§ Brought up, and read the First time.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
With this, it will be convenient to discuss the following: New clause 10—Additional contributions by Inland Revenue for children in care (No. 2)—
- 'If this section applies to a child the Inland Revenue must inform the account provider with whom a child trust fund is held by the child that this section applies to the child.
- If the account provider makes a claim to the Inland Revenue in accordance with regulations, the Inland Revenue must pay to the account provider in respect of each year during which this section applies to the child such amount as is determined in accordance with the provisions of subsection (3).
- That amount shall be twelve times the minimum amount prescribed by regulations for any subscription.
- On receipt of the payment the account provider must credit the child trust fund with the amount of the payment.
- This section applies to a child if—
- a child trust fund is held by the child, and
- the child is an eligible child by virtue of section 2(1)(b).'.
§ Amendment No. 69, in page 4, line 34 [Clause 8], at end insert—
§ (1A) The amount prescribed under subsection (1) in respect of children to whom section [additional contributions by Inland Revenue for children in care (No. 2)] applies at the time the initial contribution falls to be made shall be four times the amount prescribed in respect of other children.'.
§ Amendment No. 14, in page 6, line 31 [Clause 11], after '10', insert
§ or [additional contributions by Inland Revenue for children in care]'.
§ Amendment No. 70, in page 6, line 31 [Clause 11], after '10', insert
§ or [additional contributions by Inland Revenue for children in care (No. 2)]'.
§ Amendment No. 17, in page 10, line 27 [Clause 19], leave out 'and'.
§ Amendment No. 18. in page 10, line 31 [Clause 19], at end insert
§ (d) that the Inland Revenue was required under regulations under section [additional contribution by Inland Revenue for children in care] to make a payment in respect of the child but either the payment had not been made or, if it had, the amount of the payment had not been credited to the child trust fund held by the child.'.685
§ Amendment No. 71, in page 10, line 31 [Clause 19], at end insert
§ (d) that the Inland Revenue was required under regulations under section [additional contributions by Inland Revenue for children in care (No. 2)] to make a payment in respect of the child but either the payment had not been made or, if it had, the amount of the payment had not been credited to the child trust fund held by the child.'.
§ Amendment No. 21, in page 11, line 3 [Clause 20], after '10', insert
§ [additional contributions by Inland Revenue for children in care]'.
§ Amendment No. 72, in page 11, line 3 [Clause 20], after '10', insert
§ [additional contributions by Inland Revenue for children in care (No. 2)]'.
§ Amendment No. 22, in page 11, line 9 [Clause 20], after '10', insert
§ or section [additional contributions by Inland Revenue for children in care]'.
§ Amendment No. 73, in page 11, line 9 [Clause 20], after '10', insert
§ or section [additional contributions by Inland Revenue for children in care (No. 2)]'.
§ Amendment No. 23, in page 11 [Clause 20], leave out line 33 and insert
§ 9(3) or [additional contributions by Inland Revenue for children in care]'.
§ Amendment No. 74, in page 11 [Clause 20], leave out line 33 and insert
§ 9(3) or [additional contributions by Inland Revenue for children in care (No. 2)]'.
§ Amendment No. 24, in page 13, line 3 [Clause 22], after '10', insert
§ or [additional contributions by Inland Revenue for children in care]'.
§ Amendment No. 75, in page 13, line 3 [Clause 22], after '10', insert
§ or [additional contributions by Inland Revenue for children in care (No. 2)]'.
§ Mr. Osborne
I suspect that I will not make as much progress with this new clause as I did with the previous one, but it is worth trying because the issue that I am trying to address is children in care. The issue was raised on Second Reading, and gave rise to one of our best debates in Committee, in which more than the usual number of Committee members participated. Unfortunately, it is one of the few areas in which the Financial Secretary has not been prepared publicly to indicate any significant change, although she was careful not to rule out change in the future. I hope that we can secure a firmer commitment from her today—we shall see.
As I said in Committee, the chances of children in care are among the poorest in our society. When I was preparing for this debate, I went through the statistics, which are indeed striking. Only 53 per cent. of the 6,400 young people who left care last year had at least one GCSE or GNVQ, compared with 95 per cent. of all 686 children. Only 8 per cent. of children in care achieved at least five good GCSE grades, compared with 50 per cent. of all children. Only 56 per cent. of children leaving care remain in full-time education at year 11, compared with 72 per cent. of all school leavers.
