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Mr. Prisk: Will the Minister give way?

Alan Johnson: I have no time now, but I shall consider giving way later.

Michael Fabricant (Lichfield): The Minister has nine minutes.

Alan Johnson: The hon. Gentleman has not been present in the Chamber to listen to the important contributions.

Michael Fabricant: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Minister accurately said that I had not been in the Chamber, but he inaccurately suggested that I had not been following the debate. I have been following it on the Annunciator.

Mr. Speaker: That does not really count.

Alan Johnson: I knew that the hon. Gentleman was part of the "No Turning Back" group, but I did not realise that he was part of the no turning up group.

Mr. Prisk rose

Alan Johnson: I cannot give way, but I am dealing with the point that the hon. Gentleman made in the debate. He said that we were gold-plating the fixed-term directive. Conservative Front-Bench Members also made that point. Other member states already have or are expected to pass legislation to prevent pay and pensions discrimination

27 Nov 2001 : Column 929

against fixed-term employees. Laws to implement the directive in Germany and France have already been passed.

Mr. Prisk: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I have been named by the Minister but not allowed to respond. I believe that there is a convention about that.

Mr. Speaker: It is up to the Minister.

Alan Johnson: It is not called naming, but responding to a contribution. The hon. Gentleman will learn as he goes along.

My hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Central made the important point that he abhorred anti-parent rhetoric. I was surprised at the hon. Member for Maldon and East Chelmsford (Mr. Whittingdale). Of all Opposition Front-Bench Members' arguments, claiming that other employees resented the parents of small children getting maternity leave and pay and parental leave was one of the worst.

We conducted the widest consultation on the document and talked to hundreds of employees—thousands through their representatives. That issue was not raised once. No employees said that they resented parents having time off to spend with their children. Everyone has a stake in ensuring that children are raised properly. Of course people who did not have children said that they also wanted flexible working hours. That is why we have established the work-life balance initiative. It is also the reason for all our work to spread best practice in this area.

My hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Central also raised the point about the no-difference test in the employment tribunal proposals. We are saying that if an employer who has met the basic minimum standards—having a grievance and discipline procedure in the workplace and having given the employee written terms of their employment—makes a mistake on procedures beyond that, and if, in the view of the employment tribunal, that would have made no difference to the outcome of the case, it should not count against them. That seems fair. Indeed, if we do not introduce this measure, we may discourage employees from moving to the ACAS code of practice from a more complicated procedure.

The hon. Member for Bexhill and Battle (Mr. Barker) and my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South–West (Rob Marris) made important points. The important but rather esoteric point relating to the detail of the employment tribunal proposals will best be left to the Committee. My hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West made a point about the right to be accompanied, the response to which I need to read into the record. We intend that the right to be accompanied will apply to the basic grievance and discipline procedure. That needs to be understood by my hon. Friend.

The hon. Member for Caernarfon (Hywel Williams) used the case of a serious industrial dispute to score cheap political points. This Government did not, at any stage, introduce anti-trade union legislation. There has never been a case in which employees could not be sacked by an employer for taking industrial action. Employers had

27 Nov 2001 : Column 930

either to sack them all or take them all back on. That was not something that Thatcher introduced in the 1980s; it has always been the case. We introduced measures—I do not remember Plaid Cymru opposing them—to ensure that workers were protected for eight weeks, and that if the employer had made no attempt to resolve the dispute, they remained protected from dismissal. The hon. Gentleman was, therefore, quite wrong.

This has been a fascinating debate, not least because it has exposed the new approach of the Conservative Opposition to the issue of rights and responsibilities in the workplace. They were against the minimum wage; they abolished the wages councils; they refused to consider parental leave as a point of principle; they refused to sign the social chapter; and they imposed burdens on business in their vindictive and spiteful attack on free independent trade unionism.

I will give the Conservatives an example of a burden on business. They introduced the provision that every company, big or small, had to write to its employees every time it gave them a pay rise, to remind them that if they paid their union dues through check-off, they had the right to withdraw. The Conservatives insisted that every employee should be re-recruited to the union every three years. That was a burden on business, introduced for a completely different reason.

Now, after two general election drubbings and nine defeats in nine by-elections, the Conservatives have a new tack. They remain the only mainstream centre-right party in Europe to oppose basic minimum standards in the workplace, but they disguise their hostility by describing civilised standards for women on maternity leave, for adoptive parents and for parents of small children as burdens on business.

The Conservatives now manage, in the words of their reasoned amendment, to

while opposing this Second Reading. This subterfuge will be as unsuccessful as their previous attempts to block family-friendly policies.

We have aligned the rules for maternity leave and pay so that the same qualifying condition and the same notice periods apply for both. In other words, we have made it much easier for employees—and, of course, employers will also benefit from the measures. I therefore ask the House to support the Second Reading of the Bill.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 134, Noes 311.

