Is the Minister aware that this financial year will be the first time since the war that the majority of children have derived no financial benefit from increased tax allowances and direct payment in the form of child benefit? In the light of the 17½ per cent. rate of inflation, which is still rising rapidly, that is disgraceful.
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman has forgotten that from April this year child benefit increased by £1. Yesterday child benefit was increased by a further 50p for the first child in one-parent families and the supplementary benefit child dependency allowance was also substantially raised.
Am I correct in thinking that, had my hon. Friend answered that question in regard to children of one-parent families, the figures would have proved still better for 1979? Is not that a pointer to the fact that the Government have to be more selective in the distribution of child benefit, particularly where overall resources remain restricted?
My hon. Friend is right. Efforts to help one-parent families over the past years have been given prominence, and that is particularly so this year. There are other problems for one-parent families which are not purely financial and there is still much to be done in those areas.
Does the hon. Lady agree that her Government cancelled a 50p increase which the Labour Government intended to pay this November? Further, will she acknowledge that the £4 child benefit in April next year will be worth only £3·20? When will her right hon. Friend announce an increase to back up the Conservative Government's alleged commitment to child benefit?
The right hon. Gentleman has totally missed the point. There was no provision in the previous Government's estimates for an overall 50p increase in child benefit. We shall review the uprating of child benefit as required to do and my right hon. Friend will make an announcement when he is ready.
Does my hon. Friend recognise the importance of increasing child benefit as a substitution for the tax allowances that would have been increased had child benefit not been introduced?