HL Deb 06 March 1979 vol 399 cc15-46

3.18 p.m.

Report received.

Clause 4 [Amendment of provisions relating to earnings after retirement age]:

Lord CULLEN of ASHBOURNE moved Amendment No. 1:

Page 4, line 9, at end insert— (" (4) Section 30 of the principal Act shall cease to have effect on 5th April 1984 and all references to that section in that Act or in any other enactment shall then likewise cease to have effect.")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I make no apology for retabling this Amendment, which was moved in Committee, to abolish the earnings rule. We did not press this Amendment then, partly because the Committee was thinly attended—it was just before the Recess—and partly because we wished to reflect on the arguments that had been put forward by those who argued an opposite view. We are convinced that the case put forward by the Conservative Party for many years, and on which I elaborated last month, is correct; and I shall be dealing with the points which were raised in Committee. Unless the Government can bring forward conclusive new evidence or concede our Amendment. we intend to divide the House.

I do not intend to go through the arguments contained in my speech of 22nd February, rebutting the Government's position. We have concluded that there is no real cost involved in abolishing the earnings rule; and this Amendment, which allows five years to elapse before abolition, will give the Government plenty of time to make the necessary arrangements. I will just confine myself to answering the two new points which were raised in Committee. The noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, said that the Government Actuary's figures on the cost of abolishing the earnings rule should be taken on trust because he is an independent person. The noble Lord chided me for questioning these figures. No one is saying that the Actuary is deliberately misleading the House. That is nonsense. But to accept what he says without close examination is surely wrong. I put it to the noble Lord that the mistakes made in 1977 over the cost of abolishing the earnings rule, which the Government admitted, were made by the Actuary himself. As a result of these mistakes, the Government published a 15-page paper in 1977 and, when we queried much that was in it, we were told by a Minister in another place that the Government Actuary's Department remained firmly of the view that the estimates contained in the Government's memorandum are the most reliable possible.

However, we know from the Official Report published in October 1978 that even these figures were wrong; and we now have a third set of estimates in that report. The late Lord Platt had this to say about the Actuary when we last debated the earnings rule: Why must we accept the facts just because actuaries are independent of Party? If they have made a mistake, they have made a mistake. Top consultants can be wrong; we all know that". But I am glad to say that the Actuary has now accepted most of the arguments put forward by the Conservative Party. The only remaining area of difference is the effect that the abolition of the earnings rule would have on the number of working pensioners.

This brings me to the point raised by my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter who argued that if retired people took jobs it would lead to higher unemployment among the young. I am grateful to my noble friend for having raised this point. He was Minister of Pensions and National Insurance in 1962 and, although it may seem a long time ago, he has great knowledge in this area. Of course, the world of social security has changed greatly since then. but much has remained unchanged.

This issue was also raised by the noble Lord, Lord Pargiter; and I should like to make three points. First, it does not necessarily follow that a job vacated by an older worker will be taken by a young unemployed person. There are many reasons for this. Sometimes, the pay is too low for a young man with a wife and child; sometimes the job requires a training which the young unemployed do not possess. Many engineering firms are complaining about the shortage of skilled labour and would benefit if older workers continued in employment. Secondly, there were some 700,000 job vacancies in the United Kingdom last month, according to official Government estimates. The figure that I gave in Committee of pensioners continuing in work represents less than 5 per cent. of that total. And, as I explained, many of them are, anyway, doing work which the young would not take on.

Thirdly, overhanging this whole question is the mistaken assumption that there is only a fixed amount of employment in the economy and that if one person, whatever his age, accepts a job then it means that someone else must lose a job. This question was tackled head-on during a BBC programme on retirement by Mr. Rogally of the Financial Times. He pointed out that there is nothing immutable about our present level of employment and he denounced such arguments as an "economic fallacy"—his words, not mine. Indeed, he could have pointed out that in West Germany there is a higher average retirement age than in Britain and yet there is a lower unemployment rate.

At a time when we have so many unfilled vacancies, can we afford to put difficulties in the way of people who are able and willing to work; and is there really any conflict over jobs between young and old people? Many jobs are better done by one and many by the other. I believe, with respect to those who take a contrary view, that this is a "red herring" since even the Government's policy is to abolish the earnings rule as soon as resources permit. The Liberal Party has consistently opposed the rule; and it is our policy to phase it out by 1984.

I hope that the House will agree to this Amendment, which passes a death sentence on the earnings rule. It would give incentive to many people with skills and long experience in every walk of life, many of whom are doing key jobs in factories, shops and offices; and, furthermore, it would encourage the pensioners who have given up work to fill some of the huge number of jobs which do not attract their juniors. I beg to move.

3.26 p.m.


My Lords, I think it is clearly understood that the intention of this Amendment is to ensure that the retirement pensioners' earnings rule is abolished in April 1984. Noble Lords will recall that the noble Lord, Lord Cullen of Ashbourne, spoke to a similar Amendment during the Committee stage of the Bill. The noble Lord considers that five years is an adequate time over which to abolish the earnings rule because he is of the opinion that the cost of abolition is less than that estimate set out in the Report on the Earnings Rule which my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Social Services laid before Parliament last October—when he said that it would cost between £64 million and £124 million depending upon what assumptions are made.

I do not wish to take up more of your Lordships' time than is necessary with a detailed consideration of costs. They have been given a pretty good run in this House: they were debated at sonic length during the passage of the Social Security (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill in 1977, and last October we published the report to which I have referred and which closely examines the various costs. The published estimates were the most sophisticated that it has so far been possible to make. I know that the noble Lord is not prepared to accept the opinions of independent persons in this matter. He relies upon his argument, if I may say so kindly, that they have been wrong once and that, therefore. it follows that they must be wrong every time. I would not accept that, and I should be surprised if any noble Lord would accept that argument.

I think it is also patently clear that it is doubtful whether the noble Lord wants to accept arguments which may destroy his own case. This I can understand. Nevertheless, there was one point made by the noble Lord in the debate that we had at the Committee stage—and which he has touched on this afternoon, but not to any great extent—which I think invites comment. I ask your Lordships to consider this because it really is important. When one begins to analyse what I want to say there is no real validity in one of the arguments that has been put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Cullen of Ashbourne, in respect of pensioners who would work if the retirement pension limitation, the earnings rule, was abolished. The noble Lord estimated that the cost of abolishing the earnings rule could be offset, so he said at the Committee stage, by up to £50 million a year by way of extra tax revenue resulting from pensioners who do not now work because, by taking up work with average earnings, that amount of money could be recovered by normal taxation.