The Office for National Statistics says, rightly and sensibly, thateducational achievement is felt to be an important indicator of children's life chances".Its words are sadly borne out by the example of children in care, whose poor educational achievement is such that 24 per cent. of those who leave care are unemployed by the September after they leave school, compared with 6 per cent. of all school leavers. In the past year, 10 per cent. of children aged 10 or over in care were cautioned or convicted—three times the rate for children of their age—and 49 per cent. of children in care end up in prison at some point.
The record is depressing and we should all feel some shame. The state assumes the ultimate responsibility for bringing up children in care, so it is depressing that we have such poor results. Many of the reasons for their poor life chances and educational attainments are beyond the scope of the Bill. They are to do with the children's background, the emotional disturbance and possible abuse that they may have suffered in their families, and their upbringing in local authority care. However, perhaps another reason is that they have so little stake in society.
It is undeniable that, at 18, almost all children in care lack anything like the sort of financial support on which most people can count from their families as they start work or seek higher education. The Bill goes to considerable lengths to give children in care some sort of start in life. I fully commend the Government for their efforts to ensure that those children get a child trust fund that is properly set up at the right time and that they receive the full £500 initial contribution. However, I am sure that the Financial Secretary agrees that, apart from the Government top-up contribution, not many people, if any, will make additional contributions to the child trust funds of children in care. I do not claim that there will not be instances of people making contributions, but I am sure that the generalisation is correct and that those children are unlikely to enjoy significant contributions to their child trust funds.
By the time that children in care reach the age of 18, they will have approximately £1,000 and perhaps a little more in their child trust fund. I do not claim that £1,000 is insignificant and I do not dispute the reports and statistics that the Financial Secretary deployed in Committee and when she appeared before the Treasury Sub-Committee. They showed that even £1,000 can make a significant difference to people's attitude to saving and is a substantial asset for people on low incomes. It is also a vast improvement on what many children in care currently have.
As the hon. Member for Lancaster and Wyre (Mr. Dawson) said, some local authorities give children a sum of money on leaving care, but others give them, as he memorably put it, no more than a bin bag in which to take their clothing. One of the great advantages of child trust funds is that, for the first time, all children in care will have a substantial asset by the time they reach 18.
687 We could do more, or at least look to do more. New clause 6 would require the Inland Revenue to make additional contributions, which would be pegged as a percentage of the average value of child trust fund subscriptions in the previous year. I suggest that partly because if child trust funds are a success and people use them, the contributions to children in care will also increase. If it is clear that many people are making contributions to their children, it is fair that children in care should not be left behind.
I freely concede that the other reason for pegging the contributions as a percentage of the average value of child trust fund subscriptions in the previous financial year is that I had to suggest a new device, different from the one that I tabled in Committee. That proposal would have put a proportion of child benefit—otherwise forgone for children in care—into a child trust fund. I believe that that probably has more elegance and merit than my current proposal, but I had to change it.
I accept that the new clause carries a financial cost, which depends on the size of the contribution. We cannot therefore include an accurate figure. If the proposal that I tabled in Committee were implemented and fully taken up—if all forgone child benefit were paid into the account of all 60,000 children in care for the relevant year—the cost, according to the Library, would be £33.5 million. However, the sum that we would pay in under the new clause could be far less than the £560 that the proposal that I tabled in Committee would entail. Children tend to move in and out of care, and would not necessarily receive the full amount during a year. Therefore, £33 million is at the top end of what the proposal might cost; I suspect that it would cost significantly less. I do not want to be seen to be profligate, so I have left the amount to be decided by future regulations and made it subject to affordability.
My proposal in Committee received general support, not least from the hon. Member for Lancaster and Wyre, who spoke with considerable experience and knowledge, and mentioned a lady who had brought the matter to his attention. He made the important point—perhaps he will seek to catch your eye today, Mr. Deputy Speaker—that local authorities will have an important duty to help to educate and work with children in care so that they are not simply handed a large lump sum at the age of 18, with none of the educational equipment needed to manage their account. He tabled an amendment that, unfortunately, could not be selected for technical reasons, but his point was well made.
