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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for his assurance that he believes that it is widely accepted that this was a terrible mistake and involved no deliberate action.

We all agree that Russia's involvement in any eventual solution is absolutely vital. I was able to detail to noble Lords last Thursday evening the consistent involvement of Russia from the contact group last summer and subsequent developments--the problems

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that President Yeltsin had and the assurances he received from Mr. Milosevic; the later meetings of the contact group; and the importance of continuing to keep the Russians involved in the negotiation. That is very much in the forefront of my right honourable friend's mind. He was able to speak to his opposite number on Saturday afternoon.

The noble Lord mentioned the meeting taking place today between Mr. Chernomyrdin and Mr. Talbott. I believe that a number of different issues are involved, not least the outcome of the G8 meeting last week in Bonn and the way in which that can be taken forward. All the Foreign Ministers there, including the Russian and United States Foreign Ministers, charged planners to take forward the outline plan by putting flesh on the plan and engaging the presidency of the G8, which is Germany, in talks with the Chinese with a view to getting an agreed position on the United Nations Security Council resolution. Any of the diplomatic discussions taking place at the moment is bound to touch upon these growing and important issues.

The Earl of Carlisle: My Lords--

Lord Eden of Winton: My Lords--

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): My Lords, I think it is the turn of the noble Lord, Lord Eden, as he has attempted to intervene on a number of occasions.

Lord Eden of Winton: My Lords, perhaps I may, first, be allowed to pay a brief personal tribute to the memory of Derek Fatchett, whose death at such a young age is greatly to be regretted. Indeed, he was of considerable assistance to me when, as chairman of the Royal Armouries, I sought to establish the new museum at Leeds. Subsequently, as is well known, he served as a Minister of State in the Foreign Office with great distinction and was most impressive in that role.

I turn now to the situation in Kosovo. As we have embarked upon this course and as some of the horrors to which the Statement refers are still clearly being perpetrated under the direction and authority of Mr. Milosevic, can we have the assurance of the Government that the bombing of his centres of command will be maintained with the utmost vigour? Moreover, looking to the future, can the Minister confirm that it is still the Government's intention that the guarantee force, which may come into existence to ensure the safety of the people of Kosovo in the future, will comprise a major NATO military element? Indeed, only by that means, and under direct NATO command, will there be any certainty of security for those people.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for his kind words about my late colleague, Derek Fatchett. He was indeed an extraordinarily talented and able man. It is a tragedy that he will no longer have the opportunity to deploy those talents, either for the Government or for the people of this country.

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I assure the noble Lord that the military campaign will be maintained until the conditions which NATO has specified for the cessation of such a campaign are met. That was the position when we discussed the matter in your Lordships' House last Thursday and nothing has occurred over the course of the past few days to change it.

The noble Lord also asked about a NATO component in any eventual security force. It is the position of Her Majesty's Government that any such security force should contain a considerable NATO component, expressed in this House last week as a NATO core.

Lord Tebbit: My Lords--

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I believe that the 20-minute limit for Back-Bench questions following a Statement is mandatory.

Lord Tebbit: My Lords, I feel--

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I am so sorry. I mistook what the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, was trying to do. I realise now that he was attempting to make his speech on the Second Reading of the Employment Relations Bill. I apologise to the noble Lord personally, as well as to the House.

Lord Tebbit: My Lords, no apology is necessary. I realise that the House has to settle itself down for a moment and resume wondering not so much where the Government's bombs are going but where their industrial relations policy is going. I must say that I am somewhat relieved to have heard that at least the Government and NATO understand the distinction between Belgrade and Belgravia. One simply hopes that they will have the right A-Z in future.

Employment Relations Bill

5.33 p.m.

Second Reading debate resumed.

Lord Tebbit: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Simon, said that this Bill was designed to improve industrial relations. But, of course, all industrial relations and employment Bills are designed to do so. It was my noble and learned friend Lord Mayhew who referred to another one of the Bills to improve industrial relations; namely, the Employment Protection Act. Indeed, it was designed to improve the prospects for employment and it damaged them.

I must say that former gun owners whose weapons were expropriated and who are still awaiting payment of the compensation which Parliament decreed should be paid, must be thinking that trades unions get rather better treatment. During Labour's 18 years of opposition, the unions gave the Labour Party over £100 million at today's prices. That is apart from the money which they spent on propaganda on their own behalf.

