Orders of the Day — Business of the House

– in the House of Commons at 9:45 pm on 2nd April 1984.

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Ordered, That, at this day's sitting, the Trade Union Bill may be proceeded with, though opposed, until any hour.—[Mr. David Hunt.]

Photo of Mr Cecil Franks Mr Cecil Franks , Barrow and Furness

We owe our position as a Government and, many of us, our Membership of the House, to the support and votes of trade unionists. We promised them freedom from trade union servitude and liberty from the trade union mafia which imposes its will by fear. They trusted us and we are being asked to betray that trust.

We find it absurd and repugnant that millions who voted against a political party, and the industrial cancer which is so enshrined in the constitution of the Labour party, are obliged to finance the organisation of a political party that they detest and abhor.

Compulsory membership of a trade union is simply industrial blackmail. The payment of the political levy is no more and no less than the extraction of protection money.

It is naive at the least, and dishonest at the worst, to believe that individual trade unionists—[Interruption.]

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. The House is becoming very much out of order. Things are frequently said in the Chamber on both sides with which hon. Members disagree, but hon. Members have the right to be heard.

Photo of Mr Cecil Franks Mr Cecil Franks , Barrow and Furness

—will be permitted in freedom to contract out. We deceive ourselves and seek to deceive others, if we pretend that there will be no compulsion, subtle or overt, to inhibit and intimidate those who seek to contract out.

Are we so blind that we cannot grasp the lesson of the miners' strike——

Photo of Mr Cecil Franks Mr Cecil Franks , Barrow and Furness

—and so many similar lessons that litter the industrial scene? The trade unionists' worst enemy are the comrades who posture and parade as their best friends while seeking to advance the revolution that they believe is the essential prerequisite of a true Socialist society. The standard of living of the individual has been retarded, not advanced, by the so-called trade union solidarity.

If we reject the compulsion of the individual, we must regard with equal anxiety the compulsion exercised collectively, as expressed in the new clause. That must be the last resort, not the first.

I have listened carefully to the Secretary of State's recent statements. I note that the Trades Union Congress has agreed with him to introduce procedures to make wider known and to facilitate contracting out. I do not believe that the trade unions will deliver or that they have the will to deliver, but it is far better now that they should have the opportunity.

I have noted the commitment that, if the trade unions fail voluntarily to reform contracting out procedures, legislation will be introduced to replace them with the contracting in which so many of us feel is long overdue from a Conservative Government.

I cannot speak for those who are minded to support the new clause; I can speak only for myself. I hope that I have made it clear that my support for the Government is reluctant, but, far more important, it is conditional. If the TUC fails to deliver and if, in turn, the Government fail to introduce the necessary consequent legislation, the latent and potential rebellion on the Conservative Back Benches will become a reality, and a reality not to be ignored, I hope that that will not come to pass, but let there be no illusion: if it should be necessary, it will.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Walsall North

I declare an interest, in that my trade union contributes towards my election expenses. The hon. Member for Bridlington (Mr. Townend) has his own business interests. I see that he is involved in a number of companies and is a member of Lloyd's. We also know him as an active campaigner against wages councils. He obviously believes that those on low incomes are receiving too much money, so it is not surprising that he should have moved the new clause. I remember his partner, the hon. Member for Ilford, North (Mr. Bendall), from the time when I represented another constituency. He is, the owner of an estate agent business. I believe that he inherited it. Whatever friends he may have had before entering the House, I am sure that none of them would have said that he was an expert on industrial relations.

There may be a potential rebellion on the Government Benches, but it is interesting to note that it is not about the right of people to remain members of a trade union at GCHQ Cheltenham, or against the abolition of metropolitan county councils which, because they happen to be Labour-controlled, offend the Government of the day, or against rate-capping. It is a rebellion by the most Right-wing elements within the Tory party. Indeed, I am grateful to the hon. Member for Bridlington, because he has given the game away. Towards the end of his speech he explained precisely why he was moving the new clause. His reasons had nothing to do with trade union or individual rights. It was clear that he wanted to introduce the new clause and cripple the Labour party's finances in order to prevent it from being in a position to oppose the Government and to form a Government of its own in due course. The hon. Gentleman said as much. That is the purpose of his new clause. It betrays a totalitarian frame of mind if, just because one does not happen to like the main Opposition party of the day, one believes that one should do one's utmost, by means of a majority, to cripple its finances.

Photo of Mr Ivan Lawrence Mr Ivan Lawrence , Burton

I am most grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his courtesy in giving way. Is he telling the House and the country that he does not believe that the Labour party could raise its money by any means other than the compulsory political levy?

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Walsall North

I anticipated that question and shall certainly deal with it in due course——

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Walsall North

I think the hon. Gentleman will realise that I have every intention of answering the question. However, we have an odd sort of political alliance today. The Right wing of the Tory party, the Liberals and the SDP have all come together. I can understand the Liberal party's attitude. It has held that view for some time. However, it was not much strengthened by the rather disgraceful speech of the Liberal spokesman, the hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton). Some of his colleagues might have made a more honourable speech and would not have uttered the smears and innuendos that we hear so often from him.

I cannot have much respect, however, for SDP Members. When they were members of the Labour party, they did not on any occasion criticise or question the link between the trade unions and the Labour party. I cannot remember the hon. Member for Woolwich (Mr. Cartwright) or any of his colleagues getting up at Labour party meetings and saying that contracting out was wrong and that the system should be reversed, but the moment that they changed parties they found themselves in that queer type of political alliance that I have mentioned.

The hon. and learned Member for Burton (Mr. Lawrence) asked me a question which he thought I would find difficult to answer. He asked whether the Labour party would find it difficult to raise money without the present system. I shall answer that question as honestly and frankly as I can, but perhaps not in the way that the hon. and learned Gentleman might expect. The Trade Disputes and Trade Unions Act 1927 was a punishment for the role of the Labour party in the general strike. Contracting in was substituted for contracting out, and I do not wish to deny that the Labour party's finances were hurt. No trade union would deny it either.

My argument is that the Conservative party has tremendous financial advantages which the Labour party, lacks. I have here a list of donators to the Conservative party. It includes Bowater, Du Pont, GEC, Imperial Group, Marley, Consolidated Gold Fields, Eagle Star and Fisons. Over the years those companies have contributed considerable sums of money to the Conservative party. None of the shareholders in those companies were asked whether they wished such donations to be made. There was no contracting out. There was no balloting.

Conservative Members are keen to criticise, but they should try and listen. The Opposition's criticism is that in the trade unions there is a right to contract out, and that right is often exercised. The hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill admitted that when he referred to places where the option of contracting out had been taken up by quite a large number of NUM members. No evidence at all has been produced that union members are not able to contract out. In the case of company donations, there is no right in law of contracting out.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Walsall North

I shall not give way at the moment.

Most of the knighthoods conferred since 1979 have gone to the chairmen of companies which have made donations to the Tory party. Why has there been no criticism of that connection between financial donations to the Tory party and the giving of knighthoods?

Photo of Mr Harold Walker Mr Harold Walker , Doncaster Central

Order. The hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) is clearly not giving way.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Walsall North

At the general election it was estimated that the Tory party had some £15 million to £20 million at its disposal should it wish to use it, against the Labour party's £2·5 million. That was the difference.

Photo of Mr Vivian Bendall Mr Vivian Bendall , Ilford North

Would the hon. Gentleman care to tell the House where those statistics come from?

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Walsall North

The information about company donations has been published. It is not in dispute. None of those companies when they read Hansard, will challenge what I say. On my other point, no one has seriously challenged the fact that the Conservative party had such a considerable sum of money at its disposal. Hon. Gentlemen must not argue at the kindergarten level. They know that the Conservative party had far more money than the Labour party.

Photo of Mr Bowen Wells Mr Bowen Wells , Hertford and Stortford

Will the hon. Gentleman give way on this matter?

