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Lord Rix: My Lords, before the Minister sits down, did I hear her say that organisations will have the opportunity to see draft regulations before they are laid?

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, if we are asking organisations to take part in drawing up the regulations, I see no reason not to allow that. A different status applies, in terms of consultation, in respect of official organisations such as the Social Security Advisory Committee.

Lord Rix: My Lords, there has to be some logic in rolling boulders up hills. If one is persuaded that the chances of getting further are remote, the logic is to call a halt. The Minister has helpfully gone as far as the Government are prepared to go at the pre-regulation stage. I appreciate and welcome her assurances--particularly the opportunity to study and comment on the draft regulations before they are laid and past amending.

Like the actor I once was who wishes to believe his kind notices, then is surprised when the box office is disappointing--I am happy to say that I was rarely in that position--I wish to believe the Minister's kind

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words and will be most surprised if the regulations are disappointing. In light of the Minister's undertaking, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Higgins moved Amendment No. 75:

    Page 33, line 36, at end insert--

(""(4B) The regulations shall be based on the presumption that claimants have received incorrect or incomplete information unless the Secretary of State provides proof that the information the claimant received was correct and complete."").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 75 and seek the opinion of the House.

4 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 75) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 166; Not-Contents, 135.

Division No. 1


Ackner, L.
Addington, L.
Alton of Liverpool, L.
Anelay of St Johns, B.
Astor, V.
Astor of Hever, L.
Attlee, E.
Avebury, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Belstead, L.
Biffen, L.
Blackwell, L.
Blaker, L.
Blatch, B.
Boardman, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Bradshaw, L.
Bridgeman, V.
Brittan of Spennithorne, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Burnham, L.
Buscombe, B.
Butterworth, L.
Byford, B.
Caithness, E.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Campbell of Croy, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Chadlington, L.
Chalker of Wallasey, B.
Clark of Kempston, L.
Clement-Jones, L.
Coe, L.
Colwyn, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L.
Courtown, E.
Cowdrey of Tonbridge, L.
Cranborne, V.
Crathorne, L.
Crickhowell, L.
Cuckney, L.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Denham, L.
Dholakia, L.
Dundee, E.
Eden of Winton, L.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Elton, L.
Ezra, L.
Falkland, V.
Fookes, B.
Forsyth of Drumlean, L.
Garel-Jones, L.
Geddes, L.
Geraint, L.
Glenarthur, L.
Glentoran, L.
Goodhart, L.
Gray of Contin, L.
Greaves, L.
Hamwee, B.
Hanham, B.
Hanson, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L.
Harris of Richmond, B.
Haslam, L.
Hayhoe, L.
Henley, L. [Teller]
Higgins, L.
Howe, E.
Howe of Aberavon, L.
Howell of Guildford, L.
Hurd of Westwell, L.
Hylton, L.
Jacobs, L.
James of Holland Park, B.
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Jopling, L.
Kelvedon, L.
Kimball, L.
Kingsland, L.
Laing of Dunphail, L.
Lamont of Lerwick, L.
Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Linklater of Butterstone, B.
Liverpool, E.
Ludford, B.
Luke, L.
Lyell, L.
McNally, L.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Marlesford, L.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Methuen, L.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Monro of Langholm, L.
Monson, L.
Montrose, D.
Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Moynihan, L.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Naseby, L.
Newby, L.
Nicholson of Winterbourne, B.
Northbrook, L.
Northesk, E.
Northover, B.
Norton of Louth, L.
Oppenheim-Barnes, B.
Palmer, L.
Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Phillips of Sudbury, L.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Plummer of St. Marylebone, L.
Rawlings, B.
Reay, L.
Redesdale, L.
Rees, L.
Renfrew of Kaimsthorn, L.
Renton, L.
Roberts of Conwy, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Roper, L.
Russell, E. [Teller]
Ryder of Wensum, L.
Saatchi, L.
Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Scott of Needham Market, B.
Seccombe, B.
Selborne, E.
Selsdon, L.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Sharples, B.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Shrewsbury, E.
Shutt of Greetland, L.
Simon of Glaisdale, L.
Skelmersdale, L.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Stewartby, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Strathclyde, L.
Swinfen, L.
Taverne, L.
Tebbit, L.
Thatcher, B.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Tordoff, L.
Trefgarne, L.
Trumpington, B.
Vivian, L.
Waddington, L.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Walmsley, B.
Walton of Detchant, L.
Warnock, B.
Watson of Richmond, L.
Wigoder, L.
Wilcox, B.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Willoughby de Broke, L.
Windlesham, L.
Wolfson, L.


