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Lord Roper: From these Benches we have already welcomed the Government's imaginative decision to ensure that the nationals of the states which accede next year will have freedom of movement into the UK. This is something of a gamble but we believe it is an intelligent one which will benefit this country. Quite clearly though, as the Minister has indicated and the noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford has suggested, things could go wrong. Therefore we understand why the Government put forward a safeguard.

I am not sure how the monitoring to which the noble Lord referred would be undertaken given the flow of people across the boundaries of the European Union after accession. I am not sure what sort of statistical information the Government will get as to flows from the new member states. It may be that the Minister can tell us something about that today or will write to us to give us some indication to enable us to think about this before we return at Report.

I wish to commend the Minister and our own Delegated Powers Committee on the way in which the interaction between the committee and the Government in the last few months has led to this amendment. It is to the credit of the House, to its committee and to the Government that we have been able to find a solution which has ensured a safeguard but which has also

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ensured that a proper measure of parliamentary control shall remain. That is why I have great pleasure in supporting this important amendment.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: I thank both noble Lords for their welcome of the government amendment. The fact is that we want nationals to be able to move freely; we do not believe that there will be a considerable impact, but if something unexpected were to happen, we have to have the ability to act quickly.

The noble Lord, Lord Howell, asked whether I had met the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Dahrendorf. The answer is yes. When the noble Lord, Lord Dahrendorf, said that he wanted affirmative procedures, the Government felt that it was appropriate to have those procedures initially but that we might find it more appropriate to have negative procedures should we need to reimpose any restrictions. The noble Lord, Lord Dahrendorf, believed that that would represent a loss of parliamentary control, and it was he who suggested the so-called delayed affirmative procedure. The Government accepted the suggestion made by the noble Lord, as the chair of the committee.

I take the liberty of telling your Lordships that I have spoken to the noble Lord, Lord Dahrendorf, on the matter. Although he was unable to speak on behalf of his whole committee, on an individual basis he believed that the Government had met the points that he raised. Of course, he has not been able to consult his committee on the matter.

The noble Lord, Lord Howell, wanted to know in what circumstances the problems we are discussing might occur, and raised a point about monitoring. Research suggests that it is very unlikely that there will be a large-scale influx following enlargement. The establishment of new formal mechanisms to monitor the labour market is probably disproportionate; instead, it is proposed to make use of existing sources of data and information, and to use largely informal mechanisms to consult stakeholders inside and outside government.

I understand that the Department for Work and Pensions will continuously monitor a range of existing statistics of labour market performance—of GDP, numbers claiming benefits and other such relevant material—which would indicate a possible disturbance to the UK labour market that might be sufficient to justify considering reintroducing restrictions. I hope that that answers the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Howell. If there were a real disturbance in our labour market, we would monitor it through those mechanisms and we would hope to track it in that way. If necessary, we would then be able to use the suggestion of the delayed affirmative procedure.

I do not have any specific examples for the noble Lord. I hope that he will forgive me, but specific examples might be taken to represent a definitive list, whereas I hope that the indications that I have given are sufficiently broad and flexible to meet the exigencies that might arise. I hope that the House

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agrees that the Government have done their best to meet the points made by your Lordships' committee, and that the amendment will be acceptable to your Lordships.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 2, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 3 agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported with an amendment.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do adjourn during pleasure until 10.5 p.m.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

[The Sitting was suspended from 9.45 p.m. to 10.5 p.m.]

Fire Services Bill

10.5 p.m.

Report received.

Baroness Turner of Camden moved Amendment No. 1:

    Before Clause 1, insert the following new clause—

(1) The powers of the Secretary of State to make orders under this Act concerning conditions of service or directions to fire authorities shall be exercised only after a declaration published by him that an emergency exists or is likely to exist.
(2) In this section, "emergency" means a natural disaster or other event or series of events affecting the fire service or its operation which is or may be, in the opinion of the Secretary of State, likely to disrupt supplies of energy, or which presents any other serious threat to human welfare, the environment, the political, administrative or economic stability or the security of any place or locality, or in which the use of troops is permitted.
(3) In his declaration the Secretary of State shall state the nature of the emergency."

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I regret having to deal with this rather important issue at five minutes past 10 tonight. I believe it is a very important amendment.

My noble friends and I would like this new clause included in the Bill at the very beginning. The Minister is well aware of the fact that I and a number of other noble Lords do not much like this Bill. The Minister knows perfectly well why we do not like it. That was made very clear on Second Reading. As it stands, the Bill gives the Secretary of State power to impose terms and conditions of employment on members of the fire service workforce. These powers are required, apparently, despite the fact that the recent dispute has been settled by an agreement acceptable to both sides.

On Second Reading the Minister referred to Article 6 of the European Social Chapter, which requires states to take steps to ensure the effectiveness of the right to bargain collectively. He also referred to Article 8 of the ILO Convention 151 which states that settlement shall be sought through negotiation between the parties. He argued then, and has since

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argued throughout the passage of the Bill, that although its terms do indeed give powers to the Secretary of State to impose terms and conditions—something which my noble friends and I regard as a breach of the Government's commitment under the European Social Chapter and ILO conventions—the Government would use these powers only in extreme emergency if, as he put it, it was necessary to do so in order to maintain or enhance public safety.

Moreover, the Bill has a sunset clause: it is time-limited. At the end of the time it will be consigned, as he put it, "to the rubbish bin".

I say at the outset that while I may not like this Bill I have no doubt at all about the right of the Government to get their legislation through Parliament. In the light of what the Minister said in Committee, we acknowledge that in certain circumstances it could well be necessary for the Government to have powers of the kind envisaged in the Bill.

Despite our concern to try to maintain workers' rights—particularly the hard fought-for and won right to have terms and conditions decided by collective bargaining by the union to which most belong—we are not endeavouring to wreck the Bill. We believe the Minister when he says that the Government hope never to have to utilise the powers in the Bill; that it is entirely a temporary measure and simply will not be there when the sunset is reached.

The problem is that that is nowhere stated in the Bill except for the sunset clause. We want to ensure that the Government have the emergency cover that they need while at the same time ensuring that there is adequate protection for the rights of the workforce. It seemed to us that the best way of doing that would be to spell out the circumstances in which the powers in the Bill would be used. So our amendment says that the powers will only be exercised after a declaration is published by the Secretary of State that an emergency exists or is likely to exist. In his declaration he would state the nature of the emergency. Subsection (2) of our amendment spells out as clearly as we can, utilising wording which I believe exists in other legislation, precisely what is meant by an emergency such as,

    "a natural disaster or other event or series of events affecting the fire service or its operation which is or may be, in the opinion of the Secretary of State, likely to disrupt supplies of energy or which represents any other serious threat to human welfare",

and so forth.

That seems to me to give the Secretary of State the emergency cover that he needs and is in line with what the Minister said in Committee was required. As I have said, we do accept what the Minister has said about the limited nature of the Bill and the extreme reluctance of the Government to utilise the exceptional powers that it gives the Secretary of State.

Good intentions may be fine, but nothing like that appears in the text of the Bill. This is legislation and governments and Ministers change. A future Minister, perhaps not of this Government, may feel quite differently and he would then have at his disposal powers which he possibly would be only too happy to use. An external event plus media clamour and the

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sunset clause could disappear. These seem very unlikely events, but we are concerned to safeguard employee rights while at the same time meeting the valid points that the Minister made in Committee. I beg to move.

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