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Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, I am grateful. The second matter is the need to reverse consequential amendments to Northern Ireland provision, which is category 5. In the main, these consequential amendments sought simply to remove redundant references to WFTC and DPTC in existing Northern Ireland legislation. Amendment No. 137 reverses consequential amendments to the Legal Aid, Advice and Assistance (Northern Ireland) Order which simply removed references to "Family Credit" in that order. In 1999, "Family Credit" was taken out and replaced with "WFTC". We now need to replace that with the new titles.
Amendments Nos. 153 and 170 reverse consequential changes to Article 18C(7)(b) of the Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995. This article allows those who have certain services paid for by a local authority on their behalfprimarily day care services for children in particular needto receive the services for free as long as they are in receipt of the specified benefits or elements of tax credits set out in the article. We now have to change the title of the specified benefits or tax credits as set out in the article.
So that is what is going on. There is an array of Northern Ireland legislation in which some eligibility depends on references to WFTC and DPTC. Those references now need to be replaced with the labels of the new benefits and tax credits.
Lord Higgins: My Lords, I am most grateful for that clarification which I think will be helpful not only to us on this occasion but to another place when it comes to consider the large number of government amendments. One's fear is that the system of programming in another place not only has curtailed debate on these issues until now, but may well curtail further debate on the amendments which your Lordships have madea very large number of amendments indeed. However, we have to wait and see how that works out and, if need be, comment on it when the matter returns to this House, if the other place is so misguided as not to accept the amendments we have made. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, Amendment No. 157 knocks out a large chunk of Clause 48. Amendment No. 158 would leave out "Treasury" and insert "Chancellor of the Exchequer". There has been a clear trend since 1997 for the functions of various departments to be taken over by the Treasury. The Bill is a massive indication of the extent to which the Treasury's tentacles are extending further into other parts of Whitehall. In Clause 48 a large number of functions are transferred to the Treasury. Although not directly related to the Tax Credits Bill, I give as an example the guardian's allowance, child benefit and so on.
It is an interesting but not necessarily desirable development. In another place, the Bill was dealt with by the Treasury. We have been fortunate in this House that the Department for Work and Pensions has clawed backI think that that is the right expressionresponsibility for the Bill. We have had the expertise of the noble Baroness in dealing with this legislation. We thought that it was worth commenting upon.
I have a specific point. Oddly, it seems to us, the clause begins by stating that the functions of the Secretary of State, under the range of provisions stated, are to be transferred to the Treasury. Amendment No. 158 would leave out "Treasury" and insert "Chancellor of the Exchequer". The Secretary of
Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, I had thought that the amendment was a tease. As drafted, the noble Lord's proposals would not only transfer social security functions to the Chancellor of the Exchequer but also those relating to health, education, national defence and even overseas development. As drafted, the amendment covers any function carried out by any Secretary of State in any of the departments for which they are responsible. I thought that it was not just a tease but marginally over the top as teases went.
If the noble Lord wants, I shall be happy to engage in a more serious discussion about the need to transfer, as dealt with in Part 2 of the Bill. Child benefit and guardian's allowance will be dealt with by the Treasury. That was considered by the Social Security Select Committee, a cross-party committee, as early as July 2000. It has been discussed with various pressure and interest groups. In all the discussions to which I have been party or about which I have read reports, there has been widespread agreement that it makes sense for responsibilities for all financial support for families with children to reside in a single department, as this Bill prescribes. Therefore, it covers both the transfer of responsibilities to the Inland Revenue and Treasury and allows changes to child benefit to bring them into line with proposals for the child tax credit. That will allow the Government to produce a more streamlined system of financial support for families with children. It means that only one department will deal with financial support for children, which I believe will be to the benefit of transparent administration and ease of simplicity for those receiving the benefit.
I can go into a longer philosophical argument about the nature of child benefit in relation to child tax credit, or the Chancellor's and the Treasury's relationship to the Department for Work and Pensions, but this amendment will not do. As far as I can see there are only two departments of government, a big one called the Treasury and a little one called the Cabinet Office. I am not sure that that is what the noble Lord intended.
The substantive point goes to the core of the Bill, which is to integrate the different financial flows of support for children so that they are no longer separated between out-of-work benefits, which are the function of the DWP, and in-work benefits, which are the function of the Treasurytunnel benefits. Instead to have an integrated benefit for children, the child tax credit that goes from out-of-work to into-work is an
Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, the reference to the Treasury is merely a drafting convention and refers to the Ministers of the Treasury of which the Chancellor is one. Noble Lords will be aware that the constitutional arrangements for the Treasury mean that the First Lord of the Treasury, the equivalent of the Secretary of State, is the Prime Minister. So this wording makes it clear that it is a Treasury Minister, for example, the Chancellor, who is to have such powers.
Lord Higgins: My Lords, I am grateful for that reply. At this time of night the Minister has replied in a jocular manner, but the reality is that this Bill transfers to the Treasury functions that it has never previously exercised. In particular, one suddenly finds the Inland Revenue paying out money rather than collecting it, which is a fairly radical change. Subject to that, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for her comments. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment is even more pedantic and I shall deal with it quickly. As the Minister knows, the convention is that the expression "the Secretary of State" is used indiscriminately. One is supposed to understand to which Secretary of State reference is made. Generally, it is apparent and does not give any cause for problems. But this amendment suggests that on this occasion we should identify the Secretary of State as the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland because various Secretaries of State are involved at this stage of the Bill and there could be confusion. I beg to move.
So the noble Lord's amendment would limit transfer of operational responsibility to the Inland Revenue to Northern Ireland, even if policy responsibility for those benefits sat with the Treasury. Given our earlier arguments, that would be nonsensical. The technical point is that the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, my right honourable friend Dr John Reid, is not the same as the Northern Ireland departmentas defined in the Billresponsible for these measures, the Department for Social Development. The general point is that we are trying to ensure the same consistency and integration of responsibility in Northern Ireland as in England, Scotland and Wales.
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