Welfare Reform Bill: Consideration of amendments

14 February 2012

The Welfare Reform Bill returns to the House of Lords for consideration of amendments (ping pong) stage today (Tuesday 14 February).

The bill comes back to the Lord's chamber after 'consideration of Lords' amendments' took place in the House of Commons (Wednesday 1 February).

The government won several votes in the Commons. 'Financial privilege' was cited as the reason for returning certain amendments covering household benefits to the House of Lords. 

The bill will bounce between both houses until they settle on the exact wording of the bill.

What is 'ping pong'?

If the Commons makes amendments to the bill, the Lords must consider them and either agree or disagree to the amendments or make alternative proposals.

If the Lords disagrees with any Commons amendments, or makes alternative proposals, then the bill is sent back to the Commons.

A bill may go back and forth between each House (ping pong) until both Houses reach agreement.

Catch up on last stage: third reading

The Welfare Reform Bill met its seventh government defeat at third reading (31 January).

Members of the House voted 246 to 230 for an amendment to limit the government proposed cuts to top up payments made to parents with disabled children, especially at the normal rate, in Clause 10 of the Welfare Reform Bill.

 Baroness Meacher (Crossbench) appealed to members of the House: 'Amendment 1 seeks to ensure that the gap between the higher and normal rate additions for disabled children is not too great.

'Under the new provision for a disability addition and a higher addition, families who have a child who is eligible for the higher addition will receive £1.50 per week more than current claimants do, but  families with disabled children who do not meet the stiff criteria for the highest addition will receive £27 per week less. Most families with a disabled child therefore lose about £1,400 a year.'

The amendment made will 'peg the normal addition for disabled children at two thirds the level of the higher disability addition for children.'

House of Lords made seven amendments to the Welfare Reform Bill

  • Report stage: Amendment 12 protects housing benefit for those with spare bedrooms
  • Report stage: Amendment 36A protects young disabled people from losing out on contributory employment support allowance (ESA)
  • Report stage: Amendment 38 opposes the introduction of a 12 month limit to claim ESA and proposes a minimum 24 months
  • Report stage: Amendment 38A excludes cancer patients, receiving treatment and those treated with cancer who have a limited capability to work, from claiming ESA
  • Report stage: Amendment 59 excludes child benefit from the proposed household benefit cap
  • Report stage: Amendment 62C opposes charging single parents from using the Child Support Agency (CSA)
  • Third reading: Amendment 1 seeks to ensure the gap between the two payments (higher and normal additional payments) to families with disabled children is not too great

What happens if the houses don't agree with each other's amendments?

In exceptional cases, when the two Houses do not reach agreement, the bill falls. If certain conditions are met, the Commons can use the Parliament Acts to pass the bill, without the consent of the Lords, in the following session.

Welfare Reform Bill: Key areas

  • The bill introduces Personal Independence Payments to replace the current Disability Living Allowance.
  • It restricts Housing Benefit entitlement for social housing tenants whose accommodation is larger than needed.
  • It will up-rate Local Housing Allowance rates by the Consumer Price Index.
  • It amends the forthcoming statutory child maintenance scheme.
  • Payment of contributory Employment and Support Allowance is limited to a 12-month period.
  • The total amount of benefit that can be claimed will be capped.

Catch up on the Welfare Reform Bill

Further information

Find out more about watching House of Lords debates.

Image: iStockphoto

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