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Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, has it occurred to the Minister that a very rapid increase may develop in the prosperity of women as against men in earnings, as well as in income from savings? This whole argument is based on a certain formula and on the Treasury's fear of the complication of the exercise. I am concerned about fairness for individuals. People matter. Does the noble Baroness realise that the situation may change and that those figures may not remain relevant?

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, I do not want to be discourteous to the noble Baroness, but this is the Report stage. We had a very full debate on the issue in Committee. I am trying to keep my remarks tight because there are many amendments to deal with tonight. I very much hope that the noble Baroness is right; indeed, I expect it to be the case that women's prosperity will grow. But any woman who is not on benefit does not need to contact the CSA. I hope that the noble Baroness understands that. As far as we are concerned, women who are not on benefit are private cases and do not need to approach the CSA. The more women's prosperity grows, the less likely they are to turn to the CSA. Therefore, the issue raised by the noble Baroness simply does not apply.

Lord Higgins: My Lords, I listened with great care to the comments made by the Minister. What the Government now propose is a very major simplification. But throughout this matter, which goes back to 1991, it has been a question of balancing simplicity against fairness. The same is true as regards our tax system: we have developed a tax system that has become increasingly complicated in order to achieve a greater degree of fairness. However, the point made by my noble friend Lady Carnegy--namely, that what is important here is the perception of whether it is fair--is also of some significance. Great difficulty will be experienced in getting people to accept that it is fair to take into account the income of the absent parent only and not that of the parent with care.

There has, I believe, been some difficulty in making contact--if I may put it that way--on part of the argument, which was also true of the Committee stage. At the beginning of her remarks, the Minister said that the parent with care is the one who is paying the bills. Yes, that is true. But the question is: who is providing the money to pay those bills? In this case, it is, generally speaking and to a significant degree, the absent parent--

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: No, my Lords. I am sorry--I am breaking my own conventions here--but

22 Jun 2000 : Column 448

what the noble Lord says is not true. The average contribution of a man in full-time employment will be £31 per week under our scheme. Perhaps I may tease your Lordships and say that only a bloke could think that you can bring up a child and pay for clothes, food, housing, heating, utilities, cleaning, toys, holidays and school expenses on £31 a week.

Lord Higgins: My Lords, those parents are quite clearly making a contribution. But, given their relative circumstances, the question is whether it is an appropriate contribution for one to make as against the other. We accept that there is a relatively small number of parents with care in these circumstances, but we are saying that it is appropriate to take into account both sets of income, even though that may involve a greater degree of complexity. The Minister referred to adversarial relationships. Our amendment would not increase the degree of an adversarial situation between the CSA and the absent parent. The latter will obviously feel that it is fairer if the income of the parent with care is taken into account.

It is also true to say that the parent with care with an income over the levels we have specified may feel that that results in a degree of conflict between her and the CSA. We are not asking the CSA to assess anything extraordinarily difficult--certainly not at these levels of income where, presumably, the figures are already prepared by the individual concerned for other purposes.

I have listened with great care to what the Minister said. However, I feel that this is a matter on which we should test the opinion of the House, given the arguments which have been put forward on both sides.

4.39 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 8) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 94; Not-Contents, 124.

Division No. 1

CONTENTS

Addington, L.
Alderdice, L.
Alexander of Weedon, L.
Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Anelay of St Johns, B.
Astor of Hever, L.
Attlee, E.
Avebury, L.
Barker, B.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Blaker, L.
Boardman, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Bradshaw, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Burnham, L.[Teller]
Buscombe, B.
Butterworth, L.
Campbell of Croy, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Clement-Jones, L.
Courtown, E.
Craigavon, V.
Cranborne, V.
Darcy de Knayth, B.
Denham, L.
Dholakia, L.
Dundee, E.
Falkland, V.
Feldman, L.
Fookes, B.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Geraint, L.
Goodhart, L.
Goschen, V.
Greaves, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L.
Harris of Richmond, B.
Hayhoe, L.
Henley, L.[Teller]
Higgins, L.
Hogg, B.
Hooson, L.
Howe, E.
Hylton-Foster, B.
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Jopling, L.
Knight of Collingtree, B.
Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Liverpool, E.
Lucas, L.
Luke, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L.
McConnell, L.
Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Marlesford, L.
Methuen, L.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Northbrook, L.
Northover, B.
Norton of Louth, L.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Plumb, L.
Plummer of St. Marylebone, L.
Razzall, L.
Rees, L.
Rennard, L.
Renton of Mount Harry, L.
Renton, L.
Roberts of Conwy, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Russell, E.
Seccombe, B.
Sharman, L.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Shrewsbury, E.
Shutt of Greetland, L.
Skelmersdale, L.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, L.
Taverne, L.
Taylor of Warwick, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Tordoff, L.
Trumpington, B.
Vivian, L.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Walmsley, B.
Warnock, B.

NOT-CONTENTS

Acton, L.
Ahmed, L.
Alli, L.
Amos, B.
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Bach, L.
Berkeley, L.
Bernstein of Craigwell, L.
Billingham, B.
Blackstone, B.
Bragg, L.
Brennan, L.
Brett, L.
Brookman, L.
Bruce of Donington, L.
Burlison, L.
Carter, L.[Teller]
Chandos, V.
Christopher, L.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
Cohen of Pimlico, B.
Craig of Radley, L.
Crawley, B.
David, B.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Desai, L.
Diamond, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Elder, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Evans of Temple Guiting, L.
Evans of Watford, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Filkin, L.
Gale, B.
Gavron, L.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B.
Gladwin of Clee, L.
Goldsmith, L.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Grabiner, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Greengross, B.
Grenfell, L.
Harrison, L.
Haskel, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Chesterton, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Hylton, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. (Lord Chancellor)
Jay of Paddington, B. (Lord Privy Seal)
Jenkins of Putney, L.
Judd, L.
Kennedy of The Shaws, B.
King of West Bromwich, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Levy, L.
Lipsey, L.
Lockwood, B.
Longford, E.
Lovell-Davis, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L.[Teller]
McIntosh of Hudnall, B.
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Mishcon, L.
Mitchell, L.
Molloy, L.
Morris of Castle Morris, L.
Morris of Manchester, L.
Murray of Epping Forest, L.
Nicol, B.
Paul, L.
Peston, L.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Puttnam, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Rea, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Richard, L.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Serota, B.
Shepherd, L.
Shore of Stepney, L.
Simon, V.
Smith of Gilmorehill, B.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Tomlinson, L.
Turnberg, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Uddin, B.
Warner, L.
Warwick of Undercliffe, B.
Weatherill, L.
Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.
Wilkins, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williamson of Horton, L.
Woolmer of Leeds, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

22 Jun 2000 : Column 450

4.50 p.m.

[Amendment No. 9 not moved.]

Clause 2 [Applications under section 4 of the Child Support Act 1991]:


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