HL Deb 24 July 1986 vol 479 cc421-34

7 Clause 32, page 41, line 23, leave out "directions given" and insert "regulations made".

8 Clause 33, page 43, line 9, leave out "general directions issued" and insert "regulations made".

The Commons disagreed to Amendments Nos. 7 and 8 for the following reason:

9Because directions provide more appropriate machinery than regulations.

Lord Wigoder rose to move:

9AThat this House do insist on their Amendments Nos. 7 and 8 to which the Commons have disagreed for the reason numbered 9.

The noble Lord said: The remaining amendments are amendments of labyrinthine complexity if one attempts to follow the significance of each one separately. I am happy to be able to tell your Lordships, if your Lordships agree, that it will now be possible to deal with all the remaining amendments at the same time.

The amendments all arose out of Part III of the Bill—single payments to be made out of the social fund. If your Lordships will forgive me, because of the complexity of the amendments from the other place with which we are dealing, in a few sentences I may perhaps indicate their effect and where we now stand.

We began in the original Bill, as your Lordships will remember, with maternity, funeral and other single payments to be paid out of the social fund. We began with a proposition by the Government that they should be assessed by a social fund officer who would be a DHSS civil servant, and that there would be a right of appeal to another senior DHSS official who would be called a social fund inspector. We began with a proposition that their proceedings and procedures would be controlled by directions given by the Secretary of State.

The matter then came before your Lordships in Committee and as your Lordships will remember, the Committee decided that appeals should not take that course but should continue to be made as they are now—to social security appeal tribunals, the existing independent bodies which deal with them.

The Committee also decided that instead of directions to be made by the Minister, there should be regulations which would be subject to parliamentary scrutiny. Those were the amendments that went back to the other place last night. Again in a few sentences, last night what was decided in the other place were two variations of what had been sent back to them by your Lordships. First, it was determined there that maternity and funeral payments in future, but not other single payments, should be subject to the social security appeals tribunals.

That is a concession for which we on this side of the House are grateful. We are perhaps not over grateful, because it is not a substantial concession. The latest figures show that maternity and funeral payments amount to only 4.6 per cent. of the total number of single payments with which we are concerned. However, it is a small concession, even if it does not meet any of the major concerns expressed by your Lordships.

Secondly, as to the appeal mechanism, the other place decided by way of amendment that as to those other single payments, instead of there being an appeal from one DHSS civil servant, nominated by the Secretary of State, to another more senior DHSS civil servant, also nominated by the Secretary of State, an independent element would be introduced.

At this stage, I have to invite your Lordships to restrain yourselves and to keep straight faces while I describe the independent element that has been proposed in the other place. It is now proposed that an appeal should lie from the regional DHSS civil servant, nominated by the Secretary of State, to a senior civil servant who would not be nominated by the Secretary of State, and that that civil servant should instead be appointed by a commissioner. The question then arises, who appoints the commissioner? The answer is, the Secretary of State for Social Services. The commissioner thus appointed by the DHSS will have the power to appoint social fund inspectors, and who are they to be? The amendment from another place prescribes that they are to be people made available to the commissioner by the Secretary of State for Social Services.

Your Lordships will perhaps forgive me for not recognising any substantial degree of independence in the appeals mechansism which has been sent back to your Lordships for consideration.

I have gone through the whole body of the amendments carefully and separately. It seems to me, and I am sure it will also appear to the noble Baroness, Lady Trumpington, that it is now possible to treat all these amendments as a whole.

There are two options before your Lordships' House this afternoon. One is to accept the new scheme put forward by the Government, a scheme which, for the reasons that I have submitted, is half-baked, at whichever aspect of it one looks. The other is to go forward with the scheme we introduced in Committee. That is the choice before your Lordships.

It would be insulting of me to repeat the details of the arguments put forward in Committee in support of the scheme which your Lordships approved. Many of your Lordships heard the speeches. Many of those who did not will, I know, have read them in Hansard. It is therefore possible to summarise the matter in a few sentences.

We were arguing in favour of the retention of the right of appeal to independent tribunals—the SSATs—which have existed for something over half a century to deal with single payments and which have for the most part dealt with them satisfactorily. We regarded the Government's proposed abolition of that right of appeal as being a matter that had constitutional implications of importance to your Lordships' House.

