Schedule 1 — The Child Poverty Commission

Part of Bill Presented — Fiscal Responsibility – in the House of Commons at 6:28 pm on 9th December 2009.

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Photo of Steve Webb Steve Webb Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 6:28 pm, 9th December 2009

The hon. Lady raises a point about the perversity of the proposal to reward marriage through the tax system. The Conservatives started the abolition of the married couples tax allowance, but she may recall that Labour finished it off. It is funny how things come around again.

However, Madam Deputy Speaker, I am sure that you would not want me to stray from the Bill, which I welcome. It does not do a huge amount, but it does raise the political cost of not taking child poverty seriously, and that has to be a good thing. It will also engage local government, and we valued the contributions that John Howell made in Committee with his proactive thinking about child poverty at local level. That may well turn out to be one of the Bill's more concrete implications, as the national statistics will not be available locally anyway in quite that form.

As many hon. Members have said, we had a good Committee stage, and I was grateful to my hon. Friend John Barrett for his support. It was also good that two Government amendments-on child care, and the research function of the child poverty commission-were tabled on Report in response to the points that we raised. It is a welcome-and for me a relatively novel experience-to find that the arguments that we made in Committee actually changed something. To that extent, it has been a productive process but I am sure, as the hon. Member for South-West Bedfordshire said, that our noble Friends in another place will still have some items left on their agenda. However, I certainly encourage my hon. Friends to support the Third Reading of the Bill tonight.

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