HC Deb 09 February 1994 vol 237 cc304-40

'(1) Subject to subsection (2) below, it is unlawful for a person ("the discriminator") in relation to employment by him at a shop to discriminate against any person seeking employment as a shop worker ("the applicant")—

  1. (a) in the arrangements he makes for the purpose of determining who should be offered that employment, or
  2. (b) in the terms in which he offers the applicant that employment, or
  3. (c) by refusing or deliberately omitting to offer the applicant that employment, on the ground (or, if more than one, the principal ground) that the applicant objects to working on Sunday.

(2) Subsection (1) above does not apply to employment as a shop worker only on a Sunday ("Sunday-only work").

(3) A complaint by the applicant that the discriminator has committed an act of discrimination against the applicant which is unlawful by virtue of subsection (1) above may be presented to an industrial tribunal.

(4) An industrial tribunal shall not consider a complaint under subsection (3) above unless it is presented to the tribunal before the end of the period of three months beginning when the act complained of was done.

(5) Where an industrial tribunal finds that a complaint presented to it under subsection (3) above is well founded the tribunal shall make such of the following as it considers just and equitable—

  1. (a) an order declaring the rights of the complainant and the respondent in relation to the act to which the complaint relates, and
  2. (b) an order requiring the respondent to pay to the complainant compensation not exceeding the limit for the time being imposed by section 75 of the Employment Protection (Consolidation) Act 1978.

(6) Where an advertisement is published which indicates or might reasonably be understood as indicating that the employment to which the advertisement relates is open only to a person who is willing to accept a requirement to do shop work on Sunday and the employment in question is not Sunday-only work, a person who is unwilling to accept that requirement and who seeks and is refused employment to which the advertisement relates, shall be presumed to have been refused employment for that reason.

(7) A person shall be taken to be refused employment if he seeks employment as a shop worker (other than Sunday-only work) with a person and the prospective employer—

  1. (i) refuses or deliberately omits to entertain and. process his application or enquiry;
  2. (ii) causes him to withdraw or cease to pursue his. application or enquiry;
  3. (iii) refuses or deliberately omits to offer him employment;
  4. (iv) makes him an offer of such employment, the terms of which are such as no reasonable employer who wishes to fill the post would offer and which is not accepted; or
  5. (v) makes him an offer of such employment but withdraws it or causes him to not accept it.

(8) Where a person is offered employment on terms which include a requirement to do shop work on Sunday, such an offer shall be accompanied by a written notice of the person's rights to opt out of shop work on Sunday, under paragraph 4 of Schedule 4 below and subsection (9) below.

(9) Where a person is offered employment on terms which include a requirement to do shop work on Sunday, that person may give to the prospective employer at any time prior to accepting employment with that person written notice that he objects to doing shop work on Sunday and if the offer is subsequently withdrawn by the prospective employer it shall be presumed to be by reason of the person's refusal to do shop work on Sunday.

(10) When a person who has given notice under subsection (8) above commences employment, the provisions of Schedule 4 below shall apply to his employment as if he were a protected shop worker.

(11) In section 136 of the Employment Protection (Consolidation) Act 1978 (appeals from industrial tribunals to Employment Appeal Tribunal) in subsection (1) after paragraph (g) there shall be inserted the words—

"(h) the Sunday Trading Act 1994.".'.

Amendment No. 41, Title, line 2, after 'workers', insert 'and applicants for employment as shop workers'.

Mr. Hutton

The amendments and new clause are designed to ensure the effective operation of the employment protection measures already contained in schedule 4. These simple and modest proposals draw heavily on existing provisions in other areas of employment law—especially those relating to sex and race discrimination, and discrimination on the ground of trade union membership. I remind the House that the legislation on trade union-related discrimination was introduced by the present Government.

Schedule 4 protects existing as well as future employees from unfair treatment based solely on their unwillingness to work on Sundays. Sunday is a special day, in both the social and the religious and ethical senses; it is right that shopworkers should enjoy special employment protection in recognition of that simple fact.

Paragraph 10 of the schedule already recognises and endorses the principle that employees should not suffer discrimination on the basis of an unwillingness to work on Sundays. We simply wish to extend that essential principle to prospective employees—job applicants. As drafted, schedule 4 will still allow employers to discriminate against employees who do not wish to work on Sundays: it implicitly tolerates the possibility that those seeking work in a shop will be discriminated against if they tell their prospective employer that they do not want to work on Sundays.

The Minister of State, Home Office has already implied that the Government consider our proposals unnecessary. Underlying his argument is the Government's view—expressed by the Secretary of State on Second Reading—that new employees can always say that they do not want to work on Sundays. But what is to stop an employer from penalising those who express such unwillingness, recruiting only those who say that they will work on Sundays? There is a fundamental contradiction in schedule 4.

It would be singularly dishonest of Ministers to advise applicants to mislead employers, and, having gained employment, to take advantage of the opportunity to opt out of Sunday working. They might be understood to be telling applicants, "Do not tell your prospective employers the truth; say that you are prepared to work on Sundays, wait to gain employment and then exercise the opt-out right conferred by the schedule." An industrial tribunal might well decide that an employer was justified in dismissing an employee on the ground that he or she was not honest when interviewed for the job. That principle of candour is enshrined in existing employment law. As the Minister of State, Department of Employment is no doubt aware, in numerous cases tribunals have told applicants that, because they lied to their employers, they cannot benefit from unfair dismissal provisions.

It is no argument against our proposals to say that they are unnecessary, because future employers will have the opportunity to opt out. That misses the fundamental point behind the amendment, which is that the schedule extends no employment protection measures to job applicants.

Paragraph 20 of the White Paper, published in July 1993, on the subject of discrimination against job applicants, offers us some early insight into the Government's thinking on recruitment. The Government argue in that White Paper that the Shopping Hours Reform Council proposal—that there should be protection against discrimination in recruitment—is"unworkable". There is no reason why that should be so. Whether it is unworkable will depend on the quality of the amendments proposed to the schedule.

There is nothing unworkable in principle about a provision designed to give protection to job applicants. We already give them protection in a number of other areas. I have already quoted the legislation governing race and sex discrimination. Indeed, this very Government introduced the principle that people should not be discriminated against on the basis of their trade union membership when they apply for jobs. There is thus nothing unworkable about a principle of non-discrimination in job interviews and applications.

Another of the Government's arguments in the White Paper against any such proposals was that employers would be open to claims of discrimination by anyone who failed to be given a job and then said that was because he did not want to work on a Sunday. That too misses the point of the amendments, which the Government of course had not seen at the time. Nevertheless, their whole argument is flawed, overlooking as it does the fact that these are issues of proof and evidence that need to be argued before an industrial tribunal. We know, for instance, that the Government's legislation on union membership has not provoked hundreds of thousands of people to bring frivolous or vexatious litigation to industrial tribunals.

Still, we were conscious of this possibility, and we drafted the amendments accordingly to make it a matter of proof before an industrial tribunal that the reason why a job applicant was not employed was chiefly his refusal to work on Sundays.

We start from the proposition that, underlying the principle of this schedule, is the simple idea that people should be free to choose whether to work on Sundays. If they choose not to, they should be immune from any form of victimisation. Indeed, paragraph 10 of schedule 4 endorses that principle, and the schedule itself is a reflection of it.

The schedule, however, does not go far enough. How is the freedom to choose whether to work on Sundays guaranteed—sanctified? I ask that because of the omission of any provision in the Bill to protect job seekers. Effectively, there will be one law for existing and future employees and no protection for people who might want to enter the labour market as shop workers.

I have established that the amendments are not unworkable and that they will not lead to abuse. To claim the contrary is a spurious argument designed to lay a false trail.

My hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin (Mr. Grocott)—unfortunately not in his place—has drawn attention to the sardonic nature of the schedule. After 15 years of a Conservative Government whose members have systematically taken as one of their fundamental objectives the dismantling of decent employment protection laws, they now propose to recreate some of those very employment rights. The hollowness of their approach can be seen when it comes to these amendments. I therefore urge Conservative Members not to let their prejudices get in the way of common sense and fair play in respect of job protection rights for job seekers.

Given the need to recognise the special ethical considerations of Sunday working, we should pay particular attention to the situation of job seekers. It is just not acceptable to regulate for future and existing employees but to omit from the framework of law the position of job seekers.

It is worth noting that there is little logic behind the Government's objections to the amendments. I have already said that the principle underlying the schedule is that Sunday working is genuinely optional and cannot be enforced, so why will not that protection extend to job applications? What is the fundamental objection to such an extension? It certainly cannot be logical. It can only be ideological: that it is not right for the Government to intervene in this way. But I reiterate that the absence of any provision for job seekers is to be regretted.

The amendments closely follow the wording of other areas of employment law dealing with job discrimination, and are therefore not new in any sense—the idea behind them is well established. There is nothing unworkable, unsound or unsatisfactory about them. They are drafted so as to allow employers to recruit employees for Sunday-only working. We are aware that we do not want to encourage unnecessary applications to industrial tribunals. Their workload is already heavy and they are already under pressure. We do not want to add to it by creating bogus cases. We have thus recognised that if an employer wants to recruit people solely to work on Sundays, he should be free to do so—the amendments would not prohibit him from doing that.

We do say, however, that if the employer imposes a condition of Sunday working when the work itself is not exclusively related to Sunday, that constitutes an unfair industrial practice that can generate a claim before an industrial tribunal.

If the Government respond to these amendments by saying that they will result in unnecessary claims before tribunals—bogus claims motivated by a desire merely to get compensation—we say that that argument is incorrect and cannot be substantiated. Of course, such arguments can always be deployed; we simply do not accept that they are sustainable in this case.

It is clear, I hope, from the amendments that compensation under new clause 4—if it becomes part of the Bill—will be in line with existing employment protection ceilings. There may be argument about whether those are adequate, but it should be borne in mind that, under these proposals, the tribunal will have discretion as to the remedies that it awards in a successful case. We do not prescribe a manadatory award of compensation for every case brought under this part of the schedule. We merely say that the tribunal can make an order declaring the rights of the parties, if it thinks fit, or can in addition make an award of compensation, subject to the ceiling set out in section 75 of the Employment Protection Act 1975.

If the Government argue that the amendments will impose unnecessary costs on employers, we will argue that that cannot be sustained. As I have said, we borrow the concept of compensation from unfair dismissal legislation in Government proposals. We have applied that concept to job seekers who are discriminated against solely because they decline to work on Sundays.

We are also conscious of the fact that there is always a problem with the burden of proof before industrial tribunals. The Government's White Paper clearly stated their concern that there will be frivolous applications—that people will allege that they were not offered employment because they would not work on Sundays, and that that will generate new and troublesome litigation. We are conscious of that problem and have tried to deal with it in the amendments.

New clause 4 involves the burden of proof as it relates to job advertisements. The new clause will assist the applicant who alleges that he or she is being discriminated against on the basis of Sunday working. It is always difficult to assess the burden of proof in discrimination cases. It would be misleading for Ministers to say that the law on discrimination itself is an invitation for people to bring claims to industrial tribunals. We are aware of the problems surrounding the burden of proof and have tried to deal with them fairly in the amendments.

5 pm

A careful perusal of the amendments and new clause 4 should lead all hon. Members to the same conclusion—that they are necessary to fill a gap in schedule 4. If it is acceptable to protect existing and future employees, why is it not acceptable to protect job seekers or job applicants? In principle, there should be no distinction between the protection afforded those three groups. If the two groups—future and existing employees—are to be protected, the third group—job seekers—should also have access to that protection.

The amendments are sensible and well considered. They are designed, rightly, to improve the job prospects of people in the labour market for retail work. They are designed to recognise the special ethical and social considerations that properly apply to Sunday working. Opposition Members do not regard it as acceptable that people seeking work in shops should be discriminated against if they do not choose to work on Sunday. That is an illogical, unacceptable and immoral proposal, which the House should not be prepared to accept.

