Macro-economic stability has allowed the Government to achieve growth with fairness. Since 1997, average incomes have risen by 2.9 per cent., but the greatest growth has been for the poorest 40 per cent. of families, whose incomes have grown by an average of 3.4 per cent. a year. We should compare that to the period of 1979 to 1997, when incomes grew by an annual rate of just 0.1 per cent.
Given UNICEF's assessment that relationships have a significant impact on childhood well-being, would Britain perform better if we followed the advice of the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, supported today by the Economic Secretary, not to give tax breaks to married couples? Or should we take the view of the Work and Pensions Secretary, which is that there should be support for couples who look after children? Will the Economic Secretary confirm that he agrees with the response given to Angela Eagle, and that the Government do not support marriage as a means of promoting childhood well-being?
I could not work out from that whether the hon. Gentleman supported the shadow Chancellor's policy or that of the Leader of the Opposition. The UNICEF report was based on data that went up to 2000. Since then, there has been a substantial fall in child poverty. The House does not have to take my word for it, as an esteemed newspaper columnist told the BBC:
"I'm mildly sceptical about the Unicef report...some of its facts are mildly out of date...I think it was actually unfair to the Government."
Order. I am desperate to reach the hon. Lady's question.