Department for Work and Pensions

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:40 pm on 2nd July 2019.

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Photo of Debbie Abrahams Debbie Abrahams Labour, Oldham East and Saddleworth 2:40 pm, 2nd July 2019

I congratulate my hon. Friend Alison McGovern on her absolutely excellent speech. She set out what social security should be about. It is about the type of society that we want. The key thrust of her message was to ask whether it is acceptable that so many children are living in poverty—one in four currently grow up in poverty, and one in five are in persistent poverty—when we are the fifth richest country in the world. Is this the sort of society we want them to grow up in, when, despite being the fifth richest country in the world, we also have the highest child mortality in western Europe?

We know the causal relationship between poverty and early childhood death. Is this acceptable? To my mind, it is not, and I am sure that many people across the Chamber agree with me. That is why I asked Trudy Harrison for her evidence. We have to look at the evidence. There will also be issues with addiction, but are we seriously saying that all poverty issues relate to addiction? There is no evidence to support that. I shall get back to the point of whether this poverty is acceptable. If it is not, we need to look at mechanisms that will ensure that in the civilised society that we aspire to lead we have the policy measures to ensure that this does not happen.