I hope that common sense and fairness will prevail in the debate. I hope that Conservative Members, particularly Ministers, will tell their supporters that the amendments make sense, fill a gap in the schedule and should be supported. I hope that Ministers will give the amendments sensible and reasoned consideration. I hope that they will not fall back on the empty arguments and windy rhetoric of the White Paper, which tried to argue that debate on employment protection in schedule 4 was unworthy. Job applicants are clearly deserving of employment protection. We recognise that principle in other sectors, and there is no logical reason why it should not apply to job applicants.

I urge my right hon. and hon. Friends, as well as Conservative Members, to show fairness and support the amendments.

Mr. Alton

I strongly support the case of the hon. Member for Barrow and Furness (Mr. Hutton), who advanced a logical and compelling argument. I hope that the Minister will save us time by saying that he accepts the logic of the argument—I can see that the Minister is shaking his head. In doing so, he gives the game away. If the Government are not prepared to extend something as reasonable as the provision to prospective job hunters, what is the legislation about? It must involve the same subject as yesterday's debate—total deregulation of the market and the removal of the last vestige of protection from employees. It should be seen in that context.

A report by Kevin Brown appeared in the Financial Times on 7 December 1993. It stated: A former employee of a London menswear chain claimed yesterday that he had been forced to accept a contract requiring him to work on Sundays against his will. The claim follows earlier allegations that leading retailers such as J. Sainsbury have put pressure on employees to work on Sundays. The report continued Mr. Matthew Phillips, a former supervisor for the Mister Byrite chain, said he had been given an hour to sign a contract making Sunday a normal working day. The revised contract stipulates that Sunday is the first day of the working week, and that employees will be paid at the company's normal rates. Mr. Phillips, who left the company voluntarily in April, said he signed the contract because he was told he would be made redundant if he refused. The details of Mr. Phillips' contract were confirmed by Mister Byrite, which says that 350 other employees accepted the changes without complaints. Presumably, those employees were fearful of losing their jobs if they did not accept the changes.

The report continued Mr. Mick O'Connor, general manager, said the contracts were issued to put all employees on similar terms when it became 'obvious' that the group would have to trade on Sundays to protect its market share. Mr. O'Connor denied that employees had been forced to sign the contract. He said, however, that Mr. Phillips was told that he should reconsider his future in retailing if he refused to sign. That case is borne out by a letter that I received this week from a Mr. Turner of Harbledown road, Sanderstead in Surrey. He wrote My son, who is aged 17 and still at school, has a part time job at Allders department store in Croydon. They have asked him on several occasions to work on a Sunday, but he has refused. However, they are now preparing for Sunday trading and have asked him to sign a new contract under which he agrees to work on Sunday if asked". He has been told that if he refuses they have the right to dismiss him. We know what the law is supposed to do, and we know that various voluntary arrangements are supposed to apply to existing employees. If they do not stand for existing employees, what chance have prospective applicants—the group that the hon. Member for Barrow and Furness is trying to protect? The incorporation of the new clause is vital if Sunday working is to remain a voluntary activity. There is no point in granting protection from discrimination to employees once they are in work, as the Government have already done, if similiar protection is not also granted to prospective employees. The new clause would grant that necessary protection.

The Government have made concessions on employment protection for future retail employees that mean that people starting new jobs in the retail sector will have the right not to work on Sundays if they choose not to do so. Those concessions will be rendered worthless unless the new clause wins the support of the Committee today.

Hon. Members have made it perfectly clear that, whether or not they favour widespread Sunday trading, they want any work done on Sundays to be undertaken by willing volunteers who have freely chosen to give up a common day off with their families and friends. Without the sort of protection that the hon. Gentleman is trying to extend, it will be impossible to meet that objective.

Hon. Members are surely agreed that freedom to choose a common day off should be enduring. The Committee accepts the principle of providing some protection to the 2.2 million retail workers currently employed in the retail sector. We must not forget that the retail sector has an extremely high turnover of staff. Each and every year between 20 and 40 per cent. of retail employees change jobs. Given that fact, there is no point in protecting future employees from discrimination once they have started work if they can be discriminated against while they are applying for jobs. Any job applicant expressing a desire not to work on Sundays will be rejected out of hand, as the letter from which I have quoted shows.

With so many people on the dole at present, employers who open on Sundays will undoubtedly choose the most compliant and submissive applicants. Unless the new clause wins the support of the Committee, everyone who applies for a retail job in future, and who does not want to work on Sundays, will not stand a chance of obtaining work. Job applicants will be forced to renounce their right to a common day off with their families. They will be sorely tempted to lie about their intention not to work on Sundays, as the hon. Member for Barrow and Furness said.

Is that the sort of society that we want to create? Do we want people to tell a pack of lies in order to obtain a job because they know that that is the only way that they can gain access to the employment market? If they lie they will have a far better chance of obtaining a job, and once they have the job they can give notice of their intention not to work on Sundays and acquire the protected-employee status which the Government say will be available under the legislation. If it is logical to provide that protection once someone is employed, why is it not logical to do so in advance?

There is a serious danger that the Bill, as it stands, could become a charter for liars, so that people resort to dishonesty merely to secure a job. The new clause will do away with that danger and ensure that Sunday working remains voluntary—the principle that all hon. Members are supposed to accept.

Unless people who change their jobs or who apply for a job for the first time are given statutory protection against discrimination, within a few years only a tiny fraction of retail workers will still be able to enjoy a common day off with family and friends, without fear of discrimination or dismissal. The Government are aware of that. Many Conservative Members who supported the total deregulation option have a secret agenda, which they revealed in yesterday's debates and which they are determined to force through regardless of any paper-thin assurances that are incorporated in the Bill.

That is a dreadful prospect for Britain's shopworkers, families and communities. New clause 4 would prevent that dreadful prospect from becoming reality and I hope that it will commend itself to hon. Members on both sides of the Committee.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman

The amendment is important. I believe strongly that it particularly affects women who wish to return to work after having a family. On one matter, however, I take issue with the hon. Member for Barrow and Furness (Mr. Hutton). I do not believe that people who decline on principle to work on Sundays would succumb to the temptation to lie. We would be catching, so to speak, decent people twice over because they would not lie to preserve their jobs. All those who value family life and the principle of Sunday should vote for the amendment and I shall most emphatically do so.

Ms Eagle

After spending many hours on the Bill in Committee, I feel somewhat relieved that we have finally reached the meat of the Bill. Some hon. Members who voted for partial deregulation were uncertain about what the final terms of the Bill would be and how we would vote on Third Reading. Until we finish debating schedule 4, which should have been considered at the beginning of the process, some of us will still not know how to vote on the Bill as a whole.

Amendment No. 64 is the first in a series of important amendments that will allow us to decide whether the provisions of schedule 4 offer adequate and meaningful protection for those who may be required to work on Sunday.

Hon. Members on both sides of the Committee have said that two considerations guide them in the matter. The first, on which the House has agreed, is that all Sunday working should remain voluntary. The amendments deal with that principle. The second, which we shall debate later, is that there should be a proper reward for Sunday working.

In considering the amendments, we should decide whether retail workers who may be required to work on Sunday have entirely voluntary contracts. I shall not be as uncharitable to Ministers as some of my hon. Friends about the worker protection provisions of schedule 4. I served on the Committee that considered the Trade Union Reform and Employment Rights Bill last year and fought a constant battle to avoid the stripping down of worker protection. I therefore find the worker protection provisions in schedule 4 a revelation. They show how much pressure the Sunday shopping lobby has put on the Government to provide reasonable protection and to enable shops to open on Sundays.

I do not object to shops opening on Sundays, but the crux of the decision is that Sunday working should be voluntary and that proper employment protection should be available to those who will be asked to work on Sunday.

One difficulty is that, after 15 years of union-bashing legislation, which has weakened employee rights and protection, we are attempting to add employment protection measures to employment legislation that offers workers weak protection. Another difficulty is that we are having to fit employment protection measures into a complex system of employment law, to which many of my hon. Friends have referred. Workers face difficulty in claiming their rights. That is the background to the amendments.

The Bill offers existing and future employees two statutory protection measures on voluntary working. Those measures pose some difficulties and I shall comment on how effective they are when we discuss schedule 4. New clause 4 deals with a new category of workers: job seekers and potential workers. It aims to provide them with the same protections as the Bill provides existing workers and those who will work on Sunday.

5.15 Pm

As my hon. Friend the Member for Barrow and Furness (Mr. Hutton) said, the Bill offers no protection against discrimination for job seekers. That gaping hole must be plugged if the legislation is to have any credibility and to offer reasonable protection for retail workers.

I agreed with the comments of the hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton), who reminded us of the high turnover of staff in the retail sector, which makes useless the protection for existing workers. The protection offered by schedule 4 will apply only to a certain percentage of the retail work force. Until we plug the gap, people who leave retail jobs or start new ones will have no effective protection. That will be the position for a large percentage of workers in the retail sector.

We should not pretend that we have reasonable protection for workers and are offering retail workers a choice if they will not be employed because they are riot prepared to work on Sundays. Although we have had concessions from the Government, they will not be worth much if the gap is not plugged. Turnover in the retail industry is an important factor.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Barrow and Furness said, the way in which current anti-discrimination law works provides a reasonable model for ensuring that job seekers have the protection that we are seeking to extend to existing and future shop workers.

Another group of workers is covered neither by the amendments nor the Bill. I should be interested in the Minister's interpretation of the Bill because I may be wrong about that. The new protections and statutory rights against dismissal and detriment appear to protect existing and future shop workers who opt out, but contract workers, who might be described as freelance, casual workers and who might be on one of the new zero-hour contracts to which I referred earlier, and those workers whose service is interrupted for reasons other than maternity leave, will not be protected. I may be misunderstanding the Bill and I should be more than happy to be corrected on the matter, but many workers who may be described as self-employed are increasingly casual, freelance workers. As a result of deregulation in the labour market, they form an increasingly large percentage of that market and I am not certain that they are covered by the Bill. I should appreciate clarification of that matter.

If we are to make the Bill stick and if we are to be able to say that we have reached a genuinely good compromise, one that can be supported by shop workers and by Labour Members who are desperately worried about the pressure that might be brought to bear on a deregulated and often un-unionised work force—

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman

The hon. Lady keeps referring to Labour Members, but she should know that appealing to her colleagues is not enough—she needs to attract some Conservative Members to her side.

Ms Eagle

It is for Conservative Members to decide what they think is right when they come to vote. I was saying that Labour Members are especially worried about appropriate and proper employment protection. One has only to consider the Government's record to realise that the Conservatives have not always covered themselves in glory in this respect. The hon. Lady will doubtless make up her own mind, but I hope to see her with us in the Lobby tonight.

We shall make the Bill stick and I shall vote for it on Third Reading only if we can tell our constituents that the protections granted under schedule 4 are genuine, enforceable and easily usable by a work force who are often vulnerable, un-unionised and perhaps working in small companies where they are unsupported by colleagues. They may be unsure of their rights and unable to go to experts for help. We must be able to prove to ourselves and our constituents that the protections in schedule 4 are workable. I shall not vote for the Bill on Third Reading unless I am satisfied that that is the case.

One way of proving that the protections are workable would be to plug the hole that my hon. Friend the Member for Barrow and Furness has sought to plug with the excellent amendment. I hope, too, that we shall receive assurances on a range of other issues that I should not even dream of mentioning at this stage because I know that you would leap up and rule me out of order instantly, Mr. Morris.

I hope that the Minister will be able to give me some reassurance about contract workers and casualised workers and that the Committee will realise the crucial nature of the amendment and support it so that we can extend to job seekers and the hundreds of thousands of people who regularly change jobs in the retail sector the choice of whether to work on Sundays.

