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Welfare Reform and Work Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:17 pm on 20th July 2015.

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Photo of Simon Hoare Simon Hoare Conservative, North Dorset 9:17 pm, 20th July 2015

When viewed alongside the recent Budget, this important Bill shows a clear determination among Conservative Members and the Government to recalibrate Britain and our society in a way that is to be welcomed for the reasons that many of my right hon. and hon. Friends have given.

I support the Bill wholeheartedly, but many Members will be looking for further detail and clarity as it progresses. In particular, I draw Ministers’ attention to carers and the need to ensure that local authorities have enough money to deliver the troubled families programme, which I welcome. Additional thinking also needs to be given to the condition regarding a woman having to prove rape. That is an enormously sensitive issue on which further work and clarity are needed.

Government Members have sat and listened to this debate in amazement. In the speeches of Opposition Members, Ministers have resembled the four horsemen of the apocalypse, riding through the town, with the firstborn having to be sold and vital organs having to be cut out to pay the bills. It has been a debate riven by ideology; not the ideology of the Government, who have approached the Bill as a pragmatic and one nation Government, but the ideology of the left—both the separatists and the Labour party—which believes that welfare is and should be a lifestyle choice. I do not know which planet some Opposition Members are living on if they do not believe that certain people in society have made a choice. Under the system that has been allowed to emerge under Governments of both colours, welfare has ceased to be a safety net and has become a way of life. Let us return to the welfare system that Beveridge envisaged: a helping hand up, and a safety net below which no fellow citizen should fall.

Some may want to wade through vomit, like John McDonnell, but I suggest that the hon. Gentleman is wading through the primeval swamp, for the Labour party is clearly in disarray. No Labour leadership contender was prepared to put his or her name to either the Opposition or the rebel reasoned amendment.

I listened with great attention to the Scottish nationalists this afternoon. I listened with great attention because, according to the press, they can no longer say their Rs. Well, they could certainly say their Rs today, but I am afraid that, when it comes to welfare reform and economic management, they do not know their Rs from their elbow.

The Bill will reward work, incentivise our fellow citizens, and, most importantly, deliver fairness to hard-working families and the taxpayers who have to pay the bill at the end of the day. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has worked hard on this Bill, and it deserves the full support of the House.