Monday, September 13, 2010

Public sector unions vs Liberal Democrats - a hint of what is to come

I've received an e-mail from my union, the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), an excerpt of which reads;

Branches will be aware that government are using a little known procedural legislative process to push through the detrimental changes to the CSCS called a Money Bill.

These bills are used to rush through emergency revenue generating measures, and DO NOT get readings in the House of Lords. They remain the property of the Commons only.

The second reading of the Money Bill takes place on 7 September. We have calculated that there is literally only a handful of votes in this, around 11 MPs can change the outcome of this crucial vote. With this in mind branches should redouble their efforts to lobby Liberal Democrat MPs.


Branches should focus all efforts on lobbying Liberal Democrat MPs. They should encourage all members in those constituencies to write and ask them to sign EDM301 and to vote against the Money Bill on the 7 September. Where MPs fail to respond to members letters, branches should keep a tally of the numbers of letters issued and to notify John Coote of numbers and the MP involved.

It is, perhaps, a sign of the competence of my union that I received the message this morning. However, I am intrigued by the sheer ineptitude and mendacity displayed in such a brief message.

A simple check of the Parliament website will confirm that the Superannuation Bill is scheduled to be considered by the House of Lords and, even if it is a money bill, the Lords can hold it up for a month (admittedly, that isn't much). As Francis Maude said, at last Tuesday's Second Reading,

"If this Bill progresses through the House, achieves Royal Assent and goes on to the statute book, it will come into effect, so the cap will apply as of the day of commencement. As I said, I hope that we achieve something frankly more grown up, more sustainable and more long term by having an agreed long-term comprehensive settlement. If both Houses of Parliament agree that the Bill should be passed, however, it will come into effect."

I admit to having reservations about the proposals. However, I also understand that the current arrangements are wholly unaffordable. The fact that the bill has a sunset clause, requiring review annually, should be taken as a sign of good faith, indicating that if a formula can be agreed by all participants, it will be put into force.

Hopefully, PCS will improve their campaigning techniques - on Tuesday, they protested outside the House of Lords, despite there being nobody at home. We'll find out when they protest outside of our conference next week, I guess...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your union colleagues are slightly off the mark but not too far. The key point of it being a money bill is that the Lords cannot make any amendments. It therefore confers powers akin to the Parliament Act - except that there is no need to wait until the next session in order to force through controversial new powers.
For legislation that clearly has no extra expenditure obligations this is interesting and something I think the Speaker is still considering. The whole point of the Bill is to savagely restrict the settlements that civil servants might otherwise receive in the short term in order to force a 'negotiated' settlement. It is, by far, a worse settlement than the government brought to the table in February that was struck down by your PCS colleagues despite being supported by the other civil service trades unions.