£110,000 Community Fund grants scheme now open for expressions of interest from groups for waste prevention, reuse, recycling or carbon benefits projects in Merseyside and/or Halton

£110,000 Community Fund grants scheme now open for expressions of interest from groups for waste prevention, reuse, recycling or carbon benefits projects in Merseyside and/or Halton

                                                              

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Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority public meeting of 5th February 2016 (where councillors agreed to continue the Community Fund for 2016/17)

Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority 5th February 2016 agenda item 11 Community Fund 2016 17 L to R Unknown, Mandy Valentine (Assistant Director of Governance and Performance), Cllr Graham Morgan (Chair), Carl Beer (Chief Executive) and Peter Williams (Director of Finance)
Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority 5th February 2016 agenda item 11 Community Fund 2016 17 L to R Unknown, Mandy Valentine (Assistant Director of Governance and Performance), Cllr Graham Morgan (Chair), Carl Beer (Chief Executive) and Peter Williams (Director of Finance)

The author of this piece declares an interest as a customer of his business is employed by one of the Wirral organisations that received a grant from Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority in 2014/15 mentioned below.

Last Friday afternoon councillors on the Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority agreed to continue the Community Fund for 2016/17 with an allocation of £110,000.

£57,000 has been set aside for regional (Merseyside and Halton) projects with a maximum award of £25,000 per a project in this category.

£48,000 has been set aside for district level projects (districts are Wirral, Liverpool, Sefton, St. Helens, Knowsley and Halton) with a maximum grant award of £8,000 per a project in this category.

Any unspent monies at the regional level will be reallocated to projects at a district level.

Three Wirral based organisations received grant funding last year (2014/15) through this scheme. You can read the full list of organisations that received grant funding for 2014/15 on Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority’s website. There is a detailed report about the projects including photos of some of the 2014/15 projects on Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority’s website (the last photo on the last page of that report includes a photo of former Mayor of Wirral Steve Foulkes and Birkenhead’s MP the Rt Hon Frank Field MP).

Tomorrow’s Women Wirral received £10,000 for their Inspiration Hall project.
Community Action Wirral received £19,982 for their Donate and Create Change project.
Wirral Change received £9,064 for their Too Good To Waste project.

This year the Community Fund is open again for applications from registered charities, not-for-profit organisations (including social enterprises), community, neighbourhood or voluntary groups, faith groups delivering community work, schools, colleges or universities.

It is a two stage grant application process with the first stage being an expressions of interest stage.

Applications are sought for projects that can deliver waste prevention, reuse, recycling and carbon benefits.

A link to the expression of interest form, guidance document and terms and conditions can be found linked from this page on Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority’s website. This page also has contact details for Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority in connection with applications for grants.

The deadline for the first stage (expressions of interest) for this two stage grant process is Wednesday 2nd March 2016.

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Will the 20 councillors on Merseytravel mothball the Mersey Ferry terminal at Woodside?

Will the 20 councillors on Merseytravel mothball the Mersey Ferry terminal at Woodside?

                                               

MV Snowdrop (one of the iconic Mersey Ferries) on the River Mersey with Liverpool skyline in the background
MV Snowdrop (one of the iconic Mersey Ferries) on the River Mersey with Liverpool skyline in the background

One of the reasons I have had not had all twelve days of Christmas off, is because next week there are two Merseytravel public meetings.

The one on the afternoon of Thursday 7th January (starting at 2.00pm in the Authority Room, 1st floor, Merseytravel Headquarters, No. 1 Mann Island, Liverpool, L3 1BP) is a meeting of all twenty councillors on the Merseytravel Committee (which is now part of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority). This committee has councillors from Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, St Helens, Sefton and Wirral. You might point out that although being called Merseytravel, Halton isn’t in Merseyside but Cheshire (but it is part of the Combined Authority).

The Wirral representatives on Merseytravel are Cllr Ron Abbey (Labour), Cllr Jerry Williams (Labour), Cllr Steve Foulkes (Labour) and Cllr Les Rowlands (Conservative (the two opposition councillors who aren’t in the Labour Party of which he’s one call themselves the Merseytravel Alliance)).

It’s not a long agenda and I am looking forward to the Merseyrail question and answer session, but as you’ve probably guessed this piece is going to be about the Mersey Ferries.

Somebody at Merseytravel paid consultants called Mott McDonald to write a report on the Mersey Ferries. You can read the covering report and consultant’s report on Merseytravel’s website. Mott McDonald also involved two other firms of consultants Peter Brett Associates and Graham & Woolnough.

The bit in the consultants’ report that has been causing a lot of political concern this side of the River Mersey is the part that states,

"Unfortunately, due to the extensive capital investment required in the near future, it is recommended that Woodside terminal is mothballed and the pier infrastructure removed."
 

Obviously this would mean if that was ever decided that the Mersey Ferry would just go between the Pier Head in Liverpool and Seacombe. I presume if that happened that would mean the end of the U-Boat Story tourist attraction which is part of that complex too (all about a German submarine called U-534), the cafe there and Birkenhead would lose out on visitors.

There is an emotional connection people have this side of the water to the Mersey Ferries and I’m sure there are people still alive that remember when it stopped at New Brighton and New Brighton was a bustling seaside resort.

One of the councillors on the Merseytravel Committee, Cllr Jerry Williams is the Heritage Champion and I’m sure he could wax lyrical about how important the Mersey Ferries are for Wirral’s tourism.

For the last twenty-six years the running of the Mersey Ferries has been through a company controlled by Merseytravel called Mersey Ferries Limited. I quote from its latest accounts:

"The results of the company for the year show a loss on ordinary activities before tax of £230,468 (2014 – £243,486). This loss is wholly attributable to the trading activity of the tourism-related business (Spaceport and U534) as the core transport activity continues to receive revenue support grant from its parent undertaking."
 

So, Merseytravel needs to run/market Spaceport and U534 better, whether this means asking people who buy Mersey Ferry tickets if they’d also like to purchase a ticket for Spaceport/U534 and/or just better publicity/marketing anyway Merseytravel have been criticised in the past by their auditors for the tourism side of matters.

However a more detailed look at the accounts shows that Mersey Ferries Limited employ 52 staff (an annual wage bill of £1.6 million) but Mersey Ferries Limited don’t own the Mersey Ferries or the terminals at Woodside, Seacombe and the Liverpool Pier Head.

These assets (the boats and the terminals) are owned by Merseytravel.

I am now going to make a comparison to the business I’m in as this point is raised in the consultant’s report.

As you can’t get to and from a lot of the public meetings I report on by public transport, sadly some means of private transport is vital.

Being somebody with a bit of foresight I put money aside out of what I earn in case there was a major capital expenditure on that front. Sure enough last year the car failed its MOT and I had the money to buy another at a cost of £2,500 (because I’d had the foresight to put money aside). It was only sensible from a management perspective to do this. Of course in the public sector, it would probably be a risk on a risk register.

Merseytravel (according to the consultant’s report) is in the same situation. The Mersey Ferries are getting older, so are the terminals and both are costing more to repair. However being consultants they seem to view everything through the lens of a business and the private sector, all about making money when the public sector isn’t like that.

The sensible thing would’ve been to have a reserve capital fund to pay for these types of issues. I’ll hear on Thursday afternoon more detail.

However back to the Mersey Ferries, from a political perspective Birkenhead’s politicians are united (including Rt Hon Frank Field MP) that mothballing Woodside is frankly (no pun intended) a bad idea.

Now you will probably ask, is this going to be like the annual vote on whether to put up the Mersey Tunnel tolls? Wirral’s four representatives huff and puff and say what a bad idea it will be, vote against it but are then outvoted by the rest of the Merseytravel councillors? Who knows?

However the Mersey Tunnels are why the Mersey Ferries aren’t as well used as they used to be. The Mersey Tunnels were built using borrowed money. In fact if we look at Halton, £470 million was found (who knows what the final cost will be) for a bridge over the River Mersey there.

Compared to the cost of a new bridge, the costs of keeping the ferries and terminals going seem quite small.

When there’s a political will to do something the money can be found!

Indeed the report states having the Mersey Ferries brings wider economic benefits to the City Region.

Now there will be a future, more detailed reports about the Mersey Ferries brought to a future meeting of Merseytravel.

I am going to make a point I have already made at the cost of perhaps sounding unpopular. There is a large surplus on tunnel tolls used to prop up Merseytravel’s budget and save it going cap in hand to the local councils for more money.

My view was that as the Mersey Tunnels (built on borrowed money) adversely affected the popularity and viability of the Mersey Ferries that one should subsidise the other. As I’ve already pointed out the Mersey Ferries are a big draw to tourists and bring wider economic benefits to the region.

The tunnel tolls (which are decided by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority on the recommendation of Merseytravel) have of course been a thorny political issue for a long time. Many people feeling that politicians have forever promised at election time that one day they will be scrapped but that they never are. Indeed political promises were made in the lead up to the General Election and the Combined Authority requested a report (which seems to be a long time in the writing).

However I am going to state my own personal viewpoint now. Whatever the rights and wrongs are over the Mersey Tunnel tolls, it’s one of the few things that Merseytravel/Liverpool City Region Combined Authority can control as the district council treasurers would no doubt be against an increase in the levy on the district councils (yes I realise budgets are ultimately decided by politicians). Although transport (due to the economic benefits it brings) is a priority from national government, Merseytravel can’t expect large increases in its grant.

Mersey Ferries compete against the trains, buses and other forms of transport that go through the Mersey Tunnels. However tourism is a big part of the economy in these parts. Blue Badge tourist guides take groups of people on the Mersey Ferries and transport has always been subsidised. Transport brings economic benefits.

However the consultants don’t see the big picture. They just see it like running a private business whose aim is to make a profit, the public sector ethos is not like that. The public sector runs services for the benefit of the public paid for through taxes.

It would be very sad if the Mersey Ferry terminal at Woodside was lost because of the short-sighted nature of consultants. Yes I was born in Birkenhead and most people see the Mersey Ferries at Woodside as part of the fabric of Birkenhead.

I realise what I have stated about Mersey Tunnel tolls will not be popular, I’m not advocating that they should go up. I just feel that as the Mersey Tunnels were built with borrowed money that it’s an unfair form of competition to the detriment of the Mersey Ferries. Hundreds of millions can be found to build a new bridge across the Mersey, yet much smaller amounts to keep the Mersey Ferries and terminals going can’t? It doesn’t make sense.

If you have any comments or a view on all this, please leave a comment below. If you’d like to come along to the public meeting on Thursday 7th January 2015, the meeting will start at 2.00pm in the Authority Room, 1st floor, Merseytravel Headquarters, No. 1 Mann Island, Liverpool, L3 1BP.

If you would like to write to a councillor on Merseytravel, just click on the photo of the councillor you wish to here for contact details.

There are two petitions about this you can sign.

Save Woodside Ferry Terminal (at time of writing 129 supporters) and

Save Woodside Ferry (at time of writing 367 supporters)

A report of what was said at the Merseytravel meeting starts at Cllr Foulkes on Mersey Ferries “we cherish that service and want to maintain it”.

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Isn’t it time the barriers in local government were removed for disabled people?

Isn’t it time the barriers in local government were removed for disabled people?

                                                              

Birkenhead North Railway Station Park and Ride
Birkenhead North Railway Station Park and Ride

Although the above is not a photo of the car park mentioned below, the photo is merely to illustrate that it’s about car parking

If anyone wonders if I still do casework, I do (just a lot less than I used to). The below is casework for Leonora (although I feel strongly about it myself). She’s my wife so I’ll declare an interest now. She’s also involved in this blog too. She’s given me permission to publish it as it may be of wider interest to readers of this blog. A few typographical errors in my original email (such as Arriva Train Wales to Arriva Trains Wales) have been corrected in the version below.

Rt Hon Frank Field MP is our MP here in Birkenhead, Justin Tomlinson MP is the Minister for Disabled People, the car park is in Cllr Dixon’s ward, the reason it’s going to the two Cabinet Members should be self-explanatory, although outside of the Merseytravel area, Merseyrail trains stop at Chester and Arriva Trains Wales run Chester station. I’ve no idea what the transport authority is for this region (do any readers know)?

So far I’ve received one reply back from the personal assistant to Cllr Samantha Dixon (she has a personal assistant as she’s Leader of Chester West and Chester Council) and a bilingual reply in English & Welsh from Arriva Trains Wales.

However it’s only been two days so far and Christmas will no doubt affect how long messages take to return.


Subject: casework (public transport/equality issues in the Chester area) REF: LB

Circulation list:

CC: “Rt Hon Frank Field MP (MP for Birkenhead)”
CC: “Justin Tomlinson MP (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Disabled People)”
CC: “Councillor Louise Gittins (Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Wellbeing (Chester West and Chester))”
CC: “Councillor David Armstrong (Cabinet Member for Legal and Finance (Chester West and Chester))”
CC: “Cllr Liam Robinson (Chair, Merseytravel)” CC: “Councillor Samantha Dixon (councillor for Chester City ward)”
CC: “Arriva Trains Wales”
BCC: Leonora Brace

Dear All,

I have been asked by my wife Leonora Brace to write to you on her behalf. If you wish to reply to her via post rather than email her address is Jenmaleo, 134 Boundary Road, Bidston, Wirral, CH43 7PH.

On the morning of Saturday 19th December 2015 we both visited the City of Chester.

To explain why we took the car I would like to make some general comments about Chester Railway Station first. We have tried travelling to Chester by train using our Merseytravel issued public transport passes, but unfortunately she cannot go through the ticket barrier as she has a walking stick and she has to use the side barrier. As the side barrier is for passengers travelling in both directions, sadly she has suffered many accidents in the past (for instance wheeled suitcases going over her foot from passengers coming the other way) causing her injuries.

So to avoid these safety issues, this is why I suggested we travel to Chester by car.

We used to travel to Chester using the Park and Ride outside of the City, but the Park and Ride bus driver stopped accepting our Merseytravel passes, so we stopped using the Park and Ride.

However, hopefully the above explains why despite our best efforts, problems with the public transport system in the Chester area meant in my view travelling by car on Saturday morning was the only reasonable option.

I had better point out at this stage that Leonora is issued with a Blue Badge by Wirral Council and as you can guess from the above comments has limited mobility.

I might point out that although the Blue Badge Scheme is administered locally by local councils, it is an international scheme, following legislation that applies throughout England therefore there is supposed to be some consistency across different areas.

We travelled to the Chester West and Chester car park on New Crane Street opposite Chester Racecourse.

On previous visits, she has just driven into the car park, displayed her Blue Badge and clock and there have been no problems.

This time however a barrier had been erected at the entrance to the car park.

From the passenger side the writing on the machine by the barrier was too far away to read and indeed Leonora tells me that it was impossible for her to read even on the driver’s side.

So I got out of the car, walked round to the machine and tried to understand the instructions. Despite having a university-level education I didn’t see anything referring to Blue Badge users, but there were instructions to press the intercom for assistance which I did.

I explained to the disembodied voice what the problem was and explained that we had a Blue Badge.

The disembodied voice asked if the Blue Badge had been issued by Chester West and Chester Council. Obviously as we don’t live in Chester West and Chester Council’s area, it was not and was issued by neighbouring Wirral Council.

The voice then said that if our Blue Badge wasn’t issued by Chester West and Chester Council then we couldn’t park there! I was amazed at how parochial this was! After all people with Blue Badges issued by Chester West and Chester Council are welcome to park in any Wirral Council car park! It didn’t seem fair.

I then had to explain what the disembodied voice had said to my wife (who hadn’t heard what he said due to hearing difficulties).

I asked the disembodied voice if there were car parks we could use our Blue Badge in, he said the nearest one was Frodsham Street and gave long and complicated directions.

Eventually we parked in one of the the disabled spaces at the car at the junction of Grosvenor Road/Castle Drive on the other side of Chester Racecourse. Despite my wife driving for a living as a paramedic the spaces there are badly designed and very difficult to get in and out of. Exiting such spaces you then have to go the wrong way round a one-way system, in our case delaying a coach entering the car park (otherwise we’re back to the barrier problem I mentioned earlier).

I might point out that this car park is so far away from the City Centre that we ended up not spending any money in Chester’s shops (the shops that financially support Chester West and Chester Council’s running of the cark parks through business rates).

I fully appreciate the need to combat climate change and if it wasn’t for the problems I outlined earlier I would happily travel to Chester by public transport without the need for having to interact with its arcane bureacracy.

I hope this was a one-off and a mistake and would like to say how much my wife and I enjoy our visits to Chester, however the following questions arise that I would appreciate a formal response to them.

1. Were we incorrectly informed about whether those with Blue Badges issued to those who live outside the Chester and West Council area can park in the New Crane Street car park opposite Chester racecourse and if so what are the arrangements for getting through the barrier? If a mistake was made will you apologise to Leonora?

2. Are you actively trying to deter people from doing travelling to Chester and spending money there? I noticed on previous visits the car parks were nearly full, however since the barriers have been put up they’re nearly empty. Is this part of Chester’s efforts to combat climate change and encourage greater use of public transport?

3. Why doesn’t the Park and Ride bus accept the passes issued to the elderly or disabled that can be used on all other buses in England? Surely this would be an extra source of income, therefore reducing the need for any taxpayer subsidy (if that is the case) and improving the financial sustainability of the service?

4. Why the distinction between Blue Badges issued to residents in the Chester West and Chester Council area and Blue Badges issued to residents outside Chester? Doesn’t it make little sense that a Wirral issued blue badge will be accepted in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Guernsey, Iceland, Isle of Man, Jersey, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland but apparently not Chester (which last time I checked was still part of the United Kingdom despite all the talk of an IN/OUT referendum)?

5. Bearing in mind my comments (and whereas I realise when it is busy a one-way system in in effect at Chester Railway Station), have you considered modifying the ticket barriers to have a side barrier on the left in addition to the one on the right? This would seem to reduce the chance of passengers colliding with each other.

6. Was there a consultation I missed on the car park changes? If so could you provide a link to the decision/report please about this?

7. There are a whole range of legal implications this raises (both national legislation and European level) and have these been properly thought through? I could probably write a further 2,000 words just on those alone.

Protected minorities being treated in this way has the potential to cause great upset (indeed that is why discrimination is unlawful) and there are times (as I’m sure we may not be the only people affected by these matters) that the public do not have the time, press and/or political connections or indeed understanding of this country’s politico-legal systems to make their voice heard. Before the above was implemented (such as the retrofitting of ticket barriers at Chester Railway Station and the barriers on the car parks) some thought should’ve been had as to the implications on society.

I look forward to reading your responses with interest. I sincerely hope that this was a one-off mistake caused by a misunderstanding, but look forward to reading your views and either proposals for changing the above problems or reasons why they cannot be changed.

Yours sincerely,

John Brace on behalf of Leonora Brace
and John Brace

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289 Lords refuse to rubber stamp Tory plans for tax credits unless there is further consultation and protection for those in receipt of tax credits

289 Lords refuse to rubber stamp Tory plans for tax credits unless there is further consultation and protection for those in receipt of tax credits

289 Lords refuse to rubber stamp Tory plans for tax credits unless there is further consultation and protection for those in receipt of tax credits

 

HRMC tax credits slogan "Renewing your tax credits - getting it right"
HRMC tax credits slogan “Renewing your tax credits – getting it right”

In a change to what I was originally going to write about today, I am instead going to write about tax credits. Indeed Birkenhead’s MP is the Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee which scrutinises this area.

First, I’m going to write a short introduction about what tax credits are, the promises made and then follow up by what happened as the House of Lords embarrassed the government yesterday by rejecting their proposals.

Now the right-wing press has gone into spin overdrive and in some areas referred to tax credits as “welfare payments” . I suppose this is the way that some publications can irresponsibly refer to the hardworking (but low paid) workers of this country as “welfare scroungers” rather than as politicians put in the lead up to the General Election “strivers”.

So going beyond the spin it’s time for a concise description of what tax credits are and the whole point of the policy.

If people work they pay taxes. Whether that is income tax, national insurance or taxes on the costs associated with work (for example travel).

Work is seen as a good thing. However you have to encourage people to work.

In the old days, I’m talking about before the Coalition government, the personal allowance for income tax was around £100 a week. Anything above this you started paying income tax (the National Insurance rate has always been set differently). Being taxed was a disincentive to work or taking on more hours.

Tax credits were meant to cover (for low paid work) the punitive taxes that low-paid workers would have to pay, provide an incentive for work and generally prevent people costing the government more through claiming benefits long-term (for example Job Seekers Allowance etc).

There were also other incentives that those on tax credits received such as free prescriptions and a refund of court fees in England (the latter I think still applies to people on tax credits transferred to Universal Credit but tax credits seem to have been curiously removed from the list).

This sadly seemed to be a policy that millionaire MPs in the Tory party couldn’t quite get their head around.

I repeat my point at the start, the whole point of this was not “welfare” as some Tories seem to think it is, but basically fiddling the tax system to make sure people on low pay aren’t in poverty (a bad thing).

You see over the years of the previous Coalition government, the personal allowance went up so low paid workers paid less income tax. The Tory view was therefore (and I would guess in the Coalition government from 2010-2015 any proposals lowering tax credits were probably vetoed by the Lib Dems), the whole point of the tax credits is to offset taxes people no longer have to pay so it’s time to lower people’s entitlement to tax credits.

If they had been honest with the voters before the General Election, if they had been honest with the millions of voters who get tax credits about this, they wouldn’t have got in this pickle. Of course being brutally honest about what you’re going to do has never won politicians elections in the past.

So in order to win an election the Conservatives (and thanks to the wonders of broadcast media Cameron is on video tape during one of the Leader’s debates making this promise) promised they would not cut tax credits. Then once they knew they were in office for the next five years they tried to do the complete opposite. You wonder why they didn’t learn the lesson of Lib Dems and tuition fees!

You can whip your MPs to have a political party vote in the House of Commons and you can just force it through with your majority.

The entitlements to tax credits were written into legislation and it would require more legislation to change it.

We have two types of legislation, Acts of Parliament and regulations (the first is called primary legislation, the second is called secondary legislation).

There are different types of secondary legislation and I don’t want to get too technical, but a government minister got House of Commons approval for their tax credit changes.

It then went to the House of Lords where something very rare and dramatic happened yesterday. The House of Lords blocked it. The tax credits proposals weren’t just blocked once, but blocked twice.

At this stage, I might point out that this happens so rarely that it’s just pure speculation as to what will happen next, but very embarrassing for the Chancellor of the Exchequer the Rt Hon George Osbourne MP as it damages his reputation.

You see Labour MPs (Her Majesty’s Opposition) were until recently supporting austerity. Then Jeremy Corbyn was elected as Leader, John McDonnell became Shadow Chancellor and things changed.

If anything it’s this factor that seems to galvanised opposition support against the tax credit changes and a broken promise.

Below is a copy of what was said in the House of Lords yesterday from Hansard. Through the wonders of TV you can probably watch the whole debate too but words have a power of their own.

Isn’t it a shame there isn’t TV coverage of all Wirral Council’s public meetings and an equivalent of Hansard for Wirral Council?

This contains Parliamentary information licensed under the Open Parliament Licence v3.0.


Tax Credits (Income Thresholds and Determination of Rates) (Amendment) Regulations 2015

Motion to Approve

3.25 pm
Moved by Baroness Stowell of Beeston
That the draft regulations laid before the House on 7 September be approved.

Relevant documents: 4th Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, 9th Report from the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Stowell of Beeston) (Con): My Lords, I will come shortly to the Motion before the House today, but before I do, I should briefly address why the Motion is standing my name. In the past few days, we have seen unprecedented focus on the passage of secondary legislation through this House. The further the debate has evolved, the more it has taken on a new dimension—a debate concerning our responsibilities as a House and how we want to discharge them. While I will now turn to the substance of the instrument before us, I will later come on to the context for the decisions before us today.

The regulations before the House cannot be viewed in isolation. They were part of the Chancellor’s Budget in July and form part of our wider economic strategy and vision for the future of our country. In the last Parliament, we made significant progress: through a

26 Oct 2015 : Column 977
combination of savings and growth, the deficit halved as a share of GDP, investment in our schools and the NHS increased and more than 2 million jobs were created. But our deficit is still too high and our debt, as a share of GDP, is at the highest level since the late 1960s.

In the months leading up to the general election and in our manifesto, my party made it clear that reducing the deficit would involve difficult decisions, including finding savings of £12 billion from the welfare budget. The regulations that we debate today deliver no less than £4.4 billion of those savings next year alone. But these reforms are about more than just savings; they are about delivering a new settlement for working Britain—more people in work, with better wages, keeping more of the money that they earn. The quickest and surest way for people to feel secure and able to succeed is a good job that pays well.

This Government have created 1,000 jobs every single day since 2010—1,000 more people each day with the security of a job and a wage. We have raised the personal allowance so that people keep more of what they earn. By next April, more than 27 million basic rate taxpayers will be paying less tax, with a typical taxpayer benefiting by £825 per year. We will go on raising the personal allowance until it reaches £12,500, so that those on the national minimum wage will pay no income tax at all. We will introduce a national living wage, raising the minimum pay for a full-time worker by £900 from next April and by nearly £5,000 by 2020, benefiting 6 million people with the upward pressure that it will apply on wages. I am glad to say that more than 200 firms, including some of our biggest employers, have announced that they intend to pay staff at or above the national living wage before it comes into effect.

We are supporting working families with their childcare needs, too, as we have just heard. We have already brought in 15 hours of care for the most disadvantaged two year-olds and we are doubling free childcare for working families for three and four year-olds— worth around £5,000 per child per year. But if we are to deliver that settlement in a way that is sustainable, reform to our system of tax credits must play its part. We have a situation where too many families are on low pay, and so, to make ends meet, the state has had to top up those wages with tax credits.

