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(a) any relevant decision, and
(b) any decision under section 10 of that Act superseding any such decision,
whether made by the Secretary of State or otherwise.

(a) the relevant decision, or
(b) (in the case of subsection (2)(b)) the decision under section 10 of the 1998 Act,
is as originally made or has been revised (by the Secretary of State or otherwise) under section 9 of that Act; and regulations under subsection (2) above may make provision for treating, for the purposes of section 12 of that Act, any decision made or revised otherwise than by the Secretary of State as if it were a decision made or revised by him.

    (2B) Section 12 of the 1998 Act shall not apply to any decision falling within subsection (2) above except in accordance with regulations under that subsection.")

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No.119 not moved.]

Schedule 7 [Joint Claims for Jobseeker's allowance]:

Baroness Hollis of Heigham moved Amendment No. 120:

Page 111, line 12, after second (“couple") insert (“(other than a person to whom regulations under section 1(2C) apply)")

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, Clause 55 and Schedule 7 introduce joint claims for jobseeker's allowance. Couples without children who wish to claim income-based jobseeker's allowance will be required to make a joint claim. Joint claims will apply to couples where at least one partner is in the 18-to-24 age range when the provisions come into effect. These changes give those who are currently treated as

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dependent partners of JSA claimants--90 per cent of whom are women--equal rights and responsibilities on their claim.

Both members of the couple will have equal opportunities to receive help and support from the employment service to return to work. Both will be able to go on to employment programmes, including a new deal for young people, those aged 18 to 24.

Amendments Nos. 120 to 128 are a series of minor technical and drafting amendments in Schedule 7 which is made to the Jobseekers Act 1995. Amendment No. 120 on Section 1(2C) provides that regulations may prescribe circumstances where a person who is a member of a joint claim couple does not have to make a joint claim to jobseeker's allowance. It is a technical amendment to ensure that conditions for calculating entitlement to a joint claim JSA will not apply to members of a joint claim couple to whom Section 1(2C) applies.

Amendments Nos. 121 and 122 change references to “adjudication officer" to “Secretary of State" because the Social Security Act 1998 provisions relating to decision-making and appeals have come into force and the functions of adjudication officers have now passed to the Secretary of State.

Amendment No. 128 is consequential on Amendments Nos. 121 and 122 and deletes paragraph 17(3) of Schedule 7. This sub-paragraph was originally inserted because it was thought that the Bill might receive Royal Assent before the commencement of the decision-making and appeals provisions in the Social Security Act 1998. However, as this part of the Social Security Act 1998 has now commenced, sub-paragraph (3) will not be necessary.

Amendment No. 123 is a drafting amendment. Its purpose and effect is to refine the wording of page 116, line 13, to make sure that the meaning is clear. Amendment No. 124 is a technical amendment. Its purpose and effect is to take account of changes to Section 17 of the Jobseekers Act 1995 made by the coming into force of the Social Security Act 1998.

Amendments Nos. 125 and 126 correct an error by deleting the word “for". The effect is that a person “claims" JSA rather than claims “for" JSA. Amendment No. 127, which changes paragraph 17 of Schedule 7, is consequential on the other amendments relating to the Social Security Act 1998. We have grouped together a large number of amendments for the convenience of the House. They are technical, but I urge the House to support them. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

5.30 p.m.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham moved Amendments Nos. 121 to 128:

Page 115, line 34, leave out (“adjudication officer") and insert (“Secretary of State")
Page 116, line 6, leave out (“an adjudication officer") and insert (“the Secretary of State")
Page 116, line 13, leave out (“referred to in subsection (2)(a) above") and insert (“to whom subsection (2)(a) above applies")

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Page 116, line 29, leave out (“he has failed to complete a course of training") and insert (“the condition in section 17(3)(b) or (c) is established")
Page 118, line 48, leave out (“for")
Page 119, line 9, leave out (“for")
Page 119, line 17, leave out from beginning to (“(interpretation") in line 18 and insert (“In section 39(1) of the Social Security Act 1998")
Page 119, line 23, leave out sub-paragraph (3)

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 56 [Special schemes for claimants for jobseeker's allowance]:

Baroness Hollis of Heigham moved Amendment No. 129:

Page 64, line 36, at end insert--

    (“(5A) For the purposes of, or in connection with, a scheme established for (or for an area which includes) Wales or a part of Wales, the National Assembly for Wales may, if it considers that facilities whose provision any person (including the Secretary of State) is undertaking under arrangements within subsection (5)(a) or (b) are capable of being supportive of the training of persons for employment, make such payments to that person as the Assembly considers appropriate; and any such payments--

(a) may be by way of fees, grants, loans or otherwise, and
(b) may, unless the Assembly otherwise specifies, be used by the person to whom they are made for the provision of any of the facilities provided under the arrangements.")

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, a key principle behind the creation of employment zones is to allow pooling of the various funding streams currently available to help long-term unemployed people. Obviously, that is the point of Amendments Nos. 129 and 130. These include funds for training, jobsearch and the equivalent of JSA. One effect of pooling these funding streams is that they cease to be separately identifiable and no longer need to be earmarked for a specific purpose. For example, money which was originally destined to support training can be used for any purpose within employment zones. It is straightforward to pool the funding in England. Training money is being set aside from the work-based learning for adults budget, which is already held by DfEE, and there will also be a transfer made from employment service programmes into the employment zone pot.

