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Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I was not here and I am not conversant with the argument used by my noble friend. Our concern is that we cannot have a parliamentary procedure put in place by amendment. That would create a situation of chaos. I have made it quite clear in responding to the amendments today that that is the case. That is why we do not believe either of these amendments is right. The Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee—this is the important point—does not believe they are right either. It takes the view, as do we, that we have got the parliamentary process absolutely spot on for this particular procedure.

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Lord Wedderburn of Charlton: My Lords, with respect to my noble friend, was not that point made by the Committee on orders under Clause 1(1)(a), which is what the Bill is about? That is what it was dealing with. The Minister dealt with orders under Clause 1(1)(b) and said they would only occur in an emergency. Why does he not put that in the Bill?

Baroness Hanham: My Lords, I wish to make it clear that I moved only Amendment No. 21. I am not sure whether Amendment No. 22 will be moved but, as I have been challenged to do so by the Minister, I shall respond on my Amendment No. 21.

I am aware that the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee agreed that this should be done under the negative resolution, but I am not sure that it was aware of any of the debate that had taken place in the House. It would clearly have understood what the Bill is all about, but quite a lot has been teased out during the course of the Bill as to the amount of time that would be available if the Bill ever had to be used, either in an emergency situation or in a "drawing the line under" situation. I am not aware whether the House can adjust the timescale so that it could discuss a resolution if it was necessarily put forward.

The Bill requires further consideration. That is the reason for bringing forward the amendment. I hear what the Minister says. For the time being, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Wedderburn of Charlton moved Amendment No. 22:

    Page 2, line 25, leave out "that makes provision authorised by subsection (1)(a)"

The noble Lord said: My Lords, as the previous amendment was not passed, it is possible for me to move Amendment No. 22. To be fair, my noble friend Lord Bassam was not present at the previous discussions of this issue in Grand Committee and, indeed, on Report. I am not sure whether he is very well acquainted with the arguments and I wonder whether I should formally move Amendment No. 22 in order to give him the opportunity of adding to his response in regard to orders under Clause 1(1)(b).

He said the orders would only be needed in an emergency and that that is the reason why we could not even have a debate in which they could be prayed against. Can he tell the House the shortest possible notice time for a prayer against such an order? My understanding is that it is very short indeed. I move the amendment simply to give him an opportunity to reply. I do not want to take him by surprise. He has had time to think about it. Can he tell the House why the amendment should not be accepted? I beg to move.

Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, in fairness, the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, could be unfairly confused on this. It is perfectly plain from the drafting of the Bill that Clause 1(1)(b) can be used either in an emergency or when there is not an emergency. I do not

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wish to say anything about the merits of the amendment; I wish merely to put the record right as a matter of the construction of the Bill.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, it will come as no great surprise that I do not have a great deal further to add to the remarks that I put on the record earlier. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, for his intervention, which I saw as helpful.

I believed that I had made it plain that the legislation would not be used only in emergency; it might be used in a strike in which fire authorities must respond to emergencies. That is different in nature to being in a declared state of emergency. Parliament has, in any event, 40 days to pray against a negative resolution order. My point earlier was that that would be an unacceptable fetter on the ability of the Secretary of State to act, and could lead to a chaotic situation.

I have nothing further that I need to add to clarify the situation. If the noble Lord, Lord Wedderburn, is unhappy with what has been said, he has the opportunity to come back at a later stage of the Bill's consideration. Having heard that, I hope that he feels content to withdraw his amendment today.

Lord Wedderburn of Charlton: My Lords, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord McCarthy moved Amendment No. 23:

    Page 2, line 27, at end insert—

"(8A) In determining what it is appropriate to include in any order under this section and what appears to him to be an appropriate negotiating body, the Secretary of State shall—
(a) not require or take account of any composition, membership, representation, chairmanship or procedure other than that agreed by negotiation between the members;
(b) shall have regard to relevant Conventions of the International Labour Organisation, the European Social Charter and instruments of the United Nations, binding on the United Kingdom; and
(c) where a member of the negotiating body expresses to him reason to doubt whether an order is in terms that contravene any such Convention, the Charter or other such instrument, shall publish the grounds on which he believes the order does not involve any such contravention, and consult further with the members of that body."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, our debates are getting increasingly like a soap. Soaps keep going because nobody ever knows what anybody else ever says. People in soaps are astonished, because we have heard what has been said but they have not. So the soap staggers on. That is all right for soaps, but it does not do for this House.

I do not complain about the fact that the Minister is not here, but it is unfair on those he has left behind, who have not read all the stuff. I hope that they have read this stuff, because in discussing Amendment No. 23 I shall refer to issues that—I am afraid—we raised in Committee. The noble Lord, Lord Rooker, who was present on that occasion, gave a series of very unsatisfactory answers.

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The amendment is doing three very simple things. From the White Paper, we know that the Government are going to introduce very substantial changes in the organisation, functions and role of the fire service. They are going to determine the composition of the negotiating body in respect of what is agreed between parties; they are going to revolutionise that. The amendment is saying that they should respect from hereon in what is called in the world of industrial relations the principle of mutuality. That principle means that people respect each other and that they do not change things unilaterally—that they should mutually agree. In some ways, the most important principle in the principle of mutuality is that each side decides who represents them. Employers pick their representatives, unions pick theirs, and nobody says, "I don't like Charlie Farnesbarnes". That is an attack on the principle of mutuality—the fundamental principle that the parties select their representatives.

