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Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill

Volume 728: debated on Thursday 2 March 2023

3. What recent discussions he has had with (a) Cabinet colleagues, (b) transport sector bodies and (c) trade unions on the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill. (903820)

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to start by offering our sincere condolences to the people of Greece following the terrible rail accident yesterday. My thoughts, and I am sure those of the whole House, are with the victims, first responders and all those affected. The Prime Minister has written to the Greek Prime Minister to offer the Government’s condolences, and we stand with our colleagues in Greece, ready to offer assistance should they require it.

Turning to the hon. Gentleman’s question, I meet regularly with Cabinet colleagues and transport industry stakeholders to discuss industrial action, including facilitating a fair and reasonable offer for the trade unions, which I was pleased to see Transport Salaried Staffs Association members vote in favour of last week. The Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill aims to balance the ability of workers to take strike action with the needs of the public to go about their daily lives. The 12-week consultation on minimum service levels for passenger rail provides the opportunity for the public and stakeholders, including trade unions and transport bodies, to provide their views.

May I associate myself with the comments that the Secretary of State made about the situation in Greece? Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected.

The Department’s consultation document for rail minimum services legislation seeks views on setting a minimum service level in Scotland, which is interesting because the responsibility for ScotRail and Caledonian sleeper services are devolved to the Scottish Parliament. Will the Secretary of State meet me, as part of the consultation process, to discuss what the response of his Department will be if the Scottish Parliament refuses to implement the minimum services legislation because it assesses that the legislation is not conducive to good industrial relations and dispute resolution?

The hon. Gentleman will know that the purpose and substance of the Bill is to regulate employment rights and duties, and industrial relations. Those are reserved matters that are within the responsibility of the UK Government. In the consultation on passenger rail in Great Britain, we of course welcome the views of devolved Administrations. My hon. Friend the Minister responsible for rail has already had such conversations with Transport Ministers from the Scottish Government.