I am glad to have this opportunity to debate the issues surrounding new clauses 1, 2 and 3 in my name and the names of others in the Committee of the whole House, and to discuss them in the context of the Government’s attempts to distract attention from their woes. We have just had a lesson in voodoo economics from Julian Knight.
Members need to pay attention to Labour’s proposals in relation to new clauses 1, 2 and 3, but I must first point out that, in response to the Government’s authoritarian restrictions on amending this Bill, we had asked whether the entire legislation could be debated on the Floor of this House. That would at least have ensured a scintilla of constructive discussion among Members on the whole Bill. Alas, our request was denied by the Government, and we are left yet again asking for reviews and assessments as set out in our new clauses. It is important none the less to get these issues about child poverty out into the open. The Government increasingly seek to implement their austerity agenda—for that is what it is—behind closed doors. They will no doubt see our new clauses as an irritant that would highlight the differences between a slash-and-burn approach to public services by the Government juxtaposed with a policy of investment, renewal and rebuilding from this party based on a fair taxation system, as identified in our new clauses.
The Government have practised their manoeuvres in Committees that they have stitched up to give themselves the majority, which they do not deserve, and they do not have the guts to allow proper amendments to their Bill. No Minister has had the decency to defend that position and it is pretty pathetic. The electorate did not give them that mandate, but they arrogantly take it in any event, so it is important that we debate and tease out the issues that we have set out in new clauses 1, 2 and 3.