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Lords amendment disagreed to.

Lords amendments 18 to 24 disagreed to.

Clause 1

State pension

Lords amendment: No. 1.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House disagrees with the Lords in the said amendment.— [Mr. Mike O’Brien.]

Steve Webb (Northavon) (LD): On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Could you clarify whether the intention was to debate amendment No. 1, which I believed the Minister was seeking to do?

Mr. Deputy Speaker: The Minister has just moved the amendment formally and does not intend to speak at this time.

The Question is, That this House disagrees with the Lords in their amendment No. 1. As many as are of that opinion say Aye— [ Interruption. ] If Members want to contribute, they must stand to indicate their wish to do so.

Mr. Waterson: Further to the point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. My understanding was that the Minister would say something about the Government’s motion on amendment No. I, but if he does not intend to, I am happy to do so.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: I am sorry, but we have moved on. The Minister moved the motion formally, indicating that he did not want to contribute—

Mr. Mike O'Brien rose—

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. If the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Waterson) now wishes to contribute to the debate, he may do so.

Mr. Waterson: Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I shall be brief because I know that other Members want to participate.

Many issues relate to amendment No. 1, which is the method proposed by Baroness Hollis in the other place, to allow— [ Interruption. ]

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. Will Members who are not intending either to listen to the debate or take part in it please leave the Chamber quietly?

Mr. Waterson: The amendment was proposed by Baroness Hollis in the other place and carried by quite a handsome majority with support from, I think, Members of all the different parties, including some of my Conservative colleagues. It is designed to help women with broken contribution records to be able to buy back
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previous years retrospectively—so there is an element of a contribution being made by the women—and to increase the limit to nine years, whether consecutive or not. As I understand it, the rules currently refer to six years and they have to be six consecutive years. There may well be women who get to the end of their working lives and find that they have any number of years still unpaid for. The amendment has the backing of Age Concern, Help the Aged and, above all, the Equal Opportunities Commission.

I have two issues to raise. I do not know whether the Minister will have a chance to reply. The Minister in the Lords said that the cost would be £260 million. Is that netted off against the means-tested benefits, such as pension credit, which the women might otherwise claim if they did not have this advantage? Would this really be an extra spending commitment if the Government, or any Opposition party, were to sign up to it? As I understand it, the proposal is not to change the rules on eligibility, but merely to increase take-up. All Governments, at different times, try to increase take-up by applying different methods to benefits and so on, but does that actually involve a commitment to greater Government spending?

Mr. Mike O'Brien: My right hon. Friend Baroness Hollis proposed the amendment in the other place. We understand, and are very sympathetic to, the objectives of the amendment, and hope that we can deliver its aim of helping women in this country if at all possible. The Government have always been clear about their desire to provide fairer outcomes for women and the measures in the Bill demonstrate that commitment. We recognise the strength of feeling expressed in the other place and we are keen to find a solution that may bring more people into the contributory system for the first time. However, this is a complicated issue, and it is important to explore the complexities and possible implications of the range of options, including the proposal in my right hon. Friend’s amendment.

There are for example options in relation to the number of years that could be purchased, the rate at which additional contributions could be paid, the treatment of individuals overseas, and the interaction with the current system. These have varying administrative, legal, cost, distributional and policy implications, and we need to ensure that we get any targeted solution right. We want to find a way to overcome these problems. We are keen that any solution should deliver a fair outcome for individuals who have experienced complex and fragmented lives, but at the same time we need to be mindful of how any changes would impact on people living overseas.

With that in mind, the Government will commit themselves to looking at the range of options in the coming weeks, including the option to buy additional years as proposed in the amendment, and to provide an update in the pre-Budget report. In doing so, the Government will consider all the options in terms of the following principles: fairness—any solution must help those most in need; affordability—any solution must be affordable and sustainable; simplicity—any solution must be deliverable, simple to implement and understandable to those it would benefit. There is no
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difference between my right hon. Friend’s wish to help women in this country and our wish, but we need to deal with the practical problems. I cannot make a commitment that we will achieve that outcome today, but we will use our best endeavours to deliver the principles of her amendment. She has authorised me to tell the House that, on the basis of that statement, she is now content and believes that this is a useful basis on which to go forward. I therefore ask the House to reject the amendment from the other place.

