Amendment proposed: No. 16, in page 12, line 19, at end insert—
'(4A) Regulations may provide for treating child benefit paid under this Act as having been properly paid for any period for which it is not in fact payable in cases where in consequence of a subsequent decision under the Social Security Act 1975 the person in respect of whom the child benefit was paid is entitled to a non-contributory invalidity pension for that period, and for reducing or withholding any arrears payable by virtue of the subsequent decision
(4B) Regulations may also provide for treating a non-contributory invalidity pension paid to a person which it is subsequently decided was not payable as having been properly paid for any period for which it is not in fact payable in cases where in consequence of a subsequent decision under this Act another person is entitled to child benefit in respect of him for that period, and for reducing or withholding any arrears payable by virtue of that subsequent decision'.—[Mr. O'Malley.]
With this it may be convenient to take Government Amendment No. 20.
A clear explanation does not appear to be forthcoming as to why these amendments are necessary. Perhaps the Government could enlighten us. The object seems to be to make certain that in no case is child benefit paid for a child for whom non-contributory invalidity pension is being paid. On the face of it, it seems that the occasion would never arise, because NCIP is not payable to a child in any case and for those who are over 16 NCIP would not be payable to a child at university or other educational establishment. I do not see what precautions the Government are taking. It seems that legislation already safeguards the position and that NCIP is not payable at the same time as child benefit.
I am delighted to explain the amendments. The purpose is to prevent duplication between child benefit payable to parents and NCIP, which a handicapped young person might receive in his own right, and to achieve a smooth transition from child benefit to the more substantial social security benefit.It is considered better to treat a young handicapped person as a beneficiary in his own right than to pay child benefit to his parents. However, it is not intended that there should be an automatic withdrawal of child benefit at age 16 when a child, although severely handicapped, is receiving such education as is consistent with his condition, otherwise, we might be faced with the situation where a handicapped child would neither attract child benefit nor qualify for NCIP. It is our intention to allow child benefit to continue in such cases until NCIP is awarded. I hope that that answers the hon. Member's question.
Amendment agreed to.