HC Deb 18 March 1982 vol 20 cc563-77
Mr. Rooker

I beg to move amendment No. 8, in page 5, line 23 leave out '£60' and insert '£45'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this it will be convenient to take the following amendments: No. 9, in page 5, line 24, leave out subsections (b) and (c) and insert— '(b) normal earnings or £37 whichever shall be less for those whose earnings are less than £45.'.

No. 10, in page 5, line 26, at end add— '(d) There shall be added to such sums an addition (hereinafter called "the child addition") at the rate of £2.15p per week in respect of each dependant for whom each child is paid. The child addition shall be uprated annually to maintain its real value in accordance with subsections (3), (4) and (5) of this section.'.

Mr. Rooker

Although amendment No. 10 affects the money that the sick would receive, it is not precisely tied to amendment No. 8. I give the Government due warning that unless they are prepared to accept amendments Nos. 8 and 10, we shall place on record our opposition to this part of the Bill by dividing on the matter.

We are talking here about the amount of sick pay for low-paid workers. We dealt at length in Committee on this because, unfortunately, when the Bill came to the House it was different. It was based on a different consultative paper to that which was produced way back in April 1980. There have been several consultations and the employers have complained at each step along the road. Nevertheless, during the early parts of the consultation process, representives of employers' organisations made it clear that they thought that the low-paid should nor be penalised and that those whose earnings fell below the limits that the Government had set—which, in the early discussions, I accept was about £35—should not receive less than their average earnings. That was the stand that was taken by employers. I do not know whether that was to dress up their acceptance of other parts of the Bill, which clearly undermined the national insurance scheme. Nevertheless, the employers have moved away from that, as have the Government. We are trying to put that back with these amendments.

First, we think that the earnings limit in the Bill of £60—if we can call it that for the sake of argument—should be reduced to £45 so that someone earning not less than £45 would receive £37 in sick pay. That would be a return to the figures used by the Government during the consulation process.

The Government have moved some way by introducing a third rate of statutory sick pay of £31 per week. Therefore, there are three rates: £25, £31 and £37 per week. The issue has become unnecessarily complicated because of the Government's meanness, aided and abetted by employers.

I should like to put on record the CBI's original view during the consultation process. It held that full-time low-paid employees should receive the minimum payment of £30—the original consultation figure—provided that that did not exceed the employee's normal basic wage. In December, I wrote to the CBI and asked whether it still held the same view. I received the following reply: On the subject of sick pay for low earners, we certainly agreed with the point made in the Green Paper"— that was way back in April 1980— that no employee should be paid more when sick than when fit and working. In the interests of simplicity we were not keen that sickness payments should be paid as a proportion of the normal wage. Our only comment, therefore, was that any employee whose normal wage was at least equal to the minimum level of sick pay of £30 should receive that amount.

I asked whether the CBI was prepared to move any further as we now had a Bill with different figures in it. It replied: We are bound, of course, to look at the bill from the point of view of the employer's interests". We would not expect anything else from the CBI. The deputy director wrote: as I have already mentioned, this includes keeping the employers' statutory sick pay scheme as simple as possible. This may, I am afraid, lead to a "broad brush" approach to certain aspects such as the payment of ESSP at a flat rate". We do not accept that. The CBI has moved some way from its original position on the low paid. I accept that details of amounts in the Bill bear little relation to the original consultation document, but the principle on the low paid is the same.

Funnily enough, the British Institute of Management took exactly the same view. In its original response to the Green Paper, in April 1980, it said: The point is accepted that low earners should not receive more during sickness than in health, but the BIM recommends that they should receive a sum equal to 100 per cent. of their earnings where this is less than £30. That figure of £30 is two years old. The Bill will not come into force until April 1983. I have half a good ground for believing that the show will never get on the road. However, that is another point, which can be raised later.

The BIM continued: The minimum is low enough, and a proportion of wages should therefore not be deducted. I did the same to the BIM as I did to the CBI. I asked the BIM what its views were in December 1981, when the Bill was in Committee. The director general concluded his letter—having explained the position in detail—by saying: For these reasons, we have not raised questions over the difference between £30 and £25. I do not believe that it is a matter which our members would wish us to pursue at the present time. I do not know whether the BIM's members were consulted in the intervening period, because they are both individuals and companies. However, the low paid are being treated unfairly. Obviously, we are grateful for small changes, but the change the Government introduced in Committee will benefit 1 million more low-paid workers slightly more than when the Bill was first presented to the Committee.

