David Cameron is making himself look increasingly stupid over his pig-headed (and This Writer uses the expression advisedly) determination to create a Tory dictatorship in the UK.
When he is already making himself look increasingly stupid over his silly pose against immigration from other EU countries, his assault on the Lords is very poorly-timed.
Note that the spokesman for rebelling Conservatives is David Davis, who stood against Cameron as a candidate to be leader of the Conservatives in 2005. Davis self-confesses as a very strong supporter of civil liberties, in stark contrast to Cameron’s approach – which is to shut them down at every opportunity.
Perhaps Mr Davis is preparing for another leadership campaign. He’s a member of the Tory right-wing, which means he’s no more desirable than any of the others – but the man who won the most votes in the first round of the last leadership race could certainly complicate the careers of pretenders like Osborne and Johnson.
David Cameron is facing a Conservative rebellion over moves to curb the power of the House of Lords.
Under proposals by the former Tory Cabinet minister Lord Strathclyde, new regulations would be passed to ensure MPs had the “final say” over secondary legislation. The issue came to a head in October, when peers blocked Chancellor George Osborne’s plans to cut spending on tax credits by £4.4bn. In response, Mr Cameron appointed Lord Strathclyde to review the powers of the Upper Chamber.
David Davis, the former minister, told the New Statesman that “at least a dozen” Tory MPs would oppose ending the veto. Downing Street said it would respond in the new year.
The Leader of the Lords, Baroness Stowell of Beeston, described its recommendations as “thoughtful and measured”. But Baroness Smith of Basildon, Labour’s leader in the Lords, argued: “All this paints a very unattractive picture of a Prime Minister and a government that will not tolerate challenge, that loathes scrutiny and fears questioning.”
Under the proposals, peers would be able to “invite the Commons to think again” over secondary legislation, changes implemented outside an Act of Parliament. But the Lords could then be overruled by a vote in the Commons.
Never mind that the Lords were right to block the stupid and unnecessary Tory cuts to tax credits – they dared to defy David Cameron and George Osborne, so they must pay the price, it seems.
So a review of the Lords’ powers is to say peers should lose their absolute veto over secondary legislation like statutory instruments.
You’ll note that we already know what the “review” will say. Clearly it is not an impartial review of the Lords’ powers and the reasons for having them; the word “review” is in fact a euphemism for a dictat from Cameron.
It should be blocked; it represents another step towards the ‘One-Party Nation’ that the Tories want to create, in which every slightest whim that passes through their tiny brains is inflicted on the public full-force.
The question is, in the land of Apathy, can anybody be bothered to stand up to these monsters?
David Cameron is preparing to use the full force of the law to clip the wings of the House of Lords after it blocked his welfare cuts, the BBC has learned.
A review will say peers should lose their absolute veto over detailed laws known as secondary legislation.
Peers will instead be offered a new power to send these laws back to the Commons, forcing MPs to vote again – but will only be able to do this once.
Cameron on the run: The only hunt that the public is likely to support.
UPDATE: David Cameron has withdrawn the planned vote on fox hunting from tomorrow’s (Wednesday) Parliamentary schedule. So much for it being a ‘free’ vote – if he can’t win, he’s not going to let it happen. In fact, his tactic deserves further scrutiny so expect another article shortly.
The Scottish National Party will vote against a bid to relax the fox hunting ban in England and Wales, according to their Westminster leader, Angus Robertson.
David Cameron has been hoping that his announcement of changes, to bring the law in England and Wales in line with that in Scotland, would make it impossible for the SNP’s 56 MPs to oppose them in a debate and free vote tomorrow (Wednesday).
But the Scottish Nationalists, currently in charge of the Scottish Parliament, said they are considering a review of the existing ban north of the border, amid concerns that it is not strong enough.
In that context, Mr Robertson said, it would be in Scotland’s interest for the existing ban in England and Wales to be maintained.
