HL Deb 27 April 1982 vol 429 cc780-822

2.50 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health and Social Security (Lord Trefgame)

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Trefgarne.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The LORD ABERDARE in the Chair.]

Clause 1 [Employer's liability]:

Baroness Jeger moved Amendment No. 1: Page 1, line 12, at end insert ("not later than the next normal pay day had he been at work").

The noble Baroness said: May I start by saying that though Her Majesty's Opposition is making as many constructive, and we hope useful, amendments as possible to this Bill, we are completely opposed to its philosophy and the practicalities which will flow from it, so that none of our amendments are to be taken as conceding general support for the Bill.

I beg to move Amendment No. 1. In moving this amendment we are seeking to help people who go sick and whose payment by the employer is delayed. It is quite clear that if the employer disputes liability under Clause 17 the worker can ask for a written explanation, and if the worker is not satisfied he can refer the question to the national insurance adjudicating authorities. Under Clause 16 he can go to the county court. And we appreciate that under Clause 20 non-payment can be an offence subject on summary conviction to a fine up to £200, plus £20 for every day on which payment is withheld.

This amendment does not seek to deal with the employer who contests liability, but with the employer who is dilatory or who has a cash flow problem of his own. It seems to us that without this amendment an employer can say to a worker who goes sick,"We are very sorry, but you will have to wait a little. We are going to have to work things out and see when we can let you have this money". I am sure for many small employers this is a genuine difficulty, especially if the employer has to take on a temporary worker in place of the worker who has gone sick. It means, as I read the Bill, that the employer has to pay the sick worker his money, has to pay the national insurance contribution for the sick worker, has to pay the wages of the person who comes in and the national insurance for that second person. In that situation there might well be many small employers who genuinely find it difficult to get the money to the employee who has gone sick.

The remedies for non-payment to which I have referred—in all fairness, we appreciate that the Government have written these safeguards into the Bill—will take a very long time to implement. By the time the worker denied sick pay has gone through all these processes and possibly got to the county court, I wonder what he will have been living on in the meantime. I am concerned about the man or woman who goes sick and who the next day has to pay his rent, has to pay his milkman, pay for the children's school dinners, perhaps pay fares to the out-patients' department of the hospital to which he has been referred.

It might be argued that to ask for sick pay to be paid on the next normal pay day is unreasonably soon. I do not think so. The employee's wages will be in process of being made out anyhow, especially in large firms which have computer facilities. There is nothing to gain from delay. If it is said that it is rather previous to expect him to get his sick pay at the end of the week or the next normal pay day, I must remind your Lordships that his landlord will be asking for the rent, and he will have to pay the milkman and his other bills at the end of that week, or under whatever arrangements he has.

At present someone who is on sick pay and entitled to national insurance benefit can collect the money without delay. We put down this amendment because we want to be assured that the Government are seized of the very real hardship which might be caused to people through delay in getting this new statutory sickness benefit. There is nothing more destructive, and nothing that gives a more isolated sensation of loneliness, as being totally without money, especially if there is a family to support.

I am sure all of us here know that many employers operate very fair schemes of sickness benefit. In fact, there are many firms which pay the whole wages for a stipulated number of weeks. And if it is not out of order, I might refer to a practice just across the Lobby, where Members of another place are entitled to full pay if they are sick for the whole time between elections. So we are not asking for anything extravagant. What we are saying is that if a person is sick, if an employer is supposed to pay the money and delays payment, there should be written into the Bill the right for the employee to ask for his money on his next normal pay day, which would be the day on which he or she would be expected to meet their household bills. I beg to move.

Lord Cullen of Ashbourne

As the noble Baroness has explained, this amendment is intended to fix a rigid time by which employers must pay statutory sick pay. The intention is to require the employer to pay SSP on the same day that he would have paid the employee for that day's work had he not been ill. The amendment is rather inappropriately placed in Clause 1, since it is Clause 8 which deals with time limits for paying SSP. It is also not too clear in its wording, though the noble Baroness has made the intention clear. However, even if these things were put right, I am afraid we would not accept the amendment.

This sort of rigid time limit would be too unreasonable a requirement to make of employers. There could easily be instances, for example, where a decision about entitlement to statutory sick pay is not made until it is too late for an employer's pay roll arrangements to put the payment into effect by the next pay day. The delay in reaching the decision may not be the employer's fault. He may quite reasonably have been waiting on the employee submitting medical evidence. Nor does the amendment take account of the possible effect of accidents, strikes, equipment failures and so forth, which could delay payment of wages or statutory sick pay.

The Bill also provides for time limits for payment to be set by regulations in certain circumstances, and I think that the noble Baroness might find it helpful if I explained what we envisage happening. First of all, we expect that in the vast majority of cases employers will pay statutory sick pay as soon as they reasonably can, once they have decided that they are liable to pay, It is to the advantage of all parties concerned that they should do so. But time must he allowed for the various contingencies I have mentioned, and no doubt there are many more.

Where, for whatever reason, the employer does not pay, we expect that he will explain why not to his employee. Indeed, if the employee asks for such an explanation the employer will be required to give it. If the employee is not satisfied with the explanation we will encourage both parties to discuss their disagreement, and if either approaches the DHSS advice will be freely given. For example, a DHSS inspector might go to see the employer to help to resolve any problems of interpretation of the legal requirements. I am sure noble Lords will agree that an informed and amicable discussion and agreement would be by far the best resolution to this kind of problem, and this is what we are aiming for.

If, even after this, the two parties cannot agree it will be open to the employee to ask for a formal decision on the question at issue from the insurance officer, the first of the independent adjudicating authorities who now decide entitlement to national insurance benefits and who will have a similar function, once brought into the picture, in relation to statutory sick pay. If the insurance officer (or indeed either of the other two tiers of adjudicating authorities, the local tribunal or the Social Security Commissioner) gives a formal decision that the employee is entitled to statutory sick pay, regulations under Clause 8(2) will lay down a time by which the statutory sick pay must be paid. Failure to pay by the time set will be an offence under the provisions of Clause 20 of the Bill, mentioned by the noble Baroness in her speech. I hope that this satisfies the noble Baroness that we have thought of, and provided for, the situation which her amendment is intended to cover in a way which allows for the many contingencies not recognised by the amendment. I hope that the noble Baroness will see fit to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Jeger

I thank the noble Lord for his, as ever, courteous reply. Can he tell us what will happen to a worker during the period while all these negotiations and appeals are going on? Will he be entitled to supplementary benefit to meet his immediate needs, and will this be made absolutely clear in the publicity which I hope will be sent out regarding this Bill?

Lord Cullen of Ashbourne

He is certainly entitled to supplementary benefit, and of course when all these regulations are made out the position will be spelt out to all employers.

Lord Banks

I can see the difficulties which the noble Lord, Lord Cullen, has put forward to accepting the amendment in the way in which it is worded now. On the other hand, it seems to be useful to have a specific time limit of the kind that the noble Baroness has in mind. If it were to read something like, not later than the next normal pay day after his claim has been established", can the noble Lord see any difficulties? If not, we might return to that at a later stage.

Lord Cullen of Ashbourne

One result of this Bill is that there will be a great many regulations after it is passed. May I give the noble Lord an indication about the regulations in this particular matter. One of them will be that statutory sick pay must be paid not later than the first normal pay day after the time for appeal has expired; or if no further appeal is possible, the first normal pay day after the decision reaches the employer, and so on. The first one is that regulations under Clause 8(2) will provide that where an insurance officer, local tribunal or commissioner has issued a decision that an employee is entitled to statutory sick pay, and no appeal has been made, the time limits for payment will be as laid down. There are four. I do not know whether the noble Lord would like me to read it all out. I will willingly do so, but there are a great many regulations coming along with this Bill.

Baroness Jeger

The noble Lord has said that there are a great many regulations coming after this Bill is passed. It is the opinion of many of us that there are too many regulations and we would have preferred many of these regulations to be written into the Bill so that we could have discussed them today. However, without prejudice to our future action at later stages of the Bill, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Whether Clause I shall stand part of the Bill?

3.6 p.m.

Lord Wells-Pestell

I think this is the appropriate place to raise the matter that I want to raise, in view of the fact that Clause 1 requires employers to pay statutory sick pay. What is going to be the position of the employee who is in the unfortunate position of not enjoying the best of health and who from time to time has got to be absent from his place of employment on a number of occasions? What happens to him if the employer decides to dispense with his services?

Some noble Lords will remember that many years ago we had the attachment of earnings legislation. Where a husband and wife were separated and there was a maintenance order in existence, if the husband did not pay and it was thought that he was trying to avoid payment, the court making the order, or for that matter any other court through which the order was payable, had the right to attach his earnings so that the employer each week would send the money to the court. Many people, myself among them, felt that this could cost a man his employment. There were instances where in point of fact the employer discharged the man because he was a nuisance in the sense that extra work had to be undertaken.

We are dealing here with a health situation. It is possible that in every employment you get a group of people, or one or two people, who from time to time fall ill. Here the liability is on the employer to pay the sick benefit. What would be the position if an employer came to the conclusion that he could not tolerate this any longer and therefore decided to dispense with the services of the employee? Has that employee a right to go for wrongful dismissal? Is there any compensation at all? What is the position?

Lord Cullen of Ashbourne

I have no doubt that the employee could speak to the tribunal about it. However, I cannot quite see why the employer would wish to get rid of the employee when he is being entirely recompensed with all that he has to pay out in the statutory sick pay. He gets the money back.

Lord Wallace of Coslany

In due course. The Minister said that he gets the money back. When? How long is the employer out of his money before he gets it back?

Lord Cullen of Ashbourne

I think the limit is 14 days, but I am not absolutely certain. I shall let the noble Lord know if I am wrong.

Lord Wells-Pestell

I do not quarrel with the noble Lord that the employer gets the money back eventually. Whether it is 14 days or a month is, I think, beside the point. But in the payment of sick pay by the employer he and his office are put to some extra burden. The attachment of earnings cost not very many but a number of men their jobs. I can foresee that this could happen. Of course, I hope that it will not happen, but I wondered whether the Government had taken the possibility of this into account when framing the Bill.

Lord Cullen of Ashbourne

I do not see why it should happen any more under the statutory sick pay arrangements than it does at present. If an employer finds that one of his employees keeps on going sick, and it is rather a nuisance, he might under present circumstances, before SSP, have taken the same view as the noble Lord suggests, so I do not see that it is any worse with SSP and, as I say, he gets the money hack, anyway.

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2 [Period of incapacity for work]:

On Question, Whether Clause 2 shall stand part of the Bill?

Baroness Jeger

I have a short question to ask about the clause, and while I think I know the answer to it, many people do not and it would be good to have it on the record. Under subsection (2), period of incapacity for work "means" four or more consecutive days". Does that mean that for the first three days off work an employee gets no sick pay, and if he is away for a week he gets sick pay for only four days? It is important that that should be made absolutely clear.

Lord Trefgarne

I do not think the noble Baroness is quite correct in that. If an employee is absent for seven days, for example, he then becomes eligible for statutory sick pay by virtue of the fact that he has reached the qualifying period, and sick pay becomes payable for the full seven days.

Baroness Jeger

I am obliged to the noble Lord, and to make it absolutely clear for people outside, employers and employees, may I repeat the question. If an employee is away for three days and returns to work on the fourth, he gets nothing; whereas if he manages to stay sick for the rest of the week, he gets seven days' sick pay?

Lord Trefgarne

I confess that I come as a novice to these matters. I think I was right in what I said. I shall double check the position and write to the noble Baroness if I was wrong.

Clause 2 agreed to.

Clause 3 [Period of entitlement]:

Baroness Jeger moved Amendment No. 2: Page 3, line 4, leave out (", or has been, pregnant") and insert ("is in receipt of a maternity allowance").

The noble Baroness said: The question of when or whether a woman is pregnant can be an obscure and arcane fact. Any women employee must be very confused by the wording of the clause. Pregnancy is an indeterminate process and to refer to an employee, in the words of the clause, who is, or has been, pregnant, the day immediately preceding the beginning of the disqualifying period", is an impractical reference. It is a very perspicacious lady who knows she is pregnant today and not yesterday or tomorrow. Nevertheless, the clause uses the words: immediately preceding the beginning of the disqualifying period". How is that to be enforced? If a woman says she did not know or did not think she had—in the old East End vocabulary—"fallen", who is to say she was pregnant on the date the Bill wishes to enforce? If she says she did not know, or did not think, or her doctor was not sure on the day immediately preceding the beginning of the disqualifying period, what will happen to her? Even with the most modern pregnancy testing it is not easy to know the exact day. If one is married to a sailor who comes home only one night a year, one might make an informed guess as to the day one became pregnant. But if one is living a happy and normal married life and is making love on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, how on earth is a woman to know on which day she becomes pregnant?

