Letter: Blair's project

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The Independent Online
Sir: Fran Abrams kindly quotes my maiden speech ("Maiden speeches that came top of the class", 22 December) but unfortunately repeats comments attributed to me in connection with the debate at the Parliamentary Labour Party meeting on the subject of lone parent benefits.

Can I, once and for all, set the record straight by confirming that I actually said that if we felt benefit payments alone would meet the needs of lone parents we "should be paying a realistic amount of pounds 50 to pounds 60 per week not the price of a couple of packets of cigarettes".

I certainly did not demean the importance of the benefit to lone parents; nor would I. It is unfortunate that the strength of feeling during the debate was such as to lead some comrades to put out the inaccurate and damaging version that Fran Abrams unwittingly repeated.

STEVE POUND MP

(Ealing North, Lab)

House of Commons

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