Previous Section Home Page

Column 602

working in the ports industry. In particular this is the case when the employers have given the clearest assurances that there will be no return to casual working.

The Government put the case for the Bill in the White Paper and in the Second Reading debate, when abolition had a majority of over 100. The time has come for decision. Prevarication and delay can be in nobody's interest. In particular it can be in nobody's interest when registered dockers are being balloted on strike action. Against that background also, there can be no case for uncertainty about what Parliament intends.

Whatever may be the view of the Opposition on strike action--we still await a statement from the hon. Member for Oldham, West on industrial action and his response to it--we do not believe that a strike can be justified. A strike can only harm the scheme ports and ultimately the work force taking the action. More than that, it cannot be justified because the right place for the decision to be taken on a statutory scheme is in Parliament. That is particularly the case remembering that the hon. Member for Oldham, West put forward in Committee the case for a new statutory dock labour scheme. He made the position of the Opposition clear when he said twice in Committee :

"we believe in a regulated dock work industry rather than moving towards either national or local collective bargaining."--[ Official Report, Standing Committee A, 27 April 1989 ; c. 40.]

Thus, the Labour party is committed to a new statutory dock labour scheme. In those circumstances, a strike would be entirely unjustified. Whether there should be a statutory scheme should be decided by Parliament, not on the picket line.

We look forward to that political debate. It will be important because, according to amendments tabled by the hon. Member for Oldham, West, he wants not just a new statutory scheme but a scheme which includes provisions from the 1976 legislation and which were rejected by the House when the Labour party was in office.

The effect of the hon. Gentleman's amendments would be to extend the scheme to new occupations such as warehousing, packing and unpacking containers, and to new areas within half a mile of any harbour area. So the hon. Gentleman, not content with taking us back to the 1970s in industrial relations, and not content with his plans to legalise the secondary picket, now plans to go back to the mid-1970s for his dock work scheme.

We believe that the case for abolition is overwhelming. Whatever may have been the position at the time of the second world war, the restrictions of the scheme are not relevant to the needs of the ports industry today. Even less do they match up to the challenges that British ports will face in the 1990s. [Interruption.] It is a pity that the hon. Member for Oldham, West, who leads temporarily for the Opposition, is not even prepared to listen to the argument on this issue.

We want to ensure a good future for our ports and for those working in them. But that future will not be assured by the antiquated restrictions of the dock labour scheme.

Mr. Dobson rose --

Mr. Fowler : No, I will not give way.

I do not doubt the sincerity of Opposition Members such as the hon. Member for Liverpool, Garston (Mr. Loyden), but I must tell him and those who put forward similar arguments that they are fighting yesterday's battle on dock work. If they doubt that, they need only look at

Column 603

the experience of the ports outside the scheme, where trade has expanded, employment has grown and nobody has seriously claimed that that progress has been achieved by the exploitation of the dockers in those ports.

Mr. Dobson rose --

Mr. Fowler : No, I have only two minutes left, and the hon. Gentleman has spent five minutes talking to his colleagues on the Opposition Front Bench.

Mr. Dobson rose --

Mr. Fowler : No.

Mr. Dobson rose --

Madam Deputy Speaker : Order.

Mr. Fowler : Pay, hours and working conditions in the non-scheme ports are negotiated by the Transport and General Workers Union, the same union which conducts the negotiations in the scheme ports. Every assurance has been given that there will be no return to casual working. It is not revolutionary to suggest that dockers should move up to the position occupied by virtually every other worker in this country.

It is now in nobody's interest that there should be delay. Without the restrictions, the scheme ports will be able to compete better. Our proposals are for the benefit of the ports industry, the work force and for the inner city areas around the ports.

We know what has happened in the non-scheme ports--we have seen the development of trade and of employment. That is in stark contrast to everything that has happened in the scheme ports. That is why we believe that the dock labour scheme should be abolished. The motion provides ample time for a full debate on the remainder of a short Bill. The time has come for decision and it is for Parliament to decide the issue. The decision should be taken in Parliament and not on the picket lines that the Labour party is so enthusiastic to reinstate.

Question put : --

The House divided : Ayes 245, Noes 170.