Unfortunately, the Minister was not quite as enthusiastic as the hon. Member for Lancaster and Wyre. She said on Second Reading that local authorities might consider making contributions to child trust funds. That is certainly the case, but I was looking, as were other hon. Members, to central Government to do more themselves. In Committee, the Minister used a rather Whitehall argument to knock down my suggestion that we pay child benefit into the child trust funds of children in care, saying that child benefit was used to support a family looking after children, not given to the child itself. That was a Sir Humphrey 688 answer, but it knocked down my amendment. Another advantage, therefore, of the change that I have made to the proposal in the new clause is that it would allow the Government to set an amount and pay that into the child trust funds of children in care. I have tried to deal with the Minister's objections.
When we discussed the matter in Committee, the Minister said:I would not rule out any development in this area in future. As I have made it clear throughout the Committee stage and on Second Reading, this is an evolving policy, and it will develop into all sorts of areas. The most important issue for us is to get the policy up and running, see how it works in practice and monitor its development…However, I absolutely accept the principle that they"—children in care—are a disadvantaged group of children and that we should work to maximise their opportunities.She went on to say:I am not against the matter in principle and there are interesting possibilities. I said that I am not in a position today to say that that is a policy we will pursue."—[Official Report, Standing Committee A, 13 January 2004; c. 132, 137.]
I hope that the Minister is able to say a little more now that we have reached Report stage, and at least say that she is working behind the scenes with her officials to examine the feasibility of doing something to help children in care. Perhaps she will agree, as she has over the matter raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Witney (Mr. Cameron), to look at this proposal and, providing that there are not overriding practical or financial objections, consider introducing it. I am not looking to her to give a cast-iron commitment today, but I would love her to say that she is considering my proposal and working behind the scenes with Treasury officials to see whether it is feasible.
§ Mr. Dawson
It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Tatton (Mr. Osborne), and I agree with everything that he has said. The spirit behind new clause 6 is generous. I demur in just one respect. It is sometimes too easy for Members of Parliament to focus on the difficulties of children in care. It is right that they should, but we should not let those very serious, and sometimes quite dismal, facts overwhelm us or blind us to the reality that young people come through the care system and succeed. In only a few weeks' time, on 24 February in the Attlee suite, we shall have a celebration of children and young people in care, and I honestly hope that all hon. Members will come along to what will be a joyous and optimistic occasion.
I commend my hon. Friend the Minister for the way in which she has responded to this issue, not only in Committee but when she and her officials attended the January meeting of the all-party group for children and young people in care. Anyone who was in that room will have enjoyed the spirited, well informed, thoughtful and, indeed, surprising debate. I shall go into further detail on that later.
I return to the crux of the new clause. There can be no doubt that young people leaving care will be among the most disadvantaged 18-year-olds in our society. They will have had life experiences that would have floored all of us in the House. They will have experienced huge 689 difficulties throughout their lives, including family breakdown, abuse, neglect and extreme poverty. They could well have experienced serious dislocation and disruption while in the care system, and they could have been through a large number of homes and schools.
The Government have done a great service to young people leaving care through the introduction of the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000, which has placed statutory duties on local authorities in respect of young adults up to the age of 21, or the age of 24 if they are still in education. Regrettably, however, the situation remains patchy across the country. We have pockets of extremely good practice where young people are supported very well indeed but, sadly, there are other parts of the country where they are supported very poorly.
An important way of addressing that problem will be through the new children's legislation arising from the Green Paper, "Every Child Matters". I look forward to the Bill coming before the House and to the profound cultural and organisational changes that will be required to improve the lot of children and young people in care. Another important way to improve their circumstances, and those of every child in the country, will be to ensure that they have a good child trust fund, that they are able to manage it well, that they understand the significance of having their own money and that they are able to put the money to the best possible use.
Those young people will face challenges that most other young people will not face. Even if they remain in care into adulthood, they will still embark on adulthood with little of the support that millions of other young adults rely on—extended families, resources, advice, assistance and somewhere to go when they are in trouble. Many young people leaving care will be left to their own devices, and will have no one else to rely on. It is therefore extremely important that we assist them to build up their resources. It is good that the Government will be giving them the full extent of what will be available under the child trust fund scheme. It is important, as I have said, that local authorities and people working with young people in care understand how to help them manage the new assets, as a good parent would do. It is essential that local authorities' leaving care plans take full account of young people's need to have substantial trust funds.
