New Clause 2 — Childcare

Part of Welfare Reform Bill (Programme) (No. 2) – in the House of Commons at 6:00 pm on 13th June 2011.

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Photo of Sheila Gilmore Sheila Gilmore Labour, Edinburgh East 6:00 pm, 13th June 2011

In general, I should prefer legislation not to be pushed through all its stages until more of the details have been dealt with. When the original Bill was presented to the House, some of the consultations with the public were still taking place. An important consultation about disability benefits, with which we shall deal later, had not finished before the Bill was printed, and consultations about child maintenance did not end until April, when proposals were already in writing. There are other ways of doing things, and the fact that they have or have not been done properly by past Governments does not strike me as a reason for not trying to do them properly now.

Child care is particularly important to people who want to improve their position. Charlie Elphicke said that we had been consulted, and indeed we were invited to a briefing at which we were presented with certain scenarios, but I am not sure that I gained a very clear understanding from that session of exactly what the Government were proposing. I subsequently received briefings from other organisations, as no doubt has the hon. Gentleman, expressing the view that the new child care arrangements, such as they were—the proposals had not been finalised—would not leave people better off. It is a question of what we accept and what we believe.

It is difficult for us to form a view, but it is possible that if we do not get the child care arrangements right, many people will decide that work does not pay. They will feel either that they must reduce their hours considerably, or that they cannot afford to continue their work and must give it up altogether. I do not think that that is the outcome that the Government seek.