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Lords amendment : No. 71 after clause 52, insert the following new Clause--


"After section 37A of the Fair Employment (Northern Ireland) Act 1976 there is inserted--

"Redundancy. 37AA.--(1) This section applies where--

((a) a practice relating to the selection of employees who may be dismissed as redundant is followed by an employer in pursuance of affirmative action and in accordance with an agreed procedure, and (

(b) the practice does not involve the application of any condition or requirement framed by reference to religious belief or political opinion, but has or may have the effect that the proportion of employees of a particular religious belief or political opinion who are selected is smaller than the proportion of employees not of that religious belief or, as the case may be, not of that political opinion who are selected.

(2) The dismissal of an employee in pursuance of the practice is not by virtue of section 16(2) unlawful under any provision of Parts III and IV."

Mr. Tom King : I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

Mr. Deputy Speaker : With this we shall also discuss the following : consequential amendment (a) in lieu of the Lords amendment, in page 24, line 5, leave out or promotion' and insert promotion or redundancy'.

Lords amendment No. 72.

Mr. King : This amendment deals with the interaction of anti- discrimination legislation on redundancy programmes. If an affirmative action programme operated and redundancies occurred, it could lead to extremely difficult complications and, in certain circumstances, could interfere severely with normal industrial relations agreements.

We are not prepared to allow selection for redundancy to be on the basis of religion. That selection would be discriminatory, illegal and contrary to the basic principles of fairness and equity which we have sought to maintain throughout the legislation. That is the background against which amendment No. 71 is constructed. I hope that the House will recognise the difficult issues involved. We believe that it is right to construct the amendment after earlier discussions in Committee and in another place on this matter. I hope that our approach strikes the fair balance that we seek, and I commend the amendment to the House.

Mr. Jim Marshall : The Secretary of State introduced the amendment in his customary manner. He addressed it in his usual reasonable way and suggested that the Government have the balance about right on this occasion. I venture to suggest to the Secretary of State that, if he fully understood the consequences of the amendment, he would be a little more reticent in urging the House to accept it.

We believe that the amendment does not address the problem that the Secretary of State would like it to address. It is not without significance that when the Bill was originally published, it contained no reference to redundancies. Only as a consequence of prodding by the Opposition, and in particular by my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) did the Government recognise that the problem could exist and agreed, after the probing and private discussions, to

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seek to bring forward later an amendment that would address the redundancy problem. Amendment No. 71 is a consequence of that further thought and discussion.

There is now general agreement between the Government and the Opposition that redundancy policy, like promotion policy and recruitment policy to a company, can affect the structure of a company's work force. It does not take a genius to see that if an employer pursues an affirmative action programme to rectify imbalances within his work force and some time later is forced to make redundancies on a first-in, last-out basis, the likelihood is that redundancies will cause further inequalities in the balance of the work force and will negate the equality of opportunity that the employer has been trying to achieve.

As the Secretary of State knows, the Opposition were concerned about that matter from the outset. We were concerned also to ensure that the redundancy policy should form an integral part of the periodic review that is required under clause 30. At the outset, Opposition Members presumed that the omission of redundancy was an oversight. When we pointed that out to the Government, they readily agreed to consider the issues. Amendment No. 71 does not deal with the problem that we identified--the absence of a duty on employers to consider redundancy procedures in the review. For that reason, if for no other, we oppose the amendment.

Amendment No. 71 is seriously flawed in two respects. First, it appears that redundancy schemes are protected only when they are part of affirmative action. However, there is no reason why a redundancy policy should be part of an affirmative action programme. It is nonsense that an employer who discovers that existing practices are discriminatory cannot remedy them without engaging in an overall affirmative action programme. That does not take account of a situation in which an employer might already pursue an affirmative action programme and then discover that a redundancy policy is discriminatory.

Secondly, hon. Members who have read the amendment will note that it refers to an agreed procedure. An agreed procedure is not defined in the Bill. Contrary to Government statements in the other place, there is no existing legal concept of agreed procedures. The amendment refers to a situation for which there is no legal basis. Does it involve an agreement with trade unions? I address that question to the Secretary of State. He will know that trade unions do not want that. If the amendment is accepted, it will be the basis of chaos.

If we get an opportunity, Opposition Members will not only vote against amendment No. 71 but press amendment (a), which reverts to our original demand that employers include redundancy procedures in the periodic review required under clause 30.

Question put, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment :--

The House divided : Ayes 172, Noes 68.

Division No. 328] [10.28 pm


Alexander, Richard

Alison, Rt Hon Michael

Alton, David

Amess, David

Amos, Alan

Arbuthnot, James

Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)

Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)

Ashby, David

Atkinson, David

Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)

Baldry, Tony

Beggs, Roy

Bellingham, Henry

Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)

Blackburn, Dr John G.

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Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter

Boswell, Tim

Bottomley, Mrs Virginia

Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)

Bowis, John

Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard

Brandon-Bravo, Martin

Brazier, Julian

Bright, Graham

Brooke, Rt Hon Peter

Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)

Buck, Sir Antony

Burns, Simon

Burt, Alistair

Butler, Chris

Butterfill, John

Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)

Carlisle, John, (Luton N)

Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)

Carrington, Matthew

Carttiss, Michael

Cash, William

Chapman, Sydney

Chope, Christopher

Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)

Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)

Coombs, Simon (Swindon)

Cope, Rt Hon John

Couchman, James

Cran, James

Currie, Mrs Edwina

Davis, David (Boothferry)

Day, Stephen

Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James

Durant, Tony

Dykes, Hugh

Fallon, Michael

Fenner, Dame Peggy

Fishburn, John Dudley

Fookes, Dame Janet

Forman, Nigel

Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)

Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S)

Forth, Eric

Franks, Cecil

Freeman, Roger

French, Douglas

Gale, Roger

Garel-Jones, Tristan

Glyn, Dr Alan

Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles

Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)

Greenway, John (Ryedale)

Gregory, Conal

Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)

Ground, Patrick

Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn

Hague, William

Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)

Hampson, Dr Keith

Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)

Harris, David

Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney

Hind, Kenneth

Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)

Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)

Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)

Hughes, Simon (Southwark)

Hunter, Andrew

Irvine, Michael

Jack, Michael

Janman, Tim

Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey

Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)

Jones, Robert B (Herts W)

Jopling, Rt Hon Michael

Kennedy, Charles

Kilfedder, James

King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)

Knight, Greg (Derby North)

Latham, Michael

Lawrence, Ivan

Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark

Lightbown, David

Lilley, Peter

Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)

Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)

McCrindle, Robert

MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)

Maclean, David

McLoughlin, Patrick

Maginnis, Ken

Miller, Sir Hal

Mills, Iain

Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)

Molyneaux, Rt Hon James

Morrison, Sir Charles

Moss, Malcolm

Moynihan, Hon Colin

Nelson, Anthony

Neubert, Michael

Nicholls, Patrick

Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)

Oppenheim, Phillip

Page, Richard

Paice, James

Paisley, Rev Ian

Patnick, Irvine

Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth

Porter, David (Waveney)

Portillo, Michael

Raffan, Keith

Raison, Rt Hon Timothy

Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)

Ross, William (Londonderry E)

Rossi, Sir Hugh

Rowe, Andrew

Ryder, Richard

Sackville, Hon Tom

Shaw, David (Dover)

Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)

Skeet, Sir Trevor

Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)

Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)

Speller, Tony

Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)

Stanbrook, Ivor

Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John

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