§ Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.
§ Mr. Brittan
It might be for the convenience of the House if I say a word about clause 17, which relates to the widow's bereavement allowance. The clause extends the tax allowance introduced in section 23 of the Finance Act 1980 for widows in the year in which the husband died to the year following the year of death, provided that the widow has not remarried before the beginning of that year. It will apply to widows whose husbands died before 5 April 1982.
The amount of allowance for the year after the husband's death will be the same as for the actual year of death— that is, it will be the same as the additional personal allowance for single parents, and will thus equal the difference between single and married allowances.
The widow's bereavement allowance was introduced by the Government in 1980 to assist widows through the difficult years of adaptation following their husband's death. It was originally intended that the widows should be entitled to one twelfth of the allowance for each month or part of the month between the death of the husband and the end of the tax year. In Committee, it became clear that most interested parties preferred a flat relief on the grounds of simplicity.
Many widows bereaved towards the end of the tax year do not have sufficient income of their own in the remainder of the year to benefit from the allowance. Ministers have therefore decided to extend the allowance to the year after the year of bereavement. That will mean that more than 100,000 widows will be helped, whereas only 45,000 received any benefit previously.
This is, therefore, a real assistance to a section of the community for whom there is considerable sympathy. I was pleased to hear of the response of Mrs. June Hemer of the National Association of Widows, who described the Government's proposals as really good news for widows. I therefore urge the Committee to support clause 17.
§ Mr. Robert Sheldon
The Opposition wholly agree with the Government on clause 17. It is one part of the Bill that we welcome and we give it every encouragement and support.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Clause 17 ordered to stand part of the Bill.