The current version of the proposals, contained in a Statutory Instrument, would relax the law to allow foxes to be hunted by packs of dogs in England and Wales to protect livestock, game birds and wild birds, while “having regard to the terrain” and provided it is “carried out as efficiently as possible”.
Supporters have claimed it would also allow the removal of diseased or wounded foxes – an assertion that provoked anti-hunt supporter Dr Brian May to denounce them as “lying bastards” on the BBC’s Newsnight programme last week.
Mr Robertson said: “The Tory government are refusing to agree to any amendments to improve the Scotland Bill – and imposing English Votes for English Laws to make Scotland’s representation at Westminster second class.
“In these circumstances, it is right and proper that we assert the Scottish interest on fox hunting by voting with Labour against the Tories’ proposals to relax the ban – in the process, reminding an arrogant UK government of just how slender their majority is.”
This is the kind of opposition to the Conservative Government that we need to see.
If the SNP continues in this manner throughout the remainder of the current Parliament, then many of its critics (including This Writer) will be forced to revise their opinion.
A group of (we suspect) Conservative-supporting, Countryside Alliance-supporting ‘pest controllers’. These have already donned their red-and-white ‘pest control’ overalls and mounted their ‘pest control’ vehicles. They are preparing to deploy their ‘pest control’ apparatus – otherwise known as releasing the hounds.
Isn’t it interesting, how legislators can always quote ‘legitimate concerns’ of interested parties when they want to stop something – or (in this case) bring it back?
Here in Mid Wales, the county council used to clamp down hard on outdoor musical events, claiming that members had received “a complaint”.
Now the Conservative Government is to hold a vote on a Statutory Instrument (not primary legislation) that would bring back fox hunting, using a backdoor route that would put England and Wales “in line” with Scotland. The pretext? “Responding to the legitimate concerns” of hill farmers.
Would these hill farmers be Conservative voters? Perhaps even Tory MPs?
It’s interesting that this attempt to bypass the Hunting Act – by bringing it in line with the law in Scotland – puts the SNP in a difficult position once again.
Remember when ScotsNat supporters bombarded This Blog with outrage at the suggestion that their MPs should vote on the proposed repeal of the Hunting Act, back in May? Their attitude was that they had a hunting ban in Scotland and the SNP had principles which mean they should not vote on “English-only” matters (never mind that the “English-only” act also affects people in Wales. Wales doesn’t count, apparently).
It turns out the Scottish hunting ban is less effective – and therefore more barbaric – than the ban in England (and Wales); whereas, south of the border, foxes may be flushed out and killed for “pest control” reasons using a maximum of two dogs, there is no limit on the number of dogs that can be used in Scotland. For “pest control” purposes, foxes may be hunted by packs of dogs.
What is the SNP going to do about this? It brings the law south of the border in line with their own. The best we can expect from them is an abstention, allowing the de facto return of the barbaric blood sport that has been banned for the last decade.
Perhaps they should have strengthened their own hunting ban, rather than whining about having to vote on everybody else’s.
What’s the betting that, if the vote is passed, huge organisations of “pest controllers” will meet every Sunday, dolled up in red coats, to send their equally huge packs of dogs out “pest controlling” all over the countryside?
This Writer reckons it’s a certainty.
The Countryside Alliance has supported the proposal (quelle surprise): “These amendments will bring the law in to line with Scotland and ensure that farmers are able to choose how to manage the fox population in the most effective and humane manner,” said Tim Bonner, its head of campaigns.
Here’s comedian Robin Ince’s response to that attitude:
And celebrity wildlife protector Brian May stated, on his website: “If this SI measure is to be used to bring back legalised abuse of foxes, it means the Government have decided that the goodwill of the Countryside Alliance is more important to them than the will of the British Public.
“Historically, Statutory Instruments have only been used to make a minor modification to a law in a non-controversial way. The idea that this device could be used to circumvent the will of the majority of the English people is actually an outrage, and will be viewed by all decent folks as disgraceful conduct by any government, and an abuse of Parliamentary procedures.”
