Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


Lord Higgins: These are more than little consequential amendments. To start with, they do not seem to be consequential on anything that has happened before. They seem to be somewhat stand-alone amendments. Again, they bring out the extraordinary extent to which the draftsman or draftsmen—it may have changed over time—have failed to introduce a sensible Bill. It seems extraordinary that they should be unaware of this point and perhaps even more surprising that the Minister in another place, Dawn Primarolo, also appeared equally unaware of the significance for Northern Ireland.

28 May 2002 : Column CWH221

More generally, where do the relevant legal aid considerations for the rest of the United Kingdom appear? I understand that the Bill implements legal aid provisions for Northern Ireland, but I am not clear where the legal aid provisions for England, Wales and Scotland appear.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: This is a matter for the devolved administrations and negotiations have been going on. The provisions for Scotland are contained in paragraphs 6, 7 and 8 of Schedule 3. I understand that we do not need anything for the UK, because legal aid in England and Wales is a matter for secondary legislation made by the Lord Chancellor's Department, not a matter for the Bill.

I am sorry to give such a hesitant response but the noble Lord caught me on that one. Northern Ireland is covered by this amendment; Scotland in Schedule 3, page 42, paragraphs 6 to 8; and it is not necessary for England and Wales as it comes under secondary legislation from the Lord Chancellor's Department.

Lord Higgins: I am not clear why the Lord Chancellor's Department was aware of the Tax Credits Bill as we have not yet passed it. How do the powers of the Lord Chancellor's Department include the provisions for tax credits which at the moment do not exist? Are we to have some subsequent legislation, secondary or otherwise, from the Lord Chancellor's Department? Would it not be more convenient, as far as England is concerned, to include it in the Bill?

As regards the delegated side of the matter, there is a reference on page 42 to the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986. Was Scotland devolved in 1986?

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: The Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986 contains references to WFTC—it cannot be 1986; it must be 1996—and DPTC which should become redundant. Therefore it is good practice to remove those references. However, the provision of legal aid and assistance in Scotland is a matter for the Scottish Parliament. I understand that a review is currently taking place.

Lord Higgins: WFTC did not exist in 1986.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: That is why I changed it to 1996. Perhaps I may write to the noble Lord. I quite agree with him. It states that the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act contains references which become redundant. That must be because WFTC and DPTC replaced family credit. That is my understanding, but if I am wrong I will come back to the noble Lord on that.

Lord Higgins: We are still left with the problem that we have got this new schedule in at this late stage when no one in the House of Commons appears to have noticed it at all. However, I look forward to receiving the Minister's letter.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: It is conventional that we do read-across where need be to Northern Ireland. I take the point that perhaps this could have been done earlier. That is all that is going on here. I apologise for

28 May 2002 : Column CWH222

faltering on the implications for England, Scotland and Wales and so on, but that had not crossed our bailiwick as a particular matter of concern.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham moved Amendment No. 216:


    Page 44, line 35, leave out "under an award made"

The noble Baroness said: I beg to move.

Lord Higgins: In which category is Amendment No. 216? Amendments Nos. 219, 224 and 227 are government amendments.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: Amendments Nos. 216, 219, 224 and 227 make the distinction between awards and entitlement. They are therefore category one.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham moved Amendment No. 217:


    Page 44, line 37, at end insert—


"22A In section 39(1), (2) and (3) (rate of widowed mother's allowance and widow's pension), for "sections 44 and" continue to substitute "sections 44 to"."

The noble Baroness said: I am afraid we come back again to my fifth category. Amendments Nos. 217, 218, 220, 221, 225, 226, 228 and 229 are minor technical amendments which are consequential on the repeal of Section 45A of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 and its Northern Ireland counterpart. Those repeals are effected by Amendments Nos. 220 and 228 respectively.

Section 45A of the 1992 Act, as amended consequentially, provides that WFTC and DPTC may be taken into account when calculating the earnings factor relating to SERPS entitlement. There are two reasons why this subsection is now redundant. First, the abolition of WFTC and DPTC; and, secondly, the reforming of SERPS through SS2, the state second pension.

The abolition of WFTC and DPTC would not in itself make Section 45A redundant. Indeed, the Bill contained an amended version of that section which is now removed by Amendment No. 220, and by Amendment No. 228 in regard to Northern Ireland. The amended version of Section 45A is not needed because SERPS is reformed through the state second pension from 2002/2003. Therefore the new tax credits will never have any effect on the earnings factor for SERPS. Thus, Section 45A is repealed and these amendments simply remove any consequential references to that section in the 1992 Act. It is very technical; it simply seeks to leave the legislation in a clear position, free of redundant references. I hope that will address the concerns of the Committee. I beg to move.

Lord Higgins: I understand that non-reference to SERPS. But where is the reference to the state second pension?

28 May 2002 : Column CWH223

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: That is not relevant because the state second pension carries those powers within it.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham moved Amendments Nos. 218 to 221:


    Page 44, line 39, at end insert—


"23A In section 39C(1), (3) and (4) (rate of widowed parent's allowance and bereavement allowance), for "45A" substitute "45"."
Page 45, line 20, leave out "under an award made"


    Page 45, line 21, leave out paragraph 25


    Page 45, line 46, at end insert—


"25A In section 48BB(5) and (6) (entitlement to category B retirement pension by reference to certain benefits), for "45A" substitute "45".
25B In section 51(2) and (3) (category B retirement pension for widowers), for "45A" substitute "45"."

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 222 not moved.]

Earl Russell moved Amendment No. 223:


    Page 46, line 4, at end insert—


"(4) In sections 170 and 172 to 174 (except section 172 (5)) of that Act, at all places where it appears—
(a) after "Secretary of State" insert "or Treasury"; and
(b) for "his functions" substitute "their functions".
(5) In section 170 (5) of that Act, after paragraph (b) insert—
"( ) the provisions of the Tax Credits Act 2002"."

The noble Earl said: I rise to move this amendment for three purposes: first, to thank the Minister very warmly for tabling Amendment No. 255 which is grouped with it; secondly, to listen to the Minister explaining the reasons why Amendment No. 255 achieves our joint purpose better than my Amendment No. 223—there is a fairly high possibility that I might be convinced by what the Minister has to say on that subject; and, thirdly, simply to suggest that in any future transfer of these types of function from the Department for Work and Pensions to the Inland Revenue, it should go into the model articles for the drafting of Bills that there should be a reference to the Social Security Advisory Committee.

Every time we have had a tax credits Bill, it has been moved from the Floor of the House; every time Ministers have accepted it; and every time legislation has been the better for it. It might therefore be better if this became part of the automatic practice on this subject. I thank the Minister very warmly. I beg to move.

Lord Higgins: Perhaps I might say a word about Amendment No. 255 on advisory bodies and consultation in relation to the Social Security

28 May 2002 : Column CWH224

Advisory Committee. As the noble Earl, Lord Russell, rightly pointed out, it has been omitted in some previous legislation.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: Amendment No. 255 was also tabled by the noble Earl, Lord Russell. There are no government amendments here.

Lord Higgins: I was not referring to government amendments. I was referring to the noble Earl.


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page