Child Maintenance and Other Payments Bill

Part of Orders of the Day – in the House of Commons at 1:41 pm on 4th July 2007.

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Photo of Peter Hain Peter Hain The Secretary of State for Wales, The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 1:41 pm, 4th July 2007

That sounds to me like a job application to get on to the Public Bill Committee that considers the Bill, where the hon. Gentleman can put those same arguments— [Interruption.] I hear an hon. Member shouting "No" from a sedentary position, which is a little uncharitable! Clearly, there is an issue there and we will want to look further into it. If the hon. Gentleman would like to write to me or discuss his point further with me in the Department, I would be happy to facilitate that.

Parts 1 and 2 provide for the establishment of the new Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission and the transfer of functions, staff and property from the Department. The commission will have two key areas of responsibility: first, to deliver statutory child maintenance arrangements for those who cannot make their own arrangements or who decide that it would not be appropriate to do so; and, secondly, to provide the information and support necessary to help parents make their own arrangements for child maintenance.

The Bill will give the commission the freedom and independence to run its own affairs and to deliver a professional and efficient service, but it will also provide a clear framework within which to carry out its functions. One clear objective is to maximise the number of cases where maintenance arrangements are in place and to provide essential safeguards to ensure the welfare of children and parents with care.

As such, the commission will have the flexibility to innovate and to adapt its policies in the light of developing experience. In order to maximise efficiency, it will be authorised to contract out some of its functions and charge for the use of its services. We will make regulations, for example, to ensure that if a non-resident parent wilfully takes steps to evade payments in a way that is almost deliberately costly to the commission, the charging option would be available to it.