Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Lord Campbell of Alloway moved Amendment No. 44:

The noble Lord said: I move this amendment to the Long Title which is consequential on Amendment No. 1 on our first day, and, adverting to the extraordinary circumstances in which it is moved, seek leave to

14 Jul 2003 : Column GC207

withdraw it so that the same substance of this amendment may be moved on Report consequential on amendments to Clause 1 to be tabled to reflect the substance of Amendment No. 1 in Grand Committee.

As far as I am aware, and I speak subject to correction, never in time of peace or war has primary legislation of short-term effect been introduced to enable a government to introduce ad hoc measures against members of a single trade union to enable a government to impose by decree conditions of service to resolve a dispute on their own terms. The exercise of the powers or the threat of the exercise of these powers other than in a state of emergency is wholly unacceptable and the Bill is unworthy of any government.

The exercise of these powers is a matter of construction of the Bill. It is in no way dependent upon the statement of intention as to the circumstances in which they will be used unless such intentions are embodied in the Bill. This is a serious point which has been taken by three Members of the Committee already. It is the point that the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, gives his assurances in good faith, which we accept in good faith. His integrity and good faith are not in question. What is in question is whether those assurances are beside the point on due scrutiny in either House of Parliament. What one has to do is look at the Bill and see what powers it confers. Unless such intentions are embodied in the Bill, they are of no consequence.

Why then, when there is no state of emergency, take this power to exercise such threat and subvert the traditional process of collective bargaining? Why when there is the urgent need to devise some long-term union strategy to avoid disruption of our public services take a sledgehammer to discriminate against members of the fire brigades? Why engender confrontation with the trade union movement upon the support of which our economy is largely dependent?

This amendment has been accepted by the Table as not extending the Long Title, but as affording means of last resort to avoid disruption of these essential services: the retention of collective bargaining and the setting up of a mandatory arbitral tribunal independent of government for the resolution of the fire brigades dispute as the conditions of service as defined by Clause 2 of the Bill. Amendments to that effect are to be tabled on Report.

If the amendments to which I have spoken should not commend themselves to your Lordships on Report, I shall support the Motion of my noble friend Lady Hanham to leave out Clause 1, which could well be supported by noble Lords from all sides of the House and from both sides of the Grand Committee. If however it should be considered, and it could well be so, that comity as between the Houses could require that an opportunity be given to another place for consideration of these amendments to Clause 1 and other amendments, then so be it. These amendments to Clause 1 will to some extent already reflect the sense of another place on the Statement of 20th March which

14 Jul 2003 : Column GC208

heralded the introduction of the Bill; also the sense of your Lordships' House at Second Reading and, in this context, in Grand Committee.

So in any event, in the event of a terrorist attack or other state of emergency, we can count on every man in the fire brigades to do his duty by the country. On recall of Parliament, there should be appropriate measures that will be taken by statutory instrument on Order in Council.

I hope that that clarifies the position as to my approach to the Bill that will be taken on Report. If my amendments fail, I shall support the amendments of my noble friend Lady Hanham. However, that involves some consideration as to whether comity between the Houses might induce the House to prefer to consider my amendments. I beg to move.

6.15 p.m.

Lord Rooker: There is no answer to that. The noble Lord said that he would not move Amendment No. 44 as it was not needed because Amendment No. 1 had been withdrawn, or the other way round. He has moved Amendment No. 44, but it is not needed because it is consequential on an amendment that was withdrawn several days ago.

Lord Campbell of Alloway: That is not right. I had to withdraw the amendment because we are in Grand Committee.

Lord Rooker: No.

Lord Campbell of Alloway: That is why I had to withdraw it.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Brougham and Vaux): Let us return to the point. A Division has been called in the House.

[The Sitting was suspended for a Division in the House from 6.15 to 6.25 p.m.]

Lord Campbell of Alloway: I apologise to the Grand Committee; my head got rather cooked in an oven. I got to the stage that I was not able to deal with the merits of the objection of the noble Lord, Lord Rooker. I am not quite sure what it was. If I may, I should like to explain myself so that I may ask for leave to withdraw the amendment.

Those at the Table explained to me that the effect of my amendment to Clause 1(1)(a) meant that I ought to extend the Title. In the ordinary way, I could well have divided on my Amendment No. 1. However, I could not do so in Grand Committee. I therefore sought leave to withdraw Amendment No. 1. So now I am left with Charlie, so to speak, which is the Long Title, at the end of the road. I cannot divide the Grand Committee on it. So may I please have leave to withdraw the amendment so that we can deal with it on Report?

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

14 Jul 2003 : Column GC209

Lord Lea of Crondall moved Amendment No. 45:

    Line 2, at end insert "and for connected purposes"

The noble Lord said: On tabling Amendment No. 33—which deals with the operation of the 2003 agreement, and which the Minister has accepted—I was informed by the Public Bill Office that it was necessary to table this amendment as a consequential amendment. I had to do so because my Amendment No. 33 was not related to the Title regarding the powers of the Secretary of State and so on but was separate from the powers of the Secretary of State. That is why it was tabled as a new clause.

As the Minister has accepted Amendment No. 33, I was intending simply formally to move Amendment No. 45. However, I should like to know whether parliamentary counsel have advised differently and the amendment is unnecessary. As I said, the Public Bill Office informed me that it was necessary. However, I

14 Jul 2003 : Column GC210

am very happy to hear advice to the contrary and that there is no possibility that the legislation including Amendment No. 33 could fall short because of any inadequacy in the Long Title. I beg to move.

Lord Rooker: I am advised that there is no need to alter the Bill's Long Title to allow for Amendment No. 33 to be included in the Bill. My noble friend's contribution to this Bill has been enormous. Omitting to alter the Long Title will not put Amendment No. 33 at risk.

Lord Lea of Crondall: I am very glad to have that assurance on the record. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Bill reported with amendments.

        The Committee adjourned at twenty-nine minutes past six o'clock.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page