I have re-read the Committee proceedings on that point, which was quite complicated. However, the inclusion of a middle rate band at £31 changed the position for 1 million out of 2 million low-paid workers, at an approximate cost of £5 million. That does not go far enough and that is why we have returned to the subject on Report.

We believe that the low paid—by which in this context, we mean only those earning less than £45 per week—should be paid £37 per week or their actual earnings, whichever is the less. The Government should have listened to that argument.

Hon. Members who sat on the Committee know that the Minister wanted to make a concession. He was forced to prolong his speech at the last sitting before the Christmas Recess, because if we had finished that part of the Bill he could not have considered a concession during the recess. At the Committee's first sitting in January, he made a concession. It turned out, however, that he had not even been able to consider the letter sent to him by the Low Pay Unit in the intervening period. It is no use the Minister complaining about that. This was a matter of substance and the Low Pay Unit was in the forefront in making representations to improve the scheme for the low paid. The Minister indicated in December that he was prepared to make a concession, which was a considerable step forward, but the Low Pay Unit was then deprived of the opportunity of a meeting in the intervening period. Although the Minister moved part of the way, that was not satisfactory and it is one reason why we have returned to the matter today.

Amendment No. 10 relates to the quite different matter of the child dependency addition for those receiving sickness benefit. We say that the rate should be £2.15 per week in respect of each dependent child for whom the addition is paid, and that it should be uprated to maintain its real value. The child dependency addition for those on short-term benefit—unemployment and sickness benefit—has been cut by the Government.

The total package for children can be claimed, of course, but because of the child benefit argument raised earlier today there has been a cut in spending power. Leaving aside the 40p argument, the only way in which the Government can justify the argument that the package for child dependants is the same as by pointing to the fact that they changed the formula for calculating the child dependency addition—with the result that by November the Government will have cut £2.17 per child per week from the income of the unemployed and the sick. As we cannot legislate to the nearest penny, the amendment takes it to the nearest 5p.

To do what the Government have done has involved no law, no statutory instrument, and no new formula has had to be approved by the House. The Government have used existing legislation in a very warped way. They may claim that this was done once by the Labour Government, but so what? That is no excuse when the Government are in the business of cutting benefits in real terms, which the Labour Government were not. When the Government are in the business of abolishing national insurance benefits, to rig the formula for the child dependency addition so that families lose that amount of money per child per week is not good enough, and I know that my hon. Friends will have something to say about it. It is a scandal.

In the week that will end with Mother's Day and when the child benefit to new mothers has been cut back in arrears by four weeks from Monday this week, we are trying to put right a small part of the damage done by the Government to the children of the sick and the unemployed.

9.30 pm
Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

I support my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker). This is a central area of the Bill. We have grave reservations about responsibility for the first eight weeks of sick pay passing from the Government to employers, but there is even more concern about the level at which benefits will be set.

My first question to the Minister on this group of amendments is to ask whether we are talking about the amounts which will actually be paid. Will the £60, £45 and £25 actually be applied, or will they be uprated before the scheme comes into operation? These figures were put forward in the Bill in November of last year. I do not know whether the Minister was able to anticipate the levels of inflation that were likely to occur between then and the date when the legislation will come into operation. The Minister should make clear the level of figures which will apply.

We ought to be concerned that the amounts are being increased in line with prices, yet the crucial point is how many people will fall into each band according to the rates of pay.

Perhaps I should remind the House about how sickness benefit is made up at present. An amount is paid to the individual; it may be enhanced if the individual has a dependent spouse and it may be further enhanced for a dependent child. To make it simple for employers, the Government are no longer putting on the additions for dependants. They will pay out simply a flat rate to the individual, irrespective whether that individual has dependants.

The Government claim that £37 is almost the amount of money that would have been paid to an adult male with a dependent wife. Of course, it takes no account of the child dependant. Straight away, therefore, people receiving this form of benefit are likely to be worse off than they were under the existing scheme if they have more than one child dependant.

The Government say that, if the person is in real hardship, application may be made for supplementary benefit. I think that the Government accept that those people who are getting most of their income from sickness or unemployment benefit are just the groups who do not realise often their entitlement to topping up from supplementary benefit and do not apply for it.

It is harsh for the Government to expect someone who is claiming sickness benefit to make a further claim for supplementary benefit. The crucial thing is that we choose levels which are generous, if we are accepting the broad-brush approach. The Government have not chosen generous levels. Our amendments have been put down to try to persuade the Government to be a little more generous.

