Clause 16 - Further powers of Certification Officer where enforcement order made

Part of Trade Union Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:00 am on 27th October 2015.

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Photo of Stephen Doughty Stephen Doughty Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills) 11:00 am, 27th October 2015

I want to ask the Minister a few questions. The clause inserts new section 32ZC into the 1992 Act and gives effect to schedule 3, which we will come to shortly. The certification officer will have a new power to impose financial penalties on unions when an enforcement order has been made, and the Government will have the power to set the level of penalties in regulations. Paragraph 6 of schedule 3 states that penalties will range from £200 to £20,000. The clause also extends the ability of individual members of a union to enforce the certification officer’s orders even if that order was no concern of theirs.

Will the Minister explain a little more about the penalties—how they will be applied, the different gradings and so on? Do the Government plan to increase the limit at any point? How often does he expect them to be used in the different categories? What size of penalty does he expect to be applied?

I also want clarification on the individual member’s ability to enforce orders. Thankfully, we had clarification from the Minister that individuals outside a dispute cannot be involved, but there is a possibility that members of the union that was party to the dispute who were not personally involved could attempt to enforce orders.

The Committee might wonder why I am worried about that, but there are circumstances in which a couple of individuals who are members of a union may be involved in malicious activity and attempt to undermine others who have taken a wider, collective decision that was endorsed by other members. I want to understand who can be involved in attempting to enforce a certification officer’s orders. Can that be any member of the union involved whether or not they were personally involved in the case? I would be grateful if the Minister would clarify those points.