Amendment made: No. 139, in page 218, line 8, at end insert:
'2A.—(1) Regulations may make such provision as the Secretary of State thinks appropriate for enabling unpaid contributions under the former legislation to be recovered and disposed of under paragraphs 9 to 14 of Schedule 21 to this Act (applying those paragraphs by analogy and with the necessary modifications) in the case of a person being convicted of such an offence as is mentioned in paragraph 7 or 8(a) of that Schedule committed in the period of two years beginning with the day appointed for the coming into force of section 2 of this Act.
(2) For this purpose—
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Bill be now read the Third time. —[Sir K. Joseph.]
§ [Queen's Consent, on behalf of the Crown, signified.]
§ 1.45 a.m.
§ Sir B. Rhys Williams
It may not be inappropriate to say a very few words on the Third Reading of this great Bill. There have been controversies in the last few days between my right hon. Friend and myself. I will not mention any other Members. My right hon. Friend has won on critical but not primary points by narrow majorities, one being the tax treatment of the contributions of the reserve scheme members, the other the method of protection of occupational pension rights on change of employment.
As to the first, I would like to suggest to my right hon. Friend that the tax credits scheme will change the situation and enable him to come forward with new proposals which will, I believe, be satisfactory to us all. On the second, he has an opportunity now to make provision either through regulations or amendments in the other House to give effect to what he and I and all other Members are trying to achieve.
712 What is good about the Bill and makes it so important is that it obeys the fundamental rule of human society that from each year's crop so much is shared between all the members of the community and so much is set aside as seed corn for the future. The Bill makes a firm distinction between citizenship benefits based on the principle of the redistribution of income, and personal entitlements related to individual career records. It lays the foundation for a major social advance based on the most deeply rooted human instincts.
§ 1.47 a.m.
§ Mr. George Cunningham
Despite my respect for the hon. Member for Kensington, South (Sir B. Rhys Williams), particularly for his actions earlier this evening, I find it impossible to allow the words he has just uttered to be the last words here on the subject of this Bill.
There is one test, and only one, by which a major piece of social security legislation like this must be judged. At the moment there are vast numbers of people who are dependent upon supplementary benefits. None of us likes that situation. The only way in which we can judge a Bill like this is to assess whether it is likely to get most of those people off supplementary benefits. By that I mean not most of those now on supplementary benefits but the equivalents of those people. This Bill will simply not do that.
When we vote money for supplementary benefits and other such payments we always regret it, even though we willingly do it, because we regret the circumstances which make it necessary to vote the money for that purpose rather than use the money which those people have put aside during their lives. The House would be prepared, I believe, to vote money to see us through some finite period till a piece of legislation were passed to ensure that each person gets in his retirement an adequate pension because he had been obliged—I do not run away from the term "forced"—to save for it during his life. If we were sure that in the year 2020, or some date about as far ahead as that, there would be an arrangement to achieve that objective, so that tax payments were no longer required of people after retirement age, I think the House would vote the money to see people through on a progressive basis till 713 that date is reached. I think the country would support that.
The great failure of the Bill is that it does not achieve that. In the year 2020, although we shall not be in as bad a position as we are now, we shall certainly have got nowhere near the stage where each employee has a pension after retirement which he has earned by his own enforced savings during his working life. That is why the Bill is grossly inadequate and, when a Labour Government returns to power, it will have to be replaced by something which meets the real situation.
§ 1.50 a.m.
§ Mr. Marks
Earlier my right hon. Friend the Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Dell) described the Bill as a poor thing and the Government's own. I echo his sentiments that they are welcome to it.
The Bill is inadequate. It does nothing for existing pensioners, it does not do enough for the disabled, and it does not give women their rights as equal citizens.
The Bill leaves occupational pension schemes with tax relief where those schemes have more lower-paid workers than the reserve scheme which we have debated tonight. Schemes such as the Post Office scheme with low-paid postmen, the railways scheme with low-paid railwaymen and Government schemes— the Government are one of the largest employers of low-paid workers—will have tax relief, whereas the rest will not.
Therefore, particularly as a result of tonight's debate, this Bill deserves a title similar to that which a previous Conservative Government's Bill was given—Tory Swindle (No. 2) Bill.
§ 1.51 a.m.
§ Mr. O'Malley
The Opposition said that the Bill was bad and voted against it on Second Reading. Having examined and attacked it both in Committee upstairs and on Report in the House, we see no reason to change our minds. We oppose the fundamental philosophy underlying the Bill and deplore the inferior treatment that is given to women in it.
We very much regret that well into the twenty-first century people in retirement will still be dependent on means-tested 714 supplementary benefit as a result of the system set up by the Bill. We intend, when we return to office to substitute for it a system of national superannuation and national insurance which will ensure that people will be able to live without a sharp fall in income during retirement and enjoy a retirement of dignity rather than of deprivation which will be a feature of life under the terms, structure and financial arrangements of the Bill.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.