Child Support (Enforcement) Bill - Third Reading – in the House of Lords am 10:19 am ar 14 Gorffennaf 2023.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Baroness Pidding:

Moved by Baroness Pidding

That the Bill do now pass.

Photo of Baroness Pidding Baroness Pidding Ceidwadwyr

My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lady Redfern, I have a few brief comments to make. I express my sincere gratitude to my noble friend for her stewardship of the Bill in this House. She has been struck down by that ghastly virus and cannot be with us today, but I am glad to say that she is making a good recovery.

It is an honour to pick up on the hard work of the noble Baroness, Lady Redfern, in introducing the Bill and leading both its Second Reading and Committee stage. I am pleased that the Bill has now reached its final stage in this House today. I thank the Minister and his officials for their support, as well as those noble Lords who supported the Bill on Second Reading. I am of course grateful to my honourable friend Siobhan Baillie MP for introducing the Bill in the other place, and to Katherine Fletcher MP, who stood in for Ms Baillie during Third Reading.

The Bill will make essential improvements to child maintenance processes. Crucially, it will get money to children more quickly. Finally, I say on behalf of the noble Baroness, Lady Redfern, what a privilege it has been to take the Bill through its stages in this House, and for me to follow up today. I hope that it can now move to Royal Assent and implementation as quickly as possible. I beg to move.

Photo of Baroness Sherlock Baroness Sherlock Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions)

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Redfern, for piloting the Bill through this House and, along with the rest of the House, wish her a speedy recovery. I also thank the noble Baroness, Lady Pidding, for standing in for her today so crisply and effectively. Thanks are due too to the Minister and his team, both for their work on this Bill and for their briefing of Peers to help us understand the context in which it sits. I am grateful also to Gingerbread and the charities that work so hard in this area.

We on these Benches wholeheartedly support the principle that non-resident parents should pay child maintenance and that there should be enforcement for those who fail to pay. The Bill should make a small but welcome contribution to that end by speeding up the process by which the non-resident parent who is in arrears can be made to pay what they owe. I hope that in future, we will see a further reduction in the amount of child maintenance that goes unpaid. There is still work to be done to increase compliance with the child support regime and to ensure that it becomes the norm that both parents continue to support their children, whatever happens to their relationship with one another.

For now, I simply thank again the noble Baroness, Lady Redfern, and Siobhan Baillie MP, and wish the Bill well.

Photo of Viscount Younger of Leckie Viscount Younger of Leckie The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend Lady Pidding, speaking on behalf of the main sponsor of the Bill, my noble friend Lady Redfern, on ensuring that the Bill has reached its final stages. I wish my noble friend Lady Redfern a speedy recovery.

As mentioned at Second Reading, the Bill has the full backing of His Majesty’s Government, and it gives me great pleasure to speak in support of it today once again. I also thank the noble Baroness, Lady Sherlock, for the thoughtful questions she raised at Second Reading. I hope the letter I sent in response has provided her with some clarity on the issues raised. I very much take note of her comments today.

This Government are committed to improving the support the Child Maintenance Service offers to separated families, so the Bill makes important improvements to CMS enforcement processes by amending existing powers. Once commenced, this will allow the Secretary of State to make an administrative liability order where the paying parent has failed to pay an amount of child maintenance, without the need to make an application to court.

On the point raised at Second Reading by the noble Lord, Lord Palmer, who is not in his place, I would like to reassure the House that the central protections for paying parents will be provided through secondary legislation. This will give parents the right of appeal, while setting out some parameters around the appeal process. First, this will include the period within which the right of appeal may be exercised, and, secondly, the powers of the court in respect of such appeals. Secondary legislation will follow the affirmative procedure, so your Lordships will be able to debate the proposals eventually when they are put forward.

To conclude, I am very pleased that there is cross-party support for my noble friend’s Bill, and that this House will agree to its final passage today.

Bill passed.