We have tabled the amendment, in all seriousness, to delete the reference to pregnancy, which, I repeat, is an indeterminate state, and we would insert the words,"in receipt of a maternity allowance". I hope the Government will accept the amendment, because it is sensible and practical. We agree that a woman should not be entitled to double benefit—she should not be able to get maternity and sickness benefit at the same time—but, if she is receiving maternity benefit, she should be disqualified under the Bill because of the old rule, which all Governments have accepted, that there should not be double payment. If a woman is receiving maternity benefit, the fact of her pregnancy has been established, whereas under the clause as drafted there could be dubiety, particularly about fixing the actual day.

Although I have referred with sympathy to the rule that there should not be dual benefit, I am anxious about women who under the Bill may not receive either benefit. It seems that under the Bill a pregnant woman could be disallowed statutory sick pay and be denied maternity allowance, so that she would get neither benefit. At present, maternity benefit is contributory and not all pregnant women qualify for it. We understand—I am sure the Minister will wish to make the position clear—that changes are being made in maternity benefit and that it is hoped that by next year sometime, unless the Government change their mind, benefit will be as of right and not contributory. In the meantime, may we have an undertaking that the new rules in this measure will not be implemented until the revised rules about non-contributory maternity benefit are established and brought into force?

In another place, the Minister said last December: There may be as many as 75,000 working women each year who become pregnant but do not qualify for maternity allowance". —[Official Report, Commons, 10/12/81; col. 96.] Is the position that under Clause 3 those women will not qualify for statutory sickness benefit either? According to the Minister's statement in another place, they would certainly not qualify for maternity benefit.

Would the Minister also clarify the position of a woman who may be pregnant but who may fall sick from a problem not connected with her pregnancy? For example, she might get knocked down by a drunken driver or catch influenza from the man sitting at the next desk in the office in which she works; he can go off suffering from 'flu and collect sickness benefit, but is she, because she is pregnant, not to be allowed sickness benefit?

I have read the Bill carefully and I know all about the number of days and weeks. Although I am not inexperienced in dealing with legislation, I find it very confusing. Nor am I inexperienced in dealing with some of these problems from a practical point of view, both as a Member of Parliament and a doctor's wife. Unless we spell out the position much more clearly in the Bill, we shall be placing a very heavy burden on employers and women who may be caught under Clause 3, rightly or wrongly. I want to know what is the Government's intention in introducing this requirement into the clause.

It might also be convenient if at the same time I ask the Minister whether he will make clear what happens to a woman who late in pregnancy has a spontaneous abortion, or whose pregnancy does not end in a normal confinement, whether of a dead child or of a live child. I do not apologise for speaking at some length on this matter because there are thousands and thousands of women—an increasing number each year—who are at work in this country and whose entire living standards, as well as the welfare of the rest of their families, could be put in jeopardy if there were to be legislation that would make them less likely to be able to obtain help when they are sick.

I come to my last question to the Minister. If a woman who is disqualified under Clause 3 is ill, is it to be made absolutely clear to her that she can go to the DHSS and claim normal national insurance sickness benefit, even though she is within the eight weeks for which the employer is supposed to pay? If the Minister proposes to say that she will be all right because she can go to the DHSS, and though she cannot obtain statutory sick pay under the Bill, she can, if her stamps are in order, obtain national insurance benefit, I would point out that many women who have a number of children would then be better off. But I think it very important that women are informed of their rights and of what is to happen to them in this situation. I beg to move.

3.22 p.m.

Lord Cullen of Ashbourne

In the early part of her speech the noble Baroness entertained the Committee on the subject of pregnancy—

Baroness Jeger

I was not seeking to entertain the Committee. I was bringing before the Committee a very serious problem which affects thousands of women in this country.

Lord Cullen of Ashbourne

I am surprised that the noble Baroness responds in that way. She was suggesting that it was extremely difficult to know whether or not a woman was pregnant. But the period which we are discussing, when maternity allowance is payable, is the 11 weeks before the child is due and the seven weeks afterwards, and I would say that in the former period there would be no difficulty in deciding whether or not a woman was pregnant. I apologise to the noble Baroness if she in any way thought that I was being facetious or rude; I certainly was not. I thought that she was actually entertaining the Committee—and I mean that quite sincerely.

The amendment has several amendments consequential to it; they are Amendments Nos. 3, 4, 7, and 10, and with the permission of the Committee, I shall touch on all of these. The amendments are all concerned with the provisions which exclude pregnant women from entitlement to SSP during the "disqualifying period"—the period of 18 weeks beginning with the eleventh week before the expected week of confinement. The effect of the amendments would be to limit exclusion to those women who are entitled to the national insurance maternity allowance, which is normally payable for the "disqualifying period". I should point out that one of the amendments—the suggestion that we leave out sub-paragraph (i) from Schedule 1—would enable a woman in the maternity allowance period to receive statutory sick pay and her maternity allowance if she were entitled. Given that she may also receive maternity pay, this is over-provision of a serious order. However, I appreciate that the noble Baroness's concern is with those women who do not qualify for maternity allowance.

It is not the purpose of this measure to enter into the field of maternity provision. During the "disqualifying period" the majority of pregnant working women qualify for maternity allowance by virtue of their record of contributions at the full, non-opted out, rate. During this period it would not be difficult for a woman, because of her condition, to claim that she was incapable of work and produce supporting medical evidence. In such circumstances there would be no justification for allowing entitlement to SSP—which would, moreover, in most cases be at a higher rate than the maternity allowance—simply because of failure to meet the contribution conditions for the state benefit. To do so would be grossly unfair to those women who had kept up their national insurance record so as to qualify. There would also be an extra administrative expense for employers, who would be required in every case to check whether maternity allowance was payable before they could be clear as to whether they were liable for SSP. It would not just be a question of checking to see if the employee was paying the married woman's opted-out contribution; a woman paying full contributions might also not qualify for the allowance because of a lapse in her record.

Your Lordships' Committee should also consider the fact that many of the women who are paying the reduced-rate contribution are older women and consequently are beyond child-bearing age. As time progresses, practically all working women will establish entitlement to maternity allowance during pregnancy. In the meantime I cannot accept that we should allow someone who does not satisfy the contribution conditions for benefit to receive a higher rate through statutory sick pay than someone who does.

In short, the effect of the amendments would be to introduce a further, undesirable, complication into the system of maternity provision and to the statutory sick pay scheme. However, the Government have acknowledged the need for a review of maternity benefits. That was why we issued the consultative paper in 1980, but the outcome of that consultation was that there was no consensus for change. The Government therefore decided to make no immediate change, but they have undertaken to look again at the arrangements once the sick pay scheme and the change to a non-contributory maternity grant have had time to settle down. During the Committee stage in another place my honourable friend the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State said that when we looked again at maternity provision we would also consider the issues which this amendment raises—many of which the noble Baroness has expounded. I am happy to repeat that undertaking to your Lordships' Committee. In the light of that, I hope that the noble Baroness will not press her amendment.

Baroness Jeger

I thank the noble Lord the Minister for his careful reply, but I am not sure whether I heard him clearly enough. I should like him to repeat—if he has already said it—that the rules relating to pregnancy will not be enforced until the non-contributory maternity benefits have been introduced. If they come into force before the non-contributory arrangements come into force, then, according to the noble Lord's own Minister in another place, 75,000 working women will be disadvantaged.

Lord Cullen of Ashbourne

This is rather complicated, and I may not have it right, either. But as I understand it, the position of married women in this connection will be no different when we have SSP from what it is today when we have sickness benefit. By introdu- cing SSP we are not suddenly doing something that is to the detriment of married women. I hope that that is what the noble Baroness wants to know.

Baroness Jeger

Again I thank the noble Lord, but of course it is not only married women who become pregnant, and that is a cause of anxiety. In view of what the noble Lord the Minister has said, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment, without promising that I shall not come back to it on another occasion.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 3 and 4 not moved.]

Clause 3 agreed to.

Schedule 1 [Circumstances in which periods of entitlement do not arise]:

Baroness Jeger moved Amendment No. 5: Page 41, line 12, leave out sub-paragraph (c).

The noble Baroness said: This is a very difficult Bill to follow and I am sure that for people in the big, wide world outside it will be a matter of great confusion, because no sooner does one get to a clause which we are told will be spelled out in regulations than one gets to another clause which is to be spelled out in the schedule. Sub-paragraph (c) concerns people whose earnings are less than the lower earnings limit in force under Section 4(1)(a) of the principal Act; so that if my calculations are right, we are talking about people earning less than £27 a week. Why, then, do we not say so? Why put in the schedule a cross-reference to another Act so that some poor, sick worker must go and get hold of another Act to find out what the current one means? I am not saying this in any party sense but in all social security legislation over the last few years there is too much cross-referencing and it would improve matters if we could spell out more clearly what we mean.

In this schedule, in sub-paragraph (c), we are talking about people earning less than £27 a week as their normal weekly earnings. Many of your Lordships may dispute that there is anybody earning less than £27 a week as normal weekly earnings. I must ask a question or two about this. I am concerned about seasonal workers. Are their normal weekly earnings calculated over the whole year; that is, divided by 52 on a weekly basis when they might well be seasonal workers—women, say, who go picking during the harvest or employees in tourism who go and clean bedrooms in hotels which are then shut for several months of the year? Or is the calculation of the £27 average made on the amount of wages for the previous eight weeks? —because in the middle of an eight-week period a person earning more than £27 in that particular week might fall ill but at the end of the eight weeks he may not be in work at all; and this applies particularly to women who do a great deal of seasonal work at harvest time and in tourism.

It seems to me—and I am willing, in fact eager, to receive clarification—that many of these people will never become eligible for national insurance sickness benefit because they will not have the necessary build-up of stamps on their cards. They may not have a year's stamps on their cards but at the time when they are at work they are paying national insurance stamps. Surely such a man or woman on seasonal work could be paying national insurance contributions for a benefit which he or she will never get. If a man falls sick during a period of seasonal work, will he qualify for the statutory sick pay if, during that short season of work, his wages are more than £27 a week? I put this interrogatively. I think there are many people in this country in this kind of twilight zone who, through no fault of their own, do not have regular work but who work hard for the few weeks or months when they are able to get a job. I would feel—and I hope that the Minister would feel—that it would be very unfair if they were to be denied the statutory sick pay that this Bill seeks to bring in.

Lord Collison

I should like to support my noble friend on this amendment because of my interest in agriculture. It is the fact that at harvest time there are large numbers—I cannot give the figures without reference elsewhere—of people who work for just a few weeks, or perhaps only a few days. They are very often the wives of farm workers who turn out to help their husbands' employers at this time. This amendment would particularly refer to them, and it is a matter of interest to me.

Lord Trefgarne

May I, in answer to the important point made by the noble Baroness, say that the period over which the average wage will be calculated for the purpose of this provision is the eight-week period preceding the sickness—which is the point that the noble Baroness was anxious about. The amendment, however, goes wider than that and would remove from the list of those excluded from receiving statutory sick pay, people who earned less than the amount on which contributions become payable. This is currently £29.50 a week. The effect of that would be to widen the scheme far beyond its intention. It would give SSP entitlement to those on very low earnings who would not normally be entitled to sickness benefit. We would thus be putting on employers a statutory liability which the state does not have. The payments would cause a loss of revenue to the National Insurance Fund which could not be recouped in any way from those benefiting, since they would, by definition, be those earning too little to pay contributions.

Moreover, if this amendment were accepted, an employer might be required to pay someone more by way of statutory sick pay than he would pay that person as normal pay. The lowest rate of statutory sick pay is to be £25 a week and this amendment would open entitlement to people earning less than that. I hope the noble Baroness will understand, and perhaps even agree, that that would be an unfair imposition to place upon employers. I think that goes to the heart of the noble Baroness's amendment. If there are any further points which I can clarify, I shall be happy to do so.

