Clause 50

Education and Skills Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:15 pm on 21st February 2008.

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Crown employment

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Shadow Minister (Education) (Schools)

I beg to move amendment No. 90, in clause 50, page 27, line 10, leave out ‘persons working in either of those ways’ and insert

‘service as a member of the armed forces of the Crown’.

Clause 50 deals with Crown employment and how Crown employees are treated in relation to the duties in the Bill. Amendment No. 90 is a probing amendment, designed to ascertain why there are regulations that institute exceptions and special rules for civil servants that do not apply to 16 and 17-year-olds in other employment. I understand why we need special arrangements for those serving in the armed forces. The amendment has therefore been drafted to keep the regulation-making powers in place as far as service as a member of the armed forces is concerned, but to take out reference to Crown employment. A simple explanation from the Minister would be helpful.

Photo of Jim Knight Jim Knight Minister of State (Schools and Learners), Department for Children, Schools and Families, Minister of State (Department for Children, Schools and Families) (Schools and Learners)

We need the power to modify the provisions of chapter 1 in relation to Crown employment. As the hon. Member for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton said, those in Crown employment are essentially civil servants, and there are various people who have been hugely helpful to us in our deliberations who would count, and we must look after that valuable body of employees. There is some doubt as to whether, as a matter of law, Crown employees such as civil servants in  this valuable central Government work, are under a contract of employment and therefore included in references to working in this way. We do, of course, want this kind of work to count for the purposes of the duty to participate. The clause makes that clear, and it removes the legal doubt about the status of Crown employees. However, the definition of normal weekly working hours in clause 5 needs to be modified in relation to Crown employees, as they do not have a contract of employment. Regulations under subsection (2) will enable us to do so, and it is appropriate that this kind of technical detail is dealt with in secondary legislation. I therefore urge the hon. Gentleman to withdraw his amendment accordingly.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Shadow Minister (Education) (Schools) 4:30 pm, 21st February 2008

I was intrigued by the Minister’s praise of civil servants—I wonder who drafted that particular speaking note?

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Shadow Minister (Education) (Schools)

I am delighted to hear it. I was interested in what the Minister had to say. He will correct me if I interpreted him incorrectly, but it appears that the purpose of the clause so far as Crown employment is concerned is to ensure that Crown employees are included in the duty, as opposed to finding a way of exempting them from the duty.

Jim Knight indicated assent.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Shadow Minister (Education) (Schools)

I see the Minister nodding. I am happy with his explanation and I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 50 ordered to stand Part of the Bill.