Mr. Cryer

Does my hon. Friend accept that it would be particularly onerous for a person on sick pay to have to apply for a topping up by supplementary benefit when, because he is sick, he should be at home in bed presumably? He would have to trail to the supplementary benefit office, and often have to wait for a long time to make his application.

Mr. Bennett

I accept that. The point was made repeatedly in Committee that it ought to be made as simple as possible for someone who is ill to get all the benefit he needs without having to exert himself in any way which may be difficult.

The Government are talking of a payment of £37 to everyone who earns more than £60. That amount is not all that generous. But if a person is off for a week, since he will not receive any money for the first three days, he will not get the £37 anyway. He will receive three-sevenths less than that—in other words, about £15 less. That means that the amount of benefit will be much closer to £22 than £37. I do not know if the Minister has tried to survive on that amount of money per week. It is not easy.

Let us consider the group that amendment No. 8 is designed to deal with, those who have earnings between £45 and £60. In normal times, it is not easy to survive on earnings like that, but if the person is off sick his benefit will be only £31. Again, because of the three days when he receives no benefit, he will get £12 less.

People earning between £45 and £60 a week must have sufficient savings to tide them over in the week in which they are ill, when they will receive only about £19, or they must go to the supplementary benefit office and obtain the extra. That makes life difficult for them.

Then we come down to those earning even less than £37 per week, who are told that they go down to an even smaller sum—£25. We are saying that those in the very low-paid jobs should receive the same when they are off sick as they would get from their normal wage. In other words, their sickness benefit should be based on their normal wage, and not on a reduced sum of £25.

It was said earlier in the debate that we were talking about people who were off work for one or two weeks A person who is off work for one or two weeks has the three non-qualifying days to start with, and the sum that he receives is very low for one week anyway. We are talking about people receiving about £15. The Bill says of the bottom category: Statutory sick pay shall be payable by an employer at the weekly rate of—… (c) £25". As there are the three days for which the person who is sick receives no money, we are really talking about £15, a miserable sum.

Those whose earnings are less than £45 a week will not be the sort of people who have savings and who can carry themselves over the week when they are sick. They are struggling to make ends meet from day to day. In suddenly telling someone who is earning only perhaps £39 or £40 per week that he will have less coming in, going right down to £15, the Government are making it impossible for him to survive on the sickness benefit. That means an extra trip to qualify for supplementary benefit, something that many people strongly resent if they have to do it while their health is poor.

The Government say that it is very important that no one should receive more money, or even the same money, when he is sick than when he is working, for otherwise malingerers will be encouraged. That is very unlikely during the first fortnight, because of the first three days when the person concerned receives no money at all. If the money received is averaged out over the first fortnight we see that he is almost bound to be worse off even if the sickness pay is based on actual wages rather than on the £25 that the Minister suggests for those on the lowest incomes.

The Minister must re-examine the matter, not only out of concern for individuals but because of the problems of administration. It is crazy to push extra people on to supplementary benefit, saying that more people must go through the scheme for sick pay from their employer and then find out how they can obtain extra benefit, going to the supplementary benefit office to receive the extra money.

It would be simpler for the Government to start the sick pay scheme at a decent level and save people having to go through two sets of administration, unless—and this is our suspicion—the Government are out to save money, thinking that people will be confused and muddled and will not realise that, not having received an adequate amount in sickness benefit, they are entitled to go for supplementary benefit. If that is so, the Government are hoping that people will not receive all the benefits that they need. It is far better to give them the money in the sickness benefit.

Amendment No. 10 deals with retaining an addition for children. The people who are hardest hit by the measure are those with children, who receive no addition. The Government have said that people would resent their employer prying into their private lives to find out how many dependent children they had. That argument was advanced in Committee. I suggest that most people who work for an employer would not mind telling him how many children they had if that would ensure that they received extra benefit.

The Minister also used the argument that it was too complicated to pay out to individuals different rates depending upon the number of dependent children. I accept that that makes the scheme that little bit more complicated, but there is a simple solution. If the Government really wanted to simplify it, if they were actually to raise child benefit to a respectable level, then they could take out the need to have child dependent allowances paid with unemployment or sickness benefit or anything else. As long as they insist on keeping child benefit at such a low level, they cannot possibly claim that a child can be kept for a week on the amount of money available from child benefit.

