Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Bill - continued        House of Lords

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SCHEDULE 6
 
  SOCIAL SECURITY INVESTIGATION POWERS
 
Preliminary
     1. Part VI of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 (enforcement) shall be amended as follows.
 
 
Replacement for inspector's powers
     2. The following sections shall be substituted for section 110 (appointment and powers of inspectors)-
 
 
"Authorisations for investigators.     109A. - (1) An individual who for the time being has the Secretary of State's authorisation for the purposes of this Part shall be entitled, for any one or more of the purposes mentioned in subsection (2) below, to exercise any of the powers which are conferred on an authorised officer by sections 109B and 109C below.
 
    (2) Those purposes are-
 
 
    (a) ascertaining in relation to any case whether a benefit is or was payable in that case in accordance with any provision of the relevant social security legislation;
 
    (b) investigating the circumstances in which any accident, injury or disease which has given rise, or may give rise, to a claim for-
 
      (i) industrial injuries benefit, or
 
      (ii) any benefit under any provision of the relevant social security legislation,

    occurred or may have occurred, or was or may have been received or contracted;
 
    (c) ascertaining whether provisions of the relevant social security legislation are being, have been or are likely to be contravened (whether by particular persons or more generally);
 
    (d) preventing, detecting and securing evidence of the commission (whether by particular persons or more generally) of benefit offences.
      (3) An individual has the Secretary of State's authorisation for the purposes of this Part if, and only if, the Secretary of State has granted him an authorisation for those purposes and he is-
 
 
    (a) an official of a Government department;
 
    (b) an individual employed by an authority administering housing benefit or council tax benefit;
 
    (c) an individual employed by an authority or joint committee that carries out functions relating to housing benefit or council tax benefit on behalf of the authority administering that benefit; or
 
    (d) an individual employed by a person authorised by or on behalf of any such authority or joint committee as is mentioned in paragraph (b) or (c) above to carry out functions relating to housing benefit or council tax benefit for that authority or committee.
      (4) An authorisation granted for the purposes of this Part to an individual of any of the descriptions mentioned in subsection (3) above-
 
 
    (a) must be contained in a certificate provided to that individual as evidence of his entitlement to exercise powers conferred by this Part;
 
    (b) may contain provision as to the period for which the authorisation is to have effect; and
 
    (c) may restrict the powers exercisable by virtue of the authorisation so as to prohibit their exercise except for particular purposes, in particular circumstances or in relation to particular benefits or particular provisions of the relevant social security legislation.
      (5) An authorisation granted under this section may be withdrawn at any time by the Secretary of State.
 
      (6) Where the Secretary of State grants an authorisation for the purposes of this Part to an individual employed by a local authority, or to an individual employed by a person who carries out functions relating to housing benefit or council tax benefit on behalf of a local authority-
 
 
    (a) the Secretary of State and the local authority shall enter into such arrangements (if any) as they consider appropriate with respect to the carrying out of functions conferred on that individual by or in connection with the authorisation granted to him; and
 
    (b) the Secretary of State may make to the local authority such payments (if any) as he thinks fit in respect of the carrying out by that individual of any such functions.
      (7) The matters on which a person may be authorised to consider and report to the Secretary of State under section 139A below shall be taken to include the carrying out by any such individual as is mentioned in subsection (3)(b) to (d) above of any functions conferred on that individual by virtue of any grant by the Secretary of State of an authorisation for the purposes of this Part.
 
      (8) The powers conferred by sections 109B and 109C below shall be exercisable in relation to persons holding office under the Crown and persons in the service of the Crown, and in relation to premises owned or occupied by the Crown, as they are exercisable in relation to other persons and premises.
 