Division No. 87
[9.59 pm


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Amess, David
Ancram, Rt Hon Michael
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Bacon, Richard
Barker, Gregory
Baron, John
Bellingham, Henry
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Brady, Graham
Browning, Mrs Angela
Burns, Simon
Butterfill, John
Cameron, David
Cash, William
Chapman, Sir Sydney
(Chipping Barnet)
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth
Clifton–Brown, Geoffrey
Collins, Tim
Conway, Derek
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cran, James
Curry, Rt Hon David
Davies, Quentin (Grantham)
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Djanogly, Jonathan
Duncan, Alan (Rutland & Melton)
Duncan, Peter (Galloway)
Evans, Nigel
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Field, Mark (Cities of London)
Flight, Howard
Flook, Adrian
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Francois, Mark
Gale, Roger
Garnier, Edward
Gibb, Nick
Goodman, Paul
Gray, James
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian (Ashford)
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Hammond, Philip
Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John
Heald, Oliver
Heathcoat–Amory, Rt Hon David
Hendry, Charles
Hoban, Mark
Hunter, Andrew
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jenkin, Bernard
Johnson, Boris (Henley)
Key, Robert
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, Rt Hon Greg (E Yorkshire)
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lansley, Andrew
Leigh, Edward
Liddell–Grainger, Ian
Lidington, David
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
McIntosh, Miss Anne
MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
Maclean, Rt Hon David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Malins, Humfrey
Maples, John
Mates, Michael
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
Mercer, Patrick
Moss, Malcolm
Murrison, Dr Andrew
Osborne, George (Tatton)
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paice, James
Paterson, Owen
Portillo, Rt Hon Michael
Prisk, Mark
Randall, John
Redwood, Rt Hon John
Robertson, Hugh (Faversham)
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Roe, Mrs Marion
Rosindell, Andrew
Ruffley, David
Sayeed, Jonathan
Selous, Andrew
Shepherd, Richard
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Keith (Mid–Norfolk)
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Spring, Richard
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Streeter, Gary
Swayne, Desmond
Swire, Hugo
Syms, Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Taylor, John (Solihull)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Tredinnick, David
Trend, Michael
Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Walter, Robert
Waterson, Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Whittingdale, John
Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Wilkinson, John
Wilshire, David
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Yeo, Tim
Young, Rt Hon Sir George

Tellers for the Ayes:

Dr. Julian Lewis and
Mrs. Cheryl Gillan.


Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Allan, Richard
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Rt Hon Donald
(Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Bailey, Adrian
Baird, Vera
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin
Beard, Nigel
Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Beggs, Roy
Benn, Hilary
Bennett, Andrew
Berry, Roger
Best, Harold
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Borrow, David
Bradley, Rt Hon Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brooke, Mrs Annette L
Brown, Rt Hon Nicholas
(Newcastle E & Wallsend)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Bryant, Chris
Burnham, Andy
Caborn, Rt Hon Richard
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Caplin, Ivor
Cawsey, Ian
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, David
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Mrs Helen (Peterborough)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cook, Rt Hon Robin (Livingston)
Corston, Jean
Cousins, Jim
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr Jack
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Cunningham, Tony (Workington)
Dalyell, Tam
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
David, Wayne
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, Rt Hon John
Dhanda, Parmjit
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, Rt Hon Frank
Donaldson, Jeffrey M
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, David
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Farrelly, Paul
Field, Rt Hon Frank (Birkenhead)
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
George, Andrew (St Ives)
George, Rt Hon Bruce (Walsall S)
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Hain, Rt Hon Peter
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hancock, Mike
Hanson, David
Havard, Dai
Healey, John
Heath, David
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hermon, Lady
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, Rt Hon Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hoey, Kate
Holmes, Paul
Hoon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, Rt Hon Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan
Hutton, Rt Hon John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Jackson, Glenda (Hampstead)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Kevan (N Durham)
Jones, Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Jowell, Rt Hon Tessa
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
Knight, Jim (S Dorset)
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Lammy, David
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Laws, David
Laxton, Bob
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Llwyd, Elfyn
Love, Andrew
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Stephen
McCartney, Rt Hon Ian
McDonnell, John
McIsaac, Shona
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNamara, Kevin
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Mandelson, Rt Hon Peter
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Martlew, Eric
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Merron, Gillian
Milburn, Rt Hon Alan
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Moffatt, Laura
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Moran, Margaret
Morley, Elliot
Morris, Rt Hon Estelle
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Olner, Bill
Organ, Diana
Owen, Albert
Paisley, Rev Ian
Palmer, Dr Nick
Pearson, Ian
Perham, Linda
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris
Pope, Greg
Powell, Sir Raymond
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Price, Adam
Primarolo, Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Pugh, Dr John
Purchase, Ken
Quin, Rt Hon Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd
Raynsford, Rt Hon Nick
Reed, Andy (Loughborough)
Robertson, Angus (Moray)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)
Robinson, Mrs Iris (Strangford)
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Rooney, Terry
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Ryan, Joan
Salmond, Alex
Salter, Martin
Sanders, Adrian
Sarwar, Mohammad
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Barry
Short, Rt Hon Clare
Simon, Siôn
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, Rt Hon John
Squire, Rachel
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr Howard
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Rt Hon Ann (Dewsbury)
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, Dr Richard (Wyre F)
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Vis, Dr Rudi
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Ms Claire
Wareing, Robert N
Watson, Tom
Watts, David
Webb, Steve
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Williams, Hywel (Caernarfon)
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wishart, Pete
Wood, Mike
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, David (Telford)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Younger–Ross, Richard

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Tony McNulty and
Mr. Nick Ainger.

Question accordingly negatived.

27 Nov 2001 : Column 933

Main Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 62 (Amendment on Second or Third Reading):—

The House divided: Ayes 307, Noes 131.

27 Nov 2001 : Column 934

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