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Earl Russell: That is not quite a hat trick, but it took the varnish off the stumps. It is not often that one and the same amendment attracts the support of the noble Lord, Lord Ashley of Stoke, and the noble Viscount, Lord Mountgarret. We also had two expert speeches from the noble Baronesses, Lady Pitkeathley and Lady Anelay of St. Johns.

Thinking about the problem, it strikes me that one of the difficulties we face in the last part of the century is information overload, especially when the information is on paper. When I try to get information over to pupils, I find that they may have seen the information on umpteen pieces of paper but they do not have that knowledge when they need it. They have it if they can pick up the information by word of mouth at the moment they need it. That is why the work done by the citizens advice bureaux is of such importance. I thought that the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, spoke with great expertise on that subject.

The noble Lord, Lord Ashley of Stoke, talked of people who were not aware of the disability living allowance. That reminds me of a neighbour when I was a boy who constantly referred to Marylebone station as the Grand Central station. She was by that time at least two stages out of date.

The noble Baroness, Lady Pitkeathley, with the powerfully argued case of John, reminded me of another incident. A dangerous criminal--and perhaps the noble Baroness will forgive the parallel which is not relevant in that respect--was kept in prison for 18 years until he tried the handle of the door, opened it and walked out. One wants to show that the door is open a little sooner.

I entirely understand that the Minister's heart is in the same place as ours on this. I am not in any way wedded to the wording of the amendment. What she says about data-matching is a serious point. What she says about pensioners and the level of take-up, I take very seriously. But when she says that it will not be allowed to continue, I hope she would agree that it is a right not to claim benefit if it is done wittingly and with full knowledge.

6 Apr 1998 : Column 559

I welcome the pilot schemes warmly. I hope to hear more of them when the results are reported. In that hope, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

6.30 p.m.

Baroness Pitkeathley had given notice of her intention to move Amendment No. 128:


Before Clause 75, insert the following new clause--

Information about entitlement to benefits

(".--(1) The Secretary of State shall take such steps as seem to him appropriate to inform persons of their possible entitlement to a relevant benefit, including distributing leaflets to persons claiming benefits on which the entitlement to benefits of other persons is dependent.
(2) In this section "relevant benefit" has the same meaning as in section 9.").

The noble Baroness said: I welcome the Minister's assurances that her officials are looking into the issue of providing carers with information as and when they need it. I am happy, therefore, not to move the amendment.

[Amendment No. 128 not moved.]

Clause 75 [Regulations and orders]:

Lord Hardie moved Amendment No. 129:


Page 49, line 20, leave out subsection (3).

The noble and learned Lord said: Amendment No. 129 has already been debated. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 75, as amended, agreed to.

Lord Hardie moved Amendment No. 130:


After Clause 75, insert the following new clause--

Parliamentary control of regulations

(".--(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, a statutory instrument containing (whether alone or with other provisions) regulations under--
(a) section 13(2), 8 or 70 above; or
(b) paragraph 11 of Schedule 1, paragraph 8 of Schedule 2 or paragraph 3 of Schedule 5 to this Act,
shall not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before Parliament and been approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.
(2) A statutory instrument--
(a) which contains (whether alone or with other provisions) regulations made under this Act by the Secretary of State; and
(b) which is not subject to any requirement that a draft of the instrument be laid before and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament,
shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.
(3) A statutory instrument--
(a) which contains (whether alone or with other provisions) regulations made under this Act by the Lord Chancellor; and
(b) which is not subject to any requirement that a draft of the instrument be laid before and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament,
shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.").

6 Apr 1998 : Column 560

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 76 agreed to.

Lord Hardie moved Amendment No. 130A:


After Clause 76, insert the following new clause--

Transitory provisions

(". Schedule (Transitory provisions) to this Act (which contains transitory provisions) shall have effect.").

The noble and learned Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 130A, I shall speak also to Clause 77 stand part and Amendments Nos. 132A, 150A and 161A.

Clause 77 is already a lengthy clause which deals with transitory provisions. We are making a number of consequential government amendments to the clause which extend those provisions. However, the cumulative effect is to create a very long and unwieldy clause. As a result we propose that Clause 77 should not stand part of the Bill and that all transitory provisions should be included in a new schedule.

The schedule is designed to make several important transitional provisions which will come into force upon Royal Assent. It deals with the following matters: it puts beyond doubt that once a claim is determined the claim ceases to exist. An efficient, modern benefit system must have clarity about the responsibility of both claimants and the department. A claimant cannot establish entitlement to benefit without making a fresh claim if the original claim fails and the decision is not reversed by the Secretary of State or upon appeal.

The schedule ensures that appeal tribunals do not have regard to changes in claimants' circumstances which occur after the date of the decision which is under appeal, where the appeal has been brought after Royal Assent. It gives commissioners the discretion to return cases to the Social Security Appeal Tribunal (or, as appropriate, the Disability Appeal Tribunal or Medical Appeal Tribunal) where each of the principal parties to the appeal agree that the decision appealed against was wrong in law. It ensures that the power to suspend payments in look-alike cases will have immediate effect from Royal Assent until the parallel provision in Clause 22(2)(d) comes into force. It ensures that the power to restrict arrears to the date of the relevant determination includes claimants who applied for a review of the Secretary of State's decision before or after the relevant determination. This amendment was debated on 2nd April as Amendment No. 132 when the provisions in Clause 27 were discussed.

The schedule also ensures that new discretionary social fund review procedures can be operated by social fund officers, prior to the introduction of the new decision-making arrangements under Part I of the Bill, when social fund officers will be replaced by appropriate officers. The new procedures will support the introduction of the budgeting loan scheme and the power to recover social fund overpayments. They will not become operational until Clauses 68, 69 and 73 are commenced through commencement orders.

Amendment No. 150A is a technical amendment. It removes from Schedule 6 the transitory provisions for the new budgeting loan review procedures, as these have now been included in the new schedule before Schedule 6.

6 Apr 1998 : Column 561

Amendment No. 161A to Clause 81 provides for the new schedule of transitory provisions and the new clause on pilot powers to commence on Royal Assent.

The transitional provisions in the new schedule give effect to the policy behind certain provisions in the Bill for the purposes of the current adjudication and appeals system. It will have effect for the period between Royal Assent and the date when the corresponding provisions in Part I of the Bill take effect. The provisions in the schedule will provide clarity about the responsibility of both claimants and the department; they will help to prevent the development of further backlogs in the Independent Tribunal Service; they will have a beneficial effect for the administration of commissioners' appeals; and ensure that the department is able to exercise proper control over the integrity of benefit expenditure.

I commend the amendments and the schedule to the Committee. I beg to move.

Lord Meston: Perhaps I may ask the noble and learned Lord an entirely pedantic question. Why has the word "transitory" been used in this Bill rather than "transitional", which is more normally used in legislation and is well understood? Indeed, that is how the noble and learned Lord described the provisions in the course of his short speech. A transitional provision can be transitory and vice versa, but not necessarily so.


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