HC Deb 19 July 1989 vol 157 cc441-83

Lords amendments again considered.

Mr. Moore

I commented that it was a judicious mix, and I go on to remind my hon. Friend and other right hon. and hon. Members of the way that we manage that mix. As my hon. Friend rightly says, it is a combination of child benefit. Sometimes, the media and certain of my right hon. and hon. Friends, as well as Opposition Members, behave as though child benefit is under threat. We are looking at a combination of benefits that matches the attempt to target additional help at poorer families with the universal benefit that is child benefit. Sometimes, it seems as though the only topic of debate is child benefit, but that is only part of the mixture.

Mr. Timothy Raison (Aylesbury)

My right hon. Friend referred, rightly, to Labour's appalling record when in government. One of the most powerful arguments for the automatic uprating of child benefits is that if Labour were ever returned to power, it would be unable to perpetuate its appalling record.

Mr. Moore

My right hon. Friend has made that point before, and it is reasonable that he should make it again.

We are trying to help families with children in a balanced and sensible way against the backcloth of a massive increase in real terms in 10 years. We are combining targeted help with help on a universal basis. My right hon. and hon. Friends should remember more than some of them do that we are dealing with an entirely new structure of benefit support for families with children. The structure of income support and family credit means that there is no immediate gain to such families from a simple increase in child benefit. However, families with children under 11 have, under family credit, enjoyed a real improvement this year of 20.7 per cent.

As to the debate on targeting, I find it extraordinary that the Opposition act as though means-tested benefits, as opposed to universal benefits, are somehow a new invention and that an attempt to help people who are poorer than others is a new feature of Government policy. Anyone with knowledge of the subject will know that it has been a feature of our social security system for many years. The question is always how effective one can make such benefits. Most targeted benefits succeed very well, with £9 out of £10 of them reaching the people for whom they are intended. Most of the analysis that we have undertaken reveals that targeted benefits are not seen as demeaning by those who receive them. Certainly they are not seen as demeaning by lone-parent families, where the take-up of benefits is a successful 97 per cent.-plus.

I shall concentrate briefly on family credit. After two years, we have grown accustomed to the hon. Member for Livingston delighting us all, in advance of any debate on the Floor of the House, with the leaked proceedings of a conference or by distributing a piece of paper—if I may so describe the latest Walworth road press release, though I understand that that particular document was released at 00.01 hours.

That illustrates the essential dilemma faced by the hon. Member for Livingston. Looking at this piece of paper, it is clear that the first thing that we must do is try to work out what precisely are the Opposition's policies. In articles written outside the House, the hon. Gentleman has made it clear that he does not consider family credit a good benefit; as a good Socialist, he would prefer a minimum income—I think that that was the phrase that he used in an interview about poverty last year.

In public and in the House, however, the hon. Gentleman argues that, if family credit is to be provided, it should be taken up. I would have hoped, therefore—I am being as courteous and fair as I can—that he would address the matter a little more accurately than he did in that press release, which is a classic illustration of how to distort the facts by putting out incomplete information.

Let me take the hon. Gentleman's main points one by one, as they are central to the argument—especially that of my hon. Friends, whose frequent criticism is that, while they do not disagree with family credit, it should he made more effective and should reach more people. The hon. Gentleman's first point was elaborated on the radio this morning: "The Secretary of State cannot parade family credit as a substitute for child benefit." I have never done that, and shall never try to.

The hon. Gentleman's second point related to numbers: he quoted figures from the end of February and the end of June. Let me acquaint him with the precise position, which I could have done earlier had he asked me. At the end of March—at the beginning of the campaign—253,528 people were in receipt of family credit. The latest figure—again, the hon. Gentleman would have been welcome to it had he asked—is 268,984, an increase of 15,456, as opposed to the 9,400 that he suggested. More important, the underlying live load—those who might be expected to be full recipients of family credit—is now running at 315,000. There was an enormous surge in take-up, and 78,673 applications have not yet been considered.

The third point is interrelated. The hon. Gentleman suggested that the success rate was much higher before the campaign began, and gave a figure that did not conform to the facts. Let me remind the hon. Gentleman that the success rate before the campaign began was an impressive 70 per cent. When it began, a large number of people wrote in who were clearly not entitled to the money—people with no children, for example. I do not imagine that the hon. Gentleman would have liked us to help them. That, of course, meant that the initial disallowance rate was higher than it is now.

I know that the hon. Gentleman would like the campaign to succeed. He will be happy to know that since it began the success rate has risen to 55 per cent., and is improving: the figure for the current week is 60 per cent. The hon. Gentleman should be delighted at that. Some 315,000 people—which could be up to about 63 per cent. of the underlying potential beneficiaries—are now able to receive family credit. That represents something approaching 75 to 80 per cent. of the expenditure potential. Surely everyone wants us to succeed in helping poorer families at work.

In his attempt to decry aspects of the campaign, the hon. Gentleman was utterly mistaken in trying to illustrate—with figures that I have shown to be wrong—costs per person. Again he must be aware, as must the audience outside—I know that the hon. Member for Birkenhead is aware of this—that the potential claimant population is constantly changing. As is shown by research that I have placed in the House, the key is a lack of awareness of family credit: ignorance caused the main difficulty in targeting additional help effectively.

Mr. Frank Field

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Moore

No. Perhaps I could explain, because this is information that the House will find important.

The hon. Member for Birkenhead will be delighted to know that the latest research suggests that following the campaign, which ended during the last two weeks, 93 per cent. are now aware of family credit, 90 per cent. were aware of the campaign and 83 per cent. know that it is a benefit for working families. I thought that it would be useful to get that on the record. I should like the take-up to be even higher and more people on low incomes in work to benefit from family credit, but that shows that, happily, it is building up into a success story.

Mr. Frank Field

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Moore

No. I want to bring my remarks to an end, because I have already been on my feet for some time.

