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CONTRACT COMPLIANCE COULD COME WITH FAIRNESS AT WORK

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Ministers may bring in new compliance rules for council contractors under fairness at work legislation, it has emer...
Ministers may bring in new compliance rules for council contractors under fairness at work legislation, it has emerged.

Speculation has been rife in recent weeks about which new laws will be included in November's Queen's Speech, with councils and unions lobbying hard for a local government Bill that includes best value.

Unions are particularly concerned with Part II of the Local Government Act 1988, which restricts councils from taking non-commercial issues into account when awarding contracts.

A suggestion from the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions that another private member's Bill could be used to amend the Act was met with anger by unions. An earlier private member's Bill from Labour MP Oona King on contract compliance was scuppered by Conservative MPs (LGC, 24 July).

GMB national secretary Mick Graham said: 'It has been suggested we could get contract compliance either tagged to fairness at work or in another private member's Bill.'

But he said a private member's Bill was an inappropriate route as changing contract compliance needed primary legislation.

Bracketing it with fairness at work reforms, which will include union recognition rules and family-friendly policies, would be a better option for unions.

But he said a law to repeal CCT was urgently needed as the best value pilots risked derailment. Selective CCT exemptions could not continue indefinitely, he said.

A Department of Trade and Industry spokesman said tying fairness at work to local government contracting rules 'wouldn't be in this department's responsibilities'.

But a DETR spokesman said ministers were still committed to finding an 'early legislative opportunity' to change Part II of the Act. 'But there are many different ways of achieving that end and obviously we'd expect the government to look at all possible options.'

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