The Government Welfare Bill
The Government Welfare Bill
The current welfare bill stemming, from the announcements in the recent Osborne budget, has stirred up a lot of reaction from both opponents and supporters. The decision by the acting leader of the Labour Party not to oppose all of the measures has also given rise to much criticism. I was not able to be at Westminster to register my opposition to the proposals as I was having to undergo a surgical operation. During this time I was paired with a Conservative MP thus ensuring that my absence did not compromise any vote being taken.
When I was considering how to set out my views on the proposed measures, I came across the blog written by my colleague Andrew Gwynne, the Labour MP for Denton and Reddish.
He has entirely summarised the perspective I share about the measures and how they should be challenged. I would greatly like to share these with you and the text that follows is taken from Andrew’s own web site - with minor changes - which you can visit by Clicking Here.
Firstly, let’s debunk a media myth: last night (July 20th 2015), the Parliamentary Labour Party, as a bloc, in its entirety, united, voted against the Welfare Reform and Work Bill.
Certainly, how we got to that point probably would not have been my way of doing it, if I am being totally honest, but the facts are facts: We voted against the Bill.
Labour tabled a ‘Reasoned Amendment’ to the Bill. These are Parliamentary devices which allow you to set out (the clue is in the name) the reasons why you are opposing the entire Bill, even when there are things in it that you support.
It was necessary because the Tories have, perhaps craftily, lumped a load of stuff we don’t like, with a load of stuff they’d love us to vote against – that we most certainly are not opposed to.
Firstly, what is in the Bill that we do like?
Well there’s a commitment to three million apprenticeships, including more at a higher and advanced-level; then there are measures to cut council and social housing rents and then there’s extra support for ‘troubled’ families – a scheme that has been proven to work and has saved the public purse millions (as well as transformed the lives of many people who’ve been engaged in this work).
But then there are the measures like the abolition of child poverty targets and cuts to support for the sick and disabled who are not fit for work – this includes people who have cancer or Parkinson’s disease – which we most certainly do oppose. Indeed I spoke out on this issue in the debate yesterday.
And then there’s a few myths about what some people think is in the Bill that aren’t: tax credits.
Let’s be clear, we will vote against the tax credit cuts which will make 3 million low and middle income working families worse off. These measures are not in the Welfare Reform and Work Bill – they will be in Statutory Instruments in the autumn, and Labour will oppose them.
So last night all Labour MPs voted against the Welfare Reform and Work Bill on a Reasoned Amendment. Some colleagues also voted against the entirety of the Bill. I could not do that because this Bill is so finely balanced with things I do want to see happen.
So what happens next? This is where we get to vote on all the things we don’t like in the Bill…
Labour has tabled detailed amendments on the substance of the Bill at Committee and Report Stage.
We will force individual votes on our amendments, so it’s clear what we do and don’t support, without the Tory Party or their media friends trying to paint us as being one thing or another.
And if none of our amendments succeed? Then we still have an opportunity to vote against the Bill at Third Reading.