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New Clause 18

Volume 77: debated on Thursday 18 April 1985

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Special Hardship Allowance

'In section 60 of the Social Security Act 1975 (increase of disablement benefit for special hardship)—
  • (a)the following subsection shall be inserted after subsection (1)—
    "(1A) The Secretary of State may by regulations provide that in prescribed circumstances employed earner's employment in which a claimant was engaged when the relevant accident took place but which was not his regular occupation is to be treated as if it had been his regular occupation.";
  • (b)in subection (2)(a), for the words "of his" there shall be substituted the words ", except to the extent that it falls to be treated as including such an occupation by virtue of regulations under subsection (1A) above,";
  • (c)in subsection (6)—
  • after the word "above", in the first place where it occurs, there shall be inserted the words "and to subsection (6A) below,"; and
  • for the words "his regular occupation within the meaning of subsection (1) above" there shall he substituted the words "the relevant occupation"; and
  • (d)the following subsections shall be inserted after that subsection—
    • "(6A) A person who is entitled to an increase of pension under this section by virtue of regulations under subsection (1A) above shall not be paid such an increase for any period during which he would not normally be engaged in full-time employed earner's employment.
    • (6B) In subsection (6) above "the relevant occupation" means—
  • (a)in relation to a person who is entitled to an increase of pension under this section by virtue of regulations under subsection (1A) above, the occupation in which he was engaged when the relevant accident took place; and
  • (b)in relation to any other person who is entitled to an increase of pension under this section, his regular occupation within the meaning of subsection (1) above.".'.—[Mr.Newton.]
  • Brought up, and read the First time.

    I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

    I hope that this new clause will be regarded as my second bit of good work for the evening. However, the real credit for it belongs to the hon. Member for Derby, South (Mrs. Beckett). I hope that she will get her reward, and that this new clause will become known as the Beckett amendment. It arises from some correspondence that I have had with the hon. Lady. I am afraid that it was accompanied by one or two hiccups, but I am glad to say that it has had a happy outcome in the appearance of this new clause.

    The hon. Lady drew my attention, over a particular case, to the undesirable consequence of one aspect of the provisions governing the payment of special hardship allowance. That allowance compensates people who have suffered a reduction in earnings as a result of an accident at work. The rate of the allowance is based on the difference between present earnings and earnings in the claimant's regular occupation before the accident. An unfortunate effect of that condition is that people without a regular occupation, such as students doing vacation work, cannot qualify for the allowance.

    The new clause allows us to make regulations that will enable certain types of pre-accident work to be prescribed and treated as though they had been regular occupations. Part-time and vacation jobs done by students or school children are examples of what we intend to cover.

    The result will be an increase in benefit of up to £23·36 a week for the small number of disabled people who were injured at work before they had a chance to establish themselves in regular occupation. We shall be concerned primarily with those in full-time work, whatever occupation it may be.

    I am very grateful to the hon. Lady for raising the matter. It is great credit to her that she pursued it in the way that she did. I hope that she is pleased that the Government have been able to respond in this way.

    I feel that I ought almost to declare an interest in this new clause. I am extremely grateful to the Minister, in particlar for what he has done for the young man to whose case I drew his attention. I also thank him for his kind observations on the case. Fortunately, it is the kind of case which happens infrequently. In this case a schoolboy was properly working on a farm. When he left school he intended to be a full-time farmworker and the farmer had every intention of employing him. That was agreed at his appeal by the commissioner. Only the phraseology of the legislation prevented him from being given what everybody agreed was the compensation that he deserved for an unforeseen accident.

    I am extremely grateful to the Minister for making this change. I am also sure that the young man involved, whose name is Timothy Pallister, will be grateful. So, indeed, will my union, the Transport and General Workers Union. To receive its thanks may be an even more rare event for the Minister.

    Question put and agreed to.

    Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.