“DWP should launch a second, broader, independent review of conditionality and sanctions, to include investigation of whether the process is being applied appropriately, fairly, proportionately and in accordance with the rules, across the Jobcentre network.”

Graham Stuart (Beverley and Holderness) (Con): I am concerned about the issue the hon. Lady raised about targets for sanctions, as this is a serious allegation to make and it is a serious issue. It is possible to meet people from all sorts of walks of life who through their profession may have some professional insight, but their word alone is not enough to suggest that something

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is true—one does need verification from elsewhere. Can she substantiate her point? What did she find out that would make us believe it is true?

Debbie Abrahams: The hon. Gentleman makes my point for me: that is why we need the independent review. There was enough evidence to leave real concerns about this matter. The Select Committee thought that the Minister had agreed to a review, but as paragraph 100 of the report states, unfortunately he reneged on that promise. In addition to these serious ethical issues, there were, and still are, concerns about a number of people affected, particularly in the case of ESA claimants, and about the meteoric rise in the use of sanctions.

Peter Dowd (Bootle) (Lab): Does my hon. Friend recall that in the summer the Department for Work and Pensions was forced to admit to having invented quotes from fake benefit claimants, which meant that its sanctions leaflets had to be withdrawn pretty quickly?

Debbie Abrahams: My hon. Friend makes a valid point. That is one of the reasons why we need an independent review to investigate such matters.

Graham Evans (Weaver Vale) (Con): I congratulate the hon. Lady on her new role on the Front Bench—she has done far better than me. When she and I served on the Work and Pensions Committee, we investigated this matter and found no evidence of benefit sanctions targets in the jobcentres we visited. I have two outstanding Jobcentre Plus offices in my constituency, and I have seen no evidence whatsoever of any targets there. How can she stand at the Dispatch Box and say that there are targets for sanctions when, to the best of my knowledge, there is no evidence that they exist?

Debbie Abrahams: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his kind remarks. I understand that his wife has previously worked in a Jobcentre Plus office. To reiterate my response to the hon. Member for Beverley and Holderness (Graham Stuart), the whole point is that there is some evidence and that we need a better understanding, which is why we need an independent review.

Helen Goodman: If there is to be an independent review, does my hon. Friend agree that it should take evidence from the National Audit Office, which has stated that although the targets might not come from the Minister’s office, the performance management of the jobcentres amounts to targets, because what it measures does not take into account the numbers of people who are supposed to go back into work or the quality of advice they receive?

Debbie Abrahams: My hon. Friend makes a valid point. The Select Committee reported on the fact that there are targets for off-flow, which means getting people off the books. Those in themselves are targets. [Interruption.]

Graham Stuart: That has nothing to do with sanctions.

Debbie Abrahams: Well, I will move on to that shortly and show exactly why we believe that is happening.

In addition to those serious ethical issues, we have also seen a meteoric rise in the use of sanctions. ESA sanctions increased from 60,363 between June 2010 and

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October 2012 to 245,679 between November 2012 and March 2015, which corresponds with the introduction of the new sanctions regime. As I have said, people on ESA are disabled or have serious health conditions.

The new sanctions regime is also particularly punitive. People are without financial support not just for a week or two, because the minimum sanction is now four weeks. Subsequent misdemeanours can mean up to three years of sanctions, whereas previously the maximum was six months. That has particularly affected young people, disabled people and lone parents. In addition, during 2013-14 it became clear that although no other benefits, such as housing benefit, were meant to be affected, in some cases housing benefit was automatically being stopped. The obvious implication is that families will be getting into debt as a result.

The fact that since January 2014, on average, nearly half of ESA sanctions have been overturned on appeal surely confirms that there are issues with sanctions policy and practice. The Work and Pensions Committee published its report in March this year, revealing even greater concerns about the inappropriate use of sanctions, their ineffectiveness in getting people into work and the impact on the health and wellbeing of claimants.

The Select Committee received evidence that sanctions were being driven by targets to get claimants off-flow in a way that distorted the JSA claimant count. A team from Oxford analysed data from 376 local authority areas and found that 43% of JSA sanctioned claimants left JSA and that 80% did so for reasons other than employment. In July, the Social Security Advisory Committee also raised concerns about the effectiveness of the sanctions regime in getting people into good quality jobs, and called for better evidence to underpin sanctions policy.

4 pm

The Select Committee also took evidence on the rise in the use of food banks—more than 1 million food parcels were distributed in 2014—on its largely being attributed to the increase in the use of sanctions; and on the particular impacts on poverty, including child poverty, debt and physical and mental health. One reported case concerned a woman who discharged herself from hospital in fear of being sanctioned, but even more shocking were the reports of deaths following sanction. Many will have heard of David Clapson, a diabetic soldier who died after being sanctioned. He was unable to keep his insulin cool in a fridge and died of diabetic ketoacidosis. He was only 59. The coroner said that when he died there was no food in his stomach. His sister, Gill Thompson, has campaigned tirelessly for an independent review into sanctions, and the petition she started has got support from more than 211,000 signatories.

But David is not the only one to have died after being sanctioned. At the time of the Select Committee’s report, there had been 49 peer reviews since February 2012 following the death of a claimant. Unfortunately, the Government have refused to publish the learning from these peer reviews or to state whether or how policy has changed as a result. The association with sanctioning is also unclear. The Select Committee recommended that an independent body be established to investigate all deaths of vulnerable claimants. It is with considerable

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regret, therefore, that in addition to ignoring the recommendation for an independent review, the Government, in their response on Thursday—four months late—have rejected the call for greater transparency following the death of a vulnerable claimant. I am afraid this is a slap in the face of everyone affected by sanctions, including family members of those who have died.

Finally, I wish to speak to new clause 5, which would compel the Government to report on the impact of the benefit cap reductions by 31 March 2017, including on the effect on child poverty as defined in the Child Poverty Act 2010. The Opposition are absolutely committed to developing a high wage economy in which work pays, but after more than five years, this Government and the previous coalition have failed to deliver it. As an IFS analysis and many others have shown, our fragile recovery has come at the expense of people on low incomes, who have lost proportionately more of their income as a result of tax and social security changes.

Last year’s analysis in The BMJ showed that working-age families with children and disabled people have been particularly adversely affected and that the level of child poverty and the number of disabled people living in poverty had both increased, thereby reversing the improvements from the previous decade. Two weeks ago, another article in The BMJ warned of further risks to child poverty and, as a result, to child health from the further cuts to social security. The authors argued that with the UK having the highest under-five mortality rate in western Europe—double that of Sweden—the expected rise in child poverty would have

“a corrosive influence on children’s learning and development”

and associated higher levels of childhood mental health problems.

Helen Goodman: Exactly. It is a long-term problem.

Debbie Abrahams: Absolutely.

Similarly, there are concerns about the impact of the benefit cap on disabled people, who already face extra costs associated with their disability, as I mentioned earlier. It is estimated that 150,000 adults and 395,000 children will be affected by the reduction in the cap. We believe that, in conjunction with the freeze in local housing allowance, cuts in social housing rents and a lack of affordable homes, the lower cap also risks exacerbating the housing crisis. The Government’s own impact assessment concedes that rent arrears, evictions and homelessness will increase as a result of the lower cap. We believe that further reductions in the benefit cap in London and elsewhere risk pushing tens of thousands of children, families and disabled people into poverty. We are the sixth wealthiest country in the world. It is not right that the Government are seeking to secure the recovery on the backs of the working poor, their children and disabled people. I hope they will think again.

Graham Stuart: I, too, would like to congratulate the hon. Member for Oldham East and Saddleworth (Debbie Abrahams) on her new position.

