Employment Bill

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Mr. Hammond: The Minister has not made a case against the amendment. It is not correct to say that a provision that says that approval is required but may not be unreasonably withheld or delayed is an effective veto. It is not an effective veto. If the Minister talks to any of his hon. Friends who are lawyers and used to working with the phrase

    ''not to be unreasonably withheld or delayed'',

he will discover that it is a fairly high hurdle.

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We do not think that it is unreasonable if the purpose of the Bill is as the Government have set it out—to give the employer a small voice in the identity of the learning rep who is being appointed. He is not a negotiator like a shop steward, in the case of whom the employer would have a clear interest in selecting someone who might be inappropriate—a poodle—to negotiate with. The employer would have no interest in selecting someone who would not be a good promoter of training and upskilling. There is no danger from accepting the amendment.

The Minister, who has been answering the Committee's questions for a relatively short time but who seems to be a reasonable sort of person, does not sound as if he even wants to listen to the arguments and the reasoning behind the amendments. I have to conclude that that is because he is not in control of this agenda. This agenda has been dictated to the Government by those who paid for their election campaign last year. This is pay-back time. I am speaking to the Minister, but I am hearing his prepared brief. I have no perception that he is addressing, absorbing or dealing with the points that underlie our amendments. Therefore, I shall have to urge my hon. Friends to support the amendment in a Division.

Mr. Lloyd: I felt emboldened to rise briefly. I simply want to place on the record my appreciation of the Minister's robust response, but I also appreciated this

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return to the ranting days of the Tory party. This Tory party is so out of touch with modern Britain, having lost two elections, that everything with the word ''union'' in it is anathema. It seeks so to bedevil industrial relations that it wants to drive a wedge between good employer and good trade union. It is the language of the past. For those reasons I can only applaud my hon. Friend the Minister for his response.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 5, Noes 12.

Division No. 4]

Hammond, Mr. Philip
Hendry, Mr. Charles
Osborne, Mr. George
Prisk, Mr. Mark
Simmonds, Mr. Mark

Healey, John
Hughes, Mr. Kevin
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Lamb, Norman
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lloyd, Mr. Tony
Mallaber, Judy
Marris, Rob
Pearson,Mr. Ian
Tami, Mark
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Williams, Hywel

Question accordingly negatived.

Further consideration adjourned.—[Mr. Pearson.]

Adjourned accordingly at seven minutes past Five o'clock until Tuesday 22 January at half-past Ten o'clock.

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The following Members attended the Committee:
Conway, Mr. Derek (Chairman)
Hammond, Mr.
Healey, John
Hendry, Mr.
Hughes, Mr. Kevin
Humble, Mrs.
Johnson, Alan
Lamb, Norman
Laxton, Mr.
Lloyd, Mr.
Mallaber, Judy

Column Number: 512

Marris, Rob
Osborne, Mr. George
Pearson, Mr.
Prisk, Mr.
Simmonds, Mr.
Smith, Geraldine
Tami, Mark
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Williams, Hywel

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Prepared 17 January 2002