§ (".—(1) This section applies where regulations under section 2(2) of the European Communities Act 1972 (general implementation of Treaties) make provision for the purpose of implementing, or for a purpose concerning, a Community obligation of the United Kingdom which relates to the treatment of employees on the transfer of an undertaking or business or part of an undertaking or business.
§ (2) The regulations may make the same or similar provision in relation to the treatment of employees in circumstances other than those to which the Community obligation applies (including circumstances in which there is no transfer, or no transfer to which the Community obligation applies).")
§ Lord Sainsbury of Turville
I shall not move Amendment No. 297ZA standing in the name of my noble friend Lord Simon. As the Committee will be 402 aware, the Government have received a request from the noble Lord, Lord Alexander, on behalf of the Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee not to move the amendment at this stage. This is in order to enable the committee to consider the amendment at its meeting next week so that its comments may inform your Lordships' debate.
We are pleased to accede to the noble Lord's request. The Government will be submitting a supplementary memorandum to the committee, copies of which will of course be placed in the Library. We shall return to the matter on Report with the benefit of the committee's comments.
§ [Amendment No. 297ZA not moved.]
§ Clause 33 [Orders and regulations]:
§ Baroness Miller of Hendon moved Amendment No. 297A:
Page 16, line 3, at end insert—
("(3) Where regulations are made or are laid before Parliament for approval under this Act for the purpose of implementing any European Union Directive in United Kingdom law, the Secretary of State shall simultaneously in each case publish a statement seeing out where those regulations go beyond the minimum requirement of the directive.
(4) A statement under subsection (3) shall also give estimates of—
§ The noble Baroness said: I shall speak to these amendments briefly. Where the Secretary of State makes regulations because of any fee directive, Amendment No. 297A requires him, first, to make clear to Parliament the way in which any regulation goes beyond the requirements of the directive. We have already seen an example of gold plating in the parental leave regulations which have gone far beyond what the directive requires.
§ This amendment will make the Minister think twice before imposing additional burdens on British business that are not suffered by our competitors in the EU. It will also be clear notice to Parliament about what the Secretary of State has done.
§ Amendment No. 297B has its inspiration from a speech to the British Chamber of Commerce on 3rd June by the Secretary of State. He said that he might be sunsetting some future regulations. I remember a story that London taxi drivers were, at one time, required to keep a bale of hay in the backs of their cabs for their horses, because someone forgot to repeal the order when motor cabs replaced the Hansom cab.
§ I do not know whether the story is true or apocryphal, but it is a good illustration of the need for sunset clauses. I want to take an early opportunity to assist the Secretary of State in his commendable project of constantly keeping regulations under review. This is a probing amendment, but I invite the Secretary of State to demonstrate his seriousness by accepting it. It sunsets all the regulations made under this Bill after five years unless renewed; just as he was proposing.403
§ Amendment No. 297C requires the Secretary of State to publish a detailed report to Parliament of the workings of this Bill. If it is the success he claims it will be, he will doubtless want to trumpet it from the top of the Clock Tower. If things go wrong, he should be prepared to admit it.
§ As I pointed out to his predecessor in connection with the National Minimum Wage Act, the alternative will be to extract the same information from him by a series of questions, so I hope that he will agree to provide the information as part of this very important Bill. I beg to move.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
The Government are very sympathetic to the thinking behind the amendments. We share the concern to avoid unnecessary burdens on business. As regards Amendment No. 297A, we are committed to ensuring that there is a rigorous and thorough assessment of the risks, costs and benefits of any new proposals. We consider a range of policy options in order to identify the best course of action. When we are implementing an EC directive, we examine options which go no further than the terms of the directive, but we also examine options which go further since they might provide better value for money.
We ensure that details of the costs and benefits are set out in the regulatory impact assessment. In respect of this Bill, the RIA gave an analysis of the reasons for and the costs of increasing the current period of statutory maternity leave from 14 to 18 weeks. The increase which went beyond the requirements of the EC directive was widely welcomed in the consultation. It reduces the confusion which many employers and workers experience as a result of the discrepancy between the current 14 weeks and maternity leave right and the 18-week maternity benefit period. Amendment No. 297A simply calls for a regulatory impact assessment which focuses in a blinkered manner on costs alone. Our regulatory assessment covers costs and benefits and we think it is preferable to the amendment.