It is essential, too, that the Government contribute significant extra sums to the trust funds. It is a naive but none the less compelling argument that as young people in care do not have the benefit of child benefit, which ceases to be paid to their parents a few weeks after they go into care, there should be regular contributions to their trust funds. It is important that local authorities, as good corporate parents, are encouraged to contribute to the funds. The situation is patchy, but the Government have a tremendous commitment to children and young people in care, so they may accept that the only way to ensure that all young people in care receive significant contributions to their trust funds and are able to make the very best of them is to make regular payments from a central source.
That point was very much accepted by young people who attended the meeting in January. However, rather surprisingly, they said that they would not wish to have 690 that money until they were 21. They thought that young people leaving care at 18 would be more vulnerable if a significant asset were put in their hands at the precise time when, perhaps in contrast to other young people at that age, they would be making other major life changes, such as leaving home. They also said, perhaps less surprisingly, that they wanted local authorities to pay very little attention to the amount in their trust funds. They were concerned that if local authorities took account of trust funds they would feel entitled to reduce the money available to them through a leaving care grant and support into higher education, as well as practical and emotional support to which they would otherwise be entitled. They thought that the resources available to them might be diminished and undermined by the fact of their having a child trust fund, which is a tragedy. It would be an indictment of local authorities if such circumstances prevailed.
Young people in care believe that the substantial assets, such as compensation for criminal injuries, that some of them have received have reduced the amount of support that local authorities were prepared to make available to them. That may not be the Treasury's responsibility, but the Department for Education and Skills certainly needs to take that point on board. Young people's reticence about the age at which they should receive trust funds is understandable, as it is entirely related to the amount of support that they believe will be available to them from the local authority, perhaps provided by a residential worker, foster carer or social carers, who can help young people to understand trust funds and manage them. The Government and local authorities clearly have a huge responsibility to ensure that the people who work with young people in care do so with alacrity, skill and a genuine understanding of the importance of trust funds to them.
A great deal more needs to be done to ensure that the funds work well for young people in care. Nevertheless, anyone who was at last month's meeting or will be at the one later this month will have met, or will meet, young people with intelligence, ability and, in some cases, extraordinary resilience. I believe that they will use their trust funds well, and will benefit from having an asset over which they have complete control.
That is an important message for young people leaving care. The Government should complement it by assuring those young people that they are prepared to consider whether, in principle, they could make regular payments to the trust fund of every child in care—above and beyond what goes to other young people, above and beyond what they or their parents might contribute, and above and beyond what local authorities might contribute. They should say that, because the state owes a duty of care to such children, they will support them even better.
§ Mr. Laws
I agree with what has been said by the hon. Members for Lancaster and Wyre (Mr. Dawson) and for Tatton (Mr. Osborne). There seemed to be widespread agreement in Committee that the Government had a particular responsibility to look after children in care, given that they were essentially in loco 691 parentis. It was felt that the children should not lose out even more in relation to the value of trust fund accounts on maturity. That might well happen if no contributions were made by relations, as they would probably be in the case of most other children.
The problem in Committee was the lack of amendments commanding the support of the Committee as a whole and, in particular, the Financial Secretary, perhaps for understandable reasons. Our amendment focused on the issue of the initial contribution. We accepted that it would be defective if we were to deal with children who might go into care later in their lives.
Either the hon. Member for Tatton or the hon. Member for Witney (Mr. Cameron) proposed an annual contribution tied to the level of child benefit. Although the hon. Member for Tatton might regard it as something of a Sir Humphrey excuse, I have some sympathy with the Minister's reservations about mixing up a benefit designed for a particular purpose with a contribution to a child trust fund account designed for a very different purpose.
We wanted to table amendments that would not just get past the hon. Member for Tatton and the Clerk, but meet with the Financial Secretary's approval. I agree with the hon. Member for Lancaster and Wyre that it would not be appropriate for us to rely on discretionary contributions from local authorities, and that if we did so, money for children in care might filter into trust fund accounts to which they would have no access until later in their lives. We certainly would not want to divert money that would go to such children anyway.
New clause 10 and amendments Nos. 69 and 70 hold on to our first proposal that the initial contribution to the accounts of children in care should be twice that for any other child—in other words, four times the standard contribution and double the amount that would go to children from families on lower incomes. In order to address the annual contribution issue, we have added the proposal that an annual contribution should be linked not to child benefit, but to the minimum subscription that can be put into child trust fund accounts from time to time, perhaps on a monthly basis.