Mr. John Marshall (Hendon, South)

I shall be brief, but I wish to reiterate the concern of all hon. Members that people should not be forced to work on Sundays against their conscience.

I listened carefully to the hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton). As he knows, I sympathise with him on some issues, but that is not the case today. He said that if someone went to a job interview and said that he did not want to work on a Sunday for reasons of conscience he would not be employed. That is absolute twaddle. He should know by now that one of the greatest problems in the retail trade is the fact that a certain amount of wastage is caused by employees helping themselves to some of the stock at the end of the day.

If someone told a retailer that he was a dedicated Christian and therefore did not want to work on a Sunday but promised to give value for money on the other days, I happen to believe that the retailer would appoint him because he would know that he was honest and a man of integrity. I should have thought—[Laughter.] I am surprised that the hon. Member for Brent, South (Mr. Boateng) does not believe that people want to employ men of integrity and honour. I should have thought that that was exactly—

Ms Jackson

Is the hon. Gentleman asking the Committee to accept the bizarre suggestion that integrity can be found only among those who practise the Christian religion? How can he say that in view of the many other religions practised in this country?

Mr. Marshall

I am surprised to hear the hon. Lady's comment because, as she knows, I have said many times that the precepts of the Torah are equally as good as those of the New Testament. If someone says he is a Christian and can be trusted, his word is worth something, but people of other religions can be trusted equally. It is wrong to assume that people with a particular religious faith about which they feel strongly do not on the whole tend to be honest and honourable employees whom anyone would be happy to employ.

Mr. Alton

The hon. Gentleman accused me of speaking twaddle. I have heard some strange things in the House over the years, but what he said leaves me virtually speechless—but not entirely speechless, he will be glad to learn. Is he seriously suggesting—if he is, it is an extraordinary slur—that only a certain group of shop owners are honest and likely to be trustworthy? I was talking about applying for a job. If a candidate for a job told an employer that he was not prepared to work on Sundays, does the hon. Gentleman think that he would get the job, bearing in mind the current state of the job market in which many people are chasing every position?

Mr. Marshall

I did not say that all shopworkers were dishonest. I said that one of the retail industry's problems was that some shopworkers were dishonest and that, as a result, a certain amount of produce disappeared through the back door at the end of the day without being paid for.

Ms Jackson

Surely the Bill has been introduced because of the basic dishonesty—to use the hon. Gentleman's phrase—of the people who manage the retail industry. It is the management of the large shops who break the law.

The Chairman

Order. The amendment is not about slippage.

Mr. Marshall

There may be a certain amount of shrinkage.

Let us consider the Sunday employment pattern in the retail industry. The vast majority of those who now work on Sundays do so voluntarily. Some shops have so many volunteers that they have to draw up a roster.

Mr. Hugh Bayley (York)

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way because I know that he is having a rough ride. I do not ask him to give way merely to interpret the flow of his thoughts. He seems to be suggesting that employers will find it possible to staff their shops with volunteers on Sundays and will therefore be willing to employ someone who refuses to work on a Sunday. I know of a director of a shop that sells china and glassware in my constituency. He happens to be a committed Christian and, although he broadly supports the Keep Sunday Special stance, he said: We are wary of legal protection for shopworkers who choose not to work on Sundays since, if we are forced to open on Sundays through continuing to lose so much business, we will need to staff our shop with people with specialist knowledge and experience. That shop, which sells specialised goods, cannot be alone. Many shops will need to call on their staff if they are forced to open on Sundays because of competition. Surely the hon. Gentleman is wrong to argue that someone who says at an interview that he or she refuses to work on Sundays will not be jeopardising his or her chances of employment.

Mr. Marshall

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that remarkably concise intervention. If one considers the shops that open on Sundays at the moment—

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman


Mr. Marshall

Does my hon. Friend wish to intervene? If so—

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman

I was defining those who open on Sundays as cheats.

Mr. Marshall

Perhaps the small shops that the hon. Lady supports, which have been opening for a long time, have been cheating and other shops have decided to emulate their behaviour.

We were talking about employee protection. We must recognise the fact that many people volunteer and many retailers currently have a queue of people waiting to work on Sundays, and are only too anxious to do so.

5.30 pm
Mr. Hutton

The whole point of law making is to allow for unforeseen circumstances. There may well be, as the hon. Gentleman says, a surplus of workers prepared to work on Sunday now. But can he confidently say that that will always be true? In the House we should be trying to make legislation that will stand the test of time. That is the reason for the new clause and the hon. Gentleman does not seem to have grasped it.

Mr. Marshall

One has to look at current trends and trends over recent years to decide whether there is likely to be a sudden reduction in the number of people who want to work on a Sunday. If that happened, because of a sudden change in the attitude to Sunday working and shopping—

Ms Eagle

Is the hon. Gentleman trying to argue that so long as there is a ready supply of people who want to work on Sundays they should not have any protection at work?

Mr. Marshall

I did not say that. I have given way many times and that is the last interruption that I, and others, will put up with. The flow of my speech is becoming even more disjointed than it was at the beginning.

We must accept the fact that there are many volunteers. When the people who run the retail trade make appointments they look for individuals of integrity. If someone said that he would not work on Sundays, most employers would say, "That guy"—or that lady—"is a person of integrity and that is the sort of person whom I want to employ."

Mrs. Wise

As my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Bayley) said, the hon. Member for Hendon, South (Mr. Marshall) had a rough ride. I now want to comment on what he said from a different point of view. If he thinks that in general employers would not discriminate against a job seeker because they would regard a person with scruples as an honest person of integrity and probity, why does he resist the amendment?

The hon. Gentleman cannot say that nobody would be discriminated against. He may say that it would not happen to the majority, but what about the minority? He may suggest that if only a few people are involved the problem does not matter—but we do not frame our other laws in that way. A very small minority of people are murdered, but we still have laws against murder, to protect people. We must press the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends for a better reason for resisting the amendment. We are not trying to forecast how often the amendment would take effect; we are simply saying that it should be there to be used when needed.

I shall stress briefly two other aspects of the argument. First, the high turnover in the retail trade means that over a relatively short period most of the people affected will be job seekers. There has always been an enormously rapid turnover in retailing, but that is now exacerbated by the increasing practice by some large employers of giving people only temporary contracts. Now there is a turnover of staff even when the staff are reluctant for that to happen. The fact that increasing numbers of people are being forced to seek jobs makes the amendment all the more important.

The other important aspect is the dilemma in which people will be placed without the protection in the new clause—a dilemma that it is impossible for applicants to resolve satisfactorily. As the hon. Member for Lancaster (Dame E. Kellett-Bowman) said, there will be those who will not stoop to lying. I think that a substantial number of people will fall into that group, because they will resent being put into the position of having to lie, and will resist the pressure. Nevertheless, they will feel the pressure and people who have failed to get a job will wonder whether they did the really moral and ethical thing if their family suffers as a result. The job may have been desperately needed.

No applicant for work should be put in the position of either having to lie or being unreasonably refused a job. The Committee should take that matter extremely seriously. I agree with the hon. Member for Lancaster that, despite the risk of losing—or rather, not gaining—the job, many people will resist the pressure to lie. But what about those who do not, those who lie to the employer because they feel that in their circumstances the pressure is irresistible? Such a person may get the job, but will not feel happy about the way in which it had to be secured.

If, later, such a person seeks to opt out of Sunday working, he or she may be dismissed. As my hon. Friend the Member for Barrow and Furness (Mr. Hutton) explained, that person may have thrown away the possibility of protection, because a tribunal may deem that, by lying, the employee had behaved in a way that justified the employer's lack of confidence in him or her. That is an outrageous gap to leave in the law, so I hope that the Minister will not resist the amendment. I consider it to be crucial if there is to be anything like fair play for people who work, or seek work, in retailing.

Mr. Paul Boateng (Brent, South)

The Opposition are entitled to a wry smile when the hon. Member for Lancaster (Dame E. Kellett-Bowman) berates us for failing to beguile other Conservative Members into voting for the new clause.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Boateng

If I may first finish what I was saying, I shall happily give way.

We are entitled to a wry smile when the hon. Lady makes that allegation against us, because we are entitled to look to her to use her handbag effectively to ensure that other Conservative Members go through the Lobby with her in support of the new clause. She could begin with her handbag on the hon. Member for Hendon, South (Mr. Marshall)—a man who needs handbagging if any man ever did.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman

I was objecting to the way in which the hon. Member for Wallasey (Ms Eagle) put her argument. If I may say so again, if the shopworkers had not ratted on us at the previous vote we should not have been in this position—and they were on the Opposition side.

Mr. Boateng

We can be forgiven for pulling the hon. Lady's leg a little, because tonight we shall find ourselves in the unusual position of being in the Lobby together. For a moment—the briefest of moments—that makes one rethink one's position, but having done so one continues to be determined to support the amendment, because it goes to the heart of the Bill.

The response of the hon. Member for Hendon, South, the champion of the deregulators, was interesting. He believes that there should be no regulation whatever of the retail or any other trade and last night he went through the Lobby with enthusiasm to vote for deregulating trading on every other day of the week. When the amendment smokes such people out, the real agenda of all too many proponents of the Bill becomes clear. It is to enable those who control the retail trade to be able to pick and choose who they employ.

It has been amazing to watch the Minister throughout the debate and to read what he and his officials have had to say over many months in relation to the proposals of my hon. Friend the Member for Barrow and Furness. It is intriguing that the Government, so wedded to the market, can be so blind to its reality. The reality of the labour market is that people are desperate for work. As my hon. Friend the Member for Preston (Mrs. Wise) pointed out, the reality of the labour market in the retail sector especially is that job applicants are many and there is a constant turnover of staff. At any one time, there is a great pool of applicants looking for work in that sector. Unless we pass the amendment and give those people some protection at least, everything else that we do will count for nothing.

In any event, employment protection in the Bill is fraught with difficulties and hazards. Anyone seeking to bring any case before an industrial tribunal for whatever reason suffers a number of hurdles which they must overcome—not least the hurdles of representation, of having to pay for the tribunal in the absence of legal aid and of the burden of proof stacked against the applicant. To deny a whole sector of people who are applying for jobs and who are desperate for protection is a shame and undermines the whole basis of what our deliberations should be concerned with—enshrining and protecting the voluntary element.

What prevents an employer from asking the following question among a number of others on an application form: Have you a conscientious objection to working on Sunday? Under the present Bill, as unamended, there is nothing to stop an employer asking that. If a person answers that question in the affirmative, do those who support the Bill as unamended believe that that person would be employed? It beggars belief.

In response to the explanation by the hon. Member for Hendon, South of his opposition to the amendment, one has to say "get real". Out there, the reality is that there is no way in a million years that one would get the job if one answered affirmatively. The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that those persons who discriminate against an applicant because that applicant has answered in the affirmative are brought to book. We must ensure that there is a genuine remedy if the people who have determined their right—it should be a right not to work on Sunday—are discriminated against. If they are discriminated against, those responsible for the discrimination must be made to pay.

If we cannot accept the amendment, all the fine words, pious utterances, hopes and aspirations that we shall hear from Conservative Members will count for nothing.

5.45 pm
Mr. Bayley

The Bill was given a Second Reading on the clear understanding that no shopworker would face discrimination if he or she refused to work on a Sunday. That anti-discrimination commitment was not what the Government wanted. They wanted protection for existing shop workers, but no protection for future shop workers. The Government's consultation document in July said: The Keep Sunday Special Campaign, the Shopping Hours Reform Council and the Retailers for Shops Act Reform have each made their own separate proposals about the new employment rights which they believe should accompany reform of Sunday trading. All have proposed that both existing and future workers in the retail sector should be protected against victimisation for refusing to work on Sundays. The Government does not believe this is the right approach. That was the Government's view last summer. They hoped that shopworkers' rights to decline to work on Sundays would wither on the vine as a result of the turnover of jobs. For tactical reasons, the Government sought to make a commitment to people who already worked in shops, but hoped that that commitment would soon disappear.