I remind the House that I said that we are not talking about family credit as a substitute for child benefit. We are talking about a judicious admixture of child benefit—£4.5 billion—of family credit, where expenditure is well over £400 million, which is a very good increase on the £180 million for family income supplement, and of income support, which goes to 1.1 million families with 3 million children, when one adds up the income support and family credit beneficiaries.

I urge the House to reject the Lords amendment. It would take away the flexibility that has contributed to the Government's outstanding record of support for families, achieved by a combination of economic success and a judicious admixture of universal child benefit and targeted help through income support and family credit. It is clearly in the interests of families that we should retain the flexibility of the present statutes.

Mr. Robin Cook (Livingston)

The Secretary of State began his speech by referring to the number of times that we have debated the matter recently. I see from the speech that I made the last time we debated the matter in April that I said that the advantage of regular debates was that they reminded Ministers and the Treasury that this issue will not go away until child benefit is uprated. I did not, I must confess, appreciate that the issue would return to harass them quite as quickly as it has done. Nevertheless, the debate is timely because, at the end of October, the House will receive from the right hon. Gentleman, or his successor, an uprating statement for next April. In terms of sitting weeks, the end of October is only a fortnight away. This is the last chance to influence that statement before it is drawn up.

The Secretary of State referred to my former colleague, Alec Jones, whom I remember well as a close and valued friend. The Secretary of State quoted him as arguing why it would not be appropriate annually to uprate child benefit. The Secretary of State gave way to my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker) at that point. My hon. Friend the Member for Perry Barr was seeking to put to the Secretary of State the point that child benefit replaced, in part, the child tax allowance, a point to which the Secretary of State referred later.

The annual indexation of tax allowances was introduced in 1977, by which time child tax allowances were being phased out because they were being replaced by child benefit. If child benefit had not then already been coming into place, and if child tax allowances had had a stable future, there is no doubt whatsoever that child tax allowances would have been included in the statutory indexation. I think that I can say that with some authority. Although the Secretary of State disputed the point that was made by my hon. Friend the Member for Perry Barr, I think that my hon. Friend is in a better position to be an authority on this matter since he drafted the amendment that gave effect to the tax allowance indexation.

The Secretary of State was good enough not to waste the time of the House by debating the amendment as such, and I shall follow his precedent, but the nub of the debate on this issue of principle is not whether child benefit should be annually uprated but why child benefit should be annually frozen. I noticed the interesting omission from the Secretary of State's speech of an answer to a question that he was asked from below the Gangway by one of his hon. Friends, the hon. Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow), which was: accepting that child benefit may not require annual uprating, did the right hon. Gentleman accept that child benefit was appropriate for uprating from time to time? The House received no reply to that question. It is precisely because that question is unanswered that many of us believe that it is not only reasonable but prudent to conclude that child benefit is under threat.

10.15 pm
Mr. Moore

I did not and cannot answer, for reasons that the hon. Gentleman knows precisely. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Raison) points out, there are clear arrangements in the public expenditure White Paper to allow annual indexation, but the Secretary of State is beholden to make a judgment each year. It would be improper for me to pre-empt that judgment.

Mr. Cook

I shall turn in a moment to what judgment the Secretary of State should exercise on the coming year. I shall willingly give way a second time if he wishes to clarify this point. Leaving aside what individual judgment he may reach next year, and leaving aside the individual judgment that he reached last year, does he or does he not accept that, perhaps not annually, but from time to time, it would be appropriate and correct to uprate child benefit? I shall give way to the Secretary of State again if he wishes to answer that question, which he has now ducked twice. [Interruption.] The Secretary of State has certainly not given me or the House the answer.

Mr. Moore

The hon. Gentleman is playing the usual games.

Mr. Cook

The Secretary of State says that I am playing the usual games. I am generously giving him an opportunity to clarify what is in his mind.

Mr. John Marshall (Hendon, South)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Cook

I want to give way to the Secretary of State. Only he can answer this question. I am not interested in whether the hon. Gentleman thinks that it is appropriate from time to time to increase child benefit. I want to know whether the Secretary of State thinks that that is appropriate. The fact that he will not answer that question must leave hanging in the air the possibility, if not the certainty, that this Secretary of State does not believe that it is appropriate to increase child benefit.

The Secretary of State said that he must apply his mind to that judgment in an agonising, painful reflection every year. I invite the House to apply its mind to the judgment that the Secretary of State might exercise for the coming year. We are talking about April 1990. The Lords amendment proceeds from the starting point that this year and last year are water under the bridge. We are debating what happens to uprating in April next year. That will be the third year of a freeze in child benefit if it is not uprated. Every additional year of freeze must make the judgment in uprating child benefit in the subsequent year that bit more compelling.

Child benefit has now been frozen for two years. In those two years, it has lost over 10 per cent. in value—£39 in a full year. That is a significant sum, especially to a mother on a tight budget. Some hon. Members will have noticed that during the Euro-elections I went shopping for clothes for an imaginary five-year-old. I was able with that sum to kit him out completely, with a track suit, shirt, vest, trainers and three pairs of socks and still have enough change left over to buy a milk shake to thank him for keeping quiet. It is important that those of us who do not feel the pinch of a weekly budget should recognise that it is that kind of shopping expedition that we make more difficult, if not impossible, for mothers by not uprating child benefit. It is against that background that the Secretary of State must exercise his judgment as to whether it would be appropriate to uprate child benefit next April.

Even if the Treasury is correct and inflation has peaked and from now will gently glide down in the same way that it bumped up, by next April the RPI will have notched up 17 percentage points since April 1987, when child benefit was last increased. In short, over those three years, child benefit will have lost a sixth of its purchasing power. In those circumstances, I find it impossible to conceive what may weigh in the balance when the Secretary of State comes to exercise his judgment to tell against uprating child benefit in that third year. The only reason why child benefit may be kept frozen for a third year is that those who freeze it hope that, if they leave it long enough in the deep freeze, it will be found frozen to death.

