Does the Secretary of State now realise that if secret ballots are statutorily enforced, the outcome of statutory ballots must equally be enforced? Does the right hon. Gentleman understand the implications that will arise when the police not only supervise a strike but enforce the outcome of a secret ballot?
I have heard some quite extraordinary pieces of convoluted logic from the hon. Gentleman, but never one quite as absurd as that. The hon. Gentleman must not allow his imagination to run completely wild, even in the atmosphere of an election. I intend to maximise the possibilities for trade unionists to secure strike ballots before strike action.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that recent experience at the British Leyland works at Cowley shows the need for strike decisions to be taken by a better and more democratic means than mass meetings where there may be intimidation by shop stewards? Can we expect early legislation on that subject from the next Conservative Government?
There is no doubt that anybody who saw on television some of the scenes during many recent strikes — car park meetings with no real check against outsiders, the cry, "Which way is it, brothers?", or whatever the question may be, and someone on the same level, not able to see across the meeting, shouting "Carried" before anyone has had an opportunity to see how many votes are cast — will be convinced of the desirability of secret ballots before strikes. I do not understand why the Opposition are so reluctant to help people to achieve the right to a secret ballot.
The hon. Gentleman may make that assertion, but, to my knowledge, at no time during that dispute were the workers invited to vote in secret so that we could be sure that there was no intimidation. Therefore, we cannot know the answer to his question.