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Lord Burlison: My Lords, I gather that the Army has carried out some of the review. Its findings have not yet been published. The Armed Forces generally will need to study them to see whether they can be adopted on a general basis. The quinquennial review will take place in 2000-2001. That will provide the opportunity to change the law in this respect. Having said that, the changes that are likely to come into being are being considered. It would not be right for me at this time to judge either the extent of those changes or, indeed, assess the likely outcome of the review.
Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, the Government are not proposing to change the status of long-term carers. Whether a carer is self-employed for tax or employment law purposes depends on the terms and conditions on which he or she is engaged and works.
Lord Campbell of Croy: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for his reply. I understand that proposals of this kind are now the subject of consultation with the organisations concerned. In those consultations, will the Government take into account the fact that many carers in these situations have to work irregular hours and will not easily or suitably be converted into employees of care agencies? Do the Government agree that the most important consideration is that disabled people should not find that they are to be charged a great deal more for the help which they now receive in their homes, rather than in institutions?
Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, it may help if I explain what is proposed in the consultation document. The proposal would change the terms of the contractual relationship, whether or not the person in question is self-employed. It would change the party responsible to the worker in relation to entitlements under the minimum wage and the working time directive. It is felt appropriate that that party should be the employment bureau, rather than
An issue relating to the payment of VAT arises. By making the employment relationship with the disabled person rather than themselves, a number of employment bureaux have avoided paying VAT. That is an issue of which we are aware, and we are considering it in the consultation process.
Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, is the Minister aware that some years ago your Lordships' House discussed the idea that disabled people themselves should be able to choose how to spend such money? Tying this contract to a bureau would take that privilege of choice away from disabled people.
Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, I do not believe that this matter has anything to do with the issue of choice. A person being cared for can choose whether to use an individual, a bureau, or anyone else. We are consulting on the question of whether the employment responsibility in terms of these two specific issues--the minimum wage and the working time directive--rests with the hirer or with the employment bureau; but that does not affect the choice of the long-term disabled.
Baroness Pitkeathley: My Lords, does the Minister agree that the terminology causes a problem? The word carer" has come to be used for the unemployed and unpaid family carer who is the subject of the Government's National Carers' Strategy? Does the Minister also agree that the Government would be well advised to attach the word paid" or the word employed" to the word carer" when noble Lords discuss this subject?
Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: My Lords, at a convenient moment after 3.30 p.m. my noble friend the Leader of the House will, with the leave of the House, repeat a Statement that is being made in another place on the Special European Council at Tampere.
Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, yesterday, at the commencement of the Report stage on the Immigration and Asylum Bill, my noble friend Lord Cope of Berkeley, with the assistance of the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby, raised an issue which is becoming an increasing procedural problem for the House in its scrutiny of legislation. More and more often, at a late stage, we receive a large volume of long and significant amendments to the Bills under consideration.
As a result of that intervention, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, speaking on behalf of the Government, raised what appeared to me to be a novel suggestion in relation to the procedures of the House. He suggested that any provision that should have gone to the Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation should be debated on Report, but that the Government would ensure that such amendments were not put on the face of the Bill at that stage so that the Select Committee would have an opportunity to discuss such amendments before they were put on the face of the Bill at Third Reading.
On the Greater London Authority Bill it is too late for that kind of an intervention to be practical. However, the Minister will be well aware that we have protested at the volume and the complexity of the amendments that we have been obliged to consider at short notice. In considering the Greater London Authority Bill today we shall find ourselves dealing with yet another series of amendments, many of which are extremely complicated.
It occurred to me that the House should seek an assurance from the Minister that none of the amendments already agreed or those that we may agree are such as would normally cause concern to that committee. If we do not proceed in that way we shall be in danger of overloading the relevant Select Committee.
I am prepared to accept that the Minister will need time to consider his answer to that matter. We have two more days on which we shall deal with this Bill on Report, and I would be happy to receive a proper answer on one of those days, if he chooses to deal with the matter in that way. I believe that this is a proper point to raise at this stage and I hope that the House will accept it.
Lord Renton: My Lords, I rise in support of the important point that my noble friend Lord Dixon-Smith has raised. Will the Government consider the procedure that has been followed for years in another place, whereby any new clauses or any far-reaching amendments tabled after the Committee stage of a Bill has been concluded can be re-committed and examined in detail, subject to the Report stage procedure, before the Report stage of the Bill is
Viscount Cranborne: My Lords, perhaps the Minister could colour his reply with the thought that when noble Lords on this side of the House were in government--as has been the case during the life of the present Government--a convention grew up that governments were bound to take seriously the strictures of the Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation and that the committee's recommendations should be adopted.
With an enormous number of amendments being tabled, too often as a result of hurried legislation in another place, I believe it would be extremely helpful if the Government were able to respond to the intervention of my noble friend in the constructive way that other members of the present Government have responded--particularly the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor--when considering the increasingly important role that that committee will have in the constitution of this House in terms of considering legislation and the way that it is examined.
Lord Whitty: My Lords, I accept that, as the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, says, we have a large number of amendments, some of which are fairly complex. I also accept that this House must give due respect to the views of the Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation.
However, as far as I can ascertain, the situation with regard to this Bill is different from that of the Immigration and Asylum Bill in that the amendments to that Bill created new regulatory powers which were not included at an earlier stage. We have amended some of those regulatory powers. I shall undertake to look carefully at those that remain to see whether we should take on board the point made by the noble Lord.
However, the vast majority of the amendments that were tabled early in the Report stage were tidying up and technical amendments, as the subsequent ones will be. Therefore, I do not accept that we are in a position where we should consider either recomittal or deferral of consideration of amendments because I do not believe that our amendments raise new issues of principle for the Select Committee.
Should it be drawn to my attention during the course of today or in respect of amendments yet to come, either by the noble Lord or by the authorities of the House, that I am over-generalising, then, before the commencement of the proceedings on Thursday, I undertake to correct that position and to take the necessary steps to ensure that consideration is given before completion of the Report stage.