I want to speak narrowly to new clause 3, tabled by the hon. Member for Sheffield Central (Paul Blomfield). The new clause would amend the regulations that currently mean that a claimant who is moved from the old disability living allowance system to the new personal

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independence payment award must wait 28 days after a decision before receiving the new benefit. Those regulations allow a claimant who is moving to a lower award to adjust to their new financial circumstances by receiving the old award for a period of time, which is extremely welcome.

The unintended consequence of the regulations, however, has been that some of the most disabled and vulnerable people in our society, including those who are terminally ill, are being forced to wait almost a month, and sometimes longer, to receive the extra money they need to meet the costs resulting from their illness. That situation most commonly affects individuals who have become entitled to additional money through PIP because their diagnosis has become terminal.

I am grateful to Macmillan Cancer Care for the work that it has done in this area. Let us imagine a cancer patient, who is already receiving some support under the old DLA system because of their illness, and who receives a terminal diagnosis. They inform the Department for Work and Pensions about this, and the Department makes a decision about their eligibility for additional financial support as a result of their terminal diagnosis. I am pleased to say that that decision should be made within six days—a target timescale that was introduced precisely in recognition of the fact that those who are terminally ill are in particular need of timely assistance.

Jo Churchill (Bury St Edmunds) (Con): I, too, have seen the Minister to push this point, to ensure that the vulnerable—particularly the terminally ill—do not fall through the cracks as they transition from the DLA to PIP. I thank the Minister for listening, and I look forward to receiving confirmation of how we are going to ensure speedy payments and minimum waits for that group, as I have been assured will happen, so that those people can get their funds in advance. All these things help, and it is not right that they should have to wait. I am grateful for being listened to.

Graham Stuart: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for her intervention, in which she has succinctly made my entire speech for me. She sets an example to all of us in how to convey an argument as briefly as possible.

If a decision is made within six days—which is a good thing—why must an individual then wait 28 days to receive the additional financial support that it has already been decided they should get? That financial support could help them meet the costs of the sudden onset of daily living needs or mobility needs that can accompany a terminal diagnosis. There are examples of people missing out on, in some cases, hundreds of pounds. People miss out not only on the additional money through PIP, but on other financial support such as free car tax, premiums in means-tested benefits and other passported benefits, because eligibility for those benefits kicks in only when the additional PIP starts to be paid. It cannot be right that an individual who has a life expectancy of less than six months is being forced to wait a minimum of 28 days—perhaps one sixth of their life expectancy—for vital financial support on which they depend.

At the heart of this Government’s welfare reform programme is a commitment to protecting the most vulnerable people in our society. The context of today’s debate, given the tough financial decisions that are

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having to be made, is one of a transformation in the work opportunities, employment chances and life chances of so many people across our society, so that they can try to escape the labyrinthine mess that was left behind by the former Labour Prime Minister and Chancellor. That is what we are trying to do—create a society in which everyone, including the disabled, can be looked after properly. That is why I believe it is entirely in the spirit of these reforms to amend the current regulations so that anyone who transfers from DLA to PIP due to a terminal diagnosis is paid the additional support promptly and does not have to wait 28 days. It is not a large group, but it is a group of some of the most disabled and vulnerable individuals in our society.

Jo Churchill rose

Graham Stuart: My hon. Friend wants to give whatever remains of the argument in my speech, and I give way to her again.

Jo Churchill: I thank my hon. Friend. During the conversations to which I referred, I received confirmation that no one would lose those four weeks’ money, and that following the decision to award PIP new claimants would have their claim backdated, so I look forward to confirmation of such positive news.

Graham Stuart: My hon. Friend really does keep stealing my punches, because I too have met the Under-Secretary of State for Disabled People, and he was most sympathetic in listening to these arguments. There are technical issues that are going to be dealt with, but I will return to that.

The positive impact of such a change on the individuals who are currently affected by the rule would be immense. It would that ensure people could afford the support they need in the final few months of their lives. In Committee, the Government suggested that changing the regulation could mean that a case manager would not have sufficient time to consider the case. I do not follow that argument, because the 28-day rule applies once a decision has already been made, so it should not have an impact on the time taken to decide on a case.

Having spoken to the Minister, I know that he is listening to the concerns raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St Edmunds (Jo Churchill), myself and others across the House, and I hope we will get a positive response so that terminally ill people who are to see an increase in their financial support can receive it as soon as possible.

Richard Graham: Surely the point my hon. Friend raises and the Government’s response on some of these issues—which are sensitive, as other hon. Members have rightly said—indicate that the Government do care about this category of our constituents and are reacting and making changes that will help them, and totally give the lie to some of the irresponsible comments from the Opposition Front Benchers.

Graham Stuart: I would hesitate to give advice to any Member as to how they should conduct themselves, but this is an emotive area and these decisions affect vulnerable people. A balance has to be struck between fiscal responsibility, looking after the most vulnerable

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and changing the incentives so that we get people aligned with the best opportunity in the long term as well as the short term. These are sensitive issues, and I agree with my hon. Friend about the hon. Member for Oldham East and Saddleworth referring to the Government demonising the disabled and the poor in a way that she did not substantiate at all. One mention in an autumn statement two or three years ago of the fact that some people abused the system is not an effort to demonise the poor and disabled, and suggesting that undermines the other arguments—and there are strong arguments to be made in this area and questions that need to be asked about the Government’s programme.

The decisions being made are not easy, and they will not all be right, but trying to smear the whole Government Front-Bench team loses people rather than wins them over. I do not think the hon. Lady needs to do that in order to make a powerful case and have a strong hearing outside this place; if what she says looks like partisan point scoring and personal vilification, it will undermine the arguments she is trying to pursue and champion.

I am delighted that the Minister is listening. I hope and expect—as I know all my hon. Friends and Opposition Members do—that we will find a solution to this technical challenge and make sure it is delivered as quickly as possible, so that the terminally ill get the money they are due as quickly as possible.

Dr Eilidh Whiteford: I shall speak to the amendments in this group in my name and the names of my party colleagues, namely new clauses 9, 10, 11 and 12, amendments 35 to 48, 56, 20 and 57 to 65, and new clause 7, on which I will open my remarks.

New clause 7, along with amendments 35 to 48, is intended to amend the parts of the Bill relating to the benefit cap. Amendments 35, 36 and 37 would maintain the cap at its current rate, while amendments 38 to 48 would mitigate the differential impact of the Government’s proposals on specific groups of claimants by exempting from the benefit cap bereavement allowance, carer’s allowance, child benefit, child tax credit, guardian’s allowance, maternity allowance, severe disablement allowance and widowed parent’s allowance.

The bottom line, and the key point to be made today, is that many of the provisions in this part of the Bill are entirely arbitrary and have no robust evidence to support them. By proposing an arbitrary benefits cap, the Government fail to acknowledge the underlying drivers of benefits increases. They fail to acknowledge, for example, how soaring private sector rents in parts of the UK with astronomical house prices and chronic under-supply of affordable housing push up the cost of housing benefit—money that usually goes straight into the pockets of private landlords, often without even passing through the hands of tenants. But I recognise that that is not the only driver, and in the absence of proper analysis, setting the benefits cap at an arbitrary level is possibly the worst example of policy making on the back of a fag packet that I have seen in this place for quite some time. Although I support the Labour amendment that would force the Secretary of State to review the impact of the lower cap more regularly, I would prefer to see this very weak piece of policy making removed completely from the Bill.

