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Volume 172: debated on Thursday 17 May 1990

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Amendments made: No. 16, in page 19, line 9, column 3, leave out from beginning to end of line 12 and insert—

'In section 10—
(a) in subsection (3A), the words "of that breach or interference";
(b) in subsection (4), the words "strike or other";
(c) in subsection (4A), the words "inducing a breach or interference";
(d) in subsection (5), the definitions of "authorisation or endorsement" "commercial contract", "contract of employment" "relevant act" and "tort" and the words from" and any reference" to the end.'.

No 17, in page 19, line 22, at end insert—

'1988 c.19.Employment Act 1988.In section 1—
(a) in subsection (2), the words from "(including" to "endorsement)";
(b) in subsection (5), the words "an authorisation or endorsement by a trade union of any".'.—[Mr. Howard.]

Order for Third Reading read.

10.1 pm

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

The Bill is a further step in the step-by-step reform of industrial relations that was begun more than 10 years ago. It carries that process of reform an important stage further by removing the last vestige of legal protection from the closed shop and imposing necessary restraints on secondary action and wildcat strikes. It also gives trade union members rights not to be refused employment on account of their membership.

May I put on record the fact that I regret the continued omission of a dispensation for employers who hold strong religious beliefs and who do not have equal freedom not to recognise trade unions in the same way that employees have that right.

My hon. Friend knows that we have given careful consideration to that, as I undertook on Second Reading that we would, but we are unable to meet the point that he has raised.

The Labour party believes that the role of the law in these matters is to protect the striker and the union leader. We believe that the law must protect jobs and businesses from the abuse of industrial power and that it must guarantee the democratic rights of trade union members. That is what the Bill will achieve, and that is why I commend it to the House.

10.3 pm

We have debated the Bill for many weeks in Committee and again in the House today. I suggest that two issues have emerged clearly. First, the Bill is unfair because it fails to provide protection against discrimination on the ground of people's trade union activities and against the blacklisting of people who are active in trade unions—something which should unite all democratic members of society. It bans any form of sympathy action, no matter what the circumstances or justification.

The Bill is unfair, above all, because it removes from people the right to go to an industrial tribunal and it shuts out the jurisdiction of the tribunal when people take unofficial action, irrespective of the reasons for their action and even when they are about issues such as health and safety—matters which should concern us all.

The Bill is unfair and it is also irrelevant. As we examine the issues that face Britain today—the training and skills crisis, the problems of low pay and problems concerned with women at work—and measure the Bill against those problems, it is clear that it fails not merely because it is unfair but because it is utterly irrelevant to the nation's future. A Labour Government will in due course address that future.

10.5 pm

The one good step that the Bill takes is to abolish the pre-entry closed shop. We on this Bench not only welcome that, but we called on the Government to take that step even before they were prepared to do so. That aside, the Bill and particularly clause 7 is so wholly alien to the promotion of good industrial relations that as a package it cannot possibly be supported.

The Government are aware that we on this Bench have been prepared to support some of the employment legislation that they have introduced. For example, we strongly supported ballots. But we believe that the purpose of the law in industrial relations—where it should appear at all—should be in the pursuit of balance and fairness. This Bill, like the measure on this subject introduced in the previous Session, is an effort to tilt the balance in favour of employers by introducing small measures here and there—and, in clause 7, a large measure—which disrupt that balance.

To bring in the law in that way is no substitute for a proper and good industrial partnership in industrial relations. The measure will not achieve the good industrial relations that hon. Members in all parts of the House wish to see.

10.7 pm

I listened carefully to the remarks of Labour Members. I had not intended to intervene at this stage because my hon. Friend the Member for Kingswood (Mr. Hayward), in an intervention to the Secretary of State, covered the point that I wanted to make.

I welcome the Bill because of the contribution that it will make to providing a more satisfactory mechanism by which powerful bodies representing workers and employers may settle disputes and because it seeks in a genuine way to provide for the consciences of individual workers to be met.

When my hon. Friend the Member for Kingswood raised with the Minister the question of people's religious conscience, there was a cry from the hon. Member for St. Helens, North (Mr. Evans), from a sedentary position, to the effect that we should not take notice of the Plymouth Brethren because they did not vote. That was a disgraceful statement to make——

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it in order for the hon. Gentleman to put words in my mouth? I did not make the statement that he claimed I made. I said that the hon. Member for Kingswood (Mr. Hayward) would not get the Plymouth Brethren vote because they did not vote.

I accept the hon. Gentleman's interpretation of his own words. The suggestion that we should ignore the legitimate, deeply held views of a body of people who may not vote is unacceptable to me. It is important for us to put on record the fact that at least some hon. Members take the view that we are here to represent all the people, regardless of whether they voted in the last election or will vote in the next. The genuinely held conscience of individuals is a matter of great concern to the House, even at a little after 10 o'clock.

Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time:—

The House divided: Ayes 173, Noes 133.