Therefore, when someone is sick or unemployed he needs to have child dependent allowance added on to his benefit. I suggest that we have put down a minimal amount in suggesting that there should be £2.15 added. We can make a strong argument for a much larger sum than that, but there was some hope that the Government might be looking at the scheme.

I realise that as the scheme has gone along it has been the CBI which has exercised the veto. It has said to the Government that it is too complicated to do this. It does not matter about the fairness or the justice of the scheme; as far as the individual claimant, his family or his children are concerned, it is too difficult to administer.

The Minister must come back and say whether the scheme is now worth pursuing, if it is going to cause all this individual hardship, when the basic reason for the Government pressing ahead was their claim that it would save a considerable number of staff. Perhaps the Government can tell us how many staff will be saved and whether, as they have gone into the detailed adminstration, they have not discovered that more and more staff—possibly at higher grades—will have to be employed and that therefore the actual cash saving to the Government, by pushing responsibility on to the employer, has greatly diminished.

Certainly as we have gone into it the hardship for the individual claimant has become more and more apparent. I therefore appeal to the Government to accept amendments 8, 9 and 10 and to ensure that those who are sick have an adequate amount of money to get themselves fit and well so that they can look after their family and their family's responsibilites during that period without having to apply for supplementary benefit.

Mr. Rossi

I can possibly help the hon. Member for Stockport, North (Mr. Bennett). He asked me about the figures that appear in the Bill. I can tell him that in a sense they are hypothetical. They are the rates which would have applied had it been possible to introduce the scheme this April. They will be uprated and renewed by my hon. Friend this coming autumn with a view to increasing them from next April, so that the figures we are talking about will be higher than those that are in the Bill, although I am not in a position at this stage, for obvious reasons, to say what the final figures will be.

Having made what I hope are those welcome remarks to the Opposition, I repeat a pledge that I gave to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker) in Committee when we were discussing this matter. I said that I would return to it; I am doing so now. I am happy to repeat the pledge I gave him in Committee.

However, we must now part company. I am unable to accept the amendments. Therefore, the hon. Gentleman must do what he has threatened to do, and that is to divide the House on them. The effect of amendments Nos. 8 and 9 would be that the rates of SSP would be £37 for anyone earning £45 or more a week, and £37 or full wages, whichever is the less, for anyone earning below that figure.

There was a long discussion on this subject in Committee. The Government brought forward an amendment in response to the criticisms that were made on the basis that it was said that the Bill was too harsh on those with low earnings. We introduced the middle rate of SSP so that those earning between £45 and £60 a week will receive £31 in SSP. However, as we said in Committee, there is nothing to prevent an employer from paying what he chooses above those statutory minimums. He is required not to fall below the statutory minimum. As we all know, many firms today pay full wages and will continue to do so. We welcome that.

9.45 pm

The statutory minimum affects the amount that the employer can in future recoup and put back into his company, which he cannot do at the moment when he gives sick pay to his employees. There may be an incentive, because he is recouping part of the wage, to be more generous than he has been. Those employers who have not paid full wages may be encouraged to do so now that there is a statutory minimum that they can recoup in the way that I have suggested. In trying to meet the criticisms, the Government have found more money. I must tell the House that we cannot go any further nor would it be right to take away the discretion from employers in the way that would happen were we to accept this amendment.

In amendment No. 10 we are being asked to introduce a child addition to SSP of £2.15 a week and to uprate that in line with other SSP rates. The provision of a child addition was raised in the Green Paper published in April 1980, and in the light of comments on that proposal we decided that it would not be a desirable concept to introduce into this scheme.

There were two main reasons for that decision, both of which are still valid. First, there is the question of privacy. Any addition in respect of a dependent child could be payable only on production of proof, perhaps by showing the employer the child benefit book. But an employee may have good reasons for not telling his employer about his personal circumstances. While he would be free not to ask for the child benefit addition, it would put him in a difficult position because he would be conscious of concealing something which at present he has no reason to believe his employer needs to know. Related to that is the possible extra work for the employer, who may have to check the validity of the proof in some cases where, for example, the child has a name different from that of the employee. Employers were almost unanimous in rejecting the idea of a child addition for those reasons.

The second reason for rejecting the idea is that it runs counter to the philosophy of the scheme. SSP is a statutory remuneration during sickness and it has never been a feature of employers' payments to make them variable according to the employee's family circumstances. Certainly no occupational sick pay scheme that we have examined makes such provision. That would be a completely new departure that we do not wish to introduce in the Bill.

