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Orders of the Day — Social Security Bill – in the House of Commons at 7:45 pm on 20th May 1986.

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Amendment made: No. 141, in title, line 4, after 'pupils', insert 'to abolish maternity pay under the Employment Protection (Consolidation) Act 1978 and provide for the winding-up of the Maternity Pay Fund'. —[Mr. Fowler.]

Order for Third Reading read. —[Queen's Consent, on behalf of the Crown, signified]

Photo of Mr Norman Fowler Mr Norman Fowler Secretary of State for Health and Social Security 8:12 pm, 20th May 1986

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

I shall be brief since the Third Reading debate is itself a short one. The Third Reading marks another significant landmark for the Bill. The Bill gives effect to the proposals which were set out in the White Paper on social security published at the end of 1985. That White Paper followed the most extensive examination of the social security system since the war. It started in the autumn of 1983 with the inquiry into retirement. That was followed by an examination of family support, housing benefit, and supplementary benefit.

The Bill itself has been subject to the longest scrutiny by a Standing Committee of any social security legislation since the original Beveridge proposals just after the war. I should like to pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Minister for Social Security and to my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for their work on the Bill. I believe, too, that the standard of debate throughout the proceedings has been very high, both from the Government Benches and from the Opposition.

The Bill has three major objectives. The first is to ensure that many more people should have a pension of their own. We want to achieve a major extension of occupational and personal pensions. Over the past 20 years occupational pension cover has remained static. That was so not just in the so-called years of pension blight in the 1960s and the early 1970s, but it has continued to he the case since. The result is that we have basically two nations in pensions, one with its own occupational scheme and the other with no scheme of its own. All the evidence is that people without additional pensions of their own would welcome the opportunity to have them. The Bill makes it easier for both employers and employees to set up new pension arrangements while at the same time preserving the basic pension unchanged and a modified second tier state earnings-related scheme.

The Bill gives for the first time in this country the right to a personal pension. That means in practice that anyone, whether a member of the additional state scheme or of an occupational scheme, can choose instead to have a personal pension. In other words, the pension will be personal to the individual and will be fully portable from job to job.

Personal pensions will be accumulated on a money purchase basis with contributions qualifying for tax relief. Each person will be able to choose the kind of pension savings scheme that he wants and the kind of body which he wants to run his savings scheme. The significance of the last measure is that under the provisions of the Bill we are opening up the provision of pensions not just to life assurance companies, but to building societies, banks and unit trusts. That will not only give the public a wider choice and a greater say in how their pension savings are invested, but it will increase competition between providers of pensions to the benefit of the consumer.

We are concerned to encourage not only personal pensions but the spread of occupational pension schemes. Here again, there is substantial scope for expansion. Up to now there is little doubt that employers, particularly small employers, have been discouraged from starting new schemes by the fact that only schemes promising a benefit related to salary could contract out of the state earnings-related scheme. That is an open-ended commitment which not all employers could reasonably be expected to take on. The Bill provides an alternative route to an occupational pension. In brief, we will see an expansion of occupational schemes and an expansion of industrywide pension schemes.

The changes that we are making come on top of the important changes that we have already made in the 1985 legislation on early leavers and on transfer rights. Taken together, the legislation that is now going through the House and the legislation that was passed in 1985 amount to a major extension of occupational pensions and personal pensions, and a major extension of rights for members of schemes.

The second aim of the legislation is to seek to concentrate help in areas where that help is needed. The evidence of the social security review was that the present system fails to do that in a number of ways. The position has changed over the past 20 years. Any diagnosis of need shows that some of the most difficult problems are today faced by low income families with children. Families with children—unemployed families, but also low income families in work—now make up more than half the people living on the lowest incomes. At the same time, there is the totally indefensible position where families can be worse off in work than out of work, and where they can lose income as their gross wages rise. Through the family credit proposals and the family provision of income support the Bill will enable us to direct more help to these areas. It will help us to tackle both the unemployment and the poverty traps.

I made clear yesterday our commitment to the object and aim of family credit. I believe that there is widespread agreement with the Government's central proposition that we should direct more help to low income families with children.

The Green Paper proposals that have been adopted in the Bill achieve that in a number of ways. For example, fiat rate child benefit as a universal basis of help for all children, which will be paid, of course, directly to the mother, will continue. A new family premium in the income support scheme and a new expanded and improved family credit have been designed specifically to target help more accurately and more generously on low-income families with children.

That will enable us to direct more help to low-income families. As I have already made clear, we estimate that family credit will reach twice as many families as the family income supplement. There is widespread agreement that the present family income supplement scheme is not working and should be replaced. The family credit scheme is a good and worthy successor to that scheme.

The third objective of the Bill is to ensure a simpler system of social security. One of the most, common complaints from the public is that the system is, at times, one of bewildering complexity. That is not in the interests of the claimants or of the staff who have to administer the system. The Bill will simplify benefits and put income support, housing benefit, and family credit on a similar basis. The Bill will go further than that. It will introduce common rules for the different benefits and simplify the present complexities of the contracting out rules for the state pension scheme.

The changes have been made because over the next 10 to 15 years we will introduce a new computer strategy for social security. That will be the biggest computer operation of its kind ever undertaken in this country and it will cost up to £2 billion. That strategy will radically improve the service that we give to the public.

The reforms set out in the Bill are fundamental. They follow the most comprehensive review of social security since the last war and the most detailed consultation with the public.

The reforms propose a new framework of social security that will serve the public better in future. The debate on social security has changed. The question is not now whether social security should be reformed, but how it should be reformed.

We are still waiting to hear the proposals from the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher). He launched those proposals in a tentative way some 13 months ago. I have no wish to intrude into the hon. Gentleman's private grief, but we have been promised his proposals for some time. The time has come for him to make clear where the Opposition stand on these matters.

For years hon. Members on both sides of the House have spoken eloquently of the need for reform. The Government must do more than simply recognise the problems in social security. They must put forward solutions and set out a programme for action based on clear principles and objectives. The Bill achieves that. We have a programme which will confer new rights in pensions. We will set the pensions of the future on a sound basis and give millions of people new opportunities for planning for their future and an independence which the public will appreciate and understand.

The Bill contains a programme that cuts through the unnecessary complexities of much of social security and concentrates on what should be its central aim of directing help to those who need it most. It contains a programme that will tackle the most notorious aspects of the unemployment and poverty traps. It will give more support to some disabled people as well as to those low income families who face special difficulties.

That is a programme for reform which deserves the support of the House. The House cannot turn its back on the problems in social security which undeniably exist and which have not been denied, throughout the debate. The House and the Government have a responsibility to act. I ask the House to support the Bill tonight so that we may take the action that is needed.

Photo of Michael Meacher Michael Meacher Shadow Secretary of State, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee 8:24 pm, 20th May 1986

I want to pay a well-earned tribute to my hon. Friends who served on the Standing Committee and to my Opposition Front Bench colleagues for their discipline, eloquence, persistence, and effectiveness. Rarely can there have been a Committee where the argument was won more often and more convincingly by the Opposition than the Committee on this Bill. Yet, a stern-faced Government were able to vote us down through the brute force of whipped votes. The Opposition's sole prize in Committee and on Report came last night. We forced the Government to back-track on their universally derided plans to pay family credit through the wage packet. That is a major prize of enormous importance for millions of women. I specially thank all those who forced the Government to rethink that especially ill-advised proposal.

This Bill ends grants as of right for essential household needs for the poorest people on supplementary benefit. It substitutes a so-called social fund with no independent right of appeal and with repayable loans which will drive many families deeper into poverty and debt.

This Bill will, for the first time, cash-limit the relief of poverty. It forces everyone, even the very poorest, to pay 20 per cent. of their rates. That will eat into the basic subsistence minimum designed for food, clothing, and fuel. The Bill will emasculate the state earnings-related pension scheme by which otherwise all pensioners would have been lifted above the supplementary benefit poverty line. Poverty in retirement would finally have been ended had that scheme matured.

This Bill will end the best 20 years rule which alone protected women, the long-term unemployed and the long-term sick and disabled who were unable to earn a full pension from a normal 40 years' working life. As a result of that, they will be exposed again to means-tested poverty in retirement.

This Bill will cut £450 million from housing benefits in addition to the £200 million which was knocked off last year. That will specifically hit pensioners and unemployed families. The Bill ends local authority discretion to provide free school meals for hundreds of thousands of children who will now be put at risk of not having at least one proper nutritious meal a day.

This Bill will punish single childless young people under the age of 25. Under this Bill, 25 becomes the new age of majority for the poor. Below that age, they will get £6·60 a week less income support and significantly less housing benefit than persons in identical circumstances who are older. Altogether, nearly one third of a million young people under 25 will lose out.

I could continue with such descriptions of the Bill. This is not a Bill about social justice or about welfare state reform. It is not a Bill concerned with attacking poverty. Rather, it attacks the poor. It is about redistribution but under this anti—Robin Hood Government that involves redistribution from the poor to the rich. In addition to the £9 billion to £10 billion that has already been taken from the poor in social security cuts since 1979, and in addition to the £4 billion to £5 billion—and that is the Treasury figure—that has already been transferred from the poor in Tory budget after Tory budget, this Bill makes other redistributions. The Secretary of State said that the Bill represented a rationalisation of the welfare state. The welfare state does need to be reformed. It is too bureaucratic, too riddled with means testing and too complex, but this is not a reform package—it is a cuts package. SERPS is being cut by £12 billion into the next century, housing benefit is being cut by £450 million, child benefit was cut by £175 million last year and supplementary benefit, or income support as it is now euphemistically called, is probably to be cut by an estimated £180 million. It is a cuts package worth about £1 billion which affects 3·8 million people, 2·25 million of whom are pensioners and 500,000 of whom will lose more than £5 a week.

