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Child Poverty Act 2001

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Child Poverty Act 2001
#1

[Image: Legislation_Header.png]

Child Poverty Act 2001
 
An Act to set legal targets on the reduction of Child Poverty
 
BE IT ENACTED, by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—
 
1. The Child Poverty Commission

(1) There shall be a Child Poverty Commission whose responsibilties are to -

(a) assess the government's performance against the child poverty targets;
(b) make recommendations to the government as to the policies necessary to meet its targets; and
© to carry out any other such activities or research that serve to support or hold the Secretary of State's duty to meet the targets to account.

(2) The Secretary of State shall appoint the Chair and up to five members, with a further member each appointed by the Scottish minsiters, Welsh ministers, and Northern Ireland ministers; they shall have due regard to appoint such individuals as have demonstrated experience of working in the field of poverty reduction.

2. The Targets

(1) The 2010 target is that in the financial year 2010-11 -

(a) 1.6 million children or fewer live in households earning less, on an equivilised basis and before housing costs, than 60% of the median household income before housing costs in the United Kingdom; and
(b) 2.1 million children or fewer live in households earning less, on an equivilised basis and before housing costs, than 60% of the median household income after housing costs in the United Kingdom; and

(2) The interim target is that by the financial year 2004-5  - 

(a) 2.4 million children or fewer live in households earning less, on an equivilised basis and before housing costs, than 60% of the median household income before housing costs in the United Kingdom; and
(b) 3.2 million children or fewer live in households earning less, on an equivilised basis and before housing costs, than 60% of the median household income after housing costs in the United Kingdom; and

(3) The Commission shall advise the government on an appropriate target, or set of targets, to set to meet the following aim: "to effectively eliminate child poverty by the financial year 2020-21", and the Secretary of State shall lay regulations no later than 2005 setting out those targets under this section to be approved by a vote of both Houses.

(4) The Secretary of State must lay before Parliament as soon as possible after each target year a report setting out whether or not the target has been met, and if it has not been met, what action he will take to remedy divergence from the target.

3. The Duty

(1) The Secretary of State has a duty to take such action as is necessary to meet the targets set out in section 2.

(2) The Secretary of State shall publish no later than the end of 2001 a "Child Poverty Strategy", setting out how the government intends to meet the targets, and that strategy must be updated at least every three years.

(3) The ministers for Scotland, the ministers for Wales, and the ministers for Northern Ireland must each publish a Child Poverty Strategy no later than six months after the Secretary of State setting out how they intend to support the duty of the Secretary of State under this section.

4. Local Child Poverty Plans

(1) Local Authorities shall have a duty to support the Secretary of State's duty under section 2 and, in accordance with any relevant partner authorities, to prepare a local child poverty plan setting out the actions the local authority will take alongside its partner authorities to support the Secretary of State's duty under section 3.

(2) The commission shall support local authorities by setting out best practice and facilitating access to and release of data on local child poverty, deprivation, and income distribution.

(3) The commission shall set out to the Secretary of State ahead of the publication of his Child Poverty Strategy those local authorities which, in its opinion have the highest levels of child poverty or need for action to tackle child poverty.

(4) The Secretary of State shall make available a sum of money to be determined in order to support local child poverty plans.

5. Short title, enactment, and extent

(1) This Act may be cited as the Child Poverty Act 2001.

(2) This Act comes into effect upon receiving Royal Asset.

(3) This Act extends to the United Kingdom.
Rt. Hon. Sean Manning MP

Chancellor of the Exchequer (2000 - )
Labour MP for Bristol East (1992 - )
Chief Secretary to the Treasury (1997 - 2000)
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#2
Madam Speaker,

I beg to move that the Bill be read a First Time and be Printed.
Belinda MacDonald
Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom | Deputy Leader of the Labour Party
Secretary of State for Energy & the Environment | Leader of the House of Commons
Member of Parliament for Western Isles
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#3
Madam Speaker,

Last year the then Prime Minister set a historic target. That within a generation child poverty would be eliminated.

This will not be an easy task, and the government has not entered into that pledge lightly. But it is necessary. Child poverty is a moral indignity. It not only deprives the youngest and most innocent of our citizens the right to the livelihood we consider acceptable in modern Britain. It scars their entire life. Children born into and living in poverty are less healthy, experience slower cognitive development, are  more likely to develop long-term physical and mental health conditions, and are more likely to grow up to be poor. That has enormous costs for our country. It is a tremendous waste of talent. The action we are taking on education and on our healthcare system will help to tackle the symptoms of this. But we must take action on the root cause: the fact that we allow so many of our children to grow up in poverty.

