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Angela Eagle: The hon. Gentleman does not astonish me much these days, but I am surprised by his intervention. The answer is for the person involved to comply with the community sentence, and that is in his own hands. By connecting rights and responsibilities, we are saying to the individual, "You must turn up for your community sentence. If you do not, there will be consequences." When someone is imprisoned he is complying with his sentence, unless he escapes.
We are piloting the changes that are set out in the amendments to ascertain whether they work. The proof will be in the pilot. We shall see whether the hon. Gentleman's dire warnings prove to be true or whether we can establish a dialogue and a narrative on rights and responsibilities in the areas with which we are concerned.
The hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. Pickles) needs to be reassured that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister knows exactly what is going on. The Opposition has broadly agreed with us on these issues. We shall be extremely interested to ascertain whether we can establish an effective narrative on rights and responsibilities.
Lords amendment: No. 55, in page 76, line 19, at end insert--
("( ) In paragraph 8(1)(ia) of that Schedule (power to provide by regulations for repayment in prescribed cases of the whole or a part of a Class 1B contribution), after "part" there shall be inserted "of a Class 1A or".")
Mr. Rooker: We are dealing with the clauses that relate to national insurance contributions. I have taken on the role of a Treasury Minister because these clauses are in the Bill because they cannot technically go into a Finance Bill.
The amendments can be broadly split into two groups, one of which effects a technical and consequential amendment. The point was unfortunately missed when the class 1A legislation was drafted. It is to allow refunds of class 1A national insurance contributions to continue to be made where relevant information reaches the employer late and leads him to overpay class 1A contributions through no fault of his own.
The other group of amendments comprises Nos. 56, 58 and 61. The House will be aware that following the Budget statement in March, my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary engaged in a period of consultation with
Angela Eagle: These are minor and technical amendments to schedule 7 to correct drafting omissions. They provide for procedures in relation to the laying and drafting of regulations made by my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor under the schedule, which are aligned with those already provided for regulations made by the Secretary of State. They provide also that powers under the schedule to make regulations are exercisable by statutory instrument.
Lords amendment: No. 1, in page 2, line 16, after ("requisition") insert (", request")
I draw the House's attention to the fact that privilege is involved in Lords amendments Nos. 3 to 15, 17 to 23 and 26. If the House agrees to any of these Lords amendments, I shall ensure that the appropriate entry is made in the Journal.
Miss Johnson: The amendments provide for a new clause to replace clause 4 and minor consequential amendments to clause 3. The amendments have been agreed by the National Audit Office. They would permit the Treasury to repay, with the agreement of the Comptroller and Auditor General, money that
A specific statutory power is needed to make any payment out of the Consolidated Fund or the National Loans Fund. In addition, all such payments, except transfers between the two funds, require the prior approval of the Comptroller and Auditor General, technically known as "credit" or authority to pay. That presents a problem when sums are credited to either fund in error and should be repaid.
As the law stands, there is no power to repay any sums that are paid into either the Consolidated Fund or the National Loans Fund, but should not have been. Any such sums are effectively imprisoned inside the fund concerned. That has occasionally caused problems, so the Government believe that it would be sensible to provide a power to refund such sums from the National Loans Fund and the Consolidated Fund.
As our original intention was simply to modernise the Exchequer and Audit Departments Act 1866 relating to the Consolidated Fund, we originally sought only a power to repay sums credited in error to the Consolidated Fund. The main example that we had in mind was where Departments surrender receipts which they believe are surplus to their needs, but which they subsequently find they need to avoid incurring excess votes. However, other payments could be credited to the Consolidated Fund in error, so we sought a general power to repay sums credited in error to the Consolidated Fund. That is what clause 4 provided for prior to the amendments being made.