§ Miss Richardson
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will list the minor but not insignificant changes to the draft directive on equality of treatment for men and women in matters of social security (R/48/77) referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, in the House of Lords Official Report, Volume 388, No. 25, column 327, as being discussed in Brussels.
§ Mr. Orme
The list is as follows:
To seek to establish that the directive will not apply retrospectively so as to disturb benefits already in payment or benefit rights established in periods before the date on which the directive comes into operation. We shall not seek to prevent the application of the directive to retrospective improvements in occupational pension schemes.
To discuss the exclusion of private pension arrangements based on individual contracts and the exercise of personal options under the rules of an occupational pension scheme.
To recommend that any existing transitional provisions which maintain a past right should not be prohibited by the directive. For example, under equal access requirements of the Social Security Pensions Act 1975 women employees will be able to retain, on an individual basis, any existing option they might have as to voluntary membership of an occupational pension scheme the membership of which is compulsory for male employees.
To seek clarification of certain phrases such asinsofar as they are not already covered by community provisionswhich might give rise to confusion.
To establish with more precision the intent of the directive that the principle of equality of treatment is on the basis of equal benefits for men and women.
To link the ages at which exemption from prescription charges apply in the United Kingdom—65 for men and 60 for women—with the provision in the draft directive which allows member States for the time being to determine different pensionable ages for men and women.
This list is in the nature of a checklist for discussion, and is not immutable nor necessarily exhaustive.