HL Deb 28 November 1991 vol 532 cc1485-8

8.43 p.m.

The Paymaster General (Lord Belstead) rose to move that the draft order laid before the House on 14th October he approved [1st Report from the Joint Committee].

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move that this order, which was laid before the House on 14th October 1991, he approved.

The Disability Living Allowance and the Disability Working Allowance Act of the last Session introduced two new benefits for disabled people; namely, disability living allowance, which provides help with the extra costs of disability for people of working age and below; and disability working allowance, to top up the earnings of disabled people in work. Disability living allowance will replace mobility allowance completely, and attendance allowance for people under 65 from April 1992. The Bill also made a number of consequential amendments to certain United Kingdom tax Acts, all of which were of a beneficial character.

The Bill introducing these new benefits also contained a clause which enabled an Order in Council under the Northern Ireland Act 1974, subject only to negative resolution procedure, to be made providing the same benefits for Northern Ireland. However, as such an Order in Council cannot make consequential amendments to United Kingdom Acts, and as the Bill did make a number of such consequential amendments to certain United Kingdom tax Acts, which are as I have said all of a beneficial character, it is necessary to make a separate order for this purpose under Section 38(2) of the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973. This is the order for which I am now seeking the approval of your Lordships' House.

Article 2 amends the Capital Gains Tax Act 1979 to give additional relief for certain trusts for people with disabilities. It ensures that people on the highest or middle rate of the care component of disability living allowance in Northern Ireland will qualify for this relief in the same way as people currently receiving attendance allowance in Northern Ireland.

Article 3 amends the Value Added Tax Act 1983 to take account of the replacement of mobility allowance in Northern Ireland. At the present time charges for leasing cars on a long-term basis to people receiving mobility allowance may be zero-rated for VAT.

Article 4 amends the Inheritance Tax Act 1984 in the same way as Article 2 amends the Capital Gains Tax Act. Certain trusts for people receiving the highest or middle rate of the care component of disability living allowance will qualify for special relief from inheritance tax, in the same way as trusts for people receiving attendance allowance.

Article 5 repeals a reference to mobility allowance in so far as it applies to Northern Ireland, in Section 617(1) (a) of the Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1988. Mobility allowance is being replaced by the mobility components of disability living allowance.

Article 6 amends the Capital Allowances Act 1990 so that allowances on vehicles leased to people presently on mobility allowance will apply to vehicles leased to people receiving either rate of the mobility component of disability living allowance.

The people of Northern Ireland will qualify to receive the two new benefits for disabled people which were recently provided for people in Great Britain by the Act to which I have referred. This order ensures that certain recipients of one of those benefits—namely, disability living allowance—will be treated in the same way under various tax Acts and removes references in those Acts to mobility allowance.

I am sure that the House will wish to support this order which is in essence intended to bring Northern Ireland into parity with Great Britain so far as consequential tax changes are concerned. I beg to move.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 14th October be approved [1st Report from the Select Committee].—(Lord Belstead.)

Lord Prys-Davies

My Lords, I should very much like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, for having explained so clearly and so carefully the purpose of the order and its relationship to the statutory instrument which was laid before Parliament on 1st August last. Although my comments will be very brief indeed, that does not mean that we minimise in any way the importance of disability legislation for the disabled people of Northern Ireland.

I must confess that I was in some difficulty in grasping the full meaning of the amendments which are being made by the order which is before the House this evening: they are amendments to the five principal Acts which the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, has explained very clearly to the House. Fortunately for me, the order was before the Second Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments on 20th November and I was immensely reassured to read in the report of the proceedings of that committee that this order was in a sense a technical order. This has been confirmed and also the Minister has explained very clearly tonight that the effect of this order, together with the earlier instrument, will be very beneficial for the people of Northern Ireland. I am very pleased to give my support to the order.

I shall not detain the House for very long, but I should like to ask the Minister two straightforward questions. Is he able to tell the House when it is anticipated that this order, or the various parts of it, will come into force? I should also like to ask the Minister what consultations took place in Northern Ireland prior to the statutory instrument being tabled last August. If the Minister is able to throw light on those two matters, that would be helpful. I very much approve of this order.

Lord Beistead

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Prys-Davies, for his support for this order. I am also grateful to him for very kindly having given me notice of the two specific questions he wished to ask.

So far as the commencement of the order is concerned, as for the rest of the United Kingdom these amendments to the tax Acts will come into force on 6th April next year. The noble Lord asked about consultation. As is normal for new social security provisions, consultation was on a United Kingdom-wide basis. This was the parent legislation. The new benefits were first announced in the publication, The Way Ahead, which was widely distributed in January 1990. That and the detailed proposals for the new benefits were made available to disabled persons' organisations, many of which I am pleased to say contributed useful suggestions.

We come back to where we started. In this order we are talking not about the benefits but about beneficial consequential tax changes which are parity measures to bring Northern Ireland into line with Great Britain. I commend the order to the House.

On Question, Motion agreed to.