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COMMONS AMENDMENT
196Clause 117, Leave out Clause 117.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 196.

In moving this amendment, I should like to speak also to Amendments Nos. 266, 267 and 279. I am sure that noble Lords will recall the debate in which the noble Lord, Lord Freyberg, successfully moved a new clause providing for the restoration of war widows' pensions which had been withdrawn on remarriage. This gave rise to very strong feelings. The Government agreed that something needed to be done about the current legislation, which provides that the former war widow, having forfeited her war pension on remarriage, may not subsequently become re-entitled to that pension. Amendment No. 196 tidies up the wording of the noble Lord's amendment, and also adds to its scope. I am sure that the noble Lord is perfectly satisfied with that.

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The original clause benefited only the former war widow of a member of Her Majesty's Forces. We have now gone further and included the other categories of widow, mainly non-service widows who were awarded a war widow's pension under the wide-ranging war pension schemes. Our amendment ensures that former war widows of merchant seamen—as I recall, a subject raised by one noble Lord opposite during the debate—civilians whose deaths were due to enemy action during World War II (again, raised by noble Lords opposite during the debate) or widows of former members of the Polish forces who served under British command during that war will also benefit from the proposed change.

The amendment also ensures that the change benefits former war widows who become widowed on more than two occasions. It will apply following the termination of any marriage which was subsequently entered into by a former war widow. It will also apply where the parties have been judicially separated. So it goes beyond failure of the second marriage, which was provided for in the original clause.

The amendment will benefit some 16,500 former war widows at a net cost of around £45 million in a full year. Almost 80 per cent. of war widows are aged 70 or over. A former war widow aged, let us say, between 70 and 80 will be entitled to a pension worth at least almost £143. As I believe I explained during the debate, it will be tax free. So they have the same preference as that enjoyed by widows currently receiving a war widow's pension. There will of course be the £10 disregard for income related benefit claims and for those entitled to the supplementary pension for pre-1973 war widows. That amounts currently to £49.77 a week. That will also be disregarded.

I noted that in the other place a great deal was made of the fact that only about 6,000 war widows who were eligible had applied. At the last count, earlier this week, the figure stood at over 8,000 and was rising. As this provision has not yet been enacted, it is quite clear to me that the jungle drums are beating pretty loudly on the war widows circuit. I have every confidence that the figure of 16,500 will be reached shortly after we begin to enact this particular amendment.

That leads me to Amendment No. 279. This amendment ensures that this provision will come into force on the day on which the Bill is enacted. It will therefore be among the first measures in the Bill to be implemented. That could be this month—three months earlier than we had generally expected. I am sure that this will mean that many former war widows will be delighted that the progress we have been able to make on the Bill means that they may receive the payments earlier than expected. These amendments give us all the advantages in the original clause, and add to them.

I turn now to Amendment No. 267. It introduces a new clause to provide an extension of the war pension appeal provision. It will give Polish forces who served under British command during World War II a statutory right of appeal to a war pension appeal tribunal against a decision on a claim to award a pension or war widow's pension. The Polish forces entitled to claim a war pension for death or disablement arising from service

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through the special arrangements set up in 1947 were given no right of appeal at that time. Polish forces who are dissatisfied are able to have their cases reviewed by a war pensions committee. But these committees can only make recommendations which are not binding on the War Pensions Agency.

I know from meetings that I have had since I became Minister in charge of war pensions that ex-service organisations feel strongly that the time has come to give the same statutory right of appeal to Polish forces as that enjoyed by British forces. That is a feeling with which I heartily concur. It is most fitting that this change can be introduced during this year of memorable World War II anniversaries. I believe that these amendments make significant improvements in the field of war pensions. I beg to move.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 196.—(Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.


COMMONS AMENDMENT
197Clause 120, page 74, line 30, leave out 'Administration Act' and insert 'Social Security Administration Act 1992'.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 197. I have already spoken to this amendment.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 197.—(Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.


COMMONS AMENDMENTS
198After Clause 121, insert the following clause:

Up-rating of pensions increased under section 52 of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act,

.—(1) For section 156 of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 there is substituted—
"Up-rating under section 150 above of pensions increased under section 52(3) of the Contributions and Benefits Act.

.—(1) This section applies in any case where a person is entitled to a Category A retirement pension with an increase, under section 52(3) of the Contributions and Benefits Act, in the additional pension on account of the contributions of a spouse who has died.
(2) Where in the case of any up-rating order under section 150 above—
(a) the spouse's final relevant year is the tax year preceding the tax year in which the up-rating order comes into force, but
(b) the person's final relevant year was an earlier tax year,
then the up-rating order shall not have effect in relation to that part of the additional pension which is attributable to the spouse's contributions.
(3) Where in the case of any up-rating order under section 150 above—
(a) the person's final relevant year is the tax year preceding the tax year in which the up-rating order comes into force, but
(b) the spouse's final relevant year was an earlier tax year,

