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Lord Macaulay of Bragar: My Lords, before the noble Baroness sits down, perhaps I may make a technical point. I understand that in making representations on the matter Dr. Clive was not representing the views of the Scottish Law Commission but was merely trying to assist the passage of the Bill through your Lordships' House.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour moved Amendment No. 3:

Page 2, line 27, leave out ("written agreement") and insert ("contract").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Rodger of Earlsferry moved Amendment No. 4:

Page 3, line 8, leave out ("in a case where") and insert ("insofar as").

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 4, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 5, 6 and 7. Again, we are grateful to the noble and learned Lord, Lord McCluskey, who, in Committee, voiced certain concerns that, as drafted, Clause 2(2) might interfere with the intended operation of Clause 2(1) (c). The clear intention of the Scottish Law Commission as described in recommendation 13(d) of its report is that the arrangement set out in Clause 2(1) (c) should not extend to a child participant who is the subject of the mediation but who is too young to understand the nature and significance of the matters involved. It would not be right that such a child should have a veto.

In addition, it is only proper that the child should be able to agree to the admission as evidence of information that directly concerns him or her. These would include matters such as where the child is to reside, maintaining personal relations and direct contact with his or her parents or matters concerning the control, direction, guidance, guardianship or legal representation of the child.

Thus, both to highlight the useful concerns expressed by the noble and learned Lord, Lord McCluskey, and to make full provision for the policy as set out by the Scottish Law Commission, I have brought forward these amendments. I beg to move.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, perhaps it may be convenient for me to intervene at this point to

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say that I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord, Lord McCluskey, for pointing out in Committee that this part of Clause 2 does not quite say what it was intended to say.

It was always the intention that children who are the subject of mediation about matters directly affecting them and who are capable of understanding the meaning of what is discussed should be able to agree that such information should be admitted as evidence. I am grateful to my noble and learned friend Lord the Lord Advocate for clarifying that point and for bringing forward these amendments to provide the necessary alterations. I am happy to accept the amendment.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar: My Lords, I should like to express my personal reservations as regards the representation of the child. That point has not been met at all by the amendment. I shall not table a counter amendment but I hope that the matter will be looked at in due course. I know that an amendment has been tabled in another place by Family Mediation (Scotland) about the child having representation in the mediation process. At the moment, the child is regarded as a participant in the family mediation with a legal capacity when he would have nothing of the kind. I wonder whether the Bill goes far enough as regards representation for the child. I hope that that will be given some consideration when the Bill goes to another place.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie: My Lords, I support these amendments. They tidy up the Bill. However, they seem to rely on an amendment to the Children (Scotland) Bill which is at present in another place. That amendment deals with how the child will be represented. I like the idea that an appropriate person should be appointed to interview the child and report back. I hope that this amendment will be accepted within the Children (Scotland) Bill so that it carries on into this Bill. The amendment clarifies the fact that the more mature child should be consulted when admissibility is sought. I support the amendment.

Lord Rodger of Earlsferry: My Lords, I recognise all the anxieties expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Macaulay, and the noble Earl. I accept that they are expressing anxieties about the way in which children are represented in connection with mediation. I reiterate that that is a matter to be considered in relation to the substance of mediation proceedings. Here we are considering the question of the admissibility of evidence as to what went on at the proceedings. As has been indicated, there may be another opportunity on which to raise those matters which I accept are matters of substance because if mediation is to be a recognised part of the procedures for dealing with family disputes, and so on, it is important that everyone should be satisfied about the way in which children's interests are satisfied. However, that is another matter which does not fall squarely within the terms of the Bill. I commend the amendment.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

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Lord Rodger of Earlsferry moved Amendments Nos. 5 to 7:

Page 3, line 9, after ("who") insert ("—
(i)") .
Page 3, line 10, at end insert ("; and
(ii) at the time the family mediation took place was capable of understanding the nature and significance of the matters to which the information which is sought to be admitted as evidence relates").
Page 3, line 15, leave out from ("evidence") to end of line 17.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

The Earl of Lindsay: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now adjourn during pleasure until 8.30 p.m.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

[The Sitting was suspended from 7.56 to 8.30 p.m.]

Pensions Bill [H.L.]

Consideration of amendments on Report resumed.

Lord Stallard moved Amendment No. 190:

Before Clause 114, insert the following new clause:

("Retirement pension: absence from Great Britain

.—(1) The Secretary of State shall prepare and lay before Parliament, before the expiry of a period of six months beginning with the date on which this Act receives Royal Assent, a report on—
(a) the numbers, age and economic circumstances of persons absent from Great Britain who, but for the provisions of section 113(1) (a) of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992, would be eligible under that Act for a retirement pension of any category or graduated retirement benefit (including any increase of the amount payable in respect of any such retirement pension for adult and child dependants); and
(b) the implications for persons mentioned in paragraph (a) above of the establishment of reciprocal pensions and benefits arrangements between Great Britain and the government of the country in which such persons are resident.
(2) Unless either House of Parliament resolves, in the light of the report mentioned in subsection (1), that this section should no longer apply, the Secretary of State shall, before the expiry of a period of one year, beginning with the date on which this Act receives Royal Assent, by order make regulations to disapply, in whole or in part, the application of section 113(1) (a) of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 in respect of a retirement pension of any category or graduated retirement benefit (including any increase of the amount payable in respect of any such retirement pension for adult and child dependants).
(3) An order under subsection (2) shall be subject to approval by resolution of each House of Parliament.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I move the above amendment in a slightly different atmosphere to that which prevailed earlier in the afternoon. However, I hope that the small presence in the Chamber will not make too much difference. I expect that noble Lords are all hiding somewhere or still having dinner. I do not intend to make a long statement because I believe that I have made two or three already and many people, both inside and outside the House, are now beginning to latch on to the fact that there is an injustice here. Indeed, it is another one of those injustices about which we heard so much this afternoon.

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People are beginning to understand that there is an injustice. Something is wrong where people who qualified for a pension in exactly the same way as I did, after 44 years of paying Class 1 stamps on a contribution card, are now not able to receive the increases that I and many people receive every year.

It is a question of the three main principles that we have argued about throughout the proceedings. First, there is the statutory right which has been accepted by the Government and by previous government Ministers as being correct. Secondly, there are the reciprocal agreements which have already been accepted and which operate in 33 different countries. Again, that is an accepted principle, so such pensions can be paid to some pensioners who live abroad provided that there is a reciprocal arrangement in existence. That takes care of the argument that it is an impossible request; indeed, it can be done. Thirdly, because it is an entitlement, we certainly do not accept the argument that it would cost too much. You cannot argue that for one case when the opposite takes effect in those cases where reciprocal agreements apply. If there are 33 or 34 reciprocal agreements where pensioners receive all increases and then you say, "We cannot give those pensioners the same treatment because it would cost too much", that is an argument against itself. Therefore, we do not accept it.

We heard this afternoon about former servicemen and pensioners. We have here a very similar case. A great many of the people whom I have been discussing for many years now served this country as servicemen, as taxpayers and, in the past two or three years, as overseas electors. Indeed, I imagine that both major parties at present are canvassing for the support of such people, who are the same pensioners in those same countries, for the forthcoming general election. Therefore, they are good enough to vote and good enough to serve in the forces, and so on; but, when it comes to their pension entitlement, it is said that because they live in those Commonwealth countries they are not entitled to it because there is no reciprocal agreement and the Government do not intend to have one. We say that that is wrong for many reasons. It is an injustice, it is immoral and it is almost a deceit to say that we will have reciprocal agreements with others but not with those countries.

I tend to agree with the noble Lord, Lord Brookes, who spoke about conscience this afternoon. Again, we are discussing a conscience issue; indeed, it affects people's consciences. They cannot believe that there are people living in America and others living only a few minutes away in Canada and that, on one side of that divide, people receive the full pension while, on the other side, they receive the pension that was frozen when they left this country, which is usually under £10.

Twenty thousand pensioners live in those conditions in Canada with a pension that is under £10, although, as I said, they have the required qualifications for a full pension. It is wrong. The noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, echoed the sentiments expressed in our recent debates by saying that, if there is to be a time to change the system, this year would be the time: the 50th anniversary of the end of the last war is a perfectly good time—if time is needed—to put such injustices right.

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We are discussing one of them. I believe that it should be given the same kind of priority as some of the other matters. That is why I have changed the form of the amendment from the usual kind in the hope that the Government will accept it as being a more constructive proposition.

In the first part of my amendment, I simply ask for a report to be produced to give us all the information on the subject. We have been bedevilled over the years by various statistics from different sources that never seemed to match as regards numbers, costs or anything else. I am asking for a report that would put that situation right. Once we know the size of the problem, how many people are involved and where they are, we shall then know the implications of applying a reciprocal agreement to those people.

No one has ever explained to me why we cannot come to a reciprocal arrangement with, for example, Canada as, indeed, we have done with America, or with Australia in the same way as we have done with Israel, Cyprus, Greece or Spain. No one has ever been able to tell me why we cannot do so. Therefore, I must ask: what would be the effects of reciprocal pensions and benefit arrangements between the UK Government and the government of the country in which such persons are resident? It is no good saying that those countries do not want to do so because most of the Commonwealth countries have asked for such arrangements. They would be quite happy to sit down and negotiate.

The second part of my amendment would require the Government, in the event of the production of a report being agreed to, to come forward 12 months thereafter with regulations that would take care of the section in the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 which, at present, excludes such pensioners from receiving increases in their benefits. My proposition is fairly simple. There is time to consider and implement it. Indeed, there are ways and possibilities as to how it would be implemented when the time comes and as regards the wording of the regulations, and so on. However, it would give us a little more scope and would take care of the "knockabout stuff" that we usually have. I hope that the Minister will put forward a more positive approach in his response to what is really an injustice that the Government continue to support; indeed, he has never given us a proper reason for the Government's refusal to come to some reciprocal agreement. I beg to move.

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