Schedule 1 — The Child Poverty Commission

Part of Bill Presented — Fiscal Responsibility – in the House of Commons at 6:36 pm on 9th December 2009.

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Photo of John Howell John Howell Conservative, Henley 6:36 pm, 9th December 2009

I do not know whether it is usual to have so many Back Benchers wanting to take part in a Third Reading debate, but it is perfectly appropriate for this Bill. In Committee, those on both Front Benches commented on the way that Back Benchers had contributed, and that included the amendments that we tabled. For myself, I have very much enjoyed participating in the proceedings on this Bill, as it is an extremely important subject that is very close to my heart. Child poverty is something that we really need to make progress on.

Having said that, I remain disappointed with many aspects of the Bill, given that this is such an important subject. I remain disappointed with the way that it is still ill thought through in terms of the targets that it sets and the way that it is tackling-or not tackling-the causes of poverty. We have heard a lot about both matters again this afternoon on Report.

I also think that the Bill's structure remains ill thought through, and I still find it difficult to reconcile what it is trying to achieve in part 1 with what it is trying to achieve in part 2. Another matter that was raised in Committee but not on Report is the possibility, as many of the charity representatives who came to the Committee as witnesses stated clearly, that the Government will be taken to judicial review over the non-achievement of targets. That is still the case, as is the potential, given that these are income targets, that judges rather than the Chancellor of the Exchequer will make economic policy-although, after today's pre-Budget report, perhaps judges could not do a worse job.

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