HC Deb 12 November 1976 vol 919 cc809-11

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Mr. Awdry

Although the Bill is a purely consolidation measure, it is highly technical and extremely complicated. The Joint Committee considered the Bill for a second time because of the passage through Parliament of the Supplementary Benefit (Amendment) Bill. The Joint Committee has taken account of the amendments proposed to existing legislation in the Amendment Bill and has therefore amended the consolidation measure accordingly. The new Bill—the Supplementary Benefit (Amendment) Bill—has only two clauses and one schedule, but it is a grotesque example of legislation by cross reference and I doubt whether any Member of the House could make sense of it, even if he or she were to study it for an hour or two with a towel round the head.

I believe that this consolidation measure, which affects millions of our citizens, will greatly help all those who are connected in any way with the administration of supplementary benefits, and I believe that this is a major achievement.

This was the last Bill which the Joint Committee handled under the chairmanship of Lord Simon of Glaisdale, and as a member of the Committee I wish to take this opportunity of paying my tribute to him. As the House knows, Lord Simon served as Member for Middlesbrough, West from 1951 to 1962. He was Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department from 1957 to 1958, Financial Secretary to the Treasury from 1958 to 1959 and Solicitor-General from 1959 to 1962. For nine years he was President of the Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division, and he was appointed a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary in 1971.

Lord Simon has been Chairman of the Joint Committee on Consolidation Bills since 1972. He has borne a great deal of the burden of the work of the Committee and, indeed, has followed the legislation through the House of Lords. He has taken us through highly complicated and difficult legislation with great clarity, courtesy and good humour. I am sure that he never had to deal with a more complicated measure than the Supplementary Benefits Bill which we are now discussing. We have relied enormously on his experience, advice and expertise and Parliament is greatly in his debt.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Law Officers' Department (Mr. Arthur Davidson)

I, too, should like to pay tribute to the work of Lord Simon of Glaisdale, and, for that matter, to the Joint Consolidation Committee. My right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General paid tribute to Lord Simon on Second Reading.

I agree with what the hon. Member for Chippenham (Mr. Awdry) has said. This is a major feat of consolidation and an excellent example of the effect that the Committee has had on the simplification of statute law. If none of us has to put a towel round his head, that in itself will be a tribute to the work of the Committee.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 1 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 2 to 32 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

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