Clause 64 - Functions of Commissioners for Revenue and Customs

Childcare Payments Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:15 am on 28th October 2014.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Anne Main Anne Main Conservative, St Albans

With this it will be convenient to discuss clauses 65 to 67 stand part.

Photo of Catherine McKinnell Catherine McKinnell Shadow Minister (Treasury)

I just want to ask the Minister two or three questions about clause 67, which amends schedule 2 to the Northern Ireland Act 1998 to make the operation of the scheme an excepted matter in terms of the devolution agreement. That is necessary because, despite the Bill’s rather misleading title, the child care scheme is neither a tax nor a duty, so it is a devolved matter for Northern Ireland and requires the consent of the Northern Ireland Assembly through a legislative consent motion. The explanatory notes explain that the Bill does not deal with devolved matters in relation to Wales and Scotland, so there is no requirement for legislative consent motions from the Scottish Parliament or the Welsh National Assembly.

Will the Minister update the Committee on proceedings in the Northern Ireland Assembly? Has the Assembly passed the legislative consent motion? If so, my understanding is that all matters relating to the new scheme—who is eligible, the amount of support available and so on—will remain the sole preserve of the UK Government. Is the Minister aware of any calls or plans in Northern Ireland to amend the scheme so that it operates differently there? My understanding is that there were calls in Northern Ireland to operate top-up payments and employer-supported child care simultaneously, and that there is a reluctance to shut down the latter. Is the Minister aware of any such plans, and if so can she update the Committee on any relevant progress in Northern Ireland?

Photo of Priti Patel Priti Patel The Exchequer Secretary

I thank the hon. Lady for her questions about Northern Ireland. She will be aware that the Government wrote to the First Minister and Deputy First Minister immediately before the Bill was introduced. The Northern Ireland Assembly will debate the legislative consent motion on 4 November. Subject to the Assembly’s agreement, the Bill will cover Northern Ireland.

Photo of Sammy Wilson Sammy Wilson Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Treasury)

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mrs Main.

It is my understanding that a consultation has taken place in Northern Ireland. Given the byzantine way in which the Assembly works, the fact that the legislative consent motion is on the agenda for discussion means that the issue has got through the two main parties in the Executive, so there should be no difficulty in including clause 67 in the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 64accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 65 to 67 ordered to stand part of the Bill.