HC Deb 19 October 1989 vol 158 cc259-60
11. Mrs. Beckett

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he next expects to meet representatives of the Child Poverty Action Group to discuss child poverty.

Mr. Lilley

My right hon. Friend has no current plans to do so.

Mrs. Beckett

Is the Minister aware that before the latest interest rate rise, some 2 million people were struggling with debt, and some 200,000 families faced problems with multiple debt? What measures does he propose to tackle this, bearing in mind that of the proceeds of the last child benefit freeze, two thirds went to his Department, and only a third on means-tested family benefit?

Mr. Lilley

The hon. Lady rightly points to measures that we have taken to target benefit better on those in need, As to those who are in debt, in my previous role, I took measures to urge the financial institutions to target their lending more effectively, because they, above all, have a. vested interest in not lending to people who cannot repay.

Mr. Ian Taylor

Has not the reduction in income tax under this Government increased disposable income, which in turn has enabled more people to give to charitable causes, particularly those helping people in need? Does this not show the caring society that the Conservative Government have created?

Mr. Lilley

That is right, and giving to charity has roughly doubled in real terms under this Government. The fall in unemployment announced today, of some 50,000, is of the greatest benefit to those in need. I am surprised that there has been no welcome for it from the Labour party.

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