The House has agreed that the right way to provide for dependent children is through child benefit. As the House knows, child dependency additions to national insurance benefits are being phased out and it would be a curious anomaly or a nonsense to introduce them into sick pay. For that reason, I invite the House to reject the amendments.

Mr. Cryer

Yet again we have an example of a Minister speaking on behalf of employers with scant regard for employees. For example, the Minister said that it is not right to take away the discretion of employers to pay full wages, as if that were a frequent occurrence in sickness. We know full well that it is a continuing struggle for workers to maintain their rights.

I am particularly concerned because the Minister said that he intends to introduce a statutory instrument to alter the figures in the Bill—the notional figures—that are to be uprated. I am sorry that he cannot give us a guide about those upratings. Therefore, emphasis on the figures is not as great as the child addition.

We are talking about people on very low pay who are struggling week by week. Clearly, under this scheme, sickness is a serious blow for them and they will be financially penalised. The suggestion put forward by my hon. Friends that there should be a child addition is extremely reasonable.

The Minister said that people may resent an intrusion into their privacy if they have to go to their employer. However, they ought to have the choice. It was suggested that if they feel it is a great intrusion, they need not go to their employer; they can forgo the child addition. I can hardly imagine that they would be prepared to make that sacrifice in certain circumstances. Incidentally, it also emphasises the importance of a national scheme that the Government are currently breaking up in this legislation and using the break-up as an excuse for not providing adequate financial assistance for people who are among the lowest paid in the land.

The petty excuse of intrusion of privacy that the Minister put forward should be left to the discretion of the claimants. They would have to decide whether the application for £2.15 a week for each additional child was worth the explanation and information that they have to give. There might conceivably be a minority of cases—a tiny minority—where that might apply. However, the vast majority could make the application, and the choice should be for them.

In any case, in the twee never-never land of Conservative philosophy, would not employers in small firms know all about their employees? They would know how many children their employees had, what they were doing in school, how dependent they were, and so on. Is that not, in the twee never-never world of the Conservatives, how all small employers behave? If not, the Conservatives are hardly portraying their image of supporting small businesses in the way that they often try and do.

The child addition runs counter to the Government's philosophy of exploiting those least able to defend themselves and of wrecking a perfectly good State scheme, but it represents a slight move towards making the scheme a little more acceptable to those least able to defend themselves.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

Will my hon. Friend confirm that the whole idea of getting rid of the dependent child additions to unemployment and sickness benefit was on the basis that child benefit would be set at a level to remove the need for it? Sadly, since the introduction of child benefit, it was put in at too low a level. However, it has not been increased in real terms. It has been increased only in times of inflation. Not until we can increase it in real terms will there be any case for removing the dependent child allowance.

Mr. Cryer

I was going to come to precisely that point. As my hon. Friend said, the removal of that benefit and the failure to make it adequate has made this amendment even more important. We recognise that this is an attempt to make better a very poor scheme. Of course, it would be far better if the Government recognised their obligation, but they have not done that.

We are trying, by whatever means are available to us in this legislation, to ease the position of the lowest paid who suffer from sickness and ill health. It surely behoves people who, if they are sick, receive full pay without any diminution to bear in mind those who are not in that position and to try to frame legislation to try to meet minimum obligations. That is all that the amendment seeks to do. I shall therefore support my hon. Friends in the Lobby tonight in favour of this reasonable amendment.

Mr. Rooker

I want to put on record the fact that amendments Nos. 8 and 10, which relate to the change from £60 to £45 and "the child addition", were the subject of tied votes in Committee. I suspect that that is one of the reasons why we are allowed to raise the matter again this evening. The Government could not get a majority against an addition for children. They could not get a majority against the proposal to drop the £60 figure to £45. Naturally, on 19 January we lost both amendments on the Chairman's casting vote.

I am grateful to the Minister for putting on record again the Government's clear and unqualified commitment to increase the sums in the Bill at some time following the review around November of this year, before the Bill comes into operation. The Minister said on 19 January that the review will be carried out around November, using the latest available figures for price increases. I told my hon. Friend the Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer) that the reason why we had not been given a figure was that the historic figure method would be used, not the forecasting method. So the figure in the review will be the latest figure that is available in November. The Minister went on: Once the review is complete, the Secretary of State will decide on the increase in the rates of statutory sick pay".—[Official Report, Standing Committee B, 19 January 1982, c. 225–6.]