Baroness Jeger

I thank the noble Lord for that explanation, but I am afraid that it does not answer my concern about people who work for only a few weeks or months during the year and who, during times when they work, pay national insurance contributions but, because the period is too short, are disqualified from national insurance sick pay and appear to be disqualified under this Bill. I appreciate that this Bill might not be the right place for amending legislation because what I have in mind goes further than statutory sick pay. Having listened carefully to the noble Lord, I will read what he has said and beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

3.39 p.m.

Baroness Jeger moved Amendment No. 6: Page 41, line 31, leave out sub-paragraph (g).

The noble Baroness said: May I explain that, under sub-paragraph (g) of this schedule to the Bill, if there is to be a stoppage of work due to a trade dispute at the employee's place of employment, he will not be eligible for sickness pay. I hope that I have that right. It seems to me to be an appalling suggestion. It seems absolutely disastrous from the point of view of good industrial relations in any firm of any size to suggest to a worker that he would be disqualified from sickness pay if there is a stoppage of work due to a trade union dispute at his place of employment. I hope it will be in order if I mention that under paragraph 7 of Schedule 1 this disqualification does not apply to an employee, who proves that at no time on or before the relevant date did he particpate in, or have a direct interest in, the trade dispute in question". I hope I may speak to both these points, because they are so closely connected.

In this first case, I have to ask the Minister: How does a worker prove that he did not participate in, or have a direct interest in, a trade dispute? To whom is he to prove this? Is it to the employer, is it to the DHSS or is it to somebody else? Suppose he did not join in (which seems to be the implication of the wording of the Bill) but has a direct interest in that, as a result of the dispute, there might be improved conditions or higher pay in this particular factory. He can say, "I did not go on strike"; but his employer can say, "Yes, but you had an interest in the other men going on strike because now they all have a bonus". It seems to me that this will be extraordinarily difficult to implement.

What happens if a man or woman is off sick when a dispute arises? An employee may be in hospital, but he may give a strike his moral support. He might send a letter to his shop steward saying, "Good for you or "Keep it up". Does that mean that he has a direct interest in the trade dispute? Or he might be lying unconscious in hospital, not even knowing that there is a dispute in being, though it could be claimed that he has an interest in the outcome of the dispute because when he gets back to work he will get higher pay or more holidays, or some other benefit which results from the trade dispute.

I have to ask the Minister: What sort of delay can there be in these cases where an employee is trying to prove, to someone as yet unknown, that he had no interest in this trade dispute and that he did not join in? Is there a right of appeal if he maintains that he did not join in and had no interest in this particular dispute? This seems to me so terribly unreal that I cannot understand how sensible Ministers could have left it in the Bill. It is often stated that those of us on this side of the Committee do not know much about industry, but at least even I know that in a big works it is possible for there to be a strike in one department and yet not in another; that a particular engineering shop may be in dispute, whereas the offices are not in dispute. If a girl typist in the office does not go out on strike but supports the machine shop men who are on strike, either by statement or by going to meetings or waving banners, is she then declaring an interest in that strike? Does she then become disqualified?

This is not how industries work. This is not how factories, especially big factories and big firms, arrange their affairs. You might also have the situation where certain workers do not go on strike but they are unable to work because the other workers, who are on strike, supply the spare parts, or whatever it is, on which their work depends. So it can affect everybody, and it is very unclear to me, at any rate, as to how we are to distinguish between the participants in a dispute, those with a direct interest in a dispute, and those who say, "No, I am having nothing to do with it, except that if there is a rise I will gladly take it".

There is also a reference to a worker not having joined in such a dispute "before the relevant date". How long before? Is it a year? Could he have gone to a shop stewards' meeting a year go? According to the Bill, it could be 10 years ago. It might be 10 years since he paid his union dues and went to a meeting. There Is nothing in the Bill about this, so far as I can see, and I would be only too glad if the Minister could tell me what time limit is involved in the phrase "at no time on or before the relevant date".

I also want to ask the Minister whether he will make it absolutely clear that when, under this Bill, a man or a woman is denied payment of sick pay they will be able to go to a national insurance office and, without any questioning, be entitled to national insurance sickness benefit. I ask that because, of course, many of them will do much better in that way, especially if they have a dependent wife and children; and it may be that inadvertently the Government are pointing the way for an increasing number of workers to go to the DHSS rather than to go to their employers in a situation of this kind.

I have read this Bill very carefully, and it seems to me that under Clause 17, which deals with the disclosure of information, it might be possible that regulations could be made requiring employers who refuse sick pay in these circumstances to point out to their workers their absolute entitlement to national insurance sickness benefit provided their contributions are in order. If payment of national insurance in these circumstances is automatic, surely here is a temptation for an employer to save himself a lot of trouble by saying to men and women who may have been involved on the periphery or otherwise of a trade dispute, "Don't bother me; you just go down to the DHSS and you will get some more money if you have some children or you have a wife or a dependent adult relative."

I must remind your Lordships before I sit down, and make clear the argument I am trying to put to your Lordships, that as I understand it, national insurance benefit for a single person is at present £22.50 a week. There is an addition of £13.90 for a wife, and an addition of 80p for a child. I am leaving out the question of child benefit because I do not think that comes within this Bill, although on another occasion we may have a great deal to say about it. It therefore seems to us perfectly clear that a worker is better off, if he has dependants, under national insurance sickness benefit than he is under this Bill; and if the Government want this Bill to work I wish they would look at this particular part of it again.

As I say, I think it will be damaging for industrial relations. I cannot think of how much bad feeling and misunderstanding there will be in any firm, small or large, where a worker is trying to explain and to prove (in the words of the Bill) whether or not he had anything to do with a strike that is taking or has taken place. This seems to me a very bad part of the Bill, and I hope that in the interests of good industrial relations, if not for any other reason, the Government will look at it again. I beg, to move.

Lord Wallace of Coslany

I should like to speak on this amendment for the very simple reason that in the Second Reading debate I mentioned that with the introduction of the system of sickness benefit being paid by employers to workers there would undoubtedly be problems of industrial relations. My noble friend Lady Jeger has outlined one of the problems that will undoubtedly arise. I regard this provision—and I use this word in the proper sense—as having some bastard relationship to the employment Bill which has yet to reach us, thank Heavens!, and I hope it will be delayed for a long time.

I say deliberately that this is an act of victimisation of those people who belong to a trade union. It is a stupid, idiotic way of bringing in legislation, particularly on this theme of sickness. A man, whether he is a devout trade unionist or not, cannot help being sick. When a person is sick—in this country at any rate—he has some right of benefit or relief. I very much regret this provision and hope that the Government will have second thoughts about it. If they do not, we shall persist because this is an outrageous provision.

Lord Trefgarne

With permission, I shall speak to Amendments Nos. 6 and 9. These amendments would include in entitlement to statutory sick pay those who fall sick during a stoppage at their place of employment and, consequentially on this, would remove the exception from this general rule of those with no interest or participation in the dispute. The area of trade disputes is a troublesome one, as I am sure we all agree. When we were considering this scheme in its early stages, we looked at employer's sick pay practices in a wide variety of industries and found that, in general, if sickness pre-dated the dispute, liability for occupational sick pay was accepted; but if it began after the dispute commenced, no payment was made.

What Schedule 1 paragraph 2(g) says is that if a man or woman falls sick when he or she might otherwise have been on strike, the state and not the employer should provide the sickness cover. There is no question that sickness benefit would be withheld in these circumstances, subject to the normal rules being satisfied. The employee thus excluded would remain on sickness benefit so long as his incapacity lasted. The exception in paragraph 7 (relating to those who prove that they took no part or had no interest in the stoppage) can be applied by the employer without reference to the department if, for instance, the stoppage is localised to one section of the workforce and others are not involved. But it will be open to any employee to make his case to the statutory authorities if he does not accept that he should be excluded from entitlement to statutory sick pay. There is existing case law on this subject arising out of claims for unemployment benefit (Section 19(1) of the principal Act).

If an employer refuses statutory sick pay because of a strike and sickness benefit is claimed, the insurance officer will have to be satisfied that the employee is not entitled to statutory sick pay—that is to say, that he satisfied paragraph 2(g)—before he will award sickness benefit. So there is a safeguard against an employer sending all his employees to the state on the pretext of a strike, which is one of the risks which the noble Baroness apprehended.

An employee who falls sick during a stoppage in which he has been or could well be involved is vulnerable to the suggestion that his incapacity is not genuine. He is entitled to payment which he would not otherwise receive if he were simply on strike. To ask employers to pay SSP in these circumstances could add fuel to an industrial relations fire—quite the contrary to the risk which the noble Baroness observed. It is better for both the employee and employer if the state takes over, as it does now, so removing sickness during stoppages from the employment arena. The amendment would, in our view, harm industrial relations and put suspicion on sick employees where none need exist; and for that reason it is unacceptable.

As I have already indicated, if paragraph 7 were omitted the employer would have no liability to pay those employees who had absolutely nothing to do with the stoppage. Everyone in the place of employment during a stoppage of work would be excluded from SSP, and that is certainly not the intention. This would not be a desirable effect for employers or employees and could only adversely affect industrial relations. The exception to the general rule in paragraph 7 of Schedule 1 is highly desirable both in the kind of case that I have referred to and where the employee feels aggrieved and can prove his lack of involvement and interest in the dispute if he does not accept that he should be excluded. For these reasons, I ask the Committee to disagree Amendment No. 6, and I hope also Amendment No. 9 when we come to it.

Lord Mishcon

I wonder whether the noble Lord the Minister—who has given a clear explanation of the reasons for his objections to this amendment—will kindly enlighten the Committee on his reference to case law, and I believe that he mentioned Section 19(1) of the principal Act. Would he enlighten the House by telling them what in his view, after studying the case law, a direct interest in a dispute means in relation to this Bill? I would have thought, if I may speak callously for a moment, that it would be far better from the point of view of industrial relations if everybody were excluded from this employment benefit in the event of there being a dispute and sickness arising in the course of it, rather than having a section of the workforce—possibly in dire pecuniary need—put in the position of having to prove that, unlike their brother workers, they did not participate in the dispute and they regarded themselves as having no direct interest in it.

I cannot think of a worse case from the point of view of setting one man against another and one employee against another. Nor can I think of anything more wretched than a man with this onus of proof on his shoulders having to appear before his employer, and then it may be a statutory authority to which the Minister referred, in order to show, as I have said, that he did not take any part in it and, worse still, that he had no direct interest in it. It is those words that an employer, unlike the noble Lord the Minister, would not have been able to study in the light of the case law to which a general reference was made but nothing specific was said.

How the average employer sitting there without lawyers surrounding him can decide whether or not this case is proved with these words, I do not understand. As we have the responsibility for putting into the statute book words that are clear to people who have a certain duty, as the employer would have, I should be grateful if the Minister would now explain how the case law that he has studied affects the words that I am talking about, and what is the employer to do in regard to deciding whether an employee has or has not a direct interest in the dispute or did or did not participate in it.

Lord Trefgarne

May I make two points arising out of that intervention: First, whether employees in the context of the relations with their fellow employees, who feel it invidious to make representations to their employer about their non-participation in a dispute, are able to seek sickness benefit. The noble Baroness explained this and we confirmed it a moment ago. Indeed, as the noble Baroness pointed out, sometimes they will be better off by claiming sickness benefit than they would be if they were to rely only on the statutory sick pay as provided for in the Bill.

As for the main thrust of the noble Lord's intervention, I hope he will forgive me if I resist the temptation to give your Lordships a full legal definition of the principal Act reference which I made just now. If the noble Lord will allow me, I will write to him at length on the subject, and if he feels in need of further clarification on the subject, I shall be happy to assist him further at a later stage of the Bill.

Lord Mishcon

I have a shrewd suspicion that the noble Lord the Minister, with his usual courtesy, in telling me he will write me a long letter, was very charmingly evading the issue and not giving your Lordships the guidance to which you are entitled. I did not ask for a long explanation of the case law. The noble Lord referred to the main thrust of my argument. I would be delighted if, in a few words, he would give me the main thrust of the case law in defining what these words mean. If he would kindly do that, with his usual ability to summarise clearly and lucidly, I personally would be grateful, and I believe your Lordships would be.

Lord Wallace of Coslany

Before the noble Lord replies, I should like to supplement what my noble friend says by asking the noble Lord the Minister this: he says that if a man is unable to get his unemployment benefit from the employer because of a dispute, he can go to the authorities. That is all right, but in the event of his being unconscious in a coma or under intensive care, how can he do so? Who will act for him? Is his welfare officer going to act for him? These are points that nobody seems to have thought about at all.

