Has the Minister anything to say in reply to points made by Deputy McGilligan last night?
Committee on Finance. - Trade Union Bill, 1941—Committee (Resumed—Section 10).
No, Sir. I have-nothing to add.
Is it possible to add something to nothing? The Minister says he has nothing to add.
This section reveals the mentality behind this whole Bill. The mentality, of course, is clearly a most vicious mentality, because we are providing in Section 6 for the exemption of certain bodies, some of them being Civil Service staff organisations, teachers, and house unions. Under Section 6, it is possible for any particular employer to make it a condition of employment in his factory that his staff must be members of that contemptible and detestable thing known as a company union, and you may not find it possible to get employment in that factory unless you are prepared to become a member of that creature of the employer. That organisation under this Bill is exempt from paying any deposit whatever as a condition for getting a negotiation licence. It may function as a trade union and carry on negotiations in respect of wages and conditions, but, so that it will not hurt the employer, so that it may be always under his thumb, always part of his creation, always just his plaything, the Minister put Section 10 into this Bill, which deprives an organisation of that kind of ever getting the strength to make it the economic equal of the boss. That organisation, by virtue of Section 10, is prevented from enjoying the benefits of Section 2 of the Trade Union Act, 1871, and Section 3 of the Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act, 1875, and the Trade Disputes Act, 1906, so that if any of the members of that organisation go on strike, and if they try to resort to peaceful picketing, a thing which has been recognised in respect of trade unions down through the ages, that organisation does not get any such protection. The boss, in such circumstances, can send for the armed forces of the State and have those peaceful pickets removed, even though their only purpose is to make the public aware of the fact that the boss is not paying a fair rate of wages or is imposing unreasonable conditions on his employees. Now, that organisation cannot tell the public by means of peaceful picketing that there is a strike on. They cannot tell the public that the boss is paying a low rate of wages. They cannot tell the public that he is enforcing bad conditions. The Civic Guards in the first instance, the military in the second instance and the jails in the third instance, all line up behind the boss and prevent the workers in such circumstances from making their grievances known to the public.
We have all this, in spite of the smooth humbug in the Constitution, which talks about freedom, of association. Freedom of association under Section 10 means the freedom that the boss will permit to the workers, or that the Minister for Industry and Commerce will permit to the workers. That is the purpose of Section 10, to squeeze the workers in the interests of the boss. Every Deputy who goes into the Division Lobby in support of this section, no matter what humbug he talked at the last election about being in favour of raising the standard of living of the masses of the people, is going into the Division Lobby to strengthen the hands of the boss, and to take away from trade unionists the rights which they have had for over 70 years, rights which it was left to this Government to try to filch away from them. I defy any person still purporting to have any fragmentary bias in favour of the working classes to justify this section. It cannot be justified. It can be justified only on one ground, that is, if you want to squeeze the workers, if you want to make them ineffective, if you want to prevent them from exercising the privileges of law which they have enjoyed for 70 years, and which were given to them by an alien Government. For 50 years those privileges were enjoyed under the British Government. They were enjoyed for 10 years under native governments, but this Government at this stage proposes to take away from the workers the rights which they have enjoyed for 70 years. I say deliberately and definitely that it is done for the purpose of weakening the workers' movement in the interests of the employing classes. As Deputy McGilligan rightly said yesterday evening, the growth of the trade union movement has gone hand in hand with the raising of the standard of living of the workers, and trade union legislation generally for the past 70 years has been based on a recognition that trade unions expressing the view points of collectively organised workers can play a useful part in the promotion of social peace and the raising of the standard of living of the masses of the workers. Every piece of trade union legislation affecting this country for the past 70 years has proceeded on a recognition of the useful part which trade unions can play in those directions. There has been a recognition, tardy at first, but accelerating afterwards, that it was desirable to give the trade unions such reasonable measure of liberty as was calculated to enable them to discharge their task of raising the standard of living of the workers. Now, for the first time in 70 years, the hands of the clock are being put back by this Government. Workers now are being prevented from exercising their rights, or may be prevented from exercising their rights if the Minister can have his way under Section 10. I protest against this section. It is an outrageous attack upon the efforts of the workers to defend themselves against low wages and bad conditions of employment. There can be no purpose for this section other than to weaken that resistance.
This Government has shown scant regard for the interests of the workers. It has done nothing to protect their standard of living; it has done nothing to raise their wage scales; and it insists on imposing hardships on them under the Emergency Powers Order No. 83. Having failed to lift the standard of living of the workers, having failed to protect them against the inroads which high prices make upon their standard of living, the Minister comes in under Section 10 to try to take from the workers even the protection they have left — the protection of combination and protection in the exercise of their rights and privileges which they enjoy under the Acts set out here. The Minister is doing this in the interests of the employing class and should be ashamed of himself, and he should never again be trusted with the confidence of a worker.
Is the Minister not replying at all? I think he should make some attempt at some stage in this Bill to make the rase that is made against the different sections of it. Up to the present we have seen the extraordinary course — cither complete silence or else, as he has done on other occasions, the Minister merely has quoted the result of considerations given by somebody else, namely, by legal authorities that he consulted. Surely — leaving aside the contempt that he shows for the House, which possibly is a thing to whrch we are accustomed — is it not a bad augury for the Bill that it is being passed in this way? We are supposed to be a legislative Assembly. This is a Bill that has aroused and is arousing a great deal of opposition and criticism amongst people who think they are being severely hit and that the privileges they have enjoyed for a long time are being filched away from them. These people are presented with the extraordinary spectacle of a Minister who absolutely refuses to justify a single clause of this Bill, relying altogether on the efficiency of the Whips Department of the Government.
Whatever chance there may be of this Bill being worked in the spirit that the Minister probably has in mind, what chance could there be after attitude and conduct of that kind on the part of the Minister? It is hard to believe it and yet it is equally hard to avoid the conclusion that he is deliberately provoking opposition to this Bill outside the House. I say it is extremely difficult to think that any responsible Minister would adopt an attitude of that kind. I know that the Minister——
Is the Minister making a point of order?
To make a point of order a Deputy or Minister must rise.
But not otherwise?
When I notice the Minister addressing the Chair, it is hard to know. He may have the same contempt for the Chair as he has for the House.
That is for the Chair to decide.
When I notice the Minister addressing a remark to you, Sir, I am not aware whether it is a point of order or not.
I should like to recall that the Committee is supposed to be discussing Section 10. Twice at least yesterday protests were made against the action of the Minister. Repetition on every section of similar protests is not permissible. Nothing has yet been said by the Deputy on this section.
I did not protest yesterday.
The Chair did not state that it was Deputy O'Sullivan who protested.
Therefore, I am not repeating myself. I am protesting against the Minister's conduct to-day. Deputy McGilligan, when finishing the debate last night from these benches, made an onslaught on this section and the purposes of this section. The leader of the Labour Party, breaking his silence — as we hoped the Minister would break his — also made an onslaught. To-day the Minister does not deign to give any answer. I suggest that if the Minister insists, and repeats his contempt for the House, on every occasion that he does that attention can be called to it.
It is quite obvious that the charges made by Deputy McGilligan last night were well founded, and that unless certain onerous conditions can be fulfilled by bodies of workers or by bodies of employers — it must be remembered that, as we have found out in the course of this debate, this Bill cuts both ways — they are liable to the penalties of conspiracy, and so on, to which they would be liable were they not protected by the Trade Union Acts. To that charge the Minister hag made no reply. The charge is a grave one. I do not think anybody who considers the Bill as a whole, as it war drafted, can be easy in his mind as to the future that this particular section is preparing for the country. I hold, that even though his intention may be to help industry, as I presume it is, this Bill is more calculated — and this section is more calculated — to cause in dustrial trouble than a multiplicity of trade unions.
The Minister has not shown that workers — especially in small bodies — have unduly caused great material damage to the country, yet the whole purport of the Bill is to make any combination of small bodies of workers practically impossible, and to deprive them of the protection which was gradually granted to them as the result of humanitarian efforts quite as much as the result of agitation during the whole of the past 100 years. Yet, as I have said, the Minister will not reply. It is hard, I admit, to justify this particular section. It seems to to me that there is nothing to be said for this and various other sections in the Bill. I admit that some amendments, very vague in character, have been put in, but the Bill as drafted would tend to make it impossible and illegal even for a county council to combine in fixing the wage of their workers. That the Bill as drafted. I hold also that it is quite obvious that every section of this Bill requires drastic amendment, or at least the principal sections do. They have an implication which must not have been apparent when the Bill was drafted in the first instance.
Last week, when this Bill was before the House, I described it as the nearest thing to dictatorship that was ever produced. It is a tyrannical Bill. I made reference to this clause as being the worst clause — one which cannot be justified. It takes from the workers rights which they won in days gone by, not alone from an Irish Government but from the British Government. It looks very bad tor an Irish Parliament to take from our people rights they won in the days gone by. They are to be denied the right of peaceful picketing and of exposure of their grievances if their union is not sufficiently strong to pay £2,000 to the Government; they are denied the rights to show the public how they are treated. I say that the Bill ought to be withdrawn immediately. I believe that the Bill is beyond amending, that it is impossible to amend it, because every clause of it has the tyrannical idea behind it to crush the workers and, in many cases, to crush their leaders.
I mentioned last week that I remember when the quay labourers in Dublin were being paid 18/- per week. Until a leader at that time adopted methods that appeared to be revolutionary these workers were paid that miserable wage, and it took their leader all his time to prevent the wages being paid to them in publichouses. I refer to Jim Larkin, a man with whom I differed very often, but of whose good points I have knowledge. Twenty-five years ago he stopped the stevedores paving the men their wages in publichouses. Now, as a result of organisation, the workers have reached a certain standard. This measure will prevent them from bettering that standard. I appeal to the Government to be wise, and to guide the Minister on to the right path and withdraw the Bill.
The withdrawal of a Bill may not be advocated on a section.
It ought to be withdrawn.
I think the Minister would be well-advised to reconsider his attitude in this matter. This is a penal section. There are other penal sections in the Bill, but they all recede, both in their intensity and in their powers, before this one. As matters stand, if a trade union has not a sufficient number of members to enable it to put up the sum required, and does not belong to what is described in the Bill as a negotiation body, then the members cannot withdraw their labour without endangering themselves and being open to prosecution for conspiracy. So far as the Trade Disputes Act of 1906 is concerned, it is of small moment compared with the dangers there are in connection with the Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act, 1875.
A book has been published recently called AnEnglish Saga. Although that work is not correct in every repect, and is particularly incorrect in regard to its estimate of the number of soldiers from Ulster who took part in the last Great War — it put the number at 1,000,000 men when there were not 1,000,000 men in the whole of Ulster — it tells the story of the humanitarian efforts of certain people just described by Deputy O'Sullivan, and of the efforts of the workers during the last 100 years to improve their lot. It is quite clear that an enlightened public opinion was brought to bear on that situation, and that the best elements in the community responded to the call of their fellow human beings. We have evidence that the fruits of that were partaken of not only by those engaged in manual labour, but also by employers and the wealthy classes. Perhaps in no case has the improvement been so marked as in the City of Dublin, where, within the memory of people who are alive to-day, the death rate was two or three times what it is at present. That improvement in wages and in the conditions of labour is reflected in the health of the people. The benefits that those engaged in industry derived by reason of that great movement extended even to the employing classes who were able to live healthier, longer and more secure lives by reason of the humanitarian efforts of those who were engaged in improving the industrial conditions of the workers.
If it were suggested during the last 70 or 80 years ago that the Act of 1875 should be repealed, there would he a very strong revulsion of feeling. None of us is prepared to contest certain parts of the case that the Minister makes for this measure. The intention is good, but unfortunately good intentions form the macadam of the road to a certain place in the next world where a great many souls arrive. In order to achieve the purpose the Minister has in mind in connection with this measure he must get the maximum co-operation from those engaged in industrial occupations. He will not get that so long as this section remains in the Bill in its present form. Whatever changes he proposes to make in the measure, or whatever amendments he intends to bring in to make it more acceptable, this section is one which cannot stand in a measure of this sort with the very partial support, if any, that there is for the proposals in the country. No trade unionist could view such a section as this with composure. Their entire future is bound up with the chance they have of being recognised as a negotiation body. They may be placed in danger if they are not selected as a negotiation body, if any other trade union comes in and upsets them in that connection. A great many people agree with the Minister that there is room for improvement. I think the Labour Party believe that. Why then should we put anything in a measure of this sort which would make for disunion at a time when the Minister requires the maximum of co-operation from everybody? I suggest that in this situation, the section, with no provision whatever made for those societies which may not be passed as negotiators, is a very dangerous one, one which may possibly give rise to much greater industrial turmoil than the Bill proposes to remedy.
I do not think that anyone who can throw his mind back some 40 or 45 years and contemplate the conditions under which people had to work then and who considers the changes that have since taken place, can calmly consider the insertion of a section of this kind in the Bill. This Bill may be enacted but, so sure as it is, so surely will it be torn to bits by some succeeding Parliament. Humanity is not going to go back 100 years. People are not going to revert to the conditions under which men and women laboured when I was a boy. I would long regret if they had to do so.