Danny Alexander: I will speak very briefly, in the remaining minute of time. The Liberal Democrats believe that this very important amendment will tackle the great injustice faced by many women pensioners. In particular, it will provide more flexibility to those people, especially women, who currently lack the appropriate level of contributions to get a full pension, even under the new system. It will help those whose employment records are broken, for example. It will also help with the cliff edge that people will face when the new system is introduced from 2010. As my hon. Friend the Member for Northavon (Steve Webb) pointed out, currently that cliff edge could confront people whose pension date is just before the new system is brought in and could cost them about £28,500. That is why it is important that the House support the Lords amendment.

Question put, That this House disagrees with the Lords in the said amendment:—

The House divided: Ayes 312, Noes 68.
Division No. 189]
[8.25 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Mr. David
Anderson, Janet
Armstrong, rh Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, Mr. Ian
Austin, John
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera
Balls, rh Ed
Banks, Gordon
Barlow, Ms Celia
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Battle, rh John
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Sir Stuart
Benn, rh Hilary
Benton, Mr. Joe
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blears, rh Hazel
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Blunkett, rh Mr. David
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Browne, rh Des
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burnham, rh Andy
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byers, rh Mr. Stephen
Byrne, Mr. Liam
Caborn, rh Mr. Richard
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Campbell, Mr. Ronnie
Caton, Mr. Martin
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben
Chaytor, Mr. David
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Ms Katy
Clark, Paul
Clarke, rh Mr. Charles
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clelland, Mr. David
Clwyd, rh Ann
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank
Cooper, Rosie
Cooper, Yvette
Corbyn, Jeremy

Cousins, Jim
Crausby, Mr. David
Creagh, Mary
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Darling, rh Mr. Alistair
David, Mr. Wayne
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Davies, Mr. Quentin
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Devine, Mr. Jim
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, Mr. David
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Engel, Natascha
Ennis, Jeff
Farrelly, Paul
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, rh Mr. Bruce
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Godsiff, Mr. Roger
Goggins, Paul
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Grogan, Mr. John
Gwynne, Andrew
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Hanson, rh Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Mr. Tom
Havard, Mr. Dai
Healey, John
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hodge, rh Margaret
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hood, Mr. Jim
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Howells, Dr. Kim
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Hughes, rh Beverley
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hutton, rh Mr. John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Ingram, rh Mr. Adam
Irranca-Davies, Huw
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Lynne
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Kelly, rh Ruth
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Kennedy, rh Jane
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Kilfoyle, Mr. Peter
Knight, Jim
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lammy, Mr. David
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Mackinlay, Andrew
Mahmood, Mr. Khalid
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Marshall-Andrews, Mr. Robert
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Chris
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McDonagh, Siobhain
McFadden, Mr. Pat
McFall, rh John
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McGuire, Mrs. Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
McNulty, Mr. Tony
Meacher, rh Mr. Michael
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Miliband, rh Edward

Miller, Andrew
Moffat, Anne
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Moran, Margaret
Morden, Jessica
Morgan, Julie
Morley, rh Mr. Elliot
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Murphy, Mr. Denis
Murphy, Mr. Jim
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
Olner, Mr. Bill
Osborne, Sandra
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pope, Mr. Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Prescott, rh Mr. John
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Purnell, rh James
Rammell, Bill
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Reid, rh John
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robertson, John
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Christine
Ryan, rh Joan
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mr. Mohammad
Seabeck, Alison
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Singh, Mr. Marsha
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andy
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine
Smith, John
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Southworth, Helen
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stewart, Ian
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stringer, Graham
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, David
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Thornberry, Emily
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek
Ussher, Kitty
Vaz, rh Keith
Waltho, Lynda
Ward, Claire
Watson, Mr. Tom
Watts, Mr. Dave
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Wills, Mr. Michael
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Woodward, rh Mr. Shaun
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Dr. Tony
Wyatt, Derek
Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Frank Roy and
Tony Cunningham

