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Mr. Bercow: I am sorry to trouble my right hon. Friend, but what he says about the absence of a commitment to a debate on the Floor of the House is of the utmost importance. That debate must be prior to the implementation of the regulations. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the consultation period for the regulations should be no less than three months, and that the private sector should have three months' notice of the date of implementation, in contradistinction to the period that was provided for the working time regulations, which understandably caused a great furore?

Mr. Redwood: My hon. Friend has made a helpful point. It might be one that Ministers will be sympathetic towards. I am sure that the Secretary of State did not welcome arriving in the Department to discover that a mass of labour market and other regulations had been rushed through without proper consultation and that many problems had emerged as a result. I pay tribute to him again. There have been occasions when he has tried to sort out problems that he inherited from his predecessor. I think immediately of the au pair mess. We read in the newspaper that the right hon. Gentleman was extremely angry about what had happened. However, it is the Secretary of State's job to stay on top of all that and have the appropriate dialogue with his officials to ensure that the process of regulation and government runs as smoothly as possible.

The right hon. Gentleman may find that the latest proposals that are before us are still not the answer, as my hon. Friends have illustrated. It would greatly help him to agree at this stage--I shall willingly give way if he wishes to intervene--to the proposal of my hon. Friend the Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow). My hon. Friend is suggesting that three months' consultation would be a very good idea and that we need proper time to scrutinise the Government's proposals to ensure that they are right. Better to have regulations in six months' time that are right, all the issues having been thought through, than to have botched regulations in three months' time, which would entail the House having to undertake its work again when the Government finally admitted that they had got them wrong.

Given the Secretary of State's new-found love tonight for a sensible parliamentary dialogue and process, and given the co-operation of both sides of the House on some elements of these proposals, I would think it only reasonable for me to ask for, and perhaps for him to accept, a longer consultation period and then a proper debate on the Floor of the House about any regulations. That would complete the job in the way to which we are accustomed, or would like to be accustomed, and in the way that would be best able to secure a sensible future for employment agencies.

I was heartened that the Secretary of State had honeyed words for employment agencies. That has not always been true of members of the right hon. Gentleman's party. However, now that the Government are using these agencies along with Members on both sides of the House

31 Mar 1999 : Column 1150

and many people in the private sector, it makes sense for the Government and the Opposition to unite in saying that the agencies have a valuable role to play in our economy. They may need a modicum of sensible regulation to stop abuse but we need to be careful about over-regulating them.

We need to be careful about changing regulations in case words go adrift or because lawyers are cleverer than legislators, because there are too many loopholes or in case there are crudities in the approach to introducing law that would result in rich lawyers but limitations on the flexible labour market that the Secretary of State says he would like, which I would definitely like and which I have, in the past, tried to help on its way as a legislator on the Government Benches.

The Opposition welcome the concessions so far, think that we need a few more, would have liked the guarantee of a proper debate and would have liked a guarantee of a sensible period for reflection and consultation with the industry. As we have not yet received those promises from the Secretary of State, I would urge my right hon. and hon. Friends to vote against Government amendment No. 59 to show that we would have liked additional matters to be cleared up.

Question put, That the amendment be made:--

The House divided: Ayes 319, Noes 127.