After looking at the constitutional aspect, we then went on to consider the practical advantages of going to a SSAT as against going to a senior DHSS official, as the channel of appeal. Many points were discussed. There was the fact that the SSAT would be far more consistent in its adjudications than a system of isolated regional DHSS inspectors. There was the fact that the SSATs would have a great deal of local knowledge—far more than the inspectors would be likely to have. There is the fact that the SSATs will permit oral hearings which are of great importance to a disgruntled or aggrieved citizen. What will happen under the new proposals we do not know. Unhappily, the guillotine caught the Minister for Social Security amidships—if that is the right expression for the guillotine—last night, in another place, just as he was about to tell the House whether or not there would be a right of oral hearing. So, to that extent, we are still in the dark.

There is the fact that local SSATs have expert knowledge, usually a solicitor and two prominent local individuals, who really are in touch with local conditions, whereas a regional inspector, who may be anything from 50 to 100 miles away, is unlikely to have a similar knowledge of those local conditions. There was the fact put forward that clearly the SSATs are much fairer in their adjudications. It is a fact, as your Lordships will remember, that over four years, experience of appeals tribunals showed that the Civil Service approach had been wrong in something like 25,000 cases when assessments of single payments had been overturned by an independent tribunal.

There is the fact that there was public confidence, and is public confidence, in the appeal tribunal system. It is unlikely—I do not want to be sceptical about this—that there will be an equivalent degree of public confidence in the officials who, it is suggested, should be appointed to hear appeals. There is the question of expense. So far as I know, no one has yet suggested that the SSATs will be more expensive than the new system, put forward by the Government, to operate. Indeed, the SSATs are already sitting repeatedly in something like 100 centres and will continue to sit, with the additional task now of the maternity and funeral payments under the Government's own proposals.

There is too the question of speed, which was raised several times at the Committee stage. Which would be the quicker? I had to say that I did not know the answer to that, and I still do not. It is true that the SSATs sometimes take a considerable time to hold hearings. That is more often than not because the DHSS is not able to get the papers in order to pass them to the appeal body. It will be the same situation if there is a single person rather than an appeal tribunal. In any event, if I may say so, in case the question of speed is raised again, I would put it that there is no real virtue in coming to a bad decision quickly.

There was the question raised, finally, of discretion—the argument that, in some way, because these are discretionary payments, it is not suitable for an SSAT to deal with them. That overlooks the fact that SSATs have dealt repeatedly with discretionary matters and still do in many ways, generally, I think, to the satisfaction of the public.

Those were in outline the practical advantages of the appeal tribunal as against the method proposed by the Government. All of them, I believe, are still relevant against the new method proposed by the Government. If it were only a matter of practical advantage, however overwhelming, I believe, speaking for myself, that I would hesitate to say at this stage in the parliamentary calendar that it would be right to invite your Lordships to ask the other place to think again after expressing its view last night. It is not only a question of practical advantage. It is, as I said when I began, a question of real constitutional importance.

The tribunal system in this country is deeply embedded in its public life and in its administration of justice. It carries the confidence of a large number of people. An attempt to remove a right of appeal that has worked perfectly satisfactorily for over half a century on the basis put forward by the Government in this Bill is, in the view of those of us who oppose it, profoundly unsatisfactory and has wide constitutional implications. For that reason, I would think it appropriate, in addition to the practical advantages, that your Lordships should consider insisting on the amendments passed at Committee Stage.

Lord Elwyn-Jones

My Lords, your Lordships decided on 30th June, by a majority of 131 to 115, that the right of appeal that has existed for over 50 years to applicants for relief by way of social security benefit should continue, and rejected the proposal of the Government to get rid of it. Fifty years of history lies behind that right. It goes as far back as the 1930s in regard to unemployment assistance. It was continued as a right through the national assistance scheme. It is indeed a vital part of the social provision system, that has been relied on by thousands of the most needy elements in our community over those years.

The continuing need for the existing appeal machinery has been indicated in the admirable speech of the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder. The statistics that I call in aid are that about a quarter of the supplementary benefit decisions adverse to applicants have been overruled on appeal through this appeal system. So there is need for it; there is room for it.

