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Lord Dean of Beswick: My Lords, is the Minister aware in relation to this subject that the EC is now in the process of trying to dictate what size of condom men

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in Europe should use? Can she tell us whether that will be advantageous or whether it will exacerbate the situation?

Baroness Cumberlege: My Lords, we are dealing with the subject of fertility, not infertility.

Lord Walton of Detchant: My Lords, I have no wish to contribute to the levity of this debate, but there is solid medical evidence, of which I am sure the Minister is aware, to indicate that there is an inverse relationship between the temperature of the testes and the level of sperm count and consequent fertility. Because coldness of the testes contributes to an increased sperm count, that has been thought by some to favour the wearing of the kilt.

Is it not also the case that there is increasing international evidence to suggest that the chemicals which may give rise to oestrogen-like substances in the environment have been one of the major factors leading to this decline in the human sperm count?

Baroness Cumberlege: My Lords, there is an opportunity here for somebody to do a Ph.D on the fertility of Scottish Peers in particular.

With regard to oestrogen, as I said, a great deal of research is being undertaken. The findings are contradictory and it is clear that this is an area which needs further study.

Lord Annan: My Lords, is it not a fact that with the vast numbers of spermatozoa which are released in the orgasm of the normal male, there is no danger whatsoever for the future of the human race? Would it not be better for research to be directed to other more vital areas in this field?

Baroness Cumberlege: My Lords, I understand that one sperm will suffice, so perhaps quality is more important.

For many married couples, this issue is a cause for concern. While I appreciate the noble Lord's view that one should be careful when undertaking research to get value for money, I believe this is an area that ought to be considered, especially since strong environmental factors are concerned.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, is the Minister aware that there is growing demand for rather expensive therapies which may or not be efficacious in male infertility? Is there a question of these being available on the health service? I understand that the therapy most likely to succeed costs about £10,000.

Baroness Cumberlege: My Lords, I think that the noble Baroness refers to ICSI, which is a very new treatment. It was licensed in 1993. It is only now becoming generally available. However, it is for health authorities to decide on their priorities and whether they feel that that specific treatment should have preference over others.

Lord Kennet: My Lords, are the Government aware that in 1967 there was evidence of an increase in oestrogen-like substances in rivers, and that the

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junior Minister responsible for water supplies (it was myself) caused certain primitive research to be done? It yielded the result that there was an increase but that a man would have to drink 80 pints of tap water a day for that increase to have any effect on his fertility. Might it not be worth while to go back over that ground to see whether the figure of 80 pints is now somewhat lower?

Baroness Cumberlege: My Lords, much research is being undertaken in this field. As regards the amount of water that men should or should not drink, I shall wait for the result of the research.

Civil Aviation (Amendment) Bill [H.L.]

3.34 p.m.

Lord Brabazon of Tara: My Lords, I beg to introduce a Bill to amend the Civil Aviation Act 1982 so as to provide for the prosecution of persons committing offences on foreign aircraft while in flight to the United Kingdom; and for connected purposes. I beg to move that this Bill be now read a first time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a first time.--(Lord Brabazon of Tara.)

On Question, Bill read a first time, and to be printed.

Education (Scotland) Bill [H.L.]

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following Lords be named of the Scottish Select Committee on the Bill--

L. Addington,

L. Carmichael of Kelvingrove,

B. Carnegy of Lour,

E. Cromartie,

E. Dundee,

V. Dunrossil,

L. Goold (Chairman),

L. Sempill,

L. Sewel;

That the Minutes of Evidence taken before the Committee shall be printed and, if the Committee think fit, delivered out;

That the Committee have power to adjourn from place to place; and

That the Committee do meet on Thursday, 21st March 1996 at a quarter-past four o'clock in Committee Room 3.--(The Chairman of Committees.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

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Family Law Bill [H.L.]

3.35 p.m.

The Lord Chancellor: My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill be now further considered on Report.

