The House of Lords looked set to again support an amendment that was defeated this week in the House of Commons to set up a lifeboat scheme and use an emergency loan to ensure victims received increased payouts in a shorter time period.
But because the issue involved a Government spending commitment the Commons has primacy on the matter, through the Parliament Act.
Because the issue is a financial matter the Government can invoke the Parliament Act 1911 which states that when the Commons votes on the issue- as it did on Tuesday- it has primacy on the matter and it cannot be reintroduced by the House of Lords.
A DWP spokesman says the use of the Act is standard constitutional convention which is commonly used and not the same as the Government using the Act to force through a Bill that has repeatedly been turned down by the Lords- for example with Foxhunting.
A DWP spokesman says: “The Commons has had financial privilege since 1911. This is not a rare Parliamentary procedure – it is absolutely standard practice. It is the prerogative of the democratically-elected House, the Commons, to control charges on public funds.”
Conservative Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Chris Grayling says: “This is a blatant attempt to gerrymander the Parliamentary process. When these issues were debated in the House of Lords two weeks ago the Government raised no objections whatever to the ability of the House of Lords to debate these matters.
They have clearly done so now because the issue was becoming too politically embarrassing for them and they wanted to close it down. Over the past ten years, Gordon Brown has been more responsible than anyone else for the crisis in our pensions system. The fact that one of the first acts of his Government has been to close down a possible rescue package for the many pensioners who’ve lost out proves how little he cares about what happens to them.”
The Government’s appeal against March’s Judicial Review ruling which found it guilty of misleading workers about the security of their final salary schemes and of wrongly ignoring the Parliamentary Ombudsman will begin to be heard on Wednesday.