Tax credits: Baroness Hollis delivers powerful speech as House of Lords rejects Conservative proposal

PM claims the decision by the House of Lords to delay the bill has raised a 'constitutional crisis'

Rose Troup Buchanan
Tuesday 27 October 2015 08:46
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Baroness Hollis savages Osborne for betraying families with his tax credit cuts

Conservative plans to reduce tax credits for the lowest paid workers have been left in chaos after a historic intervention by the House of Lords, most notably Baroness Hollis.

The Labour peer, formerly a work and pensions minister, addressed a rapt House as she savaged Chancellor George Osborne’s plans to cut tax credits in order to save an estimated £4.4 billion.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham, who called for a three-year delay before implementing the proposal, commanded the full attention of the chamber as she adopted the style favoured by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and read out examples from real people.

“Angela from Stevenage”, she noted, will lose £1,643.

“I already work 40 hours a week on minimum wage doing two jobs around my children,” the Baroness read to a silent House. “I cannot believe this is actually going to happen. I am terrified. We are not scroungers. We work unbelievably hard just to keep going and once again we are being punished for trying to earn a living wage.”

She described the situation of “Tony and Jacinta Goode,” from Norwich. Mr Goode is a full-time fire-fighter and Mrs Goode cares for “two substantially disabled children.”

“They are exhausted. Their Christmas letter will tell them that they will lose £60 a week, or £3,120 a year. That is £3,120 from a family where he is in full-time work and she is caring for two disabled children. We do not need to do this to them.”

“We really, my Lords, don’t need to do this,” she repeated.

Her quietly emotive and powerful speech was overwhelmingly positively received, with many social media users tweeting their respect for the peer.

The Lords defeated Mr Osborne’s proposal, electing to give families “full transitional protection” from the cuts for at least three years and supporting a call for delay until the government responds to impact analysis on families and considers “mitigating action”.

“I hope that I do not sound pious, but I think that this is about honouring our word – the Prime Minister’s word – that work must always pay. It is about respect for those who strive to do everything we ask of them, and now find themselves punished for doing what’s right,” Baroness Hollis told the House in her closing remarks.

“It’s about trust between the parliament and the people we serve.”

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