Employment Relations Bill — Collective Bargaining: Recognition — 26 Jul 1999

Oliver Letwin MP, West Dorset voted in the minority (No).

Lords amendments further considered.

Lords amendment No. 21 agreed to.

Lords amendment: No. 22, after clause 27, to insert the following new clause-- Employment rights: employment outside Great Britain --

I beg to move, That this House agrees with the Lords in the said amendment.

Madam Speaker:

With this, it will be convenient to take Lords amendments Nos. 306, 325 and 329.

Lords amendment agreed to.

Lords amendment No. 23 agreed to.

Lords amendment: No. 24, after clause 32, to insert the following new clause-- Transfer of undertakings --

I beg to move, That this House agrees with the Lords in the said amendment.

We indicated in our "Fairness at Work" White Paper our intention to revise the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981--commonly known as the TUPE regulations--to improve their operation. These regulations implement the European Communities acquired rights directive, and safeguard employees' rights when the business in which they work changes hands between employers.

Since the White Paper was published, we have agreed with our European partners a new, improved directive: that was a notable success for the UK presidency last year. The new directive sets out for the first time an explicit definition of the transfer of an undertaking. It also gives member states clear options to allow, but not require, independent workers' representatives to negotiate changes to terms and conditions to save jobs when the undertaking of an insolvent employer is transferred, just as they can in cases of insolvency when no transfer is involved; to provide that the transferor's outstanding debts in relation to the employees do not pass to the transferee, so as to save jobs when the undertaking of an insolvent employer is transferred; to ensure that the transferor notifies the transferee of all the rights and obligations that will be transferred in a relevant transfer so far as they are or should be known to the transferor; and to include all occupational pension rights within the terms and conditions that pass from the transferor to the transferee in a relevant transfer.

The amendment of the directive has laid the groundwork for our revision of the regulations. Officials in my Department are currently drawing up detailed proposals, in liaison with colleagues elsewhere in Whitehall and in informal discussions with the main employer and employee representative bodies and other outside interests, in line with social partnership principles. I am grateful for the constructive contribution that the Confederation of British Industry, the Trades Union Congress and others have made to this process.

There is a high degree of consensus on the main issues to be addressed in the revision of the regulations. That is particularly so in the area of public sector contracting, where we have been assisted by the TUPE forum, which is a representative body with members from the CBI, the TUC, Unison, the Construction Confederation, the Business Services Association, the Local Government Management Board, the Association of Direct Labour Organisations and others.

Our aim is to seek views on our detailed proposals by way of a formal public consultation document to be published a little later in the year, and to have the new requirements in place by next spring.

As this work has progressed, however, it has become clear that some of the changes that we may decide to make could not be achieved under the existing powers in section 2(2) of the European Communities Act 1972. In particular, extending the scope so as to give rights to individuals when they would not have them under the directive could not be done under those existing powers. That limits the options available for tackling two major areas of uncertainty in the regulations: their application to contracting-out operations and their application to transfers involving public sector bodies.

26 Jul 1999 : Column 34

Lords amendment agreed to .

Lords amendments Nos. 25 to 31 agreed to.

Lords amendment: No. 32, in page 17, leave out lines 25 to 29 and insert--

("2A.--(1) This paragraph applies for the purposes of this Part of this Schedule.

(2) The meaning of collective bargaining given by section 178(1) shall not apply.

(3) References to collective bargaining are to negotiations relating to pay, hours and holidays; but this has effect subject to sub-paragraph (4).

(4) If the parties agree matters as the subject of collective bargaining, references to collective bargaining are to negotiations relating to the agreed matters; and this is the case whether the agreement is made before or after the time when the CAC issues a declaration, or the parties agree, that the union is (or unions are) entitled to conduct collective bargaining on behalf of a bargaining unit.

(5) Sub-paragraph (4) does not apply in construing paragraph 27(3).

(6) Sub-paragraphs (2) to (5) do not apply in construing paragraph 30 or 36B.")

I beg to move, That this House agrees with the Lords in the said amendment.

Madam Speaker:

With this, it will be convenient to discuss Lords amendments Nos. 72 to 74, 109, 110 and 198.

Every time I say, "I beg to move," someone shouts.

