Child Maintenance and Other Payments Bill

Part of Orders of the Day – in the House of Commons at 3:09 pm on 4th July 2007.

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Photo of Danny Alexander Danny Alexander Shadow Secretary of State (Cabinet Office) and Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster 3:09 pm, 4th July 2007

It is a pleasure to follow Mr. Clapham and I want to associate myself with his remarks about mesothelioma. He has worked very hard on behalf of the disease's many sufferers and he pioneered the all-party group, so he deserves great credit for the fact that the Government have brought forward the measures in part 4 of the Bill, which my party also intends to support.

I welcome the new Secretary of State to his position. He has made a good start over the past two days with two debates on two complicated issues. His predecessor is a hard act to follow. I welcome Chris Grayling to his position, too. We are all new in these roles. Our predecessors formed consensus when appropriate, but their exchanges were robust when that was appropriate, so I hope that both elements will continue during our periods in these positions.

I am particularly pleased that the Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Mr. Plaskitt, retains his place in the ministerial team. He has been an assiduous Minister and, as he knows, I have had cause to be grateful to him in relation to a Child Support Agency case. His work in showing what can be achieved adds to the disappointment in the many cases where such progress is not made, but I am grateful to him for what he has done. I pay tribute to my hon. Friend Mr. Laws into whose enormous shoes I step with some trepidation. His hard work and assiduousness in this portfolio mean that he is a hard act for me to follow.

There has been a particular moment of trepidation for me in relation to the debate, although it is not so much to do with the debate as with the fact that I imminently expect to receive a message that my wife is on her way to hospital to give birth to our first child, due on Saturday. If that message arrives, my hon. Friend John Barrett has offered to step in to replace me.