If that were to happen, we would lose a very important benefit. I have three grounds of principle for that belief which I will rehearse briefly. First, child benefit puts money in the hands of the mother. The mother is overwhelmingly the parent who feeds and clothes the children and she gets the cash from child benefit. Secondly, it is reliable. It is often the only stable point of reference in the budget. Low-income families, especially under this Government, are prone to get stuck in the revolving door of alternative bouts of employment and unemployment. When in employment, their wage packet may unnervingly go through bumpy rides of seasonal fluctuations in overtime. Through all that, child benefit may be the only reliable, predictable payment in the hands of the mother. It is the one income on which she can budget with confidence for her children.

Thirdly, child benefit provides a ladder out of the poverty trap. Its greatest strength is precisely the point that the Secretary of State keeps perceiving as its greatest weakness—that it does not go down if the family income goes up. It provides the family, therefore, with an incentive to find a job or do overtime without being penalised by the benefit being clawed back. It is worth recalling that a family on family credit and housing benefit can now face a clawback of over 90p in benefit for every extra pound earned. That is a penal rate of marginal taxation—double the rate of marginal taxation now experienced by the wealthiest in our community. The difficulty for the Secretary of State is that the better he and his colleagues succeed in targeting benefits, the more difficult they make it for such households to climb out of the poverty trap.

I want to refer here to what the Secretary of State said in relation to family credit. It would be churlish of me not to welcome the marked difference of tone in the description by the Secretary of State of family credit and the way in which he related it to child benefit. I am bound to say that it was not only a different tone but a somewhat chastened tone, for a reason that I shall come to in a moment.

I entirely accept that any comprehensive system of benefits for families will be a mix of means-tested benefits and universal benefits. The Opposition have never had any doubt about that. We accept that means-tested benefits will have a role to play. The doubt that has existed in previous debates is whether the Secretary of State accepted that universal benefits, in the shape of child benefit, had any future role in that mix. I accept from what he said tonight that there appeared to be a new note of caution in his assessment and that there appeared to be a willingness to recognise that means-tested benefits require to be supported by universal benefits such as child benefit.

The reason for that is not far to seek. Since the last debate, to which the Secretary of State was good enough to refer, we have had the relaunch of family credit. As the Secretary of State will recall, family credit was forecast to achieve an uptake of 470,000. We must measure the subsequent numbers who claim against that forecast.

Mr. Moore

indicated dissent.

Mr. Cook

The Secretary of State shakes his head. That figure was in the public expenditure White Paper that was printed for last year, and if a figure that was included in the public expenditure White Paper does not constitute a Government forecast, we are moving into an era of rubbery statistics to an extent that I had not previously expected even of this Government.

Mr. Moore

Does the hon. Gentleman assume that if new data appear they are ignored by the Government and that if the old data are wrong we just ignore that? If he argues on the basis of the only clear knowledge we have, he knows the audience we believe to exist, as opposed to the 1985–86 figures, is a potential audience of 500,000 in 1988–89. He knows that that is the potential beneficiary audience for family credit, so what on earth is he talking about?

Mr. Cook

I am not talking about the 1985–86 figures, and I am rather surprised that the Secretary of State should think that the forecast of 470,000 was for 1985–86. The figure appeared in the White Paper for 1987–88, for which the right hon. Gentleman was responsible. It was the figure that he himself chose. I entirely agree with him that it turned out to be completely wrong, but it was his figure and his forecast. [Interruption.] I am using it to point out to the Secretary of State the margin of error in his forecast. His forecast was 470,000, and I agree with him, in the light of history, that it was a risible figure.

The take-up for family credit has since settled down at around the 250,000 mark. The Secretary of State taxed me with using figures in error in my press release. I have to confess that he may be right that the figures are erroneous; after all, they are entirely drawn from figures supplied by him in parliamentary answers. [Interruption.] To the end of June. It was the figure that he quoted at social security questions only 10 days ago.

The figure of 263,000 is, as I said in my press release, precisely 9,400 more than the figure for the end of February. I could have made the figure even smaller. I could have taken the figure for the end of November. The figure for the end of November last year was 260,000—at least, that was the figure given by the Secretary of State, although perhaps he will wish to correct it now. That means that the figure is 9,400 higher than in March and only 3,400 higher than at the end of November.

Suppose that I take the point made by the Secretary of State and accept his latest revision of the figures, which would give us an additional 15,000 since the end of February—although only 9,000 since the end of November. I agree that that will change my calculations. In my press release I calculated that we were paying £510 in advertising costs for every additional new claimant of family credit. I concede that that was based on the figure of 9,400 claimants, which I had taken from the earlier figures given by the Secretary of State.

Suppose that I take the figure that the Secretary of State has given the House tonight—15,000 additional new claimants. That means that the advertising fee per additional claimant is working out at £320. Even at £320 in extra expenditure for every new claimant, we must be looking at what must bid fair for the prize for the least efficient benefit in Europe. Not only that, but we are left with barely a quarter of a million claimants and a refusal rate that has increased. In my press release I cited a refusal rate of 44 per cent. The Secretary of State corrected that by saying that the success rate is 55 per cent. If he reflects for a moment, he will notice that the two figures add up to 100 per cent. and are entirely reconcilable. The chief result of all the publicity—[Interruption.] If I did not, I cheerfully accept the correction. The figure is 44 per cent., although I am mystified as to why the Secretary of State should think that we believed any other figure as we are trusting, simple souls using information that he gives in parliamentary answers.

The Secretary of State has carried out a hold experiment, and I suppose that we should be grateful to him for it. He has tested means-tested benefits as a means of targeting families with children. So far it has been an expensive experiment. It has cost his Department and the taxpayer £5 million. The more he has persisted with the experiment in family credit, the more he has underlined the attractions of child benefit.

