Clause 24 — Universal credit: costs of claimants who rent accommodation

Part of Scotland Bill – in the House of Commons at 3:00 pm on 30th June 2015.

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Photo of John Redwood John Redwood Conservative, Wokingham 3:00 pm, 30th June 2015

I am not prepared to go that far. I think that there can be problems in the euro currency zone between Germany and the Netherlands, because they do not have the full range of common policies that they may need. At present, it appears that the Dutch and German economies are sufficiently synchronised for the arrangement not to cause problems in the Netherlands, but that is clearly not true of Portugal, Spain, Ireland or Greece. The fact that there are more countries that it does not fit than countries that it does fit implies that there is something wrong with the fundamental architecture of the euro. That is why I am anxious for us to bear it in mind, when we are debating the issue of how much welfare discretion there should be, that a common welfare system is normally one of the characteristics of successful currency unions.

Yes, I do believe in redistribution. We all believe in redistribution. We believe that, in a civilised country such as ours, we should tax the rich more and give money to those who need support. We have arguments about how much the amounts should be and about the conditions, but we all believe in transfers, and we all believe that the balance must be right.

When I asked the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan to say how much more an enlightened Scottish Government would like to give, by means of welfare payments, to tackle immediate problems of low income or poverty, she was not able to tell me. That was a pity, because I took it that her intention, and the purpose of the amendments, was to give the Scottish Executive power to increase benefit levels in comparison with the levels, or the range, of benefits currently on offer in the Union. I did not think that SNP Members were seeking these powers in order to be meaner than the Union Government are proposing to be, and I see them consenting to that. I feel that this debate would be richer and fuller if they shared with us the amount of extra money that they would like to spend.