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Welfare Reform and Work Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:03 pm on 20th July 2015.

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Photo of Helen Goodman Helen Goodman Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions) 8:03 pm, 20th July 2015

It is a pleasure to follow Richard Graham. Unfortunately, the £640 million that is being saved on ESA is not going to go to work-related activities; it is going to go to the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

In the last Parliament, I had the privilege, along with my right hon. Friend Stephen Timms, who made a characteristically excellent speech, to take the Child Poverty Act 2010 through, and we had all-party support at that time. It is therefore very disappointing that this Government are abandoning that Act and even the aspiration to end child poverty. Furthermore, it is ridiculous of them to attempt to airbrush the whole concept from the statute book.

I do not believe this Government have a mandate for the changes they are making in this Bill. Throughout the election campaign the Tories refused to say how they were going to save £12 billion from the welfare bill, because they knew that the measures would be unpopular and it would hit them in the ballot box. Indeed, the Prime Minister went on national television to say that he would not be cutting tax credits. In any case, the truth of the matter is that 9 million people did not Tory on 7 May. The most obnoxious part of the Bill is the proposal to cut tax credit support for families with more than two children. When we were in government, Labour had a principle that Every Child Matters, and I believe that was the right principle.