HC Deb 10 December 1997 vol 302 cc1097-116

'.—(1) For subsection (2) of section 1 of the Administration Act (entitlement to benefit dependent on claim) there shall be substituted the following subsection—

"(2) Except as provided by section 3 below, where under subsection (1) above a person is required to make a claim, or to be treated as making a claim, for a benefit in order to be entitled to it, the person shall be entitled to it—

  1. (a) from the date on which the claim is made; or
  2. (b) in respect of the period from the date on which the conditions for entitlement to benefit would have been satisfied had a claim been made at that time, or 12 months prior to the claim, whichever is the later, provided that that claim was made without unreasonable delay and that benefit shall only be paid in respect of such periods during which the person would have been so entitled.".'.—[Mr. Webb.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Webb

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this, it will be convenient to discuss the following: New schedule 1—'Exceptions to the backdating of benefits—

All Benefits

1. The backdating of benefits for a period longer than one month may be allowed for—

  1. (a) cases where entitlement to benefit is dependent on the claimant's, or another person's entitlement to another benefit; and
  2. (b) Family Credit and Disability Working Allowance claims, where a previous claim to Income Support or Jobseeker's Allowance has been refused because the claimant or partner is in remunerative work and the Family Credit or Disability Working Allowance Claim is made within 14 days of the determination on the Income Support or Jobseeker's Allowance claim.

Income Related Benefits

2. The backdating of income related benefits for a period no longer than one month may be allowed for—

  1. (a) claimants who have difficulty communicating because of learning, language or literacy difficulties;
  2. (b) claimants who are deaf or blind for whom there is no one else to make their claim;
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  4. (c) claimants who are ill or disabled for whom there is no one else to make their claim, except in the case of a claim for Jobseeker's Allowance;
  5. (d) claimants who were given misleading information by an officer of the Department of Social Security or of the Department for Education and Employment;
  6. (e) claimants who were given misleading advice in writing by a solicitor or other professional adviser, or by a medical practitioner, a Local Authority or by a person working in a Citizens Advice Bureau or a similar advice agency;
  7. (f) claimants who have been given misleading information in writing about their income or capital by their employer or former employer, or by a bank or building society;
  8. (g) claimants who are required to deal with a domestic emergency affecting them, for whom there is no one else to make the claim; and
  9. (h) claimants who are prevented from attending the appropriate office by adverse weather conditions.

Delayed Claims

3. The backdating of income related benefits for a period no longer than one month may be allowed in cases where claimants are forced to delay claiming because—

  1. (a) the appropriate office, where the claimant would be expected to make a claim, was unable to provide a service and alternative arrangements were not available;
  2. (b) the claimant was unable to attend the appropriate office due to difficulties with his normal mode of transport and there was no reasonable alternative available;
  3. (c) there were adverse postal conditions;
  4. (d) the claimant was previously in receipt of another benefit, and notification of expiry of entitlement to that benefit was not sent to the claimant before the date that his entitlement expired;
  5. (e) for Family Credit or Disability Working Allowance the claimant had previously been entitled to Income Support or Jobseeker's Allowance and the claim for Family Credit or Disability Working Allowance was made within one month of expiry of entitlement to the previous benefit;
  6. (f) for Income Support or Jobseeker's Allowance the claimant had previously been entitled to Family Credit or Disability Working Allowance and the claim for Income Support or Jobseeker's Allowance was made within one month of expiry of entitlement to the previous benefit;
  7. (g) the claimant recently separated from his partner; or
  8. (h) a close relative of the claimant recently died.


4. Refugees may be allowed, where the Secretary of State thinks it appropriate to claim backdated awards of Income Support, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit to the date of the asylum application.

Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance and Maternity


5. Claims for Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance and Maternity Allowance may be allowed to be backdated if employers delay in notifying the claimants that they had no entitlement to Statutory Sick Pay or Statutory Maternity Pay.

Further Exceptions

6. Further exceptions may be allowed in such cases or circumstances as may be prescribed.

Amendment No. 2, in clause 72, page 47, leave out lines 7 to 26.

Amendment No. 6, in clause 72, page 47, leave out lines 14 to 19 and insert—

  1. '(a) in respect of contributory benefits, non-contributory benefits and pensions, grants and allowances paid under the Naval, Military and Airforce (for disablement and death) Service Pensions Order 1983-
    1. (i) in respect of any period (or, in the case of a widow's payment, any death occurring) more than three months before the date on which the claim is made or treated to as made; or
    2. (ii) in such cases or circumstances as may be prescribed, in respect of any period before that date; and
  2. (b) in respect of, income-related benefits, benefit for industrial injuries and child benefit-
    1. (i) in respect of any period more than one month before the date on which the claim is made or treated as made; or
    2. (ii) in such cases or circumstances as may be prescribed, in respect of any period before that date.
( ) In this section "contributory benefits", "non-contributory benefits", "income related benefits", "benefit for industrial injuries", and "child benefit" shall have the same meaning as defined in Chapter 4 of the Contributions and Benefits Act 1992.'.

Amendment No. 32, in clause 72, page 47, line 18, leave out 'may be prescribed' and insert 'are prescribed in Schedule (Exceptions to the backdating of benefits)'.

Government amendment No. 18.

Mr. Webb

I am sure that the House will want to move promptly to the vote on amendment No. 1, so I shall be as brief as possible. New clause 2—[Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The House must come to order.

Mr. Webb

New clause 2 relates to the backdating of benefit claims where an individual does not make a claim on time. Until April 1997, it was possible to backdate a claim for up to 12 months if one had good cause for not making a claim on time. From April 1997, the Conservatives introduced a cut. They removed the idea of good cause and restricted backdating to a maximum of three months. That took £120 million from some of the poorest people in the country, including £50 million from pensioners and £50 from the sick and disabled.

