HC Deb 15 June 1981 vol 6 cc723-4
16. Mr. Canavan

asked the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, as representing the House of Commons Commission, whether pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire on 11 May he will arrange to meet trade union representatives of employees of the House of Commons Commission.

Mr. Arthur Bottomley

The Commission has not yet had an opportunity to consider the report of the consultants, which has been submitted in the last few days. It would therefore be premature for me to say whether or not, in the Commission's view, a meeting with trade union representatives will be necessary.

Mr. Canavan

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, contrary to the reply that I received from the hon. Member for St. Albans (Mr. Goodhew) last month, the trade union representatives are far from satisfied? They do not understand precisely what is going on. As consultations on the grading review are being broken off unilaterally by the Commission, which has given no indication where it will proceed from its present position, would it not be fairer, and in the interests of all concerned, for a meeting with the trade union representatives to be called as soon as possible? This is a shocking way for the House of Commons to be treating its employees.

Mr. Bottomley

With respect to my hon. Friend, that is not so. The Commission believes that it is in everyone's interests that the final report of the consultants, which has already been delayed for a considerable period, and which will take twice as long to be presented as was expected, should be expedited.

Mr. Michael Brown

How many of those employed by the House of Commons Commission are represented by trade unions?

Mr. Bottomley

I cannot give the exact figure. However, I am satisfied that the majority are so represented.

Mr. Alan Williams

Does my right hon. Friend agree that many statutory rights that have been introduced by the House for workers throughout the country generally are denied to servants of the House, some of whom are without negotiated agreements? Will he arrange to have published in Hansard the instances where statutory rights are not being given to servants of the House and specify whether that is the result of negotiations with the unions or whether there has been no such agreement?

Mr. Bottomley

This is the position in which public servants generally find themselves. For example, they cannot stand for election to local authorities in which they are employed. There are many other reasons why public servants should obtain better representation. That is a matter for the trade unions to pursue themselves. I take note of what my right hon. Friend has said.