Page last updated at 16:01 GMT, Monday, 21 May 2012 17:01 UK

Urgent question: MPs clash over Beecroft report

MPs have clashed over whether proposals in a recent report on employment law would "help more people get back into work" or have a "huge detrimental impact on consumer confidence".

After Speaker John Bercow granted an urgent question on the Beecroft report in the Commons on 21 May 2012, Labour's Chuka Umunna put forward the latter view.

Having commissioned the report, ministers now intend to "water down people's fundamental rights at work", Mr Umunna suggested.

He concluded that they had "lost the plot", since "people in fear of losing their jobs" would be less likely to boost demand in the British economy by spending their earnings on goods and services.

Ministers were set to release the full report later this week, but a draft report was leaked to the press.

It reportedly included measures to make it easier for companies to sack under-performing workers, although Business Secretary Vince Cable has since repudiated its advocacy of moving towards "no-fault dismissal" as "the wrong approach".

Mr Umunna said the government's handling of the review had been "a complete and utter shambles".

Responding on behalf of the government, Business Minister Mark Prisk revealed that the publication date would be brought forward because of the leaked draft.

He told MPs that the government was planning to take action on 17 of the report's 23 proposals.

These would "ensure they maximise flexibility and reflect modern workplace practices", he said, and "strengthen our international competitiveness in difficult economic times".

"This government is taking positive action to reform the labour market and ensure we can help more people get back into work as soon as possible," Mr Prisk argued.

But he told MPs that extra consultation was needed on the no-fault dismissal proposal.

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