We discussed the reasonable minimum amount in Committee, and I will not anticipate that argument because we will deal with it in a separate group of new clauses and amendments. The Government have set the minimum subscription at £10, which, I am embarrassed to say, is slightly higher than the sum that I have been paying into my godchild's savings account and may cause me to revise my contribution upwards. Nevertheless, the minimum subscription is a useful benchmark by which to consider the contribution that the Government might feel is reasonable and appropriate.
In addition to an enhanced initial contribution to the child trust fund accounts of children in care, we propose that the Government should also pay in, presumably on an annual basis but it could be biannual or quarterly, an amount linked to the minimum monthly contribution, assuming that the contribution were paid monthly. In other words, if the amount were paid for a full year, it would be 12 times the minimum subscription rate, which has been set at £10, so it would be £120.
692 Using back-of-the-envelope calculations and the figure that the hon. Member for Tatton cited earlier of 60,000 children in care, that proposal would incur a significantly lower annual cost than his proposal to link contributions to child benefit. The cost would be £7 million to £8 million, which is affordable given that the annual cost of the Bill is likely to be between £250 million to £260 million once it is fully up and running—presumably the cost will be significantly higher once further contributions are made when children reach seven, 11 and 14.
Such an addition to the cost is affordable, and linking additional contributions for children in care to the minimum subscription is as a good a rough and ready measure as any that we might arrive at using another source. The additional contributions would be linked to the minimum subscription to child trust fund accounts for children who are not in care, where it would be reasonable for the Government to aspire to the idea of people adding such a contribution on to their own children's child trust fund accounts.
As the hon. Member for Tatton implied earlier, I do not necessarily expect the Financial Secretary to give way on the matter today. The Government have not tabled counter-proposals on children in care that we can debate today, but the Financial Secretary's responses in Committee were helpful and I hope that she can reassure Liberal Democrat Members and some Labour Members that she will go away, examine the issue and introduce a workable proposal to allow additional contributions for that particularly vulnerable category of young people.
§ Ruth Kelly
The Bill is about extending life chances, especially to those children who are particularly vulnerable and disadvantaged in our society. I accept that children in care undoubtedly fall into that category, despite their individual successes, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster and Wyre (Mr. Dawson) has drawn attention. I pay tribute to him for his work with young people in care, and he is right to celebrate their achievements.
I accept the argument made by the hon. Member for Tatton (Mr. Osborne) that children in care are particularly disadvantaged. The new clauses and amendments seek to boost the child trust funds of those children in care with accounts opened by the Inland Revenue in the absence of a child benefit claim. The hon. Gentleman suggests that few additional contributions will be made to those accounts, but I would not jump to that conclusion. It will be 15 years at least between the setting up of the accounts and the time that the first ones mature, which is a considerable length of time. I do not know how the accounts will evolve in the future, but I suspect that we will see creative and imaginative thinking on how we can best serve the most vulnerable groups in society. I am not convinced that fewer contributions will be made to the accounts of children in care.
New clause 6 proposes that the Inland Revenue should contribute a sum related to the average value of contributions made to child trust funds in the preceding financial year, whereas new clause 10 would require the Inland Revenue to pay 12 times the minimum contribution level set out in the regulations. It is all too 693 easy, as my hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster and Wyre suggested, to point to disadvantaged children and not recognise the successes. I would argue that it is also far too easy to point to the Government and claim that the answer always lies in more financial contribution from the centre. I understand the case that has been made, and I was so attracted to the new clause tabled by the hon. Member for Witney and his thinking on the matter because he recognised that point. There are other ways in which the interests of vulnerable groups can be advanced, and he proposed a creative and interesting solution to advance the interests of disabled children, which I have committed to considering further. We have 15 years before the first accounts mature, and I am sure that we will see innovative thinking on other ways to advance the interests of other vulnerable groups during that time.
It is true that children in care may be some of the most disadvantaged while they are in care, but the vast majority move out of care and have families to care for them and contribute to their child trust funds, as other children have. While children are in care, there is nothing to stop grandparents, other relatives and friends contributing to their accounts. Indeed, the new clause fails to address the category of children who have a child benefit claim set up for them. When a child is looked after by a local authority, payment of child benefit ceases after the first eight weeks, recognising the fact that the state, rather than the family, effectively maintains such children, including those placed with foster parents. That is right, as the Government provide for the cost of children being looked after through the revenue support grant paid to local authorities for personal social services expenditure. I do not believe that further Government endowments for those children are the best way to help them. Children move in and out of care and any Government payment would be hit and miss in its effect.
My hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster and Wyre mentioned the important Green Paper, "Every Child Matters", and made a powerful case for engaging young people with their child trust fund plan. Local authorities should be encouraged to consider that account in the pathway plan that they develop with children leaving care. Financial considerations are already taken into consideration in the pathway plan, but I will ensure that specific consideration is given to the child trust fund account. We are already aware of some local authorities that take financial education seriously. For example, Warwickshire county council has introduced a scheme in which a savings account is opened for foster children to help to make them aware of the value of money as they build up savings. However, most financial education will still be delivered through the school curriculum, which is the best place for such education to take place because it reaches all children. In the coming months and years, we will consult various bodies and organisations on financial education and how we can make it real for all children, but especially for vulnerable children.
§ Mr. Dawson
My hon. Friend is aware of the work of child-driven organisations such as A National Voice, a national organisation for young people in care, and of 694 the Careleavers Association, an organisation for adults—generally those over 25—who have experience of the care system. Together, they combine the experience of potentially millions of people. Can she assure me that those voices in particular will be heard in the ongoing discussions on the future of trust funds for children in, and leaving, care?
§ Ruth Kelly
I hear what my hon. Friend says. I shall draw the point that he makes to the attention of the appropriate officials, and make sure that those voices are indeed heard. As part of our consultation, we intend to address the particular needs of looked-after children that may exist, and if possible to include some looked-after children in our consultation, so my hon. Friend's point is well made.
Given the argument that I have set out, I hope that the hon. Member for Tatton will reconsider his new clauses and amendments.
§ Mr. George Osborne
I am very glad that we have had this debate. When I tabled my new clauses and amendments, I was not confident that they would be selected, as we covered this ground in Committee. The Minister did not really open the door to allowing such a discussion on Report, so I was very grateful to Mr. Speaker for allowing us to debate these issues. Through her reply, the Minister has moved matters on, a point to which I shall return.
I thank the hon. Member for Lancaster and Wyre (Mr. Dawson) for his contribution. I apologise to him if I painted an unnecessarily gloomy picture of children in care—I was trying to build my argument and to give force to what I was trying to achieve. He is of course right to point out that there are some outstanding examples of children in care thriving, of local authorities that do a very good job—of which Warwickshire is perhaps one—and of people working with children in care who do an excellent job. But there are also many examples of children who do not thrive in local authority care, and of local authorities that do not do a very good job and fail their children.
The Minister said that she is not convinced that the child trust funds of children in care will receive fewer contributions than those of other children. I am glad that she is confident about that, but I do not share her confidence. I suppose that time will tell who is right and who is wrong, but it will not take 15 years. It will be clear after just a few years whether any contributions are being made to the child trust funds of children in care. I hope that the Minister will at least give a commitment to monitor the situation, and to look specifically at the child trust funds of children in care. I know that the Inland Revenue will keep track of this policy in general terms—
§ Mr. Osborne
The Minister nods, but it will be worth looking specifically at what happens to the child trust funds of children in care. As she knows, there is considerable interest throughout the world in the entire child trust fund policy, so such research would benefit 695 not just the people of this country but those of other countries, should other Governments follow the example of child trust funds.
I accept that asking central Government to put more money in is quite a crude mechanism. I suggested it because I am not particularly confident that all local authorities will put money in: there will be good local authorities and bad ones. Something of a postcode lottery could arise, as the hon. Member for Lancaster and Wyre said. As the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Laws) suggests, there could be a fixed amount—I suppose that it would be £120, given that we now know that £10 is the minimum contribution; indeed, in that regard it turns out that the Financial Times was right—or an unspecified amount, to be determined in regulations. However, I accept that whether the amount is fixed or unspecified, such a mechanism is fairly crude.
I was interested to hear what the Minister said about considering requiring local authorities, as part of the pathway plan, to consider child trust funds and how they can use them. That is a new development, which moves matters on. I should like to think that the Government looked at this issue and decided that that should happen because of our debates in Committee, on Second Reading and on Report, and because of the speeches not only of the hon. Member for Yeovil and myself, but of the hon. Member for Lancaster and Wyre. Because that has happened, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.
§ Motion and clause, by leave, withdrawn.