Child Maintenance Service — [Sir Edward Leigh in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:49 pm on 23rd July 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of John Howell John Howell Conservative, Henley 2:49 pm, 23rd July 2019

The hon. Gentleman makes a perfectly legitimate case for the sort of example that he gives. I agree that speed is of the essence in dealing with these things, but the CMS has simply brushed over some cases. The system has not been fully explained to either party so that they understand exactly what will happen, what their rights are, and how they can deal with the case. In my experience, it is also true that many of the individuals involved in these difficult cases have not had explained to them in detail what information is required of them. There is a tremendous amount of going back to the beginning and helping people through this process.

The CMS has plenty of powers to ensure that people do not disguise their true income, and that we fully take into account unearned income—for example, income from property and land. The CMS has the power to remove passports, to cope with the situation in which an errant former spouse might have gone off to sun himself on the beaches of Monte Carlo and is not paying his child maintenance.

This whole situation is quite new, and we need to wait a little time to allow it to work itself out, so that we can see whether the CMS can be made to work better. However, it is showing itself to be slow and, as the hon. Gentleman described, failing to take action when cases have been brought before it. That means one thing: it is not the other parent, but the child, who loses out. That should be at the centre of all our thoughts and all that we are trying to do with the CMS.