HC Deb 02 April 1979 vol 965 cc1126-7
Mr. Harold Walker

I beg to move amendment No. 3, in page 4, line 40, leave out 'passing' and insert 'coming into force'.

This merely corrects a drafting error to bring subsection (4)(b) into line with the corresponding provision in subsection (4)(a).

Amendment agreed to.

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

12.30 a.m.

Mr. James Lamond

I should like to say a few words about subsection (1)(b), which lays down a period of 12 months beginning with the relevant date or within such further period as the Secretary of State may allow. That is for making a claim under the clause.

It has been strongly represented to me by trade union officials in the Oldham area that they consider 12 months to be an insufficient period in which to make claims. The matter is quite complex, especially when we begin to consider the dependants who may be involved. It takes some time before information of this kind, even with the best of publicity, reaches the ears of many of the people who are entitled to make claims.

As my hon. Friend will know from his experience in the Oldham area, quite often it will be towards the end of the 12 months before news of the scheme has reached everyone who is eligible, especially when large numbers of people are involved. I realise that there is a provision here for a further period such as the Secretary of State may allow, but on behalf of the people who may have claims I am asking the Secretary of State to be generous in his interpretation of the subsection. I hope that he will be prepared to extend it, as he has with other things in the past. I know that he takes a generous view. I hope that he will in this case also.

Mr. Harold Walker

I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, East (Mr. Lamond) has not overlooked—I am sure he has not—that the relevant date is not the date of commencement of the Act but the date on which the person becomes eligible for the appropriate benefit from the Department of Health and Social Security. It seems to me that 12 months is a reasonable time. None the less, as my hon. Friend rightly pointed out, we have provided an opportunity for the Secretary of State to exercise his discretion by the words or within such further period as the Secretary of State may allow. In clause 5 the Secretary of State has some discretion in reconsidering whether a payment should be made on certain grounds. I think my hon. Friend will be assured that there is ample discretion for the Secretary of State. We shall take note of what my hon. Friend said about exercising that discretion in a flexible way.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 4, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 5 to 8 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

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