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Benefit Entitlement (Restriction) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:46 pm on 5th February 2016.

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Photo of Debbie Abrahams Debbie Abrahams Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions) 1:46 pm, 5th February 2016

May I associate myself with the remarks that have been made about my former colleague, the hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough, Harry Harpham? I did not know him well, but at the engagements we did have, he was an absolutely delightful man. I pass my condolences to his family. He will be missed.

I congratulate Mr Chope. I believe this is the third time he and his supporters have managed to get the Bill, in its various forms, read on the Floor of the House. He will have to give me his secret, because I have had no success with private Members’ Bills. I think we can say it is congratulations to the tenacious sextet—not Tenacious D, but Tenacious S.

On more serious matters, the hon. Gentleman alluded to the fact that his timing with the Bill was perhaps a little surprising, given the state of the EU negotiations and the draft settlement that has been produced. I appreciate that the negotiations are tentative and that there are varying interpretations of how successful the Government are being, but hon. Members surely want to wait until the final settlement is known. After all, Mr Tusk has hardly digested the apple crumble and custard he had courtesy of No. 10.

The hon. Gentleman has not yet produced an impact assessment of the Bill’s potential effects, which he also failed to do on the previous occasions. I am deeply concerned about the apparent lack of an evidence base to support the measures in the Bill. We must all strive for better, evidence-based policy.