried, has no right to speak for the people of this country for a long time to come.

Photo of John Prescott John Prescott , Kingston upon Hull East

In view of the Minister's passionate support for "In Place of Strife" at least that is a step in the right direction—can he say why he and his supporters did not vote for it, instead of merely abstaining and dodging the issue?

Hon. Members:


Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

I invite the hon. Gentleman to read the report of the debate. We then believed—as we still believe—that a new framework of industrial relations law is a precondition for the improvement of industrial relations in order to bring about the degree of prosperity that this country can and should have. We had believed that for many years, and we believe it now. To that extent we believed that "In Place of Strife" should be welcomed. We could not vote positively for it, for reasons that I gave quite clearly at the time, namely, that it contained within it certain provisions for direct ministerial intervention rather than the rule of law—we believed that to be bad in principle—but we should have been in a better position had the right hon. Lady and the Government gone ahead with what they told the country was essential in the national interest. As it turned out, they funked it and did not carry out their policy.

The events of the last two years have proved us right. I said then, and I say now, that some of the proposals in that document were wrongly conceived, because they depended upon centralised ministerial power, which, in the sort of democratic society that we now see developing, is the wrong way to proceed. We should have the minimum of centralised ministerial intervention.

Photo of Mr Raymond Carter Mr Raymond Carter , Birmingham, Northfield

Does not the Minister agree that he has precisely spelled out why the Opposition is now opposing the Bill? He has said that there is a distinct difference between "In Place of Strife" and his Bill. His Bill sets up a framework of law in a way that "In Place of Strife" did not. That is why we are opposing the Bill.

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

I cannot stop Front Bench or back-bench Members opposite from enjoying their somersaults and other gymnastic exercises; the fact remains that there were many provisions in "In Place of Strife" with which we agreed then and agree now. They are in this Bill.

Photo of Mrs Barbara Castle Mrs Barbara Castle , Blackburn

On a point of order. I am looking forward immensely to debating these points with the Minister, but in moving my Amendment I referred only to the principles outlined in the Clause. I dealt with the principle of a voluntary system of collective bargaining as against a prices and incomes policy. Is not the right hon. Gentleman trying to make another of his generalised Second Reading speeches, instead of answering the debate?

The Temporary Chairman:

In reply to the right hon. Lady, I was under the impression that when I took the Chair we were having a fairly wide-ranging debate. I have no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman has heard the right hon. Lady's words and will bear them in mind.

Photo of Mr Harold Walker Mr Harold Walker , Doncaster

Except for two or three minutes, I have been present during the whole of the debate. I do not recall any reference either to my right hon. Friend's earlier Bill or to "In Place of Strife". I make no complaint if the right hon. Gentleman wants to take us back over the whole history of the last two years; I merely ask for your assurance, Mr. Godman Irvine, that I shall subsequently be given an opportunity both to correct the distortions of the Minister and to fill in the lengthy gaps in the account that he has put before the House.

The Temporary Chairman:

I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman has heard what has been said. He knows what is in the Amendment.

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

I shall cease to follow the wide-ranging example set me by the right hon. Lady and shall confine my remarks within narrower limits. I would point out to the hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. Harold Walker) that it was in response to pressure from his side of the House that I dealt with "In Place of Strife". It was when I hesitated to do so that I was met with cries of "Answer!" from the benches opposite.

This Amendment, Mr. Godman Irvine, to the first part of the Bill deals with a Clause which my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) said was of a kind which in olden days would have been in a Preamble and not in the main part of a Bill. However that may be, I agree with the opposition that what is in Clause 1 is important.

6.30 p.m.

It is right to state fairly clearly and, I hope, in fairly clear language, the basic principles which we are trying to further by our legislation. I believe that is important, but at the same time the Committee should recognise that here we are stating the basic principles. The detail of the wording, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West indicated, is important here, but becomes much more important when we come to further provisions later on.

I should have thought that this first principle of all that we are stating was short and simple. I cannot understand how it can be regarded as arrogant. I should have thought that it enunciated a principle on which, whatever else we may disagree about in Committee, we would have been unanimous. The first principle of the system of industrial relations we seek to promote is that of collective bargaining freely and responsibly conducted. That is a pretty basic, simple statement of something which I should have thought generations of trade unionists would have assented to.

Photo of Mr John Mendelson Mr John Mendelson , Penistone

Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise the simple point that these principles are his figleaf, contradicted by what he is trying to do later on in the Bill, and that we should be failing in our duty if we did not point that out to the country at the earliest possible moment?

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

The hon. Gentleman might better convince the country that we are failing to implement this principle when we reach those parts of the Bill.

We are talking of the first principle, which I believe is right and widely accepted by a vast majority of the hon. Gentleman's supporters in the country, as well as the House, and by trade union members generally. Collective bargaining freely and responsibly conducted should be one of the basic principles we are trying to promote. That is certainly our purpose. It will be for the Committee to examine, as we go through the Bill to what degree of success we are or are not promoting that purpose. Here is a substantial principle simply stated. I cannot understand the need for the Amendment.

I notice two things about the Amendment. First, it cuts out the word "responsibly". Freedom consistent with responsibility is the theme running through the principles in Clause 1, throughout the Bill and throughout the whole purpose of the policy which we on this side of the House have been putting before the country in ever-increasing detail for the last five years: freedom with responsibility.

"Responsibility" to us, if I may say so to the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), means what he said it meant, namely that it must be conducted by properly authorised people. No one can pretend that that is always the case at present. It seems to be an essence of responsibility in collective bargaining and orderly collective bargaining, that the people conducting it should be duly authorised by those they claim to represent and the unions of which they are members. That is a fairly general concept but one which I believe ought to be stated in those basic terms. But, secondly, to us it also means responsibility to the interests of the community as a whole. In saying that, we are expressing in the Bill an ever-increasing wish, desire and feeling of the overwhelming majority of people in this country, be they trade unionists or anybody else. I cannot agree to an Amendment which would remove the word "responsibly" from this guiding principle.

Photo of Mr Paul Rose Mr Paul Rose , Manchester, Blackley

Is the right hon. Gentleman saying that in every case that comes before the National Industrial Relations Court, the judge will have to bear in mind this particular word and interpret it according to the meaning at that particular time? If so, will he explain how on earth that court will ever conduct any business?

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

I am quite convinced that the court will be able to conduct business. We are saying to the court, the Secretary of State and the other institutions involved that they shall have regard to these principles. I utterly refuse to believe that courts, tribunals, the Secretary of State, the Commission on Industrial Relations or any of these bodies that one likes to mention will be unable to look at these guiding principles and understand the broad objectives that we are trying to seek.

The interpretative work comes when the courts have to interpret the later Clauses, but I am in no doubt that this is a sufficiently clear indication of the guiding principles to give to those who will have to operate and be responsible for the operation of the Bill when it becomes an Act.

Photo of Mr Reginald Paget Mr Reginald Paget , Northampton

I wish to make one point on this because it seems tremendously important. We have built up a judicial system which has been the admiration of the world and which is based absolutely upon the principle that the advocate is responsible to his client and to no one else, both in the context of the case and in negotiations which form so large a part of his function. He must look to his client's interest and no one else's. If this word is to slip in, we should proceed on quite a different principle, with the people negotiating no longer being responsible to their clients and the people who represent them but responsible to someone else. The right hon. Gentleman is introducing a word with enormous meaning and which is contrary to all judicial custom of our people.

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

The hon. and learned Gentleman is taking what I said, and what is in the Bill, far further than is justified. If he will—

Several Hon. Members:


Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

I must reply to one hon. and learned Gentleman before I give way to another. If the hon. and learned Gentleman looks at subsection (2) of the Clause, he will see that we are not applying these guiding principles to advocates, trade union officials or employers' association officials. We are saying that, with a view to fulfilling that purpose, these principles should be regarded as guiding principles by the Secretary of State, the Commission on Industrial Relations, the Chief Registrar and so on, and, in subsection (2,b), by the National Industrial Relations Court and by the Industrial Tribunal. That does not mean the whole court and those who appear before the court.

Photo of Mr Reginald Paget Mr Reginald Paget , Northampton

I would entirely agree. Subsection (2) applies to the whole of the principles. Here we are dealing with a word governing a situation in subsection (1), the process of collective bargaining freely and responsibly conducted. That is the bargaining process. The bargaining process surely must be by representatives responsible, and responsible only, to the people who appoint them. When one comes to the other considerations, those which have to be considered by all the others set out in subsection (1), one is simply dealing with the bargaining representative and saying that he is responsible to somebody other than the person who appoints him, which would seem to me to be completely revolutionary and wrong.

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

I am not a lawyer and I must bow to the hon. and learned Gentleman's expert views on the law. The point he was making was that there was something in the Bill which in some way was putting those who might act as advocates in some sort of improper position vis-à-vis the clients they represent. I do not believe that to be the case. Equally, it is an extraordinarily and unacceptably narrow interpretation of the Bill to say that it is wrong for Parliament to lay down as a guiding principle that those who take part in collective bargaining which affects not only their interests but increasingly those of the whole community should not have some duty to do so responsibly and, while properly taking their own interests into account, should also have some duty as a guiding principle to take into account responsibly the interests of the community of which they are members. If Parliament cannot do that, we shall get ourselves into a pretty fix.

Photo of Mr Reginald Paget Mr Reginald Paget , Northampton

But the right hon. Gentleman must realise that the proposition that he is putting forward is precisely that which a Commissar of Justice would put forward in a Communist country. He would say that an advocate has no right to represent his client and must always bear in mind the interests of the State. That is an argument which we in a free society reject fundamentally. If you put this special meaning on "responsibly"—

The Temporary Chairman:

Order. The Chair is not putting any special meaning on the word.

Photo of Mr Reginald Paget Mr Reginald Paget , Northampton

I apologise, Mr. Godman Irvine. If the right hon. Gentleman puts this special meaning on "responsibly", he is taking the Communist position.

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

I find that difficult to believe, or even to understand. I repeat that I am not a lawyer. I have had the good fortune not to have to appear in court, any more than to practise in court. But I have, as a layman, always understood that British courts automatically take into account the underlying thought in reaching their judgments that actions have to be decided on the basis of whether they are equitable, fair, and just in the context of the community in which we live; otherwise, the law does not seem to have any sense.

If there is an abstruse though important legal principle involved here, no doubt we shall be able to return to it at a later stage, when someone qualified in technical terms can deal with it. But I repeat that when the people—

Photo of Mr James Tinn Mr James Tinn , Cleveland

On a point of order. The right hon. Gentleman has just admitted his lack of legal knowledge on this point, which one is inclined to accept. He has given the assurance that it will be dealt with later. However, I sat through the Second Reading debate, and I remember similar undertakings being given by the right hon. Gentleman and others which were conspicuously dishonoured in the winding-up speech of the Solicitor-General.

The Temporary Chairman:

Order. That is not a point of order.

Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull North

Further to that point of order—

The Temporary Chairman:

Order. I have just ruled that it was not a point of of order. I do not propose to take further points on what is not a point of order.

Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull North

Then, on a fresh point of order. The Secretary of State has suggested that this is a matter to which we can return at a later stage. You will recall, Mr. Godman Irvine, that we have now had four and possibly five definitions of "responsibly", and not the mere three with which we began the debate. My point of order is an important one. The choice of what shall be discussed on Report does not lie with the Front Bench opposite. It lies with the occupant of the Chair. The Government appear to be pre-empting the right of the Chair by saying that we may possibly return to this point at a later stage. Surely the Government must give the Committee a clear definition of their view about the meaning of the word "responsibly" now.

The Temporary Chairman:

Order. Neither of those points are points of order for the Chair.

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

Let me make it clear that I do not apply what I am about to say to the hon. and learned Member for Northampton. When I hear these points of order, if I may call them that, I am reinforced in my original impression on reading the Amendment that it is no more than nit-picking filibustering—

The Temporary Chairman:

Order. If the right hon. Gentleman does not give way, the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) must remain seated.

6.45 p.m.

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

I do not mind how many times I say this because, every time I do so and every time anyone outside hears it, I feel more confident than I am about most matters that the vast majority of people agree that one of the guiding principles of any industrial relations system to be promoted in this country is that of collective bargaining freely and responsibly conducted.

Photo of Mrs Barbara Castle Mrs Barbara Castle , Blackburn

But what does it mean?

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

Precisely what it says. The courts have never found it difficult to give judgment on what is reasonable, fair, equitable, just and responsible in relation to the circumstances of the time. I believe that to be the position here.

I repeat on behalf of the Government—

Photo of Mr John Mendelson Mr John Mendelson , Penistone

The right hon. Gentleman must define the terms of the Bill.

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

I am trying to make my speech. More time will be left for other hon. Members to make speeches if the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. John Mendelson) allows me to continue.

I am in no doubt when I say that the Government are not prepared to accept an Amendment removing the word "responsibly" from this first guiding principle. In due course, the Committee must decide about that in the normal way if it wishes, but that is firmly the view of the Government.

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

I have given way to the hon. Member several times. Since this is a Committee stage, no doubt he has more freedom to make a speech of his own than would be the case if we were not in Committee.

Looking at the Amendment, the second point that one sees is that it brings in the words "on a voluntary basis". In this instance, I find myself in agreement with the hon. and learned Member for Northampton. It must be superfluous to insert the words "on a voluntary basis" into a phrase containing the word "freely". If it is not a meaningless repetition of the word "freely", what do the Opposition imply by the phrase "on a voluntary basis"? It has not been clear from the speeches that we have heard so far. Are they saying that, by including the words "on a voluntary basis", they believe that collective bargaining should be completely outside the law—presumably outside the present law as well as the new law?

I cannot believe that that is a proposition which the Committee should accept. If we carry the principle further, it means that the Opposition would, for example, wish to repeal the Terms and Conditions of Employment Act, 1959, if the words "on a voluntary basis" are intended to mean something additional to the word "freely" already in the Clause.

The same must apply to the other policies which the Labour Party pursued when in Government and, so far as I know, still believe in today.

The right hon. Lady and, I think, the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Hull, North used the word "hypocrisy" in relation to those proposals. What about the Opposition's attitude? How does an Opposition Amendment which talks about freedom but wants to cut out responsibility and to use the phrase "on a voluntary basis", apparently in the sense that this should be outside the law, square with a party which, as the Government, until a few months ago, was pursuing a statutory incomes policy?

Photo of Mrs Barbara Castle Mrs Barbara Castle , Blackburn

The whole point is that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite repudiated the prices and incomes policy. They said that they did not believe in it. The right hon. Gentleman, as I have already quoted, in the debate on the Consultative Document said that collective bargaining ought to be "free from State control". I say that the Government have changed their mind. They are operating an incomes policy, and they ought to have the honesty to admit it. They should define it and put it before the Committee for approval instead of hiding behind vague generalisations like "responsibly".

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

The right hon. Lady is quite wrong. If the right hon. Lady looks back at the view which we took when in Opposition—I led for the then Opposition in this subject in 1967 and 1968 on the Prices and Incomes Acts of those years—she will see that I made clear that past Conservative Governments had tried to influence the movement of incomes, that any Government in a modern economy would have to do so, and that a future Conservative Government would have to do so. That is on record. The right hon. Lady can look it up in HANSARD. It has been repeated over and over again by spokesmen for my party. What we objected to then, what we said would not and did not work, what we said would cause and has caused many ill side effects on industrial relations, was a statutory incomes policy designed to upset the results, once achieved, of collective bargaining. There is all the difference between those two propositions. The right hon. Lady, or anybody inside or outside the House, can read in HANSARD what I then said with the full support of my party. That will prove that I am absolutely right in what I have just said. But, as we pointed out, that is totally inconsistent with free and responsible collective bargaining. Responsible and free collective bargaining, if it is to be allowed to go on, as it must be allowed to go on, must involve a degree of self-discipline, self-regulation, of the acceptance of some framework of rules, because that is the condition of freedom and non-intervention by the State in the details of doing business. That is, or ought to be, true of industrial relations as of any other activity in which citizens indulge. The freedom which we exercise cannot be exercised without regard to other people's freedom and the freedom and interests of the community as a whole.

