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Amendments Nos. 12 and 13 are unnecessary.

Mr. Morgan : Before the Minister leaves Government amendment No. 66, may I ask him when he expects to be able to produce the regulations ? What areas are they intended to cover ? What is the expected timing for producing the regulations, which appear to qualify the right conferred by the rest of the clause ? Can he produce fairly soon a list of the headings which those regulations will cover, as it may take a year or so before the Minister produces the regulations themselves ? It is a bare-bones explanation simply to say that those regulations will exclude the effect of the clause without saying how soon we may know the range of subjects to be covered under those headings ? Can the Minister give us some information on that front ?

Sir Wyn Roberts : I do not think that I can give information on the timing of the regulations at this stage. Obviously, they flow from the passage of the Bill and the events that will follow, with which the hon. Gentleman is, by now, as familiar--if not more so--than I am. Mr. Rowlands rose

Mr. Llwyd rose

5.45 pm

Sir Wyn Roberts : I assure the House that anyone who is entitled to a redundancy payment as a result of the reorganisation should receive it. I appreciate the fact that some of the amendments have been probing, but I believe that the provisions in the Government amendments are far superior-- [Interruption.]

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Janet Fookes) : Order. I want no sub- committees here, please.

Sir Wyn Roberts : The Government amendments are far superior to the amendments put forward by the Opposition, and I ask my right hon. and hon. Friends to reject the Opposition amendments and accept the Government amendments.

Mr. Morgan : The Minister of State began by saying that he hoped that the clause would be based on the principle of volunteers for redundancy, which would solve most of the problems. The heartfelt way in which he said it may have been based on the fact that he has volunteered for redundancy from his office. This may be his last evening at the Dispatch Box, as reshuffles gather pace.

Sir Wyn Roberts : The hon. Gentleman should not concern himself with my future as much as that of the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Davies), who has nominated the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott), but will back the hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Blair). What on earth has the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mrs. Beckett) done to him ?

Madam Deputy Speaker : Order. I hope that that will be regarded as a rhetorical question. It has nothing to do with the subject under consideration.

Mr. Morgan : I am extremely pleased to have your diktat on that, Madam Deputy Speaker, and I shall not cross swords with you. Later this evening, we shall be in a position to wish the Minister of State well in his retirement and return to angling, wangling and poetry.

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Mr. Llwyd : Before the hon. Gentleman says farewell to the Minister, does he share my concern that, of the five specific, extremely important points that I put to him at the beginning of the debate, not one has been answered ? Does he agree that that is unacceptable and that something deceitful may be going on ? Why are not we entitled to a reply ?

Mr. Morgan : That is the problem we are experiencing. These are complex matters. They are almost arcane when we try to put them into debating points, but they are life-and-death matters to the 140,000 people who work in local government. We are trying to bring the matter to life in the House as it will undoubtedly be brought home to the staff directly affected by it. That is why those of us who, unlike the Minister of State, intend to continue to represent Welsh communities where local government is an important source of employment are disappointed. I wish to take nothing away from the Minister's popularity in the House, which will doubtless be greatly enhanced by the identity of his successor once it is known.

Mr. Rowlands : Will my hon. Friend try to extract from the Minister answers to two questions regarding the position of direct labour organisations and direct service organisations ? I put specific questions which, unfortunately, perhaps due to an oversight on his part, the Minister did not answer. That was why I wanted to intervene.

Mr. Morgan : He is the Minister for oversight in the Welsh Office, so I am not sure whether I can persuade him to rise to the Dispatch Box once again to discuss DLOs and DSOs. Many of those 140,000 people are in DLOs and DSOs and their position is exceptional. Given the Minister's absence of comment on that issue in answer to specific questions, I am none the wiser on how DLOs' and DSOs' continued acquired rights will be covered. We do not want the Minister of State's successor to be hauled before the European Court for sins of omission because the Minister has failed to clarify the matter or give an undertaking that, by the time the Bill returns to the other place, it will be cleared up.

After all--I return briefly to my opening remarks--this is a displaced debate. This is the debate that we should have had in Committee a month ago. The debate that may take place in 10 days' time in the other place should have taken place tonight on Report, with us having had the two bites at the cherry which issues that are so complex and of such life and death importance to the bread and butter earnings of the 140,000 staff in local government in Wales deserve. Those staff should have the benefit of the two bites at the cherry. They will want to know what is said. Ministers also need to be able to take on board the comments that are made tonight. If the Minister is stumped on the issue of the DSOs and DLOs, that is fair enough. We expect him to be stumped from time to time, as all Ministers are--and he no less and no more than other Ministers. If the debate had taken place in Committee, no doubt the matter would have been clarified by the time that it came to Report. However, on Report, the Minister may be stumped and when the Bill goes to the other place it will be the last opportunity for any clarification. Instead of there being a month between Committee and Report stages, we shall probably have only a week and a half before the Bill is finally dealt with in the other place.

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We have to meet our constituents in our surgeries or deputations of local government officers. They have every right to expect answers from us. They will say, "We vote for you ; damn well find out from those people in Westminster." The chances of our finding out the answers to their questions have been much reduced by the way in which the debate, which should have taken a place a month ago in Committee, has had to take place tonight. It is a thoroughly unsatisfactory state of affairs.

