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Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, that is certainly necessary. I believe that in a changing society employers are becoming more aware of family obligations, particularly given the massive increase in recent decades in the number of mothers who work. That is important. However, I emphasise that the contract is governed by
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Lord Davies of Coity: My Lords, I am extremely pleased with the Answer that my noble friend gave about reducing working hours in the National Health Service to less than 48. However, could he advise the House on the extent to which workers in the National Health Service who work less than 48 hours but may do a second job outside are taken into consideration?
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I have difficulty answering that question because the whole House will appreciate that the big issue for the health service was the European Court judgment that looked as if it would greatly restrict the hours that junior doctors could work. That threw the health service into considerable difficulty. My noble friends point is important but it is a less salient feature than the one to which I have referred.
Baroness Barker: My Lords, can the Minister assure the House that the Governments stated objective of making primary health services available in the early morning and evening will not conflict with the 48-hour directive?
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, the noble Baroness will recognise the extent to which the Governments increased resources for the health service have enabled us to make demands on it to provide much more accessible opportunities for people at work to avail themselves of the requisite services of primary care and GPs. However, we have to take into account her point regarding the danger that some health service workers could be asked to work excessively long hours.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): My Lords, I am sure that all noble Lords will join me in this opportunity to offer our sincerest condolences to the people of Pakistan following the bomb blasts last week in Karachi, and in utterly condemning that attack on Pakistanis exercising their right to express their democratic voice. I assure your Lordships that Her Majestys Government will continue to support and work with all those committed to building a peaceful and democratic Pakistan. I was visiting the country when the attacks occurred and in my discussions with Prime Minister Aziz, other members of the Government and the chief electoral commissioner, I reiterated the UKs support for the continued preparation for free and fair parliamentary elections in January.
Lord Ahmed: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his reply. Does he agree that although co-operation on anti-terrorism is important, it should not be at the expense of democracy, the rule of law and human rights? Will he assure the House that Her Majestys Government will not support a single political party or a general in the forthcoming elections, but will respect the decision of the people of Pakistan by supporting free, fair and transparent elections, which he has already mentioned, with the participation of all political parties and the return of the former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif?
Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, I am very happy to reassure my noble friend that we strongly support free and fair elections in Pakistan and the right of all parties committed to the democratic process to participate in that polling event. That includes the party of Mr Nawaz Sharif. In the mean time, DfID, through the UNDP, has provided some £3.5 million in support of the free and fair conduct of those elections.
Baroness Warsi: My Lords, will the Minister confirm whether there are any outstanding issues of difference between Her Majestys Government and the Government of Pakistan regarding any organisation or individual who is alleged to have committed terrorist activity in Pakistan but is resident in or operating out of the United Kingdom?
Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, I do not think that there are issues of difference; I assure the noble Baroness of that. There are ongoing police investigations in one case. I would not wish to comment on them except to say that where evidence is brought to the police of inappropriate support to terrorist activities in Pakistan, the full force of British law will be brought to bear.
Baroness Falkner of Margravine: My Lords, the Minister emphasised the pursuit of democracy in Pakistan, and that is very welcome. However, does he agree that Pakistans longer-term security lies in it having a stable future; that a stable future will come about only through national reconciliation, to deal with the challenges of international terrorism, the resurgent Taliban and so on; and that reconciliation will have to involve all the players, including the military, the political parties, the constitutional structures and civil society? Does he agree that that approachthe Commonwealth Heads of Government approachis the one that in the longer term will deliver what we want?
Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, the noble Baroness is absolutely correct to focus on national reconciliation, but the starting point of such reconciliation is a successful election in which everyone can participate. The British Government have been through all the means available to them to stress to all the partiesthe political parties, the military, President Musharraf and Pakistani civil societythat there must be a process in which everyone feels that they can participate and own the Government, and that the elections are just a prelude to an extended process of reconciliation in the country.
Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, we fully share the concerns about the horror of the atrocity in Karachi and we, too, send our sympathies to the people of Pakistan who want democracy and not bloodshed. We also accept, of course, that we must press for proper democratic procedures to be pursued in Pakistan. Will the Minister also use our own direct influence, such as it is, and our influence through the Commonwealth networkwhich tends to be rather underused and put aside in government policy nowadays, but which can be valuable in creating pressures for greater democracy and greater freedom in the member states of the Commonwealth network?
Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, the noble Lord offers me an important suggestion, as did the noble Baroness. We have a Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting at the end of November. I very much take the suggestion to heart, and we will make sure that we brief our Commonwealth colleagues on what is happing in Pakistan and try to exert collective pressure on behalf of not only free and fair elections but national reconciliation.
Lord Avebury: My Lords, what international organisations have been invited to send observation teams to the elections? Does the Minister agree that it would be far better to send them now, so that they can see that a level playing field is being established, rather than at the last minute when it might be too late?
Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, the two groups of which I am aware are the Commonwealth and the European Union. In the case of the European Union, the issue is on the desk of the relevant Commissioner pending a decision. There are questions about the effectiveness of the observation mission, about security issues and so on, but I can assure the noble Lord that we are pressing hard in Brussels for a European mission to be sent in addition to a Commonwealth one.
Lord Bassam of Brighton rose to move that if a Crossrail Bill is brought from the House of Commons in the next Session of Parliament, the Standing Orders of the House applicable to the Bill, so far as complied with or dispensed with in this Session or in the Session 2005-06 or in the Session 2004-05, shall be deemed to have been complied with or (as the case may be) dispensed with in the next Session.
The noble Lord said: This Motion is technical in nature and will, if approved, ensure the Crossrail Bills continuance into the next parliamentary Session. While not wanting to detain the House for too long, I would like to say a few words about the project.
Crossrail will benefit London, the south-east and the United Kingdom as a whole. Londons success as a major international financial centre is important to the national economy, and unless we invest in more transport capacity we shall all be the poorer. Crossrail will increase access to the capital for hundreds of thousands of workers who commute into London every day. Crossrail will provide a new fleet of trains, operating a 24-trains an hour peak service in both directions through central London and carry an estimated 200 million passengers a year.
The Bill, if enacted, will allow for the construction of the scheme. This hybrid Bill was introduced into another place on 22 February 2005 and received its Second Reading on 19 July that year with a majority of 375. The Motion today will ensure that the Bill can be carried over for consideration in the next Session. There will be no curtailment of scrutiny next Session. Once the other place has completed its consideration, the Bill will be passed to this House for consideration. In addition to the usual parliamentary stages a Select Committee stage will be added, because the Bill is hybrid. That Select Committee will hear the remaining concerns of petitioners. I issue a general invitation for volunteers to serve on that committee andif they wish to do soto come and see me afterwards. I beg to move.
Moved, That if a Crossrail Bill is brought from the House of Commons in the next Session of Parliament, the Standing Orders of the House applicable to the Bill, so far as complied with or dispensed with in this Session or in the Session 2005-06 or in the Session 2004-05, shall be deemed to have been complied with or (as the case may be) dispensed with in the next Session.(Lord Bassam of Brighton.)
Baroness O'Cathain: My Lords, when I read the Motion I thought, What sort of convoluted language is this?. Just for clarification, what does it actually mean? I am slightly suspicious about projects grinding on and on. With the Heathrow Terminal 5 issue in mind, I wonder whether this Motion is a licence to carry on for ever. It is so important for the Bill be sorted out and enacted and for construction to start, for all the reasons that the noble Lord gave, we do not want to provide a licence for delay.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, the Motion enables consideration of the Bill to move into the next Session, for one Session only. The noble Baroness, Lady OCathain, is absolutely right that we need to crack on with this. The timetable is such that, over the next 10 years, after the parliamentary process, the important work of constructing this fantastic project needs to proceed with all speed.
(5C) The Lord Chancellor may by order make provision about the circumstances in which relevant services do or do not relate to, or have a connection with, the matters mentioned in paragraphs (a) to (d) of subsection (5B).
(9) In subsection (5B), relevant activities, in relation to a person who is or was a member of an independent trade union, means any employment (including self-employment), trade, occupation or other activity to which the person's membership of the trade union relates or related.
