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Column 387support of the amendment, I shall explain why I have drawn the distinction between the rate that is being set for shopworkers in large and small shops.
Although in principle I and my hon. Friends would argue that all shopworkers should be remunerated alike on Sundays, we must take into account the enormous financial pressures that are imposed on small shops. Evidence supplied to us by Outlets Providing for Everyday Needs--OPEN--and by an independent research company reveals that many small businesses already face the threat of closure as a result of the growing trend towards out-of-town shopping centres. The introduction of the Deregulation and Contracting Out Bill, which will remove all restrictions on weekday trading hours, poses another major threat to small shops. Fears have been expressed by small shops that the introduction of double-time premiums on Sundays will be the last straw for traders and will force them out of business.
In response to the representations that we have received, I have introduced in the amendment a concession to small business in the form of time and a half payment as opposed to double-time. The amendment therefore represents a fair compromise for the retail sector.
I now wish to present the main reasons why I am urging hon. Members today to vote in support of the amendment. Throughout the Bill's progress-- indeed, before it was even published--hon. Members on both sides of the House asserted that enforceable and effective protection for shopworkers' rights must involve a central element in any reform of trading law. Hon. Members looking at the Sunday Trading Bill may on first reading be impressed by the eight pages of employment protection provisions that are included in it. However, I warn hon. Members that, although those provisions appear principled, in reality they will offer extremely limited protection for shopworkers. The only way that the House can guarantee that all work done in shops on Sunday is voluntary is by supporting the amendment and introducing statutory premiums for Sunday work. I stress the importance of specifying a particular rate for shopworkers.
Hon. Members will be aware of an amendment that was tabled by some of my hon. Friends on the Front Bench, with my name attached, that seeks to introduce the right of shopworkers to be paid more on Sundays than they are throughout the week. With respect, that amendment is not worth the paper that it is written on. If passed, it would mean that shopworkers would be entitled to a penny, or even half a penny, extra for working on Sundays. Industrial tribunals would not have the jurisdiction to set a fair wage for shopworkers on Sunday. The livelihood of shopworkers would rather be solely dependent on their employers' generosity. If the House wishes to honour the rights of shopworkers and protect them from exploitation on Sundays, it is critical that hon. Members support the amendment. Hon. Members will no doubt be aware of the recent agreement made between USDAW--my union--and the SHRC companies which supposedly included premium rate pay for shopworkers on Sunday. I am astounded that a union with the experience of USDAW could be conned into believing that the agreement will be lasting and will offer anything to their members for the future. The agreement states that the stores would deviate only if there were a significant change in the circumstances in which
Column 388retail work was rewarded. The House and USDAW must open their eyes today to the reality that no shopowner or retail business will pay premiums once Sunday becomes deregulated.
I urge hon. Members to support the amendment, to ensure that both retail workers and those employed in other parts of the labour market are in future guaranteed a decent standard of living that will provide for the needs of their families, including children. I know that hon. Members wish to proceed to a vote so that we can debate Third Reading and people can go home to their beds--if, that is, they are not stopped from doing so by candle-holding demonstrators outside. However, I want to refer to the whole issue of worker protection, including voluntary working and double-time payments on Sundays.
We could reasonably have a longer debate on employment protection, but we had a lengthy debate on that subject when we discussed new clause 4, moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mr. Purchase)-- you were in the Chair then, Mr. Deputy Speaker--so there is no need to reiterate much of what was said then. I received a letter from William Connor, deputy general secretary of my union, USDAW, dated 10 September 1993. The union had supported the Keep Sunday Special campaign since 1986. Five months ago, it decided to send all hon. Members--but, in particular, sponsored Members--a letter about Sunday trading, providing an update on recent developments. It gave support, financial and otherwise, to my private Member's Bill--a two-year effort--to ensure that the Keep Sunday Special proposals were upheld in the House.
