Clause 2 — Work-related activity: income support claimants and partners of claimants

Part of Welfare Reform Bill (Programme) (No. 2) – in the House of Commons at 4:30 pm on 10th November 2009.

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Photo of John Grogan John Grogan Labour, Selby 4:30 pm, 10th November 2009

I rise briefly to support Lords amendment 2 and reluctantly to oppose those on the Treasury Bench. I shall make three points, the first of which is on the politics of the amendment.

When I first read the amendment, which effectively raises from three to five the age that children must attain before their parents are subject to benefits sanction if they are not enthusiastic enough about work-related activity, I had been following the debate in outline rather than in detail, and I wondered who had made the proposal in the other place: at first, I thought it might be a liberal bishop with a social conscience; then I thought it might be a former Labour MP rocking the boat, perish the thought; finally I thought it might be an independent peer-perhaps someone with a long record in the voluntary sector-who felt strongly about the issue. To my amazement, who should have proposed this amendment in the other place but the noble Lord Freud? I am not an expert in welfare reform and it took me five or 10 seconds to think, "Who exactly is the noble Lord Freud?" Of course, I remembered that he is very same welfare reform guru who advised my right hon. Friend James Purnell when he was a welfare reform Minister.

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