Clause 10 - Extent

Age-Related Payments Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:00 pm on 25 May 2004.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Steve Webb Steve Webb Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

There can only be one question about clause 10: what about Northern Ireland? Presumably, the argument is that there is no council tax there, and so the payments do not apply, or will the Northern Ireland Office, through an Order in Council, make a corresponding provision for domestic rates there? Presumably, that would be quite a burden on the over-70s. I hope that the Minister will clarify that.

When I draft amendments, I like to get things right, so could the Minister explain why the clause is drafted so as to say

''(a) England and Wales, and (b) Scotland'', rather than ''England, Wales and Scotland''?

Photo of Malcolm Wicks Malcolm Wicks Minister for pensions, Department for Work and Pensions

I am not sure of the answer to the last question. In terms of law and constitutional arrangements, notwithstanding the Welsh Assembly—and I do not want to get into trouble with anyone—England and Wales are often grouped together. The Scottish system is rather different; the answer could simply be that. I do not think that the issue affects the payment of the money, so I do not want the hon. Gentleman to worry too much about it.

The hon. Gentleman was right to suggest that an Order in Council will be introduced as soon as possible to provide for payments to be made to eligible pensioners in Northern Ireland at the same time as payments are made to pensioners in Great Britain. I should add—as we currently do on such occasions—that, in the event of a return to devolved Government

in Northern Ireland before the Order in Council is made, the issue would of course become a matter for the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 10 ordered to stand part of the Bill.