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Industrial Democracy

Volume 934: debated on Monday 27 June 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will make a statement on the Government's current intentions on the Bullock Report on industrial democracy.


asked the Secretary of State for Trade when he expects to complete his consultations on employee participation in industry.


asked the Secretary of State for Trade if Her Majesty's Government have decided not to implement the Bullock Report on industrial democracy.


asked the Secretary of State for Trade what progress is being made to implement the Bullock Report on industrial democracy.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he will make a statement on when the Government propose to introduce legislation implementing the Bullock Report on industrial democracy.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will make a statement on the latest position regarding the implementation of the Bullock Report.

A statement will be made to the House as soon as we have completed our consultations on the report.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that continued uncertainty about whether the Government will pursue wrong-headed proposals in the Bullock Report is causing a damaging lack of confidence in parts of industry? Will he clear up that uncertainty by making clear that the Government's proposals will not be based on the majority recommendations in the report, and that such rights as are given in any legislation will not be only to those nominated or elected by trade unions but will be given to all employees?

I hear the hon. Gentleman's views and I note his comment about uncertainty. I hope that it will not be very long before the Government make a pronouncement on the subject, but I cannot make one today.

Will my right hon. Friend consider giving priority to this legislation rather than to legislation on devolution or direct elections to Europe? Is he aware that there is widespread support for the majority proposals in the Bullock Report? Does he agree that it is right that workers who invest in industry, and not only those who invest money, should have a say?

I agree that workers should have a say in the control of the companies in which they are employed. I cannot estimate the priority that the Government will place on legislation in this area as against devolution. However, I hope that we shall come forward with practical proposals.

What are the right hon. Gentleman's own views about the Houghton Report, which was commissioned by the Prime Minister and which recommended, among other things, that all members of the work force, and not only trade union members, should be able to be chosen and nominated as employee directors?

I do not think that the report was commissioned by the Prime Minister, but it is a valuable and interesting report and has helped us to formulate our thinking on this subject. The hon. Gentleman has put to me a specific question about the nature of the proposals we shall make. I cannot make any pronouncement on them today.

May I urge more speed on my right hon. Friend? Does he agree that one of the great failures of British industry in the past 30 years has been in not enabling and encouraging people on the shop floor to be more involved in and to have a greater say in what goes on in places in which they are employed? Is not that one of the keys to our industrial recovery?

I agree with my hon. Friend that we need to do a great deal more in this country to involve employees in the control of their companies and in participation in their places of work. This is the object of the proposals we shall bring forward. I cannot say anything today on the detail of those proposals or the structures which will be proposed.

Will the Secretary of State take a hard look at the ACAS Code of Practice 2 dealing with the disclosure of information to trade unions for collective bargaining purposes, and particularly paragraph 11? Will he then give careful consideration to the question of whether he should allow time for that code to operate before he decides whether it is necessary to introduce compulsory legislation to change the structure of boards of directors?

I shall look at the text to which the hon. Gentleman has referred; but he, for his part, will be well aware of the Government's commitments in this regard.