Of course, I acknowledge that the Government have been forced, because of the views expressed in the House and because of the desire expressed by their own Back Benchers, to provide more protection. However, the Government did not want to extend protection to future employees. They did not have their heart in it, but they felt obliged to provide it to enable the passage of partial deregulation through the House.

The point raised by the amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Barrow and Furness (Mr. Hutton) is crucial. If we do not protect job applicants from discrimination if they do not want to work on Sunday, the protection of shopworkers who have a conscientious objection to working on a Sunday will not be worth the paper on which it is printed. Any person with a conscientious objection to working on Sunday will simply not be employed.

The extension of protection which the Government have offered and which they have used to convince hon. Members—largely Conservative Members—to give the Bill a Second Reading and a fair wind through Parliament will not provide the protection expected. More protection needs to be given—to job applicants, which the amendment seeks to do.

The case put forward by the hon. Member for Hendon, South (Mr. Marshall) was incredible. He asserted that if an employee told an employer that he or she was not prepared to work on Sunday in the full knowledge that making that statement would put him or her at some disadvantage, he would be employed regardless because the consideration of whether the employer would have flexibility to employ him on a Sunday would pale into insignificance beside the fact that the individual had answered the question honestly. One could apply the same argument to an employer asking whether somebody had the technical qualifications, or GCSEs or A-levels or the degree for the job. If an employee said that he would like a job as a doctor but did not have the qualifications, would the employer employ him or her on the strength of their honesty? Of course not. That applies to other jobs too. If a shop employer sought somebody who was numerate to count the money in the till and required the employee to have a GCSE in mathematics and the employee said that he did not have that qualification, would the employer consider that it did not matter because, although that person was not the ideal employee, he was honest and he would give him the benefit of the doubt? Of course not.

The hon. Member for Hendon, South suggested that there would never be cases in which people would decline to work on Sunday and, as a result of declining, would be refused a job in retailing. I have received numerous letters from people in my constituency suggesting that that is quite simply not the case. I shall give one example. Rev. Ian Souter of Acomb Methodist church told me: I heard of two cases where people applying for jobs in retail outlets in the York area were asked at interview whether they were willing to work on Sundays and when both refused they did not get the job. The normal expectation of people who honestly tell an employer that they have other things that they would like to do on Sunday will be that they will not get the job.

Conservative Members have said that an amendment that would give protection to potential employees is unworkable. But the people who will have to make it work are the shop owners and the shop owners do not think that it is unworkable. The Government's consultation document states that Keep Sunday Special, the Shopping Hours Reform Council, which represents big multiple chain stores such as Woolworth, Tesco, Sainsbury, B and Q and Comet, and Retailers for Shops Act Reform, which represents the clothes shops, Marks and Spencer and so on, all argued for protection for existing and future employees. Paragraph 20 of the consultation document says: The Shopping Hours Reform Council have suggested that people who choose not to do retail work on Sundays should not be discriminated against in recruitment. Even the people who want deregulation—the Shopping Hours Reform Council—say that they can work such provision. As they are the people who would have to work it, there is no reason whatever why the Government cannot give them the opportunity of making it work. It will not be an obligation on them: if they feel that it is workable. they will make it work. I hope that the Government will give the shop owners the opportunity to let that happen.

Mr. Peter Lloyd

The amendment and the new clause would prevent a retailer who is seeking to fill a job that involves some Sunday work from ruling out an otherwise qualified applicant simply on the ground that that applicant objected to working on Sunday.

I strongly sympathise with a number of the amendments on the amendment paper and I can see that there is something to be said for most of the amendments that we shall be discussing today—even where I disagree with them. I hope that the hon. Member for Barrow and Furness (Mr. Hutton), who spoke with great clarity and had obviously put a considerable amount of thought into the proposal, will not take it amiss if I say that the present amendment and new clause fall into neither category.

The hon. Members who have spoken and I have a very different perception of the problem that the proposals seek to tackle. We differ both over whether it is a problem and over what might reasonably be done about it. It seems to me unreasonable and impracticable to oblige an employer to recruit someone knowing that he is not willing to do the job or part of the job. It is the hon. Member for Brent, South (Mr. Boateng) who has to get real here: it is quite reasonable for an employer to recruit people who want to do the whole job.

The amendment and new clause would require the retailer to ignore the needs of his business, and that is not an obligation that the law should place on an employer. It would mean that an employer would have to choose between his duty to his business—if that involved Sunday working and he wished to employ people who would work on a Sunday—and trying to obey the letter of the law.

Not all retail shops will open on a Sunday and shops that do not will not be particularly interested in whether an applicant wants to work on a Sunday—indeed, they may have to disappoint a prospective shop worker by saying that there is no opportunity for Sunday work, in which case the applicant will either have to choose to do the job without Sunday work or go elsewhere. Moreover, sorne retailers will open on a Sunday but will not want their staff to work on Sunday: they may want to strike a different balance, or they may already have enough people who are willing to work on Sunday. Where an employer needs to staff his shop for a Sunday, however, it seems to me wholly unreasonable and wholly impracticable to ask him to pass over an applicant who will work on Sunday in order to take one who will not.

Mr. Hutton

The Minister has not understood the impact of the amendment, whose purpose is not to oblige an employer to take someone on but to prevent an employer from using an objection to Sunday working as a reason for not taking someone on. An opt-out from Sunday working is available in respect of existing and prospective employees, but if the Minister does not accept the amendment he will be driving a coach and horses through it because the employer will in effect be able to make Sunday working mandatory in respect of all new and further recruitment. Is not that the reality?

Mr. Lloyd

That is one reason why I am somewhat sceptical about the protections in the schedule—although I have never been unsympathetic to the idea. The opt-outs exist for honest workers who have been employed by a shopkeeper expecting not to work on Sunday—if there is no reason why they should be obliged to do so—and for those making a career in shop work whose circumstances at one point in their life make Sunday working perfectly acceptable to them but who subsequently need to change their working pattern because of home circumstances, circumstances of conscience, circumstances of obligation to other relations or the arrival of children. That is what the protections are intended to achieve. They are not intended to convey to retailers the message that they may open on a Sunday but that they may not open their eyes to the question whether the applicant in front of them is interested in working on Sunday or not.

What the hon. Member for Barrow and Furness asks for is absurd. I understand why he asks for it, however, because what is behind the amendment and his concern is that, if more shops open on Sunday than do at present, more retailers will want to ensure that they can staff their shops on Sunday, so there will be a tendency to look for more recruits who will be willing to work on a Sunday. The hon Gentleman and I do not Know how far that tendency will go because none of us can tell how the retail trade will evolve. I am quite certain that all retailers will not want all their employees to be ready to work on Sunday. As I said, I think that some applicants will be disappointed that there will be no Sunday work.

I understand the hon. Gentleman's apprenhension, which is that the retail trade will become a little more like the catering trade, the police, the transport industry, journalism and television—all those other occupations where some Sunday work has to be carried on if those services are to be provided. I do not think that the hon. Gentleman can honestly write such protections into the law because they would place quite unreasonable obligations on employers. Indeed, from the way in which he described the amendment in his intervention, I am not even sure whether he fully supports its meaning. I will not provoke the hon. Gentleman into intervening again. I suspect that we will not reach a joint view of the problem—if it is a problem—or of the solution to it.

The parallels that the hon. Gentleman and others draw with the law outlawing race and sex discrimination are quite spurious. Those laws prevent an employer from rejecting on irrelevant grounds of sex or ethnicity an applicant who can and would do a job perfectly well. The amendment would require an employer to take on an employee who manifestly could not or would not do an essential part of the job. That is why I must ask my hon. Friends to reject it.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 274, Noes 302.

