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Tax Credits

Part of Opposition Day — [7th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 4:46 pm on 20th October 2015.

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Photo of Mhairi Black Mhairi Black Scottish National Party, Paisley and Renfrewshire South 4:46 pm, 20th October 2015

I completely agree with my hon. Friend.

The House of Commons Library also tells us that the proposed changes will deliver savings of £4.4 billion in 2016-17, but that means that the Government will be taking £4.4 billion out of the pockets of the poorest people in this country. If people qualify for tax credits in the first place, it is clear that their wages are considered inadequate to live on. Given that we can cite credible evidence that the new minimum wage will not compensate for the loss of income created by the cuts, we can conclude only that they exist purely for ideological purposes and to continue the madness of austerity. As was pointed out earlier, we know that when the average person has money in their pockets they spend it. By taking £4.4 billion out of their pockets, we are taking money out of local economies, further tightening the economy and increasing the pressure placed on ordinary people.

The third and final point that leads me to believe that the Government should abandon these tax credit cuts is the two child policy. Are we really saying that people should count themselves lucky if they qualify for tax credits only for their first two children? In Scotland, 54% of families have only one child and poorer families are no different, so this aspect of the policy serves only to perpetuate the myth and the stereotype that the poorest in society have lots of children that they cannot afford. Not only that, but are we really making the disgraceful proposal to our citizens that, as our Government are so compassionate, we might consider helping them if they have a third child so long as they have been raped? Is that where we are now setting the bar for providing decent opportunities for our children—only if they are the product of rape? Forget the fact that that is a moral outrage from the get go; it is also completely unsustainable. How does someone qualify? Does there have to be a conviction for rape? Or could there just be a claim? This is completely unrealistic. What further damage will it do to women who have suffered a heinous sexual attack if we make them have to relive that attack by giving evidence to ministerial bodies?

Fundamentally, this is an ill-thought-out, illogical and harmful proposal. Even the Adam Smith Institute has just this afternoon called on the Government to remove these proposals. I am therefore proud to say that I will support the motion tonight and that the Government should abandon their current course of action immediately.

Several hon. Members rose