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Lord Higgins: My Lords, that is sufficient.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, I am grateful. The second matter is the need to reverse consequential amendments to Northern Ireland provision, which is category 5. In the main, these consequential amendments sought simply to remove redundant references to WFTC and DPTC in existing Northern Ireland legislation. Amendment No. 137 reverses consequential amendments to the Legal Aid, Advice and Assistance (Northern Ireland) Order which simply removed references to "Family Credit" in that order. In 1999, "Family Credit" was taken out and replaced with "WFTC". We now need to replace that with the new titles.

Amendments Nos. 153 and 170 reverse consequential changes to Article 18C(7)(b) of the Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995. This article allows those who have certain services paid for by a local authority on their behalf—primarily day care services for children in particular need—to receive the services for free as long as they are in receipt of the specified benefits or elements of tax credits set out in the article. We now have to change the title of the specified benefits or tax credits as set out in the article.

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Amendment No. 172 reverses the repeal of Article 12(3) of the Criminal Injuries Compensation (Northern Ireland) Order 2002. Again, there is a reference to WFTC which requires re-labelling.

So that is what is going on. There is an array of Northern Ireland legislation in which some eligibility depends on references to WFTC and DPTC. Those references now need to be replaced with the labels of the new benefits and tax credits.

Lord Higgins: My Lords, I am most grateful for that clarification which I think will be helpful not only to us on this occasion but to another place when it comes to consider the large number of government amendments. One's fear is that the system of programming in another place not only has curtailed debate on these issues until now, but may well curtail further debate on the amendments which your Lordships have made—a very large number of amendments indeed. However, we have to wait and see how that works out and, if need be, comment on it when the matter returns to this House, if the other place is so misguided as not to accept the amendments we have made. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 138 to 153 not moved.]

Clause 47 [Interpretation]:

[Amendments Nos. 154 to 156 not moved.]

Clause 48 [Functions transferred to Treasury]:

Lord Higgins moved Amendment No. 157:


    Page 28, line 11, leave out from "State" to end of line 32.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, Amendment No. 157 knocks out a large chunk of Clause 48. Amendment No. 158 would leave out "Treasury" and insert "Chancellor of the Exchequer". There has been a clear trend since 1997 for the functions of various departments to be taken over by the Treasury. The Bill is a massive indication of the extent to which the Treasury's tentacles are extending further into other parts of Whitehall. In Clause 48 a large number of functions are transferred to the Treasury. Although not directly related to the Tax Credits Bill, I give as an example the guardian's allowance, child benefit and so on.

It is an interesting but not necessarily desirable development. In another place, the Bill was dealt with by the Treasury. We have been fortunate in this House that the Department for Work and Pensions has clawed back—I think that that is the right expression—responsibility for the Bill. We have had the expertise of the noble Baroness in dealing with this legislation. We thought that it was worth commenting upon.

I have a specific point. Oddly, it seems to us, the clause begins by stating that the functions of the Secretary of State, under the range of provisions stated, are to be transferred to the Treasury. Amendment No. 158 would leave out "Treasury" and insert "Chancellor of the Exchequer". The Secretary of

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State is an individual or at least an office. The Treasury is not an individual and not in the same sense of the word an office. We were not clear why the functions of the Secretary of State were transferred to the Treasury rather than the Minister—in this case, since the Inland Revenue is one of the Chancellor's departments, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I beg to move.

The Deputy Speaker (Lord Elton): My Lords, I have to tell your Lordships that if this amendment is agreed to, I shall be unable to call Amendment No. 158.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, I had thought that the amendment was a tease. As drafted, the noble Lord's proposals would not only transfer social security functions to the Chancellor of the Exchequer but also those relating to health, education, national defence and even overseas development. As drafted, the amendment covers any function carried out by any Secretary of State in any of the departments for which they are responsible. I thought that it was not just a tease but marginally over the top as teases went.

