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Social Security Commissioners (Procedure) (Amendment) Regulations 2001

Volume 623: debated on Wednesday 14 March 2001

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8 p.m.

My Lords, I beg to move the second Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. I have spoken to these regulations and I hope that noble Lords will allow me to move them formally. I commend the regulations to the House.

Moved, That the draft regulations laid before the House on 14th February be approved [8th Report from the Joint Committee.]—(Baroness Hollis of Heigham.)

My Lords, I wish to make only one short point about the Explanatory Memorandum. In the previous debate we treated the Explanatory Memorandum with a degree of facetiousness, but I think that this is an important issue. Once again, I am rather puzzled by the memorandum. It appears to be an Explanatory Memorandum for the regulations now before us. However, almost none of it refers to these regulations, but is expressed in the following terms:

"The Social Security Commissioners (Procedure) Regulations 1999 were recently amended by the Social Security Commissioners (Procedure)(Amendment) Regulations 2000 … The amendments were in consequence of the transfer under the Tax Credits Act 1999 … of functions relating to family credit and disability working allowance (now known as working families' tax credit and disabled person's tax credit) from the Department of Social Security to the Treasury and the Board of Inland Revenue".
All that may be immensely illuminating, but it refers to the previous regulations rather than to the regulations before us. I am not at all clear why, other than demonstrating that the Government amend their regulations on an annual basis, this explanation is supposed to be helpful.

My Lords, I hope that the Minister will forgive me. Does this arise from the crossword puzzle problem to which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Brightman, drew our attention during the debate on Bill do now pass on the Social Security Fraud Bill? That is a general problem. If this is designed to explain that, I would regard it as helpful.

My Lords, I take the criticism expressed by noble Lords of the degree of transparency here. The point of these regulations is that they are consequential. It is the Lord Chancellor rather than the DSS who is responsible for the administration of the appeals tribunal system. That is why the regulations are bundled together in this way.

The regulations relate to the Lord Chancellor and are consequential on the substantive regulations on housing benefit that we have just discussed. That is because they have implications for the organisation of the appeals system. which is the responsibility of the Lord Chancellor.

My Lords, it might have been helpful if the Explanatory Memorandum had said that.

On Question, Motion agreed to.