Clause 72, which new clause 2 seeks to overturn—[Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. It is extremely unfair to the hon. Gentleman that the House is so noisy. Perhaps conversations could take place outside the Chamber.

Mr. Webb

Clause 72 further restricts people's rights when they claim their benefits late. It goes even further than the Conservatives were prepared to go. It takes an extra £60 million from the poorest households in the country, penalises them for ignorance of the system, takes £14 million off pensioners and takes £18 million from disabled people. The losers include 100,000 people on income support. This is not merely discretionary money that does not matter. Basic living standards will suffer.

The clause introduces restrictions on the backdating of housing benefit, reducing it for the first time from one year to one month. That means that people who build up rent arrears because they claim their benefit late will not be able to clear those arrears by means of a backdated payment, and may lose their house.

The St. Mungo's centre in London is worried about the implications of the backdating changes. It says: Backdating housing benefit can help them keep up to date with their rent, cope in their own homes and not end up back on the streets. New clause 2 seeks to overturn clause 72 and introduce an alternative provision. Clause 72 could lead to greater homelessness and greater public expenditure.

The fundamental point is that on Second Reading the Secretary of State said: We want to ensure that the system is not run on the basis of getting things wrong and then backdating to sort them out."—[Official Report, 22 July 1997; Vol. 298, c. 787.] In other words, let us get things right first time and not backdate when they have gone wrong. We agree with that, but the paradox about the backdating proposals in the Bill is that if no one received his money late, backdating would not be necessary. If the system gets money to people on time, we do not need clause 72 or new clause 2, but the Government know, and we know, that people will continue to get their money late through no fault of their own, and clause 72 restricts their right to receive it.

New clause 2 simply says that people should have up to 12 months backdated benefit if, for a good reason, they delay a claim. What are the good reasons why people claim their benefits late? They can be ill health, infirmity, lack of understanding of the system—for goodness sake, it is complicated—or bereavement.

Representatives of elderly people's organisations say that it is unreasonable to expect that a bereaved person will always be able to find the way through the maze of benefits, such as income support, within a month of the death. The measure penalises bereaved people and those who do not understand the system.

New clause 2 simply says that if one has a good reason for claiming late, one should be able to claim up to a year's backdating. Without the new clause, the Bill will penalise people who, through no fault of their own, do not understand the system.

9.15 pm
Mr. Andrew Dismore (Hendon)

I shall not support the amendments and shall support the Government, but I want to discuss issues relating to industrial injuries disablement benefit, because neither the amendments nor the new clause address that issue. As the hon. Member for Northavon (Mr. Webb) said, the previous Government abolished the whole concept of a good-cause exception, and nothing in the amendments or the new clause addresses that fundamental problem.

We have to go far beyond the concept of backdating for one, two or three months or even a year; we need to look fundamentally at the way we address the issue, because industrial injuries disablement benefit raises special problems. Sometimes symptoms can develop late—long after illness has started and long after exposure to harmful substances such as asbestos has occurred. Asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma lead to an extremely unpleasant death, as I have seen in my previous life as a lawyer representing people with mesothelioma.

Mr. Godman

My hon. Friend obviously has legal experience, so can he correct an assumption of mine? I was under the impression, following a famous case taken by a commissioner, that there was such a thing as justifiable ignorance; is that not still the case?

Mr. Dismore

It is my understanding that the previous Government abolished that, with effect from April 1997. That is the issue I am currently addressing and I hope to give some ideas to the Under-Secretary of State for Social Security, my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Withington (Mr. Bradley), who is to respond to the debate.

Mesothelioma is a prime example of the problems that can arise. It leads to an extremely unpleasant death, especially in the last three months of life. It is a fatal illness and those last three months are extremely traumatic for the family and extremely painful and distressing for the individual sufferer. Similar problems arise in respect of other industrial diseases and cancers.

Sometimes, there can be late diagnosis or even a diagnosis made only after the post mortem. Regrettably, that is an all too frequent occurrence in respect of lung diseases. In addition, diagnosis can take a long time to come through: for example, patch testing for dermatitis can take many weeks before a diagnosis can be made.

Problems can arise in making a causal connection between the illness and the hazard at work that caused it. An example I cited in Committee was that of a dental nurse whose claim I dealt with, who suffered from glutaraldehyde poisoning. Glutaraldehyde is a sterilising chemical used in dentistry; the nurse suffered quite severe nasal and respiratory trouble, but it was nearly a year before she realised that there was a causal connection between the chemicals with which she was working and her illness.

Repetitive strain injury is becoming an increasingly common and recognised problem, particularly for those who work on keyboards. Again, the causal connection can often be extremely difficult to establish, and a diagnosis may be long in the making. That problem was recognised by the Social Security Advisory Committee, which commented on the previous Government's proposals and said that one of the problems with delays in the payment of disability benefit was that the delay in establishing the correct diagnosis may take months or even years, given that General Practitioners will often need to refer cases to specialists. Moreover, the attribution of a commonly recurring condition to an occupational cause is often controversial, leading to a longer delay. It was critical of the previous Government's proposals.

The answer is not to go back to the old ways of simply looking at the matter in terms of good cause. We need to develop new ideas to deal with such cases. The problem with good cause is that it relied on the discretion of an adjudication officer in the Department of Social Security. If one has to rely on someone's discretion, the decision can go either way.

I have some sympathy with the previous Government's response to the SSAC's comments on good cause. They said that the problem with the good-cause exception was that it ran counter to the objective of improving administrative efficiency by aligning the backdating rules as far as possible and removing the need for adjudication officers to consider good cause, which is a costly provision to operate. I should like to devise a new way of looking at such cases which did not rely on a good-cause defence and gave people the right to have benefit from an early stage, perhaps from the date of diagnosis or perhaps some other possible date.

