HC Deb 03 February 1965 vol 705 cc1238-40
Mr. MacDermot

I beg to move, in page 22, line 40, at the end to insert:

I can explain to the House what each of the particular provisions refer to if anyone wishes me to do so.

Amendment agreed to.

11.24 p.m.

Mr. MacDermot

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

This Bill has had a smooth passage. There has been friendly co-operation from both sides of the House on what is a non-party matter, and, as I made clear in moving the Second Reading, this is a Bill which we willingly inherited from our predecessors.

The preparation of this Bill is also the fruit of earlier co-operation between the official and staff sides of the Civil Service National Whitley Council, and I know the House will join with me in paying tribute to the methods and negotiations which have been built up in the Civil Service and to the responsible rôle which the staff side plays in these matters.

This is a very technical Bill, and the many detailed changes that it makes in the law further complicate the language of the superannuation Acts, even though they are all beneficial in their effect. But the first remedy for this lies in consolidation, and, as the House will know, it is to pave the way for consolidation that a number of provisions have been put in the Bill. The House will be glad to know that work is far advanced on a consolidation Bill which the Government hope to introduce in the present Session. To illustrate the complexities of this matter, I might say that the consolidation Bill will propose to repeal in whole or in part no fewer than 17 Acts of Parliament, the earliest of which goes back to 1834.

This consolidation should put the law in a more satisfactory shape. The Act will contain a number of powers to make minor adjustments by Statutory Instrument without the difficulty and delay of legislation. Some of these powers are being granted under the present Bill. Others already appear in the existing Superannuation Acts.

This is an important matter, as appears from our discussions here this evening. When the consolidation has been done, we can look clearly and comprehensively at the structure of the Acts as they are, and, as I indicated to the House on Second Reading, I shall at that time be glad to receive any representations on this question and look carefully at any proposals which may be made.

Since the Bill was presented, the new Diplomatic Service has come into existence on 1st January. The first main purpose of the Bill was to provide appropriate superannuation arrangements for this new Service in accordance with the recommendations of the Plowden Committee. I hope and believe that the House is satisfied that the Bill fulfils those purposes as well as the other main objectives of removing anomalies and paving the way for consolidation. I ask the House, if it is satisfied with these things, to give the Bill a Third Reading.

11.27 p.m.

Mr. Gordon Campbell

We on this side of the House shall be glad to see the Bill receive a Third Reading. In general, we welcome it. As the Financial Secretary has said, the first four Clauses carry out changes in the new Diplomatic Service recommended by the Plowden Committee on retirements and pensions. Other Clauses rationalise pension rules in some respects in the public service.

I should like to be associated with the hon. and learned Gentleman in applauding the success of the negotiations within the Civil Service which led to agreement on these changes and also to congratulate Lord Plowden and his Committee on the extremely valuable service they performed. They quickly apprehended the main problems and issues in the service abroad, after studying conditions in various parts of the world. I hope that other recommendations which they made will also be carried out quickly.

My eye had also fallen on the words which the Financial Secretary quoted from Clause 6(5), where it is stated that if provisions are less advantageous to the individual they will not be applied. I like the spirit of that, and I hope that it will suffuse all actions in dealing with the cases of individuals in the public service, and especially those who have to move about the world and live in difficult climates and conditions. I thank the Financial Secretary for his explanations, both here and in Standing Committee, of what have been necessarily complicated subjects on which we put questions to him.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.