§ Lords Amendment: No. 34, after Clause 39, in page 31, line 28, insert new Clause "A":
§ Maternity Pay Fund
§ ".—(1) There shall be established under the control and management of the Secretary of State a fund to be called the Maternity Pay Fund out of which payments shall be made in accordance with the following provisions of this Act
§ (2) The Secretary of State shall prepare accounts of the Maternity Pay Fund in such form as the Treasury may direct and shall send them to the Comptroller and Auditor General not later than the end of the month of November following the end of the financial 1661 year to which the accounts relate; and the Comptroller and Auditor General shall examine and certify every such account and shall lay copies thereof, together with his report thereon, before Parliament.
§ (3) Any money in the Maternity Pay Fund may from time to time be paid over to the National Debt Commissioners and invested by them, in accordance with such directions as may be given by the Treasury, in any such manner as may be specified by an order of the Treasury for the time being in force under section 22(1) of the National Savings Bank Act 1971."
§ Read a Second time.
§ Mr. Speaker
With this we may discuss the following Lords amendments:
No. 35, in page 31, line 28, insert the following Clause B:
§ Financing of Maternity Pay Fund
§ (2) In section 1(1) of that Act (outline of contributory system), after the words "Redundancy Fund" insert the words "and the Maternity Pay Fund".
§ (3) In section 4(6)(b) of that Act (amount of secondary Class I contribution), for the words "8.5 per cent." substitute the words "8.55 per cent.".
§ (4) In section 122(4) of that Act (power to alter contributions), after the words "the Redundancy Fund" insert the words "or the Maternity Pay Fund", and for the words "that Fund" substitute the words "either or both those Funds".
§ (5) In section 134 of that Act (destination of contributions etc.)—
- (a) in subsection (4), for the words "0.2 per cent." substitute the words "0.25 per cent."; and
- (b) in subsection (5)(b), for the words "that Fund" substitute the words "the Redundancy Fund and the Maternity Pay Fund in such shares as the Secretary of State may, with the consent of the Treasury determine."
§ (6) In Schedule 20 to that Act (glossary of expressions), at the appropriate place in alphabetical order insert in the first column the entry "Appropriate employment protection allocation" and against it in the second column insert the entry "See section 134(4)"."
§ No. 36, in page 31, line 28, insert the following Clause C:
§ Advances out of National Loans Fund
§ ".—(1) Subject to the provisions of subsection (2) to (4) below, the Treasury may 1662 from time to time advance out of the National Loans Fund to the Secretary of State for the purposes of the Maternity Pay Fund, such sums as the Secretary of State may request; and any sums advanced to the Secretary of State under this section shall be paid into that Fund.
§ (2) The aggregate amount outstanding by way of principal in respect of sums advanced to the Secretary of State under subsection (1) above shall not at any time exceed £4 million, or such larger sum, not exceeding £10 million, as the Secretary of State may by order made with the consent of the Treasury determine.
§ (3) No order under subsection (2) above shall be made unless a draft of the order has been laid before Parliament and approved by resoluton of each House of Parliament.
§ (4) Any sums advanced to the Secretary of State under subsection (1) above shall be repaid by the Secretary of State out of the Maternity Pay Fund into the National Loans Fund in such manner and at such times, and with interest thereon at such rate, as the Treasury may direct."
§ No. 37, in page 31, line 28, insert the following Clause D—
§ Maternity pay rebate.
§ ".—(1) Subject to any regulations made under this section, the Secretary of State shall pay out of the Maternity Pay Fund to every employer who makes a claim under this section and who being liable to pay, has paid, maternity pay to an employee, an amount equal to the full amount of maternity pay so paid (in this section and sections (Payments to employees out of Maternity Pay Fund), (Supplementary provisions in relation to employer's insolvency) and (Complaint and appeals to industrial tribunal) below referred to as a "rebate").
§ (2) The Secretary of State may if he thinks fit, and if he is satisfied that it would be just and equitable to do so having regard to all the relevant circumstances, pay such a rebate to an employer who makes a claim under this section and who has paid maternity pay to an employee in circumstances in which, by reason of the time limit provided for in section 39(2) above, a complaint by the employee has been dismissed, or would not be entertained by an industrial tribunal.
