Schedule 1 — The Child Poverty Commission

Part of Bill Presented — Fiscal Responsibility – in the House of Commons at 6:41 pm on 9th December 2009.

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Photo of Graham Stuart Graham Stuart Conservative, Beverley and Holderness 6:41 pm, 9th December 2009

I am grateful to you, Madam Deputy Speaker. I was trying to answer the points made from his Front Bench by the hon. Member for Northavon. I do not know whether his status is different from mine, but the likelihood of meeting the targets in the Bill is based on an assessment of prior performance. In 1997, when the last Conservative Government came in, we were in a similar position. Okay, the fiscal deficit at its peak in 1976, when the International Monetary Fund came in, was half what it is today, so we are in a worse position from which to make change. Under that Conservative Government, who restarted the British economy, child poverty increased in a way that is regrettable. My hon. Friend Andrew Selous is nodding his head.

Despite the wreckage that is being left of our economy-again, by a Labour Government-if a Conservative Government are elected this coming May, we aim to ensure that we do not just revive the economy while leaving behind children in poverty. That is precisely why my hon. Friends are determined to take the child poverty issue seriously. We accept the fact that the record on child poverty was not great under the last Conservative Government. We aim to do better, but none of us progresses policy development in that area if we just try to make cheap partisan remarks or to suggest that anyone at any time-Ministers in the 1980s any more than today-were indifferent to the welfare of children. They were trying to focus on turning the country around, from a sick of man of Europe and an economic basket case to a dynamo that could move forward. Of course, this Government inherited that position in 1997.

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