B1490 – Trade Union (Public Responsibility) Bill 2019 (Second Reading) Watch

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What is this thread about?
This is a bill in the Model House of Commons (MHoC). It's a piece of proposed legislation that is currently being debated, and there's a good chance that the House will later vote on whether to pass it into TSR law. All are welcome and encouraged to ask questions about the bill's content and join in the debate – you don't have to be in a party or be an MP to do so.

What is the MHoC?
It's a political role-playing game where we pretend to be the House of Commons, and it's been going since 2005. We have formed parties, we have elections twice a year, and we debate bills and motions just like the real-life parliament. If you want to know more about how the MHoC works, your first port of call is the user manual. If you'd like to get involved and possibly join a party, you want the welcome thread.


B1490 – Trade Union (Public Responsibility) Bill 2019 (Second Reading), TSR Government
A
BILL
TO

further increase the public responsibility aspects of any industrial action; bring in absolute majority voting in the balloting of any industrial action, and to define a reasonable timescale for the notification of the result of any ballot to the employer.

BE IT ENACTED by the Queen's Most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Commons in this present Parliament assembled, in accordance with the provisions of the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

1(X)Definitions
For the purposes of this Bill,
(1) All definitions are to be defined as in the relevant existing acts.

2(X)Ballots: public statement
(1) In section 226 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (herein, referred to as the “1992 Act”) (requirement of ballot before action by trade union), in subsection (1), after sub-paragraph (b) insert the following:-
(X) (X) (X) (c) is not protected unless the backing organisation of the ballot, or a designated representative as determined by the internal regulations of the backing organisation, has issued a public statement to all members and the media for immediate release in the form as in sub-paragraph (i) prior to any further internal notice as required by section 226A of this Act, which must remain public throughout the duration of the ballot, industrial action and six months thereafter.
(X) (X) (X) (X) (i) A public statement to be valid must take the following minimum form: “That this organisation noting its responsibilities and duties under contractual obligations is hereby terminating discussions indefinitely with [...] and shall proceed to a ballot of all members to take place on [...]. If an absolute majority of members vote for industrial action, we shall proceed to start industrial action on [...] lasting for [...] hours.”
(X) (X) (X) (X) (ii) The relevant details are, in place of the brackets, to be substituted into a statement made in accordance with the form in sub-paragraph (i), notably:-
(X) (X) (X) (X) (X) (a) the employer’s legal and public facing name;
(X) (X) (X) (X) (X) (b) the expected date of ballot;
(X) (X) (X) (X) (X) (c) the expected date of industrial action; and
(X) (X) (X) (X) (X) (d) the expected duration of any industrial action.
(X) (X) (X) (d) is not protected unless the underlying dispute affects, or otherwise has the potential to affect, at least ten percent of the unionised workforce
(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to any ballot proceedings commenced prior to the day on which this section comes into force.
(3) Ballot proceedings are said to have commenced under subsection (2) if the process of informing employees under section 226A of the 1992 Act has begun.

3(X)Ballots: absolute majority voting
(1) In section 226 of the 1992 Act (requirement of ballot before action by trade union), in subsection (2)(a), substitute for sub-paragraph (iii), the following:-
(X) (X) (X) (iii) in which an absolute majority, defined as 51% of all members eligible to vote, answered “Yes” to the question applicable in accordance with section 229(2) to industrial action of the kind to which the act of inducement relates
(2) In section 226 of the 1992 Act (requirement of ballot before action by trade union), subsections (2A) through to (2F) are repealed.
(3) Subsection (1) and (2) does not apply to any ballot proceedings commenced prior to the day on which this section comes into force.

4(X)Ballots: notification of employers
(1) In section 231A of the 1992 Act (employers to be informed of ballot result), substitute for subsection (1), the following:-
(X) (X) (X) (1) The trade union shall take such steps as are reasonably necessary to ensure that every relevant employer is informed of the matter mentioned in section 231, within twenty-four hours (herein, the “allocated time”) of the ballot being closed.
(2) In section 231A of the 1992 Act (employers to be informed of ballot result), after subsection (1), insert the following:-
(X) (X) (X) (1A) Failure to inform the employer within the allocated time shall invalidate any ballot.

5(X)Citation and Commencement:
(1) This act extends to the whole of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
(2) This act will come into force upon Royal Assent.
(3) This act may be cited as the Trade Union (Public Responsibility) Bill 2019

Notes
We continue to believe that trade unions, whilst beneficial in some regards, continue to hold far too great a level of leverage over employers and over society, as a whole. Industrial action must remain a measure of last resort, and not something employed on a whim. Hence, this Bill proposes changes to the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 to modernise and further legitimise any action.

