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Lord Wedderburn of Charlton: My Lords, I should like to say four things about the nature of this amendment, which has been very carefully thought about and, in fact, argued about, among the movers of it. First of all, on our express wishes, it stands alone in the groupings because it has nothing to do with most of the other amendments to Clause 1. It is nothing to do with ballots. It is nothing to do with abolishing the right to strike and so on. It stands alone and it refers to a series of defined emergencies, disasters or criseswhatever one likes to think of them aswhich have been built on a certain amount of study of previous statute. It refers to disasters which in the opinion of the Secretary of State are likely to occur, which we thought included terrorism but also a whole series of other things. We ask in the third part of the amendment for a declaration which need state only the nature of the emergency in general terms. I am happy to give way.
Lord Wedderburn of Charlton: My Lords, I am much obliged to the noble Lord. He will understand the point when he reads Hansard and will see that the amendment stands alone. It covers threats of terrorism, but a great many other things too:
The reason why the amendment contains those various elements is as follows. The Water Act 1989 gives emergency powers where there is a threat of disruption of energy. The civil contingencies Bill which the Government are gradually putting into the processes of Parliamentand which I hope will be enacted fairly soonincludes the serious threats referred to in the amendment, very carefully set out; and the position in which the use of troops is permitted is covered by the Emergency Powers Act 1964, and indeed by powers under the prerogative. Those, we thought, were proper precedents to which we could implicitly refer in building up some description of emergency. Some of us thoughtI am not sure that we all agreed on thisthat the restructuring of the fire service was for the big Bill that is to follow the White Paper, although it will be in the Government's mind. The White Paper having been published, it cannot be absent from the Government's mind and policy.
Having reached a broadly common position on those matters, we then looked with enormous care at what had been said in Grand Committeeabout which the populace at large is, unhappily, largely ignorantand at what happened in the other place, which to us is in a way the most important.
When the Bill was presented for Second Reading in another place on 8th May, my right honourable friend the Deputy Prime Minister said that he was reluctant to produce it. I want to refer to government statements in another place and in this House, because the amendment is a genuine attempt to understand the Government's position in the light of what they have said about their wishesnot from snippets; if I quote any matter which is thought not to be in context I shall be happy to read out the context. The Deputy Prime Minister said, quite naturally at the time, that although he would have preferred not to introduce the Bill,
The second position, when the Bill came to this place, was that a settlement had been reached. Government spokesmenif I may put it in this phraseaccentuated the fact, which in our view is a normal fact of life in collective industrial agreements, that a large number of matters still had to be worked out under the settlement. It would be a remarkable settlement that did not have to have matters worked out under it. The settlement referred to the procedure for doing that in the national joint council Grey Book.
I want as fairly as I can to quote what has been said by my noble friend the Minister in this connection. I shall not repeat at length the quotations cited by my noble friend Lord McCarthy. My noble friend Lord Rooker
I appreciate the point that the Minister of course had a view about the serious matter of the parties reaching an agreement of which the Government did not approve. We come to that in a later amendment. In that sense, there is a link with that later amendment but no other. Most of those passages rely on the intimation that the Government would wish to use their orders under the Bill in a crisis or emergency orto use the exact words"almost an emergency" situation. If we have got it wrong in subsection (2) of our amendment and the description of likely emergencies or forthcoming emergencies is inadequate, I will be happy to accept any manuscript amendment now from the Government, or indeed to have them put down their own form of words on Third Reading.
I think that the amendment is a fair representation of, at least, the core of the Government's position. We do not thinkwe will come to this on later amendmentsthat that being absent from the Bill is satisfactory. Nor do we think, especially in the light of a decision, to which I shall refer, in your Lordships' Judicial Committee on 10th July, that statements of Ministers as to the Government's intention, however genuine, proper, honest and straightforward, are the same as legislation. The House of Lords judicially has recently had great moment, in a constitutionally vital case, to refer to that difference. I do not go further with it now; it will come later. I support this amendment and I hope it will be taken seriously as an attempt to bridge a gap which otherwise makes the Bill a very dangerous precedent as far as industrial peace is concerned.
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