HC Deb 23 March 1982 vol 20 cc886-90

Amendments made: No. 74, in page 49, line 26, leave out from 'there' to 'In' in line 28 and insert 'are inserted the following subsections—

  1. "(6) Where any amount is recoverable under regulations made by virtue of subsection (2)(ii) above it may, without prejudice to any other method of recovery, be recovered by deduction from any familiy income supplement or from any benefit under the Social Security Act 1975 or the Child Benefit Act 1975.
  2. (7)'.

No. 75, in page 53, line 28, leave out from beginning to 'In' in line 29 and insert '(3) After subsection (2) there are inserted the following subsections—

  1. "(2A) Where any amount is recoverable under regulations made by virtue of subsection (2)(dd) above, it may, without prejudice to any other method of recovery, be recovered by deduction from prescribed benefits.
  2. (2B)'.

No. 76 in page 57 leave out lines 3 to 5 and insert— '36. Neither section 141(2) of the principal Act nor section 10(1) of the Social Security Act 1980 (duty of the Secretary of State to refer proposals for regulations to the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council and the Social Security Advisory Committee) shall apply—'.[Mr. Newton.]

Order for Third Reading read.

[Queen's Consent, on behalf of the Crown, signified]

Motion made and Question proposed, That the Bill be now read the Third time.—[Mr. Rossi.]

10.04 pm
Mr. James Molyneaux (Antrim, South)

I shall be brief but I wish, on behalf of my party and the people of Northern Ireland, to express our gratitude to the hon. Members for Pontypridd (Mr. John), Stockport, North (Mr. Bennett) and Wood Green (Mr. Race) for ensuring that the needs and the interests of the people of Northern Ireland were not neglected during the Bill's Committee stage. Those hon. Members, in the debates on clause 7, drew attention to the apparent intention to relate the value of payment to what was called the general level of prices obtaining in Great Britain. It was pointed out by the hon. Gentlemen that, although prices in Great Britain would provide a yardstick for the rate of payment mentioned in clause 7 and would apply that to Northern Ireland, apparently no account whatever was to be taken of the level of prices in Northern Ireland, which tends to be much higher than that in Great Britain. The absurdity was to be increased by the intention to introduce separate legislation for Northern Ireland. That legislation in all its essential parts would be identical to the text of the Bill that we are debating this evening but the scale would be related to prices in Great Britain, not in Northern Ireland.

The three hon. Gentlemen pressed that case, which happened to be our case, so effectively that the Minister of Social Security, who during his distinguished career in the Northern Ireland Office made himself fully conversant with all the special needs of the Province—and we are extremely grateful to him for all that he achieved during his period there—undertook to ask his advisers to examine and report on the point raised.

The hon. Member for Stockport, North has been kind enough to furnish me with a copy of the Minister's reply, which I gather has been circulated to other hon. Members who served on the Committees. In that reply the Minister explains that the uprating will be determined in relation to the general level of prices in the United Kingdom as a whole. For that we are very grateful. The Minister goes on to point out that there is not and never has been a price index for Great Britain alone, and I therefore assume that the draftsmen preparing the Bill for Great Britain alone decided to tidy up the operation and invent a price index for Great Britain alone. Presumably that is the reason for, and the history of, the reference to Great Britain in clause 7

But there is another far more fundamental point arising from the short debate on clause 7 in Committee. The hon. Member for Stockport, North said in Committee: It is a farce to deal with Northern Ireland by secondary legislation."—[Official Report, Standing Committee B, 21 January 1982; c. 240.] With that we heartily agree. The Minister remarked in defence that this was the way we had dealt with legislation for Northern Ireland for a very long time, and then he added very significantly "certainly since direct rule". The implication that the rubber stamp procedure was employed before direct rule was correct; the Minister was absolutely correct about that, particularly when it came to legislation such as the Bill that we are discussing. But the Minister reminded us that the principle of parity was being maintained throughout this Bill and he rightly referred to that as the traditional parity. Therein lies the lesson, because it was the acceptance of that principle of traditional parity that led Stormont Governments for over 50 years to repeat or ditto all such legislation. In those days it was done by Bill; now it is done by Order in Council.

