The Savings Accounts and Health in Pregnancy Grant Bill, which will officially end Child Trust Fund payments from January 2011, is to go through its final stages in the House of Lords this afternoon. With its certification as a money Bill, the Lords has no powers to amend it, meaning debate is just a formality.
Last week, a Labour bid for extra time to debate the measure – in a normal committee stage, report stage and third reading – was rejected by 202 votes to 169. Lords Leader Lord Strathclyde dismissed the demand as “mischief-making”, despite Labour claims that even with a three-stage process the Bill could still become law by Christmas.
Labour’s Lord McKenzie also argued that the three grants to be halted by the Bill – child trust funds, saving gateway accounts and the Health in Pregnancy Grant – had themselves been fully debated by both Houses when introduced by the Labour government.
The rejected bid means the Bill will be fast-tracked through the Lords in its second – and final – reading, similarly to the Finance Bills that enact Budget measures. The Bill was cleared in the House of Commons on 22 November.
The legislation will end voucher payments for the tax-free children’s savings scheme for babies born from January 2011. The £250 vouchers were introduced in 2005, and were reduced to £50 in August this year as part of one of the highest profile and most controversial Budget cuts.
The Health in Pregnancy Grant, a one-off payment of £190 to pregnant women, will also be ended as a result of the legislation.