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Baroness Hollis of Heigham: That depends on the original dialectic, which I do not accept. Another category of wrecking amendment, which I perceive this to be, seeks to turn the Bill into something else. What else would you call an amendment which seeks to take more than 50 per cent of those the Bill is designed to help out of the system? Many of them will be working for small employers who will put pressure on them to drop out of the system.

How many people have to be left unaffected by a Bill for it not be wrecked? Is it 10, 5 or 2 per cent? If only 2 per cent were left to be paid through the pay packet,

4 May 1999 : Column 587

would the amendment still not be a wrecking amendment? The amendment would take more than half of all current claimants of family credit and half of those eligible for WFTC out of the scope of the Bill. Fewer than half of those who would receive the benefit would be paid through the pay packet.

I do not know what Members of the Committee call a wrecking amendment, but I believe that anything which seeks to take the majority of employers and employees out of the scheme is a wrecking amendment. We can argue semantics and say 60, 70 or 80 per cent, but that is what the Committee is seeking to do. The Bill will be turned into something it is not; a family credit stage two Bill instead of a Tax Credits Bill.

I had hoped that the noble Earl, Lord Russell, with his considerable experience of family credit and social security, would have taken the point on board, but I repeat that couples do not have a choice as to how the payment is made. It is customary for both partners to work because today three-quarters of married women work. So they have a choice as to whom the tax credit may be made. If the person to whom the credit is made is in work, they do not have the choice that the amendment seeks to offer to lone parents; that, though in work and being paid, they receive the payment at home. If a couple chooses that the person in work shall receive the tax credit, it will be paid through the pay packet.

I am sorry that the noble Earl, Lord Russell, did not take that point on board the first time around. I repeat that a lone parent in work is in exactly the same position as the couple who have chosen the person in work as the recipient; the tax credit is paid through the pay packet.

I hope that Members of the Committee will not accept the amendment. It gives the majority of eligible claimants the opportunity of dropping out of the system and returning to family credit. I believe that less scrupulous employers might press some people into accepting that opportunity. As a result, lone parents will not be receiving a tax credit through their pay packets and therefore they will not see the connection between work and its return. We will then be back to where we were before the Bill was introduced; that is, family credit, a 79 per cent take-up and a considerable reluctance among many lone parents to move into work because they do not see at the point of entering work that work pays. That is what this Bill is about.

I cannot stop your Lordships wrecking the Bill. You have the vote; we know that from long experience. You can do so. But do not kid yourselves that you are doing anything other than taking the heart out of the Bill. You have taken out 70 per cent of employers, potentially, and you now seek to take out more than 50 per cent of employees. So be it, if that is what you want, but do not pretend to yourselves that you are improving the Bill. You are not; you are destroying it.

Lord Higgins: It was noticeable that as against the large number of outside bodies to which I referred as being in favour of the amendment the noble Baroness did not quote one in favour of the Government's position.

4 May 1999 : Column 588

As regards choice, the Minister seemed to quote the figures on the assumption that every lone parent given the choice would decide to take it. She is assuming that they want the choice and she seeks to deny it to them. As regards couples, only one of whom works, it will remain the case that in choosing to whom the payment is made they can decide to have it paid direct.

The Minister said that this was a wrecking amendment. That is a serious point and ought not to go unanswered. Having been in the other place for 33 years, I know a wrecking amendment when I see it. As already pointed out, the Government, having accepted the point about couples only one of whom is working, have undermined the point of principle. At all events, I am advised that the concept of a wrecking amendment is not known to your Lordships' House. It is known in another place. The decision on whether an amendment is wrecking is taken by the Chair and I am grateful to my noble friend Lady Fookes, who was a Deputy Speaker in the other place, for confirming that. If it is indeed a wrecking amendment it is not selected. However, this amendment and one far wider were selected and debated. One of them was voted on in the House of Commons.

While the noble Baroness may bandy around an expression not recognised in this House, it is clear from what happened in the other place that this is not a wrecking amendment. I believe that it improves the Bill and that the outside representations make an overwhelming case for why lone parents, who have been attacked from other sides, should have a choice. For that reason, I seek the opinion of the Committee.

5.38 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 30) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 150; Not-Contents, 103.