The letter describes my Bill as "the Powell Bill". It says : "The Union fully supported the Powell Bill that contained the critical elements of worker protection, namely, voluntary working and double-time payments for all Sunday working. This position was endorsed by the 1993 Annual Delegate Meeting"
which took place in May. To my knowledge, no other annual meeting of members has taken place, and no reversal of that opinion has ever been expressed. Only the executive committee of USDAW adopted a different policy. I mention the letter because the hon. Member for Lancaster (Dame E. Kellett-Bowman) has referred to USDAW on numerous occasions. If that decision had been reversed, we might not now be discussing what is virtually a Government Bill--supported by a number of Opposition Members, if by no one else. That needs to be investigated. Had it not been for the decision, more support would undoubtedly have been given to the Keep Sunday Special proposals, and we would have been debating them tonight.
The deputy general secretary goes on :
"On the 19th May 1993, at the meeting of the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party, I moved the following Emergency Motion, which was carried unanimously : Shop Hours Legislation and Workers' Protection.
This NEC welcomes the further progress of Ray Powell's Shops (Amendment) Bill in the House of Commons on Friday, 14th May, when two of the Government's proposed options on total and partial deregulation were voted upon and decisively rejected by a large majority.
It congratulates Ray Powell and those Labour MPs who have maintained a principled and consistent stand on sensible reform of shop hours legislation, including the critical elements of worker protection.
Column 389It welcomes the commitment of the Labour Party Front Bench that Labour MPs will not support any legislation which does not include full worker protection.
Given the level of exploitation amongst part-time workers, as graphically portrayed in last Monday's BBC Panorama programme, it believes that the worker protection measures of voluntary working and double-time payment for Sunday working embodied in the Powell Bill, which maintained cross Party support through all the Committee Stages, are the minimum safeguards required to protect shopworkers." That document was sent to me by the deputy general secretary of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers in September of last year, and was the policy of the Labour party until recent weeks, as I see it.
When we saw extracts in the Sunday Shopper of a pact that has been made, in an article which was headed :
"Handshake seals new Sunday pact"
which my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mr. Purchase) mentioned earlier, the article did not tell us the small print that is recorded. I have sent a copy to all hon. Members so that they can read the small print. The small print is not about double time and not about protection for workers. Let me read what the small print says. It says that they--the employers--
"reaffirm their statement of September 17th 1993 that they will continue to pay current premium rates of pay to Sunday employees. They will only deviate from this if there is a significant change in the circumstances in which retail work is rewarded and only after appropriate consultation. The employers recognise that a premium will be required to attract sufficient high quality employees for Sunday work."
I take it, therefore, that anyone who was a party to that agreement will clearly understand that if they find that trading and profitability are not what they expect, the employers will do the same as they threatened to do with USDAW : they will rip up those papers and do away with 55,000 of the union membership. It is a blatant falsehood to try to present to the House the claim that they have made a pact and agreement that has protected 55,000 shopworkers.
Let us bear in mind also that we are not only speaking about 55,000 shopworkers in Tesco, which is protected by USDAW ; we are speaking about 2 million shopworkers, most of whom are not protected by any union.
Mr. Donald Anderson : Does my hon. Friend accept that by his principled and consistent stand he has gained the respect of both sides of the House? His consistency stands in marked contrast to the behaviour of those people who have stood on their heads on that issue.
I am convinced that I have given the House sufficient to think about-- including the Minister. If Opposition Front Bench Members and the Labour party are not prepared to accept the Bill that the Government have presented to the House, without the qualified protection that we demanded in Committee, on Second Reading and in the special pleading on employment protection, I ask the House to support amendment 61.
Mr. A. J. Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed) : I am pleased to support amendment No. 61, to which the hon. Member for Ogmore (Mr. Powell) referred. No one has worked harder than he to protect those who will suffer if the Bill is not amended again. I pay tribute to all that he has done before
Column 390and during our consideration of the Bill. I shall say something in a moment about those who should have taken a little more notice of what he was saying.
