§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
My Lords, this Bill is really in the nature of a drafting Amendment to the main Insurance Act. I hope it will be as non-controversial here as it was in another place. Your Lordships may remember that when the National Health Insurance Acts were consolidated some minor Amendments were introduced, and one of them was to prevent a practice, which had grown up, whereby certain elderly persons owning a business transferred that business to a relative and so became themselves employed and insured persons and entitled to insurance benefit, and that, after a very short period of insurance. Everybody agreed that it was desirable to stop this practice, and that was accordingly done in the Insurance Act of 1936; but the words that were adopted to prevent the practice went very much further than was actually intended, so that various people were taken out of insurance very abruptly without being given the right of a free insurance period and the option of becoming voluntary contributors. Thus a great deal of unintended hardship has been caused, not only to the people at whom the section was aimed, but to other people who were perfectly genuine employees. This Bill affects only a few hundred people, but one of them recently before the High Court gave evidence that these cases of hardship did exist. Accordingly this small drafting Amendment has been introduced. Your Lordships will notice that it deals not only with future cases but is retrospective as well. I hope that after this brief explanation your Lordships will give the Bill a Second Reading.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Viscount Gage.)
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.