The noble Lord, Lord Cullen of Ashbourne, mentioned a figure of some 35,000 pensioners who are not now working because they object to the earnings rule limit of £45. Remove that and, the noble Lord says, they would all go out to work and we would recover that amount that is needed, something like £50 million. Leaving aside the question of the availability of employment for these pensioners —and although I am prepared to leave it aside, let me say frankly that I do not believe it would be all that easy for them to find work which would yield that amount by way of taxation—I do not understand the noble Lord's reasons for thinking that 35,000 pensioners who at present can collect their retirement pension and still do a job, provided it does not exceed £45 a week, but who choose not to work when they could do so, would go out to work. The noble Lord says that because of the earnings rule of £45 a week, they choose quite deliberately not to go out to work. I find it very difficult to believe that if the earnings rule was abolished they would immediately take up full-time employment with average earnings—I think he used the phrase "average earnings"—which today amount to something like £95 a week. One would have thought that if they wanted to work and if work was available to them—and I doubt it—they would already be earning in the region of £45 a week.

So we are far from convinced that the alternative estimates challenging our own are based on sound evidence. It would serve no purpose of ours to put forward figures that were unnecessarily high. We too welcome low figures if they can be justified. The Government remain quite satisfied that the cost of abolishing the earnings rule is formidably high, and, even if resources became available which would enable us to make some step towards the abolition of powers conferred by Clause 4, I have no doubt that the cost of the final abolition at the end of the five-year period would still be a very considerable sum.

I know your Lordships well enough to know that if I say that we have gone into this matter really carefully you will accept that. There is no great merit in asking your Lordships not to accept an Amendment it' there is a great deal of merit in the Amendment. There is a great deal of merit in the Amendment so far as it goes—and that is the principle of abolition; but not automatically at the end of five years. I was heartened—and noble Lords will expect me to have been heartened—at the support that was given in the debate by the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, who, as I recall, accepted the Government's estimates. He spoke, if I may be permitted to say so, with considerable experience in this field. In this particular field I for one would be prepared to accept—although we may not agree on a number of other things—whatever he chose to say. He in fact doubted whether it was good priority for expenditure to give this additional money to people over pensionable age who were fortunate enough to be able to continue in employment.

However, as I have endeavoured to make clear, all this depends on what resources are available. This Amendment takes no account of what the economic climate will be in the next five years. I am surprised that the noble Lord, Lord Cullen of Ashbourne, is prepared to commit a Government in five years' time. Noble Lords opposite have a very strong feeling that they might then be sitting on this side of the House. Is it wise now to commit a future Government when we really cannot see clearly what the situation is going to be?

Apart from all this, the Amendment would not effectively deal with the situation arising from abolition of the earnings rule. As I endeavoured to make clear to your Lordships in Committee, the earnings rule is part and parcel of the retirement condition which makes the pension a retirement pension. Let us pause and look at that for a moment. The whole point of the retirement pension is to mark a period in one's life when one can retire. Section 27 of the Social Security Act sets it out clearly. If one does away with the earnings rule, one has to do away with the retirement condition. This means a significant structural alteration of the Acts with major consequential Amendments, because we should be changing the basic nature of the pension. In fact, while Clause 4 will enable us to reduce the age at which the earnings rule ceases to apply, thus phasing out the earnings rule, the final step of abolishing it would have to be by an amending Act because of these major consequential Amendments which would be necessary.

I ask your Lordships to think, as I know you will, of all the implications involved in this. We do not want to preserve the earnings rule for the sake of preserving it; there is no difference on any side in your Lordships' House about getting rid of the earnings rule. However, what we want to do is to do it gradually and not be committed to do it within five years regardless of what the position may be then. Notwithstanding the fact that the noble Lord has intimated that he intends to divide the House, I ask him to think again. I do not know whether I can persuade him that the Government's view of this matter is, after all, a very realistic, reasonable view; but I ask your Lordships to consider it carefully because I think that it would be unwise for this Amendment to be taken into the Bill.

3.39 p.m.


My Lords, what this Amendment appears to be doing, as my noble friend says, is to pass the death sentence on the earnings rule. It often seems a surprisingly long time in real life before a death sentence is carried out; but it is very rare for a death sentence to be postponed for five years. For that reason alone, I agree with the Minister that it would be wise for us to consider very carefully whether we should accept this Amendment today.

One of the difficulties of something like the earnings rule is that it seems so deceptively simple. The Minister in his short speech has made it clear that it is in fact very complicated. I do not for a moment intend to go into all the complica- tions of it, but I think I am right in saying that Section 30 of the principal Act that we are being asked to say shall cease to have effect has two separate legs, so to speak. There are in fact two earnings rules. One of them restricts the amount that a male retirement pensioner who is between the ages of 65 and 70 may earn and the amount that females between 60 and 65 may earn, without losing part or all of their retirement pension. The other restricts the amount that a retirement or invalidity pensioner's dependent wife may earn, without affecting the wife's part of the married rate of the pension. I hope I have got that right! I shall say it again: it restricts the amount that a retirement or invalidity pensioner's dependent wife may earn without affecting the wife's part of the married rate of pension. That is known as the test of dependency.

As to the latter, the report states that the Government see no possibility of its abolition, since it would not be reasonable to pay a married pensioner an increase for his dependent wife without any regard to the amount of her earnings—that is, without regard to whether in fact she was a dependant or whether or not the husband was dependent upon her. Personally, I find this a convincing argument, and I hope that the noble Lord will be able to tell us that the effect of this Amendment will be to get rid of both of these legs in five year's time.

May I, for clarification, put one or two other questions to the Minister, who I am sure will be permitted to speak again at this stage of the Bill. In fact, the noble Lord has already answered a question I was going to put—namely, whether this Amendment as it stands would affect the retirement condition: that is, the condition that a person must have left his or her full-time regular employment. I agree with the Minister, and I am sure that my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter would also agree, that whether or not this Amendment is accepted in the light of the conditions of the time—and it could of course be altered later—it would radically change the whole of the retirement side of the National Insurance scheme.

