I beg to move amendment No. 43, in
clause 3, page 3, line 6, leave out from '6th April 2005' and insert
'such day as the Chancellor the Exchequer may by order made by statutory instrument appoint'.
I shall briefly explain the reason for the amendment, which may be more significant than it first appears to be.
Members of the Committee will know that there is a transitional measure in clause 1 for scheme members who receive scheme benefits by way of income withdrawal when the proposed Act comes into force. The terms of clause 1 give significant scope for avoidance. There is therefore no good reason for fixing the effective date in the Bill. The amendment removes the specified commencement date of 6 April 2005 and instead gives the Chancellor of the Exchequer the power to appoint a commencement date to avoid that danger. I hope that hon. Members will accept the amendment.
I do not want to be unduly controversial, but I do not like the Chancellor of the Exchequer having this power, because it looks as if the matter is being put in the bottom drawer. It may take the Chancellor some time to get to that bottom drawer. The whole point of putting a named date in subsection (2) is to keep the whip dangling over the Government's head. If they have a date to work to, perhaps they will work to it. I appreciate that the Government do not want to be tied down to a particular date, but it is time that they made a move and got on with it.
Question put, That the amendment be made:—
The Committee divided: Ayes 3, Noes 9.
On a point of order, Mr. Atkinson. May I thank you for your brisk and efficient chairmanship? May I also thank the Minister and his hon. Friends, and my hon. Friend the Member for Arundel and South Downs and the hon. Members for Sheffield, Hallam and for Twickenham for their constructive part in today's hearing? I hope that we will have a chance to debate these issues further on Report on 11 July, although that date is not yet certain. In any event, today's sitting has been useful and I hope that the Government have learnt a lesson about the need to deal with this issue as quickly and as effectively as possible.
Question put and agreed to.
Bill, as amended, to be reported.
Committee rose at one minute to Four o'clock.