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Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, I take that point entirely. I am sorry that the noble Earl, Lord Russell, is not in place because he would agree that that is something which I have always sought to set in place; that is, tracking devices. For example, before we move into major policy development, we should run pilot schemes to see what might happen. Once a policy is established, one should put in place tracking systems to see what may be the consequences of a policy and to ensure that no aberrations or perverse effects that we had not anticipated have crept in. In all that, I entirely agree with the noble Lord. Having said that, the amendment is technically defective and could not stand as it is.
I take the point that your Lordships have made. I am happy to give an undertakingalthough not in the form of the amendment, which, as I say, is technically defectivethat we will report to Parliament on the level of performance in the transitional period while we are introducing pension credit. The Secretary of State will almost certainly monitor what is happening as pension credit settles down, and I am happy to undertake that we will reportembracing these questions, certainly, and others that have not been raised hereeach year for the remainder of this Parliament. I shall certainly want to know what is happening and I have no reason to think that your Lordships would not wish to do so.
We will include in the report information about take up, specifically on the savings credit. After three years, both Houses might reflect on whether it was appropriate to integrate this report into either the departmental report or the report of the Pension Service more generally. If it meets your Lordships' concerns that we will address this issue specifically for the remainder of this Parliament or for three years, I am happy to give that undertaking today because I share the intentions behind the amendment.
Lord Higgins: My Lords, I have listened carefully to the noble Baroness and, in particular, to the points made by my noble friends Lord Fowler and Lord Hodgson. I am grateful for the Minister's sympathetic response to our proposals. None the less, the argument of, "Oh well, it would be nice if we could go much further", and then to point out that we cannot go further under the terms of the Bill does not get us very much in advance.
We need to make a start on this. My noble friend Lord Fowler rightly pointed out that it is important that post-legislative scrutiny should be made better, but I do not think that the noble Baroness's undertaking does that. Previous proposals have been placed on the face of a Billthe most famous is the Rooker, Wise, Lawson amendment in regard to economic forecastsand if they are on the face of a Bill they have a different effect to the kind of undertakings given by Ministers in the course of debates, which are then forgotten and not brought before the House again. Similarly, there is a case for a continuous process rather than for one which runs merely for the length of a Parliament and so on.
Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, before the noble Lord decides what he is going to do, how does he address the point that it is a defective amendment? I did not want to hammer on about this pointI try not to get on to defective amendments because, certainly in my time in opposition, I am sure every amendment I produced was defectivebut I am concerned to address the issue. If the noble Lord is seriously attempting to put this on the face of the Bill, what will he do about the fact that the amendment is defective and therefore cannot stand as it is and will have to be revisited in some way?
For example, the performance of the Pension Service concerns matters outside the scope of the Bill. Terms such as "service level indicators" require far more definition and may not be relevant in 10 years time, and so on. I could "destruct", if you like, the amendment on technical grounds.
Lord Higgins: My Lords, the noble Baroness said that it was technically defective in the first instance, but she did not spell out why. Not specifying the precise performance indicators does not make the amendment technically defective. We have said throughout these proceedings, time and time again, that the whole issue of the Pension Service is relevant in relation to the state pension credit. This amendment is concerned with the state pension credit.
I am not convinced by what the Minister has said about the amendment being technically defective. If, on reflection, she comes to the view that it is, we are at a very early stage of our proceedings, both in this House and another place, and we can certainly come back to the issue if need be. But we need to make a start. It is important that this should be on the face of the Bill and I wish to seek the opinion of the House.
Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.