The Government suffered three defeats in the House of Lords over its controversial Welfare Reform Bill.
Peers voted by 260 to 216 to allow young disabled people to receive employment and support allowance (ESA). They also threw out a plan to limit to one year the time people can claim ESA and a time limit on contributory ESA payments from people receiving cancer treatment. The defeat is embarrassing for ministers and will delays plans for the introduction of the Government's flagship universal credit scheme. The bill must now return to the Commons to reverse the defeats.
Putting forward the first amendment, the independent peer Baroness Meacher said the plans would mean disabled children who could never work would never be entitled to the benefit. She said it would leave them dependent on means testing and they would receive no income at all if their partner was earning. Labour shadow welfare minister Lord McKenzie of Luton who backed Lady Meacher's amendment added: "The abolition of the youth condition does seem particularly spiteful."
The Government was later defeated by 234 to 186 over a plan to limit to one year the time people can claim ESA. Peers agreed a move to replace the one-year cap with the ability for the Government to introduce secondary legislation specifying a limit of not less than two years.
The Government suffered a third defeat when peers voted 222 to 166 to accept Lord Patel's second amendment, which removes a time limit on contributory ESA payments from those receiving cancer treatment.