Parliament & Politics: Welfare - Labour peers queue up to attack benefit cuts
Friday 11 June 1999
Lord Ashley of Stoke, the long-time campaigner for disabled rights, confirmed that he would introduce amendments to reverse the reduction and means- testing of incapacity benefits during its committee stage.
Speaking during the second reading debate of the Welfare Reform and Pensions Bill, Lord Ashley appealed to the Government to reconsider. "I cannot believe that a Labour government would want to introduce cuts to the most vulnerable in society," he said.
Lord Ashley's amendment, which is similar to the one put forward by Labour backbenchers in the Commons, is likely to be overwhelmingly supported be peers and further embarrass the Government.
Tony Blair suffered an earlier setback to his plans for welfare reform when 67 Labour backbenchers voted against the cuts, and others abstained.
During the debate, Lord Ashley's concern was echoed by Baroness Castle of Blackburn, the former Cabinet minister, who said it was unbelievable that "poor disabled" would have to be supported by "less poor disabled people".
But, opening the debate, Baroness Hollis of Heigham, the junior social security minister, defended the legislation, stressing no existing claimant would be affected by the changes.
"Incapacity benefit was and is intended to be an earnings replacement benefit when illness or disability unfortunately forces people to stop work.
"However, over the past 20 years, it has become for many an unemployment benefit."
Four out of 10 claimants were previously unemployed and someone who had worked for only six months and been unemployed for 20 years could claim it. "We don't believe that's right," she said.
She confirmed that Alistair Darling, the Secretary of State for Social Security, was prepared to review whether the pounds 50-a-week pension threshold for the means-testing of incapacity benefits was set at the right level.
Lord Higgins, for the Tories, said: "In our view the principle involved here is wrong. We are very concerned indeed at the way in which the question of entitlement to incapacity benefit is going to be reduced because people have been prudent enough to provide for a pension."
- 2 Exclusive: Abusers using spyware apps to monitor partners reaches 'epidemic proportions'
- 3 Andy Murray takes to Twitter to show off his Christmas jumper
- 4 Margaret Thatcher 'expressed fears of Asian rising' at Anglo-Irish summit in 1984
PlayStation and Xbox hacked by Lizard Squad
Exclusive: Abusers using spyware apps to monitor partners reaches 'epidemic proportions'
Dublin court rules brain-dead pregnant mother's life support can be switched off
Margaret Thatcher 'expressed fears of Asian rising' at Anglo-Irish summit in 1984
The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Katie Hopkins speaks out on childhood obesity: 'Parents of fat children should be prosecuted for child cruelty'
Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...
£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...
£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...