Amendment No. 297B is about sunset clauses. As the noble Baroness recognised, Stephen Byers told the British chambers of commerce in Glasgow on 3rd June that he is attracted by the idea. We have sympathy with it in principle. In practice, this particular amendment causes us some difficulties. There is not a one-size-fits-all approach. We need to consider each regulation case by case. It may be relevant when there is a particular problem which is of short duration. But the problem here, in particular, is that it is implementing an EC directive, which is a continuing obligation. We should be in breach of the directive if we were to allow our implementing of regulations to lapse in accordance with a sunset provision of the type which is proposed here.
Amendment No. 297C addresses a serious point. We need to have a thorough cost-benefit analysis. It is clearly no less important that we should be aware of the impact which legislation has once it is in place. That is why the regulatory impact is supposed to examine ways of monitoring the impact of regulation.
404 It may help the Committee if I recall the ways in which the RIA said that the impact should be monitored and evaluated. We shall monitor and evaluate the take up of parental leave and changes in maternity rights. The Employment Tribunal Service will continue to monitor the numbers of applications made, the outcomes and awards. ACAS and CAC will monitor the number of requests for their involvement in trade union recognition matters. The CAC will monitor the number of applications under the statutory recognition procedure.
In addition, we shall consider the case for a further round of the regular Workplace Employee Relations Survey, which I personally welcome greatly since I was involved with the design of the first one a number of years ago. We shall certainly trace changes resulting from that and other employment regulation. That is a more flexible and yet effective approach from that proposed in the amendments.
§ Baroness Miller of Hendon
I am grateful to the Minister for the courteous, helpful and understanding way in which he answered this group of amendments. We are not too far apart. As regards the point made about gold-plating, I had tabled many amendments which gave examples of that. However, I did not move them this evening. Therefore, I shall return to them on Report. That will give me an opportunity to deal in more detail with that matter and will no doubt give the Minister the opportunity to tell me why he thinks I am wrong. But, for now, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ [Amendment No. 297B not moved.]
§ Clause 33 agreed to.
§ [Amendment No. 297C not moved.]
§ Clauses 34 and 35 agreed to.
§ Schedule 8 [Repeals]:
§ Lord Simon of Highbury moved Amendments Nos. 298 to 302:
§ Page 89, line 30, at end insert—
|("In section 118(1)(b), the word ", 127".")|
§ Page 90, leave out lines 13 and 14
§ Page 90, line 24, at end insert—
|("1992 c. 52.||Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.||In Schedule A1, paragraph 122.")|
§ Page 91, line 3, at end insert—
|("1999 c. 00||Employment Relations Act 1999.||Section 16(6).")|
§ Page 94, line 17, at end insert—
|("1998 c. 8.||Employment Rights (Dispute Resolution) Act 1998.||Section 14(1).")|
§ On Question, amendments agreed to.
§ Schedule 8, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 36 agreed to.
§ [Amendment No. 302A not moved.]
§ Clause 37 [Extent.]405
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 303:
Page 16. line 17, at beginning insert—
("(1) Any amendment or repeal in this Act has the same extent as the provision amended or repealed.
(2) Subject to subsection (1),")
§ The noble Lord said: I should like to move Amendment No. 303 and speak also to Amendment No. 304. These are technical amendments dealing with Northern Ireland. Amendment No. 303 ensures that where the Bill amends or repeals part of employment legislation which applies exceptionally to Northern Ireland, the amendments and repeals will apply to Northern Ireland.
§ The subject matter of the Bill is intended to be a transferred matter under the Northern Ireland Act. We had been assuming that devolution in Northern Ireland would have occurred by the time of Royal Assent and it would have fallen to the Northern Ireland Assembly to decide the extent to which measures equivalent should be put into effect. It seems likely that the Bill will be granted Royal Assent before devolution in Northern Ireland and we have sought to ensure that if devolution has not occurred, the provisions in the Bill can be achieved within a similar timescale to the rest of the United Kingdom. I beg to move.406
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringeymoved Amendment No. 304:
Page 16, line 17, at end insert—
("() An Order in Council under paragraph 1(1)(b) of Schedule 1 to the Northern Ireland Act 1974 (legislation for Northern Ireland in the interim period) which contains a statement that it is made only for purposes corresponding to any of the purposes of this Act—
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 37, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 38 agreed to.
§ House resumed: Bill reported with amendments.