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My first regret about the debate is the failure of the Conservatives to acknowledge, let alone apologise for, the devastation they inflicted on families and
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communities during their appalling 18 years in government. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Copeland (Mr. Reed), I make no apology for striking a discordant note in response to the Conservative efforts to present their compassionate face. I was a local councillor. I worked in the third sector throughout the 1980s and the early 1990s and, like my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Sir Gerald Kaufman)—who made a brilliant contribution—I saw at first hand the devastating effect of mass unemployment and cuts to public services, which put intolerable pressure on vulnerable families, children, young people and pensioners. I for one will never let the Conservatives duck their responsibility for the poverty, homelessness, mortgage misery, divorce and crime increases. Whole communities were abandoned when they were in power. Groups such as lone parents were stigmatised and scapegoated by the Tories, so I agree with my right hon. Friend that for them now to try to shed their reputation as the nasty party and claim to be the party that will deliver social justice is a little hard to swallow.

What might have helped the Conservatives’ case would have been some recognition in their document of the enormous progress in economic and social justice that the Labour Government have brought about since 1997. The right hon. Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Mr. Duncan Smith) says that he wants consensus on the way forward, but he deliberately—almost perversely—refuses to name, let alone, applaud, the huge improvements of the past 10 years under Labour. Six hundred thousand children have been lifted out of poverty. Unemployment has gone down dramatically and 2.5 million more people are in work, including many more women. Pensioners have not been mentioned in the debate, but 2 million of them no longer live below the poverty line. The number of children living in workless households has dropped. Teenage pregnancies are at their lowest level for 20 years. There are record levels of investment in education, increasing the educational achievement of young people not only in schools but in apprenticeships, which have trebled to 250,000 a year.

My hon. Friend the Member for Copeland talked about action, not words. He probably does not know that the motto of Corby borough council in my constituency is, “Deeds not Words”. The Tories’ voting record in opposition, let alone their past in government, tells us all about the sincerity of their commitment. They voted against tax credits, the new deal and the minimum wage. However, it is good to see Members such as the hon. Member for Preseli Pembrokeshire (Mr. Crabb) breaking ranks with his Front Bench. He called for more public spending, clearly opposing Conservative Front Benchers’ commitments to cut funding by £21 billion.

I do not want to be wholly negative. There are some useful suggestions in the Conservative proposals, some of which will appear familiar to my hon. Friends—not least because they are lifted from our policy documents. Imitation is of course the sincerest form of flattery, so I welcome the support in the document for the measures we are already undertaking to support the third sector, about which I shall say a little more later.

Crucially, the Conservative flagship proposal for a transferable tax allowance is fundamentally flawed. As
11 July 2007 : Column 1555
my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Cabinet Office said, the Tories, would be taking more than £3 billion from public services and support for families to help married couples who pay tax, most of whom do not have children —at the expense of children who are growing up in low-income families—the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Laws) forensically took apart the Tory proposals.

I must admit that before the debate I wondered whether others on the Opposition Benches would be happy to support proposals for changing the tax system that would mean that only 3 per cent. of the benefit would go to the poorest 10th of the population. I was delighted that the hon. Member for Buckingham (John Bercow) made it clear in his intervention that he thoroughly disagreed with a proposal that would clearly stigmatise and penalise children in the most disadvantaged families. The Tories have chosen to spin this aspect of their report as something that makes them “the great party of marriage”, but as we have seen today they are hopelessly divided among themselves on the proposals. They have no answers to the forensic demolition of what are socially unjust proposals, given the impact that they would have on children in need.

The truth is that families come in all shapes and sizes and that the Government must support all families, irrespective of their structure. My hon. Friend the Member for South Swindon (Anne Snelgrove) was right to say that it is not the role of the state to say what type of family is best. The real focus of our efforts to tackle inequality should not be on family structures; it should be on supporting children so that they can grow up in loving, stable and supportive families, whatever their circumstances. The issue is about income for those children. It is about financial support through increased child benefits, which the Tories froze when they were in power, and the working families tax credit, which the Tories opposed when they were in opposition. There is the issue of giving children more time with their parents through increased maternity and paternity leave and giving parents that time to be with their children in those crucial early formative months and years. There is also the issue of giving greater support to parents through better access to child care. There are new children’s centres and new programmes covering parenting skills and giving advice.

We do not have a massive problem of family breakdown and it is simply not true to say that we do. My hon. Friend the Member for South Swindon made that point. The vast majority of families are doing well. Parents are doing an excellent job and the outcomes for their children are getting increasingly better. Our challenge is to concentrate our help on those families—about 2 per cent.—who experience multiple family disadvantages and who have not been reached by the growth of our universal services. We might at least have a consensus on that and on the role of the third sector in meeting those needs. My hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, North (Mr. Allen), who is not now in the Chamber, made an important point about early intervention and preventive work with those families.