The actions the government has taken will already take hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty. But we start from one of the worst positions in Western Europe and one of the worst positions since the Second World War. In 1997 well over 3 million children lived in poverty before housing costs: more than double the rate in the 1970s. Rates in Germany and Scandinavian countries are less than half the rate here in the UK.

This Act gives legal effect to the targets we set out on child poverty and puts a duty on the government, devolved goverenments, and local authorities to meet those targets. The Act establishes an independent commission to hold us to account and to independently assess our performance. 

The Act sets out three specific targets.

First, that we will have reduced child poverty - as defined by living below the 60% poverty line - by a quarter by 2004-5

Second, that we will have reduced that same measures by a half by 2010-11.

And finally, a final target to eliminate child poverty by 2020-21. One of the first tasks of the new Commission will be to recommend to Parliament the specific target against which this should be judged. The Government will make its own representations to the Commission on how it believes that should be judged, but is keen to hear an independent recommendation bearing in mind the views of civil society and other members of this House. But at the very least I expect that by 2020 the UK should have among the lowest internationally comparable rates of child poverty, and no children should live lacking any material needs.

This Act is another firm signal of the Government's intention to end our country's tolerance of children growing up in poverty. It will quite clearly not alone solve the issue. Achieving these targets will require significant and tough decisions - decisions that we will begin to set out in the forthcoming budget, and which I will set out in the government's first Child Poverty Strategy next year. This Act will bind the hands of this Parliament and this Government - and indeed future governments - to the historic commitment to make sure every child from every background has the chance for a decent start in life. I commend it to this House.
Rt. Hon. Sean Manning MP

Chancellor of the Exchequer (2000 - )
Labour MP for Bristol East (1992 - )
Chief Secretary to the Treasury (1997 - 2000)
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#4
Order!

Second Reading!
Head Admin.
Admin Responsible for the Houses of Parliament. (Also Cabinet&PM stuff).
Conservative Party advisor.

“In politics, guts is all.” - Barbara Castle.


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#5
Madame Speaker.

I must say when I saw the fallout from the Labour leadership election I was very concerned about the future of the country, accusations of buying power with positions and a clear fragmentation in the governing party were not good signs in the near past. Having said that I have been pleasantly surprised in the last month or two with the legislation that the Government is putting forward, they may be allowing prejudice and bigotry to flourish supported by the other place but they are taking up other causes I have long championed in the interim, so whilst it is important to note that they are ignoring vast issues like Public Finance Initiatives in our NHS and Section 28 this legislation is welcome.

Madame Speaker I must ask the Government a question about this legislation however, firstly Madame Speaker I must ask what assurances the Right Honourable Members can give the House that the Commission shall not be a mere partisan tool to pat the Government on the back? The Secretary of State is appointing six of the nine members including the Chair, and the Labour Party control the appointment of a further two members as the First Ministers of Wales and Scotland are in Labour red. Madame Speaker, what assurances can the Government give us that the commission shall have teeth and shall not be afraid to bite the hand that fed it?
REBECCA FLAIR

LIB DEM MP FOR MONTGOMERYSHIRE
______
'Emergencies' have always been the pretext on which the safeguards of individual liberty have been eroded. - Friedrich Hayek
Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself. - Milton Friedman
Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program. - Milton Friedman
______

Mac the Great and Powerful
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#6
Madam Speaker, 

I want to first thank the Chancellor for bringing this legislation forward. It is a very strong commitment indeed for the government to pledge an elimination of child poverty in our lifetimes. I also want to thank him for introducing this legislation, allowing this debate to cut to the core of the failures of this government and its Tory-lite ideology.

It is appalling that the Chancellor has suggested that this government takes child poverty seriously. The timetable and targets alone show very clearly the government takes child poverty less seriously than it does budget surpluses. Let us not forget that while millions of children live in poverty, the Chancellor touted the economic legacy of his predecessor and the billions of pounds surplus. While I'm certain the Chancellor believes that figure will provide great comfort to the poor across Britain, let me reassure him it does not. They cannot eat that surplus, or live in it,  or be clothed or educated by it because that money has been directed away from vital services. Not exactly a record to be proud of. 