The value of the tribunal in enabling an aggrieved applicant to put his or her case before an independent body in which he or she could have complete confidence because of the fact of its obvious independence has been a considerable factor in inspiring confidence in our social security system. No one has ever questioned the disciplined way in which the tribunals have applied the law. Indeed, perhaps the conclusive and, in my submission, the most decisive verdict on what we are considering tonight was passed by the Council on Tribunals, an eminent body presided over for years by a distinguished Member of your Lordships' House, with most eminent representatives of the professions and of the British political and social scene. It felt inclined to produce a special report upon this issue. Its conclusion is this: The people most affected by this proposal That is, in effect, what is still the Government's proposal—to get rid of the independent appeal system, are among the most vulnerable in our society. Very good reasons are needed before the abolition of the right to an independent appeal in such circumstances, an appeal which has existed for over 50 years. It would probably be the most substantial abolition of a right of appeal to an independent tribunal since the Council on Tribunals was set up by Parliament in 1958, following the Franks Report. It is for these reasons that we are so critical of the proposal. In our last Annual Report we described it as highly retrograde". That is the judgment of a highly responsible public body in which we have placed confidence over the years and to which we have given increasing powers and increasing authority. What is proposed in place of this existing system is a last minute, patched-up proposal that has been accurately described by the noble Lord.

The significant figure in the new scheme is to be the social fund commissioner. What precisely his powers are is not clear. He has monitoring powers. I do not know whether he has any power to rescind a decision of the social fund inspector who was to hear appeals in the first instance. It is not clear whether the social fund inspector will allow an oral hearing at all. But, as the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, has pointed out, with regard to the social fund commissioner—it is a high-sounding title but it has little in common with what we regard as commissioners—he is to be appointed not, be it noted, by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor; I believe that normally the social security appeal tribunal chairmen are appointed by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor. It is to be done in the safe political scene of the Secretary of State who is to be in charge of the operation.

There is no indication that the commissioner need be a lawyer at all. I know that one cannot attribute infallibility to lawyers, but they have certain advantages in the conduct of tribunals before whom conflicting views are submitted and brought forward. We are not told in this cooked-up scheme what his qualifications are to be, and indeed what his powers are. It would seem that there is to be a monitoring duty, and there is to be a report to Parliament. But there is no indication that it is a fresh appeal hearing. Whether or not the applicant will be heard by any of these people is totally unclear in what is recommended.

Accordingly I submit that it is a wholly unacceptable alternative to the present arrangement.

The Council on Tribunals dismissed what was proposed by the Government not so long ago—at the beginning of this year—as highly retrograde. In my submission what is proposed would be flagrant denial to the most needy in the realm of a well-established constitutional and civil right. Accordingly 1 greatly hope that your Lordships will stand by your earlier decision and enable and require another place to think again.

Lord Denning

My Lords, I hope that your Lordships will not insist on the original amendment. I hope that you will accept the amendment put forward by the Commons. I have had experience of all these appeals up to the appeal tribunal. They have even come as far as my court. The machinery is far too elaborate, too long, too costly, with too many insurance commissioners and the like. It is all very well to have that elaborate structure in the pursuit of justice, but if it is too elaborate, it ought to be replaced by simpler machinery. The objective of the Commons amendment is to have a social fund officer. He will make the initial decision. These are not cases of very large amounts. They are very important to the individual—

Noble Lords

Hear, hear!

Lord Denning

Yes, I agree; they are very important to the individual. From the social fund officer the matter can be referred to an inspector. There might have been a query under the original pleas put forward that the inspector might not be sufficiently independent. He is to be appointed by a commissioner; a commissioner is to appoint these new inspectors, to monitor their work and to see that they deal with the matter properly and succinctly.

On procedure, if it is a proper case, one can arrange for oral hearings. One can arrange for all kinds of papers if need be. I see this new proposal coming from the Commons as being simple, fair and just machinery. I have seen a lot of over-complicated, over-lengthy and over-costly procedures. I hope that your Lordships will not insist on your original amendment but will agree with the Commons in that which they prefer.

