Clause 15 - Enforcement by Certification Officer of new annual return requirements

Trade Union Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:00 am on 27 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) 11:00, 27 October 2015

I beg to move amendment 94, in clause 15, page 12, line 23, at end insert—

‘( ) In section 45D of that Act (appeals from Certification Officer), after “31” insert “, 32ZC”.’

The amendment adds a reference to the new section 32ZC (inserted by clause 15) in section 45D of the 1992 Act. The effect is that decisions made by the Certification Officer in relation to the enforcement of the new annual return requirements provided for by clause 15 are subject to a right of appeal.

The amendment rectifies a small omission in the clause relating to appeal rights. Where a union fails to comply with the new annual reporting requirements, the certification officer will have the power under the clause to make a declaration to that effect. If the certification officer makes a declaration, he will have the power to make an enforcement order unless it is in inappropriate to do so; he will also, under clause 16 and schedule 3, have the power to issue a financial penalty.

It has always been our intention that if the certification officer makes such a declaration or order, the union will have a route of appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal on a point of law. That is consistent with the approach taken elsewhere in the 1992 Act. However, the clause as it stands will not provide for such rights unless a reference to the new provisions is inserted into the correct place in the 1992 Act. The amendment corrects that oversight. I trust that hon. Members will be content to accept this minor amendment.

Photo of Stephen Doughty Stephen Doughty Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills)

I appreciate the comments the Minister made. Given that this is a rare chink in the cloud that allows trade unions some rights to challenge use of the draconian powers provided for elsewhere in the Bill and in the clause, I do not intend to oppose the amendment. However, we will oppose the clause to which it relates.

Amendment 94 agreed to.

Question put, That the clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill.

The Committee divided: Ayes 10, Noes 8.

Division number 35 Decision Time — Clause 15 - Enforcement by Certification Officer of new annual return requirements

Aye: 10 MPs

No: 8 MPs

Aye: A-Z by last name

No: A-Z by last name

Question accordingly agreed to.

Clause 15, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.