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Requirement of Postal Ballot for Certain Ballots and Elections

Part of Orders of the Day — Employment Bill – in the House of Commons at 4:45 pm on 10th February 1988.

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Photo of Mr David Madel Mr David Madel , South West Bedfordshire 4:45 pm, 10th February 1988

I have two questions to ask. One of them has been partly answered by the hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) because he spoke about the opening words of amendment No. 10: 'except where it is reasonable for the union to believe, and it does believe'". I take it from what the hon. Gentleman said that when he spoke about "the union", as does the amendment, he meant that the members of the union will take the decision under amendment No. 10 about whether they want a change in the way in which the voting is carried out.

I take it that the amendment does not mean that that decision will be made just by the general secretary or the executive council of the union but that it is the union members themselves who will vote on whether they wish to have a ballot system other than that laid down in clause 13. If it is the members of the union who will vote on that, then that is a perfectly reasonable starting point.

My second point is the one that I made in an intervention during the speech by the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) who said that my point was jesuitical. I do not think it is. Clause 13(1) says that a voting paper can be sent to "any other address" that the individual member requests. It is perfectly reasonable for that other address to be the union member's place of work. If it is, it is up to employers to make sure that, if the voting paper goes to the place of work, it is easy for the employee to pick up the ballot paper and vote.

I take the point made earlier, that members of the Transport and General Workers Union have many different sorts of jobs. There are long-distance lorry drivers and people working at sea and on lighthouses, and on occasions such people would want the ballot papers sent to the place of work. When the Minister is winding up, will he confirm that line 30 of clause 13(1) means that "any other address" may be the place of work? If it goes out from the House that it can be the place of work, I expect employers and managers to respond in a positive way and to make sure that it is easy for each employee to have his postal ballot paper sent to his place of work and to record his vote in the way he chooses.