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Thursday, 26 April, 2001, 16:11 GMT 17:11 UK
Oh baby, what could you do with 500?
James Lander
Babies like James Lander would be given up to 500 at birth
Prime Minister Tony Blair has promised to give all new-born babies up to 500.

Mr Blair promised he would introduce the new Child Trust Fund, paid in installments, if he gets re-elected.

In addition to the payments at birth, poorest children would have top-ups of 100 on their fifth, 11th and 16th birthdays - better off children will get half that amount.

The money would then be invested in their futures

BBC News Online investigates.

Baby James Lander is only six months old, but under a new government scheme he could already be between 250-500 better off.

And if his money was invested properly on the stock market, he could have thousands in his pocket by the time he reached 18.

It would make me feel more financially secure if James had been able to get this

New mum Lucy Lander

Enough to part-fund his university studies, put a deposit on his first flat or even set up his own business.

Sadly for baby James and full-time mum Lucy, he is already too old to benefit from the new scheme, which will only benefit future new-born babies.

But Ms Lander, from London, said she would back any scheme that would enable new mums like her to feel a little more secure about their children's financial future.

Future security

She said: "It is a good idea. People are not always going to have enough money to pay for things like that for their children.

"It would make me feel more financially secure if James had been able to get this.

"He could have used the cash for his education, although it probably wouldn't be enough to pay for much in 18 years time.

Lucy Lander
Lucy Lander thought baby bonds would aid financial security

"It would make parents like me feel a bit better.

"If we could give them this sort of money then we would, but even a little bit of money like this builds into something to look forward to."

Linda Alexander, of Perivale, London, agreed that a cash bonus would help build a better future for son Luke, who is just four months old.

The clothes stock buyer said: "I think it is a really good idea I don't think there is enough being done for child care.

"Money like this would have helped me."

Paltry offering

Big Issue seller Christopher McInerney, of New Cross, London, was sceptical about the benefits of the scheme.

As a low income earner any of his children would get the maximum benefit from the scheme.

But he said that although the investment might be seen as generous today it would look like a paltry offering in 18 years time.

"The average earnings will probably be 1,000 by then, so this amount of money would not go far.

Christopher McInerney
Christopher McInerney was sceptical about the benefits of baby bonds

"Tony Blair is just dodging things doing this. He is just paying for one thing using the money from another.

"The only good thing Blair has going for him is his smile".

Myrna Burger, a retired secretarial worker from West Ealing, London, said she feared the offer was just electioneering.

"I can't see the point of it, will it ever come off? So much of what he says never comes to fruition.

"It is just electioneering, at any other point of the year this would not have emerged."

Retired environmental health officer Leslie Palmer, from Sunbury, Middlesex, said he thought the scheme was too vague to succeed.

"It does seem rather a long-term thing.

"I do think it is a genuine scheme, but I would have rather seen the money going into something that would serve the whole community, something like the education system or the NHS."

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