As part of our overall review of social security we must look at that problem and come up with an imaginative solution rather than opting for the old methods used pre-April 1997 or the old method of backdating payment for a month or two. Frankly, that does not address the evil that I have identified in some of the cases and illnesses I have described. To backdate a claim for two months, three months or perhaps a year is purely arbitrary. We must find a more imaginative way of proceeding.

Mr. Godman

I should like to cite an example where I believe that a claim of justifiable ignorance would be useful. Recently, two of my constituents who are crew members of a Caledonian MacBrayne ferry complained to me about their experience. They went into the crew's quarters and were told that it contained asbestos-contaminated material. I advised them to inform the Health and Safety Executive in Glasgow. Could that action be used as evidence if, God forbid, they had to make a claim in 10 years or 15 years because they were suffering from asbestosis?

Mr. Dismore

That could be evidence in a civil law claim, but that does not address the problem that faces us, which relates to the industrial injuries scheme. That evidence may prove good causal connection at a later date, but the difficulty with respiratory conditions in particular is that it is often many years before the illness starts to develop. It may be many years after that before the sufferer, thinking back 20 years, makes a causal connection and seeks a diagnosis from the GP. After that, it may be some time before the patient is referred to a consultant for an opinion. Some conditions are not even detected until a post mortem is conducted. Those problems with the old system are not addressed by the amendments. That is why we need to look for a more imaginative solution.

I do not want to run the risk of people making premature claims. I do not want people to make speculative claims because they think, "I may have a certain condition and I had better put a claim in quick just in case because I do not want to be caught up by some backdating rules." Such claims could clog up the system and defeat the prime objective of the Bill. It is about not just lone-parent benefit or backdating, but the fundamental need to modernise the social security claims system to make it work more efficiently. The problems associated with backdating could militate against that laudable goal.

We must think about imaginative solutions and I hope that the Minister will assure us that he will consider that as part of an overall review of DSS procedures and benefits. I hope that, at a later date, he will offer us some ideas to deal with a real problem.

Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark, North and Bermondsey)

In support of my hon. Friend the Member for Northavon (Mr. Webb), may I tell the Minister that in my inner-city constituency, hardly a week goes by without people coming to my surgery already at risk or having suffered loss of benefit because they have not been able to claim on time, or have not been advised that they had a right to claim, or have been misled by others. They expected the Government to rescue them from the callousness of the previous Government, yet the Labour Government intend to target the people who are struggling most.

I hope that the Minister and his colleagues understand the practical implications for people who are desperately trying to make ends meet. When they fail, some of them are driven to illness, self-abuse, suicide attempts and so on, because they are not coping. It is a real, practical, weekly problem, and for those of us who try to look after them, the proposal is one of the most unhelpful steps that the Government could take.

Mr. Nigel Waterson (Eastbourne)

Clause 72 is not only draconian in its effect, but is perhaps the only truly original part of the Bill. It was not proposed by the previous Government, but is entirely home grown. It might be for the convenience of the House to say that we intend to divide on new schedule 1.

In Committee, Conservative Members expressed the deep concerns of many organisations about the Government's proposals to restrict the backdating of benefit claims. The Bill allows enormous scope to the Government to legislate by regulations later. Indeed, that was a subplot throughout the Committee stage. More than once, the Minister promised to let the Committee see draft regulations to be passed under the Bill, and on a number of occasions we pressed him to redeem that promise. However, there has so far been a marked reluctance by Ministers to produce those draft regulations, and by and large the Committee stage came and went without any drafts.

Even on Second Reading, Ministers were clearly defensive on the subject of backdating. They said that hardship provisions would be considered in Committee. The Committee was indebted to the Minister for a stream of helpful letters and memorandums on various aspects of the Bill. The Minister was at pains to ensure that the Committee had the benefit of the Government's thinking on a number of issues, yet until we came to the debate on clause 72, the Committee had been kept in the dark on backdating. One might say that that was the dog that did not bark.

On 20 November, shortly after the debate had commenced, the Minister rose to announce a series of exemptions from the effects of clause 72. That was followed by the Minister's letter to the Committee dated 25 November, setting out in enormous detail the various exemptions. The fact that the Minister has been so detailed and frank about the Government's intentions is not, I believe, a result of the Government's professed commitment to open government—which, as we have seen on more than one occasion recently, is much in doubt. Rather, it is a tribute to the persistence of the Opposition on the Committee.

New schedule 1 and amendment No. 32 have the simple effect of listing the same exemptions that the Minister listed in his letter to the Committee of 25 November—no more, no less. The effect of the new schedule is to challenge the Government to put in the Bill what they claim that they intend to do by way of regulation. These are important issues affecting many vulnerable people, and they should appear in the Bill. If the Government were able to give in Committee such a precise list of exceptions to the harsh backdating provisions, surely they can commit themselves and accept our new schedule.

At the end of the proposed new schedule, we make it clear that further exceptions may be allowed. That merely echoes what the Minister stated in his letter to the Committee. In addition, amendment No. 6 seeks to take account of the Government's arguments for cost cutting, and to recognise that there are many groups, including the elderly, the recently widowed and the severely disabled, for whom one month will simply not be enough time. The amendment targets those groups and gives them an extra two months' leeway. Moreover, with respect to contributory benefits, backdating will give them money to which they are entitled and to which they have contributed through their national insurance contributions.

I also point out to the Minister that the distinction we seek to draw in the amendment between the various types of benefit is exactly the same as the distinction that he drew in his letter of 25 November—I see the Minister nodding. In that letter, he says that there will be automatic backdating for non-income-related benefits such as retirement pension, widows' benefit and child benefit. The principal, if not the only, difference between what we suggest and what the Minister proposes is that we advocate three months and he wants only one month. The amendment provides for three months' backdating for incapacity benefit, invalidity benefit, maternity allowances, benefits for widows and widowers, retirement pensions, war widows' pensions, attendance allowances, severe disablement allowances, invalidity care allowances and disability living allowances.

