Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation Thirteenth Report




311.  This section of the memorandum sets out how the Department intends to use the delegated powers in Part II, Chapter III of the Bill. Again, these delegated powers perform a number of functions. First, they provide for detailed issues, such as the decisions which have a right of appeal, to be set out in regulations. Second, they provide flexibility for changes to be made, for example, to include new appeal rights which are identified or amend time limits for appeals in the light of operational experience. This flexibility allows changes to be made quickly without requiring war pensioners to wait for a suitable opportunity to amend primary legislation.

312.  The Bill provides for new appeal arrangements for war pensioners. The existing appeal rights are to be extended and appeal time limits are to be amended. It is intended that the scope of the new appeal rights should be set out in regulations. The new appeal time limit will be six months, the existing three month appeal time limit for interim assessment appeals will be retained. This is provided for in the Bill together with a power to amend these time limits by regulations at a later date. There is also a third provision to specify the circumstances in which an appeal can be brought in the twelve months following the lapse of the statutory appeal time limit ("late appeal"). The circumstances when a late appeal can be accepted will be set out in regulations. All the regulation-making powers are affirmative because the Department is of the opinion that as the regulations will determine access to a right of appeal they should be subject to a debate in Parliament.

313.  An independent consultant's report recommended the revision of the appeal time limit provisions and the extension of appeal rights. This report was sent to interested organisations and considered before the provisions in the Bill were drafted. The provisions in the Bill have been discussed at the Central Advisory Committee on war pensions and the Council on Tribunals. This consultation is ongoing and will extend to implementation.


314.  Clause 56 provides the framework for giving additional appeal rights to war pensioners. It increases the current appeal provision in the Pensions Appeal Tribunals Act 1943 (PAT Act) sections 1-5 by the creation of a new section 5A, which will provide for appeal rights outside the existing provisions.

315.  Section 5A(2) contains a power to make regulations that will state which types of decision will carry a right of appeal. Section 5A(3) states that the regulations will be affirmative.

316.  The Department proposes to use the power in section 5A(2) to specify the decisions that will have a right of appeal. The intention is to use this provision to provide war pensioners with similar appeal rights as those provided to social security claimants. The level of detail required is such that it is the Department's opinion that it would be best placed in secondary legislation. This would also allow flexibility for the future so that if, for example, any additional appeal rights are identified, they could be incorporated relatively quickly, without requiring war pensioners to wait for a suitable primary opportunity to make the changes.


317.  Clause 57 modifies section 8 of the PAT Act by changing some of the statutory appeal time limits, by making provision for appeals to be brought after the statutory time limit has ended and providing transitional protection for decisions made before the date this section is commenced.

318.  The statutory appeal time limit of three months for interim assessment appeals is already provided for in section 8(3) of the PAT Act, the provision for a six month statutory appeal time limit in all other cases is provided for in clause 57(1) of this Bill.

319.  Clause 57(2) provides for a new PAT Act section 8(4), which will include a power to amend the statutory appeal time limits in the future by regulations. The current provisions on time limits are a balance between the needs of war pensioners to have time to consult and submit an appeal and the need for justice to be administered whilst the facts are still fresh. This provision enables the time limits to be adjusted either up or down if, in the light of operational experience, they prove to be inappropriate. There is no current intention to use it.

320.  Clause 57(2) also provides a power in the new PAT Act section 8(5) for regulations to be made to state the circumstances in which appeals can be brought in the twelve months after the statutory time limit has expired. It is only appropriate to admit a late appeal if there is a good reason why it was not submitted within the statutory appeal time limit. If all late appeals were admitted it would lessen the impact of the statutory appeal time limits, which are considered adequate. Therefore the need exists to state when late appeals will and will not be admitted. The Department is of the opinion that for consistency in decision making, and to advise war pensioners of their rights and obligations when submitting appeals, there should be a prescribed list, approved by Parliament, of when late appeals will be accepted. The Department is seeking to have the grounds for late appeals placed in affirmative regulations to ensure that changes can be made relatively quickly, yet approved by Parliament.

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