Power to require information.     109B. - (1) An authorised officer who has reasonable grounds for suspecting that a person-
 
 
    (a) is a person falling within subsection (2) below, and
 
    (b) has or may have possession of or access to any information about any matter that is relevant for any one or more of the purposes mentioned in section 109A(2) above,

may, by written notice, require that person to provide all such information described in the notice as is information of which he has possession, or to which he has access, and which it is reasonable for the authorised officer to require for a purpose so mentioned.
      (2) The persons who fall within this subsection are-
 
 
    (a) any person who is or has been an employer or employee within the meaning of any provision made by or under the Contributions and Benefits Act;
 
    (b) any person who is or has been a self-employed earner within the meaning of any such provision;
 
    (c) any person who by virtue of any provision made by or under that Act falls, or has fallen, to be treated for the purposes of any such provision as a person within paragraph (a) or (b) above;
 
    (d) any person who is carrying on, or has carried on, any business involving the supply of goods for sale to the ultimate consumers by individuals not carrying on retail businesses from retail premises;
 
    (e) any person who is carrying on, or has carried on, any business involving the supply of goods or services by the use of work done or services performed by persons other than employees of his;
 
    (f) any person who is carrying on, or has carried on, an agency or other business for the introduction or supply, to persons requiring them, of persons available to do work or to perform services;
 
    (g) any local authority acting in its capacity as an authority responsible for the granting of any licence;
 
    (h) any person who is or has been a trustee or manager of a personal or occupational pension scheme;
 
    (i) any person who is or has been liable to make a compensation payment or a payment to the Secretary of State under section 6 of the Social Security (Recovery of Benefits) Act 1997 (payments in respect of recoverable benefits); and
 
    (j) the servants and agents of any such person as is specified in any of paragraphs (a) to (i) above.
      (3) The obligation of a person to provide information in accordance with a notice under this section shall be discharged only by the provision of that information, at such reasonable time and in such form as may be specified in the notice, to the authorised officer who-
 
 
    (a) is identified by or in accordance with the terms of the notice; or
 
    (b) has been identified, since the giving of the notice, by a further written notice given by the authorised officer who imposed the original requirement or another authorised officer.
      (4) The power of an authorised officer under this section to require the provision of information shall include a power to require the production and delivery up and (if necessary) creation of, or of copies of or extracts from, any such documents containing the information as may be specified or described in the notice imposing the requirement.
 
      (5) No one shall be required under this section to provide any information (whether in documentary form or otherwise) that tends to incriminate either himself or, in the case of a person who is married, his spouse.
 
Powers of entry.     109C. - (1) An authorised officer shall be entitled, at any reasonable time and either alone or accompanied by such other persons as he thinks fit, to enter any premises which-
 
 
    (a) are liable to inspection under this section; and
 
    (b) are premises to which it is reasonable for him to require entry in order to exercise the powers conferred by this section.
      (2) An authorised officer who has entered any premises liable to inspection under this section may-
 
 
    (a) make such an examination of those premises, and
 
    (b) conduct any such inquiry there,

as appears to him appropriate for any one or more of the purposes mentioned in section 109A(2) above.
      (3) An authorised officer who has entered any premises liable to inspection under this section may-
 
 
    (a) question any person whom he finds there;
 
    (b) require any person whom he finds there to do any one or more of the following-
 
      (i) to provide him with such information,
 
      (ii) to produce and deliver up and (if necessary) create such documents or such copies of, or extracts from, documents,

as he may reasonably require for any one or more of the purposes mentioned in section 109A(2) above; and
 
    (c) take possession of and either remove or make his own copies of any such documents as appear to him to contain information that is relevant for any of those purposes.
      (4) The premises liable to inspection under this section are any premises (including premises consisting in the whole or a part of a dwelling house) which an authorised officer has reasonable grounds for suspecting are-
 
 
    (a) premises which are a person's place of employment;
 
    (b) premises from which a trade or business is being carried on or where documents relating to a trade or business are kept by the person carrying it on or by another person on his behalf;
 
    (c) premises from which a personal or occupational pension scheme is being administered or where documents relating to the administration of such a scheme are kept by the person administering the scheme or by another person on his behalf;
 
    (d) premises where a person who is the compensator in relation to any such accident, injury or disease as is referred to in section 109A(2)(b) above is to be found;
 
    (e) premises where a person on whose behalf any such compensator has made, may have made or may make a compensation payment is to be found.
      (5) An authorised officer applying for admission to any premises in accordance with this section shall, if required to do so, produce the certificate containing his authorisation for the purposes of this Part.
 