Lord Fletcher

Before the Minister replies, may I say that I would not have thought it was good enough in this Chamber for a Minister to say that he would try to satisfy my noble friend by writing to him. This is a matter which affects the whole Committee and I am sure I am speaking for many of my noble friends when I say that your Lordships are entitled to a clear answer from the Minister as to what he means by the words in paragraph (7) suggesting that an employee has to prove he has no direct interest in the dispute in question. The question for the Minister to answer is: how does he think an employee can discharge that onus of proof on him? Regardless of what precedent there may have been the Minister must face up to the question and, in my opinion, endeavour to satisfy this Committee as to how the Government think any employee, in a case such as has been mentioned, can possibly satisfy that negative proof about not having a direct interest in the trade dispute.

Lord Trefgarne

I still feel it would be better if I were to reflect upon the profound nature of the questions that have been put to me, and answer them in writing. But I take the point of the noble Lord, Lord Fletcher.—

Lord Fletcher

Writing to whom?

Lord Trefgarne

If the noble Lord will forgive me, I will finish my remarks and he can intervene again if he still feels dissatisfied. I have undertaken to write to the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, and I shall be happy to send a copy of that letter to the noble Lord, Lord Fletcher. In the meantime, I wonder whether I can help your Lordships further in this way: Section 19 of the Social Security Act 1975, to which I referred earlier, provides that a person who has lost employment by reason of a stoppage of work which is due to a trade dispute at his place of employment, shall be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefit so long as the stoppage continues.

There are two provisos to the general rule. These are that disqualification no longer applies to a claimant who during the stoppage becomes bona fide employed elsewhere in his usual occupation or becomes regularly engaged in some other occupation. The disqualification does not in any event apply in the case of a person who shows that he is not participating in or is directly interested in a trade dispute. Where and for how long the disqualification applies is a matter for the independent adjudicating authorities to decide from the particular facts of the case and in the light of the case law established by commissioners' decisions. I recognise those few words do not wholly answer the questions put to me by the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, and the noble Lord, Lord Fletcher, but they will have at least indicated that the matter is a very complex one and perhaps not best dealt with on the floor of the Chamber on a Committee stage such as this.

Lord Mishcon

Or, if I may say so, dealt with as between employer and employee. I should like to say in case any of my remarks should be taken as being in the slighest degree discourteous, that I certainly did not intend them to be so because this Chamber has had nothing else but courtesy from the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, in whatever capacity he may have been dealing with matters here. But we are now dealing—and I may say I am most grateful to the Minister—not with the question of an authority dealing with this dispute and not on the basis of a body having a lot of case law and experience behind it. We are dealing for the first time, and unlike the principal Act to which he referred, with an employer and an employee; and Mr. Jones, the employer, is now asking the Minister—since these words are in—wanting to be a just employer: "Please, what do these words mean from my point of view?" The Minister feels that he can only answer that point by writing a long letter to me, which presumably means it would have to be an even longer letter to a layman, to the employer, Mr. Jones; and if Mr. Jones does not happen to be a considerate employer, quite obviously we are in a greater difficulty in regard to the proper meaning and just administration of the Bill.

Although this is obviously a subject for my noble friend Lady Jeger, I wonder whether the Minister would care in the circumstances to agree to the amendment in regard to the deletion of this particular clause and then, if he feels at a later stage he has some words to put in which are more meaningful and clear, and which show exactly what he intends the employer has to find, perhaps by his own amendment he can bring something before the House at a later stage. But at the present moment this amendment in my view should be carried.

Lord Trefgarne

I was endeavouring to help the noble Lord with the words I used just now in response to what he said earlier, and indeed in response to the words of the noble Lord, Lord Fletcher. The truth is that, in a circumstance such as this, 99 per cent. or more of cases would doubtless be settled by common sense. It is likely to be obvious to most people in most cases whether or not a particular employee was concerned with or participating in a dispute. I accept that there will be some cases where it is not obvious and where there will be a clear and genuine disagreement between the employer and the employee. In those cases the employer will have recourse, first, to the employers' guide which is published by the department to assist in these cases and, secondly, if necessary, ultimately he can refer to the so-called statutory authorities, who hear appeals when asked to do so. If an employee is refused statutory sick pay by an employer and then seeks sickness benefit, it will be up to the authorities to decide whether he is entitled to sickness benefit—that is, not entitled to statutory sick pay—and they will be the ultimate authorities in this matter.

As I have said, I am prepared to write at greater length to the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, and indeed to any other noble Lord who is interested in this subject, and the matter can be taken further at a subsequent stage of the Bill if your Lordships remain dissatisfied.

Baroness Jeger

This really is not good enough. I appreciate that the noble Lord the Minister is trying to help the Chamber and he has suggested that these amendments are unsuitable to debate across the Floor of the Chamber. I must inform your Lordships that these amendments went down last Thursday. Some of us have been working over the weekend, and I do not think it is unreasonable for us to expect a fair answer on Tuesday to amendments which were put down on the previous Thursday.

I also think that it is a great discourtesy to the House to suggest that queries can be answered by letter. Not even the noble Lord the Minister opposite is a reincarnation of Saint Paul. We do not want his Epistles to the Corinthians or the Philippians. We want the whole House, the whole country, employers and workers to know what this means. It is an outrageous discourtesy not only to this House, but to the people of this country, whose living standards and welfare will be greatly influenced by this Bill, for the Minister to say "Just leave it and I will write you a letter." That is no way to deal with an amendment which has not been just plucked out of the air, but, as I said, was put down last Thursday—

Lord Trefgarne

With respect, I was not proposing to answer the case for the amendment by way of a letter. I was proposing instead to give the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, a considered reflection upon the provisions of the Social Security Act 1975. It is not, of course, the 1975 Act that is before your Lordships now. It is the Social Security and Housing Benefits Bill 1982, which I hope will become an Act in due course. It was a narrow point relating to another Act upon which I proposed to write to the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, and I hope your Lordships will agree that that is an appropriate thing to do.

However, I do not want to hide from your Lordships that this is a difficult area, and I have endeavoured to answer the case that has been put for this amendment as sympathetically and as helpfully as possible. But there are very serious difficulties with the proposals that were in the mind of the noble Baroness when she framed her amendment, and I have attempted to enumerate some of them. I hope she will agree, on reflection, that to press the issue now is not the most constructive approach, following the difficulties which she sees in this matter. I am always willing to consider any further points that she wants to raise, but the specific amendments that she has tabled in this connection do not bear the close examination which your Lordships habitually give to amendments to Bills, and I hope she will agree, on reflection, not to press the amendment.

Lord Banks

I have listened with very great interest to what the noble Lord the Minister has had to say about the reasons for having this provision in the Bill. It seems that a lot of what he said is very reasonable and that it would be desirable, if possible, to have the kind of arrangement which the Bill sets out. But the trouble for me is that sickness benefit and statutory sick pay are not identical. If they were identical, one could say that it was perfectly all right to say to the man who was on strike "You have got to go to the state for the same benefit. It will not be through your employer, because it is more satisfactory in these circumstances that it should not be." That is understandable. But they are not identical, as has come out in our debate this afternoon.

Also, I think I am right in saying that there are some people who would get statutory sick pay in ordinary circumstances, but would not be eligible for sickness benefit, because they would not have the contribution record. I agree that that would be the position today of those people, but they do not have the other possibility at the present time and I can see some difficulty with regard to that. I should be most grateful if the Minister could say whether I am right in what I have just said and, if so, whether he thinks there is room for further consideration about this aspect before it is proceeded with further.

Baroness Jeger

I appreciate the difficulties of the noble Lord the Minister. I know that he is circumscribed in what he can say by people in another place and I am sure that, if left to himself, he would be much more forthcoming and reasonable as he always likes to be. But it really is not good enough. His reference to the narrow point, on which my noble friend Lord Mishcon made his submission, does not answer the question, because, though it might be said that my noble friend was making a fairly narrow point, it was within the context of this Bill and what is to happen to people under it. Therefore, it cannot be dismissed as something irrelevant, about which a note can be sent to my noble friend. As I said earlier, this is a question which affects too many people for it to be dealt with by correspondence.

I must press this amendment, because I have not heard anything which makes me feel that, as it stands, the Bill is satisfactory in this regard. I can foresee—and I am very sad to say this—a situation of worsening industrial relationships. The onus is put on the worker to prove that he did not participate in a strike and had no interest in it. What kind of worker will go to the employer and make out that he ratted on the other chaps on the floor, and that he is open to the charge of being a blackleg, because he, Simon Pure, did not have anything to do with the dispute? That is what sub-paragraph (g)and paragraph7 in Schedule I are asking workers to do.

This shows such an insensitivity to the kind of solidarity which exists, and which exists to the good of industrial relationships in many places of employment. We are putting the onus of proof on the worker. We are making industrial relations very difficult. The Minister did not clarify to me in answer to my question what the phrase, have a direct interest in, the trade dispute", means. I asked specifically whether that meant that a worker who did not picket or take an active part, yet benefited by a rise in wages won as a result of the dispute, would be declared to have no interest in it—

Lord Trefgarne

I am not sure that the noble Baroness could have listened to everything I said. She usually does so with such care. I endeavoured to explain—I accept, as I said earlier, that I come as a novice to these matters and may not therefore have explained it as clearly as I might have done—that the ultimate decision in these matters actually rests, as it has done for a good many years, with the so-called statutory authorities of the national insurance system, who have to consider the appeals that might in due course come to them. It is the case law that they have established over the years which will be used as guidance by employers and which, of course, will be contained, in essence, in the employers' guide which will be issued in due course. It is not really for the Government to produce a definitive legal definition of when, or when not, an employee is said to be involved in a dispute.

I accept that there are cases when an employee would regard it as invidious to have to persuade his employer that he was not involved, on a certain day, in a particular dispute. That is why we have the safety net of the other benefit which I explained just now. Therefore, I hope that the noble Baroness will not press the point that it is for the Government to offer a definitive legal definition on these matters.

Lord Mottistone

Before the noble Baroness returns to the charge, one thing that seems to come out of this argument is that her concern, which I understood though I did not particularly agree with it, was with paragraph 7 on page 42, which relates directly to subparagraph 2(g), which she is seeking to delete. If she is so keen on that and feels that the whole issue is so important, I do not understand why she does not have an amendment down to remove paragraph 7. I should have thought that, because there is no amendment to remove paragraph 7, it would be illogical to pursue this one at this stage in order to resolve the matter. Would it not be better, in view of the uncertainty of her case, to leave things as they are now, to go away and think about them and return to the charge at the next stage of the Bill? There are two more stages to come.

To me, this is a quite straightforward situation, which has been blown up into something which is absolutely enormous, because this sub-paragraph deals with a state of affairs which does happen. There is stoppage of work. We cannot get away from that. There are situations in which people do not have a direct interest in a dispute. It is not just a question of blacklegging. Quite innocently, people may not have an interest in it. The sub-paragraph is governing a fairly straightforward situation. The way in which it is worded may not be perfect. There may be defects in it which this debate has revealed. But what we ought to do is to leave it as it stands. The amendment ought not to be pressed now. The noble Baroness ought to return to the charge at the next stage of the Bill and let the Committee get on.

Baroness Jeger

I thank the noble Lord, but I must point out that if he had turned over the page he would have seen that Amendment No. 9—page 42, line 34—is to leave out paragraph 7. So I am doing as the noble Lord advises.

Lord Mottistone

I apologise. I misread it.

Baroness Jeger

It is all right; the Bill is very confusing and the amendments are even more confusing. I was even more confused when, in part explanation, the noble Lord said that it would be better if the Government did not become too involved in these disputes. I am trying to help him. By taking out sub-paragraph (g), we are eliminating trade disputes from the Bill. It is the Government who are involving themselves in these arguments by putting sub-paragraph (g) into Schedule 1. I very much regret that the noble Lord has said nothing which makes me feel able to withdraw the amendment.

In response to speakers who have suggested that we ought to leave it until the next stage of the Bill, let me say that I am very willing to do so if the Government will accept our amendment; then at the Report stage they could put something more sensible and more reasonable in its place. I do not believe that it is for us to withdraw our amendment without knowing what is going to take its place. Therefore, I do not feel able to ask leave to withdraw the amendment. Nevertheless, I am happy to look forward to some improvement at the next stage of the Bill. So far as today is concerned, I think it would be for the good of the Bill and for the good of industrial relations if we struck out subparagraph (g). I do not want a letter about it.