Section 2 requires any trade union proposing a ballot for industrial action to give out a public statement, above and beyond its current obligations to simply inform current members. This statement must take a standard form and give information surrounding the proposed industrial action to ensure that the public is made aware, at the earliest possible convenience.

Section 3 brings in absolute majority voting for any action: 51% of all eligible members must vote in favour of any action. This is a significant improvement over the status quo, in which only 40% of members must support action.

Section 4 establishes a defined time scale of 24 hours to inform employers of any ballot result, over the current ‘reasonable’ time frame.


Changes for Second Reading
Clarification of how long the public statement must remain public; further moves to prevent unwarranted action.
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Jammy Duel
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Core issues remain, no attempt to deal with the actual issue which is the clear intent to make industrial action de facto impossible
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Saunders16
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This is still a de facto ban on trade unions. Turnout isn't going to be high enough in almost every case for a strike to be possible, even if more than 50% of members support it. If you're not going to change that, just get the vote on this over with.

If you're willing to be reasonable, vote against this. The real life government made sufficient changes to ensure ballots always have 50%+ turnout and that core services (health, education, transport and fire services) require 40% of those eligible to vote. That's 80% of votes in favour under the minimum turnout. All ballots already required a simple majority.
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(Original post by Saunders16)
This is still a de facto ban on trade unions. Turnout isn't going to be high enough in almost every case for a strike to be possible, even if more than 50% of members support it. If you're not going to change that, just get the vote on this over with.

If you're willing to be reasonable, vote against this. The real life government made sufficient changes to ensure ballots always have 50%+ turnout and that core services (health, education, transport and fire services) require 40% of those eligible to vote. That's 80% of votes in favour under the minimum turnout. All ballots already required a simple majority.
If 50% of members support action, they should make this manifest in a ballot; in a formal display of attitude.
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Saunders16
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(Original post by ns_2)
If 50% of members support action, they should make this manifest in a ballot; in a formal display of attitude.
The real life government introduced a 50% minimum turnout because reaching that was a problem; we're not like Germany where we vote in the workplace, we vote by post.

On minimum turnout, this needs a 100% vote in favour in every industry. Even on EU referendum turnout, you'll need over 70%.

Membership doesn't necessarily mean they will vote, even less so than being part of the registered electorate, so let's not act like this is the fault of trade unions. Some people are just members out of habit rather than taking part.

If you want to blame trade unions, sure, go ahead - but it's still a de facto ban on them.
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ThePootisPower
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"in which an absolute majority, defined as 51% of all members eligible to vote, answered “Yes” to the question applicable in accordance with section 229(2) to industrial action of the kind to which the act of inducement relates"

"defined as 51% of all members eligible to vote, "

"all members eligible to vote,"

Bold of you to assume trade unions will muster 100% turnout. Nay to this legislation. If you aren't going to replace this with something similar to:

"defined as 60% of all members who voted and where the turnout was over at-least 35% of all members eligible to vote"

Then it's in the best interest of everyone's sanity if you don't bring it back to a third reading.
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Saunders16
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(Original post by ThePootisPower)
"in which an absolute majority, defined as 51% of all members eligible to vote, answered “Yes” to the question applicable in accordance with section 229(2) to industrial action of the kind to which the act of inducement relates"

"defined as 51% of all members eligible to vote, "

"all members eligible to vote,"

Bold of you to assume trade unions will muster 100% turnout. Nay to this legislation. If you aren't going to replace this with something similar to:

"defined as 60% of all members who voted and where the turnout was over at-least 35% of all members eligible to vote"

Then it's in the best interest of everyone's sanity if you don't bring it back to a third reading.
As people don't seem to know the real life laws and the proposers certainly haven't tried to be honest with it, in real life it is 50% of all members who voted where the turnout is over 50%. It's even higher (flexible but usually between 65% and 80%) for health, education, transport and fire services.

The reality is that we will never have turnout high enough under this bill to get even close to 100% because some people are not in trade unions to vote and our postal system is harder to use than a system like Germany's voting at the workplace. The real life legislation is mostly fine because it ensures better turnout than in the past and tackles the more damaging unions in sectors that need work unless striking is absolutely necessary.

Nobody seems to be debating this but if people see this, and they believe trade unions should be allowed to exist, keep things as they are under the real life Conservative government - vote no.
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(Original post by Saunders16)
As people don't seem to know the real life laws and the proposers certainly haven't tried to be honest with it, in real life it is 50% of all members who voted where the turnout is over 50%. It's even higher (flexible but usually between 65% and 80%) for health, education, transport and fire services.