Child benefit is cost-effective. There is no need to advertise child benefit on every passing bus. It is cheap to administer. It costs only 2p per pound delivered to the claimant. Secondly, it achieves near complete take-up. Unlike family credit, it hits nearly all its targets. It gets through to many more mothers in poor families than family credit. In particular, it gets through to the quarter of a million families poor enough to qualify for family credit whom the Secretary of State cannot find or cannot persuade to apply for family credit.

10.30 pm

I began by mentioning how often we have debated this issue. I want to end by asking a question to which I have sought an answer on each of the past three occasions when we have debated the issue. It is a question which the Secretary of State, perhaps wisely, has never attempted to answer. As he fairly said, child benefit in part replaced child tax allowance. Had it remained a tax allowance I have not the slightest doubt, and I question whether any Conservative right hon. of hon. Member doubts, that the Government would have uprated it annually. They would have come to the House with pride and asked us to admire them for having done so.

There is, however, a clear and pertinent contrast. Under the Government, the married man's tax allowance has gone up by 22 per cent. in real terms. In the same period, child benefit has gone down by 13 per cent. If the amendment is rejected, and if the Secretary of State subsequently fails to uprate child benefit for next April, child benefit will have declined under the Government, not by 13 per cent., but by between 19 and 20 per cent., depending on what the rate of inflation is next April.

I ask the Secretary of State, or any hon. Member who can think of a convincing answer, by what feat of mental gymnastics can it be said that the cost of maintaining a wife has gone up one fifth while the cost of bringing up a child has gone down one fifth? Those who can find an honest answer to that question to their own satisfaction are welcome to vote with the Secretary of State; plainly they are beyond the bounds of reason. I invite into our Lobby tonight those who find that question difficult and troubling to answer and who recognise that it exposes the double standards of an Administration willing to cut benefits in order to cut taxation. We shall vote tonight against those double standards.

Sir Ian Gilmour (Chesham and Amersham)

As has been said by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and by the hon. Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook), this is well-trodden ground, so I will not detain the House for long.

I want to examine the two arguments that my right hon. Friend advanced tonight and in our debate on 24 April for not uprating child benefit. The first argument was to rely on what Lady Castle and Mr. Alec Jones said in 1975. I find that argument extraordinary. Apart from anything else, the dates are wrong. What Lady Castle might have said in 1977 had she been Secretary of State would have been more relevant, but that my right hon. Friend should use Lady Castle at all is most odd. Twice a week for many years my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has excoriated the Opposition for the appalling mess they made in government in the late 1970s. Why does my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State now take what they did in the 1970s as an example of what he should do now? To shelter behind Lady Castle is extraordinary, particularly as the Government now say—I hope that they are right, although I have no way of knowing—that the economy has been transformed under their aegis. Why should we seek to follow what the Labour Government, in their benighted days and their hopelessly incompetent ways, did in 1975?

That is as specious an argument as one could possibly find, except perhaps the next one advanced by my right hon. Friend when he talked about "the overall pattern" and his statutory duty. On 24 April he said: I do not have the choice of looking at child benefit in isolation. I must rightly consider the relationship between child benefit and the economic and social patterns of our country."—[Official Report, 24 April 1989; Vol. 151, c. 722.] During the past two years, what change has there been in the economic and social patterns of our country? Does he believe that too many children have been born? Does he wish to discourage that by cutting child benefit? It is important to know what social and economic patterns have changed. In the past two years substantial tax cuts have been showered around. Income tax allowance and every other allowance have been raised. The one thing that has not been raised is child benefit.

Mr. Moore

If my right hon. Friend looks at Hansard for 24 April, he will see that I illustrated for the two years in question precisely what had happened to families who were in receipt of substantial, net after-tax increases and the way in which in those years those families who did not so benefit benefited more than they would have done otherwise because of the precise policies that I had introduced.

Sir Ian Gilmour

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. That was just the intervention that I wanted. The Government have done nothing like enough for the really poor, but that is not what I am talking about. I am talking about the simple point that was made by my hon. Friends the Members for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) and for High Peak (Mr. Hawkins): that people with children have greater expense than people without children. That applies at all levels of income. By refusing to uprate child benefit two years running, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is treating people with children worse than people without children.

I want to know what changes in the social and economic patterns of the country justify that. I cannot think of one. It is clear to all hon. Members that people at all levels of income have greater expense if they have children than if they have not. That is why we had child tax and family allowances before and why we have child benefit now.

It is not good enough for my right hon. Friend to refer to the very poor, on which the Government's record is not all that good. That is why my right hon. Friend did not answer my hon. Friends the Members for Northampton, North and for High Peak. However, I am talking not about the really poor but about people with families above the level of family credit and income support. When tax cuts and income tax allowance are being showered all around, why should people with children benefit less than anybody else?

That is why, with great respect to my right hon. Friend, I cannot take him seriously when he talks about his review. If he reviewed things properly, he could not possibly come to that conclusion. It is not within the bounds of reason. It has only happened—to some extent this lets out my right hon. Friend—because the Government have an insensate desire to cut public expenditure. They think that child tax allowance is not expenditure but that child benefit is, so they cut it. That is not the decision of my right hon. Friend, but of the Government, and they are to blame.

At some stage the Government will have to deal with the problem of horizontal equity. My right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary singularly failed to do that the other night, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has singularly failed to do so today. Until they do, they will be discriminating against people with children.

Mr. Charles Kennedy (Ross, Cromarty and Skye)

I want to follow on from the last point made by the right hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham (Sir I. Gilmour). There is no doubt that the central problem that has emerged in debate after debate on this issue—this is the third that we have had in the House this year; one in January, one in April and again tonight—is the Secretary of State's inherently weak position in the Government.

