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Baroness Hollis of Heigham: Before the noble Earl decides what to do about his amendment, perhaps we may make clear our view on Committee days. Obviously, the three Committee days were arranged through the usual channels, and therefore it is inappropriate for me to demur. However, given the comment of the Delegated Powers Scrutiny Committee that it will not be able to report on the Bill until after Committee stage, I wonder whether there is a case for asking the Minister to consider with his colleagues, through the usual channels, that there should be a day and a half rather than one day at Report stage. That will allow us to take the Report stage rather more thoroughly than may otherwise be the case, in particular to take on board at that stage the issues raised by the Delegated Powers Scrutiny Committee that we have not been able to do this time around. After all, if we are to have three Committee days it is not unusual to ask for a day and a half rather than one day for Report. That may meet the well-founded criticisms of both the noble Earl and the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter.
Lord Henderson of Brompton: I should like to say a word in support of the speeches from the two Opposition Benches, and the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter. I make a plea for extra time for consideration of the Bill. I do not believe that this Bill can be compared with the Pensions Bill. This Bill is
We will not have the substantive report of that committee until after the end of Committee stage. If we are to have that freedom of discussion I believe that before Report stage, or some time thereabouts, we should be allowed to discuss the substantive report of the Delegated Powers Scrutiny Committee in Committee on re-commitment. I should like the noble Lord to consider that suggestion sympathetically.
Baroness Williams of Crosby: I should like to press the Minister on one other point that arises from the report of the scrutiny committee. In that committee the memorandum from the two departments pointed out that most of the resolutions likely to be considered regarding regulations would be subject to the affirmative procedure until the date that the JSA itself came into effect. Thereafter, they would be subject to the annulment procedure.
As noble Lords will know, in terms of effect the annulment procedure is much more difficult. One is asking the Government to reconsider regulations. Because this is in many ways a framework Bill, not a detailed one, a great deal of its effect will depend on the nature of the regulations. Perhaps the Minister can give an assurance that the substantive regulations will, as far as possible, be brought forward before the date on which the JSA is brought in and that, if that cannot be done, he will reconsider his advice to the Committee not to press the amendment at the present time.
Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: Perhaps I may say to the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby, that that is the very point. Put another way, the important first time around is by affirmative order. Obviously, the system cannot be up and running without all of the regulations having been passed. Therefore, the first time they appear the affirmative order will apply. There is precedent for that procedure. The first time the regulations come before the House and into public view is by far the most important time.
I am not too sure how many happy hours the noble Lord, Lord Henderson of Brompton, spent on the Pensions Bill. That was an extraordinarily important, long and complex Bill. It covered a very wide field. This Bill covers a very much narrower field. The length of time that one spends on a Bill is dependent entirely upon how much time one spends on some of the preliminaries. We have already spent quite a bit of time today on the preliminaries. I do not wish to take up any more time. Let us get on with the detail. I will certainly draw to the attention of my noble friend the Lord Privy Seal the points that have been made about the time
As far as training adjudication officers and other staff is concerned, I say to the noble Lord that the Benefits Agency and the Employment Service have a pretty well developed system. There are very considerable training facilities in the agencies, as indeed in the Civil Service, for anyone who is appointed an adjudication officer, or in any other capacity, or promoted to a new job.
Earl Russell: I am grateful to all noble Lords who have spoken. I am particularly grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter. I agree with almost every word he said. The more that we can approach this matter in a non-party spirit the more we will advance. I am also grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Henderson of Brompton. The distinction that he makes between this Bill and the Pensions Bill is a perfectly sound one. It is of the essence of a framework Bill that a lot of it is not there and one has to tease it out. I do not believe that the Minister was here when we dealt with the Education (Student Loans) Bill. That was in effect a three-page Bill. I believe it had one line on a fourth page. However, it produced two very long days in Committee. The less you put into a Bill the more time it takes in Committee.
I was disappointed that the Minister was not in a position to respond to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson of Brompton, at Second Reading about consultation over an advanced draft text of the regulations. That might reduce the time it takes to bring the Bill into effect. In general, the Minister did not seem particularly ready to accept olive branches. I know that the Minister has discretion, but I have yet to be convinced that there is any likelihood of his using it. I also know that the Minister and the department will monitor carefully. I heard that said in relation to the Child Support Act, 16 and 17 year-olds and the disability living allowance. However, it is very rare indeed for anything to change because the department has monitored something. I was interested in the choice of the words "on premises". It was said that it would be managed pragmatically. That is a wonderful example of Whitehall-speak for "I do not know". I think that at this stage of the Bill they ought to know.
I am grateful to the Minister for the information he gave about adjudication officers. It confirms my sense that adjudication officers will be under more pressure than they are able to cope with. A period of 22.4 weeks when, in the meantime, one may be totally without benefit is an inhumanly long time. I think we should expect that to increase; it may even double or treble with the flood of appeals that will arise under the Bill. That confirms my sense that the department is not ready for the storm that is coming its way and that it needs more time to think about it. I seek the opinion of the Committee.
Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.