The reality is that we will never have turnout high enough under this bill to get even close to 100% because some people are not in trade unions to vote and our postal system is harder to use than a system like Germany's voting at the workplace. The real life legislation is mostly fine because it ensures better turnout than in the past and tackles the more damaging unions in sectors that need work unless striking is absolutely necessary.

Nobody seems to be debating this but if people see this, and they believe trade unions should be allowed to exist, keep things as they are under the real life Conservative government - vote no.
If under the current system turnout of above 50% is possible, surely it is possible to then achieve 51% supporting.

Blaming our postal system doesn't get to the crux of issue. The implementation of digital balloting systems will allow for more secure, and more encompassing ballots.

Trade unions simply have too much power; where this is execrised with the support of their members, fine - but if they cannot persuade their own members that action is necessary how is it justified to carry on and attempt to justify it to the public?
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(Original post by ThePootisPower)
"in which an absolute majority, defined as 51% of all members eligible to vote, answered “Yes” to the question applicable in accordance with section 229(2) to industrial action of the kind to which the act of inducement relates"

"defined as 51% of all members eligible to vote, "

"all members eligible to vote,"

Bold of you to assume trade unions will muster 100% turnout. Nay to this legislation. If you aren't going to replace this with something similar to:

"defined as 60% of all members who voted and where the turnout was over at-least 35% of all members eligible to vote"

Then it's in the best interest of everyone's sanity if you don't bring it back to a third reading.
We are not assuming full turnout.

If a union has 10,000 members, and 6,000 vote - 5,100 in favour and 900 agasint - the ballot remains valid.
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(Original post by Saunders16)
The real life government introduced a 50% minimum turnout because reaching that was a problem; we're not like Germany where we vote in the workplace, we vote by post.

On minimum turnout, this needs a 100% vote in favour in every industry. Even on EU referendum turnout, you'll need over 70%.

Membership doesn't necessarily mean they will vote, even less so than being part of the registered electorate, so let's not act like this is the fault of trade unions. Some people are just members out of habit rather than taking part.

If you want to blame trade unions, sure, go ahead - but it's still a de facto ban on them.
Coming back to this, I would highlight that we do not presuppose who is 'eligible to vote': this remains upto the discretion of the trade union - industrial action on the London's Tube doesn't necessarily mean that bus drivers have to vote in favour, if the union so defines it.

Obviously, only those eligible to vote will have any action protected.
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(Original post by ns_2)
We are not assuming full turnout.

If a union has 10,000 members, and 6,000 vote - 5,100 in favour and 900 agasint - the ballot remains valid.
And if only 50% of potential voters turnout (5000), despite the overwhelming majority still voting in favour of the strike (which for the record, even if all of the 1000 voters who don't turn up were from the Favour voters, the vote would still be a landslide in favour), now that there wasn't a 51% absolute majority of all the voters, the vote would be thrown out.

Despite 82% voting in favour of the strike.

Not even the IRL Conservatives wanted a full turnout from unions, only expecting a 50% or more turnout from unions before strikes can occur. Including all voters, whether or not they turn out, effectively expects a 100% turnout, with any who don't turn out effectively counting as No votes. By doing this, you'd be adding 5000 "Against" votes to the 900 against, which is effectively rigging the vote.

This isn't just unrepresentative, it's tantamount to an outright ban on trade union action.

Nay to this bill.
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(Original post by ThePootisPower)
And if only 50% of potential voters turnout (5000), despite the overwhelming majority still voting in favour of the strike (which for the record, even if all of the 1000 voters who don't turn up were from the Favour voters, the vote would still be a landslide in favour), now that there wasn't a 51% absolute majority of all the voters, the vote would be thrown out.

Despite 82% voting in favour of the strike.

Not even the IRL Conservatives wanted a full turnout from unions, only expecting a 50% or more turnout from unions before strikes can occur. Including all voters, whether or not they turn out, effectively expects a 100% turnout, with any who don't turn out effectively counting as No votes. By doing this, you'd be adding 5000 "Against" votes to the 900 against, which is effectively rigging the vote.

This isn't just unrepresentative, it's tantamount to an outright ban on trade union action.

Nay to this bill.
'adding 4000' - even then, 5100 for, 4900 against - and the action goes ahead.

Industrial action should only go ahead if it has the backing of members; otherwise it is simply an opportunistic coup with no real basis in law.

If we wanted to 'ban trade union action', we would do it outright - or even formally require 100% turnout, which was one of the first incarnations. This is a compromise it allows for, and continues to protect, industrial action where justified and where supported. We cannot have 30% of people foisting the sentiment of action upon them, just because "1 guy got fired for Health and Safety breaches" - the action must be justified, must be reasoned, and must have popular support.

