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Page 20, line 14, after ("day") insert ("after that on which")

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 18:

Page 20, line 40, after ("is") insert ("made in accordance with paragraph 10 or 11 and")

The noble Lord said: In moving the amendment, I speak also to Amendments Nos. 19, 20, 24, 59, 62, 63, 65 to 68, 70, 79, 85, 175 to 177, 195 to 200.

These purely technical amendments clarify the procedure for the scrutiny of applications by the CAC. They ensure that applications to the CAC must be made in accordance with the relevant parts of the schedule.

Amendments Nos. 18, 19 and 20 deal with applications for recognition, which are required to pass the preliminary tests in paragraphs 28 to 36 inclusive. They require the application to be in accordance with paragraph 10 or 11. Paragraph 10 relates to when the employer rejects the request and paragraph 11 relates to when negotiations fail. In other words, the CAC must be sure that the negotiation process in those paragraphs has been followed. Amendments Nos. 198, 199 and 200 do the equivalent for the derecognition procedure. Amendments Nos. 59, 63, 65 to 68 and 70 make it clear that the preliminary tests apply to an application to the CAC under paragraph 10 or 11 and not, for example, the union's application under paragraph 3.

Amendment No. 62 corrects an oversight: it deals with the case where two or more unions are jointly recognised. The present draft deals only with a single union.

Amendment No. 79 is a clarification of paragraphs 41(2) and 41(3), and Amendment No. 85 corrects a "typo". Amendments Nos. 175, 176, 196 and 197 all remove superfluous uses of "to the CAC".

Amendment No. 177 is to ensure consistency with the parallel provision in paragraph 14(5). Amendment No. 195 provides that a failure to respond to a proposal of ACAS arbitration within 10 working days has the same effect as a refusal. This is to ensure consistency with paragraph 11(5).

All of the amendments make modest and, I hope, unobjectionable improvements to the schedule. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

7 Jun 1999 : Column 1185

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendments Nos. 19 and 20:

Page 20, line 43, at end insert ("made in accordance with paragraph 10 or 11 or is not")
Page 21, line 1, after second ("is") insert ("made in accordance with paragraph 10 or 11 and is")

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 21:

Page 21, line 6, after ("day") insert ("after that on which")

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 22:

Page 21, line 9, at end insert--

("Withdrawal of application

14A.--(1) If an application under paragraph 10 or 11 is accepted by the CAC, the union (or unions) may not withdraw the application--
(a) after the CAC issues a declaration under paragraph 19(2), or
(b) after the union (or the last of the unions) receives notice under paragraph 19(3) or 20(2).
(2) If an application is withdrawn by the union (or unions)--
(a) the CAC must give notice of the withdrawal to the employer, and
(b) no further steps are to be taken under this Part of this Schedule.")

The noble Lord said: In moving the amendment, I speak also to Amendments Nos. 27, 29, 30, 31, 32, 37, 38, 42, 158, 207 and 208.

A major principle underlying the recognition procedures is the desirability of voluntary agreements. An implication of this principle is that it should usually be possible to withdraw an application to the CAC without being forced to go through the entire procedure. I am reminded of what is happening at the borders of Kosovo and Macedonia at the moment.

There are other circumstances in which it should be possible to withdraw an application. For instance, if the CAC determines an appropriate bargaining unit which is different from the union's proposed bargaining unit, the union may wish to withdraw its application, build up support in the appropriate bargaining unit and then reapply. The Government believe this should be allowed for by the schedule.

At present the schedule is unclear as to whether an application to the CAC may be withdrawn, and what the consequences of that withdrawal would be. This is a particular problem for Part I of the schedule, since the recognition procedure is complicated by the need to identify a bargaining unit.

The amendments are intended to clarify the situation. They allow applications for recognition to be withdrawn at any time up until a ballot is arranged by the CAC. Amendment No. 22 does so by stating that they cannot be withdrawn later.

Once the ballot process begins, the union is committed to seeing it to a conclusion. This will deter speculative applications, and by requiring the ballot to

7 Jun 1999 : Column 1186

be held will produce a definite result for or against recognition. Whoever wins the ballot will be able to say to the other party, "You lost fair and square, now let's move on". In other words, it will encourage a definite result.

Withdrawal of an application will not be free of consequences. There will be no penalty for withdrawing an application before it is accepted. Once the CAC accepts an application, however, there will be a three-year bar on applications by the union for recognition in the same bargaining unit, or in a similar unit. Paragraph 34 already has this effect. So a union will be able to withdraw, but it will not be able to come back for three years. Withdrawal may still save time, face and money.

These are helpful amendments which clarify the procedure for withdrawal of applications for recognition. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 23:

Page 21, line 15, leave out ("28") and insert ("20 working")

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 24:

Page 21, line 16, leave out ("accepts the application for decision,") and insert ("gives notice of acceptance of the application,")

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Miller of Hendon moved Amendment No. 25:

Page 21, line 30, leave out ("compatible with") and insert ("supportive of")

The noble Baroness said: This very short amendment would require the CAC to ensure that when it decides what is an appropriate bargaining unit within a business, that unit should be supportive of effective management and not merely compatible with it.

This is not merely a matter of semantics. The Oxford English Dictionary defines compatible as meaning able to co-exist or being well suited. A secondary meaning is closer to what we are looking for because merely being able to co-exist with effective management, as the paragraph at present provides, is not enough. Earlier this afternoon I complained about some of the remarks from the Opposition Benches, not from the Front Bench, I hasten to say, that took us back to trade union relations a while ago. Noble Lords might think that my next line does the same. Co-existence, as noble Lords will recall, was the minimum objective of the West in regard to communism during the Cold War. Peaceful co-existence was the next objective.

As an example, a particular bargaining unit, for example an outlying factory, may be compatible with effective management because it is geographically separate and distinct from the rest of the enterprise, while still not being supportive of it because it could

7 Jun 1999 : Column 1187

end up with different conditions being applied to identical but geographically different units in a business when the circumstances did not warrant it.

The many definitions in the dictionary of the word "support" include these: to carry all or part of the weight of, to give strength to, or to encourage; to back up, to maintain, to keep from falling or to keep from sinking. We fully support the concept that in defining an appropriate bargaining unit the CAC must, in the slightly altered words of the paragraph, take into account whether the unit will carry part of the weight of effective management, give strength or encouragement to effective management, back up effective management, or keep effective management from falling or sinking.

I emphasise that we do not wish to diminish the concept of the provision. We want to see it properly defined because the phrase "effective management" is not dealing with a tangible, measurable thing that is capable of objective judgment. It is only a word, but an important one. We hope that the Government will accept it as the constructive amendment that we most certainly intend that it should be. I beg to move.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I am sure that the amendment is intended to be constructive. It is a subtle little amendment, and I quite like it for that. But I am afraid that the noble Baroness destroyed her argument in her quotations from the dictionary. She said that the first definition of "compatible with" was "co-existence" but the second was "consistency", which is what she wants to achieve. If the definition is already there in the dictionary, surely "compatible with", meaning "consistent", is the right term to use.

Of course we want the choice of bargaining unit to support effective management. The CAC's general duty already requires it to encourage and promote effective practices and arrangements in the workplace. However, the problem with the amendment is that the duty that it would impose is more subjective than merely to ensure compatibility with, and therefore consistency with, effective management. It could make the CAC's decision more liable to challenge in the courts; and in extreme cases it might bring the CAC and the employer into conflict because they disagreed about what was supportive and what was not supportive of effective management. The amendment would make the CAC's decisions more liable to challenge, and hence risk disrupting the effective function of the CAC. I am sorry; I cannot support the amendment.

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