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Walsall North

I normally give way, but I shall not give way on this occasion. There are many other hon. Members who wish to speak, and I have already given way to the hon. Member for Ilford, North.

The Conservative party often argues that individual contributions to its coffers from members are important, as well as company donations. I would not deny that, but company contributions are extremely important.

Photo of Mr Bowen Wells Mr Bowen Wells , Hertford and Stortford

Will the hon. Gentleman give way on this issue?

Photo of Mr Harold Walker Mr Harold Walker , Doncaster Central

Order. The hon. Gentleman has made it clear that he is not prepared to give way.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Walsall North

Company contributions are extremely important to its funds otherwise the Conservative party would not go out of its way to solicit that amount of money. The ability of Labour party members, especially during the past three or four years in which we have experienced the recession and mass unemployment, to contribute to party funds has been far less than that of Conservative party members. There is no comparison between the abilities of the average Tory activist and the average Labour activist to contribute to party funds.

10.15 pm

There is no need for any Labour Member to apologise for the way in which we collect our money. We were founded without privilege and have never received substantial contributions other than from trade unions and individuals. We have never received the type of contributions from companies that I have mentioned. New clause 5 aims simply to make it even more difficult for the Labour party to raise cash and to be able to organise effectively. I see that the hon. Member for Ilford, North is nodding agreement. There is a dictatorial or totalitarian character in some Conservative Members who want to take away the Labour party's right to be able to organise and carry out its functions in a political democracy.

The Conservative party now has a large majority. Conservative Members should bear it in mind that, although it is nice to have a majority of more than 100 and to know that the next general election is at least three years away the Labour movement has a pretty long memory. We have not forgotten the last time that the Conservatives used their majority—in 1927—to cripple Labour party funds.

It is foolish to under-estimate the memory of people who are active in the Labour movement. I assure Conservative Members that when there is a Labour Government there will be a need to examine carefully how companies contribute to the Tory party. I want shareholders to have the same rights in companies when it comes to political donations as do trade unionists. Irrespective of whether new clause 5 is accepted, Conservative Members should be aware that we are not likely to forget how they were willing to use their majority in the House to undermine and, if possible, cripple the political finances of the main Opposition party.

Mr. Bowen-Wells:

As the hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) would not give way to me, I am especially grateful for the opportunity to put my point to him. He might not be aware that company donations to the Conservative party amount to only 20 per cent. of the total, the rest being contributed by individual members in every constituency in the country. The Labour party should be able to learn something from that lesson. I do not believe that new clause 5 is an attack on the Labour party. The proof of the pudding is in the eating—the Labour party worked under a contracting in scheme after 1926 and, while still under that system, regained power in 1945, with a much increased majority, similar to that which the Conservatives now enjoy.

It would appear that the contracting-in system considerably weakens the Labour party and has contributed to its recent difficulties of organisation.

Photo of Mr John Evans Mr John Evans , St Helens North

The hon. Gentleman has just given some figures in connection with the relationship between what is contributed by big business and what is contributed by Conservative constituency organisations. Will he tell the House and the country how he can justify those figures when the Conservative party does not publish full financial accounts?

Photo of Mr Bowen Wells Mr Bowen Wells , Hertford and Stortford

The accounts that are published at the Conservative party annual conference are the ones on which I am relying. They are available to the public throughout the country. They show clearly where the Conservative party is financed from.

The point that I am trying to make is that the clause is not an attack on the Labour party or the trade union movement. The trade union movement will be unaffected if contracting-in becomes the -norm. This is about individual rights. It is a question of choice. It is a matter of individuals being able to exercise that choice fairly and without harassment because of their political views. this is the principle that we guard and should guard with our lives — the individual's ability to decide without harassment which way to vote.

The problem is that at present, because of the contracting-out system, each person who does not agree with the political levy must declare his political allegiance. I agree with the hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton) that that undermines the concept of secret ballots. I have seen it happen.

We were asked for examples. Even in a moderate union such as ASTMS, the form on which one can opt out of the political levy was changed in 1975, when the former Leader of the Opposition was the Secretary of State for Employment, to eliminate the box in which one could opt out. My wife was involved in that. There was a closed shop, and she had to ask for that form, but there has no box on it where she could opt out because it was eliminated by ASTMS. Eventually, six months later, it dragged up an old form with a box for opting out. That is typical of the way in which it has been made difficult for people who do not wish to pay the political levy to opt out. Other speakers have given figures.

Photo of Mr Patrick Nicholls Mr Patrick Nicholls , Teignbridge

Does my hon. Friend recall that in March last year Gavin Laird, the general secretary of the AUEW, was quoted in the press as saying: We make it as difficult as we possibly can to contract out of paying the political levy".

Photo of Mr Bowen Wells Mr Bowen Wells , Hertford and Stortford

That was a good intervention. I thank my hon. Friend for making it.

I wanted to give an example of the closed shop under the AUEW. People dare not opt out because, if they did so, their union card might be taken away, which means that they would have no job of work. That shows the harassment in the trade union movement up and down the country.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has made an agreement with the TUC to try to stop that harassment and make it easy to opt out. I respect and indeed admire the ability of my right hon. Friend, who is trying to persuade the trade union movement—rather than use the draconian powers that we could opt for — that that wrong needs desperately to be put right, and who is trying to give it an opportunity of putting that right.

However, the track record of the TUC and the unions in general is not good. There is at present an example in the coal miners' dispute. Some people are wantonly overriding the code of practice on picketing, which is a voluntary code. Many of the pickets are breaking a law passed in the House, which is not voluntary. Therefore, the trade union movement does not even respect the law passed in the House, let alone voluntary codes of conduct.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State may have misplaced his trust in the TUC which, after all, is a federation of unions. It does not have the power to impose an agreement made with my right hon. Friend on its constituent member unions. I very much doubt whether we shall get a satisfactory system to right the wrong from which we are presently suffering.

Photo of Mrs Jill Knight Mrs Jill Knight , Birmingham, Edgbaston

Would my hon. Friend feel happier about assurances from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State if a time limit were placed on agreement with the TUC? Would not my hon. Friend agree that if, after a certain time, the TUC was unable to agree, something should then be done?

Photo of Mr Bowen Wells Mr Bowen Wells , Hertford and Stortford

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for her remarks. I was just coming to those matters.

I shall listen carefully when my right hon. Friend replies to the conditions that he thinks should appropriately be placed on his undertaking with the TUC. I would be persuaded to support him in the trust that he has exhibited in the trade union movement if he set, say, a maximum of two years—[HON. MEMBERS: "Too long."] It may be too long, but I shall be listening carefully to discover whether or not the TUC will implement this undertaking properly and thoroughly.

I, and, I hope, the Government, will support the amendment in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Sussex (Mr. Renton). That will not allow employers to deduct the political levy unless the trade union member has given them instructions to do so. As the press has pointed out, I hope that my right hon. Friend will give an undertaking to introduce such a provision in another place.

I am also tempted to support new clause 9 tabled by the alliance parties. There must be control over the management of the political funds of trade unions. Not only do they use such funds to exact promises and undertakings from the Labour party in the form of political blackmail, but they use them to promote their own party political viewpoints. That is entirely wrong for trade unions, which should conduct their affairs in furtherance of their members' terms and conditions of employment rather than in a political manner.

If the unions wish to come here to conduct their affairs in a political forum, by all means let them do so, but to use the political muscle of the mass trade union movement for political purposes undermines the democracy that we all hold dear. I shall listen closely to what my right hon. Friend says and to the conditions that he is prepared to place on his agreement with the TUC.

Photo of Mr Robert Litherland Mr Robert Litherland , Manchester Central

The hon. Gentleman has alleged that anyone opting out of a political fund has his trade union card taken away, thereby losing his job. Will he name the unions concerned, because I do not believe that that has happened?