9.30 pm

The amendment is an attempt to persuade the Government to compromise and accept the adverse effects that clause 72 will have on many vulnerable people. I have already explained that the clause can claim no parentage from the previous Government. It is not open to the Minister to claim, as the Secretary of State claims, that in some bizarre way he is a prisoner of the Conservative Government's spending plans.

What is the Government's motive in bringing forward those tough provisions? Are they designed to correct some perceived unfairness or anomaly in the existing system? The answer is no: clause 72 is about saving money, and nothing else. In fairness, the Government have been very up front about that. The sole reason given for the clause was to meet the costs of the Government's decision to revoke the single room rent restriction on single housing benefit claimants aged under 25. By way of parenthesis, it is interesting to note that the Minister has had very little to say about the future of 25 to 59-year-olds—it seems that that is a matter for review.

It was also pointed out in Committee that research has shown that the Government's plans were based on there being 155,000 more rent allowance claimants than there actually are. A recent report by the National Federation of Landlords has estimated that housing benefit expenditure could be as much as £500 million less in a year than had been anticipated.

That brings me to the curious case of the constant £57 million. As the Minister readily conceded in his letter to the Committee of 25 November, when the Bill was first published on 9 July, the explanatory and financial memorandum stated that clause 72 was expected to generate net programme savings of £57 million in a full year. I have pointed out that, on Second Reading, Ministers said that they were already thinking about possible exceptions. However, as the Minister said in his letter, they had not decided on the range and type of specific exceptions". The Minister explained how the Government had been taking careful note of the representations from groups such as Age Concern and the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux. He said: it was only very recently that final decisions could be taken on the range of exceptions". The use of the word "final" is curious because in his letter and in Committee the Minister said that the proposed regulations were certainly not set in stone, yet the line taken by the Minister both in correspondence and in Committee was that the figure of £57 million remained valid.

When pressed by me in Committee on how the original estimate would be affected by the exclusions he had just announced, the Minister maintained that the figure included those exceptions. It surely cannot be right that the original figure of £57 million remains accurate and takes full account of the long list of complex exclusions. Is it really the case that those exclusions will not make a difference of a penny more or less to the predicted figure?

In Committee, the Minister talked about a "broad brush", but the figure of £57 million is pretty precise in the broader context of the social security budget. Now that he has had more time for mature reflection, I ask the Minister to be a little more frank on that subject. It stands to reason that either the £57 million figure was right originally and is now wrong, having been overtaken by events—we could all understand that, and there would be no shame in admitting it—or, if the new figure is believed to be accurate and takes full account of the proposed exemptions, the original estimate must have been wrong. It would also be helpful if the Minister could explain precisely how he and his colleagues intend to spend that not insignificant saving. Will it be taken up elsewhere in their budget, or will it be snaffled by the Chancellor of the Exchequer for other purposes? Since the Committee stage, the Minister has had a fair time to reflect on the matter and I await his answers with interest. In passing, I note estimates that, in a single year, the Government's clause will affect 105,000 income support claimants, 50,000 housing benefit claimants and 115,000 council tax benefit claimants.

I have explained the circumstances in which the Minister's announcement came to be made in Committee. I make no personal criticism of the Minister, but it would be fair to say that the Committee was taken by surprise—it was "bounced". Without any notice or proper briefing on that long, complex list of exclusions, all that I and my hon. Friends could do was give the Minister's announcement a cautious welcome. I said that we would give it more detailed consideration, as would concerned organisations.

That has happened and, in many respects, the Minister's announcement has been seen through. For example, Age Concern says that, for means-tested benefits, the Minister's much-flaunted exceptions are very much in line with the current "special reasons" for backdating. In future, a maximum of one month will be permitted in replacement of the current three months for income support and 12 months for housing and council tax benefits. The one-month limit will apply even if the claim has not been pressed because of misleading information from benefit staff or other sources, or because someone had been seriously ill at the time.

Age Concern is also worried about the inflexible one-month limit for means-tested or non-means-tested benefits where there has been a bereavement. The Minister tried to deal with that in Committee by saying that nearly all widows' benefit claims are made within one month of the death of the spouse, but Age Concern, which should know after all, does not accept that that is necessarily true for means-tested benefits for which people will qualify only after the death of the spouse.

In Committee, we welcomed the Government's acknowledgment of the problems that can arise where a benefit claim depends on the claimant's entitlement, or another person's entitlement, to another benefit. However, I join Age Concern in seeking reassurance from the Minister that the backdating provisions will be applied flexibly, so that people do not have to make unnecessary claims for benefits to which they know they are not entitled.

I have no doubt that the Minister will repeat the argument that if people are better informed about the benefits to which they are entitled, that will reduce the need for backdating. That is a superficially attractive argument. Surely a better system can be devised, so that we do not depend on backdating to get things right. That is precisely why my amendment is in the form that it is. The majority of people, with the right information, will be able to claim their full entitlement in due time. However, it is still the vulnerable groups to which I have referred that will find it hardest to be informed fully and, due to many likely circumstances, will not be willing to start to sort out their affairs for a period that might exceed three months, let alone one.

Age Concern makes the same point. It rightly welcomes the announcement of research into why older people do not claim income support and of other pilot studies to try to improve take-up. Of course, that is absolutely right. Forty per cent. of my voters in Eastbourne are over retirement age. All too often in my advice surgeries, I come across elderly people who simply do not claim the benefits to which they are clearly entitled, but I agree with Age Concern that we should start to tinker with the backdating rules only if and when we have tackled the problem of low take-up.

After careful reflection following the Committee stage, Age Concern's conclusion is particularly damning. It says: the Minister's statements in Committee do little to reassure us. We remain extremely concerned that these measures will severely penalise many vulnerable older people who do not claim benefits as soon as they become entitled to them. Help the Aged has also written to express its concerns. It says: The effect of clause 72 will undoubtedly cause additional hardship to many of the most vulnerable older people. It also makes the valid point that many such claimants use the money from backdated claims to pay off debts such as rent arrears that have accrued in the meantime.