3.30 pm
Noble Lords should be aware that spending on tax credits has increased from £4 billion to £30 billion this year, trebling in real terms, while in-work poverty has risen by 20%. That cannot be the right long-term solution for the country. Change was necessary, and we began to do just that in the last Parliament. As a coalition Government, we started to bring the system back under control, reducing the number of families with children eligible for tax credits from nine out of 10 to six out of 10. If we are to meet our commitment to a new deal for working people, we must continue that process of reform.

Tax credits will remain an important part of our support for those on the lowest incomes. Five out of 10 families with children will still be eligible to receive them and we will still be spending the same amount on

26 Oct 2015 : Column 978
tax credits in real terms as the last Labour Government did in 2007-08. But the SI before us today will change their operation in several respects. First, it will reduce the threshold at which working tax credits begin to be withdrawn from £6,420 to £3,850. As we do so, we will protect those on the very lowest incomes, while continuing to bring the overall Bill down.

Lord Campbell-Savours (Lab): My Lords, I ask the noble Baroness to answer my question directly, and not give me a tangential answer. When the Prime Minister said at the last general election that an incoming Conservative government would not cut tax credits—child tax credits—was he telling the truth or was he deliberately misleading the British people? Let me have a direct answer to my question.

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: My Lords, we were very clear in the general election and in our manifesto that we would be introducing welfare savings of £12 billion and that these would be directed at working-age benefits. What we also did at the same time was promise a package of measures to support working families—a new settlement for the people of this country, so that they would continue to be better off in work and would continue to prosper. That is what we were very clear about in the general election campaign. That is what we were elected to deliver for the people of this country.
Secondly, the SI before us will increase the taper rate from 41% to 48%. This will mean that the rate at which tax credits are withdrawn will increase, but we will do so in a measured way with a gradual taper, which will still ensure that those on tax credits who work more will always take more pay home. Finally, it will reduce the income rise disregard, the in-year increase to an individual’s pay that can take place before their tax credit reward is recalculated, from £5,000 to £2,500—bringing it to a 10th of the rate it stood at when we came to power in 2010.

A sustainable economy which reduces inequality and provides opportunity for all means making choices. There are no easy options, but what we try to do is carefully balance spending and taxation decisions so that the richest pay the most towards services that are so vital to everyone, and the climate is right for everyone to seize opportunities to get on and to be successful. The Government’s job is to manage that in the fairest way while delivering the most important thing of all for working people: economic security and sound public finances.

The Government believe that as part of the overall package of measures that support working people, these changes to tax credits are right. If we want people to earn more and to keep more of their own money, we simply cannot keep recycling their money through a system that subsidises low pay. That is the Government’s case for these changes. But with the amendments we are due to consider, there are broader questions at stake, too, about our role in scrutinising secondary legislation and about the financial primacy of the other place.

I know that Members of this House on all Benches take their responsibilities very seriously and are committed to ensuring that the House fulfils its proper role, so let

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me be very clear. We as a Government do not support any of the amendments tabled to the Motion in my name, but I am also clear that the approach the right reverend Prelate takes in his amendment, by inviting the House to put on the record its concerns about our policy and calling on the Government to address them without challenging the clear and unequivocal decision made in the other place, is entirely in line with the long-standing traditions of your Lordships’ House.

The other three amendments take us into quite different and uncharted territory. All three, in the names of the noble Baronesses, Lady Manzoor, Lady Meacher and Lady Hollis, if agreed to, would mean that this House has withheld its approval of the statutory instrument. That would stand in direct contrast to the elected House of Commons, which has not only approved the instrument but reaffirmed its view on Division only last week. It would have the practical effect of preventing the implementation of a policy that will deliver £4.4 billion of savings to the Exchequer next year—a central plank of the Government’s fiscal policy as well as its welfare policy. It is a step that would challenge the primacy of the other place on financial matters.

I have been to see the Chancellor this morning at No. 11, and I can confirm that he will listen very carefully were the House to express its concern in the way that it is precedented for us to do so, and that is on the right reverend Prelate’s amendment. But this House will be able to express a view on that amendment only if the other three amendments on the Order Paper are rejected or withdrawn.

Lord Tyler (LD): My Lords, the Leader of the House has given us the impression that there is some convention that prevents your Lordships’ House from voting on these Motions. I would ask her to look again at the report of the Joint Committee on Conventions entitled Conventions of the UK Parliament which states clearly in paragraphs 227 and 228 that it is perfectly in order for your Lordships’ House to take a view on a statutory instrument of this nature and so,

“we conclude that the House of Lords should not regularly reject Statutory Instruments, but that in exceptional circumstances it may be appropriate for it to do so … The Government appear to consider that any defeat of an SI by the Lords is a breach of convention. We disagree”.

Your Lordships’ House and the other place approved the recommendations of the Joint Committee. If the Chancellor had wished to introduce a tax credit amendment Bill, he could of course have used the usual procedure and avoided the embarrassing situation that the Leader of the House is now outlining. He took a short cut to avoid debate, and he has now got the consequences.

Noble Lords: Hear, hear!

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: My Lords, let me be absolutely clear. Any of the amendments that have been put down today, with the exception of that in the name of the right reverend Prelate, would mean that this House has not approved a statutory instrument which the House of Commons has approved and

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voted on three times. As I have already said, we would be challenging the primacy of the House of Commons on financial matters.

The right reverend Prelate’s amendment gives this House the opportunity to express its view in a way that accords with our conventions. The noble Lord, Lord Tyler, made various specific references. I say to him and to the House as a whole that the parent Act from which this statutory instrument is derived, which was brought forward by the Labour Government, made clear that amendments to tax credits should be introduced via secondary legislation. We are following that procedure. Indeed, after the Tax Credits Act was passed, other amendments to it were brought forward in the last Parliament, while we were in coalition government, exactly in the way that was expected.

The key fact is that there are conventions that apply to secondary legislation. The noble Lord, Lord Tyler, is right to refer to the Joint Committee’s report. But in addition to what he quotes, that report also made it clear that,

“opposition parties should not use their numbers in the House of Lords to defeat an SI simply because they disagree with it”.

The key point I make to the noble Lord is that we are in an unprecedented situation, because the kind of primary legislation conventions that he refers to that allow the other House to enter into a dialogue with us just do not occur in secondary legislation.

We have a choice. We must choose whether to accept or reject this statutory instrument. Right now, it is absolutely clear that if we withhold our approval for this statutory instrument, we will be in direct conflict with the House of Commons.

Lord Richard (Lab): With respect to the amendments in the names of my noble friend Lady Hollis and the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, does the Leader accept that neither of them is fatal to the resolution? Does she accept that?

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: No, I do not accept what the noble Lord says. As I have already said, those amendments withhold this House’s agreement—its approval—from a statutory instrument that has already been approved by the House of Commons. They withhold this House’s approval from something that has already been approved by the other place. The noble Lord makes the perfectly fair point that this House has the power to defeat secondary legislation, but it does so very rarely. It has done so only five times since the Second World War, and it has never done so on financial secondary legislation. Although noble Lords have been able to table today’s amendments, it is up to us as a House to consider whether we regard the financial primacy of the House of Commons as vital to the continuing constitution of this country and the way in which Parliament operates. That is the important point here.

3.45 pm
Lord Forsyth of Drumlean (Con): The leader of the Liberal party described this House as,
“a system which is rotten to the core and allows unelected, unaccountable people to think they are above the law”.

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Does my noble friend think that the Liberals wish us to vote for their Motion in order to prove their leader right?

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: What I do know, and I really feel this sincerely, is that noble Lords take their responsibilities very seriously. We are in an unprecedented situation. We either believe in the financial primacy of the other place, as has been in place for well over 300 years, or we do not.
There is a way for this House to express its view on the policy. It would be absolutely within this House’s proper function and responsibility to do that by supporting the right reverend Prelate’s amendment should it choose to. However, if the House decides to accept any of the other amendments we will be withholding this House’s approval for something that the other place has already approved.

Lord Wills (Lab): I think I understood the noble Baroness correctly when she said a few moments ago that she accepted that there were circumstances in which this House could withhold approval of a statutory instrument. However, she said that that should not be on the grounds simply because this House disagrees with it—I think I am quoting her directly. Can she therefore say in what circumstances she thinks it appropriate for this House to withhold such approval?

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: When I quoted that from the Joint Committee on Conventions’ report, the point I tried to emphasise was that it is rare for this House to disagree to any piece of secondary legislation. The Joint Committee made it clear that, because it is very rare and because the Government are rarely in a majority in this House, it would be inappropriate for this House to vote down a piece of secondary legislation just because the opposition parties have the numbers to do so and do not approve of that measure. My point is that this situation invokes something that we have not seen before: noble Lords have tabled amendments that would prevent this piece of secondary legislation leaving this House and being approved. If the House were to do that—if it were to completely reject it outright or to withhold it—we would be challenging the financial primacy of the other place.

Noble Lords: Hear, hear!

Lord Pearson of Rannoch (UKIP): My Lords, would the noble Baroness answer the question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Richard? Does she agree that the Motions in the names of the noble Baronesses, Lady Meacher and Lady Hollis of Heigham, are not fatal Motions?

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: I am not defining them in such a way because they have not been defined in such a way by this House. They are amendments that are quite unique. They mean that this House will start setting conditions and making demands on the Government, and acquiring for itself powers as far as how it considers a matter that has already been decided and approved by the other place—a statutory instrument to the value of £4.4 billion. That is what makes this situation so different: we are challenging the primacy of the other place on a matter of finance.

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Amendment to the Motion
Moved by Baroness Manzoor

As an amendment to the above Motion, to leave out all the words after “that” and insert “this House declines to approve the draft regulations laid before the House on 7 September”.

Baroness Manzoor (LD): My Lords, there has been a lot of discussion in the run-up to this debate about the role of this House in debating statutory instruments. I know that many noble Lords will wish to pick up on the constitutional role of the House. We have already started to see some of those points being made.

I do not discount the strength of feeling on the issue of whether this House should seek to reject the views of the elected Commons, but I want to be clear about what we are talking about today. We are talking about a measure that, according to the expert analysis of the Institute of Fiscal Studies, will hit 3 million low-income working families. These are people doing the right thing: going out to work and trying to make ends meet. They are exactly the kind of people whom the Government have said they want to help. Yet this change will have a seriously damaging impact on their ability to keep their heads above water. These families will, according to the IFS, lose an average of around £1,000 a year. For many people on low incomes, that will mean the difference between being able to continue to pay to heat their homes, pay their rent and feed their families and not being able to do so. In total, 4.9 million children will be directly affected by the change. Almost a quarter of single parents living in the UK will see their incomes cut.

Yet the Government continue to ignore the overwhelming consensus among charities such as the Children’s Society and Gingerbread—I could name many others, including taxation experts and even their own Children’s Commissioner—that these changes need to be reconsidered. It is no surprise that the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group—by no means a leftie organisation—has said that the impact of these changes,

“on the majority of tax credit claimants will be devastating”.

The problems with the Government’s proposals go far wider than those directly affected. They will also have a huge impact on the important principle—that this Government claim to support—that work should always pay more than a life on benefits. Evidence from the Social Market Foundation suggests that someone earning the average wage for those living in social housing of £8.08 an hour will see the benefits of earning wiped out almost entirely. Because of the way the so-called taper rate interacts with taper rates applied to other benefits including local Council Tax benefit, the marginal deduction rate—the rate at which benefits are withdrawn—will be 93%. That means that for every pound a person earns by going out to work—by taking on extra hours in order to improve their lives—they will keep only 7p.

Liberal Democrats in the coalition Government fought for universal credit. We fought alongside the Conservatives for the “make work pay” agenda. The Government’s proposals run utterly counter to this

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philosophy. Such a fundamental change in the Government’s approach should be challenged every step of the way.

Lord Cormack (Con): My Lords, 104 years ago, a Liberal Government decided that this House should not have jurisdiction in budgetary matters. The noble Baroness speaks for a party which has a disproportionate strength in this House. She and her party believe in proportion. They also believe in the supremacy of the House of Commons. How does she square the various points I have just made with the speech that she is making and the vote that she is seeking tonight?

Baroness Manzoor: I thank the noble Lord for that intervention. I will come to that point and address it in the best way that I can.

I will pick up briefly on the speech made in moving the Government’s Motion by the Leader of the House. I do not discount her views but the overwhelming evidence is that these measures will do real damage.

However, I want to express my disappointment that this debate is not being led by the noble Lord, Lord O’Neill. This set of regulations relates to measures brought forward by the Treasury. It is right that such regulations should be promoted and defended by the Minister from the department responsible, whenever possible. As I said at the start of my speech, while much has been made of the constitutional issues surrounding the Motion, it is ultimately about the impact of the measures on the families affected. The Leader of the House does an excellent job in representing this House outside the Chamber, and in defending the Government’s position on the role of the House inside it, but this Motion is not about those things. It is about tax credit changes and it is reasonable for the House to expect the Treasury Minister to answer its concerns.

Fatal Motions on regulations should be used incredibly sparingly. I wish that we were not in this position but I cannot think of a better reason for this House to use such an option than the lives of 4.9 million children and the parents who go out to work to support them. I have tabled this fatal Motion for a simple reason: when all is said and done, and when the constitutional debate about the role of this House is over, I want to be able to go home this evening knowing that I have done everything I could to stop this wrong-headed and ill-thought through legislation, which will have such a damaging and devastating impact on millions of people’s lives.

We have a duty in this House to consider our constitutional role but we also have a duty to consider those affected by the decisions we make and the votes we cast. Were there another way for this House to reject this proposal and send it back to the Commons to reconsider, I would be all for doing so. Some people have said to me that this is a budgetary measure—indeed, the Leader of the House said so, too—and therefore not within our competence. Were that true, the Government had an opportunity to put these changes into the Finance Bill rather than to use an affirmative statutory instrument, a measure that this House is explicitly asked to consider and approve by the primary legislation from which it stems.

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I have been told by many that a fatal Motion is too blunt an instrument. If that were the case then the Government could have placed this measure in the Welfare Reform and Work Bill, which is coming to your Lordships’ House in due course, giving this House the opportunity to amend the proposal and suggest alternatives, but they have chosen not to pursue that course either. So we are left with a statutory instrument, a tool designed for minor changes to processes and administration, being used to implement a substantial change in policy that will affect millions of people’s livelihoods. That is not my decision but I hope that we will do everything we can to stop it.

I want to turn briefly to the other Motions in the names of the noble Baronesses, Lady Meacher and Lady Hollis, and the right reverend Prelate. I am sure that they will speak on their own Motions in detail, so I do not want to dwell on them. However, to be clear, I support all those proposals. It is right that the Government should delay these measures to properly respond to the serious challenges put by the IFS, as the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, suggests. It is also right that the Government should not make these changes unless there is transitional protection, as the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis, proposes. Fundamentally, however, these are sticking plasters on the wound. Transitional protection will help many of those who will see an immediate cut to their tax credits next April but would do nothing for those who become eligible for tax credits this time next year. If the Government succeed in meeting their employment target then we will see more people in part-time work, which is a great thing, but these people will need tax credits. If they meet their noble and worthy aim of increasing the number of disabled people in employment, that is likely to mean more people in flexible working arrangements whose income may need to be supplemented by tax credits. These people would not be protected by transitional protection. That is why, although I support and will vote for the amendment in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis, I believe that we need to go further.

I have no doubt that this House could spend many hours debating our constitutional role. I and all those on these Benches—

4 pm
Lord Grocott (Lab): Does the noble Baroness not acknowledge that there is at least a certain irony in that, for five of the last five and a half years, her party gave strong support to the Cameron-Osborne Government? Now that Messrs Cameron and Osborne come forward with a proposal that they do not like, they are suggesting that the right course of action is a somersault. Would it not have been a lot easier, and maybe a lot more principled, if she and her colleagues had decided to bring down this Government a lot earlier?

Baroness Manzoor: I thank the noble Lord for his intervention. He is right to raise that point and quite right to ask that question. As I understand it very clearly, we did veto these proposals.
I have no doubt that this House could spend many hours debating our constitutional role. I, and all those on these Benches, take our role very seriously and will

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continue to push for reform that means that this House has real accountability to the electorate. But this debate is not about that. This is about putting to rest an issue which is of immense—

Baroness Browning (Con): Will the noble Baroness just reflect on the fact that, in terms of accountability to the electorate on this matter, people who have stood for public office and have been accepted and elected to another place have the mandate? They, and only they, have that mandate on this subject. Although we in this House work very hard in order to reflect our views, so that the other place can take advantage of them, the noble Baroness is going just a bit too far in assuming that she has a mandate.

Baroness Manzoor: I do assume that this House has a mandate. We are back to the constitutional role of this House.

I will continue, because some answers have been given to that, and more will be given as we talk more about the role of this House. We want to put to rest an issue that is of immense concern to millions of people up and down the country. If the Government wish to withdraw their regulations, we can avoid this impasse. Sadly, I do not think that the Minister—for whom I have the utmost respect—is empowered to make such a choice. It is therefore right that this House perform its duty and stand up against a poor decision made in the Commons. What the Government do after that is up to them. But I and my colleagues are clear: it is time for this Government to think again. I beg to move.

The Lord Speaker (Baroness D’Souza): I should inform the House that if this amendment is agreed to, I cannot call any of the other amendments to the Motion on the Order Paper by reason of pre-emption.

Baroness Meacher (CB): My Lords, I rise to speak to the amendment that stands in my name on the Order Paper, which would defer consideration of the tax credit regulations. I pay tribute to other noble Lords who have tabled amendments to these regulations today, but I should explain to the House that I told the noble Baroness, Lady Manzoor, that I had come to a settled view that tabling a fatal amendment in this House was a step too far. The purpose of this amendment is to support the democratic process and to avoid impeding it.

The House of Commons will have a cross-party debate and a vote on these issues on Thursday. I understand that at least eight Conservative MPs have put their names to Thursday’s Motion. It seems, therefore, that the Government no longer have a majority in the House of Commons for the planned cuts as they stand. If we approve the Regulations today, the Commons debate will have been pre-empted. This would undermine the democratic process. If, however, the elected House supports the Government—contrary to my expectations, I have to say—and the Government present a report to your Lordships’ House responding to the Institute for Fiscal Studies analysis, I am sure that I and others will support these Regulations. This will not necessarily be because we agree with them—I most certainly do not—but because we respect the democratic process and the limits of the duties of this wonderful House.

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Lord Forsyth of Drumlean (Con): If the noble Baroness is right that the Government do not have a majority in the other place, why can we not respect the democratic process and leave it to them?

Baroness Meacher: I will attempt to answer that question.

Lord Snape (Lab): Before she does, may I just ask the noble Baroness a question arising from her amendment? Does she agree that if the Government had, as they should have done, tabled these proposals as part of the Finance Bill, they would have been amendable in the other place and we would not be having this discussion today? Does she agree that the reason the Government are indulging in this sharp practice is that they know full well that, for any reasonable person in either House, these proposals are unacceptable and they would have been defeated in the other place because quite a few Conservative Members of Parliament would have voted against them?

Baroness Meacher: I was talking to Jacob Rees-Mogg MP the other day and he said to me that the trouble is that the House of Commons deals with Statutory Instruments extremely badly. Our difficulty is that, that being the case, they depend on this House to do this very detailed work, on which your Lordships do an extremely good job. In response to the noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, the point is that the cross-party debate on Thursday is not a legislative debate. It would have been right for these matters to have been incorporated in full in a piece of legislation, which would then have been open to proper debate and amendment in the normal way.

To go back to my point, if we approve the Regulations today we are actually undermining the democratic process. If, however, the elected House supports the Government, as I said before, I know that this House will abide by our conventions and vote these Regulations through whatever our personal views of them. I do not personally approve of them, but I would be in the Lobby with the Government. The duty of your Lordships’ House, as we know, is to enable Governments to think again if, in our professional judgment, they are making a grave mistake, and to allow the elected House to hold the Government to account. Noble Lords can imagine that I do not take this action lightly. I am acutely conscious of the threats made by the Government to destroy this House, one way or another, if we proceed. I do not enjoy that kind of pressure.

I will come back to the constitutional issue, but at this point I want to thank the IFS, the Children’s Society and others for their valuable help. Why are these Regulations so serious? The Leader of the House has already made the point that tax credits will be withdrawn from an income of £74 a week, £3 above the jobseeker’s allowance level, whereas in the past the withdrawal has occurred from a weekly income of £123 a week, which is very different. Also, of course, the taper rate—the percentage of every pound earned that will be withdrawn from tax credits— is going up from 41% to 48%. Very low income working families—the lowest income families, as I understand it—stand to lose more than £20 a week. For one of us, this can mean a meal in a restaurant. For a poor working

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family it can mean a pair of shoes for a child who comes home from school crying because their toes are hurting in shoes that are too small, or money to feed the meter to keep the family warm.
The Government plan a four-year freeze on the private rent level covered by housing benefit, so as rents soar—and we know that, day by day, they soar—working families will have to pay more of their rent from a shrinking income. Damian Hinds, Treasury Minister, told me in person that he hopes that families will work more hours to compensate for the cuts they are facing, but many people cannot work more hours. A lady who has cancer and who is working all the hours she can contacted me—the treatment and her exhaustion mean that she cannot do more. The parent of a disabled child, who probably actually needs to be at home all the time, is working as many hours as possible but can earn very little. Indeed, our angelic army of carers of elderly and disabled relatives across our land will be penalised. Some of them will lose more than £40 a week. People with long-term conditions or in constant pain will be devastated by the waves of cuts, of which these regulations are just one. Self-employed people who voted Conservative in May, hoping for protection, but who may earn little or nothing for weeks at a time, will be among the biggest losers. The StepChange Debt Charity says that its clients on average will lose £139 a week, a staggering sum.

All those people have been supported by what I regard as the one-nation Tories of the past. The Prime Minister said in his speech to the Conservative conference:

“The British people … want a government that supports the vulnerable”,
and, he said,
“we will deliver”.

This amendment provides an opportunity for the Prime Minister to honour that pledge. He went on to say that the Conservatives are the, “party of working people”. No wonder dozens of Conservative Back-Benchers—perhaps most of them, in fact—want the Government to think again. They do not want the Prime Minister to have misled the people of Britain. It is this House’s duty to provide that time for a rethink by this Government.

I turn to the idea that the amendment is unconstitutional—and I shall keep this brief. The Cunningham joint committee, as has already been mentioned, made very clear the responsibilities of this House and that we should have unfettered freedom to vote on any subordinate legislation submitted for its consideration. The Motion was carried without a vote and is recorded in the Companion. In 1999, the former Conservative Leader of your Lordships’ House referred to a convention that the Opposition should not vote against the Government’s secondary legislation. The noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, added:

“I declare this convention dead”.

Finally, I quote our highly esteemed Clerk of the Parliaments, who wrote a clarifying guidance note for the Cross-Benchers at my request. He said: “Procedurally, the Meacher-put Motion is entirely in order under the rules of the House. It is not a fatal Motion because it does not require a new statutory instrument to be laid and taken through both Houses. However, it does

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delay the approval of the statutory instrument, unlike an amendment which simply expresses regret while allowing the statutory instrument to be approved”.

I hope that the noble Lord, the Chief Whip, will forgive me for quoting him here. He urged me to exchange my amendment for a regret Motion. I said, “Oh, come on—that will have no effect at all”. He said, “Well, yes”. My apologies to the Chief Whip.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach (Con): I am sorry that my conversation with the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, has been quoted. That is not what I said. I made it quite clear to all who came to see me—they included all three protagonists in these debates—that the risk to this House was a constitutional one and that they ought to be aware that in my view to delay this Motion, as well as to vote it down, which is what the amendment proposed by the noble Baroness, Lady Manzoor, seeks to do, amounts to the same thing, and that the proper way in which to deal with something with which this House disagrees is to move a regret Motion. It was that to which I referred when I spoke to the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher.

4.15 pm
Baroness Meacher: I think I owe my apologies to the noble Lord. According to the Library just over two fatal and three non-fatal Motions were voted on in each year between 1999 and 2012, resulting in 17 defeats. There is nothing odd or unconstitutional about this Motion. According to the Clerk’s office there is no reason why we should not table a delaying amendment.

Lord Lawson of Blaby (Con): Can the noble Baroness say how many of her so-called precedents were budgetary matters?

Baroness Meacher: As I understand it, this House has every right to place amendments to statutory instruments on any subject—that was the conclusion of the Cunningham Joint Committee.

Lord Deben (Con): Will the noble Baroness answer the very simple question? How many of those Motions were on budgetary matters?

Baroness Meacher: None of those Motions was on the Budget. That is the constraint on this House as I understand it. Had these provisions been in the Budget they would have gone through the normal procedures and this House would have had a different role. That is the crucial point—here we are dealing with a statutory instrument.

There are four Motions on the Order Paper today. My Motion clearly leaves the matter in the hands of the elected House. The justification for a delay is that the House of Commons will have a full-day debate and a vote on these issues on Thursday. I understand that dozens of Conservative Back-Benchers are urging the Chancellor to adjust the tax credit reforms to protect the most vulnerable. Yes, there have been three votes on tax credits in the House of Commons, won by the Government. However, Conservative MPs—not

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me—say they did not have the information they needed when they voted for the cuts. I hear that many of them are now livid about this. The third vote was last Tuesday. Conservative MPs made it clear they wanted adjustments to the tax credit cuts but they kept their voting powder dry anticipating the vote next Thursday.

