HC Deb 05 August 1975 vol 897 cc269-72
Mr. John Fraser

I beg to move Amendment No. 53, in page 22, line 41, at end insert ', or a wages order'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this amendment we are to discuss Amendment No. 54, in page 22, line 41, at end insert 'or Wages Council Orders', and Government Amendments Nos. 55, 56, 58, 59 and 60.

Mr. Fraser

In Committee, the Opposition tabled an amendment which would have added the words "or Wages Council Order" so that the Secretary of State's power of exemption would extend to employees covered by such orders. The principle was accepted, but it was obvious that a number of consequential amendments would be required.

It is generally agreed that the powers of exemption should be extended to cover employees in wages council industries or SJICs. There is no reason why these categories should be treated any less favourably than those in other areas of employment. We have consulted the Ministry of Agriculture and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries in Scotland which have told us that orders of the Agricultural Wages Board in England, Wales and Scotland should also be covered. I hope that this deals with the Opposition points made in Committee.

Mr. Hayhoe

I am delighted that the Government have carried out the undertaking that they gave in Committee to bring forward these amendments. The amendment which we moved in Committee was suggested to us by the Retail Consortium which had been studying this legislation since it affected the consortium very much. Perhaps that underlines how representations from outside bodies have their effect. As a result, an amendment was moved, an undertaking was given by the Government and now the Government have brought forward amendments to give affect to a purpose with which we all agree. I am therefore happy to support the amendments.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments made: No. 55, in page 22, line 42, after "agreement", insert "or order".

No. 56, in page 22, line 44, leave out "the Secretary of State" and insert , or as the case may be, of the council or Board making the order, the appropriate Minister".—[Mr. John Fraser.]

Mr. Hayhoe

I beg to move Amendment No. 57, in page 23, line 1, after first "the", insert "generality of".

This amendment was moved in Committee on 13th June and an indication was given that the point was a fair one. I think that I am right in saying that the Under-Secretary said that he would be happy to accept the words but wanted to take advice. The point at issue was whether, by putting in the words we propose in the amendment, we would avoid—this was the phrase used in Committee—" some judicial head-scratching "That seems a highly desirable objective. I hope that the Minister will be able to help us now by either accepting the amendment or saying that he will introduce one in its place in another place.

5. 15 p.m.

Mr. John Fraser

I am willing to make a concession to this extent—to assure the hon. Member that his amendment is not necessary. The point made in Committee has been considered by our legal advisers and, if one is allowed to say so, by the draftsmen of the Bill. Our collective view is that the present form of words fully covers the point.

The present form of words is identical to that in Section 11 of the Redundancy Payments Act 1965, so that any change would be not only unnecessary in itself but would cast doubt on the meaning of that section. Our interpretation is that the agreement as a whole has to be considered. That is something which has always been recognised in interpreting the 1965 Act.

If there is any final consolation which I have to throw in, perhaps I should say that any exemption orders are subject to scrutiny and debatable in the House. I give that assurance. It is not an assurance about how we shall interpret it but a general assurance about the interpretation of the 1965 Act and the Bill. The amendment is not necessary.

Mr. Hayhoe

In the light of that, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments made: No. 58, in page 23, line 1, after 'agreement' insert 'or order'.

No. 59, in page 23, line 4, at end insert: '(1A) In subsection (1) above a wages order means an order made under any of the following provisions, that is to say,

  1. (a) section 11 of the Wages Councils Act 1959;
  2. (b) section 3 of the Agricultural Wages Act 1948;
  3. (c) section 3 of the Agricultural Wages (Scotland) Act 1949.
(1B) In subsection (1) above the appropriate Minister means—
  1. (a) as respects a collective agreement or such an order as referred to in subsection (1A)(a) or (c) above, the Secretary of State;
  2. (b) as respects such an order as is referred to in subsection (1A)(b) above, the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. '

No. 60, in page 23, line 30, after 'question', insert: ', or, as the case may be, by the council or Board which made the order in question, '.—[Mr. John Fraser.]

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