Fox hunting is fox hunting, no matter what label you attach to it. This is just a filthy little underhanded trick to neutralise the SNP.
Candidates in the general election will have 23 per cent more money to spend after the Tories slipped the increase through without debate. This only applies if any candidates other than Tories actually have that much money, of course.
The Observer has reported that, under the new limits, the total amount the candidates of each political party can spend has increased from £26.5m to £32.7m.
In March, the Electoral Commission recommended there should be no such increase in spending limits for candidates over the so-called “long campaign” period between December 19 and general election day on May 7.
The change to the law on candidates’ election spending, passed without parliamentary debate, was made despite a direct warning by the commission against “excessive spending” in order to “prevent the perception of undue influence over the outcome of the election”.
Ministers changed the law through a statutory instrument, the terms of which were not debated in the Commons, which is used more properly for consensual changes in the law. A Labour source said the move had not been spotted by them at the time, so they missed the chance to force a vote in the Commons.
It’s too late for that now.
We know the Conservatives have much more moolah than any of the other parties – let’s face it, they have spent all of their period in office changing the law to make it possible for the extremely rich and big businesses to donate increasingly ludicrous amounts to Tory Party funds, and this is the reason.
For example: In the past four years, 27 per cent of the £78,010,807 the Tories have raised – £21,072,508 – has come from hedge fund donors. George Osborne’s 2013 budget abolished stamp duty reserve tax on funds, a £145m giveaway to those very same hedge funds. That’s just one example.
The Observer states: “With the Tories having amassed a £78m war chest over the past four years, they can now funnel huge amounts of cash into key seats.”
We know that the Tories won more seats than anyone else at the 2010 election by throwing ridiculous amounts of Lord Ashcroft’s money at marginal seats and by lying about their policy intentions. This undemocratic move – there was no Parliamentary debate and one can hardly say it has been announced loudly; did you even know this decision was made in the summer? – clearly states their intention to repeat the same grubby, underhanded manoeuvre next year.
And we know that David Cameron has made this decision against the advice of the Electoral Commission – meaning that it should be plain for all to see that this is yet another corrupt decision by the most corrupt government of the last century.
What else are we to think of this? Lucy Powell MP, Ed Miliband’s election strategist, had a few well-chosen ideas on that subject. Writing in The Guardian, she stated:
“With only a record of failure to run on, David Cameron’s campaign is reliant on smear, fear and fat cats’ chequebooks. This is a party flush with big money backers but without the empathy or ideas the country needs, so they are rigging the rules of our democracy in their favour.
“When he was first leader of the opposition, David Cameron said he wanted to take the big money out of politics. He promised to address the ‘big donor culture’, arguing that we should ‘cut what is spent on a general election’. Yet he has now cynically changed his tune. Desperate to hang on to power, the Tories have quietly changed the rules to allow them to spend big in the runup to the election. The changes would allow them to spend millions more than they’re presently allowed, paving the way for Tory propaganda to flood constituencies.”
Opponents of Tory tyranny cannot match the Nasty Party’s spending power. All we have are our own voices and the facts.
That’s why next year – more than ever before – we have to put the message out to protect the public against the next wave of lies and ‘spin’.
The Tory Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act means we can’t spend any appreciable amount of money doing this, but they can’t stop us talking and they can’t stop us publicising the facts.
It’s up to us – all of us – to show the Tories that money isn’t everything.
Some Tory drone – I think his name was ‘David Cameron’ released an image earlier today, claiming 24 million people were £600 better-off as a result of this month’s changes. This is what the poster SHOULD have said.
We have all seen the Liberal Democrat Party losing its grip on reality during its years in Coalition with the Conservatives.
One of my favourite examples of this was the claim that the Lib Dems had mitigated the hated Health and Social Care Bill (as it was then) – Andrew Lansley’s NHS privatisation effort – to ensure that rampant privatisation would not take place, and that they could therefore vote in favour of it with a clear conscience.