Division No. 188] [6.30 pm


Adley, Robert

Aitken, Jonathan

Alexander, Richard

Alison, Rt Hon Michael

Allason, Rupert

Amess, David

Amos, Alan

Arbuthnot, James

Ashby, David

Atkins, Robert

Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)

Baldry, Tony

Banks, Robert (Harrogate)

Batiste, Spencer

Beaumont-Dark, Anthony

Bellingham, Henry

Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)

Blackburn, Dr John G.

Body, Sir Richard

Boscawen, Hon Robert

Boswell, Tim

Bottomley, Peter

Bowis, John

Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes

Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard

Brandon-Bravo, Martin

Brazier, Julian

Bright, Graham

Brooke, Rt Hon Peter

Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)

Browne, John (Winchester)

Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)

Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick

Buck, Sir Antony

Budgen, Nicholas

Burns, Simon

Burt, Alistair

Butler, Chris

Butterfill, John

Carlisle, John, (Luton N)

Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)

Carrington, Matthew

Carttiss, Michael

Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs Lynda

Channon, Rt Hon Paul

Chapman, Sydney

Chope, Christopher

Churchill, Mr

Column 604

Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)

Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)

Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)

Colvin, Michael

Conway, Derek

Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)

Cope, Rt Hon John

Couchman, James

Cran, James

Currie, Mrs Edwina

Curry, David

Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)

Davis, David (Boothferry)

Day, Stephen

Devlin, Tim

Dorrell, Stephen

Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James

Dover, Den

Dunn, Bob

Dykes, Hugh

Eggar, Tim

Evennett, David

Fallon, Michael

Favell, Tony

Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)

Fishburn, John Dudley

Fookes, Dame Janet

Forman, Nigel

Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)

Forth, Eric

Fowler, Rt Hon Norman

Fox, Sir Marcus

Freeman, Roger

French, Douglas

Gale, Roger

Gardiner, George

Garel-Jones, Tristan

Gill, Christopher

Glyn, Dr Alan

Goodhart, Sir Philip

Goodlad, Alastair

Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles

Gow, Ian

Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)

Greenway, John (Ryedale)

Gregory, Conal

Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)

Grist, Ian

Ground, Patrick

Hague, William

Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)

Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)

Hanley, Jeremy

Hannam, John

Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')

Harris, David

Haselhurst, Alan

Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney

Hayward, Robert

Heddle, John

Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael

Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)

Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.

Hind, Kenneth

Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)

Hordern, Sir Peter

Howard, Michael

Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)

Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey

Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)

Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)

Hunt, David (Wirral W)

Hunter, Andrew

Irvine, Michael

Jack, Michael

Jackson, Robert

Janman, Tim

Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)

Jones, Robert B (Herts W)

Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine

Key, Robert

Kirkhope, Timothy

Knapman, Roger

Knight, Greg (Derby North)

Knowles, Michael

Lamont, Rt Hon Norman

Latham, Michael

Lawrence, Ivan

Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel

Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark

Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)

Lightbown, David

Lilley, Peter

Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)

Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)

Luce, Rt Hon Richard

Lyell, Sir Nicholas

McCrindle, Robert

Macfarlane, Sir Neil

MacGregor, Rt Hon John

Maclean, David

McLoughlin, Patrick

McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)

Major, Rt Hon John

Malins, Humfrey

Mans, Keith

Maples, John

Marlow, Tony

Marshall, John (Hendon S)

Marshall, Michael (Arundel)

Mates, Michael

Maude, Hon Francis

Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick

Meyer, Sir Anthony

Miscampbell, Norman

Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)

Mitchell, Sir David

Moate, Roger

Montgomery, Sir Fergus

Moore, Rt Hon John

Moss, Malcolm

Neale, Gerrard

Nelson, Anthony

Nicholls, Patrick

Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)

Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil

Patnick, Irvine

Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey

Portillo, Michael

Raffan, Keith

Raison, Rt Hon Timothy

Renton, Tim

Rhodes James, Robert

Riddick, Graham

Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas

Ridsdale, Sir Julian

Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)

Rost, Peter

Rowe, Andrew

Sackville, Hon Tom

Sainsbury, Hon Tim

Shaw, David (Dover)

Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)

Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)

Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)

Shersby, Michael

Skeet, Sir Trevor

Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)

Soames, Hon Nicholas

Speller, Tony

Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)

Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)

Squire, Robin

Stanbrook, Ivor

Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John

Steen, Anthony

Stern, Michael

Stevens, Lewis

Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)

Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)

Next Section

  Home Page