Let’s get one thing straight: Labour has NEVER supported the Bedroom Tax

150330prolabourbedroomtax

Amazing though it may seem, people are still posting claims on the social media that Labour supported the Bedroom Tax. Labour has never done so.

The Bedroom Tax was one of the measures in the Welfare Reform Act 2012, that passed its third and final reading in the House of Commons on June 15, 2011 by a majority of 288 votes to 238 against. Labour MPs accounted for 224 of the 238 opposing votes. The Parliamentary Labour Party consisted of more than 250 MPs at the time, and the absences may be ascribed to participation in other business such as debates in Westminster Hall.

This has not stopped people from posting ‘disinfo-graphics’ such as the following, in attempts to besmirch Labour’s good name:

150330antilabourbedroomtaxThis one was on athousandflowers.net

At the Welfare Reform Bill’s third reading on June 15, 2011, Douglas Alexander, Gordon Brown, Brian Donohoe, Frank Doran, David Hamilton, Jimmy Hood, Ann McKechin, Jim Murphy, and Pamela Nash all voted against introducing Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payments and against restricting housing benefit for those in social housing deemed to have excess bedrooms

Anas Sarwar was absent. He was speaking in a Westminster Hall debate on Caring Responsibilities and was therefore unable to attend. It seems unlikely that his absence would have affected the Coalition’s 50-vote majority, but in any case it is likely that he took advantage of the practice of ‘pairing’ – coupling up with a member of the Coalition who would also be taking part in other business – in order to ensure that his absence did not materially affect the result.

(thanks to www.theyworkforyou.com and www.publicwhip.org.uk for the information).

Before anyone starts writing in to point out that the article to which this is attached refers to a different debate, let’s straighten out that little misunderstanding: It was an Opposition Day debate which Labour had no chance of winning – Coalition members were whipped to vote against the motion and opposition parties can never win against a majority government in a whipped vote. The numbers of those who voted on either side indicate that – again – other business was taking place and MPs had ‘paired’ in order not to affect the result unfairly.

That’s how things work in Parliament, in order to ensure fairness and also allow the business of the Houses to take place in a timely manner.

So let’s kill these silly accusations off once and for all.

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13 Thoughts to “Let’s get one thing straight: Labour has NEVER supported the Bedroom Tax”

  1. Gary

    Labour should publicise the ‘pairing’ procedure, people can misunderstand otherwise. This is compounded, however, by Labour politicians saying that they (personally) voted against bedroom tax etc. This is carelessness and makes the individual look like they are being deliberately untruthful. Sadly there are far too many instances where careless speeches or leaflets can be exploited to damage the individuals integrity. This should be page one, line one.

    1. Mike Sivier

      It shouldn’t be up to Labour to publicise a Parliamentary practice. That would be a matter for the civil servants.
      Labour politicians who said that they – personally – voted against the Bedroom Tax are only saying what they did. They aren’t being untruthful. If Labour as a whole voted against the BT, then Labour MPs individually must have done so.

  2. Yes,I think most people would know that however labour is very quiet on the subject of denying the disabled and the sick the benefits they deserve….lets here it Labour! ….NO MORE ASSESSMENTS FOR THE DISABLED OR ILL based on fraudulent DWP reports.

  3. It’s only vile Tory MP’s that could support such murderous policies apart from Lib Dems of course.

    1. Chris

      You are doing well to tell the difference between them.

  4. Only tells half the story unfortunately. It is true that Labour MPs (and Lords) stated vociferous arguments against the bedroom tax before it achieved Royal Assent they were notoriously slow in coming out against it publicly. In particular Stephen Timms MP knows the arguments inside and out and more than any other MP of any party.

    17 March 2013 to be exact and two weeks before it was implemented and even after UKIP had come out against it publicly. Leaving UKIP aside and rightly so, it then took until September 2013 before the Labour Party said they will abolish it and even then it took more than a year for them to fully confirm that in late 2014.

    The same Labour Party just a few weeks ago said after the Osborne budget they would continue with the rest of the Tory welfare reform (sic) policies and noticeably the benefit cap policy of the Tories will see 100 times the number of social tenants evicted as the bedroom tax ever could.

    In short, the bedroom tax abolition smacks of opportunism and vote winning while it is abundantly clear that the Labour Party does not have a clue about the far worse benefit cap policy the Tories have announced. It is more scared of being labelled pro-welfare than publicly stating the reality that the Tory benefit cap will be 100 times worse than the bedroom tax could ever be.

    So lets not raise the bunting for the Labour Party opposition to just one of the welfare reform (sic) policies just yet

    1. Mike Sivier

      If Labour MPs argue vociferously against the Bedroom Tax in the House of Commons, then they WERE coming out against it publicly. The House of Commons is a public forum; everything that goes on in the chamber is recorded, word-for-word, and published so that anybody can read it.

