Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central, has responded to comments made by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Esther McVey, during a Scottish Parliament Social Security Committee on the issue of Conservative welfare reform policies.
At Monday’s session McVey was questioned on the Government’s Universal Credit policy, which many committee members decried for pushing thousands of families into poverty, with an inequitable burden being placed on low-earners.
Alison Johnstone, Green MSP for the Lothian region, pressed McVey on the Government’s position on the two child limit and the non-consensual sex exemption, commonly known as the rape clause. Far from showing contrition, the Secretary of State instead posited that the policy offers “double support”.
A demonstration against the two child policy – one year since its implementation – will be held on Thursday 19 April at 5.30pm, on The Mound, Edinburgh.
Commenting, Alison Thewliss MP said:
“I didn’t think the Tory government could sink any lower on this issue, but they have once again outdone themselves.
“The Secretary of State is completely out of step with how damaging the two child limit is, and she demonstrated as much with her performance at yesterday’s committee hearing.
“Charities and agencies are lining up to tell the government how reckless this policy is, that it will push 200,000 children below the poverty line, and that women claiming tax credits for a third child conceived due to rape will have to prove the point during an interview, yet no one wants to listen. This behaviour is inhumane, it is unforgivable.
“Esther McVey is simply wrong about the rape clause. No woman should be forced to relive the experience of rape simply in order to qualify for tax credits. To endorse the existing process as in some way beneficial to the claimant is simply staggering.
“The issue of rape is an incredibly sensitive one, and it is not being treated as such by this Tory government. The very fact that women’s aid organisations in Scotland are refusing to act as third-party referrers should be ringing serious alarm bells about the policy’s viability.
“Unfortunately for the government, opposition to this pernicious policy continues to grow, and I look forward to joining with charities, agencies and demonstrators at the protest on Thursday. The government has performed various U-turns in recent weeks, without doubt the two child limit and rape clause should be its next. To this end I have written to the Secretary of State to ask that she meet with me, and women’s aid groups, as a matter of urgency”.