In whatever capacity we act, whether as trade unionists, private citizens or company directors—any category one may care to mention—we must at all times in a free society admit that our freedom shall to some extent be circumscribed by the interests of other people's freedom and the interests of the community at large. Our view is that if we expect our interests to be circumscribed in that way—I know of no other basis on which a free community with any sense of responsibility and progress can rest—then it is right that those circumscribing rules should be written into the law of the land.

That is what we are doing. We are now talking about one of the principles which should guide the rules which lay down the conditions by which those who conduct industrial relations can expect to do that job in freedom without constant detailed State intervention.

Photo of Mr Dick Douglas Mr Dick Douglas , Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire

Will the right hon. Gentleman accept that our objection is the particular connotation which he is placing on the words "national interest" without spelling it out in legislative form?

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

If the hon. Gentleman believes that, I accept that he believes it and am prepared to leave the judgment to others.

I am talking about this "voluntary basis", which is the other part of the Amendment. I remind the Committee that we have moved from talk about "responsible".

How can the Amendment be consistent with what the Opposition, when in power, practised until a few months ago? There is not only the statutory incomes policy; there is the whole policy of "In Place of Strife", although the hon. Member for Burnley now tells us that that is buried. There is the whole question of registration, of recognition disputes being settled in the end by Ministerial order; there is the whole question of the possibility of a strike ballot and of a conciliation clause. Let us forget for the moment the strike ballot and the conciliation clause, because we know that the then Government ran away from those. But it is news that they ever ran away from all the other issues which they said were vital in "In Place of Strife". Those vital issues involved intervention and putting industrial relations within legal control—not always in the kind of legal control with which we agreed, but at least they involved legal control.

It is inconsistent to talk about "on a voluntary basis" if by that the Opposition mean that collective bargaining is to be outside the law, outside a system of rules laid down in the interests of the community.

The right hon. Lady said that terms like "responsibly" and "freely" could not be accepted because we had in some way prostituted or destroyed—I forget the actual word used—the basis of conciliation and any reasonable belief in arbitration. This really is the greatest nonsense.

How have we done that? Because we have dared to say that there is a national interest? Because we, as the Government, have dared to proclaim that cost inflation is the single, not the only, most important problem with which we have to deal today? Is that undermining any reasonable belief in arbitration?

I wonder what the right hon. Lady would have done if she had been faced with offers—

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

I will not give way for the moment. What would the right hon. Lady have done if she had been faced with offers made by employers four, five or perhaps six times higher than the amount which she said was allowable in the national interest in her Prices and Incomes White Paper? Would she have called in conciliation without saying, "This cannot be used to increase an offer which is already three, four, five, six times higher than I and my colleagues in the Government have said is the most that can be afforded in the national interest"? I am sure that she would not.

7.0 p.m.

What did the right hon. Lady say in the name of her Government not much more than a year ago in the last productivity, prices and incomes policy White Paper? In the White Paper headed "Productivity, Prices and Incomes Policy after 1969"—this takes us to within a few days of where we are—she said: … most wage and salary settlements need to fall in the range of 2½—4½ per cent. increase in a year if this aim of greater price stability is to be achieved. Those were her and her Government's words to the country.

Let us consider the case of the Post Office workers. After the right hon. Lady had made that statement in her White Paper the Post Office workers received a 12 per cent. increase. They have now been offered another 8 per cent.—[Interruption.]—Maybe it is a shame, Maybe it is wrong. As I said at the beginning, the hon. Member for Salford, West has a right to say that, but the right hon. Lady has no right to make such a statement, nor have all but a few of her colleagues. The only people who are able to make that statement are those very few who had the courage to abstain from voting for, if not to vote against the right hon. Lady's White Paper about a week before Christmas, 1969, and not one other hon. Member on the benches opposite has the slightest moral and honest right to take the line that they are taking.

Photo of Mr Roland Moyle Mr Roland Moyle , Lewisham North

The right hon. Gentleman is accusing us of inconsistency. He said earlier that one of the undertakings that he gave on behalf of his party when he was in Opposition was that there would be no State interference in collective bargaining agreements once they had been reached. The right hon. Gentleman will recall the strike of the local authority manual workers, in which both sides agreed to the appointment of Jack Scamp. He reported, both sides accepted the report, and then the Prime Minister criticised Jack Scamp for making that report. How does the right hon. Gentleman square what he said earlier with the Prime Minister's criticism of Jack Scamp? How can the right hon. Gentleman accuse us of inconsistency?

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

Have we really reached the stage in this country that the Government are not free, or are somehow wrong, to comment on and state what they believe to be in the national interest? The findings of the Scamp Committee were applied. The right hon. Lady and others have said that we made an unfair example of public service workers. Have they forgotten that not only did the local authority manual workers get the 15 per cent.-plus that was awarded by Sir Jack Scamp's Committee—an inquiry which was not appointed by the Government—but that, following that report, because there has always been a close connection between the two, the Government gave the same percentage increase to their own employees in the National Health Service a fine example of discrimination against public service workers! There is no evidence of discrimination against public sector workers. They have been getting several times what the right hon. Lady said was the maximum which should be considered under normal circumstances in any incomes policy after 1969.

Photo of Mrs Barbara Castle Mrs Barbara Castle , Blackburn

The only people who have any moral authority to try to influence wage settlements, as the Government are now crudely and persistently doing in one sector of the economy, are those who have had the courage to go to the country on the basis of a belief that the criterion of the national interest has to be injected into wage bargaining. Right hon. Gentlemen went to the country on the exact opposite. They went to the country on the argument that one could not blame the workers for wage increases, that the trouble was at the prices end and inflation ought to be dealt with by acting on prices.

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

I believe, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister does, that the country bases its choice on deeds rather than on words. It is a fine thing to publish a White Paper like this, force it through the House of Commons a week before Christmas, 1969, and a week after cease altogether to operate it. Where were these criteria operating between 1st January, 1970, and 18th June, 1970? The Committee and the country will be glad to be told where.

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

I cannot give way, because I want to come to the end of my speech.

We are saying that if we appoint any form of arbitrating or conciliating body the national interests must be taken into account. What happened when the right hon. Lady was in power? She issued a White Paper and, as I understood the position, under her policy arbitrators and courts of inquiry were ordered to read and take into account the criterion in that White Paper. Many of the claims which have been settled since this Government came to office—not that of the Post Office workers—were launched and were far advanced in their prosecution before the right hon. Lady left office. Had they gone to arbitration, they could have done so only on the basis of the arbitrators having to take account of a White Paper which laid down maximum amounts far below what the employers had offered, and against which strikes were threatened. If that was not a case of trying to influence arbitrators, I do not know what was.

I do not say that the right hon. Lady and the then Government were wrong in what they did, because I believe that any Government must, and the country must demand that any Government will, request that in the process of collective bargaining the national interest as a whole should be taken into account, as well as the narrow interests of the parties concerned in the bargain. I believe, too, that when collective bargaining unfortunately breaks down and one is faced with a strike, or the threat of a strike, when one is faced with the need for conciliation or arbitration, then the Government should say to those who have to arbitrate or conciliate that one of the factors which must be taken into account is the national interest as a whole. I do not believe that that is inconsistent with the best possible approach to free collective bargaining. I believe that it is possible in a world which is no doubt imperfect but is the one in which we have to live.

The Government cannot accept an Amendment which removes the word "responsibly" from the Bill and appears to wish to introduce, in addition to the word "freely", the phrase "on a voluntary basis", with the implication that that means without regard to the law, or without regard to the public interest as a whole.

[Sir R. GRANT-FERRIS in the Chair]

Photo of Mr John Mendelson Mr John Mendelson , Penistone

The right hon. Gentleman will realise, even though some of his supporters may not yet do so, that during the Committee debate on this important Bill he will be obliged to define his terms. For the benefit of the right hon. Gentleman who was talking to the Solicitor-General, I shall repeat what I have just said. The right hon. Gentleman, with his experience, will realise, though some of his supporters may not, that in Committee he will have to define his terms closely and not leave things to the Law Officers of the Crown, because this is his Bill.

My hon. Friend was right when, a short time ago, he reminded the right hon. Gentleman that during the Second Reading debate, on every occasion when he was asked material questions by my hon. Friends on the back benches, and by one of my hon. Friends on the Front Bench, I think my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Rose), he refused to answer, saying that when his right hon. Friend wound up the debate he would deal with the legal points, but when the Solicitor-General replied at the end of the Second Reading debate he gave no replies at all to the legal points that had been raised. It is important at the very opening of the Committee to put this deliberate evasion on record. The Solicitor-General, instead of answering the Second Reading debate, spent time making propaganda speeches about statements made by Ministers in the last Government.

It is easy for the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues now to spend their time making propaganda, making election speeches, but the country will understand and as the trade union movement and most responsible—and I use the word in its customary meaning—employers will understand that this is a highly difficult Measure, introducing many new procedures, and it is the duty of the right hon. Gentleman to discuss his Bill's provisions. I know that I will find support on the other side for saying that, particularly from members of the legal profession, who have a direct interest in the Bill's legal provisions.

The right hon. Gentleman will realise as the Committee continues that if he thinks it terribly clever to spend his time quoting again and again from the history of this Parliament and the previous Government and trying to divide the ranks on this side by easy references to what has been said in previous debates the Committee will be bored with him within 24 hours, nor will the country be interested. He has to answer on every point of the Bill.

That being so, I begin with reference to the word "responsibly" of which he made light. He failed completely to answer the questions put to him by my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) or by some of my hon. Friends. He tried to get away with a general description of responsibility with which every schoolchild will agree, but that is no reason for putting the word in the Bill. If he does not merely want to make propaganda by putting it in the Bill he must have a clear definition of his terms. He knows that the courts will have to interpret the measure, and what we do not want, and I use my words advisedly, is the gradual approach to a corporate State introduced by legislative terms that are not clearly defined in debate. That is why we are absolutely right to press this Amendment now.

The second point involved is the voluntary system of collective bargaining. Here, the right hon. Gentleman must address himself to the Donovan Report and to the legal opinion already being expressed as to the decisive step he wants to make. Let us have out of the way once and for all the history the Minister seeks to introduce on each occasion.

I speak as one who opposed "In Place of Strife", but the Minister has to remember, as has the country, that the Bill on industrial reform which my right hon. Friend introduced before the General Election was fundamentally different from this Measure. It contained entirely different provisions; provisions intended to help the system of voluntary collective bargaining. The right hon. Gentleman should not be allowed to get away with his attempt to blind the people to this important fact.

Photo of Sir Harmar Nicholls Sir Harmar Nicholls , Peterborough

If the hon. Member examines "In Place of Strife" and this Bill he will find that they are identical twins.

Photo of Mr John Mendelson Mr John Mendelson , Penistone

I am accustomed to being misunderstood by the hon. Gentleman, and for the best motives. The hon. Gentleman has not grasped what I said. I cannot be angry with him for that, so I must do as is done at school, and explain it to him again.

I said that the Bill introduced before 18th June by the previous Government and by my right hon. Friend contained provisions entirely designed, with the unanimous support of the Parliamentary Labour Party, to support a system of voluntary collective bargaining, and the hon. Gentleman will not fog the issue by talking about something else.

The right hon. Gentleman knows full well that he must address himself to the charge already made by a number of legal authorities, including Professor Wedderburn, Professor of Industrial Law at the University of London, who specialise particularly in this field. He has to address himself to the charge that he is here introducing a legal straitjacket in the form of provisions designed to reduce the bargaining power of the trade union movement. That is why the argument over the word "voluntary" not merely academic, and that is why it is right that we should deal with this aspect at the Committee's very first sitting.

7.15 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman knows very well that a man as experienced as George Woodcock, who was for many years General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress, and who was also for more than 20 years in an almost equally influential position as Assistant General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress, has always held that what makes our trade union movement work effectively is its voluntary nature.

The right hon. Gentleman knows very well that if he is trying to limit, and in the long run destroy, the influence of shop stewards, that is something which is vastly popular at Tory conferences. The word has only to be mentioned to raise a cheer from a lot of people there. But we do not get the same cheers from the people who run the steel works in my area; from the people engaged in the main engineering works there, or from the men who run Newton Chambers in my constituency. Those people have learned to work with a body of responsible shop stewards who are doing some of the best things to improve and maintain industrial relations.

The Minister knows that this is true: I do not charge him with ignorance in this matter. I warn him that if he wants to be an effective Secretary of State for Employment, a position which includes all the old jobs of him who used to be called the Minister of Labour, he will need a fair mind and a realistic approach to these matters, and that denunciations will not help him.

I do not wish now to enter into a debate with the right hon. Gentleman on the present position in the Post Office—the time and place for that will be tomorrow afternoon when, I hope, he will make a statement—but there is a growing feeling amongst the firmest believers in a voluntary system of collective bargaining that if the right hon. Gentleman is over-persuaded by some of those amongst his own supporters who do not understand our trade union movement he will end in a situation that he will be the very first to regret.

Photo of Mr Frederick Lee Mr Frederick Lee , Newton

As I listened to the Secretary of State I came to the conclusion that, like his right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell), I could not understand why we have this wording at all. When he tried to explain, he almost gave the impression that the Government were introducing something which meant that the principle of collective bargaining freely and responsibily conducted was coming into our industrial relations for the first time. No matter how anti-trade union may be the opinion of hon. Members opposite, if the right hon. Gentleman knows anything at all about our collective bargaining system he knows that it has led the world in the sphere of industrial relations. He is certainly not doing anything new by inserting this as the principle upon which the Bill is based. Clause 1 lays down a number of principles, none of which is new, and all of which have come to us over the years and could surely, as the right hon. Mem-for Wolverhampton, South-West said, have been put in some way not really included within the Bill itself.

The Secretary of State was contrasting this Bill with the Labour Government's prices and incomes policy. Let me make one point clear. Whatever the Labour Government did with their prices and incomes policy, they did with the consent of the House. It was legislation enacted in this Chamber which guided that Government in the way they approached prices and incomes. My charge against the present Government—one need only look at the problems we have had in the last few months—is that they are conducting a most discriminatory incomes policy without coming to the House and getting any consent at all for that kind of policy. The right hon. Gentleman said that the rules should be written in the law of the land. That is precisely what we did in our policies, which the Conservative Party condemned, and it is precisely what the present Government are not doing in this legislation.

Let us look at the ways in which Government interference is taking place. My hon. Friend the Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) mentioned some. I will go further back, because I have a long memory for these things. We have seen Government interference in the case of the power workers' claim. The case I am going to refer to I also referred to in the last Parliament. I have not referred to it since then because I did not want to cause trouble in the situation. It has not yet been referred to in this debate.

In 1961 the power workers got an agreement with the Electricity Council. It was accepted by both sides. The Prime Minister then, Mr. Harold Macmillan, came to the House, and used that Dispatch Box to deliver a public reprimand to the Chairman of the Electricity Council for daring to conclude that agreement, which was higher than the Government wanted him to conclude. But what did the Secretary of State say to us when he was in Opposition? He opposed our prices and incomes policy because, he said, he objected to interference with the results of collective bargaining.

