Employment Rights Legislation

Lord Cunningham of Felling Excerpts
Wednesday 1st February 2023

(1 year, 3 months ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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We are providing certainty. The sunset date provides certainty: a target by which departments can look at their body of retained EU law and decide whether it needs replacing, retaining or updating.

Lord Cunningham of Felling Portrait Lord Cunningham of Felling (Lab)
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My Lords, why are the Government intent on diminishing scrutiny in this House, as is strongly suspected by many Members? Why are Members of this House being denied the opportunity to question Ministers on these changes, and why is Parliament itself, which apparently is in the Minister’s mind, being refused the opportunity to discuss these things?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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Parliament is not being refused the opportunity to discuss these things. We will no doubt have many days of debate on the retained EU law Bill. All the regulations that are updated or changed will come back to Parliament for approval, in precisely the same way as the EU regulations were introduced in the first place—in fact, they were subject to a lesser degree of scrutiny. I would have a little more support for the position of some noble Lords if they had objected to the way this legislation was introduced into UK law in the first place.

Horizon Europe: UK Participation

Lord Cunningham of Felling Excerpts
Tuesday 31st January 2023

(1 year, 3 months ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I agree with the noble Lord. There is a limit to how long this period of limbo can go on. We have provided guarantees to researchers, and we are funding them in the meantime. The time is approaching when we will need to make a final decision on this.

Lord Cunningham of Felling Portrait Lord Cunningham of Felling (Lab)
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My Lords, since the Minister has considerable experience of the European Union and its institutions, why does he think that the European Union is behaving in this remarkably unkind way? Is there some explanation or is it just a question of the EU using this issue to try to succeed in some other way in the negotiations?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I think the Commission has been very clear in intimating that the issue is linked to the Northern Ireland protocol, but, as I have said, this is a separate issue. They are separate legal agreements, and we stand ready to continue the discussions about association, which is part of an agreement we already have with the EU.

Lord Cunningham of Felling Portrait Lord Cunningham of Felling (Lab)
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My Lords, I begin by expressing my wholehearted support for the speech given by my noble friend Lord Rooker. He has so comprehensively discussed these issues that it is barely necessary for me to support him, but I intend to do so wholeheartedly, as I have said.

Perhaps I had better say that I was previously a member of the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee and I am now a member of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, as indeed is my noble friend Lord Rooker, as he said. I participated in the discussions of the two reports that he referred to: Democracy Denied and Government by Diktat. It is amazing how little response there has been from Ministers to those fundamentally important reports; fundamental in relation to this House and the other place, and in relation to the control—I use the word “control” advisedly—of ministerial actions and decisions.

The latest report of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee—the 14th report of this Session—on the Energy Prices Bill, says in paragraph 10:

“We are disappointed that, by including paragraph 3(2) of Schedule 1, the Government appear to have completely ignored the recommendations contained in our report.”


That is true: the Government have completely ignored the recommendations made in the committee’s report. Paragraph 10 continues:

“No attempt has been made to limit the powers or to ensure that they will be subject to parliamentary scrutiny.”


There is no provision for that under the Government’s proposals—no provision for parliamentary scrutiny of any kind. Paragraph 10 goes on:

“Nor do we consider that anything close to a compelling justification has been offered for these powers”,


and their inclusion in what the Government intend to pursue.

Paragraph 11 of the report says:

“Accordingly, we consider that the legislative sub-delegation provided by paragraph 3(2) of Schedule 1 is inappropriate. We also take the view that the power to give directions is inappropriate to the extent that paragraph 3(2) enables general directions to be given which would have legislative effect.”

This is Ministers giving themselves powers to give general directions that would have legislative effect. In my long experience—35 years in the other place, and a long time in this House—I have never seen proposals like this, ever, from any Government. That is the reality of it. I quote from paragraph 12 of the report:

“Accordingly, for the same reasons we consider that powers conferred by paragraph 3(2) of Schedule 2 are inappropriate.”


The Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee is chaired by a person who sits on the Government Benches—a privy counsellor and former Cabinet Minister in the other place. There is no doubt that he is a good chair of the committee. He, along with other Conservative committee members, has signed up to this report, which is a damning indictment of what the Government are doing. It is time for this House and the other place to call a halt.

