Examination of Witnesses

Part of Civil Aviation Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 1:28 pm on 23rd February 2012.

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John Moloney: Thank you for the question, Minister. The PCS is obviously opposed to transfer because we think that it will not deliver what is claimed in terms of combining safety and security—that they are compatible and therefore combining them together will produce a better outcome. Security is a very distinct stand-alone operation that is properly integral to the Department for Transport. As you know, Minister, obviously much better than I do, the Bill proposes that Ministers would retain security policy, whereas the CAA would carry out the operations and instructions of the Department for Transport. That split will lead to organisational problems and miscommunications about what is the exact dividing line.

In the longer term, you mentioned how transfer could be smoothed. We have certainly raised the concerns of our members. At the moment, they have not the faintest idea about their terms and conditions in the CAA. They do not know about their pensions or whether their redundancy moneys will transfer. Obviously, for them, as individuals, that is vitally important. There is a cadre of very experienced security inspectors who are now thinking, “Should we remain in this field, or should we seek employment elsewhere in the Department or the wider civil service?”

As you know, there is a long run-in to the transfer, which probably will not happen until April 2014. Bluntly, those security inspectors have a long time to vote with their feet. What they say to us—this is why we are here—is that, in principle, they think there are lots of problems with the proposed transfers. If, however, it is the will of Parliament that that transfer takes place, they would like it to be on a voluntary basis. If that is not possible, they are looking for assurances on their terms and conditions, the key one being pensions, and redundancies.

It looks as though it is very likely that, under the transfer scheme as it is drafted in the Bill, those security inspectors’ redundancy rights would not transfer. We have people here with 20 or 30 years of service. If your redundancy rights do not transfer, you automatically revert to the statutory minimum. For a lot of people with a lot of years, that is a very daunting prospect.

We also have a number of people—I will finish on this—who are very close to retirement age. The thought of trying to start your career again in a completely different organisation with a different pension scheme may seem a parochial concern, but, on an individual basis, it is important and looms large.

To summarise, we do not think it is a good idea, but, if it did happen, it should be on a voluntary basis with proper safeguarding of people’s terms and conditions on transfer.