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Trade Union Bill - Third Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:45 pm on 25th April 2016.

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Photo of Lord Bridges of Headley Lord Bridges of Headley The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office 3:45 pm, 25th April 2016

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, and the noble Lord, Lord Tyler, for those very acute contributions. I apologise to them for not getting the letter to them sooner. However, I am grateful for the welcome that it has received. The noble Baroness, with her customary acuteness and accuracy, has shot seven Exocets across my bow on this. I shall attempt to answer them, and if I fail to do so then obviously I shall write to the noble Baroness and the noble Lord and put the letter in the House Library.

Have the 255 bodies been consulted? We will be discussing these with all these bodies as we proceed towards implementation. As regards specific bodies, the noble Baroness has clearly picked on a few here. I shall write to her as regards the Legal Services Board. We have been working very hard to try to make sure that the list is as accurate as possible—I stress that this is a draft—but I quite understand your Lordships when they say that that is not altogether satisfactory, and I am grateful to the noble Baroness for drawing my attention to the Legal Services Board. As regards academies and housing associations, those bodies will be covered if they meet the provisions as set out. I shall write with complete accuracy to the noble Baroness on those two points—but, as regards academies, my understanding is that they would be covered if they met the provisions.

The noble Lord, Lord Tyler, and the noble Baroness referred to the FOIA, and whether or not we might be looking at these issues. I stress that the FOIA was based as a starting point. Clearly, there is the double lock of not just being on the FOIA but being mainly funded. I shall look again at the words—I make no commitment about this, I am sorry to say—but I am unable to do so right now. The noble Baroness made some suggestions about wordings and the noble Lord made some suggestions about where we might be in future. I shall write to them both about those specific points, but I cannot make any commitments to change right now. However, I repeat that those are good points.

As regards the burdens, I heed what the noble Baroness has to say. As we saw in the previous exchange, when my noble friend discussed the previous amendment, this Government wish to ensure that we do not unnecessarily add to burdens. I stress that the information required for publication is a narrow and reasonable range, similar to that which, for example, English local authorities publish as part of the Local Government Transparency Code and which the Department for Education recommended that all schools publish in its 2014 guidance.

I shall end on that point. I commit to write to the noble Baroness.

Amendment 5 agreed.