Now that the earnings limit beyond which the retirement pension is progressively reduced has reached £45 and is to be revised each year in relation to average earnings, I wonder whether the noble Lord has any later information than is given in the report as to how many men and women are currently having their pensions reduced because their earnings exceed the limit. Appendix 2 of the report put the figure at 2,600 for men and 1,000 for women in April 1978. It indicated that the number had been reduced to a total for men and women of 3,600, as against 14,500 in September 1974, as the earnings limit had been progressively increased from £13 to £45. I understand that the extra cost of abolishing the earnings rule there would be between £3 million and £4 million. I do not know whether that is correct, but of course the major part of the cost would come from what is likely to be the choice of those who come up to retirement age as to whether they take the pension or defer taking it.

As I understand it, if 40 per cent. defer taking the pension, then the cost to the National Insurance Fund will be £117 million. If nobody defers taking the pension, it will be just on £200 million. If I read Section 1 of the principal Act correctly, all payments out of the Fund have to come from contributions to the Fund. Therefore, it follows so far as taxation is concerned that whatever might be the overall saving by people earning more, that additional amount would have to be found from the National Insurance Fund. It is out of the question for the Government to find that money because they already pay 18 per cent. as their contribution to the Fund. It would have to come from contributions. I do not know what the extra contributions would have to be, but it is worth considering whether for this particular purpose it would be, so to say, worth the money.

I think it is important to recall to your Lordships what the report says on this matter. As regards the cost arising directly from the abolition of the earnings rule, as distinct from that arising indirectly through deferment of taking the pension, the report says this: Only a very small proportion—£2 million, after allowing for tax—of the additional expenditure that would result from abolishing the earnings rule would go as additional benefit to retirement pensioners whose pensions are being reduced because of their earnings. Nearly all of it would go to those in employment with earnings in excess of —45 a week—the majority of them in employment—and to their wives. It must be questioned whether additional expenditure on this group of people can be held to warrant any priority in the present economic situation when there are so many categories—the disabled, the unemployed, one-parent families—whose needs appear greater". On the far greater expenditure that is involved in connection with those who defer retirement from employment or indeed cease working if they are self-employed, here again most of those concerned will be those in the comparatively high income brackets. They will be those who are earning £100 per week. £200 per week, or possibly even £500 a week. Those are the people who would be getting their pension in addition, although they were still capable of working. I must remind your Lordships that the whole purpose of making the pension a retirement pension was to ensure, with as much flexibility as possible, that those who are no longer capable of working full-time because of their age can, if they like, retire and, subject to the earnings rule, get their full pension at 65, although at 70 they will get their full pension whether or not they have retired.

The whole purpose of the National Insurance scheme was to ensure that when you were unemployed, sick or old and when you were not capable of working, you should have something coming in. It was in support of this that the earnings rule was established. One cannot possibly argue that after 30 years the same conditions should necessarily pertain, but what one can say is that this is a matter that would have to be looked at exceedingly carefully, from time to time, by whatever Government were in power, and I suggest to your Lordships that it was not very wise in those circumstances to say exactly what should be done five years from now.


My Lords, I shall not prolong this debate. I merely want to ask my noble friend a question, so that we see the matter in its proper perspective. Is it a fact that the earnings rule, with the embargo it imposes, ceases at the age of 70 and that people over 70 can earn as much as they like without their pension being interfered with?

3.51 p.m.


My Lords, perhaps I may make a very brief comment. The Bill makes provision, as we know, for ending the earnings rule. It is clear that the Government have accepted the principle, the noble Lord has said that he has accepted the principle and the Opposition Front Bench have accepted the principle. Yet some of the arguments which are being put, particularly by the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, are questioning that and they want to go back into the argument about the principle itself. But if we were to do that, and to take up the points which the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, has raised, I think we should have to consider the fact that people who have unearned income are not in any way curtailed from taking their full pension, it' they wish to do so and are entitled to draw it.

It seems to me that there is very general agreement on the principle, and that the only thing that stops the Government from applying the principle is the question of expense. But if we take the figure that the noble Lord says is the cost and spread that over live years, and remember that £10,000 million is what is spent out of the National Insurance Fund, I wonder whether we are really saying that this is an impossible burden to place upon that Fund? I do not believe that it is. I think that it all depends on how much we want to get rid of the earnings rule and all that it implies, and some reference has been made to that. If we want to do it, we have the opportunity to do it and we could carry it over the five-year term; so my inclination is to support the Amendment.

3.53 p.m.


My Lords, I must apologise to your Lordships for the fact that business commitments prevented me from being present at the beginning of this debate. I must particularly apologise to my noble friend on the Opposition Front Bench, for the fact that I did not have the pleasure and privilege of hearing his speech. But as the noble Lord the Minister has indicated, I took part in the discussion which your Lordships had in Committee, and I am bound to say that nothing that I have heard this afternoon has altered the view which I then expressed.

Briefly, there seem to me to be two objections to my noble friend's Amendment. First, there is the impact on the retirement principle. Whatever your-Lordships may think of the retirement principle, it has stood the experience of 30 years of operation; and I suggest, particularly in your Lordships' House, that a rule which has stood up to that test should not be lightly thrown away. In other words, the onus of proof is on those who would establish that it now served no useful purpose. I am bound to say that I have heard nothing at the earlier stages of this Bill, or since I returned this afternoon, to suggest that that onus has been discharged.

Secondly, I take the practical point of view, which was expressed by my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn and which, I think, is likely to be expressed by anybody who, like him and myself, has had responsibility for the administration of these services, as to whether the payment of pensions to those who, as a matter of definition, are in full-time and reasonably well-paid work, should have a very high priority in the expenditure of funds from the National Insurance Fund. Those of us who have been responsible for these schemes know that one receives many heart-searching demands for additional payments, all over our social security scheme, from those who are in real need and who could he helped were even a few million additional pounds available. It is difficult to set against those demands—and the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, is in a better position than any of us today to describe them—the understandable desire of those who, having attained the age of 65 as men, or 60 as women, are lucky enough to be in good health and full-time work, to have a pension as well, ahead of all the other a priori more compelling demands that the Minister concerned has to face.