The Government's own figures, given in their technical annex, show that one third of a million pensioners aged over 80 will lose, that nearly 2 million pensioners under the age of 80 will lose——

Photo of Mrs Elaine Kellett Mrs Elaine Kellett , Lancaster

There were no pensions for the over-80s under the old Labour Government. We brought them in in 1971.

Photo of Michael Meacher Michael Meacher Shadow Secretary of State, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

I shall repeat that if the hon. Lady would like me to. Nearly 2 million pensioners under 80 will lose, 250,000 lone parents will lose——

Photo of Michael Meacher Michael Meacher Shadow Secretary of State, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

The hon. Lady will be able to make her own speech in due course.

Photo of Mrs Elaine Kellett Mrs Elaine Kellett , Lancaster

The hon. Gentleman referred to me, so would he be good enough to give way?

Photo of Michael Meacher Michael Meacher Shadow Secretary of State, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

I referred to the hon. Lady only to ask her to keep quiet and listen.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Order. We cannot have two hon. Members on their feet at the same time.

Photo of Mrs Elaine Kellett Mrs Elaine Kellett , Lancaster

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it in order for the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) to make a deliberately misleading statement and to prevent me from correcting him?

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

That is not a point of order. I remind the House that this is a very short debate.

Photo of Michael Meacher Michael Meacher Shadow Secretary of State, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

Nearly 2·5 million pensioners will lose, 250,000 lone parents will lose, 100,000 low-paid families with children will lose, 60,000 sick and disabled persons will lose and 1·75 million other persons in different categories of need will lose.

Those are the Government's own figures. They exclude losses from the ending of single payments, which cost more than £300 million last year. Nor do they include the package full of nasties that the Government served up without notice and without consultation in the last week of the three-month Committee stage and afterwards. The Government tacked on to the Bill a savage new penalty for people who have been unemployed for more than six weeks after leaving a job for reasons that do not satisfy a DHSS official. The only intelligible justification which the Minister was able to offer the Standing Committee for that was that it was a means of saving another £30 million.

People on income support are now to be required to pay more of their mortgage interest, as half will no longer be covered by supplementary benefit as has always previously been the case. They will have to pay it out of money intended for basic needs. The Government have also cut out all of those people who previously qualified for industrial injury benefit but had an assessment of less than 15 per cent. disability. That still involves a serious accident. Another 180,000 people will lose, saving £155 million.

The Government have always said—the Secretary of State repeated it today—that there are three basic aims behind the Bill. I should like to explore them. The first is better targeting of resources on the poor. I refer the Secretary of State and others to the answer given to the hon. Member for Kensington (Sir B. Rhys Williams) in a parliamentary reply of 13 February. On the figures which the Government provided, it appears that two-parent families with two children, with £100 a week gross earnings or less, will lose. The highest losses are on earnings between £60 and £80 a week—they range from just under £8 a week to just over £9 a week. The picture is similar for three-children families on £110 gross or less. There are approaching 250,000 two-parent families on such low wages.

The losses faced by lone parents earning £100 a week or less are even greater, according to the answer received by the hon. Member for Kensington. They are as high as £11 on gross earnings of £60 a week or more. I do not see how those figures can possibly be considered compatible with concentrating resources on those in greatest need. It is the reverse.

The only people whom the Government have successfully targeted on are the rich—the top 5 per cent. who have received £3·5 billion in the past seven years in income tax concessions, to say nothing of capital tax concessions through weakening capital transfer tax, capital gains tax and abolition of the investment income surcharge, which benefits only those with more than £100,000 stashed away on the stock exchange.

Secondly, the Secretary of State said that the Bill would reduce complexity. I suggest that he has severely increased it, partly through the social fund, which will be an extremely complex mechanism, instead of the basically much simpler and fairer grants as of right, and through a manifold increase in means testing — abolition of universal benefits such as death grant and maternity grant.

Thirdly, the Secretary of State said that his aim was to ease the poverty trap. I put it to him that the Bill will substantially extend the poverty trap. The number of families or individuals who will lose more than 70p out of each extra £1 that they earn will double to 500,000. The number who will lose more than 60p in every £1, which is a higher marginal rate than is imposed on Britain's richest business men, will quadruple. So much for easing the poverty trap.

I should like to give a few examples of the Bill's effects. I shall limit myself to three. Miss F is a lone parent with an epileptic child for whom she receives a diet allowance of £35. Her current supplementary benefit entitlement before rent is £82·60 a week. Under income support, she would get only £49·90, as her child will not, it seems, qualify for the double family premium. She will lose £32·70 a week.

Mrs. T is a widow with severe disabilities. She suffers from arthritis, diverticular disease in the large bowel, incontinence and a suspected hiatus hernia. She is mostly bedridden and receives an attendance allowance. Her current supplementary benefit entitlement before rent is £52·10 a week, £15·60 of which is to meet her additional requirements. On the illustrative support rate which the Government have provided her entitlement would be £42·85—a loss of £9·25.

Mrs. W is a 74-year-old widow with Parkinson's disease. She receives the higher rate of attendance allowance and has a resident help as she would be unable to live on her own without care. She receives £42·90 towards the cost of that help and her supplementary benefit entitlement before rent is £79·40 a week. Under income support she would receive £42·85—a loss of £36·55 a week. In case anybody believes that that is an exceptional case, I draw attention to the fact that the Minister for Social Security admitted in Committee that 2,500 very severely disabled persons will lose between £50 and £60 a week under the Bill.

Photo of Mr Tony Newton Mr Tony Newton , Braintree

I most certainly did not.

Photo of Michael Meacher Michael Meacher Shadow Secretary of State, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

The hon. Gentleman can deny that but if he wishes me to, I shall look up the quotation.

Photo of Mr Tony Newton Mr Tony Newton , Braintree

I should like to make it absolutely clear that I simply accepted that there were 2,400, to be precise, people who, in our latest data, receive additional requirements for domestic assistance. As I said again last night, our latest data show that the average of those payments is less than £4 a week. On that basis, it is inconceivable that that number of people are losing those sums of money.

Photo of Michael Meacher Michael Meacher Shadow Secretary of State, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

The Minister is wrong. If he looks at the figures for those in receipt of domestic assistance addition, which is paid on average at £47·20 a week, he will see that the number who will lose is as I have said.

The only proper response of those who do these things to some of the most vulnerable and poorest in society should be shame and remorse. If the Government and their Ministers are incapable of such feelings of understanding and compassion, I give notice that we shall do what they will not do. We shall prevent the Bill from coming into force if a Labour Government come to power, as we expect. before the implementation date. If we do not, I give an unequivocal guarantee that we shall eventually repeal the legislation in full.

Photo of Mr Andrew Bowden Mr Andrew Bowden , Brighton, Kemptown 8:40 pm, 20th May 1986

It is with deep regret that I must say to my Front Bench colleagues that I do not believe that the Bill will stand the test of time. That is clear from the Opposition's statements, not least because a general election will take place before the Bill is fully implemented.

At the same time, I want to pay tribute to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and his colleagues. The Secretary of State is a dedicated and diligent Minister, but he has faced an impossible task. He was asked to reform the social security system—few hon. Members would deny that reforms are urgently needed—but he was not given the means with which to carry it out. Therefore, his brief could not possibly be effectively fulfilled. For that, one cannot blame him. My right hon. Friend will be remembered not as a great reformer but as a Secretary of State who had an impossible task and tragically was unable to fulfil it.

I cannot support a Bill which will create real hardship, and which will reduce the incomes of many elderly people. Therefore, I shall have no hesitation in voting against the Third Reading. It is utterly wrong to force pensioners on extremely low incomes to pay 20 per cent. of their rates without compensatory increases in their income and without any guarantee that the rating system will be basically altered and reformed. It is wrong substantially to reduce heating allowances for 1 million pensioner households, and to cut the housing benefit of up to 4 million pensioners.

I wish to refer to the standard housing benefit high rents scheme, and to tell the House of a specific case in Brighton. A retired couple live on a total income of £107 a week, and at present they receive £5·45 rent allowance. If the high rents scheme is abolished—I am not talking about the other proposed reductions in housing benefit—they will immediately lose £1·45 in benefit, and a large part of the balance will go with other reductions in housing benefit.

Social fund officers and inspectors will face an incredibly difficult task. I have little doubt that the operation of the fund will inevitably lead to a mass of anomalies. During the severe weather of the past two winters we saw the anomalies that arose in severe weather heating allowances. During the past winter officers responsible for deciding whether that allowance should be paid made different decisions at different branch offices no more than 10 miles apart. In future I can see such anomalies arising on these issues. Yet, despite all the responsibilities and difficulties faced by social fund officers, and despite the inevitable errors and anomalies that will occur, there will not be a right of appeal to an independent tribunal. I accept that the Government have made some concessions on appeals, but I deeply regret that there will not be the right of access to a completely independent tribunal.

