On 26th March 2018 the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, asked a question he had tabled to Government on the two-child limit policy for tax credit and universal credit. His follow-up question and those of other members is reproduced below:
The Bishop of Durham:To ask Her Majesty’s Government what specific measures they are taking to monitor the impact of the two-child limit policy in the child element of Child Tax Credit and Universal Credit on the well-being of children.
The Minister for State, Department for International Development, Lord Bates: My Lords, the Government are committed to supporting child well-being, and keep all our child welfare policies under review. We provide a range of support for children, including child benefit, that continues to be paid for each child in a household. Since 2010 there are 1 million fewer people in absolute poverty, including 300,000 fewer children.
The Bishop of Durham: I thank the Minister for that reply. Given that the Government’s impact assessment argues that the two-child limit would have a positive impact on overall family stability, and that the policy would increase financial resilience and support improved life chances for children, what current evidence does the Minister have to support the claims that the policy will have a positive impact on overall family stability and improve life chances for children?
On Monday 7th December, the House of Lords debated the Government’s Welfare Reform and Work Bill during its first day of Committee. The Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, spoke to an amendment he had tabled to require Government to assess the impact of the proposed two-child limit for new claimants on families and faith communities. His speeches opening and closing the debate on his amendment are included below, along with an extract of the Minister’s reply. The full debate, including speeches by other Members, can be seen at: Parliament.uk
The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, I tabled Amendment 21 to highlight the impact of this measure on different faith communities who share our concerns with this part of the Bill in particular. Noble Lords who attended the special briefing we organised two weeks ago will have heard Chaya Spitz, chief executive of the Interlink Foundation, speak passionately about the implications for the Orthodox Jewish community that she represents and is a member of. For her community, larger families are the norm and the central pivot around which everything else revolves. There is a positive, faith-based imperative to have children, to create the next generation in service of God. There is also a commonly held conscientious objection to the use of artificial contraception, except in prescribed circumstances, and to abortion, except in rare circumstances. By limiting financial support to the first two children, this policy is making a judgment that touches on deeply personal and strongly held religious and cultural beliefs about the family, and that threatens the viability of whole faith communities.
On Monday 7th December, the House of Lords debated the Government’s Welfare Reform and Work Bill during its first day of Committee. The Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, spoke in support of a motion from Baroness Sherlock and Lord McKenzie opposing the question that clauses 11 and 12 (limiting child tax credits to the first two children) should stand part of the bill. His speech is included below, along with an extract of the Minister’s reply. The full debate, including speeches by other Members, can be seen at: Parliament.uk
The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, I express my strong concern about these clauses remaining part of the Bill. I offer three straightforward and, I hope, succinct comments: first, about the implications of these clauses; secondly, about the motivation of parents that is implied; and, thirdly, about where responsibility lies.
First, the Government place great emphasis on choice and personal responsibility for family size. I have to say that that assumes a remarkable assumption about the fail-safe effectiveness of contraception—or, if not, an apparent willingness for abortion to be appropriate as a sort of emergency contraception to keep family size to two children. I doubt the assumption, and would deeply regret driving people to seek termination on economic grounds. Is that really what the Government wish? Continue reading “Welfare Reform Bill – Bishop of Portsmouth opposes two-child limit for new claimants”
On 3rd December 2015 the House of Lords debated the Chancellor’s Spending Review and Autumn Statement. The Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, spoke in the debate.
The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, the Chancellor in his Statement in the other place described this as a Government who do big things. I begin by acknowledging with gratitude the big decision to retract the proposals to alter the tax credit thresholds and taper rate. I spoke from these Benches not many weeks ago when we were assured that the Chancellor was listening. It would be possible to say more about that journey of listening leading to this big decision, but that might be churlish. I simply welcome the announcement. Continue reading “Bishop of Portsmouth responds to Autumn Statement on the economy”