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I wish to record my thanks to the Minister for saying that she will look at this point. I do not want to be churlish, but it is a point about process. I understand that my hon. Friend the Member for Northavon raised it on 29 October at columns 256-7 in a very good speech
9 Dec 2009 : Column 446
and in terms. At that point, she rejected the argument. The Joint Committee then issued its view on 10 November. The point of Report is for the Government to return to the House weeks later with a clear view, and not to see matters leave this House to be dealt with by the unelected House. I do not mean that in an angry way; I just regret that we are not using Report as it should be used. However, I recognise her willingness to reconsider the point, which ought to be put on the record.

Finally, on new clause 4, I accept that there is some validity in the Minister's point about whether it would tie the Government down to a duty to implement something that might not be the best way of meeting the obligatory targets. The Joint Committee considered and rejected that argument, but we will reflect on her comments and the Government's response. However, I reject the argument that a legal duty to implement a strategy undermines Parliament's ability to hold the Government to account. The processes of the House undermine that ability, and I think that any legal reference that Parliament can use will aid it. I do not accept that argument, and nor, I think, will the Joint Committee. It is clearly a difficult new clause, however, so I beg to ask leave to withdraw the clause.

Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 8

UK strategies

Amendment made: 21, in page 4, line 23, after 'education', insert ', childcare'.- (Helen Goodman.)

Clause 21

Local child poverty needs assessment

Mr. David Gauke (South-West Hertfordshire) (Con): I beg to move amendment 29, in page 13, line 12, after 'assessment', insert 'including-

(i) job creation,

(ii) reducing family breakdown,

(iii) families with disabilities,

(iv) black and minority ethnic children, and

(v) looked after children.'.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Sylvia Heal): With this it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: 32, page 13, line 12, at end add

'which must include the number of households within the area that fail to meet the bedroom standard'.

Amendment 30, page 14, line 38, leave out from 'of' to 'section' in line 39.

Mr. Gauke: The amendments relate to the duties of local authorities. Under clause 21, which deals with local child poverty needs assessments, the responsible local authorities are required to set out how they will address child poverty. Amendment 29 takes us back partly to an earlier debate, and in the time available I have no intention of running back through the arguments. However, as my hon. Friend the Member for South-West Bedfordshire (Andrew Selous) eloquently stated, we believe that there is a lack of balance in the Bill, because it focuses on income targets, which we recognise are necessary, but does not contain enough about the causes of poverty and how we can address them.

9 Dec 2009 : Column 447

To some extent, amendment 29 is another attempt to address the causes of poverty. It would do so in the context of the local child poverty needs assessments. The Government can produce regulations setting out matters that must be considered in such an assessment, and amendment 29 sets out some areas that we think should be included in those regulations, two of which relate to the causes of poverty. In particular, the amendment refers to job creation, which could be a solution and also reduce family breakdown. However, we have had a lengthy debate on those matters, and I have no intention of running back through the arguments.

As I said, we have set out areas that we think should be satisfied by a local needs assessment. For example, it should deal with matters relating to black and minority ethnic children and families with disabilities. On several occasions in Committee we had an interesting debate about issues relating to families with disabilities and the treatment of disability living allowance for the purposes of evaluating a household's income. Furthermore, assessments should deal with matters relating to looked-after children, which we also debated at length in Committee.

Mr. Streeter: Does my hon. Friend agree that the process of having local authorities working with their partners, other statutory agencies and the voluntary sector to thrash out local child poverty needs assessments using the headings that he has helpfully set out in amendment 29 would be extremely valuable in getting under the skin of what was happening for children in those localities and prove a valuable tool for those authorities and their partners thereafter?

Mr. Gauke: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Indeed, there is a recognition of some of those points in the Bill. We have debated such matters in the course of our proceedings on the Bill, but having those points in the Bill would be helpful and would give useful guidance to local authorities.

Given the time and the fact that the hon. Member for Northampton, North (Ms Keeble) has already touched on her amendment 32, I will not go into it. However, I would like briefly to say that amendment 30 concerns a matter that we debated in Committee, thanks to a probing amendment from my hon. Friend the Member for Henley (John Howell). Amendment 30 relates to the definition of child poverty for the purposes of part 2, which relates to the duties of local authorities. Two issues came up regarding the relative income target in its application to local authorities.

The first issue was about how we measure relative income in a local authority. To be fair, the Minister provided a helpful note about national indicator 116, which stated that it would measure the proportion of children living in families in receipt of out-of-work benefits or working families whose income is below 60 per cent. of median income. That is not exactly the definition in clause 2, so if the Minister has an opportunity, I would be grateful if she could say how significant the difference is between that definition and the definition of relative poverty in clause 2. However, that definition looks pretty close, so to that extent our concern has been addressed.

