Clause 93 — Benefit cap

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 4:15 pm on 1st February 2012.

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Photo of Guto Bebb Guto Bebb Conservative, Aberconwy 4:15 pm, 1st February 2012

I reiterate the point that my Front Benchers have made: there are not many people in my constituency earning £35,000 a year before tax who are in receipt of housing benefit. That is the crucial difference. The average wage in my constituency is £23,000.

People say, “Are we in touch with the general public?” When I was appointed to the Bill Committee on this proposal, I held three public meetings in my constituency, and one message came through loud and clear: “Why on earth are you going to put in a cap of £26,000?” I think that the cap can be justified, because the Government are taking into account the needs of people throughout the country, not just those in my constituency and those in a low-wage economy such as Wales—a low-wage economy, dare I say it, that has suffered badly from continued Labour party rule for the past 80 years.

The big issue is that we are bringing forward a proposal. If the Opposition were serious, they would also bring forward costed proposals, but we do not have that. We have platitudes and excuses to try for tactical purposes to defend the party position. Ultimately, in this measure, we are proposing a benefits cap, trying to ensure that people see that work does pay and protecting the disabled and people who are in work, and this proposal, in the absence of anything else from the Opposition, is a proposal that we should support.