Division No. 138
[7.27 pm


Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Allan, Richard
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Banks, Tony
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin
Beard, Nigel
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Martin (Tatton)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony
Benton, Joe
Bermingham, Gerald
Berry, Roger
Best, Harold
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Boateng, Paul
Borrow, David
Bradley, Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Brinton, Mrs Helen
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Butler, Mrs Christine
Byers, Rt Hon Stephen
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies
(NE Fife)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Canavan, Dennis
Cann, Jamie
Caplin, Ivor
Caton, Martin
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chidgey, David
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cooper, Yvette
Corbett, Robin
Cotter, Brian
Cousins, Jim
Cox, Tom
Crausby, David
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire
Dalyell, Tam
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Darvill, Keith
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, John
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Drown, Ms Julia
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Ewing, Mrs Margaret
Fearn, Ronnie
Fisher, Mark
Fitzsimons, Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Don (Bath)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Foulkes, George
Fyfe, Maria
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, Bruce (Walsall S)
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Godman, Dr Norman A
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Golding, Mrs Llin
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Grocott, Bruce
Grogan, John
Hain, Peter
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hanson, David
Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet
Harvey, Nick
Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Healey, John
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, Ms Patricia
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Ms Margaret
Hoey, Kate
Hood, Jimmy
Hoon, Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, Alan (Newport E)
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan
Hutton, John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Johnson, Miss Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Ms Jenny
(Wolverh'ton SW)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Jowell, Rt Hon Ms Tessa
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Kemp, Fraser
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Khabra, Piara S
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
Kingham, Ms Tess
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Lawrence, Ms Jackie
Laxton, Bob
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Linton, Martin
Livingstone, Ken
Livsey, Richard
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Lock, David
Love, Andrew
McAllion, John
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNulty, Tony
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Mandelson, Rt Hon Peter
Marek, Dr John
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Martlew, Eric
Maxton, John
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Merron, Gillian
Michael, Rt Hon Alun
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin
Moffatt, Laura
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Morgan, Rhodri (Cardiff W)
Morley, Elliot
Morris, Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Mountford, Kali
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
O'Hara, Eddie
Olner, Bill
Öpik, Lembit
Organ, Mrs Diana
Osborne, Ms Sandra
Palmer, Dr Nick
Pearson, Ian
Pendry, Tom
Perham, Ms Linda
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pope, Greg
Powell, Sir Raymond
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prescott, Rt Hon John
Primarolo, Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quin, Rt Hon Ms Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Rapson, Syd
Raynsford, Nick
Reid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooker, Jeff
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Roy, Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Salter, Martin
Sanders, Adrian
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Barry
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Shipley, Ms Debra
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Snape, Peter
Soley, Clive
Squire, Ms Rachel
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr Howard
Straw, Rt Hon Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Stunell, Andrew
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
Temple-Morris, Peter
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Vaz, Keith
Vis, Dr Rudi
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Ms Claire
Wareing, Robert N
Watts, David
Welsh, Andrew
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Wills, Michael
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wise, Audrey
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wray, James
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Jim Dowd and
Mr. Mike Hall.


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Amess, David
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James
Baldry, Tony
Beggs, Roy
Bercow, John
Blunt, Crispin
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia
Brady, Graham
Brazier, Julian
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)
Burns, Simon
Butterfill, John
Chapman, Sir Sydney
(Chipping Barnet)
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Clark, Rt Hon Alan (Kensington)
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Colvin, Michael
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cran, James
Curry, Rt Hon David
Davies, Quentin (Grantham)
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice & Howden)
Donaldson, Jeffrey
Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen
Duncan, Alan
Duncan Smith, Iain
Evans, Nigel
Faber, David
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Flight, Howard
Forsythe, Clifford
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Gale, Roger
Garnier, Edward
Gibb, Nick
Gill, Christopher
Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Gray, James
Green, Damian
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie
Hammond, Philip
Hayes, John
Heald, Oliver
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas
Horam, John
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Hunter, Andrew
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jenkin, Bernard
Johnson Smith,
Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Key, Robert
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lansley, Andrew
Letwin, Oliver
Lidington, David
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
McIntosh, Miss Anne
MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
Maclean, Rt Hon David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Malins, Humfrey
Maples, John
Maude, Rt Hon Francis
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Moss, Malcolm
Nicholls, Patrick
Norman, Archie
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paice, James
Pickles, Eric
Prior, David
Randall, John
Redwood, Rt Hon John
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Rowe, Andrew (Faversham)
Ruffley, David
St Aubyn, Nick
Sayeed, Jonathan
Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Soames, Nicholas
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spring, Richard
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Streeter, Gary
Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Townend, John
Tredinnick, David
Trend, Michael
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Walter, Robert
Wardle, Charles
Wells, Bowen
Whitney, Sir Raymond
Whittingdale, John
Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Willetts, David
Wilshire, David
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Woodward, Shaun
Yeo, Tim
Young, Rt Hon Sir George

Tellers for the Noes:

Mrs. Caroline Spelman and
Mr. Tim Collins.

Question accordingly agreed to.

31 Mar 1999 : Column 1153

New Schedule 1

Ballots and notices


1. The Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 shall be amended as provided by this Schedule.

Support of ballot

2.--(1) Section 226 (requirement of ballot before action by trade union) shall be amended as follows.
(2) In subsection (2) (industrial action to be regarded as having support of ballot only if certain conditions are fulfilled) in paragraph (a)(ii) for "231A" substitute "231", omit the word "and" at the end of paragraph (b), and after paragraph (b) insert--
"(bb) section 232A does not prevent the industrial action from being regarded as having the support of the ballot; and".
(3) After subsection (3) insert--
"(3A) If the requirements of section 231A fall to be satisfied in relation to an employer, as respects that employer industrial action shall not be regarded as having the support of a ballot unless those requirements are satisfied in relation to that employer."
Documents for employers

3.--(1) Section 226A (notice of ballot and sample voting paper for employers) shall be amended as follows.

