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I find it hard to decide whether the Conservatives just pick and choose their human rights. The hon. Member for Beverley and Holderness (Mr. Stuart) appeared to compare the BNP’s racist ideology with communism. There is no comparison between the threat to individuals’ welfare, in the workplace or outside, posed by the racist ideology of parties such as the BNP and any such threat from the ideology of communists, however much the hon. Gentleman may disagree with that. That is why although my sympathies, as a member of the British Medical Association, which is as close as I can get to being a member of a trade union in my profession, are
4 Nov 2008 : Column 211
entirely with the trade union movement in terms of its perspective, my sympathies and support are also with the Government on the wording of their clause.

8.45 pm

Mr. McFadden: Although I wish to concentrate on new clause 6, let me first speak briefly to new clause 4. I agree that environmental representatives are a valuable and relatively new development. Their emergence shows that unions are seeking to develop new services for their members, and trade unions have a valid and legitimate voice on this agenda. I also believe that that voice can contribute significantly to business success. My Department is producing a joint statement with the TUC and the CBI, which will focus on the benefits that lay union representatives can bring to the workplace. That statement will incorporate case study research, and we plan to publish it early next year. The issue in question is whether to place these representatives on a statutory footing. Members may not be too surprised to learn that I believe it is premature to do so, but I welcome their development, and I encourage ACAS and environmental quality representatives to work on guidance in this area.

Let me turn to new clause 6 and clause 19. Clause 19 seeks to amend section 174 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 to bring UK law into line with the European Court of Human Rights judgment in the ASLEF v. UK case. That is our intention, not the introduction of wider reform of trade union law.

I would like to begin by setting out the motivations behind the clause and its intentions. As my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Central (Tony Lloyd) and other Members have pointed out, the case that gave rise to this clause was about a trade union that desired to expel a British National party member. Abhorrence of the BNP is widely shared in this House, and many of us, myself included, have campaigned against it and will continue to do so. This clause was debated for many hours in the other place, and it was discussed for longer than any other in Committee as well; it has, in fact, been discussed more than any other clause. That is understandable because although the case that gave rise to the clause was about the BNP, as Members have pointed out the provision in question does not mention the BNP and is a more general power to expel or exclude people from trade unions on grounds of membership of a political party. There is an important point here, because Members have raised the issue of conduct, and I want to make it clear to the House that expulsion on grounds of political conduct was already legal before the ASLEF judgment. The change the ASLEF judgment made was, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Makerfield (Mr. McCartney) has pointed out, to say that our law was incompatible with article 11 of the European convention on human rights on freedom of association, precisely because it did not have these rights of expulsion on grounds of membership of a political party.

Anne Moffat (East Lothian) (Lab): My union has the ability, on the basis of behaviour, to expel people by means of the rule book if they do not abide by the rules, but does my hon. Friend agree that, although these are
4 Nov 2008 : Column 212
two different sets of law, it is a fair and reasonable comparison to say that we can prevent people from coming into this country and expel them from the country on the grounds of religious hatred, but we cannot expel people from a trade union on the grounds of racial hatred?

Mr. McFadden: Provided that certain processes are followed and certain safeguards are kept to, the Bill will give unions the ability to expel people on grounds of membership of a political party.

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North) (Lab): Two hon. Members have justified clause 19, as the Minister will do. The GMB, of which I am a long-standing member, has sent us a note on various items. Its general secretary, who presumably knows what he is talking about, states:

He goes on to say that it will provide BNP members with

That is why new clause 6, although I understand all its difficulties, is a better route to take to exclude the sort of people that unions want to exclude than clause 19.

Mr. McFadden: I cannot accept the verdict that my hon. Friend read out, which says that clause 19 is totally inadequate. The ECHR judgment centred on balancing individual freedoms with freedom of association as set out in article 11 and found that, against that backdrop, our law, as it stands, was not compatible with article 11. It did balance those things, because it said:

The judgment went on to say that

It continued:

Rob Marris: May I caution my hon. Friend and neighbour in interpreting that judgment and backing clause 19? Clauses 1 and 2 seek to get rid of the statutory dispute resolution procedure, which was introduced by the Employment Act 2002. When that legislation was going through Parliament—I was on the Standing Committee that considered it—many of us cautioned that it was completely unworkable, as it has proved to be. I issue the same caution to my hon. Friend tonight: clause 19 is unworkable.

