Clause 85 - Supplementary powers

Pensions Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:45 pm on 23rd March 2004.

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

Photo of Nigel Waterson Nigel Waterson Conservative, Eastbourne

The Minister should be a little worried, because the Under-Secretary has a better gag writer than he does. Who knows where that might lead?

Photo of Nigel Waterson Nigel Waterson Conservative, Eastbourne

We do not need one. Gags come naturally. ''It's the way I tell 'em.''

This is another sinister clause, drafted by the Darth Vader of the Department. It is far too wide. It states:

''The Board may do anything which—

(a) is calculated to facilitate the exercise of its functions, or

(b) is incidental or conducive to their exercise.''

It would have been bad enough if the Government had satisfied themselves with paragraph (a), but paragraph (b) goes way beyond anything that we could legitimately pass in what passes for a democracy. If we had not got ahead of ourselves, an amendment would have materialised in time for Thursday's sitting. It would have suggested that we simply insert the words, ''on administrative matters only.'' Surely the supplementary powers that the board seeks to have would relate only to the administration of its

functions. Anything wider than that strikes me as sinister, so it would be extremely helpful if the Minister could explain why the Government believe that these extraordinarily wide supplementary powers are needed.

Photo of Mr Chris Pond Mr Chris Pond Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Work and Pensions

I can reassure the hon. Gentleman about his Darth Vader concerns. The clause does not mean that the organisation may do anything at all. It merely means that the action must relate to the exercise of the board's functions. It may not do anything that the legislation expressly prevents it from doing. It therefore clearly relates to the functions of the board and its administrative responsibilities. It will certainly not allow the board to take over the universe in a way that might concern the hon. Gentleman.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 85 ordered to stand part of the Bill.