      (6) Subsection (5) of section 109B applies for the purposes of this section as it applies for the purposes of that section."
 
 
Exercise of powers on behalf of local authorities
     3. For sections 110A and 110B (inspectors appointed by local authorities etc. for the purposes of housing benefit or council tax benefit), there shall be substituted-
 
 
"Authorisations by local authorities.     110A. - (1) An individual who for the time being has the authorisation for the purposes of this Part of an authority administering housing benefit or council tax benefit ("a local authority authorisation") shall be entitled, for any one or more of the purposes mentioned in subsection (2) below, to exercise any of the powers which, subject to subsection (8) below, are conferred on an authorised officer by sections 109B and 109C above.
 
    (2) Those purposes are-
 
 
    (a) ascertaining in relation to any case whether housing benefit or council tax benefit is or was payable in that case;
 
    (b) ascertaining whether provisions of the relevant social security legislation that relate to housing benefit or council tax benefit are being, have been or are likely to be contravened (whether by particular persons or more generally);
 
    (c) preventing, detecting and securing evidence of the commission (whether by particular persons or more generally) of benefit offences relating to housing benefit or council tax benefit.
      (3) An individual has the authorisation for the purposes of this Part of an authority administering housing benefit or council tax benefit if, and only if, that authority have granted him an authorisation for those purposes and he is-
 
 
    (a) an individual employed by that authority;
 
    (b) an individual employed by another authority or joint committee that carries out functions relating to housing benefit or council tax benefit on behalf of that authority;
 
    (c) an individual employed by a person authorised by or on behalf of-
 
      (i) the authority in question,
 
      (ii) any such authority or joint committee as is mentioned in paragraph (b) above,

to carry out functions relating to housing benefit or council tax benefit for that authority or committee;
 
    (d) an official of a Government department.
      (4) Subsection (4) of section 109A above shall apply in relation to a local authority authorisation as it applies in relation to an authorisation under that section.
 
      (5) A local authority authorisation may be withdrawn at any time by the authority that granted it or by the Secretary of State.
 
      (6) The certificate or other instrument containing the grant or withdrawal by any local authority of any local authority authorisation must be issued under the hand of either-
 
 
    (a) the officer designated under section 4 of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 as the head of the authority's paid service; or
 
    (b) the officer who is the authority's chief finance officer (within the meaning of section 5 of that Act).
      (7) It shall be the duty of any authority with power to grant local authority authorisations to comply with any directions of the Secretary of State as to-
 
 
    (a) whether or not such authorisations are to be granted by that authority;
 
    (b) the period for which authorisations granted by that authority are to have effect;
 
    (c) the number of persons who may be granted authorisations by that authority at any one time; and
 
    (d) the restrictions to be contained by virtue of subsection (4) above in the authorisations granted by that authority for those purposes.
      (8) The powers conferred by sections 109B and 109C above shall have effect in the case of an individual who is an authorised officer by virtue of this section as if those sections had effect-
 
 
    (a) with the substitution for every reference to the purposes mentioned in section 109A(2) above of a reference to the purposes mentioned in subsection (2) above; and
 
    (b) with the substitution for every reference to the relevant social security legislation of a reference to so much of it as relates to housing benefit or council tax benefit.
      (9) Nothing in this section conferring any power on an authorised officer in relation to housing benefit or council tax benefit shall require that power to be exercised only in relation to cases in which the authority administering the benefit is the authority by whom that officer's authorisation was granted."
 
 
Consequential amendments
     4. In section 111 (delay and obstruction of inspector)-
 
 
    (a) in subsection (3), for "section 110(5)" there shall be substituted "an authorisation granted under section 109A or 110A"; and
 
    (b) in subsection (4)-
 
      (i) for "section 110(5) above any power conferred by section 110 above" there shall be substituted "an authorisation granted under section 109A or 110A above, any power conferred by section 109B or 109C above"; and
 
      (ii) for the words "section 110", where they occur at the end of the subsection, there shall be substituted "sections 109B and 109C".
     5. In section 111A(1) (dishonest representations), before "social security legislation" there shall be inserted "relevant".
 
