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My Lords, following our positive discussions in your Lordships’ House on Report, I am amending Clause 14 as I promised, to reflect an arrangement whereby check-off continues within the public sector on the crucial proviso that there is no burden on the taxpayer.
There was one concern, which concerned the Certification Officer’s role. While I appreciate the sentiment of my noble friend Lord Balfe and others, the Government believe that it is not the role, and should not be the role, of the trade union regulator to assess the reasonableness of the cost to employers and unions of check-off. However, it is important that these costs are indeed reasonable. So we have set out on the face of the Bill that employers must satisfy themselves that the total amount of the payment is only substantially equivalent to the total cost to the taxpayer of making these deductions.
I stress that the amendments regarding those organisations within the scope of this Bill apply equally to Clause 14 as they do to the facility-time transparency clause. This means that, were the scope to be extended in future, it could apply to bodies which are not public authorities only if they are mainly funded by public funds. To be absolutely clear, it is not the intention of this Government ever to include charities if they could not also be captured by the Freedom of Information Act.
I assure your Lordships that we will, of course, give adequate timeframes for new charging arrangements to be set up. It is our intention to provide a 12-month period prior to commencement for such arrangements to be properly established. I appreciate the co-operation of the noble Baroness and others and I beg to move.