A half a century ago the working classes were emerging from conditions of slavery. The conditions under which people worked and lived in the city of Belfast are not unknown to the Minister. I am sure he does not for get the earnest pleas of the late Mr. Joseph Devlin for the improvement of the conditions under which people were called upon to work. We are now asked to vote for a section of this kind. I think the appeal made last night by Deputy McGilligan is unanswerable He was dealing in a theoretical way with certain changes that took place in working conditions. I know for a fact that those changes took place, because I had experience of the conditions under which people worked years ago. I know what the unfortunate workers had to endure, and I do not want anybody here or elsewhere to go back to such conditions. So far as lies in my power, I would be prepared to resist a return to such conditions.
The case submitted by Deputy Costello and Deputy McGilligan was a very moderate and unanswerable case, in my opinion. During the last 50 years the workers have been emancipated from conditions amounting to slavery. We all realise the better conditions under which people now labour, and we are aware that because of that improvement the workers are in a position to give better service to their employers. The employer who does not observe that change does not deserve to be an employer. He is really standing in his own light. I am sure the Minister remembers when girls from seven to 14 years of age had to go to work at six in the morning on a breakfast consisting of a cup of tea and some dry bread. For dinner those children had probably the same thing, and there was no change in the evening meal. That was the position of mere children. This House cannot possibly conceive the conditions existing 40 and 50 years ago in the Belfast textile trade. I do not want the children of this country ever to endure such conditions.
Through the efforts and the wisdom of democrats, those conditions were remedied. The employers and the workers saw the wisdom of it. As a result, we have to-day healthier and more efficient workers. No child who is compelled to work from six o'clock in the morning until six in the evening is fit to give efficient service to anyone. It would be physically impossible for a child to do so. The physical and mental capacity of the workers half a century ago were so affected by the dreadful conditions under which they worked, that their output was not at all comparable with the output of the workers of to-day. If the Minister throws his mind back he will remember some of those conditions quite well. I am sure he heard about them often enough from the man who emancipated the Belfast workers, the late Mr. Joseph Devlin.
It would be a tragedy if we put this vicious section into the Bill. I thought, after the very moderate case submitted by Deputy McGilligan last night, that this section would be withdrawn for amendment. I hope that even at this hour the Minister will consider it wise to withdraw it.
In common with other Deputies, I should like to ask the Minister to withdraw this section. I do not know whether the Minister appreciates the effect of this section or the power contained in it. It is always in some tucked-away corner of Acts of Parliament that one finds the deadly blow and in this case, by reason of the inapplication of two sections of the Acts referred to in Section 10, my reading of the position is that unless a trade union actually receives a negotiation licence it will become an illegal body. It became necessary to insert Section 2 in the Act of 1871 for the purpose of legalising the object for which a trade union would be formed.
I take it the Minister does not contemplate, in this Bill, to render illegal any body which obtains a negotiation licence. I take it that it is the intention of the Minister to abolish a trade union unless such trade union is in possession of a negotiation licence, or unless it comes under the heading of the excepted bodies mentioned in the other section. The first point against this section is that, every trade union that is not an excepted body, or is not in receipt of a negotiation licence, is not entitled to the benefit of these two sections of the Act of Parliament which renders legal activities which would otherwise be illegal.
There was some reason, I think, in the Act of 1871 for putting in Section 2 at a very early stage. I think that as we are discussing these sections, in so far as they refer to trade unions generally, it would not be out of order to quote the Trade Union Act of 1871. It sets out:—
The purposes of any trade union shall not, by reason merely that they are in restraint of trade, be deemed to be unlawful so as to render any member of such trade union liable to criminal prosecution for conspiracy or otherwise.
Every member of every trade union, such trade union not having a negotiation licence or not being an excepted body within the meaning of the section we have already discussed, renders himself or herself liable to criminal prosecution and cannot plead the defence of Section 2. Is it the Minister's intention that all trade unions, other than those that get a negotiation licence or excepted bodies, will become illegal. Because, if it is, then he is carrying out that intention in Section 10. If it is not, then Section 10 does not carry out the Minister's intentions. I have dealt with the position in 1871. In order to make the position clearer, the Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act, 1875, was passed and that is more explicit still. Section 3 says:
An agreement or combination by two or more persons to do or procure to be done any act in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute between employers and workmen shall not be indictable as a conspiracy if such Act committed by one person would not be punishable as a crime.
Here again the effect will be that if any two employers or any two workmen meet together for the purpose of settleing a dispute, they would find themselves before long, if the powers were so willing, in the criminal court, facing a charge of conspiracy.
In the wisdom of their generation they started in 1871 and went on to 1875, and a whole statute was passed in 1906, but those are now sought to be done away with in connection with certain trade unions. The Trade Disputes Act, 1906 gave the right of peaceful picketing and set out the code under which bargains could be carried out between masters and men or between different trade unions. The whole effect of this section is that it will give the State power to put out of existence any particular body that conies within the definition of trade union at present, if that body does not comply, or is not allowed to comply with the section which permits it to be a negotiation body. With respect, I put that to the Minister and his advisers as the legal position.
There is a second objection to the section, and it is this, that it is 70 years ago exactly since Section 2 of the Trade Union Act, 1871, was passed, and during that period all who have grown, to man's estate, having lived in a certain atmosphere of law and appreciation of fundamental rights, know of the endeavours to ameliorate the lot of the people. But while it is very easy to do away with barriers and to increase, safeguards it is very difficult and very harsh to cut them away. We have been brought up and have lived in an atmosphere under which Section 2 of the Act of 1871 and Section 3 of the Act of 1875, and the whole Act of 1906 have become the statute law of this land and have been acted upon as part of the fundamental law. What is sought to be done will absolutely revolutionise everything now appreciated as law. I wish the Minister to realise that, while there are many intentions behind this Bill which are probably very good, I believe the most harmful section is Section 10, and I ask the Minister seriously to consider the position that will arise if it becomes the law of the land.
Having the right to reserve my intervention in tills debate until I had heard the rase made against the section I am now going to say that I was impressed by the speech which Deputy McGilligan made last night, particularly with reference to Section 2 of the Act of 1871 and Section 3 of the Act of 1875. I have had some doubts as to whether it was necessary to refer to these Acts at all for the purpose for which this section is introduced in the Bill. The House will remember that on the Second Reading the main focus of criticism was Section 6.(Interruptions.) I gathered that there were some members of the House who took an intelligent interest in the Bill and would like to hear my point of view.
They are not sitting behind the Minister.
The Minister is in possession and should be allowed to speak without interruption.
I was saying that the burden of the attack on the Bill centred round Section 6 which, because it is necessary to preserve the natural right of people to discuss with each other the terms of employment, if they so desire, provided for what are known here as "an excepted body." It is alleged that this provision was introduced in order that we might encourage what is known as "shop unions," and criticism of the Bill centred entirely on that section.
A reference to the debates will bring that point out. I do not propose to endeavour to substantiate it here at the moment. In replying, I pointed out that Section 10 had been introduced as a deliberate discouragement to the formation of house unions, and so tar from house unions enjoying the special privileges that were alleged, Section 10 definitely places members of house unions at a disadvantage as compared with members of authorised trade unions holding a negotiation licence, in so far as it definitely reserves to the members of such authorised trade unions the privileges which are embodied in what I might describe as the Trade Union Acts. I was not at all certain that in order to ensure that there would be no encouragement for shop unions it was necessary to refer it all to Section 2 of the Trade Union Act, 1871, or Section 3 of the Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act, 1875, and I have been impressed by the speeches made by Deputy McGilligan, Deputy Cosgrave, and Deputy Esmonde. Deputy Esmonde pointed out that, perhaps, under the section as it stands any body of persons coming together, other than for the purpose of discussing and considering wages and conditions of employment might be held, in so far as "excepted" could be interpreted as constituting a restraint of trade, to be guilty of conspiracy. Accordingly, I have come to the conclusion that it is not necessary to retain Section 2 of the Trade Union Act, 1871, or Section 3 of the Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act, 1875, and on the Report Stage I will introduce an amendment to deal with the position.
Is the Minister suggesting that he is going to retain the Trade Disputes Act, 1906?
Apart from our individual interest in the future of our unions under this section, and the Bill as a whole, if it ever becomes law, I know of no measure introduced here during my period of membership, new nearly 20 years, which has given such grounds for complaint to the community. I was one of the founders in this country of my own union, of which I have been a member continuously for 34 years. My colleagues and I know how in the early days of the organisation of trade unions, house unions were used by employers, against the efforts of those who were trying to establish legitimate trade unions. The Irish National Teachers' Organisation is being given the status if a house union under this Bill. I would be deeply interested to learn what Deputy Cormac Breathnach, and one or two other teacher-members of the Fianna Fáil Party, have to say about this proposal.
There are some teacher-members in the Labour Party, too.
If the Minister speaks again on this section, I should like to know from him whether he has been in consultation with the leaders of the Irish National Teachers' Organisation, and whether, as a democrat — I believe that at one time he was a member of the Independent Labour Party — or as one who poses as being a democrat, he has given any opportunity to the rank and file of the Irish National Teachers' Organisation to say whether they are willing to have their organisation reduced to the status of a house union inside the trade union movement.
The Minister read some extracts yesterday from a semi-confidential report which was submitted to the Irish Trade Union Congress in 1936. He appeared to build his whole case for the dragooning of the trade union movement in this country on the extracts which he read from that document and which suited his own point of view. I, like most, if not all of my colleagues, and of every other person in the country who has taken an active interest in the trade union movement, am prepared to say that there are justifiable grounds for tightening up the the trade union movement, but that can never be secured by a measure of this kind. All the power of the military and of the police, all the whispering agents which the Minister may have at his disposal, will not compel — to use the Minister's words last night — the trade unionists of this country to swallow this measure in its present form.
It is not in order for the Deputy to discuss the measure as a whole on this stage. He should confine himself to Section 10.
I am sure the Chair would realise, if it looked into the matter carefully that Section 10 hits at the heart of the existing trade union movement. It must be evident to anybody who studies the measure, and its implications that the object of Section 10, and of every section in the Bill, but of Section 10 in particular, is to weaken, if not to break, the existing trade union movement. The trade unionists of the country who lost jobs in order to make it possible to build up the existing organisation which, as I have said, may not be 100 per cent. correct are prepared to lose a little bit more in fighting the Minister and this measure, if and when it becomes law It is my considered opinion, for what it is worth, that the trade unionists of the country and trade union officials will not recognise this Bill if and when it becomes law in its present form. If the Minister is sincerely anxious, and I assume he is, to do the tightening up work which he thinks is necessary inside the trade union movement, why does he not attempt it by means of consultation, negotiation and agreement, especially in present circumstances? As I have already said the Minister read from the contents of a report which was submitted to the Trade Union Congress at its annual conference in 1936, in which particulars were given of the position at that time. But the conditions prevailing then were quite different from those of the present time. If the Minister speaks again on the section, I should like him to give the House the number of hours of labour lost by trade unionists in this country during last year, from any cause whatever, and particularly if these can be attributed to the alleged jealousies and rivalries between trade unionists and trade union officials.
Does that question arise on Section 10?
It arises on this section which hits at the heart of the trade union movement.
I think that question could have been more properly raised on Sections 6, 7, 8, and 9, which have already been discussed.
This section proposes to reorganise the existing trade unions, to make some which are now legitimate trade unions mere house unions if and when the Bill becomes law in its present form. It goes further, as Deputy Breathnach and the few Fianna Fáil Deputies who sit in silence behind the Minister know. they know, as well as I know, that when the trade union movement is reorganised in accordance with the Minister's wishes we will have, as the brother-in-law of this Bill, to see that the trade unions as reorganised will not be allowed to function——
That does not arise on this section.
——the Emergency Powers No. 83 Order. If and when this Bill becomes law, it will be there to prevent the reorganised union from functioning on behalf of their members. The Minister knows that quite well.
The Deputy must come back to Section 10. He is making what is practically a Second Reading speech on the Bill.
I know there is a certain amount of filling in stuff in the 28 sections of this Bill but Section 10 is not to be described as such.
Section 10 is before the House, and the Deputy must confine his remarks to it.
Certain trade unions which are now in existence, and which sue their members insurance rights, will be disbanded when this Bill becomes law. The members of the dahanded unions will have their insurance rights lapsed according to law, if and when this Bill becomes law.
They will not be disbanded under Section 10.
They, possibly, will become horse unions. One will be the Irish National Teachers' Organisation, of which Deputy Breathnach was at one tune the honoured President. This Bill, and this section of the Bill in particular, was horn inside the secret chamber of the Chambers of Commerce and in the offices of the Federation of Irish Industry. The members sitting on these benches have known for a long time that certain leaders in the Chambers of Commerce, and in the Federation of Irish Industry, have, even in their own journals, been advocating the introduction and passage of this measure. This section has been advocated by certain employers who do not give a damn about the neutrality of this country, about who invades it or when it is invaded. They know, as well as I know, that if the trade unions of this country refuse to recognise this Bill, if and when it becomes law, it is going to endanger the peace, security and safety of this State.
