Julian Huppert PMQ on Workers’ Rights

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011. 1:18pm

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert got the first question at Prime Minister’s questions on the 9th of November 2011.

After having asked the always topical question of:

If he will list his official engagements for Wednesday 9 November.

which prompted the predictable response of:

This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others and, in addition to my duties in this House, I shall have further such meetings later today.

Julian Huppert used his follow up to ask:

“The Prime Minister is rightly concerned about jobs and growth. Crucial to that is consumer confidence. Does he think that telling twenty five million workers that they have no job security and can be fired at will tomorrow will boost or reduce consumer confidence?”

The Prime Minister replied:

“Clearly what we have to do is make it easier for firms to hire people. That’s why we’ve scrapped Labour’s jobs tax, that’s why we’ve taken a million of the lowest paid people out of tax. That’s why we’ve established new rules so you can only go to a tribunal after working somewhere for two years and that’s why we’ve introduced fees for claims in employment tribunals to stop vexatious claims. Adding to that we are investing in the work programme and in apprenticeships all as a way of helping to give young people jobs”.

6 comments/updates on “Julian Huppert PMQ on Workers’ Rights

  1. Richard Taylor Article author

    The government news release Julian Huppert appears to be responding to is at:


    It states:

    The period employees must have been with an employer before they can claim unfair dismissal is to be raised from one to two years, from 6 April 2012. Measures to speed up the employment tribunal process and tackle weak or baseless claims will also be introduced.

    There is also a leaked report commissioned by the Government written by Adrian Beecroft, two pages of the report has been leaked to, and published by, the Telegraph:


    The report calls for “Compensated No Fault Dismissal”, which would allow employers to sack unproductive staff with basic redundancy pay and notice.

  2. Richard Taylor Article author

    My reaction to this choice of question is concern that our MP has become a raging socialist and isn’t supporting the government’s efforts to free businesses from excessive regulation.

    I think that sorting out our employment laws, helping businesses grow, making it less of a risk to take on staff is something the government urgently needs to do.

    Businesses are the primary source of this country’s wealth. Their success is necessary so that the state can provide services we all want in health, education, roads, etc, and in order to maintain the quality of life of everyone living in this country.

    We don’t currently know exactly what the government’s plans are, the Daily Mail is reporting a mini-budget is planned for the end of the month to introduce pro-growth changes.

    One of the key things I think the law gets wrong at the moment is treating very small businesses in the same way as very large ones; correcting that would be a very good, and perhaps uncontroversial start.

    What is important is people know what they are getting into and what the deal is. Someone might opt to work for a smaller company, taking a calculated risk on how that company might perform in the future and accounting for the possibility of less protection should they no longer be needed.

    While we haven’t yet seen the government’s detailed proposals I think it’s right that the law should change to reflect the modern world where a job for life is no longer the norm. I would like to see, and expect to see a balanced change which as well as helping those running businesses to ensures anyone losing their job is treated fairly.

    There are areas where I’d like to see the government strengthen protection for workers; including “students” working towards PhDs who I think ought to be treated more like, if not as, employees and “internships” which ought be treated more in line with employment.

    I think removing, or reducing, some of the risks to companies in taking on staff will free them up to take on more people. I would expect to see more companies willing to take on, particularly younger people, far to many of whom are currently unemployed, and give them a chance to prove themselves. I think the current state of employment law reduces the number of jobs available. I think if the government get their proposed changes right we could see more jobs not only through growing companies, but through companies being more flexible, and willing to take on workers who they might otherwise not have taken a risk on; the risk arising either from uncertainty about the individual, or about the future performance of the business.

  3. Andrew Bower

    Richard, I was under no illusions about our MP’s attitude on this subject – he’s from the same bonkers statist wing of the Liberal Democrats as most of their councillors and activists in Cambridge. Just look at how his predecessor seemed to spend most of his time campaigning to allow the council to impose punitive measures on local companies in the name of climate change.

  4. cobweb

    It would be good if the rules strengthened worker’s rights on things like maternity leave and whistle blowing. Neither are viewed as positively as they should be, despite what the law says.

  5. Rupert Moss-Eccardt

    I don’t think that rewarding useless managers by allowing them to sack people because they haven’t been clear about what they want is the right way to go.

    There is nothing in the current legislation to stop a competent manager getting rid of people who can’t do the job. However the manager does need to know how to write clear English.

  6. Richard Taylor Article author

    I’ve been suggesting for some time that Julian Huppert should start engaging with and asking questions on matters relating to the economy.

    I think it’s important that Huppert’s and the Liberal Democrat’s view on matters such as this are known.

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