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Registration Officers

Volume 404: debated on Thursday 1 May 2003

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If she will make a statement on the employment rights of registration officers.[110626]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry
(Nigel Griffiths)

The Government agree that all workers should have protection.

May I first declare an interest, as the honorary patron of the Society of Registration Officers in England and Wales?

Today is the sixth anniversary of the Labour Government. For most of that time, I have dealt with six different Ministers, four at the Treasury and two at the Department of Trade and Industry, attempting to win right of access to employment tribunals for registration officers. Section 23 of the Employment Relations Act 1999 provides that that can be done by order. The registration service is about to undergo a major reorganisation and registration officers are likely to become local authority employees. Does my hon. Friend agree that it is important to have the measure in place before that happens? Has he any news that I can give to registration officers at their annual conference in Wales on 14 May?

The Government are studying more than 400 responses to the consultation document, considering how best to proceed, and setting deadlines. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made it clear last month that all new employment legislation must be implemented by 6 April or 1 October. We will work with the Office for National Statistics so that those deadlines can be adhered to.

Does the Minister agree that although tremendous progress has been made in improving employment rights for British workers, it is still a national scandal that many millions of them will take this bank holiday Monday off without pay? Does he believe that employment rights need to be improved to ensure that all British workers can enjoy the same—