The Bill will begin its committee stage in the House of Lords – line by line examination of the Bill – on Tuesday 4 October.
Petition on housing benefits
A petition from Community Housing Cymru on housing benefits, with 1,731 signatures, was presented to the House of Lords in the Chamber before the second reading debate. The petition was presented by Lord Touhig.
Members of the Lords may present petitions on behalf of the public; in so doing, they read out the name of the petitioner and what they are asking the House to do.
The petitioning procedure draws the House’s attention to the views of the petitioners, although it does not lead directly to action.
It is the first petition to be presented to the Lords in over 10 years.
Contributions to the debate
Lord Freud, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Department for Work and Pensions, opened the second reading debate.
Members of the Lords who took part in the debate (use the links to watch/listen to their contributions) included:
- Baroness Campbell of Surbiton (Crossbench), disability campaigner
- Lord Touhig (Labour), former Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (2001-05)
- Lord Wigley (Plaid Cymru), vice-president of Mencap Wales
- Baroness Finlay of Llandaff (Crossbench), patron of Foodbank Cymru
- Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town (Labour), vice chair of charity Webb Memorial Trust; Baroness Hollis (Labour), and Lord Patel (Crossbench)
- Lord Rix (Crossbench), president of the Royal Mencap Society
- Baroness Grey-Thompson (Crossbench), Paralympian
- Baroness Steadman Scott (Conservative), chief executive officer of employment charity Tomorrow's People
- Baroness Tyler of Enfield (Liberal Democrat), chief executive officer of Relate, the national relationship support charity.
Lord Feldman (Conservative), who made his maiden speech in the House of Lords; Bishop of Leicester, a former chair of the Children's Society; Baroness Hollins of Heigham (Crossbench), former president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists; Lord Morris of Hansworth (Labour), former trade unionist and chairman of Midland Heart Housing Association; and Lord Bilimoria (Crossbench), member of the New Deal Task Force (1999-2001) also took part in the debate.
Lord Low of Dalston (Crossbench); Baroness Wilkins (Crossbench); Lord German (Liberal Democrat); Baroness King of Bow (Labour); and Baroness Flather (Crossbench) also made contributions.
About the Welfare Reform Bill
The Bill provides for the introduction of a 'Universal Credit' to replace a range of existing means-tested benefits and tax credits for people of working age, starting from 2013. The Bill follows the November 2010 White Paper, 'Universal Credit: welfare that works', which set out the Coalition Government’s proposals for reforming welfare to improve work incentives, simplify the benefits system and tackle administrative complexity.
The Bill, which started in the Commons, had its first reading in the House of Lords in June.
Second reading is the first opportunity for Members of the Lords to debate the main principles and purpose of the Bill and to flag up concerns and areas where they think changes (amendments) are needed.