I beg to move Amendment No. 6, in page 5, line 11, at the end to insert:
or by some other authority to whom that local authority are, or are deemed in accordance with the regulations to be, the successor.
This is a technical Amendment to improve the drafting of one point. The Clause is designed to provide appropriate benefits for pensioners in approved schemes like the F.S.S.U. and the F.S.S.N. whose pensions are paid, not by the authority employing them, but by the insurance company to which the employing company pays the employer's contribution. Paragraph (ii) of subsection (2,b) enables the appropriate Minister to make regulations empowering local authorities to pay the appropriate benefits to former members of those schemes who have been employed by them but, as drafted, the paragraph does not cover the case where the pensioner was employed by a local authority that has since ceased to exist or has had its employing function transferred to another local authority.
The question obviously arises in the case of people formerly employed by the London County Council and now with the Greater London Council. It is obviously desirable that these people should be covered, so the Amendment provides that the regulations may empower a local authority to provide, not only for its own ex-employees but also for the ex-employees of another authority of which it is, or is deemed to be for this purpose, the successor.
There are some mysterious words between the two commas in the Amendment. Surely if the successor to a local authority is another local authority it is a matter of fact, not of regulation. In any case of doubt, which are the regulations which will determine it? What happens if someone is disaffected? To whom will he have to apply, to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government or to the Treasury? It seems that in clarifying this matter a host of rather mysterious points have been raised. The provision says, "are…the successor" and "or are deemed…to be". Who will be the final authority to decide the successorship under the regulations, and what will the regulations be?
In a case where it is clear as a matter of fact which authority succeeds which authority, no question arises. The purpose of the words between the commas is to clear up a case where there might be lack of clarity as to which authority has succeeded. One may take the case of the Greater London Council displacing the former London County Council. Not all the functions of the former have been transferred to the new body, for some have been transferred to the London boroughs. In some cases there might be difficulty in deciding which should be the authority.
The hon. Member for Bedfordshire, South (Mr. Cole) asked who should decide. The answer is, "the appropriate authority". In this case it would be either the Minister of Housing and Local Government, or in Scotland, the Secretary of State. He would decide by making regulations. It is to cover precisely that kind of case that we have added the words between the commas.