HC Deb 23 July 1991 vol 195 cc1102-3

Lords amendment: No. 35, in page 37, line 50, at end insert— ("Transfer of rights and liabilities relating to employment 9A.—(1) For the purposes of the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981 section 22(8) above shall be regarded as effecting a transfer to which those regulations apply of a part of the Port Authority's undertaking comprising all activities of the Port Authority, which by virtue of the transfer cease to be carried on by the Port Authority, including any such activities which themselves form a part of the Port Authority's undertaking which is not in the nature of a commercial venture. (2) According in those regulations, as they apply in relation to the transfer, references to the part of the undertaking transferred apply to all such activities of the Port Authority (of whatever description).")

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.—[Mr. McLoughlin.]

Sir Teddy Taylor

Earlier, the Minister was kind enough, to say that I ought to have raised the issue that I raised then on Lords amendment No. 35. He was very helpful in providing information, but I want to ask him whether I was correct in my assessment. He said that police employed by the Port of London authority would have certain safeguards. They are possibly to be transferred to another employer, for whom they will be doing the same job in the same circumstances. There will be no change. The Minister said that the previous assurance that they received—that they would receive Metropolitan police rates of pay—may no longer apply; instead they will receive Essex rates of pay.

The rent allowance is another fundamental issue. It appears that, instead of receiving London rates, the people concerned will receive Essex rates. The Minister said that it was impossible to say what would happen in five years' time. I have no doubt that a great consolation for those working in the port of Tilbury will be the presence of an energetic, trustworthy and able Member of Parliament to look after their interests. I nevertheless hope that the Minister will consider the implications of the Bill.

The Minister has said, in effect, that people are being transferred to a new employer. They will not enjoy their previous rights, wages and working conditions; and, as far as I can see, they have been given no guarantee of any kind about their future. I know that the Minister is a kindly person, and that he is concerned not just about cranes but about people. Surely he accepts that the position is unsatisfactory. Can he not give some guarantee to the police who have worked so well for the port of London—helping the port to obtain work that it would not otherwise have obtained—that their rights and welfare will be maintained?

As the Minister will know, anyone who moves to a new employer and a different job is entitled to redundancy pay, and is enabled to start over again. Surely a job in which wages, conditions and rent allowance are different is a different job. Although the Minister may not treat Brussels with the care and attention that I consider necessary—he would be well advised to do so; I am told that Brussels prisons are very nasty places—I trust that he can at least assure us that he will look into the position.

I know that the Minister wishes to ensure that employees do not lose out too much. He seems to be saying, however, that the Port of London police have no guarantee about their future. That is unsatisfactory. I know that the local Member of Parliament will make a point of investigating the matter, but I hope that all who are involved in police matters will do so as well.

Mr. McLoughlin

I shall certainly give careful consideration to what my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East (Sir T. Taylor) has said.

The amendment is technical. It applies specifically to the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981 under part II of the Bill, as they already apply to the transfer of port undertakings in part I. The PLA police force is not a commercial undertaking, and is therefore not automatically covered by the regulations. A specific application will be required for it to be transferred to the new Tilbury company.

The regulations will protect employees' rights following the transfer of both the PLA police force and, if necessary, the transfer of any other PLA employee whose work might be considered not to be in the nature of a commercial venture.

My hon. Friend's point is not lost on me. We shall take it seriously when the PLA scheme is presented to us, although, as I said earlier, no guarantee can be given that the same conditions will apply to the PLA police force as apply to the Metropolitan police.

Let me add that I hope that the police will be included in the buy-out, and become successful operators at the port.

Question put and agreed to.

Subsequent Lords amendment agreed to.