Of course, there would be a public outcry if the increase in statutory sick pay did not follow the same figure for the price increases. The Minister is not bound to do that as the Bill is drafted, but there would be an outcry among working people and—it is to be hoped—among some of the more enlightened employers.

When this system comes into operation it will be extremely complicated. I myself believe that it will not come into operation next April. There will be a fudge, a delay. I say that because I know that the Government are planning to hold seminars for no fewer than 600, 000 employers between September this year and March next year to explain the operation of employers' statutory sick pay. As far as I know, there are no plans for seminars for representatives of the employees. However, 600, 000 employers will be dragged through 540 local NHSS offices to have the scheme explained to them. As the day of reckoning comes, I believe that employers will realise that the scheme will be too complicated to operate, and will have it delayed.

In the meantime, I ask my hon. Friends to join me in the Division Lobby.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 53, Noes 130.

Division No. 99] [9.58 pm
Archer, Rt Hon Peter McKay, Allen (Penistone)
Bennett, Andrew(St'kp't N) Mikardo, Ian
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Brown, Ronald W.(H'ckn'y S) Newens, Stanley
Cartwright, John Parry, Robert
Cryer, Bob Penhaligon, David
Cunliffe, Lawrence Powell, Raymond(Ogmore)
Cunningham, G.(Islington S) Prescott, John
Dalyell, Tam Radice, Giles
Davis, Terry(B'ham, Stechf'd) Rooker, J.W.
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) Roper, john
Dixon, Donald Ross, Ernest (Dundee West)
Dobson, Frank Rowlands, Ted
Dormand, Jack Skinner, Dennis
Field, Frank Smith, Rt Hon J. (N Lanark)
George, Bruce Snape, Peter
Grant, George(Morpeth) Spearing, Nigel
Hamilton, W.W. (C'tral Fife) Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Stott, Roger
Haynes, Frank Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Home Robertson, John Wainwright, E.(Dearne V)
Hooley, Frank Walker, Rt Hon H.(D'caster)
Howells, Geraint Welsh, Michael
Janner, Hon Greville Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
John, Brynmor Woolmer, Kenneth
Lamond, James
Leighton, Ronald Tellers for the Ayes:
Mc Cartney, Hugh Mr. George Morton and
Mc Donald, Dr Oonagh Mr. James Tinn.
Alexander, Richard Brinton, Tim
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Brooke, Hon Peter
Aspinwall, Jack Brown, Michael(Brigg&Sc'n)
Atkinson, David(B'm'th, E) Browne, John(Winchester)
Bendall, Vivian Bruce-Gardyne, John
Benyon, Thomas(A'don) Buck, Antony
Berry, Hon Anthony Budgen, Nick
Bevan, David Gilroy Butcher, John
Biffen, Rt Hon John Cadbury, Jocelyn
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Carlisle, Kenneth(Lincoln)
Blaker, Peter Clarke, Kenneth(Rushcliffe)
Boscawen, Hon Robert Cope, John
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Dorrell, Stephen
Bright, Graham Dover, Denshore
Dunn, Robert(Dartford) Needham, Richard
Dykes, Hugh Nelson, Anthony
Eggar, Tim Neubert, Michael
Elliott, Sir William Newton, Tony
Faith, Mrs Sheila Normanton, Tom
Fletcher-Cooke, Sir Charles Onslow, Cranley
Fraser, Peter (South Angus) Page, John (Harrow, West)
Goodlad, Alastair Page, Richard (SW Herts)
Gow, Ian Patten, Christopher(Bath)
Grant, Anthony(Harrow C) Percival, Sir Ian
Gray, Hamish Prentice, Rt Hon Reg
Greenway, Harry Proctor, K.Harvey
Griffiths, PeterPortsm 'thN) Raison, RtHon Timothy
Gummer, JohnSelwyn Renton, Tim
Haselhurst, Alan RhodesJames, Robert
Hawksley, Warren Ridley, HonNicholas
Heddle, John Rossi, Hugh
Hogg, HonDouglas(Gr'th'm) Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Hordern, Peter Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Hunt, David(Wirral) Shaw, Michael(Scarborough)
Hunt, John(Ravensbourne) Shelton, William(Streatham)
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Shepherd, Colin(Hereford)
Kershaw, Sir Anthony Sims, Roger
Knight, Mrs Jill Speller, Tony
Knox, David Spicer, Jim (West Dorset)
Lawrence, Ivan Squire, Robin
Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel Stainton, Keith
LeMarchant, Spencer Stanbrook, Ivor
Lester, Jim(Beeston) Stanley, John
Lloyd, Ian (Havant& W'loo) Stevens, Martin
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Stradling Thomas, J.
Loveridge, John Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Lyell, Nicholas Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Macfarlane, Neil Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
MacGregor, John Thompson, Donald
Major, John Thorne, Neil(Ilford South)
Marlow, Antony Townend, John(Bridlington)
Marshall, Michael(Arundel) Townsend, CyrilD, (B'heath)
Mather, Carol Viggers, Peter
Maude, Rt Hon Sir Angus Waddington, David
Mawby, Ray Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir D.
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Waller, Gary
Mayhew, Patrick Ward, John
Mellor, David Watson, John
Meyer, Sir Anthony Wells, Bowen
Miller, Hal(B'grove) Wheeler, John
Mills, Iain(Meriden) Wickenden, Keith
Moate, Roger Williams, D.(Montgomery)
Montgomery, Fergus Wolfson, Mark
Moore, John
Morgan, Geraint Tellers for the Noes:
Murphy, Christopher Mr. Tristan Garel-Jones and
Myles, David Mr. Ian Lang.