The Deputy should deal with Section 10.
I want to ask the Minister for Industry and Commerce who was at one time a member of the Independent Labour Party to reconsider the whole position if he does not want trouble in the country.
I am sorry that Deputy Davin should so far forget himself as to bring himself into the position in which the Minister was yesterday when he suggested that Deputy Norton was setting himself up as the leader of the Moscow Fifth Columnists in this country. I think it is unfair that Irish employers should have their names associated with this Bill.
I think that some of them are associated with it.
I think the Deputy very nearly approached the Minister's standard when he spoke of employers, as an organised body, being in any way related to this Bill. I find it impossible, I admit, to understand the Minister in connection with this Bill. It is of such a nature that, from the point of view of Christian charity alone, I should hesitate to pass on the blame for it any more than is necessary.
On a point of order, are we not discussing Section 10?
It is because we sire discussing Section 10, that I am making these remarks about the unfairness of Deputy Davin's statement.
On a point of personal explanation, docs the Deputy readIrish Industry which speaks for somebody?
I would advise the Deputy, if he wants to make the Federation of Irish Employers responsible for any publication, a Bill or other, that he should examine the matter a little more closely, before jumping at conclusions. I do not want to labour that further. We are all familiar with the saying of "putting the cart before the horse." If ever the cart was put before the horse, the horse being then turned backwards and having large nails stuck into it to help it to travel, we have an example of that sort of thing in tins section. We are out to introduce harmony into industrial life here. This Bill does not provide any machinery for stopping strikes. Section 10 confirms to those who hold negotiation licences all the rights that existed under legislation up to the present to carry on strikes in the good old-fashioned way. I notice that the Minister calls these "privileges." He rather emphasises that the rights won by legislation, which have proved so useful in improving the position of the working class, are to he called "privileges." I do not know how many people in the House regard them as privileges. I think that anything conferred on people by legislation might, reasonably, be described as "rights."
The Minister has indicated that he is going to drop the reference to Section 2 of the 1871 Act and to Section 3 of the 1875 Act and that he is going to withdraw from anybody who does not hold a negotiation licence the rights secured to all trade unions under the Trade Disputes Act, 1906. It would be very important to know what exactly he means. Section 2 of the Trade Union Act, provides:—
"The purposes of any trade union shall not, by reason merely that they are in restraint of trade, be deemed to be unlawful so as to render any member of such trade union liable to criminal prosecution for conspiracy or otherwise."
The Minister says he is withdrawing that, so that a trade union which is not in possession of a negotiation licence will, so far as we can read the present riddle, still have the right to interfere in a way that will restrain trade without bringing themselves outside the law. I have to read Section 3 of the Act of 1875, because the Trade Disputes Act, 1906, makes an addition to it. While Section 3 of the 1875 Act is to go by the board, the addition made to it by the Trade Disputes Act, 1906, is to be held against people who have not a negotiation licence. For the information of the House, I shall quote Section 3 of the 1875 Act:—
An agreement or combination by two or more persons to do or procure to be done any act in contemplation of furtherance of a trade dispute between employers and workmen shall not be indictable as a conspiracy if such act committed by one person would not be punishable as a crime. Nothing in this section shall exempt from punishment any persons guilty of a conspiracy for which a punishment is awarded by any Act of Parliament. Nothing in this section shall affect the law relating to riot, unlawful assembly, breach of the peace or sedition, or any offence against the State or the Sovereign. A crime for the purposes of this section means an offence punishable on summary conviction, and for the commission of which the offender is liable under the statute making the offence punishable to be imprisoned either absolutely or at the discretion of the court as an alternative for some other punishment. Where a person is convicted of any such agreement or combination as aforesaid to do or procure to be done an act which is punishable only on summary conviction, and is sentenced to imprisonment, the imprisonment shall not exceed three months or such longer time, if any, as may have been prescribed by the statute for the punishment of the said act when committed by one person.
That is to go by the board. Persons who do not hold a negotiation licence are still to have these rights retained to them but people who have not got a negotiation licence will not in future have the benefit of the Trade Disputes Act, 1906. Section 1 of the Trade Disputes Act, 1906, added a paragraph to Section 3 of the 1875 Act which I have just quoted. Section 1 of the Trade Disputes Act says:—
"The following paragraph shall be added as a new paragraph after the first paragraph of Section 3 of the Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act, 1875:—
An act done in pursuance of an agreement or combination by two or more persons shall, if done in contemplation or furtherance of a, trade dispute, not be actionable unless the act, if done without any such agreement or combination, would be actionable."
That means that, even though an act would not in itself be actionable, if a party, consisting of two or more persons, not holding a negotiation licence, does the act in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute, it will he actionable by reason of the fact that it is so done. That is being held against people who do not hold a negotiation licence. What has the Minister in mind? What none of us is able to find out is what is the long scale of punishment that lies behind this section, even with the 1871 and 1875 provisions taken out? It strikes me that what the Minister had in mind last night in connection with Deputy McGilligan's comments was the suggestion that 1871 was a long time ago and that 1875 was a long time ago and that he does not want to appear to be taking from people rights which they got in 1871 and 1875, but it does not sound so badly when you come to 1906. If Deputies consider what is being granted by the Minister under his withdrawal and what is still being retained, they will have difficulty in ascertaining that anything is left. Section 2 of the 1900 Act says:
"It shall be lawful for one or more persons, acting on their behalf or on behalf or a trade union or of an individual employer or firm in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute, to attend at or near a house or place where a person resides or works or carries on business or happens to be, if they so attend merely for the purpose of peacefully obtaining or communicating information, or of peacefully persuading any person to work or abstain from work."
That right is to be withdrawn from people who cannot put up £2,000. I do not know what the penalties are to be on persons who may be found guilty of peaceful picketing. Section 3 of the 1900 Act says::—
"An act done by a person in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute shall not be actionable on the ground only that it induces some other person to break a contract of employment or that it is an interference with the trade, business, or employment of some other person, or with the right of some other person to dispose of his capital or his labour as he wills."
What exactly does the Minister ask us to think he is doing when be removes Section 2 of the Act of 1871 and leaves this other provision in? Section 2 of the 1871 Act says that the purposes of any trade union shall not, by reason merely that they are in restraint of trade, be deemed to be unlawful so as to render any member liable to prosecution for conspiracy or otherwise. Here we have an act which is
"an interference with the trade, business or employment of some other person, or with the right of some other person to dispose of his capital or his labour as he wills."
I am reading there again Section 3 of the 1906 Act and I am asking how does the Minister arrange that he is going to allow a person rights under Section 2 of the Act of 1871 and to deprive him of the rights given under Section 3 of the Act of 1906?
Section 4 of the 1906 Act says:
"An action against a trade union, whether of workmen or of masters or against any members or officials thereof, on behalf of themselves and all other members of the trade union in respect of any tortious act, alleged to have been committed by or on behalf of the trade union shall not be entertained by any court."
A group without a negotiation licence is going to be deprived of that protection. The Minister has not been quite as explicit or quite as frank with the House as he might have been, considering that he has stated that he was impressed with the arguments put up. We should like to have from the Minister a schedule of the punishments that lie at the back of this section. I have said that it deprives persons who are trade unionists, but who have not a negotiation licence, of the rights of protection they get under the Trade Disputes Act. We ought to know what punishments we are laying up in store for these organisations throughout the country as the Minister, by implication, confesses that he does not know what is going to be done about them — the Tipperary Workers' Organisation, the Dundalk Workers' Organisation and the road workers even. If the Minister has been persuaded by the speeches made by Deputy McGilligan last night and by Deputy Cosgrave and Deputy Esmonde to-day, let us see the nature of his conviction.
To my mind, looking at the terms of the three Acts to which I have referred, the fact that the Minister is deleting the references to Section 2 of the Act of 1875 and Section 3 of the Act of 1871 is no contribution in any way to the appeasement of the situation so long as persons who do not hold a negotiation licence are being deprived of the benefits and the rights of the Trade Disputes Act of 1906. I think the Minister ought to take the House frankly into his confidence and if he still persists in his attitude, as regards the Trade Disputes Act he should tell the House what are the penalties that are involved by retaining the reference to that Act in the section.
The Minister told us that he was so impressed with certain arguments which he had heard in connection with this matter that he proposes to delete, at a later stage, the references to Section 2 of the Trade Union Act of 1871 and Section 3 of the Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act, 1875, but he is taking very good care to leave in the reference to the Trade Disputes Act, 1906. The effect of doing that is to deprive a union which has not a negotiation licence, that is an excepted organisation, from the enjoyment of the natural rights to withdraw its labour, to deny it the right to withhold its labour if it is not paid a decent price for that labour. Every Papal Encyclical, every tenet of Catholic thought has expressed itself on the side of the right of the worker to withdraw his labour and of not being put in the position of being forced to sell his labour at any price the employer may choose to pay. Under the section as it stands, the Minister is still preventing trade unions from enjoying the rights which are set out in the Trade Disputes Act of 1906. It is important that the House should know what, in fact, the unions will lose under Section 10. It might be no harm, therefore, to quote the terms of the Trade Disputes Act of 1906 because that particular Act is a vital charter so far as trade unions are concerned, a charter of which they are going to be deprived by Section 10 of this Bill as it now stands.
It is a long time since 1906. In 1906 there was an agitation in this country which did not give the British Government much credit for any enlightened view in respect of conceptions, or high standards, of freedom. Although it is 35 years since the British Parliament passed that measure, and although we might very rightly claim, after the lapse of the intervening period, to have leached a somewhat better standard and a better conception of freedom and liberty, particularly for the masses of the people, yet we deliberately in this section set out to go back Beyond the period of 1906. In fact, what we are really doing is going back to 1825, before the repeal of the anti-combination laws. That is what is proposed by this enlightened Fianna Fáil Government — to put the workers of the country back to the period of 1825. That is the Fianna Fáil conception of progress — back to 1825.
It is very important that the House should know what in fact the 1906 Act gave to trade unions. In that year an alien Government enacted this Act. It said:—
"Be it enacted by the King's Most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—
"1. The following paragraph shall be added as a new paragraph after the first paragraph of Section 3 of the Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act, 1875:—
"‘An act done in pursuance of an agreement or combination by two or more persons shall, it done in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute, not be actionable unless the act, if done without any such agreement or combination, would be actionable.'"
Section 2 provides for peaceful picketing in these terms:—
"(1) It shall be lawful for one or more persons, acting on their own behalf or on behalf of a trade union or of an individual employer or firm in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute, to attend at or near a house or place where a person resides or works or carries on business or happens to be, if they so attend merely for the purpose of peacefully obtaining or communicating information, or of peacefully persuading any person to work or abstain from working.
(2) Section seven of the Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act, 1875, is hereby repealed from attending at or near to the end of the section."
Section 3 relates to the removal of liability for interfering with another person's business, etc. It provides:—
"An act done by a person in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute shall not he actionable on the ground only that it induces some other person to break a contract of employment or that it is an inter ference with a trade, business, or employment of some other person, or with the right of some other person to dispose of his capital or ins labour as he wills."
Section 4 prohibits actions of tort against trade unions in these terms:—
"An action against a trade union whether of workmen or of masters, or against any members or officials thereof on behalf of themselves and all other members of the trade union in respect of any tortious act alleged to have been committed by or on behalf of the trade unions, shall not he entertained by any court.
(2) Nothing in this section shall affect the liability of the trustees of a trade union to be sued in the events provided for by the Trade Union Act, 1871, section nine, except in respect of any tortious act committed by or on behalf of the union in contemplation or in furtherance of a trade dispute."
Section 5 reads:—
"(1) This Act may be cited as the Trade Disputes Act, 1906, and the Trade Union Acts, 1871 and 1876, and this Act may be cited together as the Trade Union Acts, 1871 to 1906.
(2) In this Act the expression ‘trade union' has the same meaning as in the Trade Union Acts, 1871 and 1876, and shall include any combination as therein defined, notwithstanding that such combination may be the branch of a trade union.
(3) In this Act and in the Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act, 1875, the expression `trade dispute' means any dispute between employers and workmen, or between workmen and workmen, which is connected with the employment or non-employment, or the terms of the employment, or with the conditions of labour, of any person, and the expression `workmen' means all perons employed in trade or industry, whether or not in the employment of the employer with whom a trade dispute arises: and, in section three of the last mentioned Act, the words between `employers and workmen' shall he repealed."
That was generally regarded as a very valuable piece of legislation from the point of view of the trade unions. It gave them a new status, a new strength, a new dignity before the law, and carried on the general process of not regarding their beneficial activities as conspiratorial activities, such as were contemplated by earlier conspiracy Acts. Nobody in the country in which this legislation was passed would dream to-day of impeding unions in the enjoyment of the rights conshrined in that Act, but in this country in a Bill which is falsely represented as a Bill to assist and encourage trade unionism a section is embodied to deprive workers who do not hold a negotiation licence of the enjoyment of the rights which were given them 35 years ago by an alien Assembly.
