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Column 1048Question accordingly negatived.
Amendments made : No. 26, in page 16, line 44, at end insert-- "compensator", "victim" and "intended recipient" shall be construed in accordance with subsection (1) above ;'.
No. 11, in page 16, line 44, at end insert--
"costs", in relation to proceedings in Scotland, means expenses ;'.--[ Mr. Peter Lloyd. ]
Amendments made : No. 55, in page 30, leave out line 38. No. 89, in page 33, line 18, at end insert--
6A.--(1) This paragraph applies where--
(a) in final settlement of a person's claim, an agreement is entered into--
(i) for the making of periodical payments (whether of an income or capital nature) to or in respect of the victim ; or
(ii) for the making of such payments and one or more lump sum payments ; and
(b) apart from this paragraph, those payments would fall to be regarded for the purposes of the recoupment provisions as compensation payments.
(2) Where this paragraph applies, the recoupment provisions (other than this paragraph) shall have effect on the following assumptions, that is to say--
(a) the relevant period in the case of the compensator in question shall be taken to end (if it has not previously done so) on the day of settlement ;
(b) the compensator in question shall be taken--
(i) to have been liable to make on that day a single compensation payment of the amount referred to in section 19(1)(a) of this Act (reduced or increased in accordance with such of the recoupment provisions as would have applied in the case of a payment on that day) ; and
(ii) to have made from that single payment a relevant deduction of an amount equal to it ; and
(c) the payments under the agreement referred to in sub-paragraph (1) above that shall be taken to be exempt payments.
(3) The intended recipient shall not by virtue of anything in this paragraph become entitled to be paid any sum, whether by the compensator or the Secretary of State, and if on a review or appeal under paragraph 15 or 17 below it appears that the amount paid by a compensator in pursuance of this paragraph either exceeded or was less than it ought to have been, then --
(a) any excess shall be repaid to the compensator instead of to the intended recipient ; but
(b) any deficiency shall be paid to the Secretary of State by the intended recipient.
(4) Where any further compensation payment falls to be made to or in respect of the victim otherwise than under the agreement in question, sub- paragraph (2)(a) above shall be disregarded for the purpose of determining the end of the relevant period in relation to that further payment.
(5) In any case where--
(a) the person making the periodical payments (the "secondary party") does so in pursuance of arrangements entered into with another (as in a case where an insurance company purchases an annuity for the victim from another such company), and
Column 1049(b) apart from those arrangements, that other ("the primary party") would have been regarded as the compensator,
then for the purposes of the recoupment provisions, the primary party shall be regarded as the compensator and the secondary party shall not be so regarded.
(6) In determining for the purposes of this paragraph whether any periodical payments would fall to be regarded as compensation payments, section 19(4)(a) of this Act shall be disregarded. (7) In this paragraph "the day of settlement" means--
(a) if the agreement referred to in sub-paragraph (1) above is approved by a court, the day on which that approval is given ; and (b) in any other case, the day on which that agreement is entered into.'.
No. 92, in page 34, line 21, leave out
deduction from, or payment out of,'
relevant deduction or payment in connection with'.
No. 93, in page 34, line 27, leave out withhold from the' and insert
(i) withhold from such a'.
No. 94, in page 34, line 28, leave out and' and insert or
(ii) make such a payment into court before the certificate of total benefit has been issued to him ; and'.
No. 95, in page 34, line 32, after person,' insert
making a payment into court'.
No. 96, in page 34, line 33, leave out (2)(a) above, he shall' and insert
(a) he shall, at the time when he makes that payment,'. No. 97, in page 34, line 34, after and', insert (b)'. No. 98, in page 34, leave out lines 36 and 37 and--
but no person shall be entitled by virtue of this sub-paragraph to the payment out of court of any amount which has not in fact been paid into court.
(3A) Where a payment into court is made as mentioned in sub-paragraph (2)(a)(ii) above, the compensator--
(a) shall apply for the certificate of total benefit no later than the day on which the payment into court is made ; and
(b) shall become liable to make the relevant payment as mentioned in sub- paragraph (2)(b) above, notwithstanding that the relevant deduction has not been made.
(3B) Where any such payment into court as is mentioned in sub-paragraph (2) above is paid out of court to or for the other party to the action within the initial period, then, as respects the compensator in question, the relevant period whall be taken to have ended on the day on which the payment into court was made. (3C) In sub-paragraph (3B) above "the initial period" means the period of 21 days following the making of the payment into court, but rules of court may make provision varying the length of that period. (3D) Rules of court may make provision regulating or prescribing the practice and procedure to be followed in relation to such payments into court as are mentioned in sub-paragraph (2) above.'. No. 28, in page 35, line 18, leave out
requests the Secretary of State to furnish him with'
applies to the Secretary of State in accordance with paragraph 3 above for'.
No. 29, in page 35, line 20, leave out comply with that request' and insert
furnish him with such a certificate'.
No. 30, in page 35, line 22, leave out request' and insert application'.
No. 31, in page 35, line 26, leave out request' and insert application'.
