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Benefit Entitlement (Restriction) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:55 pm on 5th February 2016.

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Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley 1:55 pm, 5th February 2016

My hon. Friend is absolutely right, but the Prime Minister is trying to secure the same kind of principle that my hon. Friend seeks in clause 3. For the benefit of not only our deliberations on the Bill but those who are trying to weigh up the Prime Minister’s renegotiation, I want to say that there is a huge danger in this aspect of the Bill. We have said that if somebody comes from Poland, they can claim child benefit at the UK rate for their children in Poland. If that is changed and the amount of child benefit that they can claim becomes only £2 or £3 a week, or whatever the equivalent might be in Poland, there is a danger that rather than saving the taxpayer money, as we all intend—including the Prime Minister, I might add—we may inadvertently increase the bill to the taxpayer. We are working on the basis that people will just carry on doing as they do at the moment. Who is to say, if we limit the child benefit to the rate in the home country, that they will not take the opportunity to bring their children to the UK in order to claim the higher UK rate? On top of that, there is the cost of schooling, any medical care and all the rest of it. We must be very careful about what we wish for.

A much more sensible approach to matters such as child benefit would be that if a foreign national comes to this country but their children still reside in the home country, they should not get anything. Whether it is the UK rate, the Polish rate or any rate whatever, the UK Government should not give them anything. That would avoid the unintended consequence of more and more people bringing more and more of their children to this country at a higher cost to the taxpayer.

Having made those points, I will sit down, because we all want to hear from the Minister. We all know that he is a very good man. The Bill did not find any favour with the shadow Minister, but as he is far more sensible, we hope he will have warmer words to say about it.