6.15 p.m.

Baroness Faithfull

My Lords, I have listened very carefully to the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Elwyn-Jones, and I entirely agree with the speeches of both noble Lords. I look at matters from the point of view of the claimants. I would therefore say to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, that one has to think of how the claimant sees it. It is true that sometimes the tribunals have not been as quick and efficient as they might have been; but I think that they have grown to be much more efficient.

I know many claimants; I know them and work with them. They are the most vulnerable in our society. When one is vulnerable and on the edge of real problems and difficulties, one can be difficult, very awkward, and one can feel a sense of terrible injustice even if there is not injustice. Therefore if there are claimants who have a sense of injustice, that makes life very difficult for the supplementary benefit staff. I urge very strongly on behalf of the claimants that there must be, and continue to be, what they are used to—the outside tribunal, outside the supplementary benefit commission.

Many years ago when we had the Police Bill before the House of Lords I remember that there was a great debate to whether there should be an independent person on the police boards investigating complaints by the public against the police. Your Lordships will remember that this House voted that the police should investigate their own complaints. I wonder whether what has happened in Manchester would have happened had there been an independent person on that appeal panel. I draw that point to your Lordships' attention.

I hope that your Lordships will forgive me if I quote Shakespeare: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man". Under that dictum I am in a terribly distressing dilemma. On the one hand, I wish to be loyal to the claimants whom I know so well. On the other hand, I wish to be loyal to my party that has—I have to say—regrettably put forward this amendment. I am therefore in a very real dilemma. I hope that when the Minister replies she will give us a very clear explanation, which we asked for before, as to exactly why this has been done. While I deeply regret this amendment, nevertheless I do not wish at this stage of the Bill to impede its passage and I shall therefore abstain.

Lord McGregor of Durris

My Lords, I have read much that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, has written about the nature and procedure of justice. I have read it with great profit and illumination. I was surprised at what he said about this amendment, because I think that his sense of justice failed him in this instance for the reason given by the noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull. He neglected to consider the attitudes and the feelings of the complainant.

The proposal being made is to move these appeals away from tribunals, the function of which is to mediate between citizens and the state—between the decisions, that is, of officials who are servants of the Government and citizens who are aggrieved by their decisions. We are moving to an entirely administrative procedure, and calling those civil servants by fancy names alters nothing for an aggrieved claimant. An appeal to an official does not have the appearance of justice, and it is not just according to our notions of justice throughout our judicial system. We all expect our appeals to be heard by independent people who are seen to be independent. Further, I think that the amendment is unjust to the officials. I should expect them to adjudicate just as fairly as anyone else, but they could not, in that position, avoid the charge and the appearance of partiality.

There was, when this matter was debated on a previous occasion, a good deal of talk about the effect upon public confidence in the system. I can state what the effect of the propsoals has been upon people who are claimants, or who are likely to be claimants. These people come to citizens advice bureaux, they come to the National Council for One-Parent Families, and I know what their views are. I know what the grass-roots feeling is, and it is, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Elwyn-Jones, said, a situation in which the least well informed, the most vulnerable and the poorest of our fellow citizens feel that justice is being degraded for them by this sort of arrangement.

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, in moving Amendment No. 9A and speaking to Amendment No. 27, is asking the House to reinstate the changes made here at Committee stage and Third Reading. At the same time the noble Lord is seeking to correct an anomaly in the Bill as it left this House. At that stage the Bill would have provided for two parallel routes for a dissenting applicant in any one case—both an appeal tribunal and an inspector's review. That would clearly not have been satisfactory. The noble Lord therefore proposes to delete the references in the Bill to social fund inspectors.

I recognise the purpose of the noble Lord's new amendments in terms of ensuring a consistent approach, but I would ask your Lordships to consider whether it is in fact the right approach. Following our debates in recent weeks we have thought very carefully about the amendments which have been passed in this House. Clearly, some of the changes made would have a fundamental impact on the nature of the social fund. We have debated the principles behind the fund on a number of occasions, and I do not need to rehearse them all here. Suffice it to say that the fund is intended to provide help quickly and flexibly, but in a controlled way, with exceptional needs, and that we believe that the discretionary social fund is a better means of achieving these ends than, say, the single payments system with its regulations and appeals. So we needed to think twice before adopting wholesale the changes made here. On the other hand, we recognise the concern expressed by noble Lords, first, that the pendulum should not swing back too far towards discretion; and, secondly, that when someone is dissatisfied with a social fund decision it should not only be handled impartially but should be seen to be handled impartially. The Government were anxious to respond positively to that concern.

