Power to modify retained direct EU legislation relating to social security co-ordination

Part of Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 12:15 pm ar 28 Chwefror 2019.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Alok Sharma Alok Sharma The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions 12:15, 28 Chwefror 2019

Perhaps I can respond to some of the points raised by the hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton and the hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North.

The hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton asked whether the powers would be too broad. I want to be absolutely clear that the power can be used only to make changes to specified retained EU social security co-ordination regulations that are listed in the clause, and to make consequential changes to primary legislation or other retained direct EU legislation that is not listed in the clause. The power is broad, because it provides the Government with the flexibility to respond to a range of scenarios. I repeat for the third time that regulations made using this power will be subject to the affirmative procedure, so they will be scrutinised and voted on by both Houses.

Both hon. Gentlemen called for the clause to be removed from the Bill. We believe that it is very important that the clause remains part of the Bill, so that the Government can respond at pace to the outcomes of negotiations and the scenarios that we find ourselves in. Without the clause, the Government would not be able to deliver policy changes to the retained social security co-ordination system, including those that could help us to deliver effective support for UK nationals abroad.

The current rules around aggregating and paying benefits pro rata and paying pensions based on contributions across member states depend on reciprocity. I have made that point a number of times. The power allows us to amend the rules in an appropriate and manageable way if the Government need to operate the system unilaterally and deliver changes beyond the scope of the deficiency fixes. Taking this enabling power is the most appropriate option, because it provides us with the flexibility that is required.

The hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton spoke about the fixing SIs. I think I responded to that point earlier, in the debate on amendment 26.

I know that Members on both sides of the Committee have raised these points with a great deal of interest in making sure that we get the matter right for citizens. The hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North has just said that he wants to give citizens certainty. That is what I and Conservative colleagues want, and the best way of doing that is for all of us to support the deal and the withdrawal agreement that are on the table.