Division No. 113] [6.00pm
Adams, Mrs Irene Caborn, Richard
Ainger, Nick Callaghan, Jim
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Allen, Graham Campbell-Savours, D. N.
Alton, David Canavan, Dennis
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) Cann, Jamie
Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale) Chisholm, Malcolm
Armstrong, Hilary Clapham, Michael
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Clark, Dr David (South Shields)
Austin-Walker, John Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)
Barnes, Harry Clelland, David
Barron, Kevin Clwyd, Mrs Ann
Battle, John Coffey, Ann
Bayley, Hugh Cohen, Harry
Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret Connarty, Michael
Beggs, Roy Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Bell, Stuart Cook, Robin (Livingston)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Corbett, Robin
Bennett, Andrew F. Corbyn, Jeremy
Benton, Joe Corston, Ms Jean
Bermingham, Gerald Cousins, Jim
Berry, Dr. Roger Cox, Tom
Betts, Clive Cryer, Bob
Blair, Tony Cummings, John
Blunkett, David Cunliffe, Lawrence
Boateng, Paul Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE)
Boyes, Roland Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr John
Bradley, Keith Dalyell, Tarn
Bray, Dr Jeremy Darling, Alistair
Brown, Gordon (Dunfermline E) Davidson, Ian
Brown, N. (N'c'tle upon Tyne E) Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Burden, Richard Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'l)
Byers, Stephen Denham, John
Dewar, Donald Kirkwood, Archy
Dixon, Don Leighton, Ron
Dobson, Frank Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Donohoe, Brian H. Lewis, Terry
Dunnachie, Jimmy Litherland, Robert
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth Livingstone, Ken
Eagle, Ms Angela Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Eastham, Ken Loyden, Eddie
Enright, Derek McAllion, John
Etherington, Bill McAvoy, Thomas
Evans, John (St Helens N) McCartney, Ian
Fatchett, Derek Macdonald, Calum
Faulds, Andrew McFall, John
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) McKelvey, William
Fisher, Mark Mackinlay, Andrew
Flynn, Paul McLeish, Henry
Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S) Maclennan, Robert
Foster, Rt Hon Derek McMaster, Gordon
Foster, Don (Bath) McNamara, Kevin
Foulkes, George McWilliam, John
Fraser, John Madden, Max
Fyfe, Maria Maddock, Mrs Diana
Galloway, George Mahon, Alice
Gapes, Mike Mandelson, Peter
Garrett, John Marek, Dr John
George, Bruce Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Gerrard, Neil Marshall, Jim (Leicester, S)
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Godman, Dr Norman A. Martlew, Eric
Godsiff, Roger Maxton, John
Golding, Mrs Llin Meacher, Michael
Gordon, Mildred Meale, Alan
Graham, Thomas Michael, Alun
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Milburn, Alan
Grocott, Bruce Miller, Andrew
Gunnell, John Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Hain, Peter Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Hall, Mike Moonie, Dr Lewis
Hanson, David Morgan, Rhodri
Hardy, Peter Morley, Elliot
Harman, Ms Harriet Morris, Rt Hon A. (Wy'nshawe)
Harvey, Nick Morris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Henderson, Doug Mowlam, Marjorie
Heppell, John Mudie, George
Hill, Keith (Streatham) Mullin, Chris
Hinchliffe, David Murphy, Paul
Hoey, Kate Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Home Robertson, John O'Brien, Michael (N W'kshire)
Hood, Jimmy O'Brien, William (Normanton)
Hoon, Geoffrey O'Hara, Edward
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Olner, William
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd) O'Neill, Martin
Hoyle, Doug Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N) Parry, Robert
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Patchett, Terry
Hughes, Roy (Newport E) Pendry, Tom
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Pickthall, Colin
Hutton, John Pike, Peter L.
Ingram, Adam Pope, Greg
Jackson, Glenda (H'stead) Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Jackson, Helen (Shef'ld, H) Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lew'm E)
Jamieson, David Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Johnston, Sir Russell Prescott, John
Jones, Barry (Alyn and D'side) Primarolo, Dawn
Jones, leuan Wyn (Ynys Môn) Purchase, Ken
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C) Quin, Ms Joyce
Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O) Radice, Giles
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW) Randall, Stuart
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham) Raynsford, Nick
Jowell, Tessa Redmond, Martin
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Reid, Dr John
Keen, Alan Robertson, George (Hamilton)
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Robinson, Geoffrey (Co'try NW)
Kennedy, Charles (Ross,C&S) Roche, Mrs. Barbara
Kennedy, Jane (Lpool Brdgn) Rogers, Allan
Khabra, Piara S. Rooker, Jeff
Kilfedder, Sir James Rooney, Terry
Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil (Islwyn) Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Ross, William (E Londonderry) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Rowlands, Ted Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Ruddock, Joan Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Sedgemore, Brian Tipping, Paddy
Sheerman, Barry Turner, Dennis
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert Tyler, Paul
Shore, Rt Hon Peter Walker, Rt Hon Sir Harold
Short, Clare Wallace, James
Simpson, Alan Walley, Joan
Skinner, Dennis Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Smith, Andrew (Oxford E) Wareing, Robert N
Smith, C. (Isl'ton S & F'sbury) Watson, Mike
Smith, Rt Hon John (M'kl'ds E) Wicks, Malcolm
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent) Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S) Williams, Alan W (Carmarthen)
Soley, Clive Winnick, David
Spearing, Nigel Wise, Audrey
Spellar, John Wray, Jimmy
Squire, Rachel (Dunfermline W) Wright, Dr Tony
Steel, Rt Hon Sir David Young, David (Bolton SE)
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George Tellers for the Ayes:
Stott, Roger Mr. Peter Kilfoyle and Mr. Eric Illsley.
Straw, Jack
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey) Churchill, Mr
Aitken, Jonathan Clappison, James
Alexander, Richard Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby) Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ruclif)
Allason, Rupert (Torbay) Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Amess, David Coe, Sebastian
Arbuthnot, James Colvin, Michael
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Congdon, David
Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grv) Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st)
Ashby, David Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Aspinwall, Jack Cope, Rt Hon Sir John
Atkins, Robert Couchman, James
Atkinson, David (Bour'mouth E) Cran, James
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Curry, David (Skipton & Ripon)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset North) Davies, Quentin (Stamford)
Baldry, Tony Davis, David (Boothferry)
Banks, Matthew (Southport) Day, Stephen
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Deva, Nirj Joseph
Bates, Michael Devlin, Tim
Batiste, Spencer Dickens, Geoffrey
Bellingham, Henry Dicks, Terry
Bendall, Vivian Dorrell, Stephen
Beresford, Sir Paul Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Biffen, Rt Hon John Dover, Den
Blackburn, Dr John G. Duncan, Alan
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Duncan-Smith, Iain
Booth, Hartley Dunn, Bob
Boswell, Tim Durant, Sir Anthony
Bottomley, Peter (Eltham) Dykes, Hugh
Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia Eggar, Tim
Bowden, Andrew Elletson, Harold
Bowis, John Evans, David (Welwyn Hatfield)
Boyson, Rt Hon Sir Rhodes Evans, Jonathan (Brecon)
Brandreth, Gyles Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley)
Brazier, Julian Evans, Roger (Monmouth)
Bright, Graham Evennett, David
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Faber, David
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thorpes) Fabricant, Michael
Browning, Mrs. Angela Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset) Fenner, Dame Peggy
Budgen, Nicholas Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Burns, Simon Fishburn, Dudley
Burl, Alistair Forman, Nigel
Butcher, John Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Butler, Peter Forth, Eric
Butterfill, John Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley)
Carlisle, John (Luton North) Freeman, Rt Hon Roger
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) French, Douglas
Carrington, Matthew Fry, Sir Peter
Carttiss, Michael Gale, Roger
Cash, William Gallie, Phil
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Gardiner, Sir George
Chapman, Sydney Garel-Jones, Rt Hon Tristan
Garnier, Edward Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Gill, Christopher Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Gillan, Cheryl Mates, Michael
Goodlad, Rt Hon Alastair Mawhinney, Rt Hon Dr Brian
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Gorst, John Mellor, Rt Hon David
Grant, Sir A. (Cambs SW) Merchant, Piers
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Mills, Iain
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N) Mitchell, Sir David (Hants NW)
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn Moate, Sir Roger
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie Monro, Sir Hector
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Hanley, Jeremy Moss, Malcolm
Hannam, Sir John Needham, Richard
Hargreaves, Andrew Nelson, Anthony
Harris, David Neubert, Sir Michael
Haselhurst, Alan Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Hawkins, Nick Nicholls, Patrick
Hawksley, Warren Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Hayes, Jerry Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Heald, Oliver Norris, Steve
Heath, Rt Hon Sir Edward Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley
Heathcoat-Amory, David Oppenheim, Phillip
Hendry, Charles Ottaway, Richard
Hicks, Robert Page, Richard
Higgins, Rt Hon Sir Terence L. Paice, James
Hill, James (Southampton Test) Patnick, Irvine
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (G'tham) Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Horam, John Pawsey, James
Hordern, Rt Hon Sir Peter Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Howard, Rt Hon Michael Pickles, Eric
Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A) Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Hughes Robert G. (Harrow W) Porter, David (Waveney)
Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W) Portillo, Rt Hon Michael
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne) Powell, William (Corby)
Hunter, Andrew Rathbone, Tim
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Redwood, Rt Hon John
Jack, Michael Rendel, David
Jackson, Robert (Wantage) Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Jenkin, Bernard Richards, Rod
Jessel, Toby Riddick, Graham
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Rifkind, Rt Hon. Malcolm
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Robathan, Andrew
Jones, Robert B. (W Hertfdshr) Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S)
Key, Robert Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
King, Rt Hon Tom Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent)
Kirkhope, Timothy Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela
Knapman, Roger Ryder, Rt Hon Richard
Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash) Sackville, Tom
Knight, Greg (Derby N) Sainsbury, Rt Hon Tim
Knight, Dame Jill (Bir'm E'st'n) Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas
Knox, Sir David Shaw, David (Dover)
Kynoch, George (Kincardine) Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Lait, Mrs Jacqui Shephard, Rt Hon Gillian
Lang, Rt Hon Ian Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Lawrence, Sir Ivan Sims, Roger
Legg, Barry Skeet, Sir Trevor
Leigh, Edward Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Lennox-Boyd, Mark Soames, Nicholas
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe) Speed, Sir Keith
Lidington, David Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset)
Lightbown, David Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter Spink, Dr Robert
Lloyd, Rt Hon Peter (Fareham) Spring, Richard
Lord, Michael Sproat, Iain
Luff, Peter Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Steen, Anthony
Maclean, David Stephen, Michael
McLoughlin, Patrick Stern, Michael
McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick Stewart, Allan
Madel, Sir David Streeter, Gary
Maitland, Lady Olga Sumberg, David
Major, Rt Hon John Sweeney, Walter
Malone, Gerald Sykes, John
Mans, Keith Tapsell, Sir Peter
Marland, Paul Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Marlow, Tony Taylor, John M. (Solihull)
Taylor, Sir Teddy (Southend, E) Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Temple-Morris, Peter Waterson, Nigel
Thomason, Roy Watts, John
Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V) Wells, Bowen
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N) Whitney, Ray
Thornton, Sir Malcolm Whittingdale, John
Thurnham, Peter Widdecombe, Ann
Townend, John (Bridlington) Wiggin, Sir Jerry
Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexl'yh'th) Wilkinson, John
Tracey, Richard Willetts, David
Trend, Michael Wilshire, David
Trotter, Neville Wolfson, Mark
Twinn, Dr Ian Wood, Timothy
Viggers, Peter Yeo, Tim
Waldegrave, Rt Hon William Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Walden, George
Walker, Bill (N Tayside) Tellers for the Noes:
Waller, Gary Mr. Andrew MacKay and Mr. Derek Conway.
Ward, John

Question accordingly negatived.

6.15 pm
Mr. Kevin Barron (Rother Valley)

I beg to move amendment No. 43, in page 17, line 17, after 'etc.)' insert 'or (aa) the reasons the relations ceased to be so governed was that the employee was dismissed and the dismissal was unfair within the meaning of Part V of the Employment Protection (Consolidation) Act 1978'. As published, the Bill does not expressly cover those who may be unlawfully dismissed before the date of enactment and subsequently reinstated or re-engaged. In the case of people who are unlawfully dismissed, such reinstatement does not happen very often. Nevertheless, the Bill as printed puts question marks over whether it would cover such people, through the rules of reinstatement and re-engagement. We have tabled the amendment to give the Minister an opportunity to tell us whether that is the case.

Mr. Peter Lloyd

I can understand why the hon. Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Barron) and his hon. Friends have tabled the amendment. If I follow what the hon. Gentleman said and what the amendment appears to do, the fear is that a ruthless employer could deprive employees of their right to protective status by dismissing them the day before, or shortly before, the schedule comes into effect, and re-employing them afterwards.

I doubt very much whether there is any prospect of that. However ruthless an employer is, he will know that his technically new employees will be able to opt out lawfully in three months. He will have gained very little, except to put himself at risk of having to pay compensation for the earlier unfair dismissals, should they be taken to a tribunal.

The employee has further protection in that, whatever was agreed verbally or in writing before the schedule, the employee will enjoy the protected right not to work on Sunday from day one. That reminds me of a case to which the hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton) referred a couple of debates back.

I do not believe that there is any need for the amendment, but I can imagine the hon. Gentleman asking why the Government do not simply accept it. My reply would be that, apart from the legislator's normal and sensible instinct not to overload Acts with unnecessary provisions, I believe that the amendment, as currently phrased, would extend the status of protected shopworker to anyone who had been unfairly dismissed from shop work for anything connected with Sunday working. That would be the case even if the dismissal had occurred years ago, and compensation had been paid to an individual who might have embarked on a different form of livelihood.

I do not think that there are any loopholes, but I will look at the matter again. If the hon. Member for Rother Valley or any of his hon. Friends want to come and discuss the point or any specific worry that I have not covered, I shall be happy to talk to them. Like them, I want the protections provided in schedule 4 to be real and effective, without any loopholes.

Mr. Barron

On that basis, I shall not press the amendment. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. Lloyd

I beg to move amendment No. 67, in page 17, line 28, after 'states' insert 'that he wishes to work on Sunday or'. This is a small change, but it is worth remarking upon. Amendment No. 67 is designed to remove the possibility of a doubt arising from the wording of the opting-in notice. It does not affect the rights and protections in the schedule, but it should help to avoid possible confusion in future and make it clear that the individual who opts into Sunday work wants to work.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Barron

I beg to move amendment No. 44, in page 17, line 35, after 'time' insert '(whether or not he has previously given an opting-in notice).'.

The First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means Mr. Geoffrey Lofthouse)

With this it will be convenient to take the following amendments: No. 38, page 17, line 37, at end insert '(2A) It shall be the duty of an employer to give any person to whom this paragraph applies written notice of his right to object to Sunday working before requiring him or seeking to require him to work on Sunday at any time after the commencement date.'. No. 45, in page 17, line 37, at end insert— '(2B) The statement of employment particulars given to any shop worker to whom this paragraph applies shall include a statement of the right under this Act to refuse to work on Sunday.' No. 46, in page 17, line 39, at end insert 'and "statement of employment particulars" means the statement required by section 1 of the 1978 Act'. No. 47, in page 17, line 39, at end insert— '4A. It shall be a duty of an employer of any shop worker to keep displayed at all times in a place to which the shop worker has reasonable access a statement of the rights of shop workers under this Act to object to Sunday working and the means by which they may do so,' No. 48, in page 18, line 27, at end insert 'and (c) no subsequent opting-out notice has been given'. No. 49, in page 18, line 27, at end insert— '5A. An employer who receives an opting-in notice from a shop worker shall, within five days of receipt of that notice or before asking him to do shop work on Sunday or on a particular Sunday, whichever is the earlier, give to that shop worker a statement of his right to object to Sunday working and how to exercise that right, and a summary, in plain language, of the provisions of this Schedule as they relate to protected shop workers and opted-out shop workers.'

