PEERS have inflicted a defeat against the UK Government’s strikes law – including backing a move to exempt Scotland.

The House of Lords voted by 221 to 197, majority 24, demanding a consultation before the use of key ministerial powers contained in the Strikes (Minimum Services Levels) Bill, including the involvement of Parliament.

There has been stiff opposition to the proposed law which would allow ministers to impose minimum levels of service during industrial action by ambulance staff, firefighters, railway workers and those in other sectors deemed essential.

Peers want a consultation to be carried out and reviewed before the power to specify minimum service levels can be used.

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The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) welcomed amendments to protect strikers from unfair dismissals and to exempt Scotland and Wales from the bill.

STUC general secretary Roz Foyer (below) said: “Removing Scotland from the bill is entirely right given its encroachment on devolved powers.

“We also welcome the Lords’ decision to ensure that key workers across Britain can’t be sacked for exercising their right to strike.

“We have won an important battle in this Tory war on workers, but it’s by far the end of the [war].

“We now need the House of Commons to do the right thing and not just confirm Scotland’s exclusion from the bill but also to withdraw this pernicious attack on workers wherever they work in Britain.”

The National: Roz Foyer, general secretary at the STUC, spoke to The National and gave her assessment of the "draconian" legislation

Proposing the change to the bill that would see a consultation, LibDem Christopher Fox argued the one proposed by the Government was non-binding and bypassed Parliament.

He said: “This a modest amendment that in no way impedes the purpose of the bill. It’s about democratic process, something we have often had to defend.

“What the amendment does is bring Parliament back into this process at the expense of undemocratic executive action.”

Labour frontbencher Ray Collins said: “Whatever your views about the state of industrial relations in this country, we should all agree that a rushed process which puts power over making laws in the hands of ministers without proper parliamentary scrutiny and oversight is simply not right.

“What this amendment seeks to do is not prolong, not delay, not frustrate, but to ensure Parliament has proper oversight and that there is proper consultation with all those involved.”

Responding for the Government, Martin Callanan insisted there were already “sufficient checks and balances”.

He said: “It is my firm view there are already sufficient checks and balances built into the legislation, before regulations can be made.

“This includes the need to carry out consultations... which relevant parliamentary committees are able and almost certainly will contribute to as well as the requirement that regulations must be approved by both Houses before they can be made.”

The Government later suffered a further defeat with peers backing a measure aimed at ensuring staff who fail to comply with a work notice on strike days do not face the sack or disciplinary action.

Peers backed the move by 232 votes to 201, majority 31.

Criticising the power to “requisition” individuals to work or face losing their job, former TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Most right-minded people find that disproportionate, dictatorial and fundamentally unfair.”

A short time later, in a further setback for the Government, peers backed ditching a section of the bill that would remove protections from unions, by 220 votes to 196, majority 24.