Part of Orders of the Day — Child Support Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:30 pm on 22nd May 1995.

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Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar , Glasgow Garscadden 5:30 pm, 22nd May 1995

It is not an obvious construction. To put it as charitably as possible, the right hon. Gentleman has been in Government too long. When he arrives on the Opposition Benches I wonder whether he will hesitate, saying, "I would like that information, but my goodness if I ask for it, the Government are entitled to say that that is a spending commitment." No sensible person would take that approach. I suggest that he should reconsider his position.

I do not want to proceed too far down that line, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and will confine myself to saying that I would be genuinely surprised to discover that I am as generous a Santa Claus figure as the Secretary of State imagines. It would come as an even greater surprise to the many lobbying groups that have come to me looking for promises and discovered that they are not easy to obtain, for good hard-headed and practical reasons—that is, the problems that the Labour Government are likely to inherit. If the Secretary of State wants something to worry about today, he might consider one sentence in the White Paper on competitiveness.