Earlier this year, of course, we all learned about SI 257, the statutory instrument that would have imposed mandatory marketisation on nearly every NHS service, without the requirement of a Parliamentary debate or vote. Clearly the Lib Dems had been hoodwinked. There was a massive public campaign against this betrayal and SI 257 was withdrawn, but only to be replaced by something that was so vaguely-worded that it is almost as bad (possibly worse, in fact).
Now, they’re crowing about the fact that the Personal Allowance – the amount a person can earn before paying Income Tax – has risen to £9,440. Apparently this means people on low incomes are now £600 per year better off than they were at the time of the last general election, in 2010.
But wait! What about all the benefit changes – by which I mean cuts – that came in at the same time? We’ve all seen the figures that show they will make low-earners £891 per year WORSE-off.
Put those together and, no matter which way you slice it, people earning less than £9,440 will be up to £291 worse off than in 2010.
Meanwhile, the top rate of Income Tax has fallen from 50p in the pound to 45p, for people with incomes of more than £150,000 – that means people earning more than £1 million will be £100,000 better-off.
Danny Alexander was on Radio 4’s Today programme, trying to talk up the changes. He said the Coalition “is working hard to help those on low and middle incomes” – into poverty?
Other changes mean the amount pensioners can take home every year will no longer rise with inflation but has been frozen, meaning they will be worse-off this year. It has been dubbed the “Granny Tax”. They do get a rise in the state pension, by 2.5 per cent – but that only equals £110 per week.
And Mr Alexander was also keen to talk about the so-called “Tycoon Tax”, which imposes a limit on the amount of tax relief people can claim by investing in business or donating to charity.
This – again – avoids the possible consequences of such a measure. How many businesses and charities will fall into difficulty because benefactors no longer have the financial incentive to help them out? I’m not sure, so I am unwilling to condemn it immediately – but I fear the worst.
One conclusion we can draw from this – and previous changes – is the obvious:
Liberal Democrats ignore their mistakes.
The denial machine is not only in full swing – it’s in danger of overheating.
Hard hat to be worn at all times: Vince Cable will need it to avoid the brickbats his latest comments – and his party’s power-hunger – will attract.
There can be no truer example of the adage that power corrupts, in today’s UK, than that of the Liberal Democrats.
Now neither liberal nor democratic, that party’s leaders are telling their members to do whatever is necessary to keep them in government.
They may be in coalition with the Conservatives now, but the message is that they will seek an alliance with anyone who will have them, if that is what it takes.
For what purpose? We have already seen all the evidence we need that they will abandon any pretence of principles if it will curry favour with a larger, and therefore more dominant, political group. Nick Clegg may have apologised for reversing his position on student tuition fees, but that hasn’t stopped them rising (pointlessly, according to recent revelations).
They have proved to be as susceptible to the temptations of petty crime as anyone else – look at Chris Huhne, praised by Nick Clegg for his skills as a secretary of state, even after he was convicted of perverting the course of justice. That’s a serious crime. Clegg should not be praising anyone convicted of it.
But then, Clegg is in the muck right up to his own chin. He denied prior knowledge of the allegations against former party chief executive Lord Rennard, then had to go back on it. Now there are questions about when senior figures in the party knew of the allegations that Huhne’s ex-wife Vicky Pryce had taken speeding points on her husband’s behalf.
Undoubtedly there is more that we do not know (there always is). Undoubtedly there is more that we will never know.
Do you remember last year’s Liberal Democrat Spring Conference, when the Parliamentary party was instructed to vote against the then-Health and Social Care Bill, because of the harm it would do to the National Health Service if it every became law?
What happened about that? Oh yes… the Conservatives made a few mealy-mouthed promises and the Lib Dems voted it through without a qualm. That, in turn, led to Statutory Instrument 257 – the regulations that proved the Tories had been lying in their assurance that doctors would not be compelled to consider private-sector bids to run NHS services. Those regulations have been withdrawn for a re-write after the public – not the Liberal Democrats – protested.
