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Welfare Reform and Work Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:48 pm on 20th July 2015.

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Photo of Sammy Wilson Sammy Wilson Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Treasury), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Work and Pensions), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Education) 7:48 pm, 20th July 2015

No, I will not give way.

The one thing I do know is that the people who will complain most about this measure in Northern Ireland—Sinn Féin—are not even here to defend the vulnerable, whom they will claim they wish to protect.

Government Members have talked about the measurement and recording of child poverty. I would have thought—indeed, the DWP review indicated—that the most important source of short-term child poverty, and of the length of time people are in such poverty, is the level of income. It stands to reason: you don’t have to be a genius to know that if you don’t have money, you’re poor. If you want to lift people out of poverty, what do you do? You ensure that they get more money. If we remove that as a measure, we ignore the most fundamental aspect of what causes poverty and what puts children in poverty. Yes, in the longer run, as the review says, educational qualifications, family stability and so on are important, but in the long run, as Keynes said, we are all dead. If we want to deal with the problem now, we cannot ignore the level of income.

Members from all parts of the House should be concerned about the way in which the Bill divides the cap into two. But that is not the end of the matter, because the Bill makes it clear that the Secretary of State can review the caps at any time. All he or she has to consider is “the national economic situation” and

“any other matters that the Secretary of State considers relevant”.

Then the Government can introduce changes by regulation.