Work and Families Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:00 pm on 25th April 2006.

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Photo of Lord McKenzie of Luton Lord McKenzie of Luton Government Whip, Government Whip 7:00 pm, 25th April 2006

My Lords, in response to the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, I always try to be refreshingly frank in these matters. She will certainly bring me to book if I am not. Perhaps I may challenge her on trying to put words in my mouth about where we are going on this. There was certainly reference to the fact that the figures had been eroded over time in relation to earnings, but the one-off adjustment cannot, and should not, be seen as a relinking of that with average earnings. On pensions, she will be aware that the answer is, as usual, that we need to await the Government's response to the Turner report which will, doubtless, be with us before too long.

We have been slightly political on this last amendment. I think it was a Conservative government who cut the link in the first place. I do not think I can help the noble Baroness further than I did in Committee. The Government's position on the amendment has not changed since it was discussed in Committee. As I said then, discussions on the level of the limit will continue over the next few months and I do not expect a figure to be agreed for some time. I repeat the assurances that I gave in Committee about the likely level of the limit. The Government do not have any intention of making an irresponsible increase which business cannot accept. I expect the increase to be much closer to the 10 per cent figure sought by the noble Baroness than the 100 per cent figure quoted in some press articles.

It seems to me that over and above the assurances that I have just given, the key point is that the regulations will be affirmative. This will provide an opportunity for Parliament to scrutinise what comes forward in due course. I hope that the noble Baroness will withdraw her amendment and that that has again given her the level of assurance which I sought to give her in Committee.