Photo of Mr Bowen Wells Mr Bowen Wells , Hertford and Stortford

I am quoting a specific example from my own constituency. I shall give the name and address to the hon. Gentleman in private — [HON. MEMBERS: "Do it now."] The union is the AEUW, but I am not prepared to name the person now as it would endanger his job. That is what I am complaining about tonight.

Photo of Mr Eddie Loyden Mr Eddie Loyden , Liverpool, Garston 10:30 pm, 2nd April 1984

I can understand the pique that was expressed by the hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton) tonight. As a member of the Liberal party he will, of course, be aware that the early trade unionists—certainly those at the turn of the century—became fully aware that the Liberal party was not the party to which the trade unions should be related. That was why they created the Labour party. I can well understand the feelings of the hon. Member for Mossley Hill in now condemning the trade union movement for its relationship with and affiliation to the Labour party. That relationship and affiliation have gone on historically for the whole of this century.

Conservative Members who have raised the question of the membership of trade unions, and who are opposed to trade unions continuing their association with the Labour party by the political levy, are completely unaware of the realities of the trade union movement. That was evident during the Committee stage of the Bill. It has been clear that they know little or nothing of the affairs of the trade union movement.

My hon. Friends have said during the debate that there appears to be no impediment to opting out of the political levy, for the numbers that have been given show quite clearly that where union members want to opt out they can do so without great hindrance.

The Government's real intentions are now known to the House. I do not think that those who served on the Committee were ever under any illusions about those intentions. The Tories have now dropped any pretence that the Bill is other than a blatant attack upon the trade union movement, with the intention of weakening, if not demolishing, it. I am certain that, no matter what the Conservative Government do or attempt to do, the trade union movement, which in the past has withstood the pressures put on it by Governments, will not only survive but flourish against the background of the viciousness shown by this Government since they were elected in 1979.

The Government's intention — they have made it patently clear— is to remove or weaken all forms of opposition to them. We have seen it in their attack upon local authorities. We have seen it in their attack upon the metropolitan counties. We now see it in their attack upon the trade union movement.

Local authorities, as a consequence of the Government's policy, have mass unemployment among their communities. The city of Liverpool has attempted to alleviate some of those problems by standing firm on the policies for which the Labour party in Liverpool was elected. The punishment that the Labour councillors are receiving from the Government will serve to make them even more determined to carry out policies which will lead to the betterment of the conditions of the people whom they represent.

The metropolitan counties are under attack because the Government believe that those Labour-controlled authorities stand as a barrier against the Government and their intentions for the future.

The people are waking up to the fact that the Government are out to remove, by laws made in this place, all opposition to the Government in every section of the community. That is why the Trade Union Bill has been introduced. One of the Conservative Members who spoke previously gave the game away. Had all of this Government's industrial relations legislation been introduced in one Bill at the beginning of their term of office, there is no doubt as to the backlash that it would have evoked in the trade union movement and even beyond. The Government's step-by-step policies have enabled them in many cases to con workers into believing that the Bills before the House, and the Acts that have already been passed, were intended to democratise the trade union movement, as Ministers constantly say, and to hand it back to its members. Every trade unionist now knows the Government's true intention. The new clause exposes the views of the Tory party. The hon. Member for Bridlington (Mr. Townend) may find that only a section of the Tory party will support him today, but I predict that at some time in the future the Government will do as he wishes on the political levy. They know that the financial base of the Labour party depends on the trade union movement—and no Labour Member should be ashamed to say so.

The trade union movement built the Labour party and our commen objectives have historically been clearly established. There is no denying the fact that the Labour party depends to a large extent on the contributions of the trade union movement, and we are proud of the relationship.

The trade unions know that their best interests are served by the existence of a strong Labour party. The Government know that if they wish to carry out their vicious attacks on the living standards of working people they must remove the first defence of the working class. The first shield of workers is the trade union movement. The Conservatives fully recognise that, and it is a great pity that it is not also recognised by some trade union leaders.

The hon. Member for Mossley Hill matches in every way the obvious hatred of the trade union movement that is seen on the Tory Benches — and the Social Democratic party is even further to the Right than the Liberal party. SDP Members who sat on the Labour Benches not long ago benefited from the contributions of the trade union movement and never objected to the advantages that they gained from that cash. The greatest hypocrisy displayed in the House has come from the alliance Benches.

As a lifelong trade union member, who has confidence in the hard core of the trade union movement, I know that the Bill will not have the effect that the Government seek. The trade union movement has been through two world wars and has sustained and developed itself and flourished in the most difficult times. That will continue and the movement will help the Labour party to destroy this Tory Government and return a Socialist Government committed to Socialist policies and the interests of the trade union movement.

Photo of Mr Julian Amery Mr Julian Amery , Brighton, Pavilion

The hon. Member for Liverpool, Garston (Mr. Loyden) is right to the extent that there was a time when the parliamentary Labour party was the extension of the trade union movement into politics. However, after the last election, it would be absurd for anyone to pretend that that is still the case.

I do not claim that the Conservatives got a majority of the votes of trade union members, but I doubt whether Labour got a majority, bearing in mind the trade unionists who voted Conservative, Liberal, SDP, Ulster Unionist and so on. The existing position has become an anomaly.

When my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State says that he is trying to find a formula for contracting out, he is really saying that a trade union member is deemed to be a member of the Labour party unless he decides to declare otherwise. Why not say that he is deemed to be a member of the Labour party and give him a postal vote, so that he need not bother to vote at all on election day unless he decides to do so? It is time that we faced up to this anomaly.

My right hon. Friend has a difficult task. He has a difficult hand to play in his negotiations with the trade union movement, particularly at this delicate moment, and I wish him well. The last thing that I want to do is to go in for Back Bench driving, and, if he thinks that this is the right way to proceed, I should like, if I can, to help him. I appreciate that our manifesto is not clear on the matter, but in my study of history—I have studied it certainly for this century — I have found that whenever a Conservative Minister has taken refuge behind the manifesto, it has been a disaster. I would not recommend that line of defence to him.

I understand my right hon. Friend to be saying that if the trade union movement did not deliver the goods, he would reserve the Government's position. That is not good enough—when I see the attitude of many trade union leaders in the present crisis—so I have a proposition for him. If he will say tonight that if the trade union movement does not live up to its, and our, expectations by the year before the general election, he will legislate that it must be contracting in and not contracting out, I will support him tonight. If not, he must not be surprised if I do not do that—indeed, if I do the opposite. I do not think that that would do him any harm. It may even strengthen his hand with those with whom he must negotiate.

Photo of Mr David Penhaligon Mr David Penhaligon , Truro

One of my hobbies is to study election results. I note that at the last general election only one Member of this House succeeded in persuading half the electors in his constituency to vote for him. He was the leader of the Labour party at that time, the right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot).

I compare that figure with the success of the Transport and General Workers Union in persuading 98·4 per cent. of its members to stay affiliated within the levy system. The hon. Member for Liverpool, Garston (Mr. Loyden) implied that that was a voluntary action. It seems amazing, considering that such skills are available to the Labour party and are so demonstrated throughout the land—that 98·4 per cent. of the membership of that union could be persuaded to give money to a political party—that that party does not use those skills more widely at general elections to produce more results such as that recorded in the Blaenau Gwent constituency.

It took the collective efforts of all the parties in my constituency—of the Conservative, Labour and Liberal parties, of the SDP, Ulster Unionists, Scot-Nats, Plaid Cymru and Mebyon Kernow—to persuade 72 per cent. of the electorate to vote. That was the result of our total collective effort, yet NUPE manages to persuade 97·7 per cent. of its members—to quote figures previously given by Labour Members—to make voluntary contributions to the Labour party; and the NUR, 96·6 per cent. of its members.

