Welfare Reform Bill

Part of Tied Public Houses (Code of Practice) – in the House of Commons at 12:52 pm on 9th March 2011.

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Photo of Iain Duncan Smith Iain Duncan Smith The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 12:52 pm, 9th March 2011

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

The Bill before us today covers a number of areas, but I hope that it sets a new course for the welfare state. I believe it will enable us to reach out to some of the groups of people who have become detached from the rest of society—trapped, too often, in a permanent state of worklessness and dependency. For the sake of the House, I will go through the relevant clauses of the Bill. I am sure that colleagues on both sides of the House will want to intervene. I hope they will recognise that we shall get to most of the clauses that they want to discuss, but I will take interventions as and when they come.

The problem is that although from 1992 to 2008 this country saw some 63 consecutive quarters of growth, and 4 million more people were in employment by the end of that period, before the recession had even started we still had some 4 million-plus people on out-of-work benefits. The question is: where did all those jobs go? Under the previous Government, over half of the jobs created went to foreign nationals. This is not an immigration point; it is a point about supply and demand. There were a group of people in this country completely unable, it appears, to take advantage of that long period of growth and job creation. In essence, the key point about the Welfare Reform Bill is that it is intended to help that group.