That takes me on to the importance of the third sector. The report states that one of the Conservatives’ objectives is to increase the role of the third sector in
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tackling poverty. As the Minister with responsibility for the third sector, I wholeheartedly agree that voluntary organisations, charities, community groups and social enterprises make a vital contribution. That is why, over the past 10 years, the Government’s public support for the third sector has risen from £4.5 billion in 1997 to more than £10.5 billion in 2005. In practical terms, that is reflected in the thousands of community groups and local voluntary organisations that are involved in programmes to support families, communities and those with disabilities. We heard from the hon. Member for Enfield, Southgate (Mr. Burrowes) about those who work with people with addictions. The hon. Member for Preseli Pembrokeshire mentioned those who work with young people in and out of custody. My hon. Friend the Member for South Swindon—a real champion in her community—described the work of the Drove centre in her constituency.

It has not been possible to acknowledge properly all the contributions made by hon. Members. However, warm words about social justice from Conservative Members cannot hide the facts of their party’s record in office and voting record in opposition, or the reality of the stigmatising impact that their party’s proposals would have on children in most need. A shiny new fa├žade—

Mr. Patrick McLoughlin (West Derbyshire) (Con) rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question, That the Question be now put, put and agreed to.

Question put accordingly, That the original words stand part of the Question:—

The House proceeded to a Division.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Sylvia Heal): I ask the Serjeant at Arms to investigate the delay in the No Lobby.


The House having divided: Ayes 170, Noes 301.
Division No. 178]
[6.59 pm



AYES


Afriyie, Adam
Amess, Mr. David
Bacon, Mr. Richard
Baker, Norman
Baldry, Tony
Baron, Mr. John
Barrett, John
Beith, rh Mr. Alan
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Bone, Mr. Peter
Boswell, Mr. Tim
Bottomley, Peter
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Breed, Mr. Colin
Brokenshire, James
Brooke, Annette
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Browning, Angela
Bruce, rh Malcolm
Burns, Mr. Simon
Burrowes, Mr. David
Burt, Lorely
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Cash, Mr. William
Chope, Mr. Christopher
Clark, Greg
Clarke, rh Mr. Kenneth
Clifton-Brown, Mr. Geoffrey
Cox, Mr. Geoffrey
Crabb, Mr. Stephen
Curry, rh Mr. David
Davies, Philip
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Dorrell, rh Mr. Stephen
Duncan, Alan
Duncan Smith, rh Mr. Iain
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Ellwood, Mr. Tobias
Evans, Mr. Nigel
Evennett, Mr. David
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Mr. Michael
Farron, Tim
Featherstone, Lynne

Field, Mr. Mark
Francois, Mr. Mark
Gale, Mr. Roger
Garnier, Mr. Edward
Gauke, Mr. David
Gibb, Mr. Nick
Goldsworthy, Julia
Goodman, Mr. Paul
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gove, Michael
Gray, Mr. James
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian
Greenway, Mr. John
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Hague, rh Mr. William
Hammond, Mr. Philip
Hancock, Mr. Mike
Harris, Dr. Evan
Harvey, Nick
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Heath, Mr. David
Heathcoat-Amory, rh Mr. David
Hemming, John
Hendry, Charles
Herbert, Nick
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hogg, rh Mr. Douglas
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Holloway, Mr. Adam
Horam, Mr. John
Horwood, Martin
Howarth, David
Huhne, Chris
Hunt, Mr. Jeremy
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Jones, Mr. David
Key, Robert
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Kramer, Susan
Lancaster, Mr. Mark
Laws, Mr. David
Letwin, rh Mr. Oliver
Lewis, Dr. Julian
Liddell-Grainger, Mr. Ian
Lilley, rh Mr. Peter
Loughton, Tim
Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
Maclean, rh David
Main, Anne
Malins, Mr. Humfrey
Maples, Mr. John
Mates, rh Mr. Michael
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
Mercer, Patrick
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Milton, Anne
Mitchell, Mr. Andrew
Mulholland, Greg
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
O'Brien, Mr. Stephen
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, Mr. George
Paice, Mr. James
Paterson, Mr. Owen
Pelling, Mr. Andrew
Penning, Mike
Pickles, Mr. Eric
Pritchard, Mark
Pugh, Dr. John
Randall, Mr. John
Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Hugh
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Robinson, rh Mr. Peter
Rosindell, Andrew
Ruffley, Mr. David
Russell, Bob
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Scott, Mr. Lee
Selous, Andrew
Shepherd, Mr. Richard
Simpson, Mr. Keith
Smith, Sir Robert
Soames, Mr. Nicholas
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Spring, Mr. Richard
Steen, Mr. Anthony
Streeter, Mr. Gary
Stuart, Mr. Graham
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Syms, Mr. Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Mr. Ian
Teather, Sarah
Tredinnick, David
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Viggers, Peter
Villiers, Mrs. Theresa
Walker, Mr. Charles
Wallace, Mr. Ben
Walter, Mr. Robert
Watkinson, Angela
Whittingdale, Mr. John
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, Mr. David
Williams, Mr. Roger
Willott, Jenny
Wilshire, Mr. David
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Winterton, Ann
Winterton, Sir Nicholas
Wright, Jeremy
Yeo, Mr. Tim
Young, rh Sir George
Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Crispin Blunt and
Mr. Richard Benyon
NOES


Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Janet
Austin, Mr. Ian
Austin, John
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera
Balls, rh Ed
Banks, Gordon

Barlow, Ms Celia
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Battle, rh John
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Sir Stuart
Benn, rh Hilary
Benton, Mr. Joe
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blears, rh Hazel
Blunkett, rh Mr. David
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Browne, rh Des
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, rh Andy
Byers, rh Mr. Stephen
Byrne, Mr. Liam
Caborn, rh Mr. Richard
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Campbell, Mr. Ronnie
Caton, Mr. Martin
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben
Chaytor, Mr. David
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clarke, rh Mr. Charles
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clelland, Mr. David
Clwyd, rh Ann
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank
Cooper, Rosie
Cooper, Yvette
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cousins, Jim
Crausby, Mr. David
Cruddas, Jon
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
Darling, rh Mr. Alistair
David, Mr. Wayne
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Davies, Mr. Dai
Davies, Mr. Quentin
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Devine, Mr. Jim
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, Mr. David
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Engel, Natascha
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gardiner, Barry
George, rh Mr. Bruce
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Mr. Roger
Goggins, Paul
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Gwynne, Andrew
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hanson, rh Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Mr. Tom
Healey, John
Henderson, Mr. Doug
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hodge, rh Margaret
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hoey, Kate
Hood, Mr. Jim
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Hosie, Stewart
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Howells, Dr. Kim
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Hughes, rh Beverley
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Irranca-Davies, Huw
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Lynne
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Kelly, rh Ruth

Kennedy, rh Jane
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Kilfoyle, Mr. Peter
Knight, Jim
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lammy, Mr. David
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
MacShane, rh Mr. Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
Mahmood, Mr. Khalid
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Marshall, Mr. David
Marshall-Andrews, Mr. Robert
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCafferty, Chris
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McCartney, rh Mr. Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, John
McFadden, Mr. Pat
McFall, rh John
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McGuire, Mrs. Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
McNulty, Mr. Tony
Meacher, rh Mr. Michael
Meale, Mr. Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Milburn, rh Mr. Alan
Miliband, rh Edward
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Mr. Austin
Moffat, Anne
Moffatt, Laura
Moran, Margaret
Morley, rh Mr. Elliot
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, Mr. George
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Murphy, Mr. Jim
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
O'Hara, Mr. Edward
Olner, Mr. Bill
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Prescott, rh Mr. John
Price, Adam
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purnell, rh James
Rammell, Bill
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robertson, Angus
Robertson, John
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Roy, Mr. Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Christine
Salter, Martin
Seabeck, Alison
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Simpson, Alan
Singh, Mr. Marsha
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andy
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine
Smith, rh Jacqui
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, David
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Thornberry, Emily
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen

Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walley, Joan
Waltho, Lynda
Ward, Claire
Wareing, Mr. Robert N.
Weir, Mr. Mike
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Williams, Hywel
Wills, Mr. Michael
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Wishart, Pete
Wood, Mike
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Dr. Tony
Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Bob Blizzard and
Mr. Dave Watts
Question accordingly negatived.
11 July 2007 : Column 1557

11 July 2007 : Column 1558

11 July 2007 : Column 1559

11 July 2007 : Column 1560

Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 31 (Questions on amendments), and agreed to.

Madam Deputy Speaker forthwith declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.

Resolved,

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 15 (Exempted business),

Question agreed to.


11 July 2007 : Column 1561

Orders of the Day

Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Bill

Lords Reasons for insisting on their Amendments to which the Commons have disagreed and for disagreeing to the Commons Amendment to the Bill in lieu, considered.

Lords Reasons Nos.: 2C, 3C, 5C, 6C and 10J.

7.17 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Maria Eagle): I beg to move,


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