Division No. 2


Addington, L.
Addison, V.
Ailesbury, M.
Alexander of Tunis, E.
Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Anelay of St. Johns, B.
Ashbourne, L.
Astor of Hever, L.
Attlee, E.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L.
Berners, B.
Biddulph, L.
Biffen, L.
Birdwood, L.
Blaker, L.
Blatch, B.
Bowness, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Bridgeman, V. [Teller.]
Brigstocke, B.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Byford, B.
Cadman, L.
Carlisle, E.
Carnock, L.
Chadlington, L.
Chesham, L.
Clanwilliam, E.
Clement-Jones, L.
Colwyn, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L.
Courtown, E.
Cowdrey of Tonbridge, L.
Cranbrook, E.
Cross, V.
Davidson, V.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Deedes, L.
Denham, L.
Derwent, L.
Dholakia, L.
Dudley, E.
Dundonald, E.
Eden of Winton, L.
Elles, B.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Falkland, V.
Ferrers, E.
Fookes, B.
Freeman, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Geddes, L.
Gisborough, L.
Glentoran, L.
Goodhart, L.
Gray of Contin, L.
Hampton, L.
Hamwee, B.
Harrowby, E.
Hayhoe, L.
Henley, L. [Teller.]
Higgins, L.
Holderness, L.
Hooper, B.
Howe, E.
Hylton-Foster, B.
Jacobs, L.
Jopling, L.
Kimball, L.
Kinnoull, E.
Kitchener, E.
Knight of Collingtree, B.
Lane of Horsell, L.
Lauderdale, E.
Long, V.
Lucas, L.
Lucas of Chilworth, L.
Ludford, B.
Luke, L.
Lyell, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L.
Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Mackay of Drumadoon, L.
Mackie of Benshie, L.
McNair, L.
Maddock, B.
Mancroft, L.
Marlesford, L.
Massereene and Ferrard, V.
Mersey, V.
Meston, L.
Methuen, L.
Middleton, L.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Monro of Langholm, L.
Monson, L.
Montagu of Beaulieu, L.
Morris, L.
Mountevans, L.
Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Moynihan, L.
Munster, E.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Nicholson of Winterbourne, B.
Norrie, L.
Northesk, E.
Nunburnholme, L.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Pender, L.
Phillips of Sudbury, L.
Prior, L.
Quinton, L.
Rathcavan, L.
Reay, L.
Redesdale, L.
Renton, L.
Renwick, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Romney, E.
Rotherwick, L.
Rowallan, L.
Russell, E.
Saatchi, L.
St. John of Bletso, L.
Seccombe, B.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Simon of Glaisdale, L.
Skelmersdale, L.
Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, L.
Stodart of Leaston, L.
Sudeley, L.
Suffolk and Berkshire, E.
Swinfen, L.
Teviot, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Tordoff, L.
Torrington, V.
Trefgarne, L.
Trumpington, B.
Vivian, L.
Waddington, L.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Westbury, L.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.
Wise, L.
Young, B.


Acton, L.
Ahmed, L.
Alli, L.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashley of Stoke, L.
Bach, L.
Barnett, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Berkeley, L.
Blackstone, B.
Blease, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brookman, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L.
Burlison, L.
Carter, L. [Teller.]
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
Currie of Marylebone, L.
David, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Dixon, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Evans of Watford, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Gilbert, L.
Gladwin of Clee, L.
Glenamara, L.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Grenfell, L.
Hacking, L.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Harris of Haringey, L.
Haskel, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. [Lord Chancellor.]
Islwyn, L.
Janner of Braunstone, L.
Jay of Paddington, B. [Lord Privy Seal.]
Jeger, B.
Kennedy of The Shaws, B.
Kennet, L.
Kirkhill, L.
Lockwood, B.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Longford, E.
Lovell-Davis, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller.]
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
Mallalieu, B.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Molloy, L.
Monkswell, L.
Montague of Oxford, L.
Morris of Castle Morris, L.
Morris of Manchester, L.
Murray of Epping Forest, L.
Orme, L.
Peston, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Rea, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Renwick of Clifton, L.
Richard, L.
Sainsbury of Turville, L.
Sawyer, L.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Sefton of Garston, L.
Serota, B.
Shepherd, L.
Simon, V.
Simon of Highbury, L.
Smith of Gilmorehill, B.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Uddin, B.
Varley, L.
Walker of Doncaster, L.
Walpole, L.
Weatherill, L.
Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Whitty, L.
Williams of Elvel, L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.

4 May 1999 : Column 590

5.48 p.m.

Lord Goodhart moved Amendment No. 32:

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