I should therefore like to outline to your Lordships what our conclusions were, and to explain why we believe that the new proposals which were made yesterday in another place offer the best way forward. We have taken yet another look at the types of need which the social fund is intended to cover. We have examined whether some types of payments are in fact more suitable than others for defining in regulations. We have concluded that maternity and funeral payments are in fact rather different from other social fund payments. We have made clear all along that people receiving certain income-related benefits would be eligible for this help without a separate means test, and that these payments would not be subject to budget constraints. They would have been governed in the main by the Secretary of State's directions rather than guidance. There would have been little role for the exercise of discretion by social fund officers. So we have decided to accept the spirit of the amendments passed by your Lordships as far as funeral and maternity payments are concerned by defining entitlement to them in regulations.

We also believe, having accepted this change, that it would be right to make these payments subject to the full adjudication process. Our position has always been that the procedure for taking and reconsidering social fund decisions must fit the nature of the fund. Establishing entitlement in regulations changes the nature of decision-taking. Its effect is to import adjudication into the social fund. We therefore propose to go all the way and put these payments on to the same footing as the mainstream social security benefits. That means that decisions on entitlement will be taken by independent adjudication officers following the guidance of the chief adjudication officer and not by social fund officers. There will be a right of appeal to a social security appeal tribunal, and a further right of appeal to the Social Security Commissioners.

I think noble Lords will agree that for these two forms of social fund payments it would not be possible to go any further. These changes represent complete integration with the adjudication system. However, we still believe that entitlement and adjudication are not the best way of providing the other kinds of help which the social fund is designed to offer, where all sorts of different needs may arise, and what is required is the flexibility to respond to the particular circumstances of each individual case.

We have been over the arguments many times, and in fact there is much common ground. There is, for example, general agreement that the right balance between entitlement and adjudication was not struck in the 1980 reformof supplementary benefit. We were right to think that entitlement and adjudication would apply to decisions affecting regular weekly benefit, but we should not have extended it as far as we did to cover the totality of exceptional extra needs requiring one-off payments. A number of commentators (not all Government supporters by any means) accept that any flexible scheme must have a place for discretion. The question is not whether you need some discretion but where the boundary lines should be drawn. We think that, in so far as loans, community care payments and financial crisis payments are concerned, social fund officers must have discretion to assess the need of each individual in each situation. The rigidity of regulations has not worked well in this area, and we have no reason to believe that it can be made to work well. That is why we think it right to ask noble Lords to agree to the changes made in another place, which would make social fund payments, other than those for maternity and funerals, subject to directions—not regulations—and guidance.

Perhaps I could now turn to the question of appeals and reviews of social fund decisions. We have always argued that one cannot sensibly operate a flexible scheme involving the discretionary judgments I have described within the current adjudicated system of benefits and within the current structure of appeal tribunals and commissioners. Of course we believe that claimants who are dissatisfied with decisions should have a right to have the decisions reconsidered, but the form of that review must fit the nature of the benefit. The appeal system represented by the Council on Tribunals has been developed over the last 50 or so years in a different context to meet different require- ments. The social fund is not like other benefits, nor will it be administered in the same way. It would not be right for it to take over an appeal system designed for other needs just because it is familiar, nor to set up a new independent appeal system which is different in name only from the present one.

I must therefore ask noble Lords to accept, as has been accepted in another place, that not all social fund decisions should be subject to social security appeal tribunals. I have already explained that maternity and funeral payments would be subject to tribunals—that is covered by the amendments passed yesterday in another place. However, for other types of social fund payment, we still believe that we need procedures which fit the nature of the decisions about those payments. They need to be flexible; they need to be informal; and they need to be quick.