We know that it is a fiddle, as the hon. Member for Bridlington (Mr. Townend) pointed out, and I congratulate the hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick), who made what I thought was the best speech from the Opposition Benches, on as good as admitting that it was a fiddle; the Labour party needed the money, this method produced the money and therefore it was right That it should be done this way.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Walsall North

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his compliments, but so that his statement is not taken as confirmed by the lack of any intervention from me I should make it clear that I in no way said that the levy was a fiddle. I confirmed that there was no evidence of difficulties in contracting out. I admitted that the system helped the Labour party, but it can in no way be described as a fiddle, for the reasons that I have given.

Photo of Mr David Penhaligon Mr David Penhaligon , Truro

If the hon. Gentleman ever finds himself speaking from the Dispatch Box, I hope that I shall not have to appeal to his better nature about what is right or wrong and what is a fiddle, but I will leave the matter there, as it will be on the record and people can make of it what they choose.

10.45 pm

The hon. Member for Bridlington suggested that if this provision were approved the alliance might become the alternative party to the Conservatives in Government. The argument seemed to be that if both Opposition parties were bankrupt we might stand a better chance. The Labour party need not worry, however, because the Secretary of State, his colleagues on the Front Bench, the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) and the whole Tory establishment will rally round on the same rationale as they somehow manage to apportion 18 of the 19 Supply days to the Labour party and only one to the alliance.

There is no need for Labour Members to worry, although you may have a little problem with the company you are keeping in the Lobby tonight——

Photo of Mr Harold Walker Mr Harold Walker , Doncaster Central

Order. I hope that I shall not have any problems with the company that I shall be keeping tonight.

Photo of Mr David Penhaligon Mr David Penhaligon , Truro

I apologise, Mr. Deputy Speaker. One improvement in Members when they are elevated to the Chair is that they have more sense than to vote very often.

Labour Members have nothing to fear save the company that they may be keeping in the Lobby today. The present cosy system—this basic fiddle and utterly irrational system of financing British politics — will continue. The saddest thing of all is that some Members still believe that 98·4 per cent. of TGWU members actually want to give money to the Labour party.

Photo of Mr Tom King Mr Tom King Secretary of State for Employment

The hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Penhaligon) referred to the company that Labour Members would be keeping in the Division and congratulated the hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) on his speech. I put it to him in the kindest possible way that the first time I have ever agreed with the hon. Member for Walsall, North was when he said that the company that he would be keeping in the Lobby today would be the high-principled SDP Members who never saw any principle at all in this until they found themselves in a different political party and, having never raised the subject throughout their political life, suddenly found it a matter of the highest political principle.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bridlington (Mr. Townend) fairly recognised that his new clause represented the alternative approach to that adopted by the Government in the Bill. I should like to explain why we chose the other approach. We are re-enacting and seeking to make work not some new, radical, arrangement but the original provisions of the 1913 Act.

The 1913 Act said two things. First, it said that people should have the right to vote in a ballot as to whether their union should have a political fund. Those of my hon. Friends who have some doubts about our position should remember that aspect of the 1913 Act because it is important to our proposals. The Act said that any political fund should be approved by a secret ballot of the members. Moreover, it said that any member who does not wish to subscribe to the union's political activities has the right not to do so. I stand four square with all my hon. Friends who have spoken in the clear belief, indeed conviction, that there is undoubtedly considerable abuse and obstruction of that right.

Some hon. Members have sought to challenge that and have asked what evidence there is. My hon. Friend the Member for Hertford and Stortford (Mr. Wells) gave a clear illustration of how his wife had sought to exercise her right to contract out but had clearly been obstructed. My hon. Friend the Member for Teignbridge (Mr. Nicholls) quoted that well-known remark made by Gavin Laird on Channel 4. He does not come from a union that many might think was the worst offender in that respect and he is not somebody whom one might regard as one of the more likely to be the least tolerant of contracting out. He made his position clear when he said: We make it as difficult as we can for our members to contract out.

Photo of Mr Tom King Mr Tom King Secretary of State for Employment

The hon. Gentleman has not been here for the whole of the debate and I seek to reply to those who have made serious points.

That is simply not acceptable to the Government. We stand by the right of people to exercise the right which was originally ascribed to them in the 1913 Act.

Photo of Mr Tom King Mr Tom King Secretary of State for Employment

The Bill is designed to achieve that.

Those of my hon. Friends who are concerned about the proposal will know that it received long consideration before the preparation of the manifesto. I listened with great understanding to the words of wisdom from my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery). I am not sure whether he said that to plead the manifesto was the last refuge of a scoundrel or a Conservative Minister. My hon. Friend the Member for Bridlington said it was not enough to give as a reason not to adopt his new clause that it was not in the manifesto. It is not because it was not in the manifesto but because in the manifesto we said something precisely different. We said something specific about an alternative approach. We put that proposition to the country and that proposition was seen and accepted by the considerable number of trade unionists to whom we owe the far more crowded Benches behind me than I notice opposite. My right hon. Friend the Member for Pavilion said that manifestos are not very clear. A degree of clarity may be lacking in one or two aspects on different pages, but in this area the manifesto is clear and precise.

First, we said that we would restore to people their right under the 1913 Act to vote in a secret ballot on whether they wished to have a political fund. There was one error in the 1913 Act. It established that right, but the draftsmen forgot to ensure that the right could be exercised by successive generations. It is not unreasonable that that right, having been exercised by the grandfathers of present union members, should be exercised now as well. Our first, and very important, proposal is that every 10 years there will be the right for union members in unions which seek to have a political fund to vote on that political fund. That will therefore give to every generation in effect, the same right as their founding fathers had in 1913. If I may say so to my hon. Friends who are concerned about the Government's resolve in this general area, that is a very much more fundamental point, and it goes way beyond the issues of contracting in or contracting out, because, as they will appreciate, if the union is not able to carry the majority of its members, in a free and secret ballot, in the desire for a political fund, the issues of contracting in or contracting out become irrelevant, because there is no fund into which, or out of which, to contract.

Photo of Mr Julian Amery Mr Julian Amery , Brighton, Pavilion

Is my right hon. Friend seriously telling us that, in the case of a young man who joined a union at the age of 20, it is not until he is 30 years of age that he can exercise his vote to change the system?

Photo of Mr Tom King Mr Tom King Secretary of State for Employment

I acknowledge that one can always argue to go further, but I think that at least my right hon. Friend would recognise that that is a substantial advance on the position of union members retiring at the age of 65 who have never had a chance in all their lives to vote in a political ballot, so I think that a periodic ballot every ten years is not unreasonable.

I wish to make clear that we entirely accept—we said this in the debate in Committee—that it is people's right, if they so choose, to have a political fund, but what we think is intolerable is for that political fund to be maintained without the opportunity for the members of the unions to have a right to vote in a ballot on whether they choose to have one. If people do so choose, under our proposals they will be well able to continue that political fund.

The second part of our package deals with the steps that the unions can take to ensure that members are freely and effectively able to decide for themselves whether or not to pay the political levy. The House will know that, in accordance with the manifesto, in which we said that we would invite the TUC to discuss with us the steps that the unions could take, I invited the TUC to come and discuss the matter with me. Members of the employment policy and organisation committee did so. We discussed the matter and, after further discussions, they subsequently produced a statement of guidance for the affiliated unions. I considered that statement of guidance. I advised them that, if that statement of guidance was adopted by the general council and issued with its full committed support, I would not propose to bring forward amendments to change the present basis of the law. I should like to give the House the reasons for having reached that conclusion.

What are the contents of the statement of guidance? The statement of guidance is issued to all the affiliated unions and contains the following key points. The guidance requires the unions to tell their members why a union has a political fund, to tell them what their political levy costs them, in cash terms and as a proportion of their normal dues, to tell them that they have the right to opt out, if they so wish, and to make clear, if they do so, that they will lose none of the other rights or benefits of members. It requires the unions to explain to their members in detail how to contract out, if that is what they want, and that information should be supplied to all new members, to all existing members after a ballot is held on the political fund, if that ballot is successful, and in addition any member at any time, if he asks for one, must be given a copy. The further content of the statement of guidance, and the framework in which the TUC issued it, with the unanimous support of the general council, is that unions are asked to review their existing procedures as soon as possible to ensure that the guidance is acted upon.

