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Written Answers

Wednesday, 20th October 1999.

Working Families' Tax Credit

Baroness Castle of Blackburn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the estimated loss to the Inland Revenue of the introduction of the Working Families' Tax Credit; and what is the latest figure for the cost of the Family Credit benefit it replaces.[HL4125]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The cost of the Working Families' Tax Credit in 2000-01, the first full year of the credit, is estimated to be about £4.9 billion. This is about £2 billion higher than the estimated expenditure on Family Credit.

EMU

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 27th July (WA173), whether it is their view that the sole constitutional issue involved in entry into European Monetary Union is that “to share a common monetary policy with other states does represent a major pooling of economic sovereignty".[HL4139]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: As the Chancellor of the Exchequer said in his October 1997 statement, the determining factor underpinning any government decision on membership of the single currency is whether the economic benefits of joining are clear and unambiguous. If they are, there is no constitutional bar to British membership of EMU.

Benefits System Reform: Secretary of State's Speech

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    To which people the Secretary of State for Social Security was referring in his speech at East Ham on 18 July when he spoke of the benefits system “writing people off when it should be providing them with active help to get back on their feet"; and wherein he believes the act of writing off consists; and[HL4133]

    To which people the Secretary of State for Social Security was referring in his speech at East Ham on 18 July when he said that “many people . . . are dependent then they need not be"; and[HL4134]

    Whether they will explain the logic of the passage in the Secretary of State for Social Security's speech at East Ham on 18 July which said: “but a Giro can't get you a job, or improve your skills or prospects. That's why we're reforming the benefits system"; and whether job creation is now within the

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    departmental responsibility of the Department of Social Security; and[HL4135]

    Whether they will explain the logic of the passage in the Secretary of State for Social Security's speech at East Ham on 18 July which said: “parents have come to expect no better for their children than they do for themselves. We're determined to change that. That's why we've started a radical overhaul of the benefit system"; whether they will explain why or how they believe the benefit system can contribute to the solution of this problem; and whether the Department of Social Security is now responsible for regional development in areas with little or no employment.[HL4136]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): We know that deprivation in childhood can lead to low educational achievement and to worse outcomes in later life. Many children living in poverty become accustomed to the environments in which they live; their parents may never have worked; they may have only lived in poor housing. These children expect nothing more for their own futures. We are determined to change this and have a comprehensive strategy in place.

The benefits system has failed to adapt to social and economic changes. That is why we are changing it to provide help for those who can work and security for those who cannot. Too many people have been dependent on benefits long term with little incentive or help to find work. We are providing active help to get people back to work through the New Deal and ONE Service pilots. Our reforms are about providing opportunity for all so that people do not have to rely on benefits if they are able to work.

Tackling unemployment in deprived communities is high on the government agenda. The Social Exclusion Unit is drawing up a National Strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal. This department is not directly responsible for regional development in areas with little or no employment or job creation but we are working with other government departments, local people, employers and businesses to tackle the problem.

Young First-time Offenders, Scotland

Lord Windlesham asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether referrals by the courts in Scotland of young first-time offenders to youth panels are mandatory or discretionary; and, if the latter, whether they will explain the discrepancy with mandatory referrals under Section 1 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999.[HL 4129]

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: Since 1 July 1999, matters relating to the courts in Scotland are for the Scottish Parliament. Youth panels have not been established in Scotland. Young first-time offenders in Scotland will normally be referred to a children's

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hearing where a ground of referral under Section 52 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 can be established.

House of Lords Car Park

Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe asked the Chairman of Committees:

    What is the present estimated cost of the proposed work on the House of Lords car park; and whether this project can be reconsidered in the light of expenditure on Portcullis House.[HL 4177]

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The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): The present estimated cost of the Old Palace Yard restoration scheme remains £2.44 million at current prices, spread over the financial years 2000-01, 2001-02 and 2002-03, as stated in the Seventh Report from the Offices Committee (Session 1997-98). The project was considered by the appropriate House Committees in three separate sessions of Parliament and finally approved by the House, on division, on 18 November 1998. Expenditure on Portcullis House is a matter for the House of Commons. In the light of all these circumstances, the project does not fall to be reconsidered by this House.

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