Clause 2 - Basic definitions

Part of Adoption and Children Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:00 pm on 11 December 2001.

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Photo of Jacqui Smith Jacqui Smith Minister of State, Department of Health, Minister of State (Department of Health) 5:00, 11 December 2001

The problem with the current system is not the amount of means-testing, but the variations in it, which we must try to get rid of when we design the framework. However, given that we are working out how to target support most effectively, I am not sure that I agree with what I suspect is the premise of the hon. Gentleman's question—that we should avoid means-testing. We should have a coherent system of means-testing.

The other point raised by hon. Members is the interaction between adoption allowance and the tax and benefits system. Clearly, we need to ensure that that interaction does not undermine the tax and benefits system and recognises people's needs for financial adoption support.

As I was saying, after consultation, we will publish the draft regulations on adoption support and financial support that will be provided for under clauses 2, 3 and 4. That will enable us to ensure consistency; I agree with the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham that consistency is lacking in the current system. The framework must cover detailed circumstances, so it is important that it receives careful consideration and that we consult widely. We must get it right, so that it ensures both consistency in the system and the appropriate level of support.