HC Deb 29 March 1983 vol 40 c213

Amendment proposed: No. 6, in page 4, line 32, leave out 'services" means services' and insert 'service" means a service'.—[Mr. Butcher.]

Mr. Teddy Taylor (Southend, East)

I have not said a word on the Bill so far, but I wish to ask the Minister some questions on this amendment. It changes the word "services" to "service". Does this have the effect of denying BT's right to operate the interference contract, which employs about 280 people in looking, for example, for illegal CB radio? I ask this because I have just been advised today that an announcement was made that in December 1982, BT gave 12 months' notice to the Home Office of withdrawal from its contract.

There are about 280 people employed in this service, many of them in Southend-on-Sea. If the Minister cannot give me a reply now, will he drop me a note to say whether this is the case, whether there will be consultations with the men concerned and whether he will give an assurance that in the changeover there will be fair and proper consultations with the men who have worked at a good job for a long time and given excellent service, so that they will know what will happen to their jobs?

Mr. Golding

The Post Office Engineering Union is opposed to what BT has proposed. It believes that radio investigation work is best done by the men who have done it so well for so many years.

The Under-Secretary of State for Industry (Mr. John Butcher)

The amendment is not relevant to the inquiries that my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East (Mr. Taylor) has made. However, as you have given us this opportunity, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I congratulate him on spotting this topical matter. I am delighted to take up his offer to write to him about the guarantees that he requires on fair and proper consulations. I reassure him that this amendment is a minor one, which is there—

Mr. Teddy Taylor

Is my hon. Friend sure?

Mr. Butcher

I am absolutely sure. The amendment is there purely for a drafting purpose. My hon. Friend has raised a serious point and I shall endeavour, as a matter of great urgency, to give him the assurances that he requires.

Amendment agreed to.

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