Report (6th Day)
Welfare Reform Bill
Lord Newton of Braintree (Conservative)
My Lords, I can hope only that my noble friends on the Front Bench have already realised that Newton on Wednesday will not necessarily be the same as Newton on Monday. After Monday, I am amazed that the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, is still prepared to accord me hero status. I give her full credit for that. I do not know whether she regards me as adequate cavalry in substitute for the noble Lord, Lord Kirkwood, or, indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Blair, but here I am on my charger doing the best I can.
I indicated in the earlier debate that I was a heretical supporter of ring-fencing and that I did not want to see this Social Fund money frittered away on other things. All I am going to say now is that I agreed with every word that the noble Baroness said. I had better say straightforwardly to the Minister that if this amendment is pressed and we have not had what I regard as a satisfactory reply, I shall be strongly tempted to vote with the noble Baroness, should she press the matter. In saying this, I am linking it back with my earlier remarks. I have no doubt whatever that the obstacle here is not my noble friend-he cannot comment on this-but the DCLG. I do not think that the localism agenda should stand in the way of making sure that money spent for the purpose of these vulnerable people is spent on these vulnerable people. I therefore strongly support the thrust of the amendment.