By now some noble Lords may be familiar with the arrangements which we are proposing to review social fund decisions. The point I want to stress is that people have a right to a review, and this will be handled professionally and impartially.

When an applicant is dissatisfied with the decision, the social fund officer will look again at the case to see whether there are good grounds for changing his mind. Where the social fund officer cannot satisfy the applicant's objections by looking at the papers, then the applicant will be invited to an interview where the whole case can be talked through in detail and any new information brought to light. The social fund officer's manager will then decide the case, if necessary changing the original decision. The aim would be to give the applicant an answer as quickly as possible.

But where he is still dissatisfied, he will have the right to ask an outside inspector to review his case. We introduced this provision at Report stage in another place in response to concern that reviews conducted by local management alone might not be, or appear to be, sufficiently impartial. The inspector's job will be to decide whether the local officers have taken their decisions properly. He will, for example, check whether they had got enough evidence to take a decision, and whether the decision is reasonable in the light of all the facts. What the inspector will not do is meticulously interpret detailed regulations. Nor will he second-guess—or perhaps "third-guess"—every social fund officer's decision.

The amendment will allow my right honourable friend the Secretary of State to appoint a social fund commissioner whose stature and independence are beyond doubt and to whom all social fund officers would be answerable. His responsibilities would include the appointment and training of social fund inspectors. He would monitor the quality of their decision-taking and report on it to the Secretary of State. He would also report annually on the standards of service by social fund inspectors to my right honourable friend the Secretary of State, who would publish his report. This is similar to the arrangements now for the independent chief adjudication officer—who advises local adjudication officers on how to decide claims for benefit—to make an annual report.

The objectives of his appointment are, first, to ensure that social fund inspectors' decisions are of a consistently high standard; and secondly, to ensure that the inspectors taking the decisions act, and are keen to act, impartially.

I deplore the jeering remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, concerning his proposals to appoint a commissioner. We already have the example of the chief adjudication officer who is appointed by the Secretary of State, but who is independent of both Ministers and officials in advising adjudication officers and reporting on standards of adjudication. The social fund commissioner will indeed be independent, and the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, does his cause no good to imply that such a person's integrity would be suspect simply because he is appointed by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State.

I am going on at length because noble Lords complained about the guillotine in another place. Therefore, I feel that I must answer fully the questions that have been put to me this afternoon. The social fund commissioner would be able to rescind an inspector's decision. His job is managerial and his responsibilities are to ensure that inspectors act impartially and carry out their functions to the highest standard. I do not think it would add anything to the performance of his duties if he was also able to act as a social fund inspector.

Finally, we have taken the opportunity of this change to the provisions relating to social fund inspectors to correct a minor defect in the Bill as drafted. Before amendment there was no power in the Bill to change an inspector's decision. We concluded that this was too rigid. Nevertheless, we have brought forward an amendment to give social fund inspectors the power to review their own decisions so that problems can be avoided.

I hope that I have shown that the Government have responded flexibly and positively to the concerns expressed here and in another place while maintaining the basic principles underlying the social fund. I commend the amendments made in another place to your Lordships. In view of what I have said, I ask the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, not to press the amendments which he has introduced today.

Lord Wigoder

My Lords, perhaps your Lordships will allow me five sentences only. First, as to the discretionary side of the benefits payable from the social fund, the fact is that before 1980 the SSATs administered a discretionary system, and since 1980 they have been administering a system which often includes interpreting words such as "reasonable", and they have no problems with it. It gives satisfaction to the great British public, even if it may not give entire satisfaction to Her Majesty's Government.

Secondly, I appreciate that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, for many years presided with great distinction over an extremely elaborate court of law. That had no resemblance whatever to three people sitting round a table discussing a citizen's problems informally with him, which is how an SSAT works.

Thirdly, as to the oral hearings, I still await the answer.

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, I thought that I had gone on long enough, but I have all the information for the noble Lord. Where the social fund officer cannot satisfy the applicant's objections by looking at the papers, we intend that the applicant will be invited to an interview where the whole case can be talked through in detail and any new information brought to light. The social fund officer's manager will then decide the case, taking into account all the information that has so far been gathered. Where the individual is still dissatisfied, he will have a right to a review by a social fund inspector. However, the question of how inspectors will conduct their reviews is one for discussion with the social fund commissioner. We would not exclude discussing with him the possibility that if the inspector felt that he needed to seek further information from the applicant face to face, the inspector might arrange to interview the applicant and his representative again.