Mr. Barron

Amendment No. 44 is a probing amendment. We should like to know exactly how far people can go in opting in or out of Sunday working. There seems to be little flexibility in the Bill. Someone who agreed to start working on a Sunday might change his mind at some later stage in his life, perhaps for religious or family reasons, and want to opt out of his obligation under the Bill.

The subsequent amendments in the group would give people the right to know their status and what they can and cannot do under the legislation. It is interesting that the two bodies that have argued over many months, if not years, about how Sunday trading should operate—that is, the Shopping Hours Reform Council and Keep Sunday Special—are like-minded in that they believe that those who are in Sunday employment should have the right to know exactly what it entails.

Some of the amendments in the group require that employees be given written notice of their right to object. One amendment would put that right in their contract of employment under the 1978 legislation. Another would require—alternatively or perhaps even concurrently—that employees' rights should be displayed in their workplace. Many people at work are ignorant of their rights if those rights are not put in front of them. It seems that employers on both sides of the argument do not disagree with the purpose of the amendments.

I should be interested to know what the Minister has to say and whether he believes that some form of right to know could be included in the Bill so that people who work on Sundays can exercise their right to opt out if they want to do so at some stage.

Mr. Peter Lloyd

Amendments Nos. 44 and 48 make explicit what the schedule is designed to deliver—a shopworker will be free to opt out of Sunday working, even if he has previously stated his willingness to work on Sundays by signing an opting-in notice. That can happen over a period in a person's shops career according to changes in his home needs, circumstances, conscience or other matter.

I do not believe that the amendments are strictly necessary because the schedule already provides for what they would achieve. However, like the hon. Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Barron), I am keen that there should be no shadow of doubt that the rights are complete and cannot be encumbered. For once, exceptionally, I believe that it would be desirable to make the Bill so explicit that it ensures that there is no doubt in anyone's mind from the start.

I cannot accept the wording of the amendments. The hon. Gentleman will understand that draftsmen have slightly different ways of doing these things. However, I want to reach the objective that the hon. Gentleman wants to reach and to put it on the face of the Bill that the opportunity exists, as the hon. Gentleman believes that it should, and as the schedule certainly delivers, to opt out after once opting in and then to opt in again and opt out. A person's rights are not taken away if they are used once. I want that to be clearly understood.

Amendments Nos. 38, 45, 46, 47, and 49 are designed to ensure that retail employees are aware of their new rights. I share that objective. The right to opt out is radical and comprehensive but unusual and it will not always be fully taken on board by workers, even after the Bill has been on the statute book for some time. I do not guarantee, as I did for amendments Nos. 44 and 48, to adopt the intention of the amendments. I should like to study them more fully. I have not had long to study them. I should like to consider how best, and at what point, employers should be required to inform their staff of their rights under the schedule.

I aim to introduce a new amendment or set of amendments on Report. I want to meet the gist of what the hon. Member for Rother Valley wants to do. As he said, there are various amendments in the group. I should like to look at them more closely. I hope that I have satisfied hi m that my aim is not dissimilar from his. I hope that that is sufficient to persuade the hon. Gentleman not to press the amendment to a vote.

Mr. Alton

I thank the Minister for his reply to the hon. Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Barron). I share the sentiments expressed by the Minister and by the hon. Gentleman and those expressed in the amendments. The basic right of workers to know their entitlements and their right to protection is an obvious one. The Minister has been reasonable in his response to the amendments. I hope that he will ask his officials to draft amendments that concur with the spirit of what is sought in the amendments—the basic right to know—and that he will come back on Report or in another place determined to do that. The amendments are a much-needed improvement to the Bill. I am grateful for the tone that the Minister has adopted in answering the debate.

Rev. Martin Smyth (Belfast, South)

I share hon. Members' welcome of the Minister's statement, but I wish to press him on the issue. It is not enough to have a provision in the schedule. We are all aware of the difficulties of reading the small print. The average worker would not be in a position to read it. The employer may do so. It is important that, whatever happens, the employees' rights should be displayed in a public place so that the worker may know his or her rights, just as those of us who employ staff have to display in a public place a certificate of insurance to assure workers of their rights.

Mr. Barron

I thank the Minister for his words about the amendments, which I take in the spirit that he said them. I am aware of the intricacies of drafting. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. Barron

I beg to move amendment No. 9 in page 18, line 30, leave out 'three months' and insert 'one month'.

The First Deputy Chairman

With this it will be convenient to consider amendment No. 51, in page 18, line 38, leave out sub-paragraph (2).

Mr. Barron

I said earlier that there was common agreement between the two competing campaigns—Keep Sunday Special and the Shopping Hours Reform Council—on the purpose of the previous group of amendments. My hon. Friends and I take the problem of notification seriously. The Keep Sunday Special campaign and the Shopping Hours Reform Council agree with the amendments and I hope that we can also get some agreement between Government and Opposition.

I shall not go into detail about the reasons for the amendments, except to quote a notice that other hon. Members will have received from the Shopping Hours Reform Council which states: We believe that three months is too long a period. It opens the door to the occasional rogue employer to threaten an occasional Sunday worker with having to work every Sunday for three months if they opt out. Under the circumstances, it seems that that could happen and I have no doubt that some people will say that it will happen if the Bill is enacted in its present form.

One month's notice is not unreasonable. In my experience—before I came to the House—Sunday work is normally done by agreement. If it is reasonable and practicable in most cases to shorten the amount of notice from three months to one month, that would allow us to prevent employers from forcing people to work every Sunday for three months.

Therefore, I hope that the Minister will take the amendments seriously. I hope that both sides of the Committee will agree to accept the amendments, or something broadly similar, so that we can ensure that employers are not allowed that opportunity.

6.30 pm
Mr. Alton

As the Bill stands, shopworkers engaged to work on Sundays may give three months' written notice to their employers that they no longer wish to do so. At the end of that time, an employee who has given such notice would no longer be obliged to work on Sundays and would acquire protected employee status under the Bill.

As the hon. Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Barron) said, we must ask ourselves why the Government set a three-month notification period. Their reason is unclear. At best, it is random, irrational and has no real justification. At worst, such a long period—far longer than is necessary to serve the stated purpose—would give too great an opportunity to employers to coerce employees to work on Sundays, or even to dismiss them for refusing to do so.

The amendment would reduce the statutory period of notice from three months to one month. A one-month period represents a better balance between the interests of shop owners and shopworkers and hon. Members on both sides of the Committee would be well advised to accept it.

From the shop owners' point of view, one month is more than enough time for them to reorder their staffing schedules. From the shopworkers' point of view, one month is a far more reasonable period to have to wait to stop working on Sundays. The inconvenience of a one-month period is minimal for employers, but the inconvenience to employees of a three-month period would be considerable.

There are many valid and important reasons why an employee may suddenly no longer want to work on Sundays. An employee's child, spouse or elderly relative may fall sick and need extra care at the weekends, or he or she may wish to join a sports team or social club which has its main event on a Sunday.

I am sure that hon. Members can think of many other legitimate reasons why employees may wish to stop working on Sundays as quickly as possible when their circumstances change. Putting that inconvenience to one side, a three-month wait may have more serious implications for an employee. Three months is a long time to have to resist the pressure and thinly veiled threats that will inevitably come from employers who will want all their staff to co-operate with their new Sunday opening patterns. A one-month period would mean that far fewer employees would cave in to that sort of improper pressure.

It is only right and fair that employees wishing to exercise their right not to have to work on Sundays should have to wait only as long as is necessary for their employer to rework the staffing schedule. One month is as long as is necessary. A one-month period of notice will protect the rights of employees without harming the interests of employers. The amendment is good and sensible for all concerned and it ought to commend itself to the Committee.

In conclusion, I shall give some evidence for the need for employee protection. A survey of the growth of Sunday trading in Scotland, called "Scotland's Sunday under Pressure", was carried out by R. P. Lang in March 1989. It found that employees in one in four shops had no choice about Sunday working.

We also have evidence from New Zealand, where Sunday trading was legalised in 1990. The New Zealand legislation contained—as does the Bill—several employ-ment protection guarantees, including the provision that workers could not be forced to work on Sundays and that dismissal on such grounds could be the subject of an unfair dismissal action.

Professor Peter Brosnan, formerly reader in labour economics at the Victoria university of Wellington, has reviewed the outcome in a paper called "Liberalising Shop Trading Hours, the New Zealand Experience, 1990". He says: The protections in the Act do not amount to much. Sunday trading has not become a matter of choice for workers. When a worker applies for a job in the retail industry, they are asked whether they will be prepared to work on weekends. Workers know they will only be offered the job if they say they are prepared to work … There are subtle pressures on established workers to work on weekends, too. Employers make appeals to company loyalty; not being prepared to work on weekends is a sign of 'disloyalty' … There is also the strong feeling of letting down one's co-workers. If the others do not want to work on Sundays, it seems selfish to refuse and increase the number of Sundays that others are forced to work. There are pressures in the workplace and there will be greater pressures as a result of the Bill becoming an Act. It is therefore incumbent on us to do all that we can to protect those people who do not wish to work on a Sunday.

The amendment is reasonable and I hope that the Minister—in the same spirit that he showed when dealing with the last group—will accept it or will be prepared, if necessary, to return with his revised version on Report or in another place.

Mrs. Wise

I want to reinforce the remarks that have already been made. I am curious to know why a three-month time scale has been chosen. As the hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton) said, it seems to be a random choice and it does not link with the timing of other things at work. For example, it is far longer than the notice that most people have to give if they want to leave a job. Most people have to give no more than one month's notice if they want to leave. Opting out of Sunday work is a much less dramatic change and it would be wrong to have that long period for no apparent reason.

Workers are in jeopardy. We have already heard about the first sacking—or what is believed to be the first—of a shopworker for refusing to work on Sundays. I entirely agree that three months allows too much time for pressure to be exerted on a worker.

The worker who has already been sacked is Mrs. Freda Love from the Gloucester area. It is instructive that her employer—unfortunately, the Co-op, which I deeply regret—has resolutely denied that she has been dismissed for refusing to work on Sundays. Her employer says that she has been dismissed for refusing to move to another store. However, the proposed move would involve a journey of 20 miles for a lady who would have to use public transport, and we all know what that is like now.

I am reluctant to give employers more time in which to devise ways of increasing coercion. It seems to me that the period of three months has no validity whatsoever and that hon. Members should vote for the amendment if the Minister does not accept it. Like other hon. Members, I hope that he will.

Mr. Peter Lloyd

Despite the remarkably unpacked Chamber, the amendments arouse particularly strong interest here, as elsewhere. I have listened carefully to the three speeches about them. It is plain to me that, despite the way in which this issue has been talked about elsewhere, it is a matter not of principle but of practicality. The principle is whether, in the special circumstances of Sunday shop work, the universal rule that a contract willingly entered into by both sides must be observed until both agree to change it. That issue was decided before publication of the Bill, which gives shopworkers the right to choose at any point in the future whether to opt in or to opt out.

The hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton) invited me to reveal the Government's thinking on the practical question of the length of notice, and the hon. Member for Preston (Mrs. Wise) was curious about how the Government justified the period of three months. As I said during the discussion on earlier amendments, it was plain that there was a strong desire on both sides of the Committee and among the supporters of all the options—those who want shops largely to remain shut and those who want them to be entirely free to open—that shopworkers should have a continuing choice that they do not have in respect of weekday work. There is clearly a desire that, in the case of shopworkers, Sunday should be regarded as special and that normal contract rules should not apply.

The Government responded with schedule 4, which gives all shopworkers, present and future, the right to opt out of Sunday work at three months' notice without a detrimental effect on their weekday work. During the period of notice, no employer may pile on extra Sunday work unless the employee previously agreed to Sunday work and that is what he is resigning from. There is no way in which an employer can change previously agreed arrangements for Sunday working. Of course, an existing shopworker is able to opt out—that is not the technically correct expression—from day one.

