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Superannuation Bill

Part of Freedom of Information (Amendment) – in the House of Commons at 9:11 pm on 7th September 2010.

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Photo of John Hemming John Hemming Liberal Democrat, Birmingham, Yardley 9:11 pm, 7th September 2010

I do not think we should indulge in a race to the bottom. It needs to be recognised that this is the Government's opening position. People who argue that we should propose the final solution here in Parliament are obviously no good at playing poker; one does not reveal one's hand. We cannot expect the Minister to say, "We'll settle for X." The Government need to have a negotiating position, and the trade unions cannot be in a position whereby they can veto it-that would be absurd.

We need to think about our employees. I have always been concerned about the people whom I employ personally, and in the same way we should be concerned about those whom we employ collectively through UK plc. Options that may not cost the Government much money could be looked at to improve the situation. For example, constituents of mine who are civil servants have raised the issue of two civil servants living in the same household who are both under the threat of redundancy. I ask the Minister to consider whether it would be possible for one such civil servant to nominate the other, so that if one of them were made redundant the other would be protected against redundancy. Then at least the household would not lose both incomes, but only one. That would be an example of flexibility. It would not necessarily cost the Government any money, but it would protect people from the worst aspects of this process.

Similarly, in certain circumstances people might like to move towards a job share if the Government were willing to pay them a sum of money for that reorganisation, which might cost less than voluntary or compulsory redundancy. That would reduce the wages bill and the deficit without necessarily putting people in a very difficult personal position. We need to work with employees to try to minimise the effect on people.

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