A great opportunity has been missed. The Government will rue the day when they introduced the Bill.

Photo of Mr Archy Kirkwood Mr Archy Kirkwood , Roxburgh and Berwickshire 8:45 pm, 20th May 1986

We have been privileged to listen to a brave speech by the hon. Member for Brighton, Kemptown (Mr. Bowden) who is renowned for his work as the joint chairman of the all-party pensioners committee. He would have been doing less than justice to his past work if he had not made the speech that he has just made. I am delighted to follow him.

I have just finished my first Standing Committee on social security, and I wish to pay tribute to the Government Front Bench, especially the Minister of State. Although we may not have agreed with his explanations. he presented them lucidly. I also wish to pay tribute to the hon. Member for Derby, South (Mrs. Beckett). The burden of the Committee's work fell on their shoulders. It might be stretching the point a bit far to say that I enjoyed the Committee proceedings, but I certainly never found that my time was wasted, and we all learnt a great deal from our discussions.

The Government, in my submission, have made a number of mistakes. They made the first one early on. When the guillotine was imposed in Committee the guts fell out of the proceedings, and that has certainly been true on Report where we have not done justice to the work done during the early stages of the Committee. My conclusion from that is that the Government were mistaken in trying to put three separate Bills into one. The Secretary of State stipulated clearly the three major aims of the measure: a major reform of pensions, a major reform of the income support system, and a major clarification and alteration to the common provisions of the appeal machinery. The Bill has suffered because the Government included all three, and I regret that. The Government should learn that lesson for the future.

I regret that there was no real and objective attempt during the review to assess needs. There was a consultation procedure, but many Opposition Members believed that it was a bit of a charade. The Government would have done themselves more credit if they had assessed the level of need. We would all have had a fright if they had done that and presented the figures because the need is, perhaps, much greater than even we on the Opposition Benches imagine it is. But that omission made our discussions much more difficult.

The Government were wrong to rely so heavily on the need for regulations. I fully understand the need to introduce subordinate social security legislation by statutory instruments but the extent to which the Bill is founded on regulations that will come as a consequence of the primary legislation is a mistake and is to be regretted.

Throughout our discussions during the various stages our work has been made more difficult by the tentative nature of the Government's indicative figures. It is difficult for them to do much about that when the Bill is being discussed so far in advance of it being implemented. However, it would have been better had they been able to have the discussions nearer the time when the Bill was being brought into force, when we would be able to discuss real figures and not the estimates of potential losers and gainers.

The Government have not taken proper account of the fact that the Bill breaks the consensus that has been reached between both sides of the House in social security legislation, and particularly pensions legislation, over the past 15 or 20 years. The Government have underestimated the uncertainty, administrative chaos and financial difficulties that will flow from the fact that, as of this evening, all bets are off and the social security system and the machinery for delivering it are back in the party political cauldron. That is not in anybody's interest.

I listened carefully to the Secretary of State, who said that he had two aims. The first was that he wanted to concentrate on those in need, and the second was that he wanted a more simple system. I understand both of those aims, but, on a nil-cost basis, it is impossible to make the system more simple and get fairer and better targeting because they are in direct conflict. Better targeting needs to take account of individual need and to be done well needs extra resources, especially if the system is at the same time to become more simple.

The Bill is a missed opportunity and the alliance view is that we should embrace the technical difficulties of moving towards the integration of the taxation and benefit systems and attempt to unify them. I am confident that, in my political lifetime, I shall see such a reform introduced.

I have doubts about some of the detailed aspects of the Bill and the alliance will be looking carefully at them. As the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) said, we may put the Bill on the statute book and then find ourselves facing an election. The first doubt concerns the position of single people under the age of 25. I understand that the Government have to strike a balance on how support is delivered to young people, but the age of 25 as a cut-off point is unjustified, arbitrary, unnecessary and unfair. That proposal is unacceptable and I shall do everything in my power to persuade my party to change it. The long-term unemployed without children or dependants will still be in a dire position after the introduction of the Bill, and that is unacceptable, as is the 20 per cent. contribution towards the rates for those on income support. The hon. Member for Kemptown rightly referred to that point.

I hope that the commitment that the Secretary of State gave us on the stroke of midnight last night—I thought that he was about to turn into Cinderella—of further consultations and the delivery of family credit by girocheque to the caring parent is fulfilled. It would be unacceptable to leave the Bill as it stands in this regard. A means-tested death grant is unacceptable, and I tried to amend this proposal in Committee. The Government should have accepted my compromise.

The social fund, even with the new clause that the Government introduced yesterday, is unacceptable and we could not countenance the introduction of anything like a social fund in its present form, because of the difficulty of single payments. I am still not satisfied with the regional disparities, as the incidence of the cuts will fall heavily on places such as Northern Ireland, Scotland and some of the other deprived regions. I should change a number of the Bill's significant aspects if I had any influence on such matters in the future.

The Government must not be tempted, between now and bringing the Bill into effect, to chip away with piecemeal cuts just to try to discount the financial agony that will come about if and when the Bill is eventually introduced. That would be unfair and unjustified. When the Secretary of State introduces the regulations that will flow from the Bill, we shall scrutinise them line by line to try to make the improvements that the Bill still needs.

Photo of Mr Roy Galley Mr Roy Galley , Halifax 8:56 pm, 20th May 1986

It was with surprise that I heard the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire (Mr. Kirkwood) say that he did not enjoy every moment of the Committee. Surely even in the early hours of the morning it was an experience of unalloyed enjoyment. Although there was a great divide of opinion on many matters, it was a remarkably good-tempered Committee. I pay tribute to the flexibility and skill of my hon. Friends the Minister and the Under-Secretary in the way that they handled the Committee, and to the competence displayed on both sides of the Committee during the debate.

Reform of social security was much needed and will be welcomed. The Bill makes many significant changes and I predict that a distantly future Left-wing Government, be it Labour or alliance, will retain many of its features. The net income assessment system and the common criteria between benefits are two of the significant improvements that will result. The more simple and coherent income support scheme will probably also endure and other measures will successfully curtail a number of discrepancies in the system.

I have three points to make, and it would be helpful if my hon. Friend the Minister would indicate a little of his thinking on these issues on which we touched in Committee. The first is that of the age of retirement. Most people wish for and are prepared to seek greater flexibility in retirement. When he introduced his Green Paper, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State put forward the concept of a decade of retirement. That is a strategic objective, and there is little flesh on the bones of that idea. It is a matter of regret that we did not progress it further in Committee.

There is growing pressure for equalisation in the treatment of men and women, and it is only a matter of time before that issue becomes the subject of the legal process. Pressure for change will come from both men and women. Conflicting choices will mean that a considerable margin of flexibility will be the only solution. A common retirement age higher than 60 would not be a politically feasible option. For this reason, the central recommendation of the report by the Select Committee on Social Services on the age of retirement would be a non-starter.

The costs of reducing the male retirement age would be considerable. Whatever cost calculations one makes will depend on assumptions about job replacement. To take the best estimates available, at 1982 levels, the net cost of early retirement—assuming two thirds of men retiring between 60 and 65 being replaced in employment by younger people- would be £2·5 billion. Even if one assumes full job replacement, it would be nearly £2 billion. For financial reasons, that proposal is a nonstarter. No Government, even if they decided that a reduction in the retirement age was the No. 1 priority, would readily be able to find such money.

Another important factor in matters relating to retirement is that only about two-thirds of men aged between 60 and 64 are active in the labour market. About 10 to 15 per cent. retire on occupational pensions, while others effectively retire on sickness or invalidity benefit or unemployment benefit. It would be helpful if we were able to give those people the dignity of retirement status as part of the changes in our retirement law.

Because of the financial and political problems of compulsory retirement at a new common age, or simply an earlier age for men, we need to consider some proposals for abated pensions. A number of variations have been discussed over the years. The difficulty so often is that they can be expensive. The other major flaw is the possibility of topping up an abated pension with other forms of social security benefit. Unless the basic level of pension, with any additional state pension, is far enough above the income level for the new income support, those on abated pensions would merely rely on other benefits to boost their income.

I sought to introduce yesterday new clause 12 to overcome this problem by allowing the payment of abated pensions, with the intention that other topping up benefits would not be payable. The formula for the abatement is the reverse of the current incremental formula. It is now possible to defer receipt of a pension until after retirement age and to earn increments to the basic rate. Those increments accrue at the rate of one-seventh per cent per week. That results in a 7·5 per cent. annual increase. If an incremental system of that kind can be operated, I believe that an abated system could also be operated.

There would continue to be considerable problems. The abated system may be attractive only to small numbers of people, and they would need to accumulate a considerable amount of additional pension entitlement if there were to be no other benefit top up. Such a scheme would be a useful adjunct to the personal pension provisions in the Bill. Its impact would not be extensive or immediate, but it is worthy of further consideration.

The second issue that I wish to raise is relatively small—the impact of the Bill on unemployed people who undertake voluntary work. There is concern that the income support provisions will curtail the repayment of expenses incurred by unemployed people during their volunteering activities. I am sure that that is not the intention of my hon. Friend the Minister for Social Security. It would be helpful if assurances could be given that expenses reimbursed for volunteering will not count as income in this case. It is very important, because a large number of unemployed people in my constituency are active volunteers. They play a useful and important role in the community. It would be a great shame if this role were jeopardised by the Bill.

