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Yesterday, yet another dog doesn't bark in the Commons

by Paul Goodman

George Osborne's pantomime exchanges with Chris Bryant from yesterday's Treasury Questions attracted a lot of coverage.  A less flashy but rather telling incident didn't.  Here's a question from Kate Green, the Labour MP and former Child Poverty Action Group head honcho, and intelligent, toiling David Gauke, a Treasury Minister -

"Kate Green (Stretford and Urmston) (Lab): What his estimate is of the number of single-income families which will be affected by the decision to end child benefit for households with a higher-rate taxpayer. [31837]

The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury (Mr David Gauke): The withdrawal of child benefit from families containing a higher-rate taxpayer in 2013 will affect around 200,000 single-income households.

Kate Green: The Minister will be aware that receipt of child benefit by full-time mothers with no other income triggers national insurance caring credits, which count towards those women's pensions. Will he explain how the full-time mothers who will lose child benefit under the Government's proposals can retain their link to the national insurance system and their pension contributions?

Mr Gauke: I can assure the hon. Lady that we will ensure that the link with national insurance contributions will be maintained, and that mothers in those circumstances will not lose out. We will announce details in due course.

This morning's Daily Telegraph is dominated by Liberal Democrat Ministers complaining about the child benefit decision.  Ed Miliband led on it at his very first session of Prime Minister's Questions.  But not a cheep from the Liberal Democrat backbenches yesterday.  Nor a second question from Labour's.  If backbenchers aren't queueing to raise the matter publicly in the Chamber, it suggests that those Ministers may be less worked up about it than they claimed.


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