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Child Benefit

Volume 557: debated on Tuesday 29 January 2013

The Government estimate that in the 2013-14 tax year over 1 million out of 8 million families are affected by the new charge. As of 24 January, over 340,000 recipients have opted not to receive the payment. The charge will raise over £1.7 billion each year to tackle the deficit.

The Government pride themselves on their fairness. Can the Minister explain to this House what is fair about a one-earner family making up to £50,000 having their child benefit cut while a two-earner family making up to £100,000—twice the amount—is able to retain their child benefit?

I know that the hon. Gentleman is a man of principle, and I have respect for him, particularly since he refused to work for the right hon. and learned Member for Camberwell and Peckham (Ms Harman); I do not blame him. I note that on his website he says that he has

“a strong commitment to supporting the…less well off in society.”

He is absolutely right and I agree with him, so perhaps he can explain why he is against a measure that is targeted at the 15% of people who are the highest earners in society. [Interruption.]

Order. Question Time must be conducted in an orderly way. It is not for a Minister to suggest that a Member should start getting up and answering questions. It is Ministers who answer questions, and that is the end of it.

Will the Minister discuss with his colleagues in the Home Office and the Department for Work and Pensions the effect of the combined changes that those Departments and the Treasury have made, which mean that a young child in my constituency—a British child whose mother has leave to remain and work in the UK but who is estranged from their British father as a result of his domestic violence—will now not be able to receive child benefit for at least 10 years?

The hon. Gentleman raises a very specific issue. I think he will understand that I have not looked at that particular concern of his constituent, but I will be happy to look at it in more detail if he provides me with more information.

Can the Minister explain why, at a time when we are having to make such difficult decisions on public spending, it is fair to argue, as Labour does, that we should pay child benefit to millionaires?

My hon. Friend raises a very important point. In the 13 years of the previous Government, the welfare budget went up by 62% in real terms; it was out of control. If we are going to deal with the problem that they left behind, we have to make sure that everyone makes a contribution.