15 Comp. Lab. L.J. 167 (1993-1994)
The Representation of Workers in the United Kingdom from Collective Laissez-Faire to Market Individualism

handle is hein.journals/cllpj15 and id is 181 raw text is: THE REPRESENTATION OF WORKERS IN THE
UNITED KINGDOM FROM COLLECTIVE
LAISSEZ-FAIRE TO MARKET
INDIVIDUALISM
PAUL DAVIESt
Since the 1980s, the United Kingdom has seen a revolution in
governmental policy relating to the collective representation of work-
ers vis-a-vis their employer. This revolution has been directed at pol-
icy which was established as long ago as the end of the First World
War. At that time, the reports of the Whitley Committee' established
a public policy of governmental support for collective bargaining
which survived for the next six decades. As seen below, a significant
feature of that policy was that it involved little use of legislation for its
promotion. Nonetheless, even without legislation, which was never
entirely lacking, administrative and political support did much for the
extension of collective bargaining-especially, but not exclusively, in
the economy's public sector. It is also true that while the intensity of
public support for collective bargaining varied over time, the Whitley
doctrine insured that collective bargaining always had the benefit of at
least official indifference and sometimes, especially during wartime, it
received active promotion by the State.2
The Conservative governments, which have continuously been in
power since 1979, have been animated by a strong commitment to the
virtues of untrammelled operation of markets for the promotion of
t Fellow and Tutor in Law, Balliol College, Reader in the Law of the Enter-
prise, University of Oxford. A number of the themes touched on in this article are
elaborated in much greater detail in PAUL DAVIES & MARK FREEDLAND, LABOUR
LEGISLATION AND PUBLIC POLICY (1993) (providing a history of labour legislation in
Great Britain in the period since the World War II).
1. INTERIM REPORT ON JOINT STANDING INDUSTRIAL COUNCILS, 1917, Co. 8086. The
Whitley Committee, set up in 1916 to examine the causes of industrial unrest during the First
World War, issued a number of reports. This particular one is relevant to the issue of govern-
mental support for collective bargaining. See generally RODGER CHARLES, THE DEVELOPMENT
OF INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS IN BRITAIN 1911-1939 (1973) (discussing the Whitley Committee and
the Interim Reports).
2. PAUL DAVIES & MARK FREEDLAND, LABOUR LEGISLATION AND PUBLIC POLICY 37-43
(1993).

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