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This week in Parliament - Employment

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by Charlotte Gurney

Source/APSCo: ​This week sees some of the biggest strikes since the 70s taking place, severely disrupting trains in a week containing GSCE and A level exams and Glastonbury. Nurses, doctors and teachers are also threatening industrial action if the public-sector pay rise does not match current inflation. The government has announced it is intending emergency legislation to change the Employment Agencies Act 1973 by statutory instrument this week enabling agency workers to replace striking workers. It may take effect as early as mid-July - Read more from The Times here 

The Prime Minister has had a difficult week dealing with the controversial Rwanda deportation scheme, interest rates being at a 13-year high and the Northern Ireland Protocol tensions. This week the popularity of the two main parties, Conservative and Labour, will also be put to the test with the Tiverton and Wakefield by-elections. Labour is hoping to clinch Wakefield from the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats have their sights set on Tiverton, which would require the biggest swing away from the Conservatives since 1935.

Government unveils plans to boost freight sector

The haulage industry and Government have jointly pledged a £7 million investment in new freight technology to secure a more robust supply chain and to drive economic growth. The intention of the Government backed campaign is to encourage more people into skilled logistics jobs.

The campaign is one part of the Government’s Future of Freight plan, which sets a strategy for the Government and industry to work more closely together to deliver a world-class, seamless flow of freight across the UK’s roads, railways, seas, skies and canals.

Investment in green auto tech to unlock growth and jobs across the UK

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has announced £43.7 million of joint industry and Government funding to support the development of the latest green auto-tech. These green auto tech projects, including electric motorbikes and off-road vehicles, could secure more than 550 jobs and save nearly 27.6 million tonnes of carbon emissions. If a further 19 studies receive funding, they could generate UK lithium production, fast charging technology and a UK-based battery recycling facility.

Brexit Opportunities Minister announces new Government Hub in Manchester for 2025

Brexit Opportunities Minister, Jacob Rees-Mogg has announced a new Government Hub will be built in the heart of Manchester that will accommodate thousands of civil servants from 2025. The hub will host some 2,500 civil servants, including over 700 roles which will be relocated from London to Manchester.

Labour Shadow Chancellor gives speech to Times CEO Summit

Labour Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves gave a speech at the Times CEO Summit which reiterated the Labour Party’s commitment to working closely with business if they were to accede to power. The Shadow Chancellor mentioned Labour’s intentions to launch a review that would ensure British start-ups could reach their full potential.

She also outlined Labour’s intentions to improve relations with the European Union without re-joining the single market, through ways such as the mutual recognition of professional qualifications. However, the Shadow Chancellor stressed the need to utilise the domestic workforce to plug the holes in the labour market rather than relying on easing immigration rules.

Written Questions on Conditions of Employment

Labour MP for Streatham, Bell Ribeiro-Addy, asked the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, “whether his Department plans to take steps to (a) maintain and (b) strengthen the rights of employees of umbrella companies.”

Minister for Small Business, Consumer and Labour Markets Paul Scully replied:

“The Government recently ran a Call for Evidence on the umbrella company market, which closed on 22 February 2022. Officials in HM Treasury and HMRC are working closely together to analyse the evidence submitted and will publish a summary of responses in due course. The Government is also continuing to work closely with business to improve compliance across the sector.”

Public Accounts Committee finds low student satisfaction and rising deficits spell trouble for higher education in England

The Public Accounts Committee has published a report which indicates that higher education providers face long-term, systemic, pressures on their financial sustainability and viability, with the proportion of providers with an in-year deficit having increased in every one of the past four years, from 5% in 2015/16 to 32% in 2019/20.

The Committee has also found that ongoing financial pressures - including pension fund deficits and predicted rises in employer contributions, inflation and rising costs, the cap on student fees, the impact of changes to student loans and potential policy reforms on entry requirements - increase the risk of providers failing; closing campuses or courses; reducing the quality of teaching; or limiting access: any of which could adversely affect students. The Committee says that in that context, protections for students if providers are in financial distress are not strong enough.

Private Members Bill Introduced

Wednesday 15th June saw a number of Private Members’ Bills be introduced including: the Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill by Stuart C McDonald MP (SNP); the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill by Dan Jarvis MP (Labour); the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill by Yasmin Qureshi MP (Labour) and the Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill by Wera Hobhouse MP (Liberal Democrat).

A Private Members’ Bill is a Bill introduced by MPs and Lords who are not a Government Minister. They are allocated less time than regular Bills and are therefore less likely to become law, however, there have been occasions when a Private Members’ Bill has become law because it was able to gain cross-party support. In order to decide which MPs could table a Private Members’ Bill, a random ballot decided which MPs would be the first 20 to introduce a Private Members’ Bill in this parliamentary session.

European Scrutiny Committee inquiry launches Post-Brexit regulatory divergence inquiry

The European Scrutiny Committee has launched an inquiry that looks into the benefits and challenges to business and the UK economy of diverging from copied EU regulations when the UK left the block, and where the Government should rewrite or repeal these laws. The Committee will also examine the complexities of making changes to regulations in areas that had been controlled at EU-level in the context of overlapping commitments enshrined in the Withdrawal Agreement, new trade deals and the devolution settlements.