Let us see what can happen under this Bill. A house union may exist. An employer may insist on encouraging the establishment of a house union and may say that it is a condition of employment in his establishment that the staff must be members of that house union, which will be his own creature. The employer — and he may well be an alien employer from Whitechapel, Poland or some other place — may say to the workers: "I propose to reduce your wages by 10/- per week." The wages may be already low, but the employer may come along unscrupulously and reduce them by 10/- per week. The employees in his house union may protest against an already low wage being made still lower, but they cannot go on strike. They may stay at home, if they like, and, so far, under this Bill they cannot be compelled to work for that man. They cannot be dragooned into his employment. They can stay at home and they can be hungry. The State will deprive them of unemployment insurance and unemployment assistance, of course, on the ground that they left their employment, but they cannot picket that man's premises. They cannot say to the Irish people: " This alien employer, who enjoys a substantial tariff from this Government, has reduced our wages by 10/-per week and we are now paid much lower wages than are paid by his competitors in the same industry." They will not be allowed to say that to anybody outside, nor will they be allowed to carry a simple placard saying: "This boss has reduced our wages by 10/- per week." If they do that, they are guilty of an offence and are liable to prosecution under the ordinary common law.
What the Minister is doing under this section is protecting every unscrupulous employer who may have a house union in his pocket and preventing the employees of that employer from ever going on strike, no matter how unfairly they may be treated, or by how much the employer reduces their wages. That may he done in the interests of an unscrupulous type of employer who has come into this country in recent years, the type of employer who does not accept some of the practices which, I am glad to say, are recognised by the best-class Irish employers. Under this section, it would be an offence for the employees of such an employer to go on strike. They are prohibited from doing so and all the advantages of the 1906 Act are taken from them. I should like to find out from the Minister why he insists on jumping into the ring on behalf of the bosses. I do not think it is even his job to keep the ring. Unless the Constitution is a greater humbug than I think it is, I think the function of the Minister of Industry and Commerce, under Article 45, is to come in on behalf of the weaker sections, to stand behind them and to prevent their position and their economic needs being exploited by a stronger class. I do not think his function is merely to keep the ring, but to be in on the side of the workers, helping them in every possible way and endeavouring to raise their standard of living in every possible way. The Minister, however, does not propose to do that under this section. He does not even propose to keen the ring. He has come into the ring on this occasion on the side of the bosses, and he is preventing the employees of such an employer from going on strike, no matter in what rascally way these employees may be treated by the unscrupulous employer.
Will the Minister tell us why it is necessary for him to line up with the bosses? Will the members of the Fianna Fáil Party tell us why it is necessary for them to line up with the bosses, because every vote for Section 10 is a vote for lining up with the bosses against the workers, for depriving the workers of their weapon of the strike and peaceful picketing? Will Deputy Cormac Breathnach tell us why he will go into the Division Lobby in support of Section 10 to allow an unscrupulous alien employer to sweat Irish workers, and to prevent Irish workers from telling the Irish people that that unscrupulous alien employer will not pay decent rates of wages? The workers of Dublin are entitled to know why Deputy Breathnach wants to line up with the bosses, even if his own boss, the Minister for Industry and Commerce, wants to do so.
From the statement the Minister made I presume he is now agreeing that Section 2 of the Act of 1871 and Section 3 of the Act of 1875 will apply to combinations of workers, even if they are not a recognised trade union under this Act?
I propose to delete the references to these sections.
I presume, therefore, that these two sections have not been repealed by the Act of 1906, so far as strikes are concerned?
Good. Will not the position then be this: that a number of employees who are not members of a recognised trade union in this Act will have the right to strike?
A number of employees?
Yes. They will have the right to withdraw their labour.
In other words, to strike. But the men who have the right to strike will have no right, unless they are members of a recognised trade union, to discuss and negotiate with their employers as to what the strike is all about.
They will have no right to picket.
Well, I am on one point, and on one point only.
There is no justification for that argument at all.
All right. I shall make the point again. They will have the right to strike. That is clear, both from the Act of 1871 and the Act of 1875.
The Deputy had better make his case or make his point and I shall deal with the matter afterwards — if necessary.
I do not mind whether the Minister deals with it or not.
I know that the Deputy does not.
Now, the point is this. As the intention of the Minister now is before us, a number of workers, one or more, may withdraw their labour; in other words, may strike or agree to strike, and they are perfectly legal in doing so, but they have no right to discuss with their employer why they are striking or trying to prevent a strike. Anything more absurd than that, I cannot well imagine.
We are somewhat under a difficulty in dealing with this because of the Minister's silence, and I am going to look for some information, although whether I shall get it or not I do not know. The Minister, apparently, holds a different view, in so far as he has given any view in regard to anything, in the House, as to what this section will mean if it becomes law. I want to put the following case to the Minister. Some years ago, there was a strike in a certain town in my constituency It was a very bitter strike, and by " bitter" I mean as between the employers and the employees. It was a big creamery strike. It went on for eight or nine weeks, and as the strike went on, feelings became more bitter and it led to assaults on the workers by some of the farmers and to retaliation by the workers in attacking the farmers and spilling the milk and the contents of the tankards on the roads. Several efforts, I understand, were made to settle that strike. Ultimately, I was asked by some of the workers to see if I could do anything to bring about a settlement, and although I was not connected with a trade union — I was pot even a member of the Labour Party at the time — after some negotiations and some travelling to-and-fro between the creamery committee and the workers concerned. I succeeded in having a settlement that was acceptable to both sides. If that position were to arrive to-morrow, would I, or any other person in my position. approached by either one side or the other to bring about a settlement in that type of dispute, be committing an offence? It seems to me that I would.
On a point of order, Sir. That question does not arise at all under Section 10.
Will the Minister tell me how it does not?
The Minister is not the judge of the question, anyhow.
It has nothing to do with negotiation.
No person, under this section, can attempt peacefully to persuade any worker or group of workers to work, or try to settle a dispute.
No, there is nothing at all in this section to that effect.
At any rate, the Minister has not made any attempt to explain this section to the House or to the country.
The Deputy was not here when this section was being discussed at the beginning. He came in here during the last half hour, and I am not going over the whole discussion again for his benefit.
Is this a point of order, Sir?
Yes. There is nothing in Section 10 which deals with the efforts of an intermediary to settle a strike.
I agree to some extent with the Minister, but the application of other Acts to this Bill gives a wide scope to its discussion and to the implications and references.
On a point of order, Sir.
Deputies Norton and Morrissey rose.
Am I entitled, Sir, to put a point of order There should not be two Deputies on their feet. I am intervening to make a point of order.
The Minister was ruled out of order.
I have not been ruled out of order. The House has heard, twice recited. Sections 2, 3, 4 and 5 of the Trade Disputes Act of 1908, which is the only Act now in regard to Section 10. There is nothing in any of these sections relating to the efforts of an intermediary to settle a strike. They relate entirely to the efforts of persons who are endeavouring to prevent people from working. I am putting the point of order to you. Sir, that Deputy Morrissey is not in order on this section.
I shall allow the Deputy to proceed.
The Minister, before he made the point of order, tried to make another point, nearly as good as the point of order. He tried to make the point that I had not been here in the House or had not heard what he said.
Nobody else heard it either.
I attempted to read what the Minister thinks he said yesterday, and I read some other speeches that were made that were much more important, but I think it would have been a very good thing for the Minister himself if he himself had been absent from this House yesterday, if one can judge from the newspaper reports of what he said.
Is this on the-section?
Is the Minister making a point of order?
What the Deputy is saying has no reference to Section 10.
If the Minister refers to me in the way he has, Sir, am I not entitled to reply to him?
It would be better not to introduce personalities into the debate.
I am not the person to introduce personalities here. Sir, — most often I am the subject of them — but I say that it would be far better for the Minister and for the country generally if he had not been here yesterday. One finds it difficult to understand whether his silence or his speech was the more harmful. I am putting the point and putting the case to the Minister because he has failed to do his job. It is his duty, when introducing a Bill, or putting a Bill through this House in Committee, to introduce each section to the House and explain the effect of each section to the House. Will he tell us how many members of this House, he thinks, have gone to the trouble of reading up the Act of 1871, the Act of 1875, and the Act of 19061 We would not be troubled with Section 10 if the Minister understood what it means. I shall go so far as to credit him with this, that I do not think we would be troubled with Section 10, much less the Bill itself, if the Minister had the faintest idea of what is going to flow from it.
Deputy O'Sullivan, a moment ago, pointed out one of the absurd positions that are going to arise. There are an employer and an employee in a house union formed by the employer himself. They cannot negotiate. The Minister again s that they can strike, and the main purpose of this Bill, so far as it has a purpose at all, according to the Minister, is to reduce industrial unrest and strikes. One of the effects of this section, if carried, we are told, will be that an employer cannot discuss with his employees why their hours should ho lengthened or why their wages should be reduced.
Of course, they are excepted under Section 6.
Is it possible, Sir, to discuss this section without referenrcs to Section. The Minister himself, when he intervened for a few moments on this section, discussed lection 6. On this very section, he discussed Section 6. As a matter of fact, his words applied far more to Section 6 than to Section 10. The only reference he made to Section 10 was that, having been convinced by speeches made by Deputy McGilligan and others that it would not be wise to leave in the 1871 and 1875 provisions, he is taking them out, but he did not utter one word to this House as to why he is going to retain the Act of 1906. Notwithstanding the fact that Deputies Mulcahy and Norton have quoted particular sections of it, practically the Act itself, the Minister yet does not think it worth his while to make any reference to it. Then, when we endeavour to extract information from the Minister, so as to enable the House to come to an intelligent decision on-this matter, he immediately tries to stop discussion by raising frivolous points of order. The Minister is very anxious to restrict the debate to Section 10. Now, you can have a Bill introduced to this House and there might be ninety sections in it, but the whole Bill can very well be in one section. The Minister, in the course of his few words on this section, also said that the main point made against this Bill on Second Reading was on Section 6. That is not so. Important and all as Section 6 is, that was not the main point of the debate. The fact is that the whole volume of opposition in this House to this Bill was to the Bill as a whole.
The Minister, apparently, does not himself understand this Bill. He certainly does not understand the implications of the Bill. Apparently he has no idea whatever of what is going to flow from the passage of the Bill into law because, if he understood the Bill, he would not now be trying to trip me up on this section on the point that I have made certain references to what is contained in Section 6. He would not speak on this particular section himself without speaking on Section 6. I would like the Minister and the House to realise that this is a very important. Bill — I said this on Second Reading— probably the most important Bill that has come before this House for a number of years, and this is a very important section of the Bill. I only hope and pray, as I said before, that when this Bill becomes law, if it does become law, and is put into force the Minister and the Government may not find themselves faced with a far greater problem than they had to deal with before they set out to wipe out any union in this country — the road union, the town union, or the village union— any union that cannot put up £2,000 at least. That is Section 10 in a nutshell.
Deputy Morrissey was seeking guidance on a point as to what would happen to a negotiator who was trying to do something in the interests of industrial peace, individually. He was not conceded that information. He was told, practically, that he was dealing with Section 6 when he should be confining himself to Section 10. I consider Section 10 is no more and no less than the penalty clause for offences under Section 6. I referred on the Second Reading of this Bill to a very important and useful section of the community who have been doing very good work, unostentatiously, and who are going to be put out of action. I want to ask the same question in regard to these people as Deputy Morrissey has asked in regard to the individual. What will become of or what will be the penalty on a trades council who try to offer their good offices to settle a dispute between employer and employee? Under this section they have no right.
I have already informed Deputy Morrissey, through the Chair, that there is nothing in this section that deals with any person or affects any person who is trying to settle a dispute. It only deals with people who are trying to foment and encourage dispute.
That is the Minister's opinion.
Sections 6 and 10 are linked.
I am putting that to the Chair as a point of order.
The Leas-Cheann Comhairle has already ruled against the Minister on that point.
I am suggesting that this section and its contemporary. Section 6, is striking at a very vital function and there is nothing being put back in its place for the maintenance of industrial harmony in the country. The Minister does not seem to give any attention to that point. I have spoken of my own experience in my own city and I know it happens in other cities and towns where these bodies of workers who are affiliated from respective unions come together. They go over to the employers and the employees to try to produce settlements of disputes that are pending or in embryo stages. In many cases they have been able to settle disputes—in fact in most cases—before the intervention of the Minister's official was called for. Where the local efforts have failed it has been the practice of the Minister for Industry and Commerce— and the present Minister's predecessor, notably — to send some of his officials through the country — which took a lot of their time — trying to bring about settlements of industrial disputes. I suggest, if it had not been for the good action and offices of the local trades councils you would have a whole-time staff of the Minister's officials doing this job. If the Minister will tell me that the trades councils can still carry on their functions, I will sit down immediately as far as this is concerned.
Has not the Minister already so stated? I am not conversant with the possible implications of the Acts mentioned as here amended.
Has the Minister stated that trade councils can function?
That is my recollection.
