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Lord Tebbit: My Lords, I am proud to have earned the friendship of the Attorney-General. Following the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Hardy, can the Minister tell us the exact date on which he and his colleagues decided that it was immoral and wrong that those with industrial power should use it in industrial disputes to try and change the policy of a government? They have some explaining to do as to the precise time when that change took place.
Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: My Lords, as I said in reply to the previous question, I do not like to speculate retrospectively about events 15 years ago. However, I do not recall this party then being in favour of anything which would disrupt or derail the democratic process. Again, from a lifetime of experience of being involved in or covering trade union activities, it has often been the role of the Trade Union Congress to ensure that, after a disruption of the kind we saw--certainly on the union side--people got back to work in good order as soon as possible.
Lord Berkeley: My Lords, is my noble friend aware that on the same day that the oil companies in this country threatened to put up the price of diesel by 2p, the same oil company in Holland reduced it by 2p? Does not that demonstrate the futility of trying to adjust oil prices by changing the tax? Is my noble friend also aware that some of the independent suppliers of the oil companies and other multinationals are asked by the same companies to carry the increased cost without any increase in payment? I am sure that that is part of the reason for the frustration of the small suppliers. Will my noble friend agree that that is much more the challenge of the future rather than trying to adjust the price of fuel per se?
Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: My Lords, I have every sympathy with the position of the small suppliers, which has been significantly worsened by this dispute. I read today in the Evening Standard that a number of them may go out of business because of the impact of recent events. The cost to business of those events was put by the Institute of Directors at
Lord Naseby: My Lords, the Minister indicated that the national emergency committee met on Monday 13th September. Monday was the 11th and Wednesday the 13th. I shall be grateful if he will clarify to the House on which particular day it met. Is he aware that a number of noble Lords, myself included, experienced the situation in France? The big difference in France was that it was clear that the police requisitioned individual filling stations for use by the emergency services. That was singularly in contrast to what happened in the United Kongdom. To that end, given that in Sandy where I live we have one of the emergency pipeline provision outlets, why were those provisions seemingly not used for supplying the emergency services?
Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: My Lords, bereft of my diary I may have misled the House in speaking as I did. My noble friend next to me lent me her diary which shows me that it was Monday 11th September on which we first got together. In relation to the emergency provision of oil, stocks are held particularly by the Armed Forces. They are a little different in kind from the diesel used elsewhere in civilian life and there is still some question as to their suitability for certain kinds of engine. In the event we were relieved that it was not necessary to call upon those emergency provisions. However, I note what the noble Lord says and it will be taken on board by the task force.
Lord Brett: My Lords, can we put this matter in perspective? Can my noble friend confirm that the actions taking place in this country, which were brought to an end, are still continuing in most parts of the Continent where they started at the same time?
Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: My Lords, at the meeting we had in Luxembourg last week it was evident that there were still a whole range of activities going on across the Continent which were of serious concern to the transport ministers there. Indeed, it was not limited to Europe but extended to the United States and even as far as Australia.
The Earl of Onslow: My Lords, is there any relationship between a young Gus Macdonald who used to hold up and riot and generally cause mayhem in the Upper Clyde shipyards as a young man, and the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of Tradeston?
Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: My Lords, I am afraid my modest efforts among the underpaid apprentices in the Upper Clyde some 40 years ago do not stand comparison with some of the other examples cited by the noble Earl. I can assure him that even in those days we never behaved as hooligans, and indeed we grew up.
Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: My Lords, as regards intimidation, I do not want to make assertions. I merely report to the House what we have been told by the trade unions representing the drivers, by the employers who hire the drivers and by the Road Haulage Association whose members were driving at the same time. There is a unanimity of view and I look forward to seeing it pulled together by those parties. Perhaps there will then be a body of evidence for those assertions, but the behaviour of the drivers indicated that some were overly fearful.
As regards the National Health Service, reports which we saw implied that there would be a serious situation across the country not only in hospitals but also as regards health visitors and vulnerable people in the community had they not been able to be serviced by health service workers.
One of the most alarming assertions made during the events was that groups of people at the gates of refineries could somehow decide what was an emergency service and in effect dictate who might live and who might die. There are some 900,000 workers in the NHS and it has been put to me that in many ways people who clean the operating theatres are as important as the people who carry out the operations. Looking at the 30 categories of essential users covering wide areas of the economy, I cannot see that we could have left the right to make such judgments in the hands of small groups outside refineries.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): My Lords, on behalf of my noble and learned friend Lord Falconer, I beg to move the Motion standing in his name on the Order Paper.
Clauses 1 and 2, Schedule 1, Clauses 3 to 16, Schedule 2, Clauses 17 to 54, Schedule 3, Clauses 55 to 60, Schedule 4, Clauses 61 to 66, Schedule 5, Clauses 67 to 72, Schedule 6, Clauses 73 to 83, Schedule 7, Clauses 84 and 85.--(Lord Bassam of Brighton.)
Clauses 1 to 30, Schedules 1 and 2, Clauses 31 to 33, Schedule 3, Clauses 34 to 36, Schedule 4, Clause 37, Schedule 5, Clauses 38 to 63, Schedule 6, Clause 64, Schedule 7, Clauses 65 to 96, Schedule 8, Clauses 97 to 101, Schedule 9, Clauses 102 to 152, Schedule 10, Clauses 153 to 160, Schedule 11, Clauses 161 to 190, Schedule 12, Clauses 191 to 198, Schedule 13, Clauses 199 to 203, Schedule 14, Clauses 204 to 210, Schedule 15, Clauses 211 to 214, Schedule 16, Clause 215, Schedule 17, Clause 216, Schedule 18,