As I have said, I did not mention this matter during the recent period in which the power workers were in dispute because I did not want to exacerbate a problem which was, clearly, going to cause a lot of trouble. But it is no use the Government now pretending that they are merely conducting something which they are getting through this Committee and that they are not interfering with collective bargaining in any way. We all know perfectly well—and there are other cases than the one I have quoted—that they went to the most extreme length, after collective bargaining had produced a result, to interfere with that result, which had been achieved between employers and trade unions.

Photo of Mr Stan Orme Mr Stan Orme , Salford West

The nurses' case as well.

Photo of Mr Frederick Lee Mr Frederick Lee , Newton

The nurses' claim is another case in point, as my hon. Friend says. I cannot understand why we are now having to argue about something which has been enshrined in collective bargaining for a very long time— the principle of collective bargaining freely and responsibly conducted". The Government's reasons are rather different. They do not object to free collective bargaining, responsibly conducted, but what they will not guarantee is that the results of that free collective bargaining, responsibly conducted, will be allowed to stand. I invite the right hon. Gentleman to interrupt me now and tell us that they will always accept the principle of collective bargaining freely and responsibly conducted and will accept the results which come from it. I will give way if he wishes to interrupt. I see that he does not. There we are! This is the nub of the whole thing. This is what the debate is about.

No matter what attitude we took at the time—and I will defend the position I took on prices and incomes—when we were in Government we asked the House for permission to legislate along certain lines. We asked for the power to defer an increase. The Conservative reaction was that we had no right to do so, never mind the public interest, which the right hon. Gentleman is now introducing. It was because of the public interest that we had a prices and incomes policy.

We in the Labour Party disagreed amongst each other. Some of my hon. Friends said that the economy was not so planned that we could have a prices and incomes policy and do it fairly. They were entitled to say that. I did not agree with them. I believed that the case was the other way round, that the prices and incomes policy was an inevitable and essential part of the planning of the economy which we must have. But we differed on the issue honourably and openly, and the Government then asked the House to give a majority for that policy. The House gave it.

I will state quite frankly what I see as what happened towards the end of that Government's life. Because the Conservative Party was able to exploit the political dilemma in which we were fixed in having a prices and incomes policy which, of course, was unpopular, it was able to get more and more political popularity on the strength of condemning that policy, and it did it unscrupulously. It was a squalid campaign. Therefore, the Labour Party had to begin to back away from that policy, there were political reasons why it had to. Those reasons were the hypocrisy and chicanery of the Conservative Party.

Whenever the discussions at Downing Street are mentioned, we get reference to the "climb down" and "running away". If ever there was an ignorant, almost illiterate, statement, it is that sort of condemnation. I can show the Committee speeches which I made 25 years ago in the House asking the trade union movement to do precisely what it did at Downing Street that morning. The great problem of the British trade union movement has been that there has been no power, no authority, at the centre. As a Minister, I had to meet personal friends of mine who were on the Economic Committee of the T.U.C. They had no power to agree with me about anything except resolution No. 400 from the Congress of the year before. What happened at Downing Street that morning was that for the first time in the history of British trade unionism the constituent trade unions gave authority to the T.U.C. General Council to intervene in unofficial strikes. It was a momentous step forward. I do not understand why the Labour Party does not keep on proclaiming it.

7.30 p.m.

Vic Feather has achieved enormous success in intervening. I deplored one of his successes. During the General Election the Tory Press was enabled to continue with its vituperations simply because Vic Feather got the printers back to work. Democracy cannot work much better than that.

In those days we clearly stated what we expected from the trade unions. The unions came a long way towards being helpful. Now, in a Bill which we are invited to believe has been introduced to improve industrial relations, the Tory Party has deliberately antagonised everything which is of the best in the trade union movement. Trade unionists are unanimously worried sick about where they go from here.

I have stated my belief as to what lies behind the bringing into legislation of the words we are discussing, because they need no introduction. They have been with us since the beginning of the century. Is any hon. Member opposite arguing that the British trade union movement, which led the world in introducing collective bargaining, did not do so responsibly and freely?

I agree that there are limitations in the Amendment, but they are induced because it is not the Government's intention in including these words to allow all bargaining to be free and responsible. They have not the slightest intention of permitting bargaining to go on without challenge which produces results which they do not like. I believe that this is the principle we are discussing. I invite the Minister to interrupt me if he cares to deny it.

Photo of Mr Norman Atkinson Mr Norman Atkinson , Tottenham

Are we to take the Minister's silence during the whole of my right hon. Friend's comments as meaning that the Government reserve the right to intervene in freely negotiated agreements? I take it that the fact that the Minister is not answering the debate and is refusing to comment on what my right hon. Friend is saying means that the Government are reserving the right to make direct intervention.

Photo of Mr Frederick Lee Mr Frederick Lee , Newton

That is my interpretation. I voluntarily and freely offered the Minister the facility to interrupt me, and in so doing felt almost like Sydney Carton waiting for the blow to fall.

I believe that resurrecting this kind of behind-the-scenes diplomacy, for which the Government have not the courage to obtain the permission of the House of Commons, and introducing this lawyers' paradise will do nothing but harm. In saying that at the end of the day we shall all be hon. and learned Gentlemen I mean no disrespect to the lawyers. The introduction of so much ambiguity into our industrial relations will breed suspicion of a type which we have not seen before. In my day I would take the employer's word for things; I conducted negotiations for 30,000 people for years and did not bother about written agreements.

Photo of Mr Stan Orme Mr Stan Orme , Salford West

Custom and practice.

Photo of Mr Frederick Lee Mr Frederick Lee , Newton

Custom and practice were the basis of it all. They cannot function in a foggy atmosphere like this. I hope that the Minister will have second thoughts and take the Clause back.

[Mr. E. L. MALLALIEU in the Chair]

Photo of Mr John Pardoe Mr John Pardoe , North Cornwall

In a way I am rather sorry that I was not called before the Minister replied, because I take a slightly different view from him and from that expressed by right hon. and hon. Members on this side. In other words, I intend to vote for responsibility and for democracy. I wish that the Minister had directed a few of his words to Amendment No. 345, on which I understand that there can be a separate vote. If that is so, I shall undoubtedly vote for that Amendment.

"Responsibly" has been a matter of discussion this afternoon, and various interpretations have been put upon it. I do not think that that argument is particularly important to the Bill, although if the word is defined in the way in which the right hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) defined it it is obviously a matter of great argument amongst us.

The hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) said that "responsibly" meant that the negotiations—the collective bargaining—would have to be carried out by responsibly constituted bodies—by people who were responsible to those whom they were representing.

The right hon. Lady showed clearly that by "responsibly" she was afraid that the Government wanted to introduce the national interest. If that is so, it is undoubtedly a matter of some substance. The right hon. Lady said that the Government were trying to interfere with employers in the public sector and that the Labour Party wanted to stop that. I am on the side of responsibility and I am on the side of the public interest being taken into account.

I agree entirely with the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) that we are never likely to have to come to court on the Clause. Nevertheless, this is obviously a matter of considerable importance in the whole conduct of the debate on the Bill. Should collective bargaining be carried on with the national interest as a factor to be taken into account? If it should, how should we achieve it? I believe that the national interest must on occasion be a factor.

The hon. and learned Member for Northampton adduced the interesting parallel of the lawyer being responsible only to his client. The lawyer is not totally and in an unlimited sense responsible only to his client. The advocate—the barrister-at-law—is ringed around by rules. For instance, he cannot get together with his client and concoct evidence, because that is deemed to be "against the national interest" Therefore, if we are using the word "responsibly" in this context the Minister is right in saying that we must introduce it.

I think I am right in supposing that the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West would disagree with this. He would probably say, though he did not this afternoon, that competition would in most cases—he would hope in all cases, I suspect—take care of the public interest. I agree that in many cases competition will take care of the public interest, and it ought to be the function of the Government to ensure that competition exists in every possible sphere, so that it can take care of the public interest. Where it does take care of the public interest, that is a very much healthier situation.

Unfortunately, there are situations where no competition exists at present. After all, there is no competition in the public sector. Public employers are not subject to that element of competition which the right hon. Gentleman and I and many hon. Members on both sides deserve. Perhaps there ought to be competition in the postal services. I am coming around to the view that there should be competition in the postal services, in company with a recent publication by the Institute of Economic Affairs. However, at present there is none, so that is not a point of argument. Who, in the postal services situation, must be responsible for the interest of the consumer?

The right hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn attacked some of the Treasury evidence presented to the Wilberforce inquiry, though some of the words she used may have been contained in the speech which the Chancellor of the Exchequer made in Birmingham recently, when she pointed to the sentiment: The inflationary spiral can be broken only by reducing the level of wage settlements. There are occasions when inflation occurs not as the result of the pressure of wages, though I believe that it has been occurring recently because of that pressure; and undoubtedly the Government are at present involved in many negotiations in the national interest to reverse this process.

Many of these negotiations are being conducted in a responsible manner and we must bear in mind some of the speeches on this subject that have been made by Labour hon. Members. For example, do they recall what they said about the Government being represented on the Burnham Committee when the discussions between the teachers and local authorities were going on? Socialist hon. Members said before coming into Government, though they did not say it when in power, that the Minister's representatives should be absent from those negotiations.

I maintain, on this basis, that "responsibly" in this context means conducting negotiations and taking account of the wider effects of the actions of collective bargaining, and because of this I am in favour of this sort of responsibility. After all, if the Government must always be absent from collective bargaining, as many Labour hon. Members have argued, why should they not be absent from collective bargaining affecting interest rates, credit control, hire purchase rates and so on?

It is possible that wage inflation could be reversed by competition, but that would mean a totally unacceptable level of unemployment; and since such a solution cannot be accepted, politically, socially or economically, and since the Government are responsible for ensuring that the cost of living does not go up, then they must be able to get into the act and see that these are bargains negotiated in a collective, but also in a responsible, manner.

Many unjust points have been made about Wilberforce. I agree that it was crassly tactless of the Government to appoint a committee which seemed to be so closely connected with the Tory cause. I am being charitable in using those terms. For example, I am sorry that the chairman should have been an ex-Conservative candidate. However, it is wrong to suggest that because Mr. Ray Brookes has contributed to the Conservative Party through his company he is too tightly tied to the Tory colours. I do not think he is anything like as out-and-out a Tory as some Labour hon. Members would have us believe. [Interruption].

I am probably the only person in this House who has personally approached him in his capacity as chairman of G.K.N. In my capacity as the treasurer of a political party, I approached him for cash but was turned down. [Interruption.] I still believe that he is not totally tied to the Tory Party. Indeed, I do not think his membership of it need necessarily mean that the Government are behaving in an unfair manner.

I hope the Government will accept the use of the word "democratically". Although it may seem to many that it does not matter whether or not this word appears in the Bill, it matters to me because we should, at this early stage in our debates on this Measure, appreciate the need for an extension of democracy throughout our industrial affairs. The only way to solve our industrial relations problem is to remove the aspect of the two sides—the aspect of the battle—and bring real democracy into our negotiations through, for example, works councils.

I hope we will have a chance, in debating the Bill later, to argue at length about the need for works councils in relation to the election of boards of directors and so on. This seems to be the way to create one interest in industry. I am convinced that the employee should have the same status in his company as the shareholder. Democracy is written into the relationship between shareholder and company and there seems no reason why, at the outset of the Bill, it should not be written in between employee and company, as it is in the Companies Act.

An extension of democracy in this sense seems the only answer to the problem of the alienation of the employee from management, and this is as important as providing an answer to the problem if the alienation of the rank and file trade union member from the trade union leadership. I therefore hope that the Government will accept Amendment No. 345, and I shall vote against Amendment No. 367.

7.45 p.m.

Photo of Mr Joe Ashton Mr Joe Ashton , Bassetlaw

I listened with interest to the Liberal view on industrial relations. It seemed more Right-wing, reactionary and airy-fairy than the Government's view, though since the Liberal Party has such a small trade union representation its view is not nearly as important.

I come immediately to what the Minister described as a nit-picking and filibustering Amendment. It is nothing of the sort. The issue is clear. To me three responsibilities are involved. First, the trade union is responsible to its members and its conference. That is clearly known to trade union officials and it will always be followed because they know where their responsibility lies. Whatever laws are passed, trade union officials will take notice of the views of their members and put them before those of the Government.

Secondly, the responsibility of the bosses lies with their shareholders, and, thirdly, in the same way, the responsibility of the Government is towards the electorate. These are the three main and clear dividing lines between responsibilities. However, a fourth responsibility is being introduced. The Government are trying to impose the new responsibility of the court. They are saying that trade union leaders shall be responsible not to their men but to the legislation of Parliament.

It is not only naïve but unfair of the Government to think that this could happen. Would they tell the bosses that their responsibility lies with the Government and the courts and not with their shareholders? If they did, they would be told how wrong they were. We had the famous instance of Lord Cromer who, when Chairman of the Bank of England at the time of criticism over firms sending pounds abroad, said, in effect, "It may not be patriotic, but it is damned good business." Nobody took him to task for saying that.

Photo of Peter Tapsell Peter Tapsell , Horncastle

It was not Lord Cromer who said that.

Photo of Mr Joe Ashton Mr Joe Ashton , Bassetlaw

I notice that the hon. Gentleman did not attempt to deny that it was said. If it was not said by Lord Cromer, it was said by one of his contemporaries.

Photo of Mr Peter Crowder Mr Peter Crowder , Ruislip Northwood

On a point of order. Is the hon. Gentleman aware that he has just made a most disgraceful and libellous statement?

Photo of Mr Peter Crowder Mr Peter Crowder , Ruislip Northwood

The hon. Gentleman's remarks were absolutely disgraceful.

Photo of Mr Eric Heffer Mr Eric Heffer , Liverpool, Walton

The hon. and learned Gentleman and his hon. Friends think that they can say anything they like about the trade unions.

Photo of Mr Peter Crowder Mr Peter Crowder , Ruislip Northwood

I am not saying anything about trade unions. I do not see why an hon. Gentleman opposite, who is protected by privilege, should be entitled to libel Lord Cromer in that way—[Interruption.]—and, when told that Lord Cromer did not say it, then to remark, "If it was not said by Lord Cromer, it was said by one of his contemporaries". That is utter and disgraceful irresponsibility which is typical of hon. Gentlemen opposite.

Photo of Mr Joe Ashton Mr Joe Ashton , Bassetlaw

The hon. and learned Gentleman should know that that is not a point of order. That being so, I trust that he will allow me to return to the subject under discussion, which is the Amendment, which the Minister described as nit-picking and filibustering.

If the bosses were given the same responsibility as the Government are trying to foist on to trade union leaders—if the bosses were told that they must conduct ballots among their shareholders before increasing prices or before deciding to give an extra day's holiday to their employees, in the way that the Government are trying to shove this responsibility on to trade unions—there would be an outcry from chambers of commerce all over the country and many people in the City would say that it was not their function. Indeed, they would assert that their freedom was being interfered with by a Tory Government.

When my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) tried to introduce an early warning system covering prices, there was an outcry. Were not the firms acting against the wishes of Parliament at that time in refusing to conform with our laws? When a trade union does the same thing and says, "Our responsibility is to look after our members and we want the freedom to hold employers to ransom because we have a powerful case", that is different. When a manufacturer says, "I am going to hold people to ransom and charge 15s. for a candle because the power workers have gone on strike", that is, apparently, freedom and he is entitled to do it.

We maintain, and always have maintained, that the first function of a trade union is to protect its members and do what it can for them—not to look to the national interest. It is most certainly not its function to act as a Government. If the Government wish to take action against the trade unions, as they are now doing, let them do it; but that is the Government's responsibility, not the responsibility of the trade unions.

