Report (3rd Day)

Part of Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill – in the House of Lords at 8:15 pm on 12th March 2012.

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Photo of Lord Clinton-Davis Lord Clinton-Davis Labour 8:15 pm, 12th March 2012

I follow my noble friend on this issue. I apologise for confusing the amendments in the previous debate.

I hope that the Liberal Democrats will abandon their rather erratic behaviour on this occasion. The unfair dismissal amendment is vital for employees who are not unionised or where the trade unions are unable to act. I do not think there is any real chance of such employees being able to pursue their remedies effectively. That is the crux of the matter. Quite often the claims they wish to make are complex and they need professional advice. Unfair dismissal affects their livelihoods-make no mistake about that-and what is proposed in the Bill represents a bonus for unfair employers. That is wholly out of accord with what we on this side seek to achieve.

As to unemployment disputes, the significance of this proposal places an unfair burden, again, on the employees. How are they going to pursue their claims without the necessary machinery provided by the trade unions where this is not possible, or where they are expected to pursue their claims themselves without any professional advice? It is a wholly illusory and complicated procedure and ought not to be considered by any respectable Government.

Having been a lawyer for some 50 years, in both cases-unfair dismissal and employment disputes-there is no doubt in my view that professional advice is imperative. Otherwise, people will pursue claims that ought not to be pursued and eventually it will cost the taxpayer far more than if they were able to pursue the policy envisaged by these amendments.