PM’S response on rape clause “reprehensible” says SNP MP

SNP MP for Glasgow Central, Alison Thewliss, has criticised the Prime Minister’s response on the rape clause during Wednesday’s offering of PMQs.

Ian Blackford, SNP Leader at Westminster, had asked Theresa May whether she agreed with her colleague Esther McVey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, that the rape clause offered women “double support”. The Prime Minister advanced that the UK Government has taken care to ensure the issue is dealt with sensitively, with Blackford countering that the clause is a disgrace.

The rape clause, or non-consensual sex exemption, has been in place for over a year, and forms part of the government’s wider policy to restrict Tax Credits and Universal Credit (child element) claims to the first two children in a family.

Earlier this week, McVey defended the government’s record on welfare reform during an evidence hearing of the Social Security Committee at Holyrood.

Commenting, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“It really is repugnant to see the Prime Minister leaping to the Secretary of State’s defence on the issue of the rape clause.

“Earlier this week Esther McVey described this vile policy as “extra help”, “an opportunity to talk” and “double support”. It is none of these things. By supporting it, the Prime Minister and her government are complicit in putting vulnerable women in harm’s way.

“Experts in violence against women recognise that forced disclosure of abuse brings a significant risk of reliving that trauma. This should always be at a time of a woman’s choosing, not at the point where she has to make a choice about putting food on the table to feed her children.

“Any defence of the two child limit and rape clause is truly reprehensible. The entire policy is ill-judged, cruel, and has nothing to do with supporting women. It must be scrapped.

“I hope the Secretary of State will reflect on her words, and respond to my request for an urgent meeting without delay”.

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