CHAPTER III - WAR PENSIONS
311. This section of the memorandum sets out
how the Department intends to use the delegated powers in Part
II, Chapter III of the Bill. Again, these delegated powers perform
a number of functions. First, they provide for detailed issues,
such as the decisions which have a right of appeal, to be set
out in regulations. Second, they provide flexibility for changes
to be made, for example, to include new appeal rights which are
identified or amend time limits for appeals in the light of operational
experience. This flexibility allows changes to be made quickly
without requiring war pensioners to wait for a suitable opportunity
to amend primary legislation.
312. The Bill provides for new appeal arrangements
for war pensioners. The existing appeal rights are to be extended
and appeal time limits are to be amended. It is intended that
the scope of the new appeal rights should be set out in regulations.
The new appeal time limit will be six months, the existing three
month appeal time limit for interim assessment appeals will be
retained. This is provided for in the Bill together with a power
to amend these time limits by regulations at a later date. There
is also a third provision to specify the circumstances in which
an appeal can be brought in the twelve months following the lapse
of the statutory appeal time limit ("late appeal").
The circumstances when a late appeal can be accepted will be set
out in regulations. All the regulation-making powers are affirmative
because the Department is of the opinion that as the regulations
will determine access to a right of appeal they should be subject
to a debate in Parliament.
313. An independent consultant's report recommended
the revision of the appeal time limit provisions and the extension
of appeal rights. This report was sent to interested organisations
and considered before the provisions in the Bill were drafted.
The provisions in the Bill have been discussed at the Central
Advisory Committee on war pensions and the Council on Tribunals.
This consultation is ongoing and will extend to implementation.
CLAUSE 56 - RIGHTS OF APPEAL
314. Clause 56 provides the framework for giving
additional appeal rights to war pensioners. It increases the current
appeal provision in the Pensions Appeal Tribunals Act 1943 (PAT
Act) sections 1-5 by the creation of a new section 5A, which will
provide for appeal rights outside the existing provisions.
315. Section 5A(2) contains a power to make regulations
that will state which types of decision will carry a right of
appeal. Section 5A(3) states that the regulations will be affirmative.
316. The Department proposes to use the power
in section 5A(2) to specify the decisions that will have a right
of appeal. The intention is to use this provision to provide war
pensioners with similar appeal rights as those provided to social
security claimants. The level of detail required is such that
it is the Department's opinion that it would be best placed in
secondary legislation. This would also allow flexibility for the
future so that if, for example, any additional appeal rights are
identified, they could be incorporated relatively quickly, without
requiring war pensioners to wait for a suitable primary opportunity
to make the changes.
CLAUSE 57 - TIME LIMIT FOR APPEALS
317. Clause 57 modifies section 8 of the PAT
Act by changing some of the statutory appeal time limits, by making
provision for appeals to be brought after the statutory time limit
has ended and providing transitional protection for decisions
made before the date this section is commenced.
318. The statutory appeal time limit of three
months for interim assessment appeals is already provided for
in section 8(3) of the PAT Act, the provision for a six month
statutory appeal time limit in all other cases is provided for
in clause 57(1) of this Bill.
319. Clause 57(2) provides for a new PAT Act
section 8(4), which will include a power to amend the statutory
appeal time limits in the future by regulations. The current provisions
on time limits are a balance between the needs of war pensioners
to have time to consult and submit an appeal and the need for
justice to be administered whilst the facts are still fresh. This
provision enables the time limits to be adjusted either up or
down if, in the light of operational experience, they prove to
be inappropriate. There is no current intention to use it.
320. Clause 57(2) also provides a power in the
new PAT Act section 8(5) for regulations to be made to state the
circumstances in which appeals can be brought in the twelve months
after the statutory time limit has expired. It is only appropriate
to admit a late appeal if there is a good reason why it was not
submitted within the statutory appeal time limit. If all late
appeals were admitted it would lessen the impact of the statutory
appeal time limits, which are considered adequate. Therefore the
need exists to state when late appeals will and will not be admitted.
The Department is of the opinion that for consistency in decision
making, and to advise war pensioners of their rights and obligations
when submitting appeals, there should be a prescribed list, approved
by Parliament, of when late appeals will be accepted. The Department
is seeking to have the grounds for late appeals placed in affirmative
regulations to ensure that changes can be made relatively quickly,
yet approved by Parliament.