HL Deb 01 July 2004 vol 663 cc437-8

3.27 p.m.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham

rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 24 June be approved.

The noble Baroness said:

My Lords, the order would introduce provisions broadly in line with those in Great Britain which are contained in the Age-Related Payments Bill, which we have just considered.

As the Age-Related Payments Bill was certified as a money Bill, it was not possible to include within it an enabling provision for a Northern Ireland negative resolution Order in Council. We are therefore proceeding by way of an affirmative resolution Order in Council. So that payments can be made in Northern Ireland at the same time as payments in Great Britain, the order must be made at the Privy Council on 27 July 2004.

The payment will be disregarded for social security, tax and tax credit purposes. Although the order provides for the social security disregard, as tax and tax credits are excepted matters, the disregard for those purposes cannot be included in the order. Advice from the Inland Revenue is that the payment would not be liable for income tax and would not be taken into consideration for tax credits. All the other arguments have been rehearsed in our previous discussion. I shall not go into them. I beg to move.

Moved, That the order laid before the House on 24 June be approved.—(Baroness Hollis of Heigham.)

Lord Higgins

My Lords, I agree with the Minister that the arguments are broadly the same as before. As far as Northern Ireland is concerned, as indeed the rest of the country, I share the concern of the noble Lord, Lord Newby, and that of the committees to which he referred, about the Government's ability to make handouts of this kind whenever they happen to feel that it is appropriate. That is a dangerous political innovation, whether it applies to Northern Ireland or otherwise, but I would not wish to oppose the order. I merely make the point that I made before. There are many other causes on which the money could be better spent.

Lord Newby

My Lords, I am curious as to why such a provision can be introduced by secondary legislation in Northern Ireland, whereas in the rest of the country it needs primary legislation?

Baroness Hollis of Heigham

My Lords, my understanding is that it is a consequence of it being a money Bill. If I am misleading the noble Lord, I shall write to him. I hope your Lordships will accept this order.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House adjourned at half-past three o'clock.