4 Nov 2008 : Column 213

Mr. McFadden: I thank my hon. Friend for his intervention, but I do not believe the clause is unworkable. If he allows me to develop the point, I will talk about the safeguards that we have built in and the proposals to which we have listened in the debate on this matter.

As has been said, when we consulted on changing the law in this regard, we canvassed two options, both of which introduced changes relating to the particular part of section 174 that deals with political party membership. When we introduced the Bill, we thought that the more deregulatory option A was the better approach to follow. As has been mentioned, in subsequent debate in the other place, when strong representations were made by Lord Morris of Handsworth and others, and in the deliberations of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, a strong case was made for more safeguards against potential abuse.

Hon. Members have cited the Joint Committee’s report. It said that expulsions should be permitted if


It made a reference to the union’s rules not being “wholly unreasonable”, but went on to say that that

It therefore did not press that point.

Hon. Members may say that in all those representations a judgment is made about the clause as it stands. Let me lay to rest some misconceptions about the changes that we have made to the clause. It is certainly not the case that the Government are somehow refusing to legislate in line with the judgment; we believe that it is right to legislate in line with the judgment. Members can be expelled on grounds of political conduct, but we are now talking about membership of political parties. It is not the case—as has been reported, including today—that the changes will mean automatic compensation for those expelled or excluded. If trade unions act in line with the clause, compensation will not be necessary.

Lord Morris took part in the debate on the clause, as amended, and concluded:

I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Central that the question is not whether we legislate in line with the European convention on human rights, but how we do so. Clause 19 is compatible with the convention, especially given that we are not dealing specifically with the BNP—legislation must be applicable to all members of the public.

New clause 6 proposes a third way—if my hon. Friend will forgive me for putting it like that—on top of our two options. It would delete clause 19 and repeal section 174 and related sections of the 1992 Act. The Court did not examine section 174 more widely, but focused heavily on the particular facts of the case,
4 Nov 2008 : Column 214
which concerned the expelled member’s political party membership and its compatibility with the union’s rules and political orientation. I appreciate my hon. Friend’s intentions, and I agree that we have a shared objective, but the Government do not think it necessary to extrapolate the Court’s reasoning in the way that new clause 6 does in order to legislate in line with the judgment.

My hon. Friend asked whether ASLEF could have expelled Mr. Lee under clause 19. I repeat that clause 19 does not mean that names of political parties have to be specified in the rule book. The important question is whether a trade union can use clause 19, and the procedures built into it, to expel or exclude members. It sets out a process whereby unions can act in line with the judgment. Amendments Nos. 10 and 11 would restrict the operation of the clause too much. How is a union to check exactly how many months a person has been a member of a political party?

When the Conservative party was in government, it introduced legislation on the rights of political parties, but did not produce the definition that Conservative Members are calling for tonight. How is a union supposed to police registration systems around the world? We intend to legislate in line with the judgment in a way that trade unions can use, but we do not intend to restrict that so much that the legislation is impossible to operate in practice. For that reason, if the Opposition press their amendments, I shall ask my colleagues to resist them. On clause 19, the Government have listened and responded to points that have been made. It is the best way to operate.

Tony Lloyd: The Minister has made his case. I know that the Bill will be passed unamended tonight, because there is not the strength to do otherwise. Will he give us an absolute guarantee that he will keep the legislation under review? We share the same objectives. What is important is that the Bill is effective in achieving them.

Mr. McFadden: Of course, as with all legislation, we will monitor how the Bill operates, but we believe that this is the right way forward.

Question put and negatived.

