HL Deb 19 July 1988 vol 499 cc1277-80

1. Subject to the provisions of an order under section 1(1) above, any agreement made, transaction effected or other thing done by, to or in relation to the Corporation which is in force or effective immediately before the day specified under that subsection shall have effect as from that day as if made, effected or done by, to or in relation to the successor company, in all respects as if the successor company were the same person, in law, as the Corporation; and accordingly references to the Corporation—

  1. (a) in any agreement (whether or not in writing) and in any deed, bond or instrument;
  2. (b) in any process or other document issued, prepared or employed for the purpose of any proceedings before any court or other tribunal or authority; and
  3. (c) in any other document whatever (other than an enactment) relating to or affecting any property, right or liability of the Corporation which vests by virtue of section 1(1) above in the successor company,
shall be taken as from the specified day as referring to the successor company.

2. Where immediately before that day there is in force an agreement which—

  1. (a) confers or imposes on the Corporation any rights or liabilities which vest in the successor company by virtue of section 1(1) above; and
  2. (b) refers (in whatever terms and whether expressly or by implication) to a member or officer of the Corporation,
the agreement shall have effect, in relation to anything falling to be done on or after that day, as if for that reference there were substituted a reference to such person as that company may appoint or, in default of appointment, to the officer of that company who corresponds as nearly as may be to the member or officer of the Corporation in question.

3. — (l) It is hereby declared for the avoidance of doubt that the effect of an order under section 1(1) above in relation to any contract of employment with the Corporation in force immediately before the day specified under that subsection is merely to modify the contract (as from that day) by substituting the successor company as the employer (and not to terminate the contract or vary it in any other way).

(2) Accordingly—

  1. (a) any period of employment with the Corporation; and
  2. (b) any period of employment which would, immediately before the day specified under section 1(1) above, have been treated as such employment,
shall count as employment with the successor company.").

The noble Earl said: The amendment has already been spoken to. I beg to move.

Lord Ennals

I do not believe that the amendment has been spoken to, but if it has I apologise. It looks as though it is a little more than a technical amendment and perhaps the Minister can explain it to the Committee.

Lord Skelmersdale

Perhaps I may help the Committee and the noble Lord. At the beginning of the first day in Committee last Thursday we dealt with Amendments Nos. 3 to 6 as a group. In a sense they were paving amendments for Amendment No. 59. It was the substantive amendment of that group.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 1 [Consequential Amendments]:

Lord Winstanley moved Amendment No. 60: Page 25, line 3, at end insert—

("Opticians Act 1958

. In section 30(1) of the Opticians Act 1958 (interpretation), at the end of the definition of "optical appliance" there shall be added the words "and includes glasses, contact lenses, eye drops and cleaning fluids".").

The noble Lord said: The amendment deals with the availability of contact lenses to certain people. As I understand the present regulations, there appears to be some doubt as to whether a patient has a legal right to a copy of his prescription for contact lenses. If he has obtained contact lenses as a result of attending a properly qualified practitioner and obtaining a prescription, there is some doubt as to whether there exists a legal right to that prescription. However, whether or not the legal right exists, I am assured that in practice patients have the greatest difficulty in extracting the prescription from the supplier.

The difficulty may arise when people who are a long way from home lose their contact lenses and require some more. Under the present arrangements the only way in which they can obtain others is to travel 200, 300 or 400 miles back to the original supplier. If they had a right to the prescription and actually possessed it they could go to another supplier to obtain the lenses.

It is my understanding that the amendment provides for that and it appears to be necessary. I gather that the other items—cleaning fluids, eye drops and so forth—are necessarily associated and must also be exempted in the same way in order to make it easier for people to obtain a duplicate pair of contact lenses. Noble Lords will know that such a need frequently arises but not always in the area in which the contact lenses were originally obtained. It can be desperately inconvenient and very costly for somebody to be forced to go back to the original supplier. The object of my amendment is to see that people are not so forced. I beg to move.

Lord Skelmersdale

I certainly agree that a wise consumer carries around a prescription for his current pair of glasses or contact lenses, or whatever, in his handbag, or rather in her handbag or his wallet. The noble Lord laughs, but it is not beyond the wit of man that even in England a man may carry a handbag. I know several who do, although I do not actually do it myself. Having said that, I am advised that there is no legal right for a prescription for contact lenses. Clearly I shall have to consider this because this amendment brings the matter to my attention for the first time. I was rather surprised and thought it likely to indicate quite a different line of questioning. Since I find that it has not, perhaps I can get back to the noble Lord before the next stage of the Bill.

Lord Winstanley

I am grateful to the noble Lord for his reply. He has confirmed my suspicions that there is no legal right. I thought there might be such a right to the prescription but I knew that in practice, however much they argued, people could not get the prescription. The noble Lord has said that there is no legal right and I hope he agrees with me that there should be a legal right. The person can then carry the prescription and in an emergency he can obtain the contact lenses. The noble Lord has promised to look into the matter and I hope that he will do that with a view to remedying the situation because I believe there is a deficiency in the present provisions.

Lord Ennals

If the consultation between the Minister and the noble Lord, Lord Winstanley, could include handbags then people would be even better equipped!

Lord Skelmersdale

As long as there is no suggestion from the noble Lord, Lord Ennals, that we should end up throwing them at each other, yes.

Lord Winstanley

I am not concerned about the contents of the handbag of the noble Lord, Lord Ennals, but with regard to the amendment I hope that the Minister will look at it sympathetically and realise that there is a deficiency which should be remedied and perhaps will devise a remedy for that situation. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Skelmersdale moved Amendment No. 61: Page 25, line 17, at end insert— ("5A. In subsection (1)(a) of section 83A (remission and repayment of charges and payment of travelling expenses) after "78(1)" there shall be inserted "or (1A)".").

The noble Lord said: I shall speak also to Amendment No. 62. Before I do that perhaps I may say what a pleasure it has been for me to conduct this Committee stage in this spirit of friendliness, even if not always total agreement. I am very grateful to Members of the Committee on all sides for the way in which they have approached their task in being part of the Committee.

This is a technical amendment needed as a result of Clause 11 to ensure that dental charges may continue to be remitted as at present. That was not included in the clause as originally drafted as it is a consequence of the Social Security Act 1988 which was not an Act when this Bill was drafted.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Skelmersdale moved Amendment No. 62: Page 26, line 2, at end insert— ("11A. In subsection (1)(a) of section 75A (remission and repayment of charges and payment of travelling expenses) after "70(1)" there shall be inserted "or, (1A)".").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move.

Lord Ennals

Perhaps I may respond to the noble Lord, Lord Skelmersdale, to say how much we have appreciated the way in which he has dealt with the issues. We have not always agreed on everything, but where we have not agreed wisdom has prevailed. I appreciate the role of the Minister in the handling of this Bill.

Lord Winstanley

Perhaps I may associate myself with those words.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 1, as amended, agreed to.

Remaining schedule agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported with amendments.

Back to