I wish to refer to the need for a growing awareness about the problems of the terminally ill. Many terminally ill people, usually cancer sufferers, have a short prognosis of three to six months, during which time their condition may deteriorate rapidly, and their circumstances may change considerably. They do not qualify for attendance allowance, invalid care allowance or for other benefits because of the 26-week rule. Many of them are not now eligible for single payments. Even if they were, the system might not be flexible enough to respond with sufficient speed. Sufferers and their families obviously experience considerable stress at these times. The sufferers wish to die with dignity, often in their own homes. Many of them cannot do so because at present our benefit system is inadequately flexible. Many die in hospital, where the weekly cost of treatment could be as much as £1,000.

The social fund offers an opportunity to cope with the terminally ill in the community. It could provide a quick response to their needs. It would mean social fund officers being involved with general practitioners and social workers. That is a new possibility under the new system. I hope that the needs of the terminally ill will be fully recognised within the community care element of the social fund.

Photo of Dr Norman Godman Dr Norman Godman , Greenock and Port Glasgow 9:03 pm, 20th May 1986

The hon. Member for Kensington (Sir B. Rhys Williams) said that this is a bad Bill and that as an Act it will be unworkable. I agree with those sentiments.

Throughout the progress of the Bill I have sought to assess its impact upon the thousands of my constituents who are in receipt of social security incomes. My assessment is gloomy. They face a bleak future. For many people who live in my constituency in Strathclyde and for many other people in Scotland and Great Britain as a whole this is a dreadful Bill. I have said that on a number of occasions, and I shall continue to say it. It will have a harmful effect on hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens.

I do not believe that the Government are attempting to focus help on those who are most in need. On the contrary, their aim is to adopt a money-saving approach that will damage the interests of those in our communities who are in need. Throughout the Bill's passage the Government have obscured its full impact from both the House and the country. The figures in the technical annex to the White Paper have confused and misled people. They are now three years out of date and are somewhat misleading. In some cases, the Government's figures are based on a one in 250 sample, and in others they are based on a one in 200 sample. But where data have become available, based on a 100 per cent. or near 100 per cent. count, the Government's figures have been shown up as being inaccurate by between 10 and 40 per cent.

If the Government were genuinely interested in social security reform, they would have carried out a more comprehensive survey of the effects of their proposals. Even if the Government's figures were to be believed, the impact on the elderly, the handicapped, single parents, unemployed people and many others would still be devastating. People in Scotland will suffer badly. I say that because social security benefits are more important north of the border than in many areas south of the border. Partly as a result of this Government's economic policies, more people have to depend on such benefits. In my constituency there has been an 85 per cent. increase in the number of those claiming supplementary benefit since the Conservative party came into office. In November 1979, the number of single supplementary benefit claimants in Greenock and Part Glasgow was about 8,800. By July 1985, that figure had increased to more than 16,000. That 85 per cent. increase compares with a figure of 81 per cent. for Scotland and Great Britain as a whole. As a region, Strathclyde has suffered even more. It has suffered a 94 per cent. increase during that period.

In Scotland, 21 per cent. of the population lives at or below supplementary benefit level. In Strathclyde the figure is fully 26·8 per cent. In Glasgow, the number of those living on social security income and their dependants amounts to a massive 39·5 per cent. of the population. In my constituency, the number of those living at or below supplementary benefit level is a staggering 33,660, or 42·9 per cent. of the population.

I have constantly challenged the Government over the replacement of single payments by that dreadful concept, the social fund. Many people in Scotland manage to survive only because of the assistance that they receive through the single payments regulations. The scale of those payments shows just how much people have to rely on them. Before considering the scale of them, it is important to consider why they are so necessary for Scottish claimants. Factors such as the higher cost of living, higher fuel costs because of the cold climate, long-term structural unemployment and so on are all well documented. Indeed, only yesterday I received an answer about the number of exceptionally severe weather payments made in Scotland. So far 57,000 single payments have been made under regulation 26(1)(b) and (c).

It is obvious that to abolish single payments, payable as of right by regulation, and to replace them with an almost wholly discretionary social fund system will badly affect claimants in Scotland and, in particular, in Strathclyde. They will be much worse off than many claimants in other parts of Great Britain. The decision to limit the budget for the social fund is also likely seriously to affect claims in Scotland, depending on the formula used for establishing that budget.

The importance of single payments to enable claimants to survive on supplementary benefit cannot be underestimated. From 1983 to 1985 there was a 64 per cent. increase in expenditure on single payments in Scotland. In one office in Glasgow in the 12 months up to November 1985 £4·6 million was paid out by way of single payments. The office is in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Provan (Mr. Brown). The increase in Strathclyde was even higher, at 74 per cent. Expenditure on single payments for the year ended April 1985 was more than £36 million for Strathclyde and more than £54 million for Scotland. That shows the importance of the single payment system in my country. The average single payment in my constituency during the past year was £74.

In addition to the absurd and harsh social fund, the Government are to remove the right of appeal from claimants against decisions made in local offices. The right to an independent hearing has been with us for over 50 years. Given the huge increase in the number of people in Scotland living on, or existing on, social security incomes, it comes as no surprise to find that Scotland is to receive 804 of the additional 5,000 jobs to be created at Department of Health and Social Security local offices. That is about 16 per cent. of the total.

I think that the Minister said that Scotland would receive a generous proportion of the additional jobs. Strathclyde will receive just under 10 per cent. That is not a generous provision. Those staff are needed to deal with the increase in work brought about by the Government's disastrous economic policies. I sincerely hope that the Bill undergoes major surgery in the other place.

Photo of Mr Ralph Howell Mr Ralph Howell , North Norfolk 9:12 pm, 20th May 1986

I shall support the Bill, but with considerable reluctance, because the Government have made a genuine effort to limit the ever increasing cost of the welfare system—I believe that that has to be done—and because the Opposition have shown no concept of responsibility and are constantly asking for more to be spent in every direction. It is no exaggeration to say that the cost of their programme would put VAT up to 41 per cent.

I believe that we have missed a great opportunity to reform the entire welfare, taxation and employment system. We held the various reviews but, unfortunately, the advice given was ignored. I believe that we will very much regret that we did not heed those who called for a unified system. It is ridiculous to go on taxing the lower paid and giving benefit at the same time.

I have much sympathy with my hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Kemptown (Mr. Bowden). This Bill will not be remembered. It will not be the great new Beveridge that we might have had and should have had 40 years on. In fact, if we had implemented the Beveridge report as it was first written we could have achieved a great deal.

One of my chief criticisms is that we are saying that we shall give income support and family credit on after-tax income. That makes nonsense of the whole thing. How can it make sense to tax the low paid to such an extent that they need Government support to bring their income back to a reasonable level? We should find a way of raising tax thresholds considerably, so that no one who pays income tax needs extra help from the Government. Government support should be concentrated on the very low paid. There should never be any question of taxing such low incomes.

This Bill will not eliminate the poverty trap or the unemployment trap. It may stop people losing more than 100 per cent. of their extra earnings, but that is not much help if they lose 99 per cent., 90 per cent., 80 per cent., or even 70 per cent. A great many people will lose unacceptably high levels of extra earnings.

Another of my chief criticisms is that the opportunity to offer training to all between 16 and 18 should have been taken, and benefit should be withdrawn. It is wrong to continue to give young people the choice of accepting benefit and doing nothing, or going in for YTS or other training. We should be firm, and withdraw benefit. In other countries, that is acceptable. In Switzerland no benefit is paid until the person is 20, or, if he is in further education, until he is 25. The situation in Sweden is similar.

We shall also still pay benefit to anybody who happens to be in this country and without money. There is no reciprocal——

Photo of Mr Ralph Howell Mr Ralph Howell , North Norfolk

That is right. There is no reciprocity in the rest of Europe or anywhere else in the world. It is unacceptable to say that we have to have that arrangement merely because that is what we do for our own people.

We must recognise that many people in this country are refusing work at £160 a week or more because they can be better off doing nothing. It is principally because of the unlimited nature of the interest relief on mortgages that we continue to pay, and would still continue to pay even if the new proposals were brought into operation. It is unacceptable that interest relief should be given on mortgages to the extent of £1,200 a month. We need a simplified system, which could be thoroughly understood by all.

I should like to draw the attention of my hon. Friend the Minister to the fact that there is an easy way out. He has heard me say this several times before and I shall say it again. We cannot ignore the experience of the Americans in their workfare schemes. That experience is limited. If the Beveridge plan had ever been put fully into operation, if we had operated the workfare scheme after six or three months, and if we had offered work at a workcentre at a reasonable wage, as Beveridge suggested, we could have solved the problem. I beg my hon. Friend to think about a universal workfare scheme, which should be introduced, and I hope will be introduced, before the Bill is put into operation.

We need a new vision. We need a unified system. We could find such a system and make considerable savings. All of us, including the low paid, could enjoy large tax cuts if such a system were put into operation. I urge my hon. Friend the Minister to give serious thought to it

Photo of Mr Seamus Mallon Mr Seamus Mallon , Newry and Armagh 9:20 pm, 20th May 1986

I shall repeat the remarks I made last night. I hope that I shall not bore hon. Members by doing so, but unless I present the Northern Ireland context I shall completely miss the point. If I miss the point, I cannot blame the Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Security for doing the same. In Northern Ireland, at present, 26 per cent. of all household incomes are derived from social security payments, as opposed to 13 per cent. overall in England, Scotland and Wales. A total of 62,000 people are on the electoral register in my constituency. Of that number, 21,000 draw either supplementary benefit or unemployment benefit. I speak of an area where one quarter of the spending power is derived from social security payments.

