New Clause 1 — Childcare provision

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office – in the House of Commons at 7:15 pm on 8th April 2014.

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Photo of Nicky Morgan Nicky Morgan The Economic Secretary to the Treasury 7:15 pm, 8th April 2014

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Amess, and I thank all Members who have spoken in this debate. After a rather partisan opening speech, the debate improved and we had a genuine discussion of views, which will no doubt carry on throughout the Committee stage of the Finance Bill. We will also be able to discuss child care measures in greater detail later in the year.

I take on board the comment of Meg Hillier that there is a certain irony in the fact that all of us in the Chamber debating this matter today have children yet we are discussing this rather than spending time with them. If my son were here at the Dispatch Box, he would be very opinionated and have plenty to say on the subject of what I get up to, and I suspect that applies to the children of other Members.

New clause 1 asks the Government to conduct a review of the affordability of child care, but while Opposition Members are proposing yet another review, this Government are taking action, and have taken action, to address the rising costs of child care faced by families.

Before I address the Opposition new clause, let me briefly set out this Government’s approach to supporting parents with their child care costs. As the hon. Member for Hackney South and Shoreditch said, we on this side of the House believe in the importance of flexibility. We do not want to prescribe any further the number of hours that families should have. We want there to be full flexibility, and that is one of the advantages of the tax-free child care provisions this Government are suggesting. Parents and families will be able to build up credits in accounts and will then be able to spend them in the way that suits them best.