§ The Solicitor-General
I beg to move amendment No. 4, in page 5, line 39, leave out from 'income' to 'of' in line 42 and insert—'and disposable capital are treated as not exceeding the prescribed limits at any time when he is in receipt of supplementary benefit under the Supplementary Benefits Act 1976 and that a person's disposable income is treated as not exceeding the prescribed limit at any time when he is in receipt'.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bernard Weatherill)
With this it will be convenient to take Government amendments Nos. 5 and 6.
§ The Solicitor-General
The amendment implements an undertaking that I gave in Committee. If it is accepted by the House, the capital of those in receipt of supplementary benefit will not be taken into account. Amendments Nos. 5 and 6 seek to achieve a similar effect. They will ensure that capital will not be taken into account when an applicant is in receipt of family income supplement. As I said in Committee, I have given the matter further thought and I have consulted the Lord Chancellor.
There are two differences between supplementary benefit and FIS that are relevant to the argument. One is that there is no limit on capital with regard to the granting of family income supplement. The other is that once family income supplement has been awarded, it is paid for one year, even if the recipient's income rises to a level at which he would no longer be eligible. Those are two not insignificant financial differences in the opinion of my right hon. and noble Friend and myself, which distinguish that position from that of a person in receipt of supplementary benefit.
Therefore, I am happy to be able to implement the undertaking that I gave with regard to supplementary benefit, but for the reasons that I have given I cannot go further and extend the exemption to family income supplement.
§ Mr. Arthur Davidson
I thank the Solicitor-General for ensuring that no one in receipt of supplementary benefit will have to make a contribution out of capital 840 towards criminal legal aid. I am grateful to the Solicitor-General for carrying out the undertaking given in Committee, which was in response to an amendment that we moved. He has been as good as his word.
I would have hoped that the Solicitor-General could have done the same in regard to those in receipt of family income supplement because I think that he would agree that it is wrong that those who live on the Government defined poverty line should have to make a contribution out of capital. That applies to those in receipt of family income supplement. However, I appreciate the distinction that the hon. and learned Gentleman has made between family income supplement and supplementary benefit. Therefore, I shall not press our amendments, much as I would like to see those on family income supplement not having to make any contribution out of capital.
§ Amendment agreed to.