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Lord Boyd-Carpenter: Will my noble friend deal with the point that the noble Baroness made—I believe wrongly—when she said that if these matters were dealt with by regulation, there would be no possibility of this House discussing them? Surely that is wrong? I should be grateful if my noble friend would nail that point.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: There may have been a slip of the tongue. Perhaps I may reply to the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter. I understood that I said that this House would have no opportunity to negate or amend the regulations. We shall have an opportunity to discuss them, but we have no control over the matter.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter: The noble Baroness has now amended her erroneous statement, so I need not trouble my noble friend further.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: I believe that the problem was with the hearing of the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, which is unusual in this House, rather than a misstatement on my part.

Earl Russell: Perhaps I may confirm the recollection of the noble Baroness of what she said. I listened very carefully to that point, and she remembers it correctly.

Lord Swinfen: On every single important Bill we appear to have trouble with regulations. It is obvious that the regulations cannot be produced until the Bill is enacted. We are not in a position to have the regulations; but I should have thought that when a Bill is drafted, the Government must already be thinking of the type of regulations they propose to bring forward. Would it be possible to have some form of outline of the regulations published with each Bill? They could not be finalised until the Bill was enacted. Alternatively, could the Government ask both Houses to examine, and perhaps amend, regulations after the Bill has been passed?

The present situation appears to be thoroughly unsatisfactory. There is so much secondary legislation which Parliament does not have an opportunity to

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amend. Although we can discuss such legislation, once it has been decided by the other place, there is very little point in considering it. We cannot even throw it out.

Lord Ashley of Stoke: The Minister is faced with intransigence on both sides of the Chamber. The main reason is that we are dealing with a number of very vulnerable people. We feel that we shall let them down unless we get a clear and categoric answer from the Minister which is different from the one he has given so far.

Secondly, many of us who have experience of legislation know that eventually, if the Minister has his way tonight—and he may if the matter is put to the vote—and this matter goes through via regulation, many of these people will get in touch with us in years to come saying that they have been let down. The regulations may be interpreted differently from the way we recommend and they will feel let down and we will feel let down. That is why we are pressing the matter.

Lord McCarthy: I hope that the Minister will understand that I seek to help. He states that there is a great deal of common ground between us on the amendment. Could he give us an example of non-common ground? Is there any small piece of non-common ground in the amendment that he cannot accept? If he cannot do so today, can he give that information to us on Report or at some other stage?

Lord Inglewood: Perhaps I may remind the Committee that we produced a full memorandum on the use of delegated powers in the submission to the Delegated Powers Scrutiny Committee. It laid out exactly how we were hoping and intending to deal with these matters.

With regard to amendments and the procedure of the House, noble Lords may remember the remarks made by the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, this afternoon when he addressed those matters. As I said then, we shall consider carefully what he said, as we shall do all remarks made by noble Lords in that debate.

The noble Lord, Lord Ashley, made the point that people will feel let down by what we propose to do. It is not the Government's intention to let down anyone who should fall within the scope of the Bill.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: I thank Members of the Committee for joining in the debate. We are hearing a repeat of some of the concerns that were voiced in the first debate this afternoon on the scope of delegated powers. The noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, referred to the interim report. Perhaps I may quote from paragraph 13 on page 3. The Delegated Powers Scrutiny Committee stated:


    "We will consider in our next report whether the bill provides sufficient parliamentary control over the power to define these terms".

That is the issue. We still have not coaxed from the Minister what the problem is. He seemed to suggest in his reply to me and to my noble friend Lord McCarthy earlier that he agrees with the grounds. If that is so, he can have no objection to putting those provisions on the face of the Bill so that everyone knows where they stand. If the Minister does not agree, he has an

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obligation to tell the Committee on what grounds he disagrees. That he has failed to do. Therefore, our belief must be that he seeks obfuscation for the sake of it even though he has had ample opportunity for clarification.

That is much to be regretted. We do not propose to press the amendment tonight although we shall certainly return to the matter. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 43A had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

[Amendments Nos. 44 and 44A not moved.]

5.45 p.m.

Earl Russell moved Amendment No. 45:


Page 5, leave out lines 21 and 22.

The noble Earl said: I am sorry that I cannot give any relief from regulations, but there is little else in the Bill to discuss. The clause to which I wish to draw attention states:


    "A person who is actively seeking employment is to be treated as not actively seeking employment".

In their memorandum to the Delegated Powers Scrutiny Committee, the Government state:


    "Regulations under paragraph (d) will provide for people who are actively seeking employment to be treated as if they were not. This will include, for example, 16 and 17 year olds who are not actively seeking training as well as employment".

Therefore the power relates to the provision in Clause 3 and allows the Government to make training compulsory by regulation.

There is a serious case against the use of compulsion in that field. It is set out in the report of the citizens advice bureaux, In Search of Work, a copy of which I forwarded to the Minister some months ago. I do not believe that we need to go into it now. This is a serious decision on which two legitimate views may be held. The consequence of that decision, whenever the Minister in his wisdom sees fit to take it, is that people will be disentitled to benefit.

I must state here a personal view, but according to my conscience I can do no other than act on it. Totally disentitling people to benefit is always wrong, for very much the same reasons as the death penalty is always wrong. There may even be a case for saying that the death penalty is the preferable of the two because, so far as I am aware, you do not continue to suffer after it is inflicted. I stated, "so far as I am aware", and I can say no other.

We have here two major points on which the Committee is being asked to waive its right to give consent. One relates to the introduction of compulsory training; and the other to disentitlement to benefit. I always vote against a total disentitlement to benefit when it is in my power to do so. Therefore I do not see why I should be asked to hand to the Minister the right to impose such disentitlement whenever he likes and to do so in my name. I beg to move.

Lord Renton: As I stated when we discussed Amendment No. 40, the noble Earl has provided a useful service by moving Amendment No. 45. Clause 6(2) (d) needs to be considered in the light of paragraph (c). The

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two go very much together. One is in a sense a converse of the other. Superficially each is a contradiction in terms, but we must accept that.

Clause 6(2) (c) seems to me to be fair to the individual. It states:


    "A person who is not actively seeking employment is to be treated as actively seeking employment".

That is in fact an exemption. The converse proposition in paragraph (d) states:


    "A person who is actively seeking employment is to be treated as not actively seeking employment".

That could be unfair. The provision requires a tremendous amount of explanation in regulations. We have no idea yet as to precisely what the Government have in mind. I shall be interested to hear what my noble friend, Lord Inglewood, says. However, before giving this regulation-making power which affects the life of the individual to such an extent, and, incidentally, his financial rights to a jobseeking allowance, we are entitled to some quite specific statement from the Government. I shall be interested to hear it.

Lord McCarthy: It indicates great self-control on the part of the noble Earl, Lord Russell, that at this point he seeks to get rid of only the one provision, because there are four such provisions. The first states:


    "A person who is not available for employment is to be treated as available for employment".

The second states:


    "A person who is available for employment is to be treated as not available for employment".

The third states:


    "A person who is not actively seeking employment is to be treated as actively seeking employment".

The fourth states:


    "A person who is actively seeking employment is to be treated as not actively seeking employment".

In other words, the Bill contains all kinds of nonsense. I know that if one works one's way through the interim report of the Delegated Powers Scrutiny Committee there are definitions. But this is nonsense on the face of the Bill.


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