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Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, I apologise to the House for not being here earlier. I had forgotten where my speaking notes were; fortunately I happened to find them. In opposing the amendment, the sincerity and motivation of the noble Baroness, Lady Turner of Camden, who is perhaps the only Member of your Lordships' House with extensive practical experience of the bargaining procedures and who has sat judicially under the chairmanship of the High Court judge on the Central Arbitration Committee, is not called into question; nor indeed is that of any noble Lord disposed to support the amendment.
At the outset, may I seek to establish common ground? The Government must have their businessyesbut only after due scrutiny by both Houses. There was no due scrutiny of the Bill in another place, as was spoken to with total accuracy by the noble Lord, Lord McCarthy, on Second Reading. None of the amendments on the Marshalled List was considered in Grand Committee, at which the usual attendanceapart from the odd Ministerwas six for three days, which is not a very satisfactory method of due scrutiny.
There will be insufficient time today, through no one's fault, for due examination of the amendments. Clause 1 as drafted fails to express, as the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, sportingly and fairly recognised in Grand Committee, the true intention of government as he explained it to the House regarding the exercise of powers of the Secretary of State. It is therefore common ground that Clause 1 cannot stand unamended. If not amended, must it be left out under Amendment No. 27, which, if movedwhich I hope will not be necessarycould well attract the support of noble Lords in favour of Amendment No. 1?
The question arisesto which I shall not speak at this stagewhether Clause 1 should be amended to apply only to emergency situations as proposed by Amendment No. 1, or whether two regimes should be set up: one for an immediate emergency and another where there is no such emergency, as proposed by Amendments Nos. 2 to 7, and Amendment No. 13, to which I do not speak. But the conflict between those disparate approaches inevitably involves my opposition to Amendment No. 1.
Putting that aside for a moment, let us deal with the substantive objections to Amendment No. 1. As such they are serious, and, with respect, they warrant your Lordships' attention. The amendment limits the powers of the Secretary of State to make orders and give directions only in an emergency situation. It heralds the introduction of a novel, intricate, complex structure of amendmentsAmendments Nos. 10 to 18, 14 to 18, 20, 22 to 25which would inhibit the due exercise of requisite, plenipotentiary powers of a Secretary of State having instant effect in the event or likely event of a terrorist attack, and that is not
The requirement as to a declaration of an emergency such as a terrorist attack or the likelihood of such attack to be made by the Secretary of State, based on advice and intelligence which may not be disclosed, would not be in the public interest. In such a situation, which could occur at any time and any place, the Secretary of State must retain plenipotentiary, emergency power and must be trusted. Speaking for myself, I trust him or his successor, whoever that may be, of whatever party, to exercise such powers in good faith and with propriety.
Amendment No. 1 and the implementation proposed in the amendments under the name of the noble Lord, Lord Wedderburn of Charlton, afford no effective means and no attempt at any effective means to seek to avoid disruption of the fire brigade services by collective action in any emergency situation as defined by subsection (3).
I said that I would make a shortish speech. I end with one question which I believe is a fair one. On any objective analysis, could any government accept Amendment No. 1 as it stands or as proposed to be implemented?
Lord McCarthy: My Lords, we clearly failed dismally in Committee to make clear to the Government how unusual and unique we find this Bill. This Bill is presented almost as though it were an extension or a return to the 1947 legislation passed by the 1945 Labour government. It is not that in any way. It introduces into industrial relations a set of particular and special provisions which are at this moment to apply to a section of the fire service. That is again something unique. As far as I know, all previous general restrictions of this character, for example in the First World War and the Second World War, applied across the board. However, the Government are selecting the fire servicemembers of the National Union of Fireworkersfor these special provisions. It is that argument, as much as anything else, which we have been trying to press upon the Government. We have dismally failed.
The amendment is one of a series which asks the Government to look more closely at what they are doing, and to see if they cannot postpone the measure, giving a general consideration to their purpose, which is what we tried to do at Second Reading. Will the Government look at particular aspects of the Bill and limit its application in various ways? The Minister, when talking about the Bill at various stages, made a
The Minister made a number of statements. We are asking him to think again about those statements. Most of those responses suggested that there would be some kind of emergency in existence before the Government would use the Bill. We have taken from his statements to that effectif one looks at subsection (2)a range of circumstances which cover virtually every kind of emergency. If we have left some out, then let the Minister tell us, and we shall put them in. We say:
So we try in this amendment to spell out what would be the broad circumstances in which one could reasonably argue, in the light of what he had said, that there was an emergency situation. I asked the Minister to look at that, and he said that he was thinking that,
Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, is the noble Lord, when he refers to the observations of the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, referring to col. 50 of the Grand Committee, where, from memoryI have it noted somewherethe Minister said, "Look, it isn't the intention to use this Bill, other than in a state of emergency. We don't want to have to use it".
I do not suppose for a moment that the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, would deny that most of the circumstances in which he considered the Bill might be used fit our definition of an emergency. The trouble is
The amendment is an attempt to get the Minister to tell us something more about the extent to which, in any meaningful sense of the term, the Government intend to invoke the Bill solely in an emergency. If that is the case, why cannot they accept our amendment?
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