Heidi Allen: Tory MP uses maiden speech to plead with George Osborne to soften impact of tax credit cuts: 'Something must give'

Heidi Allen questioned how many Tory MPs knew what it felt like to choose 'whether to eat or heat' as she accused George Osborne of 'betraying' Conservative values

Matt Dathan
Online political reporter
Tuesday 20 October 2015 17:38
Heidi Allen Maiden Speech - BBC Parliament

A Conservative MP has delivered an extraordinary appeal for George Osborne to soften the impact of his £4.5bn a year tax credit cuts, telling the Chancellor that “something must give”.

Heidi Allen used her maiden speech in the House of Commons to launch a scathing assessment of one of her own party’s policies.

Heidi Allen, Tory MP for South Cambridgeshire, chose to use her maiden speech in the House of Commons to urge George Osborne to soften the impact of his tax credit cuts 

The South Cambridgeshire MP said she worried that making the cuts in order to meet the Chancellor’s promise to cut £12bn from the welfare bill was tantamount to “betraying” Conservative party values.

Ms Allen questioned how many Tory MPs knew what it felt like to choose “whether to eat or heat”

“How many have walked in those shoes?" she asked.

"The pace of these reforms is s too hard and too fast. Too many people will be adversely affected. Something must give.

"To pull ourselves out of debt we should not forcing those working families into it."

Labour MPs were heard openly congratulating her across the chamber, praising her “courageous” decision to speak out in her first speech, an event most new MPs dedicate to talking about their constituency.

The following speaker, Labour MP Roger Godsiff, hailed her “remarkable, thoughtful and excellent” speech and urged Ms Allen to join Labour in voting against the cuts.

Ms Allen rebuked those defending the tax credit cuts on the basis that the overall impact of welfare changes over the five-year Parliament would make people better off, saying people on the “breadline cannot wait” for the Government’s “ideal goal of lower welfare, lower tax, higher wage economy” to take effect.

"For many, every day living is hand-to-mouth,” Ms Allen said.

“Madam Deputy Speaker, I suspect you and I could weather such a transition period; we could pull our belts in.

“But many of the families affected by these proposed changes do not have this luxury. Choosing whether to eat or heat is not a luxury and that is the reality that I’m talking about.

"I know true Conservatives have compassion running though their veins," she said. "Every Conservative MP who knows who we really are has a duty to remind those who have forgotten, we are the party of the working person, the person indeed who leaves for work while it's still dark, who strives to provide for themselves their family with pride.

"I became an MP to stand up for the vulnerable, to lead the way for those too tired to find it for themselves, that is the role of government too.

"Conservatives pride themselves of living within their means, of cutting their cloth. But what, what if there is no cloth left to cut? How many of us really know what it feels like? How many have walked in those shoes?

"I worry that our single-minded determination to reach a budget surplus is betraying who we are."

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