Therefore, I am sorry to say that I find it impossible to support my noble friend's Amendment. It may be that by the time we come to 1984—perhaps a rather significant Orwellian year—the country will be in so prosperous a condition that the limited number of millions of pounds involved may not be an excessive demand on the National Insurance Fund. We do not know. But I find it a little difficult to say now, in 1979, that we are so certain that that will be the position in 1984 that we ought to provide for the earnings rule automatically to end in that year. I am left with at least a lingering doubt that, whoever carries out the responsibilities of the noble Lord the Minister in that year, may be quite likely to have stronger demands on merits put to him for expenditure from that Fund, rather than to pay it to supplement the good earnings of those in good work.

Therefore, I am sorry to have to tell my noble friend that I find it impossible to support him. In the light of the arguments which have been addressed to him, particularly those addressed to him with great authority by my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn, as well as by the Minister, I hope that he will not feel it necessary to press this Amendment to a Division. If, unhappily, he does, then I must with equal unhappiness tell him that I shall be in the Government Lobby.

3.58 p.m.


My Lords, may I in a very few sentences support every word that my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter has just said, not only because I was his Parliamentary Secretary when he was Minister of Pensions and National Insurance, but because he has put forward all the most convincing arguments on this question and has done it so very clearly. I feel it extremely difficult to imagine the position of the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance, or whatever the title may then be, in 1984, if he should come into office and find this provision on the Statute Book and something which he has to make fresh arrangements to meet.

There is one other argument which I should like to mention, and if it was referred to when I was not in your Lordships' House I apologise. I have always understood that in the days of the Beveridge inquiries it was decided that it was a much better way of dividing the funds available for those of retiring age to give the benefit to those who were no longer able to work, rather than to spread them over a large number of people and bring into the calculations many of those who were able to earn quite substantial incomes. I have always found that argument convincing and I think that it still is. I am very sorry that I cannot support my noble friend if he should ask me to go into the Lobby, but I feel that this is a very important issue and it is one where emotion very often clouds the real facts. If it comes to a Division, I hope that we think of the basic principles behind the retirement pension in this country, rather than the emotions which we know move a great many people.

4 p.m.


My Lords, I intervened briefly during the Committee stage. Nothing that I have heard today alters the view that I then expressed. First, it is undesirable to use a relatively minor Act of Parliament to alter a major Act of Parliament. I think that this is a fundamental weakness which is dividing us at this stage. It may be necessary to do it, but there are all kinds of factors to be considered. Very few occupational pensions were in existence when the Act was passed, but now they are almost universal. Also, we have the additional accruing pension as a result of the amendments to the Act. This brings other factors into a situation which is far different from that which we knew in 1948. These are the kind of things which ought to be considered, and they should not be considered briefly on an Amendment of this kind. They deserve to be properly examined.

I do not want to go into the argument as to whether or not we should abolish the earnings rule, or how we should distribute the money that is available. However, I believe that we should have a thorough examination of this matter, just as we had Beveridge to begin with. We are now considering matters which are as vital as those which came to the House of Commons from the Beveridge Commission. Although I am not advocating at this stage that there should be a Commission, it seems to me that there should be a wide-ranging examination of the situation before we contemplate a change of this kind.

4.2 p.m.

Baroness YOUNG

My Lords, I think that the debate has shifted right away from the Amendment moved by my noble friend Lord Cullen of Ashbourne. We are not discussing his Amendment. We are discussing instead the entire principle of the earnings rule. If I may echo what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Banks, from the Liberal Benches, both the Government, ourselves and the Liberal Party are absolutely agreed on the principle that the earnings rule should go. There is no disagreement on that point. May I say to my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter, who I acknowledge has had a very great deal of experience of this matter, and also to my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn—to both of whom I have listened with very great care, as is only right since they are speaking with very considerable knowledge—that they are arguing the principle of this case, to which they object. They are, of course, absolutely entitled to their opinions, but that is not the issue which is before the House, because everybody is agreed on the principle.

May I also say to the noble Lord, Lord Pargiter, that when we debated this subject during the passage of a miscellaneous Bill on social security, we on this side of the House moved an Amendment to have a report on the working of the earnings rule. As a result, the whole question has been looked at. There is a report upon it, and it is upon that basis that I am quite certain that the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, and his advisers have reached their conclusions on the Amendments which they have placed before us; they are agreed that the principle of the earnings rule should go. If one looks at paragraph 4.2 on page 14 of the report, one sees that the Government remain committed to phasing out the earnings rule when resources allow. So I do not think that there is any dis-agreement on the principle, which I believe has been looked at.

When my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter was a Minister in 1962, I believe that the situation in the country was very different. That was nearly 20 years ago. There are now far more retirement pensioners; people are living longer; our attitude to the elderly and to the retired has changed. Apart from the financial considerations, to which I shall turn in a minute, there are very many important social questions which deserve to be given equal weight in the argument. From my own experience in the social services, I know that thousands of elderly people are much happier if they can work and have independence than if they are simply retired, although they are capable of working but are prevented from doing so and are doing nothing. This a very important point in the argument and it should not be forgotten.

When we debated the problems of the retired some time ago in your Lordships' House, there was general assent from all parts that it is very important for elderly people to be allowed to retain their independence and their dignity. They are, on the whole, fitter and better as a result, provided that they choose to work. Nobody has got to do any of these things. The choice is theirs. It seems to me that it should be our job to increase the element of choice for the elderly as well as for other members of the population.


My Lords, I wonder whether my noble friend would allow me to intervene. Is she aware that under the present position, which the Amendment proposes to disturb, there is nothing whatever to prevent their freedom of choice, including earning up to £45 a week?

Baroness YOUNG

My Lords, I am absolutely aware of that point. It was as a result of activities of the Conservative Party in another place that the earnings rule now stands at £45 a week, which is highly desirable. All I am saying is that now we are discussing not the principle, because that has been agreed, but whether or not it should be abolished altogether.