We still do not know to what extent the TUPE regulations will be incorporated and I do not think that we are any the wiser as to whether the Government have made any attempt to take on board last week's European Court of Justice ruling. Has that been incorporated into Government amendment No. 62, or is that a matter that they will now study, going back to the Office of Parliamentary Counsel--who no doubt will be extremely pleased to see them--and saying, "By the time the Bill goes to the other place, we must ensure that this amendment, covering these redundancies and transfer rights, will be incorporated", and further amendments will be made in the Bill's final stages in 10 days' time? That is not satisfactory.

If the Minister will not say anything about DLOs and DSOs or any of the other matters mentioned by the hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy (Mr. Llwyd), I must say that there is no doubt that the interference by the Department of the Environment--and perhaps also the Treasury--in that issue has been exceedingly unhelpful. The Secretary of State admitted earlier-- something that he obviously did not know when he made his promise at the Dispatch Box on Second Reading--that the Department of the Environment and the Treasury would interfere. He did not know it at the time he made his promise ; otherwise, he probably would not have made that promise. He then found out that the Department of the Environment and the Treasury are the big boys in this issue and that he is only the tea boy, and that, unfortunately, he was prevented from doing something that he thought that he had the freedom to do when he promised that this matter would be clarified and sorted out in amendments that would be proposed in Committee in May. Unfortunately, he was prevented from doing that and now the Department of the Environment conditions in England, which are entirely different, will apply.

Wales is a far more rural area than England. People who are displaced in local government in the constituency of the hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy or of the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Carlile) cannot obtain other jobs without moving house. That will not be the case in a more urbanised area such as England.

At all times in England there will be a continual flow of different stages of reorganisation, which will not be the case in Wales. We are having the big bang in Wales. It will create an enormous amount of simultaneous confusion and changes in the supply and demand of local government staff, which is not a matter about which the Department of the Environment has to worry. As a result, I have to tell my colleagues that I intend to divide the House on that issue. Question put , That the clause be read a Second time :

The House divided : Ayes 76, Noes 160.

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Division No. 262] [5.53


Ainger, Nick

Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)

Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale)

Armstrong, Hilary

Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy

Austin-Walker, John

Banks, Tony (Newham NW)

Barnes, Harry

Bayley, Hugh

Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret

Beith, Rt Hon A. J.

Betts, Clive

Brown, N. (N'c'tle upon Tyne E)

Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)

Carlile, Alexander (Montgomry)

Corbett, Robin

Cousins, Jim

Dalyell, Tam

Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral)

Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)

Dixon, Don

Dowd, Jim

Eagle, Ms Angela

Etherington, Bill

Flynn, Paul

Foster, Rt Hon Derek

Foster, Don (Bath)

Fyfe, Maria

Galloway, George

Garrett, John

Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)

Hain, Peter

Hanson, David

Harvey, Nick

Hoyle, Doug

Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)

Jones, Ieuan Wyn (Ynys Mo n)

Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O)

Jowell, Tessa

Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald

Kirkwood, Archy

Lewis, Terry

Lynne, Ms Liz

McCartney, Ian

Mackinlay, Andrew

Madden, Max

Mahon, Alice

Martlew, Eric

Michael, Alun

Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute)

Morgan, Rhodri

Mullin, Chris

Murphy, Paul

O'Brien, Michael (N W'kshire)

O'Hara, Edward

Olner, William

Patchett, Terry

Pike, Peter L.

Powell, Ray (Ogmore)

Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lew'm E)

Raynsford, Nick

Rendel, David

Rowlands, Ted

Skinner, Dennis

Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)

Spearing, Nigel

Spellar, John

Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)

Wardell, Gareth (Gower)

Wareing, Robert N

Wicks, Malcolm

Wigley, Dafydd

Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)

Winnick, David

Tellers for the Ayes :

Mr. Jon Owen Jones and

Mr. Elfyn Llwyd.


Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby)

Amess, David

Arbuthnot, James

Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)

Ashby, David

Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)

Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)

Baldry, Tony

Banks, Matthew (Southport)

Bates, Michael

Batiste, Spencer

Blackburn, Dr John G.

Body, Sir Richard

Booth, Hartley

Boswell, Tim

Bottomley, Peter (Eltham)

Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia

Bowis, John

Brandreth, Gyles

Brazier, Julian

Bright, Graham

Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thorpes)

Browning, Mrs. Angela

Burt, Alistair

Butler, Peter

Carlisle, John (Luton North)

Carlisle, Sir Kenneth (Lincoln)

Carrington, Matthew

Carttiss, Michael

Channon, Rt Hon Paul

Churchill, Mr

Clappison, James

Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ruclif)

Coe, Sebastian

Congdon, David

Conway, Derek

Coombs, Simon (Swindon)

Cran, James

Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire)

Davies, Quentin (Stamford)

Deva, Nirj Joseph

Devlin, Tim

Dorrell, Stephen

Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James

Duncan, Alan

Duncan-Smith, Iain

Dunn, Bob

Dykes, Hugh

Evans, Jonathan (Brecon)

Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley)

Evennett, David

Faber, David

Fabricant, Michael

Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley)

Freeman, Rt Hon Roger

Gallie, Phil

Gardiner, Sir George

Garel-Jones, Rt Hon Tristan

Gillan, Cheryl

Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles

Gorman, Mrs Teresa

Gorst, Sir John

Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)

Greenway, John (Ryedale)

Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N)

Grylls, Sir Michael

Hague, William

Hampson, Dr Keith

Harris, David

Hawksley, Warren

Hayes, Jerry

Heald, Oliver

Hendry, Charles

Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael

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