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4.15 pm

What we know about the benefits cap is that the Government’s initial impact assessment says that by 2017-18, 333,000 children will be affected by it, with households expected to lose about £64 per week each. In The Guardian,the Government’s civil servants were quoted as saying that up to 40,000 more children will fall into poverty as a result of the new benefits cap alone. We heard earlier about how hundreds of thousands of children are set to be affected by other changes to the tax and benefits system, but 40,000 more children will be affected just because of the benefits cap and just because they live in areas with excessively high rent. That is why we in the SNP have tabled amendments that would require the Government to measure the impact properly and act on the poverty caused by the lowering of the benefits cap.

When the Tories said in their manifesto:

“We will work to eliminate child poverty”,

it seems that what they really meant was that they intended to eliminate child poverty from the statute books by abandoning any attempt to measure it effectively. The benefits cap is one of the measures in the Bill that will undoubtedly push more children into hardship. Airbrushing child poverty from our public discourse by changing the way in which it is reported is the wrong thing to do and will not help us tackle the lifelong impacts of growing up in a family deprived of income.

Dawn Butler (Brent Central) (Lab): On the effect of the cuts, Brent council has produced its own report, which highlights the fact that in Brent 13,600 households and 26,200 children will be affected.

Dr Whiteford: The hon. Lady makes a useful point. I am aware that Brent is one of the areas where the benefits cap will be particularly keenly felt, but all our big conurbations are affected, especially those where there is a large gap between the incomes of the wealthiest and people who are earning what in any other part of the country would be a decent wage, but in certain parts of the UK is not enough to live on.

I am glad to see that Labour Members have supported amendment 56, which I intend to press to a vote this evening. I shall also address some of the related amendments, 57 to 65, all of which would affect support for those distanced from the labour market, whether under employment and support allowance or universal credit. They would remove the provisions in the Bill that seek to reduce ESA for those in receipt of the work-related activity component.

I want to be absolutely clear that SNP MPs will oppose the proposals in clauses 13 and 14, which are an outright attack on people who are seriously sick, disabled, or living with debilitating long-term health problems. We are talking about people who are so seriously incapacitated that even the Government’s own stringent assessment process has deemed them unfit for work at present. Slashing support for sick people will not help them recover more quickly. In fact, money worries are one of the things that often slow down people’s recovery from serious illness. We have just heard a powerful speech delivered from the Government Benches about support for people who are terminally ill, but sometimes people recovering from illnesses that could go either way need a long time to recover, and they do not always get the support and the sympathy they need.

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I am deeply concerned by the Government’s rhetoric on this matter. The hon. Member for Oldham East and Saddleworth (Debbie Abrahams) hit a raw nerve earlier when she suggested that some of the Government’s language has been deeply inappropriate, but as recently as the summer Budget the Chancellor said it was a “perverse incentive” for ESA claimants to receive more than jobseeker’s allowance. When a person has been assessed as not currently fit for work, I fail to see how reducing their income by 30 quid a week will get them into work faster.

Today, the Disability Benefits Consortium has released figures suggesting that 70% of disabled people surveyed say that the cut will make their health worse, not better. There are other important considerations to take into account, however, particularly for those with long-term disabilities or health conditions that compromise their ability to work over long periods. A lifetime of disability or the development of a long-term condition already erodes the financial assets and resilience of too many people, including carers. About one third of disabled people already live in poverty, and sick and disabled people who are unable to work—many disabled people do work, of course, and hold down steady jobs—face many costs that might not be immediately evident. For example, they might need to heat their home throughout the day at a higher temperature than would be necessary for a more active and fit person. They also incur those costs over a long period. In contrast, the vast majority of people on jobseeker’s allowance are on it for fairly short periods. About 60% of people on JSA move off the benefit within six months, whereas almost 60% of people in the work-related activity group need that support for at least two years.

Let us face it, most of us could, with a wee bit of effort, cope with a very low income for a week or two, but for those who face an extended period out of the labour market because of their health, £73 a week is just not sustainable. People will be eating poorly and will be unable to heat their home and clothe themselves adequately on such sums. Any one of us in this Chamber could find our lives, or the lives of the people we love, transformed at any moment by serious illness or disability. Earlier this afternoon someone described this as a civilised society, but in my view to be a civilised society we need an adequate safety net. We need to remember that returning to employment immediately is just not an option for people who have been deemed not currently fit for work.

I agree entirely with the Labour Front Benchers that the language the Government have been using has vilified and stigmatised sick and disabled people. Talking about “perverse incentives” implies that they are malingering. That is not the case. I do not think that a perverse incentive involves being so ill that one cannot work. When this part of the Bill was discussed in Committee, the Government seemed to suggest that they planned to use the savings from the cuts to ESA to provide additional funding for tailored employment support for disabled people. God knows, that is badly needed, given the fairly woeful performance of parts of the Work programme, but the only figure I have seen mooted by the Government is an increase of £90 million in employment support, whereas the measures are expected to save in the region of £640 million. Based even on the most rudimentary arithmetic, that seems a fairly paltry

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portion of the savings. I am also not convinced that it is the best use of resources given the direct adverse impacts on low-income, disabled and sick people. I would welcome detail from the Government on that, because from where we are standing now it looks extremely thin.

New clause 9 and amendments 57 to 65 all seek to reverse the proposals to introduce further conditionality on parents and responsible carers of very young children. I am particularly concerned about the potential impact on one-parent families. There is quite a lot of evidence that many lone parents are already struggling to comply with the new conditionality regime. We have seen disproportionate numbers of lone parents sanctioned, for example, and in recent days we have seen a massive U-turn by the Government in acknowledging that the sanctions regime is not working. I met representatives of One Parent Families Scotland just over a week ago and was gobsmacked by some of the examples they highlighted of struggling parents being sanctioned in extenuating and extremely difficult circumstances.

Currently, lone parents of children under five do not actively have to seek work, but they do need to attend work-focused interviews or work-related activity. Under this group of amendments, parents will be expected to be available and ready actively to seek work from the time their youngest child starts school, but not before. These proposals, which were pushed in Committee by my hon. Friend the Member for Livingston (Hannah Bardell) and supported by the lone parent charity Gingerbread, take account of the very real logistical hurdles faced by those who are parenting single handed, and do not unnecessarily penalise those children who are already more likely to be poor as a consequence of their family circumstances. The Government’s proposals increase the risk of sanctions for parents of very young children, which can only be detrimental not just for them but for our society as a whole.

That leads me on rather neatly to new clause 12, which is in my name and which I also hope to push to a vote tonight. It would compel the Secretary of State to conduct a review of the sanctions regime. I have called for an independent review previously in the House. In the last Parliament, as we have already heard, the cross-party Work and Pensions Committee called for a full independent review. Earlier today, my hon. Friend the Member for Ochil and South Perthshire (Ms Ahmed-Sheikh) eloquently called for that review, because it is manifestly clear that the new sanctions regime is just not working, as it is failing lots of very vulnerable and disadvantaged people. It is failing not just lone parents, but sick and disabled people, particularly those with invisible or fluctuating conditions such as mental health problems. We can see the fall-out from that in the explosion in the number of food banks in our constituencies and in almost all the communities that we serve.

Last week, we had tacit acknowledgement from the Government that the system is not working when they made their U-turn, announcing their so-called “yellow card” warning scheme pilot. They also showed a new willingness to consider reviewing those classed as at risk to include homeless people and those with mental health problems. I welcome those steps; they are an important change of tone in the Government’s approach, but we need action now and not in the new year—that part of winter when these problems will already have become a

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lot worse. We must recognise that these steps also fall far short of the independent root-and-branch review that is really needed.

