Clause 48 - Employment provisions

Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:45 pm on 11 January 2005.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of David Heath David Heath Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 6:45, 11 January 2005

I beg to move amendment No. 98, in clause 48, page 26, line 21, leave out 'not'.

The amendment would reverse the assumption inherent in clause 48, so that every person acting in the office of constable, whether they were in the police service or in SOCA, is treated the same. That seems an appropriate and admirable sentiment.  

Photo of Andrew Mitchell Andrew Mitchell Shadow Minister (Home Affairs)

In view of the time, it may be convenient for the Committee if I merely make it clear that Her Majesty's official Opposition support the amendment.

Photo of Caroline Flint Caroline Flint Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)

We will have to resist the amendment. It would deny trade union membership and other employment rights which are currently unavailable to police constables, but which, as the Bill currently stands, are available to SOCA staff designated the powers of a constable under clause 38. We are firmly of the view that SOCA staff should not be police constables and should instead have powers of a constable designated to them by the director general.

The amendment naturally follows others that the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome has tabled against which we have strongly and convincingly argued. If the amendment is seen in isolation it would create a separate cadre of staff in SOCA, which would be split in two: on the one side would be members of staff with police powers who would, under the amendment, have the same status as constables in trade union and other employment law, and on the other side would be other staff of SOCA, perhaps with one or both of the powers of a customs or immigrations officer, but with entirely different sets of trade union employment rights. I hope that even the hon. Gentleman recognises that cleaving SOCA in two is hardly the best way to create a harmonised and integrated work force. Seconded police officers will still be subject to the bar on trade union membership, because obviously they are not full employees of the organisation. I hope that, in light of that explanation, the hon. Gentleman will withdraw his amendment.

Photo of David Heath David Heath Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

I bridled a bit at the ''even the hon. Gentleman'', but apart from that, I will consider what the Minister has to say, and I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 48 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 49 and 50 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 2 agreed to.

Clauses 51 and 52 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 3 agreed to.

Clause 53 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 4 agreed to.