`(1) In the case of a widow whose late husband died before 11th April 1988 and who either—
(2) The Social Security (Widow's Benefit and Retirement Pensions) Amendment Regulations 1987 shall have effect, and be taken always to have had effect, with the addition at the end of regulation 3 (transitional provision for widowed mother's allowance where husband died before 11th April 1988) of the following—
(3) In determining whether a widow—
(4) In determining whether a widow—
(3) The Social Benefit (Dependency) Amendment Regulations 1989 shall have effect, and be taken always to have had effect, with the insertion after regulation 3 (which made amendments concerning widowed mother's allowance to regulation 4B of the Social Security Benefit (Dependency) Regulations 1977) of the following—
3A. The first amendment made by regulation 3 above shall not have effect in relation to a widow whose late husband died before 11th April 1988.".
(4) in any case where—
(5) Where, apart from section 165A of the principal Act (making of claim a condition of entitlement), a widow falling within subsection (1) above would be entitled to a widow's pension for any period beginning on or after 11th April 1988, then, notwithstanding anything in that section, she shall be entitled to that pension for that period if she has made a claim for it before the end of the period of twelve months beginning with the passing of this Act.
(6) Where a widow's late husband died on or after 7th October 1987 and before 11th April 1988 and, apart from section 165A of the principal Act, she would have become entitled to a widow's allowance on his death, then if either—
(7) Where in consequence of any of the amending provisions an adjudicating authority has decided before the passing of this Act that a widow whose husband died before 11th April 1988 either—
(8) In any case where—
(9) Subsection (4) of section 104 (appeals from reviews) shall apply in relation to a review under this section as it applies in relation to a review under that section.
(10) In this section—
adjudicating authority" means—
the amending provisions" are—
(11) The amendment by this section of provisions contained in regulations shall not be taken to have prejudiced any power to make further regulations revoking or amending those provisions.
(12) Nothing in this section shall be taken to prejudice section 16 or 17 of the Interpretation Act 1978 (effect of repeals, substitutions etc).'.—[Mr. Moore.]
§ Brought up, and read the First time.675
§ Mr. Moore
The new clause extends entitlement to widows' benefit under the pre-reforms legislation to all women widowed before 11 April 1988. It will give legislative effect to the commitment that I made to the House on 28 February 1989.
When the reforms were introduced, women whose husbands had died before 11 April 1988 expected to receive widows' benefits based on the rules in force before the reform changes were made. For some widows receiving widows' allowance or widowed mothers' allowance on 11 April the reform changes meant that when their benefit ceased and their succeeding widow's pension entitlement was determined, they received either a reduced rate of pension or no pension at all. There was also a group of mothers whose youngest child was under 19 but no longer a dependant, who would have been entitled to the personal rate of widowed mothers' allowance but lost it under the reform changes. I have decided on the grounds of equity and fairness that all these entitlements should be restored. This means that these widows will regain their right to receive the benefits in line with their expectations on the day that they were widowed.
I want to make clear to the House the arrangements by which we are making payments to these widows. My Department has identified and contacted them and in many cases payments have already been made. Payments in those cases which are not covered by the commissioner's decision of 28 February—the majority—are being made on an ex gratia basis. Whilst it is right that this money should reach these widows as quickly as possible, it is not right to make ex gratia payments in the long term. Therefore, this clause includes the power to put these payments retrospectively on a statutory basis. It will also ensure, as the hon. Member for Derby, South (Mrs. Beckett) understands, that all widows receiving these payments will have access to all the adjudication rights associated with statutory benefits. These payments will, of course, be offset against any other maintenance or income-related benefit that may be or have been in payment.
These changes are expected to affect beneficially 20,000 women at an estimated net cost to public funds of around £5 million in a full year.
Any widow who thinks that she may be affected by these changes and has not been contacted should approach her local social security office.
I commend this clause and the associated amendments to the House.
§ Mrs. Margaret Beckett (Derby, South)
As the Secretary of State is aware, there is a 12-month period during which people can claim. Some people in receipt of widowed mothers' allowance have children who may not have reached the age of 16, so the change in their benefit may not come into question until after that period. Am I right in thinking that the right hon. Gentleman is completely confident that all those people will be picked up by his Department during the ensuing year and that there is no risk that they will not receive the benefit that is due to them?
§ Mr. Moore
I am grateful to the hon. Lady. Like her colleagues, she has welcomed the new clause on another occasion.
676 There will be no need to contact the women who are now in receipt of WMA when it converts—the date on which that happens will depend on the circumstances—to the widows' pension. That will automatically be picked up, so I can reassure the hon. Lady on that important point.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.