Trade Union Bill update: House of Lords debate

The latest Trade Union Bill debate took place in the House of Lords on 11 January.

Having received an FDA Parliamentary Briefing on the issue, independent peers and Lords from across the political spectrum questioned why provisions for electronic balloting had not been included in the Bill.

The FDA has consistently pushed this issue, both at TUC Congress and throughout the Bill's process.

Cross-bencher Lord Adebowale raised what he saw as the Bill's partisan motivation: "If ever there was evidence that the intention of the Bill is not entirely honourable, it is in the refusal to allow electronic workplace ballots by trade unions."

Former senior Labour party adviser Lord Livermore added that the Bill would leave trade unions as the "only organisation in Britain prohibited from harnessing technology to modernise their own democratic procedures".

Former civil service head Lord Kerslake raised the issue of "significant additional costs" that would occur due to regulatory burden, as highlighted in the union's consultation submissions:

"For the smaller unions, such as the FDA, which I worked with extensively and constructively… this will not be a small burden. I have searched as hard as I can but have found it impossible to establish any independent evidence supporting the need for this additional regulation."

Lord Kerslake also wrote an article for the Guardian Public Leaders Network on his opposition to the Trade Union Bill.

Labour's Lord Bragg called on the Government to "listen to the quality, pinpoint detail and strength of objections to the Bill. It has been dismantled. Their voices have allies all over the country."

The Bill now moves into the Lords' Committee Stage, where the FDA will continue to work with the TUC and others to seek amendments to the legislation.

Read the full debate transcript