In January, the right hon. Gentleman attempted to swathe himself in legislative complexity about how tied his hands were. He followed that with further arguments to which the hon. Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook) alluded in his speech in April. Tonight, he has, in a sense, ignored the core of the debate, which is that the Government were defeated in the other place after the arguments had been comprehensively trailed. Rebellious Conservative Back Benchers, Cross Benchers and the various Opposition groupings prevented them from mustering a persuasive argument to justify the attitudes that they have taken over the past two years on child benefit.

The right hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham is right to remind us that this has been a two-year process. When the decision not to uprate was first made, there was some allusion to the fact that it should be viewed only in the context of the financial constraints and the economic decisions of the Government in that year. Then it was repeated, and now the Government are attempting to knock out a Lords amendment. If left further unchecked, it is clearly the Government's intention to allow child benefit to wither on the vine and die. It is as simple as that, and that is why it would be a good idea to fire a shot across the bows not just of the Department of Social Security, but of the Treasury. A substantial rebellion by Conservative Members would constitute such a shot.

The Secretary of State treated us to a trip down memory lane when he spoke about the mid-1970s. In that context, I quote from an editorial in the Financial Times. It appeared at the end of last year, and in a sense it puts the historical context of the debate in much fairer and fuller relief than did the Secretary of State. The editorial says: Much of the opposition to child benefit … reflects a misunderstanding of what it is meant to achieve. It is said to be poorly targeted because it is received by rich as well as poor mothers. Yet it was a replacement for child tax allowances. Nobody argues that personal allowances are poorly targeted because both high and low earners receive them. The Financial Times put the case with considerable cogency. However, only three years earlier, in June 1985, the Green Paper, entitled "Reform of Social Security", put it with even greater cogency and more persuasiveness: The Government accept the case for continuing the system of child benefit. It is right that families with children at all income levels should receive some recognition for the additional costs of bringing up children and that the tax benefit system should allow for some general redistribution of resources from those without children to those who have responsibility for caring for them. There we have the Government's own words.

The Prime Minister is continually alluding to the previous Labour Government. The Secretary of State is willing to go all the way back to 1975 and cite the actions of the Labour Government to justify being forced to carry out actions. Why does he not go back to 1985 and to the words of his Department's Green Paper on the reform of social security? If he and his Department no longer subscribe to what they said three years ago, as opposed to what Labour Ministers said 13 years ago, that further underscores the need to answer the question posed by the hon. Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow). The hon. Gentleman asked the Minister whether, if he no longer accepts that argument, he therefore accepts any continuing and viable future role for child benefit.

The Minister is asking the House to reject an amendment passed in another place. That is consistent, if his argument has any force—I do not think that it has much—with the longer-term thinking of the Minister and his Department. He has manifestly failed to tell us clearly about his long-term thinking, and from his demeanour at the Dispatch Box it is clear that he has no intention of telling us. That is as strong and powerful an argument as any that could be advanced for upholding the decision made in another place.

The House may have been treated to one swansong earlier in respect of the poll tax and the Secretary of State for the Environment. This shabby exercise for the third time this year by the Secretary of State for Social Security would be a fitting epitaph on his ministerial tombstone.

Mr. John Maples (Lewisham, West)

The hon. Members for Ross, Cromarty and Skye (Mr. Kennedy) and for Livingstone (Mr. Cook) spoke about the old system of child tax allowances. Such allowances were valuable to the Labour Government because under that Government tax rates were incredibly high. If we still had a system of child tax allowances and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Security had indexed them for the last 10 years, the Opposition would criticise us for reducing their real value by cutting the rate of income tax. Therefore, they should be careful about how they use that argument.

This debate used to be something of an annual event, but this is the fourth time in the last four months—three times here and once in another place—that the subject has been debated. Two things characterised those debates. The first is that the arguments on both sides do not change very much and the second, and perhaps more pertinent, is that those who continually argue for the annual uprating of child benefit fail to take into account the way that the world has moved on in the last 10 years. That has happened in two respects. First, we have seen the ability and willingness of people to shoulder more responsibility when they can afford to do so. Secondly, we have seen the quite extraordinary degree to which real take-home pay has increased at all levels of income.

I simply cannot believe that anyone who favours this Lords amendment, or any of its predecessors, if given £650 million by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to spend on trying to help families with children, who are in some financial difficulty, would choose to spread it around at a rate of £1.10 a week and not concentrate it on those who need the help. Most of the people who receive child benefit do not need the help.

Mr. Hawkins

If my hon. Friend would like to target child benefit only at the lower paid, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State clearly would, why do we not abolish the married man's allowance and target that at the lower paid as well? Why do we not do the same with mortgage interest tax relief?

10.45 pm
Mr. Maples

Often, when I used to speak in debates on the economy and taxation, I used to argue strongly for the elimination of all personal allowances and a reduction in the rate of income tax as a compensation. Mortgage interest tax relief has been frozen and we have recently introduced restrictions on deductions for pensions. My hon. Friend had better be a little careful about that argument.

The main piece of reality that the proponents of the Lords amendment fail to take into account is the enormous increase in real take-home pay during the past 10 years. During that period, the real take-home pay of someone on average earnings has increased by 31 per cent., or £52 a week. The pay of someone on three quarters of average earnings has increased by 28 per cent., or £38 a week. At all levels of earnings, people are substantially better off. People can and should devote part of that increased wealth to taking more responsibility for their own affairs.

In the context of such increased earnings, the failure to index child benefit, which would mean £1.10 per child per week, must be insignificant. The policy that I believe my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has followed for the past two years, and which I hope he will continue to pursue, is that child benefit should be frozen and that we should give generous help to people on low incomes with children through the family credit and income support systems. For the others, we should, by the control that that exercises on public spending, reduce their liability to income tax.

Mr. Frank Field

We keep hearing figures about take-home pay and what has happened to it during the past two years. Will the hon. Gentleman confirm that there were similar increases in take-home pay in the two years prior to that which he is quoting, and that is why the Conservative party won the general election? Is the hon. Gentleman saying that the Government were wrong to increase child benefit in those two years?