Further, unions should ensure that no obstacles are placed in the way of members wishing to contract out of the political levy, and prompt and effective procedures for exemption should operate in the union in accordance with the Trade Union Act 1913 and certification officers' model rules for political funds. It ends with the words: The General Council strongly recommend the above practices to affiliated unions, and expect unions to ensure that their political fund arrangements operate fairly and effectively, and comply with the unions' statutory obligations under the 1913 Trade Union Act. It is particularly important that unions' procedures avoid the possibility of members being unaware of their rights in relation to the political fund, or being unable to exercise them freely.

11 pm

Photo of Mr Timothy Renton Mr Timothy Renton , Mid Sussex

I have been listening with great care to what my right hon. Friend has had to say on this difficult matter. Would he consider suggesting to the TUC, in pursuit of the guidance that he has just read out, that an opting-out form should be incorporated in the membership form for every new member joining a trade union?

Photo of Mr Tom King Mr Tom King Secretary of State for Employment

I made it clear, as does the statement, that the union members must avoid being unaware of their rights on the funds, and be able to exercise them freely. The statement requires the union to make it clear that its members do not even need a form to contract out. Under the 1913 Act, the members are required to contract out only in such form as is appropriate. Those are not the exact words, but the effect is that a form is not needed for contracting out.

What I say next is part of the answer to the concern that my hon. Friend and I share. I believe that, by the voluntary approach, this statement of guidance covers completely the circumstances that ensure that the contracting-out arrangements work effectively and that, if it is honoured, it will make a major improvement and will end much abuse. I understand that there are a number of my hon. Friends who do not believe that any voluntary arrangement is possible—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—and are not prepared to see whether it can be made to work. The Government are prepared to try to accept the statement in good faith. By it, the TUC is putting itself on trial. I say, in the phrase that has been used by other hon. Members, that I have no illusions about this. My hon. Friend the Member for Hertford and Stortford said that there is not a good track record in these matters, and I agree with that, but this is what we told the country that we would do. We have reached a voluntary agreement with the TUC.

We have been seeking to introduce legislation to improve industrial relations. My predecessor introduced legislation that has significantly improved industrial relations, but each step has been in the teeth of determined opposition from the TUC. This is the first occasion on which we have been able to reach a voluntary agreement. We are prepared to honour it, but I have to repeat what I said in our letter confirming our acceptance to the general secretary of the TUC. I wrote to Mr. Murray in the following terms: I must, of course, make it clear that the Government's decision not to proceed with such changes in the present Bill would rest on the firm expectation that the TUC's action will in practice be effective. If it were not to prove effective then the Government must, of course, reserve its right to legislate to ensure that union members are fully aware of the choice they have and are readily able to exercise that choice.

Photo of Sir Nicholas Bonsor Sir Nicholas Bonsor , Upminster

I fully understand and endorse my right hon. Friend's desire to arrive at a voluntary agreement with the trade unions. That would be desirable. I share with many of my hon. Friends a profound belief that this measure will not work and that the trade union movement will continue to coerce its membership. I do not, however, ask my right hon. Friend, like my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery), to give a commitment to legislate for contracting in. That would be asking too much. It would mean asking my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to project into the future. I ask my right hon. Friend to give a commitment to legislate further if this agreement breaks down and to consider the possibility of contracting in.

Photo of Mr Tom King Mr Tom King Secretary of State for Employment

The last sentence in the manifesto on the political levy — I paid great attention to an earlier sentence, so I pay equal attention to the next—refers to the steps that the trade unions are able and willing to take. I make it clear: In the event that the trade unions are not willing to take such steps, the Government will be prepared to introduce measures to guarantee a free and effective right of choice. [HON. MEMBERS: "When?"] I am grateful to my hon. Friends who shouted, "When?" When an hon. Member raised that point earlier, an hon. Member shouted, "How long will you give them?" Another hon. Member shouted, "Midnight", and the next contribution was, "Two years." That brackets the area effectively.

The unions have entered the agreement with the full commitment of the TUC general council, and we expect it to be honoured. The Government will honour their part of the bargain. I say clearly and seriously to the union leaders involved, "Now it is up to you." The Government are determined that the people will get their rights under the 1913 Act. I am satisfied that that can be achieved under this voluntary agreement, if it is genuinely implemented. Of course, the agreement can be frustrated, and those who remember the history of these matters know that only too clearly. If the agreement is frustrated, let there be no doubt that the Government will not sit back. We will honour our undertaking to introduce measures such as those to which I have referred.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Finsberg Mr Geoffrey Finsberg , Hampstead and Highgate

I am grateful for those especially strong words. Will my right hon. Friend accept that a time bracket of midnight and two years is not quite good enough? Will he spell out—I believe he wants to—that, if a union fails to honour this undertaking, he will not wait for seven or eight pieces of evidence but will move swiftly and will persuade his right hon. Friend the Patronage Secretary and the business managers to find time for immediate legislation?

Photo of Mr Tom King Mr Tom King Secretary of State for Employment

My hon. Friend is right to pick me up on a remark that did not go to the heart of what I was trying to say. I shall not tonight give a specific time from the Dispatch Box. We are prepared to deal fairly with this matter. We shall allow the trade unions to make their proper arrangements. We shall be watching the position very closely. I certainly expect to have, significantly short of what I call the far end of the time bracket, clear evidence that the measure is operating effectively. I give that clear assurance to my hon. Friend.

Photo of Mr Ivan Lawrence Mr Ivan Lawrence , Burton

Is the undertaking that my right hon. Friend is expecting from the unions any more than play acting and a charade? Does he honestly expect the unions and the TUC, which is not obliging the National Union of Mineworkers to obey the law, to obey a mere guideline?

Photo of Mr Tom King Mr Tom King Secretary of State for Employment

I am spelling out, I hope without lack of clarity, as I have spelt out at other meetings, the Government's clear position on this matter. There are other audiences that are aware of the Government's position on this matter. It is up to them to be willing and determined to make the 1913 Act work and to ensure people's rights. If they are not, they must be prepared to face the consequences. I explained to my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead and Highgate (Sir G. Finsberg) the kind of time scale in which that might operate.

I cannot go any further tonight in saying what steps might be appropriate. My hon. Friend asked for a specific undertaking about the form that those measures might take. I will say, as we did in the manifesto, that we will ensure that people have a free and effective right of choice.

If we find that the voluntary arrangement is not working satisfactorily, the need to take further steps to ensure that trade unionists can exercise their rights will be further reinforced by the fact that we have offered a voluntary agreement. We will therefore be that much more entitled to take those further steps.

I know that a number of my right hon. and hon. Friends are worried by what they believe to be the inadequacy of the contracting-out procedure. There is a point which did not arise under the 1913 Act but which arises with the more modern practice of check-off. The point was covered in our Green Paper. If someone contracts out and has properly informed his employer that he has contracted out, there is nothing to prevent the employer continuing to make the deductions for the political funds, and all that the member who has contracted out can do is to seek to recover the contribution from the trade union. That may be what my hon. Friends the Members for Mid-Sussex (Mr. Renton) and for Reigate (Mr. Gardiner) have in mind. I believe that we are to have a debate on that matter next and I hope to say something helpful about it.

Photo of Mr John Townend Mr John Townend , Bridlington

Will my right hon. Friend spell out for the benefit of the House the criteria that he will use in deciding whether his voluntary agreement has been effective? Does he expect every union to comply, and if one or two do not, will he legislate? Does he expect the number contracting out to rise significantly?

Photo of Mr Tom King Mr Tom King Secretary of State for Employment

I should be staggered if the free and efffective right of choice resulted in anything approaching the figures that the hon. Member for Truro and others have quoted. If 98·7 per cent. of the members of the Transport and General Workers Union genuinely wish to subscribe to the Labour party, good luck to them. Our criteria will be that we are satisfied that people are aware of their rights and have a free and fair opportunity to exercise them. It will be a matter of judgment and I cannot specify what would constitute a satisfactory outcome. We will approach the matter in the fairest way that we can, because we are determined under the Bill to see that people enjoy their rights.

