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LORDS AMENDMENT

46Page 38, line 14, leave out subsections (1) and (2)

The Commons disagree to this Amendment but propose the following Amendment in lieu—


46APage 38, leave out lines 19 to 39 and insert—
""(3A) Subsection (3B) applies if any proceedings are begun to challenge the validity of a grant of planning permission or of a deemed grant of planning permission.
(3B) The period before the end of which the development to which the planning permission relates is required to be begun in pursuance of subsection (1) or (3) must be taken to be extended by one year.""

Lord Rooker: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 46 to which the Commons have disagreed and do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 46A in lieu thereof. I have spoken to the amendment.

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Moved, That the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 46 to which the Commons have disagreed and do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 46A in lieu thereof.—(Lord Rooker.)

[Amendments Nos. 46B to 46F not moved.]

On Question, Motion agreed to.

LORDS AMENDMENT

47Page 39, line 12, leave out subsection (4)

The Commons disagree to this Amendment but propose the following Amendment in lieu—


47APage 39, leave out lines 17 to 36 and insert—
""(2A) Subsection (2B) applies if any proceedings are begun to challenge the validity of a grant of listed building consent or of a deemed grant of listed building consent.
(2B) The period before the end of which the works to which the consent relates are required to be begun in pursuance of subsection (1) or (2) must be taken to be extended by one year.""

Lord Rooker: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 47 to which the Commons have disagreed and do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 47A in lieu thereof. I have spoken to the amendment.

Moved, That the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 47 to which the Commons have disagreed and do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 47A in lieu thereof.—(Lord Rooker.)

[Amendment No. 47B not moved.]

On Question, Motion agreed to.

LORDS AMENDMENT

130Page 126, line 14, at end insert— "Sections 82 to 87 (simplified planning zones) are omitted and Schedule 7 (simplified planning zones) is omitted."

The Commons disagree to this Amendment for the following Reason—


130ABecause it is not appropriate to abolish simplified planning zones.

LORDS AMENDMENT

139Page 144, leave out line 24 The Commons disagree to this Amendment for the following Reason—
139ABecause it is not appropriate to retain the existing arrangements for the creation of simplified planning zones.

Lord Rooker: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do not insist on its Amendments Nos. 130 and 139 to which the Commons have disagreed for their reasons numbered 130A and 139A. I spoke to the amendments earlier.

Moved, That the House do not insist on its Amendments Nos. 130 and 139 to which the Commons have disagreed for their reasons numbered 130A and 139A.—(Lord Rooker.)

[Amendments Nos. 130B and 139B not moved.]

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On Question, Motion agreed to.

Bill returned to the Commons with an amendment and reasons.

Child Trust Funds Bill

6.29 p.m.

Report received.

Clause 2 [Eligible children]:

Baroness Noakes moved Amendment No. 1:


    Page 1, line 13, leave out "2002" and insert "1988"

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 1, I shall also speak to the other amendments standing in my name and that of my noble friend Lady Wilcox in this group.

The effect of the amendments is to create the ability for parents to open child trust fund accounts for children who were born on or before the magic qualifying date of 31 August 2002. Those pre-2002 child trust funds would enjoy all of the benefits of a child trust fund regime, except for the Government contributions at the outset and any top-ups. At the heart of the amendments is a desire to encourage a habit of savings. The child trust fund project has that as one of its aims and it is why these Benches have determined that they will not oppose the Bill. My party has a long-standing commitment to encouraging savings and that means ensuring that there are effective vehicles available at all of life's stages.

The Government's record on savings is not good. I do not doubt the worthwhile intentions of the Government in the Bill, but we also need to judge them on their record. The fact is that the savings ratio has halved since 1997. It was 10 per cent then and now is 5 per cent with no significant recovery in sight. One third of households have no savings at all. It is hard to think of any of the Government's policies—as opposed to their rhetoric—which are strongly pro savings.

We think that a savings ratio of 5 per cent is unacceptable. We are sceptical about whether a child trust fund policy will have any effect on the ratio in the sense that it will encourage further savings. I do not know whether the Government's own contributions of around 250 million a year to the trust funds will count as savings for the ratio—and the Minister might enlighten us—but even if it does, we know that this will not represent anything that resembles a culture or habit of saving that we need so much if the savings ratio is to be restored.

I am proposing the amendments against that background. The Government scheme is for child trust funds to be available only to children born after 31 August 2002. We want children born before that time to be able to have child trust funds which are as similar as possible to those which benefit from the Government contributions. Part of that similarity will be the fiscal advantages that attach to child trust funds, but I do not want anyone to be carried away with the idea that I am proposing another major tax

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break for the wealthy. The Minister may wish to comment but I do not believe that the ability to invest 1,200 a year for a child will create a significant fiscal cost.

For me, the advantages of extending the child trust fund are twofold. First, there is no easy way at present to create an account that mimics the child trust fund itself. In particular, the lock-in of investments until the age of 18 is not available in the same way. I believe that this will be an important feature for some categories of potential contributors—for example, grandparents—who may wish to be reassured that the money will be locked up. Another feature is the availability of a stakeholder product, which may be attractive to some.

Secondly, and more importantly, there is the impact on the savings habits of potential contributors to the child trust funds. Parents like to treat their children equally and so, usually, do grandparents, godparents and so on. Creating an artificial divide in 2002 may mean that no additional savings will be channelled into child trust funds, because it will be impossible to treat equally children born before and after August 2002. If children cannot be accorded equal treatment, or only at disproportionate effort, the additional savings may simply not be made. The Children's Mutual, which has provided a helpful briefing to noble Lords, has been concerned about the matter—and so are we.

The Minister will tell us that there is a power in Clause 2(7) to extend backwards the date of eligibility for child trust funds. We acknowledge that the Government have said that they will monitor the market to see whether there is a gap. But in Grand Committee the Minister seemed more concerned with whether or not the market provided tax-advantageous products and, as I have tried to point out, this is not the most important gap.

In Grand Committee the noble Lord, Lord Newby, for the Liberal Democrats, said that he would support amendments that made it easier for families, especially poorer families, to invest. I hope that he now appreciates that our amendment is solidly in line with that principle: it is exactly about making savings for all the children of a family, rich or poor. I beg to move.

Lord Newby: My Lords, as noble Lords will know, we on these Benches oppose the principle behind the Bill, because we do not believe that it will achieve its objectives and that the money allocated to it by the Government could be better spent in the short term. As the noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, has pointed out, the line that we have taken has been to oppose amendments that increase the scope of the Bill, but equally to make sure that, to the extent that the Bill is likely to be implemented, all families should have an equal opportunity to invest in it. We shall be looking particularly at the situation facing poorer families and trying to ensure that they are eased in to the additional savings.

This group of amendments has arguments in both directions. There is some evidence that it may, if passed, encourage some poorer families to invest in more than one child, although, as I have said on

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several occasions, I have severe doubts whether for many poorer families it either makes sense to invest in these products, rather than others, and whether they are likely to do so in any numbers.

Against that is the question of whether the amendments increase the scope of the Bill. I believe that they do. The issue is not primarily one of cost, although I was intrigued to see under Amendment No. 13 that there is provision for a supplementary contribution to be made in respect of any child trust fund held by a child born on or before 31 August 2002. So there is a clear chink there, which could lead to payment by the Government into child trust funds for older children.

A long way down the track there is also likely to be the potential for tax losses. Therefore, weighing up the two arguments against my own criterion, I find that the amendments extend the scope of the Bill and I shall not support them.


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