It is extraordinary that at least eight Conservative MPs—

Lord Cormack: My Lords, this just is not the case. The fact is that there was a vote in the other place last week. There was a clear majority and not a single Conservative Member voted in the sense the noble Baroness is indicating.

Baroness Meacher: I apologise to the noble Lord, whom I greatly respect, but I did not imply that the Conservative MPs had voted against the Government. I was saying quite clearly that they had not voted for an Opposition Motion; they kept their voting powder dry because they knew that a cross-party Motion was being considered on Thursday with a full day for debate and a vote. Even with a majority of 13 after the death of my former husband last week, this wipes out that majority.

Lord Tebbit (Con): I am a little puzzled about the powers the noble Baroness has to understand what Members of Parliament might do next week as opposed to what they did do last week. Are we to guess? I might say that I understand that the Labour Party in the other place is going to vote for the regulations next week. I do not know that, of course, and she does not know what she has just said.

Baroness Meacher: My Lords, eight Conservative MPs—some of them senior MPs; former Cabinet Ministers, indeed—have put their names to a cross-party Motion disagreeing with the Government or seeking information that the Government will oppose. The Government majority is 13, following the death of my former husband last week. I am quoting only what I know. I am not quoting what I do not know. I agree that that is extremely important.

I emphasise again that the justification for this amendment is that there will be an opportunity for the elected House to hold the Government to account. It will not be a legislative vote, and that is why this vote is very important. By supporting the Motion this House will support the democratic process. It will leave the situation open. It will leave this set of regulations on the Order Paper—unlike a fatal Motion—and then the Government can listen to the elected House. I am not asking the Government to listen to this House.

Lord Trimble (Con): If I understand her correctly, the noble Baroness is saying that a significant number of Conservative people might support this Motion. This Motion will have no legislative effect and the legislation will continue. What is happening here is of a different order.

Baroness Meacher: That is exactly the point I just made. The important point is that if we pass these regulations the debate in the House of Commons—the elected House—will be an irrelevance. The Government can say, “We have got our regulations. We can press

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ahead with our cuts. The elected House can say what it likes, we will not have to listen to it”. I am not saying they will say that, but they certainly could say that. The important point is that we need to protect the democratic process. The only hope for the Government is that the bullying tactics may persuade Conservative MPs and our colleagues to avoid defeat. At the moment, the situation in the elected House is that eight Conservative MPs have put their names to a Motion which means that the Conservative Government do not have a majority in the other House.

The Earl of Listowel (CB): My Lords, does my noble friend not find it interesting that the Government are currently taking a Bill through this House that will remove the democratic choice of local people about whether their local school should become an academy? Indeed, during the introduction of academies, academies were taken out of the responsibility of local authorities and placed with the Secretary of State. In this Bill, in future local people will not be able to vote on whether they wish to have their local school turned into an academy. This is a very substantial change because, as I understand it, they are so concerned that the education of our children is so important that no coasting school should be allowed to continue. Therefore, they will take all means possible to ensure that our children get the best education possible. In this case, my noble friend is not asking for that change. She is asking merely for a delay so that the other House can think again. That is a much more minor change to make. Does she agree?

Baroness Meacher: I thank my noble friend Lord Listowel. I should mention that a petition signed by 270,000 members of the public over the weekend was handed to me this morning. There is huge fear and anger about these cuts. I am very grateful for the support of the public and the media—believe it or not—and their appreciation of the efforts in this House, although I personally never sought any of it. That is a rather important point to make: I am really not here to grandstand.

I support the Government’s raising of the tax threshold, the increase in the minimum wage and free childcare for three and four year-olds, but those measures will not protect the most vulnerable. The Institute for Fiscal Studies makes clear in its analysis that the biggest losers from the 2015-16 tax and benefit changes, even by 2020, will be the poorest working families. The very poor will hardly gain at all from the increase in the minimum wage or the national living wage. Very poor self-employed people will not gain at all from the increase in the minimum wage. I have had a pile of emails from self-employed very poor people. The biggest gainers from the increase in the income tax threshold and the higher rate threshold will be those earning £43,000 to £121,000 per year. We seem to have a massive redistribution of income here, but it seems to be going the wrong way.

The Government have for five years urged unemployed people to take a job. The sanctions regime has been extremely brutal, but having said that, it is, of course, much better for people to work, if they can, than to remain unemployed. The main justification for the Government’s policy has been that work pays. Yes,

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and working tax credits achieved that objective. Working tax credits prevented unemployment soaring in the recent recession.

Finally, I repeat that the aim of this amendment is to support the democratic process to enable the elected House to hold the Government to account. That is the duty of this House. If we cannot do that, we might as well not exist.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham (Lab): My Lords, on the amendment standing in my name, two issues concern this House. The first is whether this amendment improperly challenges Commons financial privilege—a constitutional issue. The second is whether this amendment improperly challenges Government cuts to welfare—the policy issue.

Let me address the first, on constitutional propriety. As the noble Baroness, Lady Stowell, said, when we have framework Bills on childcare and social security, all the serious detailed work is done, rightly, by regulations—that is, SIs. We can amend Bills; we cannot amend SIs, yet often we do not know the Government’s intent until we see the SI itself. We then face either a draconian fatal Motion or a lamenting regret Motion that changes nothing, so instead this is a delaying amendment. It is not fatal, as the Government know. It was drafted with the help of the clerks and it calls for a scheme of transitional protection before the House further considers the SI. Essentially, the cuts would apply to new claimants only. Frankly, that new SI could be drafted in a week and implemented next April exactly as planned.

However, does it none the less break convention by trespassing on Commons financial privilege? No. The advice from the Clerk of the Parliaments—and he has seen and confirmed my words on the specific issue—is that Commons financial privilege is exercised in two ways. We can amend an education Bill, say, but the Commons can reject our amendment if the Speaker certifies that the Commons has financial privilege on this issue. Secondly, says the Clerk, the Commons can pass a supply or money Bill, which we cannot amend. He goes on: financial privilege does not extend to statutory instruments—it simply does not. Nor are statutory instruments covered by the Salisbury/Addison convention. The more so, I would add, because the Prime Minister ruled them out himself, and he did because these layered elements to tax credits are all affected by the taper and the cuts.

As has been said, if the Government wanted financial privilege, these cuts should be in a money Bill; they are not. If they wanted the right to overturn them on the grounds of financial privilege, they could be introduced in the welfare reform Bill on its way here; they did not. So why now should we be expected to treat this SI as financially privileged when the Government, who could have made it so, chose not to do so? It is not a constitutional crisis. That is a fig-leaf possibly disguising tensions in the Commons between members of the Government. We can be supportive of the Government and give them what they did not ask for—financial privilege—or we can be supportive instead of those 3 million families facing letters at Christmas telling them that on average they will lose up to around

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£1,300 a year, a letter that will take away 10% of their income on average. That is our choice. Those families believed us when we all said that work was the best route out of poverty and that work would always pay. They believed the Prime Minister when he promised that tax credits—and they are one package—would not be touched.

But why do people need tax credits? There is a lot of misunderstanding about this. If the House will allow me, consider two women in a call centre: one is single, working 35 hours a week, who from April earns £13,000 a year for herself, and the other, a deserted mother with two young children, managing 25 hours a week, earns £9,000 a year for the three of them. The Government are completely right that we should certainly not subsidise employers’ low pay, but no employer could pay the deserted mother twice as much per hour as the single woman on the next phone in the call centre to make up for her family’s circumstances. The employer cannot do that and it is not reasonable to ask it to do so. That is the job of tax credits. They reflect family circumstances, which an employer cannot reasonably do.

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In 1997, some 43% of single parents worked. That figure is now 65%—a 50% increase—partly because tax credits made work pay. That was our contract with the working mother, and she has done everything that we asked. Now, we will send her a letter at Christmas telling her that we are taking away some £1,300. Her life is hard. She needs financial stability in which to bring up her children. She needs transitional protection, so that the cuts affect only new claimants who have not built their lives around the protection that tax credits currently offer.

National newspapers from the Daily Telegraph to the Sun are asking the Government to think again before those letters arrive at Christmas, as are the think tanks. The IFS says that the Treasury’s claims are “arithmetically impossible”, yet those letters will still arrive at Christmas. Members of the Conservative Party, including Members of this House, have expressed their disquiet as the cuts are too hard and being made too fast, yet those letters will still arrive at Christmas. We may be told—perhaps, among others, by the noble Lord, Lord Butler, who has gone on record as saying this—that the Commons has made its position clear three times: when it passed the Budget, then with this statutory instrument, and again in last week’s general debate on tax credits. However, is that right? What happens when the Commons has, in my view, made its decision based on incomplete information, some of which is only now becoming available?

The Government insist that there is no alternative to these cuts, which on average will take £1,300 from 3 million poor families. However, there is an alternative. We can and should offer transitional protection to families who currently count on tax credits. They include single parents, the self-employed—whose median wage, incidentally, is £10,000 a year—families with disabled children and carers. We could protect them but not new claimants and those newly on universal credit.
You would not know this from the impact analysis—which, I have to say, contains elements of neither

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impact nor analysis—but I am confident that the Government do not need to make these specific cuts to make their welfare savings, which they have authority to do. Why is that and how would that be? I have two major points to make. The first is that they will make their savings from the additional revenues that return to government from the very welcome rise in the national living wage. The Library has calculated for me that an increase of three-quarters of a billion pounds—£763 million—for every 50p rise will go back to the Government, plus of course there will be the ratchet effect of differentials, which we cannot calculate. By year two, the Government will make savings on that alone of £2 billion; by year three, it will probably be £3 billion.

Secondly—I do not think that this was mentioned at any point in the Commons debates, although, to me, it is crucial—those cuts will also kick in as families move over to universal credit, as I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Freud, will confirm. The National Audit Office says that by the end of 2019 only 9%—fewer than one in 10—of existing tax credit recipients will still be on tax credits. Some will no longer need them, because, say, they may have a son who has left home; the rest of the claimants should be on universal credit and the Government will get their full savings from them. The impact analysis chirrups happily that its statutory instrument cuts will put tax credits on a “more sustainable footing”. Quite, as tax credits will have largely disappeared.

Some of these data that I would like to have used more robustly the Government do not collect, but over the next four years these savings to government from the rise in wages, the move to universal credit and the natural churn of claimants should, I estimate, more than match the savings that HMT claims it needs from these specific tax credit cuts to work thresholds and the taper. If so, the Government can get their welfare savings. I am not talking about tax rates, pension relief or inheritance tax—the Government can get their welfare savings without these specific cuts.

I ask the House this: should not the Commons even have discussed this? Might it have made a difference to its position? Its Members have not discussed it so far, and so we do not know. They did not have that information. The impact analysis did not give them that information; some of it is only now coming out. It is reasonable that, as information comes through that challenges the original assertions, the Commons should be given a chance to think again in the light of that.

My amendment to the Motion is not fatal. It does not challenge the financial privilege of the Commons and it does not deny the Government their welfare savings. Instead, it delays this SI to ask the Government to provide transitional protection for existing families who are doing everything that we asked of them, who trusted the Prime Minister’s word that tax credits would not be cut and who trusted Parliament—us—when we said that we would make work pay.

What happens next? If the House were to support my amendment, the Government could come back quite quickly—I estimate within a week—with a new SI, if they chose, in which these regulations and cuts would apply only to new claimants. That is all. It is

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very simple: if the House agreed to that new SI, it would then go to the Commons, where it would be accepted or rejected. Theirs would, quite properly, be the final word, as our conventions demand. The Commons would have kept its supremacy, and that is right, but we would have kept faith with struggling families and perhaps restored some faith in Parliament.

Let the final words rest with what families themselves say as they face those Christmas letters. Angela from Stevenage says: “I already work 40 hours a week on minimum wage doing two jobs around my children. I cannot believe that this is actually going to happen. I am terrified. We are not scroungers. We work unbelievably hard just to keep going and, once again, we are being punished for trying to earn a living wage”. She will lose £1,643 a year after she gets that Christmas letter. Sian from Basingstoke writes: “My husband works full time as a firefighter. We have four children. We won’t survive”. In her Christmas letter, she stands to lose £2,914. Rachel, from Milton Keynes, says: “It probably means that, as parents, we will skip a few extra meals to ensure our children eat”. In her Christmas letter, she stands to lose £2,005.

Finally, we have Tony and Jacinta Goode, from my city of Norwich. He is in full-time work, earning above the living wage, and she is the carer of two substantially disabled children. They are exhausted. Their Christmas letter will tell them that they will lose £60 a week, or £3,120 a year. That is £3,120 from a family where he is in full-time work and she is caring for two disabled children. We do not need to do this to them.

Last Wednesday, at PMQs, the Prime Minister said:
“Let us make work pay”.—[Official Report, Commons, 21/10/15; col. 948.]

He is absolutely right, and my amendment to the Motion is in that spirit. It will protect deserted mothers and lone parents who want their children to grow up in a household where their parent works; carers who live out their lives in service to others and struggle to maintain a foothold in the labour market; working families—such as the Goodes, whom I mentioned—who exhaust themselves caring for disabled children; or the self-employed, who will, I really hope, help us build a more productive and entrepreneurial economy.

If we do not pass my amendment today, or even if we pass the Bishop’s regret Motion, this SI will become law tonight. Whatever the Commons decides on Thursday, the Chancellor then need do nothing at all, because the SI will have been banked as law. Is that what we want, or do we want to give the Commons a pause to think about this additional information on where the savings could fall, about the additional information that is coming through from the think tanks and so on and about the additional thoughts that members of the Conservative Party might now have in the light of their correspondence with their constituents?

I hope that I do not sound pious, but I think that this is about honouring our word—the Prime Minister’s word—that work must always pay. It is surely about respect for those who strive to do everything we ask of them, and now find themselves punished for doing what is right. It is about trust between Parliament and the people we serve.

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Lord King of Bridgwater (Con): My Lords, I echo the last words of the noble Baroness—

Noble Lords: Bishop!

The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, I deeply regret that the Government’s regulations lead me, and others in this House for whom politics is not a vocation, to be part of a debate with constitutional and political implications. I am of course aware of Her Majesty’s Government’s manifesto commitment to eradicate the deficit, including through reduced welfare payments, and of the studied lack of detail about how this was to be achieved. It is impossible to claim now that we should somehow have anticipated these proposals when they were not detailed. Indeed, we were assured that a sharing of the burden was appropriate and that work should pay.

My primary concern with these regulations is with their short-term impact on some of our poorest families. We have been encouraged to consider these measures as part of a package that includes increases in the minimum wage towards the national living wage, childcare provision and raising the income tax threshold. We are told that this is a five-year programme on a journey towards a higher-pay, lower-tax and lower-welfare economy. This argument will be scant consolation to the 3 million and more low and moderate-income working families who will see a very large reduction, as we have heard, in their tax credits from next April. To be assured that you will be better off in five years’ time will not help these families to pay the rent, or gas and electricity bills. The Government are boldly confident that this will be so within five years. Their confidence for the future sounds like extraordinary optimism today for the working families, including 4 million children who will pay such a huge price and bear such a heavy burden immediately on the introduction of these changes.

Of course, I welcome the pledge incrementally to increase the minimum wage, which will benefit some next year and might give small amelioration to those on the minimum wage, but only for them unless and until, as time passes, there might just be some knock-on, rollover impact on wage levels for those on a very modest wage, just above the present minimum. The likeliest knock-on effect in the short term will be indebtedness, which will have a negative effect on parents’ mental health and children’s education and future life chances.

4.45 pm
In addition then to a sudden drop in income of up to 10%, many will face a marginal 80% hit on income whether from increased hours or a rise in wages; it will be even higher in some instances when other benefits are factored in. If that were a marginal tax rate, there would be howls of protest. What reward is that for those willing to work hard? It is all so grossly insensitive to the many parents who already work full-time or struggle to balance their work with childcare and other responsibilities in order to provide for their families’ financial and other needs.

While the increase in the minimum wage and the rise in the income tax threshold are being phased in over the years, the changes to the income thresholds

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for tax credit and the increase in the taper rate take immediate effect. Of course, employers should pay decently and not rely on the rest of us to subsidise their low rates of pay, but while they may expect to be rewarded for better practice with changes in company taxation, those receiving tax credits will bear the impact immediately—a carrot for some, a stick for others.

I say to the Government that these proposals are morally indefensible. It is clear to me and, I believe, many others, that these proposals blatantly threaten damage to the lives of millions of our fellow citizens. This must not be the way to achieve the Government’s goals at a cost to those who, if we believe the rhetoric, the Government intend to encourage and support. To many in my diocese and beyond, this seems punishing rather than encouragement. I hope that we can hear this afternoon an assurance, a commitment to consult and to listen and a willingness to revisit these proposals in the coming weeks.

Lord Davies of Stamford (Lab): The right reverend Prelate is speaking very movingly and rightly about the injustice and suffering caused by the passage of this statutory instrument unamended, but does he not feel in those circumstances that it is our duty not just to talk about it or even record our objections to it, but actually to do something to stop it?

The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: I am grateful for that intervention. I believe that our first duty is to speak and in a variety of ways to act. That will involve, as many noble Lords know, the very many who participate in charitable organisations and support on the ground. I commit that those in my diocese will do our very best. I myself shall be listening to the rest of this debate before I determine how I shall vote on the amendments before us.

I return to those commitments that I asked the Government to make over the coming weeks. I ask the noble Baroness if she can make those commitments on behalf of the Government. During the past few days, I have wrestled long and hard with the question of how to vote and speak today. Partly the dilemma has been because of the anger, the party-political point scoring and the raising of the issues around constitutional matters. That has obscured what ought to be a measured and careful consideration as to the best interests of the poorest workers in our society.

I am appalled by the Government’s proposals. I emphatically did not table this amendment because of party-political pressures. I am aware of the conflicting views on constitutional matters. This amendment offers an alternative and an opportunity—whatever happens with the other three amendments—for this House clearly to register its disapproval of these proposals and its expectation that our reservations will be addressed. Your Lordships’ House must, in my judgment, make that clear. I will listen carefully to further contributions this afternoon and intend to vote with, at my heart, the interests of those who have most to lose through these regulations. Should other amendments fail or fall, then I present mine as a respectful but firm message to the Government that the regulations are not acceptable in their current form, and that significant work is required for us to be satisfied that the needs of those working for the lowest incomes will be met.

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Lord Mackay of Clashfern (Con): My Lords, we have just heard some very moving speeches on this matter. I have no doubt that, as the Leader of the House has said, the Chancellor of the Exchequer will consider these matters very carefully. I know that it is extremely difficult to analyse the precise effect of income tax or tax credit changes in individual circumstances. Your Lordships will remember that when Mr Gordon Brown, as Chancellor, thought to take out of the tax system the 10% tax band that had previously existed, finding out precisely who was affected and how they were affected turned out to be extremely difficult. I believe that there are difficulties in this connection also. It may well be that the information that arises in the course of the attempt to deliver this will show what in detail is required if changes should be made.

I am intending to deal only with the constitutional question as I see it. These draft regulations are made under the Tax Credits Act, which sets up mechanisms for the payment of tax credits of two types: children’s tax credits and working tax credits. The arrangements were under the control of the Board of Inland Revenue which was entitled under Section 2 to deduct the sums paid for tax credits from the income of the board raised by taxation. So it is perfectly clear that these tax credits are a charge on the taxes raised by the Board of Inland Revenue, as it was then. The details of the credits and the machinery necessary for their administration were set out in the later sections of the Act. Section 66 of the Act provides:

“1) No regulations to which this subsection applies may be made unless a draft of the instrument containing them (whether or not together with other provisions) has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.
(2) Subsection (1) applies to … (a) regulations prescribing monetary amounts that are required to be reviewed under section 41”.

That is the system under which this statutory instrument has been made. Accordingly the statutory instrument before the House requires to be approved by each House of Parliament before it can be made. The instrument, as we know, was approved by the other place and a Motion to reverse it was defeated in the other place. So it has come to us as a matter which has been fully considered so far as the other place is concerned until now.

In considering this, regard must be had to the financial privileges of the other place. It is not a question of the conventions of this House, it has nothing to do with them; it is to do with the financial privileges that belong to the House of Commons. So far as I understand it, there is nothing to prevent a Motion along the lines proposed here being considered by this House, but the question is whether that consideration can properly interfere with the financial primacy of the elected Chamber. Erskine May says that the practice is ruled today by resolutions which were made in the 1670s. The last one of these, the clearest and fullest, states that,

“all aids and supplies and aids to his majesty in Parliament, are the sole gift of the commons; and all bills for the granting of any such aids and supplies ought to begin with the commons: and that it is the undoubted and sole right of the commons to direct, limit, and appoint in such bills the ends, purposes, considerations, conditions, limitations, and qualifications of such grants; which ought not to be changed or altered by the House of Lords”.

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It is clear that these tax credit payments are made out of the supply raised by taxation and that the other place has decided that the Tax Credits Act 2002 should be amended in terms of the approved draft. I am clearly of the opinion that a failure on the part of this House to approve the draft of this instrument would be a breach of the fundamental privileges of the elected Chamber.

It may be asked why the approval of this House is required. I believe that it is as a courtesy to the House, just as it is asked to agree to the passing of money Bills on their way to becoming Acts of Parliament. The House never seeks to delay them as it is obliged to respect the financial privileges of the elected Chamber and how it deals with those matters; it should deal with this matter in the same way. To decline to approve these draft regulations or to decline to deal with them until certain conditions are met is a refusal to accept that the decision of the elected House on a matter of financial privilege is the final authority for it. It has to be noted that this is a matter of the privilege of the elected Chamber, not of the Government. The Motions other than that in the name of the right reverend Primate—

A noble Lord: The right reverend Prelate.

Lord Mackay of Clashfern: I am sorry, the right reverend Prelate. That was a bit of a promotion because we are in the presence of the two Primates. The Motions mark a refusal to accept a decision of the elected House on a matter of financial privilege as the final authority for it. That is what they amount to. It has to be noted, as I have said, that this is the privilege of the elected Chamber, not of the Government.

The amendment proposed by the right reverend Prelate—I shall try to get it right this time—is entirely in accordance with the arrangements of this House and with the financial privileges of the House of Commons. Therefore from the point of view of the powers of this House, it is by far the safest of the Motions that have been put forward. In light of what the Leader of the House said in opening, I believe that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is very open to considering the detail—

Lord Thomas of Gresford (LD): My Lords, does the noble and learned Lord not agree that the conventions to which he has referred, going back to the 17th century, were so uncertain that in 1908 the Conservative Party defeated Lloyd George’s People’s Budget in which he sought to give money to the poor people of this country? Does he also not agree that the 1911 Act set out a mechanism whereby the Speaker would certify that a money Bill was a money Bill, and that would remove from us our powers of consideration? Is he not going back to an argument that failed more than 100 years ago?

Lord Mackay of Clashfern: Not at all. I am stating the present practice, according to Erskine May, in relation to matters of financial privilege. As I said, it is not a matter of the conventions of this House, but of the rights of the other place in this matter. My clear submission to your Lordships is that these amendments challenge the final authority of the elected House on a

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matter of financial privilege. It is true that the Liberal Democrats—I suppose they were the Liberal Party then, but the succession is probably allowable—found it necessary to take further action to ensure that the practice that had been built up in the 17th century applied in the 20th century and beyond. They put mechanisms in place to prevent financial privileges being in any way transgressed again.

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Lord Snape: Does the noble and learned Lord think that a statutory instrument that cannot be amended is a suitable vehicle for passing legislation that will adversely affect hundreds of thousands of people?

Lord Mackay of Clashfern: That is the arrangement that was proposed in the Tax Credits Act, which was passed by the Labour Government in 2002. It was thought to be the right way to do this particular thing, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Government have followed that. It is not a necessary consequence that the Commons or the Government should use a different procedure in order to secure the financial privilege of the House of Commons. The procedure was laid down in the Tax Credits Act, which is the main statute on this matter. For the Government to do anything other than use that course would be offensive to the way in which the system was set up.
The Leader of the House mentioned the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s attitude to considering more detailed material when it becomes available. That is a considerable consolation to me in light of what the right reverend Prelate said. I believe the right reverend Prelate’s approach to be the safest way to secure what a number of your Lordships have asked for.

Baroness Lister of Burtersett (Lab): My Lords, I have several points to make about the substance of these regulations. First, this represents a lamentable example of non-evidence-based policy-making, the victims of which are going to suffer greatly. Secondly, the arguments used to justify the policy—by reference to other policy changes and to how people could or even should work harder—betray a lack of understanding of policy and of people’s lives.

In its letter to the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, the Social Security Advisory Committee criticised the “scant” evidence to support the policy changes. It thus encouraged the Government to make available to Parliament,

“more detailed information that clearly explains the changes and potential impacts to ensure that they can be subject to effective scrutiny”.

With due respect to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay, SSAC clearly believed it possible to provide such information. Its advice was ignored, leading the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee to observe that the explanatory memorandum laid in September “contained minimal information”.

Getting an impact assessment out of the Government has been like pulling teeth. That which finally emerged is a travesty; much of it simply reiterates repetitively the rationale behind the policy. It certainly does not provide the information about potential impacts that

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SSAC sought. There is no information on the impact on different groups affected, including the self-employed, who, as we have heard, cannot benefit from an increase in the minimum wage. The information about the impact on protected groups is simply laughable. When I asked in a Written Question,

“how many people in receipt of Carer’s Allowance are also in receipt of Working Tax Credit”,

and are therefore vulnerable, I was told that the information,

“could only be provided at disproportionate cost”.

I know that Carers UK is very worried about the likely impact on all carers receiving working tax credit.

