HC Deb 05 August 1975 vol 897 cc341-2
Mr. Booth

I beg to move Amendment No. 143, in page 56, line 18, leave out '(6)' and insert '(6A)'

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this we may discuss Government Amendments Nos. 144 and 145.

We may also discuss Amendment No. 146, in Clause 68, page 59, line 6, leave out 'compensatory award' and insert— 'total award (being the aggregate of the basic award and the compensatory award). '

Mr. Booth

The effect of Amendments Nos. 143, 144 and 145 is to enable a tribunal that finds a dismissal unfair, but considers that the successful complainant was partly to blame for the dismissal, to reduce the basic award, as well as the compensatory award, subject to the proviso that it must make the basic award equivalent to two weeks' minimum pay.

During the consideration of Clause 68 in Committee the Opposition tabled an amendment to subsection (6) to give the tribunals powers to reduce the basic as well as the compensatory award for a contributory fault. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary made it clear that we accepted the principle of the amendment but that we could not accept the Opposition's amendment as drafted, mainly because we take the view that no employee who is found to have been unfairly dis- missed should be sent away from the tribunal empty-handed. Even where he has contributed to his dismissal he should at least receive the equivalent of two weeks' pay in recompense for the unfair treatment to which he has been subjected.

We hope that without entering in any way into the debate again about the rightness or wrongness of compensatory awards, at least it will be conceded that we have met the point that contributory faults should be taken into account in assessing the entitlement of the employee to compensation. For that reason we hope that these three amendments will commend themselves to the House and that the Opposition will consider not moving Amendment No. 146.

Mr. Brittan

I welcome what the Minister has said and certainly we do not propose to press Amendment No. 146 in view of what has been said. However, I cannot resist the temptation of pointing out that the Government, having accepted three-quarters of what we are arguing, are left in a logically indefensible position. They have accepted that if somebody has caused or contributed to his dismissal, even to a very substantial extent, and has also not lost anything as a result, it is right that the basic award, as well as the compensatory award should, and can, be reduced substantially, but that he still has to go away from the tribunal with something in his hand. We are left with the ludicrous position in which a person has been dismissed, presumably unfairly, because of a technicality. In a situation in which the tribunal has come to the conclusion that he has caused or contributed to his dismissal to such an extent that he really should get nothing, he is saved from that fate by the wording of the statute which rescues for him two weeks' pay. It is an absurd anomaly, but I dare say that the Government feel they cannot go any further along the line of wisdom and logic without losing too much face.

Amendment agreed to.

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