What 1 did draw your attention to was this — by the way, I may point out that the Trade Disputes Act, 1906, has already been read twice, if not three times, in the course of the discussion of this section — that the Act in question merely restricts the activities of persons who are taking part in a trade dispute. The Deputy is now asking me what is the question of a trades council who would seek to mediate. That point does not arise under this section. That is the point of order I made.
Section 6 is linked with Section 10.
The penalty is here. As has been pointed out earlier by Deputy O'Sullivan, a small section of workers can go on strike but they dare not discuss the reason of the strike with the employer, and if they go to seek the good offices of a collection of men who are associated together——
On a point of order, may I point out that that is fully covered by Section 6 and there is nothing in Section 6 which would justify the assertion which the Deputy has made.
There is so, of course.
That is not a point of order.
Section 6 is not under discussion now.
The Minister has been ruled out of order twice already.
Section 10 reads as follows:—
"(1) Section 2 of the Trade Union Act, 1871, Section 3 of the Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act, 1875, and the Trade Disputes Act, 1906, shall apply only in relation to authorised trade unions which for the time being are holders of negotiation licences and the members and officials of such trade unions, and not otherwise.
" (2) This section shall come into operation on the same date as Section 6 of this Act comes into operation."
I suggest that that particular section us it stands prohibits anybody, either individuals or collections of individuals, except those holding negotiation licences, from having anything to do with the settlement of industrial disputes. The Minister may read it any way he likes. They are withdrawing from people the right to do work they used to do in the country. I ask the Minister what is he putting in its place?
Do I understand the Chair to assent to that proposition?
A Ministerial trick!
Put the Chair in jail.
It is not a function of the Chair to interpret every section of this Bill. If the Deputy gives his interpretation — quite legitimately and honestly, I am sure— the Chair cannot interfere.
Does the Chair assent to it, Sir?
The Chair did not indicate assent or dissent to the Deputy's interpretation. Interpretation is not my function.
I was going to respectfully suggest that it was not.
If the Minister would sive an explanation of each section there would not be half of this.
Deputy Keyes, on the section.
I put a point, Sir. I think I am entitled to that interpretation if I can read the thing correctly or intelligently. I suggest that the Minister should attempt to deal with the question on a broad basis, having regard to the honesty with which I have put my question and the purpose I have behind it, instead of trying to evade the issue. He has put nothing in its place. He keeps getting up, looking for points of order and rulings. He has done so three or four times before you, Sir, came in and he has done so three or four times since you came in. I say that is not a serious way to deal with the matter with which he is dealing. He has come in here to introduce this Bill without giving proper study to it.
The Deputy must come down to this section.
Section 10—with Section 6 — is unquestionably one of the most serious blots in that Bill. If the Minister is honest in his protestations that he is not striking at the trade union movement, why is that objectionable section there? What is the necessity for it? What useful purpose is it intended to serve, and how does the Minister propose to cope with the disorder and chaos which it will cause in operation?
In this discussion there has been a certain amount of confusion because of irrelevancies introduced by the Minister, and perhaps others, and I think it would be well to endeavour to focus the attention of the House on the real position which arises under Section 10. Members of the House know that there are two distinct and separate types of unions recognised under this Bill — unions possessed of negotiation licences, and other unions not so possessed. The view has been expressed, and the Minister has not met it in any way, that unions not possessed of negotiation licences will be seriously harassed and affected, as well as any other people coming to their assistance, if they seek to indulge in negotiations, or in the action following disputes which has been hitherto the legitimate privilege of any trade union. Section 2 of the Trade Union Act, 1871, is as follows:—
"The purposes of any trade union shall not, by reason merely that they are in restraint of trade, be deemed to be unlawful so as to render any member of such trade union liable to criminal prosecution for conspiracy or otherwise."
That privilege has been withdrawn. That privilege will definitely be withdrawn from certain trade unions in this country. The Minister says that is not so. I would ask the Minister to show us in this measure any provision of kind that safeguards people in the position I have mentioned. The Minister takes refuge in the fact that there are certain excepted bodies. Will the Minister show us any portion of the measure that covers the excepted bodies? The teachers in this country some time ago found it necessary to organise a one-day strike. The teachers are an excepted body. If they resort to action of that kind in the future will they be permitted under this measure to do it or will they be subject to the penalties provided in this Bill? The Minister's policy in this whole matter has simply gone mad; even now, the Minister would do something to mitigate the feeling of hostility which this whole measure has aroused if he would endeavour to face up to the particularly dangerous parts of this measure which have provoked a great ideal of that hostility. I want the Minister to make some reasonable contribution to the discussion on this particular matter, and to point out how he thinks that certain trade unions in this position, and their agents and assistants, will not be subject to the penalties that were provided as far back as the time when the anti-combination laws were repealed, I think, in 1825.
Surely if is about time that a harking back to a situation of that kind was entirely forgotten. Surely it is time that the Minister should adopt a more progressive viewpoint and outlook in regard to this whole measure than the viewpoint which was given effect to in the situation which arose when the anti-combination laws were repealed. The Minister's whole attitude in relation to this section and other sections has been anything but helpful to the conduct of an orderly discussion on the whole matter.
If I understood the Deputy correctly, I think he is under a misapprehension. I have already indicated to the House that I propose to bring in an amendment which will delete the reference to Section 2 of the Act of 1871, and to Section 3 of the Act of 1875, but as far as the Act of 1906 is concerned, it must remain. It must remain for this reason, that I do not intend that anything in this Bill should encourage the formation of house unions. It has been stated that paragraph (3) (a) of Section 6 of the Bill would encourage the formation of such unions. That was never the intention. That was deliberately not the intention when the Bill was being drafted, and Section 10 is in here, not for the purpose of depriving trade unions, authorised trade unions, of the rights and privileges which they enjoy under the Act of 1906, but to confirm them in those rights and in those privileges, and to confine those rights and privileges to authorised trade unions only. I cannot see how, in the light of that, any Deputy could, with a full cognisance of what he was saying, allege, as Deputy Norton alleged, that this Bill, and this section particularly, was directed against trade unions.
The next point with which I want to deal is this: It has been suggested here that if an employer and his workmen have a difference in relation to wages or conditions of employment, that employer and his workmen cannot negotiate. As far as the Bill stands at the present moment, paragraph (3) (a) of Section 6 is definitely put in to preserve that right to an employer and his employees to negotiate with each other. Therefore, the suggestion which has been made here that if men go out on strike they and their employer cannot get together to settle the strike is without any solid foundation.
The third point, which has been made by Deputy Davin, indicates what has so often transpired during the course of this debate — that some of the people who are criticising this Bill have not read it and do not understand it. Deputy Davin made the suggestion that, under paragraph (c) — which recites that an excepted body means any organisation of teachers recognised by the Minister for Education — the Irish National Teachers' Organisation, being presumably a body which would be recognised by the Minister for Education, would be an excepted body under the Act. Of course it would be an excepted body under the Act. All that means is that, in order to discuss wage's and conditions of employment with their employers and with the Minister, it is not necessary for that National Teachers' Organisation to register itself as a trade union and pay the necessary deposit. That is, if it wishes to conduct these negotiations and if its sole object is to conduct negotiations and try to yet a peaceful settlement of differences of opinion in relation to wages and conditions of employment. If, however, the National Teachers' Organisation wishes to go further— whether it would be judicious for it to do so or not is another matter — and to secure for itself all the rights of authorised trade unions under Section 10, there is nothing in this Bill which would prevent the National Teachers' Organisation registering itself as a trade union, making the necessary deposit and securing a negotiation licence.
Does the Minister suggest that it is possible for the excepted bodies under Section 6 (3) to escape being excepted bodies by making a deposit of £2,000?
All the section says is that it shall not be lawful for any body of persons, not being an excepted body, to carry on such negotiations. It would be lawful for an excepted body to carry on negotiations, but if excepted bodies wish to convert themselves into authorised trade unions— and their character lends itself to that conversion — there is nothing in this Bill to prevent them from securing a negotiation licence as such. In fact, the Irish National Teachers' Organisation is registered already as a trade union. As a trade union, the only thing that is necessary for that body, in order to secure a negotiation licence and secure, if it wishes, the particular privileges of Section 10, is to make the necessary deposit.
Apparently Deputy Davin—who has been so voluble here in discussing this section—had not adverted to that fact, and alleged that the National Teachers' Organisation would be affected by Section 10. A number of questions arising out of that were put to Deputy Breathnach. The only thing that was clear from the questions Deputy Davin put was that, as so many other people opposing this Bill have shown, he has not studied nor read the Bill.
I do not believe it is possible to do as the Minister suggested in respect of the teachers' organisation. I would like to know if the Minister has any advice on that matter from the Attorney-General. It seems to me to be quite clear from Section 6 (3) that certain bodies are automatically labelled "excepted bodies."
That does not matter.
The labelling of them as excepted bodies is not going to be alleged as an unrestricted right to be an organisation——
Would the Deputy, if he believes that, and if he wishes the House to believe it, read sub-section (1) of Section 6?
I have read it.
Read it to the House and the House will see the foundation on which the Deputy is basing his argument.
The Minister was objecting when the Act of 1906 was read. Whether they can register or not as organised trade unions is beside the point. The fact of the matter is that under Section 10 we are withdrawing from certain organisations the right to the protection which is afforded them under the Trade Disputes Act of 1906. Under that Act it is possible for a trade union organisation — which means it is possible for any seven people — to withdraw the labour of their members and to picket the premises of an employer, alien or native, who is paying low wages or enforcing bad conditions of labour. It is possible for them to picket that employer's premises in furtherance of a trade dispute which is caused by the action of that employer in reducing the rates of wages paid to such workers. Under Section 10, if that organisation in future happens to be an organisation catering for workers employed by the same employer, that organisation cannot picket the premises of that employer and it has none of the protection afforded by the Trade Disputes Act.
Let us take an example. Suppose, for instance, that all the employees of the Sugar Company decided to establish a sugar workers' union and the Sugar Company decided that it was necessary, in order to secure employment with the company, that the employees should be members of this sugar workers' union. In that case it would be a house union and would not be required to put down £2,000 deposit. They could carry on negotiations and do the things other old organisations-which have been in existence for 150 years — will not be allowed to do under this Bill unless they pay the ransom of £2,000. The sugar workers' union might negotiate with the directors of the Sugar Board, but if they quarrelled with the directors of the Sugar Company and withdrew the labour of their members, on that day they could not picket. They might stay at home, or go to the labour exchange to be refused unemployment insurance or unemployment assistance. They could not picket the premises of the Sugar Company and could not proclaim to the community what the strike was about, nor could they carry any banners indicating that a strike was in operation at any of the various sugar factories.
That protection is not now being afforded to a union of that kind under this Bill. The Minister is encouraging the formation of house unions in order to exempt them from the payment of £2,000 and, in addition, having so exempted them, he is preventing them from using against an employer the same type of weapon which a union which paid a deposit can use against an employer. This section is, I think, completely unconstitutional — apart from the fact that it is a perfectly unscrupulous section, and a dastardly section so far as organisation is concerned. The whole purpose is to give the boss a better chance to win.
Article 40 of the Constitution provides that all citizens, as human beings, are held equal before the law. The provision of Section 10 of this Bill deprives citizens who happen to be members of a trade union which does not hold a negotiation licence from enjoying the protection which they got from the law under the 1906 Act. That seems to be class legislation of the worst kind. It is not only class biassed against the workers but class biassed towards the employer. There is no reason whatever for the insertion of Section 10 unless the real purpose of the Bill is — as I believe it is — to weaken the trade union movement and to make it easier for the Minister and the Government to get over Emergency Powers Order No. 83. The mailed fist behind this Bill is in Section 10, and the whole purpose of the section is to weaken the unions. I charge the Government again, and those who will vote for Section 10, that that is being done in the interests of the employers and done in a way that will be used by employers who originally probably came from Whitechapel or Poland. It is being done against the Irish workers.
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- Briscoe, Robert.
- Carty, Frank.
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- Morrissey, Michael.
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I move amendment No. 23:—
In sub-section (1), page 5, to delete in line 40 the words "free of charge for public inspection" and to insert in line 41 before the word "and" the words "for inspection by any person having abona fide interest therein and paying such fee not exceeding five shillings as such trade union determines”.
Section 11 imposes on a registered trade union which holds a negotiation licence the obligation to specify the conditions as to the entry into and cesser of membership of the union. There is a further obligation on the trade union to maintain at its office a register of its members which shall show for each union the name and address of each member, the date and commencement of his membership, and, where the membership has ceased, the date of the cesser and whether the membership has ceased by reason of death, resignation, suspension or expulsion, together with the date of the order directing such suspension or expulsion, and a reference to the authorising rule.
Paragraph (c) of sub-section (1) also provides that the union shall keep at its office such register of members open free of charge for public inspection during ordinary business hours under conditions set out in the original text of the Bill. It has been represented to me that there is a possibility that the very open conditions set out in the text of the Bill as introduced — that is to say, that the register should be open free of charge for public inspection during ordinary business hours — might be vexatiously used and to avoid that I propose to delete the words "free of charge for public inspection" and insert before the word "and" the words "for inspection by any person having abona fide interest therein, and paying such fee not exceeding five shillings as such trade union determines”.