The hon. Member for Stockport, North was right when he said that we were engaging in a farce, and we are participating in the same farce tonight when we complete this Bill for Great Britain and, at a latter stage, enact in one form or another the very same legislation, without an alteration to a dot or a comma, for that other part of the United Kingdom, possibly by secondary legislation.

I trust that right hon. and hon. Members will come to recognise the farce for what it is, and that this one and the same Parliament will cease to employ two entirely different methods of legislating for the same unit of the same United Kingdom.

10.10 pm
Mr. Rossi

It is always a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Antrim, South (Mr. Molyneaux). I am grateful to him for his references to my service in Northern Ireland for two years, which was a period of great privilege for me.

On the hon. Gentleman's question about the general level of prices and the wording of clause 7, I should explain that the Bill relates only to Great Britain because until it is implemented by Order in Council it cannot apply to Northern Ireland. Therefore, references must be made to the general price level in Great Britain, but the practice in all legislation where levels of prices are automatically followed through in Northern ireland is that the United Kingdom retail price index is always referred to. So there was never any peril that the people of Northern Ireland would be disadvantaged in any way, notwithstanding what Opposition hon. Members may have whispered in the hon. Gentleman's ear. I made that perfectly clear in Committee and confirmed it in a letter to the hon. Member for Stockport, North (Mr. Bennett).

The hon. Gentleman raised the question of the form of legislation as it applies to Northern Ireland. Whether we should be legislating here directly for Northern Ireland, as I know is the view of some hon. Members who represent constituencies in Northern Ireland, or whether we should continue to do it by Order in Council is a path on which I dare not trespass. I know that the hon. Gentleman will forgive me if I do not follow him in a discussion of that matter, because of the vast constitutional implications.

I welcome the hon. Gentleman's intervention. The people of Northern Ireland have been fully protected. They will benefit from the Bill in every way, in the same way as the citizens of Great Britain will benefit.

Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time:—

The House divided: Ayes 155, Noes 103.

