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Miss Ann Widdecombe (Maidstone and The Weald): On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I apologise to the Minister for interrupting his speech. It has come over on the Press Association tapes that the Home Secretary has said that he is minded to release General Pinochet. Can I ask you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, whether you have received any request that a statement be made by the Home Secretary at 10 o'clock tonight?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Lord): I have received no such request.

Mr. Rooker: I shall try to respond to some of the points made by hon. Members, although I cannot go into great detail. We reject returning the issue to the courts as was proposed by the hon. Member for Northavon (Mr. Webb). After reflection, I am sure that all hon. Members will also do so, although we shall debate the matter in Committee.

The hon. Member for Daventry (Mr. Boswell) said that the new system would lead to high deduction rates. I hope that I have made the point that there is a limit of 25 per cent.--not a cash limit, but a percentage limit. That is fair. However, that will not destroy private arrangements, as he suggested. Partners or parents who want to make private arrangements are free to do so, as long as they do not involve the benefits system. That was the bottom line for the institution of the CSA in the first place.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Field) thought that the new scheme was already too complicated. He referred to travel costs. We think that they should be taken into account if they are exceptionally high. It is not to say that we shall not treat the Committee stage seriously that I point out to right hon. and hon. Members that we know, from internal discussions and from advice that we have received, that if we move a host of seductively simple, fair and clear amendments to a measure that is--as my right hon. Friend points out--already overly complicated, we shall never make it work.

11 Jan 2000 : Column 239

The formula that we propose is fair; it can be made to work with the existing system and with new information technology. If we start to tweak it in Committee, the evidence, which we shall put before the Committee, suggests that we may not be able to deliver. We are intent on delivering change in the operation of the CSA. I give due warning that any amendments must be carefully drafted and supported by careful arguments.

Several hon. Members mentioned the driving licence provisions. The hon. Member for Havant said that they would not toughen the measure. Indeed, they would. Those provisions would be an alternative to a prison sentence, if the courts did not want to impose one. After all, in most cases, especially for debt, prison sentences are a ludicrous sanction, by any stretch of the imagination. The driving licence provisions would offer the courts an alternative sanction; they will not weaken the measure. Most motorists get apoplexy when their car is in service for a day--

Mr. Kirkwood rose--

Mr. Rooker: I am sorry I cannot respond to the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire (Mr. Kirkwood).

The threat of losing their licence will probably cause them to pay their dues. That is all we ask them to do.

My hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, North and Fleetwood (Mrs. Humble) asked whether all children in the relationship would be covered by the child support system. Yes, they will. If the payment is necessarily split--for example, if there is a requirement to pay 20 per cent. for the children of two parents--it will be split with 10 per cent. going to each.

My hon. Friend the Member for Colne Valley (Kali Mountford) asked whether mothers should be able to choose to pursue maintenance. We are happy to discuss that matter in Committee, but it is right that, where income support is being paid, parents with care should co-operate, wherever possible, in seeking maintenance for their children. They will have to opt out rather than opt in. However, they will be informed of that when they make their initial claim for income support. It is right to do that.

The hon. Member for Vale of York (Miss McIntosh) deserves an answer to her question on consultation, which I know she has put on another occasion. She makes a legitimate point. I have to give her more or less the same answer that I gave her before. However, it is a fair answer--she can check it. A list of the organisations and academics who responded to the Green Paper, excluding those who asked us not to publish their responses, has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses, as has a summary of the responses to the written consultations. We have met all requests for copies of those lists, or of the summary of responses.

Of course, an enormous number of the public responses gave confidential information. We do not think that it is right and proper to make such information available in general terms. However, respondents to the Green Paper overwhelmingly accepted the case for radical change. The hon. Lady also made a point about overtime. When overtime is a regular part of income, it rightly should be taken into account.

11 Jan 2000 : Column 240

I wish to make a couple of points about pensions. [Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. There is far too much general conversation. In a long and detailed debate, the House should listen to the Minister who is replying.

Mr. Rooker: I apologise for the fact that my speech is not full of rhetoric. I genuinely want to answer some of the points that Members have raised.