A rather unusual procedure has been adopted in connection with this section. It has not been thought desirable, in any of the Trade Union Acts during the last 70 years, to put in a provision to the effect that any member of the public can walk into a trade union office and inspect the register of members of the union. The legislators of the past have apparently rightly taken the view that that is not a matter that concerns the general public, and they have rightly omitted any provision whereby any mischief-maker or busybody could say: "Produce the register; I want to see who is in the organisation."
One indication of the thoughtless manner in which this Bill was prepared, or perhaps I might say the wilfully malicious manner in which it was prepared, is that the Minister, in the early text of the Bill, put in a provision that any Tom, Dick or Harry could go to a union headquarters and say: "Produce the register; I want to see who is in the organisation," and he could go into the office on the 1st January and keep going day after day until the 31st December of the same year and maul and paw the registers every day when the offices were open, and he would be entitled to remain in the office all day merely for the purpose of looking at the register. One can easily imagine the manner in which a right of that kind could be abused. It still can be abused under this section, even though the unions are entitled to charge a fee of 5/-.
It seems to me the provision made here is very indefinite. "Any person having abona fide interest therein”— what is a bona fide interest in a register? Obviously you have to indicate what bona fide means in that context. I might have a genuine interest in ascertaining whether a particular person was a member of an organisation, whether, in fact, he was a trade unionist. Is that a bona fide interest? If I am an employer and I want to find out whether John Murphy is a member of a trade union, am I entitled to go to a union office and have a look at the register and, when I am there, can I ascertain what other people are members of the trade union? The description bona fide seems to me to give rise to all kinds of doubts in the matter.
This whole procedure seems rather strange. No provision of this kind has been made in any of our Trade Union Acts so far. No such provision has been made in respect to friendly societies or public companies. The long-standing practice has been to allow a person interested in the funds to inspect the register; in other words, a parson who is a genuine member of the organisation, who created the organisation and who helps to maintain it should be afforded all reasonable facilities. In this measure it is possible for a boss to come in and ascertain who is on the register, when a certain person went on the register and how long his name has been there. I regard it as a most inquisitive power to give to anybody other than a person who is genuinely a member of an organisation and who is interested in its welfare. Under this Bill any busybody engaged in any type of sabotaging operation can, merely by paying 5/-, do damage, so far as a union is concerned, which would not be covered by the payment of the fee.
I should like to hear from the Minister the nature of the representations made to him and the source from which this suggestion came. It would seem that for the payment of a fee of 5/-, some person, with qualifications approved by the Minister, can stay in a trade union office, the office of one of the biggest affiliated unions in the country, every day of the year for the purpose of inspecting the register. There are some unions affiliated with the Irish Trade Union Congress having a membership of 70,000 or 80,000. Some unions have a membership ranging from 25,000 to 70,000. One of these gentlemen that the Minister has in mind can pay a fee of 5/-, and he can come into the office on the 1st January and go day after day until the 3lst December of the same year, and inspect the register of the trade union, thus causing considerable inconvenience and irritation to those who have to work in the office.
They must have abona fide interest and they have to pay a fee of 5/-.
Five shillings would do for the whole year.
Will he have to pay 5/-every day, or will it cover his trespass on the premises for the 365 days of the year? Will Deputy Kelly answer that question, if the Minister does not? I am delighted that Deputy Kelly interrupts me, but I would be much more pleased if he would say all he thinks of this silly section. He says he knows the City of Dublin for 73 years, but he does not remember what went on in 1825.
Neither the Deputy's age nor what happened in the year 1825 arises on this.
I am merely referring to what the Deputy said about himself when he was waiting for the last division.
When the Committee was not technically in session as it now is.
The Minister, in all his speeches during the period of emergency, repeats in gramophone fashion that every individual is called upon to make equal sacrifices and to suffer some inconvenience. Is he going to apply the ridiculous procedure contained in Section 11 to every society that exists? What is the idea behind this section? Did the suggestion come from a certain type of employer, who wants to have the right to send his spotters or his spies, if you like to call them that, to examine the register of unions catering for members working on his premises, or is it for the purpose of giving the police authorities access to the registers of affiliated unions? If that is going to apply to every society, with the good will of the Minister, there might be something to be considered, but this is a special regulation, and it is brought in in these days of progress, to apply only to unions that will exist under the Bill, if and when it becomes law, or if and when it is recognised as the law by the unions that will exist after it is passed. We are entitled to some information as to what is at the back of this proposal, and whether the fee of 5/- will cover the right of some person authorised by the Minister to go into the office of a trade union on the 1st January and to remain there until 3lst December of the same year.
The principle in this section is one that has been fiercely resisted for many years. I want to know what is the object of this system of prying into the affairs of trade unions. The Minister referred to a certain amendment. Why does he think it necessary for trade unions to keep registers of members? What purpose can that serve? What is the advantage to anybody concerned? Like Deputy Norton, I am uneasy about the reference to "bona fide”. Under the licensing laws the term “bona fide” is one that has caused endless trouble. I do not see how the Minister can gain anything very substantial by the words “bona fide”. It may be news to the Minister but, in regard to one of the biggest unions, no register of members has ever been kept at headquarters. Membership is measured in accordance with the contributions received from the various branches. That is the barometer of membership. Why will the Minister increase the hatred and hostility to the measure by having a section couched in such unfortunate terms? This section gives very good ground for the belief that, like many of the other sections, the object is provocative. I strongly protest against this section. I think it is intolerable that it should be put into any Bill. It comes very badly from a Minister who was once a revolutionary and also a poet.
It is a long time since he recited any poetry.
I suggest to the Minister that there is no definition ofbona fide person, and that this section will lead to a great deal of complication. I urge the Minister to define bona fide. Suppose that a complete stranger wishes to avail of the wording of the sub-section, he has no right until he has paid 5/-, and then he has no right if he has not bona fide interest. I can see considerable disputes about that. In the first place, the payment of 5/- may be refused on the ground that the person tendering has not bona fide interest, while if the 5/- is accepted his right may be disputed on the same ground, that he has not a bona fide right. The wording will give rise to a considerable amount of litigation if the unions in question care to question it. It might lead to a question of trespass or to a breach of the peace. The position could be cleared up if a definition were inserted concerning what is meant by a person having a bona fide interest.
I think Deputy Esmonde has put his finger on the heart of the amendment. It is designed to ensure that only a person who really has a right, because he has a genuine interest in the affairs of a union or is genuinely affected, will, endeavour to inspect the register. Naturally the onus rests upon him, and having applied, if inspection is refused, he has to satisfy the court that he has abona fide interest. The matter would arise perhaps in this way, that under Section 21 of the Bill the tribunal may grant a determination to the effect that a particular trade union shall alone have the right to organise workmen of that class, or it may happen under another section that such a right may be granted to two or more unions. If it happens that such unions have reason to believe that the determination of the tribunal is not being observed by a certain union, then the unions to whom determination was granted, will have the right to ask for inspection of the register of members of the trade union which is not honouring the determination of the tribunal. That is one of the principal objects the section hopes to secure, by having these registers open for inspection. I take it that the unions whose registers of members it is desired to inspect will naturally consider, when a person tenders 5/-, the basis upon which he claims to have a bona fide interest, and decide whether or not it is desirable to allow the register to be inspected. If they refuse, the person affected by refusal, if the matter is of such importance, has a right to go elsewhere to secure, if he can, a declaration that he has a bona fide interest in the union.
Who made this suggestion to the Minister?
That is my business.
There was a certain point raised affecting a particular individual. There is no question butbona fide interest is a matter that will have to be determined by the courts.
In some cases.
The Minister cannot answer that. There are no standards and no tests ofbona fide interest, unless the unions act and then a man would have to go to the courts. That is what we contend. The second point was that on payment of 5/- a person has a bona fide right, and would be entitled to go to an office in the early hours of the day and stay until closing time.
There is no doubt about that.
Whether he could do that twice is another matter.
Why not? If he has abona fide interest he could go one day and could certainly go a second day.
Until he concluded the examination.
And not only are present members affected but people who were members at any time, or who have ceased to be members. The only people excluded are those who ceased to be members before the negotiation licence was granted. Even if a host of members swarmed into a union at one time for reasons which had concluded, and then left, their names have to be recorded year after year. There is no cleaning up of the register.
There might be the names of men on it who were dead for 30 years.
If a man was a member I understand his name must be kept on the register. The section says "including former members". It does not say people in the land of the living but those who were at any time members. That register is going to give some difficulty to keep after years have elapsed and, as far as I know, these registers are not kept in alphabetical order. A person looking for a name might have to spend hours going through thousands of names.
We had the point of view put forward that, once a man pays a fee of 5/- and has abona fide right of entrance to the office, he can remain there until the office is closed for the day, and come back again the next day. Companies have been referred to, but it surely does not occur to anybody that anyone is going to have such an interest in the business of a company as to remain on the premises all day. With regard to the ordinary management of companies, that sort of procedure is hardly likely to obtain very often, but it might in the circumstances in which the Minister has placed the background of all this business. I learn from a speech made by another Deputy that the procedure under trade union rules up to date is that a person who has an interest in the funds of a society has the right to inspect. What other purpose does the Minister want to serve by this?
Take the case of a union which has seemed a determination in its favour.
Categories of classes could easily be arranged. For example, people with an interest in the funds who were subscribers at one time, and who think that they have not liquidated entirely the benefits that should accrue to them; also the representatives of a union in whose favour a determination has been given by the tribunal. Are there any other categories that the Minister thinks should have access.
I presume the officers of the Minister.
Exactly. But surely all these categories could be arranged for by set phrases. I think the Minister would be well advised to go some distance to allay the suspicion that continues to grow up around this Bill. A list of well defined classes could be prepared, and provision might be made for any person duly authorised by the Minister. That would mean that the Minister would have to decide, before giving his authorisation, whether in his opinion such a person could be said to have an interest in the funds.
That would be a very invidious duty to put on the Minister.
But that is what Parliamentary institutions are for: to have some one to take on those invidious duties who will be here to answer for them. That is the Parliamentary system of government. I would have my suspicions deepened if the Minister refused to take on the invidious task of deciding whether people who might apply to him for the right to inspect had or had not in his opinion abona fide interest in doing so. What the Minister has said seems to indicate to me that he feels there will be a lot of people he would feel bound to refuse, or, alternatively, that there will be a lot of people he would like to give the right to inspect to, but would not like to have to answer for here. I suggest that there should be categories of people set out, with an overriding provision to the effect that such other persons as produce a warrant from the Minister will be duly authorised to inspect.
I will look into the matter from that point of view.
I do not know what was in the minds of the drafters of this Bill when they came to draft certain portions of this section. There are some rather unusual innovations in it. Under paragraph (b) of sub-section (1) the obligation is put on the holders of a negotiation licence to maintain at their offices registers of members, including former members other than those whose membership ceased before the grant of such negotiation licences, and these registers are to show a variety of things. What the trade unions will be required to do under this provision is to create, where they had not already done so, a central head office register. They will have to keep it and make it available for inspection from time, to time to those folk who are supposed to have abona fide interest in examining it, even though a person may have ceased to be a member for 20, 30 or 40 years after the passing of this Act, and even though a member is dead.
For 40 years after his death.
Yes. Suppose this measure ever passes and is ever implemented; suppose anyone takes any notice of it after it is passed, and suppose some organisation does create a register: suppose all these things are, in fact, done, then the union will keep a record of its members. A member may die next month. Forty years hence the union will have to keep a record of that member, even though he is dead and even though every other relative of his may have long since followed him into eternity. What purpose is it hoped to serve by insisting on a union keeping a record of members who have mouldered into dust? I should like to hear someone tell me what is the reason for asking a union to keep a list of dead men? That would seem to be the function of the registrar of deaths. As I have said, these are most unusual innovations so far as trade union records are concerned.
Under paragraph (d) of sub-section (1) it is provided that:
"A person who ceases to be a member of such trade union shall, for the purposes of this Act, be deemed to continue to be a member thereof for one month after such cessor."
So that a member of a union who has been expelled, or a member who has resigned, is deemed to be a member one month after his expulsion or resignation. A member who has died is to be deemed to be a member one month after he has been buried. That is a provision which has all the appearance of having been drafted in Grangegorman. What is the purpose of deeming a person to be a member one month after he has ceased to be a member? Would the Minister for Industry and Commerce like to have this position: that an expelled member of his Party would be entitled to turn up to the weekly Party meeting, and be deemed to be a member of it for a month after his expulsion? Suppose a member of the Minister's Party died, would the Minister like, for the purposes of his membership of the Party and of this House, that he should still be deemed to be a member of both the Party and the House for a month after he had left this earth?