Because the Liberal Democrats have changed in the last year. There is no similar moral crusade this time around.
Instead, former party leader Paddy Ashdown has told them to do everything possible to secure a second term in power. Commentators have taken this to mean they will whore themselves to whichever of the main parties secures the most seats in the 2015 election (if, again, no party gains a majority).
They’ve had a taste of power and found it addictive. “I want it to become a habit,” said Lord Ashdown. What a shame it seems to be the kind of habit we see in users of illegal drugs. They’ll do anything for more.
Ashdown went on to quote the party mantra introduced, to much hilarity in this blog, just after Christmas: “to build a stronger economy in a fairer society, enabling everyone to get on in life”.
It’s about the least effective soundbite possible, considering the nation’s current circumstances. The economy has been deliberately weakened and society is becoming progressively less fair, thanks to the efforts of Conservative ministers, aided and abetted every step of the way by the Liberal Democrats. If you want evidence, read practically any entry in this blog since it was founded at the end of 2011.
The part about “enabling everyone to get on in life” is particularly sickening, considering the number of chronically ill or disabled people who have died as a result of Coalition policy on benefits.
If you think the above is enough to sink this once-great party for good, think again because there’s more. It goes to the heart of Liberal policy-making and shows that they are prepared to reverse the very best acts of the great Liberals of the past, just to service their own convenience now.
I refer, of course, to the words of Business Secretary Vince Cable.
He wants the government to stop protecting spending levels on the health service, and he also thinks that pensions should be means-tested or taxed.
The introduction of old-age pensions was the first step towards the modern welfare state, in 1907. That step was taken by a Liberal government (yes, the Liberals used to get enough votes to take office on their own). Current Liberal Democrat MPs aren’t fit to clean the shoes of those former ministers (and believe me, in comparison to today, 1907 was a barbaric time).
And of course the NHS was created in accordance with the report of Liberal William Beveridge, who recommended creating “comprehensive health and rehabilitation services for prevention and cure of disease”. The Coalition’s treatment of the NHS constitutes a comprehensive betrayal of that plan.
Incidentally, Beveridge opposed means-tested benefits, meaning that Cable’s plan for pensions runs against established Liberal philosophy as well. It’s also bone-headedly stupid for a member of a party seeking re-election because pensioners are more likely to vote than any other section of society. That’s why the Tories have always tried to avoid hitting them with benefit cuts (although that determination has eroded over the course of this government). Upset the grey vote at your peril!
And let’s not forget that the government’s claim to have increased spending on the NHS since 2010 has been questioned – most relevantly by the UK Statistics Authority.
As we enter the last day of the 2013 Liberal Democrat Spring Conference, then, it seems reasonable to ask: Just what do the Liberal Democrats stand for?
It can’t be the values that made the Liberals great (when they were great) – the current Parliamentary party is betraying those.
It can’t be the values held by the Lib Dems before the 2010 election either – the current Parliamentary party has betrayed those as well.
The only possibility left is that they want power for its own sake.
The government has agreed to withdraw and re-write the controversial Statutory Instrument 257 regulations, that would have led to the privatisation – in practical terms – of most National Health services in England.
The regulations were being brought in under section 75 of the hated Health and Social Care Act 2012, under a process known as ‘negative resolution’. This meant there would be no debate or vote; they would become law 40 working days after they were introduced, leading to the demise of the English NHS as anything other than a brand name.
The government claimed the regulations were drawn up because previous guidance on procurement was set to become obsolete, as they applied to organisation that will not exist after April 1.
But concern was raised by Parliamentarians and more than 1,000 doctors, who wrote to the Daily Telegraph to point out that the legislation would make “virtually every part” of the NHS open to private contractors.