§ (3) For the purposes of subsections (1) and (2) above, a payment of contractual remuneration by an employer shall be treated as a payment of maternity pay to the extent that, by virtue of section 38(4) above,—
- (a) it extinguishes the employer's liability to pay maternity pay; or
- (b) in a case falling within subsection (2) above, it would extinguish that liability if a complaint by the employee were not time-barred as described in that subsection.
- (a) require a claim to be made within such time limit as may be prescribed; and
- (b) require a claim to be supported by such evidence as may be prescribed."
§ No. 38, in page 31, line 28, insert the following Clause E:
§ "Payments to employees out of Maternity Pay Fund
§ —(1) Where an employee claims that her employer is liable to pay her maternity pay and—
- (a) that she has taken all reasonable steps (other than proceedings to enforce a tribunal award) to recover payment from the employer; or
- (b) that her employer is insolvent (as defined in section 61 below for the purposes of sections 56 to 60 below);
§ (2) If the Secretary of State is satisfied that the claim is well founded the Secretary of State shall pay the employee out of the Maternity Pay Fund the amount of the maternity pay which appears to the Secretary of State to be unpaid.
§ (3) A payment made by the Secretary of State to an employee under this section shall be treated for the purpose of discharging any liability of the employer to the employee as if it had been made by the employer."
§ No. 39, in page 31, line 28, insert the following Clause F:
§ "Reduction of rebate in certain cases.
§ —(1) Where the Secretary of State makes a payment to an employee in respect of unpaid maternity pay in a case falling within section (Payments to employees out of Maternity Pay Fund(1)(a) above and it appears to the Secretary of State that the employer's default in payment was without reasonable excuse, the Secretary of State may recover from the employer such amount as the Secretary of State considers appropriate, not exceeding the amount of maternity pay which the employer failed to pay.
§ (2) Where a sum is recovered by the Secretary of State by virtue of this section that sum shall be paid into the Maternity Pay Fund."
§ No. 40, in page 31, line 28, insert the following Clause G—
§ Supplementary provisions in relation to employer's insolvency
§ ".—(1) Where the Secretary of State makes a payment to an employee under section 56 below (which provides for payments out of the Redundancy Fund in respect of certain debts where an employer is insolvent) and that payment, in whole or in part, represents arrears of pay, then, in ascertaining for the purpose of 1664 section (Payments to employees out of Maternity Pay Fund) above the amount of any unpaid maternity pay, section 38(4) above shall apply as if the arrears of pay in question had been duly paid by the employer to the employee in accordance with the contract of employment.
§ (2) Where the Secretary of State makes a payment to an employee out of the Redundancy Fund under section 56 below which, if it had been made by the employer to the employee, would have attracted a rebate from the Maternity Pay Fund in accordance with section (Maternity pay rebate) above, then, the Secretary of State shall make a payment out of the Maternity Pay Fund into the Redundancy Fund of an amount corresponding to the amount of rebate which would have been so payable."
§ No. 41, in page 31, line 28, insert the following Clause—
§ Complaint and appeals to industrial tribunal
§ "—(1) A person who has—
- (a) made a claim for a rebate under section (Maternity pay rebate) above, in a case to which subsection (1) of that section applies; or
- (b) applied for a payment under section (Payments to employees out of Maternity Pay Fund) above,
- may, subject to subsection (5) below, present a complaint to an industrial tribunal that—
- (i) the Secretary of State has failed to make any such payment; or
- (ii) any such payment made by the Secretary of State is less than the amount which should have been paid.
§ (2) Where an industrial tribunal finds that the Secretary of State ought to make any such payment or further payment, it shall make a declaration to that effect and shall also declare the amount of any such payment which it finds the Secretary of State ought to make.
§ (3) An employer who has made a claim for a rebate under section (Maternity pay rebate) above, in a case to which subsection (2) of that section applies, may, subject to subsection (5) below, appeal to an industrial tribunal on the ground that—
- (a) the Secretary of State has refused to pay a rebate; or
- (b) any rebate paid by the Secretary of State is less than the amount which should have been paid,
- and if on any such appeal the tribunal is satisfied that it is just and equitable having regard to all the relevant circumstances that a rebate should be paid or, as the case may be, finds that a further payment by way of rebate should be made, the tribunal shall determine accordingly, and the Secretary of State shall comply with the determination.
