Clause 5 - Amendments to Pensions Appeal Tribunals Act 1943

Part of Armed Forces – in a Public Bill Committee at 8:55 am on 24th February 2004.

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Photo of John Robertson John Robertson Labour, Glasgow Anniesland 8:55 am, 24th February 2004

I do not want to speak for long, but I have some questions that I know Opposition Members will be able to answer, because they are more experienced in these matters than me. Having listened to confrontations and exchanges in previous sittings, I am somewhat in a quandary over the amendment. It appears to be a blank cheque: any appeal would receive finance, even if it was just someone's attempt to see whether they could get something. That would clog up the system. In view of those circumstances, the amendment is flawed.

I gather from the Opposition's remarks at previous sittings that they want to stop the judicial use of the Government's and taxpayers' money, but the idea of the blank cheque, if my interpretation of the amendment is correct, contradicts that. However, I am slightly concerned about the British Legion and the money that it has to put forward, and I have some sympathy with the remarks made by the hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Howarth). As an honorary member of the legion who does various bits of work for it up in Scotland, I understand its reservations. Although I am sympathetic, I also have to look at the financial situation, so I could not support the amendment in this form.