If we are to move towards a more workable system, we need a solid evidence base and to understand better how sanctions have differential impacts on claimants who are disabled, those with protected characteristics such as gender and ethnicity, those with long-term health problems, including mental health problems, and those who are bringing up bairns single handed.

Finally, new clause 10 aims to ensure that any changes to the age of eligible claimants for housing benefit must be made by primary legislation rather than by regulation through the back door. New clause 11 offers protections for young people who cannot, for whatever reason, live with their parents. The Government said that they plan to cut housing benefit for 16 to 21-year-olds, but we on the SNP Benches do not think that that should be done through regulation. It is another example of a policy for which there is a very poor evidential base and which needs proper scrutiny. Some 60% of the young people set to be affected by this measure live in social housing. In other words, they are already likely to be deemed vulnerable by their local authority. Their age should not matter, but their need for support most certainly should. Again, this seems entirely arbitrary, and, again, we have seen none of the promised detail of support for those who are particularly vulnerable. I am forced to conclude that the Government have not thought through the implications of their slash-and-burn approach to our social security system.

Our amendments in this group seek to protect low income households, sick and disabled people and children. They offer the Government a way to mitigate the worst impacts of the legislation and help us all better to understand how we can genuinely improve our social security system. I hope that the Government will take some of that on board this evening.

Helen Whately: Over the past few weeks, the Welfare Reform and Work Bill Committee, of which I am a member, has had to make some difficult decisions, but they were decisions that the electorate showed in May that they wanted us to make. The decisions that we have had to make can be seen both in this Bill and in the summer Budget.

I do not support the Opposition’s proposed new clause 2, but its wording shows that they do recognise that these reforms are part of a broader and coherent plan. They are part of a package of measures to create the kind of economy and society that people want. I am not talking about a society in which people spend years on benefits and low pay but one in which work pays, people keep more of what they earn and everyone has a chance to be better off.

Dawn Butler: In the context of people earning more, does the hon. Lady believe that we should take into the consideration the Living Wage Foundation’s report on how much the living wage should be?

4.30 pm

Helen Whately: When the announcement on the national living wage was made, the Living Wage Foundation supported it, and I hope that Labour Members can do the same.

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Jo Churchill: This is only a minor point, but the hon. Member for Pontypridd (Owen Smith) said earlier that the minimum wage is £6.50, yet it actually went up to £6.70 on 1 October. Knowing how much we are paying people is the first step. A living wage is what we are driving towards so that people have more in their pocket—[Interruption.] At the moment the national minimum wage is £6.70, and we are driving it up to £7.20.

Helen Whately: I thank my hon. Friend for her intervention.

Dawn Butler: On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I think that the hon. Member for Bury St Edmunds (Jo Churchill) might be inadvertently trying to mislead the House in that the living wage is actually £9.15 an hour, according to the Living Wage Foundation.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Natascha Engel): I am afraid that I did not catch the intervention by the hon. Member for Bury St Edmunds (Jo Churchill), but I am sure that she was not trying to mislead the House.

Jo Churchill: Indeed I was not, and I apologise if I did. I was merely trying to make the point that the current minimum wage is £6.70 and not £6.50 as was stated earlier. We are moving towards a higher-wage economy. [Interruption.]

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. The hon. Member for Faversham and Mid Kent (Helen Whately) is in the middle of her speech, and this is a debating point rather than a point of order, so can we please continue?

Helen Whately: Thank you very much, Madam Deputy Speaker.

Labour’s new clause calls for an impact assessment. There have already been several impact assessments, but the strongest one of all was that made by the thousands of people in May who voted for a Conservative Government on a manifesto that pledged to build a stronger economy with more jobs and lower taxes, to move from deficit into surplus, to protect public services such as the NHS, and to bring down the welfare bill. Labour Members oppose these reforms. They want to keep on taxing people and using that tax to subsidise below-the-breadline wages.

It is time to break that cycle, and these reforms will do that. They include the national living wage, from which 2.7 million people will receive a direct increase in income and at least 3 million more will get a knock-on benefit. Would Labour Members seek to delay that? If so, they would already be too late, because the benefits are already being felt. Wages are going up, and 200 companies have committed to increasing their lowest rates of pay in advance, including Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Lidl, IKEA, Asda, and British Gas.

Mr Anderson: Does the hon. Lady have any idea what her Government plan to do about the people who have been left behind with pay increases—the 5 million or so public sector workers who have had their pay frozen or cut over the past seven or eight years? What do the Government intend to do to bring them up to the living wage, because they have not had a pay rise for more than seven years?

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Helen Whately: Public sector workers are getting a 1% pay rise. Over the past few years, private sector pay has, in the main, been frozen while public sector pay has continued to go up.

I will move on to the Opposition amendments on the benefits cap. The Government intend to reduce the cap to £20,000, or £23,000 in London. We should be clear that that is the net figure, so it would amount to a salary of about £25,000 before tax. We have heard some rather mixed messages from Labour Members. Their leader has said that he wants to cap benefits overall but not for individuals. I am sure that it will become clear today exactly where they stand on the amendments tabled by SNP Members, who I understand do not want any reductions in the benefits cap. Benefits should be a safety net. We need a benefits system that is sustainable and therefore affordable and fair. It cannot allow people to do better on benefits than in work. That creates the wrong incentives. It is also deeply unpopular and therefore unsustainable in its own right. Surely Opposition Members have had conversations with people who are just above the threshold that would allow them to receive most benefits. They must understand their legitimate anger when they see their taxes funding a lifestyle they cannot afford.

Peter Dowd: Is the hon. Lady aware that 70% of the money that the Treasury will save as a result of cuts to tax credits will come from working mums?

Helen Whately: It was pointed out in Committee that people who receive benefits also pay tax. I do not think we should try to parcel people up in different tribes or groups. This is about getting the right thing for the country, trying to help everybody make the most of their opportunities and making work pay.

I have certainly had difficult conversations on the doorsteps in my constituency, because the majority of employees in Faversham and Mid Kent are paid less than £20,000 per annum. At its current level the benefits cap has been working. More than 16,000 capped households have moved into work, and households subject to the cap are 41% more likely to get into work. We know that work is the best way out of poverty and I believe that everyone in this House wants to see people move out of poverty. We should make the benefits cap work harder. That is what this is about.

Graham Stuart: It is shocking that Opposition Members find themselves unable to talk about the jobs miracle of the past five years. We have created more jobs in this country than the rest of Europe combined. That is the dignity that people want. What we did not need was people who were on 16 hours a week and disincentivised from taking on any extra work because they would lose out if they did so. That is the mess that Labour left behind and we are disentangling it so that we can create a fairer society for everybody.

Helen Whately: I thank my hon. Friend for making his point so forcefully.

I will move on to the proposed amendments to clause 13. The Bill Committee heard evidence of the damage that a long period or a life on welfare can do to people. Our witnesses talked about people who had been out of work for a long time having their confidence destroyed, and about how they begin to feel that they are not

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capable of changing their lives. We were also told that 61% of people in the work-related activity group want to work, yet only 1% come off that benefit each month. I am sure that many of us know of people who find it difficult to get into work for all sorts of reasons, such as mental health problems, and need extra help to do so. The current system is not working well enough. Not only does clause 13 remove financial disincentives, but, critically, and hand in hand with that, the Government have committed new funding to help that group of people into work, which is a response to what they really want.

Neil Coyle: What message does the hon. Lady think she is sending to the 8,000 people with progressive and incurable conditions in the employment and support allowance work-related activity group when she says they should be working rather than receiving support?