It pains me to remind the House that if the government meets its first target of reducing poverty by 25% in five years, child poverty will still be substantially higher than under the last Labour government. Furthermore , these targets will necessarily span multiple parliaments and governments lead by other parties. Child poverty exploded under Thatcher and the Tories, significantly endangering millions of children. By pledging a two decade strategy, the government is throwing the future of our children to the wolves. Does he genuinely believe the future of our children is in safe hands under a Tory government? Is he actually so naive to believe a Tory government would even commit to these proposals and see them through?  This strategy is reckless, irresponsible and indicative of the moral relativism of the so called new Labour movement. 

I have no doubt the Chancellor will respond to these criticisms with concerns about costs. Madam Speaker, I will not sit here and allow any member of the government to perpetuate the myth that Britain is not a wealthy country. There are hundreds of billions of pounds available to fight poverty, hunger, want and disease. We have the economic resources to eliminate child poverty by 2010, properly house, feed, clothe and educate every child in Britain. There is a broad consensus to tax the wealthy to lift millions out of poverty. There is not a lack of resources Madam Speaker, there is a lack of conviction. There is a lack of concern. 

I am a single constituency MP with very little influence in this House. I do not hold the ear of the Prime Minister and I do not walk the corridors of power. Yet if the Chancellor were to take a single comment of mine to heart, I would say "have courage man. Show a little backbone. You are a Labour Chancellor serving in a Labour government with a healthy majority. You can fight child poverty, you can change lives. If not now, when?" 

I will vote for this legislation just as my colleagues will when the whips come calling and twisting arms. We know this legislation is better than nothing at all.  Yet every Labour member of this House should know this bill is a failure. It is a dereliction of duty and an embarassment to the millions living in poverty now and the millions more who will be born into it over the next 20 years. In the simplest of terms, by 2020 I will be more than 80 years old,  a child born in poverty today will have an uncertain future, there will still be child poverty in Britain and we will look back in shame knowing that we could have done more but didn't.
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#7
Order!

Division, clear the lobbies!
Head Admin.
Admin Responsible for the Houses of Parliament. (Also Cabinet&PM stuff).
Conservative Party advisor.

“In politics, guts is all.” - Barbara Castle.


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#8
Aye
REBECCA FLAIR

LIB DEM MP FOR MONTGOMERYSHIRE
______
'Emergencies' have always been the pretext on which the safeguards of individual liberty have been eroded. - Friedrich Hayek
Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself. - Milton Friedman
Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program. - Milton Friedman
______

Mac the Great and Powerful
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#9
Aye
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#10
Aye
Rt. Hon. Sean Manning MP

Chancellor of the Exchequer (2000 - )
Labour MP for Bristol East (1992 - )
Chief Secretary to the Treasury (1997 - 2000)
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#11
Aye
Harri Pollitt
Member of Parliament for Blaenau Gwent 1992 - Present
Secretary of State for Infrastructure and Transport
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#12
Aye
Alwyn Thomas

Labour MP for Newport West

Minister of State for International Development (2000)
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#13
Aye
MP for Cambridge (1992 - )
Secretary of State for Education
Labour
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#14
Aye
Sir Harold Saxon MP

Leader of Her Majesty's Opposition

MP for Aylesbury

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#15
Aye.
Rt Hon Lillian Nichols MP | Labour & Co-operative
Member of Parliament for Birmingham Selly Oak (1992- )
Secretary of State for Home Department (2001- )
Minister for Women & Equalities (2000- )
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (2000-2001)
Secretary of State for International Development (1998-2000)
Minister for Women (1997-1998)
Shadow Secretary of State for International Development (1995-1997)

Formerly: Gareth Edwards, Andrew Pearson, L Chris Havilland, Mack Aldritt


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#16
Aye
Labour MP for Hampstead and Highgate (1992-Present)
Home Secretary (2000-2001)

(In a previous life, violated a confidence and supply agreement, tried to fight a man on Eton's nine-hole golf course and released a leaflet torpedoing his own party)

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#17
Aye
Belinda MacDonald
Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom | Deputy Leader of the Labour Party
Secretary of State for Energy & the Environment | Leader of the House of Commons
Member of Parliament for Western Isles
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#18
Aye.
Rt. Hon. Callum Finch MP | Labour Party
Member of Parliament for Burton (1992-present)
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Leader of the Labour Party


Secretary of State for Defence (2000-2001)
Government Chief Whip & Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (2000-2001)
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