There has been a trend under Governments of both parties, in this country and in many others, towards the break-up of the family and towards having children out of wedlock, both of which have contributed to the growth of lone parenthood, in Britain and abroad. We believe that that was aggravated by the old system of judgments that were made, but often not enforced, by the courts in cases where proper maintenance was not paid. That is why we, and the whole House, agreed to replace the old system with this system—with, I have to say, the honourable and straightforward support of the hon. Member for Croydon, North-West (Mr. Wicks).
We believe that it is right to do so, because, ultimately, the responsibility for supporting children is that of both parents. Even if they split up, the taxpayer should come in only to the extent that the parents do not have the means to support their children. The Child Support Agency exists to assess whether parents have those means, and to ensure that they pay if they do. Where parents do not have the means, of course, the taxpayer has to bear much of the cost.