Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Bill

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Mr. Pickles: Despite her comprehensive answer, the Under-Secretary did not answer many of my hon. Friends' points. It would be repetitious for me to go over them, but three issues stand out from what she said.

First, there was an admission that she anticipates slightly more variations than under the existing scheme. That underpins all that my hon. Friends have said. Secondly, she still seems wedded to the whole business of the tables at the back of the booklet, as if somehow it is a good thing if it brings injustice to individuals. It is the obsession with trying to fit people into holes that will be the unravelling of this reform. Thirdly, she said that the Government had not picked the provision out of thin air but had gone out and consulted, given it a great deal of thought and come to an agreed position.

My understanding is that in the 16th century that is exactly what the Vatican said about Galileo's theories about the earth spinning round the sun. It said that that was absolute nonsense, that the earth was flat—because the Vatican had decided that it was. The Under-Secretary has done exactly the same: she has produced a flat earth policy for the CSA. Having said that, I accept that these are probing amendments. We believe that many of our predictions will come to pass, but we have done our best.

Mr. Burstow: I have listened closely to the Under-Secretary but I feel that the issue relevant to amendments No. 84 and 85 was not dealt with to my satisfaction. However, I shall return to it later. The hon. Lady gave some impressive figures which, when rolled together over three years, sound like an extremely large sum—as is the case with much of the Government's spending plans. I accept that they are interesting figures and I shall look closely at the record to see how they are built up and perhaps ask some questions so as better to ascertain how they were compiled.

The issue of carers and their responsibilities has not been dealt with satisfactorily today. I should like to return to that matter also. I do not have the privilege of asking leave to withdraw the amendments, but I wish to put on record my remaining concerns, despite the Under-Secretary's detailed response.

Mr. Pickles: I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Further consideration adjourned.—[Mr. Kevin Hughes.]

Adjourned accordingly at seven minutes past Seven o'clock till Thursday, 3 February at Ten o'clock.

The following Members attended the Committee:
Cunningham, Mr. Jim (Chairman)
Burden, Mr.
Burstow, Mr.
Dismore, Mr.
Dobbin, Mr.
Eagle, Angela
Hughes, Mr. Kevin
Humble, Mrs.
Kirkbride, Miss
Lait, Mrs.
Leigh, Mr.
Mallaber, Judy
Mountford, Kali
Pickles, Mr.
Robertson, Mr.
Rooker, Mr.
Ruane, Mr.
Stewart, Mr. David
Swayne, Mr.
Taylor, Ms Dari
Trickett, Mr.

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