Savings Accounts and Health in Pregnancy Grant Bill

Part of Parliament (Amendment) – in the House of Commons at 8:23 pm on 26th October 2010.

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Photo of Alex Cunningham Alex Cunningham Labour, Stockton North 8:23 pm, 26th October 2010

Despite what we have heard from those on the Government Benches tonight, it is still very clear that with today's Bill, the coalition will deliver yet another blow to hard-working families and the most vulnerable.

The Prime Minister said he wanted this Government to be

"the most family friendly Government we've ever had in this country".

So, I want to know why the coalition is again hitting families with children the hardest. That is not my analysis or the analysis of my colleagues on the shadow Front Bench, but the conclusion of the Institute for Fiscal Studies. The Deputy Prime Minister spent last week attacking that much respected think-tank for daring to tell the truth about the coalition's damaging cuts, describing its methods of measuring the fairness of the controversial spending review as

"distorted and a complete nonsense"- but that is what is nonsense. The Deputy Prime Minister argued that the rich will pay the most as a result of the spending review and that anyone who argues otherwise is "frightening people".

Perhaps I could refer the Deputy Prime Minister and other Ministers not to the latest IFS report but to the Christian Bible and the story of the widow's mite. It will be familiar to many, and tells the story of a widow quietly giving her last mite to the temple while a rich man makes a great show of handing over a considerable sum, but a sum that is insignificant as part of his overall wealth. It seems that the poor in our country need to give their all and stay quiet, too.

Although the rich of this country might pay more both in terms of actual cash and as a percentage of their overall income than those on the lowest incomes, their pain will be negligible in comparison with that of a family in my constituency who might lose £10 or £20 a week, which could be the difference between feeding themselves properly and missing meals. I doubt that they will be quiet, like that widow, when they have nothing left and still have mouths to fill.

Hard-working families in my constituency do not need Labour MPs or the Institute for Fiscal Studies to frighten them; they can see for themselves the damage that the coalition Government are doing. They remember how Teesside suffered under the last Tory Government and they are frightened that the Government are cutting harder and faster than we have ever seen.

Others have highlighted these points. We have heard about the cuts to child benefit, cuts to housing benefit, the scrapping of the education maintenance allowance, and the cut to the child care element of working tax credit that equates to a loss of up to £1,560 per year for families who are already struggling with the burden of extortionate child care costs.