4.23 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 6) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 79; Not-Contents, 125.

Airedale, L. Lee of Asheridge, B.
Ampthill, L. Lee of Newton, L.
Ardwick, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.
Aylestone, L.
Bacon, B. Loudoun, C.
Balogh, L. Mais, L.
Banks, L. Mayhew, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Melchett, L.
Bernstein, L. Milford, L.
Bishopston, L.—[Teller.] Mishcon, L.
Blease, L. Oram, L.
Blyton, L. Peart, L.
Boston of Faversham, L. Phillips, B.
Brockway, L. Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.—[Teller.]
Byers, L.
Chitnis, L. Rhodes, L.
Clifford of Chudleigh, L. Roberthall, L.
Collison, L. Ross of Marnock, L.
Cooper of Stockton Heath, L. Sainsbury, L.
Shinwell, L.
David, B. Stedman, B.
Davies of Leek, L. Stewart of Alvechurch, B.
Elwyn-Jones, L. Stewart of Fulham, L.
Ewart-Biggs, B. Stone, L.
Fletcher, L. Strabolgi, L.
Gaitskell, B. Strauss, L.
George-Brown, L. Taylor of Gryfe, L.
Gladwyn, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Glenamara, L. Underhill, L.
Gosford, E. Vernon, L.
Gregson, L. Wade, L.
Hampton, L. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Hanworth, V. Wells-Pestell, L.
Hayter, L. Whaddon, L.
Ilchester, E. White, B.
Jacques, L. Wigoder, L.
Jeger, B. Wilson of Langside, L.
John-Mackie, L. Wilson of Radcliffe, L.
Kaldor, L. Winstanley, L.
Kennet, L. Wootton of Abinger, B.
Leatherland, L. Wynne-Jones, L.
Abercorn, D. Alport, L.
Ailesbury, M. Auckland, L.
Airey of Abingdon, B. Avon, E.
Allerton. L. Balfour, E.
Balfour of Inchrye, L. Luke, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. McAlpine of Moffat, L.
Bellwin, L. McFadzean, L.
Beloff, L. Macleod of Borve, B.
Berkeley, B. Macpherson of Drumochter, L.
Bessborough, E.
Blake, L. Mancroft, L.
Bridgeman, V. Mansfield, E.
Brookes, L. Margadale, L.
Cairns, E. Marley, L.
Caithness, E. Melville, V.
Campbell of Alloway, L. Mersey, V.
Campbell of Croy, L. Milverton, L.
Chelwood, L. Monson, L.
Clitheroe, L. Montagu of Beaulieu, L.
Cork and Orrery, E. Montgomery of Alamein, V
Cottesloe, L.
Crawshaw, L. Morris, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Mottistone, L.
Daventry, V. Newall, L.
Davidson, V. Northchurch, B.
De Freyne, L. O'Brien of Lothbury, L.
Denham, L.—[Teller.] Onslow, E.
Drumalbyn, L. Orr-Ewing, L.
Ebbisham, L. Porritt, L.
Ellenborough, L. Portland, D.
Elliot of Harwood, B. Rankeillour, L.
Elton, L. Redcliffe-Maud, L.
Ferrers, E. Renton, L.
Ferrier, L. Rochdale, V.
Fortescue, E. Romney, E.
Fraser of Kilmorack, L. St. Davids, V.
Gainford, L. St. Just, L.
Gibson-Watt, L. Saint Oswald, L.
Gisborough, L. Sandford, L.
Glasgow, E. Sandys, L.—[Teller.]
Glenkinglas, L. Sempill, Ly.
Gore-Booth, L. Sharpies, B.
Gormanston, V. Skelmersdale, L.
Gridley, L. Soames, L.
Haig, E. Stamp, L.
Hailsham, of Saint Marylebone, L. Stodart of Leaston, L.
Strathclyde, L.
Halsbury, E. Strathspey, L.
Henley, L. Sudeley, L.
Hill of Luton, L. Tenby, V.
Hylton-Foster, B. Teviot, L.
Inglewood, L. Thomas of Swynnerton, L.
Kemsley, V. Trefgarne, L.
Killearn, L. Trumpington, B.
Kimberley, E. Ullswater, V.
Kinnaird, L. Vaizey, L.
Kinross, L. Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Kintore, E. Vivian, L.
Lane-Fox, B. Wakefield of Kendal, L.
Lauderdale, E. Westbury, L.
Lindsey and Abingdon, E. Willoughby de Broke, L.
Linlithgow, M. Windlesham, L.
Long, V. Wise, L.
Lucas of Chilworth, L. Young, B.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

[Amendment No. 7 not moved.]

4.32 p.m.

Lord Cullen of Ashbourne moved Amendment No. 8: Page 42, line 10, after ("contract") insert ("(or, where that period has been extended, the specified period as so extended)").

The noble Lord said: This is a purely technical amendment which corrects a defect in the drafting of provisions affecting short-contract workers who have two or more contracts within eight weeks of each other. A worker who has a single contract for a specified period of 12 weeks or less but whose contract is then extended beyond 12 weeks will become entitled to SSP. This is provided for under paragraph 4(1)(a) of the schedule. Under paragraph 4(1)(b) of the schedule, two short contracts can link if they are separated by eight weeks or less. In other words, the two contracts are treated as one. However, as the Bill stands, if the second contract is extended past its original specified period, this is not taken into account. This is anomalous. Clearly, where contracts are linked together, we want the length of both to be taken into account when deciding whether the 12-week limit has been reached. This will place all short-contract workers in the same position. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Wallace of Coslany moved Amendment No. 9: Page 42, line 34, leave out paragraph 7.

The noble Lord said: I beg to move the amendment in the name of myself and my noble friend. We have of course, had a general discussion on a previous amendment which did eventually make reference to Amendment No. 9, but we are not proposing not to discuss this, because the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, himself suggested that we should put it down, and subject to the adjustment of his spectacles he now realises that we have put it down.

Lord Mottistone

If the noble Lord does not mind my intervening, I said put it down if (2)(g) was also swept away; then it would be relevant, but, because (2)(g) is still in the Bill, I should have thought this was now not so important.

Lord Wallace of Coslany

That is a matter of opinion. We still think this particular item in the Bill does give rise to possible difficulties and complications for the employer who has to prove that he was not in dispute, and so on. I am not going to suggest for a moment that we should press this to a Division, particularly in view of the avalanche that has appeared from all sorts of remarkable places, through doors and side alleys and so on, to support the Conservative cause. I hope of course that they will eventually go away; you never know. Of course we know the Government, as distinct from ourselves when we were in Government, have a very disciplined band of loyal commandos on the doors, and anybody who tries to slip past the commandos I am sure has lost his chance of advancement. So there is very powerful whipping going on in this House, contrary to the usual customs and traditions of the House of Lords, where Whips do not normally matter two hoots, whereas in another place it could cost you your constituency.

However, there is a possibility that the Government might like to have a rethink on this. Therefore, I am raising the issue just to see what observations are made by the noble Lord, Lord Cullen, or his senior Minister Lord Trefgarne, who has had a sideways promotion. We just want to know what is the Government line of thinking on this. Is it possible to reconsider the whole setup? That is all we want to know. I beg to move.

Lord Mottistone

Before my noble friend the Minister replies, it would seem to me that this clause is an important one for the benefit of the individual. There must be occasions when it would be helpful to somebody to have the opportunity, which this paragraph gives him, to show that he does not have a direct interest in a particular trade dispute. There might be a certain amount of doubt in people's minds if this was not here in relation to the other points in the Bill which we have just been discussing. It is surely very helpful for the individual to have that paragraph there to make quite clear what his position is. As to whether Whips are important or not, I am sure that they happen in this House when they are needed for all of us. Perhaps some Whips are more efficient than others.

Lord Trefgarne

Your Lordships will forgive me if I resist the temptation to join in the exchanges about the relative efficiency of the Whips on either side of your Lordships' House. As a former Whip, I take it as a compliment that the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Coslany, complains of the majority we manage to achieve from time to time, although it is in fact the case that we do not always manage it; there have been a good many Government defeats in your Lordships' House in recent years.

As for the amendment which the noble Lord now seeks to move, we are of course having a second look at this. The remarks made by the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, during the discussion of the earlier amendment went straight to the heart of this amendment, and I did my best to reply. I clearly was not able to satisfy all your Lordships on the Floor of the House, but I did apparently satisfy a good many of your Lordships when it came to the Division Lobby. I hope your Lordships will forgive me, therefore, if I do not deploy all the arguments yet again.

The noble Baroness, Lady Jeger, at the conclusion of her remarks said that she did not want to hear from me by way of letter. I remain willing to write to any noble Lord or Baroness who wants greater explanation of the legal implications of the earlier legislation to which I referred, but I think I stand absolved from that duty at the moment.

Lord Wallace of Coslany

I do not intend to take much more time. The noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, has reiterated the fact that the Government are going to have a look at this and in fact at the other point which is related. There are points of difficulty. I am very grateful for what he has said. I agree with him that there are Whips and Whips, but that is another matter. I was one once. In another place, Whips are regarded as the lowest form of human life. Here they are a little more respected. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 10 not moved.]

Schedule 1, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 4 to 6 agreed to.

Clause 7 [Rate of Payment]:

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Jacques)

Before I call Amendment No. 11, I should point out that if it is agreed I shall not be able to call Amendments Nos. 12 to 14.

Lord Banks moved Amendment No. 11: Page 5, leave out lines 21 to 26 and insert ("£37 and an additional £0.85 for each dependent child").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 11 in the name of my noble friend Lord Kilmarnock and myself. The object of this amendment is two-fold. First, it aims to eliminate the lower rates of benefit so that all who are entitled to statutory sick pay would receive £37 a week, and, secondly, it aims to provide an additional benefit for each dependent child. Dealing with the lower rates first, under the Bill as it stands those earning between £45 and £60 per week and those earning below £45 a week get statutory sick pay of £31 per week and £25 a week respectively, and not the full amount of £37. Yet under existing legislation those with the required contribution record get the full amount of sickness benefit, whatever their earnings are.

Under the proposed arrangement in the Bill some who have a full contribution record will not get the top rate statutory sick pay; on the other hand, it would appear that some who do not have a full contribution record will now qualify for the top rates. When the transfer comes at the end of the eight weeks in respect of these latter, presumably they transfer to supplementary benefit and not to sickness benefit. Perhaps the noble Lord who is to reply would tell me whether I am right on that?

If the rate of £37, which is arrived at by working from the current sickness benefit rate, is regarded as being at subsistence level, then it seems wrong that anyone should be below that level who has a full contributions record, particularly if some who have not got such a record get the top rate. If £37 is regarded as a subsistence rate, then it does not seem right to put claimants who have a full contribution record on a rate below the £37, necessitating their having recourse to supplementary benefit.

The second object of the amendment is to provide a benefit for each dependent child. At the moment for sickness benefit there is a benefit of 80p for each dependent child. There is also of course child benefit—at the present standing at £5.25 a week. Child benefit is to be increased in November, but only to take account of inflation in the past year. Child benefit is lower in real value now than it was when the present Government came to office.

In our view on these Benches it is right to seek to transfer to child benefit the whole responsibility for provision for each dependent child, but equally we do not think that the 80p per week should be eliminated without a corresponding increase in the real value of child benefit. Therefore, the amendment proposes that a sum should be paid for each child as part of statutory sick pay. In our view, that should continue until child benefit has been increased in real value to replace this. To take account of the impact of employee national insurance contributions which will be paid on statutory sick pay we have put the figure at 85p. I beg to move.

Lord Trefgarne

As the noble Lord, Lord Banks, has explained, this amendment removes the three rates of statutory sick pay which are payable depending upon an employee's average earnings, and replaces them with a single rate of £37 for all employees. It also adds an amount payable for each dependent child to the flat rate of statutory sick pay.

This amendment is prompted by a twofold concern for employees under the scheme. First, it has been claimed that the proposed rates of statutory sick pay are too low for those normally earning less than £60 a week and that this could cause hardship. Secondly, that the fact that the scheme does not take account of family circumstances has been challenged. With the permission of your Lordships, I would like to deal with these two issues separately. I think it would be helpful if I explained how we arrived at the rate of £37 a week as the main rate of statutory sick pay. £37 is roughly equivalent to the sickness benefit now payable to a man with a dependent wife and child. For children, the principal state provision is child benefit, and it is our intention to phase out the child dependency additions paid with sickness benefit as soon as child benefit has reached an appropriate level.

