asked the Secretary of State for Employment what percentage of time is spent by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service on small firms' trade union recognition cases.
I understand from the service that a precise percentage of the time it spends on small firms' trade union recognition cases is not readily available; but that it is very small.
Has my hon. and learned Friend any plans to change the membership of the ACAS council in order to represent more fairly some of the problems with which it deals? I am particularly interested in small businesses. Is he aware that much of the time of ACAS is taken up by the affairs of small businesses yet they do not have a direct representative on the ACAS council?
I am aware of my hon. Friend's great interest in the problems of small businesses, most recently evidenced in his excellent speech in the House on 10 March. My right hon. Friend does not propose to change the basis of appointment to the ACAS council but notes that the CBI comprises within it a small firms council. It is important that the problems of small firms should be borne well in mind by ACAS.
Will my hon. and learned Friend say whether the Government intend to introduce a code of practice on recognition issues? If that is their intention, will my hon. and learned Friend tell the House who will be responsible for introducing the code?
There is no proposal to introduce such a code of practice. But the Government are considering whether ACAS can give general guidance to firms on the whole question of recognition matters and disputes.