In the letter accompanying the impact assessment the Chancellor excused the delay on the grounds that the Government do not usually publish an IA for statutory instruments of this kind. I found this statement very revealing. It suggests that the Government made no attempt to assess the impact for themselves before going ahead with such significant cuts and that they see an IA simply as a tick-box exercise to pacify pesky parliamentary committees. Surely, given the Prime Minister’s pledge at his party conference of an “all-out assault on poverty”, the Government would want to know the impact on poverty. But no: it was left to the Resolution Foundation to point out that it could mean an additional 200,000 children falling into poverty next year, rising to 600,000 by 2020 when other summer Budget measures have taken effect.

Surely a Government who have promised to apply the family test to every measure would want to know the impact on low-income families—a point made by Heidi Allen MP in her passionate maiden speech demolishing her own Government’s policy. Surely a Government who go on constantly about making work pay would want to know the impact on low-paid workers. But we had to look to the IFS for that. In effect, the Government appear to be contracting out to the voluntary sector genuine assessment of impact. Of course, that is assessment after, rather than as part of, the policy-making process. That is one reason why it is so important that your Lordships’ House asks the Government to think again in the light of the evidence that has emerged of the damaging impact that the cuts will have.

I am grateful to all organisations that have exposed how the overall policy package that the Government constantly cite does not amount to an adequate defence of the policy, particularly in the case of lone parents, who will be disproportionately affected, according to Gingerbread. A key reason why the overall policy package does not provide adequate protection is that with the exception of childcare, which applies to only a very limited age range, the other policies—the increase in the minimum wage, welcome as it is, and in personal tax allowances, which is less welcome because it is wasteful and poorly targeted—cannot take account of the presence of children, a point made by my noble friend Lady Hollis. All the talk about tax credits subsidising low pay ignores the fact that child tax credits were introduced primarily as a child poverty measure. Wages cannot take account of the presence of children. That was one reason why family allowances were originally introduced and why an increase in child benefit, which also helps families

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below the tax threshold and is currently frozen, would provide more effective mitigation than further increases in tax allowances.

Finally, according to the Health Secretary, the cuts are intended to send a “very important cultural signal” about hard work. Leaving aside his denigrating suggestion that receipt of tax credits is somehow incompatible with “independence, self-respect and dignity”, he does not appear to understand that reducing the income threshold and the universal credit work allowances while increasing the taper rate penalises what he calls “hard work”. Likewise, the Work and Pensions Secretary suggested that the problem can be solved if those hardest hit are encouraged to work a few extra hours. Even if extra hours were feasible and available, the gain from doing so will be reduced by the very changes that they are supposed to mitigate. As the Children’s Society points out, every extra £1 in wages will provide a net income increase of only 3p for those also in receipt of housing benefit and only 20p for those not. What about those with family responsibilities, particularly lone parents and carers, for whom working extra hours could impact negatively on their and their families’ lives?

It is our job to scrutinise legislation. This legislation does not stand up to scrutiny. The policy-making process from which it has emerged does not stand up to scrutiny. It is not noble Lords, or Government Ministers, who will bear the cost of this. It will be people like the low-paid worker who emailed me to say that he was very scared about how he will manage next year. Hundreds of thousands of children will be pushed into poverty. We have a duty to defend them, our fellow citizens.

Baroness Campbell of Surbiton (CB): My Lords—

The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords—

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: My Lords, perhaps I may suggest, given the very large number of noble Lords who want to speak, that for the benefit of the House they keep their contributions brief and to the point, so that we can get as many people in as possible. Furthermore, if we can go around the House, as we do at Question Time, it will help create a sense of balance in our debate, which I am sure noble Lords will appreciate. I hope the right reverend Prelate will excuse me—because normally he would take precedence—but I have indicated to the noble Baroness, Lady Campbell of Surbiton, that she might speak next. I hope that he will understand why I wish to do so.

Baroness Campbell of Surbiton: My Lords, as a Cross-Bencher in this House, I see it as my job to offer my best expertise and knowledge to help the Government understand the consequences of some of their legislation and statutory instruments. That is what I will now offer.

Working tax credits have provided an unprecedented and effective pathway into employment for disabled people who faced the greatest barriers to employment. Proposals to lower the threshold for working tax credits and accelerate the taper rate to 48p will dramatically reduce the incomes of disabled people in low-paid employment who, for reasons directly linked to their impairment, do not have the option to increase their

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working hours or to offset their losses. Disabled people—especially those with learning disabilities—are more likely to be in low-paid employment than non-disabled people.

I am not aware of an impact assessment that has evaluated this specific disability element. I fear that this cut will also disincentivise disabled people from taking the very difficult step off benefits and into work. There is little doubt that it will negatively impact on the Government’s other policy, which is to halve the disability employment gap. It does not make sense. Do not forget, either, that that gap is currently running at over 30%. Higher costs in health and social care are the inevitable result of unemployment among disabled people.

Furthermore, we cannot look at working tax credits in isolation. We are promised joined-up government but I am not aware of any cross-government analysis of the cumulative impact of this regulation on working disabled people or families with a disabled member. Where is the Department of Health? Many working disabled people affected by cuts to working tax credits are also suffering because of cuts to their social care support, the closure of the Independent Living Fund and the changes to Access to Work. In effect, the Government are making employment less likely for people with these support needs. I know that this is not their intention.

I hope that this little detail—this bit of reality and evidence—will help us to reflect. Maybe the Government will change their mind; I do not know. But I am deeply worried about the number of people who will effectively be hit by this provision, which will not deliver the Government’s own policy.

5.15 pm
The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, I support the amendment to the Motion as tabled by the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Portsmouth, in the hope that it will indeed give space for further reflection and reconsideration of the tax credit proposals. I believe that it has the potential to do that.

First, I want to record my appreciation for the welcome rhetoric in recent months from members of the Government saying that employment, not least hard work, merits fair pay and some recognition in the national minimum wage. It is this, rather than buttressing from the state, that should provide the income of working people. It follows from this that rising wages and salaries will, of their own accord, not least from the Government’s own national living wage proposals, reduce the use of tax credits in due course without the introduction of the draft regulations before us.

The diocese which it is my calling and privilege to serve covers most of south London and east Surrey—I have the honour of several of your Lordships living within it. It is a large and populous area, encompassing significant pockets of urban deprivation alongside considerable wealth. The unsustainable cost pressures in the property rental market, as well as rapidly rising house prices, already threaten the balance of many communities. I fear that the introduction of these regulations will push a significant number of hard-working although low-earning families to breaking point.

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A reduction in the threshold for families’ earnings before credits are withdrawn from £6,420 to £3,850 is a very dramatic change, which will adversely affect all but the poorest members of the communities we serve. Families that strive, struggle, aspire and hope to advance their well-being will be thrown back, since few have the sort of margin between income and expenditure to cushion them from the blow that is coming. In the London Borough of Southwark alone, whose 50th anniversary was commemorated in my cathedral this past weekend, it is estimated that some 20,000 families are in receipt of tax credits and, further, that even making allowance for the mitigating factors being introduced by the Government, some 4,000 will remain worse off by these changes. That is in just one London borough.

The sort of wage rises that would mitigate this and the extra hours worked to catch up will be taken away by the loss in other benefits, even if there were enough hours in the day. The rise in personal allowances which benefits a far wider group of people, including Members in this Chamber, will not compensate for this shortfall. By these regulations, we are in fact asking parents to make their children bear a significant adjustment in their economic circumstances—an adjustment that some children will not understand, which in itself will be an added stress to their families. We risk stripping our fellow citizens of their dignity by these provisions, even though the Government’s stated intention with a whole range of economic and fiscal measures is to do the opposite. We should take this opportunity to counsel Her Majesty’s Government not to seek to add to the burdens of those working hard for their families, and to reconsider in detail the impact of these regulations and the need for more fully worked-out transitional arrangements. I therefore support the regret Motion as tabled by the right reverend Prelate.

Baroness O’Loan (CB): Before right reverend Prelate sits down, could I just ask him why, if he believes that this will cause such difficulty, harm and distress to so many children and their parents in our community, he is telling us to vote for this Motion?

The Lord Bishop of Southwark: I was persuaded by listening to the noble Lord, Lord Butler of Brockwell, explaining the other day the constitutional differences that exist between the two Chambers.

Baroness Thomas of Winchester (LD): My Lords, there seem to be two strands to this emotive phrase “constitutional crisis”, which is what I would like to address. The first is that this House should not vote down a statutory instrument—certainly not one that has been through the House of Commons. But there is no Standing Order which lays this down, and the Parliament Acts are silent on the primacy of the Commons over statutory instruments. Yes, it is taking a very rare step, but the footpath is there, even if it is rather overgrown. In this House, we do not look to Erskine May so much as the Companion to the Standing Orders, which is where we find that this House has an unfettered right over statutory instruments. If an instrument is not approved by this House, there is nothing to stop the Government immediately bringing

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another instrument to both Houses with a minor change. It is time we stopped being bullied over how we consider statutory instruments.

The other strand of the so-called constitutional crisis involves the primacy of the House of Commons over financial matters. Here, I echo what the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis, said. The parent Act from which this instrument comes was not certified by the Speaker as a money Bill, and if this House is entitled to debate the statutory instrument at all—which it is—then it is entitled to approve or to decline to approve it. It is not a question of courtesy; this is what we do and what Parliament has decreed. We would be failing all those affected by this measure if we simply pulled a duvet over our faces and turned our backs to the wall while saying it was none of our business.

If the Government had wanted to avoid this situation, why on earth did they not introduce a very short tax credits amendment Bill? Then we could have debated it in the usual way, with none of this intolerable pressure. If this House had sent back an unacceptable amendment, the Commons could have invoked financial privilege and that would have been that, but we might have found a way to tweak such a Bill that would have found favour with all those Conservative Members who have been calling for just that.

If the Bill route had been taken, we might have had a much more informative impact assessment, which could have told us what was likely to happen to those low-paid workers affected when the tax credit changes happen next April, instead of being told that by 2020 there may not be quite so many losers. We surely know that not all the thousands of employers up and down the country will pay the new living wage immediately to all part-time workers for the same number of hours to make up the shortfall. As it is, for the Government to decide to make a very controversial change by way of an unamendable statutory instrument, and then to bully members of this House into passing it by telling us that we are provoking a constitutional crisis if we do not agree to it, is surely quite unacceptable. We should stand up for what we believe to be morally right. The spirit of 1911 is being invoked, but at least Lloyd George wanted to take from the rich to pay the poor. George Osborne seems to want to do the opposite.

Lord Lawson of Blaby (Con): I suspect that I am not the only one on this side of the House who feels torn on this issue. The constitutional position, which I will refer to first, has been set out admirably by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay, and it is very clear: budgetary matters are the prerogative of the other place—of the elected Chamber—and this is undoubtedly a budgetary matter, however it is dressed up. What is the purpose of the measure? The purpose of it is to help reduce the budget deficit, and everybody is agreed that it should be—

Baroness Smith of Basildon: The noble Lord seems to imply that because this is a tax credits issue, as was said by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay, for whom the House holds enormous respect, it would be subject to financial privilege. Is he aware that the legislation in 2002 was not subject to financial privilege? It is hard to argue, then, that a statutory instrument from that legislation should be.

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Lord Lawson of Blaby: With respect to the noble Baroness, the constitution is more important than nitpicking. This is a budgetary matter.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean (Lab): Does the noble Lord, Lord Lawson, think that the Clerk of the Parliaments was nitpicking when he told my noble friend that statutory instruments were not covered by financial privilege? That was said unequivocally by the Clerk of the Parliaments.

Lord Lawson of Blaby: The point is that this is a budgetary matter and budgetary matters are the prerogative of the elected House. That is the most important constitutional principle. This was designed to reduce the budget deficit, which everybody on all sides agrees has to be eliminated, by something like £4.5 billion. It is quite clear that this is the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s measure, in effect, whosever name may be on the statutory instrument. That is the constitutional position. I said I would be brief, so I will not elaborate, but that is clear.

On the other hand, I also said I am torn, because I believe that there are aspects of this measure which need to be reconsidered and, indeed, changed. The right honourable George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, made it clear that he was going to get a lot of his savings, probably the greater part, from the welfare budget, and tax credit, which has ballooned enormously in recent years, is a large part of the welfare budget. I think that is absolutely fair, but the question is the particular incidence of this package in the regulations. What concerns me is not that there are high implicit marginal rates of tax—which are transient, incidentally. That is the case with all means-tested benefits and it is absurd to say that means-tested benefits can never be reduced. Nevertheless the tax credits system—the in-work benefits—rise surprisingly high up the income scale, but here the great harm, or a great deal of the harm, is at the lowest end. That is what needs to be looked at again; that is what concerns me. It is perfectly possible to tweak it to take more from the upper end of the tax credit scale and less from the lower end.

I heard my noble friend the Leader of the House say that the Chancellor would listen to this debate. I would have been surprised if she had said that the Chancellor would not listen to this debate. Of course he will listen to this debate, but it is not just listening that is required. Change is required. I very much hope that my noble friend Lord Howe, when he winds up, will indicate that there will be change, though he cannot indicate what, but I must say that my present intention is to support the amendment in the name of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Portsmouth.

Lord Campbell-Savours: I hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer listens very carefully to the contribution of the former Chancellor of the Exchequer the noble Lord, Lord Lawson of Blaby, because his support for what appears to be the Frank Field amendment should be taken seriously. The Leader can call on all the constitutional arguments she can muster in support of the Government, as indeed can the noble

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and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Clashfern, on the issue of financial privilege, but all those arguments pale into insignificance when compared to the greater argument that the general public, millions of people outside this House, are considering today—that being statements given during the course of the general election, solemn undertakings given by Cabinet Ministers to the British people, on what their attitudes would be to tax credits.

Mr Gove gave the undertaking that there would be no cut in tax credits, which he was unable to substantiate by way of any agreement, but that is what he said on television, in an interview. Mr Cameron deliberately misled the British public, who would regard what he said now as a lie to win a general election. The British public are fed up with politicians who tell lies on that scale. It exceeded the misleading of the public in the case of the Liberal Democrats over tuition fees; at least they did not know what was going to come after the election when they misled the public. In this case, Mr Cameron did know, and the Government set out to avoid revealing the facts by hiding behind the statement that they would have to make substantial cuts without going into details. Those lies trump all the constitutional niceties, whether they be financial privilege or the fatality of amendments, and it is on that basis that I intend to support the amendment tabled by my noble friend Lady Hollis this evening. The public cannot take this scale of lying.

5.30 pm
Lord Butler of Brockwell (CB): My Lords, I shall try to put my points briefly. I do not want anything that I say to be taken as implying a lack of sympathy with the concerns of those who have spoken about the effects of the Government’s policy. Like other Peers, I have had moving emails from many such people who expect to lose benefits through the statutory instrument. However, I want to confine myself to the constitutional issue. I usually agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Thomas, about statutory instruments. As has been pointed out, it is a very rare event that the Government are defeated on a statutory instrument; it has happened only five times since the war, but that does not mean that the House could not do it. But there is a combination here, because this is a statutory instrument about a budgetary matter central to the Government’s fiscal policy; it is that combination that is unprecedented, which is why it would be beyond the House’s constitutional powers to defeat the Government today.

Lord Thomas of Gresford (LD): Would the noble Lord wish to amend the Companion to the Standing Orders and guide to the Proceedings of the House of Lords? It states:

“The House has resolved ‘That this House affirms its unfettered freedom to vote on any subordinate legislation submitted for its consideration’”.

Is this not subordinate legislation submitted for our consideration?

Lord Butler of Brockwell: What I am saying is that the combination of the convention about statutory instruments and the fiscal significance of this one is what makes it special.

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Lord Thomas of Gresford: Any!

Lord Butler of Brockwell: Any—but not since 1911 have a Government been challenged on a matter of this sort, which establishes what the constitutional conventions of the House of Lords are. In that respect—

Lord Richard: The noble Lord says that no Government have been challenged on a matter of this sort since 1911. However, in July 2008 there was a debate in this House on a statutory instrument, in which, after a discussion, the House came to a conclusion and voted down the Government’s suggestion, insisting that any attempt by the Government to raise national insurance had to be done by way of primary and not statutory legislation. Was that not also an example of a Government trying to pursue their financial and fiscal policies and the Opposition voting them down, saying that it had to be done not by statutory instrument but by primary legislation?

Lord Butler of Brockwell: I shall not contest the precedent given by the noble Lord, which I have not myself considered. The amendment proposed by the noble Baroness, Lady Manzoor, is, transparently, a fatal one; she agrees with that—and, in my view, it is outside your Lordships’ constitutional role. I note that my noble friend Lady Meacher agrees with that view. The amendments proposed by the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis, and my noble friend Lady Meacher, raise a more subtle issue. They are not fatal, but they seek to defer our consideration of the statutory instrument until the Government have done certain things specified in the amendment, including, in the case of the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis, surrendering some of the savings that would be achieved by this measure. But they are still blocking amendments. I can best demonstrate that by the following question. What happens if the Government refuse to do what the amendments demand? Will your Lordships then refuse to consider the statutory instruments for ever and a day? In that case, these amendments would block the statutory instrument indefinitely, which in my view is not within the—

Baroness Meacher: I point out to my noble friend Lord Butler that the House of Commons has a very similar request for Thursday: that House also wants more information, because Conservative MPs even now do not feel they have enough information to understand the full implications of these regulations. If the House of Commons votes for more information—in other words, says not to go ahead until we know what on earth is going on—would my noble friend then agree that that should be provided not only to the House of Lords but to the House of Commons?

Lord Butler of Brockwell: If the House of Commons asks for more information, it should be provided. But the constitutional position is that the House of Commons has passed this statutory instrument, and it cannot go back on that. Now what is at issue is whether the House of Lords should pass it, and however much sympathy the House may have for the objectives of those who have moved these amendments, it would be a constitutional infringement of great gravity to pass the first three of them. It would be wrong on three

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counts. First, this is a budgetary matter. It may be a welfare matter as well, but it is certainly a budgetary matter. Secondly, it is crucial to the fiscal policy that was explicit in the manifesto on which the Government were elected only a short time ago. Thirdly, the statutory instrument has been passed by the House of Commons, which has that responsibility in our constitutional arrangements. It has been passed not once but three times. I am afraid that I cannot find myself persuaded—

Lord Hughes of Woodside (Lab): Would the noble Lord realise that he is turning his back and not addressing the House, and he should learn the procedures, given his experience?

Lord Butler of Brockwell: I am sorry, my Lords, and I apologise if I have committed a constitutional impropriety, but I still do not understand quite the point that the noble Lord makes.
I am afraid that I am not persuaded by the argument made by the noble Baroness that this House—

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton (Lab): I have worked in many roles, and I have listened to the noble Lord giving advice. I know that after this debate many members of the public will ask what an earth was going on in the House of Lords. Could the noble Lord answer the question: if the House of Lords today amended or voted down this statutory instrument, could the Government in the Commons bring back a one-word-change statutory instrument within the next few days? Secondly, would he care to comment on the following? I listened very respectfully to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay, who used an expression that I could not understand. Could the noble Lord explain why the noble and learned Lord thought that it would be offensive for the Government just to choose to bring this item forward in primary legislation? I did not understand the reasoning, but I am sure the noble Lord does.
Lord Butler of Brockwell: My Lords, I think it is a little unfair of the noble Baroness to ask me to interpret the statements of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay. They were perfectly clear. Can I just give the answers I was going to give about the point made by my noble friend Lady Meacher? I cannot be persuaded that this House would be failing in its democratic duty if we did not block this statutory instrument so that the House of Commons could have yet one more debate on it. It has had three already.

Baroness Manzoor: I am so sorry to intervene on the noble Lord. I have an observation. The director of the Institute for Government, Peter Riddell, who is greatly respected in Whitehall and Westminster makes the following point. Forgive me, it is rather long but I want to read it.

Noble Lords: Oh!

Baroness Manzoor: I shall give a short version then:

“The Parliament Acts of 1911 and 1949, establishing the ultimate supremacy of the Commons, do not apply to secondary legislation”.

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Lord Greaves (LD): My Lords—

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords—

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The House was listening to the noble Lord, Lord Butler.

Lord Butler of Brockwell: My Lords, I am afraid I have been rather frustrated in trying to put my points as briefly as I could, so let me put one final point. There have been many times in the past when there have been an opposition majority in your Lordships’ House, particularly when there has been a Labour Government. There have been many occasions when the Opposition have wanted to overturn the Government on a fiscal matter. It has not happened and in these cases the Opposition, recognising the conventions, have exercised self-restraint, bitten their lip and stayed within the constitutional conventions. I believe that the House should do that today.

Lord Richard: My Lords, in response immediately to what the noble Lord, Lord Butler, has just said, there was no doubt that the occasion in July 2008—I will go into it in a little more detail further on—was a fiscal matter. There was no doubt it was government policy and this House demanded that the Government should give it up and insisted that what the Government wanted to do could be done only by primary legislation and not by a statutory instrument. This has been before the House before and the House has done it before.

There are three major issues this House has to consider today. The first is whether financial privilege attaches to this proposition. The second is the effect of the way in which it proceeded through Parliament, and the third is whether any of the amendments is a fatal one.

Let us deal with the constitutional one because we have heard quite a lot about it this afternoon. I totally reject the suggestion made by the Chancellor that somehow or other a vote to postpone the operation of this resolution would be contrary to the financial understandings and conventions that exist between the two Houses. I do not think that is justified. The Government could have avoided these constitutional problems if they had wanted to, had they chosen to legislate for this matter by primary rather than secondary legislation. It would have been open to them to have included these proposals in the Finance Bill. Alternatively, they could have legislated by way of a short and separate Bill. Instead, they chose—it is a government choice, not an opposition choice or anyone else’s—to do it by secondary legislation. That inevitably curtailed debate both here and in the House of Commons and particularly in the country. Of course I accept that it has been dealt with in another place, but inevitably the national discussion has been truncated—to the point almost of extinction. There has been no consultation on transitional measures, nor on measures to alleviate the burden on the poorest—quite the contrary. None of these issues has been even discussed, let alone agreed. We do not know what, if any, transitional measures the Government might have in mind. The Government do not even have the excuse that it was all

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put before the country at the general election. It most certainly was not—quite the contrary. Considerable efforts were made to conceal the fact that this was the Government’s intention if they got re-elected. From the Prime Minister down we had Minister after Minister appearing in front of the television cameras and in the press saying it was nothing to do with tax credits and they would tell us what it was eventually. There was not a word in the Conservative manifesto about it. We are now told that in that situation this House willy-nilly has to accept what the Government say. What the Government are asking us to do is not acceptable.

Amendment to the Motion
Moved by Baroness Manzoor
As an amendment to the above Motion, to leave out all the words after “that” and insert “this House declines to approve the draft regulations laid before the House on 7 September”.

Baroness Manzoor (LD): My Lords, there has been a lot of discussion in the run-up to this debate about the role of this House in debating statutory instruments. I know that many noble Lords will wish to pick up on the constitutional role of the House. We have already started to see some of those points being made.

I do not discount the strength of feeling on the issue of whether this House should seek to reject the views of the elected Commons, but I want to be clear about what we are talking about today. We are talking about a measure that, according to the expert analysis of the Institute of Fiscal Studies, will hit 3 million low-income working families. These are people doing the right thing: going out to work and trying to make ends meet. They are exactly the kind of people whom the Government have said they want to help. Yet this change will have a seriously damaging impact on their ability to keep their heads above water. These families will, according to the IFS, lose an average of around £1,000 a year. For many people on low incomes, that will mean the difference between being able to continue to pay to heat their homes, pay their rent and feed their families and not being able to do so. In total, 4.9 million children will be directly affected by the change. Almost a quarter of single parents living in the UK will see their incomes cut.

Yet the Government continue to ignore the overwhelming consensus among charities such as the Children’s Society and Gingerbread—I could name many others, including taxation experts and even their own Children’s Commissioner—that these changes need to be reconsidered. It is no surprise that the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group—by no means a leftie organisation—has said that the impact of these changes,

“on the majority of tax credit claimants will be devastating”.

The problems with the Government’s proposals go far wider than those directly affected. They will also have a huge impact on the important principle—that this Government claim to support—that work should always pay more than a life on benefits. Evidence from the Social Market Foundation suggests that someone earning the average wage for those living in social housing of £8.08 an hour will see the benefits of earning wiped out almost entirely. Because of the way the so-called taper rate interacts with taper rates applied to other benefits including local Council Tax benefit, the marginal deduction rate—the rate at which benefits are withdrawn—will be 93%. That means that for every pound a person earns by going out to work—by taking on extra hours in order to improve their lives—they will keep only 7p.

Liberal Democrats in the coalition Government fought for universal credit. We fought alongside the Conservatives for the “make work pay” agenda. The Government’s proposals run utterly counter to this

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philosophy. Such a fundamental change in the Government’s approach should be challenged every step of the way.

Lord Cormack (Con): My Lords, 104 years ago, a Liberal Government decided that this House should not have jurisdiction in budgetary matters. The noble Baroness speaks for a party which has a disproportionate strength in this House. She and her party believe in proportion. They also believe in the supremacy of the House of Commons. How does she square the various points I have just made with the speech that she is making and the vote that she is seeking tonight?

Baroness Manzoor: I thank the noble Lord for that intervention. I will come to that point and address it in the best way that I can.

I will pick up briefly on the speech made in moving the Government’s Motion by the Leader of the House. I do not discount her views but the overwhelming evidence is that these measures will do real damage.