Take another case. A carpenter, say, is a member of a union. On the 1st January he decides to open business on his own account and becomes an employer. On that date he automatically ceased to be a member of his trade union and became an employer and a member of an employers' organisation. For the purposes of this section, although not eligible to be a member of a trade union according to its rules, that union must carry that gentleman on its books and accept responsibility, presumably, for his actions, even though he is now an employer and not a worker. This Bill deals with the organisatiun of workmen. It acknowledges that people must organise in classes of workmen and in classes of employers. Before I say anything more on this unusual provision I should like the Minister to tell us in what set of circumstances it is necessary to deem folk of that kind to be members of a union long after they have left the union. Why is it necessary to keep a record of members long after they have ceased to be members or even ceased to live?
There has been a great deal of misunderstanding about the purposes of this section, and some very fanciful visions have manifested themselves in regard to the effect of it. I take it that the register of a trade union is a continuing document in which a name once inscribed remains. If a person ceases to be a member, his name may either be struck out or entered upon some other register as having ceased his membership. The register itself would form part of the archives of the trade union, and as, from day to day, members died or otherwise ceased their membership, the register would preserve evidence that they had been members of the union. If it is felt that that interpretation might not be placed upon the provision as it stands, it is open to us to provide that the union may, after five or ten years, replace the register by a revised register of existing members, brought up to date. I cannot see what objection there can be to a union allowing the register to exist in this form as evidence of past membership of the union.
Some of the unions keep card indexes.
It is essential, in view of the special position in which authorised trade unions are being placed under this Bill, and in view of the great power which trade unions now exercise in our industrial life, determining, very often, whether a man is to be entitled to employment or not, that there should be clear evidence as to whether a person is or is not a member of a union. If, for instance, a strike takes place because it is alleged that a person is not a member of a union, we want to ensure under this Bill that that question can be settled, beyond yea or nay, by the production of documentary evidence. It is essential we should do that, because, as I have said, this Bill, so far from doing anything to injure the trade union movement, as has been alleged very often during this debate, places these authorised trade unions in a very strong position.
In a privileged position?
In a strong position. The Deputy, as a true-blue democrat, would not look for privilege even for a trade union. The unions are placed in that strong position and, therefore, it is essential that there should be a clear and continuing record of men's membership of them. Not merely that, but provision should be made that, if a person is unjustly expelled from his union and, perhaps, by that expulsion deprived of his right to earn a livelihood in certain occupations, there should be a waiting period during which he should have the right to appeal against such expulsion. That is the reason why this period of a month is being provided.
Before what court will the dead man appear on the question of membership?
Surely, it is not necessary to take the steps indicated by the Minister in his concluding remarks to afford protection to members of trade unions. That is already afforded by the ordinary law. Any member of a trade union who is unjustly dealt with, or improperly expelled, can apply to the courts for protection.
Has he always been in the position to incur the necessary expense?
What protection are you giving him, which he has not already, by keeping his name on the register a month after he has ceased to be a member?
We give this protection: it has been stated in the House that one of the largest unions in the country does not keep a register of its members at all; it will now have to keep such a register.
What has that to do with the question of the name of a dead man being kept on the register?
Perhaps I do not know as much about trade unions as the Deputy does but he is aware that there are trade unions who will not take as members persons who are not the sons or other near relations of members. It may be essential to show that a deceased person was, in fact, a member of a particular union.
If I had made that reference, I would have been ruled out on a point of order and told that my remarks were not relevant to the section. The question of apprentices does not arise. The Minister alleges that this provision will give protection to members who are unjustly or harshly treated. There is nothing in the section to add to the security which members of trade unions have at the present time, so far as unfair treatment in concerned. They can appeal to the law courts if they are not fairly treated. The keeping of a man's name on the register, while it is no additional protection to him, is a potential danger to the union. He may have resigned or been required to resign. Yet, he is to be deemed to be still a member of the union "for the purposes of this Act". How is the court to determine the scope of the words "for the purposes of this Act"? How are they to decide that he is a member for one purpose and not a member for other purposes? That man may be driving a vehicle and may knock somebody down, seriously injuring or killing him.
Will the Minister argue that the union is not bound to do all the things, in the way of his defence, that they were bound to do when he was a member? The words "for the purposes of this Act" would be of little use in enabling the judges to come to a conclusion. The provision is unnecessary and is a potential danger to the unions, while it does not give additional protection to the members. There is a sinister motive underlying every section of the Bill. It is thinly veiled, and it seems to me that there is a sinister motive underlying this provision.
May I put one point in connection with the dead man. Why is it necessary to insist on a union retaining, for a time, on its register the names of people who were at one time members and who have died? Not merely are unions bound to keep on the register the names of members and former members, but there is a penalty of £1 per day for every day the offence continues, whether membership ceases by death, expulsion or otherwise. When a member dies, the unions will, I presume, solemnly record that they know the man has died. The position reminds me of a play in the Abbey in which the brothers of a secret society meet to record, with lamentation, the death of one of their members, eaten alive by four Orangemen. They record that he was given decent interment inside the four Orangemen. Are we to have all that entered up under penalty? In the name of all that is wise and sensible, what is the reason for keeping the register continuously overloaded with the names of persons who were members at one time and died?
With regard to live people, what ia the reason for saying that for the purposes of the Act a person is to be deemed to be a member for a month after he ceases his membership? I can understand the point about giving protection against irregular suspension. But the ordinary law deals with that and this provision adds nothing to it. Why, for the purposes of this Act, insist on a man being a member a month after he has been expelled? Added to that we have the provision that a man is a member a month after he dies.
After he ceases to be a member.
Why do you insist on a man being deemed to be a member a month after expulsion and, further, deem a man to be a member a month after he has died? That is a point which requires answer.
This section deals with icgistered trade unions. Does it deal with trade unions that are registered in this country?
Only with trade unions registered in this country.
It appears that there is a distinction between the unions referred to in Sections 11 and 12. Section 12 deals with unions that are not registered.
Section 12 deals with bodies which are trade unions under the law of another country.
The matter arises in connection with the meaning of the word "office". In sub-section (3) of the section it is stated that the word "office" means the office which for the time being is the registered office of the relevant trade union for the purposes of the Trade Union Acts, 1871 to 1935. That only deals with trade unions that are registered here?
Is that quite clear at the beginning of the section?
There is nothing to show that it is limited to unions registered in this country.
It deals only with trade unions registered here at the moment.
I put to the Minister a very definite case and we are entitled to some reasonable answer. The Minister has been asked to say why it is necessary for instance to keep in the membership of a union for the purposes of this Act a person who desires to leave the union. That person may say "I want to get out" and the union may say "Go out, we do not want to keep you any longer". The man does not want to stay and the union does not want to keep him. Why are we to insist that such a person should remain a member of the union for one month after he has actually left it?
Take the case of the other man who becomes an employer. He says: "I am not any longer eligible for membership under your rules. I am now an employer and I give you notice of my resignation from such a date; goodbye", and the union says: "All right; we accept your retirement as inevitable in the circumstances." Yet for the purposes of this section we are insisting that the man should remain in the union for a month after that date. We are entitled to some explanation for that.
We cannot draft an Act to cover every hypothetical facet of a situation which may never arise. All we can do is to prescribe in general terms what the position under the law is going to be. I have pointed out that there is need for making some provision to ensure that cesser of membership of a union will not have effect until a reasonable period has elapsed. The need for that condition arises from the fact that trade unions under this Bill, it is anticipated, will become very strong. They are already, in fact, so strong that they virtually control the right to secure employment in this country in a number of occupations. It is of vital importance that people who, by reason of the fact that they are members of a trade union, already enjoy this right to employment in certain occupations, should not summarily be deprived of that right by a union claiming to act in accordance with its own rules and that there should be an opportunity afforded them, if necessary, to go to the courts to vindicate their right to membership and their consequent right to employment.
It has been said in that regard that a person aggrieved by being wrongfully dismissed from a trade union has a right to go to court at present. He has, but he certainly would have a very difficult job to prove his right in the circumstances, as we know them to exist, in the case of some of the bigger trade unions in this country We have heard it admitted to-day in this House that one of the largest does not even maintain a register of its members. It is accordingly essential, from the point of view of protection of workers in this country, that every authorised trade union should maintain a register of members. It is vital to the interests of the workers themselves that no person should be wrongfully deprived of membership of such union, bearing in mind the advantages which such membership now confers. Arising from that, there is certainly need to ensure that if a person is, wrongfully deprived of his membership, nothing will arise to interfere with his right to earn a living, and that the courts, it necessary, shall have the right to review the decision——
That is not stated in the section at all.
It is not, but we hope that perhaps trade unions themselves will so reorganise the movement on the basis of this Bill that they will provide domestic machinery for dealing with that situation. I do not wish to compel any person to enter into litigation with a particular union in order to prove membership, but I do want in this section to make it easier for people who arebona fide members of a trade union and who desire a determination that they have been wrongfully suspended or wrongfully expelled from the union to obtain redress.
A point has been raised as to why we should maintain a register of dead people. We do know that in certain trades in this country there is a tendency to restrict apprenticeship and future entry into these trades and their appropriate trade unions to sons and near relatives of men already engaged in them. I think it of vital importance, if a question at some time or other should arise as to whether a person seeking apprenticeship or admission to these trade unions is a son or a near relative of a deceased member or a former member — in this case a deceased member — that that person seeking admission should be able to refer to some existing document by which his claim can be proven or disproven. That is why we are seeking to ensure that the register shall contain the names of former members.
I wish you knew something about the trade union movement. You would not then make such a statement.
This point about cesser after death is a mere technicality. I do not know that it is of any vital importance. The real question here is that a person who has been suspended or expelled would be deemed to continue to be a member for one month after the date of such suspension or expulsion. If the House thinks necessary to bring in an amendment specifically to exclude from the provisions of paragraph (d) the case of a person who dies, I am quite willing to do it.
If you do that would you not also have to provide for the case of the person who resigned?
I do not think that it is necessary to do that.
Take the other case, that of a person who ceases to have the qualifications for membership.
I do not know that I would go so far as that. I would be prepared to deal with the question of deceased members because it is obviously absurd, if the issue is raised, to deem him to be a member one month after his death, but the point is of no practical importance, because I do not think it will arise.
The Minister has said that he is trying to bring into this section certain safeguards. I am prepared to agree with the Minister's point of view, but there is nothing in the section, from beginning to end, that is going to secure what he wants. The Minister talks about people in certain trades not being able to secure work unless they are members of a certain trade union, but there is nothing in the section which is going to make the position any better than it is to-day. The Minister also talked about apprentices to certain trades, but there is nothing whatever about apprentices in the section, even if it were passed as it is set out here in the green paper. The Minister, with all respect to him, talked about something which is not in the section at all. It only confirms me in the point of view I had from the very beginning, that neither the Bill nor its implications are understood by the people who brought it before the House. It is quite evident that the reactions of the Bill are not understood. The Minister's speech has proven quite clearly that the Bill was conceived in a hurry and was not given the consideration it should have been given, in view of its importance. The Minister speaks of its being impossible to legislate to cover every detail, and he talked about this month after, during which a person is to be deemed a member, as being of no importance. If not, why is it put in here? He did not tell us why it was introduced in the first instance.
I have said it was of no importance in the case of a deceased person.
The Minister sees nothing absurd in carrying on the name of a person after death, but he has not given the House any reason for that being put in. One is forced to the conclusion that the importance of the Bill has not been realised, or its reactions appreciated. When one realises that we are facing a piece of legislation which will affect, directly, anything from 400,000 to 500,000 people, one feels that it is certainly entitled to a good deal more consideration than apparently it got before it was introduced, and certainly to much fuller consideration and debate than it is getting.
I should like to supplement what Deputy Morrissey has said and I invite the Minister's special attention to it. It is a common experience that, when we get down to a detail of this kind, we find that a very material element in the Bill pivots upon it. It is quite clear that the case of a deceased member simply did not occur to the Minister when the Bill was being drafted. We are all familiar with the fact that, when drafting a Bill, it is not possible to anticipate every detail that may arise. That is one of the purposes of debate in Committee. May I put it to the Minister that there is no startling urgency about this Bill? We all agree that things exist which ought to be put an end to in the trade union movement, and I think trade unionists agree with that. The issue joined between us is how best to do it. It is abundantly clear from the discussion on more than one amendment to the Bill that a variety of factors were not present to the Minister's mind.
That is not so.
Let me put it this way: It has become abundantly clear from the debate that it appears to many——
The debate on Section 11?
On this amendment. It has become abundantly clear that it appears to many that there is more than one item of the kind mentioned by Deputy Morrissey which had not occurred to the Minister, and I want to suggest to him whether he would not consider inviting either a Committee of the House or a commission to consider this whole problem, so that points such as that raised by Deputy Morrissey and Deputy McGilligan might get the consideration to which they are entitled, but which it may very well be almost impossible to give them in Committee Stage in a full session of Dáil Eireann. Surely that would be worth thinking of?
Notice taken that 20 Deputies were not present; House counted, and 20 Deputies being present,
Now that we have a House, could I move that the House adjourn for tea?
Can we deem all those who are here now to be here an hour after they leave?
