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Earl Howe: I confess that I, too, had difficulty with this part of the Bill and I am grateful to the noble Lord for tabling this amendment. If he chooses to press it, then I am prepared to accept it, because I can find little in the way of argument for retaining this paragraph in the Bill. In fact, it is a hangover from the 1907 legislation and, as far as I am aware, is no longer required.

Lord Williams of Elvel: I am very grateful to the noble Earl and, in the spirit of mutual bafflement, I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 47 not moved]

Clause 116, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 117 [Compensation of displaced employees]:

On Question, Whether Clause 117 shall stand part of the Bill?

Baroness Turner: This clause relates to compensation of displaced employees and I have to say that I am not happy about this clause. Perhaps the Minister can explain precisely why it is necessary. Presumably the persons employed by the association are civilian employees. There is already legislation in place which offers some protection to employees in the event of redundancy through wind-up or other causes. If there is a takeover or merger, what are commonly known as

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the TUPE regulations, dealing with the transfer of employment, apply and under them an employee whose employment disappears because of a transfer or merger, must be offered the same terms and conditions of employment as formerly.

The clause we are talking about allows the Secretary of State to make regulations which presumably could differ from the terms available to other civilian employees in what one might term "normal employment". There are, moreover, rights not to be unfairly dismissed, rights in regard to the minimum period of notice, and so on. The clause further states that regulations,

    "shall be made by statutory instrument which shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament".

Again, if we are talking about civilian employees, I question why that is necessary. I would not like anything to go onto the statute book which looked as though employees could be treated differently and possibly less well, just because they worked for an association. These associations can be wound up and perhaps merged with others, and there are specific protections for ordinary employees in such circumstances. While protection is not as strong as some of us would wish, at least it is there and it gives some sort of guarantee to civilian employees. No such guarantees exist in this clause. We seem here to be entirely dependent upon what the Secretary of State may, in his wisdom, decide to include in regulations to put before each House.

I would be grateful, therefore, if the Minister would tell us a little more about what is intended here because I would not want a worsening of conditions for such employees.

5.30 p.m.

Earl Howe: I have listened carefully to the points made by the noble Baroness and I am sure it would be helpful to her if, first, I give some background to the clause.

The clause substantially reproduces Section 129 of the Reserve Forces Act 1980. It provides statutory authority for regulations to be made governing the compensation of the employees of associations or the Council of TAVRAs who are made redundant or suffer a pay cut as a result of the closure, or proposed closure, of an association, or of a change in the activities or area for which an association is responsible. It also provides statutory authority for the Secretary of State to make payments.

I can reassure the noble Baroness that the provisions in this clause do not reduce the statutory rights of individuals. Indeed, I do not believe that the clause as drafted would permit the making of regulations which attempted to do so. TAVRA employees are covered by employment law in exactly the same way as other Crown Servants. Their terms and conditions of service are broadly similar to those of civil servants.

The noble Baroness may wish to know that the current regulations provide for, among other benefits, the annual payment of a sum of one-sixtieth of salary

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multiplied by the number of years of reckonable service, and this is payable from the date of redundancy until normal retirement age.

That the payments are more generous than the statutory minimum is shown by the fact that the regulations provide for any payment to be reduced by the amount of any statutory compensation payable.

I hope that, with those remarks, I have been able to reassure the noble Baroness about the purpose of the clause, and that she will feel completely comfortable that there is no question of TAVRA employees being disadvantaged by virtue of it.

Baroness Turner of Camden: I am grateful to the Minister for his explanation which will now go on the record. Certainly we on this side are happy with his assurance that the employees concerned will in no way be disadvantaged. In fact, from what he says it seems that they will be slightly advantaged.

Clause 117 agreed to.

Clauses 118 to 120 agreed to.

Clause 121 [Safeguard of employment for members of reserve forces]:

Baroness Turner of Camden moved Amendment No. 48:

Page 63, line 34, at end insert--
("( ) After section 1, there shall be inserted--
"Obligation not to discriminate.
1A.--(1) It is unlawful for a person, in relation to employment by him at an establishment in Great Britain, to discriminate against another on the grounds that he is or may become a member of the Reserve Forces of the Crown--
(a) in the arrangements he makes for the purpose of determining who should be offered that employment; or
(b) in the terms on which he offers him that employment; or
(c) by refusing or deliberately omitting to offer him that employment.
(2) It is unlawful for a person to discriminate against a person employed by him at an establishment in Great Britain, on the grounds that that employee is or may become a member of the Reserve Forces of the Crown--
(a) in the terms of employment which he affords him; or
(b) in the way he affords him access to opportunities for promotion, transfer or training, or to any other benefits, facilities to services, or by refusing or deliberately omitting to afford him access to them; or
(c) by dismissing him, or subjecting him to any other detriment.
(3) Subsection (2) does not apply to benefits, facilities or services of any description if the employer is concerned with the provision (for payment or not) of benefits, facilities or services of that description to the public, or to a section of the public comprising the employee in question, unless--
(a) that provision differs in a material respect from the provision of the benefits, facilities or services by the employer to his employee; or
(b) the provision of the benefits, facilities or services to the employee in question is regulated by his contract of employment; or
(c) the benefits, facilities or services relate to training.".").

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The noble Baroness said: This amendment seeks to extend Clause 121 of the Bill, which contains provisions of the Reserve Forces (Safeguard of Employment) Act 1985. The Act deals with the rights of reservists who have been called up to full time service to be re-employed. The amendment proposes the incorporation of a new section in the 1985 Act, rendering it unlawful to discriminate in the field of employment on the grounds of membership, or potential membership, of the reserve forces.

Why do we think it necessary for that to be done? The Bill does not impose a statutory duty on employers to permit employees to join the reserves and to fulfil their training and employment obligations. We are advised that this is particularly true of, for example, NHS Trusts. Despite assurances that the majority of trusts make provision for their employees to participate in volunteer reserve forces training, it would appear there are trusts which are reluctant to allow, for example, key medical personnel to do so. Some trusts are issuing contracts which do not permit medical staff to join the reservists and it is feared that the competitive nature of the internal market in the NHS is likely to lead to an increase in the number of trusts which do just that. It is one example which has been brought to our attention by the BMA.

We hope therefore that the Minister will feel able to accept this amendment or, if he does not like its wording, that he will at least produce something rather similar in order to cover the set of circumstances which has been brought to our attention. I beg to move.

Lord Redesdale: I wish to speak to this amendment because I believe it goes to the heart of the Bill. The Bill will stand or fall in practice on how it is perceived, not just on the way it is drafted. It will be very difficult--I speak as someone who has attempted recruiting--to recruit people if they believe that they will be discriminated against in the workplace. The discrimination may not take place, but if people believe that they are under some disadvantage in joining the Territorial Army, it will make the job of recruiting that much harder. One of the purposes of the Bill is to increase retention in the Territorial Army. Without a degree of safeguard, people might feel unable to join.

I realise that the Minister may not wish to take the amendment as it stands, but I hope he can give some assurance that he will look into the matter.

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