However, I want to express my disappointment that this debate is not being led by the noble Lord, Lord O’Neill. This set of regulations relates to measures brought forward by the Treasury. It is right that such regulations should be promoted and defended by the Minister from the department responsible, whenever possible. As I said at the start of my speech, while much has been made of the constitutional issues surrounding the Motion, it is ultimately about the impact of the measures on the families affected. The Leader of the House does an excellent job in representing this House outside the Chamber, and in defending the Government’s position on the role of the House inside it, but this Motion is not about those things. It is about tax credit changes and it is reasonable for the House to expect the Treasury Minister to answer its concerns.

Fatal Motions on regulations should be used incredibly sparingly. I wish that we were not in this position but I cannot think of a better reason for this House to use such an option than the lives of 4.9 million children and the parents who go out to work to support them. I have tabled this fatal Motion for a simple reason: when all is said and done, and when the constitutional debate about the role of this House is over, I want to be able to go home this evening knowing that I have done everything I could to stop this wrong-headed and ill-thought through legislation, which will have such a damaging and devastating impact on millions of people’s lives.

We have a duty in this House to consider our constitutional role but we also have a duty to consider those affected by the decisions we make and the votes we cast. Were there another way for this House to reject this proposal and send it back to the Commons to reconsider, I would be all for doing so. Some people have said to me that this is a budgetary measure—indeed, the Leader of the House said so, too—and therefore not within our competence. Were that true, the Government had an opportunity to put these changes into the Finance Bill rather than to use an affirmative statutory instrument, a measure that this House is explicitly asked to consider and approve by the primary legislation from which it stems.

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I have been told by many that a fatal Motion is too blunt an instrument. If that were the case then the Government could have placed this measure in the Welfare Reform and Work Bill, which is coming to your Lordships’ House in due course, giving this House the opportunity to amend the proposal and suggest alternatives, but they have chosen not to pursue that course either. So we are left with a statutory instrument, a tool designed for minor changes to processes and administration, being used to implement a substantial change in policy that will affect millions of people’s livelihoods. That is not my decision but I hope that we will do everything we can to stop it.

I want to turn briefly to the other Motions in the names of the noble Baronesses, Lady Meacher and Lady Hollis, and the right reverend Prelate. I am sure that they will speak on their own Motions in detail, so I do not want to dwell on them. However, to be clear, I support all those proposals. It is right that the Government should delay these measures to properly respond to the serious challenges put by the IFS, as the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, suggests. It is also right that the Government should not make these changes unless there is transitional protection, as the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis, proposes. Fundamentally, however, these are sticking plasters on the wound. Transitional protection will help many of those who will see an immediate cut to their tax credits next April but would do nothing for those who become eligible for tax credits this time next year. If the Government succeed in meeting their employment target then we will see more people in part-time work, which is a great thing, but these people will need tax credits. If they meet their noble and worthy aim of increasing the number of disabled people in employment, that is likely to mean more people in flexible working arrangements whose income may need to be supplemented by tax credits. These people would not be protected by transitional protection. That is why, although I support and will vote for the amendment in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis, I believe that we need to go further.

I have no doubt that this House could spend many hours debating our constitutional role. I and all those on these Benches—

4 pm
Lord Grocott (Lab): Does the noble Baroness not acknowledge that there is at least a certain irony in that, for five of the last five and a half years, her party gave strong support to the Cameron-Osborne Government? Now that Messrs Cameron and Osborne come forward with a proposal that they do not like, they are suggesting that the right course of action is a somersault. Would it not have been a lot easier, and maybe a lot more principled, if she and her colleagues had decided to bring down this Government a lot earlier?

Baroness Manzoor: I thank the noble Lord for his intervention. He is right to raise that point and quite right to ask that question. As I understand it very clearly, we did veto these proposals.
I have no doubt that this House could spend many hours debating our constitutional role. I, and all those on these Benches, take our role very seriously and will

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continue to push for reform that means that this House has real accountability to the electorate. But this debate is not about that. This is about putting to rest an issue which is of immense—

Baroness Browning (Con): Will the noble Baroness just reflect on the fact that, in terms of accountability to the electorate on this matter, people who have stood for public office and have been accepted and elected to another place have the mandate? They, and only they, have that mandate on this subject. Although we in this House work very hard in order to reflect our views, so that the other place can take advantage of them, the noble Baroness is going just a bit too far in assuming that she has a mandate.

Baroness Manzoor: I do assume that this House has a mandate. We are back to the constitutional role of this House.

I will continue, because some answers have been given to that, and more will be given as we talk more about the role of this House. We want to put to rest an issue that is of immense concern to millions of people up and down the country. If the Government wish to withdraw their regulations, we can avoid this impasse. Sadly, I do not think that the Minister—for whom I have the utmost respect—is empowered to make such a choice. It is therefore right that this House perform its duty and stand up against a poor decision made in the Commons. What the Government do after that is up to them. But I and my colleagues are clear: it is time for this Government to think again. I beg to move.

The Lord Speaker (Baroness D’Souza): I should inform the House that if this amendment is agreed to, I cannot call any of the other amendments to the Motion on the Order Paper by reason of pre-emption.

Baroness Meacher (CB): My Lords, I rise to speak to the amendment that stands in my name on the Order Paper, which would defer consideration of the tax credit regulations. I pay tribute to other noble Lords who have tabled amendments to these regulations today, but I should explain to the House that I told the noble Baroness, Lady Manzoor, that I had come to a settled view that tabling a fatal amendment in this House was a step too far. The purpose of this amendment is to support the democratic process and to avoid impeding it.

The House of Commons will have a cross-party debate and a vote on these issues on Thursday. I understand that at least eight Conservative MPs have put their names to Thursday’s Motion. It seems, therefore, that the Government no longer have a majority in the House of Commons for the planned cuts as they stand. If we approve the Regulations today, the Commons debate will have been pre-empted. This would undermine the democratic process. If, however, the elected House supports the Government—contrary to my expectations, I have to say—and the Government present a report to your Lordships’ House responding to the Institute for Fiscal Studies analysis, I am sure that I and others will support these Regulations. This will not necessarily be because we agree with them—I most certainly do not—but because we respect the democratic process and the limits of the duties of this wonderful House.

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Lord Forsyth of Drumlean (Con): If the noble Baroness is right that the Government do not have a majority in the other place, why can we not respect the democratic process and leave it to them?

Baroness Meacher: I will attempt to answer that question.

Lord Snape (Lab): Before she does, may I just ask the noble Baroness a question arising from her amendment? Does she agree that if the Government had, as they should have done, tabled these proposals as part of the Finance Bill, they would have been amendable in the other place and we would not be having this discussion today? Does she agree that the reason the Government are indulging in this sharp practice is that they know full well that, for any reasonable person in either House, these proposals are unacceptable and they would have been defeated in the other place because quite a few Conservative Members of Parliament would have voted against them?

Baroness Meacher: I was talking to Jacob Rees-Mogg MP the other day and he said to me that the trouble is that the House of Commons deals with Statutory Instruments extremely badly. Our difficulty is that, that being the case, they depend on this House to do this very detailed work, on which your Lordships do an extremely good job. In response to the noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, the point is that the cross-party debate on Thursday is not a legislative debate. It would have been right for these matters to have been incorporated in full in a piece of legislation, which would then have been open to proper debate and amendment in the normal way.

To go back to my point, if we approve the Regulations today we are actually undermining the democratic process. If, however, the elected House supports the Government, as I said before, I know that this House will abide by our conventions and vote these Regulations through whatever our personal views of them. I do not personally approve of them, but I would be in the Lobby with the Government. The duty of your Lordships’ House, as we know, is to enable Governments to think again if, in our professional judgment, they are making a grave mistake, and to allow the elected House to hold the Government to account. Noble Lords can imagine that I do not take this action lightly. I am acutely conscious of the threats made by the Government to destroy this House, one way or another, if we proceed. I do not enjoy that kind of pressure.

I will come back to the constitutional issue, but at this point I want to thank the IFS, the Children’s Society and others for their valuable help. Why are these Regulations so serious? The Leader of the House has already made the point that tax credits will be withdrawn from an income of £74 a week, £3 above the jobseeker’s allowance level, whereas in the past the withdrawal has occurred from a weekly income of £123 a week, which is very different. Also, of course, the taper rate—the percentage of every pound earned that will be withdrawn from tax credits— is going up from 41% to 48%. Very low income working families—the lowest income families, as I understand it—stand to lose more than £20 a week. For one of us, this can mean a meal in a restaurant. For a poor working

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family it can mean a pair of shoes for a child who comes home from school crying because their toes are hurting in shoes that are too small, or money to feed the meter to keep the family warm.

The Government plan a four-year freeze on the private rent level covered by housing benefit, so as rents soar—and we know that, day by day, they soar—working families will have to pay more of their rent from a shrinking income. Damian Hinds, Treasury Minister, told me in person that he hopes that families will work more hours to compensate for the cuts they are facing, but many people cannot work more hours. A lady who has cancer and who is working all the hours she can contacted me—the treatment and her exhaustion mean that she cannot do more. The parent of a disabled child, who probably actually needs to be at home all the time, is working as many hours as possible but can earn very little. Indeed, our angelic army of carers of elderly and disabled relatives across our land will be penalised. Some of them will lose more than £40 a week. People with long-term conditions or in constant pain will be devastated by the waves of cuts, of which these regulations are just one. Self-employed people who voted Conservative in May, hoping for protection, but who may earn little or nothing for weeks at a time, will be among the biggest losers. The StepChange Debt Charity says that its clients on average will lose £139 a week, a staggering sum.

All those people have been supported by what I regard as the one-nation Tories of the past. The Prime Minister said in his speech to the Conservative conference:

“The British people … want a government that supports the vulnerable”,
and, he said,
“we will deliver”.

This amendment provides an opportunity for the Prime Minister to honour that pledge. He went on to say that the Conservatives are the, “party of working people”. No wonder dozens of Conservative Back-Benchers—perhaps most of them, in fact—want the Government to think again. They do not want the Prime Minister to have misled the people of Britain. It is this House’s duty to provide that time for a rethink by this Government.

I turn to the idea that the amendment is unconstitutional—and I shall keep this brief. The Cunningham joint committee, as has already been mentioned, made very clear the responsibilities of this House and that we should have unfettered freedom to vote on any subordinate legislation submitted for its consideration. The Motion was carried without a vote and is recorded in the Companion. In 1999, the former Conservative Leader of your Lordships’ House referred to a convention that the Opposition should not vote against the Government’s secondary legislation. The noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, added:

“I declare this convention dead”.

Finally, I quote our highly esteemed Clerk of the Parliaments, who wrote a clarifying guidance note for the Cross-Benchers at my request. He said: “Procedurally, the Meacher-put Motion is entirely in order under the rules of the House. It is not a fatal Motion because it does not require a new statutory instrument to be laid and taken through both Houses. However, it does

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delay the approval of the statutory instrument, unlike an amendment which simply expresses regret while allowing the statutory instrument to be approved”.

I hope that the noble Lord, the Chief Whip, will forgive me for quoting him here. He urged me to exchange my amendment for a regret Motion. I said, “Oh, come on—that will have no effect at all”. He said, “Well, yes”. My apologies to the Chief Whip.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach (Con): I am sorry that my conversation with the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, has been quoted. That is not what I said. I made it quite clear to all who came to see me—they included all three protagonists in these debates—that the risk to this House was a constitutional one and that they ought to be aware that in my view to delay this Motion, as well as to vote it down, which is what the amendment proposed by the noble Baroness, Lady Manzoor, seeks to do, amounts to the same thing, and that the proper way in which to deal with something with which this House disagrees is to move a regret Motion. It was that to which I referred when I spoke to the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher.

4.15 pm
Baroness Meacher: I think I owe my apologies to the noble Lord. According to the Library just over two fatal and three non-fatal Motions were voted on in each year between 1999 and 2012, resulting in 17 defeats. There is nothing odd or unconstitutional about this Motion. According to the Clerk’s office there is no reason why we should not table a delaying amendment.

Lord Lawson of Blaby (Con): Can the noble Baroness say how many of her so-called precedents were budgetary matters?

Baroness Meacher: As I understand it, this House has every right to place amendments to statutory instruments on any subject—that was the conclusion of the Cunningham Joint Committee.

Lord Deben (Con): Will the noble Baroness answer the very simple question? How many of those Motions were on budgetary matters?

Baroness Meacher: None of those Motions was on the Budget. That is the constraint on this House as I understand it. Had these provisions been in the Budget they would have gone through the normal procedures and this House would have had a different role. That is the crucial point—here we are dealing with a statutory instrument.

There are four Motions on the Order Paper today. My Motion clearly leaves the matter in the hands of the elected House. The justification for a delay is that the House of Commons will have a full-day debate and a vote on these issues on Thursday. I understand that dozens of Conservative Back-Benchers are urging the Chancellor to adjust the tax credit reforms to protect the most vulnerable. Yes, there have been three votes on tax credits in the House of Commons, won by the Government. However, Conservative MPs—not

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me—say they did not have the information they needed when they voted for the cuts. I hear that many of them are now livid about this. The third vote was last Tuesday. Conservative MPs made it clear they wanted adjustments to the tax credit cuts but they kept their voting powder dry anticipating the vote next Thursday.

It is extraordinary that at least eight Conservative MPs—

Lord Cormack: My Lords, this just is not the case. The fact is that there was a vote in the other place last week. There was a clear majority and not a single Conservative Member voted in the sense the noble Baroness is indicating.

Baroness Meacher: I apologise to the noble Lord, whom I greatly respect, but I did not imply that the Conservative MPs had voted against the Government. I was saying quite clearly that they had not voted for an Opposition Motion; they kept their voting powder dry because they knew that a cross-party Motion was being considered on Thursday with a full day for debate and a vote. Even with a majority of 13 after the death of my former husband last week, this wipes out that majority.

Lord Tebbit (Con): I am a little puzzled about the powers the noble Baroness has to understand what Members of Parliament might do next week as opposed to what they did do last week. Are we to guess? I might say that I understand that the Labour Party in the other place is going to vote for the regulations next week. I do not know that, of course, and she does not know what she has just said.

Baroness Meacher: My Lords, eight Conservative MPs—some of them senior MPs; former Cabinet Ministers, indeed—have put their names to a cross-party Motion disagreeing with the Government or seeking information that the Government will oppose. The Government majority is 13, following the death of my former husband last week. I am quoting only what I know. I am not quoting what I do not know. I agree that that is extremely important.

I emphasise again that the justification for this amendment is that there will be an opportunity for the elected House to hold the Government to account. It will not be a legislative vote, and that is why this vote is very important. By supporting the Motion this House will support the democratic process. It will leave the situation open. It will leave this set of regulations on the Order Paper—unlike a fatal Motion—and then the Government can listen to the elected House. I am not asking the Government to listen to this House.

Lord Trimble (Con): If I understand her correctly, the noble Baroness is saying that a significant number of Conservative people might support this Motion. This Motion will have no legislative effect and the legislation will continue. What is happening here is of a different order.

Baroness Meacher: That is exactly the point I just made. The important point is that if we pass these regulations the debate in the House of Commons—the elected House—will be an irrelevance. The Government can say, “We have got our regulations. We can press

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ahead with our cuts. The elected House can say what it likes, we will not have to listen to it”. I am not saying they will say that, but they certainly could say that. The important point is that we need to protect the democratic process. The only hope for the Government is that the bullying tactics may persuade Conservative MPs and our colleagues to avoid defeat. At the moment, the situation in the elected House is that eight Conservative MPs have put their names to a Motion which means that the Conservative Government do not have a majority in the other House.

The Earl of Listowel (CB): My Lords, does my noble friend not find it interesting that the Government are currently taking a Bill through this House that will remove the democratic choice of local people about whether their local school should become an academy? Indeed, during the introduction of academies, academies were taken out of the responsibility of local authorities and placed with the Secretary of State. In this Bill, in future local people will not be able to vote on whether they wish to have their local school turned into an academy. This is a very substantial change because, as I understand it, they are so concerned that the education of our children is so important that no coasting school should be allowed to continue. Therefore, they will take all means possible to ensure that our children get the best education possible. In this case, my noble friend is not asking for that change. She is asking merely for a delay so that the other House can think again. That is a much more minor change to make. Does she agree?

Baroness Meacher: I thank my noble friend Lord Listowel. I should mention that a petition signed by 270,000 members of the public over the weekend was handed to me this morning. There is huge fear and anger about these cuts. I am very grateful for the support of the public and the media—believe it or not—and their appreciation of the efforts in this House, although I personally never sought any of it. That is a rather important point to make: I am really not here to grandstand.

I support the Government’s raising of the tax threshold, the increase in the minimum wage and free childcare for three and four year-olds, but those measures will not protect the most vulnerable. The Institute for Fiscal Studies makes clear in its analysis that the biggest losers from the 2015-16 tax and benefit changes, even by 2020, will be the poorest working families. The very poor will hardly gain at all from the increase in the minimum wage or the national living wage. Very poor self-employed people will not gain at all from the increase in the minimum wage. I have had a pile of emails from self-employed very poor people. The biggest gainers from the increase in the income tax threshold and the higher rate threshold will be those earning £43,000 to £121,000 per year. We seem to have a massive redistribution of income here, but it seems to be going the wrong way.

The Government have for five years urged unemployed people to take a job. The sanctions regime has been extremely brutal, but having said that, it is, of course, much better for people to work, if they can, than to remain unemployed. The main justification for the Government’s policy has been that work pays. Yes,

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and working tax credits achieved that objective. Working tax credits prevented unemployment soaring in the recent recession.

Finally, I repeat that the aim of this amendment is to support the democratic process to enable the elected House to hold the Government to account. That is the duty of this House. If we cannot do that, we might as well not exist.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham (Lab): My Lords, on the amendment standing in my name, two issues concern this House. The first is whether this amendment improperly challenges Commons financial privilege—a constitutional issue. The second is whether this amendment improperly challenges Government cuts to welfare—the policy issue.

Let me address the first, on constitutional propriety. As the noble Baroness, Lady Stowell, said, when we have framework Bills on childcare and social security, all the serious detailed work is done, rightly, by regulations—that is, SIs. We can amend Bills; we cannot amend SIs, yet often we do not know the Government’s intent until we see the SI itself. We then face either a draconian fatal Motion or a lamenting regret Motion that changes nothing, so instead this is a delaying amendment. It is not fatal, as the Government know. It was drafted with the help of the clerks and it calls for a scheme of transitional protection before the House further considers the SI. Essentially, the cuts would apply to new claimants only. Frankly, that new SI could be drafted in a week and implemented next April exactly as planned.

However, does it none the less break convention by trespassing on Commons financial privilege? No. The advice from the Clerk of the Parliaments—and he has seen and confirmed my words on the specific issue—is that Commons financial privilege is exercised in two ways. We can amend an education Bill, say, but the Commons can reject our amendment if the Speaker certifies that the Commons has financial privilege on this issue. Secondly, says the Clerk, the Commons can pass a supply or money Bill, which we cannot amend. He goes on: financial privilege does not extend to statutory instruments—it simply does not. Nor are statutory instruments covered by the Salisbury/Addison convention. The more so, I would add, because the Prime Minister ruled them out himself, and he did because these layered elements to tax credits are all affected by the taper and the cuts.

As has been said, if the Government wanted financial privilege, these cuts should be in a money Bill; they are not. If they wanted the right to overturn them on the grounds of financial privilege, they could be introduced in the welfare reform Bill on its way here; they did not. So why now should we be expected to treat this SI as financially privileged when the Government, who could have made it so, chose not to do so? It is not a constitutional crisis. That is a fig-leaf possibly disguising tensions in the Commons between members of the Government. We can be supportive of the Government and give them what they did not ask for—financial privilege—or we can be supportive instead of those 3 million families facing letters at Christmas telling them that on average they will lose up to around

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£1,300 a year, a letter that will take away 10% of their income on average. That is our choice. Those families believed us when we all said that work was the best route out of poverty and that work would always pay. They believed the Prime Minister when he promised that tax credits—and they are one package—would not be touched.

But why do people need tax credits? There is a lot of misunderstanding about this. If the House will allow me, consider two women in a call centre: one is single, working 35 hours a week, who from April earns £13,000 a year for herself, and the other, a deserted mother with two young children, managing 25 hours a week, earns £9,000 a year for the three of them. The Government are completely right that we should certainly not subsidise employers’ low pay, but no employer could pay the deserted mother twice as much per hour as the single woman on the next phone in the call centre to make up for her family’s circumstances. The employer cannot do that and it is not reasonable to ask it to do so. That is the job of tax credits. They reflect family circumstances, which an employer cannot reasonably do.

4.30 pm
In 1997, some 43% of single parents worked. That figure is now 65%—a 50% increase—partly because tax credits made work pay. That was our contract with the working mother, and she has done everything that we asked. Now, we will send her a letter at Christmas telling her that we are taking away some £1,300. Her life is hard. She needs financial stability in which to bring up her children. She needs transitional protection, so that the cuts affect only new claimants who have not built their lives around the protection that tax credits currently offer.

National newspapers from the Daily Telegraph to the Sun are asking the Government to think again before those letters arrive at Christmas, as are the think tanks. The IFS says that the Treasury’s claims are “arithmetically impossible”, yet those letters will still arrive at Christmas. Members of the Conservative Party, including Members of this House, have expressed their disquiet as the cuts are too hard and being made too fast, yet those letters will still arrive at Christmas. We may be told—perhaps, among others, by the noble Lord, Lord Butler, who has gone on record as saying this—that the Commons has made its position clear three times: when it passed the Budget, then with this statutory instrument, and again in last week’s general debate on tax credits. However, is that right? What happens when the Commons has, in my view, made its decision based on incomplete information, some of which is only now becoming available?

The Government insist that there is no alternative to these cuts, which on average will take £1,300 from 3 million poor families. However, there is an alternative. We can and should offer transitional protection to families who currently count on tax credits. They include single parents, the self-employed—whose median wage, incidentally, is £10,000 a year—families with disabled children and carers. We could protect them but not new claimants and those newly on universal credit.
You would not know this from the impact analysis—which, I have to say, contains elements of neither

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impact nor analysis—but I am confident that the Government do not need to make these specific cuts to make their welfare savings, which they have authority to do. Why is that and how would that be? I have two major points to make. The first is that they will make their savings from the additional revenues that return to government from the very welcome rise in the national living wage. The Library has calculated for me that an increase of three-quarters of a billion pounds—£763 million—for every 50p rise will go back to the Government, plus of course there will be the ratchet effect of differentials, which we cannot calculate. By year two, the Government will make savings on that alone of £2 billion; by year three, it will probably be £3 billion.

Secondly—I do not think that this was mentioned at any point in the Commons debates, although, to me, it is crucial—those cuts will also kick in as families move over to universal credit, as I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Freud, will confirm. The National Audit Office says that by the end of 2019 only 9%—fewer than one in 10—of existing tax credit recipients will still be on tax credits. Some will no longer need them, because, say, they may have a son who has left home; the rest of the claimants should be on universal credit and the Government will get their full savings from them. The impact analysis chirrups happily that its statutory instrument cuts will put tax credits on a “more sustainable footing”. Quite, as tax credits will have largely disappeared.

Some of these data that I would like to have used more robustly the Government do not collect, but over the next four years these savings to government from the rise in wages, the move to universal credit and the natural churn of claimants should, I estimate, more than match the savings that HMT claims it needs from these specific tax credit cuts to work thresholds and the taper. If so, the Government can get their welfare savings. I am not talking about tax rates, pension relief or inheritance tax—the Government can get their welfare savings without these specific cuts.

I ask the House this: should not the Commons even have discussed this? Might it have made a difference to its position? Its Members have not discussed it so far, and so we do not know. They did not have that information. The impact analysis did not give them that information; some of it is only now coming out. It is reasonable that, as information comes through that challenges the original assertions, the Commons should be given a chance to think again in the light of that.

My amendment to the Motion is not fatal. It does not challenge the financial privilege of the Commons and it does not deny the Government their welfare savings. Instead, it delays this SI to ask the Government to provide transitional protection for existing families who are doing everything that we asked of them, who trusted the Prime Minister’s word that tax credits would not be cut and who trusted Parliament—us—when we said that we would make work pay.

What happens next? If the House were to support my amendment, the Government could come back quite quickly—I estimate within a week—with a new SI, if they chose, in which these regulations and cuts would apply only to new claimants. That is all. It is

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very simple: if the House agreed to that new SI, it would then go to the Commons, where it would be accepted or rejected. Theirs would, quite properly, be the final word, as our conventions demand. The Commons would have kept its supremacy, and that is right, but we would have kept faith with struggling families and perhaps restored some faith in Parliament.

Let the final words rest with what families themselves say as they face those Christmas letters. Angela from Stevenage says: “I already work 40 hours a week on minimum wage doing two jobs around my children. I cannot believe that this is actually going to happen. I am terrified. We are not scroungers. We work unbelievably hard just to keep going and, once again, we are being punished for trying to earn a living wage”. She will lose £1,643 a year after she gets that Christmas letter. Sian from Basingstoke writes: “My husband works full time as a firefighter. We have four children. We won’t survive”. In her Christmas letter, she stands to lose £2,914. Rachel, from Milton Keynes, says: “It probably means that, as parents, we will skip a few extra meals to ensure our children eat”. In her Christmas letter, she stands to lose £2,005.

Finally, we have Tony and Jacinta Goode, from my city of Norwich. He is in full-time work, earning above the living wage, and she is the carer of two substantially disabled children. They are exhausted. Their Christmas letter will tell them that they will lose £60 a week, or £3,120 a year. That is £3,120 from a family where he is in full-time work and she is caring for two disabled children. We do not need to do this to them.