On Second Reading the Prime Minister said that the Bill was necessary, not only for the health of our society, but as an essential part of a long-term economic strategem. In other words, there is no responsibility to get people back to work but merely a responsibility to keep down wages. Now this fourth estate—that of the courts—is to be brought in, and it is said that the unions shall be responsible to the courts so that the Government can dodge their conciliation responsibilities. Is it any wonder that the trade unions are afraid of the courts in view of the Taff Vale judgment and other judgments? There is hardly one judgment in which the court, in interpreting the law, has come down on the side of the union. Any protection for the trade unions has been laid down by Labour Members of Parliament and not by the courts. If it is left to the courts, they will find against the trade unions in practically every case.

Amendment No. 345 proposes the insertion of the word "democratically". We do not accept the Government's meaning of democracy. Later in the Bill there is a Clause which deals with recognition and provides that 51 per cent. of those eligible to vote must be in favour before an agency shop can be established. The Government did not get 51 per cent. of the votes of the electorate. They received only 38 per cent. of the votes of those eligible to vote. The hon. and learned Member for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Crowder) did not get anything like 51 per cent. of the votes of the electorate in his constituency eligible to vote. He got a democratic majority. As democrats, we agree with democracy. That is why this is not a nit-picking Amendment because democracy means a simple majority. This is why, as my hon. Friend the Member for Penistone (Mr. John Mendelson) said, we are trying to ensure that the word "democratically" is inserted in the Bill at a very early stage.

Photo of Mr Harold Walker Mr Harold Walker , Doncaster

The reply of the Secretary of State seemed to me to be an attempt to obfuscate his inadequate response to the arguments put forward by delving into the labyrinths of the past. He uttered a cotton-wool screen of words about past prices and incomes policy and "In Place of Strife". I intervened to ask whether I would be in order in following the right hon. Gentleman through those labyrinths. I shall eschew the temptation to do so, but I must warn him that if he persists I shall want to put the record straight on a number of points.

I was disconcerted by what seemed to me, coming from him, an unusual lack of courtesy when I sought to intervene in his speech. He had spent some time dealing with the industrial relations and prices and incomes policies of the last two years of the former Government, knowing full well that month after month I had had to stand at the Dispatch Box and answer his charges in respect of these two policies. When the policies for which a former Minister, albeit a junior Minister, was responsible are criticised, it is the usual practice in this Chamber for the person uttering the criticism to give way.

What I wanted to ask the Secretary of State was how he reconciled his justification of the strictures of the Prime Minister on the Scamp Committee with the contrary and contradictory remarks of the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on the occasion of the Kindersley Report when he criticised the Labour Government for having the audacity, as it was put, to comment on what he described as an independent body which should be allowed to do its work free from external interference. At that time, sitting on the Government Front Bench, I heard demands from the Tory Party that the doctors and consultants should be given the full 30 per cent. increase. How can the Government reconcile those demands with their strictures on people seeking—and I admit this—settlements which are inflationary but which are very substantially less than they then thought right for very well paid people in the National Health Service?

The Secretary of State refuses to accept our Amendment proposing the deletion of the word "responsibly". Throughout the debate we have asked him to define "responsibly". He has not done so, and until he does so we cannot reach a conclusion about whether it should remain in the Bill. We do not know what the Government intend should be taken into account by the National Industrial Relations Court, the industrial tribunal and the new judicial apparatus established by the Bill.

We tend to overlook that "responsibility" is a subjective word in a host of subjective concepts. It means what people want it to mean, and I suspect that that is how the Secretary of State likes it. He wants it to mean what he wants it to mean, according to the circumstances and time at which it is brought into question. Hon. Members opposite have repeatedly said that everybody knows what is and what is not responsible behaviour. I hope that everyone will behave in a responsible fashion, and we all know, in our ordinary everyday relationships, what we mean by it. I accept the right hon. Gentleman's little didactic sermon about responsibility and behaviour. It is one thing to say that it is understood—an assumption between people and society—and something quite different when it is written into a statute which must be interpreted in the courts.

We who have had practical experience, as I know the Secretary of State has had, of applying collective agreements in industry and of working to procedure agreements are accustomed to talking about the spirit and intention of the agreement, but we know that when the spirit and intention of an agreement or a code of behaviour in industry are converted into a statute, the courts say, "We are concerned not with the spirit and the intention but with the letter of the law". That is what we are concerned with here—what the letter of the law means to the Secretary of State.

I have indicated that I accept that we should seek to behave responsibly in our relationships with each other and that hon. Members opposite have said that we all know what is meant by responsible behaviour. But I am not sure that everybody knows what is meant by responsible behaviour, least of all right hon. and hon. Members opposite, particularly in the light of what has been said today. The Secretary of State referred to one of our Amendments as a nit-picking Amendment. The hon. Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Cooper) deplored the number of Amendments which we had tabled. I thought that we had been remarkably restrained in the number of Amendments we tabled. The number that we have tabled is low, particularly for a Bill of such a major controversial character as this is.

8.0 p.m.

Let me return to the matter of responsibility. The right hon. Gentleman referred to a television broadcast that he made in the days when the Labour Party were in Government, when he seemed to be provoking industrial workers into pursuing high wages. He was uttering words on the television, to a mass audience, that could only be interpreted, it seemed, as an inducement to seek high wages. But that was not an isolated statement. The right hon. Gentleman referred to his broadcast of 4th April. But he also broadcast on 2nd February when he appeared in "Panorama". In reply to Mr. Robin Day he said: I want to make it absolutely plain that I am not against increasing wages or high wages. I have long proclaimed that in this country, wages compared with other western industrial countries are too low. He cannot say that in February, 1970, and preach a different gospel in January, 1971. He cannot say that the cause of all our economic difficulties is the pursuit of high wages, when only a few months earlier he said that wages were too low. However, that was when there was a different Government—

Photo of Mr Harold Walker Mr Harold Walker , Doncaster

Certainly, I will give way to the hon. Gentleman, and perhaps while he is on his feet he will tell me whether the remarks of his right hon. Friend were responsible or irresponsible.

Photo of Mr John Page Mr John Page , Harrow West

For once I am not answering for my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. However, since I have been saying exactly the same thing for the last 20 years, that we are a low-wage country, I thought that I ought to defend my position. I believe the people in this country are paid lower wages than they could obtain, the reason being—and here the right hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) must surely agree with me—that wages are not increased equally with increased productivity, with the greater increase in wealth. All we have got to do is to make more money and all get bigger shares of it.

Photo of Mr Harold Walker Mr Harold Walker , Doncaster

I will readily exclude the hon. Gentleman from any charge of inconsistency, but I qualify that remark with an expression of regret that his policy of productivity bargaining did not express itself from this side of the House when I had to stand at the Dispatch Box and be assailed by his right hon. Friend.

The right hon. Gentleman says today that if we look through the record we shall find that his attitude was always in favour of a need for an incomes policy. He did not say "prices, productivity and incomes", but, of course, he has dropped the "productivity". He is concerned only with employment now.

I thought, however, that it was nauseating hypocrisy on the right hon. Gentleman's part to say that, for I found it difficult to reconcile with my recollection of events when I stood at the Dispatch Box and he and his hon. Friends could not miss an opportunity of putting the boot into me when, month after month, I was defending our prices and incomes policy. I ask the right hon. Gentleman: Is it really responsible of the Government—he may believe it is, but I do not believe his view will be shared by many other people outside the House—for them to abdicate responsibility for prices, for them to say "We have withdrawn from the field and are leaving it to market forces"?

It seems to me extraordinary that we should have a Government creating a climate that owes more to 19th century laissez faire capitalism than to the realities of the 20th century when people are able to stand on their own two feet, saying that aggressive individualism is the order of the day, that market forces will determine the prices, and then, having proclaimed that this is the theme of the Government, denying workers the right to say that they will be aggressive and individualistic and wish market forces to apply to the price of labour.

The right hon. Gentleman is quite right in linking this Bill with a prices and incomes policy. I believe that at least 50 per cent. of our strikes arise from the pursuit of wage and salary settlements. He cannot complain if, a climate having been created in which people are induced to pursue self-interest, strikes follow wage settlement disputes. The Government are creating a climate in which this becomes inevitable. I should like to know whether the right hon. Gentleman thinks, having regard to the Kindersley Report, that it was responsible behaviour for the doctors to refuse to sign medical certificates in order to bring pressure to bear for the full amount of the settlement. I happen to think it was, but we did not hear the words "responsibility" and "irresponsibility" from the right hon. Gentleman on that occasion.

I reflect on the words used by the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell), who castigated the word "responsible" in so far as it was introduced into the Bill. Indeed, I noted some of the words that he used"— "journalese", "vague", "ineffective". I thought it was astonishing that, having used the word and ground it down with his heel, he should then ask for its retention but only, with the logic for which he is famous, because he suggested that it was irrelevant anyhow. If it really is irrelevant as he believes, as indeed he said the first four Clauses were irrelevant, I hope that he will join us in the Lobby to show how convinced he is of the word's irrelevance when we press the Amendment to a Division.

I said that the right hon. Gentleman had evaded trying to defend the word "responsibility" except in so far as it should be responsibility to a duly authorised body, but he stopped short of telling us who these authorities were. He also failed to tell us who were these non-unionists he wanted to create, to whom people shall be answerable for their actions under certain provisions of the Bill. We shall listen with interest when he tells us who are to be these authorities from whom people are to receive guidance.

The right hon. Gentleman also said that responsible action is that which has due regard to the interests of the community. I hope and believe that every individual and every group will at all times have regard to the interests of the community. But the present Government seem to have acquired a remarkable proneness for passing on to others the responsibility for determining what is and what is not in the community's interest. If this were left to individuals and sectional interests, there would be widely varying, often incompatible and sometimes downright contradictory interpretations of what is in the community's interests.

That is what we have seen in the debate today. We have had the anarchists, the Trotskyites, the Conservative Party and even the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West, all with varying views and all believing that their views are in the interests of everybody in the community. I disagree with them all, but I do not question their sincerity. It is, however, astonishing that the present Government, above every other, in the light of their philosophy which they have declared, should draft into this Bill such a proposal to enable other bodies, which it seems to me are not competent, no matter how eminently they are constituted, to have the responsibility which it seems to me is properly that of the Government, of determining what is and what is not at any given time in the national interest. I say that they are passing the buck to other people.

I have only one other point to make, and that is, very briefly, on the other Amendment. I must say, as I have said already, that the right hon. Gentleman has failed to satisfy us in our intent to substitute other words for his word "responsibly"—not, as I have said, because we do not believe people should behave responsibly; of course we believe they should. However, we want the word defined, and in the absence of definition we do not think it at all wrong to adapt the right hon. Gentleman's own words in the debate on the Consultative Document, words which I shall quote, words which were quoted by my right hon. Friend when introducing the Amendment, words in which he said that he established as his fundamental principle that: the only way of determining pay and conditions of work in a free society is by a voluntary system of negotiation, free from State control."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th November, 1970; Vol. 807, c. 632.] Our first Amendment epitomises and summarises the right hon. Gentleman's own belief, and it seems to me astonishing that he should have denigrated it in the way he did.

On the other Amendment, on which the right hon. Gentleman had astonishingly little to say, I would echo what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara), that if, as is often said, I think rightly, there has been a shift of power within industry, what we must seek to do is to see that there is a corresponding shift of responsibility. I have heard right hon. and hon. Members opposite say that it is the case that there has been a shift of power within industry, and I think that it is probably true, but if that has been so, then it seems to me that the proper response is not to try to weight the scales in the other direction. I think a shift of power has occurred for certain historical and inevitable reasons, and trying to shift it back is a fruitless exercise, as fruitless as that of King Canute before the waves. As I say, if there has been a shift of power, what we must do is to shift responsibility, too. In many areas of industry there has been

a corresponding shift of responsibility, and it seems that if we want to keep responsibility constantly identified and allied with the exercise of power, then we should bring those who wield the power into the decision-making process of industry, to get them involved in taking decisions.

I must say to the right hon. Gentleman that I deplore the complete absence from his Bill of any recognition of the powerful trends which are taking place in this direction within industry. Nowhere in the whole of his Bill, nor in his Consultative Document, nor in any of the speeches which have been made by the Prime Minister himself—and all the other people—in his reportedly peripatetic lecture tours, is there a single word to say that the workers should have a say in the making of the decisions which so profoundly affect their lives—not a word about worker participation.

That is the signpost we put up here by this Amendment, a recognition that this is one way ahead, to involve the workers in the decision-making process, and by these words we introduce an element of democracy in industry, to have power exercised more responsibly.

I have said that the explanations which have been given from the Front Bench opposite have been inadequate and weak. Certainly they do not satisfy my right hon. Friend and me, and, unless the right hon. Gentleman can give us any further clarification which will satisfy us, I must advise my right hon. and hon. Friends to support the Amendment in the Lobby. We would, of course, seek to have an answer from the right hon. Gentleman, but unless he gives us an indication of his willingness to accept either of these Amendments we shall seek a Division on both of them.

8.15 p.m.

Question put, That the Amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 262, Noes 295.