As I am on my feet, I may have omitted a "not" in what I said earlier. The social fund commissioner would not be able to rescind an inspector's decision.

Lord Wigoder

My Lords, I take it that, undecided although the matter is at present, it is perfectly possible that under the Government's system there may be an oral hearing before the social fund inspector?

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, there could be.

Lord Wigoder

My Lords, that may be 100 miles away. Can the noble Baroness help us as to who will pay for that? Finally, as my last observation and as a small footnote on this matter, but it does indicate the haste with which these matters have been entered into over the last day or so, I ask your Lordships to look at the provisions for the establishment of the social fund commissioner. Your Lordships will see that the Bill will now provide that the Secretary of State may appoint the commissioner. There is no provision anywhere for him to remove the commissioner. No doubt this time next year we shall be having a Social Security (Amendment) Bill before us. I invite your Lordships to stand firm on this matter.

6.39 p.m.

On Question, Whether this House do insist on their Amendments Nos. 7 and 8, to which the Commons have disagreed for the Reason numbered 9?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 113; Not-Contents, 202.

Addington, L. Bruce of Donington, L.
Airedale, L. Burton of Coventry, B.
Amherst, E. Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.
Ampthill, L. Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.
Ardwick, L. Darcy (de Knayth), B.
Attlee, E. Darwen, L.
Avebury, L. David, B.
Banks, L. Dean of Beswick, L.
Barnett, L. Denington, B.
Beswick, L. Diamond, L.
Birk, B. Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L.
Boston of Faversham, L. Donoughue, L.
Bottomley, L. Elwyn-Jones, L.
Brockway, L. Ennals, L
Ewart-Biggs, B. Mayhew, L.
Falkender, B. Meston, L.
Falkland, V. Milner of Leeds, L.
Fisher of Rednal, B. Mishcon, L.
Foot, L. Molloy, L.
Gallacher, L. Monson, L.
Gilford, L. Mountevans, L.
Gladwyn, L. Nicol, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L. Oram, L.
Grey, E. Phillips, B.
Grimond, L. Pitt of Hampstead, L.
Hampton, L. Plant, L.
Hanworth, V. Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L. [Teller.]
Hatch of Lusby, L. Prys-Davies, L.
Henderson of Brompton, L. Rea, L.
Houghton of Sowerby, L. Richardson, L.
Howie of Troon, L. Ritchie of Dundee, L.
Hunt, L. Robson of Kiddington, B.
Hutchinson of Lullington, L. Rochester, L.
Hylton, L. Seear, B.
Ingleby, V. Seebohm, L.
Irving of Dartford, L. Sefton of Garston, L.
Jacques, L. Serota, B.
Jeger, B. Shackleton, L.
Jenkins of Putney, L. Shepherd, L.
John-Mackie, L. Silkin of Dulwich, L.
Kagan, L. Stallard, L.
Kennet, L. Stedman, B.
Kilbracken, L. Stewart of Fulham, L.
Kilmarnock, L. Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Kirkhill, L. Strabolgi, L.
Kirkwood, L. Tordoff, L. [Teller.]
Lawrence, L. Underhill, L.
Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Lloyd of Hampstead, L. Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Lloyd of Kilgerran, L. Wells-Pestell, L.
Lockwood, B. White, B.
Longford, E. Wigoder, L.
Lovell-Davis, L. Williams of Elvel, L.
McGregor of Durris, L. Willis, L.
Mackie of Benshie, L. Wilson of Rievaulx, L.
McNair, L. Winterbottom, L.
Abinger, L. Camden, M.