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

Lord Cunningham of Felling Excerpts
Tuesday 28th June 2022

(1 year, 10 months ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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The noble Lord might want to ask the people of Sheffield whether they want an SMR beforehand. As a serious point, this is very important; indeed, it is a matter of legislation that reactors are proved to be safe. I agree that it is a shrunken design of existing reactors; these are on a much smaller scale and designed in a modular way. It is important that we go through all the relevant approval processes. The design is not yet complete, and they have not even been submitted yet for GDA.

Lord Cunningham of Felling Portrait Lord Cunningham of Felling (Lab)
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My Lords, can the Minister remind the House of when Britain built a civil nuclear reactor on time and within budget? I ask this not to cast any doubt on the Minister’s commitment, but to say that we know that there are numerous opponents of civil nuclear power and every time we build a reactor we give them more and more excuses over delays and cost overruns to attack the idea of civil nuclear power. It is a terrible error for which both Governments have been responsible; I am not just blaming the present Government. We give them open goals to shoot at. Should the Government not look at the whole process and come up with a new scheme or ideas to ensure that this error is eliminated?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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We are always open to new ideas for how we can speed the process up. We want to see both existing nuclear technology and the SMR process brought forward as quickly as possible, but it is important that we go through all the relevant design approval phases to make sure the technology is safe. Many communities are willing to accept SMRs, particularly those that already have nuclear reactors in their area, so it is not the case that everybody is opposed to them. Nevertheless, it is important that we go through the proper processes.

Trade Talks with India, Greenland and Israel

Lord Cunningham of Felling Excerpts
Wednesday 9th March 2022

(2 years, 2 months ago)

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Lord Grimstone of Boscobel Portrait Lord Grimstone of Boscobel (Con)
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My Lords, I think the House recognises that trade is one of the surest ways to economic advancement for a whole range of countries. The UK is strongly committed to our trade and investment relationship with Israel, one of the Middle East’s most dynamic and innovative economies.

Lord Cunningham of Felling Portrait Lord Cunningham of Felling (Lab)
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My Lords, will the Minister commit the Government to including in the parliamentary scrutiny of the negotiating objectives the aim that global companies that try to abuse and infiltrate food markets—I am not suggesting that any of the three countries mentioned are included in that—should be excluded? Should we not exclude in our negotiating commitments all companies that have proven criminal records in food markets?

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel Portrait Lord Grimstone of Boscobel (Con)
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My Lords, the Government and I have made clear on a number of occasions that we will never enter into a free trade agreement which in any way diminishes the high standards of food in this country.

Mathematical Sciences

Lord Cunningham of Felling Excerpts
Tuesday 8th February 2022

(2 years, 3 months ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I am sure that maths can be fun for everybody. I am disappointed that my noble friend does not think so.

Lord Cunningham of Felling Portrait Lord Cunningham of Felling (Lab)
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My Lords, the Minister has rightly defended a reasonably good record of government funding of mathematics. I applaud that, but he is he convinced that sufficient attention is being given to biology, chemistry, physics and other scientific subjects, many of which now depend fundamentally on mathematics being inherent in their teaching?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I will need to refer to the Department for Education for the details of how it supports these other vital subjects in its teaching programmes, but I agree with the thrust of the noble Lord’s question.

Small Business Commissioner: Late Payments

Lord Cunningham of Felling Excerpts
Tuesday 7th December 2021

(2 years, 5 months ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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The noble Earl makes a good point. I remind him that UK legislation already establishes a 60-day maximum payment term for contracts for the supply of goods and services between businesses, although those terms can be varied if they are not grossly unfair to the supplier. We also have the prompt payment code. We have received more than 50,000 reports from businesses that they are abiding by the prompt payment code, but there is always more to do on this.

Lord Cunningham of Felling Portrait Lord Cunningham of Felling (Lab)
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My Lords, I have been in Parliament for a long time—perhaps people would say for too long. For all that time, late payment has been a problem under Governments of both major parties and the coalition Government. Why is it such an elusive problem? Why is it so difficult to find a solution to what is damaging to small and medium-sized businesses?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I would never say that the noble Lord has been in Parliament too long. We need more representatives from the north-east in Parliament, for as long as possible—says he in a self-congratulatory way. The noble Lord is right. It is a difficult and complicated problem which Governments of all persuasions have grappled with. It is different in different industries, with different suppliers for small businesses and large businesses, but there was a commitment in the Conservative manifesto to crack down on late payment. That is why we launched the consultation. We are currently working through the responses. We will need primary legislation to implement it. The noble Lord will know, from his time in government, how tricky it is to work through those problems.