Division No. 54.]AYES[8.16 p.m.
Abse, LeoAshton, JoeBeaney, Alan
Albu, AustenAtkinson, NormanBennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)Bagier, Gordon A. T.Bidwell, Sydney
Allen, ScholefieldBarnes, MichaelBishop, E. S.
Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis)Barnett, JoelBlenkinsop, Arthur
Ashley, JackBaxter, WilliamBoardman, H. (Leigh)
Booth, AlbertHarrison, Walter (Wakefield)Oram, Bert
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. ArthurHart, Rt. Hn. JudithOrbach, Maurice
Boyden, James (Bishop Auckland)Healey, Rt. Hn. DenisOrme, Stanley
Bradley, TomHeffer, Eric S.Oswald, Thomas
Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.)Hilton, W. S.Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton)
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)Horam, JohnPadley, Walter
Buchan, NormanHoughton, Rt. Hn. DouglasPaget, R. T.
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)Howell, Denis (Small Heath)Palmer, Arthur
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. JamesHughes, Mark (Durham)Parker, John (Dagenham)
Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.)Hughes, Robert (Aberdean, N.)Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange)
Cant, R. B.Hughes, Roy (Newport)Pavitt, Laurie
Carmichael, NeilHunter, AdamPeart, Rt. Hn. Fred
Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm Northfield)Irvine, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur (Edge Hill)Pendry, Tom
Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles)Janner, GrevillePentland, Norman
Castle, Rt. Hn. BarbaraJay, Rt. Hn. DouglasPerry, Ernest G.
Clark, David (Colne Valley)Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n&St. P'cras, S.)Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.
Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.)Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)Prescott, John
Cohen, StanleyJenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Coleman, DonaldJohn, BrynmorPrice, William (Rugby)
Concannon, J. D.Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)Probert, Arthur
Conlan, BernardJohnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)Rankin, John
Corbet, Mrs. FredaJohnson Walter (Derby, S.)Reed, D. (Sedgefield)
Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.)Johes, Barry (Flint, E.)Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)
Crawshaw, RichardJones, Dan (Burnley)Rhodes, Geoffrey
Cronin, JohnJones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)Richard, Ivor
Crosland, Rt. Hn. AnthonyJones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen)Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Crossman, Rt. Hn. RichardJones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.)Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Cunningham, G. (Islington, S. W.)Judd, FrankRobertson, John (Paisley)
Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven)Kaufman, GeraldRoderick, Caerwyn E.(Br'c'n&R'dnor)
Dalyell, TamKelley, RichardRodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees)
Darling, Rt. Hn. GeorgeKerr, RussellRoper, John
Davidson, ArthurKinnock, NeilRose, Paul B.
Davies, Denzil (Llanelly)Lambie, DavidRoss, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)Lamond, JamesSheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr Tydvil)Latham, ArthurShore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)
Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.)Lawson, GeorgeShort, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)
Deakins, EricLeadbitter, TedShort, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N. E.)
Delargy, H. J.Lee, Rt. Hn. FrederickSilkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Dell, Rt. Hn. EdmundLeonard, DickSilkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Doig, PeterLestor, Miss JoanSillars, James
Dormand, J. D.Lever, Rt. Hn. HaroldSilverman, Julius
Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.)Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)Skinner, Dennis
Douglas-Mann, BruceLewis, Ron (Carlisle)Small, William
Driberg, TomLipton, MarcusSmith, John (Lanarkshire, N.)
Duffy, A. E. P.Lomas, KennethSpearing, Nigel
Dunn, James A.Lyon, Alexander W. (York)Spriggs, Leslie
Eadie, AlexLyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)Stallard, A. W.
Edwards, Robert (Bilston)Mabon, Dr. J. (Dickson)Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham)
Edwards, William (Merioneth)McBride, NeilStoddart, David (Swindon)
Ellis, TomMcCann, JohnStonehouse, Rt. Hn. John
English, MichaelMcCartney, HughStrang, Gavin
Evans, FredMcElhone, FrankStrauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.
Faulds, AndrewMcGuire, MichaelSummerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Fernyhough, E.Mackie, JohnSwain, Thomas
Fisher, Mrs. Doris (B'ham, Ladywood)Mackintosh, John P.Taverne, Dick
Fitch, Alan (Wigan)Maclennan, RobertThomas, Rt. Hn. George (Cardiff, W.)
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)McNamara, J. KevinThomson, Rt. Hn. G. (Dundee, E.)
Foley, MauriceMacPherson, MalcolmTinn, James
Foot, MichaelMahon, Simon (Bootle)Tomney, Frank
Ford, BenMallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)Urwin, T. W.
Forrester, JohnMarquand, DavidVarley, Eric G.
Fraser, John (Norwood)Marsh, Rt. Hn. RichardWainwright, Edwin
Freeson, ReginaldMason, Rt. Hn. RoyWalden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)
Galpern, Sir MyerMeacher, MichaelWalker, Harold (Doncaster)
Garrett, W. E.Mellish, Rt. Hn. RobertWallace, George
Gilbert, Dr. JohnMendelson, JohnWatkins, David
Ginsburg, DavidMikardo, IanWeitzman, David
Golding, JohnMillan, BruceWellbeloved, James
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C.Miller, Dr. M. S.Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Gourlay, HarryMilne, Edward (Blyth)White, James Glasgow, (Pollok)
Grant, George (Morpeth)Molloy, WilliamWhitehead, Philip
Grant, John D. (Islington, E.)Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)Whitlock, William
Griffiths, Eddie (Bridgeside)Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Griffiths, Will (Exchange)Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)Williams, Mrs. Shirely (Hitchin)
Hamilton, James (Bothwell)Moyle, RolandWilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)Mulley, Rt. Hn. FrederickWilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Hamling, WilliamMurray, Ronald KingWilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill)Ogden, Eric
Hardy, PeterO'Halloran, MichaelTELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Harper, JosephO'Malley, BrianMr. Ernest Armstrong and
Mr. Kenneth Marks.
Adley, RobertFortescue, TimMacmillan, Maurice (Farnham)
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)Foster, Sir JohnMcNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)Fowler, NormanMaddan, Martin
Archer, Jeffrey (Louth)Fox, MarcusMadel, David
Astor, JohnFraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'ford & Stone)Maginnis, John E.
Atkins, HumphreyFry, PeterMarples, Rt. Hn. Ernest
Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone)Galbraith, Hn. T. G.Marten, Neil
Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)Gardner, EdwardMather, Carol
Balniel, LordGibson-Watt, DavidMaude, Angus
Barber, Rt. Hn. AnthonyGilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)Mawby, Ray
Batsford, BrianGilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.
Beamish, Col. Sir TuftonGlyn, Dr. AlanMeyer, Sir Anthony
Bell, RonaldGoodhart, PhilipMills, Peter (Torrington)
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)Goodhew, VictorMills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)
Benyon, W.Gorst, JohnMiscampbell, Norman
Berry, Hn. AnthonyGower, RaymondMitchell, Lt.-Col. C. (Aberdeenshire, W)
Biffen, JohnGrant, Anthony (Harrow, C.)Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Biggs-Davison, JohnGray, HamishMoate, Roger
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S. W.)Green, AlanMolyneux, James
Body, RichardGrieve, PercyMoney, Ernie
Boscawen, RobertGriffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)Monks, Mrs. Connie
Bossom, Sir CliveGrimond, Rt. Hn. J.Monro, Hector
Bowden, AndrewGrylls, MichaelMontgomery, Fergus
Braine, BernardGummer, SelwynMorgan, Geraint (Denbigh)
Bray, RonaldGurden, HaroldMorgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.
Brewis, JohnHall, Miss Joan (Keighley)Morrison, Charles (Devizes)
Brinton, Sir TattonHall, John (Wycombe)Mudd, David
Brocklebank-Fowler, ChristopherHall-Davis, A. G. F.Nabarro, Sir Gerald
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)Neave, Airey
Bruce-Gardyne, J.Hannam, John (Exeter)Nicholls, Sir Harmar
Bryan, PaulNormanton, Tom
Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N&M)Harrison, Brian (Maldon)Nott, John
Buck, AntonyHarrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)Onslow, Cranley
Bullus, Sir EricHaselhurst, AlanOppenheim, Mrs. Sally
Burden, F. A.Havers, MichaelOrr, Capt, L. P. S.
Butler, Adam (Bosworth)Hayhoe, BarneyOsborn, John
Campbell, Rt. Hn. G. (Moray&Nairn)Heseltine, MichaelOwen, Idris (Stockport, N.)
Carlisle, MarkHicks, RobertPage, Graham (Crosby)
Carr, Rt. Hn. RobertHiggins, Terence L.Page, John (Harrow, W.)
Cary, Sir RobertHiley, JosephPardoe, John
Channon, PaulHill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.)Parkinson, Cecil (Enfield, W.)
Chapman, SydneyHill, James (Southampton, Test)Peel, John
Chataway, Rt. Hn. ChristopherHolland, PhilipPercival, Ian
Chichester-Clark, R.Holt, Miss MaryPeyton, Rt. Hn. John
Churchill, W. S.Hooson, EmlynPike, Miss Mervyn
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)Hordern, PeterPink, R. Bonner
Clegg, WalterHornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame PatriciaPounder, Rafton
Cockeram, EricHowe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate)Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch
Cooke, RobertHowell, David (Guildford)Price, David (Eastleigh)
Coombs, DerekHowell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L.
Cooper, A. E.Hunt, JohnProudfoot, Wilfred
Cordie, JohnHutchison, Michael ClarkPym, Rt. Hn. Francis
Cormack, PatrickJames, DavidQuennell, Miss J. M.
Costain, A. P.Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)Raison, Timothy
Critchley, JulianJessel, TobyRamsden, Rt. Hn. James
Crowder, F. P.Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter
Curran, CharlesJones, Arthur (Northants, S.)Redmond, Robert
Dalkeith, Earl ofJopling, MichaelReed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)
Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford)Kaberry, Sir DonaldRees, Peter (Dover)
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir HenryKellett, Mrs. ElaineRees-Davies, W. R.
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Maj.-Gen. JackKershaw, AnthonyRenton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Dean PaulKimball, MarcusRhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Digby, Simon WingfieldKing, Tom (Bridgwater)Ridsdale, Julian
Dixon, PiersKinsey, J. R.Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey
Dodds-Parker, DouglasKirk, PeterRoberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.)
Drayson, G. B.Knight, Mrs. JillRoberts, Wyn (Conway)
du Cann, Rt. Hn. EdwardKnox, DavidRodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Dykes, HughLane, DavidRossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Eden, Sir JohnLangford-Holt, Sir JohnRost, Peter
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)Legge-Bourke, Sir HarryRoyle, Anthony
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)Le Marchant, SpencerRussell, Sir Ronald
Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)St. John-Stevas, Norman
Emery, PeterLloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.
Eyre, ReginaldLongden, GilbertScott, Nicholas
Farr, JohnLoveridge, JohnScott-Hopkins, James
Fell, AnthonyMcAdden, Sir StephenSharples, Richard
Fenner, Mrs. PeggyMacArthur, IanShaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Fidler, MichaelMcCrindle, R. A.Shelton, William (Clapham)
Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead)McLaren, MartinSimeons, Charles
Fletcher-Cooke, CharlesMaclean, Sir FitzroySinclair, Sir George
Fookes, Miss JanetMcMaster, StanleySkeet, T. H. H.
Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)Tebbit, NormanWard, Dame Irene
Soref, HaroldTemple, John M.Warren, Kenneth
Speed, KeithThatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. MargaretWeatherill, Bernard
Spence, JohnThomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)Wells, John (Maidstone)
Sproat, IainThompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)White, Roger (Gravesend)
Stainton, KeithTilney, JohnWhitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Stanbrook, IvorTrafford, Dr. AnthonyWiggin, Jerry
Stewart-Smith, D. G. (Belper)Trew, PeterWilkinson, John
Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)Tugendhat, ChristopherWolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Stokes, Johnvan Straubenzee, W. R.Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Stuttaford, Dr. TomVaughan, Dr. GerardWoodnutt, Mark
Sutcliffe, JohnVickers, Dame JoanWylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
Tapsell, PeterWalder, David (Clitheroe)Younger, Hn. George
Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)
Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir DerekTELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)Wall, PatrickMr. Jasper More and
Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N. W.)Walters, DennisMr. Paul Hawkins.

Amendment proposed: No. 345, in page 1, line 10, after 'freely', insert 'democratically',—[Mrs. Castle.]

Question put, That the Amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 267, Noes 293.

