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Baroness Buscombe: I stress that we have had continuing representations from a number of organisations and individuals in relation to this clause. Therefore we felt it appropriate to bring forward this amendment at this stage. I thank the Minister for her reaffirmation of what was said in the other place. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham moved Amendment No. 143ZA:


Page 80, line 39, leave out subsection (5) and insert--
("( ) A person aggrieved by a determination of any prescribed description made under regulations under this section may appeal to such court or tribunal as may be prescribed; and the regulations may make provision as to the procedure to be followed in connection with appeals under this subsection.")

20 Jul 1999 : Column 939

The noble Baroness said: I am delighted to move the amendment. It fulfils a commitment made to the Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation following its very helpful report on the delegated powers in the Bill.

As I mentioned when we discussed the last amendment, Clause 74 enables us to set up a housing under-occupation scheme. The scheme--which, of course, will be entirely voluntary--will offer people incentives to move to smaller and more suitable accommodation by allowing them to keep part of any saving in HB.

It was always our intention that there should be a right of appeal under the scheme. The current drafting of the clause allows for this appeals mechanism to be established through regulations, as the Explanatory Notes make clear. The Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation suggested that it would be useful to bring that provision onto the face of the Bill. I am delighted to be able to support that recommendation, which is why we have brought forward the amendment. It confirms that people involved in the under-occupation scheme will have a right of appeal to a court or tribunal.

This is of course a pilot scheme, which we intend to trial in three local authorities. Much of the detail may need to be refined and adapted in the light of developing experience. Therefore the amendment provides for the actual appeals process to be defined in regulations. For example, regulations will identify the appropriate avenue for appeals, the decisions which will be appealable and the time and manner for making appeals. This is consistent with the approach taken for the scheme as a whole, which allows the full workings of the scheme to be set out in regulations, building on the basic framework the clause itself provides. This seemed to us the best balance between the appropriate suggestions of the Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation--which, as my noble friend said, we take very seriously--and the need to be able to loop in from our experience in the pilot areas. I am confident that noble Lords will welcome the amendment. I urge the Committee to support it.

Earl Russell: The Minister's confidence is well founded. I welcome the amendment and I thank the Minister very warmly for it.

Baroness Buscombe: I, too, welcome the amendment and rise to support it.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 74, as amended, agreed to.

[Amendment Nos. 143AA to 143AC not moved.]

Clause 75 agreed to.

Schedule 11 [Contributions and pensions administration]:

Baroness Hollis of Heigham moved Amendment No. 143AD:


Page 138, line 32, at end insert--
("10A. In section 172 (Assembly, etc. control of regulations and orders), in subsection (2)(c) for ", 153(2) or" there is substituted "or 153(2)".")

20 Jul 1999 : Column 940

The noble Baroness said: The group of government amendments before us now is extremely technical and deals mainly with some corrections to legislation passed earlier in the year. It may help the Committee if I explain a little more of the background to Clause 76 and Schedule 11, to which these amendments relate.

A number of noble Lords here today were involved last winter in the debates on the Social Security Contributions (Transfer of Functions, etc.)--I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Higgins, recognises the word "etcetera"--Act 1999. That Act transferred the functions of the Contributions Agency to the Inland Revenue and responsibility for NIC policy to the Treasury and the Revenue.

In the course of the passage of that Act we identified a small number of technical errors and omissions. I regret that the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, is not here because normally we rely on him to spot technical errors and omissions. For once his farsightedness has slightly failed us. We normally regard him as the backstop for government slippage. Even so, these were minor matters that were not material to the effect of the Bill but we decided to take the earliest possible opportunity to clarify them. So the Government brought forward in another place amendments to the Bill to correct these errors and omissions. They are now set out in Schedule 11.

Schedule 11 is there largely to ensure that the references and numbering are correct, that the transferred functions are treated consistently and that all consequential changes are picked up. None of these corrections affect the exercise of the functions as at 1st April.

As the Committee is well aware, social security legislation generally extends to Great Britain only. So the Social Security Contributions (Transfer of Functions, etc.) Act allowed an Order in Council to make parallel provision in Northern Ireland. That was the snappily titled Social Security Contributions (Transfer of Functions, etc.) (Northern Ireland) Order 1999. Since that was laid before Parliament, we have identified a number of extremely minor and technical errors in or related to that order and found a further minor omission from the Social Security Contributions (Transfer of Functions, etc.) Act itself. The amendments before us now put right those matters.

