It is a great privilege to be called to speak in the debate. Having been here all afternoon, I feel as though I am back in the Bill Committee. My hon. Friend Stephen Crabb must again send my apologies to Downing street, because I have decided not to attend a party there in order to be here this evening.
I wish to speak about four specific issues and to new clauses 3 and 4 and amendments 23, 24, 27, 28 and 29. Before doing so, it is important to set today’s good and wide-ranging discussions in context. It is a privilege to follow Kate Green, who spoke with great knowledge and understanding on these matters in Committee and in her contribution to the House today, but an important point that we must bear in mind is this: the reason we need to look at changing the current welfare system is that it has not worked.
I challenged Sheila Gilmore on the figures for the number of people in the United Kingdom who have never worked, which worsened from 2000 to 2010, and the figures I quoted for Scotland were supplied by the Office for National Statistics. The figures for the United Kingdom are absolutely deplorable. The number of people who have never worked increased from 572,000 in 2000 to 841,000 in 2010, when the previous Government left office. As a Member who represents a Welsh constituency, it is disappointing to state that the figures in Wales also show a deterioration. The context for the welfare reform package, therefore, is the fact that the current system is not working.