Photo of Mr Tom King Mr Tom King Secretary of State for Employment

I have given way several times, and I do not propose to do so again.

I have sought to set out to the House the Government's position. We attach great importance to the achievement of the voluntary agreement. I hope that, having listened to my arguments and the explanation of the Government's position, my hon. Friend the Member for Bridlington will be willing not to press his new clause. However, if he feels obliged to do so, I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends will join me in rejecting it and showing that the Conservative party and the Conservative Government stand ready to defend the rights of individual members as set out under the 1913 Act, to work with the trade union movement on a voluntary agreement where that proves possible, and to give the trade union movement the opportunity to respond to the agreement that we offer it.

Photo of Mr John Smith Mr John Smith , Monklands East

I can be much briefer than the Secretary of State was as, with no disrespect to him, my task is a little less complicated than that which he has just performed.

The hon. Member for Bridlington (Mr. Townend) should at least be given credit for being frank. He did not hide behind a lot of the rhetoric about individual rights that other Conservative Members indulged in. In his closing remarks he came very much to the point when he made it quite clear that he believed that his new clause was designed to postpone the day when a Labour Government would be elected. Of course, when he said that, we understood in a flash why the Liberal and Social Democratic parties supported it. They wish to inherit the vacancy promoted by the hon. Gentleman. Although the way in which he moved his new clause would not win any prizes for persuasion, he should at least be given some credit for frankness on that account.

It has been a recurring theme of Conservative Members that there has been some abuse of the contracting-out system. However, I refer them to the speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett) and to the Donovan commission, which looked into this matter carefully. Lord Can, who was then a Conservative Member of Parliament — and who still supports that party—gave evidence to the Donovan commission. He alleged that it was difficult for trade union members to contract out. The commission asked him to provide evidence to back up that allegation. It said: We asked Mr. Carr whether he had specific instances in mind, and if so whether he would prepared to give details to the Royal Commission, if necessary in confidence. In a courteous reply, he made it clear that he was not basing his remarks on detailed examples but was speaking in general terms. He thought, however, that he might be able to supply details of specific cases if given the time—an expectation appararently not fulfilled. Whenever that allegation has been followed up, there has been a signal absence of specific evidence. That is the case again today, and it was notably true of the speech of the hon. Member for Hertford and Stortford (Mr. Wells), who was concerned that his wife had some difficulty in not being able to contract out of ASTMS. She must be singularly incapable, because 70 per cent. of the membership of that union somehow manages to contract out. Therefore, the hon. Gentleman should have a word with his wife and tell her to ask the 70 per cent. how that difficult task is undertaken.

Photo of Mr Bowen Wells Mr Bowen Wells , Hertford and Stortford

I find it offensive that the right hon. and learned Member should take my wife to task. However, my point was that ASTMS did not make it easy to contract out. Indeed, under the influence of the Labour Government it eliminated the box on the form. The fact that 70 per cent. nevertheless managed to contract out reflects no credit on ASTMS.

Photo of Mr John Smith Mr John Smith , Monklands East

I do not want to cause the hon. Gentleman any difficulty with his wife. He brought her into the debate.

The hon. Gentleman cannot pretend that a great conspiracy is afoot in ASTMS to deny members their rights under the 1913 Act — rights which, as the Secretary of State reminded us, they have had for 70 years —when 70 per cent. of the members somehow manage to contract out. The vast majority of ASTMS members do not wish to contribute to the political levy, and clearly they are given the opportunity to contract out. I know that ASTMS has been the subject of a campaign by the CTU and other bodies for some time. Perhaps that campaign has contributed to the fact that 70 per cent. have contracted out. But ASTMS is one example, and, just as in some of the larger manual workers' unions a large number of members pay the political levy, so there are other unions such as ACTT in which over 90 per cent. contract out. As the Donovan commission noted, this is more a political question than a question of industrial relations.

The Donovan commission's report is the most recent objective account of the matter. It was not based on anecdotal evidence or political prejudice; and it went fully into the whole matter. The conclusion of the report was that the problem of 'contracting-in' or 'contracting-out' is not so much a question of industrial relations as a political question, namely whether the Labour Party shall get the benefit of this reluctance"— by "reluctance" the authors of the report meant the inertia about contracting out— or not. It continued: Parliament in 1913 enacted provisions (which were restored in 1946) in favour of members of trade unions who object to paying a political levy, enabling them to 'contract out' if they wished, and we have no evidence that these are ineffective, and that the protection conferred by the Act of 1913 is illusory. In the circumstances, we do not recommend any change. It also said that there was a long period between 1961 and 1964 during which political opportunities existed for a change to be made, and no such change was made. That was the conclusion of an objective body, not based on the political prejudice which has been amply evident today.

Photo of Mr Timothy Renton Mr Timothy Renton , Mid Sussex

The right hon. and learned Gentleman makes much of the fact that in his judgment there are no difficulties in contracting out. Has he read the September issue of Marxism Today? [Interruption.] I shall lend the hon. Gentleman my copy. It contains a round table discussion by a number of national union officers, including Jack Dromey, public services national officer of the Transport and General Workers Union, who says: We must knock on the head this nonsense where we say that members have that right"— the right to contract out— but we make it difficult for them: they have to go to the third tree on the left of Hyde Park on February 29 and there they might find a contracting-out form. Is that not the fact of the matter?

Photo of Mr John Smith Mr John Smith , Monklands East

I have not had the benefit of reading that article in full. My weekend reading is different from that of the hon. Gentleman. I am not prepared to comment on the words that he has quoted without seeing them in their context, and seeing whether what he says is true. If the hon. Gentleman is prepared to find Mr. Dromey so persuasive on this subject, is he prepared to agree with him on other subjects too? Has there ever been another occasion on which the hon. Gentleman has been able to quote from Marxism Today with anything approaching approval? He should be careful where he finds his political friends and his political comfort.

The new clause is offensive. It is particularly offensive because of the hypocritical double standards contained in it. The hon. Member for Bridlington half understood this point when he moved the new clause. He was prompted by an intervention to say that he saw some point in having some controls over contributions by companies to the Conservative party or other political institutions——

Photo of Mr Vivian Bendall Mr Vivian Bendall , Ilford North

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman give way?

Photo of Mr John Smith Mr John Smith , Monklands East

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will allow me to develop this point. We know that the Social Democratic party and other parties sometimes benefit from company contributions too. The hon. Member for Bridlington was signally careful not to specify what controls he had in mind. There was a time when we had a Companies Bill almost every year for years and I do not recollect any Conservative Member voting for any restrictions on company contributions that were proposed. My hon. Friend the Member for Bow and Poplar (Mr. Mikardo) advanced such propositions in Committee and in the House several times and he has often been upbraided by Conservative Members for raising such a delicate issue. The hon. Gentleman would have a proper background on this issue if he had advocated restrictions on company contributions when he did not have to create the appearance of political symmetry to advance, with some persuasion, new clause 5. I have not checked the hon. Gentleman's record, but I know that he has not voted for, and it is likely that he has voted against, introducing controls on company contributions.

We know that among free and independent organisations trade unions are uniquely controlled and circumscribed by the law with regard to their political contributions. Until the Osborne judgment of 1910, trade unions were as free as other organisations to spend their money as they thought fit and, in their judgment, in the best interests of their members. Companies have always been able to do that, but the 1913 Act put trade unions under special circumscription and control. First, they must keep their political funds quite separate from the general one. They must then get approval for the political fund from their mass membership and they must give the individual the right to contract out.

