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Tax Credits

Part of Opposition Day — [7th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 6:18 pm on 20th October 2015.

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Photo of Wes Streeting Wes Streeting Labour, Ilford North 6:18 pm, 20th October 2015

I rise to speak on behalf of the 12,800 working families and the 26,000 children across Ilford who will be affected by these cuts, and I issue the following challenge to Conservative Members. This evening’s vote is crucial for a simple reason: their Whips are busy in the other place telling peers they are railing against the democratic will of this House of Commons, but when we listen to the fantastic and courageous speech of Heidi Allen and see the nods of many of her colleagues, we know that the majority of Members in this House do not support these changes. Peers are absolutely within their rights to put a stop to them in the House of Lords, and we expect nothing less. What a terrible indictment it is on this Chamber that it is the unelected House that is standing up for the interests of ordinary working families up and down this country! What happened to the party of the workers? What happened to the Tories’ failed modernisation project? It is already dead in the water. This is a Prime Minister who speaks from the centre but is a prisoner of the right.

When we have a grand coalition ranging from The Sun newspaper to my good friend the cycling socialist Owen Jones telling us that this is a work penalty that will hit the people who work hard, who get up early and who strive to earn every penny they can, we know there is a problem. This is not a benefit; it is a well-targeted tax rebate. It works better than what the Government are doing with the tax threshold, because that benefits the wealthiest. Tax credits target support effectively to the people who are doing exactly what we ask them to do: they are willing to work hard for low pay and they play by the rules. The least we can do is support them.

This is a terrible measure. It is a shameful measure, and Conservative Members know it. I ask them to show the courage that Heidi Allen showed, not only on the Floor of the House but in the voting Lobby this evening, because it is crucial that Members of the unelected House know that they have a majority of elected Members on their side and on the side of low-paid working people in Britain.