The amendments do such things as ensure grammatical consistency in an amended list, remove a passage of rogue text and pick up a number of consequential amendments. None of them affects the effective operation of the legislation in Northern Ireland.

Some of the amendments in this group have a retroactive effect; that is, they are deemed to have taken effect in April or October, in place of the provisions which contain the errors. That is partly for simplicity, and partly to remove any doubt about whether the previously unclear legislation should have been applied.

I do not intend to take up any more of the Committee's time on the detail of the amendments, although I am happy to take any questions that Members

20 Jul 1999 : Column 941

may have. I ask the Committee to support the amendments in the assurance that they are technical and tidy up the drafting. I beg to move.

Earl Russell: I thank the Minister for her kind words about my noble friend Lord Goodhart. I am quite pleased to find that he joins the company of Homer and is found among those who are capable of nodding.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham moved Amendments Nos. 143AE to 143AH:


Page 139, line 6, at end insert--
("15A.--(1) In section 116 (supply of information held by tax authorities for fraud prevention and verification), for subsection (1) there is substituted--
"(1) This section applies--
(a) to information which is held--
(i) by the Inland Revenue, or
(ii) by a person providing services to the Inland Revenue, in connection with the provision of those services,
but is not information to which section 115D above applies, and
(b) to information which is held--
(i) by the Commissioners of Customs and Excise, or
(ii) by a person providing services to the Commissioners of Customs and Excise, in connection with the provision of those services."
(2) This amendment shall be deemed to have come into force on 1st April 1999 in place of that made by paragraph 2(2) of Schedule 5 to the Social Security Contributions (Transfer of Functions, etc.) (Northern Ireland) Order 1999.
15B.--(1) In section 145 (adjustments between the Northern Ireland National Insurance Fund and the Consolidated Fund of Northern Ireland)--
(a) in subsection (1)(a), sub-paragraphs (i) and (ii) are omitted; and
(b) in subsection (3)(a), for "subsection (1)(a) and (b)" there is substituted "subsection (1)(b)".
(2) These amendments shall be deemed to have come into force on 5th October 1999 in place of those made by paragraph 34 of Schedule 2 to the Tax Credits Act 1999.
15C.--(1) In section 165 (regulations and orders - general), in subsection (9)(c), for "142(7), 145(4)" there is substituted "145(4)(a)".
(2) This amendment shall be deemed to have come into force on 1st April 1999 in place of that made by paragraph 49(3) of Schedule 3 to the Social Security Contributions (Transfer of Functions, etc.) (Northern Ireland) Order 1999.")
Page 139, line 26, at end insert--
("20A.--(1) In section 154 (disclosure of information between government departments, etc.), in subsection (5) after "Subsections (1) and (1A)" there is inserted "extend".
(2) This amendment shall be deemed to have come into force on 1st April 1999.")
Page 139, line 38, at end insert--
("21A.--(1) In section 177 (orders and regulations--general provisions), for subsection (7) there is substituted--
"(7) Any power conferred on the Secretary of State to make regulations or orders (other than an order under section 162) is exercisable by statutory instrument, and subsections (2) to (4) and

20 Jul 1999 : Column 942

section 178(1) apply to regulations or orders made in exercise of any such power of the Secretary of State as they apply to regulations made by the Department."
(2) This amendment shall be deemed to have come into force on 1st April 1999 in place of those made by paragraph 75(3) of Schedule 1 to the Social Security Contributions (Transfer of Functions, etc.) (Northern Ireland) Order 1999.")
Page 140, line 17, leave out ("paragraph 66(3) (which has not come into force) is omitted") and insert ("the following provisions are omitted, namely--
(a) paragraph 4(6) (which was superseded by paragraph 4 of Schedule 1 to the Social Security Contributions (Transfer of Functions, etc.) (Northern Ireland) Order 1999), and
(b) paragraph 66(3) (which has not come into force).")

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Schedule 11, as amended, agreed to.

On Question, Whether Clause 77 shall stand part of the Bill?


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