Mr. Maples

I do not have the figures for the previous two years. If it was so, I suppose the same argument applies.

There is one misconception about uprating child benefit. It is that in some way it helps poor families with children. That is the one group of people who are not helped at all. Any increase in child benefit is automatically corrected by a reduction in income support or family credit. As people can now receive family credit on an income of up to £10,000 a year if they have two teenage children, it follows that anyone who earns less than that will gain no benefit by an annual or other uprating of child benefit. Moreover, almost everyone above that level will pay more in income tax than they get in child benefit. The way to help them is not to increase child benefit but to reduce their liability to tax.

This is the old argument of universal against means-tested benefits, which the hon. Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook) was rehearsing on the radio this morning. What he did not tell the public then or earlier in this debate is that the natural and inevitable corollary of a universal social security benefit is high taxation to pay for it. I think that we should move away from that, give generous help to people in need and leave others to take care of themselves. It is no business of the state to have one of its agencies take money out of the pockets of husbands so that another agency of the state, after the expenses of both, can put it back in the pockets of their wives.

Mr. Kenneth Hind (Lancashire, West)

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Maples

No, I am coming to a conclusion so that others may have an opportunity to speak. I am sure that my hon. Friend will have his.

Nor is it any business of the state to put up everyone's tax so that we can raise everyone's benefits. We have a crazy system. We take £4.5 billion a year in tax out of the pockets of husbands and give rather less than that back to their wives through the social security system. We have a system in which low earners with no children subsidise high earners with children. We have a system by which increases in those benefits are of no use whatever to the families on lowest incomes and in the greatest need.

I cannot believe that anyone would reinvent a system of child benefit to try to help families in financial difficulties. It is a holdover from days of penal taxation and the idea that the Government know best how to run people's lives. It fails to take account of how real incomes have risen and it fails to leave people alone to run their own lives. We have now had this debate four times this year and several times over the past few years. I hope that this will be the end of them because out of the four debates this year, the Government may have won only three of the votes, but they have won four of the arguments.

Mr. Raison

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for two things: first, that he accepted that this debate is about the principle of regular uprating of child benefit, and that is the course that the debate has taken; and, secondly, for his confirmation of what we all know—that money is provided in the public expenditure White Paper for the uprating of child benefit. There is no question of our asking for something that was not planned for. The plan allows for uprating, and we should adopt it.

My right hon. Friend talked about support for children as a judicious admixture of child benefit, family credit and income support. I accept that, and it is right that it should be such a mixture. Surely the essence of the case is that if child benefit is not uprated it will lose its meaning and we shall have only the means-tested benefits of income support and family credit to rely on, and we shall lose something that is of enormous benefit to large numbers of people who do not find the business of having children something that is easily borne. That is the heart of the matter.

It is vital that child benefit should be looked at in the context of the tax and social security systems as a whole. It is no good separating one from the other. The Government seem to be favouring targeting, but we already give indiscriminate, untargeted tax relief to occupational pensioners, to mortgage holders, to single persons, to married couples and now to people who take up private health insurance. The only targeting about all that is that those who get the most by and large get the largest tax relief. It is not possible to give all those forms of financial support to those groups and then, for those with children, who clearly are bearing extra cost, gradually phase out the form of support that helps them—child benefit. It must be accepted that the erosion of child benefit, which is what we are talking about, will do enormous damage to children.

We debated the other day a different approach—a return to child tax allowances. That is not a good approach, and I do not support it. Over the years, child benefit has proved to be the right answer. I shall not go into the reasons at length, but we know that there are several powerful advantages. First, as has been said, it does not create disincentives or the poverty trap. Secondly, it does not have the problems of take-up which persist with family credit. Thirdly, it does not require an elaborate system of means testing, nor does it induce the dependency that goes with that. Fourthly, it helps non-taxpayers and taxpayers alike, particularly the not-quite-poor—those just above the level at which they will receive means-tested benefit.

Fifthly, child benefit goes to the mother, which is something that the Conservative party has always stressed. In a world of family breakdown, mounting divorce and far too many one-parent families, the certainty of child benefit—the fact that it comes without means testing—is one of the most powerful arguments for its being maintained, and maintaining it must mean uprating it. It represents a commitment for which the Conservative party has stood for a long time.

I shall conclude by quoting some words of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister which support that contention. In a written answer, she stated: It has for long been the view of all parties that our tax and benefit systems should recognise the needs of families with children, and should differentiate between such families and those without responsibilities for children. Child tax allowances achieved this but gave no help to families below the tax threshold. Family allowances did not recognise the first child. Child benefit, which replaced both allowances, was introduced in 1977 with the support of all parties. I am glad that, even in the very difficult circumstances of this year. we have been able to increase child benefit by about 10½ per cent. and so honour the pledge given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services on 28 July last year."—[Official Report, 17 March 1981; Vol. 1, c. 55.] That quotation illustrates clearly the principle that there is a difference between those who have children and those who have not. It is the job of our tax and benefit systems to have regard to that. That is why I hope that the House will support the proposal of my right hon. Friend Lady Faith full.

Mr. John Marshall

Much of the debate so far has revolved round the principle of whether child benefit should be uprated next year, but the amendment goes much wider than that. The amendment says, in effect, that there should be no discrimination in favour of the poorest children in the community. It provides that family credit and child benefit must be uprated at the same level. Surely we want to concentrate our assistance on the poorest within the community. The amendment prevents us from doing that. For those drawing family credit, the amendment will be of no benefit. We want a system that helps the poorest and ensures that future increases do not necessarily go to those at the top.

