I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
The Bill provides for a new system of child maintenance in Britain. At its heart is the commitment to ensure that whatever happens to the relationship between two parents, the interests of children must always be paramount. However, the Bill also learns from the lessons of the past. It makes tackling child poverty the No. 1 priority for the child maintenance system by ensuring that more of the maintenance paid goes directly to the children and by maximising the number of children living apart from one or both of their parents for whom effective child maintenance arrangements are in place.
The Bill actively promotes parental responsibility by removing the barriers that prevent parents from reaching their own voluntary agreements. Never again will mutually agreed maintenance arrangements be forcibly overturned by a compulsion for parents with care receiving benefits to use the Child Support Agency. The Bill embeds the principle of choice whereby those on benefits should have the same choice as those not on benefits to make their own arrangements or to utilise the new child maintenance and enforcement commission—CMEC—to access the statutory scheme. For the first time, the system will no longer discriminate against people simply because they are poor.