I will repeat this bill requires the backing of 'eligible voters' - it is up to the unions to determine eligibility, expecting only those eligible to actually proceed with industrial action. Procedure must be followed.
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(Original post by ns_2)
'adding 4000' - even then, 5100 for, 4900 against - and the action goes ahead.

Industrial action should only go ahead if it has the backing of members; otherwise it is simply an opportunistic coup with no real basis in law.

If we wanted to 'ban trade union action', we would do it outright - or even formally require 100% turnout, which was one of the first incarnations. This is a compromise it allows for, and continues to protect, industrial action where justified and where supported. We cannot have 30% of people foisting the sentiment of action upon them, just because "1 guy got fired for Health and Safety breaches" - the action must be justified, must be reasoned, and must have popular support.

I will repeat this bill requires the backing of 'eligible voters' - it is up to the unions to determine eligibility, expecting only those eligible to actually proceed with industrial action. Procedure must be followed.
OK, several things wrong here.

1: "it is up to the unions to determine eligibility"

I say no. This allows for individual unions to create their own rules, and when it comes to voting, we should have a rigid, standardised system. Really, we should all strive for this, both so that union's can't declare action without a real majority, and so that a majority of union members cannot be silenced.

In electoral law, there can't be wiggle-room. Everything should be black-and-white, legal or illegal. No room for subjectivity.

Just base action/vote legitimacy on voter turnout, where only those who are members of the trade union are eligible to vote, and if the vote did not receive at least 50% turnout (with high-risk industries such as health and transport requiring even higher turnout, as is necessary in real life), the action cannot come into effect.

2: "'adding 4000' - even then, 5100 for, 4900 against - and the action goes ahead."

No, because while my writing does tend to get muddled when I work on a reply for a long while (and I apologise if that's why you've misinterpreted what I said), I thought I explained that if turnout reduces to 50% or less (in otherwords, 1000+ less voters actually turn out), the vote is thrown out under the "in which an absolute majority, defined as 51% of all members eligible to vote" rule, which will apply regardless of how many people voted for or against.

Yes, the "Favour" side wins the vote, but because of this bill applying to every person who could have voted rather than only those who actually voted, the motion isn't legitimate and hence the majority is vetoed.

3: Ultimately, a system where anyone who doesn't take part acts as a spoiler for only one side is an unfair system.

If I wrote this bill and made it so that any union members who didn't vote were automatically counted in favour of action, you'd be well in your rights to tell me to take a long walk off a short pier. You're doing the same by effectively making it so that anyone who doesn't vote increases the number of Favour votes needed to secure the Absolute Majority of all potential voters rather than those who actually voted.

Anyone who doesn't vote prevents people from voting in favour from having their vote recognised regardless of how many actually voted, and that's not OK.

Again, make the turnout requirement and the voter majority threshold seperate functions and the bill can be supported, but otherwise just take it to a vote so this blatant attempt at stifling trade unions can be taken out back and put out of it's misery.
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(Original post by ThePootisPower)
3: Ultimately, a system where anyone who doesn't take part acts as a spoiler for only one side is an unfair system.

If I wrote this bill and made it so that any union members who didn't vote were automatically counted in favour of action, you'd be well in your rights to tell me to take a long walk off a short pier. You're doing the same by effectively making it so that anyone who doesn't vote increases the number of Favour votes needed to secure the Absolute Majority of all potential voters rather than those who actually voted.

Anyone who doesn't vote prevents people from voting in favour from having their vote recognised regardless of how many actually voted, and that's not OK.

Again, make the turnout requirement and the voter majority threshold seperate functions and the bill can be supported, but otherwise just take it to a vote so this blatant attempt at stifling trade unions can be taken out back and put out of it's misery.
I would argue against this interpretation; there should always be a consensus to alter the 'status quo'; there must be backing to change the status quo - not backing the change is, implicitly, support for the status quo - as seen by the Commons tiebreak IRL.
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(Original post by ns_2)
I would argue against this interpretation; there should always be a consensus to alter the 'status quo'; there must be backing to change the status quo - not backing the change is, implicitly, support for the status quo - as seen by the Commons tiebreak IRL.
Commons, where almost every MP turns up, is a hell of a lot different to trade unions who can't guarantee voter turnout due to the postal vote system being suspect and slow, plus a completely different working culture compared to Germany where they receive 100% turnout.

And if people choose not to exercise their right to vote, that shouldn't allow either side to benefit. They didn't vote, so their vote must not support either the status quo or the motion - otherwise, you are voting on their behalf without their permission.
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A reform that should be considered is to allow electronic voting. My building society does this, for example.

