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Baroness Turner of Camden: Before the noble and learned Lord sits down, he said there would not be a significant diminution; we do not want any diminution at all.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: I apologise to the noble Baroness. I was looking for an elegant variation which clearly was not elegant. I shall stick to the terminology that is provided within the Bill and say something that is no less favourable. I shall stick with that terminology; it is probably safer.

Baroness Turner of Camden: I note what the Minister has said. As I indicated earlier, we shall withdraw these amendments and return to the matter on

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Report. In the meantime I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Turner of Camden moved Amendment No. 48:

Page 30, line 11, at end insert ("which shall include any trade unions representing any such employees.").

The noble Baroness said: In moving Amendment No. 48 I wish to speak also to Amendments Nos. 50, 54, 56, 60 and 62. This represents a kind of fallback position because we intended this option to apply if the Government did not like our preceding amendments. It provides for consultation with the unions regarding amendment to pension provision. It is a good proposition in that it allows flexibility in a way that perhaps the Government did not feel the previous amendments did. It answers the Government's objections which they made in another place that unions may unreasonably exercise a veto, as Amendment No. 50 clearly indicates that there is a case for overruling what is proposed if it is felt that there has been an unreasonable veto. That is provided for in Amendment No. 50. The Minister has indicated in his previous response that the matter would in any event be subject to negotiation with the unions representing the staff, and I hope that in those circumstances he will be prepared to write this onto the face of the Bill to indicate that that is the Government's position. I beg to move.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: I appreciate the desire of the noble Baroness to ensure that trade unions are consulted by the Secretary of State or the authority. I believe I can set her mind at rest. It is undoubtedly the case that the trade unions are persons who, under the provisions of the Bill, represent the employees. I can therefore assure the noble Baroness that all the relevant trade unions will be consulted and, accordingly, her amendments on this point are unnecessary.

Amendments Nos. 50, 56 and 62 would in effect give the unions, or indeed any other person consulted, a power of veto over the direction to be issued to allow employees to remain in the authority's pension schemes and over the shape of the new pension scheme. I have noted, too, that the noble Baroness has made a subtle change to the amendments compared with those discussed in another place.

Lord Clinton-Davis: She is just more subtle.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: Indeed, she is much more subtle. She has added the phrase,

    "unless that person has unreasonably withheld his satisfaction".

But that does not really change the effect of the amendments. What may appear to be reasonable to one person may not be to another. The amendment would be a recipe for litigation. Moreover, a person consulted may have reason to be dissatisfied with a particular aspect of a new scheme, however minor, even when it was perfectly reasonable for the Secretary of State to take the view that the benefits provided by the new scheme were overall no less favourable. This amendment would, therefore, still give those being consulted an effective power of veto unless they had no reason at all not to be dissatisfied.

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We are placing a statutory duty on the Secretary of State or the authority to be satisfied that there is a scheme which, taken as a whole, is no less favourable than the authority scheme. This duty reflects the long-standing practice of the Government. However, our intention is to reassure employees by placing it on the face of the Bill. With that explanation, I hope that the noble Baroness can withdraw her amendment.

Lord Peston: I am certain that my noble friend will withdraw the amendment but I want to make certain that I did not mishear what the Minister said. He said that where consultation with the representatives of employees is specified in the Bill, that means without a shadow of doubt the trade unions, where they exist. I think he said that, but I was not listening quite as attentively as I should. Will he confirm that that is what he said?

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: Unless I said what I did not intend to say, what I said was that it was undoubtedly the case that, under the provisions of the Bill, trade unions are persons who represent employees. Accordingly, I give the assurance to the noble Lord, which will be welcome to him, that all the relevant trade unions will be consulted. I therefore invite the noble Baroness to withdraw the amendment on the basis that it is unnecessary.

Baroness Turner of Camden: I am much obliged to the Minister for that assurance. On the basis of that assurance, I am happy to withdraw the amendment. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 49 to 62 not moved.]

Schedule 4 agreed to.

Clause 10 [Extinguishment of certain liabilities]:

[Amendments Nos. 63 and 64 not moved.]

Clause 10 agreed to.

Clause 11 [Membership of the Authority]:

[Amendments Nos. 65 and 66 not moved.]

Clause 11 agreed to.

Remaining clauses agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported without amendment.

Geneva Conventions (Amendment) Bill [H.L.]

Sale of Goods (Amendment) Bill [H.L.]

Returned from the Commons agreed to.

Insurance Companies (Reserves) Bill

Landlord and Tenant (Covenants) Bill

17 Jul 1995 : Column 103

National Health Service (Amendment) Bill

Olympic Symbol etc. (Protection) Bill

Child Support Bill

Returned from the Commons with the amendments agreed to.

17 Jul 1995 : Column 104

Criminal Appeal Bill

Returned from the Commons with certain amendments disagreed to with reasons for such disagreement and with the remaining amendments agreed to; the reasons ordered to be printed.

        House adjourned at twenty-two minutes past nine o'clock.

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