Schedule 12 - Aviation security: further provision about transfer schemes

Civil Aviation Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:15 pm on 8th March 2012.

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Photo of John Woodcock John Woodcock Shadow Minister (Transport) 2:15 pm, 8th March 2012

I beg to move amendment 67, in schedule 12, page 113, line 13, leave out paragraph 3.

Photo of Roger Gale Roger Gale Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (Full Member)

With this, it will be convenient to discuss amendment 68, in schedule 12, page 113, line 43, leave out paragraph 5.

Photo of John Woodcock John Woodcock Shadow Minister (Transport)

These final two amendments on the security provisions are both probing amendments. Amendment 67 seeks to question further what actions will be taken if an individual employed in the Department is transferred to the CAA but objects to that transfer. I hope that the Minister can explain what measures the Department will take to ensure that such an objection will not arise, because the Bill currently does not allow for the employee or their representative to be consulted before a transfer.

I suggest to the Minister that if the Government are serious about preserving the expertise that has been built up in the Department, they need to say more fully why they have chosen not to have this measure and also say whether they would consider making it part of a provision of a transfer process.

I hope that amendment 68 prompts the Minister to clarify paragraph 5(1) of schedule 12, which refers to someone in

“employment in the civil service of the Crown on terms which do not constitute a contract of employment.”

I hope that she can tell us what that means and to whom it would apply. Is that measure there simply to prevent those who are on secondment from being seconded more than once? Or could it potentially refer to those being paid through single-person companies to avoid tax, as unfortunately we have recently found out was the case with 25 senior staff at the Department of Health?

Photo of Theresa Villiers Theresa Villiers The Minister of State, Department for Transport

I am grateful for the indication that these are probing amendments; in that case, I will not dwell on some of the technical problems that I find with them. The substance of the shadow Minister’s points is consistent and in line with our discussion on the previous set of amendments. As I said then, we very much hope that the staff in posts due to be transferred will want to continue working in aviation security and will take their skills and experience to the CAA.

We have begun engaging staff and their representatives in the trade union movement on the transfer, including a briefing session from the chief executive of the CAA. We are developing the transfer arrangements and hope that the majority of staff will consider the package on offer and decide to go to the CAA when their roles  transfer. However, if some people decide to move elsewhere, we expect that there will be enough time to manage that, as the transfer is not planned to occur until spring 2014. That is another reason for the staged process of implementation to which I referred in our earlier debate on aviation security.

However, when the date of transfer comes, people in roles that are transferring to the CAA cannot opt to remain in the DFT, because their jobs will be with the CAA. We believe that that provision is necessary in order to provide as much certainty as possible that the CAA will inherit staff with the skills and experience required to undertake its new aviation security functions.

On amendment 68, the shadow Minister referred to people who are employed on terms that do not constitute a contract of employment. We have not yet undertaken an assessment of whether any staff—or how many—currently in the posts due to transfer are employed on terms that do not constitute a contract of employment. In any case, that number could change between now and spring 2014. The shadow Minister asked what the relevant provision in the schedule is designed to ensure: it aims to ensure that if any individuals are employed on such terms, their posts will be able to be transferred.

Other issues about the terms of transfer have been raised. In respect of pensions, we of course understand that staff want clarity on important matters such as pension rights. The principal civil service pension scheme and the CAA pension scheme are under review, and I am afraid that we cannot say at this point what pension rights transferring staff might expect. None the less, the Government’s fair deal policy on pensions provides that transferring staff should be offered a broadly comparable pension in the CAA. We will ensure that staff pension rights are provided as per Government policy at the point of transfer.

On redundancy rights, we are intending to apply the TUPE principles to the transfer. The application of TUPE principles will mean that continuity of employment for transferred staff will be preserved. In relation to whether there will be any specific entitlement of transferred staff to receive a particular level of redundancy payments in the event of redundancy at the CAA, no decision has yet been made on whether the transfer scheme will contain such a provision. I appreciate the importance of that to the individuals concerned. It was raised in evidence, and the Department will endeavour to provide clarity as soon as is practical. As I have mentioned, we are some way off the transition to the new system and we have time in which to resolve those matters. We will seek to do so as soon as we can, and with that, I hope the hon. Gentleman will consider withdrawing his amendment.

Photo of John Woodcock John Woodcock Shadow Minister (Transport)

Although we continue to have concerns about the process, the amendments were probing, so I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 12 agreed to.

Ordered, That further consideration be now adjourned. —(Bill Wiggin.)

Adjourned till Tuesday 13 March at half-past Ten o’clock.