Mr. Deputy Speaker
With this, it will be convenient to discuss Government amendment No. 18, and No. 19, in page 11, line II, leave out subsection (2).
§ Mrs. Beckett
By proposing the deletion of this clause we are seeking to draw attention to the Government's proposal to recompense employers by the rebate of a whole year's contribution for the burden that they say they are putting upon employers by increasing statutory sick pay to 28 weeks. A remarkable feature of the Bill is that on the one hand the Government argue that it is no trouble at all to employers to extend SSP to 28 weeks; they are all highly efficient and are managing very well. On the other hand, out of the kindness and generosity of their heart, the Government have decided to give to employers a year's worth of rebate.
We do not wish to speak against employers having the rebate, but we wish to speak very much aginst the different treatment of employers and employees. While employers will receive a rebate, employees will continue to have to pay the full amount and will get no benefit whatsoever. I would remind the Minister of what was said by his predecessor, the hon. Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Sir H. Rossi), in 1982 about the payments due from employers and employees:The earnings related contribution schemes are geared to the basic concept of employers and employees both paying contributions on all assessable earnings. It is alien to the scheme's structure to expect employees but not their employers to contribute on one type of assessable earnings.We agree entirely with that judgment. We think that it still stands and that the Government are making a mistake.
§ Mr. Whitney
The hon. Lady makes a very unconvincing case in seeking to compare what is happening to employers and to employees. There is no damage whatever to the interests of employees. Those interests are very well preserved. Like hon. Members in all parts of the House, we recognise that the extension and operation of the SSP scheme will place burdens on employers, and we are taking cognisance of that burden by offering compensation. I therefore reject amendment No. 17. For the same reasons, I reject amendment No. 19 which would preclude retrospective application of the compensation arrangements from 6 April 1985.
Government amendment No. 18 is purely technical to take account of the fact that reimbursement to the employer of the cost of secondary national insurance contributions on SST may in practice be carried out by the Inland Revenue on behalf of the DHSS rather than by the DHSS itself.
§ Mrs. Beckett
I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
494 Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment made: No. 18, in page 10, line 44, after 'State', insert'or by the Commissioners of Inland Revenue on behalf of the Secretary of State'.—[Mr. Whitney.]