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Child Benefit Scheme

Volume 927: debated on Tuesday 8 March 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether it is administratively possible to introduce the full Child Benefit Scheme in April 1978.

Yes, Sir, but, as my right hon. Friend announced in his reply to the hon. Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Clark) on 26th October, we intend to phase in the full Child Benefit Scheme over the period April 1977 to April 1979 in line with the recommendation of the joint Labour Party—TUC working party.

Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether parents who have small incomes and do not make any parental contribution towards their children's further education will receive any compensating payment for the reduction ni child tax allowances which will take place this April?

Lower wage earners will not suffer from this decision. For the higher income groups earning more than £8,600 a year, there will be some loss in that regard.

If there is now money available for tax reliefs—and, presumably, again next year—would not it have a bigger impact on poverty, especially among families, if some at least of this money were to be used at the earliest administratively possible moment to give a realistic level of child benefit?

As my right hon. Friend knows, this is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Government see as a major priority the phasing in and, if possible, the up-rating when it is economically possible of child benefit.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that still, just a month before the introduction of this scheme, nothing has been said about what is to be done to compensate the parents of students over 19 years of age under the scheme? Will he ensure that his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science tells us what is to happen?

I cannot add anything to what my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary said about this in the debate the other day.