Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


COMMONS AMENDMENT

4After Clause 7, insert the following new clause--
NORTHERN IRELAND

(" .--(1) In its application to Northern Ireland, this Act has effect with the modifications specified in subsections (2) and (3).
(2) In section 6(2), for "section 14 of the Companies Act 1985" there is substituted "Article 25 of the Companies (Northern Ireland) Order 1986".
(3) In section 7, for subsection (3) there is substituted--

10 Nov 1999 : Column 1365


"(3) In Articles 4(a) and 15 of the Limitation (Northern Ireland) Order 1989, the references to an action founded on a simple contract and an action upon an instrument under seal shall respectively include references to an action brought in reliance on section 1 relating to a simple contract and an action brought in reliance on that section relating to a contract under seal.".
(4) In the Law Reform (Husband and Wife) (Northern Ireland) Act 1964, the following provisions are hereby repealed--
(a) section 5, and
(b) in section 6, in subsection (1)(a), the words "in the case of section 4" and "in the case of section 5 the contracting party" and, in subsection (3), the words "or section 5".")

The Lord Chancellor: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 4. In moving this amendment, I desire to speak also to Amendment No. 5.

In 1998 the Law Reform Advisory Committee for Northern Ireland issued a report which recommended for Northern Ireland reforms similar to those which are contained in the Bill. The recommendations were based on a consultation process which had attracted almost unanimous support. As contract law in Northern Ireland has traditionally run in parallel with contract law in England and Wales, it was originally our intention to implement the Law Reform Advisory Committee's recommendations by extending this Bill directly to Northern Ireland. It was then thought that, as contract law will fall within the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly's transferred area of competence, the reforms should be a matter for decision by them. Regretfully, however, as your Lordships know, the Assembly is not yet fully in place, and the Government have decided that the people and businesses of Northern Ireland should have immediate access to this valuable piece of law reform.

Amendment No. 5 directly extends the provisions of the Bill to Northern Ireland, subject to the consequential amendments in the new clause which is inserted by Amendment No. 4. Subsections (1), (2) and (3) of the new clause make minor consequential amendments to Clauses 6 and 7 of the Bill, so that references to legislation will apply to the equivalent statutory provisions in Northern Ireland. Subsection (4) of the new clause repeals Section 5 of the Law Reform (Husband and Wife) (Northern Ireland) Act 1964, which has no direct equivalent in England and Wales. This section modifies the rule of privity of contract in respect of contracts which expressly confer a right on a spouse or child of the contracting parties. Since this Bill makes comprehensive provision for third party beneficiaries under a contract, there will no longer be any need for Section 5 of the 1964 Act. I commend the amendments to the House.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 4.--(The Lord Chancellor.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENT

5Clause 8, page 5, line 41, leave out subsection (4) and insert--
("(4) This Act extends as follows--
(a) section (Northern Ireland) extends to Northern Ireland only;

10 Nov 1999 : Column 1366


(b) the remaining provisions extend to England and Wales and Northern Ireland only.")

The Lord Chancellor: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 5. I spoke to this amendment with Amendment No. 4.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 5.--(The Lord Chancellor.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Mental Health (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill

Read a third time, and passed.

Immigration and Asylum Bill

3.46 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): My Lords, I beg to move that the Commons reason and amendment be considered forthwith.

Moved, That the Commons reason and amendment be considered forthwith.--(Lord Bassam of Brighton.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

MOTION TO BE MOVED ON CONSIDERATION OF COMMONS REASON AND AMENDMENT

[The page and line refer to HL Bill 71 as first printed for the Lords.]

LORDS AMENDMENT

135After Clause 84, insert the following new clause-
ELIGIBILITY FOR SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS.

(". An asylum-seeker, and his dependants (if any), shall be eligible for any social security benefits to which they would have been entitled if neither Part VI of this Act or Schedule 1 to the Asylum and Immigration Act 1996 had been in force, until such time as the Secretary of State has placed a report in the Library of the House of Commons giving details of the average process times in the determination of--
(a) initial asylum decisions.; and
(b) appeals to adjudicators against initial asylum decisions, and certifying that the average time from the lodging of the application for asylum to the determination of an adjudicator of the appeal against the, initial asylum decisions is less than six months.")
COMMONS REASON

The Commons disagreed to this amendment for the following reason--
135ABecause it would alter the financial arrangements made by the Commons, and the Commons do not offer any further reason, trusting that this reason may be deemed sufficient.
135BThe Lord Bishop of Southwark rose to move, That this House do not insist on their Amendment No. 135 to which the Commons have disagreed for their reason numbered 135A, but do propose the following amendment in lieu thereof--

10 Nov 1999 : Column 1367


135CInsert the following new clause--
ELIGIBILITY FOR SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS.

(".--(1) If an asylum-seeker's household includes a child who is under 18 and dependant on him, the asylum-seeker and his dependants shall be eligible for any social security benefits or support under the child welfare provisions to which they would have been entitled if Part V1 of this Act had not come into force, until such time as the Secretary of State has placed a report in the Library of the House of Commons giving details of the support to be provided to the children of asylum-seekers under Part V1 and certifying that the value of this support is not less than the value of the support to which the child would have been entitled if neither Part VI of this Act nor Schedule 1 to the Asylum and Immigration Act 1996 had been in force.
(2) For the purposes of this Part, "child welfare provisions" has the same meaning as in section 113.")

The right reverend Prelate said: My Lords, I am naturally disappointed that Amendment No. 135 did not survive the machinations of debate in the other place. Amendment No. 135C focuses purely on the narrower but vital question of the care of children and ensures that families with children do not come into the new support system until arrangements have been made to make certain that children receive support at 100 per cent of income support.

In the debate in the other place the Secretary of State reiterated the Government's belief that shorter decision-making times were at the heart of the reform of the system. It was good to hear of the efforts being made to enable that to happen, particularly where families with children are concerned. Welcome assurances were also given concerning the effect of the support system on the care of children.

Amendment No. 135C would provide the opportunity for Ministers, Parliament and other interested parties to examine in detail the support that is to be provided and to scrutinise the means by which the pledge to support children at 100 per cent of income support is being fulfilled. For example, vouchers may have the same face value as their cash equivalent, but may in practice be worth less.

There remains the issue of the interim period. Again, a number of welcome commitments have been given in respect of families with children, including a firm pledge that they will not come under the terms of the new support system until time targets are met. However, the content of the pledge remains vague. During the debate in the other place, the Secretary of State made clear that he would not demand that local authorities pay only £10 in cash to children, the rest being provided in vouchers. Neither, however, would he dictate how local authorities were to provide support to families. They would be free to choose.

It seems there will continue to be a variety of practice during the interim period, some local authorities supporting families with cash and others not. There is a danger that during the interim period local authorities may compete to appear to be the least attractive destination for asylum seekers. One way of avoiding that downward spiral would be for the Secretary of State to make regulations under the new schedule to the effect that families must receive support through cash, not vouchers, in the interim period. Amendment No. 135C does not go that far. It

10 Nov 1999 : Column 1368

does, however, ensure that a watch is kept on the care provided for children. I believe that such provision is prudent and necessary. I commend the proposal to the House.

Moved, That this House do not insist on their Amendment No. 135 to which the Commons have disagreed for their reason numbered 135A, but do propose Amendment No. 135C in lieu thereof.--(The Lord Bishop of Southwark.)


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page