Financial Guidance and Claims Bill [HL] - Report (1st Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:30 pm on 24th October 2017.

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Photo of Lord McKenzie of Luton Lord McKenzie of Luton Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions) 6:30 pm, 24th October 2017

My Lords, this has been a good debate. I emphasise that we support the amendment, which is no surprise given that I put my name to it. I am sorry that we pre-empted someone: I am happy to step back.

This is a very elegant formulation, which stops a whole list being produced. It instinctively recognises that people might be vulnerable for reasons to do with their circumstances but that this is not necessarily something endemic to them. There are fluctuating circumstances which particularly fit that description: in our short debate we have had discussion of learning disabilities, mental capacity and addictions. A broader issue, but still within the key definition of vulnerability, is isolation. The noble Viscount, Lord Brookeborough, made a very telling point on that. The noble Lord, Lord Kirkwood—I keep calling him my noble friend; we have debated too often over the years—spoke about the impact of vulnerability because of destitution. We should recognise that people may be perfectly fit and able-bodied and have all their mental capacity but if they are broke and have no money then they are potentially vulnerable or in vulnerable circumstances.

The formulation is powerful and succinct and we support it. I hope the Minister will find some way of incorporating it into the Bill—even if not in the precise wording, although it seems excellent to me—so that we can support it.