HL Deb 13 April 1976 vol 369 cc2090-2

5.32 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that the Social Security and Family Allowances (Northern Ireland) Order 1976 be approved. It was laid before the House on 23rd March and has been made by urgent procedure without a draft having been approved by a Resolution of each House of Parliament. If it is to continue to have effect the order must now be approved.

The Education (School-Leaving Dates) Act 1976 provides that the summer school-leaving in England and Wales will be brought forward to the Friday before the last Monday in May. In Northern Ireland it is intended to make a similar change. The Northern Ireland Department of Education is able to provide for the change by subordinate legislation. The change in the school-leaving date necessitates certain changes in social security and family allowance provisions. These changes have already been made in Great Britain by the Education (School-Leaving Dates) Act 1976, and this order enacts similar provision for Northern Ireland and thus maintains the principle of parity in the cash social services. Since April 1975 the Board of Inland Revenue has been responsible for the collection of social security contributions along with PAYE. Because of the social security implications for the Northern Ireland Department of Health and Social Services, and more importantly because of the direct involvement of the Board of Inland Revenue in the contribution collection procedures which must operate from the beginning of a tax year, in this instance 6th April last, the order has been made under the urgent procedure.

The Employment Protection Act 1975 amends the social security legislation in Great Britain by restricting the scope of the trade dispute disqualification for unemployment benefit and supplementary benefit to persons who are participating or are directly interested in the trade dispute concerned. The order also makes a corresponding Amendment for Northern Ireland. It is, therefore, concerned with providing for Northern Ireland social secuity legislation similar to that enacted for the rest of the United Kingdom in the Education (School-Leaving Dates) Act 1976 and the Employment Protection Act 1975.

It is a short order consisting of 6 Articles. It might be helpful if I explained the general effect of each Article. Articles 1 and 2 relate to title, commencement and interpretation of the order. Article 3(1) deals with entry to the social security scheme. It amends the Social Security (Northern Ireland) Act 1975 so that the earliest date from which a person can be liable to pay social security contributions will be his 16th birthday. This does not change the existing arrangements whereby a young person who takes up employment before he is 16 does not have to pay contributions until he attains that age.

Article 3(2) relates to injury benefit and provides that for the purposes of entitlement to that benefit the existing definition of school-leaving age shall apply. When family allowances are replaced by child benefit under the Child Benefit Order age 16 will be substituted for school-leaving age. Article 4 amends the Social Security (Northern Ireland) Act 1975 and the Supplementary Benefits Etc. Act (Northern Ireland) 1966. It follows Section 111 of the Employment Protection Act 1975, and limits the class of persons who are disqualified for unemployment benefit or whose personal requirements are to be disregarded for the purposes of suppplementary benefit in consequence of a trade dispute to those who are participating in or directly interested in the dispute.

Article 5 enables provision to be made for the continued payment of family allowances in respect of children notwithstanding that they may have attained school-leaving age. Awards of family allowances and related child dependency benefit will remain in payment to a date to be fixed by regulation. This Article corresponds to Section 2(1) of the Education (School-Leaving Dates) Act. Article 6 contains provisions of a supplemental nature. I hope that this brief explanation will give noble Lords an adequate outline of the substance of the order. As I mentioned earlier it maintains the principle of parity between cash social services in Northern Ireland and those in Great Britain. I commend the order to the House. My Lords, I beg to move.

Moved, That the Social Security and Family Allowances (Northern Ireland) Order 1976, laid before the House on 23rd March, be approved.—(Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge.)