Clause 7 - Short Title

Child Benefit Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:15 pm on 18 January 2005.

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Photo of Rob Marris Rob Marris Labour, Wolverhampton South West 4:15, 18 January 2005

I beg to move amendment No. 4, in clause 7, page 3, line 2, after 'Child', insert 'and Qualifying Young Persons'.

I shall be brief because the Committee is well aware of my views and concerns about the nature of extended childhood. This Bill, which I support, introduces the concept of young people who are legally adults and aged 18 or 19 being indirectly assessed as regards their dependence on or whether they are being maintained by their parents according to section 114 of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992. That is why the short title would more accurately describe what is contained in the Bill if it were changed to include the words ''and Qualifying Young Persons''.

Photo of Mark Francois Mark Francois Shadow Economic Secretary (Treasury)

Again, I compliment the hon. Gentleman. He has been consistent and has followed up the point that he made on Second Reading with an amendment. In principle, I can see what he is trying to do, but we have no firm view on it one way or another. As he is the only member of the Committee to succeed in amending the Bill so far, I look forward to hearing whether the Paymaster General is going to grant him that compliment one last time.  

Photo of Dawn Primarolo Dawn Primarolo Paymaster General (HM Treasury)

I hate to say this to my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West, but I do not like his amendment and I am going to ask the Committee to reject it. I will try to explain it clearly. His amendment seeks to rename the Bill the ''Child and Qualifying Young Persons Benefit Bill''. Although I completely understand his point about introducing the definition of a qualifying young person, it would leave us with an Act that suggests that there might be a new benefit entitled ''child and qualifying young persons benefit'' or, worse still, that we might have done something to child benefit. Child benefit is much loved and supported by hon. Members most of the time.

The Bill leaves child benefit in place and changes the definition of the person for whom it is payable. My hon. Friend has made his point well about the importance of independence for 16 to 19-year-olds and of moving forward on that basis. His view is that that sits a little uncomfortably within a child benefit Bill. As this is a modest step, it is much more important not to mislead Opposition Members or people outside the House into thinking that we have somehow abolished child benefit. I am not planning to do that. I am not attracted by the amendment and I hope that my hon. Friend will be satisfied with giving the principle a very good airing both in Committee and on the Floor of the House. It has been well taken by Ministers. I hope that he will not press the amendment to a vote. If he does, I will ask my hon. Friends to reject it.

Photo of Rob Marris Rob Marris Labour, Wolverhampton South West

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend as I was earlier for her explanation. I would also advert to what I said earlier. I welcome her comment that in some senses the Bill is an interim measure as part of a longer-term look that will encompass the White Paper. I imagine that indirectly it will also encompass the Foster review of further education, which is just starting. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 7 ordered to stand part of the Bill.