It is notable that the climbdown was announced by Liberal Democrat Health Minister Norman Lamb, rather than the Secretary of State, Jeremy Hunt. At Health questions in the House of Commons last week, Mr Hunt had maintained an attitude that there was nothing wrong with SI 257, but Mr Lamb responded to concerns from a fellow Liberal Democrat by agreeing that “clear assurances” had been made in the House of Lords while the Health and Social Care Act was passing through Parliament, and “it is important that they are complied with in the regulations”.
The amendments include clauses to make it clear that clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) of GPs will decide when and how competition should be sought; clearer rules about the exceptional circumstances when only one organisation can tender for a service without competition for the contract; assurances that CCGs do not have to tender all services, and cannot be forced to do so by the regulator (Monitor); and an insistence that competition must not be at the expense of “integration and co-operation”.
In all cases, the regulations would be based on standards adopted by the previous Labour government, when the now shadow health secretary Andy Burnham was in charge of the health department, according to Mr Lamb.
The turnabout has triggered a wave of derision from opponents including Labour’s Health spokesman Andy Burnham, who said Coalition policy on competition was “in utter chaos”, and Stephen Dorrell, Conservative chairman of the health select committee, who said it showed that “the cloud of rhetoric that surrounded the passage of the Health and Social Care Act was so much hot air”.
This is a victory for those who wanted to keep healthcare-for-profit out of the National Health Service. But it is only a battle that has been won – not the war.
We do not know what the new regulations will be. Just because the Coalition says they will be drafted in a certain way does not mean that is how they will end up – we have plenty of experience to show that what the Coalition says and what it does are two entirely different things.
At most, this is a reprieve. Those of us who want services protected must remain vigilant.
And we must hold Labour to its promise to repeal the Act altogether, if that party gains office in two years’ time.
If the Palace of Westminster ever had a rat infestation it must be personified in the body of David Freud.
This deadly pest, who is likely to cause disease and infirmity among many of the lower-earning members of society, began his political career when he was appointed by the Labour Party to review the welfare to work system – and he led Labour well off-track in doing so.
His recommendations called for more private sector involvement in the welfare system – which already had considerable interference from Unum and Atos, as readers of this and other blogs will be aware. He wanted to force most people receiving benefits to take part in some form of employment – or prepare for it – as a condition of receiving support.
This is, of course – counter-intuitive. If they could find employment, they wouldn’t be claiming benefits – so what kind of work would they be required to do? It turns out we discovered the answer during his tenure with the government: Illegally-coerced work. Slave labour.
Having done as much damage as he could with Labour, Freud jumped ship to the Conservative Party, like the rat that he is. It is as the Conservative Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in the House of Lords that he has done the most damage.
It is well-known that the Tories have adopted his disastrous ideas wholesale, and the involvement of Atos, with its work capability assessment pushing the Unum-inspired biopsychosocial model of “it’s all in your mind” healthcare on the seriously-ill, has grossly inflated the death – and suicide – rate among Employment and Support Allowance claimants.
These deaths are on Freud’s conscience, just as much as they are on Iain Duncan Smith’s, Chris Grayling’s, Maria Miller’s, and Mark Hoban’s, to name just a few.
I mention the above because this loathsome creature is even now lurching towards the House of Lords to inflict even more damaging changes to the social security system in the form of a series of statutory instruments. For those who are unfamiliar with the Parliamentary process, these set out the rules that form the nitty-gritty, the details of legislation that are underpinned by Acts of Parliament. Crucially, they do not require an affirmative vote to pass into law.
Today he is bringing the following:
Universal Credit Regulations 2013 – seting out entitlement to, and calculation of, an award of Universal Credit, the new single payment for people who are out of work or working on a low income.
Because no vote is necessary, it is impossible to block this instrument. However, Baroness Sherlock is to move an addition to the motion: “this House regrets that the Regulations will not achieve their aim of making work pay for all and in fact will provide lower work incentives for 2.1 million households; will have the effect of penalising savers; will result in a cut in childcare support for working families; will result in cuts to the income of some of the poorest and most vulnerable in the country and will have a disproportionate impact on women and lone parent families; do not meet the needs of disabled people; do not provide adequate treatment of small businesses and the self-employed; and risk pushing many families into arrears and homelessness.”
