HC Deb 28 November 1978 vol 959 cc203-4
9. Mr. Bulmer

asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he proposes to amend the Employment Protection Act.

Mr. Harold Walker

I have no present intention of bringing forward amendments to the Employment Protection Act. However, the proposals for compensating short-time working will replace the guarantee pay provisions of the Act.

Mr. Bulmer

Will the Minister accept his Department's findings that the unfair dismissal provisions are proving a deterrent to small employers? Will he further accept that a recent judgment, which awarded £7,000 to a man dismissed for sleeping on the job, will reinforce their fears of what the Secretary of State has referred to as the industrial tribunal fruit machine? Will the Minister look again at the law on unfair dismissal, particularly in the light of two recent decisions, Seeley v. Avon Aluminium Company and Stock v. Frank Jones?

Mr. Walker

Before the hon. Gentleman—or the House—decides to criticise the findings of a judicial body, namely, the industrial tribunal, in a way that he would never dream of doing in respect of any other judicial body, he ought to look at the facts of the case to find out exactly why the tribunal to which he referred found as it did.

As to the wider question of the satisfactoriness or otherwise of the unfair dismissal provisions—and I am bound to say that it was the Conservatives who introduced these in their Industrial Relations Act 1971—we have commissioned research and found that, notwithstanding the criticisms which have been made, the provisions are, in general, working satisfactorily.

Mr. Greville Janner

When my hon. Friend comes to consider the unfair dismissal rules, will he bear in mind that 69 per cent. of all claims for unfair dismissal brought before industrial tribunals fail, and that, far from employers' rights needing protection, there is a far greater need to protect the rights of unfairly dismissed employees?

Mr. Walker

My hon. and learned Friend is right. We recently had a full debate in the House on these matters, and I am bound to say that I thought the Government won the argument hands down.

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