In some ways, the reaction of the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux is even more disappointing for the Minister. It refers to the exemptions announced by the Minister in Committee, saying: these were interpreted by many as new concessions". It points out, however, that the exemptions were merely a reiteration of the circumstances in which income-related benefits could be backdated, prescribed by the previous Government in April this year. The only significant difference—and it is a big difference—is that the Minister proposes to reduce the existing three-month period to one month.

The citizens advice bureaux are in no doubt about the Government's true motives. They say: the Government's reasons for imposing further limits on the back-dating of benefits have little to do with a rational appraisal of what is most fair and logical, and everything to do with making further benefit savings. They point out that, in March this year, the Social Security Advisory Committee recommended that the then new limits on backdating should not be proceeded with.

The citizens advice bureaux also have sensible things to say about the balance to be struck between encouraging take-up and limiting backdating. Of course they support the Government's stated wish to improve the system so that people understand what they are entitled to—who would not?—but they conclude, and cite a number of cases in support of their view, that it is only too evident that back-dating provisions are an essential `back-stop' to the present fragmented benefit structure. I suspect that, deep down, the Minister agrees with that view. Indeed, he admitted as much in Committee, during a debate on a quite different clause, when he said: If any amendment imposed such a requirement on us now, the problems of administration—which is already complex, bureaucratic and inefficient—would be exacerbated, as our current systems cannot always work in the integrated fashion to which we aspire."—[Official Report, Standing Committee B, 28 October 1997; c. 48.] That was a very clear statement by the Minister of the position as he saw it.

The citizens advice bureaux also cite a number of specific examples in regard to which they have sought clarification from the Department since the conclusion of the Committee stage—sadly, without success in a number of instances, particularly the exception in which one benefit is linked to others. I shall not weary the House with all the detail, but they mention attendance allowance and disability living allowance linked with a subsequent claim for income support, cases in which a carer's entitlement to invalid care allowance depends on a successful claim for attendance allowance or disability living allowance by the person being cared for, incapacity benefit and income support, housing benefit and council tax benefit.

Our new scedule is an attempt to persuade the Government to compromise, and to accept the adverse effects that clause 72 would have on many vulnerable people. It is reasoned and reasonable. It makes provision for those people, and gives them at least two extra months. If the Government reject it, they will deal a direct blow to the elderly, widows and the severely disabled, putting small budget savings ahead of their needs. On any view, these are harsh measures, even when we weigh them against the exemptions announced in Committee. I believe that, if they accepted the new schedule, the Government would still keep a large part of the envisaged £57 million saving—and, at the same time, they would have the satisfaction of helping those who are most in need.

Mr. Tom Brake (Carshalton and Wallington)

At lunchtime today I spoke at the Sutton carers forum, which represents 20,000 carers in that London borough. Hon. Members will probably not be surprised to learn that carers are alarmed by the Government's proposals relating to invalid care allowance and its backdating by only one month.

I want to quote from a letter that was handed to me by a constituent at the meeting. He gave up a well-paid job to care for his wife. He wrote: The care of your loved one is more than enough to worry about without the added problem of dealing with bureaucracy. The change to a carer's financial position is one that only becomes apparent once life has settled down after the initial shock. It was six months before that carer realised that the money had run out and that he needed benefit. By seeking to backdate invalid care allowance by just one month, the Government are hitting the poorest hardest. I am afraid that that seems to be a habit that the Government are acquiring. I hope that they will think again, because carers deserve much better than is currently on offer.

9.45 pm
Mr. Harry Cohen (Leyton and Wanstead)

I have written to the Minister about backdating being limited to a month, and I am grateful for his response. Perhaps in his winding-up speech he will address the issue of bereavement. After the death of a loved one, many widows are in shock, and sorting out their finances will not be their top priority in the month following the death. Many of them may not be capable of sorting out their finances in that time. For example, there may not be close family members to help them. Within the marriage they may not have been in charge of finances or, indeed, had anything to do with them. Perhaps the deceased had full control of the finances. Widows might not know that they are suddenly poor and eligible to apply for benefit.

When such conditions apply, I would favour some discretion by the authorities to allow them to pay benefit to such widows. The hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Waterson) said that the Government had allowed extra time in some cases. I am not aware of that from the Minister's reply to me, and I seek some clarification about widows in the month following bereavement.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Social Security (Mr. Keith Bradley)

I shall deal first with amendment No. 2, new clause 2 and amendment No. 6. The amendments seek to provide longer general time limits for the backdating of late claims for benefit—12 months and three months respectively rather than the one month that we propose. Amendment No. 2 and new clause 2 would return us to the position prior to the changes that were introduced in April by the previous Administration. They would not only cause the savings resulting from our proposals to be lost but introduce further costs of about £135 million a year.

Part of the reason for the measure was to not extend the single room rent restrictions to 25 to 59-year-olds. The hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Waterson) incorrectly said that we were not extending the restrictions to those who are under the age of 25. We are evaluating the previous Government's restrictions to the under-25s. That is being closely monitored, and we shall report on it early next year.

Good government means setting the right priorities within limited resources. Where savings are needed, our priority must be the payment of benefit to meet current entitlement. That is a prudent and reasonable approach. We have to make realistic choices, and we have chosen sensibly according to reasonable priorities. We have also taken care to ensure that special cases will be covered through a range of exceptions. They will ensure the necessary flexibility in a scheme which we want to be as straightforward and easily understood as possible by customers and staff.

In reply to the first question by my hon. Friend the Member for Leyton and Wanstead (Mr. Cohen), the exceptions will fall into three broad categories. Under the first category, backdating will be allowed beyond the general one-month time limit. It will apply to both non-income-related and income-related benefits. It will include cases in which entitlement to a benefit is dependent on the claimant's or another person's entitlement to another benefit. It is obviously unreasonable for administrative delays in awarding one benefit to deprive a person of entitlement to another.

