HL Deb 12 May 1983 vol 442 cc596-8

4.55 p.m.

Report received.

Clause 1 [Up-rating orders]:

Lord Banks had given notice of his intention to move the following amendment: Page 2, line 20, at end insert ("except that, if in the second year of operation the application of this provision has not been sufficient to maintain the real value of benefits at the November 1982 level then an appropriate adjustment will be made in the percentage increase for the third year.").

Lord Wallace of Coslany

My Lords, this amendment was tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Banks. I did not give permission for my name to be added to the amendment, but my name, as well as the name of my noble friend Lady Jeger, appear on the Marshalled List. I can assure your Lordships that I do not know anything about this. Therefore, as there is no allowance in evidence, obviously the amendment is not being moved. I am not moving it.

Lord Kilmarnock

My Lords, perhaps I may clarify the matter. I understand that it was the intention of the noble Lord, Lord Banks, who unfortunately is unable to be here, not to move the amendment.

[Amendment not moved.]

Then, Standing Order No. 43 having been suspended (pursuant to Resolution of 10th May):

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

My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a third time. In doing so, may I simply express my appreciation to noble Lords opposite, and indeed to the noble Lord, Lord Banks, who have facilitated the rapid progress of the Bill through its concluding stages.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a third time.—(Lord Trefgarne.)

Lord Wallace of Coslany

My Lords, I think that we had better speak now, rather than on the Motion that the Bill do now pass. I realise that the Bill has to go through because if it does not go through pensioners will not receive their increase in November, whether it be 4 per cent. or 6 per cent. In my candid opinion it is a pity that the Government did not accept the amendment put down by the noble Lord, Lord Banks, to consider six-monthly reviews in future. In Committee the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, said that that would mean 1,300 extra staff. Later, in reply to a point that I put to him, he said that he doubted whether any people who were unemployed were qualified to do the work. In passing I would remind the noble Lord that there are among the unemployed many university graduates, as well as grammar school sixth-formers with O- and A- level qualifications.

I do not intend to say much more, other than to add something which is rather more pleasant. I might not be speaking on the Dentists Bill, and the other Bill, and so I should now like to express my thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, and to compliment him on the way in which he has handled the various Bills at their different stages. Of course, that does not mean to say that I agree with him, but on the other hand one should recognise efficiency when one sees it, and courtesy when one receives it, particularly in regard to the very prompt and detailed replies which many of us received. Therefore, having been a little unkind at the beginning, I should like to take the opportunity to thank the noble Lord very sincerely. Should we he so unfortunate as to see returned a Government of whom he is a supporter, I wish the noble Lord well in any chance that he may receive.

Lord Kilmarnock

My Lords, I should simply like to repeat, as I have throughout the passage of the Bill, that on this Bench we support the principle of the historic method of assessment, but we regret the timing of its introduction. We are not in agreement with the removal of over £200 million from the benefits system: nor were we able to agree with the Government that the biannual up-rating of pensions was an impossible task to contemplate. We very much hope that in the near future we shall be able to implement our own programme for pensioners, which will include up-rating twice a year. We hope that the electorate will see the merit of our proposals; but if, by some unfortunate mischance, that should not be the case, we shall keep a very watchful eye on the functioning of the system as proposed in the Bill.

Finally, I should like to add my thanks to those already expressed to the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, for the way in which in this Parliament he has handled the social security Bills which have come before your Lordships' House, and for the great lucidity of his exposition and his willingness to listen to comments, and in some cases even to accept minor amendments. I do not know what the noble Lord has in mind for himself if the Government are returned to power, but certainly I very much hope that we shall have the pleasure of dealing with him when considering these matters in the future.

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I greatly appreciate the kind words addressed to myself.

On Question, Bill read a third time, and passed.

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