Alexander, Danny
Barrett, John
Beith, rh Mr. Alan
Brake, Tom
Brooke, Annette
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Bruce, rh Malcolm
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Burt, Lorely
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Clegg, Mr. Nick
Davies, Mr. Dai
Dodds, Mr. Nigel
Featherstone, Lynne
Foster, Mr. Don
George, Andrew
Gidley, Sandra
Goldsworthy, Julia
Hancock, Mr. Mike
Harvey, Nick
Hemming, John
Holmes, Paul
Horwood, Martin
Hosie, Stewart
Howarth, David
Hughes, Simon
Huhne, Chris
Hunter, Mark
Kennedy, rh Mr. Charles
Kramer, Susan

Lamb, Norman
Laws, Mr. David
Leech, Mr. John
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn
MacNeil, Mr. Angus
McCrea, Dr. William
Mulholland, Greg
Oaten, Mr. Mark
Öpik, Lembit
Price, Adam
Pugh, Dr. John
Reid, Mr. Alan
Rennie, Willie
Robertson, Angus
Robinson, Mrs. Iris
Robinson, rh Mr. Peter
Rogerson, Dan
Russell, Bob
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Simpson, David
Smith, Sir Robert
Spink, Bob
Swinson, Jo
Taylor, David
Taylor, Matthew
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Thurso, John
Wareing, Mr. Robert N.
Webb, Steve
Weir, Mr. Mike
Williams, Hywel
Williams, Mark
Williams, Mr. Roger
Willis, Mr. Phil
Wilson, Sammy
Winterton, Ann
Winterton, Sir Nicholas
Wishart, Pete
Tellers for the Noes:

Jenny Willott and
Paul Rowen
Question accordingly agreed to.
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Lords amendment disagreed to.

It being more than three hours after the commencement of proceedings, Mr. Deputy Speaker proceeded to put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that hour, pursuant to Order [this day].

Lords amendments Nos. 12 to 14 disagreed to.

Lords amendment No. 28 disagreed to.

Lords amendment No. 73 disagreed to.

Lords amendments Nos. 2, 3 to 11, 25 to 75, and 29 to 72 agreed to.

Committee appointed to draw up Reasons to be assigned to the Lords for disagreeing to certain of their amendments to the Bill: Danny Alexander, Mr. Wayne David, Natascha Engel, Mr. James Plaskitt and Mr. Nigel Waterson; Mr. James Plaskitt to be the Chairman of the Committee; Three to be the quorum of the Committee. —[Mr. Alan Campbell.]

To withdraw immediately.

Reasons for disagreeing to certain Lords amendments reported, and agreed to; to be communicated to the Lords.

Miss Ann Widdecombe (Maidstone and The Weald) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. In view of the imminent deportation scheduled for 9.30 tomorrow evening of Samar Rashavi, a Christian lady against whom a death warrant has been issued by the Iranian Government, have you received a request from any Minister to come to the House to make a statement about any change of policy from the usual line, which is that we do not deport when somebody is in serious danger of the death penalty, particularly for a reason that we would not recognise in this country?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): I am grateful to the right hon. Lady for giving me notice that she would raise a point of order. I have no knowledge of any intention of any statement being made to the House, but the right hon. Lady has used the device of a point of order to raise the matter, and I am sure that what she said will have been heard by those on the Treasury Bench. I cannot add substantively to that.

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Parliament (Joint Departments) Bill [ Lords] (Programme) (No. 2)

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 83A(9)(Programme motions),

Question agreed to.

Parliament (Joint Departments) Bill [ Lords]

Considered in Committee.

[Sir Alan Haselhurst in the Chair]

Clause 1

joint departments of the houses of parliament

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

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