HL Deb 05 February 1970 vol 307 cc762-4

3.52 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that the British Transport (Compensation to Employees) Regulations 1970, a draft of which was laid before Parliament on December 10, 1969, be approved. I will briefly explain the purport of these Regulations.

As your Lordships know, the Transport Act 1968 made provision for structural changes in the organisation of the undertakings of the Railways Board and the Transport Holding Company and for the creation of new authorities: the National Freight Corporation, the Scottish Transport Group and the National Bus Company. These statutory reorganisations, together with the provisions for subsequent changes—for example, any adaptation in the British Transport Police Force Scheme under paragraph 5(4) of Schedule 16 to the Act, the disposal of historical records and relics by the Railways Board and statutory changes in the manner in which the carrying on of the activities of the Railways Board or the National Freight Corporation is organised—are all included in Section 135 of the 1968 Act as events attracting statutory compensation for the staff who may be adversely affected.

That section places a duty on the Minister, acting jointly with the Secretary of State for Scotland in so far as the Scottish Transport Group may be concerned, to make regulations requiring the payment of compensation to any person who, at the lime of the happening of one of the events prescribed in Section 135(1), was in employment as determined in the Regulations and—I quote from the Act: who suffers any loss of employment, or loss or diminution of emoluments or pension rights, or worsening of his position, which is properly attributable to the happening of that event. It is in the fulfilment of that obligation and in accordance with Section 135(5) of the Act that these draft Regulations have been laid before Parliament and that I am asking this House to approve them.

It will be seen that the draft Regulations apply to staff who suffer the losses I have mentioned and who are employed by a nationalised transport body or a subsidiary of that body or who are employed by an operator who has had a previous statutory consent to operate an area bus service revoked under paragraph 10(1) of Schedule 6 to the Transport Act 1968. During the course of the preparation of the Regulations there has been full consultation with the organisations concerned. This consultation has included the Nationalised Transport Boards, the Trades Union Congress and interested unions, local authority associations, and a trade association with an interest in the regulations. In this consultation it has been possible to take account of a number of suggestions made by these bodies and we believe that there are no outstanding points of contention. The Regulations would take effect from November 18, 1968, on which date the major relevant sections of the parent Act were brought into force.

I have no wish unnecessarily to take up the time of this House in elaborating the types of compensation but, if the House desires, I will, with permission, gladly give a fuller explanation of the Regulations. As I have said, there has been full consultation in their preparation. They embody a pattern of compensation based on that for statutory compensation which, with minor modifications called for as a result of changing circumstances, has been applied over the last twenty years. They therefore give effect to established policy followed by Governments of both Parties, and I think I may claim that they go as far as is reasonably possible to meet cases of loss among staff arising from the reorganisation effected by the Act. I therefore ask the House to approve the draft regulations.

Moved, That the Draft British Transport (Compensation to Employees) Regulations 1970, laid before the House on December 10, be approved.—(Lord Hughes.)


My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, for moving the reception of this Order and explaining its purpose to us. Like him, I remember the Transport Act 1968, some of which was good and some of which was not so good. This provision for compensation is one of the good things that came out of it, and therefore it is my pleasure to welcome these Regulations.

I have run my eye over the Regulations here proposed and, as the noble Lord says, they seem to follow the best precedents for compensation schemes. I must say that I can find no fault with them. The noble Lord has been good enough to offer us, if it is the wish of the House, an explanation in extenso. For myself, I feel that what he has said is sufficient to commend the Regulations to me. I am sure that the full consultations which have already taken place, and which have achieved complete agreement, are enough to commend the Regulations to us. We are all glad to see that the scheme is now finally put into statutory form. I have much pleasure in supporting the Motion.

On Question, Motion agreed to.