Last Wednesday, at PMQs, the Prime Minister said:
“Let us make work pay”.—[Official Report, Commons, 21/10/15; col. 948.]

He is absolutely right, and my amendment to the Motion is in that spirit. It will protect deserted mothers and lone parents who want their children to grow up in a household where their parent works; carers who live out their lives in service to others and struggle to maintain a foothold in the labour market; working families—such as the Goodes, whom I mentioned—who exhaust themselves caring for disabled children; or the self-employed, who will, I really hope, help us build a more productive and entrepreneurial economy.

If we do not pass my amendment today, or even if we pass the Bishop’s regret Motion, this SI will become law tonight. Whatever the Commons decides on Thursday, the Chancellor then need do nothing at all, because the SI will have been banked as law. Is that what we want, or do we want to give the Commons a pause to think about this additional information on where the savings could fall, about the additional information that is coming through from the think tanks and so on and about the additional thoughts that members of the Conservative Party might now have in the light of their correspondence with their constituents?

I hope that I do not sound pious, but I think that this is about honouring our word—the Prime Minister’s word—that work must always pay. It is surely about respect for those who strive to do everything we ask of them, and now find themselves punished for doing what is right. It is about trust between Parliament and the people we serve.

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Lord King of Bridgwater (Con): My Lords, I echo the last words of the noble Baroness—
Noble Lords: Bishop!

The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, I deeply regret that the Government’s regulations lead me, and others in this House for whom politics is not a vocation, to be part of a debate with constitutional and political implications. I am of course aware of Her Majesty’s Government’s manifesto commitment to eradicate the deficit, including through reduced welfare payments, and of the studied lack of detail about how this was to be achieved. It is impossible to claim now that we should somehow have anticipated these proposals when they were not detailed. Indeed, we were assured that a sharing of the burden was appropriate and that work should pay.

My primary concern with these regulations is with their short-term impact on some of our poorest families. We have been encouraged to consider these measures as part of a package that includes increases in the minimum wage towards the national living wage, childcare provision and raising the income tax threshold. We are told that this is a five-year programme on a journey towards a higher-pay, lower-tax and lower-welfare economy. This argument will be scant consolation to the 3 million and more low and moderate-income working families who will see a very large reduction, as we have heard, in their tax credits from next April. To be assured that you will be better off in five years’ time will not help these families to pay the rent, or gas and electricity bills. The Government are boldly confident that this will be so within five years. Their confidence for the future sounds like extraordinary optimism today for the working families, including 4 million children who will pay such a huge price and bear such a heavy burden immediately on the introduction of these changes.

Of course, I welcome the pledge incrementally to increase the minimum wage, which will benefit some next year and might give small amelioration to those on the minimum wage, but only for them unless and until, as time passes, there might just be some knock-on, rollover impact on wage levels for those on a very modest wage, just above the present minimum. The likeliest knock-on effect in the short term will be indebtedness, which will have a negative effect on parents’ mental health and children’s education and future life chances.

4.45 pm
In addition then to a sudden drop in income of up to 10%, many will face a marginal 80% hit on income whether from increased hours or a rise in wages; it will be even higher in some instances when other benefits are factored in. If that were a marginal tax rate, there would be howls of protest. What reward is that for those willing to work hard? It is all so grossly insensitive to the many parents who already work full-time or struggle to balance their work with childcare and other responsibilities in order to provide for their families’ financial and other needs.

While the increase in the minimum wage and the rise in the income tax threshold are being phased in over the years, the changes to the income thresholds

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for tax credit and the increase in the taper rate take immediate effect. Of course, employers should pay decently and not rely on the rest of us to subsidise their low rates of pay, but while they may expect to be rewarded for better practice with changes in company taxation, those receiving tax credits will bear the impact immediately—a carrot for some, a stick for others.

I say to the Government that these proposals are morally indefensible. It is clear to me and, I believe, many others, that these proposals blatantly threaten damage to the lives of millions of our fellow citizens. This must not be the way to achieve the Government’s goals at a cost to those who, if we believe the rhetoric, the Government intend to encourage and support. To many in my diocese and beyond, this seems punishing rather than encouragement. I hope that we can hear this afternoon an assurance, a commitment to consult and to listen and a willingness to revisit these proposals in the coming weeks.

Lord Davies of Stamford (Lab): The right reverend Prelate is speaking very movingly and rightly about the injustice and suffering caused by the passage of this statutory instrument unamended, but does he not feel in those circumstances that it is our duty not just to talk about it or even record our objections to it, but actually to do something to stop it?

The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: I am grateful for that intervention. I believe that our first duty is to speak and in a variety of ways to act. That will involve, as many noble Lords know, the very many who participate in charitable organisations and support on the ground. I commit that those in my diocese will do our very best. I myself shall be listening to the rest of this debate before I determine how I shall vote on the amendments before us.

I return to those commitments that I asked the Government to make over the coming weeks. I ask the noble Baroness if she can make those commitments on behalf of the Government. During the past few days, I have wrestled long and hard with the question of how to vote and speak today. Partly the dilemma has been because of the anger, the party-political point scoring and the raising of the issues around constitutional matters. That has obscured what ought to be a measured and careful consideration as to the best interests of the poorest workers in our society.

I am appalled by the Government’s proposals. I emphatically did not table this amendment because of party-political pressures. I am aware of the conflicting views on constitutional matters. This amendment offers an alternative and an opportunity—whatever happens with the other three amendments—for this House clearly to register its disapproval of these proposals and its expectation that our reservations will be addressed. Your Lordships’ House must, in my judgment, make that clear. I will listen carefully to further contributions this afternoon and intend to vote with, at my heart, the interests of those who have most to lose through these regulations. Should other amendments fail or fall, then I present mine as a respectful but firm message to the Government that the regulations are not acceptable in their current form, and that significant work is required for us to be satisfied that the needs of those working for the lowest incomes will be met.

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Lord Mackay of Clashfern (Con): My Lords, we have just heard some very moving speeches on this matter. I have no doubt that, as the Leader of the House has said, the Chancellor of the Exchequer will consider these matters very carefully. I know that it is extremely difficult to analyse the precise effect of income tax or tax credit changes in individual circumstances. Your Lordships will remember that when Mr Gordon Brown, as Chancellor, thought to take out of the tax system the 10% tax band that had previously existed, finding out precisely who was affected and how they were affected turned out to be extremely difficult. I believe that there are difficulties in this connection also. It may well be that the information that arises in the course of the attempt to deliver this will show what in detail is required if changes should be made.

I am intending to deal only with the constitutional question as I see it. These draft regulations are made under the Tax Credits Act, which sets up mechanisms for the payment of tax credits of two types: children’s tax credits and working tax credits. The arrangements were under the control of the Board of Inland Revenue which was entitled under Section 2 to deduct the sums paid for tax credits from the income of the board raised by taxation. So it is perfectly clear that these tax credits are a charge on the taxes raised by the Board of Inland Revenue, as it was then. The details of the credits and the machinery necessary for their administration were set out in the later sections of the Act. Section 66 of the Act provides:

“1) No regulations to which this subsection applies may be made unless a draft of the instrument containing them (whether or not together with other provisions) has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.

(2) Subsection (1) applies to … (a) regulations prescribing monetary amounts that are required to be reviewed under section 41”.

That is the system under which this statutory instrument has been made. Accordingly the statutory instrument before the House requires to be approved by each House of Parliament before it can be made. The instrument, as we know, was approved by the other place and a Motion to reverse it was defeated in the other place. So it has come to us as a matter which has been fully considered so far as the other place is concerned until now.

In considering this, regard must be had to the financial privileges of the other place. It is not a question of the conventions of this House, it has nothing to do with them; it is to do with the financial privileges that belong to the House of Commons. So far as I understand it, there is nothing to prevent a Motion along the lines proposed here being considered by this House, but the question is whether that consideration can properly interfere with the financial primacy of the elected Chamber. Erskine May says that the practice is ruled today by resolutions which were made in the 1670s. The last one of these, the clearest and fullest, states that,

“all aids and supplies and aids to his majesty in Parliament, are the sole gift of the commons; and all bills for the granting of any such aids and supplies ought to begin with the commons: and that it is the undoubted and sole right of the commons to direct, limit, and appoint in such bills the ends, purposes, considerations, conditions, limitations, and qualifications of such grants; which ought not to be changed or altered by the House of Lords”.

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It is clear that these tax credit payments are made out of the supply raised by taxation and that the other place has decided that the Tax Credits Act 2002 should be amended in terms of the approved draft. I am clearly of the opinion that a failure on the part of this House to approve the draft of this instrument would be a breach of the fundamental privileges of the elected Chamber.

It may be asked why the approval of this House is required. I believe that it is as a courtesy to the House, just as it is asked to agree to the passing of money Bills on their way to becoming Acts of Parliament. The House never seeks to delay them as it is obliged to respect the financial privileges of the elected Chamber and how it deals with those matters; it should deal with this matter in the same way. To decline to approve these draft regulations or to decline to deal with them until certain conditions are met is a refusal to accept that the decision of the elected House on a matter of financial privilege is the final authority for it. It has to be noted that this is a matter of the privilege of the elected Chamber, not of the Government. The Motions other than that in the name of the right reverend Primate—

A noble Lord: The right reverend Prelate.

Lord Mackay of Clashfern: I am sorry, the right reverend Prelate. That was a bit of a promotion because we are in the presence of the two Primates. The Motions mark a refusal to accept a decision of the elected House on a matter of financial privilege as the final authority for it. That is what they amount to. It has to be noted, as I have said, that this is the privilege of the elected Chamber, not of the Government.

The amendment proposed by the right reverend Prelate—I shall try to get it right this time—is entirely in accordance with the arrangements of this House and with the financial privileges of the House of Commons. Therefore from the point of view of the powers of this House, it is by far the safest of the Motions that have been put forward. In light of what the Leader of the House said in opening, I believe that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is very open to considering the detail—

Lord Thomas of Gresford (LD): My Lords, does the noble and learned Lord not agree that the conventions to which he has referred, going back to the 17th century, were so uncertain that in 1908 the Conservative Party defeated Lloyd George’s People’s Budget in which he sought to give money to the poor people of this country? Does he also not agree that the 1911 Act set out a mechanism whereby the Speaker would certify that a money Bill was a money Bill, and that would remove from us our powers of consideration? Is he not going back to an argument that failed more than 100 years ago?

Lord Mackay of Clashfern: Not at all. I am stating the present practice, according to Erskine May, in relation to matters of financial privilege. As I said, it is not a matter of the conventions of this House, but of the rights of the other place in this matter. My clear submission to your Lordships is that these amendments challenge the final authority of the elected House on a

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matter of financial privilege. It is true that the Liberal Democrats—I suppose they were the Liberal Party then, but the succession is probably allowable—found it necessary to take further action to ensure that the practice that had been built up in the 17th century applied in the 20th century and beyond. They put mechanisms in place to prevent financial privileges being in any way transgressed again.

5 pm
Lord Snape: Does the noble and learned Lord think that a statutory instrument that cannot be amended is a suitable vehicle for passing legislation that will adversely affect hundreds of thousands of people?

Lord Mackay of Clashfern: That is the arrangement that was proposed in the Tax Credits Act, which was passed by the Labour Government in 2002. It was thought to be the right way to do this particular thing, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Government have followed that. It is not a necessary consequence that the Commons or the Government should use a different procedure in order to secure the financial privilege of the House of Commons. The procedure was laid down in the Tax Credits Act, which is the main statute on this matter. For the Government to do anything other than use that course would be offensive to the way in which the system was set up.

The Leader of the House mentioned the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s attitude to considering more detailed material when it becomes available. That is a considerable consolation to me in light of what the right reverend Prelate said. I believe the right reverend Prelate’s approach to be the safest way to secure what a number of your Lordships have asked for.

Baroness Lister of Burtersett (Lab): My Lords, I have several points to make about the substance of these regulations. First, this represents a lamentable example of non-evidence-based policy-making, the victims of which are going to suffer greatly. Secondly, the arguments used to justify the policy—by reference to other policy changes and to how people could or even should work harder—betray a lack of understanding of policy and of people’s lives.

In its letter to the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, the Social Security Advisory Committee criticised the “scant” evidence to support the policy changes. It thus encouraged the Government to make available to Parliament,

“more detailed information that clearly explains the changes and potential impacts to ensure that they can be subject to effective scrutiny”.

With due respect to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay, SSAC clearly believed it possible to provide such information. Its advice was ignored, leading the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee to observe that the explanatory memorandum laid in September “contained minimal information”.

Getting an impact assessment out of the Government has been like pulling teeth. That which finally emerged is a travesty; much of it simply reiterates repetitively the rationale behind the policy. It certainly does not provide the information about potential impacts that

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SSAC sought. There is no information on the impact on different groups affected, including the self-employed, who, as we have heard, cannot benefit from an increase in the minimum wage. The information about the impact on protected groups is simply laughable. When I asked in a Written Question,

“how many people in receipt of Carer’s Allowance are also in receipt of Working Tax Credit”,

and are therefore vulnerable, I was told that the information,

“could only be provided at disproportionate cost”.

I know that Carers UK is very worried about the likely impact on all carers receiving working tax credit.

In the letter accompanying the impact assessment the Chancellor excused the delay on the grounds that the Government do not usually publish an IA for statutory instruments of this kind. I found this statement very revealing. It suggests that the Government made no attempt to assess the impact for themselves before going ahead with such significant cuts and that they see an IA simply as a tick-box exercise to pacify pesky parliamentary committees. Surely, given the Prime Minister’s pledge at his party conference of an “all-out assault on poverty”, the Government would want to know the impact on poverty. But no: it was left to the Resolution Foundation to point out that it could mean an additional 200,000 children falling into poverty next year, rising to 600,000 by 2020 when other summer Budget measures have taken effect.

Surely a Government who have promised to apply the family test to every measure would want to know the impact on low-income families—a point made by Heidi Allen MP in her passionate maiden speech demolishing her own Government’s policy. Surely a Government who go on constantly about making work pay would want to know the impact on low-paid workers. But we had to look to the IFS for that. In effect, the Government appear to be contracting out to the voluntary sector genuine assessment of impact. Of course, that is assessment after, rather than as part of, the policy-making process. That is one reason why it is so important that your Lordships’ House asks the Government to think again in the light of the evidence that has emerged of the damaging impact that the cuts will have.

I am grateful to all organisations that have exposed how the overall policy package that the Government constantly cite does not amount to an adequate defence of the policy, particularly in the case of lone parents, who will be disproportionately affected, according to Gingerbread. A key reason why the overall policy package does not provide adequate protection is that with the exception of childcare, which applies to only a very limited age range, the other policies—the increase in the minimum wage, welcome as it is, and in personal tax allowances, which is less welcome because it is wasteful and poorly targeted—cannot take account of the presence of children, a point made by my noble friend Lady Hollis. All the talk about tax credits subsidising low pay ignores the fact that child tax credits were introduced primarily as a child poverty measure. Wages cannot take account of the presence of children. That was one reason why family allowances were originally introduced and why an increase in child benefit, which also helps families

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below the tax threshold and is currently frozen, would provide more effective mitigation than further increases in tax allowances.

Finally, according to the Health Secretary, the cuts are intended to send a “very important cultural signal” about hard work. Leaving aside his denigrating suggestion that receipt of tax credits is somehow incompatible with “independence, self-respect and dignity”, he does not appear to understand that reducing the income threshold and the universal credit work allowances while increasing the taper rate penalises what he calls “hard work”. Likewise, the Work and Pensions Secretary suggested that the problem can be solved if those hardest hit are encouraged to work a few extra hours. Even if extra hours were feasible and available, the gain from doing so will be reduced by the very changes that they are supposed to mitigate. As the Children’s Society points out, every extra £1 in wages will provide a net income increase of only 3p for those also in receipt of housing benefit and only 20p for those not. What about those with family responsibilities, particularly lone parents and carers, for whom working extra hours could impact negatively on their and their families’ lives?

It is our job to scrutinise legislation. This legislation does not stand up to scrutiny. The policy-making process from which it has emerged does not stand up to scrutiny. It is not noble Lords, or Government Ministers, who will bear the cost of this. It will be people like the low-paid worker who emailed me to say that he was very scared about how he will manage next year. Hundreds of thousands of children will be pushed into poverty. We have a duty to defend them, our fellow citizens.

Baroness Campbell of Surbiton (CB): My Lords—

The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords—

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: My Lords, perhaps I may suggest, given the very large number of noble Lords who want to speak, that for the benefit of the House they keep their contributions brief and to the point, so that we can get as many people in as possible. Furthermore, if we can go around the House, as we do at Question Time, it will help create a sense of balance in our debate, which I am sure noble Lords will appreciate. I hope the right reverend Prelate will excuse me—because normally he would take precedence—but I have indicated to the noble Baroness, Lady Campbell of Surbiton, that she might speak next. I hope that he will understand why I wish to do so.

Baroness Campbell of Surbiton: My Lords, as a Cross-Bencher in this House, I see it as my job to offer my best expertise and knowledge to help the Government understand the consequences of some of their legislation and statutory instruments. That is what I will now offer.

Working tax credits have provided an unprecedented and effective pathway into employment for disabled people who faced the greatest barriers to employment. Proposals to lower the threshold for working tax credits and accelerate the taper rate to 48p will dramatically reduce the incomes of disabled people in low-paid employment who, for reasons directly linked to their impairment, do not have the option to increase their

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working hours or to offset their losses. Disabled people—especially those with learning disabilities—are more likely to be in low-paid employment than non-disabled people.

I am not aware of an impact assessment that has evaluated this specific disability element. I fear that this cut will also disincentivise disabled people from taking the very difficult step off benefits and into work. There is little doubt that it will negatively impact on the Government’s other policy, which is to halve the disability employment gap. It does not make sense. Do not forget, either, that that gap is currently running at over 30%. Higher costs in health and social care are the inevitable result of unemployment among disabled people.

Furthermore, we cannot look at working tax credits in isolation. We are promised joined-up government but I am not aware of any cross-government analysis of the cumulative impact of this regulation on working disabled people or families with a disabled member. Where is the Department of Health? Many working disabled people affected by cuts to working tax credits are also suffering because of cuts to their social care support, the closure of the Independent Living Fund and the changes to Access to Work. In effect, the Government are making employment less likely for people with these support needs. I know that this is not their intention.

I hope that this little detail—this bit of reality and evidence—will help us to reflect. Maybe the Government will change their mind; I do not know. But I am deeply worried about the number of people who will effectively be hit by this provision, which will not deliver the Government’s own policy.

5.15 pm
The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, I support the amendment to the Motion as tabled by the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Portsmouth, in the hope that it will indeed give space for further reflection and reconsideration of the tax credit proposals. I believe that it has the potential to do that.

First, I want to record my appreciation for the welcome rhetoric in recent months from members of the Government saying that employment, not least hard work, merits fair pay and some recognition in the national minimum wage. It is this, rather than buttressing from the state, that should provide the income of working people. It follows from this that rising wages and salaries will, of their own accord, not least from the Government’s own national living wage proposals, reduce the use of tax credits in due course without the introduction of the draft regulations before us.

The diocese which it is my calling and privilege to serve covers most of south London and east Surrey—I have the honour of several of your Lordships living within it. It is a large and populous area, encompassing significant pockets of urban deprivation alongside considerable wealth. The unsustainable cost pressures in the property rental market, as well as rapidly rising house prices, already threaten the balance of many communities. I fear that the introduction of these regulations will push a significant number of hard-working although low-earning families to breaking point.

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A reduction in the threshold for families’ earnings before credits are withdrawn from £6,420 to £3,850 is a very dramatic change, which will adversely affect all but the poorest members of the communities we serve. Families that strive, struggle, aspire and hope to advance their well-being will be thrown back, since few have the sort of margin between income and expenditure to cushion them from the blow that is coming. In the London Borough of Southwark alone, whose 50th anniversary was commemorated in my cathedral this past weekend, it is estimated that some 20,000 families are in receipt of tax credits and, further, that even making allowance for the mitigating factors being introduced by the Government, some 4,000 will remain worse off by these changes. That is in just one London borough.

The sort of wage rises that would mitigate this and the extra hours worked to catch up will be taken away by the loss in other benefits, even if there were enough hours in the day. The rise in personal allowances which benefits a far wider group of people, including Members in this Chamber, will not compensate for this shortfall. By these regulations, we are in fact asking parents to make their children bear a significant adjustment in their economic circumstances—an adjustment that some children will not understand, which in itself will be an added stress to their families. We risk stripping our fellow citizens of their dignity by these provisions, even though the Government’s stated intention with a whole range of economic and fiscal measures is to do the opposite. We should take this opportunity to counsel Her Majesty’s Government not to seek to add to the burdens of those working hard for their families, and to reconsider in detail the impact of these regulations and the need for more fully worked-out transitional arrangements. I therefore support the regret Motion as tabled by the right reverend Prelate.

Baroness O’Loan (CB): Before right reverend Prelate sits down, could I just ask him why, if he believes that this will cause such difficulty, harm and distress to so many children and their parents in our community, he is telling us to vote for this Motion?

The Lord Bishop of Southwark: I was persuaded by listening to the noble Lord, Lord Butler of Brockwell, explaining the other day the constitutional differences that exist between the two Chambers.

Baroness Thomas of Winchester (LD): My Lords, there seem to be two strands to this emotive phrase “constitutional crisis”, which is what I would like to address. The first is that this House should not vote down a statutory instrument—certainly not one that has been through the House of Commons. But there is no Standing Order which lays this down, and the Parliament Acts are silent on the primacy of the Commons over statutory instruments. Yes, it is taking a very rare step, but the footpath is there, even if it is rather overgrown. In this House, we do not look to Erskine May so much as the Companion to the Standing Orders, which is where we find that this House has an unfettered right over statutory instruments. If an instrument is not approved by this House, there is nothing to stop the Government immediately bringing

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another instrument to both Houses with a minor change. It is time we stopped being bullied over how we consider statutory instruments.

The other strand of the so-called constitutional crisis involves the primacy of the House of Commons over financial matters. Here, I echo what the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis, said. The parent Act from which this instrument comes was not certified by the Speaker as a money Bill, and if this House is entitled to debate the statutory instrument at all—which it is—then it is entitled to approve or to decline to approve it. It is not a question of courtesy; this is what we do and what Parliament has decreed. We would be failing all those affected by this measure if we simply pulled a duvet over our faces and turned our backs to the wall while saying it was none of our business.

If the Government had wanted to avoid this situation, why on earth did they not introduce a very short tax credits amendment Bill? Then we could have debated it in the usual way, with none of this intolerable pressure. If this House had sent back an unacceptable amendment, the Commons could have invoked financial privilege and that would have been that, but we might have found a way to tweak such a Bill that would have found favour with all those Conservative Members who have been calling for just that.

If the Bill route had been taken, we might have had a much more informative impact assessment, which could have told us what was likely to happen to those low-paid workers affected when the tax credit changes happen next April, instead of being told that by 2020 there may not be quite so many losers. We surely know that not all the thousands of employers up and down the country will pay the new living wage immediately to all part-time workers for the same number of hours to make up the shortfall. As it is, for the Government to decide to make a very controversial change by way of an unamendable statutory instrument, and then to bully members of this House into passing it by telling us that we are provoking a constitutional crisis if we do not agree to it, is surely quite unacceptable. We should stand up for what we believe to be morally right. The spirit of 1911 is being invoked, but at least Lloyd George wanted to take from the rich to pay the poor. George Osborne seems to want to do the opposite.

Lord Lawson of Blaby (Con): I suspect that I am not the only one on this side of the House who feels torn on this issue. The constitutional position, which I will refer to first, has been set out admirably by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay, and it is very clear: budgetary matters are the prerogative of the other place—of the elected Chamber—and this is undoubtedly a budgetary matter, however it is dressed up. What is the purpose of the measure? The purpose of it is to help reduce the budget deficit, and everybody is agreed that it should be—

Baroness Smith of Basildon: The noble Lord seems to imply that because this is a tax credits issue, as was said by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay, for whom the House holds enormous respect, it would be subject to financial privilege. Is he aware that the legislation in 2002 was not subject to financial privilege? It is hard to argue, then, that a statutory instrument from that legislation should be.

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Lord Lawson of Blaby: With respect to the noble Baroness, the constitution is more important than nitpicking. This is a budgetary matter.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean (Lab): Does the noble Lord, Lord Lawson, think that the Clerk of the Parliaments was nitpicking when he told my noble friend that statutory instruments were not covered by financial privilege? That was said unequivocally by the Clerk of the Parliaments.

Lord Lawson of Blaby: The point is that this is a budgetary matter and budgetary matters are the prerogative of the elected House. That is the most important constitutional principle. This was designed to reduce the budget deficit, which everybody on all sides agrees has to be eliminated, by something like £4.5 billion. It is quite clear that this is the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s measure, in effect, whosever name may be on the statutory instrument. That is the constitutional position. I said I would be brief, so I will not elaborate, but that is clear.

On the other hand, I also said I am torn, because I believe that there are aspects of this measure which need to be reconsidered and, indeed, changed. The right honourable George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, made it clear that he was going to get a lot of his savings, probably the greater part, from the welfare budget, and tax credit, which has ballooned enormously in recent years, is a large part of the welfare budget. I think that is absolutely fair, but the question is the particular incidence of this package in the regulations. What concerns me is not that there are high implicit marginal rates of tax—which are transient, incidentally. That is the case with all means-tested benefits and it is absurd to say that means-tested benefits can never be reduced. Nevertheless the tax credits system—the in-work benefits—rise surprisingly high up the income scale, but here the great harm, or a great deal of the harm, is at the lowest end. That is what needs to be looked at again; that is what concerns me. It is perfectly possible to tweak it to take more from the upper end of the tax credit scale and less from the lower end.