No. 32, in page 35, line 36, leave out the relevant'.
Column 1050No. 12, in page 37, line 8, after 1981', insert
or section 12 of the Administration of Justice Act 1982'. No. 33, in page 38, line 15, leave out the victim' and insert a person'.
No. 34, in page 38, line 17, leave out the victim' and insert a person'.
No. 90, in page 38, line 44, leave out the amount so certified' and insert that relevant payment'.
No. 91, in page 40, line 21, after Where', insert
, immediately before the making of the compensation payment,'. No. 13, in page 41, line 2, at end insert--
Modification of Bankruptcy (Scotland) Act 1985
22. In section 31 of the Bankruptcy (Scotland) Act 1985 (vesting of debtor's estate at date of sequestration) in subsection (8) after the words "subsection (9) below" there shall be inserted the words "and to paragraph 7(2) of Schedule 3 to the Social Security Act 1989.".'.-- [Mr. Peter Lloyd.]
No. 62, in page 41, line 45, at end insert
(h) any permitted difference on the basis of the sex of members, in the level of benefit payable from any employment-related benefit scheme which has an equal normal pension age for men and women which is lower than 65, between the ages of 60 and 65. Any difference in the level of benefit payable shall be a permitted difference if it does not exceed an amount equal to the basic state pension in force under the state scheme from time to time.'.
The Bill implements a European directive requiring equal treatment for men and women in pension schemes. However--
It being Ten o'clock, further consideration of the Bill stood adjourned.
That at this day's sitting, the Social Security Bill may be proceeded with, though opposed, until any hour.-- [Mr. Dorrell.] Bill, as amended (in the Standing Committee), again considered.
Mr. Watts : Equal treatement does not extend to equal retirement ages, so the discrimination against men in the state retirement scheme and in other pension schemes, where it exists, will be allowed to continue. However, many enlightened employers, such as the Mars group, an important employer in my constituency, have followed a policy of equal retirement ages for men and women and equal benefits for equal lengths of service.
I shall illustrate the difficulty which has arisen from the way in which the Bill implements the directive. If a man and a woman join a company at the age of 25 and retire at the age of 55 after 30 years service and both have a final salary of £15,000 a year, under the terms of the company scheme both would be entitled to an ultimate pension of £7,650 a year, made up of £5,383 from the company scheme and £2,267 from the state retirement pension. However, retiring at the age of 55, neither would qualify for state retirement pension, so it is company practice to pay a supplement of an amount equivalent to the state retirement pension to its pensioners until they reach state retirement age. That means that a woman would receive that payment for five years until she reached the age of
Column 1051sixty and a man would receive that payment for 10 years until he reached the age of 65 and was able to claim the state retirement pension.
As I understand it, the way in which the Bill enacts the directive would make such payments to the man between the ages of 60 and 65 unlawful because the woman would no longer be receiving that supplement as she would be in receipt of the state retirement pension. That has considerable consequences, and there are only two ways in which companies operating integrated schemes with common retirement ages would be able to comply with the law. They could remove the supplementary payments paid before state retirement age, but that would be a grave disincentive to people taking early retirement, and the effects on someone whose pension was based on a relatively low salary would be quite catastrophic.
If someone had a finishing salary of £8,000 a year, more than half the total benefit would be removed until they reached state retirement pension age. Alternatively, these schemes could continue to pay the supplement, but they would have to pay it to women between the ages of 60 and 65 so that women retiring after the same length of service and on the same salary would receive a total pension income of £2,267 a year more than their male colleagues. That is no equal treatment, and it cannot be what was in the minds of those in Brussels who drafted the directive.
This has been a matter of correspondence both between myself and my right hon. Friend and hon. Friends in the Department and between the company and officials. The company has taken opinion fom a very learned counsel and, equally, the Department has consulted its own lawyers. The lawyers have come to different interpretations of the directive and how it should be implemented. I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend and hon. Friends in the Department for the diligence they have shown in considering the matter.
I am not a lawyer, so I do not have to form my own view about which legal advice is correct. But even if I concede that the advice the Department has obtained from its lawyers is correct on this occasion, I still urge my hon. Friend to accept the amendment because the consequences I have described amount to a ridiculous piece of Euro-nonsense. If those consequences are what the Eurocrats in Brussels intended, the Government should be prepared to accept the amendment to ensure continuing true equality of treatment and should be prepared to be taken to the European Court by the unelected bunch of bureaucrats sitting on the other side of the English channel. If we were to be forced to change our law to allow that absurd circumstance to apply, there would be outrage in the House and the country. It would highlight the way in which the powers of Brussels have encroached on the prerogatives of the House and in this case, as in many others, on basic common sense. I urge my hon. Friend to accept the amendment and, if necessary, to have the courage to accept the consequences of the big stick being wagged from Brussels.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Social Security (Mr. Peter Lloyd) : I appreciate that the issue my hon. Friend the Memberfor Slough (Mr. Watts) has raised is of great importance for Mars, the leading employer in his constituency, and for his constituents who work there,
Column 1052and I congratulate him on the clarity with which he explained the problem that now confronts not merely Mars but other companies that run integrated pension schemes.
