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Industrial Tribunals

Volume 19: debated on Tuesday 2 March 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he is satisfied with the workings of the industrial tribunal system.

In general, yes.

Is my hon. and learned Friend aware that the body of precedent and law building up around the industrial tribunal system is becoming so complicated and cumbersome that there is a real danger that the interests of the layman, for whom the whole system was started, are being threatened?

Obviously this is a danger, and we want to try to avoid legal complications. However, two-thirds of all the applications brought are settled or withdrawn. Only the complicated cases go to tribunals. It is inevitable, if there is a statute to be applied, that there will be legal refinements.

Would it be possible for these tribunals to cover employers who normally operate within the context of the wages councils, because last year in Scotland almost 1,000 such employers did not pay the statutory wages? In effect, they were breaking the law, but not one of them was prosecuted. Is that not a disgrace? Apparently one can frighten the Queen's horse and get five years in gaol, but it is all right to rob the working class.

Inspectors ensure that the Act is enforced. Industrial tribunals have more than enough to do already. We should not give them the additional job of enforcing wages councils orders.