This is more difficult for employment zones in Wales. The clause in the Bill which establishes employment zones is a social security measure and social security is not a matter transferred to the National Assembly for Wales. Nor is it intended that the provision should change this principle. The power to fund training for work, however, is devolved to the National Assembly for Wales (concurrently with Ministers of the Crown) and it holds the funding for this in its block grant. We intend that this should continue to be the case. In the absence of a legislative provision the Assembly does not have the power to fund employment zones. Without this amendment, the money which it holds for training could not be used for employment zones in Wales.

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Amendment No. 129 would ensure that the National Assembly for Wales could make payments to those running employment zones in Wales without changing the devolution arrangements for training for work, jobsearch and social security, and without restricting the use of such payments to the provision of training. It is not intended that this provision should broaden the Assembly's role in relation to jobsearch or other non-transferred matters. There is also a small consequential amendment involving some re-numbering within Clause 56 as a result of Amendment No. 129. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham moved Amendment No. 130:

Page 64, line 37, leave out (“subsection (5)") and insert (“subsections (5) and (5A)")

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 58 [Incapacity benefit: restriction to recent contributors]:

Lord Ashley of Stoke moved Amendment No. 131:

Page 66, line 10, leave out (“two") and insert (“seven")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 131 I should like to speak also to Amendments Nos. 132 and 133. This Government have an outstanding record of help for disabled people, but this clause is one of the few blots on that record. I hope that this debate will help to remove that blot. I am strongly opposed to Clause 58 because it will create hardship and suffering to 170,000 future disabled people by depriving them of their incapacity benefit if they have been unable to work in the two years before claiming.

I speak not only of disabled people but of severely disabled people--not those with a sick note from a friendly GP but people who are certified by the strict Benefits Agency doctors as being too incapacitated to work. These people of working age are so severely disabled that they have no realistic prospects of enhancing their lifestyle. Most of them are poor which, in most cases, is a concomitant of severe disability.

The clause does not affect present claimants, but that is no comfort to the 170,000 who will be hit. Their crime is to commit the cardinal sin of being unable to get a job in the two years preceding their claim. The Government are barging ahead with this ham-fisted penalty as if we live in Shangri-La where everyone can get a job if they want one. Everyone else knows that that is hopelessly unrealistic. There are prosperous areas but there are also depressed areas where few, if any, jobs are available. Why should severely disabled people in those areas be treated unfavourably compared with their counterparts in better areas? Why should they lose the valuable £66 a week incapacity benefit through no fault of their own? Where is the justice in that? Disabled people who are poor will find this a stunning blow.

Just as serious, unreasonable and unfair is that the Government's proposal will deny incapacity benefit to people, no matter how severely disabled, who may have paid national insurance contributions for 20 or

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30 years. This is a clear and unambiguous moral contract between the Government and people who are paying. They have paid trustingly and in good faith on the legitimate assumption that if they become disabled they will get what they have paid for. That is a very simple, honest and reasonable proposition. But now the Government tell them, without so much as a murmured apology, that they have moved the goalposts. They say it is too bad that these people could not get a job, too bad that they have paid contributions for all those years and that they now need the money. They are refusing even a penny of incapacity benefit if they have not worked in the preceding two years--end of discussion.

There are various theories about wanting to relate benefits to recent work and wanting to help very poor disabled people and modernise the system. They are all fine, high-sounding principles, and I agree with many of them. But none of them can justify the blatant unfairness, breach of moral contract and cheating of future disabled people of their right to incapacity benefit. The House should reject completely the implicit policy that poor disabled people should be forced to pay for very poor disabled people. That is the job of wealthy people or the general taxpayer.

I repeat. I am strongly opposed in principle to Clause 58. However, I recognise that the Government have a massive majority in another place and would seek to overturn any decision made by this House. They may or may not succeed, but it is likely that at some point, being politically realistic, a compromise would have to be reached if the Bill is to be saved.

In the hope of reaching an honourable and reasonable compromise sooner rather than later, I have put forward Amendments Nos. 131 and 132. I hope that the Government will accept them because the last thing we want is ping-pong between the two Houses, which would hardly be dignified or edifying--but it may come to that.

I have no doubt that the clause should be dropped, but in an effort to bridge the massive gap between the needs of disabled people and the Government, it is proposed in Amendment No. 131 that the period should be seven rather than two years. That figure is as arbitrary as the Government's figure, but it is much more reasonable and fairer. Although the Government believe that this benefit should be related to recent work, I believe that it should go to those who have shown a commitment to work. Therefore, I am proposing the additional provision in Amendment No. 132 that people should qualify if they have worked and paid contributions for ten years at any time in their working life. A commitment to the world of work and the national insurance principle for such people cannot be disputed. That commitment should be recognised by giving them entitlement to incapacity benefit should they become severely disabled.

I hope that the Government will accept the amendments because it is a reasonable, reasoned and honourable compromise; it is also a benchmark.

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I should like to say, quite frankly, that if the Government do not accept those two reasonable compromise amendments, then I intend to divide the House on Amendment No. 133, which proposes that the clause should be deleted completely. I beg to move.

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