Savings Accounts and Health in Pregnancy Grant Bill

Part of Parliament (Amendment) – in the House of Commons at 6:03 pm on 26th October 2010.

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Photo of David Hanson David Hanson Shadow Minister (Treasury) 6:03 pm, 26th October 2010

Indeed. As my hon. Friend knows, even now some of the Budget measures that make the Budget seem fairer than it is are measures that we supported in government and which the Conservative Government opposed when they were in opposition. I will not take lessons from the Conservative Minister on fairness towards pregnant women, children and those on poorer incomes, because the Labour Government, when in office, had a proud record of fighting on those issues.

In conclusion, the debate is about choices for the future. As my hon. Friends have pointed out, other choices could have been made. I am not saying that I would have supported them or agreed with them, but the Government could have considered a range of other choices. They could have suspended payments for a period of time for the child trust fund, the maternity grant or the savings gateway. They could have means-tested them, so that individuals with the highest income in society did not receive the maternity grant or the child trust fund.

The Government could have considered measures including a payment holiday. They could have considered phasing out the support over a longer period. They could have done all those things, but they have not. They have taken a sledgehammer to the child trust fund, the savings gateway and the health in pregnancy grant. It is not the deficit that is driving these measures; it is dogma on the part of the Conservative party.

The Government do not recognise the pressures of bringing up a child with limited financial means in the 21st century; they do not understand the difficulties faced by people trying to save on a low incomes; and they do not understand the difficulties that mothers- to-be on low incomes face in the final weeks of their pregnancy. The Bill shows that the Government have made the wrong choices. It will deepen inequalities in our society, and I urge all right hon. and hon. Members to reject it.