Clause 2

Part of Welfare Reform Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:15 pm on 24th February 2009.

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Photo of Mark Harper Mark Harper Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions) 4:15 pm, 24th February 2009

The hon. Gentleman and the Minister are talking at cross purposes. This discussion has been helpful because the Minister has been able to explain to the Committee the direction that will be taken when his officials draft the regulations and he introduces them. To that extent, it has been helpful that the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives have tabled these amendments, because the Minister has been able to explain that mental health will be one of the important factors taken into account in the regulations. We are comfortable that that has been encompassed.

The Minister is right when he says that specifying in the Bill one set of circumstances, but not all of them, would create the danger of putting one ahead of the other, which I would not want. I would not want mental health needs to take precedence over other circumstances that might be equally important, and I think that that is how we square the circle.