My Lords, I wish to press the Minister on what he has just said, particularly with regard to pensions. I believe that to some extent he echoed what his honourable friend, the amazingly titled Minister for Competitiveness in the other place, Mr Alan Johnson, said in Standing Committee last Thursday, 18th May. Like the Minister, Mr Johnson appeared to be uncertain as to the effect of the backdating of pensions, possibly to 1976, under the European diktats.
Therefore, in the first instance I ask the Minister to give the House an absolutely clear assurance that the figure of £17 billion which has been put upon this aspect of the problem is absolutely not accurate, that it will not happen and that we need not worry about it any more.
Secondly, when he says that the new regulations will not bite for two years and that no one can make a claim until they have been operating for a period of time--in other words, that it will not be until the year 2002 that any court could rule that someone is entitled even to two years' retrospection, which is what I believe the noble Lord said--can we have some idea of the cost of that? It may not be £17 billion, but if we are looking at these regulations introducing that prospect, then what will the cost be of two years' retrospective pension which may then be applied? Is that figure included in the £27.4 million, which I believe is the figure that the Government have already put on these regulations, or is that extra? And who will pay the retrospective pensions for the two years which may be adjudged in the year 2002? And who will pay the £17 billion, if we come to that?