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("(3) Any amount of net weekly income (calculated as above) over £2,000 is to be ignored for the purposes of this Schedule.").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Schedule 2 [Substituted Schedules 4A and 4B to the 1991 Act]:

[Amendments Nos. 47 to 59 not moved.]

Schedule 3 [Amendment of enactments relating to child support]:

Baroness Hollis of Heigham moved Amendment No. 60:

    Page 106, line 46, at end insert--

("( ) in subsection (3), at the beginning insert "Except as provided in subsection (3A),";").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 60, I wish to speak also to Amendments Nos. 61 and 65.

I announced on Report that I would bring forward government amendments that would allow the courts to continue, as now, to have the power to vary court orders which are made after the child support reforms have been introduced. Clause 2 makes changes to the child support scheme so that more separated parents can apply for child support. It will allow parents who have a court order for child maintenance which has been in place for a year to apply to the CSA for a child support calculation instead.

Those changes will not affect private clients with existing court orders; nor will they affect current arrangements whereby an existing court order will cease to have effect if a maintenance calculation is made as a result of a parent with care being on benefit.

Parents with maintenance orders in force at the time that the reforms are introduced and those with written maintenance agreements made before April 1993 will, as now, use the courts for enforcement and variation of child maintenance liability. As your Lordships know, we are introducing a one-year waiting period. New orders will be any court order made after the reformed child support scheme has been introduced.

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The one-year waiting period is to ensure that those applying to the CSA have had time to consider fully the effects. We are also providing a two-month cooling off period. However, Clause 2 indirectly removes the ability of the courts to vary new court orders after they have been in force for a year. In the light of our debates on Report, in particular about Amendment No. 20, I told the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, that I would not be unsympathetic to allowing the courts to continue to have the power to vary new court orders made after the reforms are introduced.

We had taken the view that in those circumstances parents should originally come to the CSA. However, having reflected on the noble Baroness's arguments, I have decided that there is something to be gained from allowing courts to continue to vary new court orders even when, in accordance with the provisions of Clause 2, the CSA could accept an application for child support. We do not wish to force parents to come to the CSA when they remain content to leave maintenance to the court to decide, as long as the benefit system is not involved. When the courts are asked to vary court orders that were originally based on agreement between the parents, we are happy to leave the choice of whether to come to the CSA to the parents concerned.

However, if a new court order is subsequently varied by the court, there will be no further 12-month bar to a child support application. In other words, the 12-month clock will continue to tick from the date of the original order. I hope that I have met with good will the arguments put forward by the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe. I beg to move.

9.30 p.m.

Lord Higgins: My Lords, we are grateful to the Minister for the amendments. I know that my noble friend Lady Buscombe will be pleased. In the light of our earlier discussions, the sooner I sit down, the better, but we are grateful.

Earl Russell: My Lords, perhaps I may say, with the greatest brevity, that I, too, welcome the amendments.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham moved Amendments Nos. 61 and 62:

    Page 106, line 47, leave out from beginning to end of line 2 on page 107 and insert--

("( ) for subsection (3A) there shall be substituted--
"(3A) Unless a maintenance calculation has been made with respect to the child concerned, subsection (3) does not prevent a court from varying a maintenance order in relation to that child and the non-resident parent concerned--
(a) if the maintenance order was made on or after the date prescribed for the purposes of section 4(10)(a) or 7(10)(a); or
(b) where the order was made before then, in any case in which section 4(10) or 7(10) prevents the making of an application for a maintenance calculation with respect to or by that child."; and").

    Page 107, leave out lines 3 to 5 and insert--

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("( ) in subsection (6), for paragraph (b) there shall be substituted--
"(b) the non-resident parent's net weekly income exceeds the figure referred to in paragraph 10(3) of Schedule 1 (as it has effect from time to time pursuant to regulations made under paragraph 10A(1)(b)); and".").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Schedule 5 [Pensions: miscellaneous amendments and alternative to anti-franking rules]:

Lord Astor of Hever moved Amendment No. 63:

    Page 118, line 29, leave out (""other benefits" there shall be inserted") and insert (""payment of" there shall be inserted "all of his pension or other benefits"").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the amendment clarifies the definition of "pensioner member" for the purposes of the Pensions Act 1995. The current definition may include both a deferred and a pensioner member.

In the view of the Law Society of Scotland, the three categories of acting, deferred and pensioner members ought to be mutually exclusive. Active members and pensioner members are currently mutually exclusive, but the same cannot be said of deferred members. Voluntary contributions can now be taken early and benefits can be taken in payment. If a deferred member had voluntary contributions in payment, they would appear to be a pensioner member as well. We believe that our amendment would rectify that by inserting the word "all". I beg to move.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, I appreciate the clarity--and brevity--with which the noble Lord moved the amendment. At present, the payment of a pension means that the recipient is considered to be a pensioner member. He cannot be both an active member and a pensioner member. The measures in the Bill will mean that a member who remains in pensionable service will be an active member, as distinct from a pensioner member. Paragraph 8(3) of Schedule 5 will achieve that, facilitating a new flexibility that the Inland Revenue has proposed to allow members of occupational pension schemes who are approaching retirement age to take a part-payment of their pension rights while continuing to work. People who take advantage of that flexibility will be able to continue to contribute to and build up rights in the scheme as active members.

The amendment would additionally require a pensioner member to be entitled to all of his pension or other benefits. That is unnecessary, in view of the amendment already made by paragraph 8(3) of Schedule 5. Far from clarifying the status of pensioner members, the amendment introduces confusion into the definition, and with it the risk of misinterpretation.

I understand the noble Lord's concern to protect the rights of those with a pension. We share that concern, but we think that the amendment could cause confusion. It would add nothing to the general protection of pensions in payment afforded by the law in other ways. It might even result in the creation of a

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special class of member whose rights as an active member might be unclear. It could also reduce the flexibility that the Inland Revenue are proposing.

Schedule 5 to the Bill seeks, as I have said, to place beyond doubt that a member who remains in employment and continues to contribute to and accrue benefits in his pension scheme has the protection necessary for active members' rights.

The noble Lord's amendment would not clarify anything, nor would it give any more protection to those who take advantage of the Inland Revenue's proposal for flexibility. I am glad to have the opportunity to make that clear, and, in the light of that, I would hope the noble Lord will withdraw his amendment.

Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for that reply. It was felt that this was an important issue and I am grateful to the Minister for clarifying it.

I should also like to thank the Minister on behalf of the Scottish Law Society for pointing out the error in the wording of its original amendment. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 9 [Repeals and revocations]:

Baroness Hollis of Heigham moved Amendments Nos. 64 and 65:

    Page 148, line 25, column 3, leave out ("Section 8(6).").

    Page 149, line 15, column 3, leave out ("18(5)") and insert ("18(3) and (5)").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

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