We do not think that there is apartheid in pensions. It is true that high earners have no difficulty achieving a decent pension and modest earners may or may not be in occupational pension schemes and have the opportunity to be so. Those who are not will want to choose another option, and that is why we have instituted low cost stakeholder pensions. For low earners, I must tell Conservative Members that it is not tenable to expect carers, disabled people with broken work records and people with long-term low incomes over a lifetime's work to organise funded pensions. That is not possible. By introducing the state second pension, we can virtually double--and, in some cases, more than double--the pension that such people will receive compared with the existing state earnings-related pension.

SERPS was good when it was invented. I was in the House and voted for it when it was introduced in the 1970s. However, because it is earnings related, it does not, by definition, do much for the long-term low paid. It is true that for the average male retiring today SERPS provides about £40 a week; 20 years ago, people complained that they would have to wait all that time for that sum. The time has passed, but it takes time to build up a pension pot.

Dr. Lynne Jones: Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Rooker: I was just about to answer my hon. Friend's point if she will allow me. She made the point that we could use the £4 billion to £5 billion involved in net benefit expenditure on the state second pension for the basic state retirement pension. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State gave a figure of £5 billion for net benefit expenditure in 2050 on the state second pension. If we were to use the basic retirement pension at the minimum income guarantee level, by 2010 we would be spending £7.5 billion, by 2020 we would be spending about £20 billion, and by 2050 the estimate is that it would cost £50 billion extra in public expenditure. The idea that we could knock off introducing the state second pension in order to fund the basic pension at the MIG-level frankly does not add up. The figures multiply 10 times--from £5 billion to £50 billion--so that idea is not a runner.

Dr. Jones: Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Rooker: No, I cannot. I understand that my hon. Friend has volunteered to serve on the Committee, so we can debate these issues there.

11 Jan 2000 : Column 241

One or two of my hon. Friends mentioned community service orders, but it is not possible to go into them now. We are dealing with the long-term issues and we are trying to get them right. We do not claim that we can do it all in two years or in five years; we are working for pension provision for the first half of this century. One only has to consider the opportunities that the Conservative party had to get the matter right. In the century that has just finished, the Conservative party ruled the United Kingdom for more years than the Communist party ruled Soviet Russia and it still could not get pensions right for the 21st century.

Question put, That the amendment be made:--

The House divided: Ayes 180, Noes 340.

Division No. 24
[9.59 pm


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Allan, Richard
Amess, David
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Baker, Norman
Baldry, Tony
Beggs, Roy
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Body, Sir Richard
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia
Brady, Graham
Brake, Tom
Brand, Dr Peter
Brazier, Julian
Breed, Colin
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Burnett, John
Burns, Simon
Burstow, Paul
Cash, William
Chapman, Sir Sydney
(Chipping Barnet)
Chidgey, David
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Clark, Dr Michael (Rayleigh)
Collins, Tim
Colvin, Michael
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cotter, Brian
Curry, Rt Hon David
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davies, Quentin (Grantham)
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice & Howden)
Day, Stephen
Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen
Duncan Smith, Iain
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Evans, Nigel
Faber, David
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Fearn, Ronnie
Flight, Howard
Forsythe, Clifford
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Fox, Dr Liam
Fraser, Christopher
Gale, Roger
Garnier, Edward
George, Andrew (St Ives)
Gibb, Nick
Gill, Christopher
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Gray, James
Green, Damian
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Hague, Rt Hon William
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie
Hammond, Philip
Hancock, Mike
Harris, Dr Evan
Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas
Horam, John
Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Hunter, Andrew
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jenkin, Bernard
Keetch, Paul
Kennedy, Rt Hon Charles
(Ross Skye & Inverness W)
Key, Robert
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Kirkwood, Archy
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Leigh, Edward
Letwin, Oliver
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Lidington, David
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Livsey, Richard
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Llwyd, Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
MacGregor, Rt Hon John
McIntosh, Miss Anne
MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
Maclean, Rt Hon David
Maclennan, Rt Hon Robert
McLoughlin, Patrick
Madel, Sir David
Major, Rt Hon John
Malins, Humfrey
Maples, John
Mates, Michael
May, Mrs Theresa
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Moss, Malcolm
Nicholls, Patrick
Oaten, Mark
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Öpik, Lembit
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paterson, Owen
Pickles, Eric
Portillo, Rt Hon Michael
Prior, David
Randall, John
Redwood, Rt Hon John
Rendel, David
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Laurence
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Rowe, Andrew (Faversham)
Ruffley, David
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
St Aubyn, Nick
Sanders, Adrian
Sayeed, Jonathan
Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Shepherd, Richard
Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Soames, Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spring, Richard
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Streeter, Gary
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Desmond
Swinney, John
Syms, Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Thompson, William
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Townend, John
Tredinnick, David
Trend, Michael
Wardle, Charles
Webb, Steve
Welsh, Andrew
Whitney, Sir Raymond
Whittingdale, John
Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Wigley, Rt Hon Dafydd
Wilkinson, John
Willetts, David
Willis, Phil
Wilshire, David
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Yeo, Tim
Young, Rt Hon Sir George