§ (4) Where the Secretary of State determines that an amount is recoverable from an employer undersection (Reduction of rebate in certain cases) above, the employer may, subject to subsection (5) below, appeal to an industrial 1665 tribunal; and if on any such appeal the tribunal is satisfied that no amount should be recovered from the employer, or that a lesser or greater amount be recovered but in any case not exceeding the amount of maternity pay which the employer failed to pay, the tribunal shall determine accordingly and the amount, if any, so determined shall be the amount recoverable from the employer by the Secretary of State.
§ (5) An industrial tribunal shall not entertain a complaint or appeal under this section unless it is presented to the tribunal within the period of three months beginning with the date on which the relevant decision of the Secretary of State was communicated to the complainant or appellant or within such further period as the tribunal considers reasonable in a case where it is satisfied that it was not reasonably practicable for the complaint or appeal to be presented within the period of three months."
§ No. 42, in page 31, line 28, insert the following Clause I—
§ Provisions as to information
§ ".—(1) Where an application is made to the Secretary of State by an employee under section (Payments to employees out of Maternity Pay Fund) above, the Secretary of State may require—
- (a) the employer to provide him with such information as the Secretary of State may reasonably require for the purpose of determining whether the employee's application is well founded; and
- (b) any person having the custody or control of any relevant records or other documents to produce for examination on behalf of the Secretary of State any such document in that person's custody or under his control which is of such a description as the Secretary of State may require.
§ (2) Any such requirement shall be made by a notice in writing given to the person on whom the requirement is imposed and may be varied or revoked by a subsequent notice so given.
§ (3) If a person refuses or wilfully neglects to furnish any information or produce any document which he has been required to furnish or produce by a notice under this section he shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £100.
§ (4) If any person in making a claim under section (Maternity pay rebate) above or an application under section (Payments to employees out of Maternity Pay Fund) above or in purporting to comply with a requirement of a notice under this section knowingly or recklessly makes any false statement he shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £400."
§ No. 61, in cause 55, in page 45, leave out line 9.1666
§ No. 63, in Clause 56, page 45, line 27, leave out from beginning to first "the" in line 30.
§ No. 132, in Clause 109, page 93, line12, after "21" insert "(Provisions as to information)".
No. 133, in page 93, line 37, after "sections" insert:
(Provisions as to information) (3) and (4)".
No. 137, in Clause 111, page 95, line13, after "include" insert:
(a) any sums payable out of the National Loans Funds under section (Advances out of National Loans Fund) above;
§ No. 138, in page 95, line 14, leave out "the National Loans" and insert "that".
§ No. 139, in page 95, line 17, after "such" insert "sums or".
No. 140, in page 95, line 17, at end insert:
(2A) There shall be paid out of the Maternity Pay Fund into the Consolidated Fund sums equal to the amount of any expenses incurred by the Secretary of State in exercising his functions under the provisions of this Act relating to maternity pay.
No. 141, in page 95, line 28, at end insert:
except sums which are expressly required to be paid into the Maternity Pay Fund, the Redundancy Fund or the National Insurance Fund.
(5) As respects any increase attributable to the provisions of this Act in the expenses which under section 135(3)(a) of the Social Security Act 1975 are to be paid out of moneys provided by Parliament, subsection (l)(b) above is without prejudice to the provision made by subsection (5) of that section for reimbursement out of the National Insurance Fund.
§ No. 146, in Clause 115, page 99, line 31, leave out from beginning to second "the".
No. 147, in page 99, line 33, after "authority" insert:
(a) where the arrangements relate to the provisions of this Act relating to maternity pay, to make any necessary financial adjustments between the Maternity Pay Fund and any fund established under Northern Irish legislation; and
(b) where the arrangements relate to the provisions of sections 55 to 59 above,
No. 186, in Schedule 15, page 158, line 3, at end insert—
12A. In section 31(4) (repayment from Redundancy Fund in certain cases) for the words "the appropriate allocation to the Redundancy Fund" substitute the words "the amount paid into the Redundancy Fund from the appropriate employment protection allocation".
12B. In section 32(5) (definition of insolvency), at the end of paragraph (a) insert the words "or a receiving order is made against him.