If I may turn to the detailed arguments which were set out by the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, he used two principal arguments against my noble friend Lord Cullen of Ashbourne. The first point that he made was that our calculations may not be accurate and that they have taken an independent point of view which we should look at. May I say that in any remarks that we make today or, indeed, on any other occasion nobody wishes to criticise the Government Actuary. We are not in a position to do so, nor would it be right to do so. What we have said, and what has been borne out by the facts, is that his figures have not proved to be accurate, as we have discussed this argument on each occasion, and that some of the basic assumptions—and they must be only assumptions—on which he has based his figures have not proved to be correct. Therefore we feel confident that we can go ahead on the basis of the calculations that we have made. We think that that is right. As I say, this is not a criticism of the Government Actuary. The second argument—and it is the argument which my noble friend set out during the Committee stage at col. 1948—is this: how do we know that 35,000 pensioners would take up work and that we would get the money from the taxation of their earnings? The noble Lord did not say that we knew that that number would take up work; but what we do know from the surveys that have been made is that four out of 10 pensioners would like to work and that very many are deterred because they do not know about the £45 rule and therefore are put off. We have every reason to think that more pensioners would work were it made absolutely clear that there was no rule at all and that they could retain their pensions. This is the important point. Because it is a very confused and complicated world, people do not understand and are deterred from working. We have no reason to think that the numbers of retired people wishing to work would not increase if the earnings rule were abolished.

I believe that this has become a technical argument on timing, because all of the main Parties are agreed on the principle. We on this side of the House have taken a great interest in this matter over a number of years. In another place we pressed for the Amendments which increased the earnings rule up to £45 a week. We have committed ourselves publicly to the principle of the abolition of the earnings rule. We believe that this is right and we have no reason to doubt the figures that we have produced upon it. We believe that we have the support of thousands of people in the country, and certainly it is the wish of my right honourable friend Mr. Jenkin in another place. When he has heard the arguments, I hope very much that my noble friend will press this matter because it will give an opportunity to the other place to have a look at it. After all, this is not the end of the passage of the Bill.

In conclusion, may I say that any piece of legislation which comes before your Lordships' House is important. I do not think that we should ever be deterred from doing what we believe to be right, even if it is not the most important piece of legislation that has ever come before your Lordships' House. What is suggested here will help many people, and I believe that it is the right thing to do.

4.10 p.m.


My Lords, this is the Report stage and the rules of the House are very clear as to how often one may speak, which is once, except for the mover; but I believe that as Minister I may ask your Lordships for permission to speak again. However, I want to make it quite clear that I have no intention of trying to make another speech to convince your Lordships. It would be improper of me to take advantage of my position to do that, but I think I ought to try to answer specific questions which have been put to me as Minister. If your Lordships will allow me, I will do that and nothing more.

The noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, raised the question of the effect. All I want to say is that Section 30 of the Social Security Act relates only to the retirement pensions earnings rule; the dependency earnings rule is in Section 45(3) of the Social Security Act, so the Amendment does not affect the dependency earnings rule. Lord Drumalbyn also asked how many pensioners are having their pensions reduced because of the earnings rule. The latest figure the Government have is the figure for 1977 which is given in the report; namely, that 5,000 pensioners are in fact affected by the earnings rule. But the figure of 5,000 has to be seen in the context of 2 million pensioners who were in the age bands, were working, and therefore affected by the earnings rule. I was asked whether the earnings rule applied to those over the age of 70. The short answer is that it applies only to those retired pensioners who are between the ages of 65 and 70.


My Lords, we have had a long debate on this subject, a great deal of which seemed to me to be not about my Amendment but about the principle whether or not the earnings rule should be abolished. I do not propose to go through what I said before, so without any further ado I should like to test the opinion of the House.

4.13 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 1) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 108: Not-Contents, 71.

Addison, V. Elton, L. Nunburnholme, L.
Airedale, L. Emmet of Amberley, B. O'Hagan, L.
Alexander of Tunis, E. Exeter, M. Onslow, E.
Allan of Kilmahew, L. Falkland, V. Penrhyn, L.
Allerton, L. Foot, L. Polwarth, L.
Alport, L. Fraser of Kilmorack, L. Porritt, L.
Amherst, E. Gainford, L. Rankeillour, L.
Ampthill, L. Geoffrey-Lloyd, L. Rawlinson of Ewell, L.
Amulree, L. Gladwyn, L. Redesdale, L.
Arran, E. Glasgow, E. Reigate, L.
Atholl, D. Glenarthur, L. Romney, E.
Auckland, L. Gray, L. St. Davids, V.
Avon, E. Gridley, L. St. Helens, L.
Banks, L. Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. Saint Oswald, L.
Belstead, L. Sandys, L.
Berkeley, B. Hampton, L. Seear, B.
Bessborough, E. Harmar-Nicholls, L. Selkirk, E.
Bethell, L. Jeffreys, L. Skelmersdale, L.
Birdwood, L. Kimberley, E. Sligo, M.
Byers, L. Kinnoull, E. Smith, L.
Caithness, E. Kintore, E. Stanley of Alderley, L.
Campbell of Croy, L. Lloyd of Kilgerran, L. Strathspey, L.
Cathcart, E. Long, V. Stuart of Findhorn, V.
Clwyd, L. Luke, L. Swaythling, L.
Cockfield, L. Lyell, L. Swinfen, L.
Cottesloe, L. Macleod of Borve, B. Swinton, E.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Margadale, L. Tenby, V.
Daventry, V. Massereene and Ferrard, V. Teviot, L.
Davidson, V. Melville, V. Thurlow, L.
de Clifford, L. Merrivale, L. Ullswater, V.
De Freyne, L. Mills, V. Vernon, L.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Molson, L. Vickers, B.
Digby, L. Mowbray and Stourton, L. [Teller.] Vivian, L.
Donegall, M. Westbury, L.
Ebbisham, L. Netherthorpe, L. Wolverton, L.
Elles, B. Northchurch, B. Young, B.
Elliot of Harwood, B. Nugent of Guildford, L.
Annan, L. Greenwood of Rossendale, L. Pannell, L.
Aylestone, L. Hale, L. Pargiter, L.
Bacon, B. Hamnett, L. Parry, L.
Blease, L. Henderson, L. Peart, L. (L. Privy Seal.)
Blyton, L. Houghton of Sowerby, L. Rochdale, V.
Boyd-Carpenter, L. Howie of Troon, L. Runciman of Doxford, V.
Brockway, L. Hunt, L. Segal, L.
Bruce of Donington, L. Hylton-Foster, B. Shinwell, L.
Clancarty, E. Ilchester, E. Snow, L.
Collison, L. Inglewood, L. Soper, L.
Craigavon, V. Jacques, L. Stewart of Alvechurch, B.
Darling of Hillsborough, L. Janner, L. Stone, L.
David, B. Jessel, L. Strabolgi, L.
Davies of Leek, L. Kinloss, Ly. Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Derwent, L. Kinross, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Leatherland, L. Wallace of Coslany, L. [Teller.]
Douglas of Barloch, L. Lee of Newton, L.
Drumalbyn, L. Leonard, L. [Teller.] Ward of North Tyneside, B.
Elwyn-Jones, L. (L. Chancellor.) Listowel, E. Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Energlyn, L. Loudoun, C. Wells-Pestall, L.
Fisher of Camden, L. McCluskey, L. Whaddon, L.
Gaitskell, B. Mishcon, L. White, B.
Gosford, E. Oram, L. Willis, L.
Greenway, L. Paget of Northampton, L. Wise, L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.