Division No. 55.]AYES[8.28 p.m.
Abse, LeoDeakins, EricHughes, Roy (Newport)
Albu, AustenDelargy, H. J.Hunter, Adam
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)Dell, Rt. Hn. EdmundIrvine, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur (Edge Hill)
Allen, ScholefieldDoig, PeterJanner, Greville
Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis)Dormand, J. D.Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas
Armstrong, ErnestDouglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.)Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n&St. P'cras, S.)
Ashley, JackDouglas-Mann, BruceJenkins, Hugh (Putney)
Ashton, JoeDriberg, TomJenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)
Atkinson, NormanDuffy, A. E. P.John, Brynmor
Bagier, Gordon A. T.Dunn, James A.Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)
Barnes, MichaelEadie, AlexJohnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)
Barnett, JoelEdwards, Robert (Bilston)Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.)
Baxter, WilliamEdwards, William (Merioneth)Jones, Barry (Flint, E.)
Beaney, AlanEllis, TomJones, Dan (Burnley)
Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton)English, MichaelJones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)
Bidwell, SydneyEvans, FredJones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen)
Bishop, E. S.Faulds, AndrewJones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.)
Blenkinsop, ArthurFernyhough, E.Judd, Frank
Boardman, H. (Leigh)Fisher, Mrs. Doris (B'ham, Ladywood)Kaufman, Gerald
Booth, AlbertFitch, Alan (Wigan)Kelley, Richard
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. ArthurFletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)Kerr, Russell
Boyden, James (Bishop Auckland)Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)Kinnock, Neil
Bradley, TomFoley, MauriceLambie, David
Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.)Foot, MichaelLamond, James
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)Ford, BenLatham, Arthur
Buchan, NormanForrester, JohnLawson, George
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)Fraser, John (Norwood)Leadbitter, Ted
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)Freeson, ReginaldLeonard, Dick
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. JamesGalpern, Sir MyerLestor, Miss Joan
Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.)Garrett, W. E.Lever, Rt. Hn. Harold
Cant, R. B.Gilbert, Dr. JohnLewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)
Carmichael, NeilGinsburg, DavidLewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield)Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C.Lipton, Marcus
Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles)Gourlay, HarryLomas, Kenneth
Castle, Rt. Hn. BarbaraGrant, George (Morpeth)Lyon, Alexander W. (York)
Clark, David (Colne Valley)Grant, John D. (Islington, E.)Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)
Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.)Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson
Cohen, StanleyGriffiths, Will (Exchange)McBride, Neil
Coleman, DonaldGrimond, Rt. Hn. J.McCann, John
Concannon, J. D.Hamilton, James (Bothwell)McCartney, Hugh
Conlan, BernardHannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill)McElhone, Frank
Corbet, Mrs. FredaHamilton, William (Fife, W.)McGuire, Michael
Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.)Hardy, PeterMackenzie, Gregor
Crawshaw, RichardHarper, JosephMackie, John
Cronin, JohnHarrison, Walter (Wakefield)Mackintosh, John P.
Crosland, Rt. Hn. AnthonyHart, Rt. Hn. JudithMaclennan, Robert
Crossman, Rt. Hn. RichardHealey, Rt. Hn. DenisMcMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)
Cunningham, G. (Islington, S. W.)Heffer, Eric S.McNamara, J. Kevin
Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven)Hilton, W. S.MacPherson, Malcolm
Dalyell, TamHosson, EmlynMahon, Simon (Bootle)
Darling, Rt. Hn. GeorgeHoram, JohnMallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)
Davidson, ArthurHoughton, Rt. Hn. DouglesMarks, Kenneth
Davies, Denzil (Llanelfy)Howell, Denis (Small Heath)Marquand, David
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr Tydvil)Hughes, Dr. Mark (Durham)Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy
Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.)Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.)Mayhew, Christopher
Meacher, MichaelPrentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John
Mellish, Rt. Hn. RobertPrescott, JohnStrang, Gavin
Mendelson, JohnPrice, J. T. (Westhoughton)Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.
Mikardo, IanPrice, William (Rugby)Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Millan, BruceProbert, ArthurSwain, Thomas
Miller, Dr. M. S.Rankin, JohnTaverne, Dick
Milne, Edward (Blyth)Reed, D. (Sedgefield)Thomas, Rt. Hn. George (Cardiff, W.)
Molloy, WilliamRees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)Rhodes, GeoffreyThompson, Rt. Hn. G. (Dundee, E.)
Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)Richard, IvorTinn, James
Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)Roberts, Albert (Normanton)Tomney, Frank
Moyle, RolandRoberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy (Caernarvon)Torney, Tom
Mulley, Rt. Hn. FrederickRobertson, John (Paisley)Urwin, T. W.
Murray, Ronald KingRoderick, Caerwyn E. (Br'c'n&R'dnor)Varley, Eric G.
Ogden, EricRodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees)Wainwright, Edwin
O'Halloran, MichaelRoper, JohnWalden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)
O'Malley, BrianRose, Paul B.Walker, Harold (Doncaster
Oram, BertRoss, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)Wallace, George
Orbach, MauriceSheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)Walkins, David
Orme, StanleyShore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)Weitzman, David
Oswald, ThomasShort, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)Wellbeloved, James
Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton)Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N. E.)Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Padley, WalterSilkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)
Paget, R. T.Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)Whitehead, Phillip
Palmer, ArthurSillars, JamesWhitlock, William
Pannell, Rt. Hn. CharlesSilverman, JuliusWilliams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Pardoe, JohnSkinner, DennisWilliams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Parker, John (Dagenham)Small, WilliamWilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange)Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.)Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Pavitt, LaurieSpearing, NigelWilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Peart, Rt. Hn. FredSpriggs, Leslie
Pendry, TomStallard, A. W.TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Pentland, NormanStewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham)Mr John Golding and
Perry, Ernest G.Stoddart, David (Swindon)Mr. William Hamling.
Adley, RobertClarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)Clegg, WalterGlyn, Dr. Alan
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)Cockeram, EricGoodhart, Philip
Amery, Rt. Hn. JulianCooke, RobertGoodhew, Victor
Archer, Jeffrey (Louth)Coombs, DerekGorst, John
Astor, JohnCooper, A. E.Gower, Raymond
Atkins, HumphreyCordle, JohnGrant, Anthony (Harrow, C.)
Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone)Cormack, PatrickGray, Hamish
Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)Costain, A. P.Green, Alan
Balniel, LordCrilchley, JulianGrieve, Percy
Barber, Rt. Hn. AnthonyCrowder, F. P.Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)
Batsford, BrianCurran, CharlesGrylls, Michael
Beamish, Col. Sir TuftonDalkeith, Earl ofGummer, Selwyn
Bell, RonaldDavies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford)Gurden, Harold
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir HenryHall, Miss Joan (Keighley)
Benyon, W.d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Maj.-Gen. JackHall, John (Wycombe)
Berry, Hn. AnthonyDean, PaulHall-Davis, A. G. F.
Biffen, JohnDeedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)
Biggs-Davison, JohnDigby, Simon WingfieldHannam, John (Exeter)
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S. W.)Dixon, PiersHarrison, Brian (Maldon)
Body, RichardDodds-Parker, DouglasHarrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)
Boscawen, R. T.Drayson, G. B.Haselhurst, Alan
Bossom, Sir Clivedu Cann, Rt. Hn. EdwardHavers, Michael
Bowden, AndrewDykes, HughHayhoe, Barney
Braine, BernardEden, Sir JohnHeseltine, Michael
Bray, RonaldEdwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)Hicks, Robert
Brewis, JohnElliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)Higgins, Terence L.
Brinton, Sir TattonElliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)Hiley, Joseph
Brocklebank-Fowler, ChristopherEmery, PeterHill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.)
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)Eyre, ReginaldHill, James (Southampton, Test)
Bruce-Gardyne, J.Farr, JohnHolland, Philip
Bryan, PaulFell, AnthonyHolt, Miss Mary
Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N&M)Fenner, Mrs. PeggyHordern, Peter
Buck, AntonyFidler, MichaelHornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame Patricia
Bullus, Sir EricFinsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead)Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate)
Burden, F. A.Fletcher-Cooke, CharlesHowell, David (Guildford)
Butler, Adam (Bosworth)Fookes, Miss JanetHowell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)
Fortescue, TimHunt, John
Campbell, Rt. Hn. G. (Moray&Nairn)Foster, Sir JohnHutchison, Michael Clark
Carlisle, MarkFowler, NormanJames, David
Carr, Rt. Hn. RobertFox, MarcusJenkin, Patrick (Woodford)
Cary, Sir RobertFraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone)Jessel, Toby
Channon, PaulFry, PeterJohnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)
Chapman, SydneyGalbraith, Hn. T. G.Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)
Chataway, Rt. Hn. ChristopherGardner, EdwardJopling, Michael
Chichester-Clark, R.Gibson-Watt, DavidKaberry, Sir Donald
Churchill, W. S.Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)Kellett, Mrs. Elaine
Kershaw, AnthonyNormanton, TomSpeed, Keith
Kimball, MarcusNott, JohnSpence, John
King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)Onslow, CranleySproat, Iain
King, Tom (Bridgwater)Oppenheim, Mrs. SallyStainton, Keith
Kinsey, J. R.Orr, Capt. L. P. S.Stanbrook, Ivor
Kirk, PeterOsborn, JohnStewart-Smith, D. G. (Belper)
Knight, Mrs. JillOwen, Idris (Stockport, N.)Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)
Knox, DavidPage, Graham (Crosby)Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.
Lane, DavidPage, John (Harrow, W.)Stokes, John
Langford-Holt, Sir JohnParkinson, Cecil (Enfield, W.)Stuttaford, Dr. Tom
Legge-Bourke, Sir HarryPeel, JohnSutcliffe, John
Le Marchant, SpencerPercival, IanTapsell, Peter
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)Peyton, Rt. Hn. JohnTaylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Lloyd, Ian (P'ts'mth, Langstone)Pike, Miss MervynTaylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)
Longden, GilbertPink, R. BonnerTaylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Loveridge, JohnPounder, RaftonTaylor, Robert (Croydon, N. W.)
McAdden, Sir StephenPowell, Rt. Hn. J. EnochTebbit, Norman
MacArthur, IanPrice, David (Eastleigh)Temple, John M.
McCrindle, R. A.Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L.Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret
McLaren, MartinProudfoot, WilfredThomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)
Maclean, Sir FitzroyPym, Rt. Hn. FrancisThompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)
McMaster, StanleyQuennell, Miss J. M.Tilney, John
Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham)Raison, TimothyTrafford, Dr. Anthony
McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)Trew, Peter
Maddan, MartinRamsden, Rt. Hn. JamesTugendhat, Christopher
Madel, DavidRawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir PeterTurton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Maginnis, John E.Redmond, Robertvan Straubenzee, W. R.
Marples, Rt. Hn. ErnestReed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)Vaughan, Dr. Gerard
Marten, NeilRees, Peter (Dover)Vickers, Dame Joan
Mather, CarolRees-Davies, W. R.Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Maude, AngusRenton, Rt. Hn. Sir DavidWalker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)
Mawby, RayRhys Williams, Sir BrandonWalker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.Ridley, Hn. NicholasWall, Patrick
Meyer, Sir AnthonyRidsdale, JulianWalters, Dennis
Mills, Peter (Torrington)Rippon, Rt. Hn. GeoffreyWard, Dame Irene
Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.)Warren, Kenneth
Miscampbell, NormanRoberts, Wyn (Conway)Weatherill, Bernard
Mitchell, Lt.-Col. C. (Aberdeenshire, W.)Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)Rost, PeterWells, John (Maidstone)
Moate, RogerRoyle, AnthonyWhite, Roger (Gravesend)
Molyneaux, JamesRussell, Sir RonaldWhitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Money, ErnieSt. John-Stevas, NormanWiggin, Jerry
Monks, Mrs. ConnieSandys, Rt. Hn. D.Wilkinson, John
Monro, HectorScott, NicholasWolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Montgomery, FergusScott-Hopkins, JamesWood, Rt. Hn. Richard
More, JasperSharples, RichardWoodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)Woodnutt, Mark
Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.Shelton, William (Clapham)Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
Morrison, Charles (Devizes)Simeons, CharlesYounger, Hn. George
Mudd, DavidSinclair, Sir George
Nabarro, Sir GeraldSkeet, T. H. H.TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Neave, AireySmith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)Mr. Paul Hawkins and
Nicholls, Sir HarmarSoref, HaroldMr. Hugh Rossi.

Photo of Mr Edward Mallalieu Mr Edward Mallalieu , Brigg

The next Amendment selected is Amendment No. 7.

Photo of Mr Arthur Lewis Mr Arthur Lewis , West Ham North

Am I right, Mr. Mallalieu, in thinking that you referred to Amendment No. 7?

Photo of Mr Arthur Lewis Mr Arthur Lewis , West Ham North

I wanted to check that with you, Mr. Mallalieu, because I have heard various whispers and comments going on backwards and forwards, and in view of the fact that I have put down a few other Amendments which for some strange reason have not been called, I thought I might have heard you wrongly and that you were calling an earlier Amendment.

I beg to move Amendment No. 7, in page 1, line 11, after 'conducted', insert: 'discussion and settlement within factories and industries of the prices, profits and dividends, as made and paid within such establishments, on the goods and services provided by the workers for the benefit of the general public, their employers, and their shareholders'. I happened to hear our Chief Whip say to some of my hon. Friends that he did not want anyone to take part in the discussion of my Amendment. That does not worry me, because the subject was discussed on the previous Amendment. I am not criticising the Chair, but my own view is that that discussion was not as relevant to the previous Amendments as it will be to this one, since it concerns prices, profits and dividends.

One of the main reasons for industrial unrest, as we all know, is that workers, through their trade unions, make applications for wage increases to which they feel entitled either because of the increase in the cost of living and/or because of the rise in their own productivity and/or because of the profits that their organisation or firm is making. Therefore, when they discuss these applications, one relevant factor is whether there is sufficient money in the kitty to meet these extra demands.

We should have a reference to prices included in the Bill, because the Government seem to be very anxious to control and, as they say, improve industrial relations by focusing all the reasons for industrial unrest upon the alleged malpractices, irresponsibility or lack of appreciation of the national well-being on the part of trade unions and workers in industry.

I had thought that some of my hon. Friends might have taken part in the debate, but I heard our Chief Whip advising them not to take part in the unofficial Amendments and to stick to the official ones. I am surprised, because I thought that the question of prices was right up the street of official Amendments which ought to have been on the Notice Paper.

If workers find, as they invariably do, that they cannot obtain an increase in salary through Government pressure on their employers not to give, say, over 10 per cent. when their own company's directors are getting, perhaps, 20 or 30 per cent., some industrial unrest in the factory or establishment is bound to result. I should have thought that that would have been relevant and important to the Bill.

If, as invariably is the case, a worker finds that he is producing a certain commodity or commodities, he can work out that the cost of those commodities, with his labour power and the cost of materials and overheads, reaches X pounds. But when he tries to buy the article in a shop he finds that the cost is double and treble what it would and should have been had the article been bath wholesaled and retailed as a reasonable price. Workers are entitled to think that it is a bit strange that they cannot ask for a few extra shillings a week to buy the goods which they have produced or to have the services they want to use. They are asking for 10 or 15 per cent., and yet the people who are trying to control them are having 20 or 30 per cent. In the latter case it is not inflationary, but in their case it is. They find this rather difficult to understand.

Although I hate to pick on individuals or name names, equally we find that people who enjoy what might be called Government sponsorship get not 20 per cent. but as much as 66·2 per cent. by way of increases in salary in 2½ years. However, when the workers in their industries say that they want a few shillings more the Government tell them that it is against the national interest.

We see two very topical examples in the supply industries. The electricity power workers asked for what they regarded as a reasonable increase in return for the improvement in productivity and the rationalisation achieved in their industry. They find that they cannot get it. The Government will not allow them to have it. At the same time the chairman of the industry who is instructed by the Government not to grant more than a 10 per cent. increase himself gets 66·2 per cent. The workers see their chairman's salary going up to £20,000 a year as a result of the second increase in 12 months, when their own case has to go to an independent tribunal headed by a Conservative Party candidate at the last election who himself gets something like £13,000 a year and who very generously does not intend to claim the 18 guineas per day allowance to which he is entitled. That is what people who serve on arbitration tribunals receive—[Interruption.] Apparently the Minister does not agree, but that is what I was told last week in answer to a Question. The chairman of such a tribunal is entitled to 18 guineas a day, with a mere eight guineas a day going to the poor members.

The case of the Post Office workers is even more topical. Because of their very low earnings, we are told that they have to do many hours overtime to bring their average earnings to a reasonable figure. Now they are told that they cannot have what they regard as a reasonable increase and that the case should go to arbitration. They must think it a strange state of affairs when they consider that the chairman of any arbitration tribunal which may be set up will receive 18 guineas a day, with eight guineas a day going to the members of the tribunal.

These matters are relative, as are the profits that the industry is making. It must be strange to a worker to be told that he cannot have a few shillings extra when his employers can have large increases in fees, salaries and dividends and when, in addition, some get houses, flats, yachts, and all sorts of other extras laid on at company expense.

All these matters have a bearing upon the end product. Let us take the case of a company director. Let us assume that he is a director of Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds and that he receives £20,000 a year. Let us suppose that he serves on a Government tribunal and receives another eight guineas a day. Let us suppose, in addition, that he has a house, a town flat, the use of a yacht, and so on, all laid on by his company. All these extras must eventually be added to the end product cost. Of course, the cost of that article must obviously pro rata go up.

If there are hundreds of thousands—indeed, millions—of pounds being used nationally in this way, some workers may say, "If some of these people were to apply a bit of wage restraint, a bit of restriction, the cost of the articles which we are producing and placing on the market and having to pay so much for could be reduced in price." What a wonderful thing, because this would give the Prime Minister the opportunity, which he expressed during the election, of cutting prices "at a stroke". The cost of the articles would be reduced, prices would come down, and, instead of an annual 10 per cent. increase in the cost of living, which this Government have achieved in the last six months, who knows, perhaps we may achieve a 10 per cent. reduction in the cost of living. If that situation came about I am sure that it would help to improve industrial relations. It would benefit the general public, the employers, and the shareholders in companies.

When I heard some of the comments expressed in the last debate, I thought that that was not really the time to put forward the very good ideas, all of which came from this side—I did not hear much of note from the other side—because they could more adequately be discussed and put more forcibly on this, albeit unofficial, Amendment. This is one of several—I put it no higher—Amendments which I have put down. Some I put down months before the Official Opposition Amendments, some of which, strangely enough, are tagged on to mine, and I thought that the Official Opposition would have tagged on to this Amendment.

Nevertheless, I could not understand it when I overhead my Chief Whip—everybody knows that I am not afraid to say what I think—say that he did not want a lot of discussion on this Amendment; he wanted to get on to the official Amendments. My right hon. Friend may want to do that, but I am sure that my constituents, and other hon. Members constituents, would like to see prices reduced. People generally would feel that reducing prices is the best way of tackling the so-called cost inflation due to workers asking for too much in wages.

Surely the better way of preventing industrial unrest is to do away with the cause. The cause, as I see from reading my newspaper on any day of the week, is that this and that article have gone up. As this and that article have gone up by 25, 50 or 100 per cent., I then look through the paper to see whether the Government have suggested that those prices are unreasonable as they are above their 10 per cent. norm, but I never find any such reference. I then come to the House, and I think that the Government will make a statement saying that they are to take action to prevent, for instance, petrol companies putting up the price of petrol—which they have done three times during the last six months—but I soon discover that the Government have no intention of doing that.

That being the state of affairs, I tell myself that I must help the Government—I am always helpful to all Governments—and I put down an Amendment to give the Prime Minister a chance to implement the promise, which I am sure was made to the electorate in all good faith, that he would take action to reduce prices at a stroke. I thought that if I tabled an Amendment such as this one it would give him a wonderful opportunity to do what he promised to do, because by this means he would be able to reduce prices in all the services and establishments where work is carried on.

One criticism might be that I have not included a provision to control legal fees. I dealt with that in another Amendment, but that has not been called. Lawyers have voluntary agreements. They are able, without any statutory legislation, to demand whatever fees they like. Recently I read of a case in which, after a few days in court, the costs were alleged to be £80,000. I thought that that might be a little inflationary, but there was not a murmur from the legal gentlemen about that.

Photo of Mr Nicholas Scott Mr Nicholas Scott , Paddington South

The hon. Gentleman said that the subject which he is now discussing is not within the terms of his Amendment. He drew attention to the fact that he had not included it. Is he in order in pursuing this line of debate?

The Deputy Chairman:

The Chair will decide when the hon. Gentleman is not in order, but I think he is well aware that he is trespassing somewhat on the time of the Committee, even in view of his Amendment.

Photo of Mr Arthur Lewis Mr Arthur Lewis , West Ham North

One argument which might be adduced for not accepting the Amendment is that it does, not go far enough. Hon. Gentlemen opposite may say that I ought to have included the fees of lawyers and legal costs, and that I ought—

The Deputy Chairman:

Order. The hon. Gentleman has not included those things in his Amendment.