It is against that background that I repeat my remarks tonight. I voice my opposition to the Bill on two counts. The first is on purely factual grounds, which I hope are quantifiable; and I hope that I have quantified them properly. We must realise that about £40 million will come out of the social security payments to Northern Ireland. That is a stark figure, especially when it applies to an area which is so dependent on social security payments.

Let us consider some of the factors in the breakdown of that £40 million. The unemployed on supplementary benefit will lose £14·4 million. Single-parent families on supplementary benefit will lose £1·9 million. Pensioners will lose £13·6 million. The sick and disabled on supplementary benefit will gain £500,000. Families not on supplementary benefit will lose £3·3 million. The family as such will lose £10·4 million. Low-income families as such will lose £4·9 million. We must add to that overall wage losses, in terms of Civil Service jobs, amounting to about £10·6 million. That presents a dismal picture. It is as though what I regard as the degrading social fund does not apply to Northern Ireland. That is the net effect of the loss to those on social security. The new social fund will not apply in net terms to the most deprived part of the United Kingdom.

We have had interesting and long debates on how best to implement the social fund. However, when the stark figures are before us, they are rather frightening. Statistics may vary. However, the figures which have emerged are enough to encourage me and anyone from the north of Ireland, who has the interests of Northern Ireland at heart, to vote against the Bill, and to make people aware of its implications. We must try to persuade as many hon. Members as possible to vote against it.

I am opposed to the Bill for other reasons, some of which are more tonal than statistical. I regard the social fund as having a degrading element to it. I regard it as the Oliver Twist syndrome, except in this case people will ask, "Please, Sir, can I have some?" instead of, "Please, can I have some more?" The Bill introduces an element of discretion into what should be a statutory entitlement. That of itself is degrading and offensive.

I am glad that consideration was given to the implementation of a family credit scheme. In Northern Ireland—I suspect that it is also the case in Scotland and Wales—many small farmers are dependent on family income supplement. We must look further at that element of the measure and decide on a new means by which to implement a family credit scheme.

Anyone who has ever been in receipt of social security will realise the condescension and arrogance that underlies the part of the Bill that deals with budget advice. I know what it is to be on the dole and to have to live on social security. One's pride is not helped when a slip of a girl just out of school comes in to give advice on how to budget the little that one is receiving. It is an offence to a person's pride. For God's sake remove that provision while there is an opportunity to do so, because everyone under this Parliament's jurisdiction can well do without such arrogance.

I hope that you will allow me, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to be specific on one point because I did not have a chance to raise it earlier. Clause 40 extends the period of disentitlement from six to 13 weeks. That is a dangerous provision and a dangerous addition for everyone but, in the Northern Ireland context, it is much more dangerous.

Almost daily I deal with people who have been intimidated and forced from their jobs and workplace. Under the Social Security Act 1975 such people have left of their own volition and therefore have not been entitled to unemployment benefit for six weeks. Under this legislation, they will not be entitled to unemployment benefit for 13 weeks. Those men and women want to work and have worked all their lives. If someone puts a bit of lead at the back of a man's head, threatens his family or comes forward with a mask over his face, that man has to leave his job. Will we penalise him? Will we take his unemployment benefit from him?

One of the "in" expressions, which is fast becoming a cliché, is "the caring society". The Under-Secretary of State should take a close look at clause 40 and ensure that the loophole is closed, especially in relation to Northern Ireland.

My last and fundamental objection to the Bill is that, instead of bringing more people who need benefit into benefit, it drives them out. At a time when benefit is needed most, that will be the Bill's net result. For those reasons, both tonal and statistical, I shall oppose the Bill. My main reason for opposing it is that I have seen many people who did not have enough bread on the table, who could not put a coal on the fire and who could not put a proper shirt on their backs—and this is 1986.

Photo of Sir Brandon Rhys Williams Sir Brandon Rhys Williams , Kensington 9:28 pm, 20th May 1986

I am glad to have the opportunity to explain why I shall vote against the Bill. I shall speak as briefly as I can in this unnecessarily truncated debate.

As I said on Second Reading, the Bill is really two Bills. The first part, which deals with pensions, could have been introduced as separate legislation, and it might have been better if it had been. The Government have made a mistake in not pursuing their policy of ending the state earnings-related pension scheme and simultaneously increasing the minimum rates of contribution. That would have been the right, clear-cut approach to reform.

The Bill as it now stands presents in part I an unstable compromise. Some of its provisions are good. I welcome the moves to widen the options for employers and employees; and I welcome the emphasis on money purchase. However, insufficient emphasis has been placed on the protection of post-retirement benefits and not enough has yet been done to ensure transferability of pension rights on terms that are fair to long-service employees. Minimum employers' contributions are still not high enough because they are being drained off in national insurance contributions which are not then applied to their proper purposes.

In particular, I am convinced that the concept of the 2 per cent. subsidy in clause 7 is an improper use of taxpayers' money that will serve only to distort the market for pensions, temporarily but, seriously. That part of the Bill should be dropped. We must hope that it will be thrown out in the Upper House.

The strategy for the reform of the various systems for the redistribution of income constitute the other parts of the Bill. The Government had the choice of providing for citizens' benefits on the basis of citizenship by means of universal benefits such as the Health Service and public education. In cash terms, the clearest example is the payment of child benefit. The Government are obviously trying to edge away from the universal services. I believe that is a mistake. They could have gone for contributory entitlement, but, as I have said, the contributory systems are not getting enough money, especially national insurance and the private pension and savings schemes.

The Government could have chosen to place their main weight on income-related benefits — that is to say, means-tested benefits. That is what they have done in the Bill, but they have made the wrong choice. Having made the wrong choice, everything that follows in the Bill is wrongly slanted and the Bill is a blunder which the public will not in the end accept. The emphasis has been placed on the reform of the means-tested systems, and even there it has not been done in a way that the public will accept.

On 14 February I asked in a written question about the combined effects of the reforms on the disposable income of all those receiving income-related benefits, together with an assumption of a 20 per cent. minimum rates contribution. We have to remember that this is not the only reform that the Government have in mind. Fewer than 500,000 people will gain from the Bill. One million recipients will be in about the same position as they are now, but 5 million people will be down, some of them substantially down, as a result of this Bill. Some 400,000 people will be down by more than £5 per week. I am afraid that the Bill will be seen as a millstone round the neck of every Conservative candidate at the coming general election.

Quite apart from the effects of the Bill in terms of cash, I deplore the inevitable results of relying on the means test to provide a minimum income for every citizen. On 14 April I received another parliamentary answer. It seems that we now have 14 million people living in families receiving supplementary benefit, housing benefit or family income supplement. That is altogether too many people dependent on proof of need in order to obtain the minimum subsistence income that we think that they should have.

Of course we know that some people receive benefits that they do not strictly need, but this is the wrong way to go about correcting that. If there is to be reform, we should not do it by adding, as the Bill will do, to the number of people who will have to apply for benefit on the basis of proof of need. There will be disastrous consequences in the long run for the unity of the nation if we have a large number of people living in a supplementary benefit subculture; and the systems of public administration which are already on the verge of collapse in many areas will find themselves with an even heavier burden.

I admit that we need to reform the systems for giving help to people on proof of need, and the Bill contains some ideas which may prove workable and useful; but the Government are entirely misjudging the mood of the nation in producing this Bill. It will prove largely unworkable in practice if the Government are so unwise as to seek to implement it in full as it stands. The Bill is not, as we had hoped, a new Beveridge, but merely a regurgitated Neville Chamberlain. I suspect that it has been forced on the Department by the Treasury in its enthusiasm for reducing the standard rate of tax.

The right approach would have been to increase the level of contributions in real terms to the national insurance fund—and to set it up again as a real fund, not just an accounting mystery—and and to the approved private systems of provision, so that the contributory systems could genuinely take over their appropriate share of the job of income support.

At the same time, the Government should have proceeded to the amalgamation of the negative tax allowances with the positive public outlays for income support to produce a simple, comprehensible system for a partial basic income guarantee, balancing the citizen's obligations and entitlements on a basis which could be seen to be morally and administratively sound.

The Government's U-turn in abandoning their commitment to the tax credit scheme, an established commitment in 1974, repeated in the election manifesto of 1979, has proved to be a blunder. They should now proceed to implement it as quickly as possible on a revenue-neutral basis. That would not give a generous basic income guarantee, but it would give a partial basic income guarantee, which would be the right way to begin.

The cheapest way of providing our citizens with an adequate level of income is not to appoint hundreds more officers to ensure that millions of people remain in idleness. We should instead be hastening to set them free to provide for themselves.

Photo of Nick Raynsford Nick Raynsford , Fulham 9:35 pm, 20th May 1986

As time is running out, I want to focus a few brief comments on the housing implications of the Bill. That is the area in which the expenditure cuts are most heavily targeted and it illustrates most perfectly the truth of the point, put very ably by the hon. Member for Brighton, Kemptown (Mr. Bowden) at the beginning of the debate, that the Government's attempt to reform the scheme has been doomed by the inadequate resources that they have allocated for the task.