4.22 p.m.

Clause 11 [Increase of official pensions]:

Lord HOUGHTON of SOWERBY moved Amendment No. 2: Page 7, line 29, after ("in") insert ("subsections (1)(b), (2)(a), (3)(a) and (3)(b) for the words complete months' wherever they occur there is substituted the word 'days', and in").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 2. Amendment No. 3 can be taken for the purpose of the discussion in the same scope as Amendment No. 2. This may be regarded as a minor matter, even a niggling point. But my noble friend has heard rumblings on this subject on two previous occasions; firstly, when the noble Lord, Lord Banks, made reference to it in his speech on the Second Reading of the Bill, in column 936 of the Official Report of 8th February; then on the Committee stage of the Bill, my noble friend Lord Leatherland raised the matter on the Question that the clause stand part, and his comments and the Minister's reply are to be found in columns 1960–1 of the Official Report of 22nd February. What I said a moment ago about this Amendment was underlined, I think, by the concluding words of my noble friend, who, when replying to my noble friend Lord Leatherland, said: Although on the face of it there seems to be a point here, in practice there is nothing of any consequence at all ".—[Col. 1961.]

Well, my Lords, it is strange that on a matter which is of no consequence at all there has been so much correspondence from various organisations and public service pensioners. Before going any further, I think I had better declare that I have an interest in this Amendment, because I am on a pension which is related strictly to Civil Service conditions; so I am an injured party as well as one advocating a change.

What this Amendment tries to do is to remedy a small injustice which has occurred as a result of the harmonisation of the conditions of Civil Service and public service pensioners and State pensioners as regards pension increase and the effective dates of granting it. This harmonisation really takes place in this Bill. To that extent, it is, I think, a satisfactory ending to a very long saga of discontent about adjustment of Civil Service and public service pensions. This is, so to speak, the final tidying-up of discrepancies and difficulties both of principle and of administration which have arisen over past years.

In future the public service pensioners will have their pension increase calculated on the same basis as that of the State pensioners and it will be effective from the same date, which is 12th November in each year. Hitherto the public service pensioners have, under earlier legislation, had their pension increase dating from 1st December. Under the clause—what is now Clause 11 in the Bill—the public service pensioners will have the effective date of their pension increase brought forward from 1st December to 12th November; that is three weeks earlier than they get it now.

Unfortunately, however, in making this change they come up against the treatment of broken months. Under a subsequent subsection, subsection (3) of the same Clause 11, which we find on page 8 of the Bill, it is provided that: Where … it is necessary to calculate the number of complete months in any period an incomplete month shall be treated as a complete month if it consists of at least 16 days". By bringing forward the effective date of the pension increase from 1st December in 1979 to 12th November in 1979, the public service pensioners have a broken month which is less than 16 days. The result is that in 1979 they will receive eleven-twelfths of the increase for the year instead of twelve-twelfths, and this means that they will get a smaller pension increase than otherwise.

My noble friend the Minister on 22nd February said: "Ah, but they are getting it three weeks earlier, and in any case the difference here is, on average, only 5p a week, and that is a small enough margin of error in any calculation of this kind which tries to adjust pension increases to an increase in the cost of living". So he said, "There may seem to be a point here, but in practice it is of no consequence at all". The issue is: is it, or is it not, of any consequence at all?

It is true that in 1979 public service pensioners will have their pensions increased on 12th November instead of on 1st December but, as against that, they will receive eleven-twelfths of the increase instead of a full year's increase. Of course, in subsequent years this deprivation of the benefit for a full year will continue and there will be a permanent slight disadvantage. Why are they making such a fuss about this? There are two reasons.

The first is that it is claimed by the Public Service Pensioners' Council that there has been no consultation with them about this particular change, and that the consultation which they did have with Ministers and officials on the original Clause 10 of the Bill was on a different version from that which appeared when the Bill was printed. The second point that is raised is that during the Committee stage in another place the Minister assured the Committee that there had been adequate consultation with the Public Service Pensioner's Council and that they were fully aware of it. On the basis of that assurance, the Members of another place in the Committee, who were disposed to sympathise with the Amendment, thought that there was no need for them to continue to support it, so they withdrew it. It is said that that was due to a misunderstanding.

There seems to be something to clear up here. Was it adequately discussed? Was it discussed in the terms in which the Bill eventually appeared? Was the Amendment withdrawn in another place on an assurance by a Minister based upon a misundertanding? Those are the questions I ask. I cannot answer them. I can only say that the representation made to me and to other noble Lords asserts that there is a sense of grievance here.

Of course, it may be in the minds of many of us that one need not be too meticulous in these matters and that fastidiousness can be carried too far; that on the whole public service pensioners are getting a pretty good deal; that their index-linked pensions are secure and that the effective date from which they will receive them is established. In my experience and in the experience of the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, all those are things that they failed to secure over many years of agitation. We went over this ground year after year. Now that we have reached the present position, the situation is satisfactory.

Yet there is this fly in the ointment. I suggest to your Lordships that, first, we should ask my noble friend the Minister to explain the points that I have raised, answer the questions that I have asked and see whether there is still something that needs to be rectified before the Bill passes its final stages in your Lordships' House. I do not think that at the end of the day it would be fair for me to ask your Lordships to divide on this Amendment. I do not propose to do so. At the end of the debate on this Amendment I shall ask leave to withdraw it in order that we may consider the matter further before we reach the next stage of the Bill. If necessary, there can be consultation with those concerned to discover their ultimate feelings when my noble friend the Minister has had a greater opportunity than he had before to deploy the Government's case on Clause 11 as it now stands. However, I cannot give your Lordships any calculations as to what it means to me, because the truth of the matter is that it only dawned on me as I sat on these Benches a little while ago that I was involved in this at all. But, on reflection, I discover that I am. In those circumstances, we want to try to get the matter straight. We do not want this large number of public service pensioners to feel at the end of the day that there is just this niggling, irritating point which leads them to believe that they are receiving less than full justice.