We say that in determining the composition of a negotiating body in future what has been agreed between the parties should be accepted and respected. No one should unilaterally suddenly demand that one of the parties do something contrary to what has been agreed. In doing that, people will be respecting the relevant conventions. If we had enough time and it was not this late hour of the night, I could recite many relevant conventions of the ILO, the European Social Charter and so on. If I did not recite all of them, my noble friend Lord Wedderburn of Charlton could recite many more. I refer in particular, as this is the way I have been brought up, to the principles and practices of ACAS, God save us. We should respect those relevant conventions and the principle of mutuality. The desire to tell the parties who they should have to represent them is contrary to many different international conventions, the European Social Charter and so on.

All we are saying in our amendment is that if you do these dreadful things, there may be a complaint on the part of one or other of the parties. We are quite open that it will probably be the union that complains if it is told that under the Government's proposals it cannot have its general secretary on the other side of the negotiating table because the Deputy Prime Minister does not like that, and that the Deputy Prime Minister or one of his minions will sit in the chair and conduct the negotiations. We are not saying that if someone complains about these appalling practices, the Government should not introduce them—we are being very modest tonight—but that they should publish their grounds for diverting from basic established principles and consult on these matters.

I have explained—perhaps I have to explain it to the Government Front Bench—why we are raising this issue at this time. I apologise to those who have heard the explanation before. We have reached this point because this amendment is a successor to Amendment No. 20 which we moved in Committee. Frankly, we were alarmed by the words of the Deputy Prime Minister when he introduced Our Fire and Rescue Service. He introduced that White Paper at the same

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time as the other place was passing the Bill. He said that it was a sensible package of reforms on industrial relations—I do not criticise the rest of the White Paper—in line with best ACAS practice. I hope that the Front Bench is listening because I want the Government to say—and if they do not say it tonight, I want them to say it subsequently—how they can defend the notion that ACAS would support any part of this nonsense. I have read everything that ACAS has published on this subject and I tell you now that there is nothing that ACAS has ever published which supports one tittle of what the Government propose to do.

I shall go on asking the Government, if I have to use Question Time to do so, to justify why they dare not say to me that ACAS ever supports any of this nonsense. I must quote the White Paper. It states between paragraphs 7.9 and 7.12—I quote selectively but I am prepared to quote even more if the Government wish—that,

    "negotiations cannot be conducted effectively by large teams"

and that in the fire service the teams are too large. Therefore, the size of the teams of worker representatives needs to be reduced. Paragraph 7.13 states:

    "We envisage three separate negotiating bodies covering different groups within the present grading structure: Chief Fire Officers . . . middle management; and fire fighters".

I say now that a statement of that kind is intended to derecognise and to change the recognition basis of the industry. That would very easily form the basis of a successful appeal to the body which the Labour government introduced to look at attempts at derecognition. But this is an attempt at derecognition coming from the Government themselves.

Paragraph 7.12 states that the Government,

    "will take power to determine the number, composition and chairing of the negotiating body or bodies".

Quite frankly—I find it difficult even to say this, it is so monstrous—Mrs Thatcher never reached that point. Paragraph 7.13 goes on to state:

    "The composition and chair of each body would be determined by the Deputy Prime Minister".

However, he is not even a party to the system. It continues:

    "The arrangement for non-uniformed staff would continue as now".

One might think that he has gone as far as he could possibly go, but that is not so. On the principle of mutuality, paragraph 7.13 states:

    "We see no prospect of such changes being made by agreement. That is why we intend to specify who should be involved".

I have never known any employer to say in advance of negotiations that they see no prospect of agreement and therefore to say, before negotiations even begin, how it is going to be. Of course, the Government can do that. They say, "We will pass a law".

I find that absolutely monstrous. I am ashamed that my party puts such things in a White Paper. We say that such a policy is contrary to ILO conventions, including Conventions 87, 88, 98 and 151. Convention 88 states that the right of the worker's representatives

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to protection against this domination by employers must be maintained. But what is this proposal but the domination of the right of protection by the employer? What is this but the breach of that convention?

At one point, the European Social Charter states:

    "those who are elected or appointed to be representatives should be those who are elected or appointed within the rules of their appropriate union".

However, that is not what the Government are saying. The Government are saying that the Secretary of State will decide these matters. The Secretary of State will say, "I don't want you. I don't want you. I'll have the other fellow". I have never heard anything so monstrous in all my life.

Most absurd of all, the Government say—and I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, is with us, because he actually said it; I do not have the actual quotation, but I will get it if he wants it—that the ACAS code supported what the Government are trying to do. I have here, and I will quote it if I have enough time, the 1970 code of practice, issued by a Conservative government. You will find nothing in the industrial relations code of practice that supports such barbarism.

I also have the latest ACAS advisory booklet, Representation at Work. I would quote from it extensively if it were not for the time of night. Nothing in that code of practice supports what the Government are trying to do. I find it very difficult to believe that the Deputy Prime Minister—with his experience, background and origins—knows, understands and appreciates what is being suggested in his name.

9.30 p.m.

Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, we are sort of banging on a bit. I wonder, with the greatest respect, what is the relevance of these various codes of practice to an emergency measures Bill of some 18 months' or two years' duration? What is the relevance?

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