Department for Work and Pensions

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:05 pm on 2nd July 2019.

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Photo of Simon Clarke Simon Clarke Conservative, Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland 3:05 pm, 2nd July 2019

Child benefit is, obviously, a sensitive issue, but the point is that a family not in the welfare system, perhaps just above the entitlement level for welfare support, has to make rational choices in their life. All families have to make rational choices in their life about the size of the family they can afford and the choices they want to make. Lots of people find it wrong that the system would allow people to have any number of children, whereas those people not in the system have to make budgetary choices. That is not a principle I am uncomfortable defending.

Let us go to the wider point, as we need to go back to first principles on this. I do not doubt the sincere differences we have and Labour Members’ concerns, but they have to justify the fact that under their Government 1.4 million people spent most of 2000 to 2010 trapped on out-of-work benefits, with some receiving more than the average wage. Some 50,000 households were allowed to claim benefits worth more than £26,000 a year. I represent a low-wage constituency in the north of England and I simply cannot justify a situation whereby the logical thing was for people to stay earning that amount of benefits rather than to be in work. That has profound and adverse social consequences.