I heard my noble friend the Leader of the House say that the Chancellor would listen to this debate. I would have been surprised if she had said that the Chancellor would not listen to this debate. Of course he will listen to this debate, but it is not just listening that is required. Change is required. I very much hope that my noble friend Lord Howe, when he winds up, will indicate that there will be change, though he cannot indicate what, but I must say that my present intention is to support the amendment in the name of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Portsmouth.

Lord Campbell-Savours: I hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer listens very carefully to the contribution of the former Chancellor of the Exchequer the noble Lord, Lord Lawson of Blaby, because his support for what appears to be the Frank Field amendment should be taken seriously. The Leader can call on all the constitutional arguments she can muster in support of the Government, as indeed can the noble

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and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Clashfern, on the issue of financial privilege, but all those arguments pale into insignificance when compared to the greater argument that the general public, millions of people outside this House, are considering today—that being statements given during the course of the general election, solemn undertakings given by Cabinet Ministers to the British people, on what their attitudes would be to tax credits.

Mr Gove gave the undertaking that there would be no cut in tax credits, which he was unable to substantiate by way of any agreement, but that is what he said on television, in an interview. Mr Cameron deliberately misled the British public, who would regard what he said now as a lie to win a general election. The British public are fed up with politicians who tell lies on that scale. It exceeded the misleading of the public in the case of the Liberal Democrats over tuition fees; at least they did not know what was going to come after the election when they misled the public. In this case, Mr Cameron did know, and the Government set out to avoid revealing the facts by hiding behind the statement that they would have to make substantial cuts without going into details. Those lies trump all the constitutional niceties, whether they be financial privilege or the fatality of amendments, and it is on that basis that I intend to support the amendment tabled by my noble friend Lady Hollis this evening. The public cannot take this scale of lying.

5.30 pm
Lord Butler of Brockwell (CB): My Lords, I shall try to put my points briefly. I do not want anything that I say to be taken as implying a lack of sympathy with the concerns of those who have spoken about the effects of the Government’s policy. Like other Peers, I have had moving emails from many such people who expect to lose benefits through the statutory instrument. However, I want to confine myself to the constitutional issue. I usually agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Thomas, about statutory instruments. As has been pointed out, it is a very rare event that the Government are defeated on a statutory instrument; it has happened only five times since the war, but that does not mean that the House could not do it. But there is a combination here, because this is a statutory instrument about a budgetary matter central to the Government’s fiscal policy; it is that combination that is unprecedented, which is why it would be beyond the House’s constitutional powers to defeat the Government today.

Lord Thomas of Gresford (LD): Would the noble Lord wish to amend the Companion to the Standing Orders and guide to the Proceedings of the House of Lords? It states:

“The House has resolved ‘That this House affirms its unfettered freedom to vote on any subordinate legislation submitted for its consideration’”.

Is this not subordinate legislation submitted for our consideration?

Lord Butler of Brockwell: What I am saying is that the combination of the convention about statutory instruments and the fiscal significance of this one is what makes it special.

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Lord Thomas of Gresford: Any!

Lord Butler of Brockwell: Any—but not since 1911 have a Government been challenged on a matter of this sort, which establishes what the constitutional conventions of the House of Lords are. In that respect—

Lord Richard: The noble Lord says that no Government have been challenged on a matter of this sort since 1911. However, in July 2008 there was a debate in this House on a statutory instrument, in which, after a discussion, the House came to a conclusion and voted down the Government’s suggestion, insisting that any attempt by the Government to raise national insurance had to be done by way of primary and not statutory legislation. Was that not also an example of a Government trying to pursue their financial and fiscal policies and the Opposition voting them down, saying that it had to be done not by statutory instrument but by primary legislation?

Lord Butler of Brockwell: I shall not contest the precedent given by the noble Lord, which I have not myself considered. The amendment proposed by the noble Baroness, Lady Manzoor, is, transparently, a fatal one; she agrees with that—and, in my view, it is outside your Lordships’ constitutional role. I note that my noble friend Lady Meacher agrees with that view. The amendments proposed by the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis, and my noble friend Lady Meacher, raise a more subtle issue. They are not fatal, but they seek to defer our consideration of the statutory instrument until the Government have done certain things specified in the amendment, including, in the case of the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis, surrendering some of the savings that would be achieved by this measure. But they are still blocking amendments. I can best demonstrate that by the following question. What happens if the Government refuse to do what the amendments demand? Will your Lordships then refuse to consider the statutory instruments for ever and a day? In that case, these amendments would block the statutory instrument indefinitely, which in my view is not within the—

Baroness Meacher: I point out to my noble friend Lord Butler that the House of Commons has a very similar request for Thursday: that House also wants more information, because Conservative MPs even now do not feel they have enough information to understand the full implications of these regulations. If the House of Commons votes for more information—in other words, says not to go ahead until we know what on earth is going on—would my noble friend then agree that that should be provided not only to the House of Lords but to the House of Commons?

Lord Butler of Brockwell: If the House of Commons asks for more information, it should be provided. But the constitutional position is that the House of Commons has passed this statutory instrument, and it cannot go back on that. Now what is at issue is whether the House of Lords should pass it, and however much sympathy the House may have for the objectives of those who have moved these amendments, it would be a constitutional infringement of great gravity to pass the first three of them. It would be wrong on three

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counts. First, this is a budgetary matter. It may be a welfare matter as well, but it is certainly a budgetary matter. Secondly, it is crucial to the fiscal policy that was explicit in the manifesto on which the Government were elected only a short time ago. Thirdly, the statutory instrument has been passed by the House of Commons, which has that responsibility in our constitutional arrangements. It has been passed not once but three times. I am afraid that I cannot find myself persuaded—

Lord Hughes of Woodside (Lab): Would the noble Lord realise that he is turning his back and not addressing the House, and he should learn the procedures, given his experience?

Lord Butler of Brockwell: I am sorry, my Lords, and I apologise if I have committed a constitutional impropriety, but I still do not understand quite the point that the noble Lord makes.
I am afraid that I am not persuaded by the argument made by the noble Baroness that this House—
Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton (Lab): I have worked in many roles, and I have listened to the noble Lord giving advice. I know that after this debate many members of the public will ask what an earth was going on in the House of Lords. Could the noble Lord answer the question: if the House of Lords today amended or voted down this statutory instrument, could the Government in the Commons bring back a one-word-change statutory instrument within the next few days? Secondly, would he care to comment on the following? I listened very respectfully to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay, who used an expression that I could not understand. Could the noble Lord explain why the noble and learned Lord thought that it would be offensive for the Government just to choose to bring this item forward in primary legislation? I did not understand the reasoning, but I am sure the noble Lord does.

Lord Butler of Brockwell: My Lords, I think it is a little unfair of the noble Baroness to ask me to interpret the statements of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay. They were perfectly clear. Can I just give the answers I was going to give about the point made by my noble friend Lady Meacher? I cannot be persuaded that this House would be failing in its democratic duty if we did not block this statutory instrument so that the House of Commons could have yet one more debate on it. It has had three already.

Baroness Manzoor: I am so sorry to intervene on the noble Lord. I have an observation. The director of the Institute for Government, Peter Riddell, who is greatly respected in Whitehall and Westminster makes the following point. Forgive me, it is rather long but I want to read it.
Noble Lords: Oh!

Baroness Manzoor: I shall give a short version then:

“The Parliament Acts of 1911 and 1949, establishing the ultimate supremacy of the Commons, do not apply to secondary legislation”.

26 Oct 2015 : Column 1009
Lord Greaves (LD): My Lords—

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords—

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The House was listening to the noble Lord, Lord Butler.

Lord Butler of Brockwell: My Lords, I am afraid I have been rather frustrated in trying to put my points as briefly as I could, so let me put one final point. There have been many times in the past when there have been an opposition majority in your Lordships’ House, particularly when there has been a Labour Government. There have been many occasions when the Opposition have wanted to overturn the Government on a fiscal matter. It has not happened and in these cases the Opposition, recognising the conventions, have exercised self-restraint, bitten their lip and stayed within the constitutional conventions. I believe that the House should do that today.

Lord Richard: My Lords, in response immediately to what the noble Lord, Lord Butler, has just said, there was no doubt that the occasion in July 2008—I will go into it in a little more detail further on—was a fiscal matter. There was no doubt it was government policy and this House demanded that the Government should give it up and insisted that what the Government wanted to do could be done only by primary legislation and not by a statutory instrument. This has been before the House before and the House has done it before.

There are three major issues this House has to consider today. The first is whether financial privilege attaches to this proposition. The second is the effect of the way in which it proceeded through Parliament, and the third is whether any of the amendments is a fatal one.

Let us deal with the constitutional one because we have heard quite a lot about it this afternoon. I totally reject the suggestion made by the Chancellor that somehow or other a vote to postpone the operation of this resolution would be contrary to the financial understandings and conventions that exist between the two Houses. I do not think that is justified. The Government could have avoided these constitutional problems if they had wanted to, had they chosen to legislate for this matter by primary rather than secondary legislation. It would have been open to them to have included these proposals in the Finance Bill. Alternatively, they could have legislated by way of a short and separate Bill.

Instead, they chose—it is a government choice, not an opposition choice or anyone else’s—to do it by secondary legislation. That inevitably curtailed debate both here and in the House of Commons and particularly in the country. Of course I accept that it has been dealt with in another place, but inevitably the national discussion has been truncated—to the point almost of extinction. There has been no consultation on transitional measures, nor on measures to alleviate the burden on the poorest—quite the contrary. None of these issues has been even discussed, let alone agreed. We do not know what, if any, transitional measures the Government might have in mind. The Government do not even have the excuse that it was all

26 Oct 2015 : Column 1010
put before the country at the general election. It most certainly was not—quite the contrary. Considerable efforts were made to conceal the fact that this was the Government’s intention if they got re-elected. From the Prime Minister down we had Minister after Minister appearing in front of the television cameras and in the press saying it was nothing to do with tax credits and they would tell us what it was eventually. There was not a word in the Conservative manifesto about it. We are now told that in that situation this House willy-nilly has to accept what the Government say. What the Government are asking us to do is not acceptable.

Amendment to the Motion

Moved by Baroness Meacher
As an amendment to the Motion in the name of the Lord Privy Seal, to leave out all the words after “that” and insert “this House declines to consider the draft regulations laid before the House on 7 September until the Government lay a report before the House, detailing their response to the analysis of the draft regulations by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, and considering possible mitigating action.”

Baroness Meacher: My Lords, you will be glad to know I will speak extremely briefly. I thank many noble Lords for setting out so clearly the consequence

26 Oct 2015 : Column 1034
of these regulations for vulnerable people and the need for the Government to come forward with mitigating measures. My amendment to defer consideration pending a report, nothing more—no money, nothing unusual—raises no constitutional issues. The evidence is absolutely clear on this from our clerks and from many authorities. I ask the House to perform its duty: to enable the Government to think again and to ensure that they listen to the elected House next Thursday. I want to test the opinion of the House.

The Lord Speaker: My Lords, before I put the Question, I should inform the House that, if this amendment is agreed to, I cannot call the amendment in the name of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Portsmouth by reason of pre-emption.

7.22 pm
Division on Baroness Meacher’s amendment
Contents 307; Not-Contents 277.
Baroness Meacher’s amendment agreed.
Division No.  2

CONTENTS
Adams of Craigielea, B.
Addington, L.
Adebowale, L.
Afshar, B.
Ahmed, L.
Allen of Kensington, L.
Alton of Liverpool, L.
Anderson of Swansea, L.
Andrews, B.
Armstrong of Hill Top, B.
Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon, L.
Avebury, L.
Bach, L.
Bakewell, B.
Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville, B.
Barker, B.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Beecham, L.
Benjamin, B.
Berkeley, L.
Best, L.
Bhatia, L.
Bichard, L.
Bilimoria, L.
Billingham, B.
Blackstone, B.
Blood, B.
Blunkett, L.
Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury, B.
Boothroyd, B.
Bradley, L.
Bradshaw, L.
Bragg, L.
Brennan, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brookman, L.
Browne of Belmont, L.
Campbell of Surbiton, B.
Campbell-Savours, L.
Carter of Coles, L.
Cashman, L.
Chandos, V.
Chester, Bp.
Christopher, L.
Clancarty, E.
Clark of Windermere, L.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Clement-Jones, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Collins of Highbury, L.
Corston, B.
Cotter, L.
Crawley, B.
Crisp, L.
Cunningham of Felling, L.
Davies of Abersoch, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Davies of Stamford, L.
Desai, L.
Dholakia, L.
Donaghy, B.
Doocey, B.
Drake, B.
Dubs, L.
Dykes, L.
Eames, L.
Eatwell, L.
Elis-Thomas, L.
Evans of Temple Guiting, L.
Evans of Watford, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Falkner of Margravine, B.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Fearn, L.
Filkin, L.
Finlay of Llandaff, B.
Foster of Bishop Auckland, L.
Foulkes of Cumnock, L.
Fox, L.
Freyberg, L.
Gale, B.
Garden of Frognal, B.
German, L.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B.

26 Oct 2015 : Column 1035
Glasgow, E.
Glasman, L.
Goddard of Stockport, L.
Golding, B.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Grantchester, L.
Greaves, L.
Grender, B.
Grocott, L.
Hamwee, B.
Hannay of Chiswick, L.
Hanworth, V.
Harris of Haringey, L.
Harris of Richmond, B.
Harrison, L.
Hart of Chilton, L.
Haskel, L.
Hastings of Scarisbrick, L.
Haworth, L.
Hay of Ballyore, L.
Hayman, B.
Hayter of Kentish Town, B.
Healy of Primrose Hill, B.
Henig, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hollick, L.
Hollins, B.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howarth of Newport, L.
Howe of Idlicote, B.
Howells of St Davids, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Stretford, B.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Humphreys, B.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Hussain, L.
Hussein-Ece, B.
Hutton of Furness, L.
Hylton, L.
Janke, B.
Jay of Paddington, B.
Jolly, B.
Jones, L.
Jones of Cheltenham, L.
Jones of Moulsecoomb, B.
Jones of Whitchurch, B.
Jordan, L.
Judd, L.
Kennedy of Cradley, B.
Kennedy of Southwark, L.
Kennedy of The Shaws, B.
Kerr of Kinlochard, L.
Kerslake, L.
Kidron, B.
King of Bow, B.
Kinnock, L.
Kinnock of Holyhead, B.
Kirkhill, L.
Kirkwood of Kirkhope, L.
Knight of Weymouth, L.
Kramer, B.
Lane-Fox of Soho, B.
Lawrence of Clarendon, B.
Layard, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Lee of Trafford, L.
Lennie, L.
Levy, L.
Liddell of Coatdyke, B.
Liddle, L.
Lipsey, L.
Lister of Burtersett, B.
Listowel, E.
Loomba, L.
Low of Dalston, L.
Ludford, B.
McAvoy, L.
McCluskey, L.
McConnell of Glenscorrodale, L.
McDonagh, B.
Macdonald of River Glaven, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McFall of Alcluith, L.
McIntosh of Hudnall, B.
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
McKenzie of Luton, L.
Maclennan of Rogart, L.
McNally, L.
Maddock, B.
Mallalieu, B.
Mandelson, L.
Manzoor, B.
Marks of Henley-on-Thames, L.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Maxton, L.
Meacher, B. [Teller]
Mendelsohn, L.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Mitchell, L.
Monks, L.
Morgan, L.
Morgan of Drefelin, B.
Morgan of Ely, B.
Morgan of Huyton, B.
Morris of Handsworth, L.
Morris of Yardley, B.
Newby, L.
Northover, B.
Nye, B.
Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, L.
O’Loan, B.
O’Neill of Clackmannan, L.
Ouseley, L.
Owen, L.
Oxburgh, L.
Oxford and Asquith, E.
Paddick, L.
Palmer, L.
Palmer of Childs Hill, L.
Parekh, L.
Parminter, B.
Patel, L. [Teller]
Patel of Blackburn, L.
Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Pendry, L.
Pinnock, B.
Pitkeathley, B.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Portsmouth, Bp.
Prashar, B.
Prescott, L.
Prosser, B.
Purvis of Tweed, L.
Quin, B.
Radice, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Ramsbotham, L.
Randerson, B.
Razzall, L.
Rea, L.
Rebuck, B.
Redesdale, L.
Rees of Ludlow, L.
Rennard, L.
Richard, L.
Richardson of Calow, B.

26 Oct 2015 : Column 1036
Roberts of Llandudno, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Rosser, L.
Rowlands, L.
Royall of Blaisdon, B.
Sawyer, L.
Scott of Needham Market, B.
Scriven, L.
Sharkey, L.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Sheehan, B.
Sherlock, B.
Shutt of Greetland, L.
Simon, V.
Smith of Basildon, B.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Smith of Gilmorehill, B.
Smith of Leigh, L.
Smith of Newnham, B.
Snape, L.
Soley, L.
Steel of Aikwood, L.
Stephen, L.
Stern, B.
Stevenson of Balmacara, L.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Stoneham of Droxford, L.
Storey, L.
Strasburger, L.
Suttie, B.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taverne, L.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Taylor of Bolton, B.
Teverson, L.
Thomas of Gresford, L.
Thomas of Winchester, B.
Thornton, B.
Tomlinson, L.
Tope, L.
Touhig, L.
Triesman, L.
Tunnicliffe, L.
Turnberg, L.
Tyler, L.
Tyler of Enfield, B.
Uddin, B.
Verjee, L.
Walker of Gestingthorpe, L.
Wall of New Barnet, B.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Walmsley, B.
Warner, L.
Warwick of Undercliffe, B.
Watson of Invergowrie, L.
Watson of Richmond, L.
Wheeler, B.
Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.
Wigley, L.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Willis of Knaresborough, L.
Wills, L.
Wood of Anfield, L.
Woolmer of Leeds, L.
Worthington, B.
Wrigglesworth, L.
York, Abp.
Young of Hornsey, B.
Young of Norwood Green, L.
Young of Old Scone, B.

NOT CONTENTS
Aberdare, L.
Ahmad of Wimbledon, L.
Altmann, B.
Anelay of St Johns, B.
Arbuthnot of Edrom, L.
Armstrong of Ilminster, L.
Arran, E.
Ashton of Hyde, L.
Astor of Hever, L.
Attlee, E.
Baker of Dorking, L.
Balfe, L.
Bamford, L.
Bates, L.
Bell, L.
Berkeley of Knighton, L.
Berridge, B.
Bew, L.
Birt, L.
Black of Brentwood, L.
Blackwell, L.
Blencathra, L.
Borwick, L.
Bourne of Aberystwyth, L.
Bowness, L.
Boyce, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Brady, B.
Bridgeman, V.
Bridges of Headley, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood, L.
Browning, B.
Burns, L.
Buscombe, B.
Butler of Brockwell, L.
Butler-Sloss, B.
Byford, B.
Caithness, E.
Callanan, L.
Carrington of Fulham, L.
Carswell, L.
Cathcart, E.
Cavendish of Furness, L.
Chadlington, L.
Chalker of Wallasey, B.
Chisholm of Owlpen, B.
Coe, L.
Colville of Culross, V.
Colwyn, L.
Condon, L.
Cooper of Windrush, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L.
Cormack, L.
Courtown, E.
Craig of Radley, L.
Crathorne, L.
Crickhowell, L.
Cumberlege, B.
Dannatt, L.
De Mauley, L.
Deben, L.
Deech, B.
Deighton, L.
Denham, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Dobbs, L.
Dundee, E.
Dunlop, L.
Eaton, B.
Eccles, V.
Eccles of Moulton, B.
Elton, L.
Erroll, E.
Evans of Bowes Park, B.
Evans of Weardale, L.
Farmer, L.

26 Oct 2015 : Column 1037
Faulks, L.
Feldman of Elstree, L.
Fellowes of West Stafford, L.
Fink, L.
Finkelstein, L.
Flight, L.
Fookes, B.
Forsyth of Drumlean, L.
Fowler, L.
Framlingham, L.
Freeman, L.
Freud, L.
Gardiner of Kimble, L. [Teller]
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Garel-Jones, L.
Geddes, L.
Gilbert of Panteg, L.
Glenarthur, L.
Glendonbrook, L.
Glentoran, L.
Gold, L.
Goldie, B.
Goodlad, L.
Goschen, V.
Grade of Yarmouth, L.
Green of Deddington, L.
Green of Hurstpierpoint, L.
Greenway, L.
Griffiths of Fforestfach, L.
Hameed, L.
Hamilton of Epsom, L.
Harris of Peckham, L.
Hayward, L.
Helic, B.
Henley, L.
Heseltine, L.
Heyhoe Flint, B.
Higgins, L.
Hodgson of Abinger, B.
Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, L.
Hogg, B.
Holmes of Richmond, L.
Hooper, B.
Hope of Craighead, L.
Horam, L.
Howard of Lympne, L.
Howard of Rising, L.
Howarth of Breckland, B.
Howe, E.
Howell of Guildford, L.
Hunt of Wirral, L.
Inglewood, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L.
James of Blackheath, L.
Janvrin, L.
Jay of Ewelme, L.
Jenkin of Kennington, B.
Jopling, L.
Judge, L.
Kakkar, L.
Kalms, L.
Keen of Elie, L.
Kilclooney, L.
King of Bridgwater, L.
Kinnoull, E.
Kirkham, L.
Knight of Collingtree, B.
Laird, L.
Lamont of Lerwick, L.
Lang of Monkton, L.
Lansley, L.
Lawson of Blaby, L.
Leach of Fairford, L.
Leigh of Hurley, L.
Lexden, L.
Lindsay, E.
Lingfield, L.
Liverpool, E.
Livingston of Parkhead, L.
Lloyd-Webber, L.
Lothian, M.
Lucas, L.
Luce, L.
Lyell, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L.
Macfarlane of Bearsden, L.
MacGregor of Pulham Market, L.
Mackay of Clashfern, L.
Magan of Castletown, L.
Maginnis of Drumglass, L.
Mancroft, L.
Marland, L.
Marlesford, L.
Maude of Horsham, L.
Mawhinney, L.
Mobarik, B.
Mone, B.
Montrose, D.
Moore of Lower Marsh, L.
Morris of Bolton, B.
Moynihan, L.
Naseby, L.
Nash, L.
Neville-Jones, B.
Neville-Rolfe, B.
Newlove, B.
Noakes, B.
Northbrook, L.
Norton of Louth, L.
O’Cathain, B.
O’Donnell, L.
O’Neill of Gatley, L.
Oppenheim-Barnes, B.
O’Shaughnessy, L.
Palumbo, L.
Patten of Barnes, L.
Perry of Southwark, B.
Plumb, L.
Polak, L.
Popat, L.
Prior of Brampton, L.
Quirk, L.
Rawlings, B.
Renfrew of Kaimsthorn, L.
Ribeiro, L.
Ridley, V.
Risby, L.
Robertson of Port Ellen, L.
Rooker, L.
Rose of Monewden, L.
Rotherwick, L.
Rowe-Beddoe, L.
Russell of Liverpool, L.
Ryder of Wensum, L.
Saatchi, L.
St John of Bletso, L.
Sanderson of Bowden, L.
Sassoon, L.
Scott of Foscote, L.
Seccombe, B.
Selborne, E.
Selkirk of Douglas, L.
Selsdon, L.
Shackleton of Belgravia, B.
Sharples, B.
Sheikh, L.
Shephard of Northwold, B.
Sherbourne of Didsbury, L.
Shields, B.
Shrewsbury, E.
Skelmersdale, L.
Slim, V.
Smith of Hindhead, L.

26 Oct 2015 : Column 1038
Somerset, D.
Spicer, L.
Stedman-Scott, B.
Sterling of Plaistow, L.
Stevenson of Coddenham, L.
Stewartby, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Stowell of Beeston, B.
Strathclyde, L.
Stroud, B.
Suri, L.
Sutherland of Houndwood, L.
Swinfen, L.
Tanlaw, L.
Taylor of Holbeach, L. [Teller]
Taylor of Warwick, L.
Tebbit, L.
Thomas of Swynnerton, L.
Thurlow, L.
Trefgarne, L.
Trenchard, V.
Trevethin and Oaksey, L.
Trimble, L.
True, L.
Trumpington, B.
Turnbull, L.
Ullswater, V.
Verma, B.
Vinson, L.
Wakeham, L.
Walker of Aldringham, L.
Wasserman, L.
Wei, L.
Wellington, D.
Whitby, L.
Wilcox, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Trafford, B.
Wilson of Dinton, L.
Wolf of Dulwich, B.
Wolfson of Aspley Guise, L.
Wolfson of Sunningdale, L.
Woolf, L.
Wright of Richmond, L.
Young of Cookham, L.
Young of Graffham, L.
Younger of Leckie, V.

7.39 pm
Amendment to the Motion
Moved by Baroness Hollis of Heigham
As an amendment to the motion in the name of the Lord Privy Seal, to leave out all the words after “that” and insert “this House declines to consider the draft Regulations laid before the House on 7 September until the Government, (1) following consultation have reported to Parliament a scheme for full transitional protection for a minimum of three years for all low-income families and individuals currently receiving tax credits before 5 April 2016, such transitional protection to be renewable after three years with parliamentary approval, and (2) have laid a report before the House, detailing their response to the analysis of the draft Regulations by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, and considering possible mitigating action.”

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, we have had the arguments. I wish to test the opinion of the House.