I don't think my suggestion re timing of action was fully taken up, nor my comment about the form of notice.
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A reform that should be considered is to allow electronic voting. My building society does this, for example.

I don't think my suggestion re timing of action was fully taken up, nor my comment about the form of notice.
I believe the 'form of notice' was taken up: "which must remain public throughout the duration of the ballot, industrial action and six months thereafter. "

We welcome any further comments.
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A reform that should be considered is to allow electronic voting. My building society does this, for example.

I don't think my suggestion re timing of action was fully taken up, nor my comment about the form of notice.
I'd rather not. Technology for voting isn't secure by any means and frankly the idea of a safe, secure digital vote is almost certainly a fantasy. Sure, it'd be a pretty low-key and dumb thing to attempt to rig, but I still don't want to take that chance.

Either give more notice and time for a postal vote or poll people at their workplace, or something similar.
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(Original post by ns_2)
If under the current system turnout of above 50% is possible, surely it is possible to then achieve 51% supporting.
(Original post by ns_2)
We are not assuming full turnout.
If a union has 10,000 members, and 6,000 vote - 5,100 in favour and 900 agasint - the ballot remains valid.
You've just summed up why I think this is a terrible bill. You shouldn't need 5,100 votes in favour outside of health, education, transport and fire services. You should need 3,001.

(Original post by ns_2)
Blaming our postal system doesn't get to the crux of issue. The implementation of digital balloting systems will allow for more secure, and more encompassing ballots.

Trade unions simply have too much power; where this is execrised with the support of their members, fine - but if they cannot persuade their own members that action is necessary how is it justified to carry on and attempt to justify it to the public?
If you really thought low turnout was an issue, you'd be joining me in calling for the replacement of the postal system. However, that's not your issue, because if it was you'd be fine with strikes happening with 50% support on general election turnout of around 65/70%. Your issue is strikes happening at all.

Trade unions do not have too much power. The crucial industries, and those that often have more trigger-happy unions, in health, education, transport and fire services require 40% of all voters and not just a simple majority. That's still 80% on the minimum turnout, or around two-thirds on general election turnout. They might have had too much power even under New Labour, but they don't anymore.

(Original post by ns_2)
Coming back to this, I would highlight that we do not presuppose who is 'eligible to vote': this remains upto the discretion of the trade union - industrial action on the London's Tube doesn't necessarily mean that bus drivers have to vote in favour, if the union so defines it.

Obviously, only those eligible to vote will have any action protected.
That doesn't make it any better at all. It's not a simple majority of those eligible to vote as is currently required.

The only defence you have for this terrible legislation is an issue with trade unions that hasn't really existed since the 1980s, and definitely no longer really exists after 9 years with the Tories in power. No matter what you can find to try and justify it, nothing changes the fact that this is a de facto ban on strikes. I just wish you'd be honest about it and said you don't think trade unions should be allowed to strike, rather than trying to push it through as 'democratic' - it's anything but democratic.
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(Original post by Saunders16)
You've just summed up why I think this is a terrible bill. You shouldn't need 5,100 votes in favour outside of health, education, transport and fire services. You should need 3,001.

If you really thought low turnout was an issue, you'd be joining me in calling for the replacement of the postal system. However, that's not your issue, because if it was you'd be fine with strikes happening with 50% support on general election turnout of around 65/70%. Your issue is strikes happening at all.

Trade unions do not have too much power. The crucial industries, and those that often have more trigger-happy unions, in health, education, transport and fire services require 40% of all voters and not just a simple majority. That's still 80% on the minimum turnout, or around two-thirds on general election turnout. They might have had too much power even under New Labour, but they don't anymore.

That doesn't make it any better at all. It's not a simple majority of those eligible to vote as is currently required.

The only defence you have for this terrible legislation is an issue with trade unions that hasn't really existed since the 1980s, and definitely no longer really exists after 9 years with the Tories in power. No matter what you can find to try and justify it, nothing changes the fact that this is a de facto ban on strikes. I just wish you'd be honest about it and said you don't think trade unions should be allowed to strike, rather than trying to push it through as 'democratic' - it's anything but democratic.
In regards to the first point, I will repeat again: if industrial action does not have the backing of the majority of the union to which it concerns, the action is not based on reason and rationale and cannot be allowed to proceed.

I am happy to support reform of the postal balloting system.

Ultimately, I am not against trade unions - they enable the protection of rights in the workforce, and facilitate much needed collective bargaining - what I, and my party, is wholly against is the superfluous usage of methods of last resort: where members are ultimately dragged into action and discussions they don't want to be having. The system must be fit for purpose.
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