The particular point raised by the amendment concerns the application of the equal treatment requirements in schedule 4 to the Bill to integrated occupational pension schemes. Ironically, those schemes have already gone a considerable way towards the adoption of equal treatment for men and women, and I applaud them for that. They have introduced at 60 a common pension age for both men and women for pensions payable under the scheme. However, in calculating the benefits payable, they treat men and women differently between their 60th and 65th birthdays. Men are paid what is known as a bridging pension to compensate for the fact that, unlike women, they are not entitled to state retirement pension for that period, as my hon. Friend has explained.
The amendment seeks to ensure that schemes such as the Mars scheme will be able to continue to pay bridging pensions to men between 60 and 65 after January 1993, when the schedule comes into effect, but will also be able to restrict the amount of any bridging pension to the current rate of basic state retirement pension. I am sympathetic to my hon. Friend, as he knows, and to those schemes which would stand to benefit from his amendment, but I cannot, I am afraid, recommend to the House that it be incorporated in the Bill, and at the end of my speech I shall be inviting my hon. Friend to withdraw it.
I shall not give all the arguments and background to the position, as the hour is late, but I shall write to my hon. Friend again because he deserves the fullest explanation, as do his constituents and Mars, which has taken a leading part in arguing on his side of the case. I will explain that, subject to certain specified exceptions, the directive requires the adoption of the principle of equal treatment, which means that there can be no discrimination on the basis of sex, either directly or indirectly, in the provisions of occupational pension schemes, and it refers specifically to three areas. These are, first, the scope of the schemes and conditions of access, secondly, the obligation to contribute and the calculation of contributions and thirdly, the calculation of benefits and the conditions governing the duration and retention of entitlement to them.
Paragraph 2(4)(d) of schedule 4, introduced in Committee, already makes use of the permitted derogation to permit schemes to continue to provide different ages at which pensions come into payment to men and women. This is, of course, of no benefit to the schemes which my hon. Friend's amendment would assist. They already have an equal pension age for men and women. The exception applies to pensionable ages for the granting of pensions.
We do not believe that the payment of a higher pension to a man for five years from age 60 comes within the definition of the exception, nor, if a bridging pension is taken to be an arrangement separate from other pensions payable under the scheme to both men and women, can it escape from being a benefit restricted to a single sex. As my hon. Friend suggested, it would certainly have been easier for the Government to adopt a wider interpretation of the directive, but to do so would have been neither wise nor in the long-term interest of the schemes.
Column 1053We are unwilling to lay ourselves open to proceedings in Luxembourg that we have failed to comply with the treaty of Rome if we are sure that we are bound to lose. Equally, we would like to protect schemes from proceedings instituted, as it is likely they would be, either by the Commission or by women between 60 and 65, who would rightly submit that they were being treated by their scheme less favourably than men because their scheme had calculated and was paying them a pension on a basis inferior to those of their male colleagues.
I have great sympathy with my hon. Friend's argument and with the situation in which Mars and similar pensions schemes find themselves. I can assure him, however, that we have looked long and hard at the exact wording of the exception and it is with regret that we have concluded that bridging pensions in integrated schemes are beyond the scope of the derogation.
To adopt my hon. Friend's amendment would have the United Kingdom in breach of its obligations under the treaty and leave both the Government and individual schemes vulnerable to an unfavourable judgment by the European Court. Although I am sorry to have to ask my hon. Friend, I hope that he will feel able to withdraw his amendment now.
Mr. Watts : I thank my hon. Friend the Minister for the tone of his reply, but not entirely for its content. I realise that he would make both himself and me rather unpopular with hon. Members of all parties if he had replied to me at much greater length. I should be grateful--as I am sure the House would be--and would find it helpful if my hon. Friend replied at greater length in writing as he has offered to do, and if he would place that reply in the Library of the House so that every hon. Member can see the facts of the Government's position.
In view of the conciliatory tone of my hon. Friend's reply, despite its disappointing content, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave withdrawn.
Amendments made :
No. 56, in page 42, line 25 leave out relevant' and insert service- related'.
No. 57, in page 42, line 28 leave out relevant' and insert service- related'.
No. 58, in page 45, line 29 leave out relevant' and insert service- related'.
No. 59, in page 45, line 35 leave out an exempt' and insert a limited'.
No. 60, in page 45, line 36 leave out "exempt' and insert "limited'
No. 61, in page 45, line 48 leave out "relevant' and insert "service- related'.-- [Mr. Peter Lloyd.]
Amendments made : No. 8, in page 54, line 7, leave out
For section 4(3) of the principal Act' and insert--
(1) In section 4 of the principal Act, for subsection (3)'. No. 9, in page 54, line 16, at end insert--
(2) In subsection (6C) of that section (amount of secondary Class 1 contribution) for the words "the amount of a secondary Class 1 contribution" there shall be substituted the words "where a secondary Class 1 contribution is payable, the amount of that contribution".'. No. 35, in page 55, line 18, at end insert--