The truth was voiced by Professor David Donnison a decade ago when he was chairman of the Supplementary Benefits Commission. He warned that the reform that was needed of the method for giving assistance with housing costs could be achieved only with some modest increase in expenditure. The Government ignored that warning in their first reform of housing benefit in 1982–83, to their cost. We all know the sad consequences of that botched and failed reform. The sad thing is that, having failed to learn the lesson last time, they are doing exactly the same again, cutting £450 million from a scheme which is already known to be inadequately funded.

I wish to highlight the areas in which the cuts will bite most severely. We have focused on a number of occasions in the past two days on the implications of the Bill for mortgage assistance. I say only that it is clearly inappropriate, at a time of increasing mortgage default, when building societies are reporting record numbers of people in arrears with their mortgages, for the safety net provided by supplementary benefit to be cut away in any respect.

I want to highlight the extraordinary disincentive effect that the Government's proposal will have. If, during the first six months, a claimant will not qualify for full assistance, how many who, after they have gone through that six months and are thinking about returning to work, will be deterred if there is no prospect of that job being secure, for fear that if they were to lose the job they would once again have to try to cope without proper assistance from the DHSS? That would be a disincentive to work.

There will be difficulties for single parents who often, in the period after a marriage breakdown, need immediate assistance to ensure a remortgage which will keep them in the matrimonial home and avoid foreclosure, homeless-ness, and all the traumas that go with that. If the assistance which has been available in the past is no longer there, we shall undoubtedly see more insecurity, more homelessness, and more families forced out of the matrimonial home after a marriage breakdown. That is sad, but it is the direct consequence of the Government's proposals.

There is no basis in logic for the proposal that people should pay 20 per cent. of their rates. It is founded solely in ideology. It was rejected by the Government's own review team that looked at the scheme. It is riddled with anomalies, not least of which is that, in many areas, the cost of collecting 20 per cent. of rates will be greater than the amount yielded. It will also lead to a great deal of hardship for people who cannot afford to meet that extra amount and it raises the hideous prospect of people being imprisoned for debt if they are unable to cope.

The third area where the cuts will bite is the assessment of housing benefit. This will cause enormous hardship to a large number of tenants. The rate at which the benefit is withdrawn as incomes rise above the income support level has been increased by remarkable proportions. There has been a progressive increase in the rate of withdrawal in the last three years. The proposal in the White Paper of a 60 per cent. rate of withdrawal of benefit was not even considered by the review. It is 10 per cent. above the rate of withdrawal considered at the time. That in itself was far higher than the rate of withdrawal that applied earlier, and very much higher than that which applied in 1973 when the rent rebate allowance scheme was introduced for the first time by the Secretary of State for Energy who represented possibly a form of Toryism which is remarkably absent from the thinking that prompted the current social security review.

The proposals intensify the poverty trap. People should be aware of that. We are talking about 87 per cent. withdrawal of benefit for people paying tax and national insurance and receiving rent and rate assistance — far higher than for the highest paid person in Britain. It is grossly unfair and will have tragic consequences; it will intensify debt and contribute towards homelesness.

How can that be justified? The Government talk about the increased cost of housing benefit. I should like to give two sets of comparative figures. Housing benefit expenditure has increased from £1·2 billion in 1979–80 to £4·6 billion in 1985–86. It is significant that in that same period expenditure on mortgage interest tax relief has gone up by an identical amount — from £1·45 billion in 1979–80 to £4·75 billion now. Mortgage tax relief is enjoyed by people who are substantially wealthier than those who receive housing benefit. Are the Government proposing that that should be cut? They are not. They are talking about cutting benefit to poorer people. That shows the Government's values in seeking to cut money for poorer people while leaving unaffected benefits for richer people. That is the comment on this social security review and this Bill, which will be swept away by the next Labour Government.

Photo of Mr Dafydd Wigley Mr Dafydd Wigley , Caernarfon 9:41 pm, 20th May 1986

As one who served on the Committee, I take this opportunity to thank those organisations that worked hard to brief us. I think of the Child Poverty Action Group, the Spastics Society, a number of others and some individuals. It would be churlish not to mention the help we received from Tony Lynes, Chris Davies and others who did tremendous work in Committee.

I oppose the Third Reading of the Bill for three reasons. One is the characteristics of my constituency. My constituency has unemployment running at 23 per cent., an aging population, a high dependency on supplementary benefits, seasonal unemployment arising from the tourist industry, with low wages and the need for family income supplement. The background is one of industrial disease, about which we have heard so much in debates on the Bill. In consequence of that and other factors, there is a high level of disablement. All these features highlight the bad aspects of the Bill and how people will suffer as a result of this measure.

Wales, it has been estimated, will lose between £50 million and £100 million a year as a result of this legislation. That must therefore be resisted. There is grave concern among disablement organisations about the way in which those who are most severely disabled will suffer and how some of the general changes will impact on the standard of living of the disabled. For all those reasons, I have grave misgivings about the Bill.

Young people will lose income. Consideration must be given to how the change in housing benefits will hit students, pensioners having to pay 20 per cent. of their rates, the inequities of the social fund, the cash limitation and the lack of an appeal system. There is also the way that school meals are being phased out so that disabled children who go to special schools in my area will no longer be able to have free school meals as a direct result of the legislation. The Government have come up with nothing at all.

The death grant has also been badly handled.

A few crumbs have come out of the debate. I am grateful that the Government have decided to consider the problem of seasonal unemployment. We still have not heard the outcome of their investigations, but I hope that some help will be provided.

Last night the Minister was cut off in mid-sentence in a truncated debate when he was replying about the mobility allowance. He said: The issues that have been raised are extremely important and complicated, and there is much anxiety outside the House".—[Official Report, 19 May 1986; Vol. 98, c. 74] Those were the Minister's words on the mobility allowance and they were chopped. We hope that in the other place the Government will come forward with a response on the points that were made last night.

In the end, we must decide what priorities we have as a House and as a community. We must decide whether these priorities lie with the needy, the unemployed, the sick and the disabled, or whether the priority is to reduce taxation. I believe that the original objective of the Bill was to reduce public expenditure. It has led to a reduction in the costs for those who most need to be sustained.

The words of the hon. Member for Kensington (Sir B. Rhys Williams) will ring in the ears of the Government and their supporters. This Bill will be a millstone around the Government's neck as they go into the next general election.

Photo of Mr Robert Harvey Mr Robert Harvey , Clwyd South West 9:45 pm, 20th May 1986

I would like to make several brief points in the short time that is left. I believe that there are two glaring omissions from the Bill. The first is the failure to make special provision for carers. All hon. Members will recognise that carers are a badly overlooked and deserving section of the community who are in desperate need of support. I understand and welcome the fact that in Committee the Government pledged to look at the problem at a later stage.

The second omission is the failure to recognise the special needs of a new category of the needy—the long-term unemployed. It is now widely accepted that long-term unemployment is the greatest cause of poverty in this country. It is a new problem as only 250,000 people could be classified as long-term unemployed during the 1950s and 1960s but there are well over 1 million people now who have been unemployed for more than a year.

Obviously some of these people are abusing the system but the great majority are not. They desperately want jobs, have lost them in declining industries, lack the skills for new jobs and are sinking deeper and deeper into frustration because they cannot find work.

When I advocated special help for the long-term unemployed in Committee, I was told, surprisingly, that there was no evidence that the long-term unemployed had special problems. I was told that the short-term unemployed are more likely to be in debt than the long-term unemployed. That is obvious, because the short-term unemployed are adjusting to a new and reduced living standard. However, the greater needs of those on a low standard of living for a long time must be clear to all hon. Members and are clear to me every time I visit the depressed parts of my constituency. I urge my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to allow his sound common sense to override the patchy conclusions of selective research into the matter.

Another argument against provision for the long-term unemployed was that we lack the resources. The introduction of a special premium after a year's unemployment would cost some £500 million. I accept that that is a lot of money but it is well short of the £1 billion expenditure that was irresponsibly urged by the Opposition. I urge the Government to consider the possibility of introducing the principle of a premium, even at a lower rate, which is affordable.

Another omission from the Bill is its failure to address the issue of early retirement, and reference has already been made to that point. I believe that the greatest cause of unemployment today is the shake-up that has been caused by the necessary introduction of new technology. That technology means that, while there is more wealth created, there is less work to go round. One of the most obvious ways of dealing with that problem is to lower the age for qualification for the job release scheme to 60. That interim measure would create 100,000 new jobs at a cost of less than £500 million. The long-term solution must be a reduction in the retirement age, for all those who want it, to 60 and for certain manual workers to 55. I call upon the Government to implement that, as it is essential to tackle unemployment which has become the number one issue in this country.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North 9:49 pm, 20th May 1986

I shall take only one minute.

One million words were spoken during the three months of the Committee stage of the Bill; there were 42 sittings, more than 100 Divisions and more than 450 amendments. At every stage, the Government showed that they were determined to cut the living standards of the poorest people by the removal of more than £700 million in benefit payments. It is incredible that, throughout all the stages of the Bill, the Government talked about cash-limiting, efficiencies and savings, but more people will be poorer, more people will have to go cap in hand to the social security, the power of benefit officers will be greater than ever and the power of the individual against the state and the DHSS will be significantly reduced as a result of the Bill. The same Government are prepared to write an open cheque for the purchase of nuclear weapons because they believe that to be more important than providing for the poor.