12C. In section 32(6) (definition of insolvency in Scotland)—
§ No. 232, in line 5 in the Title, after "associations;" insert "to provide for the establishment and operation of a Maternity Pay Fund;".
§ Mr. Walker
I am delighted to be able to ask the House to agree with the Lords in these amendments.
The House will recall that the original scheme for maternity pay which required new employers to pay employees for six weeks while they were on maternity leave was strongly criticised both in the House of Commons and the House of Lords. It was claimed that this was unfair on those industries with a high proportion of women employees and that in some sectors, notably the textile industries, it could well have an adverse effect on the employment of women. It was also argued that the requirements would bear particularly heavily on small firms, and particularly those with a large proportion of women employees.
On Report both the right hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior) and my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South-West (Mrs. Wise)—a most unlikely combination—pressed strongly for an alternative scheme, based on central funding and financed by employers contributions only. I acknowledged at the time the strength of this argument and undertook, without any commitment whatsoever, to examine the possibility of 1668 doing what they asked. The number and complexity of these new clauses and the attendant amendments indicate how right I was at the time to spell out all the formidable difficulties. As the House can now see, however, we have overcome them, and I am glad to be able to present a new set of arrangements which I hope and believe will commend themselves to all hon. Members.
Perhaps I may speak briefly about what is admittedly a lengthly set of complex clauses and amendments. The new clauses set out in Amendments Nos. 34 to 42 establish a maternity pay fund on similar lines to the redundancy payments fund. Employers will be required to contribute a small additional amount to their national insurance contribution, which would be used by the Secretary of State for Employment to set up a maternity pay fund from which employers could claim a rebate of any maternity pay they have paid out to their employees. The scheme is devised to be as simple as possible to operate and to fit in with the system already established in the Bill. The only step that is added is that an employer who has complied with the requirements of the Bill to pay maternity pay may apply to the fund for a full rebate of his expenditure subject, of course, to the limits set out in the Bill.
There will be an additional cost of about £ 900,000 a year, which will be the cost of collecting the additional contributions and administering the fund through the offices of the Department of Employment. It is expected that there will be some 220,000 claims for maternity pay in any one year and that by the time the scheme is implemented the annual cost of maternity pay will be about £25 million. This will mean an addition of 0.05 per cent. on the national insurance contribution for employers. This contribution will be paid by employers for all their employees, and not only by employees.
I do not know whether the House wishes me to go into detail on these matters. It may be as well if I rest at this point but express my willingness, the House permitting, to seek to answer any questions that may be raised.
I ought not to leave the matter without saying again that these new clauses 1669 and the amendments are a major change in this part of the Bill. Inevitably, they have had to be made in a very short space of time. Those who have pressed for the changes and, indeed, the whole House, will share my appreciation of those who have worked so hard to make them possible. The changes not only indicate the Government's readiness to listen and to respond to reasoned argument, even after winning a vote on the issue, but they also demonstrate the very real influence of debate in this Chamber.
§ Mr. Hayhoe
The Minister was right to end his remarks with comments about the advantage of the debates we have had on this particular subject, both in Committee and in the House, because the Government started off quite clearly of the view that this was a burden which should be placed upon individual employers of the women concerned. The Opposition argued strongly from the Second Reading debate—my right hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior) and myself at the beginning and end of that debate—and right through the Committee stage. Arguments were produced from the Treasury Bench to the effect that what we were proposing would not be right and that what they had in mind, placing the burden on individual employers, was right.
I am delighted with the way that the argument put forward has won through and that we now have a much fairer spreading of the burden right across the field of employment. Some of the women who might well not have been employed or might have lost jobs if the legislation had gone through in its original form must be thankful, primarily to hon. Members of the Opposition, although we are grateful for the support that came to us from the Government back benches on Report, and for the action that those in another place have taken in order to make this possible. Their Lordly noses can be poked into affairs with great merit to all concerned.
I join with the Minister in saying that this has been a triumph for the democratic process. I only wish that the Government's mind was open on the many other issues on this Bill, where the arguments are as compelling and 1670 powerful and correctly enunciated from these benches. However, we are grateful for this chink of openness and these changes. We associate ourselves with the thanks to those behind the scenes who have done a substantial drafting job in getting these complex provisions into a form which we can now legislate.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Subsequent Lords amendments agreed to [one with special entry.]