The second group of exceptions will be on income-related benefits, for which the basic rule will be no backdating. Backdating up to the one-month time limit will be permitted if special reasons apply. That will include cases in which the customer has difficulty communicating because he has learning, language or literacy difficulties, or he is deaf or blind and there is no one else to make a claim on his behalf. It also includes customers who are caring for a person who is ill or disabled and there is no one else to make the claim.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

I have noticed that, from time to time, all Governments in the past 20 years have, when they have found it necessary, spent considerable sums telling people that they should claim various benefits. Newspaper advertisements tell people how to claim. That gives the impression that the Government are saying, "We've got some money, and you ought to be getting hold of it," which runs counter to this restriction on backdating. The implication is that there are loads of people out there who are ignorant of the benefits that they can claim, but my hon. Friend is proposing to prevent the people whom we are anxious to ensure receive benefits from backdating their claims. One runs counter to the other. Will he explain how he has come to that conclusion?

Mr. Bradley

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his comments. I shall come to that specific point a little later in this reasonably brief summing up. I shall first complete the list of exceptions.

The third category will provide for up to one month's backdating of income-related benefits for customers who are forced to delay claiming for various reasons: the appropriate office was closed and alternative arrangements were not available; they were unable to attend the appropriate office because of difficulties with the normal mode of transport and there was no alternative; there were adverse postal conditions; they have recently separated from a partner; or a close relative of the customer has recently died. I shall elaborate on that in relation to the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner).

Our proposals also provide a basis, as part of our general review of social security, for our medium and long-term aim of streamlining existing arrangements for claiming benefits. In line with that aim, I have asked officials—I explained this in Committee, but unfortunately the hon. Member for Northavon (Mr. Webb) did not refer to it—to examine whether the processes for claiming specific benefits can be significantly improved.

The Bill contains a provision on data sharing. When someone has made a claim for one benefit in one part of the organisation, that information is automatically made available to ensure that it triggers entitlement to other benefits. That practice will be extended across agencies, such as between the Benefits Agency and a local authority, to ensure that people do not have to search around to find out about their entitlement: it is automatically triggered.

I have also asked whether specific administrative arrangements can be established to ensure that when a baby is born, that information automatically triggers the receipt of child benefit. Whether the baby is born in hospital, at home, or under the domino arrangement, proper provisions will be in place to ensure that the claim is made. The same applies to widows' benefits. I am sensitive to the traumatic effect of a death, but whatever the circumstances, it has to be registered within five days. If that process is linked to the administration of benefits that flow from that death, backdating does not apply, because the widows' benefit will have been triggered.

We shall have a much more streamlined service. Officials are examining closely how we can put those arrangements into practice.

Mr. Godman

Will my hon. Friend assure me that the provisions will cover those with learning difficulties, particularly in cases in which someone with a learning disability, or perhaps with mental health problems, has lost what might be called a caring adult?

Mr. Bradley

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for enabling me to repeat the point that exceptions for learning difficulties are included in the list.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hendon (Mr. Dismore) made a very important point on industrial injuries benefit, specifically as it relates to diseases. In Committee and since then, he has repeatedly made representations to me on that point. I repeat what I said in Committee. I am sympathetic to the point, and I think that we shall have to consider imaginatively how we can deal with it, quite separately from the way in which the backdating proposals will operate. I have been in touch with officials to investigate how industrial diseases of the type that my hon. Friend mentioned can be dealt with more appropriately.

Administration of the system is important. It will be made easier when evidence supporting a claim is fresh and immediately relevant, as there will be less need for staff to make follow-up inquiries to check on the accuracy of details that are often several months old. In that context, the approach that we advocate—a one-month backdating time limit, with a prescribed list of exceptions—will be easy to understand, underlines customers' responsibility for making a claim on time and is consistent with the general public's expectations.

Taking into account the principles underlying the proposal, and in view of the exceptions that we intend to adopt, I ask the hon. Member for Northavon to withdraw his new clause and not to press his amendment.

Amendment No. 32 and new schedule 1 propose to include in the Bill a list of exceptions that allow backdating of income-related claims for up to one month and, in certain circumstances, backdating of specific benefits beyond the one-month maximum. As I announced in Committee, we propose to provide for exceptions in regulations. Those exceptions include all the specific circumstances stated in the new schedule.

I am pleased that the Opposition support the exceptions that we propose. It would not be sensible, however, to add the new schedule to the Bill. Exceptions are necessarily stated precisely and in some detail. Although the proposed schedule would allow us to add further exceptions by making regulations, it would not allow any amendment of the details that are currently included without recourse to primary legislation.

The listed exceptions cover administration of a number of benefits. Should any small change be needed—perhaps for only a technical reason—we would have to come back and take up the House's valuable time, to obtain the necessary authority to change primary legislation.

Mr. Waterson

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for dealing with my point in such detail. Leaving aside small technical matters, does he now, as of today, envisage any significant additions to or subtractions from the list of exceptions, as shown in our new schedule and in his letter to the Committee?

Mr. Bradley

As the hon. Gentleman is well aware, we are a listening Government. The proposals are still making their way through the House. They will have to go to the other place, and further representations will be made. Final regulations will eventually be laid before the House for further debate. Until then, there is always an opportunity to make changes. If we accept his new schedule today, however, and add it to the Bill, that opportunity will be lost. I assume from his intervention that he will not press his new schedule.

In Committee, I undertook to table amendment No. 18, which corrects an unintended effect resulting from the drafting of clause 72. It amends section 3 of the Social Security Administration Act 1992, which provides for late claims to widows' benefit in rare cases such as those involving a missing person, when death is difficult to establish. The amendment will ensure that in such special circumstances, the current period of 12 months will continue to be allowed between the time when a body is discovered and identified, and the time when the widow is advised of this. I commend the amendment to the House and hope that the other amendments will be withdrawn or rejected.

