§ Lords amendment: No. 1, in page 2, line 16, after "employment" insert "of any description".3.35 pm
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Eric Forth)
I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.
§ Mr. Forth
All the amendments that the House is to consider were approved by all sides in another place. It will, therefore, perhaps be for the convenience of hon. Members if I suggest that as all the amendments either follow from issues raised by the Opposition during the passage of the Bill in this House and in another place, or are otherwise entirely consequential or technical. they should be dealt with briefly. Unless Opposition Members or any of my hon. Friends ask me to do so, I do not propose to speak at length on them. The exception is Lords amendment No. 7. I should like to say a few words about the new clause. The House will want to hear a brief explanation of the background to that new clause and why I shall ask the House to support its inclusion in the Bill.
I am conscious of the fact that I am taking up the excellent work done on the Bill by my hon. Friends the Members for Enfield, North (Mr. Eggar) and for Teignbridge (Mr. Nicholls), whose absence I regret., but I hope that we shall see him soon. I shall do my best to follow in their eminent footsteps and to do justice to all the work that they did on the Bill prior to this stage.
§ Mr. Tony Lloyd (Stretford)
May I place on record recognition of the debt that the House owes to my hon. Friend the Member for St. Helens, North (Mr. Evans), who drew the Government's attention to the drafting defects? The Opposition accept these amendments. They were accepted, as the Minister pointed out, in another place as an improvement to the Bill. My hon. Friend the Member for St. Helens, North agrees, so we do not intend to oppose them.
Nevertheless, it is a shame—a fact that the Minister should take on board, new to his post though he is—that the amendment contains a major defect. The Government maintain that it confers equity between trade union and non-trade union members. However, because the Government have failed to act against the blacklisting of trade unionists, the protection offered to trade union members is severely weakened. Nevertheless, as I have already pointed out, the Opposition do not intend to resist these amendments.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Lords amendments Nos. 2 to 4 agreed to.