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Thursday 19 May 2011



Coastguard Services (Falmouth)

The Petition of readers of the Falmouth Packet newspaper, and others,

Declares that the petitioners believe that Falmouth Coastguard must be retained as a 24 hour a day operation, because the experience and expertise of the Falmouth Coastguard could not safely be transferred elsewhere.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Secretary of State for Transport to require the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to take into account the views of residents of Falmouth in the course of its consultation on the future of the Coastguard.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Sarah Newton , Official Report, 28 April 2011; Vol. 527, c. 418.]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Transport:

The Government are aware of the strength of feeling about the proposals to migrate Falmouth maritime rescue co-ordination (MRCC) to a daytime only sub-centre within a national network of a small number of maritime operations centres supported by sub-centres.

The Government are proud of Her Majesty’s coastguard and value the work currently carried out by operational coastguards at Falmouth. Under the proposed new arrangements, all the systems operated at Falmouth would be networked across the UK so that any search and rescue incident can be co-ordinated from any location.

An independent team of 12 experienced coastguard practitioners is reviewing all responses to the consultation launched on 16 December 2010 and will take account of this petition in their deliberations. Once the Government have considered the advice of the independent review team and the Transport Select Committee’s report, the way forward will be announced.


Child Benefit

The Humble Petition of Mr Paul Francis Dodd,

Sheweth, that the Petitioner believes that the Government’s recent announcement regarding Child Benefit is unfair; that the Petitioner is a married man with daughter aged two years, whose salary is £44,500 p.a., which is just inside the threshold for a higher rate tax payer; that the Petitioner’s wife gave up work to look after their daughter and has no income; and that from 2013 the Petitioner and his wife will not be entitled to receive Child Benefit.

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Sheweth, that the Petitioner believes that the Government’s proposals have two flaws; that a family with both parents earning a salary less than the higher-rate tax threshold, which could total around £88,000, will continue to receive the benefit; and that, if both parents earn a salary that is half that earned by the Petitioner, £22,250, not only will they continue to receive the benefit, but they also receive two tax-free allowances for their salaries.

Sheweth, that the Petitioner believes that revisions are necessary to the Child Benefit system; that the family income should be taken into account, not just the income of one of the individuals in a family; that the Petitioner recognises that this is expensive, but he believes that it is the fairest way to judge a family's income and hence its needs for benefit; that, if this is not possible, then a gradual phasing out of the benefit for earners over the higher rate tax threshold would be very easy to implement; that it would be easy to reduce Child Benefit by one percentage point for every £1,000 earned over the higher tax threshold; that this would still leave a majority of the benefit for those earners, such as the Petitioner, who only just enter this limit; and that it would also remove Child Benefit for those who earn over £144,000.

Wherefore your Petitioner prays that your Honourable House urges the Government to review its policy on Child Benefit.

And your Petitioner, as in duty bound, will ever pray, &c.—[Presented by Sir Alan Beith , Official Report, 1 February 2011; Vol. 522, c. 828.]


Observations from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Treasury:

The Chancellor considered a number of different options relating to Child Benefit including how any change should be delivered. As part of a balanced package to deal with Britain’s record budget deficit, the Government will, from January 2013, withdraw Child Benefit from families with a higher rate taxpayer. The Chancellor wanted to avoid creating a complex new means test for household income that would have fundamentally changed the nature of Child Benefit. Withdrawing Child Benefit from households with a higher rate taxpayer can be done within existing PAYE and Self-assessment systems. This means that HMRC does not need to contact all 7.8 million households in receipt of Child Benefit. From a customer perspective, this delivery option does not place a burden on all Child Benefit claimants, it limits the impact to those households containing a higher rate taxpayer.

Affected families are within the top 20% of the incomes of all families (including those without children). Currently the threshold for a higher rate taxpayer is around £42,500. At a time when many difficult decisions have to be taken, it is not fair that people on low incomes go on being taxed to pay for the Child Benefit of those earning much more. Families with no higher rate taxpayer who receive Child Benefit, which is around 80% of all families claiming Child Benefit, will be unaffected by this policy. Child Benefit will continue to be paid in the normal way to the great majority of the population, from birth until a child leaves full time education at the age of 18 or even 19.