Division No. 216]

[10.08 pm


Aitken, JonathanDickens, Geoffrey
Alexander, RichardDouglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelDover, Den
Amos, AlanDunn, Bob
Arbuthnot, JamesDurant, Tony
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Dykes, Hugh
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)Eggar, Tim
Atkins, RobertEvennett, David
Atkinson, DavidFallon, Michael
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)Fishburn, John Dudley
Baldry, TonyForman, Nigel
Bellingham, HenryFox, Sir Marcus
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)Franks, Cecil
Benyon, W.Freeman, Roger
Bevan, David GilroyGardiner, George
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir PeterGarel-Jones, Tristan
Bonsor, Sir NicholasGill, Christopher
Boswell, TimGlyn, Dr Sir Alan
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)Goodhart, Sir Philip
Bowis, JohnGoodlad, Alastair
Braine, Rt Hon Sir BernardGoodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Brandon-Bravo, MartinGorman, Mrs Teresa
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)Gow, Ian
Browne, John (Winchester)Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)
Budgen, NicholasGreenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Burns, SimonGriffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Butler, ChrisGround, Patrick
Carlisle, John, (Luton N)Hague, William
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Carrington, MatthewHanley, Jeremy
Carttiss, MichaelHannam, John
Channon, Rt Hon PaulHargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
Chapman, SydneyHarris, David
Chope, ChristopherHawkins, Christopher
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)Hayward, Robert
Conway, DerekHill, James
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Curry, DavidHowarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Davis, David (Boothferry)Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Day, StephenHunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)

Hunter, AndrewPatnick, Irvine
Irvine, MichaelPeacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Jack, MichaelPorter, David (Waveney)
Jackson, RobertPortillo, Michael
Janman, TimRaffan, Keith
Jessel, TobyRaison, Rt Hon Timothy
Jones, Robert B (Herts W)Redwood, John
Key, RobertRenton, Rt Hon Tim
Kilfedder, JamesRhodes James, Robert
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)Riddick, Graham
Kirkhope, TimothyRidsdale, Sir Julian
Knapman, RogerRost, Peter
Knight, Greg (Derby North)Rowe, Andrew
Knowles, MichaelRyder, Richard
Knox, DavidSainsbury, Hon Tim
Lennox-Boyd, Hon MarkShaw, David (Dover)
Lightbown, DavidShaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Lilley, PeterShaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)Shelton, Sir William
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Lord, MichaelShepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Macfarlane, Sir NeilSmith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Maclean, DavidSoames, Hon Nicholas
Malins, HumfreySpicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Mans, KeithStanbrook, Ivor
Marshall, Michael (Arundel)Steen, Anthony
Mates, MichaelStevens, Lewis
Maude, Hon FrancisStewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Mawhinney, Dr BrianStewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir PatrickStradling Thomas, Sir John
Meyer, Sir AnthonySumberg, David
Miller, Sir HalThompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Mills, IainThompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)Thurnham, Peter
Moate, RogerTracey, Richard
Monro, Sir HectorWalker, Bill (T'side North)
Montgomery, Sir FergusWatts, John
Morris, M (N'hampton S)Widdecombe, Ann
Morrison, Sir CharlesWood, Timothy
Moss, MalcolmYeo, Tim
Moynihan, Hon ColinYoung, Sir George (Acton)
Neubert, Michael
Nicholls, Patrick

Tellers for the Ayes;

Norris, Steve

Mr. John Taylor and Mr. Tom Sackville.

Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Oppenheim, Phillip


Abbott, Ms DianeBlair, Tony
Allen, GrahamBoateng, Paul
Anderson, DonaldBrown, Gordon (D'mline E)
Armstrong, HilaryBrown, Nicholas (Newcastle E)
Ashdown, Rt Hon PaddyBrown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Buchan, Norman
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)Buckley, George J.
Battle, JohnCaborn, Richard
Beckett, MargaretCallaghan, Jim
Benn, Rt Hon TonyCampbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)
Bermingham, GeraldCampbell-Savours, D. N.
Bidwell, SydneyCarlile, Alex (Mont'g)

Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)McLeish, Henry
Clay, BobMcWilliam, John
Cohen, HarryMadden, Max
Coleman, DonaldMahon, Mrs Alice
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)Marek, Dr John
Cook, Robin (Livingston)Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Corbett, RobinMartin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Corbyn, JeremyMartlew, Eric
Cryer, BobMaxton, John
Cummings, JohnMeale, Alan
Cunliffe, LawrenceMichie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Dixon, DonMoonie, Dr Lewis
Doran, FrankMorris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Eadie, AlexanderMorris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Eastham, KenMowlam, Marjorie
Evans, John (St Helens N)Murphy, Paul
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E)Nellist, Dave
Field, Frank (Birkenhead)O'Brien, William
Fisher, MarkOrme, Rt Hon Stanley
Flannery, MartinPatchett, Terry
Foot, Rt Hon MichaelPike, Peter L.
Foster, DerekPowell, Ray (Ogmore)
Foulkes, GeorgePrescott, John
Fyfe, MariaPrimarolo, Dawn
Galloway, GeorgeQuin, Ms Joyce
Garrett, John (Norwich South)Redmond, Martin
Garrett, Ted (Wallsend)Reid, Dr John
Golding, Mrs LlinRichardson, Jo
Graham, ThomasRobertson, George
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)Robinson, Geoffrey
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)Rogers, Allan
Grocott, BruceRuddock, Joan
Harman, Ms HarrietSheerman, Barry
Haynes, FrankSheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Henderson, DougShort, Clare
Hinchliffe, DavidSkinner, Dennis
Hoey, Ms Kate (Vauxhall)Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)
Home Robertson, JohnSoley, Clive
Howells, GeraintTaylor, Matthew (Truro)
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)Turner, Dennis
Hughes, John (Coventry NE)Wallace, James
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)Walley, Joan
Illsley, EricWardell, Gareth (Gower)
Ingram, AdamWatson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
Janner, GrevilleWelsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Kaufman, Rt Hon GeraldWinnick, David
Leighton, RonWorthington, Tony
Lewis, TerryWray, Jimmy
Litherland, RobertYoung, David (Bolton SE)
Lloyd, Tony (Stratford)
McAllion, John

Tellers for the Noes:

McAvoy, Thomas

Mr. Allen McKay and Mr. Jimmy Dunnachie.

McFall, John
McKelvey, William

Question accordingly agreed to.

Bill read the Third time, and passed.