Lone Parents: Blair savaged as MPs defend the 'betrayed'

The Prime Minister was confronted by Labour backbench anger over the cuts in benefits for lone parents at Question Time. Colin Brown, Chief, Political Correspondent, says a string of Labour MPs risked the wrath of the whips in speaking out against the Government.

Alice Mahon last night appeared close to tears when she joined a string of ministerial aides who resigned or were sacked for rebelling against the Government over the cut in lone parent benefit.

"Sadly I am making a hard choice because I am not supporting the Government. I am supporting the family," said Ms Mahon, MP for Halifax and PPS to Chris Smith, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

"Very hard choices are going to be imposed upon some of the poorest people in the country and their children." Complaining that their pleas had not be heard, she said:"There is something rather punitive and cruel about these cuts."

Another ministerial aide, Gordon Prentice, the MP for Pendle, resigned his post to oppose the Government. "It's very sad. I am not one of the 'usual suspects'. But this is a defining moment," he said. "Every time I hear the minister try to persuade the world outside, it's like we live in a parallel dimension - we don't connect with what people outside are thinking."

Earlier, Diane Abbott led the Labour backbench attack by calling on the Prime Minister at Question Time to justify the cut. Ms Abbot, a member of the left-wing Campaign Group, said there would always be mothers who were not able to work.

As the House fell silent, Mr Blair defended the decision. "I have to say frankly to you we were elected as a government because people believed we would keep tight control of public finance and we said that clearly before the election.

"What is important is to get as many people as possible off benefit and into work."

The Prime Minister's words failed to quell the backbench rebellion as Harriet Harman, the Secretary of State for Social Security, faced a sustained attack from her own side. "I have been arguing for 15 years in this House that lone parents are poor but I have also been arguing that it is not parenthood of itself that makes them poor. It is the absence of the opportunity to work," she said.

Alan Simpson, a leader of the Campaign Group, told Ms Harman that the help to find work should be put in place first, before a cut was introduced in benefit. But she said the extra help would be introduced on the same day.

Ken Livingstone said he was voting against the Government regardless of the consequences, because lone parents who were meeting in the Commons felt "betrayed".

Audrey Wise, the Labour MP for Preston, who led the first Commons motion calling on the Government to think again, said: "What we are facing is the abolition of all lone parent premiums, for those who are out of work and those who are at work - and the biggest cut of all for those who are at work on low pay. I don't see that as a strategy for encouraging people to go to work."

Forty seven Labour MPs voted against the Government. They were:

Diane Abbot (Hackney North and Stoke Newington); John Austin (Erith and Thamesmead); Harry Barnes (Derbyshire N W); Tony Benn (Chesterfield); Roger Berry (Kingswood); Harold Best (Leeds NW); Ronnie Campbell (Blyth Valley); Dennis Canavan (Falkirk W); Martin Caton (Gower); David Chaytor (Bury N); Malcolm Chisholm (Edinburgh N and Leith); Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley); Frank Cook (Stockton N); Jeremy Corbyn (Islington N); Ann Cryer (Keighley); John Cryer (Hornchurch); Hilton Dawson (Lancaster and Wyre); Jim Dobbin (Heywood and Middleton); Gwyneth Dunwoody (Crewe and Nantwich); Bill Etherington (Sunderland N); Maria Fyfe (Glasgow Maryhill); Ian Gibson (Norwich N); Norman Godman (Greenock and Inverclyde); Bernie Grant (Tottenham); David Hinchliffe (Wakefield); Kelvin Hopkins (Luton N); Brian Iddon (Bolton SE); Lynne Jones (Birmingham Selly Oak); Terry Lewis (Worsley); Ken Livingstone (Brent E); John McAllion (Dundee E); John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington); Kevin McNamara (Hull N); Alice Mahon (Halifax); John Marek (Wrexham); Bill Michie (Sheffield Heeley); Gordon Prentice (Pendle); Brian Sedgemore (Hackney S and Shoreditch); Jonathan Shaw (Chatham and Aylesford); Alan Simpson (Nottingham South); Dennis Skinner (Bolsover); Llew Smith (Blaenau Gwent); Ian Stewart (Eccles); Robert Wareing (Liverpool West Derby); David Winnick (Walsall N); Audrey Wise (Preston); and Mike Wood (Batley and Spen).

During the vote; 14 Labour MPs remained in their seats to abstain: They were:

Rhodri Morgan (Cardiff W); Julie Morgan (Cardiff N); Tony McWalter (Hemel Hempstead); Gerald Steinberg (City of Durham); Huw Edwards (Monmouth); George Galloway (Glasgow Kelvin); Chris Mullin (Sunderland S); Harry Cohen (Leyton and Wanstead); Andrew Bennett (Denton and Reddish); Bill Rammell (Harlow); Diana Organ (Forest of Dean); Lawrence Cunliffe (Leigh); Jim Marshall (Leicester S); and John Naysmith (Bristol N W).

How cuts will bite

l The Bill would abolish the higher rate of child benefit for new lone-parent claimants from next April.

l There are currently about 1.6 million lone parents, with about 2.5 million children.

l Parallel cuts are also to be introduced for Income Support, Job Seekers'

Allowance, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit for all new lone-parent claimants, which mean overall benefit cuts for new claimants of pounds 4.95 to pounds 10.25 a week..

l It is estimated there will be a saving to the Treasury, overall, of pounds 60m in the first year, 1998-99, rising to pounds 195m in the third year.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Sport
Robbie Savage will not face a driving ban
football'Mr Marmite' faced the possibility of a 28-day ban
Voices
voices
Life and Style
Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries were putting themselves at risk of tinnitus and, in extreme cases, irreversible hearing loss
health
News
It was only when he left his post Tony Blair's director of communications that Alastair Campbell has published books
people The most notorious spin doctor in UK politics has reinvented himself
Life and Style
The new model would be a “pedal assist” bike in which the rider’s strength is augmented by the engine on hills and when they want to go fast
tech
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in ‘I Am Michael’
filmJustin Kelly's latest film tells the story of a man who 'healed' his homosexuality and turned to God
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower