Baroness Merron Portrait Baroness Merron (Lab)
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My Lords, I speak in place of my noble friend Lord Bassam, who cannot be here today.

We on these Benches support my noble friend Lord Hendy and his Bill, which will create a single status of worker. I express my thanks to my noble friend for introducing the Bill and for his amendment, along with his great honesty about the need for it.

The Bill elegantly replaces existing employment categories, thereby removing qualifying periods for basic rights and protections. It gives workers rights in the job from day one, so all workers would receive rights and protections, such as statutory sick pay, national minimum wage entitlement, holiday pay, paid parental leave and protection against unfair dismissal, while the genuinely self-employed would retain their status. It is of course a shame that parliamentary time limits mean that the Bill may be going no further. I therefore hope to see it as a government Bill before too long.

Lord Balfe Portrait Lord Balfe (Con)
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My Lords, I have made this speech on a number of occasions. There are roughly 6 million trade unionists in Britain, and a third of them—2 million—vote for the party on these Benches. I am pleased, on their behalf, to welcome the Bill. It is a good step forward, because we always need to keep in mind the balance between the rights of the workers and those of the employers. This is a good Bill that rights an anomaly, and I hope that it will go further. I know that is difficult, but it is certainly in the right place and it has my personal full support.

Lord Callanan Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Lord Callanan) (Con)
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My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Hendy, for moving his technical amendment in order to comply, as he said, with the recommendation of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee. While the Government are not convinced that the Bill is the right course of action, we agree with the importance of legislative scrutiny and consistency. The Government therefore welcome the amendment, which would ensure consistency under the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 and the Employment Rights Act 1996—although, as I said, we cannot support the Bill.

I congratulate the noble Lord on bringing the Bill to the House and on enabling this debate on an important subject. I thank all noble Lords for their contributions during Second Reading, which allowed for what I thought was an insightful and important debate on this topic. I also thank the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee for its expert contribution and the noble Lord, Lord Hendy, for tabling his amendment.

As I said at the start, the Government are not convinced that the Bill is the right solution to give greater protection to those in insecure work. We will continue to take steps to protect vulnerable workers, delivering on our ambition to make the UK the best place in the world to work and grow a business.