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then the up-rating order shall not have effect in relation to that part of the additional pension which is attributable to the person's contributions."
(2) In section 151(1) of that Act (effect of up-rating orders on additional pensions), after "and shall apply" there is inserted "subject to section 156 and". '.
199Insert the following clause:
Graduated retirement benefit

'.—(1) In section 62(1) of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 (graduated retirement benefit), after paragraph (a) there is inserted—
"(aa) for amending section 36(7) of that Act (persons to be treated as receiving nominal retirement pension) so that where a person has claimed a Category A or Category B retirement pension but—
(i) because of an election under section 54(1) above, or
(ii) because he has withdrawn his claim for the pension,
he is not entitled to such a pension, he is not to be treated for the purposes of the preceding provisions of that section as receiving such a pension at a nominal weekly rate;"
(2) In section 150(11) of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 (application of up-rating provisions to graduated retirement benefit) for the words following "provisions of this section" there is substituted—
"(a) to the amount of graduated retirement benefit payable for each unit of graduated contributions,
(b) to increases of such benefit under any provisions made by virtue of section 24(1) (b) of the Social Security Pensions Act 1975 or section 62(1) (a) of the Contributions and Benefits Act, and
(c) to any addition under section 37(1) of the National Insurance Act 1965 (addition to weekly rate of retirement pension for widows and widowers) to the amount of such benefit."
(3) In section 155(7) of that Act (effect of alteration of rates of graduated retirement benefit) for the words following "provisions of this section" there is substituted—
"(a) to the amount of graduated retirement benefit payable for each unit of graduated contributions,
(b) to increases of such benefit under any provisions made by virtue of section 24(1) (b) of the Social Security Pensions Act 1975 or section 62(1) (a) of the Contributions and Benefits Act, and
(c) to any addition under section 37(1) of the National Insurance Act 1965 (addition to weekly rate of retirement pension for widows and widowers) to the amount of such benefit". '.
200Insert the following clause:
Extension of Christmas Bonus for pensioners

'.—(1) Section 150 of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 (Christmas bonus: interpretation) is amended as follows.
(2) In subsection (1), after paragraph (k) there is inserted—
"(l) a mobility supplement".
(3) In subsection (2)—
(a) after the definition of "attendance allowance" there is inserted—

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"mobility supplement" means a supplement awarded in respect of disablement which affects a person's ability to walk and for which the person is in receipt of war disablement pension;"
(b) in the definition of "retirement pension", "if paid periodically" is omitted,
(c) in paragraph (b) of the definition of "unemployability supplement or allowance", after sub-paragraph (iv) there is inserted "or
(v) under the Pensions (Navy, Army, Air Force and Mercantile Marine) Act 1939."
and accordingly, the "or" immediately following sub-paragraph (iii) is omitted.'.
201Insert the following clause:
Contributions paid in error

'. After section 61 of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 there is inserted—
"Contributions paid in error

61A.—(1) This section applies in the case of any individual if—
(a) the individual has paid amounts by way of primary Class 1 contributions which, because the individual was not an employed earner, were paid in error, and
(b) prescribed conditions are satisfied.
(2) Regulations may, where—
(a) this section applies in the case of any individual, and
(b) the Secretary of State is of the opinion that it is appropriate for the regulations to apply to the individual,
provide for entitlement to, and the amount of, additional pension to be determined as if the individual had been an employed earner and, accordingly, those contributions had been properly paid.
(3) The reference in subsection (2) above to additional pension is to additional pension for the individual or the individual's spouse falling to be calculated under section 45 above for the purposes of—
(a) Category A retirement pension,
(b) Category B retirement pension for widows or widowers,
(c) widowed mother's allowance and widow's pension, and
(d) incapacity benefit (except in transitional cases).
(4) Regulations may, where—
(a) this section applies in the case of any individual, and
(b) the Secretary of State is of the opinion that it is appropriate for regulations made by virtue of section 4(8) of the Social Security (Incapacity for Work) Act 1994 (provision during transition from invalidity benefit to incapacity benefit for incapacity benefit to include the additional pension element of invalidity pension) to have the following effect in the case of the individual,
provide for the regulations made by virtue of that section to have effect as if, in relation to the provisions in force before the commencement of that section with respect to that additional pension element, the individual had been an employed earner and, accordingly, the contributions had been properly paid.
(5) Where such provision made by regulations as is mentioned in subsection (2) or (4) above applies in respect of any individual, regulations under paragraph 8(1) (m) of Schedule 1 to this Act may not require the amounts paid by way of primary Class 1 contributions to be repaid.

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(6) Regulations may provide, where—
(a) such provision made by regulations as is mentioned in subsection (2) or (4) above applies in respect of any individual,
(b) prescribed conditions are satisfied, and
(c) any amount calculated by reference to the contributions in question has been paid in respect of that individual by way of minimum contributions under section 43 of the Pension Schemes Act 1993 (contributions to personal pension schemes),
for that individual to be treated for the purposes of that Act as if that individual had been an employed earner and, accordingly, the amount had been properly paid".'.


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