Photo of Mr Arthur Lewis Mr Arthur Lewis , West Ham North

I agree, Miss Harvie Anderson. I would have included them had I thought that the Amendment would be called, but as that is not within my power I am sure that hon. Gentlemen opposite will excuse me for not having included them.

Nevertheless, the Amendment before the Committee could cover this point, because it refers to "services". I am not a legal gentleman, but there are present some members of the legal profession and they perhaps can advise me, as I am sure the Chair can, whether "services" might include legal services. Lawyers give services. They offer a service. They make charges—very heavy ones—for those services. They are not controlled in any way. They are not restricted in any way. I think that I had better put on my glasses to enable me to read the Amendment more carefully.

The Deputy Chairman:

The hon. Gentleman may need his glasses to read the Amendment, but the occupant of the Chair has used hers, and I advise the hon. Gentleman to return to the Amendment on the Notice Paper.

Photo of Mr Arthur Lewis Mr Arthur Lewis , West Ham North

I am sorry, Miss Harvie Anderson, but perhaps you would tell me what is meant by services. I believe that the Post Office gives a service, though it may not do so during the next few days. Thus, as the Amendment mentions services, surely it is in order to discuss this matter? Equally, lawyers offer a service and can and ought to be included

I agree that if I were to argue on my Amendment referring to the 6½ guineas paid tax free to members of another place for mere casual attendance I would be out of order. In any case, they do not give a service—

9.0 p.m.

Photo of Mr Nicholas Scott Mr Nicholas Scott , Paddington South

I have two points of order. First, the services referred to in the Amendment are services … provided by the workers for the benefit of … their employees and their shareholders That reference certainly does not apply to members of the legal profession.

Secondly, Mr. Deputy Chairman, with the greatest possible respect, may I draw to the attention of the Chair the fact that the Amendment when linked to the terms of the Bill does not make grammatical or any other sense.

The Deputy Chairman:

I do not think that the hon. Member would expect the Chair to accept such comments.

Photo of Mr Hugh Jenkins Mr Hugh Jenkins , Wandsworth Putney

Further to that point of order. Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that the services given by lawyers are not for the benefit of the general public? If they are for the benefit of the general public they could be included in the Amendment; but if not—and I concede that it is arguable that they are not—they would be excluded.

The Deputy Chairman:

Order. I do not think that it will serve the Committee well if points of order are raised which are not points of order. There are very serious matters to discuss, and I hope that the Committee will wish to discuss such matters.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Lewis Mr Kenneth Lewis , Rutland and Stamford

You have said, Miss Harvie Anderson, that the way in which the Amendment would fit into the Clause is of no consequence to the Chair. I understand that the Chair selects the Amendments. My point is that perhaps the Chair, though throwing out hundreds of the Amendments tabled by the hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis), may still have made another error. It may be that this Amendment is not in order, since it is clear from what has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for Paddington, South (Mr. Scott) that if the Amendment were accepted the Clause would not make sense.

The Deputy Chairman:

It is certainly not in order for the hon. Member to reflect on the Chair in any way, as he must by now know very well indeed. I have also made it quite clear that the purpose of the Committee will not be best served by continuing with bogus points of order. Mr. Arthur Lewis.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Lewis Mr Kenneth Lewis , Rutland and Stamford

I withdraw any reflection on the Chair. I simply wanted to point out—

The Deputy Chairman:

Order. So far as the Chair has heard, the hon. Member has not raised a point of order. Mr. Arthur Lewis.

Photo of Mr Arthur Lewis Mr Arthur Lewis , West Ham North

I know that hon. Members who are not lawyers sometimes put down Amendments for the specific purpose of drawing attention to the points they have in mind. If the great Government legal luminaries think that an Amendment is good they will accept it in principle, saying that whilst the wording may not be quite as accurate or detailed as they would like they will later put it into good legal phraseology. If that were done in this case the higher fees of these lawyers would be earned in a good cause and, who knows, my Amendment might be accepted. The legal gentlemen might themselves want voluntarily to reword my Amendment so that the word "services" could cover the services of legal gentlemen.

Photo of Mr Harold Walker Mr Harold Walker , Doncaster

According to the definition Clause, lawyers are not workers.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Lewis Mr Kenneth Lewis , Rutland and Stamford

My hon. Friend makes a valid point, but he will agree that the Bill has not yet been passed, and perhaps by the time many of my Amendments which are yet to be called are reached we shall find that lawyers are deemed to be workers. We shall find perhaps that they will be included in the scope of the Bill. I want them to be included I want everyone who gives a service to be included. I disagree with my hon Friend the Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins). I believe lawyers give a service and should be included. Indeed, they have had much to do with drafting the Bill and I am sure that they would want to get its benefits.

I am told by the Government that this is a very good Bill and very good for the workers. Therefore, I cannot see why certain people should be excluded. I am a good trade unionist; I am a member of three trade unions. I would like to see all those who give services—I do not want to harp on lawyers, who have a trade union as well—and provide goods and, indeed, help to build the wealth of the country given the opportunity of discussing all matters within their day-to-day activities.

As the position now is, a worker feels that he is justified in asking for an increase and that he is entitled to more than 10 per cent. He may be a Post Office worker giving a service, an electrical worker giving a service, or a local government worker clearing household refuse, which is a very important service The Government are trying to enforce their view upon the general wage rates of the lower paid workers, however. That worker may feel that he should have the opportunity of discussing all these things which, to him and to all trade unions, are relative both to his wages and his working conditions. But, no! At the moment the employer can and invariably does say, "That is a managerial function. You cannot discuss questions which are outside the prerogative of the trade unions because they are a managerial responsibility."

I do not think that this is right because, even at this moment, arguments are going on as to whether or not in one of these services there is sufficient money available for the workers in that service to get what they feel is a justified wage increase. That can apply to a number of workers in services who are, in the main, on the lower paid scale. It may be said that the Post Office workers are not too badly paid; that is a matter of opinion. If a worker is earning £20 or £23, or £24 or even £27 a week—that is the average—he may feel that it is not so good when he knows that the chairman of his concern is getting, say, £20,000 a year. He may want to query that. He may want to say, "Our service need not go up in price if I have a say in restricting the 66·2 per cent. increase which my chairman is getting." At the moment he does not have that right. He is told, "That is not for you to discuss."

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

What about the hon. Gentleman's salary?

Photo of Mr Kenneth Lewis Mr Kenneth Lewis , Rutland and Stamford

I am talking about both sides. If the hon. Gentleman wants to take this further, I am happy to do so. A Post Office worker may say, "I cannot get more than 10 per cent. on my £24 a week but my former chairman, dismissed because allegedly he was not up to the job, is to get a £30,000 golden handshake." He may feel that it should be discussed whether or not there should be a golden handshake of £30,000. He might say that if there were not such golden handshakes there would be more money in the kitty for the lower-paid.

I have chosen the State services, because the Tories are always getting at them. I have had a go at private industry and company directors. As I am always fair, I must say the same about chairmen and members of the boards of nationalised industries and question whether they are entitled to receive increases of the order which Governments of both parties seem happy to give them without any worry.

It was no answer for a Government to say, "We are doing it because you did it". If it is wrong, it is wrong, no matter who does it. It is true that the Labour Government gave large increases to higher-paid civil servants, and I attacked them for it. The vital difference, however, is that they did not at that time say that they would not give the very low-paid dustmen an increase whilst at the same time granting a 66⅔ per cent. increase to people on £15,000 to £20,000 a year.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

The ability of industries to give certain increases today should be contrasted with the period under the Labour Government when they were not allowed to give any increases.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Lewis Mr Kenneth Lewis , Rutland and Stamford

That is not true, but for the sake of argument I will accept that it is true and they did not give any increase. If, as is true, the cost of living increased, and if workers did not get any wage increases, what pushed up the cost of living? The hon. Gentleman has just said that the workers were not allowed to have increases. I agree that prices should not have risen to the extent that they did. The same is happening now. The price of almost everything is rising.

Every effort is being made in the Bill to restrict, control and hamstring trade unions because, it is alleged, they are responsible for rising prices, yet there is not one word of condemnation even, let alone any action, on the Government's part about the rising prices of articles and services. During the recent power dispute we learned that candles were in great demand and almost overnight their price doubled and trebled an in some instances increase by ten times. The Government did not want to take any action to prevent it. Indeed, they would not even accept Questions on the matter and would not allow us the opportunity to discuss whether a candle which cost one shilling one day should cost two shillings the next day.

9.15 p.m.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Lewis Mr Kenneth Lewis , Rutland and Stamford

My hon. Friend lives in the wrong part of the country. He should live in London where the price only doubled.

If hon. Members wish to be honest with themselves, as I am sure they do, and if the Government are anxious to reduce prices, they should recognise that this is a marvellous opportunity, because if these words were in the Bill it would be possible for the workers at the factory of Messrs. Price, the candle manufacturers, to have a discussion and say, "We do not think that the price of these candles should have risen by 1,500 or 2,000 per cent." [Interruption.]

If competition is to be the rule for prices, why cannot it be the rule for workers to obtain higher wages? After all, their labour is the only thing they have to sell. If prices can go up by up to 2,000 per cent., why must wages be held down by law to very low figures? The philosophy of hon. Gentlemen opposite is to allow manufacturers to get away with as much as they can. Competition will control prices, they say, but workers must not be free to compete for the highest wages they can get.

The Government say that there can be a 20 per cent. increase in fares, resulting in the cost of living rising dramatically, without doing anything to condemn or control it. If, on the other hand, a worker asks for more than 10 per cent., they set up an independent tribunal with an ex-Conservative candidate as chairman—[Interruption.]—a man who has given large sums to Conservative Party funds, and an investigation is held to see whether a 10 per cent. rise is adequate.

Surprisingly perhaps, my Amendment has been selected. If the Government accept the principle of my proposal but are not in favour of its drafting, I will willingly withdraw it on their undertaking to introduce a satisfactory form of words at a later date. Its acceptance would mean a reduction in prices through better industrial relations. This is vital because the cost of living has been rising more rapidly in the last six months than it did at any time in the previous six years.

Amendment negatived.

Photo of Mr Harold Walker Mr Harold Walker , Doncaster

I beg to move Amendment No. 348, in page 1, line 12, after 'orderly', insert 'voluntarily agreed'.

The Deputy Chairman:

It will be convenient to take at the same time Amendment No. 363, in page 1, line 14, after 'negotiation', insert: without recourse to legal proceedings'.

Photo of Mr Harold Walker Mr Harold Walker , Doncaster

The Amendment logically follows the Amendment moved earlier by my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle). We seek to bring consistency into the wording and, presumably, therefore, into the spirit of the first two principles of the Clause.

If the Secretary of State believes—and if he does we share his belief—that collective bargaining should be freely conducted, as is expressed in the first principle, it seems to us that the machinery of that collective bargaining, the procedures by which it shall be conducted, should be determined with equal freedom. There is little freedom in collective bargaining when it must be conducted within the limitations of a procedure which is not freely and mutually agreed but is imposed by one side or the other—a procedure which is often inequitable, protracted and ineffective as a consequence of not being the subject of free mutual agreement.

I need not dwell on the well known, if not infamous, procedure for the avoidance of disputes in the engineering industry. The Secretary of State referred to the Labour Government's White Paper "In Place of Strife". We singled out this procedure as an example of what we thought was a bad procedure which needed reforming. The irony is that, in spite of its inequitable and ineffective character, it would still be reconcilable with the requirements of the Clause as drafted except that one might have serious reservations about its compatibility with the interests of the community. There are very few, if any, engineering trade unionists, and not all employers, who would accept that it permits free collective bargaining or that its provisions are conducive to good industrial relations. That was a procedure which was not mutually agreed but to which the unions were compelled to acquiesce after a lengthy lock-out.

I say no more about that example of the folly of failing to seek and secure mutual agreement about the machinery of collective bargaining in one of our biggest industries. The Secretary of State is aware that strenuous and formidable efforts, long overdue, are being made to rectify this blunder of the past which has cost the industry, the workers in it and the country dearly for over 50 years. But we should learn from it. The lesson we should learn is the need to provide for free mutual agreement, and we should write that lesson into the legislation. The lesson is that unless the methods and techniques by which employers and work-people conduct their complex relationships are mutually agreed, no matter what short-term advantage they might bring to one side they are doomed to failure in the long term.

If we are to engage, as we are being asked to engage, in the exercise of creating statutory principles in industrial relations, that lesson should be given expression in the Bill. If there is one principle which would obtain almost universal agreement among people experienced in industrial relations it is that what men cannot be persuaded to do voluntarily, of their own free will, they will rarely do well or efficiently under compulsion or coercion. That applies equally to the creation of the procedural machinery as it does to the exercise, the practice, of that procedural machinery.

Perhaps I shall be permitted to refer to an example in my constituency which highlights the point which I seek to make. It is purely coincidental that it has a relationship with the division which I represent, but it is a matter of national interest. Among the many useful tasks which it has done, the Commission on Industrial Relations has probably found its best exercise of function in the agreement which it produced for the International Harvester Company, which is based in my constituency and at Bradford. My right hon. Friend made this particular reference, and the Commission subsequently reported. One might say that within its particular remit it had exhausted its rule by reporting on the defects that it found in the procedures in the case of that plant. In fact, under the wise direction of Commissioner Paynter, the Commission went on to persuade unions and management to respond positively to all its recommendations and brought into existence what I think is probably the best example of a fully comprehensive plant procedural agreement that I know.

The right hon. Gentleman will be aware that after doing what I think was an absolutely splendid job of work, Commissioner Paynter, because he had to conduct his work in the atmosphere that was engendered by the publication of his consultative document, decided that rather than continue and perhaps be subjected to restraints that the Bill would impose on the Commission, he ought to resign. All the trade unions, at local and national level, who became signatories, with management, to this far-reaching and comprehensive agreement became alarmed that because of the Bill this agreement might cease to be legally enforceable. In the light of the right hon. Gentleman's admiration of the legalistic system of the United States and his confession that he has sought to follow it in his own legislative proposals—

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

indicated dissent.

Photo of Mr Harold Walker Mr Harold Walker , Doncaster

The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head, but in "Fair Deal at Work" admiration is expressed for the Taft-Hartley provisions.

The American managing director, on being consulted by the unions, replied as follows in a letter: We have reached the point where we have a voluntary agreement on constitutions for a Central Joint Negotiating Committee and Plant Joint Negotiating Committees together with Domestic Disputes Procedures. Management therefore agrees with the unions that it would be against the spirit and intent of these procedures for them to be made the subject of legal or statutory enforcement. If such were ever necessary, then we would together have failed to achieve the development of effective industrial relations so necessary to the success of the company and the well-being of its employees. It is in this spirit that management pledges its determination to make a success of this agreement and is confident that all union officials and shop stewards will work, with their members, to ensure the effective implementation of these mutually beneficial constitutions and procedures. To that, I and the unions say "Hear, hear". It illustrates the point that I am making. If an agreement cannot be voluntarily agreed, there is no point in making it anyhow. People do not respond to impositions. We do not get the best out of people in those circumstances.

With regard to the situation that I have briefly described, the unions made a public statement not only saying how warmly they welcomed the agreement that had been entered into, but expressing their determination to make it work.

In the light of the severe strictures which have recently been cast on my constituency, in industrial relations terms, may I say that I have no doubt that in our debates we shall hear the name of Lord Robens referred to time and time again. I live in my constituency. At weekends I work among the trade unions in my constituency, and I think that the spirit that went into that agreement to which reference is made in the letter from which I have just quoted is the universal spirit that prevails in my constituency.

