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Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, there are about eight different pieces of research which all contain different statements and assertions about lone parents. Earlier the noble Earl quoted the Bradshaw Report as key evidence of hardship. That shows that lone parents' income support levels are closer to lone parents' would-be expenditure than that for couples. It seems to me that the noble Earl is trying to have it both ways. He is selecting sections of different pieces of research that support parts of his argument and neglecting the rest. As regards the Small Fortunes findings, I can produce five or six other surveys which show pretty conclusively--I refer to the refined hardship index in the latest report by Ruben, Ford and Company--that the Small Fortunes study does not appear to be conclusive in this regard.

Lord Ashley of Stoke: My Lords, before my noble friend sits down, if she believes that research cannot prove the case that the noble Earl and others have put, why did the Government act in a contrary way without evidence to support that action?

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, the Government--in my view correctly--have produced a package for lone parents which states that all children, whether in lone parent families or couple families, should be treated in the same way. However, we have also raised the benefits for all of those families in terms of child benefit and the benefit through income support for children under 11. As a result, a lone parent with two children will be £7.50 a week better off under the Government's proposals.

In addition to those Budget proposals--as my noble friend will know--the Government have mounted a major New Deal strategy which draws to the attention of lone parents the possibility of work--which they have asked for--supported obviously by childcare proposals. Although initially the benefits of lone parents were reduced to those of couples in the Budget, the Government have lifted the benefit levels for both couples and single-parent families. In that way we focus on the needs of children and not the family structure they are in. We have given lone parents the opportunity to work and to receive childcare. We know that opportunity will spring them out of hardship.

Earl Russell: My Lords, I have one last point to make. In invoking the research by Professor Bradshaw I believe the Minister has not followed my line of argument. The expenditure to which she referred was putative expenditure reached by the budget standard method. I think she understands why I am saying that that is not measuring the right thing; it is barking up the wrong tree. When Professor Bradshaw tried checking the Family Expenditure Survey he got a quite different answer. On page 29 of his research he states,

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That is a more consistent finding than the Minister accepts. We shall need to return to this issue, but for the time being I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 13 not moved.]

Schedule 6 [Transitory provisions]:

Lord Hardie moved Amendments Nos. 14 and 15:

Page 70, line 20, after ("section"") insert (", in the first place where they occur,").
Page 70, line 22, after ("determination"") insert (", in the first place where it occurs,").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Schedule 7 [Minor and consequential amendments]:

Lord Hardie moved Amendments Nos. 16 to 21:

Page 79, line 38, leave out ("that section") and insert ("section 17").
Page 80, line 10, leave out ("that section") and insert ("section 20").
Page 82, line 48, at end insert ("which"").
Page 87, line 18, at end insert ("and
(b) for the word "determination" there shall be substituted the word "decision".").
Page 98, line 48, at end insert--
(" . In paragraph 10(2) of Schedule 1 to that Act (supplementary provisions), for the words "section 5(1)(n) of the Administration Act" there shall be substituted the words "section 21(2) of the Social Security Act 1998".").
Page 99, leave out lines 15 to 17.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Schedule 8 [Repeals]:

Lord Hardie moved Amendments Nos. 22 and 23:

Page 105, line 46, column 3, leave out ("paragraph 25") and insert ("paragraphs 25, 33 and 34").
Page 106, line 14, column 3, at beginning insert--
("Section 137(2).")

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, I beg to move, That the Bill do now pass.

We have come to the end of a long and intensive scrutiny of this Bill. This is our seventh full day in the House and we have considered nearly 350 amendments during that time. I shall speak briefly. I wish to thank in particular my noble and learned friend the Lord Advocate for ably taking through the measures in the first part of the Bill. His legal experience was invaluable, especially in a House with such strength in the legal profession. I also thank warmly my noble friend Lord Haskel for taking us through the complexities of national insurance. Many noble Lords have contributed to these debates and the wealth of experience and expertise found in this House has been amply demonstrated by their contributions.

I also thank the noble Lord, Lord Higgins, the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, the noble Earl, Lord Russell, and the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, for the extent to which they have pushed the Government and have forced us to scrutinise this legislation in detail while

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maintaining the impeccable courtesy for which all four of them are known. I appreciate that. At Second Reading I said that

    "the Bill will allow us to create an active, secure and integrated system of welfare delivery".--[Official Report, 15/1/98; col. 1147.]

It will streamline the decision-making process. We are putting into place new appeals procedures. We are reforming national insurance. We are delivering a welfare-to-work strategy for lone parents. I hope your Lordships will agree that, apart from the deplorable result of this afternoon's vote, the other amendments we have passed and the scrutiny on all sides of this House have meant that this Bill has been taken forward in a co-operative and positive way. Apart from today's lapse, which I am confident will soon be remedied in another place, I think the Bill is a better Bill. I thank noble Lords who have made it so.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass.--(Baroness Hollis of Heigham.)

Lord Higgins: My Lords, I had not intended to speak but I join the noble Baroness in expressing my appreciation to the noble Earl, Lord Russell, and to the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart. I also thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis of Heigham, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hardie, and the noble Lord, Lord Haskel, for the courteous way in which they have had discussions behind the scenes on a number of the technical amendments. That has enabled us to improve the Bill. Most of all, I thank my noble friend Lady Anelay of St. Johns for the tremendous support she has given me. Until I arrived in this House I was not a particular specialist in this area. As to the events of this afternoon, it is important to stress that in our view it is right that the other place should be given an opportunity to debate the matters. However, it must be seen in the context of the whole of the Chancellor's speech and the paragraphs which I quoted which clearly stated that he would ensure that those no longer paying contributions would be protected.

Earl Russell: My Lords, I, too, wish to thank all concerned. I have enjoyed on this Bill the rare luxury of working with a team. I warmly thank all the members of that team. I refer to my noble friend Lady Ludford and her conspicuous success on backdating. My noble friend Lady Williams of Crosby made one of the best speeches on single parents that I have heard in this House. My noble friend Lord Goodhart has been a veritable Trojan beside me on the Bench, as your Lordships have observed. It has been a delight to work with them.

I thank the noble Lord, Lord Higgins, and the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay of St. Johns, with whom I have found it very easy and enjoyable to work, and with whom we have co-operated to some purpose over the composition of panels and many other issues. I shall not reprove the noble Lord, Lord Higgins, for today's events. In English law suicide is not a crime.

I thank the Minister, and through her her officials, for the highest standards of courtesy and co-operation and of provision of information all the way through the Bill. It has been much appreciated and has eased our work

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enormously. I wish to thank the Minister herself for engaging in the argument and endeavouring to understand it at every stage of our proceedings. I thank her for ensuring that the proceedings have been conducted in a way which I think is a model of how a revising Chamber should work.

We have had a number of changes in the Bill. Those have been brought in by agreement between the Benches. I believe that they have made the Bill much better than it was. I still think that it is a bad Bill. The House knows that; and I shall not elaborate on that further now.

On Question, Bill passed, and returned to the Commons with amendments.

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