In conclusion, I have only a sentence or two to say on administration. On 22nd January my noble friend the Minister said that this would be a late stage at which to change the basis of computation from months, which is obviously easier, to days, which is obviously more difficult; and that if they were calculating the number of days, people would need ready reckoners of a different kind from those they would need if they were calculating the number of months, especially when a month does not count unless it has at least 16 days within it. In those circumstances, there is undoubtedly some point as regards administration. However, I doubt whether that would be strongly urged against doing proper justice to the case, if justice there was found to be. Therefore, I hope that more adequate attention can be given to this matter than was possible when it was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Banks, on Second Reading, and very adequately included in the clause stand part debate—which I welcomed—by my noble friend Lord Leatherland. However, at that moment, the Minister was obviously in a mood to brush the matter aside in order to proceed with the rest of the Bill. I am sure that he will thank me for giving him a further opportunity to deploy his case more fully. I beg to move.

4.38 p.m.


My Lords, I would agree with my noble friend that if there is a doubt in any of your Lordships' minds at any time when we are considering the passage of a Bill, it is right and proper for those doubts to be raised with a view to getting a satisfactory explanation. I do not take exception in any way to this matter being raised, as my noble friend is raising it, by using the Amendment procedure. It is quite right and proper that we should do this. Whether or not I shall succeed in satisfying him is entirely another matter; but before I proceed to try to do so, perhaps I may dispose of the question of consultation.

My understanding of the position is that the arrangement for the 1979 increase was discussed with my right honourable friend the Minister of State and the Civil Service Department in the autumn of 1977. Since that time there have been three Further meetings with officials and at all those meetings this issue has been discussed. As soon as the Bill was announced to Parliament full details of it were sent to the Public Service Pensioners' Council, and at their request a further meeting with officials took place. I think that the Government are entitled to say that the views of the Public Service Pensioners' Council were very clearly known to the Departments concerned well before the Bill was prepared and were, in fact, taken fully into account after the Bill had been prepared. I want to say that because I think it would be a mistake if your Lordships felt that there had not been consultations, when my understanding of the situation is that there have been.

We touched on this matter—and I will not put it higher than that—at the Committee stage, but perhaps it will assist noble Lords to judge this matter if I remind your Lordships once again of the background; namely, that under the existing provisions of Section 2 of the Pensions (Increase) Act 1971, official pensions have been increased annually in December in line with the movement of prices. Section 59 of the Pensions Act provides that official pensions shall from 1979 be increased at the same time, and by the same percentage, as the earnings-related additional component of State retirement pensions, which will also be increased in line with the movement of prices. In this way, the Pensions Act integrates the two different systems of uprating State pensions and public service pensions. Clause 11 has been included in this Bill to eliminate some of the teething problems which have come to light during the preparations to put these integrated arrangements into practice.

Under the Pensions (Increase) Act 1971, each year was divided into two, six-month, blocks —January to June, and July to December. All those who retired in the same six-month block received the same increase. The Pensions Act, as at present drafted, both changes and improves the position by dividing the year into twelve, namely monthly blocks, so that the first increase which a pensioner would receive will now reflect far more precisely than before the date of his retirement. The new Bill also provides for rounding-up where a period after retirement falls just short of a complete number of months. But the Amendments which the noble Lord has tabled go considerably further by providing for an even greater refinement, to individual days.

As some noble Lords will know, the Public Service Pensioners' Council claim that the legislation will penalise existing pensioners because they will receive only 11 months' worth of inflation, and not 11 months and 11 days' worth in 1979, to compensate for price increases from 1st December 1978 to 12th November 1979. The Amendments before us would overcome this, I was going to say, theoretical problem, but I think the House will wish to consider whether this really is an "injustice" that merits a solution of this kind.

Although the change may seem a simple one, as I explained in Committee its effect on those who have to pay the pensions would be considerable and the amount of extra work involved would be extensive. In addition, problems arise particularly for the pensions of those who leave public service employment with a preserved pension which may come into payment as many as 30 years later. And this will affect 10,000 civil servants each year. At present, with six-monthly blocks in each year, there are two different multipliers for each of the last 30 odd years which may be applicable when a preserved pension comes into payment. With increases based on months, there will be 12 a year, and if these Amendments were passed there would be 365 a year. After 30 years that would mean that the clerical staff doing the work would have almost 11,000 different numbers in use instead of the 360 as the legislation now stands. The burden on them would therefore be very much heavier, and their instructions would, I think everyone would agree, have to be considerably complex. In short, the practical problems cannot be lightly dismissed and it is necessary to consider whether even more civil and public servants should be employed in order to deal with what is at most, I think it is fair to say, a minor discrepancy in the legislation, and may not be a discrepancy at all.

As officials have explained to the Council on a number of occasions, both before and after the introduction of this Bill, even if it could be accepted that prices rise uniformly over the course of the year (and I agree this is clearly not the case) index-linking to cover the missing 11 days might benefit the average pensioner by about 5p a week. The House must therefore consider whether this minor discrepancy is really sufficient to justify a major operation to re-programme the computers, and a permanent increase in the number of civil and public servants employed to pay public service pensions. Your Lordships have often, in debates in this House, argued strongly that we have already enough civil and public servants. There is no doubt at all that we should have to take on yet more staff in the Paymaster General's Office and elsewhere to be ready to deal with what may, and probably will, turn out to be a non-problem. At a time when there are so many calls on public resources is it really right to increase public expenditure to achieve so insignificant an object as this one? I am sorry to use what seem to be rather strong words, but one must take a realistic view of this matter.

Honourable Members in another place considered it, and I do not think that anyone would doubt for one moment that they considered it very carefully. They concluded that the existing arrangements in the Bill should not be changed. I think that that conclusion was the right one. Even though, so far as my noble friend is concerned, I may not have given a completely satisfactory answer, I hope he will feel that there has been a reasonable explanation of the Government's action in this matter, and that it was not in an attempt to introduce what was an injustice to individuals but to try to meet a situation which was full of complexity.

