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Baroness Hollis of Heigham: The noble Earl, Lord Russell, indicated that Amendment No. 255 was a government one which therefore overtook his and I was trying to suggest that that was not the case.

Lord Higgins: I think the noble Earl, if I may presume to say so, was mistaken in that.

Amendment No. 255, as it appears on the Marshalled List, is a new clause after Clause 61 in the name of the noble Earl. I was seeking to support it, with some qualifications; namely—as he rightly points out—it is frequently the case that on other legislation reference to the Social Security Advisory Committee has been omitted, which he and I would both agree is perhaps unfortunate. What worries me about it is that, though on previous Bills we have succeeded in incorporating references to the Social Security Advisory Committee, it is only on very rare occasions that the Government ever seem to refer anything to it, or indeed to take its advice. Perhaps the Minister could tell me I am wrong about that.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: First, the rules are that the Government have to refer amendments to the Social Security Advisory Committee to see whether it wishes to consult on them if those amendments are being introduced more than six months after the primary legislation. That means that the regulations would be scrutinised within the framework of the Bill. Because the Government have been so effective in producing regulations so rapidly in conjunction with primary legislation, it may be that the Social Security Advisory Committee have less work to do as a result of the activity of your Lordships' House. That may be the explanation with regard to the noble Lord's second point.

On his first point about the role of the Social Security Advisory Committee, I ask the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment because, in practice, we have an informal and good working relationship. The Social Security Advisory Committee is consulted and its views are taken into account informally by the Inland Revenue on matters such as WFTC and DPTC. The Social Security Advisory Committee was set up, however, to guide the Secretary of State for Social Security, now the Department for Work and Pensions. It has no statutory basis of authority vis-à-vis the Inland Revenue or the Treasury.

However, because of the pressure rightly expressed on previous Bills, and because of the recognition on all sides of the value of the committee's experience, it was consulted about the proposed introduction of these two new tax credits. Officials from the Inland

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Revenue, the Treasury and the Department for Work and Pensions have met the Committee to discuss the Government's proposals. They are working together and, as far as I am aware, the relationship is entirely satisfactory.

I hope that noble Lords will accept that the Board of Inland Revenue is a statutory body with statutory duties set out under the Inland Revenue Regulation Act 1890, with a clear line of accountability. The Social Security Advisory Committee is an entirely separate statutory body with different lines of accountability and different formal responsibilities. It works well and it is clear on its remit. In practice, however, informal consultation takes place on issues of inland revenue which would benefit from exposure to its experience.

With those remarks, I hope that the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw both of his amendments.

Lord Higgins: Why should the Social Security Advisory Committee not have the same status in relation to the Inland Revenue on matters which hitherto have been the responsibility of the Department for Work and Pensions, as they had with the Work and Pensions Department? Surely the Inland Revenue will be in need of advice on matters with which, until now, they have had nothing to do?

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: It has worked very well since we established the WFTC and the DPTC. I have attended meetings of the Social Security Advisory Committee and not once has it complained that there was any problem with the arrangements we have established. As I have said, the Social Security Advisory Committee is a formal statutory body appointed by the Secretary of State for DWP and it cannot simultaneously have dual responsibility. In practice, however, the effective working between the two departments and the use of the Social Security Advisory Committee not only has not given rise to complaint, but seems to have been entirely satisfactory. If it is not broken, I suggest that we do not try to meddle with it.

Earl Russell: First I must confess my error. It was a most palpable hit and I am sorry for it. I can only say that, as I am sure the Minister is aware, during the exam season academics tend to become rather cross-eyed.

I accept what the Minister said about consultation between the Social Security Advisory Committee and the Inland Revenue, but the usefulness of the Social Security Advisory Committee is not limited to that role. When it produces a report, normally it is made available to the House. It is put in the Printed Paper Office at the same time as the regulations.

It is a very common perception that the matter of this Bill is not particularly easy for the layman to understand. So a clear exposition by an independent body, before the Social Security Advisory Committee thinks about regulations under this Bill, could be of the very greatest use for our deliberations. That has happened in many other cases.

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The principle of these amendments was conceded in working families' tax credits to my noble friend, Lord Goodhart. I am not aware that the Inland Revenue has tottered as a result. I do not see that there can be any really serious objection. If the line of accountability is an issue, perhaps the Treasury may claim—as it very often does—the power to consent to appointments made to the committee, which might be a perfectly fair quid pro quo. However, I think that there is still a matter to investigate, although we cannot take it any further today. I am not persuaded by all the Minister's arguments in spite of having been so palpably gentlemanly, as ever. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham moved Amendments Nos. 224 to 229:


    Page 46, line 34, leave out "under an award made"


    Page 46, line 36, at end insert—


"31A In section 39(1), (2) and (3) (rate of widowed mother's allowance and widow's pension), for "sections 44 and" continue to substitute "sections 44 to"."
Page 46, line 38, at end insert—


"32A In section 39C(1), (3) and (4) (rate of widowed parent's allowance and bereavement allowance), for "45A" substitute "45"."
Page 47, line 20, leave out "under an award made"


    Page 47, line 21, leave out paragraph 34.


    Page 47, line 46, at end insert—


"34A In section 48BB(5) and (6) (entitlement to category B retirement pension by reference to certain benefits), for "45A" substitute "45".
34B In section 51(2) and (3) (category B retirement pension for widowers), for "45A" substitute "45"."

On Question, amendments agreed to.

5.45 p.m.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham moved Amendment No. 230


    Page 48, line 33, at end insert—


"42A In Article 18C(7)(b) (direct payments), before "or of" insert ", of any element of child tax credit other than the family element, of working tax credit"."

The noble Baroness said: This again is a group of minor, technical amendments consequential on the abolition of WFTC and DPTC and their replacement. They come into category five of read-acrosses to Northern Ireland. Amendments Nos. 230 and 245 go together to make consequential changes to Article 18C(7)(b) of the Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995. That article allows those who have certain services paid for by a local authority on their behalf—primarily daycare services for children in particular need—and who receive the specified benefits or elements of tax credits set out in the article, not to have to repay the cost of those services to the local authority. They are analogous changes to that effect.

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I can go into more detail if Members of the Committee wish. It is to ensure that the Northern Ireland legislation is congruent with these changes. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 3, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 44 [Interpretation]:

Baroness Hollis of Heigham moved Amendment No. 231':


    Page 25, line 3, at end insert—


""the current year income" has the meaning given by section 7(4),"

The noble Baroness said: In moving Amendment No. 231, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 233. We go back to our former category that the Committee has been happy to accept. This amendment removes references to "relevant income". In other words, it is category three. There is a separation between "current year" and "previous year" and it tidies up the drafting as a result. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham moved Amendments Nos. 232 to 234:


    Page 25, line 11, at end insert "and (6)"


    Page 25, line 11, at end insert—


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