The Bill will probably receive its Third Reading tonight, because Conservative Members will wander through the Lobby and vote for it. But the Government will be removed at the general election. A new Social Security Bill will be introduced, which will have the sole objective of removing poverty in Britain. This Bill has increased poverty. The Committee stage of the Bill was interesting. I look forward to the defeat of the Government and all the Conservative Members who so happily supported the Bill.

Photo of Margaret Beckett Margaret Beckett Shadow Minister (Social Security) 9:50 pm, 20th May 1986

As we came to debate the Bill in Committee, the Opposition realised that it was worse than we had believed at first. We did not fully realise when we went into Committee that the Government knew that the biggest losers under the Bill would be the severely disabled, let alone that the only answer they could give would be to say that the disabled might receive some help from charities. We did not realise that the Government knew that they would weaken all pension protection, not just the state earnings-related scheme. We did not fully realise that in the proposals for the state earnings-related scheme they would halve pension entitlement for someone who starts work the year after the Bill becomes law, if it ever does, and would reduce his total pension at the end of his working life to below that of the basic pension today, even if he did not have a day's sickness or unemployment in his life. If he had a substantial period of unemployment or sickness, his pension would be more than halved.

We did not realise that, although the unemployed would be worse off than they are now, purely because of the interaction between income support and the social fund, they would not be sufficiently worse off for the Government, who at the last minute and in the later stages of the Bill would rush in measures to increase the penalties on the unemployed.

Tributes have been paid to the conduct of those who took part in the Committee stage, and I am grateful to those hon. Members who were kind enough to mention me in their remarks. It was a good, constructive Committee in the way in which arguments were conducted. But I hope that our efforts to maintain personal courtesy between hon. Members did not disguise for a second from hon. Members or from anyone in the country the fact that the Opposition feel not just distaste but deep and abiding anger at the proposals in the Bill. Sometimes in Committee, when feelings spilled over, Conservative Members would express incredulity and even amusement, and would say that we did not really mean it and were whipping up false emotion. The fact that they can imagine that we did not mean it is a testimony to the gulf of experience and understanding that exists across the Floor of the House — a gulf which the Bill will widen out of all recognition.

The hon. Member for Brighton, Kemptown (Mr. Bowden), in a brave speech, and the hon. Member for Norfolk, North (Mr. Howell) said that the Bill will net be remembered. They are mistaken. It will be remembered as the Bill that undermined a key principle of the welfare state—that it should help people before they sink into utter destitution—and it will be remembered as the Bill that makes people ask for charity in place of the rights that existed before it was passed. It will be remembered most of all as the Bill that reintroduced the notion of choosing between the deserving and the underserving poor.

The Opposition have fought the Bill—I pay tribute to all hon. Members who participated in our debates—line by line in Committee, and we shall fight it in the country. We know that we shall not win the Division tonight, but we also know that, when people realise the impact of the Bill, their votes will sweep away the Bill and with it the Government.

Photo of Mr Tony Newton Mr Tony Newton , Braintree 9:55 pm, 20th May 1986

I, too, pay tribute to all members of the Committee for the part that they played there and for the part that many of them have played in our proceedings in the House during the past two days. I should also like to thank my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary, who played a significant part in our proceedings in Committee, for their work on the Bill

It is impossible to deal in the few moments that remain to me with all of the issues that have been raised, but I should like to thank my hon. Friend the Member for Kensington (Sir B. Rhys Williams) for his welcome for the pensions proposals, which owe a good deal to his work over the years. I should also like to thank my hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, North (Mr. Howell) for some at least of what I understand he said.

My hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Kemptown (Mr. Bowden) talked about housing benefit and the high rent scheme. The new scheme, because it provides 100 per cent. help with eligible rents for those with incomes equivalent to those of people on income support, does away with the need for high rent schemes. There might be some misunderstanding in what my hon. Friend laic about that.

I do not want to prolong the disagreement that the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) and I had during his speech, but I reaffirm that our latest information, contrary to what he said, is that domestic assistance payments went to some 2,400 people in 1983 at an average value of less than £4. On that basis, the numbers of severely disabled people and the sums of money to which he referred cannot be true.

The hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon) talked about disqualification from benefit. On the face of it, we would expect the cases to which he referred to be counted as just cause for leaving employment and not subject to disqualification, but I shall draw the hon. Gentleman's remarks to the attention of my right hon. and hon. Friends in the Northern Ireland Office.

The most striking thing about this debate and our debates in Committee has been the relentless absence of any constructive approach from the Opposition. That was reflected most strongly tonight in that the one serious argument which the hon. Member for Oldham, West made did not concern what policies the Opposition would pursue, but simply reiterated that they do not like the Bill. He went so far, as I understood him, to say that the Opposition intend to scrap every part of it. Does he mean that he intends to scrap family credit, involving £200 million of additional resources for low-paid families with children? Does he mean that he will scrap the family premium income support, which will help some of the long-term unemployed claimants about which my hon. Friend the Member for Clwyd, South-West (Mr. Harvey) was rightly concerned? Will he repeal the disability premium and therefore the help that it will bring to 200,000 long-term sick and disabled people? Will he repeal the funeral payments, which will, for the first time, mean that large numbers of people who really need help up to the full costs of a funeral will be able to get it?

We hear constantly from the hon. Gentleman about the bits that he does not like. Let us hear something about the reforms which will help the sick and disabled, low-paid families with children and many of those who are most in need. It will always be possible to spend more on social security. The hon. Gentleman is never short of ideas about that until his colleagues tell him that he cannot go on like that or until, as in his previous incarnation, the International Monetary Fund comes in and puts a stop to it. The hon. Gentleman is short on proposals for creating a sensible and rational structure of social security which makes it possible to spend whatever resources are available better than they are spent at the moment.

There is no one in the country who does not believe that our social security system is not in need of review. The hon. Members for Oldham, West and for Derby, South (Mrs. Beckett) accept that, but, clearly, they have absolutely no idea how to achieve it. The Government have had the ideas, have introduced the proposals, and will create a sensible, rational system of social security. I urge the House to pass the Bill.

It being Ten o'clock, Mr. Speaker proceeded, pursuant to the Order [15 April] and the Resolution [20 May], to put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.

Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time:—

The House divided: Ayes 331, Noes 208.

