New clause 8 - Income from capital

Part of State Pension Credit Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:30 pm on 25th April 2002.

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Photo of Maria Eagle Maria Eagle The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 3:30 pm, 25th April 2002

Yes, but such phraseology tends to end up meaning quinquennial. At the moment, references can be made and the SSAC can itself seek information and look at the scheme if it wishes. In many ways, the new clause would put an artificial constraint on the relationship that is created by including pension credit in the SSAC's remit.

I also point out that we shall specifically look at the capital limit annually, as part of the normal uprating process, as hon. Members would expect. Changes to the notional income from capital can be made by regulations. I agree with the hon. Member for Northavon that including figures in Bills can lead to inflexibility of the kind that one often sees in older social security legislation, which makes change difficult.

I think that there are mechanisms to examine, take independent advice on and make changes to our arrangements for notional capital. I have tried to look fairly at the new clause of the hon. Member for Daventry and have listened to what he has to say, but I genuinely think that his concerns are addressed by the arrangements already in the Bill. I hope that he might come to agree with me. The arrangements for notional income being made under the pension credit scheme are five times more generous than those under the minimum income guarantee. As the hon. Member for

Northavon has pointed out, they are significantly more generous than such arrangements have been. I hope that, in view of my assurances, the hon. Member for Daventry will consider not pressing his new clause to a vote, although he is perfectly entitled to do that should he so wish.