     6. In section 112(1) (false representations), before "social security legislation" there shall be inserted "relevant".
 
     7. - (1) In subsection (1) of section 113 (breach of regulations)-
 
 
    (a) for "Acts to which section 110 above applies" there shall be substituted "legislation to which this section applies";
 
    (b) for the words "that Act", in the first place where they occur, there shall be substituted "that legislation"; and
 
    (c) for the words "that Act", where they occur in paragraph (b), there shall be substituted "any enactment contained in the legislation in question".
      (2) After that subsection there shall be inserted-
 
 
    "(1A) The legislation to which this section applies is-
 
 
    (a) the relevant social security legislation; and
 
    (b) the enactments specified in section 121DA(1) so far as relating to contributions, statutory sick pay or statutory maternity pay."
     8. After section 121D (but still in Part VI) there shall be inserted-
 
 
"Interpretation of Part VI.     121DA. - (1) In this Part "the relevant social security legislation" means the provisions of any of the following, except so far as relating to contributions, working families tax credit, disabled persons tax credit, statutory sick pay or statutory maternity pay, that is to say-
 
    (a) the Contributions and Benefits Act;
 
    (b) this Act;
 
    (c) the Pensions Act, except Part III;
 
    (d) section 4 of the Social Security (Incapacity for Work) Act 1994;
 
    (e) the Jobseekers Act 1995;
 
    (f) the Social Security (Recovery of Benefits) Act 1997;
 
    (g) Parts I and IV of the Social Security Act 1998;
 
    (h) Part V of the Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999;
 
    (i) the Social Security Pensions Act 1975;
 
    (j) the Social Security Act 1973;
 
    (k) any subordinate legislation made, or having effect as if made, under any enactment specified in paragraphs (a) to (j) above.
      (2) In this Part "authorised officer" means a person acting in accordance with any authorisation for purposes of this Part which is for the time being in force in relation to him.
 
      (3) For the purposes of this Part-
 
 
    (a) references to a document include references to anything in which information is recorded in electronic or any other form;
 
    (b) the requirement that a notice given by an authorised officer be in writing shall be taken to be satisfied in any case where the contents of the notice-
 
      (i) are transmitted to the recipient of the notice by electronic means; and
 
      (ii) are received by him in a form that is legible and capable of being recorded for future reference.
      (4) In this Part "premises" includes-
 
 
    (a) moveable structures and vehicles, vessels, aircraft and hovercraft;
 
    (b) installations that are offshore installations for the purposes of the Mineral Workings (Offshore Installations) Act 1971; and
 
    (c) places of all other descriptions whether or not occupied as land or otherwise;

and references in this Part to the occupier of any premises shall be construed, in relation to premises that are not occupied as land, as references to any person for the time being present at the place in question.
      (5) In this Part-
 
 
    "benefit" includes any allowance, payment, credit or loan;
 
    "benefit offence" means a criminal offence committed in connection with a claim for benefit under a provision of the relevant social security legislation, or in connection with the receipt or payment of such a benefit; and
 
    "compensation payment" has the same meaning as in the Social Security (Recovery of Benefits) Act 1997.
      (6) In this Part-
 
 
    (a) any reference to a person authorised to carry out any function relating to housing benefit or council tax benefit shall include a reference to a person providing services relating to the benefit directly or indirectly to an authority administering it; and
 
    (b) any reference to the carrying out of a function relating to such a benefit shall include a reference to the provision of any services relating to it.
      (7) In this section "subordinate legislation" has the same meaning as in the Interpretation Act 1978."
 
     9. In paragraph 5 of Schedule 10 to the Social Security Administration Act 1992 (transitional provisions for supplementary benefit), for the words before sub-paragraph (a) there shall be substituted "Part VI of this Act shall have effect as if the following Acts were included in the Acts comprised in the relevant social security legislation".
 
 
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