Child Maintenance and Other Payments Bill

Part of Orders of the Day – in the House of Commons at 3:38 pm on 4th July 2007.

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Photo of David Evennett David Evennett Opposition Whip (Commons) 3:38 pm, 4th July 2007

The hon. Gentleman makes a fair point. My office has had similar experience. The nub of the issue is to improve communications and get results.

As I understood it from the Secretary of State, there is to be a new ethos and better administration. I am a little concerned that that will take a long time. I follow the points made by the hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey about phasing in. We all know that IT systems are temperamental, but the IT system at the CSA has been a disaster. I have recently seen examples of payments being calculated quite unreasonably. Even when men have presented the information from their wage packets or salary, the calculations have been wrong because of IT problems. That aspect of the new set-up must be examined closely.

I welcome the income disregard. That is a positive feature of the measure because it addresses difficulties that have arisen in the past. I am very keen on private arrangements between people to fulfil their responsibilities towards their children if the relationship breaks up or has never got started. An amicable settlement must be best for everybody concerned. Regrettably, that is not always possible, as we have heard from the cases described this afternoon, and an agency is required to help out. The more private arrangements we can encourage, the better, but we will always need a failsafe, even for those who have had private arrangements, when things go wrong.