Mr. Ray Powell

Am I to understand it that an employer can expect an employee to work every Sunday if that person opted in, or will the employee have a right to do only occasional Sunday work?

Mr. Lloyd

An existing shopworker will be entirely at liberty to continue to work on any Sundays that fall into the previous pattern, if he finds that acceptable. However, if he does not want to do any Sunday work at all, or if he wants to change the existing pattern, he may make the change straight away. A new employee agreeing to do some Sunday working opts in. The opting-in process involves his saying that he has no objection to Sunday work—following the debate on an earlier amendment, I intend to make the provision more positive—but that does not mean that he agrees to work on a particular Sunday or a particular series of Sundays. There must be a second agreement specifying the working Sundays or how the pattern will be established. That is what. becomes enforceable until the employee decides to opt out. However, he must work as agreed for up to three months.

Mr. Boateng

Does the Minister envisage that it will be possible for an employer to insert a contract clause stating that an employee must work on Sunday at the discretion of management? If so, will there be any means of preventing the management from requiring the employee to work every Sunday?

Mr. Lloyd

That is an interesting point. If an agreement contained such a provision in the case of an opted-in worker, it might well be enforceable for at least the three months. The hon. Gentleman smiles as if to show that he has achieved an enormously effective breakthrough in argument. In the case of an existing shopworker, anything signed before the entry into force of these provisions would not be enforceable by the employer. However, the provision is much narrower than is implied by the hon. Gentleman's question and by his smile.

6.45 pm
Ms Eagle

I should like to raise a slightly different point. It concerns future employees, who, under this legislation, will have the right to give notice of their intention to opt out of Sunday work. My concern—I should appreciate guidance on whether my interpretation of the law is correct—is that, although, in theory, a worker could give his employer notice of his intention to opt out of Sunday work and would therefore be an opted-out worker, a relatively new employee, under current legislation, has no employment rights or protection against unfair dismissal unless he has worked for two years or five years, depending on whether he is full time or part time. What worries me is that it might be possible for an employer to dismiss a worker during the three-month period and claim that there were redundancies or fail to give a reason at all.

Mr. Lloyd

I understand the hon. Lady's point, on which some amendments will be discussed later tonight. The protections apply from day one. They are not like the other employment legislation, under which there must be a two-year qualifying period. Here, protection starts on the first day of employment. Of course, the notice period of three months applies. However, unfair dismissal arising from refusal to do Sunday work or from notice of intention to opt out is covered.

Rev. Martin Smyth

Many weekend jobs are done by casual workers, although some are permanent. Several of us are old enough to remember the bad old days when people could be dismissed at a moment's notice. Is the Minister satisfied that an employer could not find reasons other than unwillingness to work on Sundays for discharging a person? If an ordinary worker is required to give one month's notice, why is it necessary to introduce a period of three months for Sunday work? I find it strange that an employer can get away with one month's notice from an employee to terminate employment but the employee is required to give three months' notice to stop working on Sundays.

Mr. Lloyd

That is part of the argument through which I am moving logically. I shall deal with the hon. Gentleman's second point when I come to it. On his first point, I am certain that protections exist for employees who have been dismissed or otherwise detrimentally affected in their work because of their refusal to work on Sundays and the dismissal has been dressed up as being for some other reason. If such a case is taken to a tribunal, it can uncover whether that has happened. It is for the employee not to prove why he was proceeded against unfairly but only to show the tribunal that he was dismissed. It is then up to the employer to show the reasons for the dismissal and prove that those were appropriate to his decision to dismiss. That is how it works.

I realise that some cases are difficult for tribunals to determine and that some employees will not always want to go to a tribunal, but I am confident that the machinery is in place to resolve those matters in that way.

What has not been said in the debate so far, and has been largely omitted from the critical amendments that we have been discussing, is that the rights and protections in schedule 4 are radical, special and sweeping. The House should acknowledge that. The rights and protections provided by the schedule mean that shopworkers will have a continuing choice as to whether to make themselves available for Sunday work. It will be entirely up to them, so long as they give reasonable notice to their employers that, having been available, they no longer wish to be so. The matter of principle is therefore settled and is wholly in favour of employees.

This debate is about practicalities and the schedule sets three months' notice. I now come to the point in which the hon. Member for Belfast, South (Rev. Martin Smyth) was interested. Amendment No. 9 suggests that one month's notice would be sufficient. The effect of amendment No. 51 would be to require no notice at all. I am not sure whether that was its intention, but that is what it would achieve, so amendment No. 51 would not be reasonable. It would clearly be impossible for an employer to operate if he had no advance knowledge of which of his staff would turn up when he opened his shop on a Sunday. I hope that the Committee will reject that amendment, as it is not a seriously arguable proposition.

I can see, however, the force of amendment No. 9 and the arguments used to promote it. They were buttressed in each of the speeches by Opposition Members by undertakings and quotations from major retailers in the Shopping Hours Reform Council who said that they would have no problem with one month's notice. I hope that my comments do not raise false expectations that I can accept amendment No. 9. I must make it clear that I cannot. But I accept the fact that many large shops with a lot of staff and a well-understood product range will be able to manage perfectly well with one month's notice. I suspect that some could manage with only a week's notice, but plenty of other shops, particularly small ones and those with specialised product ranges, are convinced that they could not.

If a shop has a staff of 30 or 40 people, it can manage if four or five of them give a month's notice that they will no longer come in on a Sunday in four or five weeks' time. But if a shop employs only one or two people who need considerable experience or training, it will sometimes be impossible to make adequate replacement arrangements in a month and induct new staff properly and fully into the business.

Opposition Members have waxed fairly eloquent on behalf of employees and, by extension, of large shops, but they have forgotten the small specialist shops, which also have a right to have their interests taken into account. Customers of hi-fi shops expect knowledgeable advice from shop staff, as do customers buying carpets from specialist carpet shops. By contrast, customers buying groceries at a supermarket seldom need to know the answers to questions of greater technical profundity than on which shelf the baked beans are stacked.

Rev. Martin Smyth

I have tried to follow the Minister's argument. How much easier is it for small shopkeepers to replace staff who give one month's notice? It sometimes means that they are finished. If they can cope with that, why does the Minister say that they will have extreme difficulty coping with one month's notice to replace somebody for casual Sunday work?

Mr. Lloyd

I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on a good intervention. The hon. Member for Mossley Hill gave the answer when he described why people may want to change their arrangements for Sunday working. It must be remembered that, if they work during the week, their livelihood does not depend on Sunday working; some of their income depends on it, but they can manage perfectly well without it. The hon. Gentleman explained that they might want to join a sports club that operates on Sundays or change their pattern of activity. We all know that there are many reasons why Sunday working may become unattractive.

When employees leave employment altogether, they are making a big decision to vacate a job that provides their livelihood. If they cease to work on one or two Sundays in a month, having worked on Sundays for the past two or three years because it suited them as they were saving for a mortgage or for some other purpose, and they now join a rugby club or some other organisation that operates on a Sunday, that is a small decision for them. The inevitable and perfectly acceptable outcome of the changes which the schedule makes is that people will make such choices at different times in their lives because of different pressures. The hon. Member for Mossley Hill has given one of the major reasons why the notice period must be three months. It will be a right of which employees can take advantage when circumstances in their lives change.

Mr. Alton

I am dumbfounded by the Minister's argument. The point that I was making was that, for all the reasons that he has adumbrated, three months is too long. One month's notice is all that is needed to achieve all the objectives that he has described. How can the Minister deduce as a logical argument the concept of hanging on for a further two months after an employee has given notice to his employer that he wants to change his working practices?

Mr. Lloyd

There are problems for employers when employees give one month's notice, but it happens a little less often and a little less unexpectedly because an employee is making a large decision which is taken carefully. To opt in or out of Sunday working is a much smaller decision that could be taken much more frequently and possibly by many employees in a particular store at the same time. Small shops especially need the extra protection, as do specialist shops where a newcomer to the staff needs to be trained. It does not eliminate the problem for small shops, but it certainly reduces it.

Mrs. Wise

Does the Minister realise that what he has just said amounts to an admission that choice for shopworkers is all very well so long as they do not really want to exercise it?

Mr. Lloyd

No, I have not said that. As the hon. Lady knows, if employees want to exercise choice, they must give three months' notice. There is no question but that choice exists. At issue is the practical question of how much notice it is reasonable to give. I am sure that large shops and chains that say that one month is enough will want to be as good as their word and still seek only one month's notice from their employees. But the law must be a universal minimum with as many of those who are covered being able to manage under it. Good employers will always want to improve on that minimum. I hope that the leading employers of the SHRC who say that they can manage with less will do so. There is no compulsion for them to take three months, but if we are making a law that should suit everybody, three months is probably the most sensible and fair balance.

7 pm

Ms Glenda Jackson

The Minister was speaking about specialist shops that require specific training. If I remember correctly, he spoke of shops that sold carpets. In many of those specialist shops, as well as a basic wage there is also a commission on sales achieved. The Minister is suggesting that someone must give three months' notice. When an employee is leaving, it is human nature that it will be in the shop owner's best interest to revert to the staff who are remaining or to those who are being trained possible sales that will produce a sizeable amount of commission. The Minister is advocating that, for three months, a shopworker will see his or her income reduced. A month is manageable, three months is not.

Mr. Lloyd

Of course, it is perfectly manageable for the employee in that situation. Different shops, stores and relationships between the employer and employee may make different agreements between the employer and employee desirable or possible. We are talking about the minimum requirement of the law. The minimum requirement should have a universal validity and practicality. I do not think that one month will be sufficient for all retail outlets. As I have said, many will do better than that if better is to accept a shorter notice. That is wholly admirable. It is wholly admirable that the retail trade is thinking in terms of good practice guidelines. We are talking about the minimum. The minimum is three months, otherwise some retailers could find particular difficulties. I have already mentioned the types that could.

I do not think that three months is a great hardship on most employees, because if they had entered a job after the changes in the law, when it was clear that there would be Sunday working, they would have known full well that it was expected of them. If they were existing workers, they would have agreed to do such time anyway; they would have agreed with the specification of how much they were to work on Sunday.

When an employee wants to opt out, he or she often has good reasons for so doing. Those reasons are usually predictable. As was mentioned by the hon. Member for Mossley Hill, when those reasons are, for example, a sick relative or a crisis in the family, one month is far too long. What one needs is a reasonable employer, with a reasonable agreement. I would expect all employers, particularly those with valued employees who have given them good service, to show such flexibility, which they do now and would still have to do when the notice is only one month. For the reasons that I have given, it is clear that we are not asking for the period of notice always to be three months. The law should specify that that should be the minimum demanded. If an employer and employee can arrange something less, particularly in a time of crisis, I applaud them in so doing.

Mr. Barron

The Minister is quite right to say that existing workers will have already agreed to three months. That is because it is in the Bill. If one month were in the Bill, they would have agreed to that.

Mr. Lloyd

The hon. Gentleman is wrong. They do not have to agree to three months. After the measure comes into force, there is no agreement. They may stop at any time they like. It is only three months if they formally enter into an arrangement with their employer.

Mr. Barron

The Minister started by saying in effect that a contract is usually drawn up willingly between an employer and employee, although he did not say it in exactly that way. He has spent the past five minutes reminding the Committee how the contract of employment is usually loaded against the employee, as is the Bill. I am not talking about rugby clubs in particular. I said that somebody might change to the Christian religion and suddenly want to get out of having to commit himself to continuing to work on Sunday for three months. Given that the lobbyists, who have been lobbying to change the present legislation over many years, would agree to one month, I see no justification for leaving the schedule as it stands. On that basis, the Opposition do not agree with the Minister.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 280, Noes 298.

