HC Deb 20 May 1991 vol 191 cc624-5
6. Mr. Harry Greenway

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what are the lastest available figures for the proportion of lone parents who receive maintenance.

Mr. Newton

Research undertaken in 1989 in connection with the White Paper "Children Come First" shows that only 30 per cent. of lone mothers and 3 per cent. of lone fathers receive regular maintenance.

Mr. Greenway

Is not it time that fathers —and mothers where appropriate—took responsibility for their children after walking out on them, rather than expecting society to fund their responsibilities to the tune of billions of pounds?

Mr. Newton

In a word, yes. I am glad that we shall, I hope, make substantial further progress in that direction with the Child Support Bill, which received its Third Reading in another place last week and which I hope will be debated here before too long.

Mr. Frank Field

As the Government have allowed, over the past 11 years, the near-collapse of the payment of maintenance from fathers and mothers on supplementary benefit income support, I welcome their 11th-hour conversion. Will the Minister give an undertaking that any moneys that are gained by the payment of this maintenance will be ploughed back into the social security budget and not paid back to the Treasury?

Mr. Newton

I would not wish to be taken as accepting the way in which the hon. Gentleman put the first part of his supplementary question. Substantial efforts were made over the two or three years before the Child Support Bill was put before Parliament to increase the amount of maintenance moneys being collected. As for the second part of the hon. Gentleman's question, we need to consider all the relevant factors together. Large additional sums of benefit have been directed towards low-income families, including lone-parent families, for many years. We wish to ensure that there is a proper balance between what the taxpayer finds and what is found by others.

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