Savings Accounts and Health in Pregnancy Grant Bill

Part of Parliament (Amendment) – in the House of Commons at 8:45 pm on 26th October 2010.

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Photo of Stella Creasy Stella Creasy Labour, Walthamstow 8:45 pm, 26th October 2010

I accept that the hon. Lady may be confused, but let me be clear that I am talking about the former Chief Secretary to the Treasury who claimed that the Government could not afford to continue with the child trust fund because it would burden future generations with a bigger debt. Some Opposition Members think that burdening future generations with no opportunity in life at all is not a price worth paying.

If we are to continue looking at what Chief Secretaries to the Treasury have said, we will find it worth considering what the current one said back in 2008, when he agreed that asset-based welfare was the true path to social mobility. He argued that there needed to be an alternative to the child trust fund, but tonight we have not heard about any measures to replace the asset that people would have had. We have heard nothing from Government Members; the silence has been deafening. Opposition Members have clearly explained why an ISA is not the same as a child trust fund.

My private Member's Bill next week will call for a levy on financial institutions to help to support debt counselling and advice services. That is why I welcome the Financial Secretary's remarks that the Government would back a consumer financial education body to begin that process of supporting financial advice services. However, it is no good on the one hand offering help and support for families who get themselves into debt, and on the other taking away the savings vehicles that keep such families going.

Given my proposal, I hope that the Minister will agree to meet me and other campaigners to discuss what more can be done to address the causes of poverty and ensure that families have access to affordable credit. Whether we are talking about the child trust fund, the health in pregnancy grant or the saving gateway account, I urge the Government to rethink the Bill and recognise that it is not in the long-term interests of families throughout Britain to support such measures.

A nation which ensures that every young person and their family has financial assets at key stages in their lifetimes is one in which potential stands a much greater chance of being realised. If the Bill is overturned and the scheme kept, a world of possibility will open up to many of our young constituents. I urge the House to reject the Bill and to sustain these vital instruments of social progress.