In other words, they will do the exact opposite of whatever Lord Freud and his Tory paymasters are saying.
A similar amendment has been proposed to the Social Security (Personal Independence Payment) Regulations 2013, expressing concern about the impact of replacing Disability Living Allowance with the Personal Independence Payment (PIP), under the rules for entitlement and calculation they lay down.
Lord McKenzie of Luton will move: “this House is concerned about the impact of the replacement of Disability Living Allowance with Personal Independence Payment; is concerned about the lack of a full impact assessment on carers; regrets the lack of a cumulative impact assessment of all the changes hitting disabled people; regrets the fact that vital safeguards have not been introduced to ensure that additional pressure is not put on carers, that people do not lose their freedom to work and that they are not driven to already-stretched NHS or social care services; believes that while Disability Living Allowance needed reform it should have been started with the needs of disabled people and not with a budget cut; notes that some 600,000 fewer people will be in receipt of Personal Independence Payment by May 2018 compared to those who would have been entitled under Disability Living Allowance; and further notes that some 25,000 disabled people could be forced to give up their jobs because they can no longer afford the extra costs of getting to work.”
Don’t be under any illusions – the government will vote down these amendments. It will be up to us – those who are directly affected by these changes – to monitor what happens and reveal the truth of these statements.
There are other statutory instruments due to go through today. The Jobseeker’s Allowance Regulations 2013 and Employment and Support Allowance Regulations 2013 limit both benefits so they will only be payable based on a person’s National Insurance contribution record; those who do not qualify on that basis will instead claim Universal Credit.
The Universal Credit, Personal Independence Payment, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance (Decisions and Appeals) Regulations 2013 address the administration of all these benefits, revising the appeals process so that claimants must first apply for a disputed decision to be reconsidered by a decision maker (i.e. an internal review) before they can make an appeal to an external tribunal. This is the much-lamented rule that, it has been claimed, will dump appellants onto Jobseekers’ Allowance – even though they cannot possibly find work – until their reassessment has taken place.
The Social Security (Payments on Account of Benefit) Regulations 2013 introduce two new types of payment to replace Social Fund payments, either for an advance payment of benefit or as a loan to buy a household item. They outline the criteria which the Secretary of State must use when determining whether or not to make them.
And the Social Security (Loss of Benefit) (Amendment) Regulations 2013 support changes introduced by the Welfare Reform Act 2012, including sanctions of up to 3 years’ loss of benefit that may be imposed following conviction for a benefit fraud offence.
It is clear that this is a toxic mixture of changes, designed to bring as much misery as possible down on an already-downtrodden sector of society.
Oh, and if this was not bad enough, it will be followed by a debate on the Building Regulations &c. (Amendment) Regulations 2012, which includes another Motion to Regret: “This House regrets Her Majesty’s Government’s decision… to change the provisions on electrical safety in the home, which will be detrimental to public safety.”
Detrimental to public safety. We have a government that sets out to do more harm than good.
Any peers taking part in these debates should be ashamed to be part of such a debased administration.
What they are doing is criminal – we discovered yesterday that this is exactly true, when Cait Reilly won her case against the illegal Workfare scheme that has been forced on thousands of jobseekers, and would have been forced on thousands more if it had not been challenged.
Unfortunately, this out-of-control government’s reaction was to change the law to suit itself.
This is what happens when villains are allowed to make up the rules.
Postscript: As I type this, I’m listening to Prime Minister’s Questions. He just mentioned the Conservative candidate in the Eastleigh by-election, using the now-boring “Ronseal” comparison as someone who “does exactly what it says on the tin”. Look at the amendments to the regulation before the Lords today; it is clear that the Tories do exactly the opposite of what it says on the tin.
Perhaps a better word than “Ronseal” would be “unhinged“.
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