Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Bill — Substituted Part I of Schedule 1 to the Child Support Act 1991 — 29 Mar 2000

John Prescott MP, Kingston upon Hull East voted with the majority (No).

As amended in the Standing Committee, considered.

Ordered,

That the Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Bill, as amended, be considered in the following order, namely: New Clauses relating to Part I, amendments relating to Clause 1, Schedule 1, Clauses 2 to 6, Schedule 2, Clauses 7 to 15, Clauses 75 and 76, Schedule 8, Clauses 16 to 26, Schedule 3, Clauses 27 to 29, New Clauses relating to Part III, amendments relating to Clauses 57 to 62, Schedule 6, Clause 63, Schedule 7, Clauses 64 to 68, New Clauses relating to Part IV, amendments relating to Clauses 69 to 74, New Clauses relating to Chapter I of Part II, amendments relating to Clauses 30 and 31, Schedule 4, Clauses 32 to 39, New Clauses relating to Chapter II of Part II, amendments relating to Clauses 40 to 51, Schedule 5, New Clauses relating to Chapter III of Part II, amendments relating to Clauses 52 to 56, Remaining New Clauses, amendments relating to Clauses 77 and 78, Schedule 9, Clauses 79 and 80, New Schedules.-- [Mr. Rooker]

New Clause 4

Priority collection and enforcement of child support maintenance

'In the Child Support Act 1991 there shall be inserted after section 43 the following section--

Brought up, and read the First time.

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Madam Speaker:

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following: New clause 5-- Deduction of earnings orders --

We will insist that the agency reaches demanding targets to protect taxpayers' interests.

Our initial target will be to ensure that an additional 100,000 absent parents pay maintenance.

We start with the basic principle that parents, not the taxpayer should have the main responsibility for supporting their children.

Parents who bring children into the world must accept that they have a responsibility. They have an obligation to look after their child until adulthood and to support that child financially.

Motion and clause, by leave, withdrawn.

(2) Regulations under subsection (1) above shall require the CSA to pay compensation to the person aggrieved when it fails to meet its obligations in respect of the target time; and shall set out the level of compensation payable.'.-- [Mr. Pickles.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

29 Mar 2000 : Column 366

It seems to me if you are going to make the formula more simple you must make your departures wider. You can't make the formula more arbitrary and then cut down the grounds on which you seek departure.

increasing the grounds on which an appeal can be made to include complaints not only against assessment itself, but against failures in the administrative process that led to it.

The Secretary of State shall, by regulations, set a target time within which the Child Support Agency shall deal with all cases referred to it.

The Secretary of State shall, by regulations, set a target time within which--

The Secretary of State shall, by regulations, set a target time within which the Child Support Agency shall deal with all cases referred to it.

Motion and clause, by leave, withdrawn.

I beg to move amendment No. 87, in page 83, line 7, at beginning insert--

'( ) Where the amount of child support maintenance calculated exceeds such sum as may be prescribed ('the maximum sum'), the maximum sum shall be payable by the non-resident parent.'.

In the final analysis, the child support formula should be seen clearly to be related to the cost of bringing up children and not as a straightforward "tax" levied on the non-resident parent. We recommend that the Government should re-examine the possibility of inserting in the legislation an upper limit on the automatic application of the revised CSA formula.

continue to share in that parental wealth.

there is a risk that a few high-profile cases involving payments about the maximum contribution may negatively affect public perception.

I think you are beginning to see--

how this is going to be a lawyer's beanfeast for us because we are going to be very clever working out ways to get round this and I will explain some of them later on. A certain High Court Judge has said to me that if that happens--

Placing a cap on administrative assessment of child support and factoring in some income of the carer are seen as being entirely consistent with two underlying essential bases of the scheme.

that children have their proper needs met from reasonable and adequate shares in the income, earning, property and financial resources of both of their parents.

that parents share equitably in the support of their children.

The success of the scheme may well depend on the extent to which the public perceive it to be fair. Assessments which throw up $550--

a week for a baby or ignore the fact that the carer is earning $100,000 per annum whilst the payer is struggling to make ends meet do little to bolster public enthusiasm for the scheme.

We are determined to establish clear principles, in the context of changing times, and to devise policies that are as fair as possible for all the parties concerned, including mothers and fathers.

I think this is a question on which we thought long and hard and I think there are good, strong arguments on both sides. There is one argument saying that you should cap it because it is child maintenance and if it goes all the way up the income scale, it becomes spousal maintenance . . .

and the other argument is that if that family were intact, the child would enjoy the living standard of that father whatever his income, whether he was earning £200 a week or £2,000 a week, and at the end of the day in response after listening to the consultation exercise and talking with people and meeting the 40 groups and organisations, we came out on the side of saying that we should not have a cap, but obviously it is the sort of issue that Parliament will want to explore and take a view on.

if that family were intact, the child would enjoy the living standard of that father whatever his income . . .

Why should the state determine how much fathers should pay for their non-resident child when it does not involve the taxpayer? It would be considered an intolerable assault on personal liberty if it happened in a couple family.

In terms of English law and social experience it would be a change of massive social profundity. It will go beyond, for example, the Roman law idea of legitim , which is your guaranteed right of inheritance. It will go beyond that because it would be inter vivos . It seems to me that you have got to understand the profundity of what you are suggesting.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn .

Amendment proposed: No. 88, in page 83, line 7, at beginning insert--

Question put, That the amendment be made:--

The House divided: Ayes 165, Noes 271.

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Party Summary

Votes by party, red entries are votes against the majority for that party.

What is Tell? '+1 tell' means that in addition one member of that party was a teller for that division lobby.

What are Boths? An MP can vote both aye and no in the same division. The boths page explains this.

What is Turnout? This is measured against the total membership of the party at the time of the vote.

PartyMajority (No)Minority (Aye)BothTurnout
Con0 127 (+2 tell)080.6%
DUP0 1050.0%
Independent0 1033.3%
Lab270 (+2 tell) 0065.4%
LDem0 33071.7%
PC1 0025.0%
SNP0 1016.7%
UUP0 2020.0%
Total:271 165068.0%

Rebel Voters - sorted by party

MPs for which their vote in this division differed from the majority vote of their party. You can see all votes in this division, or every eligible MP who could have voted in this division

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no rebellions

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