31 Mar 1999 : Column 1154

(2) In subsection (2)(c) (notice of ballot must describe employees entitled to vote) for "describing (so that he can readily ascertain them) the employees of the employer" substitute "containing such information in the union's possession as would help the employer to make plans and bring information to the attention of those of his employees".
(3) After subsection (3) insert--
"(3A) These rules apply for the purposes of paragraph (c) of subsection (2)--
(a) if the union possesses information as to the number, category or work-place of the employees concerned, a notice must contain that information (at least);
(b) if a notice does not name any employees, that fact shall not be a ground for holding that it does not comply with paragraph (c) of subsection (2).
(3B) In subsection (3) references to employees are to employees of the employer concerned."
Entitlement to vote

4. In section 227 (entitlement to vote in ballot) subsection (2) (position where member is denied entitlement to vote) shall be omitted.
Voting paper

5.--(1) Section 229 (voting paper) shall be amended as follows.
(2) After subsection (2) (voting paper must ask whether voter is prepared to take part in a strike or industrial action short of a strike) insert--
"(2A) For the purposes of subsection (2) an overtime ban and a call-out ban constitute industrial action short of a strike."
(3) At the end of the statement in subsection (4) (statement that industrial action may be a breach of employment contract to be set out on every voting paper) insert--
"However, if you are dismissed for taking part in strike or other industrial action which is called officially and is otherwise lawful, the dismissal will be unfair if it takes place fewer than eight weeks after you started taking part in the action, and may be unfair if it takes place later."

6. After section 232 insert--
"Inducement of member denied entitlement to vote
232A. Industrial action shall not be regarded as having the support of a ballot if the following conditions apply in the case of any person--
(a) he was a member of the trade union at the time when the ballot was held,
(b) it was reasonable at that time for the trade union to believe he would be induced to take part or, as the case may be, to continue to take part in the industrial action,
(c) he was not accorded entitlement to vote in the ballot, and
(d) he was induced by the trade union to take part or, as the case may be, to continue to take part in the industrial action."
Disregard of certain failures

7. After section 232A there shall be inserted--
"Small accidental failures to be disregarded
232B.--(1) If--
(a) in relation to a ballot there is a failure (or there are failures) to comply with a provision mentioned in subsection (2) or with more than one of those provisions, and
(b) the failure is accidental and on a scale which is unlikely to affect the result of the ballot or, as the case may be, the failures are accidental and taken together are on a scale which is unlikely to affect the result of the ballot,

31 Mar 1999 : Column 1155

the failure (or failures) shall be disregarded.
(2) The provisions are section 227(1), section 230(2) and section 230(2A)."
Period of ballot's effectiveness

8. In section 234 (period after which ballot ceases to be effective) for subsection (1) there shall be substituted--
"(1) Subject to the following provisions, a ballot ceases to be effective for the purposes of section 233(3)(b) in relation to industrial action by members of a trade union at the end of the period, beginning with the date of the ballot--
(a) of four weeks, or
(b) of such longer duration not exceeding eight weeks as is agreed between the union and the members' employer."
Notice of industrial action

9.--(1) Section 234A (notice to employers of industrial action) shall be amended as follows.
(2) In subsection (3)(a) (notice relating to industrial action must describe employees intended to take part in industrial action) for "describes (so that he can readily ascertain them) the employees of the employer who" substitute "contains such information in the union's possession as would help the employer to make plans and bring information to the attention of those of his employees whom".
(3) After subsection (5) insert--
"(5A) These rules apply for the purposes of paragraph (a) of subsection (3)--
(a) if the union possesses information as to the number, category or work-place of the employees concerned, a notice must contain that information (at least);
(b) if a notice does not name any employees, that fact shall not be a ground for holding that it does not comply with paragraph (a) of subsection (3)."
(4) In subsection (7)--
(a) insert at the beginning the words "Subject to subsections (7A) and (7B),", and
(b) in paragraph (a) the words "otherwise than to enable the union to comply with a court order or an undertaking given to a court" shall cease to have effect.
(5) After subsection (7) insert--
"(7A) Subsection (7) shall not apply where industrial action ceases to be authorised or endorsed in order to enable the union to comply with a court order or an undertaking given to a court.
(7B) Subsection (7) shall not apply where--
(a) a union agrees with an employer, before industrial action ceases to be authorised or endorsed, that it will cease to be authorised or endorsed with effect from a date specified in the agreement ("the suspension date") and that it may again be authorised or endorsed with effect from a date not earlier than a date specified in the agreement ("the resumption date"),
(b) the action ceases to be authorised or endorsed with effect from the suspension date, and
(c) the action is again authorised or endorsed with effect from a date which is not earlier than the resumption date or such later date as may be agreed between the union and the employer."
(6) In subsection (9) for "subsection (7)" substitute "subsections (7) to (7B)". '.--[Mr. Byers.]

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

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