Question accordingly negatived.

It being after Ten o'clock, further consideration of the Bill stood adjourned.

Ordered, That, at this day's sitting, the Social Security and Housing Benefits Bill may be proceeded with, though opposed, until any hour.—[Mr. Thompson.]

Bill, as amended (in the Standing Committee), again considered.

Amendment proposed: No. 10, in page 5, line 26, at end add— (d) There shall be added to such sums an addition (hereinafter called 'the child addition') at the rate of £2.15p per week in respect of each dependant for whom each child is paid. The child addition shall be uprated annually to maintain its real value in accordance with subsections (3), (4) and (5) of this section.".—[Mr. Rooker.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 51, Noes 127.

Division No. 100] [10.11 pm
Bennett, Andrew(St'kp'tN) Parry, Robert
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Penhaligon, David
Brown, Ronald W. (H'ckn'y S) Powell, Raymond(Ogmore)
Cryer, Bob Prescott, John
Dalyell, Tam Radice, Giles
Davis, Terry (B'ham, Stechf'd) Rooker, J.W.
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) Roper, John
Dixon, Donald Ross, Ernest (Dundee West)
Dobson, Frank Rowlands, Ted
Dormand, Jack Skinner, Dennis
Field, Frank Smith, Rt Hon J.(N Lanark)
Grant, George(Morpeth) Snape, Peter
Hamilton, W. W. (C'tral Fife) Spearing, Nigel
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Steel, Rt Hon David
Home Robertson, John Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)
Hooley, Frank Stott, Roger
Howells, Geraint Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Janner, Hon Greville Tinn, James
John, Brynmor Wain wright, E.(Dearne V)
Lamond, James Walker, Rt Hon H.(D'caster)
Leighton, Ronald Welsh, Michael
McCartney, Hugh Wilson, Gordon(Dundee E)
McDonald, DrOonagh Woolmer, Kenneth
McKay, Allen (Penistone)
Mikardo, Ian Tellers for the Ayes:
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Mr. Frank Haynes and
Morton, George Mr. Lawrence Cunliffe.
Newens, Stanley
Alexander, Richard Dykes, Hugh
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Eggar, Tim
Aspinwall, Jack Elliott, Sir William
Atkinson, David(B'm'th, E) Faith, Mrs Sheila
Bendall, Vivian Fletcher-Cooke, Sir Charles
Benyon, Thomas(A'don) Fraser, Peter (South Angus)
Berry, Hon Anthony Garel-Jones, Tristan
Bevan, David Gilroy Goodlad, Alastair
Biffen, Rt Hon John Gow, Ian
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Grant, Anthony(Harrow C)
Blaker, Peter Gray, Hamish
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Greenway, Harry
Bright, Graham Griffiths, PeterPortsm'th N)
Brinton, Tim Gummer, John Selwyn
Brooke, Hon Peter Hawksley, Warren
Brown, Michael(Brigg & Sc'n) Heddle, John
Browne, John(Winchester) Hogg, Hon Douglas(Gr'th'm)
Bruce-Gardyne, John Hordern, Peter
Buck, Antony Hunt, David(Wirral)
Budgen, Nick Hunt, John(Ravensbourne)
Butcher, John Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Cadbury, Jocelyn Kershaw, Sir Anthony
Carlisle, Kenneth(Lincoln) Knight, Mrs Jill
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Knox, David
Cope, John Lawrence, Ivan
Dorrell, Stephen Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel
Dover, Denshore LeMarchant, Spencer
Dunn, Robert(Dartford) Lester, Jim(Beeston)
Lloyd, Ian (Havant& W'loo) Renton, Tim
Lloyd, Peter(Fareham) Rhodes James, Robert
Loveridge, John Ridley, Hon Nicholas
Lyell, Nicholas Rossi, Hugh
Macfarlane, Neil Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
MacGregor, John Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Major, John Shaw, Michael(Scarborough)
Marlow, Antony Shelton, William(Streatham)
Martin, M(G'gowS'burn) Shepherd, Colin(Hereford)
Mather, Carol Sims, Roger
Maude, Rt Hon Sir Angus Speller, Tony
Mawby, Ray Spicer, Jim (West Dorset)
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Squire, Robin
Mayhew, Patrick Stainton, Keith
Mellor, David Stanbrook, Ivor
Meyer, SirAnthony Stanley, John
Miller, Hal(B'grove) Stevens, Martin
Mills, Iain(Meriden) Stradling Thomas, J.
Moate, Roger Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Montgomery, Fergus Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Moore, John Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Morgan, Geraint Thompson, Donald
Murphy, Christopher Thorne, Neil(IlfordSouth)
Myles, David Townend, John(Bridlington)
Needham, Richard Townsend, Cyril D, (B'heath)
Nelson, Anthony Viggers, Peter
Neubert, Michael Waddington, David
Newton, Tony Waller, Gary
Normanton, Tom Ward, John
Onslow, Cranley Watson, John
Page, John (Harrow, West) Wells, Bowen
Page, Richard (SW Herts) Wheeler, John
Patten, Christopher(Bath) Wolfson, Mark
Percival, Sirlan
Prentice, Rt Hon Reg Tellers for the Noes:
Proctor, K. Harvey Mr. Robert Boscawen and
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy Mr. Ian Lang.

