Lords Amendment: In page 21, line 11, at end insert new Clause "A":
A.—(1) The Minister shall by regulations make provision requiring such person or body, being a person or body subject to any of the provisions of a harbour reorganisation scheme, as may be determined by or under the regulations to pay, subject to such exceptions or conditions as may be prescribed by the regulations, compensation to, or in respect of, persons who are or, but for any national service of theirs would be, the holders of any such situation, place or employment as may be so prescribed and suffer loss of employment or loss or diminution of emoluments or pension rights in consequence of any of the provisions of the scheme.
(2) Where it is proposed to make a harbour revision order or a harbour empowerment order, the Minister of the Crown by whom the order is to be made shall consider whether any person, who is, or but for any national service of his would be, holder of any situation, place or employment with a person or body subject to any of the provisions of the order, might if the order were made, suffer any loss of employment or loss or diminution of emoluments or pension rights in consequence of any of the provisions of the order; and if it appears to that Minister that such a person who is or would be the holder of such a situation, place or employment might suffer any such loss or diminution in consequence as aforesaid and that, if he does, compensation should be paid in respect thereof, that Minister shall not make the order unless he is satisfied that it secures that there will be paid to or in respect of that person, if he suffers any such loss or diminution in consequence as aforesaid, compensation corresponding, as near as may be, to that payable by virtue of regulations made under subsection (1) of this section to or in respect
of the holder in similar circumstances of a similar situation, place or employment, in respect of similar loss or diminution suffered in consequence of any of the provisions of a harbour reorganisation scheme.
(3) Different regulations may be made under subsection (1) of this section in relation to different classes of persons, and any such regulations may be so framed as to have effect from a date earlier than that on which they are made, so however that so much of any regulations as provides that any provision thereof is to have effect from a date earlier than that on which they are made shall not place any person other than a harbour authority in a worse position than he would have been in if the regulations had been so framed as to have effect only as from the date on which they are made.
(4) Regulations made under subsection (1) of this section may include provision as to the manner in which and the person to whom, any claim to compensation is to be made, and for the determination of all questions arising under the regulations.
(5) In this section "national service" means any such service in any of Her Majesty's forces or other employment (whether or not in the service of Her Majesty) as may be prescribed by regulations under subsection (1) of this section.
§ Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett
I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.
This new Clause has been proposed to honour an undertaking that I gave in Committee to introduce a new Clause to provide for compensation of harbour employees who might suffer through the operations of the Bill. The Clause has two objects. First, subsection (1) covers the making of the regulations to provide for the payment of compensation where a person suffers loss of employment or loss of pay or pension rights as a result of a harbour reorganisation scheme. Secondly, subsection (2) gives my right hon. Friend the task of deciding the appropriate cases where the harbour revision and empowerment orders should provide for payment of compensation comparable with the harbour reorganisation scheme to persons who suffer the same sort of loss.
Subsection (1) covers the case where a harbour reorganisation scheme transfers rights and powers to another body. It requires the Minister of Transport to make regulations providing for the payment of compensation to persons who suffer loss of employment or diminution of emoluments or pension rights as a direct result of the scheme. Subsection (2) requires the Minister, 107 as I explained before, when he makes a revision order or an empowerment order, to consider whether any person might suffer loss of employment, etc., again as a direct result of the order. If this is so and he decides that compensation is appropriate as under a harbour reorganisation scheme, it ensures that comparable compensation will be paid.
This new Clause follows precedents in the Water Resources Act, 1963, and the Transport Act, 1962. The principle that underlies it is that where Parliament foresees the taking by a Minister of statutory action likely to produce redundancy which arises solely from that action, the Minister should make regulations applying a code of compensation. The code normally adopted is that known as the Crombie Code. The standards of compensation that this Code provides are generous both in the long term and the short term.
The Code has been applied to the merger of water authorities and various organisations in the nationalised transport industry, but has not been applied to cases where redundancy does not flow directly from statute. For example, those caused by railway closures under the Beeching Plan are eligible not for the Crombie Code but for compensation agreed between the Railways Board and the unions.
The Government have, over the years, in the Crombie Code and in other arrangements for industrial compensation, therefore provided two different but quite consistent bases for compensation. In accordance with this principle it is the intention that the Minister shall make regulations under subsection (1) applying the Crombie Code to all persons who suffer loss in consequence of a harbour reorganisation scheme and requiring compensation to be paid in accordance with the Code.
But the situation arising as a result of harbour revision and empowerment orders would be less clear. Some orders—for example, those providing for replacement of existing authorities—might be more appropriate for the Crombie Code of compensation. In other cases, although compensation 108 might be provided it would not be appropriate to apply the Crombie Code if loss of employment arose from action to increase, say, the efficiency of the port or merely as a result of changes in the level of trading at the port. Subsection (2) therefore leaves it to the Minister to decide which system should be adopted.
§ Mr. Hoy
We are grateful to the hon. and gallant Gentleman for accepting this Clause, which seeks to safeguard the wages and pension rights of workers engaged by harbour authorities, but the House should know that it is in no way a golden handshake, such as we read about in other instances. What perturbed us about this was that action might be taken under this Bill which would result in certain people engaged in the industry losing a considerable amount of wages and—even more important—their pension rights. We sought to have some safeguard and the Minister has now agreed to this provision.
Obviously, this is of tremendous importance to the workers in the industry. Were the trade unions consulted about it? If this is to work it is important to know that they have been consulted and that their agreement has been sought, for this might affect a considerable number of people. I am certain that my right hon. and hon. Friends, while welcoming the Amendment, would like some assurance that the unions were consulted before this Clause was put down.
§ Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett
The unions were consulted and, indeed, it was the amount of consultation that was necessary which prevented us from bringing this provision before the House on Report stage. The hon. Gentleman will remember that I gave an undertaking to Committee to bring this forward.
§ Question put and agreed to. [Special Entry.]