The purpose of amendment No. 32 is to clarify the scope of collective bargaining and how it may be altered. We wanted it to be absolutely clear that, even if the Central Arbitration Committee issues a declaration of recognition, the union and employer could agree to alter the scope of collective bargaining to include other matters than pay, hours and holidays.

Similarly, amendment No. 198 clarifies the scope of collective bargaining in part III of the schedule by introducing a paragraph 70B. New paragraph 70C allows the parties to vary a bargaining method imposed by the CAC under part III. That mirrors the existing provision in paragraph 27 for bargaining methods imposed under part I.

I turn to the issue of whether a union should be required to give up an existing collective bargaining agreement to apply for recognition under part I. The CAC is required to reject applications for recognition in a bargaining unit if any union, including the applicant union, is already recognised to conduct collective bargaining on behalf of one, or more workers in the bargaining unit. One effect of that is to require a union that has a very limited, but possibly long-standing recognition agreement covering the union's role in disciplinary matters, for example, to give up that recognition to apply for statutory recognition under part I.

We do not believe that recognition for what might be called "non-core" issues should bar the union from seeking recognition through the procedure for pay, hours and holidays, if both the employer and union are happy for recognition to continue. The union should be able to seek recognition on the "core" issues of pay, hours and holidays without being forced first to tear up an existing agreement.

Therefore, amendment No. 73 provides that a voluntary agreement that does not include bargaining about pay, hours or holidays does not bar the recognised union from applying under part I. The employer will, of course, still be able to terminate the voluntary agreement if he or she wishes. It may be that an employer, faced with an application for recognition on pay and so on, wishes to renegotiate on the matters for which he already recognises the union. The Government's amendment allows that.

Amendment No. 72 is a technical change to the wording. Amendment No. 74 ensures that changes to a bargaining unit made by the CAC under part III are taken into account in deciding whether another unit is recognised.

26 Jul 1999 : Column 37

Lords amendment agreed to .

Lords amendment: No. 33, in page 18, line 12, leave out from ("registered") to end of line 14 and insert

("in the register maintained under section 8 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 shall be treated as ordinarily working in Great Britain unless--

(a) the ship's entry in the register specifies a port outside Great Britain as the port to which the vessel is to be treated as belonging,")

I beg to move, That this House agrees with the Lords in the said amendment.

Madam Speaker:

With this, it will be convenient to discuss Lords amendments Nos. 34, 38, 41, 45, 48, 57, 62, 65, 67 to 69, 75, 78, 85, 88, 90, 100, 101, 105, 107, 108, 111, 113, 114, 128, 133, 136, 139, 145, 147 to 149, 188, 205, 208 to 210, 213, 215, 216, 219, 224, 225, 231, 234, 235, 241, 244 to 246, 251 to 253, 256, 257, 259, 261, 267, 268, 274 to 277 and 279.

Lords amendment agreed to.

Lords amendment No. 34 agreed to.

Lords amendment: No. 35, in page 18, line 40, leave out ("in the second period")

I beg to move, That this House agrees with the Lords in the said amendment.

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

With this it will be convenient to discuss Lords amendments Nos. 36, 37, 39, 40, 42 to 44, 46, 47, 49 to 52, 64, 66, 70, 71, 76, 77, 80 to 84, 86, 87, 91 to 99, 102 to 104, 106, 112, 120, 155, 173, 175,

Question put, That this House agrees with the Lords in the said amendment:--

The House divided: Ayes 350, Noes 121.

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Party Summary

Votes by party, red entries are votes against the majority for that party.

What is Tell? '+1 tell' means that in addition one member of that party was a teller for that division lobby.

What are Boths? An MP can vote both aye and no in the same division. The boths page explains this.

What is Turnout? This is measured against the total membership of the party at the time of the vote.

PartyMajority (Aye)Minority (No)BothTurnout
Con0 120 (+2 tell)075.3%
Independent1 0050.0%
Lab316 (+2 tell) 0076.4%
LDem27 0058.7%
PC1 0025.0%
SNP2 0033.3%
UUP2 1030.0%
Total:349 121073.4%

Rebel Voters - sorted by party

MPs for which their vote in this division differed from the majority vote of their party. You can see all votes in this division, or every eligible MP who could have voted in this division

Sort by: Name | Constituency | Party | Vote

NameConstituencyPartyVote
Mr Clifford ForsytheSouth AntrimUUPno

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