Question accordingly negatived.

Amendment made: No. 11, in page 5, line 30, leave out from 'in' to 'qualifying' in line 31 and insert 'which that day falls'.—[Mr. Alexander.]

Mr. Newton

I beg to move amendment No. 14. in page 5, line 41, after 'may' insert— ', in the tax year in which the review is carried out, '.

This fulfils an undertaking in Committee. It clarifies what was in any case the intention.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

In a sense the amendment clarifies what was intended, but I do not think that it clarifies when in the tax year the uprating will take place. In the last debate the Minister told us that it would take place in November of this year. It is too vague to say that it will take place in the tax year. It would be better if there were a clear indication of when it will take place so that employers who have payrolls on computers have plenty of time to bring the uprating into operation. In the first year, the sooner it can be done, the sooner wages staffs can be trained on the actual rather than hypothetical figures.

By custom and practice in recent years the other upratings have taken place at the same time as the Budget. If the uprating in future takes place in November it would be helpful if there was an indication from the Government as to whether it will always be done in November or whether it will be moved to suit the Government if they are producing a mini-budget.

Mr. Newton

In the light of what the hon. Member has said I might spell out that the effect of the amendment is to ensure that if the Secretary of State lays an order increasing the rates of SSP he shall have to do so in the same tax year as that in which he has reviewed the rates. That is the legal effect of the amendment. My hon. Friend the Minister for Social Security said in Committee: The Government will carry out the review in or around November".—[Official Report, Standing Committee B; 19 January 1982, c. 226.]

I hope that that gives the hon. Gentleman the answer that he needs.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Rossi

I beg to move amendment No. 16, in page 6, line 31 at end insert '; and shall make such transitional provision as the Secretary of State considers expedient in respect of periods of entitlement running at that date.'.

The amendment provides a power to make transitional provision in the uprating order in respect of periods of entitlement to statutory sick pay which are running when the uprating takes place.

It is intended to use this power to provide that an employee remains in the same band of entitlement throughout the period of entitlement, even if his normal weekly earnings fall below the uprated earnings threshold for that band.

The proposed use of this power will be beneficial both to employees, for the reasons that I have given, and to employers, who will be spared the extra administrative work, when there is an uprating, of reapplying the earnings test for all their employees who are currently sick.

Amendment agreed to.

Back to
Forward to