We know that half those receiving child benefit are earning above-average wages. About 500,000 of those receiving child benefit are paying tax at the rate of 40 per cent. It seems wrong that we should be encouraged by the other place to say that those people should receive the same increase as people in receipt of family credit. It is much better that the poorest in the community should receive the extra assistance that they need. My right hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Sir. I. Gilmour) quoted statements from the past. Over the past two years, family credit has been introduced to help a greater number of children in need. That is one of the Government's greatest achievements, and I welcome it. We should concentrate our assistance upon those in greatest need rather than scatter it around like confetti, giving money to many of those who do not need it.

Mr. Marlow

Very briefly, I have some sympathy with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State because he is trapped within the system of Government expenditure. I am talking to my right hon. Frind so I am sure that he is listening even though he is offering me the back of his head. Not for the first—no, I will not say that. I put it—[Interruption.] I have been told to behave myself. I put it to my right hon. Friend that I have some sympathy with him because he is trapped by the system of Government expenditure. My right hon. Friend is given a budget and he is told, "Here are all your priorities, here are your needs and here are your problems. This is the amount of money that you have got. How are you going to deal with it?" As my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Maples) said, quite rightly, my right hon. Friend has concentrated the resources available to him on the poorest, the most needy in the land. That is what he has done. But where my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, West is wrong is on this score. If my hon. Friend needs that money—if he has to have it—he should not take it from other people's children. He should get it from somewhere else. What he ought to do is to look at Government expenditure overall, not just on the basis of my right hon. Friend's Department. If he did that, we would come to a different conclusion and have a different answer.

The hon. Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook) posed a question to us. He said that, if we believe that the cost of looking after a wife or catering for a wife has gone up by a fifth, and that the cost of catering for a child has gone down by a fifth, we should support the Government. But it is more vivid than that. The Government, this Government, our Government, are committed to reducing taxes in future. If they reduce, as we hope that they will do, taxes in future, they reduce taxes for everybody. But they have got to get that money from somewhere. They might get part of that money from increased revenue, but they will possibly get some of that money from reductions in Government expenditure in other areas.

If child benefit is not being increased in line with inflation, the reality is—as the hon. Gentleman and the whole House know—that it is being reduced. So to reduce taxes, which we want, money is to be taken from families with children and given to those without children. That is manifest nonsense. However hard-line a Tory one may be, and I am looked on as being a hard-line Tory—[HON. MEMBERS: "No. Withdraw."] All right, I am not a hard-line Tory, I am a soft-line Tory. I am a wet.

11 pm

If Sherlock Holmes were a member of the parliamentary Lobby and a sketch writer and he was sat up in the Gallery looking down on us, he would refer to tonight as being the night of the unanswered question. My right hon. Friend, in his remarks, said that when child benefit was introduced there was a commitment from time to time to increase child benefit. I have asked my right hon. Friend, but I am afraid that I was not dignified with a reply. The hon. Gentleman—far more important than me—on the Opposition Front Bench asked the same question. Many of my hon. Friends on this side of the House want to know, need to know, are required to know the answer to that question tonight before we vote.

Question put, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment:—

The House divided: Ayes 290, Noes 234.