Amendment No. 61 is far preferable to what I call the "ha'penny" amendment tabled by members of the Labour Front Bench, which would achieve premium pay at the minimal level of a ha'penny an hour. It is designed to secure double time in large shops and time and a half in smaller shops, and to do so on a basis that can survive, as opposed to the basis of the pact or agreement, which does not have that capacity.
Let us be clear that we are not seeking protection only for shopworkers, many of whom do not belong to a trade union ; the amendment would also be a disincentive to trade on Sundays. The intention is that those who are wondering whether to embark on Sunday trading should consider the fact that there is not sufficient trade to make it a profitable exercise overall and should therefore be deterred.
If they embark on Sunday trading, they will almost certainly damage small shops in their area, and might even damage themselves. They might as well face the facts from the beginning and be presented with a financial disincentive at the outset. That is one of the purposes of the amendment.
When the hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Ms Ruddock) said that she was not fooled by commercial interests, I did not know whether to laugh or cry. She and some of her colleagues did not support the Conservative Members who worked with some of us to try to ensure that shops did not open. By refusing to be around at the given moment, she created a situation in which she could not win on the vital employment protection amendments, but was bound to lose.
Ms Ruddock : Will the hon. Gentleman help me and the House by telling us whether he voted in favour of the double time amendment that I moved on behalf of the Labour Front Bench in Committee of the whole House?
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Geoffrey Lofthouse) : Order. The House is getting restless, and I am having great difficulty in hearing what the right hon. Gentleman has to say. If the House settles down, we can get on with the business.
The essential point is that if all those who are concerned about people working on Sundays had been on the same Lobby on the crucial issue of whether shops open at all on Sundays, there would have been no doubt about the result, and the problem that we face now would not have been so acute. Amendment No. 61 may gain some support from Conservative Members--I hope it does--but it is not a gamble that the hon. Lady and her colleagues should have been prepared to take. As the hon. Member for Deptford mentioned individual votes, she may care to explain to me later why the leader of her party voted against keeping shops closed on Christmas day and Easter day, which I found extraordinary.
Column 391We are debating Government amendment No. 35, but grouped with it are two other amendments : one, which stands in the name of the hon. Lady and her colleagues, affords no significant protection ; the other, which stands in the name of the hon. Member for Ogmore, affords significant protection. If the hon. Gentleman is able to press that amendment to a Division, I urge hon. Members of all parties who are concerned about those who will be affected by the legislation to support it.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment made : No. 22, page 13, line 18, after means' insert subject to paragraph 10A(2) below'.-- [Mr. Peter Lloyd.]. Amendment proposed : No. 19, in page 14, line 16, at end insert--
Right to enhanced pay for Sunday work
9A. A shop worker shall be entitled to remuneration from his employer in respect of shop work undertaken on a Sunday at a rate of pay which exceeds that which he earns in the case of shop work undertaken by him for that employer during his normal working hours on a weekday or in the case of a shop worker required to work only on a Sunday, at a rate of pay which exceeds that earned by a shop worker carrying out similar shop work for that employer during his normal working hours on a weekday.'.-- [Ms Ruddock.]
Question put, That the amendment be made :--
The House divided : Ayes 279, Noes 317.
Division No. 144] [11.09 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane
Adams, Mrs Irene
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)
Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)
Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret
Beith, Rt Hon A. J.
Benn, Rt Hon Tony
Bennett, Andrew F.
Berry, Dr. Roger
Bray, Dr Jeremy
Brown, Gordon (Dunfermline E)
Brown, N. (N'c'tle upon Tyne E)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Campbell-Savours, D. N.
Carlile, Alexander (Montgomry)
Clark, Dr David (South Shields)
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)
Clwyd, Mrs Ann
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cook, Robin (Livingston)
Corston, Ms Jean
Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE)
Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr John
Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'l)
Donohoe, Brian H.
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Eagle, Ms Angela
Evans, John (St Helens N)
Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Foster, Rt Hon Derek