A Conservative MP used her maiden speech in the House of Commons to deliver a critique of George Osborne’s plans to cut tax credits for millions of low-earners.
Heidi Allen, the MP for South Cambridgeshire, said she could not stay silent on the issue any longer as she urged the Chancellor to reconsider the plans.
Ms Allen warned that the “poorest and most vulnerable” would be hit by the £4.4bn package of cuts, leaving them with the choice of eating or heating to make ends meet.
She became the latest Tory MP to condemn moves to cut tax credits in April amid evidence of rapidly growing disquiet in party ranks over the proposals. A succession of backbenchers called in the Commons last night for a rethink of the plans following claims that 3.2 million people will see their tax credits cut.
Mr Osborne insists he is not considering watering down the scheme, but increasing numbers of senior Conservatives believe he will be forced to offer some concessions next month in his spending review.
Ms Allen’s intervention was remarkable because she used her first Commons speech to denounce the plans as a betrayal of her party’s traditional support for working families.
She told MPs: “The Prime Minister has asked us that everything we do must pass the family test. Cutting tax credits before wages rise does not achieve that. Showing children that their parents would be better off not working at all does not achieve that.
“Sending a message to the poorest and most vulnerable in our society that we do not care does not achieve that either. I believe the pace of these reforms is too hard and too fast. As these proposals stand, too many people will be adversely affected. Something must give.
“For those of us proud enough to call ourselves compassionate Conservatives, it must not be the backs of the working families we purport to serve.”
She said she backed the principle that tax credits should not be used to subsidise low pay but believed the timing of the cut was wrong.
“It isn’t sustainable and it sends the wrong message about the kind of country and the kind of people that we want to be,” she added.
She was backed by the new Tory MP for Plymouth Moor View, Johnny Mercer, who urged the Chancellor to do “something, anything” to ease the harshest effects of the cuts on the vulnerable.
He said he was expressing the “extraordinary levels of feeling” over the moves in the Devon city.
The rebellion against the proposed cut was growing last night after four Conservative MPs backed a call by the former Labour minister Frank Field for Mr Osborne to modify his plans to ease the burden on the lowest-paid.
Supporters of Mr Field’s proposal, which is to be debated on 29 October, include the party’s candidate for London mayor, Zac Goldsmith, and the former minister David Davis.
A Labour motion condemning the Government’s plans was defeated last night and the focus of the campaign against the cuts will now switch to the House of Lords, where the Government does not have a majority. Opposition peers are preparing to join forces to vote down the tax credit proposals on 26 October.
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