I have only a small issue to raise with the Minister, on new clause 4. The new clause is intended to ensure that childminder agencies supply information to HMRC to help it administer tax-free child care.
The Minister will remember that we have had some lengthy discussions about child care supply and how important it is to ensure that the benefits of the scheme are not negated by price inflation. She will remember that some of that discussion was about the reduction in numbers of childminders and the fact that childminder agencies are part of the Government’s proposals for increasing those numbers. I just wondered whether she was aware that out of the 20 pilot schemes for childminder agencies, only two are going forward, because there are serious problems with the Government’s model for childminder agencies without some of the additional support and funding that is required. Will the Minister take up that issue with her colleagues in the Department for Education? It is critical that we get the supply right?
Perhaps the Minister could explain Government amendments 31 and 32. I do not think that I have ever seen these amendments to a Bill before. That may be simply because I do not happen to have done so, but is it not normally assumed that a repeal has the same extent as the measure repealed and an amendment has the same extent as the measure amended? I do not know why draftsmen have suggested that these are necessary amendments in this case. Perhaps the Minister knows a reason that I do not.
To respond to the hon. Gentleman’s question, I had assumed what he said as well, so I will seek clarification on that.
New clause 4, together with Government amendments 31 and 32, which amend clause 73, makes a small but important change to the rules that will help to ensure that the scheme is used as intended. The new clause places a requirement on childminder agencies to provide information to HMRC in connection with its responsibilities for running the scheme.
Childminder agencies were introduced earlier this year by the Children and Families Act 2014, and they act as intermediaries between childminders and parents. They are registered with Ofsted, and if a childminder is registered with a childminder agency, they are not required to register with Ofsted themselves.
It has always been the intention that care provided by childminders who are registered with a childminder agency will be treated as qualifying child care for the purpose of the scheme. The new clause requires childminder agencies to provide information to HMRC to enable it to check whether a childminder is properly registered. That will in turn help to ensure that Government support is being properly spent on qualifying child care.
Childminder agencies already have a requirement to provide information to HMRC in relation to its responsibilities for administering tax credits. The new clause extends that requirement to include its responsibilities under the new scheme. Because the Childcare Act 2006 extends only to England and Wales, steps are needed to ensure that the new clause also applies only in England and Wales, and that is what Government amendments 31 and 32 ensure.
Specifically on the point made by the hon. Member for Manchester Central, we have discussed supply frequently, it is fair to say, in the course of this Committee. It is an ongoing issue, there is no doubt about that. I will not rehearse or repeat the points that I have made previously. Obviously, the issue of supply is about what the Government offer outside Treasury provision; it very much relates to the Department for Education. The Government’s wider child care package is extensive, but obviously we are always conscious of supply issues, and we look forward to more entrants coming into the marketplace with the introduction of the new scheme.