Clause 19

Exclusion or expulsion from trade union for membership of a political party

Amendment proposed: No. 10, page 18, line 15, at end add—

‘(4) In section 177 (interpretation and other supplementary provision), after subsection (2) there is inserted—

“(2A) For the purposes of section 174 an individual will only be considered to be a member of a political party if for the 12 months prior to the date of an individual’s application for membership of the trade union or at any point thereafter that individual is registered with the political party as a member.”’.— [Mr. Djanogly.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:——

The House proceeded to a Division.

Madam Deputy Speaker: I ask the Serjeant at Arms to investigate the delay in the No Lobby.

4 Nov 2008 : Column 215

The House having divided: Ayes 147, Noes 322.
Division No. 310]
[9 pm


Afriyie, Adam
Ainsworth, Mr. Peter
Amess, Mr. David
Arbuthnot, rh Mr. James
Atkinson, Mr. Peter
Bacon, Mr. Richard
Baldry, Tony
Barker, Gregory
Baron, Mr. John
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Binley, Mr. Brian
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Bone, Mr. Peter
Boswell, Mr. Tim
Bottomley, Peter
Brady, Mr. Graham
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Burns, Mr. Simon
Burrowes, Mr. David
Butterfill, Sir John
Campbell, Mr. Gregory
Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Chope, Mr. Christopher
Clappison, Mr. James
Clarke, rh Mr. Kenneth
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cox, Mr. Geoffrey
Crabb, Mr. Stephen
Curry, rh Mr. David
Davies, Philip
Davis, rh David
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Dorrell, rh Mr. Stephen
Dorries, Mrs. Nadine
Duncan Smith, rh Mr. Iain
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Ellwood, Mr. Tobias
Evans, Mr. Nigel
Evennett, Mr. David
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Mr. Michael
Field, Mr. Mark
Francois, Mr. Mark
Fraser, Christopher
Gale, Mr. Roger
Garnier, Mr. Edward
Gauke, Mr. David
Gibb, Mr. Nick
Gidley, Sandra
Gillan, Mrs. Cheryl
Goodman, Mr. Paul
Gove, Michael
Gray, Mr. James
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian
Greening, Justine
Greenway, Mr. John
Gummer, rh Mr. John
Hague, rh Mr. William
Hammond, Stephen
Hands, Mr. Greg
Harper, Mr. Mark
Hayes, Mr. John
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Heathcoat-Amory, rh Mr. David
Hendry, Charles
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Holloway, Mr. Adam
Horam, Mr. John
Howarth, Mr. Gerald
Howell, John
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Jones, Mr. David
Kawczynski, Daniel
Key, Robert
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Laing, Mrs. Eleanor
Lansley, Mr. Andrew
Liddell-Grainger, Mr. Ian
Lidington, Mr. David
Lilley, rh Mr. Peter
Loughton, Tim
Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
Maclean, rh David
Main, Anne
Malins, Mr. Humfrey
Maples, Mr. John
McCrea, Dr. William
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
Mercer, Patrick
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Milton, Anne
Moss, Mr. Malcolm
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Neill, Robert
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
O'Brien, Mr. Stephen
Ottaway, Richard
Paice, Mr. James
Paterson, Mr. Owen
Penning, Mike
Penrose, John
Prisk, Mr. Mark
Pritchard, Mark
Randall, Mr. John
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Hugh
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Robinson, Mrs. Iris
Scott, Mr. Lee
Selous, Andrew
Shepherd, Mr. Richard
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, David
Simpson, Mr. Keith
Soames, Mr. Nicholas
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Spring, Mr. Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Steen, Mr. Anthony
Streeter, Mr. Gary
Stuart, Mr. Graham
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Syms, Mr. Robert
Taylor, Mr. Ian
Timpson, Mr. Edward

Turner, Mr. Andrew
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Villiers, Mrs. Theresa
Wallace, Mr. Ben
Waterson, Mr. Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Wilson, Sammy
Winterton, Ann
Winterton, Sir Nicholas
Yeo, Mr. Tim
Young, rh Sir George
Tellers for the Ayes:

James Duddridge and
Jeremy Wright

Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Alexander, rh Mr. Douglas
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Janet
Armstrong, rh Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, Mr. Ian
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera
Baker, Norman
Balls, rh Ed
Barlow, Ms Celia
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Battle, rh John
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, rh Margaret
Bell, Sir Stuart
Benn, rh Hilary
Benton, Mr. Joe
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blears, rh Hazel
Blunkett, rh Mr. David
Brake, Tom
Brennan, Kevin
Brooke, Annette
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Browne, rh Des
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burnham, rh Andy
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Burt, Lorely
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byers, rh Mr. Stephen
Byrne, rh Mr. Liam
Caborn, rh Mr. Richard
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Campbell, Mr. Ronnie
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Ms Katy
Clark, Paul
Clarke, rh Mr. Charles
Clelland, Mr. David
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank
Cooper, Rosie
Cooper, rh Yvette
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cousins, Jim
Crausby, Mr. David
Creagh, Mary
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs. Claire
Darling, rh Mr. Alistair
David, Mr. Wayne
Davies, Mr. Dai
Davies, Mr. Quentin
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Dowd, Jim
Drew, Mr. David
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Engel, Natascha
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Farrelly, Paul
Farron, Tim
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, rh Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, Andrew
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Goggins, Paul
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Grogan, Mr. John
Gwynne, Andrew
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Harman, rh Ms Harriet

Harris, Dr. Evan
Havard, Mr. Dai
Healey, John
Hemming, John
Henderson, Mr. Doug
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hoey, Kate
Holmes, Paul
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Howarth, David
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Howells, Dr. Kim
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Hughes, rh Beverley
Hughes, Simon
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hutton, rh Mr. John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Ingram, rh Mr. Adam
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Lynne
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Kelly, rh Ruth
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Kennedy, rh Jane
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Knight, Jim
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Lammy, Mr. David
Laws, Mr. David
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Leech, Mr. John
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn
Love, Mr. Andrew
Mackinlay, Andrew
MacNeil, Mr. Angus
Mactaggart, Fiona
Mahmood, Mr. Khalid
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Marshall-Andrews, Mr. Robert
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Chris
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McCartney, rh Mr. Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, John
McFadden, Mr. Pat
McGrady, Mr. Eddie
McIsaac, Shona
McKenna, Rosemary
McNulty, rh Mr. Tony
Meacher, rh Mr. Michael
Meale, Mr. Alan
Michael, rh Alun
Miliband, rh Edward
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Mr. Austin
Moffat, Anne
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Moore, Mr. Michael
Moran, Margaret
Morley, rh Mr. Elliot
Mudie, Mr. George
Mulholland, Greg
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Murphy, Mr. Denis
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
O'Hara, Mr. Edward
Oaten, Mr. Mark
Olner, Mr. Bill
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, Sandra
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pope, Mr. Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Prescott, rh Mr. John
Price, Adam
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Pugh, Dr. John
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Purnell, rh James
Rammell, Bill
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reid, Mr. Alan
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robertson, John
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Rogerson, Dan
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Rowen, Paul
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Bob
Russell, Christine
Ryan, rh Joan
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Seabeck, Alison
Sharma, Mr. Virendra
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Mr. Barry

Sheridan, Jim
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Simpson, Alan
Singh, Mr. Marsha
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andy
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, Sir Robert
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stewart, Ian
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Stunell, Andrew
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, David
Taylor, Matthew
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek
Ussher, Kitty
Vaz, rh Keith
Walley, Joan
Waltho, Lynda
Ward, Claire
Wareing, Mr. Robert N.
Watson, Mr. Tom
Watts, Mr. Dave
Webb, Steve
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Williams, Hywel
Williams, Mark
Williams, Mr. Roger
Williams, Stephen
Willott, Jenny
Wilson, Phil
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Wishart, Pete
Woodward, rh Mr. Shaun
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, Dr. Tony
Wyatt, Derek
Younger-Ross, Richard
Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Bob Blizzard and
Ian Lucas
Question accordingly negatived.
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