Mr. Rendel

I am delighted to have the chance to wind up the debate. I do not intend to take much of the House's time over it.

To cut through some of the verbiage that has gone before, the heart of new clause 2 is that the Government are expecting to pay out less in benefits, by restricting the amount of backdating. If they pay out less in benefits by restricting backdating, that inevitably means that—

It being Ten o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 15 (Exempted business), That, at this day's sitting, the Social Security Bill may be proceeded with, though opposed, until any hour.—[Janet Anderson.]

Question agreed to.

As amended (in the Standing Committee), again considered.

Question again proposed, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr. Rendel

With new clause 2, we are trying to overcome what will inevitably be a restriction in benefits to those who have the right to them, but who may not claim them in time. If anyone doubts that that will happen, he or she need only look at what the Government are saying about the drop in the amount that they are expecting to pay out in benefits as a result of clause 72.

I am especially worried about housing benefit. People have said to me that they are concerned about the difficulties of people who do not claim housing benefit on time. They get into arrears on their rent or their mortgage and as a result, they may later find themselves without a home. That should be of great concern to every hon. Member.

It is also true that many of the benefit forms that claimants face are off-putting. Some of them are long and complex. I was delighted to hear the Minister say in Committee and today that he is looking for imaginative solutions and for ways in which the claim forms can be made rather easier to understand. That will overcome some of the problems. I have no doubt, however, that there will still be a need for some complexity in the forms, and that some claimants will find them difficult to handle and will be put off making their claims in time for that reason alone.

We want those who are due benefits but who do not claim them on time, with good reason, to be given a chance to claim them more than one month late. I do not suggest that the Government should allow anybody to claim any time after the event. If people are dilatory and put off a claim for no good reason, there is some justification for saying that they should have pressure put on them to make their claim promptly, by the introduction of a restriction on the extent to which they can backdate the claim. If, however, people have a good reason for a late claim, it is only right and proper that the claim should be allowed from the time that the benefit was first due to them.

I am unhappy with the Minister's response, and we wish to press new clause 2 to a vote. Conservative Members may press new schedule 1 to a vote. We see some justification for having the special reasons put on the face of the Bill, and we shall support new schedule 1 if it is pressed to a vote.

We do not believe that it is possible to predict everybody's reasons for being late with a claim. For that reason alone, it would be better for the House to agree to new clause 2 rather than to new schedule.1. We would, however, rather have new schedule 1 than nothing. We believe that only new clause 2 will properly allow the Government to pay all the benefits to people who need them and are due them.

Mr. Waterson

I do not want to weary the House by going over the arguments for new schedule 1 yet again, self-evident and excellent though they are. Suffice it to say that the Minister has not explained adequately why he is not prepared to accept it. I am genuinely surprised that he is not. If he can write a letter to the Committee setting out the exceptions in such exquisite detail, there is no reason why that should not be part of the Bill. I shall move new schedule 1 formally, and I ask my hon. Friends to join me in the Lobby.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The house divided: Ayes 57, Noes 345.