Taking employees as a whole, we estimate that the rates of statutory sick pay will ensure that employees receive the same extra income from the statutory sick pay scheme (after tax and national insurance contributions) as they would lose from the withdrawal of state sickness benefit, assuming that the benefits were taxable. In this calculation we have had to take account of the effect on employees in different types of occupational sick pay scheme. (This is explained in paragraphs 7–9 of the financial paper which is available to your Lordships with Notes on Clauses, which many of your Lordships have doubtless seen.) This calculation applies to the group of employees who are losing state benefit and gaining title to statutory sick pay in its place. Married women and widows who elect to pay reduced rate national insurance contributions are in a slightly different position. They had no previous title to state sickness benefit, but will have title to statutory sick pay and their contribution rate will be increased accordingly.

Consider now the effect of removing the rates for low earners, which would be an effect of this amendment. We believe that such a lower rate is essential. Without it, it would be possible for some employees to qualify for more in statutory sick pay than they would normally earn. This would be completely at odds with our policy on incentives and it would certainly be wrong statutorily to compel employers to make such payments. One of the main advantages of the scheme is that it tackles the existing problem of incentives which can arise when employees' take-home pay is more when sick than when working, thus making some financially better off sick than when at work—what my noble friend Lord Elton referred to as the "ailment trap" in his Second Reading speech.

However, before any of your Lordships accuse the Government of being unduly harsh in this matter, may I remind you that one of the major amendments to this Bill during its progress through another place was a Government one aimed at meeting the concern which had been expressed about the position of the low-paid under the scheme. We introduced the intermediate rate of statutory sick pay in order to make the provisions fairer to those with low earnings. Let me remind your Lordships of how my honourable friend the Minister of State for Social Security introduced this amendment in another place. He said: we estimate that under 2 million people will be in the group whose earnings qualify them either for the lower or intermediate rate of statutory sick pay. The amendment will bring about half of them into the intermediate rate". He went on to a later stage to say: Of these 2 million people, we estimate that at least half will be married women who have opted to pay reduced rate national insurance contributions and who, therefore, receive no national insurance sickness benefit. Many of the others will be part-time workers, the majority of whom do not qualify for national insurance sickness benefit. Almost all the full-time workers who will receive the lower or intermediate rate of statutory sick pay and who qualify for sickness benefit now currently receive only the standard payment of £22.50 single person rate of sickness benefit. They are either single persons or married women. It will be rare for a married man with dependants to be in that position. If he were, he would in any case probably claim family income supplement". Finally, on the issue of the lower rates of statutory sick pay, I should like to point out that the Bill lays upon the employer a duty to pay a statutory minimum. There is nothing to prevent him paying more than that minimum under his own occupational sick pay arrangements. The employer is best placed to judge the incentive effect on his own workforce—we should not in law force him to pay a rate which erodes incentives.

Turning to the other part of the amendment which seeks to add a child dependency addition to statutory sick pay, I have already mentioned the Government's belief that child benefit, and not child dependency additions, is the proper way for the state to provide for children. That, I believe, is common ground among all parties in the Committee. Consequently, it would be inconsistent to introduce an addition which is higher than the present national insurance benefit child dependency addition to statutory sick pay.

However, there is more to the issue than this. In our original Green Paper we asked whether or not there should be a family premium. The general feeling of those who responded was that this would complicate administration and mean the employer making intrusive inquiries into an employee's family circumstances, constituting an unnecessary invasion of privacy. We have accepted this view. Statutory sick pay will essentially be a continuation of earnings, and it has never been the practice for payment from employers to reflect family circumstances.

As a final point I ask your Lordships to bear in mind that, if a person is suffering financial hardship in any way when in receipt of statutory sick pay, the traditional safety net of our welfare state—supplementary benefit—is still available. Anyone can claim supplementary benefit, subject to the normal qualifying conditions, as at present.

The noble Lord, Lord Banks, also referred to the amount of £37. Thirty-seven pounds, is not regarded as a subsistence rate. For some it will be at or below supplementary benefit levels, but that, of course depends upon their individual circumstances. For many it will be significantly above supplementary benefit level. Where it is below, supplementary benefit can be claimed so that no one would be forced below the subsistence level, as the noble Lord was, perhaps inadvertently, suggesting in his remarks. I hope that I have covered all the points that were of anxiety to the noble Lord and, indeed, to the Committee and that the noble Lord will not wish to press his amendment.

Baroness Phillips

While not wishing in any way to complicate the issue for the Minister, but probably doing so, I noted that he referred to the widows. Am I correct in thinking that—as was the case when I did a lot of work for widows—one cannot collect two benefits from the state at any one time, and that in the event of a widow being employed but receiving sickness benefit, she would lose her widow's pension? This seemed to me to account for the fact that the married woman has opted in the past for the lower payment because in any case, if she became a widow, she was not going to benefit.

Lord Trefgarne

I think that the noble Baroness is right. As a general rule someone cannot claim two benefits from the state at the same time. There are very often "ifs" and "buts" to general assurances of that nature, and at the risk of incurring the odium of your Lordships once more, I should like to undertake to write to the noble Baroness if I am wrong.

Lord Mottistone

I should like to suggest to the noble Lord, Lord Banks, that it is a great pity that he has dealt with what are really two quite separate subjects within the one amendment. It is possible to see some merit in the £37 but not really in complicating it with the child benefit allowance at the same time. I should have thought that this was worth two amendments rather than one. But I am persuaded by my noble friend on the Front Bench that really there is a great deal to be said also, as these are minimum amounts to be paid, for having a range of them rather than just one, because there is the flexibility for employers to increase them if they have private arrangements of their own, and they can watch to see that the incentive factor, which certainly on this side of the Committee we think is important to encourage the individual, is retained. I should have thought, therefore, that the range, with the reassurance from my noble friend that this is not an actual rate but a minimum rate, should be enough to satisfy the noble Lord that it really is perhaps better to leave things as they are. As for the child benefit matter, surely that is better dealt with in another way.

Lord Trefgarne

Before the noble Lord replies, I should like to correct what I said to the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips. I understand that widows can, in fact, draw both their widow's pension and statutory sick pay at the same time, and I have thus saved myself another stamp.

Lord Banks

I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, for his reply to the amendment and for the other contributions that have been made to this discussion. I should like to make it clear that I did not, of course, query in this amendment the level of £37. The noble Lord began by defending that, but I did not attack it in this amendment. I am not saying that I think that £37 is enough, but we come to discuss that matter in the next amendment. But in this amendment I was not raising that point at all. The point which I did raise—the noble Lord answered a point which I did not raise—and upon which I do not think I received an answer, was the question about those who have a full contribution record but who, under this new dispensation, will not have a right to a full benefit, to the £37, and who therefore will be in a worse off position than they would have been under sickness benefit; and those who will not have a full contribution record, yet who will qualify for the top rate, on the basis of their present earnings.

Lord Trefgarne

Will the noble Lord give way? I apologise for intervening yet again. I did endeavour to explain that one of the features of this arrangement which we have been anxious to incorporate is that the employer—and it is, of course, the employer who is making the payments in the first instance under this new scheme—should not be asked to pay more to the employee than the employee would earn when he was fit. That was why we arrived at the particular level that we did arrive at.

Lord Banks

I was coming to that point. While that is a valid point, it is not an answer, I think, to the question which I have just raised about the position of people with full contribution records now and under the proposed system. But coming on to that further point about not compelling the employers to pay employees more than they would normally earn, I agree that that is a valid point and that it might have been better if I had worded my amendment so that it said: £37 or normal earnings, whichever is the lower". That might have been better.

Going on to the question of child benefit, I agree with what the noble Lord subsequently said, and I said in my remarks that I agreed that we should transfer the responsibility to child benefit. But the whole point of the amendment and of what I said about it, was to indicate that it is not right to transfer the responsibility and to eliminate the benefits for children now paid with sickness benefit or sick pay, without increasing the real value of child benefit to offset it. That is what is happening at the present time. The noble Lord gave cogent reasons for suggesting that we ought to do it through increasing child benefit, and I would much prefer that. If his remarks were an indication that there will possibly be a change of heart on the part of the Government with regard to increasing the real value of child benefit in order to offset the elimination of the benefits for children under sickness benefit I should certainly welcome it.

Finally, I think that there was some merit in the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, that this would have been better dealt with as two amendments. Therefore, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment, and possibly will return with two amendments at a later date.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

5.1 p.m.

Baroness Jeger moved Amendment No. 12: Page 5, line 21, leave out ("£37") and insert ("£40").

The noble Baroness said: I hope that it will be for the convenience of the Committee if I speak also to Amendments Nos. 13 and 14, because they are all connected with the rates of statutory sick pay. We are very anxious about this figure of £37, and I accept the explanation which the noble Lord has given, that it is roughly equivalent—near enough, anyhow—to the £36.40 which a married couple would receive at the present time. I think that I have the figure right. However, there is a substantial difference in that we understand from a later clause in the Bill that this payment is to be subject to deduction of national insurance and that it is also to be brought into income tax. Therefore, it really is unfair to compare the £37 in this Bill with the present arrangements of £36.40, which are exempt from national insurance and which are not taxable.

Therefore, it seemed logical to us that we ought at least to increase this figure to £40 to take some account, if not complete account, of family circumstances—because this will differ with family circumstances—so that in effect a couple will not be substantially worse off under this Bill than under the present arrangements, by which they would receive £36.40 free of national insurance and free of income tax.

I want to ask the noble Lord the Minister whether this figure of £37 is to be index-linked. There is a general expectation that in November there will be an uprating of benefits, but we do not know what shortfall there will be, because last time there was an uprating of benefits certainly in some benefits it did not fully take account of the inflation figures. So it seems to us rather extraordinary that we are to put £37 in this Bill, which I understand is not to come into effect until 1983, by which time surely there would have to have been some uprating of the figures. I know that there is a later provision under which the Minister may make changes, and we shall come to that amendment in due course, because some of us on these Benches want to see that made mandatory on the Minister and not optional. But, for the present time, we think that £37 is too low for the reasons that I have stated—the possibility of inflation and because it takes no account of the problem of children.

I listened very carefully to the noble Lord the Minister. It seemed to me that, if the Government were logical, they would eliminate the children's element from unemployment pay and from national insurance sickness pay. If the object of their policy is to put child maintenance entirely on to child benefit, there would be no reason to have these allowances for children in any of the social security payments. But it seems to some of us that the Government are trying to have it both ways. Under this Bill they are saying, "We shall ignore the children because a person will receive child benefit, but if someone is unemployed or if after the eight weeks of a person's employer paying that person, he goes to the DHSS, he will get something for his children".

At the same time, there is more lack of logic. They have told us that the whole objective is that child benefit should take care of child maintenance. We all know that child benefit is not adequate; that it is running at a level which is below the rate of inflation; and that, therefore, it cannot be an alibi for failure to provide a man who is off sick with some help in keeping his children. Under this Bill, it appears to us that a young girl who has just left school, has got her first job and is living at home will receive the same sickness benefit as a married man with three or four children. I anticipate that the answer will be that the married man with three or four children, finding himself suddenly with £37 a week—or even £40, if our amendment goes through—can apply for supplementary benefit.

I thought that there was a general agreement on all sides of this House and in another place that the way forward in social insurance was as far as possible to decrease reliance on supplementary benefit. We want to see that kept for the sort of safety net that Beveridge had in mind. It should not be used as a regular topping-up procedure because the Government have deliberately brought in legislation which will diminish the income of families.

When dealing with the point about helping with children, the noble Lord the Minister referred to the question of privacy. That is a non-starter. The employer knows how many children and dependants a person has because of PAYE. He also knows about family circumstances if one of his workers is claiming family income supplement. I am sure the noble Lord has in mind, as I have, that there should be no compulsion on a man to claim something for his children, and that if he has a love-child hidden away somewhere, he can keep that to himself. It is only if he comes forward and demands some payment for the child that he has to acknowledge the child. It is perfectly voluntary. We all know that we are so computerised that we can hardly get a parking ticket without someone knowing about it, so I think that the argument of privacy is not a very strong one.

I have done a great deal of work on this; I have even read the report of the Select Committee on Social Services in another place. I was interested to read that that committee recommended that if the scheme is to avoid reducing the financial protection for families, child benefit should be raised and maintained at an adequate level. In moving these amendments and in deciding what to do about them, I think it is fair to ask what intention the Government have about raising and maintaining child benefit.