Division No. 189][10 pm
Adley, RobertAlexander, Richard
Aitken, JonathanAlison, Rt Hon Michael
Amess, DavidFallon, Michael
Ancram, MichaelFarr, Sir John
Arnold, TomFavell, Anthony
Ashby, DavidFenner, Mrs Peggy
Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H.Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble)Fletcher, Alexander
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E)Fookes, Miss Janet
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y)Forman, Nigel
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Baldry, TonyForth, Eric
Banks, Robert (Harrogate)Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Batiste, SpencerFox, Marcus
Beaumont-Dark, AnthonyFranks, Cecil
Bellingham, HenryFraser, Peter (Angus East)
Bendall, VivianFreeman, Roger
Bennett, Rt Hon Sir FredericFry, Peter
Benyon, WilliamGalley, Roy
Best, KeithGardiner, George (Reigate)
Bevan, David GilroyGardner, Sir Edward (Fylde)
Biffen, Rt Hon JohnGarel-Jones, Tristan
Biggs-Davison, Sir JohnGilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Blackburn, JohnGlyn, Dr Alan
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir PeterGoodhart, Sir Philip
Body, Sir RichardGoodlad, Alastair
Bonsor, Sir NicholasGorst, John
Bottomley, PeterGow, Ian
Bottomley, Mrs VirginiaGower, Sir Raymond
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)Grant, Sir Anthony
Boyson, Dr RhodesGreenway, Harry
Brandon-Bravo, MartinGregory, Conal
Brinton, TimGriffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)
Brittan, Rt Hon LeonGrist, Ian
Brooke, Hon PeterGround, Patrick
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes)Grylls, Michael
Browne, JohnHamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Bruinvels, PeterHanley, Jeremy
Bryan, Sir PaulHannam, John
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A.Hargreaves, Kenneth
Buck, Sir AntonyHarris, David
Budgen, NickHarvey, Robert
Bulmer, EsmondHavers, Rt Hon Sir Michael
Burt, AlistairHawkins, C. (High Peak)
Butcher, JohnHawkins, Sir Paul (N'folk SW)
Butler, Rt Hon Sir AdamHawksley, Warren
Butterfill, JohnHayes, J.
Carlisle, John (Luton N)Heathcoat-Amory, David
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Heddle, John
Carttiss, MichaelHickmet, Richard
Cash, WilliamHicks, Robert
Channon, Rt Hon PaulHiggins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Chapman, SydneyHill, James
Chope, ChristopherHind, Kenneth
Churchill, W. S.Hirst, Michael
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)Holt, Richard
Clegg, Sir WalterHordern, Sir Peter
Cockeram, EricHoward, Michael
Coombs, SimonHowarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)
Cope, JohnHowell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford)
Cormack, PatrickHowell, Ralph (Norfolk, N)
Corrie, JohnHubbard-Miles, Peter
Couchman, JamesHunt, David (Wirral W)
Cranborne, ViscountHunt, John (Ravensboume)
Critchley, JulianHunter, Andrew
Crouch, DavidHurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Currie, Mrs EdwinaJackson, Robert
Dickens, GeoffreyJessel, Toby
Dicks, TerryJohnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Dorrell, StephenJones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.Jones, Robert (Herts W)
Dover, DenJopling, Rt Hon Michael
du Cann, Rt Hon Sir EdwardJoseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith
Durant, TonyKellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Dykes, HughKershaw, Sir Anthony
Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)Key, Robert
Eggar, TimKnight, Greg (Derby N)
Emery, Sir PeterKnight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Evennett, DavidKnowles, Michael
Eyre, Sir ReginaldKnox, David
Lamont, NormanRaison, Rt Hon Timothy
Lang, IanRees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover)
Latham, MichaelRhodes James, Robert
Lawler, GeoffreyRidley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Lawrence, IvanRoberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Lawson, Rt Hon NigelRobinson, Mark (N'port W)
Lee, John (Pendle)Roe, Mrs Marion
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)Rossi, Sir Hugh
Lennox-Boyd, Hon MarkRost, Peter
Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd)Rowe, Andrew
Lightbown, DavidRumbold, Mrs Angela
Lilley, PeterRyder, Richard
Lloyd, Ian (Havant)Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)Sayeed, Jonathan
Lord, MichaelShaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Luce, Rt Hon RichardShelton, William (Streatham)
McCrindle, RobertShepherd, Colin (Hereford)
McCurley, Mrs AnnaShepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Macfarlane, NeilSilvester, Fred
MacGregor, Rt Hon JohnSims, Roger
MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)Skeet, Sir Trevor
MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Maclean, David JohnSmith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
McLoughlin, PatrickSoames, Hon Nicholas
McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury)Speed, Keith
McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st)Speller, Tony
McQuarrie, AlbertSpencer, Derek
Major, JohnSpicer, Jim (Dorset W)
Malins, HumfreySpicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Malone, GeraldSquire, Robin
Maples, JohnStanbrook, Ivor
Marland, PaulStanley, Rt Hon John
Marlow, AntonySteen, Anthony
Marshall, Michael (Arundel)Stern, Michael
Mates, MichaelStevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Maude, Hon FrancisStewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Mawhinney, Dr BrianStewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Maxwell-Hyslop, RobinStewart, Ian (Hertf'dshire N)
Mayhew, Sir PatrickStokes, John
Mellor, DavidStradling Thomas, Sir John
Merchant, PiersSumberg, David
Miller, Hal (B'grove)Tapsell, Sir Peter
Mills, lain (Meriden)Taylor, John (Solihull)
Miscampbell, NormanTaylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Mitchell, David (Hants NW)Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Monro, Sir HectorTemple-Morris, Peter
Montgomery, Sir FergusTerlezki, Stefan
Moore, Rt Hon JohnThomas, Rt Hon Peter
Morris, M. (N'hampton S)Thompson, Donald (Calder V)
Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Morrison, Hon P, (Chester)Thorne, Neil (Ilford S)
Moynihan, Hon C.Thornton, Malcolm
Murphy, ChristopherThurnham, Peter
Neale, GerrardTownend, John (Bridlington)
Nelson, AnthonyTownsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Neubert, MichaelTracey, Richard
Newton, TonyTrippier, David
Nicholls, PatrickTrotter, Neville
Norris, StevenTwinn, Dr Ian
Onslow, Cranleyvan Straubenzee, Sir W.
Oppenheim, PhillipVaughan, Sir Gerard
Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.Viggers, Peter
Page, Sir John (Harrow W)Waddington, David
Page, Richard (Herts SW)Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Parkinson, Rt Hon CecilWaldegrave, Hon William
Patten, J. (Oxf W & Abgdn)Walden, George
Pattie, GeoffreyWall, Sir Patrick
Pawsey, JamesWaller, Gary
Percival, Rt Hon Sir IanWalters, Dennis
Pollock, AlexanderWard, John
Porter, BarryWardle, C. (Bexhill)
Portillo, MichaelWarren, Kenneth
Powell, William (Corby)Watson, John
Powley, JohnWatts, John
Prentice, Rt Hon RegWells, Bowen (Hertford)
Price, Sir DavidWells, Sir John (Maidstone)
Prior, Rt Hon JamesWheeler, John
Proctor, K. HarveyWhitfield, John
Pym, Rt Hon FrancisWiggin, Jerry
Raffan, KeithWinterton, Mrs Ann
Winterton, NicholasYounger, Rt Hon George
Wolfson, Mark
Wood, TimothyTellers for the Ayes:
Woodcock, MichaelMr. Archie Hamilton and Mr. Robert Boscawen.
Yeo, Tim
Young, Sir George (Acton)
Adams, Allen (Paisley N)Foster, Derek
Alton, DavidFoulkes, George
Anderson, DonaldFraser, J. (Norwood)
Archer, Rt Hon PeterFreud, Clement
Ashley, Rt Hon JackGarrett, W. E.
Ashton, JoeGeorge, Bruce
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Bagier, Gordon A. T.Godman, Dr Norman
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Gould, Bryan
Barnett, GuyGourlay, Harry
Barron, KevinHamilton, James (M'well N)
Beckett, Mrs MargaretHamilton, W. W. (Fife Central)
Beith, A. J.Hancock, Michael
Bell, StuartHardy, Peter
Benn, Rt Hon TonyHarrison, Rt Hon Walter
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh)Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Bermingham, GeraldHaynes, Frank
Bidwell, SydneyHeffer, Eric S.
Blair, AnthonyHogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Boothroyd, Miss BettyHolland, Stuart (Vauxnall)
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n)Home Robertson, John
Boyes, RolandHowells, Geraint
Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E)Hoyle, Douglas
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)Hughes, Dr Mark (Durham)
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N)Hughes, Roy (Newport East)
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Bruce, MalcolmHughes, Simon (Southwark)
Caborn, RichardHume, John
Callaghan, Rt Hon J.Janner, Hon Greville
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)John, Brynmor
Campbell, IanJones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Campbell-Savours, DaleKennedy, Charles
Canavan, DennisKilroy-Silk, Robert
Cartwright, JohnKirkwood, Archy
Clark, Dr David (S Shields)Lambie, David
Clarke, ThomasLeadbitter, Ted
Clay, RobertLeighton, Ronald
Clelland, David GordonLewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Clwyd, Mrs AnnLewis, Terence (Worsley)
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S)Litherland, Robert
Cohen, HarryLloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Coleman, DonaldLofthouse, Geoffrey
Conlan, BernardMcCartney, Hugh
Cook, Frank (Stockton North)McDonald, Dr Oonagh
Cook, Robin F. (Livingston)McGuire, Michael
Corbett, RobinMcKay, Allen (Penistone)
Corbyn, JeremyMcKelvey, William
Cox, Thomas (Tooting)MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor
Craigen, J. M.Maclennan, Robert
Crowther, StanMcNamara, Kevin
Cunningham, Dr JohnMcTaggart, Robert
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli)Madden, Max
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)Mallon, Seamus
Deakins, EricMarek, Dr John
Dewar, DonaldMarshall, David (Shettleston)
Dixon, DonaldMartin, Michael
Dobson, FrankMason, Rt Hon Roy
Dormand, JackMaxton, John
Dubs, AlfredMaynard, Miss Joan
Duffy, A. E. P.Meacher, Michael
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.Meadowcroft, Michael
Eadie, AlexMichie, William
Eastham, KenMikardo, Ian
Edwards, Bob (Wh'mpt'n SE)Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Evans, John (St. Helens N)Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Fatchett, DerekMorris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Fisher, MarkNellist, David
Flannery, MartinOakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Foot, Rt Hon MichaelO'Brien, William
Forrester, JohnO'Neill, Martin
Orme, Rt Hon StanleyRobertson, George
Owen, Rt Hon Dr DavidRobinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Park, GeorgeRogers, Allan
Parry, RobertRoss, Ernest (Dundee W)
Patchett, TerryRoss, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Pavitt, LaurieSedgemore, Brian
Pendry, TomSheldon, Rt Hon R.
Penhaligon, DavidShields, Mrs Elizabeth
Pike, PeterShore, Rt Hon Peter
Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
Prescott, JohnShort, Mrs R.(W'hampt'n NE)
Randall, StuartSilkin, Rt Hon J.
Raynsford, NickSkinner, Dennis
Redmond, MartinSmith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)
Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)
Rhys Williams, Sir BrandonSnape, Peter
Richardson, Ms JoSpearing, Nigel
Roberts, Allan (Bootle)Steel, Rt Hon David
Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)
Stott, RogerWeetch, Ken
Strang, GavinWelsh, Michael
Straw, JackWhite, James
Taylor, Rt Hon John DavidWigley, Dafydd
Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)Williams, Rt Hon A.
Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)Wilson, Gordon
Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)Winnick, David
Thome, Stan (Preston)Woodall, Alec
Tinn, JamesWrigglesworth, Ian
Torney, TomYoung, David (Bolton SE)
Wainwright, R.
Walker, Cecil (Belfast N)Tellers for the Noes:
Wallace, JamesMr. John McWilliam and Mr. Lawrence Cunliffe.
Warden, Gareth (Gower)
Wareing, Robert

Question accordingly agreed to.

Bill read the Third time, and passed.