I'm glad to say the Labour Party voted against the Budget, against the Queen’s Speech and, contrary to misleading claims, against the Welfare Bill.
Labour put down and voted for a motion which made clear that we, ”decline to give a Second Reading to the Welfare Reform and Work Bill, because the Bill will prevent the Government from continuing … to reduce child poverty.” The Green MP and the SNP did not vote for this motion. If our motion had been passed, the Bill would have been dropped.
Labour did not vote against the whole Bill, as it contains measures we support: a commitment to three million apprenticeships, including more at higher and advanced levels; extra support for ‘troubled’ families, (a scheme that works well in Newham and that I support as part of my shadow Ministerial brief), and lower rents in social housing. In circumstances like these, where there are things in the Bill that we don’t oppose, but others with which we disagree fundamentally, a “reasoned amendment” is laid.
There are some myths abroad that it is the Welfare Bill which will slash the Working Families Tax Credits of three million working families by over £1000 per year and scrap the maintenance allowances for the poorest students. These are issues I have spoken about and against in my column. The cuts to Tax Credits and the maintenance allowance for students are not in this Bill. They were not debated this week. Those cuts will form part of other votes later this year. I will vote against them.
The clear reality is that Labour did oppose the Welfare Reform Bill. We voted for a Labour motion that would have stopped the whole Bill altogether, had enough MPs voted for it.