Ailesbury, M. Cameron of Lochbroom, L.
Aldington, L. Campbell of Alloway, L.
Alexander of Tunis, E. Campbell of Croy, L.
Allerton, L. Carnegy of Lour, B.
Annaly, L. Carnock, L.
Arran, E. Cathcart, E.
Ashbourne, L. Chelmer, L.
Bagot, L. Clinton, L.
Bauer, L. Clitheroe, L.
Beaverbrook, L. Coleraine, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Colwyn, L.
Bellwin, L. Constantine of Stanmore, L.
Beloff, L. Cork and Orrery, E.
Belstead, L. Craigavon, V.
Bessborough, E. Craigton, L.
Bethell, L. Cranbrook, E.
Birdwood, L. Crawford and Balcarres, E.
Blake, L. Croft, L.
Boardman, L. Cross, V.
Boyd-Carpenter, L. Dacre of Glanton, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L. Davidson, V.
Braye, B. De Freyne, L.
Broadbridge, L. Denham, L. [Teller.]
Brocket, L. Denning, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Derwent, L.
Broxbourne, L. Dormer, L.
Bruce-Gardyne, L. Drumalbyn, L.
Buccleuch and Queensberry, Dudley, E.
D. Dundee, E.
Buckinghamshire, E. Elibank, L.
Butterworth, L. Ellenborough, L.
Caccia, L. Elles, B.
Caithness, E. Elliot of Harwood, B.
Caldecote, V. Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Elton, L. Montgomery of Alamein, V.
Erne, E. Morris, L.
Erroll of Hale, L. Mottistone, L.
Falmouth, V. Mountgarret, V.
Ferrers, E. Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Feversham, L. Munster, E.
Forte, L. Nelson of Stafford, L.
Fortescue, E. Norfolk, D.
Fraser of Kilmorack, L. Norrie, L.
Freyberg, L. Nugent of Guildford, L.
Gainford, L. Pender, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B. Penrhyn, L.
Gibson-Watt, L. Plummer of St. Marylebone,
Gisborough, L. L.
Glanusk, L. Portland, D.
Glenarthur, L. Portman, V.
Gray, L. Portsmouth, E.
Gray of Contin, L. Radnor, E.
Greenway, L. Rankeillour, L.
Gridley, L. Reay, L.
Grimthorpe, L. Reigate, L.
Hailsham of Saint Renton, L.
Marylebone, L. Renwick, L.
Halsbury, E. Rochdale, V.
Hanson, L. Romney, E.
Harmar-Nicholls, L. Rootes, L.
Harvington, L. St. Davids, V.
Henley, L. Saint Levan, L.
Hertford, M. Salisbury, M.
Hesketh, L. Sanderson of Bowden, L.
Hives, L. Sandford, L.
Holderness, L. Sandys, L.
Hood, V. Selborne, E.
Hooper, B. Sempill, Ly.
Howe, E. Shannon, E.
Hylton-Foster, B. Skelmersdale, L.
Ironside, L. Slim, V.
Jessel, L. Southborough, L.
Keyes, L. Stanley of Alderley, L.
Killearn, L. Strathcarron, L.
Kimball, L. Strathcona and Mount Royal,
King of Wartnaby, L. L.
Kinnoull, E. Sudeley, L.
Kitchener, E. Suffield, L.
Knollys, V. Swinton, E. [Teller.]
Lane-Fox, B. Teviot, L.
Lauderdale, E. Thomas of Swynnerton, L.
Layton, L. Torphichen, L.
Limerick, E. Townshend, M.
Lindsay, E. Tranmire, L.
Lindsey and Abingdon, E. Trefgarne, L.
Long, V. Trenchard, V.
Lucas of Chilworth, L. Trumpington, B.
Lurgan, L. Tryon, L.
McFadzean, L. Ullswater, V.
Mackintosh of Halifax, V. Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Macleod of Borve, B. Vinson, L.
Malmesbury, E. Vivian, L.
Mancroft, L. Watkinson, V.
Margadale, L. Whitelaw, V.
Marshall of Leeds, L. Wigram, L.
Massereene and Ferrard, V. Wilberforce, L.
Maude of Stratford-upon- Windlesham, L.
Avon, L. Wolfson, L.
Merrivale, L. Wynford, L.
Mersey, V. Yarborough, E.
Middleton, L. Young, B.
Milverton, L. Young of Graffham, L.
Monk Bretton, L.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

6.50 p.m.

The Lord Chancellor

My Lords, I think my noble friend Lady Trumpington now has a speaking part.