HC Deb 11 November 1999 vol 337 cc1281-2
6. Mr. Andrew Miller (Ellesmere Port and Neston)

What estimate he has made of the number of families in the north-west region who will be eligible for working families tax credit. [96995]

The Paymaster General (Dawn Primarolo)

It is estimated that 250,000 families could receive the working families tax credit in the Government north-west administrative region.

Mr. Miller

Contrary to the rant of the right hon. Member for Horsham (Mr. Maude), something must be right because, since this Government have been in power, unemployment in my constituency has fallen by 34 per cent. It is important that we bring together all agencies that can help promote the working families tax credit and make it work. I commend to my hon. Friend an exercise that I conducted in co-operation with the private sector—Warner cinemas and THI Developments especially—local authorities, the Benefits Agency, and so on, to help to promote the creation of jobs under the new deal and, indeed, outside it. Perhaps similar exercises in co-operation may help to create more jobs.

Dawn Primarolo

I agree with my hon. Friend that co-ordination is necessary to ensure that people understand that the working families tax credit tackles the traps of unemployment and poverty, and, most importantly, helps parents with children who want to work with their child care expenses. The shadow Chancellor must explain to, for instance, the young woman whom I met last week, who will be £109 a week better off as a result of the working families tax credit—1.5 million families will benefit—why he would take that money away from her and put up her taxes.

Mr. Michael Jack (Fylde)

I hope that the Minister agrees that one way of helping those on the working families tax credit in the north-west is to ensure a strong export performance in industries such as aerospace in my constituency? To that end, I seek her assurance that the Treasury has no plans to change the present way in which it supports and funds the operation of the Export Credits Guarantee Department—

Madam Speaker

Order. That does not relate to the question on the Order Paper. The right hon. Member is a long-standing member of the House, and should not try to do things like that.

Mr. Peter L. Pike (Burnley)

Is not the working families tax credit, together with the national minimum wage, a tremendous help in areas such as Burnley, in the north-west, where we have traditionally suffered low pay and deprivation? Is not it important help not only to the families affected but to the entire economy in such areas?

Dawn Primarolo

My hon. Friend is right to draw together the national minimum wage and the working families tax credit as underpinning employment. They are good for both the employee, whose wages make work worthwhile, and employers, in ensuring retention and recruitment of the work force, and especially assisting them, through the provision of child care tax credits, to retain the skills of women who would otherwise be forced out of the labour market for a long period when they have young children.