4.48 p.m.


My Lords, my noble friend Lord Houghton mentioned that I had raised this question on 22nd January. I have been listening today to see whether the Minister had any satisfactory reply to make to what was said on that occasion and this afternoon. I am sorry to say that I do not find that there has been a satisfactory reply. The public servants, rightly or wrongly, feel that they have a grievance. It may be more psychological than financial; it may be only a question of pence and not of hundreds of pounds, but they feel that they have this grievance. In the present unsettled state of the country and the public service, do we really want to give them an added grievance and to stir the matter up?

My noble friend has some objection to incorporating the number of days on which the pension is reckoned instead of the number of months. I do not see any great objection to using the term "days". The term "days" figures scores of times in every piece of social service legislation. If you go along to the Labour Exchange and ask for unemployment pay, days are then reckoned up just as they are in every other branch of the social services. My noble friend has spoken about the administrative difficulties. I do not think he ought to exaggerate them. We are not living in the days when civil servants sat on high stools and wielded quill pens; we are speaking in the days of computers. If a computer can settle the complicated calculations of ERNIE every month, I fail to see that the computers would be bunkered by a calculation which they have to make in respect of this matter.

We are speaking of those who had increases on 1st December 1978. On 12th November of this year they will receive eleven-twelfths of the cost of living increase from November 1978 to November 1979; this is not keeping up with the increase in the cost of living for the full period of 11 months and 11 days which will have elapsed by 12th November 1979. They will have only 11 months' increase in pay, whereas the increase in the cost of living that has taken place has been that which refers to 11 months and 11 days, so there is a loss of 11 days of increase or possible increase in the cost of living index figure, and that will be perpetuated throughout the lives of the civil servants in question. What we are saying is very simple indeed; instead of stipulating in the Bill the word "months", we suggest stipulating "days", and then those civil servants will have the full and exact amount of increase due to them because of the increase in the cost of living, and they will have no grievance left. I hope the Department and the Minister will look at this again because it is not a difficult problem for them to solve.


My Lords, I support what the noble Lord, Lord Leatherland, said. The principle of the matter has been put clearly by both previous speakers, that there will be a smaller pension increase than otherwise because of the way this has been drawn up, and while it is true that this increase will come earlier and therefore give that amount of advantage to the individual concerned, nevertheless we shall end up with a lower figure than if he had been able to wait that extra month to make it 12 months from the previous increase. This will be perpetuated because the loss of 11 days' pension will mean a lower pension this year, and then the percentage increase will be on a lower pension the following year, so every year there will be a build-up of this loss of pension.

The noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, said this amounted to only 5p per week, but I suppose that was an average figure because it must depend on the amount of the individual's pension. That presumably would be the level at which it would start. Clearly, because of the acceleration, it would not remain at that level. And are we sure that in using this figure of 5p we have got at the correct average starting figure that would be involved, and have we any estimate of what it might rise to? I agree it would probably still be a fairly small figure; but it is sufficient, I should have thought, to give people a feeling of grievance. It might be well in those circumstances to look at the matter again.


My Lords, I am obliged to the Minister for his explanation. We now have it fully on the record, and we also have the lucid comments on my noble friend's speech from my noble friend Lord Leatherland and from the noble Lord, Lord Banks. I will confine myself to saying that it seems fairly obvious that administrative considerations have triumphed over the justice of the matter because it is believed that the justice of the matter is too insignificant to justify the additional administrative costs and difficulties involved.

We must of course bear in mind that we are dealing with a large number of public service pensioners who spent their lives in meticulous calculations to remove the grievances of the public who might otherwise think they are being cheated out of 5p a week; and if enough people feel they are being cheated out of 5p a week then Government and the Civil Service apply their minds to the remedy, which is usually to give it to them even at the cost of some administrative difficulties.

I think now that it is for those directly concerned to consider the matter as it stands at the conclusion of the debate on this Amendment. If they feel, and wish to represent their feelings, that they are still at significant disadvantage, one which justifies your Lordships in trying to apply a remedy, notwithstanding the discouragement of the Government, then that can be done at a subsequent stage of the Bill. I am prepared to leave it at that and, with permission, withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 3 not Moved.]

Clause 21 [Short title, etc.]:

4.56 p.m.

Lord WELLS-PESTELL moved Amendment No. 4: Page 12, line 31, leave out from beginning to ("this") in line 32 and insert ("Section 3(3) of ").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, with permission I shall speak to Amendments Nos. 4 and 5 together. They are both minor technical Amendments relating to the commencement of provisions concerning, respectively, mobility alowances and the excusal of the reference of consolidation regulations to the Occupational Pensions Board. These Amendments have been approved by the chairman of that board, so what we are doing is with its consent.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Lord WELLS-PESTELL moved Amendment No. 5: Page 12, line 40, leave out ("14 to 23") and insert ("14 to 20, 22, 23").

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Lord WELLS-PESTELL moved Amendment No. 6: Page 13, line 4, leave out ("paragraph 12") and insert ("paragraphs 3 and 12").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is a drafting Amendment the purpose of which is to ensure that the Amendment to Section 68(1) of the Social Security Act 1973, which is at paragraph 3 of Schedule 3 to the Bill, applies, like the section itself, to Northern Ireland.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 1 [Amendment of principal Act, Pensions Act and Act of 1977]:

Lord WELLS-PESTELL moved Amendment No. 7: Page 16, line 5, leave out ("that") and insert ("the deceased").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is a drafting Amendment to make it clear that the reference at this point is to the deceased spouse and not to the surviving one.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Lord WELLS-PESTELL moved Amendment No. 8: Page 18, line 6, after ("Section 17") insert ("(which is superseded by paragraphs 10 and 13 above)").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, with permission I will speak to Amendment No. 9 at the same time. These are drafting Amendments to make quite minor corrections. Amendment No. 8 inserts words of explanation and Amendment No. 9 makes a correction giving a full description, as can be seen from the words of that Amendment.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 3 [Minor and consequential amendments]:

Lord WELLS-PESTELL moved Amendment No.9: Page 22, line 23, leave out ("the said Part I") and insert ("Part I of Schedule 4 to the principal Act").

On Question, Amendment agreed to.