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mrs. Jacqui Lait and
Mr. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown.


Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary
Ashton, Joe
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Banks, Tony
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin
Battle, John
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret
Bell, Martin (Tatton)
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony (Chesterfield)
Bennett, Andrew F
Benton, Joe
Bermingham, Gerald
Berry, Roger
Best, Harold
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Blunkett, Rt Hon David
Borrow, David
Bradley, Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Brinton, Mrs Helen
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Butler, Mrs Christine
Caborn, Rt Hon Richard
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Cann, Jamie
Caplin, Ivor
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, David
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cook, Rt Hon Robin (Livingston)
Cooper, Yvette
Corbett, Robin
Cousins, Jim
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr Jack
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire
Dalyell, Tam
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Darvill, Keith
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, John
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Drew, David
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Field, Rt Hon Frank
Fisher, Mark
Fitzsimons, Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Foulkes, George
Fyfe, Maria
Galloway, George
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Godman, Dr Norman A
Goggins, Paul
Golding, Mrs Llin
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Grant, Bernie
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grocott, Bruce
Grogan, John
Gunnell, John
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet
Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Healey, John
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, Ms Patricia
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Ms Margaret
Hoey, Kate
Hood, Jimmy
Hoon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Howells, Dr Kim
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan
Hutton, John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Illsley, Eric
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Johnson, Miss Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Ms Jenny
(Wolverh'ton SW)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jowell, Rt Hon Ms Tessa
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Kemp, Fraser
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Khabra, Piara S
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Laxton, Bob
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs Helen
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Love, Andrew
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Ms Chris
McCartney, Rt Hon Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
Macdonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
McFall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNamara, Kevin
McNulty, Tony
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
Mallaber, Judy
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Maxton, John
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Michael, Rt Hon Alun
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Milburn, Rt Hon Alan
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin
Moffatt, Laura
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Moran, Ms Margaret
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Morley, Elliot
Morris, Rt Hon Ms Estelle
(B'ham Yardley)
Mountford, Kali
Mowlam, Rt Hon Marjorie
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
O'Hara, Eddie
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Organ, Mrs Diana
Palmer, Dr Nick
Pearson, Ian
Pendry, Tom
Perham, Ms Linda
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris
Pope, Greg
Pound, Stephen
Powell, Sir Raymond
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prescott, Rt Hon John
Primarolo, Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quin, Rt Hon Ms Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Radice, Rt Hon Giles
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Reid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooker, Rt Hon Jeff
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Rowlands, Ted
Roy, Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Ryan, Ms Joan
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Barry
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Short, Rt Hon Clare
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Singh, Marsha
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Miss Geraldine
(Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Southworth, Ms Helen
Spellar, John
Squire, Ms Rachel
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr Howard
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Temple-Morris, Peter
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tynan, Bill
Vaz, Keith
Vis, Dr Rudi
Walley, Ms Joan
Wareing, Robert N
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Wills, Michael
Wilson, Brian
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wise, Audrey
Wood, Mike
Woodward, Shaun
Worthington, Tony
Wray, James
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Gerry Sutcliffe and
Mr. Jim Dowd.

Question accordingly negatived.

11 Jan 2000 : Column 244

Main Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 62 (Amendment on Second or Third Reading):--

The House divided: Ayes 338, Noes 43.

11 Jan 2000 : Column 245

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