Helen Whately: I had a conversation recently with the company that does the work assessments. We talked about the importance of people with progressive conditions not being put in groups that would lead to them being made to work if it is not possible for them to do so. We should not assume, however, that just because someone has a progressive condition they do not necessarily want to work and be helped to do so.

Although many people knock jobcentres and are critical of them, the Committee also heard about the effective work they do across the country in supporting people, particularly those faced with barriers, to get into work. I have heard of some great examples in my own constituency in Kent.

In summary, many important and valid points have been raised in Committee and in this Chamber. The amendments, however, propose to pull apart a package of considered changes to welfare, including tax changes such as increases to the personal allowance and access to free childcare, as announced in the summer Budget. That package of measures is about making work pay and helping people into work.

Dr Philippa Whitford (Central Ayrshire) (SNP): Will the hon. Lady give way?

Helen Whately: I am just summing up, so the hon. Lady will forgive me if I do not give way.

Opposition Members are not offering a credible alternative or, in fact, any alternative. Throughout the Committee stage and today’s debate we have heard many criticisms, but a complete absence of positive proposals to make the welfare system more effective at getting people off welfare and into work—this is an opportunity for Opposition Members to make such proposals—and to make the welfare system more sustainable and affordable.

Hand in hand with criticising the Bill, Opposition Members should say what they would do to make work pay and help people into work; what savings they would make to ensure the welfare bill is more sustainable; what cuts they might make to public services—for instance, whether they would cut the NHS or reduce its funding—and what taxes they would put up, other than raising the top rate, which they know does not raise extra revenue; or would they just keep on borrowing, which is increasing the debt for future generations?

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Emily Thornberry (Islington South and Finsbury) (Lab): Will the hon. Lady give way?

Helen Whately: I am just summing up, so I will not give way, if the hon. Lady will forgive me.

Coupled with that is the desire of Opposition Members to keep a welfare system that does not work and does not help enough people into work, when we now—with the economy growing, plenty of jobs and wages going up—have an opportunity to do something about it. We have a plan, and in the absence of a plan of their own, I encourage them to back ours.

Mr Anderson: This debate should be about people, not constitutional niceties or the economy. It is not about some faceless, inanimate objects, but real people at the sharp end. I have been asked by the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, with which I work as the chair of the all-party group on muscular dystrophy, to raise the impact of these changes to support, which build on the cuts and challenges brought in by the coalition Government during the past five years. It has real concerns about the changes to ESA, JSA, housing benefit, tax credits and the new universal credit. It has asked me to raise the cases of real people, and that is what I will do.

I want to talk about Bill. After 25 years as a coalminer, he had to retire in his early 40s. He had long-term health problems and died at the age of 48. Joy, who as a young girl swam with Durham County, went into the world of work and then, in her early 20s, was struck down by a disease. She died at the age of 53, from heart failure. Joanne, a girl who was born with defects, spent a lifetime struggling to get on in her life. A lovely young woman, she died at the age of 42, cruelly, after suffering for a long time. Jacqueline died from a massive heart attack at the age of 40. Unfortunately, the hon. Member for Beverley and Holderness (Graham Stuart) has left the Chamber, but she was one of his constituents. Ian, a young boy who struggled through his early years, was just starting to develop, but died at the early age of 19 from a heart attack, beside a swimming pool while doing what he did best.

These five people had three things in common: they were all part of my family; they all suffered from myotonic muscular dystrophy; and, to a greater or lesser extent, they all looked for support from the welfare state. These people’s lives were happy if tough, but ultimately they were short-lived. Thank God that the people who went before them had the guts, nous and determination to build a welfare state that meant they could live a reasonably secure and stable life.

No doubt Conservative Members would say that my family were part of the dependency culture. Do you know what? They would be absolutely right. These members of my family were dependent on the state for help with the costs of medication and of care, and they were dependent on the state for day-to-day living costs, as well as for help with transport, mobility, housing and hospitalisation. If they were alive today, they would no doubt be in the direct sights of Conservative Members, so I will now use the language that has been used today.

This Government have demonised people who depend on the welfare state, and through a clear strategy of dog-whistle tactics, they have worked to convince many in this country that anyone on benefits is a scrounger. They have led people to believe that if anyone passes a

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house with closed curtains while on the way to work in the morning, they can safely assume that anyone inside is a bone-idle waster who needs to be ridiculed and demonised.

4.45 pm

Let me say this to the House: go past my nephew’s house in Bridlington one morning. His curtains will be closed because he is simply too weak to get out of bed until midday. This 40-year-old man had to give up a career in electronics because he was too weak to lift and move electronic equipment. Go to my sister’s council bungalow in South Shields. She won’t be out of bed in the morning either; she will be waiting for a carer to come and help her out of bed, because she struggles to move in the morning. A woman who has just turned 60 and served this country as a nurse in the Army, the national health service, and the ship-building industry, now relies entirely on others to help her live, and on the state to help her survive. These are real people; these are the people who the Conservative party are making the scapegoat of austerity. These people are being made to pay for the failure of the global economic collapse—not the rich, the wealthy or the well-to-do, but ordinary, poor, sick, vulnerable, disabled people in this country. That is a disgrace, and regardless of the outcome of this debate, the Labour party will not leave this issue, or those people, alone.

Graham Evans: This is a very important debate. In the last Parliament I had the privilege of sitting on the Work and Pensions Committee, and it is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Blaydon (Mr Anderson). I am sorry to hear about how his family have been affected by Duchenne muscular dystrophy. A member of my family suffered with that condition and died aged 21 after many years of suffering. It is a dreadful disease, but this Government’s reforms are not about inflicting anything on people with diseases such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Reforming welfare is crucial to achieving a sustainable welfare system that is fair to the most vulnerable in society and also to the hard-working taxpayers who pay for it. Without sound public finances, there can be no economic security for working families, and the country cannot pay for the hospitals and schools that we rely on. Those who suffer most when Governments run unsustainable deficits are not the richest, but the very poorest.

Ian Blackford: We have heard much from Government Members about sustainable welfare spending, but how would they define it? Is not the heart of the problem the fact that through the things they are doing, the Government are pushing many children into poverty and redefining poverty? Is it not the case that when we change the definition, we change the truth?

Graham Evans: I think I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman’s intervention. This is about choices and what we spend our money on. There is no such thing as a magic money tree, and if Scottish nationalists are not happy with these measures, perhaps they will inform the Scottish people how much they will pay in tax—we never hear that from the SNP. If they do not agree with welfare reform, they should tell the House and the people of Scotland how much they will put up taxes.

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The Bill continues on from the Welfare Reform Act 2012, restoring the ethos that it always pays to work to the heart of the British welfare system. The 2012 Act set in place a benefit cap.

Geraint Davies (Swansea West) (Lab/Co-op): Does the hon. Gentleman accept that this debate is between growth or cuts to get down the deficit? We are taking a lot of money from the poorest people—those on tax credits and welfare—but those people spend all their money consuming things while richer people save some of it. The macroeconomic impact of the cuts—especially across the country outside London—will be deflationary, undermine growth and increase debt. Is that not economically illiterate?

Graham Evans: The hon. Gentleman has a fine record of representing his constituents. That argument is often made by Opposition Members, but I do not necessarily agree with it. The most important thing is for people to get into work and to get into higher paid work.

The Welfare Reform Act 2012 wanted to reduce the benefit cap to £26,000, or £500 a week. That is a net figure. If tax and national insurance are taken into consideration, the cap is actually £36,000. The Bill expands on the 2012 Act, lowering the cap, rightly, to £20,000 per household, or £23,000 in the London area. The changes restore fairness to the welfare system: they are fair for the hardworking taxpayers, who have to pay for the welfare, and ensure that work always pays. The savings from the benefit cap will be used in conjunction with other measures to fund 3 million apprenticeship places to secure the future of our young people.

