Work and Families Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:30 pm on 25th April 2006.

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Photo of Baroness Walmsley Baroness Walmsley Spokesperson in the Lords (Education & Children), Education & Skills 5:30 pm, 25th April 2006

My Lords, I do not intend to say much, because I am absolutely dying to hear what the Minister has to say in response to this amendment. The noble Baroness, Lady Morris of Bolton, must have had to wrap a wet towel around her head in order to write her speech in moving the amendment. The Minister will probably have had to do the same in preparing his reply.

My approach to this is that there is clearly an anomaly here if two women on exactly the same remuneration package can receive totally different amounts of maternity benefit. In the real world, people regard their normal bonus as part of their annual salary. They rely on it when they decide on the outgoings of their household—for example, paying their mortgage, buying their car and all these big outgoings. Bonuses really need to be taken into account for all mothers under the same contractual arrangements.

If there is—what was the phrase?—a "no detriment clause", which means that we are not allowed to put this anomaly right, that is mad. There is clearly going to be a detriment to the woman whose bonus falls outside the period of maternity pay. I will say no more as I really cannot wait to hear the noble Lord's explanation.