Noble Lords will recall that, although the Commons had agreed to the Governments amendments to Clause 15 that applied to trade unions, they were not accepted in your Lordships House. Your Lordships disagreed with those amendments and substituted different words that limited the exemption that trade unions had from the need to be regulated as entities. In our original wording, unions were to have been exempted in respect of any reserved legal services provided by virtue of membership. In the Lords amendment, the exemption
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The Government looked very carefully at the tenor of the debate in this House and decided that we should accept, in spirit, this Houses desire to narrow the exemption. We acknowledged the strength of feeling about the subject and the concerns about the possibility of a reduced level of protection for union members when unions engage in services wholly unrelated to a members employment, trade, occupation or other membership-based activity.
I think it would be right to say that, alongside that, no one has wanted to prevent unions continuing to provide legal services to their members in areas connected to their employment, trade, occupation or other membership-based activity. We believe that the services that unions provide are vital for access to justice and for industrial relations, but we certainly see the force in the argument that preserving that position does not require an absolute exemption for all kinds of legal services.
On that basis, we have tabled amendments of our own which have a similar effect to those that were considered in the other place but which also ensure that services relating to trades, occupations or other activities that relate to a persons union membership are also included.
Lord Kingsland: My Lords, your Lordships will recall that this issue arose only at a very late stage in another place after the Bill had proceeded through your Lordships House. The Government sought to exclude trade unions entirely from the scope of Part 5 of the Billthat is, they would not have to seek a licence if they wished to establish themselves as an alternative business structure. As the Minister rightly drew to your Lordships attention, we did not seek to oppose that proposal in its entirety; rather, we sought to cut down its scope to apply solely to activities ancillary to the primary trade union function.
The Bill duly went back to the Commons for reconsideration and, as the Minister rightly said, in the spirit of compromise the Government tabled their own amendment, which goes beyond ours but in no way seeks to reassert the original amendment. We are grateful to the Government for their approach.
In conclusion, I should remind your Lordships why this has been such an important issue for us. First, in so far as trade unions intend to give services under Part 5, it is not right that their members should receive services to a lower standard than that received by the generality of the consuming public. Secondly, we were and remain bewildered as to why, if trade unions are going to receive this exemption, other non-profit-making bodies ought not also to receive itI am thinking of mutual societies and organisations such as Citizens Advice. The Government are familiar with this argument, and I shall not press it further. We do not intend to divide on this matter.
Baroness Turner of Camden: My Lords, we debated this in Committee. The government amendment before us meets the objections that I voiced. I was very concerned that the amendment we passed would undermine the services that unions rightfully provide to individual members. This amendment, which has been passed by the other place, deals with the concerns voiced by opponents of that situation. The Government have adequately met all the complaints that were voiced and I am satisfied with the wording.
Lord Thomas of Gresford: My Lords, in my youth I appeared in many cases on behalf of trade union members, instructed by trade unions. In those cases, we were particularly concerned with personal injuries sustained in the course of work. I was acting not on behalf of a trade union organisation, but on behalf of an individual who had suffered a severe injury. What I could not understand about the Governments initial proposal was that it appeared to give some form of protection to the union organisation at the expense of the members. The debates in this House made it clear to the Government that they were ignoring the members and looking after the interests of the trade unions. They have obviously shifted from that and we are grateful. We support the amendment.
Lord Mackay of Clashfern: My Lords, this is extremely important, and I am grateful to the Government for recognising the necessity to protect individual trade union members who make use of these services outside the limited scope of the original idea. These services that trade unions offer to their members are extremely valuable, and many members of the trade unions take them up. In the dim and distant past, I had a good deal of experience of litigation in connection with these services. I am happy that this has been resolved in this way, and I congratulate the Minister and all involved on the Government side on settling this so amicably.
Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, I, too, shall say a word of gratitude to the Minister. I spoke against the proposal, he took the point and he has produced a wholly acceptable compromise. I am very grateful.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I thank noble Lords for their comments. There is no question that we have now reached an altogether satisfactory conclusion. I am grateful to all noble Lords who took part in the debates and in the discussions of the past 24 hours.
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