If the noble Lord wants, I shall be happy to engage in a more serious discussion about the need to transfer, as dealt with in Part 2 of the Bill. Child benefit and guardian's allowance will be dealt with by the Treasury. That was considered by the Social Security Select Committee, a cross-party committee, as early as July 2000. It has been discussed with various pressure and interest groups. In all the discussions to which I have been party or about which I have read reports, there has been widespread agreement that it makes sense for responsibilities for all financial support for families with children to reside in a single department, as this Bill prescribes. Therefore, it covers both the transfer of responsibilities to the Inland Revenue and Treasury and allows changes to child benefit to bring them into line with proposals for the child tax credit. That will allow the Government to produce a more streamlined system of financial support for families with children. It means that only one department will deal with financial support for children, which I believe will be to the benefit of transparent administration and ease of simplicity for those receiving the benefit.

I can go into a longer philosophical argument about the nature of child benefit in relation to child tax credit, or the Chancellor's and the Treasury's relationship to the Department for Work and Pensions, but this amendment will not do. As far as I can see there are only two departments of government, a big one called the Treasury and a little one called the Cabinet Office. I am not sure that that is what the noble Lord intended.

The substantive point goes to the core of the Bill, which is to integrate the different financial flows of support for children so that they are no longer separated between out-of-work benefits, which are the function of the DWP, and in-work benefits, which are the function of the Treasury—tunnel benefits. Instead to have an integrated benefit for children, the child tax credit that goes from out-of-work to into-work is an

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encouragement into work as well as giving security against poverty for the children who will receive it. That is possible only with an integrated administration and it will make sense to claimants only if they know that they are dealing with one department. That is at the core of the Bill and I cannot believe that at this time the noble Lord seeks seriously to undermine the whole philosophy of the child tax credit.

Lord Higgins: My Lords, I am still not clear why it is not the Chancellor of the Exchequer rather than the Treasury.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, perhaps I can get back to the noble Lord on that.

Lord Higgins: My Lords, it ceases to be a tease and becomes extremely worrying. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has been taken over by the Treasury rather than the other way around!

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, the reference to the Treasury is merely a drafting convention and refers to the Ministers of the Treasury of which the Chancellor is one. Noble Lords will be aware that the constitutional arrangements for the Treasury mean that the First Lord of the Treasury, the equivalent of the Secretary of State, is the Prime Minister. So this wording makes it clear that it is a Treasury Minister, for example, the Chancellor, who is to have such powers.

Lord Higgins: My Lords, I am grateful for that reply. At this time of night the Minister has replied in a jocular manner, but the reality is that this Bill transfers to the Treasury functions that it has never previously exercised. In particular, one suddenly finds the Inland Revenue paying out money rather than collecting it, which is a fairly radical change. Subject to that, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for her comments. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 158 not moved.]

Clause 49 [Functions transferred to Board]:

Lord Higgins moved Amendment No. 159:


    Page 29, line 2, after "State" insert "for Northern Ireland"

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment is even more pedantic and I shall deal with it quickly. As the Minister knows, the convention is that the expression "the Secretary of State" is used indiscriminately. One is supposed to understand to which Secretary of State reference is made. Generally, it is apparent and does not give any cause for problems. But this amendment suggests that on this occasion we should identify the Secretary of State as the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland because various Secretaries of State are involved at this stage of the Bill and there could be confusion. I beg to move.

9.30 p.m.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, the effect of the noble Lord's amendment is to prevent the Inland

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Revenue from administering child benefit and guardian's allowance within Great Britain. That may relate to his question about which Secretary of State the Bill refers to. The Secretary for State for Northern Ireland has no responsibility under the provisions set out in subsection (2) in Great Britain or even Northern Ireland, as that sits wholly within the remit of the Northern Ireland department as defined in the Bill, the Department for Social Development.

So the noble Lord's amendment would limit transfer of operational responsibility to the Inland Revenue to Northern Ireland, even if policy responsibility for those benefits sat with the Treasury. Given our earlier arguments, that would be nonsensical. The technical point is that the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, my right honourable friend Dr John Reid, is not the same as the Northern Ireland department—as defined in the Bill—responsible for these measures, the Department for Social Development. The general point is that we are trying to ensure the same consistency and integration of responsibility in Northern Ireland as in England, Scotland and Wales.


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