This is about choices. This House takes very seriously the security and defence of our country—we are committed to spending 2% of GDP on it. I am absolutely delighted that Labour Members are also committed to that 2% target, but if they are committed to 2% of GDP for defence, and to spending on welfare and overseas aid, where will the savings be made? If they want savings to be achieved through an increase in taxes, they should please tell the British people how much more tax they will have to pay.

I sat on the Work and Pensions Committee investigation into benefit sanctions. We hear a lot of noise from Opposition Members about benefit sanctions, but the truth is that the condition has always been applied to the payment of unemployment benefits. The concept of conditionality enforced by financial sanctions dates back to the 1980s. It is nothing new, even under 13 years of a Labour Government. Conditionality remains a necessary part of the benefits system and is still one of the most effective tools for encouraging engagement with employment support programmes at the jobcentre. Some 70% of claimants say they are more likely to follow the rules if they know they risk having their benefits stopped. Sanctions are used only as a last resort and in a very small percentage of cases. Only 6% of JSA claimants and 1% of ESA claimants have faced sanctions in the past year, and the number of sanctions issued has fallen by a third.

Geraint Davies: In Swansea, the area that I represent, 65% of JSA claimants have been sanctioned at some point in the past two years, according to the citizens advice bureau. That is intolerable.

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Graham Evans: Swansea is a fine city and the hon. Gentleman represents it very well. That may be the case in Swansea, but I can only speak about the Jobcentre Pluses that the Work and Pensions Committee investigated. We did not see any evidence of targets. In my constituency, I have two Jobcentre Pluses. They are outstanding and do a fantastic job. We have almost full employment in Weaver Vale and the surrounding area. The centres do a great job of trying to get the people who are unemployed into jobs. If hard-working taxpayers who pay for benefits and welfare did not turn up to work on time and do a good job, they would be sanctioned—they would be sacked. There has to be fairness. Finding a full-time job is a full-time job. There is the claimant commitment. All I am saying to the House is that in my experience I have not seen any target culture in the Jobcentre Pluses I have visited.

Emily Thornberry: Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Islington Law Centre in my constituency has a 100% success rate in overturning sanction decisions?

Graham Evans: I am grateful to the hon. Lady for that intervention. She makes a powerful point. She represents north London and I represent a seat in the north-west. When the Committee investigated Jobcentre Plus, one of the things I used to argue for was best practice. There are some outstanding examples of Jobcentre Plus practice. Perhaps the north London jobcentres need to look at best practice elsewhere in the Department for Work and Pensions.

Emily Thornberry: The point is simply this: the hon. Gentleman may be right, so will he support our call for an independent review of sanctions across the country, so we can see where there is good practice and where there is bad practice?

Graham Evans: The hon. Lady raises a good point, which others have raised, too. I would encourage the Select Committee to do a further investigation into Jobcentre Plus. My personal experience is that it does an outstanding job. I carry out job fairs in my constituency and I am organising my fifth one since I became an MP, during which time I have seen unemployment halved in Weaver Vale. One thing I learned from working with the jobcentres in Runcorn and Northwich was the number of high-quality and well-paid jobs available.

Let me provide an example. Waitrose came to town—to Northwich. It is under no obligation to give interviews, but when it came to Northwich, it said it would interview 25% of local people on the books of the local jobcentre. In the end, it interviewed 70%, and I am pleased to say that more than 50% of those it took on for the new Waitrose in Northwich were local people. I spoke to many of the people employed there. There were lots of young ladies, and ladies not quite so young, who had been unemployed for many years. They now have themselves a fantastic career with a John Lewis partnership. I asked them why they were unemployed for so long, and they said that the training given by Jobcentre Plus and the local Cheshire West and Chester work zone was what made them job-ready, able to do well in interviews and capable of producing a good CV.

The last time I checked, Waitrose was delighted with the quality of the workforce—one that, as I say, had been unemployed for a very long time. Some of the jobs are part time, but some people want that, and they are

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good-quality jobs and very well paid. This is exactly the sort of Jobcentre Plus activity that I hope goes on in everyone’s constituency. I was going to say more about Jobcentre Plus, but I shall give that a miss as I have already made the points.

Everyone with the ability to work should be given the support and opportunity to work. The previous system wrote too many people off and left too many trapped in a cycle of welfare dependency. Over the last five years, the number of people in Weaver Vale claiming jobseeker’s allowance and universal credit while not in employment fell by more than 1,000—a 51% drop. I am not saying that my jobs fairs had anything to do with that, but they probably helped in some way.

This Government’s long-term economic plan is working for Weaver Vale, getting people off a life on benefits and back into work. I have not heard of an alternative to our long-term economic plan recently—or at all, in fact. Employment has been this Government’s real success, with 2 million more jobs—and 1,000 created each and every day during the last Parliament.

Graham Jones (Hyndburn) (Lab): I question this “long-term economic plan”. Is it the one intended to cut the deficit entirely by 2015 or the one to cut it by 2020? Which one of those long-term economic plans is it?

Graham Evans: The hon. Gentleman raises a good point. The long-term economic plan I am talking about is taking this country from the depths of despair we experienced in 2010. If we carry on the way we are going, we will be the biggest economy in Europe. I have to confess that I have a vested interest as I have young children and I am interested in their future. Do we all want to leave a credit card debt of £1.4 trillion? As long as we carry on with the deficit, we are adding to that debt. It is all about choices and paying down the deficit, which we will do by 2019-20. It is about paying down the debts of my children and the hon. Gentleman’s children so that they will not be saddled with our credit card debt.

We understand that the route out of poverty is not through welfare; poverty can be left behind through work. International development is a recognition of that. When we as a country give 0.7% of our GDP to overseas development, we look for ways to help countries to stand on their own two feet. Helping communities and individuals all comes through work.

The OBR has predicted that a further million jobs will be created over the next five years, but this is the party of ambition, and we want to go further. This Bill is working to a target of full employment and puts an obligation on the Secretary of State to report on progress towards that target. I wholeheartedly agree with that.

This Bill is a major stepping-stone, moving Britain from a high welfare, high tax, low wage economy to a lower welfare, lower tax and higher wage economy. It continues the work of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in the last Parliament, making work central to Britain’s welfare system. These reforms are transforming the lives of some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in our communities and giving people the skills and opportunities to get on in life and stand on their own two feet.

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Several hon. Members rose

Madam Deputy Speaker (Natascha Engel): Order. Before I call the hon. Member for Bermondsey and Old Southwark (Neil Coyle), let me remind the House that, while this is a very interesting and lively debate, 12 Back Benchers and the Minister are still to speak before the knife comes down at 6 pm. If interventions could be short and kept to a minimum, that would be great, because there are still quite a few Members whom we wish to call.

5 pm

Neil Coyle: I want to speak about new clause 3, to which my name is attached. It was a privilege to be a member of the Bill Committee, which studied this issue in some detail. I thank the hon. Member for Beverley and Holderness (Graham Stuart)—who is no longer present—and the hon. Member for Bury St Edmunds (Jo Churchill) for speaking positively about the new clause. I hope that that is an indication of consensus that it is a necessary amendment to the coalition Government’s changes in relation to personal independence payments. I also pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield Central (Paul Blomfield) and his local citizens advice bureau. They helped with the drafting of the new clause, and also provided genuine case studies of terminally ill people who are missing out on the swifter support that the new clause would deliver.