Division No. 114] [7.06 pm
Adams, Mrs Irene Brown, N. (N'c'tle upon Tyne E)
Ainger, Nick Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Burden, Richard
Allen, Graham Byers, Stephen
Alton, David Caborn, Richard
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) Callaghan, Jim
Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale) Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Armstrong, Hilary Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Campbell-Savours, D. N.
Austin-Walker, John Canavan, Dennis
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Cann, Jamie
Barnes, Harry Chisholm, Malcolm
Barron, Kevin Clapham, Michael
Battle, John Clark, Dr David (South Shields)
Bayley, Hugh Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)
Beggs, Roy Clelland, David
Bell, Stuart Clwyd, Mrs Ann
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Coffey, Ann
Bennett, Andrew F. Cohen, Harry
Benton, Joe Connarty, Michael
Bermingham, Gerald Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Berry, Dr. Roger Cook, Robin (Livingston)
Berts, Clive Corbett, Robin
Blair, Tony Corbyn, Jeremy
Blunkett, David Corston, Ms Jean
Boateng, Paul Cousins, Jim
Boyes, Roland Cox, Tom
Bradley, Keith Cryer, Bob
Bray, Dr Jeremy Cummings, John
Brown, Gordon (Dunfermline E) Cunliffe, Lawrence
Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE) Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr John Keen, Alan
Dalyell, Tam Kennedy, Charles (Ross.C&S)
Darling, Alistair Kennedy, Jane (Lpool Brdgn)
Davidson, Ian Khabra, Piara S.
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Kilfedder, Sir James
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Kilfoyle, Peter
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'l) Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil (Islwyn)
Denham, John Kirkwood, Archy
Dewar, Donald Leighton, Ron
Dixon, Don Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Dobson, Frank Lewis, Terry
Donohoe, Brian H. Litherland, Robert
Dunnachie, Jimmy Livingstone, Ken
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Eagle, Ms Angela Loyden, Eddie
Eastham, Ken Lynne, Ms Liz
Enright, Derek McAllion, John
Etherington, Bill McAvoy, Thomas
Evans, John (St Helens N) McCartney, Ian
Fatchett, Derek Macdonald, Calum
Faulds, Andrew McFall, John
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) McKelvey, William
Fisher, Mark Mackinlay, Andrew
Flynn, Paul McLeish, Henry
Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S) Maclennan, Robert
Foster, Rt Hon Derek McMaster, Gordon
Foster, Don (Bath) McNamara, Kevin
Foulkes, George McWilliam, John
Fraser, John Madden, Max
Fyfe, Maria Maddock, Mrs Diana
Galloway, George Mahon, Alice
Gapes, Mike Mandelson, Peter
Garrett, John Marek, Dr John
George, Bruce Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Gerrard, Neil Marshall, Jim (Leicester, S)
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Godman, Dr Norman A. Martlew, Eric
Godsiff, Roger Maxton, John
Golding, Mrs Llin Meacher, Michael
Gordon, Mildred Meale, Alan
Graham, Thomas Michael, Alun
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Milburn, Alan
Grocott, Bruce Miller, Andrew
Gunnell, John Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Hain, Peter Moonie, Dr Lewis
Hall, Mike Morgan, Rhodri
Hanson, David Morley, Elliot
Hardy, Peter Morris, Rt Hon A. (Wy'nshawe)
Harman, Ms Harriet Morris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Harvey, Nick Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Henderson, Doug Mowlam, Marjorie
Heppell, John Mudie, George
Hill, Keith (Streatham) Mullin, Chris
Hinchliffe, David Murphy, Paul
Hoey, Kate Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Home Robertson, John O'Brien, Michael (N W'kshire)
Hood, Jimmy O'Brien, William (Normanton)
Hoon, Geoffrey O'Hara, Edward
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Olner, William
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd) O'Neill, Martin
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N) Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Parry, Robert
Hughes, Roy (Newport E) Patchett, Terry
Hughes, Simon (Southward) Pendry, Tom
Hutton, John Pickthall, Colin
Ingram, Adam Pike, Peter L.
Jackson, Glenda (H'stead) Pope, Greg
Jackson, Helen (Shef'ld, H) Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Jamieson, David Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lew'm E)
Johnston, Sir Russell Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Jones, Barry (Alyn and D'side) Prescott, John
Jones, leuan Wyn (Ynys Môn) Primarolo, Dawn
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C) Purchase, Ken
Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O) Quin, Ms Joyce
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW) Radice, Giles
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham) Randall, Stuart
Jowell, Tessa Raynsford, Nick
Redmond, Martin Stott, Roger
Reid, Dr John Strang, Dr. Gavin
Rendel, David Straw, Jack
Robertson, George (Hamilton) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Co'try NW) Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Roche, Mrs. Barbara Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Rogers, Allan Tipping, Paddy
Rooker, Jeff Turner, Dennis
Rooney, Terry Tyler, Paul
Ross, William (E Londonderry) Vaz, Keith
Rowlands, Ted Walker, A. Cecil (Belfast N)
Ruddock, Joan Walker, Rt Hon Sir Harold
Sedgemore, Brian Wallace, James
Shearman, Barry Walley, Joan
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert Warden, Gareth (Gower)
Shore, Rt Hon Peter Wareing, Robert N
Short, Clare Watson, Mike
Simpson, Alan Wicks, Malcolm
Skinner, Dennis Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)
Smith, Andrew (Oxford E) Williams, Alan W (Carmarthen)
Smith, C. (Isl'ton S & F'sbury) Wilson, Brian
Smith, Rt Hon John (M'kl'ds E) Winnick, David
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent) Wise, Audrey
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S) Wray, Jimmy
Soley, Clive Wright, Dr Tony
Spearing, Nigel Young, David (Bolton SE)
Spellar, John
Squire, Rachel (Dunfermline W) Tellers for the Ayes:
Steel, Rt Hon Sir David Mr. Eric Illsley and Mr. Jim Dowd.
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey) Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Aitken, Jonathan Carrington, Matthew
Alexander, Richard Cash, William
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby) Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Allason, Rupert (Torbay) Chapman, Sydney
Amess, David Churchill, Mr
Arbuthnot, James Clappison, James
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grv) Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ruclif)
Ashby, David Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Aspinwall, Jack Coe, Sebastian
Atkins, Robert Colvin, Michael
Atkinson, David (Bour'mouth E) Congdon, David
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Conway, Derek
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset North) Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st)
Baldry, Tony Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Banks, Matthew (Southport) Cope, Rt Hon Sir John
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Couchman, James
Bates, Michael Cran, James
Batiste, Spencer Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire)
Bellingham, Henry Curry, David (Skipton & Ripon)
Bendall, Vivian Davies, Quentin (Stamford)
Beresford, Sir Paul Davis, David (Boothferry)
Biffen, Rt Hon John Day, Stephen
Blackburn, Dr John G. Deva, Nirj Joseph
Body, Sir Richard Devlin, Tim
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Dickens, Geoffrey
Booth, Hartley Dicks, Terry
Boswell, Tim Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Bottomley, Peter (Eltham) Dover, Den
Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia Duncan, Alan
Bowden, Andrew Duncan-Smith, Iain
Bowis, John Dunn, Bob
Boyson, Rt Hon Sir Rhodes Durant, Sir Anthony
Brandreth, Gyles Dykes, Hugh
Brazier, Julian Eggar, Tim
Bright, Graham Elletson, Harold
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Evans, David (Welwyn Hatfield)
Browning, Mrs. Angela Evans, Jonathan (Brecon)
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset) Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley)
Budgen, Nicholas Evans, Roger (Monmouth)
Burns, Simon Evennett, David
Burt, Alistair Fabricant, Michael
Butcher, John Fenner, Dame Peggy
Butler, Peter Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Butterfill, John Fishburn, Dudley
Carlisle, John (Luton North) Forman, Nigel
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Forth, Eric MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring) MacKay, Andrew
Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley) McLoughlin, Patrick
Freeman, Rt Hon Roger McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick
French, Douglas Madel, Sir David
Fry, Sir Peter Maitland, Lady Olga
Gale, Roger Malone, Gerald
Gallie, Phil Mans, Keith
Gardiner, Sir George Marland, Paul
Garel-Jones, Rt Hon Tristan Marlow, Tony
Garnier, Edward Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Gill, Christopher Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Gillan, Cheryl Mates, Michael
Goodlad, Rt Hon Alastair Mawhinney, Rt Hon Dr Brian
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Mellor, Rt Hon David
Grant, Sir A. (Cambs SW) Merchant, Piers
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Mills, Iain
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N) Mitchell, Sir David (Hants NW)
Grylls, Sir Michael Moate, Sir Roger
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn Monro, Sir Hector
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Moss, Malcolm
Hampson, Dr Keith Nelson, Anthony
Hanley, Jeremy Neubert, Sir Michael
Hannam, Sir John Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Hargreaves, Andrew Nicholls, Patrick
Harris, David Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Haselhurst, Alan Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Hawkins, Nick Norris, Steve
Hawksley, Warren Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley
Hayes, Jerry Oppenheim, Phillip
Heald, Oliver Ottaway, Richard
Heathcoat-Amory, David Page, Richard
Hendry, Charles Paice, James
Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael Patnick, Irvine
Hicks, Robert Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Higgins, Rt Hon Sir Terence L. Pawsey, James
Hill, James (Southampton Test) Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (G'tham) Pickles, Eric
Horam, John Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Hordern, Rt Hon Sir Peter Porter, David (Waveney)
Howard, Rt Hon Michael Portillo, Rt Hon Michael
Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A) Powell, William (Corby)
Hughes Robert G. (Harrow W) Rathbone, Tim
Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W) Redwood, Rt Hon John
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne) Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Hunter, Andrew Richards, Rod
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Riddick, Graham
Jack, Michael Rifkind, Rt Hon. Malcolm
Jackson, Robert (Wantage) Robathan, Andrew
Jenkin, Bernard Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn
Jessel, Toby Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S)
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent)
Jones, Robert B. (W Hertfdshr) Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Ryder, Rt Hon Richard
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Sackville, Tom
Key, Robert Sainsbury, Rt Hon Tim
Knapman, Roger Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas
Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash) Shaw, David (Dover)
Knight, Greg (Derby N) Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Knight, Dame Jill (Birm E'st'n) Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Knox, Sir David Sims, Roger
Kynoch, George (Kincardine) Skeet, Sir Trevor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Lang, Rt Hon Ian Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Lawrence, Sir Ivan Soames, Nicholas
Legg, Barry Speed, Sir Keith
Leigh, Edward Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset)
Lennox-Boyd, Mark Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe) Spink, Dr Robert
Lidington, David Spring, Richard
Lightbown, David Sproat, Iain
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)
Lloyd, Rt Hon Peter (Fareham) Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Lord, Michael Steen, Anthony
Luff, Peter Stephen, Michael
Stern, Michael Walden, George
Stewart, Allan Walker, Bill (N Tayside)
Streeter, Gary Waller, Gary
Sumberg, David Ward, John
Sweeney, Walter Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Sykes, John Waterson, Nigel
Taylor, Ian (Esher) Watts, John
Taylor, John M. (Solihull) Wells, Bowen
Taylor, Sir Teddy (Southend, E) Whitney, Ray
Temple-Morris, Peter Whittingdale, John
Thomason, Roy Widdecombe, Ann
Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V) Wiggin, Sir Jerry
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N) Wilkinson, John
Thornton, Sir Malcolm Willetts, David
Thurnham, Peter Wilshire, David
Townend, John (Bridlington) Wolfson, Mark
Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexl'yh'th) Wood, Timothy
Tracey, Richard Yeo, Tim
Tredinnick, David Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Trend, Michael
Trotter, Neville Tellers for the Noes:
Twinn, Dr Ian Mr. Timothy Kirkhope and Mr. Michael Brown.
Viggers, Peter
Waldegrave, Rt Hon William

Question accordingly negatived.

Ms Ruddock

I beg to move amendment No. 50, in page 18, line 31, at end insert—