State Pension Credit Bill [Lords]

– in a Public Bill Committee on 25th April 2002.

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[Mr. Win Griffiths in the Chair]

Photo of Ian McCartney Ian McCartney Minister for pensions, Department for Work and Pensions 9:30 am, 25th April 2002

On a point of order, Mr. Griffiths. I want to make a correction to the Hansard report of the fourth sitting of the Standing Committee on 18 April. I said the right words and Hansard took the right words down, but somewhere in the transposition there was a slight mix-up, which significantly changes what I said. I do not attach any blame to this. These things happen when millions of words are being transcribed every day.

In relation to amendment No. 25, I gave some examples of the types and treatment of income that will be relevant to the calculation of pension credit. These do not appear to have been reflected correctly in the Official Report, so I thought that it would be useful if I set out our intentions in that important area. Specifically, column 127 indicates that war disablement and war widows' and widowers' pensions will be subject to a full disregard. That is incorrect—they will be subject to a £10 disregard. However, as stated, the whole of any war widow's supplementary pension, paid in addition to the normal pension to certain pre-1973 war widows, will be disregarded.

In addition, the Official Report indicated that matrimonial maintenance payments, working tax credit and employer's sick pay would be subject to a £10 disregard. They will not, and all income from those sources will be relevant to the pension credit calculation. I would like to apologise to the Committee for any confusion that those inaccuracies may have caused, but I hope that I have clarified the position.

Photo of Tim Boswell Tim Boswell Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Griffiths. We readily accept the Minister's explanation of the confusion that has arisen, but I want to make two further points. First, if such confusion can arise, it is perhaps a function of the complexity of the matter, so one can imagine what might happen during a telephone conversation between a pensioner and the Pension Service.

Secondly—perhaps somewhat stretching the point of order—despite our political differences, hon. Members of all parties have some affection for the Minister, so we would like to wish him a very happy birthday. In the circumstances, I am sure that he would not want us to pull our punches or give him anything other than a hard time, but we will respect the spirit of his birthday and hope that he thoroughly enjoys it.

Photo of Mr Win Griffiths Mr Win Griffiths Labour, Bridgend

I am sure that we can endorse that from the Chair.

Photo of Ian McCartney Ian McCartney Minister for pensions, Department for Work and Pensions

I just want to say how pleased I am with those remarks. As the hon. Member for Daventry (Mr. Boswell) knows, usually when I am in

Committee, it is either my birthday or I become a grandfather again. The Committee was delayed because of the Easter recess, when I did become a grandfather again, for the eighth time, and when the Committee was sitting the other day it was my granddaughter's sixth birthday, so it has been a happy week for me. I hope that the jollities of today will not be reflected in the answers that we are yet to hear, but I thank the Committee very much—the drinks are on the Chair.

Photo of Mr Win Griffiths Mr Win Griffiths Labour, Bridgend

Thank you very much.New clause 1 Advice