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Trade Union Bill

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 26th January 2016.

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Photo of Alex Johnstone Alex Johnstone Conservative

No, thank you.

Nowhere is that more obvious than in an assertion that one or two members have made, including Patricia Ferguson, who offered the interpretation that the bill will confer on UK ministers powers over the implementation of restrictions on facility time and check-off. That case has not been made at all. There are opportunities to ensure that there is proper implementation and that we do not see a reversal taking place. We need to allow the bill to make progress and make up our minds on it at the end of that process, and we must not make the mistakes that we could make by not giving it time.

It is a fact that industrial relations in this country have progressed in different ways at different times. I remember forming opinions on trade unions as a young man that were based on the activities of the trade union movement in the early 1970s, during Edward Heath’s Government; in 1978, during a Labour Government; and in the 1980s, when a Conservative Government returned to office.

We have seen the dark days of such activities put behind us. We have seen changes in trade union regulation by successive UK Governments that have made it possible for us to have much more effective ways of working in the workplace and facilitating trade union activity. The changes under the bill are capable of having the same effect and of being positive in the longer term. Failure to deliver the bill would be a missed opportunity. Everyone who has participated in the debate must think long and hard about whether their interpretation of it is accurate.