      You mention March 17, 2013 but don’t say why. Labour was perfectly entitled to delay saying it would abolish the tax – the job of an Opposition party is to try to reverse bad policies during the current Parliament, not wait until it gets another chance to take office.

      I doubt the accuracy of the claim that Labour will “continue with the rest of the tory welfare reform (sic) policies” – I can quote you one very public case in which they won’t: the work capability assessment. Labour has promised to overhaul this disastrous piece of work in order to make it safer for ESA and PIP claimants. Now, I’m totally opposed to the WCA in any form – it serves no useful purpose to the public while giving huge amounts of money to a private firm in return for decisions that push claimants, who are in need, off-benefit. But the vow to change it puts the lile to your claim.

      As for the Benefit Cap – you know what? I’m not against it. I think there should be a limit. I happen to think that it should be £31,500 rather than £26,000, for reasons that are obvious to anyone who’s read my articles on the subject (I can’t recall if you’ve said the same thing, although I know I found the figures somewhere else) but that doesn’t change the fact that I support it.

      Labour IS scared of being called the ‘Party of Welfare’, though. It’s odd, because it is a label that more aptly describes the Conservative Party.

  5. It doesn’t change the fact that 248 or 258 Labour MPs abstained on the second reading, labour MPs only got to vote on a third reading because the lords rejected the one that the commons originally passed.

    1. Mike Sivier

      That is not what happened. The Bill had not been seen by the Lords when MPs voted on the Third Reading.
      What happened, in fact, was that Labour tabled a motion to decline the then-Welfare Reform Bill its second reading. The motion stated:
      • “This House, whilst affirming its belief in the principle of simplifying the benefits system and good work incentives,
      • declines to give a Second Reading to the Welfare Reform Bill because the proposal of the Universal Credit as it stands creates uncertainty for thousands of people in the United Kingdom;
      • because the Bill fails to clarify what level of childcare support will be available for parents following the abolition of the tax credit system; because the Bill penalises savers who will be barred from the Universal Credit;
      • because the Bill disadvantages people suffering from cancer or mental illness due to the withdrawal of contributory Employment Support Allowance;
      • because the Bill contains no safeguards to mothers in receipt of childcare support;
      • because it proposes to withdraw the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance from people in residential care and fails to provide sufficient safeguards for future and necessary reform;
      • because it provides no safeguards for those losing Housing Benefit or appropriate checks on the Secretary of State’s powers;
      • because it fails to clarify how Council Tax Benefit will be incorporated in the Universal Credit system;
      • because it fails to determine how recipients of free school meals and beneficiaries of Social Fund loans will be treated; and
      • because the proposals act as a disincentive for the self-employed who wish to start up a business; and is strongly of the opinion that the publication of such a Bill should have been preceded by both fuller consultation and pre-legislative scrutiny of a draft Bill.”
      That motion was supported by 233 Labour MPs – every one of that party who was in the House of Commons at the time (and please don’t start quibbling about where the others were. If you haven’t read my words about ‘pairing’ by now, you should go and look it up). Along with the other opposition parties, it gained 244 votes. But the government was able to muster up 313 votes against it, so it failed.
      Because of the rest of this vote, it was clear that the vote in support of the second reading would go the government’s way and there was no point in Labour MPs hanging around for it.
      The Bill went on to its Committee Stage and Report Stage in the Commons before coming back for its Third Reading, which Labour against opposed unanimously.
      It was only after all this had taken place that the Bill moved on to the House of Lords.

  6. Jim Round

    I think you mentioned in another article about voting in line with the party whip.
    This is one of the many things wrong with the party system.
    Supposing that a Conservative MP (or any MP on any subject) went round their constituentcy gathering an opinon on a vote, and the majority surveyed went against the subject.
    If the MP then went against their constituents and voted with their party, then it just shows where their loyalties lie.

  7. Chris

    A Tory MP asking for, and taking notice of, constituents opinions? Don’t make me laugh.

  8. michael mitchell

    i am not up on all the facts about the bedroom tax but if elected will the tax be ended once and for all or just amended to suit a policy that still can charge us that are in the bottom of poverty as i have seen my friends and family lose there homes that they have lived in for years because of this vile tax so my question is yes it will not have to be paid by anyone or no only the disabled who needs a room for other means wont have to pay please all i ask is the truth once and for all

    1. Mike Sivier

      Let me put your concerns to rest.
      If Labour is elected, then a Parliamentary Bill to abolish the Bedroom Tax – for everyone – will be tabled on May 8.

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