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Universal Credit

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:22 pm on 17th October 2018.

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Photo of Stephen Kerr Stephen Kerr Conservative, Stirling 4:22 pm, 17th October 2018

It is a pleasure to follow Mr Dhesi. This has been in large measure a very thoughtful debate. I enjoyed, and would wish to be associated with, the remarks of my hon. Friends the Members for South Cambridgeshire (Heidi Allen) and for Amber Valley (Nigel Mills), and Stephen Timms who made a particularly thoughtful and positive contribution, and my hon. Friend Paul Masterton. However, a number of speeches have, frankly, just been scaremongering, and the last thing the most vulnerable people in our society need is scaremongering from their elected representatives.

We have responsibilities, and I feel the first responsibility I have as Member of Parliament for Stirling when people come, as they do, to my surgeries because of issues to do with UC is provide them with reassurance. I want to thank publicly in this Chamber my caseworkers Rachel Nunn and Martin Earl, who do a fabulous job at giving that reassurance. I also want to pay tribute to them for the work they do in conjunction with Stirling District Citizens Advice, which has created and published a very useful plain English guide to benefits in general, but specifically UC. I also pay tribute to Start Up Stirling, our local food bank, which does amazingly good work, and Stirling Council housing, Forth Housing Association and Stirling Rural Housing Association. There are many other agencies as well, such as Stirling District Women’s Aid. We have tried in Stirling to create a circle of concern for people who are vulnerable and need help, and it works.

Just a few weeks ago it was my great pleasure to welcome the Secretary of State to Stirling, and I wish to confirm, by my own witness, what has been said by others, which is that this ministerial team listens to the concerns of people. They are authentic, genuine and responsive, and I pay particular tribute to the Secretary of State. Because of her leadership, things are changing and improving, and I give credit where it is due.

Those of us on the Government Benches make no apology for committing ourselves to the principle that work should be at the heart of our benefit system. The way we will reduce and eradicate poverty is through the principle of work, and the way we will lead productive lives is by being able to direct ourselves towards productive work. As Conservatives, we make no apology for that principle. To think that it would be in any way moral to leave people trapped and dependent on a benefit system that provides disincentives for them to work is completely wrong, and I am grateful to be a proponent of universal credit.