On our suggestion that £31 should be raised to £37, the reasons are very much in line with those that I have already given for Amendment No. 12: we believe that £31 is too low a level. We should remember that people will have received nothing for the first three days of sickness and that they will also have national insurance and, if they are in the right range, income tax to pay. We believe that it will send an undesirable number of people to supplementary benefit offices, and I do not think that that can be a good thing. Also, a man's wages might be a few pence above or below the line. The difference between £25 sick pay a week and £37 sick pay a week may in effect be a difference of earnings of only £1 or £2, but that will be of no comfort to him in trying to maintain his family. I do not consider that these amendments are extravagant. It seems to us only fair to look at them sympathetically, and I hope that the Government will at least look at them again.

If I may refer now to Amendment No. 14, we do ask that the lowest paid people shall receive normal earnings or £37, whichever is the lower. I would rather have said, "whichever is the higher" but, knowing the problems of the Government, we are trying to be helpful. In the Green Paper Mark I—and I am referring here to the Green Paper published in April 1980—it was suggested that, a low earner should have a statutory right to a proportion of normal earnings rather than to the statutory minimum where this would be higher". I am sorry that was dropped when the Bill was drafted, because that is the substance of our Amendment No. 14; to enable the very low paid workers not to suffer a serious drop. It might well be asked by your Lordships, who are these people who earn so little? Who in this country today earns less than £60 a week, to say nothing of earning less than £45 or £25 a week? The latest figures that I have—and I am sure that the noble Lord, with the customary courtesy will help me—show that of fully employed male workers, 1.1 per cent. earn less than £60 a week—but, of women 15.4 per cent. earn less than £60 a week. I should not want the Minister to reply "Yes, but these are probably married women in part-time work", because there are many working women in this country who are the head of their household; who belong to single parent families and who have all the responsibility that a man would have in looking after children and taking responsibility for housing—in effect, taking on all the same responsibilities as are borne by an unmarried man or married man with children. These are the reasons which have prompted these amendments.

There seems to be some inconsistency, in that the Minister has said that there shall be no payment for the children for eight weeks while the employer is still paying, but, as soon as that eight weeks is up, the employee can go to the DHSS, can he not? and collect a larger sum—which I would have thought was an incentive to string out one's illness. Once one is past the eight weeks' limit, one can collect a payment for one's children. I wanted to make another point on the question of privacy and whether it would be very difficult for this sick pay scheme to include something for children. I should have thought that a very simple way would have been for the employee who is asking for extra payment for children—and I am only talking about the employee who is asking and not those who want to keep their affairs to themselves—to ask his wife for her child benefit payment book. Surely that would give acceptable evidence of the number of children which the man has. This would not be administratively impossible and it would help a very large number of families about whom we are greatly concerned.

I do assure the noble Minister that we have put these amendments down with great care and in a spirit of helpfulness, because we believe that many Members of your Lordships' House would consider it wrong that a family's standard of living is to be drastically reduced by statute when the breadwinner is ill. I appreciate that it may be cloud cuckoo-land to talk about sick pay schemes although, thank goodness, there are many in existence, including that in the Civil Service, where full pay is given for a certain period of time. But we are dealing here with people who do not enjoy that sort of protection in their employment. We feel that the rates the Government have put into this Bill will have the effect of impoverishing even further families with low incomes and therefore with probably no savings, no backup and no resources. I beg to move.

Lord Mottistone

The noble Baroness, Lady Jeger, said that companies could tell an employee's number of dependants from the PAYE code. Having at one stage, when our accountant was sick, handled the pay of our small outfit, I can assure the noble Baroness that one would have to be terribly nosy to detect the right number of dependants from the PAYE code number. There are great variations and there is a fairly large measure of security because of the way in which the PAYE system is structured. I rather agree with the argument that it is none of the company's business as to what a man's or lady's private life is—so it is probably just as well that the PAYE system is like that and that there are not ways in which company people can know a whole lot of personal details.

Baroness Jeger

I thank the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, for his helpful interjection. I can only say that a very clever accountant told me that he could tell.

Lord Mottistone

Yes, but clever accountants are rather sinister, qualified people; but ordinary, humble people cannot tell.

Lord Banks

I should like to say a brief word in support of this amendment and those associated with it. When we were discussing the last amendment, the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, said he thought there was an advantage in having three different levels of benefit and that this was more flexible. My difficulty with that was that the levels were such that it was possible for somebody who had a full contribution record to be worse off under the new system compared with what we have at the present time. That is not so under these amendments. That problem is dealt with, and also, in the third category there is the phrase which I said would have been better had I included it in my amendment—"normal earnings or £37, whichever is the lower". For these reasons, I support the amendment that has been moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Jeger.

Lord Cullen of Ashbourne

The effect of these two amendments would be to raise the standard and intermediate rates of statutory sick pay by £3 and £6 respectively. I should like to say a few words about how we arrived at the rates in question. The main rate—£37 a week—is roughly equivalent to the sickness benefit payable to a man with a dependent wife (currently £36.40). The intermediate rate of £31 a week, which was introduced as an amendment to the Bill in another place, is in our judgement the appropriate rate for those earning between £45 and £60 a week. Together with the lower rate—£25 a week to those earning between £29.50 and £45 a week—we have a range of rates. That range gives, by way of statutory sick pay, a reasonable but not excessive proportion of normal earnings at each level. In particular, it means that there is no disincentive to return to work at the end of an illness. That is an important aspect.

I have looked at the cost of these two amendments. To increase the standard rate to £40 a week would represent an annual loss of about £40 million to the National Insurance Fund; to increase the intermediate rate to £37 would represent a loss of about £5 million. That total loss to the fund would have to be made up somehow.

It has been argued that, for the standard rate, the increase to £40 represents broadly the sum which an employee would have to get before national insurance contributions are levied in order to have a pre-tax sick pay level of £37. However, I would draw the attention of noble Lords to the paper on financial effects; we have taken that into account in our calculations and we estimate that the overall effect of the scheme on employees, taken as a group, including paying contributions on sick pay, is roughly equivalent to taxing national insurance benefits.

Turning to the intermediate rate, that was, as I said, introduced in another place to give greater fine tuning to the scheme. It represents our best judgment as to the appropriate level. I should point out that in nearly all cases the intermediate and lower rates of statutory sick pay will be an improvement on what is currently received by way of national insurance sickness benefit. We estimate that about 1 million employees would qualify for the lower rate and a further 1 million for the intermediate rate of statutory sick pay. At least half of those 2 million will be married women who have opted to pay reduced rate national insurance contributions and therefore receive no sickness benefit at all at present. Many others will be part-time workers who do not at present qualify for national insurance benefit. Of the full-time workers who will receive the lower or intermediate rate, nearly all currently receive only the standard £22.50 single person rate of sickness benefit, because they are single men or married women. It will be quite rare for a married man with dependants to be in this position; and, if he were, he could almost certainly claim family income supplement. To sum up, I believe the three rates of statutory sick pay are set at the right level, given their relationship with earnings. To increase the rates would have cost the country a great deal which it cannot afford at present.

I will do my best to reply to the questions which the noble Baroness, Lady Jeger, asked. She asked whether the rate of SSP would be index-linked. The Bill makes clear that it will be increased annually in line with prices, subject to the state of the economy. She also argued that some account should be taken of tax. It has always been accepted that sickness payments should be taxed. The only reason they have not been taxed in the past has been because of administrative complexity. Both the noble Baroness and the noble Lord, Lord Banks, referred to the level of child benefit. The Government are committed to raise child benefit in line with prices as the economy permits, and that was done last year. I fully recognise the importance of child benefit, but I must remind the Committee that every 10p increase costs £55 million.

Baroness Jeger

While the Minister has referred to the cost of raising child benefit, may I ask him to say, on the other hand, how much more the Government will collect as a result of charging people national insurance contributions, for the first time in history, on sick pay? How much is the £37 worth minus the national insurance contribution?

Lord Cullen of Ashbourne

The £37 is roughly equivalent to the £36.40 sickness benefit. If that were brought into tax, which is what the Government wish to do and which all parties have agreed should happen—

Baroness Jeger

What about national insurance contributions?

Lord Cullen of Ashbourne

We are dealing with two figures that are about the same—£37 and £36.40—and, as I was saying, all parties have agreed over quite a long period that all income should be taxed, including sickness benefits and sick pay. Therefore, when we are comparing one with another, it is not fair to say that one is comparing £37 taxed with £36.40 untaxed. The intention was to tax the sickness benefit, and it is that figure that one should compare with £37.

Baroness Jeger

It is important for thousands of people that we get this clearly on the record. I was asking especially about the national insurance contribution. If the noble Lord is saying that the £37 is equivalent to £36.40 on which no national insurance is paid, he is therefore telling the Committee and the workers of Britain that they pay only 60p national insurance, and I do not think that can be correct.

Lord Cullen of Ashbourne

I was not trying to suggest that. It is true that national insurance will be payable on sick pay, but let us not forget that the sick pay is limited to eight weeks, and when one comes to look at what it would cost an employer, it does not amount to a great deal of money in relation to sick pay. The total employees' contributions are £40 million. The contribution payable on £37 would be £3.23.

Baroness Jeger

The arithmetic is very important to people working on low budgets. The Minister gave the figure of £3.23, so we must deduct that from the £37, which brings the sick worker way below the present level of £36.40, which is surely to his detriment.

Lord Underhill

When replying to my noble friend, would the Minister also explain how he arrives at the figure of £40 million as the cost to the state when there should be no cost to the state?

Lord Cullen of Ashbourne

I regret that I cannot answer that, but I will write to the noble Lord. We are in a quite complicated area here. A number of points crop up and however hard one studies the Bill, one is not prepared with all the answers.

Lord Davies of Leek

I agree it is a complicated area, but we are told, when we examine Part I of the Bill, that expenditure will be reduced by £385 million overall. I cannot clarify that in my mind and I should be grateful if time could be taken to enable the Minister satisfactorily to answer my noble friend Lady Jeger and get the matter placed accurately on the record so that it can be analysed. Having been at the Ministry at one time, I appreciate how complicated the subject is; I am not blaming the Minister for not being able to give answers off the cuff. It is easy for those who have not held office not to realise how complicated a subject it is. Nevertheless, I should like the whole issue looked into in depth and a reply which we are able to examine placed in Hansard. That would clarify my mind and make the matter clearer to the Committee and the country.

5.30 p.m.

Lord Cullen of Ashbourne

I should like to say just one thing; namely, that there is available a financial paper with the Notes on Clauses. It is an infernally difficult thing to understand, but it contains a lot of information which perhaps we should study between now and the next stage. There are many points which could probably be answered by a careful look at that paper, but I should like to confer with my noble friend Lord Trefgarne on how we could best make the information available to your Lordships.

Lord Wells-Pestell

I do not want to add to the noble Lord's difficulties, but I agree with my noble friend on the Front Bench that this is, or appears to be, a very complicated matter. Yet when reduced to simple arithmetic, it is undeniable that the person concerned is going to be far worse off, rather than better of. It might be that there is an over-simplification in this matter, but the noble Lord has admitted that a person must be in the region of £3 a week worse off. If that is not so, then we should know about it; otherwise our thinking on the matter is coloured. It seems to me that before the next stage of the Bill the House as a whole should be aware of the real position. I do not know how that can be done. I like the idea of someone putting down a Question for Written Answer. There is no reason why, because the Bill is before the House in the Committee stage, we cannot put down a Question for Written Answer. I would hope that my noble friend on the Front Bench might feel disposed to do this, so we could get an answer in a matter of days. Somebody must know the answer, and must know it now. If not, we are in a bad way, a very bad way.

Lord Mottistone

I would entirely support the view that to put down a Question for Written Answer would be the solution. I would myself put down a Question if no one on the Benches opposite will do so.

Lord Wells-Pestell

I must say, with the greatest respect, that I would prefer my noble friend to put down the Question for the simple reason that she would put down what we want to know.

Lord Cullen of Ashbourne

I think that the noble Lord's suggestion is a very good one, and if one of your Lordships would put down a Question, we should be very pleased to answer it. I have no doubt that there are people in the box who could answer it right now, but I am afraid that I cannot.

Baroness Wootton of Abinger

Does not the noble Lord the Minister agree that the sheer complication of this matter is a condemnation of the whole thing? Would it not be possible for the Government to bring forward amendments which would make the situation intelligible not merely to the Members of your Lordships' Committee, but also to the unfortunate people who have to work out what they are going to get in benefits?