New clause 3 is designed to address a bureaucratic anomaly that has arisen since the Government began ending disability living allowance and introducing personal independence payments. New claimants of PIP who become terminally ill can access additional support swiftly, and under the DLA system, people could, on receipt of a terminal prognosis, access help swiftly. However, since PIP has begun to replace DLA under the coalition’s regulations, an issue has arisen that affects people who are already on DLA, become terminally ill, and are required to move on to PIP before they can access the additional help that the whole House seems to agree should be provided. The aim of the new clause is to enable people receiving DLA who are transferred to PIP owing to terminal illness to receive their first new payment immediately after being transferred. Currently, claimants must wait four weeks for their final DLA payment to be made, and then another four weeks to receive their first personal independence payment.

The Government have suggested that they are protecting disabled people from the worst cuts. The new clause is concerned solely with terminally ill and disabled people: people with an existing impairment or health condition, and a terminal prognosis. That is a very small group. To meet the Department’s definition of “terminally ill”, the claimant would need to provide independent medical evidence of a prognosis of six months or less to live. While it is great to have the support of the hon. Member for Beverley and Holderness for the new clause, it is slightly more disturbing that Members should suggest that only those with six months or less to live should benefit from our welfare system.

On 9 September, I asked the Department to specify the number of people on DLA who could benefit from the new clause. The response was that the information on the number of disabled people affected was “not collated” by the Department, and

“could only be provided at disproportionate cost.”

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That was an incredibly disappointing response, given the nature of the people whom we are discussing.

In May this year, the DWP did publish a statistical report on registrations, clearances and awards of PIP, which indicates how many people might qualify under the new clause. As at 31 March 2015, the number of reassessments under

“special rules for the terminally ill”

was just 1,600 in two years. So that the Government can cost the new clause, let me explain that we are talking about roughly 800 people a year who are disadvantaged by current processes and who would benefit slightly from a more empathetic system: that is, disabled people who are on DLA and are moving to PIP owing to terminal illness.

Let me give the House a couple of genuine case studies. Carol is 59, lives in Sheffield, and was receiving the DLA care component at the lowest rate of £21.80 per week. On 27 May this year, following a diagnosis of terminal, metastatic breast cancer, she notified the DWP that she wanted her claim to be reconsidered under the special rules. The Department awarded her the highest rate of daily living and mobility components of PIP, worth more than £100 a week extra to reflect her new needs and her terminal prognosis. However, owing to the application of the transitional PIP rules, payment was from 8 July, four weeks after her next DLA payment. Had she been a new claimant for PIP and not already receiving DLA, the benefit would have been paid immediately. Carol lost about £240 as a result of a bureaucratic anomaly.

John was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. He also has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and has had his right leg amputated below the knee. He lives in Sheffield and receives disability living allowance, with a high-rate mobility component and a low-rate care component. Under PIP, he is entitled to an enhanced rate of the care component and a high-rate mobility component. Although he discovered on 10 August that the additional help would be available, his next DLA payment was due on 2 September, and under the anomaly he did not qualify for the extra help until 30 September. We are talking about almost an eight-week delay for someone living in those circumstances.

Given the circumstances of those involved, some people affected by the change will simply not live long enough to receive the extra help to which they are entitled under existing rules. That additional waiting time was not required under DLA rules and has arisen purely as result of the introduction of PIP by the coalition Government. PIP is now being rolled out nationally and this issue will begin to affect more people in more constituencies. If Carol or John were new claimants, they would have got help quicker. When people are terminally ill, time is more pressing and more precious. John and Carol are genuine people who would, if the new clause is accepted, have a little more help for a little more time.

We discussed this issue in Committee at some length, and the Minister for Employment suggested that

“PIP recognises the unique challenges of claimants who are terminally ill.”––[Official Report, Welfare Reform and Work Public Bill Committee, 15 October 2015; c. 435.]

John and Carol, however, demonstrate how PIP has introduced an obstacle to swift support and left some people with less help. It is my understanding that that

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bureaucratic anomaly was an accident, as we discussed in Committee, rather than deliberate policy design, but the result is that it has delayed support for terminally ill and disabled people. The new clause would change that situation.

In Committee, the Minister also emphasised that PIP handles new cases under a fast-track system, with claims, on average, being cleared within six working days and with 99% of people going on to receive an award at a higher rate. That is welcome, but it serves to highlight the disadvantage for former DLA claimants moving to PIP, as opposed to the system for new claims, statistics for which the Minister cited. The fast-track system reflects the fact that these people have only six months to live and was meant to mirror the DLA system. The new clause would replicate the system in a way that addresses the anomaly arising from regulations and would provide equivalent support for those on DLA transitioning to PIP and new claimants.

In Committee, the Minister undertook to meet me and interested parties to address our concerns, and that meeting will be tomorrow. I am grateful for the Minister’s time but I thought there would be more of a window of opportunity for the Government to explore this issue in detail before Report and Third Reading. I understand that they may be willing to address this issue in the other place and, as I say, I am pleased to have heard positive comments from some Government Members, but a strong indication today that the Government do intend to address the issue would be very helpful. I hope they will accept the new clause or indicate how they will introduce their own mechanism to fix the anomaly caused by the PIP regulations, which leaves the most disadvantaged terminally ill people waiting while their time with family, friends and loved ones runs out.

Amanda Milling (Cannock Chase) (Con): Having served on the Bill Committee, I am grateful for the opportunity to speak in this debate. I would like to focus my attention on amendments 35 to 48 relating to the benefit cap, and speak first to amendments 35, 36 and 37. In my view, it was absolutely right in the last Parliament to introduce the benefits cap, and it is right that we review its level now, as set out in clause 7. For those reasons, I do not support the amendments, which seek to keep the cap at the current level.

Many of the things I will touch on this afternoon have been covered by my colleagues, but I wish to make a few points. The benefits cap was introduced in the last Parliament to make work pay or, to put it another way, to incentivise people into work, ensuring that those people who can work are always better off doing so, rather than living a life on benefits. This was about creating fairness in the system.

Neil Coyle rose

Amanda Milling: I am going to make some progress.

It is morally right that people who can work are better off in work; why should someone who is able to go to work get more money on benefits than in work? There has been strong support for that argument, both nationally and in my constituency. As I have mentioned in this Chamber before, Cannock Chase is a former mining area, where there is an incredibly strong work ethic. That might go some way to explaining why people would spontaneously say to me on the doorstep that

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they really supported the cap. That is notwithstanding the general public’s support. A YouGov survey conducted in the previous Parliament demonstrated the strength of public feeling, with around three quarters of respondents supporting the cap.

Emily Thornberry: Will the hon. Lady give way?

Amanda Milling: If the hon. Lady does not mind, I am going to make progress.

Not only do people support the cap, but there is evidence that it is working. It is reforms such as these that have helped encourage people back into work. In my constituency of Cannock Chase, unemployment has fallen dramatically. Since May 2010, the number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance has fallen by a staggering 70%. It is measures such as the benefits cap that have contributed to that fall. That is also evidenced by the figures mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Faversham and Mid Kent (Helen Whately). Since the cap was introduced, 16,000 capped households have moved into work. Further analysis shows that households subject to the cap are 41% more likely to go into work, compared with similar uncapped households. There is also evidence to show that those who are subject to the cap are doing more to find work, whether by submitting more applications or attending more interviews.

