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Freedom Of Association (Ilo Resolution)

Volume 440: debated on Tuesday 22 July 1947

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asked the Minister of Labour whether he gave instructions to the British Government delegate at the I.L.O. Conference to vote against the resolution condemning the "closed shop," and whether, in view of the desirability of international co-operation in the suppression of such practices, he will give further instructions to the British delegate before the matter again comes before the conference.

There was no resolution condemning the "closed shop" before the recent International Labour Conference. I presume that the hon. Member is referring to the discussion on that paragraph of the resolution on freedom of association and industrial relations which relates to the validity of freely concluded collective agreements under which membership of a particular trade union is a condition of employment or continued employment. That paragraph forms part of an article of the resolution dealing in considerable detail with the right to organise and this article should be read as a whole. Read in this way, although its details did not entirely meet the views of all sections in the conference, the article commanded general agreement and was included in the resolution which was unanimously accepted by the conference in plenary session on 11th July and which, under my authority, the United Kingdom delegates supported. It is intended to embody the appropriate provisions of the resolution in one or more In- ternational Labour Conventions which will be the subject of discussion at the conferences in 1948 and 1949. The exact terms in which the provisions relating to the right to organise shall be incorporated in any convention will requite the most careful examination.

While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for that very full reply, may I ask whether it is not a fact that the British Government delegate voted against an amendment proposed by the Turkish delegate which would have put on record an emphatic condemnation of "closed shop" practices, and was that action taken on the right hon. Gentleman's advice?

The hon. Gentleman has not put that point to me in his Question. I have only a hazy recollection about it. There was some such action. If he will put down a Question about it, or even without putting it down, I will let him have the answer.

Could the Minister tell us which way the employers' delegate voted and which way the workers' delegate voted?

So far as my recollection goes in this matter—I was not there when the actual vote was taken, but only during the opening discussion—I think it was by common agreement that no actual decision was taken. It was built into the wider resolution relating to freedom of association.

Will the Minister consider asking the legal profession for definition of the "closed shop"?