Acton, L.
Ahmed, L.
Alli, L.
Amos, B.
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashley of Stoke, L.
Ashton of Upholland, B.
Bach, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Berkeley, L.
Bernstein of Craigweil, L.
Billingham, B.
Blackstone, B.
Blease, L.
Borrie, L.
Bragg, L.
Brennan, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brookeborough, V.
Bruce of Donington, L.
Burlison, L.
Carter, L. [Teller]
Chandos, V.
Christopher, L.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.
Crawley, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Desai, L.
Diamond, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Elder, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Evans of Watford, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Filkin, L.
Fyfe of Fairfield, L.
Gale, B.
Gavron, L.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B.
Goldsmith, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Greengross, B.
Gregson, L.
Grenfell, L.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Harrison, L.
Haskel, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Hylton-Foster, B.
Islwyn, L.
Janner of Braunstone, L.
Jay of Paddington, B. (Lord Privy Seal)
Jenkins of Putney, L.
Kennedy of The Shaws, B.
King of West Bromwich, L.
Laird, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Levy, L.
Lipsey, L.
Lockwood, B.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Longford, E.
Lovell-Davis, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller]
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
Mallalieu, B.
Marsh, L.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Mishcon, L.
Mitchell, L.
Molloy, L.
Molyneaux of Killead, L.
Morris of Castle Morris, L.
Morris of Manchester, L.
Nicol, B.
Orme, L.
Parekh, L.
Patel of Blackburn, L.
Peston, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Richard, L.
Rix, L.
Sainsbury of Turville, L.
Sawyer, L.
Serota, B.
Sewel, L.
Shepherd, L.
Sheppard of Liverpool, L.
Shore of Stepney, L.
Simon, V.
Smith of Leigh, L.
Stern, B.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Taylor of Gryfe, L.
Tomlinson, L.
Uddin, B.
Varley, L.
Warner, L.
Warwick of Undercliffe, B.
Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.
Wilkins, B.
Williams of Mostyn, L.
Williamson of Horton, L.
Winston, L.
Woolmer of Leeds, L.
Young of Old Scone, B.

Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.

27 Jun 2000 : Column 784

4.10 p.m.

[Amendments Nos. 76 and 76A not moved.]

Clause 39 [Home responsibilities protection]:

[Amendment No. 77 not moved.]

Baroness Fookes moved Amendment No. 78:

    After Clause 42, insert the following new clause--


(" . The Secretary of State for Social Security shall consult the relevant Governments about a full or partial uprating of British state retirement pensions for British pensioners living overseas and report on his findings and recommendations within one year of this Act receiving Royal Assent.").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving the amendment which stands also in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, I speak also to Amendment No. 79.

These amendments have previously been the subject of debate in this House. However, I make no apology for again raising the issue since they seek to redress a longstanding grievance. I go further than "grievance" and say a longstanding injustice. They relate to British pensioners living overseas who do not have annual upratings which pensioners living in this country receive.

The fact that a grievance is old makes it no less vivid or unkind for those who are the victims. I know from discussions that individuals and organisations overseas feel very aggrieved by the failure of successive governments to do anything about the situation. It is

27 Jun 2000 : Column 785

all the more remarkable when one bears in mind that the noble Lord, Lord Shore of Stepney, who was a member of the Cabinet which made the decision in the first place, spoke on the subject in recent months, explaining that the only reason upratings for overseas pensioners were not allowed was that there were severe exchange control difficulties at a time when tourists were allowed to take out only £50 in currency. He said that there is a clear moral case for uprating. That lends strength to my own views that it is high time that the grievance is redressed.

I am, of course, aware of the cost. I know, for example, that there are some 190,000 British pensioners in Australia and many other parts of the world. But the grievance is compounded by the fact that there is a lottery depending on where one happens to live overseas. If one is within the European Union one is covered by its requirement that one is treated equally. If one goes to those countries where there is a reciprocal arrangement, all is well. If one happens to go to other countries, notably Australia and Canada, where there is no such agreement, one is stuck with the size of the pension when one left the country. Noble Lords can imagine the miserable pension for someone who may have been retired for 30 years. That is not impossible. Many people live in positive penury because of this arrangement. I bring this issue to your Lordships' House because those people are by definition elderly. They lack the pressure which people in this country can bring to bear. It behoves those of us who are here to speak firmly on their behalf.

I know that the argument is always one of cost. Crudely encapsulated, the Government's view is, "This will cost a great deal of money. We have better things on which to spend it". It may be crude, but I believe that that sums up their argument. That will be dressed up by the Minister when she responds. Having heard the arguments previously, I believe that I could give a fair representation, if I chose to do so, of the arguments that the noble Baroness will deploy in due course. I believe that it is high time that we did something about the matter.

Recognising that cost is an issue, I have sought to modify what I should like to see--a total uprating immediately, and backdated--on the line that politics is the art of the possible. It is a theme I first heard the noble Baroness, Lady Thatcher, declaim when she first came into Parliament many years ago. Given that politics is the art of the possible, I have suggested a compromise whereby the Secretary of State should consult with the other relevant governments as to whether there could be at least a partial uprating. There are several possibilities: that there should be no backdating but that the provision should come into effect only from the point when it comes into law; or that it should go only to the older pensioners over, let us say, 75, 80 or 85--those who are most likely to be in the direst need. There would be other possibilities with which I shall not bore your Lordships today.

Having sought to make a move in this direction, I hope that the Minister will look more sympathetically on this case. I repeat: it is a longstanding injustice. It is compounded by the fact that it depends where one

27 Jun 2000 : Column 786

lives as to whether one has an uprating. I believe that the time has now come to take definitive action. I beg to move.

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