Moved, That the Bill be further considered on Report.--(The Lord Chancellor.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Clause 4 [Marital breakdown]:

Baroness Hollis of Heigham moved Amendment No. 10:


Page 2, line 31, after ("statement") insert ("which, where the parties' arrangements for the future may include the division of pension assets under section 25B of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 or section 10 of the Family Law (Scotland) Act 1985, shall be made under the Statutory Declarations Act 1835 or under any statutory modification or re-enactment thereof,").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 10, I shall speak to consequential amendments, Amendments Nos. 86A and 116A. Both deal with pension and divorce. I am sure that I speak for many noble Lords tonight when I say how sorry we are to be debating this issue in the shadow of a Royal divorce.

The first amendment standing in the names of my noble friend Lord Mishcon, the noble Baroness, Lady O'Cathain, the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, and myself requires a statutory declaration. That overcomes the problem of bogus divorces. The second amendment, in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady O'Cathain, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, and myself, seeks to establish the principle that courts and couples should have the option of pension splitting on divorce.

Pensions are often the largest single asset in a marriage, especially if the couple have been married a long time. The pension usually belongs to the husband although the amendment is gender neutral. If the pension belonged to the wife, the provision would apply to her. The husband has earned the pension, but so has the wife in supporting him, bringing up their children, perhaps working in a part-time job, and perhaps helping to care for their mutual parents. She, in middle age, faces divorce. If husband and wife cannot share the pension, if it is ring-fenced and cannot be touched, how can you have a fair financial settlement at divorce? If there is not a fair financial settlement, then it is likely to be the loyal wife and mother who suffers as she faces an old age without a pension of her own and without a share of her husband's pension. She faces poverty in old age.

Pensions professionals and the Law Society have long urged the option of pension splitting, culminating in the 1993 report of the Pensions Management Institute. The Government have stated in the past that such an option was neither wanted nor needed. However, the noble Baroness, Lady Young--I am sure that we all wish to pay a warm tribute to her on this matter--showed in the Pensions Bill last spring that pension splitting was wanted and needed. With support from all round the House, she established the principle of earmarked or

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deferred maintenance--in other words, that on retirement the former wife should share the pension income.

What the noble Baroness, Lady Young, did was a welcome step. None the less, pension income on retirement remains a lottery on the husband's life because when he dies his pension income dies with him. The former wife is, for example, 78. She receives a phone call one morning that her former husband who divorced her 25 years before has died. Her pension--let us say £7,000 a year--stops. At a time when her own financial needs, perhaps for increasing care, may begin to grow, she is reduced almost overnight to income support. If the pension had been split on divorce rather than at the point of retirement, she would receive the same sum, £7,000 a year, but it would not depend on his life, nor would it disappear on his death. It would be hers and she could face the rest of her life with dignity and not in fear.

The noble Baroness, Lady Young, established the principle last spring that there was a need for pension sharing. At that time we also proposed pension splitting. However, the argument of the Government against that was essentially financial. At the time the Government produced what I can only describe as banana republic figures which scared us all off. But when we drew out the information by a series of Questions for Written Answer, the huge losses that the Government forecast disappear. As the Government accept in a letter of 27th February, circulated to some noble Lords, including myself, who took part in the debate at Committee stage, the Government accept that one can avoid most of the losses--£500 million--by confining pension splitting to funded private occupational schemes. With unfunded pay-as-you-go schemes, whether the Civil Service or SERPS, for example, one does not take the money out. One keeps both fractions in the scheme and there is therefore no loss to the Exchequer. Everyone in industry and the Civil Service agrees that that is sensible. The Government concede that it can be done.

On the other aspect of financial loss, the Government conceded as late as Tuesday, in a Written Answer to a Question by the noble Lord, Lord Elton, that by the year 2020 a possible growth figure for the loss of tax revenue is £80 million, to be offset by £70 million savings in income support--the table refers to £20 million, and £50 million in the footnote--and £10 million in court costs. Eighty million pounds minus £8 million is cost-neutral.

In other words, on the two elements of the Government's figures, the first--keeping both fractions in the same scheme--can overcome the loss to the Government as employer; and on the second, the loss to government as revenue raiser, can be cost-neutral. Despite what the Government may perhaps later argue, pension splitting can cost the taxpayer nothing. The administrative costs will properly fall on couples themselves.


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