A shareholder, member, customer or employee of any British company does not have any say in any political contribution that the company makes. Why? Because of the sense of individual rights that is so deeply embedded in the Conservative party. Is there no concern for the right of the individual shareholder, or for him to be consulted and allowed to contract out, never mind contract in? Why do we not have a ballot of the members of the company to decide whether there should be a political fund? Why do they not have a right to contract out? Why, if we have such concern for political fairness and individual liberty, does the rich party get its sources fully protected while the poor party has, for 70 years, been circumscribed by the law? Instead of putting companies on the same footing as trade unions, the hon. Gentleman does nothing about companies but tries to move even more heavily and penally against the trade union movement.

Photo of Mr William Clark Mr William Clark , Croydon South

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman explain how trade unions get a block vote if not because of the amount of money that they pay to the Labour party?

Photo of Mr John Smith Mr John Smith , Monklands East

I forgive the hon. Gentleman for not knowing too much about the constitution of the Labour party, but even random observation might have taught him that he is talking about a completely different matter. The Labour party and the trade unions decide how they cast votes at conference. We need no education from a party that does not believe in having any votes of any type at conference. It is well known that the Conservative party gets an enormous amount of money from private sector industry.

Photo of Mr Robert Atkins Mr Robert Atkins , South Ribble

Why does the right hon. and learned Gentleman keep advancing the theory that the Conservative party gets so much money from business when it is known that 85 per cent. of the money that keeps it running comes, unlike the Labour party, from private contributions?

Photo of Mr John Smith Mr John Smith , Monklands East

The hon. Gentleman has given me slightly different information from that given by one of his hon. Friends, who said that only 20 per cent. of contributions comes from corporate donations. If that is so, the Conservatives have more funds than I thought. The time has come for the Conservative party to publish proper accounts.

11.30 pm

One of the reasons why Conservative Members quote how much a trade union contributes to the Labour party or to the political fund is that all the figures are published in the annual report of the certification officer. Every union shows to the last penny the amount of money paid in its political levy and the percentage of the members. It is there in massive detail. What do we get from the Conservative party in its annual accounts? Money in, money out, and no identification whatsoever of where it comes from. If the Conservative party was a limited company and had to publish accounts under the Companies Acts, there is not an auditor out of gaol in this country who could sign the auditor's report—and this is the party that talks about fairness, individual rights and political morality.

The Secretary of State, in his careful and complicated speech, did no more than fulfil the undertaking that he gave to the TUC, which I am sure he meant, that as a result of the statement of guidance that was agreed he would not table amendments to change the present basis of the law regarding the payment of the political levy. The right hon. Gentleman could not have avoided his attitude in his speech, because on that occasion the Government gave a clear commitment to the TUC, which it expects them to uphold. I am sure that the Government will do so. However, in rejecting the new clause proposed by the hon. Member for Bridlington let it not be said that the Opposition had to go through the same careful manoeuvring as the Secretary of State.

Photo of Alan Beith Alan Beith Opposition Whip (Commons)

The right hon. Gentleman will go through the same Lobby as the Secretary of State.

Photo of Mr John Smith Mr John Smith , Monklands East

The hon. Gentleman should be careful with his guilt-by-association technique. He will go through the Lobby with some strange allies. He will be going through the Lobby with people who make the Monday Club look like a sodden regiment. He will also go through the same Lobby as members of the Social Democratic party who, when in the Labour party, were sponsored by trade unions, but as soon as they left the Labour party they decided that it was all wrong in principle. From time to time we all find ourselves in the Lobby with people with whom we would not have chosen to be there. The hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) will have a bigger struggle with his conscience tonight than I shall.

I do not have to make as complicated a speech as the Secretary of State did. We in the Opposition can afford to say clearly that what is wrong with new clause 5 is that it is hypocritical, unfair and party political biased.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 57, Noes 472.

