Clause 3 - Ballots: 40% support requirement in important public services

Part of Trade Union Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:00 pm on 20th October 2015.

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Photo of Nicholas Boles Nicholas Boles The Minister for Universities and Science, Minister of State (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) (Jointly with the Department for Education) 3:00 pm, 20th October 2015

No, not at the moment. I will make my argument, and then I will be happy to take as many interventions as hon. Members wish to make.

Because of the ILO's definition of essential public services as those where it is permissible to prohibit the right to strike we decided to clarify that clause 3 proposes not a prohibition or a strike ban but simply a threshold of support for a strike. That was intended to clarify that the services listed are not the same as those covered in ILO definition, but are important public services. To be clear, our manifesto named the four most important of those services to which clause 3 applies. We have an absolute manifesto mandate for the inclusion of fire, health, education and transport services. Since then, based on cross-government consultation, we have added border security and nuclear decommissioning. If Opposition Members want to argue that those two sectors are not important public services on which the public have  good reason to rely, they are welcome to have a go. I accept that the sectors were not listed in our manifesto, but I feel pretty sure of what the public’s view will be of whether they should be included in the definition of “important public services”.

We will identify the people to whom the provisions will apply within the sectors in the regulations, and we have consulted properly on that. I suspect that Opposition Members would criticise us if we had just written in the Bill a precise breakdown of groups of employees within those sectors to whom the provision will apply without having consulted. We have consulted, and we received many responses. We will make clear proposals for who we expect to be covered by the provision before the Bill achieves Royal Assent.