Division No. 113] [10.4 pm
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Kirkwood, Archy
Baker, Norman Livsey, Richard
Ballard, Mrs Jackie Llwyd, Elfyn
Beggs, Roy McCartney, Robert (N Down)
Beith, Rt Hon A J Maclennan, Rt Hon Robert
Brake, Tom Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Brand, Dr Peter Moore, Michael
Breed, Colin Morgan, Alasdair (Galloway)
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Oaten, Mark
Burnett, John Öpik, Lembit
Burstow, Paul Paisley, Rev Ian
Cable, Dr Vincent Rendel, David
Campbell, Menzies (NE Fife) Ross, William (E Lond'y)
Chidgey, David Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Cotter, Brian Salmond, Alex
Cunningham, Ms Roseanna (Perth) Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Dafis, Cynog Stunell, Andrew
Davey, Edward (Kingston) Swinney, John
Donaldson, Jeffrey Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Ewing, Mrs Margaret Tonge, Dr Jenny
Fearn, Ronnie Tyler, Paul
Forsythe, Clifford Wallace, James
Foster, Don (Bath) Webb, Steve
George, Andrew (St Ives) Welsh, Andrew
Gorrie, Donald Wigley, Rt Hon Dafydd
Harris, Dr Evan Willis, Phil
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N) Tellers for the Ayes:
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham) Mr. Adrian Sanders and
Kennedy, Charles (Ross Skye) Mr. Paul Keetch.
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N) Atkins, Charlotte
Ainger, Nick Austin, John
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Banks, Tony
Alexander, Douglas Barron, Kevin
Allen, Graham Battle, John
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) Bayley, Hugh
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale) Beard, Nigel
Armstrong, Ms Hilary Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret
Ashton, Joe Begg, Miss Anne
Atherton, Ms Candy Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough)
Bennett, Andrew F Edwards, Huw
Benton, Joe Efford, Clive
Bermingham, Gerald Ellman, Mrs Louise
Betts, Clive Ennis, Jeff
Blackman, Liz Fatchett, Derek
Blair, Rt Hon Tony Field, Rt Hon Frank
Blears, Ms Hazel Fisher, Mark
Blizzard, Bob Fitzpatrick, Jim
Blunkett, Rt Hon David Fitzsimons, Lorna
Boateng, Paul Flint, Caroline
Borrow, David Follett, Barbara
Bradley, Keith (Withington) Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin) Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Bradshaw, Ben Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Brinton, Mrs Helen Foulkes, George
Brown, Rt Hon Gordon (Dunfermline E) Galbraith, Sam
Galloway, George
Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E) Gapes, Mike
Brown, Russell (Dumfries) Gardiner, Barry
Browne, Desmond George, Bruce (Walsall S)
Buck, Ms Karen Gerrard, Neil
Burden, Richard Gibson, Dr Ian
Burgon, Colin Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Butler, Mrs Christine Godman, Norman A
Byers, Stephen Godsiff, Roger
Caborn, Richard Goggins, Paul
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth) Golding, Mrs Llin
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge) Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Campbell-Savours, Dale Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Canavan, Dennis Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Cann, Jamie Grocott, Bruce
Caplin, Ivor Grogan, John
Casale, Roger Gunnell, John
Caton, Martin Hain, Peter
Cawsey, Ian Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S) Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Chaytor, David Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Church, Ms Judith Hanson, David
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields) Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet
Clark, Dr Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands) Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Healey, John
Clark, Paul (Gillingham) Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S) Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge) Hepburn, Stephen
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S) Heppell, John
Clelland, David Hesford, Stephen
Coaker, Vernon Hewitt, Ms Patricia
Coffey, Ms Ann Hill, Keith
Cohen, Harry Hinchliffe, David
Coleman, Iain Hodge, Ms Margaret
Colman, Tony Hoey, Kate
Connarty, Michael Home Robertson, John
Cooper, Yvette Hood, Jimmy
Corbett, Robin Hoon, Geoffrey
Corston, Ms Jean Hope, Phil
Cranston, Ross Hopkins, Kelvin
Crausby, David Howarth, Alan (Newport E)
Cummings, John Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Cunliffe, Lawrence Howells, Dr Kim
Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr John (Copeland) Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Dalyell, Tam Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair Humble, Mrs Joan
Darvill, Keith Hurst, Alan
Davidson, Ian Hutton, John
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C) Iddon, Dr Brian
Davies, Rt Hon Ron (Caerphilly) Illsley, Eric
Dawson, Hilton Ingram, Adam
Denham, John Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)
Dewar, Rt Hon Donald Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Dismore, Andrew Jenkins, Brian
Dobson, Rt Hon Frank Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Doran, Frank Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield)
Drew, David
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey) Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston) Jones, Mrs Fiona (Newark)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N) O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
Jones, Ms Jenny (Wolverh'ton SW) O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Olner, Bill
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C) O'Neill, Martin
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S) Organ, Mrs Diana
Jowell, Ms Tessa Osborne, Ms Sandra
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Palmer, Dr Nick
Keeble, Ms Sally Pearson, Ian
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston) Pendry, Tom
Kelly, Ms Ruth Perham, Ms Linda
Kemp, Fraser Pickthall, Colin
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree) Pike, Peter L
Khabra, Piara S Plaskitt, James
Kidney, David Pond, Chris
Kilfoyle, Peter Pope, Greg
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth) Pound, Stephen
Kumar, Dr Ashok Powell, Sir Raymond
Ladyman, Dr Stephen Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Lawrence, Ms Jackie Primarolo, Dawn
Laxton, Bob Purchase, Ken
Lepper, David Quin, Ms Joyce
Leslie, Christopher Quinn, Lawrie
Levitt, Tom Radice, Giles
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S) Rammell, Bill
Lewis, Terry (Worsley) Rapson, Syd
Liddell, Mrs Helen Raynsford, Nick
Linton, Martin Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C) Reid, Dr John (Hamilton N)
Lock, David Robertson, Rt Hon George (Hamilton S)
Love, Andrew
McAvoy, Thomas Robinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)
McCabe, Steve Roche, Mrs Barbara
McCartney, Ian (Makerfield) Rogers, Allan
McDonagh, Siobhain Rooker, Jeff
Macdonald, Calum Rooney, Terry
McFall, John Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
McGuire, Mrs. Anne Rowlands, Ted
McIsaac, Shona Roy, Frank
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary Ruane, Chris
McLeish, Henry Ruddock, Ms Joan
McNulty, Tony Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
MacShane, Denis Ryan, Ms Joan
Mactaggart, Fiona Savidge, Malcolm
McWalter, Tony Sawford, Phil
McWilliam, John Sedgemore, Brian
Mahon, Mrs Alice Shaw, Jonathan
Mallaber, Judy Sheerman, Barry
Mandelson, Peter Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Marek, Dr John Shipley, Ms Debra
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S) Short, Rt Hon Clare
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury) Singh, Marsha
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Skinner, Dennis
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Martlew, Eric Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S)
Maxton, John Smith, Miss Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Meale, Alan
Merron, Gillian Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Michael, Alun Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Milburn, Alan Snape, Peter
Miller, Andrew Soley, Clive
Moffatt, Laura Southworth, Ms Helen
Moonie, Dr Lewis Spellar, John
Moran, Ms Margaret Squire, Ms Rachel
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N) Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Morgan, Rhodri (Cardiff W) Steinberg, Gerry
Morley, Elliot Stevenson, George
Morris, Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley) Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Morris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon) Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Mowlam, Rt Hon Marjorie Stinchcombe, Paul
Mudie, George Stoate, Dr Howard
Mullin, Chris Stott, Roger
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck) Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood) Stringer, Graham
Murphy, Paul (Torfaen) Stuart, Ms Gisela
Naysmith, Dr Doug Sutcliffe, Gerry
Norris, Dan (Dewsbury) Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
Vis, Dr Rudi
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S) Watts- David
Temple-Morris, Peter White, Brian
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W) Whitehead, Dr Alan
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W) Wicks, Malcolm
Timms, Stephen Wills, Michael
Tipping, Paddy Wilson, Brian
Touhig, Don Winnick, David
Trickett, Jon Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Truswell, Paul Woolas, Phil
Turner, Dennis (Wolverth'ton SE) Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)
Turner, Desmond (Kemptown) Wyatt, Derek
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Twigg, Derek (Halton) Tellers for the Noes:
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield) Mr. David Jamieson and
Vaz, Keith Mr. Jim Dowd.

Question accordingly negatived.