Benefits Cap

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 22nd February 2012.

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Photo of Mark Menzies Mark Menzies 11:30 am, 22nd February 2012

What meetings Ministers in his Department have had with Ministers in the Department for Works and Pensions to discuss the effect on Scotland of the proposed benefits cap.

Photo of Mike Freer Mike Freer

What meetings Ministers in his Department have had with Ministers in the Department for Work and Pensions to discuss the effect on Scotland of the proposed benefits cap.

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

Mr Speaker, you will be aware that the Chairman of the Work and Pensions Committee, Dame Anne Begg, who is a regular attendee at Scotland questions, has suffered a fall. I am sure that we all wish her well in her recovery.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and I are in contact with Ministers in the Department for Work and Pensions on a range of issues concerning welfare reform.

Photo of Mark Menzies Mark Menzies

Is it not clear that if the nationalist Government in Scotland had control of welfare policy, there would be no benefits cap in Scotland, despite widespread public support for it?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

What is clear is that the Scottish National party is making a proposition for independence without explaining to people how benefits at current levels would be paid in future, or where the money would come from.

Photo of Mike Freer Mike Freer

With the average income in Scotland being 419 a week, does the Minister not agree that a benefit cap of 500 a week is a reasonable and sensible level?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

I do agree that that is a reasonable and fair measure, and constituents in constituencies such as mine cannot understand how the Labour party and the nationalists can promote the idea that the benefit cap should be higher than 35,000.

Photo of Sheila Gilmore Sheila Gilmore

Is not the truth about the benefit cap, however, that if such a household on 419 a week, as cited by the previous questioner, had six children—like some of my constituents do—who had to be cared for, they would also receive child benefit, and that therefore the comparison that has been made is not fair? What is going to happen when the discretionary housing payments to a council—that is the only answer from the Government—run out?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

The hon. Lady should listen to her hon. Friend Rachel Reeves, when she says that if Labour is to be taken seriously on any issue it has to

“pass the test of fiscal credibility.”

On this issue, that is a very relevant point.

Photo of John Robertson John Robertson

The right hon. Gentleman will not be aware that I have the highest percentage of single women in any constituency in the country. What is he doing to help those women—[ Interruption. ] This is not a joke. This is a serious point, and Government Members can laugh all they like, but there are single women in this country who are struggling. What is his party going to do to help them?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

What this Government are doing is tidying up the mess that the hon. Gentleman’s Government left, which has placed single women and many other people in a perilous financial position.