9 Dec 2009 : Column 448

A second concern is this: what things can local authorities do on the relative income target in clause 2 that are not relevant to those other income targets that clearly belong in the definition of child poverty for the purposes of part 2? The point was made in evidence to us that local authorities do not really have the levers to do anything about the target of 60 per cent. of median income. I can fully understand why that target exists nationally, but if local authorities cannot, as a matter of practice, do anything that is specifically targeted at that income measurement, why have it in the definition of child poverty for the purposes of part 2?

The Government accept that it is right that there should be a different definition of child poverty for part 2 from that for part 1; but if that is so, should we not tailor the definition more, and why should the relative income target be included anyway? We had a debate on that in Committee, but with the greatest of respect to the Minister, I am not sure that we received a clear answer from her. I hope that we will have an opportunity to hear one today, either now or on Third Reading.

Subject to those points, I hope that we will have an opportunity to vote on amendment 29, although I do not intend to push the House to a Division on amendment 30. However, it would be helpful if the Minister could at some point elucidate the Government's position on those matters.

Ms Keeble: I want to talk briefly to my amendment 32, which says that when local authorities make assessments of need, they should look specifically at the housing conditions in which children live, given the close link between child welfare and housing, as set out in Every Child Matters. I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister will address that point in her one-minute winding-up speech.

Helen Goodman: Rather a lot of points have been made, and I will have difficulty in responding to all of them. On amendment 32, tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North (Ms Keeble), I thought that I had made it clear that we were changing the information that would come in through the survey. It would therefore not be sensible to set a target along the lines that she has just described, because there simply is not the information available to do that.

In amendment 29, hon. Members are seeking to prescribe in the Bill matters that we believe would be more appropriately dealt with in regulations-

6 pm

Debate interrupted (Programme Order, 20 July).

The Deputy Speaker put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair (Standing Order No. 83E), That the amendment be made.

The House divided: Ayes 133, Noes 315.
Division No. 22]
[6 pm


Afriyie, Adam
Ainsworth, Mr. Peter
Amess, Mr. David
Ancram, rh Mr. Michael
Arbuthnot, rh Mr. James
Atkinson, Mr. Peter
Bacon, Mr. Richard
Baldry, Tony
Baron, Mr. John
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Benyon, Mr. Richard
Beresford, Sir Paul

Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Bone, Mr. Peter
Bottomley, Peter
Brady, Mr. Graham
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Brokenshire, James
Burns, Mr. Simon
Burrowes, Mr. David
Burt, Alistair
Butterfill, Sir John
Campbell, Mr. Gregory
Clark, Greg
Clarke, rh Mr. Kenneth
Clifton-Brown, Mr. Geoffrey
Cox, Mr. Geoffrey
Curry, rh Mr. David
Davies, David T.C. (Monmouth)
Davies, Philip
Davis, rh David
Dodds, Mr. Nigel
Donaldson, rh Mr. Jeffrey M.
Duddridge, James
Duncan, Alan
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Ellwood, Mr. Tobias
Evans, Mr. Nigel
Evennett, Mr. David
Fallon, Mr. Michael
Field, Mr. Mark
Fox, Dr. Liam
Francois, Mr. Mark
Fraser, Christopher
Garnier, Mr. Edward
Gauke, Mr. David
Gibb, Mr. Nick
Goodman, Mr. Paul
Gove, Michael
Gray, Mr. James
Green, Damian
Greening, Justine
Hague, rh Mr. William
Hammond, Stephen
Hands, Mr. Greg
Harper, Mr. Mark
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Heathcoat-Amory, rh Mr. David
Hendry, Charles
Herbert, Nick
Hogg, rh Mr. Douglas
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Holloway, Mr. Adam
Horam, Mr. John
Howell, John
Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Jones, Mr. David
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Laing, Mrs. Eleanor
Lait, Mrs. Jacqui
Lancaster, Mr. Mark
Leigh, Mr. Edward
Letwin, rh Mr. Oliver
Lewis, Dr. Julian
Liddell-Grainger, Mr. Ian
Lidington, Mr. David
Lilley, rh Mr. Peter
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Main, Anne
Malins, Mr. Humfrey
Mates, rh Mr. Michael
May, rh Mrs. Theresa
McCrea, Dr. William
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
Mundell, David
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
O'Brien, Mr. Stephen
Ottaway, Richard
Paterson, Mr. Owen
Penning, Mike
Penrose, John
Randall, Mr. John
Redwood, rh Mr. John
Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm
Robertson, Hugh
Robinson, Mrs. Iris
Robinson, rh Mr. Peter
Rosindell, Andrew
Ruffley, Mr. David
Scott, Mr. Lee
Selous, Andrew
Shapps, Grant
Shepherd, Mr. Richard
Smith, Chloe
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Spring, Mr. Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Streeter, Mr. Gary
Stuart, Mr. Graham
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Swire, Mr. Hugo
Syms, Mr. Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Vaizey, Mr. Edward
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Viggers, Sir Peter
Wallace, Mr. Ben
Waterson, Mr. Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Whittingdale, Mr. John
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Wilson, Sammy
Winterton, Ann
Winterton, Sir Nicholas
Wright, Jeremy
Tellers for the Ayes:

Bill Wiggin and
Mr. Stephen Crabb

Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Alexander, Danny
Alexander, rh Mr. Douglas
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Mr. David
Anderson, Janet
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, Mr. Ian
Austin, John

Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Bain, Mr. William
Banks, Gordon
Barrett, John
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Battle, rh John
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Beith, rh Sir Alan
Bell, Sir Stuart
Benn, rh Hilary
Benton, Mr. Joe
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blears, rh Hazel
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Blunkett, rh Mr. David
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Brake, Tom
Brennan, Kevin
Brooke, Annette
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Browne, rh Des
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Bruce, rh Malcolm
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byers, rh Mr. Stephen
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Caborn, rh Mr. Richard
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Campbell, Mr. Ronnie
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben
Chaytor, Mr. David
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Ms Katy
Clarke, rh Mr. Charles
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clegg, rh Mr. Nick
Clelland, Mr. David
Coffey, Ann
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Cooper, rh Yvette
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cousins, Jim
Crausby, Mr. David
Creagh, Mary
Cruddas, Jon
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
Davey, Mr. Edward
David, Mr. Wayne
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Davies, Mr. Dai
Davies, Mr. Quentin
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Drew, Mr. David
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Engel, Natascha
Ennis, Jeff
Farrelly, Paul
Farron, Tim
Featherstone, Lynne
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flint, rh Caroline
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Don
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, Andrew
George, rh Mr. Bruce
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gidley, Sandra
Gilroy, Linda
Goggins, rh Paul
Goldsworthy, Julia
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Grogan, Mr. John
Gwynne, Andrew
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Hancock, Mr. Mike
Hanson, rh Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Dr. Evan
Harris, Mr. Tom
Harvey, Nick
Havard, Mr. Dai
Healey, rh John
Heath, Mr. David
Hemming, John
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hodge, rh Margaret
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Holmes, Paul
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Howells, rh Dr. Kim
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Hughes, Simon
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hunter, Mark
Hutton, rh Mr. John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Ingram, rh Mr. Adam
Irranca-Davies, Huw

Jackson, Glenda
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keeley, Barbara
Keetch, Mr. Paul
Kelly, rh Ruth
Kennedy, rh Mr. Charles
Khan, rh Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Kilfoyle, Mr. Peter
Knight, rh Jim
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lamb, Norman
Laws, Mr. David
Lazarowicz, Mark
Leech, Mr. John
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Mackinlay, Andrew
Mactaggart, Fiona
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mallaber, Judy
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, John
McFadden, rh Mr. Pat
McFall, rh John
McGuire, rh Mrs. Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McNulty, rh Mr. Tony
Meale, Mr. Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Miliband, rh Edward
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Mr. Austin
Moffat, Anne
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Moore, Mr. Michael
Morden, Jessica
Morgan, Julie
Morley, rh Mr. Elliot
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, Mr. George
Mulholland, Greg
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Murphy, Mr. Denis
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, rh Mr. Mike
O'Hara, Mr. Edward
Olner, Mr. Bill
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, Sandra
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pope, Mr. Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Prescott, rh Mr. John
Price, Adam
Prosser, Gwyn
Pugh, Dr. John
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Purnell, rh James
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Reid, Mr. Alan
Reid, rh John
Rennie, Willie
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Rogerson, Dan
Rowen, Paul
Roy, Mr. Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Bob
Russell, Christine
Salter, Martin
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Sarwar, Mr. Mohammad
Seabeck, Alison
Sharma, Mr. Virendra
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andy
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, rh Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine
Smith, rh Jacqui
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stewart, Ian
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Stunell, Andrew
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, David
Teather, Sarah
Thornberry, Emily
Thurso, John
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Waltho, Lynda

Ward, Claire
Wareing, Mr. Robert N.
Watson, Mr. Tom
Watts, Mr. Dave
Webb, Steve
Wicks, rh Malcolm
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Stephen
Willis, Mr. Phil
Willott, Jenny
Wills, rh Mr. Michael
Wilson, Phil
Winnick, Mr. David
Wood, Mike
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Dr. Tony
Wyatt, Derek
Younger-Ross, Richard
Tellers for the Noes:

Lyn Brown and
Mr. John Heppell
Question accordingly negatived.
9 Dec 2009 : Column 449

9 Dec 2009 : Column 450

9 Dec 2009 : Column 451

9 Dec 2009 : Column 452

The Deputy Speaker then put forthwith the Question necessary for the disposal of business to be concluded at that time (Standing Order No. 83E).

Schedule 1

The Child Poverty Commission

Amendment made: 22, page 18, line 20, at end insert-


9A (1) The Commission may at any time request the Secretary of State to carry out, or commission others to carry out, such research on behalf of the Commission for the purpose of the carrying out of the Commission's functions as the Commission may specify in the request.

(2) If the Secretary of State decides not to comply with the request, the Secretary of State must notify the Commission of the reasons for the decision.'.- (Helen Goodman.)

Third Reading

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