Would it not be better if Deputies behaved themselves in a more dignified fashion and did not put forward these ridiculous proposals?
I did not catch what the Minister said, but, if the official reporter heard it, we are entitled to hear it.
The Minister has made, or has attempted to make, one pet point in order in some way to fortify his retention of the provision leaving people to be members for a month after they ceased to be such; that is, he wants to make it easy for a person wrongfully expelled, wrongfully forced to resign or in any way wrongfully excluded from a trade union, to establish his rights. How does the section make it in the slightest degree easier for him to establish his rights? If he is put out at the moment, he has resort to the court. He goes to a court as a person who is expelled. In the new circumstances, he will go to the court as a person whom the union tried to expel but whom the Minister's Act keeps on as a member, first of all, a month is no good if the Minister is thinking about legal proceedings. He will not get legal proceedings in a month, and the period ought to be extended very much beyond, the month, but would the Minister tell me one point in which the situation is eased by deeming a man to be a member for a month after the union have attempted to get rid of him?
By the fact that the register is there to appeal to.
For what? That he was a member?
The position would be that that person would say: "I was a member and I was wrongfully put off", and the union's reply would be: "You were put off in accordance with the terms of the union".
The union's reply might be: "You never were a member".
And his answer would be that he will produce the register and that that will prove it, but why allow him to say: "I am still a member" for a month after?
Because if he is not deemed to be a member in law, he may lose his employment. If he does lose his employment in such circumstances, by reason of the action of the union, he may have an action against the union.
This is not so much a question of the legal side of the matter at all, because from the legal point of view the Minister's argument is useless. I have always found that in these Acts there is a limiting phrase, such as that "he shall for the purposes of this Act be deemed to be a member", and I have searched through all the sections here to see where this would have any effect or where it would be linked up, bat I have failed to find it. I thought that it might be linked up in some way with the matter of the deposits, but evidently it is not. Now we have two points here. One is the legal point that he is deemed to be a member for another month in order to ease his situation in getting back. That is the suggestion, but in my opinion it does not ease his situation in that regard, and I challenge the Minister to give me one point of ease in the man's favour by deeming him to be a member for a month after. The second point — I suppose this is the framework to get over this — is that a union will say that their men will not work with a man on a particular job unless he is a member of a particular union, and they wrongfully expel him, and he cannot work because, if he does, the others may leave. Does the Minister think that there is protection there or an easing of the position because the man is deemed to be a member? These are the two points.
It is quite clear that the Minister knows nothing whatever about the procedure taken by trade unions in connection with their head offices or their administrative machinery. Because a Deputy had said that in the case of one union's headquarters no records were kept, the Minister, in his inexperience of trade unions, proceeded to assume that, consequently, there were no records of the members of that union. What happens in a case like that is that the records are kept by the local branches and are always available for union headquarters, and that record of a person's membership is just as indelibly preserved locally as if it were at union headquarters. In very large organisations, it is a matter of administrative convenience to have the records kept locally instead of nationally, but that does not mean that the records are not available. If that is an argument, therefore, in favour of the thoughtlessness of putting in Section 11 (1) (d), it is probably the poorest argument I have heard on a section, the defence of which has been so bristling with poor arguments as that section was. The Minister says that it is necessary to protect people, by giving them a right to go to the courts if they are unfairly expelled, but when asked to show in what way. Section 11 (1) (d) will give that extra protection he cannot possibly quote a single instance in which the phraseology of this section would in any way assist such a person to plead his case before the courts. Occasionally, at present, a member who is expelled from a union may go to the courts. It has never been contended by the courts that his case is in any way weakened, because, in fact, the expulsion had taken place. The courts have considered cases of that kind without any reference to whether the aggrieved person, on the date of the action, was or was not a member of the union. Membership of the union, therefore, has played no part whatever in court judgments on applications by aggrieved persons for relief and for compensation, perhaps, against expulsion from membership of a union. The Minister is making a very poor case worse by pretending to believe that there is any relief or assistance provided for an aggrieved person in Section 11 (1) (d).
Take another case. The Minister realises now that it is a bit absurd to deem a dead man to be a member of a union a month after he is buried, and he proposes, therefore, to remove that piece of dead timber from this Bill. Let us take another example of what the Minister is doing. At present, some trade union organisations — all trade union organisations — have rules. These rules, and alterations of them, are registered with the Department of Industry and Commerce and, in respect of registered unions, there is a supervision of the rules exercised by the Registrar of Friendly Societies, now functioning in connection with the Department of Industry and Commerce. The registrar may register the rules of a union, and these rules may provide that if a person is three months in arrears in his contributions he ceases to be a member in good financial standing, and that if he is six months in arrears with his contributions he ceases to be a member entirely. The Department of Industry and Commerce will register these rules and. by that fact, consent to these rules, but under Section 11 (1) (d) of this Bill the person who is a non-financial member from the end of three months until the end of six months, is put back into actual membership of the union — not into non-financial membership of the union but back into membership in good standing — even though the person is six months in arrears with his contributions and even though the Department of Industry and Commerce have agreed that his membership ought to lapse if he does not pay contributions after six months. That is what the Minister is doing under this section.
The Minister does not know the rules of trade unions or the supervision exercised over them by his own Department, and, not having had much experience of trade unions or of his own Department, he knows nothing about these matters. He would be well advised to take some guidance from people who do know something about these matters. The only thing that was put forward to justify Section 11 (1) (d) was the possibility that a person might be unfairly expelled, but it has been shown that there is no relief for that person in this section. But take the case of a person who definitely says: "I do not want to remain any longer in the union. I want to leave it and join another union" or who says "I want to retire from all kinds of industrial toil, and I do not intend to work any more." That person wants to go, and the union says: "O.K., you may go." The Minister, however, says: "Yes, but for the purposes of this Act you are still a member of the union."
What purpose is served by keeping membership in the union in that case? Take another case. A man says: "I am getting out of tills particular industry as a worker. I am ceasing to be a journeyman or a craftsman and am going into business on my own or with a brother of mine. I am going now to become an employer of workers and, in these circumstances, I intend to leave the union because, as an employer, I am no longer eligible." Yet, for the purposes of this Act, that person is deemed to be a member of the union. I want to know why you must keep him in membership when he wants to go and the union is satisfied that he should go. Will the Minister address himself to these arguments and say why that man should be compelled to remain a member of a union for a month after he leaves or desires to leave it?
On this section I want to renew my representations to the House. This is a highly technical piece of legislation. Take the very section we are now dealing with. Deputy Norton discussed the inner workings of the maintenance of a trade union register and the advantages that accrue to a member by having his name on the register and the consequences of removing his name from it. It is manifest to us all that on a variety of technical questions arising out of previous sections the warmest feeling has been evinced, and I say, with regard to Section 11, that, except to some active trade unionists and, notably, officials of trade unions, the merits of the issues involved are far from clear. In that set of circumstances, is it not a reasonable thing to suggest that the whole of this problem should be referred to a, body which, as a preliminary, legislatively, would clarify the issues involved? Is it reasonable to ask Deputies to pass judgment on the merits of the Minister's proposal when secretaries of trade unions say that, from their experience of the thing, the Minister's conception is entirely wrong? Now, the Minister may be right and the secretaries may be wrong, or the Minister may be wrong and the secretaries may be right; but how can the membership of Dáil Éireann determine between them, unless an opportunity has been afforded to them to peruse the proceedings of a commission which has sent for expert witnesses to clarify this problem?
This is not relevant to the section.
I am talking about n section of the Bill. I am talking about my inability to understand Section 11 of the Bill.
The Deputy is not discussing anything in the section of the Bill.
Yes, there is one thing embedded and that is my incapacity and the incapacity of 95 per cent. of the members of the Dáil to understand the section of the Bill.
That is not in the section of the Bill at all. It is completely out of order.
I am sure the Deputy is capable of understanding the meaning of "trade union".
Surely I am entitled to say there is a section in this Bill which I cannot understand and which I want further elucidated before I determine what lobby I will go into. The Minister says he will elucidate the section for us and he proceeds to do so, whereupon expert trade unionists get up and say that every word the Minister has said is untrue; his elucidation of this section is false and misleading, either because he does not know the facts or seeks to mislead the House. I get up between the two contending parties and say: "All I want is information." The Minister gives me one version of the story; the trade unionists give me another version. Is it unreasonable for a Deputy who is not a trade unionist and has no direct interest in this Bill at all to say: "Would you, between you, let this matter be sent to a commission that has power to send for persons and papers so that witnesses can be examined and the individual Deputy of Dáil Éireann can read their evidence and make up his own mind as to the merits of the provision?"
Whenever a Deputy does not understand a particular section of a Bill we have got to set up a commission to deal with it.
The Minister can be provoking if he wants to. My reputation in this House is not that of a Deputy who understands no legislation. The Minister frequently finds fault that I profess to understand every kind of legislation. On this occasion I am putting a serious point. I am putting a point which I think, if taken earlier, might have avoided a great deal of pretty violent scenes in the House which a great many people outside in the country do not understand the necessity for. I believe that amodus operandi could be found and an agreed measure arrived at to meet the evils that exist if a little patient consideration were given to it.
Is there any other Deputy in the House who will get up and say frankly that he does not understand many of the sections, and, notably, Section 11 of this Bill? I know many of them do not. Is it unreasonable for us to ask for machinery to enable us to understand the section? I think that if that machinery were made available, a great deal of acrimonious debate could be avoided. If all this violent clash of opinion were transferred to another forum, instead of having violent disagreement of the kind we have had, we might ascertain truths and I think, if we did, the passage of this Bill would be very much easier through later stages. Indeed, it might become apparent that some entirely new section would fit the machine better than Section 11. I put it to the Minister that that suggestion is worthy of consideration. It would be much better if we could get an instrument before the House which in detail we could discuss, having agreed in principle, than to get a measure before the House that pleases nobody, that is discussed in detail in an acrimonious spirit which results in no accommodation being arrived at. We ought to be able to get accommodation about this problem, and we could if all sides of the House had the exhaustive information which the Minister professes to have but which the trade unionists in the House say he has not got but which, I have no doubt, they would be very pleased to supply if some independent tribunal were set up to examine the evils this Bill is designed to abate, and to elucidate from them what their views are of the source of these evils and the most expedient method of overcoming them.
I was hoping that the Minister would have something to say before the section was put. The Minister, in his attempt to justify this section, relied on two points which, to my mind, are not affected by the section at all. There were two points on which I could find myself very largely in agreement with the Minister's point of view, strange as that may seem. The Minister said that this section was designed mainly to see that workers, tradesmen of a particular trade or craft, would not be deprived of their right to employment by being forced out of a particular trade union. The Minister also referred to the system which he alleges to be in existence regarding apprentices, that is, that you cannot be apprenticed to a particular trade, or a particular number of trades in this city or in this country, unless your father or your uncle or some member of your family was a member of that particular trade and trade union. If the object of the section is as stated by the Minister and if something in that direction was going to be secured by this section then there might be something to be said for it, but so far as I can read the section there is nothing in it from the first to the last line that has the slightest bearing whatever on either, of the two main points made by the Minister in his attempt, as I said, to justify putting this section through the House.
I would like the Minister to tell us which sub-section of Section 11 is going to secure to apprentices anything which they have not got to-day. Is there anything in this section that is going to secure to a man if, for any reason, he ceases to be a member of a trade union, that he can get work at his particular trade in defiance of that trade union? That is the only case I have heard the Minister make on this section. When I raised the point and when I asked the Minister to point out to the House where the question of a member of a union or an apprentice was covered under Section 11, I was hoping the Minister would be good enough to give that information to the House. That, apparently, is not the Minister's intention. Deputy McGilligan put two specific points to the Minister. The Minister, apparently, does not consider either of these points worth answering. Deputy Norton put a number of points to the Minister. The Minister has not thought it worth his while to reply to any of these. Deputy Dillon has just put certain points to the Minister. Again, the Minister does not think it worth his while to make any comment. I suggest, to the Minister, if I may say so, that that is not the most helpful attitude to adopt in dealing with a measure like this. It is a measure on which there are very different points of view, and I would venture to say that if he could get the free voice of this House the Minister would find that the majority of the members of this House have very great fears in regard to this particular Bill and very grave fears as to what is going to arise in this country and in this city as a result of its passage into law. This section may mean a number of things but it certainly does not mean what the Minister says it means. It makes no reference whatever, from the beginning to the end, to the Minister's point about safeguards for tradesmen who have ceased to be members of. unions, who have been expelled from unions, or apprentices. Perhaps, even now, the Minister would give some information to the House on these two matters.
Would the Mimiter reply to these specific points, because they are of considerable importance?
The Minister is putting his eye on the clock instead of on the section.
Maybe when he has the hour's reflection, while the Finance Bill is being taken, he may think better of it.
I move to report progress.
It is not 7 o'clock.
I putting the question.
I want to speak on the section.
This is deliberate obstruction, reducing the proceedings of the House to a farce.
Let the Minister walk out and stay out, for Heaven's sake, and not come back-any more.
Is the Deputy moving to report progress?