Division No. 104] [10.10 pm
Alexander, Richard Fookes, Miss Janet
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Forman, Nigel
Aspinwall, jack Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Atkinson, David(B'm'th, E) Fox, Marcus
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Gardiner, George(Reigate)
Bendall, Vivian Goodlad, Alastair
Benyon, Thomas(A'don) Gorst, John
Berry, Hon Anthony Greenway, Harry
Best, Keith Griffiths, PeterPortsm'th N)
Bevan, David Gilroy Grist, Ian
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Gummer, John Selwyn
Blackburn, John Hamilton, Michael(Salisbury)
Bottomley, Peter(W'wich W) Hawksley, Warren
Bright, Graham Heddle, John
Brinton, Tim Henderson, Barry
Brooke, Hon Peter Hicks, Robert
Brotherton, Michael Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Brown, Michael(Brigg&Sc'n) Hill, James
Browne, John (Winchester) Hogg, Hon Douglas(Gr'th'm)
Bruce-Gardyne, John Holland, Philip(Carlton)
Buck, Antony Hunt, David(Wirral)
Budgen, Nick Hunt, John(Ravensbourne)
Burden, Sir Frederick Jessel, Toby
Butcher, John Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Cadbury, Jocelyn Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Carlisle, John(Luton West) Knox, David
Carlisle, Kenneth(Lincoln) Lang, Ian
Chapman, Sydney Latham, Michael
Churchill, W.S. Lawrence, Ivan
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th, S'n) Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel
Clarke, Kenneth(Rushcliffe) Lee, John
Clegg, Sir Walter Lester, Jim (Beeston)
Cockeram, Eric Lewis, Kenneth(Rutland)
Cope, John Lloyd, Peter(Fareham)
Cranborne, Viscount Lyell, Nicholas
Dean, Paul (North Somerset) McCrindle, Robert
Dorrell, Stephen Macfarlane, Neil
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J. MacGregor, John
Dover, Denshore McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st)
Dunn, Robert(Dartford) Major, John
Eggar, Tim Mather, Carol
Fairgrieve, Sir Russell Maude, Rt Hon Sir Angus
Faith, Mrs Sheila Mawby, Ray
Fletcher, A. (Ed'nb'gh N) Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Fletcher-Cooke, Sir Charles Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Mellor, David Speller, Tony
Meyer, Sir Anthony Spence, John
Miller, Hal(B'grove) Spicer, Jim (West Dorset)
Mills, Iain(Meriden) Sproat, Iain
Mills, Peter (West Devon) Stainton, Keith
Moate, Roger Stanbrook, Ivor
Monro, Sir Hector Stanley, John
Montgomery, Fergus Stradling Thomas, J.
Morgan, Geraint Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Morris, M. (N'hampton S) Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Murphy, Christopher Temple-Morris, Peter
Neale, Gerrard Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Neubert, Michael Thompson, Donald
Newton, Tony Thorne, Neil(llford South)
Page, Richard (SW Herts) Thornton, Malcolm
Parris, Matthew Townend, John(Bridlington)
Patten, Christopher(Bath) Trippier, David
Percival, Sir Ian Viggers, Peter
Pollock, Alexander Waddington, David
Prentice, Rt Hon Reg Waller, Gary
Proctor, K. Harvey Ward, John
Rathbone, Tim Warren, Kenneth
Renton, Tim Watson, John
Rhodes James, Robert Wells, Bowen
Rhys Williams, SirBrandon Wells, John(Maidstone)
Ridley, HonNicholas Wheeler, John
Rifkind, Malcolm Wickenden, Keith
Roberts, M. (Cardiff NW) Wilkinson, John
Roberts, Wyn (Conway) Wolfson, Mark
Rossi, Hugh Young, SirGeorge(Acton)
Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Shaw, Michael(Scarborough) Tellers for the Ayes:
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Mr. Robert Boscawen and
Silvester, Fred Mr. Tristan Garel-Jones.
Skeet, T. H. H.
Ashton, Joe Cocks, Rt Hon M. (B'stol S)
Atkinson, N.(H'gey, ) Concannon, Rt Hon J. D.
Bennett, Andrew(St'kp'tN) Cook, Robin F.
Booth, Rt HonAlbert Cowans, Harry
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Craigen, J. M. (G'gow, M'hill)
Bradley, Tom Crowther, Stan
Buchan, Norman Cryer, Bob
Callaghan, Jim (Midd't'n&P) Cunliffe, Lawrence
Campbell-Savours, Dale Cunningham, DrJ. (W'h'n)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Dalyell, Tam
Davidson, Arthur Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)
Davis, Terry (B'ham, Stechf'd) Martin, M(G'gowS'burn)
Deakins, Eric Mason, Rt Hon Roy
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) Maynard, Miss Joan
Dixon, Donald Mikardo, Ian
Dormand, Jack Mitchell, R.C. (Soton Itchen)
Douglas, Dick Morris, Rt Hon C. (O'shaw)
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Dubs, Alfred Morton, George
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G. O'Neill, Martin
Eadle, Alex Parry, Robert
Eastham, Ken Powell, Raymond(Ogmore)
Ellis, R.(NE D'bysh're) Race, Reg
Evans, John (Newton) Radice, Giles
Ewing, Harry Roberts, Albert(Normanton)
Field, Frank Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Fletcher, Ted(Darlington) Rooker, J. W.
Freud, Clement Rowlands, Ted
Golding, John Sever, John
Grant, George(Morpeth) Silkin, Rt Hon J. (Deptford)
Hamilton, James(Bothwell) Silverman, Julius
Hamilton, W. W. (C'tral Fife) Skinner, Dennis
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Smith, Cyril(Rochdale)
Haynes, Frank Spearing, Nigel
HomeRobertson, John Stoddart, David
Homewood, William Stott, Roger
Hooley, Frank Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Howell, Rt Hon D. Thomas, Dafydd(Merioneth)
Hoyle, Douglas Thorne, Stan(PrestonSouth)
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Tinn, James
John, Brynmor Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Jones, Rt Hon Alec (Rh'dda) Wainwright, R.(ColneV)
Jones, Barry (East Flint) Welsh, Michael
Kilfedder, James A. White, Frank R.
Lamond, James Whitlock, William
Leighton, Ronald Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Winnick, David
Litherland, Robert Woodall, Alec
McElhone, Frank Wright, Sheila
McGuire, Michael(Ince)
McKay, Allen (Penistone) Tellers for the Noes:
McNamara, Kevin Mr. Ioan Evans and
McWilliam, John Mr. Hugh McCartney.
Marks, Kenneth

Question accordingly agreed to.

Bill read the Third time and passed.

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