Division No.310] [11.01 pm
Adley, Robert Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)
Alexander, Richard Davis, David (Boothferry)
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Day, Stephen
Allason, Rupert Devlin, Tim
Amess, David Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Amos, Alan Dover, Den
Arbuthnot, James Dunn, Bob
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Durant, Tony
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Eggar, Tim
Ashby, David Emery, Sir Peter
Aspinwall, Jack Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)
Atkins, Robert Evennett, David
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Favell, Tony
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Baldry, Tony Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Fishburn, John Dudley
Batiste, Spencer Fookes, Dame Janet
Bendall, Vivian Forman, Nigel
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Bevan, David Gilroy Forth, Eric
Biffen, Rt Hon John Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Blackburn, Dr John G. Fox, Sir Marcus
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Franks, Cecil
Body, Sir Richard Freeman, Roger
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas French, Douglas
Boscawen, Hon Robert Gale, Roger
Boswell, Tim Gardiner, George
Bottomley, Peter Garel-Jones, Tristan
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Gill, Christopher
Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n) Glyn, Dr Alan
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Bowis, John Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Gorst, John
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Gow, Ian
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)
Brazier, Julian Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Bright, Graham Gregory, Conal
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E')
Browne, John (Winchester) Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick Hague, William
Buck, Sir Antony Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)
Budgen, Nicholas Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Burns, Simon Hampson, Dr Keith
Burt, Alistair Hanley, Jeremy
Butcher, John Hannam, John
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')
Carrington, Matthew Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
Carttiss, Michael Harris, David
Cash, William Hayes, Jerry
Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs Lynda Hayward, Robert
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Heathcoat-Amory, David
Chapman, Sydney Heddle, John
Chope, Christopher Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)
Churchill, Mr Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hill, James
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Hind, Kenneth
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Colvin, Michael Holt, Richard
Conway, Derek Hordern, Sir Peter
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Howard, Michael
Cope, Rt Hon John Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Couchman, James Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Cran, James Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Currie, Mrs Edwina Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Curry, David Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne) Raffan, Keith
Hunter, Andrew Redwood, John
Irvine, Michael Rhodes James, Robert
Irving, Charles Riddick, Graham
Jack, Michael Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Jackson, Robert Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Jessel, Toby Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Roe, Mrs Marion
Jones, Robert B (Herts W) Rossi, Sir Hugh
Key, Robert Rost, Peter
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield) Rowe, Andrew
Kirkhope, Timothy Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Knapman, Roger Ryder, Richard
Knight, Greg (Derby North) Sackville, Hon Tom
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Sainsbury, Hon Tim
Knowles, Michael Sayeed, Jonathan
Lamont, Rt Hon Norman Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas
Lang, Ian Shaw, David (Dover)
Latham, Michael Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Lawrence, Ivan Shelton, Sir William
Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Lee, John (Pendle) Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Shersby, Michael
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Lightbown, David Speed, Keith
Lilley, Peter Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Lord, Michael Stanbrook, Ivor
Luce, Rt Hon Richard Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Macfarlane, Sir Neil Steen, Anthony
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Stern, Michael
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire) Stevens, Lewis
McLoughlin, Patrick Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick Stewart, Rt Hon Ian (Herts N)
Major, Rt Hon John Stokes, Sir John
Malins, Humfrey Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Mans, Keith Sumberg, David
Maples, John Summerson, Hugo
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Tapsell, Sir Peter
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Mates, Michael Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Maude, Hon Francis Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Temple-Morris, Peter
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret
Mellor, David Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Miller, Sir Hal Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Miscampbell, Norman Thorne, Neil
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Thornton, Malcolm
Mitchell, Sir David Thurnham, Peter
Monro, Sir Hector Townend, John (Bridlington)
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Tracey, Richard
Moore, Rt Hon John Trippier, David
Moss, Malcolm Trotter, Neville
Moynihan, Hon Colin Twinn, Dr Ian
Neale, Gerrard Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Needham, Richard Viggers, Peter
Neubert, Michael Waddington, Rt Hon David
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Nicholls, Patrick Waldegrave, Hon William
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Walden, George
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Walker, Bill (T'slde North)
Norris, Steve Waller, Gary
Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley Ward, John
Oppenheim, Phillip Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Page, Richard Warren, Kenneth
Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil Watts, John
Patnick, Irvine Wells, Bowen
Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath) Wheeler, John
Patten, John (Oxford W) Whitney, Ray
Pawsey, James Widdecombe, Ann
Porter, Barry (Wirral S) Wiggin, Jerry
Porter, David (Waveney) Wilkinson, John
Portillo, Michael Wilshire, David
Powell, William (Corby) Wolfson, Mark
Price, Sir David Wood, Timothy
Woodcock, Dr. Mike Tellers for the Ayes:
Younger, Rt Hon George Mr. David Maclean and Mr. Stephen Dorrell
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Allen, Graham Foster, Derek
Alton, David Fraser, John
Anderson, Donald Fyfe, Maria
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Galbraith, Sam
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Galloway, George
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Garrett, John (Norwich South)
Ashton, Joe George, Bruce
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Godman, Dr Norman A.
Barron, Kevin Golding, Mrs Llin
Battle, John Goodhart, Sir Philip
Beckett, Margaret Gordon, Mildred
Beggs, Roy Gould, Bryan
Beith, A. J. Graham, Thomas
Bell, Stuart Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Grocott, Bruce
Bermingham, Gerald Hardy, Peter
Blunkett, David Harman, Ms Harriet
Boateng, Paul Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney
Boyes, Roland Healey, Rt Hon Denis
Bray, Dr Jeremy Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Hinchliffe, David
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Hoey, Ms Kate (Vauxhall)
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Home Robertson, John
Buckley, George J. Hood, Jimmy
Caborn, Richard Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Callaghan, Jim Howells, Geraint
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Hoyle, Doug
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Hughes, John (Coventry NE)
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Canavan, Dennis Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g) Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Cartwright, John Illsley, Eric
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Johnston, Sir Russell
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Clay, Bob Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Môn)
Clelland, David Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Cohen, Harry Kennedy, Charles
Coleman, Donald Kilfedder, James
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Corbyn, Jeremy Kirkwood, Archy
Cousins, Jim Knox, David
Crowther, Stan Lambie, David
Cryer, Bob Lamond, James
Cummings, John Leadbitter, Ted
Cunliffe, Lawrence Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Cunningham, Dr John Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Dalyell, Tam Lewis, Terry
Darling, Alistair Litherland, Robert
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Livingstone, Ken
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Livsey, Richard
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l) Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Dewar, Donald Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Dixon, Don Loyden, Eddie
Dobson, Frank McAllion, John
Doran, Frank McAvoy, Thomas
Douglas, Dick McCrindle, Robert
Duffy, A. E. P. McFall, John
Dunnachie, Jimmy McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth McKelvey, William
Dykes, Hugh McLeish, Henry
Eadie, Alexander Maclennan, Robert
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E) McNamara, Kevin
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray) Madden, Max
Fatchett, Derek Mahon, Mrs Alice
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Marek, Dr John
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Fisher, Mark Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Flannery, Martin Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Flynn, Paul Maxton, John
Meacher, Michael Prescott, John
Meale, Alan Primarolo, Dawn
Meyer, Sir Anthony Quin, Ms Joyce
Michael, Alun Radice, Giles
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley) Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute) Randall, Stuart
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby) Rathbone, Tim
Moonie, Dr Lewis Redmond, Martin
Morgan, Rhodri Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe) Richardson, Jo
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Morrison, Sir Charles Robertson, George
Mullin, Chris Robinson, Geoffrey
Nellist, Dave Rogers, Allan
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Rooker, Jeff
O'Brien, William Rowlands, Ted
O'Neill, Martin Ruddock, Joan
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Salmond, Alex
Parry, Robert Sedgemore, Brian
Patchett, Terry Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Pendry, Tom Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Pike, Peter L. Short, Clare
Powell. Rav (Ogmore) Sillars. Jim
Skinner, Dennis Walley, Joan
Smith, Andrew (Oxford E) Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury) Wareing, Robert N.
Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E) Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam) Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Snape, Peter Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Soley, Clive Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Spearing, Nigel Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Squire, Robin Wilson, Brian
Steel, Rt Hon David Winnick, David
Stott, Roger Winterton, Mrs Ann
Straw, Jack Wise, Mrs Audrey
Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury) Worthington, Tony
Taylor, Matthew (Truro) Wray, Jimmy
Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck) Young, David (Bolton SE)
Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Turner, Dennis
Vaz, Keith Tellers for the Noes:
Wall, Pat Mr. Frank Haynes and Mr. Frank Cook.
Wallace, James

Question accordingly agreed to.

Lords amendment No.2 disagreed to.

  1. Clause 8
    1. cc461-83
    2. MOBILITY ALLOWANCE: INCREASE OF AGE LIMIT TO 80 YEARS 13,002 words, 1 division
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