Mr Speaker, I will of course endeavour to get through what I have to say in the protected time I have been given.
I very much thank the Labour party for using some of its Opposition day time today to bring universal credit back to the House. We will support the motion this afternoon. However, for maximum pressure to be exerted on the Chancellor ahead of the Budget, we are calling on Labour and on Tory Back-Bench MPs to work with us to make the case for the investment in universal credit that is desperately needed to make it work. The papers called for in the motion are required to be published fully to inform the political and civic debate that is being had in the country ahead of the Budget. We know what the expert groups are telling us. I imagine they are telling UK Ministers, too, so to what extent are they being listened to?
In some ways, we have the wrong Minister sitting on the Treasury Bench this afternoon. The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has suggested that she has already made the case to the Chancellor for further investment in universal credit. We do not know how much she has asked for and for what purpose she wants those cuts reversed, but that is now for the Chancellor. Universal credit is already causing misery to millions. The Chancellor should be here to hear that, not just the Secretary of State.
There has been much rumour over recent days about what the UK Government’s plan for universal credit is, with some reports suggesting a delay to the roll-out until 2023. The Minister for Employment said yesterday that he does not comment on rumour, but when I asked him to circumvent that rumour by detailing the plans in the House, he came back with the same “flat-earth rhetoric” that was described by the BBC’s Michael Buchanan as his experience of talking to UK Ministers about universal credit.