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Industrial Court

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INDUSTRIAL COURT. The Industrial Court is a per manent Court of Industrial Arbitration to which the British Minister of Labour can refer, with the consent of both parties, industrial disputes for settlement. The Court had its origin in the recommendations of the Whitley committee (report of 1918) which were in part to the effect that there should be established a standing arbitration council to which differences might be sub mitted in cases where the parties failed to reach an agreement and wished to refer to arbitration. Effect was given to these recom mendations in the Industrial Courts Act, 1919. Under Part I. of this act a trade dispute may be reported to the minister of labour, whereupon the minister has to take the matter into con sideration and to take such steps as seem to him expedient for the settlement thereof. This enables the minister, if the parties to the dispute consent, to endeavour to settle the dispute by con ciliation. The fact that such action is taken only by the consent of the parties ensures that negotiations are carried on under favourable conditions; and it is by conciliation that the majority of disputes in which the minister is called upon to intervene are settled, in many cases by the ultimate agreement of the parties to refer their difference to arbitration. An important provision of the act (section 2 [a]) is designed to ensure that, before a dif ference can be referred to arbitration, any existing joint concilia tion or arbitration machinery shall have been tried and found wanting. The arbitration procedure outlined in the act is that the minister of labour may, with the consent of the parties, refer differences to arbitration either by the Industrial Court, a single arbitrator, or a board of arbitration constituted of employers and workpeople with an independent chairman. During 1927 there were issued 82 decisions on cases referred to the Court for deter mination, making a total of 1,354 decisions since the establishment of the Court. In Part II. of the Industrial Courts Act the minister is given power to enquire into the causes and circumstances of a dispute, whether apprehended or existing, and if he thinks fit, to refer any matters appearing to him to be connected with or relevant to the dispute to a Court of Inquiry. This power is intended to be exercised by the Minister in cases in which, in his opinion, the interests of the public are involved and the object is to render the public familiar with the authentic facts of the dis pute. A Court of Inquiry is not a form of arbitration, and there is no question of securing the consent of the disputants to its appointment. Courts of Inquiry have power to request persons to give evidence and, though no penalties are attached to failure to fulfil the request, in no case has it been refused. Up to the end of 1927 sixteen Courts of Inquiry had been appointed.

See

Reports of the Ministry of Labour for years 1923 and Y924 (Cmd. 2,481) and for 1927 (Cmd. 3,090) . (J. H.)

arbitration, minister, parties, refer and dispute