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Here is another part of the payback. Of course paying debts is not to be decried, but this £100 million debt of the Labour Party is to be paid not by the Labour Party and not even by the taxpayers, oddly enough: it is to be paid by businesses, by shareholders, by pension funds, by pensioners, by consumers and, ironically, in the end it will be paid by employees, including trades unionists whose pay and prospects of employment will be diminished by this Bill just as they were by the employment protection legislation.

Noble Lords may detect that I do not like this Bill. There are many of us in this House who remember the events of the 1960s and the 1970s--the Wilson government brought down by their inability to control trades unions; the Heath Government brought down by their inability to control trades unions--and that, despite the skilful drafting by my noble and learned friend Lord Howe, of the Industrial Relations Act, which turned out to be unworkable, unenforceable and unusable, although undoubtedly well intended. Then the government of the noble Lord, Lord Callaghan, were also brought down by the trades unions.

It was a great relief to me, all these years later-- in fact, 20 years--to hear the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, saying that something should have been done to cut the unions down to size and to stop them from doing it. But when I did do something to stop them from doing it again, the noble Lord and his friends were not with me in the Division Lobbies at that time. Perhaps I may point out to the noble Lord that 20 years is a long time to spend thinking about it before coming to the conclusion that my legislation was right. No wonder--

Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, the noble Lord sought some reforms of the trades unions, but he really went overboard; his prejudices dominated his thinking.

Lord Tebbit: My Lords, it is a matter of opinion as to whether or not I went too far. The point is that the noble Lord did not come a single inch of the way with me; indeed, not one. He stalwartly defended the closed shop and every abuse of power. He defended Red Robbo and the lads at British Leyland. The noble Lord shakes his head now, but that is 20 years too late. It is no wonder that, by 1979, the world thought Britain was a basket case. The English disease, so the world thought, had become incurable.

I wonder whether noble Lords remember those days. They were the days of prices and incomes policy. We do not hear much about that these days. Back then it was held that no government could possibly govern without a prices and incomes policy. Of course, the fact of the matter is that a government with a prices and incomes policy could not possibly govern. Indeed, prices and incomes policies, both statutory and voluntary, were tried but neither worked. The law did not work for statutory control and there were no volunteers for voluntary control. So, in 1979, the Government, led by my noble friend Lady Thatcher, threw away income policies--to a chorus of "Oohs and Ahs" from all the wiseacres; indeed, I can see that a few

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of them are about now and can even remember their names--and left the resolution of wages to employers and employees and prices to suppliers and purchasers.

Of course, for such a market system to work, the market must be open and fair--not rigged--and, above all, those who fix prices or wages must take responsibility for the consequences of their actions. That is the key to the whole of my legislation. It forced people to take responsibility for what they did, whereas the legislation which had been in place gave immunity to trades unions for the damage which they did to other people's interests; and, indeed, inadvertently to their own.

The Labour market had been rigged by the trades unions. They could pass on the unpleasant consequences in the short term to taxpayers and consumers, or to other workers. That called for reform of trades union law. My noble friend Lord Prior started on what was to be a step-by-step approach. I continued that work, as did my Conservative successors.

The Bill does not begin the undoing of that work. Oh, no, that has begun already, not least through Brussels. But the Bill is a great step towards destroying what was achieved in turning a country with the worst industrial relations in the free world into one with just about the best in the free world.

Lord Simon remembers. He remembers those days when the power was switched off periodically to the business which he was responsible for. Nothing could be done about it. He remembers the days of sympathy strikes. Nothing could be done about them. Nothing would have been done, but for the change of government and change of pace. Days lost through strikes fell in consequence of that legislation by probably about 90 per cent. My noble and learned friend Lord Mayhew said that he thought the number of days lost in 1979 was 27 million. I think it was 29 million; I think the figure of 27 was the 27 per cent inflation, which brought the IMF in here to take over management of the economy from the then government.

The year 1994 was a very good year: 278,000 days lost. The year 1996 was not so good, with 1.3 million, but still a long way from 29 million or even, if I am wrong and my noble and learned friend is right, 27 million. Where was the Labour Party during that transformation?

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