In the harsh, hard days of "In Place of Strife" and the prices and incomes policy, for which I had some responsibility at the Dispatch Box, I had as warm, firm, positive a response from the workers in my constituency as we found anywhere else. As I say, I live there, but I have never had the experience of any jostling, or anything like that, and want to pay a tribute to the spirit of co-operation in industrial relations of trade unionists—and management, too—in my constituency, which I have mentioned simply as an example in making the point we want to persuade the right hon. Gentleman to accept.

9.30 p.m.

Although the Committee may be disinclined to accept the arguments I have used, I think that it cannot deny that the Amendment I am proposing brings in the second of the right hon. Gentleman's principles, that which is already overtly expressed in the first, that these things should be agreed freely, voluntarily. I am sure that if hon. Members accept the wording of the first principle they will know that they must, logically, accept, in their minds if not with their voices and feet, the need to put in the second principle in harmony with the first.

It may be that the right hon. Gentleman will say, although I rather doubt whether he will, that the intention of the Amendment is already implicit in the wording of the Clause and that there is, therefore, no reason for me to press the Amendment. I always say, on such occasions, that if that is the case there is no reason for not accepting such an Amendment.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

As I understand it—I hope I shall be corrected if I am wrong—the hon. Gentleman's intention is to put the words "voluntarily agreed" after the word "orderly" to prescribe "orderly, voluntarily agreed procedures". Are there not, in most codes, certain parts of the procedures which are specified in advance? Would he want all those details to be voluntarily agreed? I should like him to enlarge upon that for our guidance.

Photo of Mr Harold Walker Mr Harold Walker , Doncaster

I think that if the hon. Gentleman will allow me to go on with the next part of my remarks he will see that they throw some light on my attitude and that of my right hon. and hon. Friends to this point.

I think the right hon. Gentleman knows that the Amendment was tabled for reasons which go rather beyond those I have already put to the Committee and that it anticipates rather debates which we shall inevitably be having on later Clauses. I have, of course, no intention of trespassing now on those Clauses or those debates, but, as the right hon. Gentleman has chosen to initiate principles, we are here making clear our belief—and I hope the hon. Gentleman the Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) will listen to this—that, as a matter of principle, the problems which undeniably exist in industrial relations cannot be resolved by the imposition of blue-print style solutions from outside industry, but that solutions can only be evolved on the basis of free, mutual, and voluntary agreement between those who have to apply them. So we are as a matter of principle stating now, in advance of the debates which we shall subsequently be having, and in which we shall be particularising details, our belief in voluntary, mutual agreement, rather than resort to courts of law. We are here making our principle clear. That is the signal which we are running up this evening. We are, in effect, firing a warning shot across the right hon. Gentleman's bows.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Lewis Mr Kenneth Lewis , Rutland and Stamford

I was somewhat puzzled, until the end of his speech, by the comments of the hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. Harold Walker)—

Photo of Mr Arthur Lewis Mr Arthur Lewis , West Ham North

On a point of order. Miss Harvie Anderson. Do I understand that Amendment No. 363 is being taken with Amendment No. 348? Will the two Amendments, if need be, be voted on separately?

The Deputy Chairman:

As I understand, it is the wish of the Committee to take Amendments No. 348 and 363 together. It is for the Committee to decide whether they shall be agreed or disagreed on separately at the end of the debate.

Photo of Mr Harold Walker Mr Harold Walker , Doncaster

Further to that point of order. If my hon. Friends and I are dissatisfied with the replies from the Government Front Bench and, therefore, seek to divide the House, we should prefer to have separate Divisions on the Amendments.

The Deputy Chairman:

I think that was also the understanding of the Chair.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Lewis Mr Kenneth Lewis , Rutland and Stamford

At the end of his speech the hon. Member for Doncaster indicated that he was trying to get written into the introductory clause words which would enable him afterwards to argue that certain of the disciplines of the Bill were not in tune with the introduction to the Bill. I suggest to my right hon. Friend that he should bear this in mind as it would place us in a dangerous position.

On the face of it, no one would disagree with the suggestion that orderly procedures voluntarily agreed should be developed and maintained, but hon. Gentlemen opposite must recognise that one reason for the Bill is the difficulty which has arisen over many years in getting voluntary agreement on procedures in a minority of cases. I suppose that in 95 per cent. of cases there is voluntary agreement. It is not the 95 per cent. that cause disturbances but the 5 per cent., and the 5 per cent. become more and more disruptive as the disturbances are repeated month after month, causing damage to the economy as a whole.

The hon. Member for Doncaster said that as Clause 1(1)(a) included the words: the principle of collective bargaining freely and responsibly conducted; it should not be difficult to introduce the words "voluntarily agreed" after "orderly" in paragraph (b). This appears to be reasonable until one looks at the last line of paragraph (b): … with due regard to the general interest of the community; which cuts across what the hon. Gentleman was saying.

The Bill includes certain disciplines, such as the C.I.R., the Industrial Court, and so on, because we want the trade unions in seeking voluntary agreement to have regard to the general interests of the community. The trade unions often have had regard to the general interests of the community, but they have not always done so. Voluntary agreements cannot always be achieved, and if that is the case we take the view that a situation will be created that is against the national interest.

A good deal of criticism has come from hon. Members opposite about the recent body set up by the Government to deal with the electricity workers' dispute. The same kind of opposition has been put up by the Union of Post Office workers against accepting arbitration to end its present dispute with the Post Office management. It is argued that the procedures are wrong and the workers in fact are in dispute on the procedures. In arguing against the procedures, they are saying that the national interest is not their interest. But the House and the Government must have regard to the national interest.

Therefore, it is not always desirable that industrial relations should be geared purely to voluntary agreement. When voluntary agreement cannot be achieved it sometimes must be secured—and secured by Government intervention, by Government having a say, and by Government through a nominee putting their point of view. My fear is that if we include these words in the Bill—and one accepts that the Labour Party has good reason for putting them in—it may cut across the whole principle of what we are trying to do.

Photo of Mr Harold Walker Mr Harold Walker , Doncaster

I agree with the hon. Gentleman when he says that the Government must have regard to the national interest. Indeed, I sought to emphasise this factor myself when winding up the debate on an earlier Amendment. But the Bill does not propose to place this responsibility on the Government. It is the National Industrial Relations Court and the industrial tribunals and umpteen other bodies which are being asked to determine what is and what is not in the national interest. My point is that it is the Government that should be doing the determining. They are qualified to do so by virtue of the information available to them; it is their responsibility and that is what they are elected to do. It is not their duty to hand over this responsibility to an extra-governmental body. In other words, we do not want to give the job of governing to other people who are outside the Government and who are unelected.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Lewis Mr Kenneth Lewis , Rutland and Stamford

The hon. Gentleman can not have it both ways. He and his hon. Friends frequently argue that the Government should not in the national interest intervene on wage disputes. In so far as the Government are setting up courts of inquiry and arbitration boards, they are ensuring that the national interest should be taken into account.

It is a matter for fair discussion between the parties as to whether the Government themselves should act or whether they should have a body to act for them. We take the view that the Labour Government got into trouble because in their legislative proposals they were not supported by their back benchers or by the trade unions, but were intervening through their Minister. We now take the view that there should be a stand-off procedure, that the Government should not be involved, that the Minister should be there as a long-stop, and that the courts and the C.I.R. should act as agents for the community as a whole. The fact is that on occasion, where voluntary agreement is not possible, one has to seek intervention in one or another. If we put in the Bill a provision such as the hon. Gentleman is suggesting, it will cut across the intervention procedures laid down in the Bill, procedures which are basic to this legislation.

[Sir R. GRANT-FERRIS in the Chair]

9.45 p.m.

Photo of Mr Emlyn Hooson Mr Emlyn Hooson , Montgomeryshire

As I listened to the hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. Harold Walker) moving the Amendment, I could not help reflecting that if we lived in an ideal world and an ideal country his arguments would be unanswerable. If he was right in his argument there would be no need for the Bill, and there would never be any need for "In Place of Strife", but in a country with the industrial relations background that we have had over the last few years, for anybody to argue that intervention of no kind is necessary is nonsense.

The hon. Member argued in support of the innocent-looking words "voluntarily agreed". They are very attractive words in themselves, but what about the position where, due to the pigheadedness either of management or trade union, a voluntarily-agreed procedure is not possible. How does the hon. Member propose to deal with that situation? That is the fallacy of his argument.

The hon. Member does not have to persuade any sensible Member on either side of the Committee that it is far better to have voluntarily agreed procedures; that follows. He does not have to spend time persuading people that it is much better to have negotiations without recourse to legal proceedings in order to achieve a satisfactory result. But every hon. Member knows that certain circumstances arise where the procedure will not be agreed and where, because of the intractable nature of one side or the other—or both—negotiation will not achieve finality without resort to legal procedures. We hope, for the sake of the country, that such cases will be few in number, but there must be a means of dealing with them, and that is what the Amendment is aimed against.

Photo of Mr Harold Walker Mr Harold Walker , Doncaster

Perhaps I did not make myself clear when I deliberately introduced the example with which, for obvious reasons, I was particularly familiar. I was trying to demonstrate to the House and to the hon. and learned Member that the Commission on Industrial Relations has proved its ability without the need for laws to back it up, to intervene in precisely the kind of intractable situation to which the hon. and learned Member has referred and resolve it to the satisfaction of all parties. The International Harvester Company had an appalling industrial relations record, but the C.I.R. was able to secure voluntary agreements by analysing the situation and making a wide recommendation, based on the experience and expertise of those working for the Commission. That is how we envisaged the Commission working in "In Place of Strife".

Photo of Mr Emlyn Hooson Mr Emlyn Hooson , Montgomeryshire

I thank the hon. Member for his intervention. I agree that the Commission on Industrial Relations has done good work. As I said in the Second Reading debate, in the future a great deal of the success of the Bill will depend upon the operation of the Commission and the development of its expertise. Everybody hopes that it will be able, through the development of this expertise, to achieve voluntary agreements where on many occasions it appears impossible. The Commission has done so in the past, in very difficult circumstances.

The example given by the hon. Member for Doncaster is apposite. The Commission achieved agreement when it did not seem possible. Nevertheless, the House must remember that situations may arise where, despite the Commission's expertise, skill and experience, it will not be able to achieve agreement. How will that situation be dealt with? That is the problem that faces us. That is why these innocent-looking words, although they may appeal to the heart, cannot appeal to anybody who adopts an intellectual approach to the problem.

This is a strangely drafted Bill, in that Clause 1 is an extension of the Preamble. In the old days the legal interpretation of the Preamble had a good deal to do with the interpretation of the Bill. It is an extension of the Preamble. If the hon. Gentleman had this Amendment included, then virtually he destroys the Bill because the Bill is not concerned with the general situation or with the situation that can be achieved by agreement, but must be primarily concerned with those situations which from experience have proved so intractable that some reserve power is needed to deal with them.

Photo of Mr Paul Rose Mr Paul Rose , Manchester, Blackley

I am grateful to the hon. and learned Gentleman, but is he not aware, having said that the C.I.R. will be of the utmost importance, that already leading members of the Commission have resigned? In an article in The Times of 10th November, 1970, Mr. Alfred Allen wrote that it would be … achieved at the expense of industry, and irreparable damage to the Commission and collective bargaining generally. Would the hon. and learned Gentleman apply what he has said to the law of contract generally, and say that in any case where two people fail to agree a Government or other agency should enforce a contract between two parties who do not wish to agree?

Photo of Mr Emlyn Hooson Mr Emlyn Hooson , Montgomeryshire

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his intervention. First, may I deal with the question of resignations. They never impress me. Whenever there is legislation, especially on controversial matters, one has resignations right, left and centre. It is part of the political system. They do not affect my judgment of the matter. What those gentlemen feel, no doubt sincerely, is their business. What I feel is what I judge myself. The second point was whether there is a case sometimes for the legislature to intervene. Let me give some examples. In the law of contract we have implied terms brought in by the Sale of Goods Act where the parties disagree. This House has said that those implied terms should be read into the contract.

Photo of Mr Emlyn Hooson Mr Emlyn Hooson , Montgomeryshire

The hon. Member made an interjection and he must take the reply. This House, for the benefit of the public, introduced certain implied terms. Another example is the Monopolies legislation. A series of industrialists practising a monopoly may voluntarily give it up. It may be necessary to take legal action to ensure that the monopoly is not carried out against the public interest. Teeth were put into the Monopolies Act to enable this to be done. That is another example of this House intervening to protect the public interest. It is as necessary in industrial relations to deal with a minority of cases as it is in other spheres.

Photo of Mr Raymond Mawby Mr Raymond Mawby , Totnes

The hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) made some very important points on the Amendment. Most of what I had to say is not needed now because the hon. and learned Gentleman put it so clearly that in the Bill, certainly as far as the Amendment is concerned, we are not seeking to deal with the majority of cases of negotiation but are concerned with the minority of cases which may arise. This particular part is acting as the long-stop to make certain that everyone is acting reasonably in the future.

The words "voluntarily agreed" which are sought to be inserted in the Bill are rather interesting. Apparently the Amendment supports the principle of developing and maintaining orderly and voluntarily agreed procedures in industry for the peaceful settlement of disputes.

Until now we have accepted the law as it stands, that one is concerned with an orderly and voluntarily agreed procedure. However, in many cases what has been voluntarily agreed is immediately thrown overboard when it does not suit certain persons. If the hon. Gentleman's words are to be inserted in the Bill, it is important that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite do everything possible to ensure that the intention behind the words is accepted by their friends. So often in the past that has not been the case. Negotiations have taken place, voluntary agreement has been reached, and within a few days certain members of the agreeing union have taken unofficial action and rendered the agreement null and void.

We on this side of the Committee seek only to ensure that negotiations shall be orderly procedures in industry—

Photo of Mr Raymond Mawby Mr Raymond Mawby , Totnes

The hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) says, "and compulsory". With normal orderly procedures, in most cases everyone accepts that any agreement entered into is equally binding upon the parties to it. However, while those trade union officials making the agreement really believe in it and want to carry it out, it needs only a dozen of their members to take unofficial strike action to render the agreement null and void. We have seen the result of that kind of approach, and we cannot talk glibly about agreements being arrived at voluntarily.

We have to ask ourselves by whom is an agreement arrived at voluntarily. Is it agreed by those who have been democratically elected negotiators on behalf of thousands of trade unionists? Are they the people who will voluntarily agree? If they are, will those who have democratically elected them stand by the agreement? They have not in the past. Therefore, it is reasonable to seek to ensure that those who act on behalf of trade unionists should at least be able to give reasonable certainty that their members will accept the terms of the agreement that they have entered into on a voluntary basis.

Photo of Mr Stan Orme Mr Stan Orme , Salford West

The hon. Gentleman is talking about what is happening currently in industrial affairs and about certain people rejecting collective agreements or voluntarily arrived at agreements. However, when we look at the current situation, it is clear that we are not seeing unofficial action. The Post Office workers are taking official action. The members of the hon. Gentleman's own union, the Electrical Trades Union, took official action in the recent power workers' dispute. The same happened in the local authority workers' dispute. At the moment we are seeing official action.

Photo of Mr Raymond Mawby Mr Raymond Mawby , Totnes

The hon. Gentleman has mentioned a few disputes which are faking place now. I should like to do an exercise to work out the number of man-hours involved in official strikes compared with the number of man-hours we are still losing in unofficial strikes—

It being Ten o'clock, The CHAIRMAN left the Chair to report Progress and ask leave to sit again.

Committee report Progress.