Division No. 218][11.34 pm
AYES
Aitken, JonathanHeathcoat-Amory, David
Alton, DavidHind, Kenneth
Amery, Rt Hon JulianHowarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)
Ashdown, PaddyHowarth, Gerald (Cannock)
Beith, A. J.Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk)
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)Howells, Geraint
Brinton, TimHughes, Simon (Southwark)
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes)Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Hillh'd)
Bruinvels, PeterJones, Robert (W Herts)
Carlisle, John (N Luton)Kennedy, Charles
Cartwright, JohnKirkwood, Archibald
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)Lawrence, Ivan
Cockeram, EricMaclennan, Robert
Dover, DenMeadowcroft, Michael
Fallon, MichaelMorris, M. (N'hampton, S)
Freud, ClementMurphy, Christopher
Gardiner, George (Reigate)Neale, Gerrard
Gorst, JohnPenhaligon, David
Ground, PatrickPrentice, Rt Hon Reg
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)Proctor, K. Harvey
Hannam, JohnRoss, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Hawksley, WarrenRossi, Sir Hugh
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)Wallace, James
Stanbrook, IvorWiggin, Jerry
Steel, Rt Hon DavidWinterton, Mrs Ann
Steen, AnthonyWinterton, Nicholas
Taylor, Rt Hon John David
Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)Tellers for the Ayes:
Terlezki, StefanMr. John Townend and Mr. Vivian Bendall.
Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Walden, George
NOES
Adams, Allen (Paisley N)Chalker, Mrs Lynda
Adley, RobertChannon, Rt Hon Paul
Alexander, RichardChapman, Sydney
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelChope, Christopher
Amess, DavidChurchill, W. S.
Ancram, MichaelClark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n)
Anderson, DonaldClark, Dr David (S Shields)
Arnold, TomClark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Ashby, DavidClarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Ashton, JoeClarke, Thomas
Aspinwall, JackClay, Robert
Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H.Clegg, Sir Walter
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble)Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.)
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E)Cohen, Harry
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)Coleman, Donald
Bagier, Gordon A. T.Colvin, Michael
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y)Concannon, Rt Hon J. D.
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset)Conlan, Bernard
Baldry, AnthonyCook, Frank (Stockton North)
Banks, Robert (Harrogate)Cook, Robin F. (Livingston)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Coombs, Simon
Barnett, GuyCope, John
Barron, KevinCorbett, Robin
Batiste, SpencerCorbyn, Jeremy
Beaumont-Dark, AnthonyCormack, Patrick
Beckett, Mrs MargaretCorrie, John
Bell, StuartCouchman, James
Benn, TonyCowans, Harry
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh)Craigen, J. M.
Bennett, Sir Frederic (T'bay)Cranborne, Viscount
Benyon, WilliamCritchley, Julian
Bermingham, GeraldCrouch, David
Berry, Sir AnthonyCrowther, Stan
Bevan, David GilroyCunningham, Dr John
Bidwell, SydneyCurrie, Mrs Edwina
Biffen, Rt Hon JohnDavies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli)
Biggs-Davison, Sir JohnDavies, Ronald (Caerphilly)
Blair, AnthonyDavis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir PeterDeakins, Eric
Body, RichardDixon, Donald
Bonsor, Sir NicholasDobson, Frank
Boothroyd, Miss BettyDormand, Jack
Bottomley, PeterDorrell, Stephen
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n)Douglas, Dick
Boyes, RolandDouglas-Hamilton, Lord J.
Boyson, Dr RhodesDubs, Alfred
Braine, Sir Bernarddu Cann, Rt Hon Edward
Bray, Dr JeremyDuffy, A. E. P.
Bright, GrahamDunn, Robert
Brittan, Rt Hon LeonDunwoody, Hon Mrs G.
Brooke, Hon PeterDurant, Tony
Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E)Dykes, Hugh
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)Eadie, Alex
Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N)Eastham, Ken
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)
Bryan, Sir PaulEggar, Tim
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A.Evans, John (St. Helens N)
Buck, Sir AntonyEvennett, David
Budgen, NickEyre, Sir Reginald
Burt, AlistairFairbairn, Nicholas
Butcher, JohnFarr, John
Caborn, RichardFatchett, Derek
Callaghan, Rt Hon J.Faulds, Andrew
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)Favell, Anthony
Campbell, IanFenner, Mrs Peggy
Campbell-Savours, DaleField, Frank (Birkenhead)
Canavan, DennisFields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey
Carter-Jones, LewisFisher, Mark
Flannery, MartinHughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Fletcher, AlexanderHunt, David (Wirral)
Fookes, Miss JanetHunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Foot, Rt Hon MichaelHunter, Andrew
Forman, NigelHurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Forth, EricIrving, Charles
Foster, DerekJackson, Robert
Foulkes, GeorgeJanner, Hon Greville
Fowler, Rt Hon NormanJenkin, Rt Hon Patrick
Fox, MarcusJessel, Toby
Franks, CecilJohn, Brynmor
Fraser, J. (Norwood)Johnson-Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Fraser, Peter (Angus East)Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Freeman, RogerJones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Freeson, Rt Hon ReginaldJopling, Rt Hon Michael
Fry, PeterJoseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith
Gale, RogerKaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Galley, RoyKellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Gardner, Sir Edward (Fylde)Kershaw, Sir Anthony
Garel-Jones, TristanKey, Robert
Garrett, W. E.Kilroy-Silk, Robert
George, BruceKing, Roger (B'ham N'field)
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr JohnKing, Rt Hon Tom
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir IanKinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Glyn, Dr AlanKnight, Gregory (Derby N)
Godman, Dr NormanKnight, Mrs Jill (Edgbaston)
Golding, JohnKnowles, Michael
Goodlad, AlastairKnox, David
Gould, BryanLambie, David
Gow, IanLamont, Norman
Gower, Sir RaymondLawler, Geoffrey
Grant, Sir AnthonyLawson, Rt Hon Nigel
Gregory, ConalLeadbitter, Ted
Griffiths, E. (B'y St Edm'ds)Lee, John (Pendle)
Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)Leighton, Ronald
Grist, IanLennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Gummer, John SelwynLester, Jim
Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd)
Hamilton, James (M'well N)Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)Lewis, Terence (Worsley)
Hampson, Dr KeithLightbown, David
Hanley, JeremyLilley, Peter
Hardy, PeterLitherland, Robert
Harman, Ms HarrietLloyd, Peter, (Fareham)
Harris, DavidLloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Harrison, Rt Hon WalterLofthouse, Geoffrey
Hart, Rt Hon Dame JudithLord, Michael
Haselhurst, AlanLoyden, Edward
Hattersley, Rt Hon RoyLyell, Nicholas
Havers, Rt Hon Sir MichaelMcCartney, Hugh
Hawkins, C. (High Peak)McCrindle, Robert
Hawkins, Sir Paul (SW N'folk)McCurley, Mrs Anna
Hayes, J.Macfarlane, Neil
Hayhoe, BarneyMacGregor, John
Haynes, FrankMcKay, Allen (Penistone)
Hayward, RobertMacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)
Healey, Rt Hon DenisMacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)
Heath, Rt Hon EdwardMcKelvey, William
Heddle, JohnMaclean, David John
Heffer, Eric S.McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st)
Henderson, BarryMcNamara, Kevin
Hickmet, RichardMcTaggart, Robert
Hicks, RobertMcWilliam, John
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.Madden, Max
Hill, JamesMadel, David
Hirst, MichaelMajor, John
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)Malins, Humfrey
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)Malone, Gerald
Holt, RichardMaples, John
Home Robertson, JohnMarek, Dr John
Hooson, TomMarland, Paul
Hordern, PeterMarlow, Antony
Howard, MichaelMarshall, David (Shettleston)
Howe, Rt Hon Sir GeoffreyMartin, Michael
Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford)Mates, Michael
Howell, Rt Hon D; (S'heath)Mather, Carol
Hubbard-Miles, PeterMaude, Hon Francis
Hughes, Dr. Mark (Durham)Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Hughes, Roy (Newport East)Mayhew, Sir Patrick
Meacher, MichaelRyder, Richard
Mellor, DavidSackville, Hon Thomas
Merchant, PiersSainsbury, Hon Timothy
Meyer, Sir AnthonySt. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N.
Michie, WilliamSayeed, Jonathan
Mikardo, IanScott, Nicholas
Millan, Rt Hon BruceSedgemore, Brian
Miller, Hal (B'grove)Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Mills, Iain (Meriden)Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)Sheerman, Barry
Miscampbell, NormanSheldon, Rt Hon R.
Mitchell, David (NW Hants)Shelton, William (Streatham)
Moate, RogerShepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Montgomery, FergusShersby, Michael
Moore, JohnShore, Rt Hon Peter
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)Short, Mrs R. (W'hampt'n NE)
Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)Silkin, Rt Hon J.
Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)Silvester, Fred
Moynihan, Hon C.Sims, Roger
Mudd, DavidSkeet, T. H. H.
Nellist, DavidSkinner, Dennis
Nelson, AnthonySmith, C. (Isl'ton S & F'bury)
Neubert, MichaelSmith, Rt Hon J. (M'kl'ds E)
Newton, TonySmith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Nicholls, PatrickSnape, Peter
Normanton, TomSoames, Hon Nicholas
Norris, StevenSpearing, Nigel
O'Brien, WilliamSpeed, Keith
O'Neill, MartinSpencer, Derek
Onslow, CranleySpicer, Jim (W Dorset)
Oppenheim, PhilipSpicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Orme, Rt Hon StanleySquire, Robin
Ottaway, RichardStanley, John
Page, Richard (Herts SW)Stern, Michael
Parris, MatthewStevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Parry, RobertStevens, Martin (Fulham)
Patchett, TerryStewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Patten, John (Oxford)Stewart, lan (N Hertf'dshire)
Pavitt, LaurieStott, Roger
Pawsey, JamesStradling Thomas, J.
Peacock, Mrs ElizabethStrang, Gavin
Pendry, TomStraw, Jack
Percival, Rt Hon Sir IanTaylor, John (Solihull)
Pike, PeterTebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Pink, R. BonnerThatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M.
Pollock, AlexanderThomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Powell, William (Corby)Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
Powley, JohnThompson, Donald (Calder V)
Prescott, JohnThompson, J. (Wansbeck)
Price, Sir DavidThompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Pym, Rt Hon FrancisThorne, Neil (Ilford S)
Radice, GilesThornton, Malcolm
Raffan, KeithTinn, James
Raison, Rt Hon TimothyTorney, Tom
Randall, StuartTracey, Richard
Rathbone, TimTrippier, David
Redmond, M.Trotter, Neville
Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)Twinn, Dr Ian
Rees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover)van Straubenzee, Sir W.
Renton, TimVaughan, Sir Gerard
Rhodes James, RobertViggers, Peter
Rhys Williams, Sir BrandonWaddington, David
Richardson, Ms JoWakeham, Rt Hon John
Rifkind, MalcolmWaldegrave, Hon William
Rippon, Rt Hon GeoffreyWalker, Bill (T'side N)
Roberts, Allan (Bootle)Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)Wall, Sir Patrick
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)Waller, Gary
Robertson, GeorgeWalters, Dennis
Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)Ward, John
Robinson, Mark (N'port W)Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Roe, Mrs MarionWardle, C. (Bexhill)
Rogers, AllanWareing, Robert
Ross, Ernest (Dundee W)Warren, Kenneth
Rost, PeterWatson, John
Rowe, AndrewWatts, John
Rowlands, TedWeetch, Ken
Rumbold, Mrs AngelaWelsh, Michael
Wheeler, JohnWoodall, Alec
White, JamesWoodcock, Michael
Whitney, RaymondYeo, Tim
Wigley, DafyddYoung, David (Bolton SE)
Wilkinson, JohnYoung, Sir George (Acton)
Williams, Rt Hon A.
Winnick, DavidTellers for the Noes:
Wolfson, MarkMr. Robert Boscawen and Mr. Ian Lang.
Wood, Timothy

Question accordingly negatived.