7.40 pm
Division on Baroness Hollis of Heigham’s amendment
Contents 289; Not-Contents 272.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham’s amendment agreed.
Division No.  3

CONTENTS
Adams of Craigielea, B.
Addington, L.
Adebowale, L.
Afshar, B.
Ahmed, L.
Allen of Kensington, L.
Alton of Liverpool, L.
Anderson of Swansea, L.
Andrews, B.
Armstrong of Hill Top, B.
Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon, L.
Avebury, L.
Bach, L.
Bakewell, B.

26 Oct 2015 : Column 1039
Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville, B.
Barker, B.
Bassam of Brighton, L. [Teller]
Beecham, L.
Benjamin, B.
Berkeley, L.
Bhatia, L.
Billingham, B.
Blackstone, B.
Blood, B.
Blunkett, L.
Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury, B.
Boothroyd, B.
Bradley, L.
Bradshaw, L.
Bragg, L.
Brennan, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brookman, L.
Browne of Belmont, L.
Campbell of Surbiton, B.
Campbell-Savours, L.
Carter of Coles, L.
Cashman, L.
Chandos, V.
Christopher, L.
Clancarty, E.
Clark of Windermere, L.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Clement-Jones, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Collins of Highbury, L.
Corston, B.
Cotter, L.
Crawley, B.
Cunningham of Felling, L.
Davies of Abersoch, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Davies of Stamford, L.
Desai, L.
Dholakia, L.
Donaghy, B.
Doocey, B.
Drake, B.
Dubs, L.
Dykes, L.
Eames, L.
Eatwell, L.
Elder, L.
Elis-Thomas, L.
Evans of Temple Guiting, L.
Evans of Watford, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Falkland, V.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Fearn, L.
Filkin, L.
Foster of Bishop Auckland, L.
Foulkes of Cumnock, L.
Fox, L.
Gale, B.
Garden of Frognal, B.
German, L.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B.
Glasgow, E.
Glasman, L.
Goddard of Stockport, L.
Golding, B.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Grantchester, L.
Greaves, L.
Grender, B.
Grocott, L.
Hamwee, B.
Hannay of Chiswick, L.
Hanworth, V.
Harris of Haringey, L.
Harris of Richmond, B.
Harrison, L.
Hart of Chilton, L.
Haskel, L.
Hastings of Scarisbrick, L.
Haworth, L.
Hay of Ballyore, L.
Hayter of Kentish Town, B.
Healy of Primrose Hill, B.
Henig, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hollins, B.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howarth of Breckland, B.
Howarth of Newport, L.
Howe of Idlicote, B.
Howells of St Davids, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Stretford, B.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Humphreys, B.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Hussain, L.
Hussein-Ece, B.
Hutton of Furness, L.
Hylton, L.
Janke, B.
Jolly, B.
Jones, L.
Jones of Cheltenham, L.
Jones of Moulsecoomb, B.
Jones of Whitchurch, B.
Jordan, L.
Judd, L.
Kennedy of Cradley, B.
Kennedy of Southwark, L.
Kennedy of The Shaws, B.
Kerr of Kinlochard, L.
Kerslake, L.
Kidron, B.
King of Bow, B.
Kinnock, L.
Kinnock of Holyhead, B.
Kirkhill, L.
Kirkwood of Kirkhope, L.
Knight of Weymouth, L.
Kramer, B.
Lane-Fox of Soho, B.
Lawrence of Clarendon, B.
Layard, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Lee of Trafford, L.
Lennie, L.
Levy, L.
Liddell of Coatdyke, B.
Liddle, L.
Lister of Burtersett, B.
Listowel, E.
Loomba, L.
Low of Dalston, L.
Ludford, B.
McAvoy, L.
McConnell of Glenscorrodale, L.
McDonagh, B.
Macdonald of River Glaven, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McFall of Alcluith, L.
McIntosh of Hudnall, B.
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
26 Oct 2015 : Column 1040
McKenzie of Luton, L.
Maclennan of Rogart, L.
McNally, L.
Maddock, B.
Mallalieu, B.
Manzoor, B.
Marks of Henley-on-Thames, L.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Maxton, L.
Meacher, B.
Mendelsohn, L.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Mitchell, L.
Monks, L.
Morgan, L.
Morgan of Drefelin, B.
Morgan of Ely, B.
Morris of Handsworth, L.
Morris of Yardley, B.
Newby, L.
Northover, B.
Nye, B.
Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, L.
O’Loan, B.
O’Neill of Clackmannan, L.
Ouseley, L.
Owen, L.
Oxburgh, L.
Oxford and Asquith, E.
Paddick, L.
Palmer of Childs Hill, L.
Parminter, B.
Patel of Blackburn, L.
Pendry, L.
Pinnock, B.
Pitkeathley, B.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Prashar, B.
Prescott, L.
Prosser, B.
Purvis of Tweed, L.
Quin, B.
Radice, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Ramsbotham, L.
Randerson, B.
Razzall, L.
Rea, L.
Rebuck, B.
Redesdale, L.
Rees of Ludlow, L.
Rennard, L.
Richard, L.
Richardson of Calow, B.
Roberts of Llandudno, L.
Robertson of Port Ellen, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Rosser, L.
Rowlands, L.
Royall of Blaisdon, B.
Sawyer, L.
Scott of Needham Market, B.
Sharkey, L.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Sheehan, B.
Sherlock, B.
Shutt of Greetland, L.
Simon, V.
Smith of Basildon, B.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Smith of Gilmorehill, B.
Smith of Leigh, L.
Smith of Newnham, B.
Snape, L.
Soley, L.
Steel of Aikwood, L.
Stephen, L.
Stern, B.
Stevenson of Balmacara, L.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Stoneham of Droxford, L.
Storey, L.
Strasburger, L.
Suttie, B.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taverne, L.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Taylor of Bolton, B.
Teverson, L.
Thomas of Gresford, L.
Thomas of Winchester, B.
Thornton, B.
Tomlinson, L.
Tope, L.
Touhig, L.
Triesman, L.
Tunnicliffe, L. [Teller]
Turnberg, L.
Tyler, L.
Tyler of Enfield, B.
Uddin, B.
Verjee, L.
Walker of Gestingthorpe, L.
Wall of New Barnet, B.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Walmsley, B.
Walpole, L.
Warwick of Undercliffe, B.
Watson of Invergowrie, L.
Watson of Richmond, L.
Wheeler, B.
Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.
Wigley, L.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Willis of Knaresborough, L.
Wills, L.
Wood of Anfield, L.
Woolmer of Leeds, L.
Worthington, B.
Wrigglesworth, L.
York, Abp.
Young of Hornsey, B.
Young of Norwood Green, L.
Young of Old Scone, B.

NOT CONTENTS
Aberdare, L.
Ahmad of Wimbledon, L.
Altmann, B.
Anelay of St Johns, B.
Arbuthnot of Edrom, L.
Armstrong of Ilminster, L.
Arran, E.
Ashton of Hyde, L.
Astor of Hever, L.
Attlee, E.
Baker of Dorking, L.
Balfe, L.
Bamford, L.
Bates, L.
Bell, L.
Berkeley of Knighton, L.
Berridge, B.
Bew, L.
Bilimoria, L.
Birt, L.
Black of Brentwood, L.
Blackwell, L.
26 Oct 2015 : Column 1041
Blencathra, L.
Borwick, L.
Bourne of Aberystwyth, L.
Bowness, L.
Boyce, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Brady, B.
Bridgeman, V.
Bridges of Headley, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood, L.
Browning, B.
Burns, L.
Buscombe, B.
Butler of Brockwell, L.
Butler-Sloss, B.
Byford, B.
Caithness, E.
Callanan, L.
Carrington of Fulham, L.
Carswell, L.
Cathcart, E.
Cavendish of Furness, L.
Chadlington, L.
Chalker of Wallasey, B.
Chester, Bp.
Chisholm of Owlpen, B.
Coe, L.
Colville of Culross, V.
Colwyn, L.
Condon, L.
Cooper of Windrush, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L.
Cormack, L.
Courtown, E.
Craig of Radley, L.
Crathorne, L.
Crickhowell, L.
Crisp, L.
Cumberlege, B.
Dannatt, L.
De Mauley, L.
Deben, L.
Deech, B.
Deighton, L.
Denham, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Dobbs, L.
Dundee, E.
Dunlop, L.
Eaton, B.
Eccles, V.
Eccles of Moulton, B.
Elton, L.
Erroll, E.
Evans of Bowes Park, B.
Evans of Weardale, L.
Farmer, L.
Faulks, L.
Feldman of Elstree, L.
Fellowes of West Stafford, L.
Fink, L.
Finkelstein, L.
Flight, L.
Fookes, B.
Forsyth of Drumlean, L.
Fowler, L.
Framlingham, L.
Freeman, L.
Freud, L.
Gardiner of Kimble, L. [Teller]
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Garel-Jones, L.
Geddes, L.
Gilbert of Panteg, L.
Glenarthur, L.
Glendonbrook, L.
Glentoran, L.
Gold, L.
Goldie, B.
Goodlad, L.
Goschen, V.
Grade of Yarmouth, L.
Green of Deddington, L.
Green of Hurstpierpoint, L.
Greenway, L.
Griffiths of Fforestfach, L.
Hameed, L.
Hamilton of Epsom, L.
Harris of Peckham, L.
Hayward, L.
Helic, B.
Henley, L.
Heseltine, L.
Heyhoe Flint, B.
Higgins, L.
Hodgson of Abinger, B.
Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, L.
Hogg, B.
Holmes of Richmond, L.
Hooper, B.
Hope of Craighead, L.
Horam, L.
Howard of Lympne, L.
Howard of Rising, L.
Howe, E.
Howell of Guildford, L.
Hunt of Wirral, L.
Inglewood, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L.
James of Blackheath, L.
Janvrin, L.
Jenkin of Kennington, B.
Jopling, L.
Judge, L.
Kakkar, L.
Kalms, L.
Keen of Elie, L.
Kilclooney, L.
King of Bridgwater, L.
Kinnoull, E.
Kirkham, L.
Knight of Collingtree, B.
Lamont of Lerwick, L.
Lang of Monkton, L.
Lansley, L.
Lawson of Blaby, L.
Leach of Fairford, L.
Leigh of Hurley, L.
Lexden, L.
Lindsay, E.
Lingfield, L.
Liverpool, E.
Livingston of Parkhead, L.
Lloyd-Webber, L.
Lothian, M.
Lucas, L.
Luce, L.
Lyell, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L.
Macfarlane of Bearsden, L.
MacGregor of Pulham Market, L.
Mackay of Clashfern, L.
Magan of Castletown, L.
Maginnis of Drumglass, L.
Mancroft, L.
Marland, L.
Marlesford, L.
Maude of Horsham, L.
Mawhinney, L.
Mobarik, B.
Mone, B.

26 Oct 2015 : Column 1042
Montrose, D.
Moore of Lower Marsh, L.
Morris of Bolton, B.
Moynihan, L.
Naseby, L.
Nash, L.
Neville-Jones, B.
Neville-Rolfe, B.
Newlove, B.
Noakes, B.
Northbrook, L.
Norton of Louth, L.
O’Cathain, B.
O’Donnell, L.
O’Neill of Gatley, L.
Oppenheim-Barnes, B.
O’Shaughnessy, L.
Palumbo, L.
Patten of Barnes, L.
Perry of Southwark, B.
Plumb, L.
Polak, L.
Popat, L.
Prior of Brampton, L.
Quirk, L.
Rawlings, B.
Renfrew of Kaimsthorn, L.
Ribeiro, L.
Ridley, V.
Risby, L.
Rose of Monewden, L.
Rotherwick, L.
Rowe-Beddoe, L.
Russell of Liverpool, L.
Ryder of Wensum, L.
Saatchi, L.
St John of Bletso, L.
Sanderson of Bowden, L.
Sassoon, L.
Scott of Foscote, L.
Seccombe, B.
Selborne, E.
Selkirk of Douglas, L.
Selsdon, L.
Shackleton of Belgravia, B.
Sharples, B.
Sheikh, L.
Shephard of Northwold, B.
Sherbourne of Didsbury, L.
Shields, B.
Shrewsbury, E.
Skelmersdale, L.
Slim, V.
Smith of Hindhead, L.
Somerset, D.
Spicer, L.
Stedman-Scott, B.
Sterling of Plaistow, L.
Stevenson of Coddenham, L.
Stewartby, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Stowell of Beeston, B.
Strathclyde, L.
Stroud, B.
Suri, L.
Sutherland of Houndwood, L.
Swinfen, L.
Tanlaw, L.
Taylor of Holbeach, L. [Teller]
Taylor of Warwick, L.
Tebbit, L.
Thomas of Swynnerton, L.
Thurlow, L.
Trefgarne, L.
Trenchard, V.
Trevethin and Oaksey, L.
Trimble, L.
True, L.
Turnbull, L.
Ullswater, V.
Verma, B.
Vinson, L.
Wakeham, L.
Walker of Aldringham, L.
Wasserman, L.
Wellington, D.
Whitby, L.
Wilcox, B.
Williams of Trafford, B.
Wilson of Dinton, L.
Wolf of Dulwich, B.
Wolfson of Aspley Guise, L.
Wolfson of Sunningdale, L.
Woolf, L.
Wright of Richmond, L.
Young of Cookham, L.
Young of Graffham, L.
Younger of Leckie, V.
Motion, as amended, agreed.


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VIDEO: A round-up of local Wirral and Merseyside politics by John Brace (part 1)

VIDEO: A round-up of local Wirral and Merseyside politics by John Brace (part 1)

VIDEO: A round-up of local Wirral and Merseyside politics by John Brace (part 1)

                                                            

Screenshot from Youtube video of John Brace
Screenshot from Youtube video of John Brace

Below is a transcript of a video I’ve recorded about a range of local political matters. I’ve added some extra detail which I don’t say on the video in [] brackets and of course links to more detailed stories. I realised when I finished recording that I’d been talking for nearly eighteen minutes. It’s about a variety of local political issues.

At the time of publishing this blog post the video has been uploaded to Youtube, but is still processing at Youtube’s end.

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John Brace on local Wirral and Merseyside politics (part 1)


JOHN BRACE: Hello, I hope you can hear me clearly. I’m John Brace and I’m going to be filming a series of videos as due to the half term holidays next week, there’s a shortage of public meetings.

So, I thought I’d start off by looking at one of the bigger stories on my blog this week.

That was about what I said at a meeting of the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority to the Chair Cllr Dave Hanratty and his response about councillors’ expenses.

I suppose I’d better briefly explain what the situation is regarding councillors’ expenses and allowances.

Councillors on the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority are entitled to claim expenses for instance for travel to public meetings and each year they’re supposed to publish a table detailing each councillors’ name and how much has been spent over the year in expenses for that particular councillor in various categories.

In fact that’s a legal requirement, a very basic level of transparency.

However unfortunately what Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service was doing was, where they received invoices directly rather than councillors claiming back expenses they’d incurred themselves, where trips were booked through Capita, train travel that kind of thing, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service were invoiced directly but this wasn’t appearing on the actual annual lists so that about £6,000 or so of expenses were being left off. So I have been pointing this out over the past few months.

There’s also the issue that councillors get paid allowances and on this National Insurance and presumably things like income tax were paid. Now those amounts weren’t included in the annually published lists either.

I did ask Councillor Hanratty earlier, I think it was the day before yesterday whether these amounts would be included in future, didn’t get an answer.

Asked a question about this at the Birkenhead Constituency Committee, told it was a matter for Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service/Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority.

I think they don’t want to give me answers on this, I think they hope I’ll just stop writing about it and move on to other things. After all I think there are far less councillors getting a taxi from home to the public meetings now since I started publishing what these expenses were for.

Anyway, another news story that’s seems to be popular on the blog is that Merseytravel’s Chief Executive David Brown is leaving. I think he’s leaving from some time next month to become Chief Executive of Transport for the North. Obviously that’ll be news for people that work at Merseytravel and I suppose you’re wondering what Transport for the North is!

Well it’s a new kind of regional body that’s been set up regarding transport matters and eventually it’ll become like Merseytravel is and the Combined Authority a statutory body. So I wish him luck in his new job and I think the Deputy Chief Executive Frank Rogers will be Acting Chief Executive until councillors decide on who the permanent Chief Executive should be, which should come to a future meeting in the future.

Anyway, another thing I’ve written about on the blog recently is to do with the whole Lyndale School closure matter. Now for those who have been following this story this is probably going to repeat what you already know, but Wirral Council officers said the reason the school had to close was that from 2016/17 which is the next academic year, that funding that they’d get for education from the government would be based on pupil numbers rather than place numbers.

Now at the moment I think there are about forty places at Lyndale School and about must be a dozen or so pupils. So basically they were saying that from next year, there would be a shortfall in Lyndale School’s budget.

But this hasn’t happened!

The Cabinet still decided to close the School, but the funding changes haven’t happened, Wirral Council will get the same funding as they did the previous year.

However despite them getting the same funding, they have actually made cuts from the SEN budget because there is flexibility at Wirral Council in that they can move money around within the education budget. They’ve still got to spend it on education, but they can move money around from say that allocated for teaching assistants for special educational needs to something else within that education budget and one of the things that’s been causing pressures on the budget is that they have a massive contract, I think it’s about half way through thirty years or something.

I’ve read through the contract and it’d take too long to go into here, but it’s a contract with Wirral Schools Services Limited for basically to rebuild a number of schools, but as well as the payments that relate to that there are also payments of millions a year I think that the schools have to pay this private company for services to do with the schools. For instance I think school meals is part of it, possibly cleaning and maintenance.

So the situation had been that Wirral Council was getting a grant from the government for some of this, but the contract meant that the costs were rising each year for PFI.

What was happening was, this money was being funded outside the education budget by Wirral Council. But then a political decision was made [by Wirral Council councillors] not to do this, which meant that a few million had to be cut out of the education budget elsewhere.

Hence why special educational needs got a cut, but again one of the other interesting twists and turns that came out in the Lyndale School saga is that the whole issue of whether the School should be closed or not seemed to arise around the time there was a revaluation of the land and buildings.

Off the top of my head I think the valuation was about £2.4 million [it was actually £2.6 million]. I’d better make it clear at this stage this is a what they call a technical, what’s it called, depreciated replacement cost value. It’s not a they send in an estate agent and they say how much would would we get for this and how much would we get for the school playing fields and so on?

No, it’s more they have to have on their asset list, a list of how much their assets are because obviously as a Council they have liabilities, they have to offset that with their assets.

But it’s a great shame what happened regarding Lyndale School, it’s not closed yet, it’ll close at the end of the academic year, but I think it could’ve been handled a lot better.

Obviously there’ve been recent revelations come out that the person that chaired the consultation meetings on the Lyndale School closure wasn’t in fact a Wirral Council employee, but is a what do you call it, a temp, a temporary worker because they couldn’t recruit somebody to the post [for £775+VAT/day].

He’s called Phil Ward and the problem was that, there was quite a bit of criticism levelled at him for the way he chaired the consultation meetings. Now obviously you can criticise anybody for chairing high profile consultation meetings. I’m sure there were criticisms of how Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority did their consultation meetings.

But moving back to Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority, the Saughall Massie issue, it was agreed by councillors on the Fire Authority to go ahead, they’ve agreed the four or so million pounds in the capital budget and a planning application has been submitted.

Now I’ve checked on Wirral Council’s website and I can’t see a planning application there yet but obviously they have to scan it in and put it on the website for consultation so people can make their comments and so on.

The other issue is there was a vote recently on whether Wirral Council should give the land or they may get something for it I don’t know, maybe they’ll give it to them, should give this land to Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority for this new fire station in Saughall Massie.

Now, that was a five for, five against vote with one abstention so it got deferred to another meeting.

Now obviously it would be better if Wirral Council could make a decision reasonably quickly but I understand the point that councillors made at the meeting, that they felt they were only hearing one side of the argument and that they hadn’t got the information in front of them regarding the emails that had been released under Freedom of Information Act requests, they hadn’t heard the Fire and Rescue Service’s point of view because nobody had been invited along from the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service and basically better decisions are made by politicians when they have the facts in front of them and they don’t like making decisions if they’re going to be made fools of later when it turns out there’s something they should’ve known or was in the public domain.

An example of that New Brighton car parking Fort Perch Rock fiasco. Now that went out to budget consultation, was agreed by Cabinet, was agreed by Council but what wasn’t known at the time was that Wirral Council had a lease for the Marine Point complex and that lease said that if Wirral Council introduced car parking charges at Fort Perch Rock, that they could be introduced in the car parking elsewhere there and Liverpool Echo journalist I think it was Liam Murphy got in touch with the company that runs the Marine Point complex and they said yes they’d have to introduce charges because obviously if Wirral Council had introduced charges at Fort Perch Rock car park then it would’ve displaced some parking to the free parking elsewhere, so then they’d feel they’d have to introduce charges themselves, but once these matters came out then there was a U-turn done on it and they decided they’ll make up the budget shortfall somewhere else.

But that goes back to my point about politicians having the information in front of them so they can make reasonably informed decisions. Now the reports that go before officers, sorry politicians whether that’s at Wirral Council, Liverpool City Council, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, Merseytravel and so on are written by officers. That is employees of the particular public body that the politicians are politicians for.

But there’s a question of, officers can have a particular point of view and make a recommendation and therefore ask the councillors to approve it, but officers aren’t actually going to know everything, but where do the public fit in all this?

Because of course in an ideal world, like for instance the Planning Committee yesterday where the public gets to speak for five minutes if they’ve got a qualifying petition. In an ideal world, if you were making a decision, say a major decision about a fire station being built, well that’s two decisions really, it’s a planning decision and whether Wirral Council give them the land. When you’re making a major decision like that, then not only should you have some sort of consultation with the public and by consultation I don’t mean publishing the papers for the meeting a week before, although that does give some advance warning so people can lobby the decision makers.

I’m talking about that people who are affected by the decision should have their say at a public meeting and I know there’ve been consultation meetings, that the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service have run and that’s fine. But what I’m saying is the ball’s now in Wirral Council’s court, there has to be the usual consultation on planning applications, but it’s a very emotive issue.

And I think basically if I can sum up the positions, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service have received a grant for some of the cost of this fire station and of course with the West Kirby and Upton fire stations being closed, they’ll receive something for the sale of those but basically they want to build it now in Saughall Massie because the site in Greasby has been withdrawn.

But the problem is that this is greenbelt land and there’s a lot of resistance from the residents regarding a fire station there.

Now in the not too distant past Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service did put in a planning application for a temporary fire station in Oxton while Birkenhead Fire Station was being rebuilt. I know that was later withdrawn but that caused a similar level of fuss and outrage and politicians saying they were against it and so on.

But the problem was that was only a temporary ~12 month arrangement, eventually they found some way round finding somewhere else. But the same issues that were brought up then, have been brought up regarding this Saughall Massie issue, you know the issues regarding sirens, traffic and so on but I think the elephant in the room really for Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service is that a number of the fire stations they’ve got are part of the PFI scheme, so they can’t close those without massive penalties.

I mean I think Birkenhead Fire Station is one example of one of the fire stations they’ve got under this PFI scheme.

So there are fire stations they can’t shut, so that leaves if they want to make any budget savings, for instance through cutting jobs and merging fire stations, they’ve only got the ones that aren’t the PFI fire stations that they can choose from.

And that’s part of the reason why Upton and West Kirby got chosen.

But I think one of the things that has currently got the public going, is that after there was pressure put regarding the Greasby site, that the offer of Greasby where there’s a library and community centre there was withdrawn and people are asking why Wirral Council isn’t doing the same thing with Saughall Massie?

Well basically these are decisions yet to be determined, it’s a party political matter because three political parties involved in the last decision on this voted three different ways, but I can see a problem because firstly Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service can’t keep Upton and West Kirby open. They just don’t have the budget for the amount of firefighters that would take.

Now one alternative is, just keep Upton open, now the downside to this according to the Chief Fire Officer is that this would increase response times to the Hoylake and West Kirby area, so that’s why they want somewhere roughly in between the two stations.

However then people raised the issue of Upton’s close to Arrowe Park Hospital, so it’ll take longer to get to there so wherever you have a fire station there’ll be people that have a quick response time and people that have a slow response time.

But the fire engines aren’t always at the fire station all the time, I mean about half the time they’ll be called out on a job, well maybe a bit more than that, they’ll be out somewhere else and that can’t really be predicted where they’d be at, whether they’d be fitting a smoke alarm or something like that.

So there are a lot of issues to do with the Saughall Massie fire station and basically I’ll be reporting on it, but at the same time I think it’s interesting seeing both the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority meetings and the Wirral Council meetings and how this issue has been dealt with at both of them.

Of course if the government hadn’t offered Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service a large grant to build a new fire station there, then I doubt this would’ve gone ahead, admittedly they could’ve borrowed the money or found the money from somewhere but I think that what’s interesting is I did make a FOI for the grant application that they made to DCLG, was told that this information would be published in the future so I couldn’t have it now and I’d have to wait till after the consultations were finished and by that they didn’t just mean the Upton and West Kirby consultations but they meant the other consultations because this grant is not just for a fire station at Saughall Massie, there are similar consultations and mergers and closures happening elsewhere across Merseyside.

So hopefully that will sum up things and I’ll point out that tonight at the Wallasey Constituency Committee, I won’t be there but I noticed because I read through the reports and the agenda, that the Motability, they have a little place in Birkenhead that hires out wheelchairs and things like that are looking to set up a place in New Brighton, so people can hire wheelchairs and that kind of thing.

So that’s a possibly positive move for New Brighton, because I know there’s been a lot of criticism at New Brighton and a large petition over the dropped car parking plans.

Anyway I’d better finish for now, but thanks for listening.

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