Lord Trefgarne

I had hoped that my noble friend was reaching an agreement with the noble Baroness on the Front Bench opposite to settle this matter amicably. I am not sure that the intervention just now of the noble Baroness was wholly helpful. May I say that if there is any excessive complication in this matter, much of it stems from the 1975 Act, passed by the previous Administration.

Baroness Wootton of Abinger

If I may say so, that makes no difference. The fault might lie with the 1975 Act; but there might now be an opportunity to make some simplifications which would be intelligible, wherever the fault has arisen in the first instance.

Lord Wells-Pestell

If the noble Lord wishes to make political capital out of this, let us make political capital out of it. In 1975 his party was in a position to defeat the proposal, if it wanted to.

Lord Sandys

I think that the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, is injecting into our discussions an element which is not wholly helpful.

Lord Davies of Leek

I did not want to put the matter from a party point of view. I have myself gone through this kind of experience, and I know that civil servants themselves have had difficulty with it. I am not now making a political point, but we should like the matter on the record so that we understand it and the man in the street understands it. That is all. It is quite simple, and I do not want to make anything else out of it.

Lord Cullen of Ashbourne

I think that we have now probably come to the end of this discussion. I should like to suggest that perhaps the noble Baroness will withdraw her amendment and that a Question is put down for Written Answer. We would reply to it as soon as we could, and we would send a copy of the reply to any noble Lord who wishes to receive it.

Lord Howie of Troon

Before my noble friend responds to that invitation, I must say that a slight note of disharmony has been introduced by the noble Lord opposite. I cannot help feeling that this is a matter of some urgency. No one is inclined to throw stones at a Minister who is not able to reply—it is perfectly understandable in a matter of this nature—and no one would do such a thing. But it seems to me that it is a quite legitimate question that my noble friend asked, and I believe that it deserves a somewhat quicker answer than would be obtained by means of putting down a Question for Written Answer, even though that would be forthcoming within a few days.

Presumably there is some machinery through which information of this kind can be conveyed to the Minister, so that he in turn can pass it on to Members of your Lordships' Committee. I am inclined to think that we might get out of our difficulty if we were to adjourn the debate for a short while and enable the Minister to confer with whoever he might feel inclined to confer with. He might come back in a quarter of an hour, half an hour, an hour, or however long it takes, and give my noble friend on the Front Bench the information, rather than expect her to wait for a day or two. I know that the noble Lord the Minister was trying to be helpful, but I am inclined to think that what I suggest would be a speedier way of dealing with the matter.

Baroness Jeger

I thank my noble friend for his helpful remarks and I thank the Minister for suggesting that we might get some information by means of a Question for Written Answer. Some time ago I read in a newspaper how much it costs to answer a parliamentary Question. As always, I am keen to save the Government money—except at the expense of the welfare state—and I should like to ask the noble Lord the Minister whether he cannot now answer this point, since semi-numerate and semi-literate though I am, I think that I have an answer. There is a reference in the Bill to a sum of £37 as payment. The Minister has told the Committee that from that there must be deducted £3.23 for National Insurance. So I suggest that the Committee stops talking about £37, because in effect, according to my arithmetic—subject, as always, to correction—the man or woman is receiving £33.77. So let us talk about whether £33.77 is the right amount. That partly explains why we wanted to increase the amount from £37 to £40, which was to uplift it by £3, leaving the sick employee to find just 23p extra; but certainly not leaving a man on sick pay of £37 to have to contribute £3.23 and to be left at the end of the week—if I have got it right—with £33.77.

Lord Trefgarne

The noble Baroness is of course right in suggesting that if one deducts £3.23 from £37, one gets—whatever it was. The noble Baroness's mental arithmetic is vastly superior to mine—and that is not a difficult position to achieve, I must say. However, I should perhaps make two points which might have escaped the Committee's attention, but which have been referred to in connection with earlier amendments.

First, this is a minimum level of sick pay. I am informed that no less than 90 per cent. of employees in fact enjoy the benefit of occupational sick pay schemes, which in general offer them provision which is greatly enhanced compared with that which we are today discussing. I do not deny that there will be a few people who will receive only the minimum provided for in this measure, and then subject to the national insurance contributions, but they are very small in number. They are further reduced in number by the fact that the figure of £37, less the national insurance contribution, is itself a substantial improvement upon the £22.50 which is the standard rate of sickness benefit which has applied hitherto. Therefore, I hope that Members of your Lordships' Committee will not get the problem out of perspective.

I am of course quite ready to answer a Question for Written Answer in order to clarify the matter further, and I happily give the assurance that I shall see to it that the answer is provided before we reach the next stage of the Bill.

Lord Underhill

The figure that the noble Lord has just given surely proves the point which has already been made that there is no cost to the state. I think that a figure in the region of £40 million has been mentioned; there is absolutely no cost. Therefore the reply given by the Minister to the amendment is completely erroneous. Judging from the figures just given by the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, there cannot be a cost of £40 million. It just does not arise. If we are now being asked to approve a provision which in effect lowers the sickness benefit to people by about £3-odd a week, then surely the Committee should reject that.

Lord Trefgarne

With respect to the noble Lord, I do not want to indulge in a detailed exchange of figures across the Floor of your Lordships' Committee at this moment. I could do so at very considerable length—I have five or six pages of figures here—but I have a feeling that your Lordships would be unduly wearied if I were to deploy all the figures which are before me at this moment. Most of them are contained in the document called Financial Effects of Statutory Sick Pay, which was distributed to your Lordships with the Notes on Clauses.

This Bill is an extraordinarily complex measure. Whatever may be the genesis of the complexity of our current social security legislation—and I will not deploy those arguments again—the fact of the matter is that, as the noble Baroness rightly pointed out just now, our social security legislation is very complex. We therefore took the unusual step in connection with this Bill of distributing detailed Notes on Clauses and a detailed document called, as I have said, Financial Effects of Statutory Sick Pay. I hope that those of your Lordships who are interested in this matter will study this document, and if there are any further points that the noble Baroness would like developed between now and the next stage then, as I have said, I would be very happy to give an Answer on an urgent basis if she would like to table an appropriate Written Question.

Lord Banks

I should like to return, if I may, to the point which the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, made earlier when he was answering on the previous matter. There he was talking about—I have now forgotten the point I was going to make to your Lordships. I will think it out.

Baroness Wootton of Abinger

Can I not appeal again to the Minister, if he is going to take this back and think up something on the lines of an Answer to a Written Question, at the same time to think of some method by which we could simplify this whole matter, so that people could understand it? If the law is being reformed, can it not be reformed in that direction?

Lord Trefgarne

There are many Members of your Lordships' House—and I am among them, I must say—who would like to see our legislation in very many areas, including this one, simpler and easier to understand. The difficulty is that when you apply your mind with these good intentions to the structure as one finds it, the remedies are not quite so easy to discern.

In the case of this particular matter, however, successive Governments have recognised the difficulty for laymen of interpreting the detailed provisions of the legislation, and that is why, for example, we have a huge number of people in the DHSS for staffing our big offices around the country, and why, for example, we have something called the Employers' Guide, which is a simple explanation of the provisions enabling employers to operate them effectively without recourse to the detailed legalistic language which one must perforce incorporate in legislation. However, I agree with the noble Baroness that it would be nice if we could find a simpler form for these matters, but the nature of that form has eluded successive Administrations.

Lord Banks

Having collected my scattered wits, perhaps I could make the point that I was on the verge of making a minute ago, and it is this. I think it is wrong to deploy in defence, as the noble Lord did, the fact that there are some occupational schemes, many of them very good, run by employers, because those occupational schemes are running now. What we are trying to compare is the sickness benefit through the state scheme as it is at the moment and as it would be under the scheme proposed by the Government, and in both cases it will be in the context of existing occupational schemes, which will presumably not necessarily be changed. What we are saying is that in the case of a married man in the top bracket of the new three levels, once you have taken into account the national insurance contributions he will in fact be worse off. Single people, as the noble Lord has pointed out, will be better off; but we are pointing to the fact that the married man will be worse off. We were asking for the Government to confirm that, and I think the calculations which have been made across the Committee have confirmed it.

5.45 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 12) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 77; Not-Contents, 112.

Airedale, L. Howie of Troon, L.
Ardwick, L. Jacques, L.
Aylestone, L. Jeger, B.
Bacon, B. Jenkins of Putney, L.
Balogh, L. John-Mackie, L.
Banks, L. Kaldor, L.
Barrington, V. Kennet, L.
Bernstein, L. Kilmarnock, L.
Bishopston, L.—[Teller.] Lee of Asheridge, B.
Blease, L. Lee of Newton, L.
Blyton, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.
Boston of Faversham, L.
Briginshaw, L. Lloyd of Hampstead, L.
Brockway, L. Longford, E.
Chitnis, L. Lovell-Davis, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L. MacLeod of Fuinary, L.
Collison, L. Mais, L.
Cooper of Stockton Heath, L. Mayhew, L.
Melchett, L.
Davies of Leek, L. Milford, L.
Ewart-Biggs, B. Molloy, L.
Gaitskell, B. Oram, L.
George-Brown, L. Peart, L.
Glenamara, L. Phillips, B.
Gosford, E. Plant, L.
Gregson, L. Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.—[Teller.]
Hampton, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L. Raglan, L.
Houghton of Sowerby, L. Rhodes, L.
Rochester, L. Underhill, L.
Ross of Marnock, L. Vernon, L.
Seear, B. Wade, L.
Stedman, B. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Stewart of Alvechurch, B. Wells-Pestell, L.
Stewart of Fulham, L. Whaddon, L.
Stone, L. Wigoder, L.
Strabolgi, L. Wilson of Langside, L.
Strauss, L. Wilson of Radcliffe, L.
Taylor of Mansfield, L. Wootton of Abinger, B.
Tordoff, L. Wynne-Jones, L.
Abercorn, D. Kinross, L.
Airey of Abingdon, B. Kintore, E.
Allerton, L. Lane-Fox, B.
Alport, L. Lauderdale, E.
Avon, E. Linlithgow, M.
Balfour, E. Long, V.
Balfour of Inchrye, L. Loudoun, C.
Bellwin, L. McAlpine of Moffat, L.
Beloff, L. McFadzean, L.
Bethell, L. Mackay of Clashfern, L.
Blake, L. Macleod of Borve, B.
Boardman, L. Mancroft, L.
Bolton, L. Mansfield, E.
Boyd of Merton, V. Marley, L.
Brookes, L. Mersey, V.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Mills, V.
Caccia, L. Mottistone, L.
Cairns, E. Newall, L.
Caithness, E. Northchurch, B.
Campbell of Alloway, L. O'Hagan, L.
Cawley, L. Onslow, E.
Chelwood, L. Orkney, E.
Clinton, L. Pender, L.
Colville of Culross, V. Portland, D.
Colwyn, L. Rankeillour, L.
Cork and Orrery, E. Renton, L.
Craigavon, V. Rochdale, V.
Cranbrook, E. Romney, E.
Crathorne, L. Rugby, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. St. Aldwyn, E.
Davidson, V. S. Davids, V.
De La Warr, E. St. Just, L.
Denham, L.—[Teller.] Saint Oswald, L.
Drumalbyn, L. Sandford, L.
Ellenborough, L. Sandys, L.—[Teller.]
Elles, B. Sharples, B.
Elliot of Harwood, B. Skelmersdale, L.
Faithfull, B. Stodart of Leaston, L.
Ferrers, E. Stardbroke, E.
Fortescue, E. Strathclyde, L.
Fraser of Kilmorack, L. Strathspey, L.
Gainford, L. Sudeley, L.
Gibson-Watt, L. Swinfen, L.
Gisborough, L. Tenby, V.
Glasgow, E. Teviot, L.
Gormanston, V. Thomas of Swynnerton, L.
Gridley, L. Trefgarne, L.
Grimston of Westbury, L. Trumpington, B.
Haig, E. Tweedsmuir, L.
Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. Ullswater, V.
Vaizey, L.
Hayter, L. Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Henley, L. Vivian, L.
Ironside, L. Wakefield of Kendal, L.
Kemsley, V. Willoughby de Broke, L.
Killearn, L. Young, B.
Kimberley, E.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

5.55 p.m.

Lord Denham

With the leave of the Committee, I think that this would be a convenient moment to make the Statement about business which earlier this afternoon I promised to make. I therefore beg to move that the House be now resumed.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House resumed.

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