§ Mr. William Price
I beg to move Amendment No. 17, in page 4, line 12 leave out "1st August 1978" and insert "1st January 1979".
The effect of the amendment is to defer the Commission's assumption of its staffing responsibilities as the statutory employer of staff in the House Departments from 1st August 1978 until 1st January 1979. I apologise for the change. I think it regrettable, but we believe it to be inevitable.
It had been hoped earlier that the Bill would be enacted in time to provide a sufficient interval between Royal Assent and 1st August to enable the Commission to assume its statutory employer responsibilities on that date. The minimum period required between Royal 1245 Assent and the Commission's assumption of its employer responsibilities is estimated at about one month. This should enable the full Commission to be appointed and the necessary preliminary administrative arrangements to be made —for example, establishment of the Board of Management, the appropriate delegation of powers, the appointment of the accounting officer and the like. It would seem essential for the House to be in Session during this period and thus for Members and officials to be available.
It now seems impossible for all the stages of the Bill, including passage through the House of Lords, to be completed before mid-July at the earliest. There will thus not be a sufficient interval before the Summer Recess, and 1st August to enable the 1st August implementation date to stand.
The amendment accordingly proposes a new implementation date for Clause 2, and related provisions, of 1st January 1979. That would seem the earliest convenient date which will with certainty give the House enough time, after Royal Assent and whilst in Session, to elect the Back Bench members of the Commission and for the Commission and officials to make the necessary administrative preparations before the Commission takes on its staffing responsibilities.
The commencement date—Estimates for 1979–80—for the Commission to take over responsibility for presenting the Estimates for House Departments, dealt with in Clause 3(1), is unaffected.
I repeat that I think it a pity that we have had to do this, but we see no alternative. I hope that the House will approve.
§ Amendment agreed to.