Matthew Hancock: How much the identity cards programme has cost since its introduction.
Matthew Hancock: Given the state of the public finances, many people will think that is a staggering amount of money to waste. Will the Minister say what the future saving is from scrapping the ID card scheme-not only to the public purse but to individuals-on top of the enormous cost to our civil liberties that would have been incurred?
Matthew Hancock: The right hon. Lady made the comparison between civil service and other public sector redundancy packages. Can she also make a comparison between civil service and private sector mandatory redundancy packages?
Matthew Hancock: rose-
Matthew Hancock: The surprise that I express is due to the argument that, because not many people will receive enormous payouts, there is somehow not a problem. I also want to add a couple of facts to the debate. In the past three years at the Department of Health, the average payout has been more than £100,000 each year. The argument that large payouts amount to a couple of small examples contravenes the facts.
Matthew Hancock: It is a great pleasure to speak in this debate under your speakership, Madam Deputy Speaker. I shall concentrate on the issue of fairness, which has come up again and again today. It is central to the Bill, and an extremely important factor. We are debating a sobering situation, and the Bill is a response in part to the enormous fiscal deficit that we need to tackle. It is clear that the...
Matthew Hancock: The hon. Gentleman answers his own question when he says that the previous Government did nothing about the problem over the last 10 years. As for this new argument I am hearing expressed by Labour Members, that we had a large deficit in 1945-yes, we did, but we also had large cuts in 1945 and not least to the military because we had just won a war. There are no such easy reductions now...
Matthew Hancock: It is always dangerous to give way to my hon. Friend, because she usually puts the point far more lucidly than one could oneself. I was going to come on precisely to that point-my second point about fairness. Not only is it fair to deal with the deficit and, I think, unfair to give enormous payouts when we have to achieve other very difficult things, but fairness across the economy and across...
Matthew Hancock: I thank the right hon. Lady for her intervention. In some cases, it seems, one can talk about parity, and in other cases about equality. If one is favour of it, one might use one word, but if one is against it, use the other. The important point here is that we need to look at overall compensation packages and overall pay, including pensions and other terms and conditions of work. That brings...
Matthew Hancock: Whatever the result of the vote on the amendment, the Minister is right to say that the tone of the debate all day has been in favour of reform of some kind, so is he as surprised as I am that we have just heard from the Opposition Front Bench that they will vote against the whole Bill, which means they will be voting in favour of £500,000 payouts to some at a time of such economic difficulty?
Matthew Hancock: The Minister said that one reason why some payments will have to be so big is that there has not been a reconciliation for two years. Can he explain why moneys were not required back from taxpayers up and down the country last year in the months running up to the general election?
Matthew Hancock: Since the election, the interest rates on gilts at two and three years-the kind of time periods that people borrow for their mortgages-have halved. Does the Chancellor think that that has anything to do with the new Government getting to grips with the nation's finances?
Matthew Hancock: Since the formation of a Government who are determined to deal with the deficit, market interest rates have in some cases halved. What impact does the Chancellor think that has had on both our GDP growth and the interest payments that we have to make on Government debt?
Matthew Hancock: Like me, my hon. Friend has constituents who are affected by this issue. Does he agree that although it is important to get the numbers and the money right, there is an important principle at stake too? From this debate, it would appear that the House wholeheartedly supports that principle.
Matthew Hancock: Many millions of pounds are spent on court cases involving divorcing couples. Yesterday David Norgrove was quoted as saying that the Department was looking to a Swedish model to help to resolve divorce cases-
Matthew Hancock: What changes does the Secretary of State propose to make, and how much would- [Interruption.]
Matthew Hancock: What does the Secretary of State intend to learn from the Swedish model, and how much money would be saved?
Matthew Hancock: Last week, the Public Accounts Committee heard from Sir Bill Jeffrey, who said that the lack of a strategic review over the last couple of years had made the situation in the defence budget more difficult. I welcome the Prime Minister's assurance that there will be a strategic defence review every five years, but what can he do to entrench that and to ensure that the shambolic position of...
Matthew Hancock: Does the Minister think it fair that his, my and other constituents should pay so that some people can live in houses costing £500, £600 or more a week?
Matthew Hancock: Will the hon. Lady give way?