However, one of my key concerns—this can be seen nationally and in my constituency—is whether the benefits cap goes far enough. Having talked with members of the public, I had a strong sense that the cap was set too high. After all, a family going out to work would have to earn £35,000 in order to net the equivalent £26,000, as my hon. Friend the Member for Weaver Vale (Graham Evans) mentioned.

Emily Thornberry: Will the hon. Lady give way?

Amanda Milling: I am going to make progress, because I am conscious of time and the number of Members who wish to speak.

I therefore welcome the proposed reduction in the cap to £20,000 outside London and £23,000 in London, as set out in our manifesto and as included in the Bill. That is something the public support, as the general election result demonstrated. The Government received a clear mandate from the public on 7 May to introduce the benefits cap and the proposed reductions.

In my view, the benefits cap is a key measure at three levels. First, it ensures that our welfare system is fair, by making work pay and ensuring that those who can work are always better off in work than on benefits. Secondly, it ensures that our welfare system is targeted, by making sure that there is safety net for those people who most need support—the most vulnerable. Thirdly, it creates a welfare system that is sustainable, helping to get our economy and public finances on to a firmer footing and helping to reduce the deficit.

To date, the benefits cap has worked to meet those three objectives, helping to create a fair, targeted and sustainable welfare system. I believe that the measures set out in the Bill will help to deliver those further. The amendments that have been tabled would undermine that progress, so I will not be supporting them this evening.

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Helen Goodman: I am pleased to follow the hon. Member for Cannock Chase (Amanda Milling) and will begin where she left off: on the benefit cap. It is quite clear that, as she has described, the public take the view that there needs to be a certain reciprocity and that there is a certain fairness in limiting the amount that individual households can receive. The question is whether the amounts are set at the right level and whether the right benefits are included.

The impact assessment that the DWP initially produced when it introduced the benefit cap stated that the object of the policy was to get more people into work. That raises a question about how sensible it is to include carer’s allowance, since carers are already busy caring, and maternity benefits, since people claiming those will obviously have little babies to look after. The Government should think more carefully about those proposals.

5.15 pm

My hon. Friend the Member for Oldham East and Saddleworth (Debbie Abrahams) made a fantastic first speech from the Dispatch Box, and I support new clause 2, on getting more information, which she moved. We have had the rather pathetic episode of the Chancellor’s failure to produce a proper analysis of the distributional impact of the tax and benefit changes that he announced in July. He came before the Treasury Committee in July, and we pointed out that he was no longer publishing the analysis by decile for this year’s announcements. He had been publishing that analysis for at least five years, and we could not understand why he had stopped. After about six weeks, he produced an analysis by quintile for all four years together. We had him back before the Committee this week, and he was still resisting. It is all very well the Chancellor saying he is comfortable with his proposals on tax credits, and the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions saying what marvellous reforms the Government are making, but not publishing the underlying analysis suggests a lack of confidence. I am therefore that my hon. Friend has moved the new clause.

I am also pleased that the hon. Member for Beverley and Holderness (Graham Stuart) is supporting new clause 3, on reducing the waiting time for people transitioning from DLA to personal independence payments. I hope we will hear from Ministers that they, too, will support the new clause.

We have discussed sanctions a lot this afternoon. I have been concerned about some of the people I have met who have been sanctioned. I met a young man who had applied for 27 jobs in one fortnight, and he had been sanctioned. I said, “Why have you been sanctioned? That is a lot of jobs”. When I was unemployed, there was no way I could have got through 27 serious job applications in a fortnight. I think half a dozen a week is quite a lot. He said, “I was sanctioned because my target was 30”. This is ridiculous and absurd. It is not a fair or reasonable way to treat people. We had a debate in Westminster Hall where north-east Members came to discuss benefits issues, and every single Member raised the issue of sanctions. It transpired that the guidelines that officials are supposed to use and which give good reasons for people not to be sanctioned were not being followed. I urge Ministers to ensure that the guidelines are followed.

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Michelle Donelan (Chippenham) (Con): The hon. Lady mentioned six applications a week. Just to clarify: is that less than one application a day?

Helen Goodman: It depends what kind of job is being applied for and how long it takes. I do not know how many applications the hon. Lady made when she was unemployed. Obviously, if they are simple job applications, one can make more. My point was: the young man had made 27 and he was sanctioned. Does she think that a sign of somebody malingering or a sign that people in the jobcentre were playing games? I put it to her that it was not a straightforward way to treat this young man. It was not encouraging or supportive; it was demeaning and demoralising, and it should stop. Ministers should ensure that the sanctions rules are properly applied.

The big study on sanctions carried out by Glasgow University found that one person in four on JSA had been sanctioned. I am sorry, but I think there is the intention on the part of Ministers to massage down the JSA numbers. Of course, the number of people unemployed has fallen and employment has risen—everybody is pleased about that, and nobody wishes to deny it—but I think there is an attempt, through sanctions, to massage the JSA numbers and pretend that there is not an unemployment problem. When I went to the Bishop Auckland jobcentre, I was told that half the people claiming JSA there had been unemployed not for more than 12 months but for more than three years. This is a serious problem, but the Government are not addressing it in a serious way.

Paul Scully: The hon. Lady might make a stronger case if she were looking at the unemployment figures alone. The fact is, however, that we now have record levels of employment in this country. They are at their highest since the statistics first started to be recorded. Does she not agree that that shows a move from unemployment to employment?

Helen Goodman: The statistics are quite dubious, in a number of ways. Let us consider, for example, the number of people who have gone into self-employment because they have not been able to find proper jobs, and the extent of under-employment.

Paul Scully: As someone who has been self-employed for the best part of 20 years, I find that quite offensive. Is the hon. Lady seriously telling her constituents that self-employment is not a proper job?

Helen Goodman: Is the hon. Gentleman aware that self-employment has increased by 42%? How many of those newly self-employed people does he think are in sustainable small businesses? People come to my constituency surgeries who have become self-employed and are working as window cleaners. That is fine—of course everyone needs to get their windows cleaned—but there is a limit to how many window cleaners we need in society. If people are coming out of highly skilled jobs and going into very low-skilled ones—[Interruption.] Conservative Members can protest as much as they like, but when the Treasury Committee took evidence from representatives of the Bank of England, they told us that a lot of the increase in self-employment was not real employment and that it was a sign that people could not get the kind of employed jobs that they

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wanted. Professor Kristin Forbes said precisely that to the Committee. Conservative Members do not need to pretend that this is some kind of prejudice on my part. It certainly is not.

Neil Coyle: Much has been said about the current employment levels. Indeed, we heard earlier that there had been a miracle, no less. Is my hon. Friend aware that the percentage of working age disabled people in work has fallen over the past five years, in direct correlation to the reduction in the number of disability employment advisers and in the number of disabled people being supported by the Access to Work scheme?

Helen Goodman: I was not aware of that fact, and I am grateful to my hon. Friend for pointing it out.

On the employment numbers, I also want to point out that there are a lot of people on short-hours contracts. I am not talking about zero-hours contracts, which have now reached 750,000, as Conservative Members must know; I am talking about eight-hour and 12-hour contracts. They provide insecure employment and insufficient money for people to live on, and they make it very difficult to get other jobs. They are, however, recorded as employment. There is all the difference in the world between working 35 hours a week and working eight hours a week, and Conservative Members need to think about that before they start talking about miraculous employment figures.

Emily Thornberry: A snapshot of today’s jobs market would also reveal that 3 million people in this country identify as being underemployed. They are not working enough hours to be able to support their family.

Helen Goodman: My hon. Friend has expressed that beautifully.

I shall move on to the question of employment and support allowance. Again, hon. Members need to think about the overhang from the heavy industries and the impact that reductions in people’s income has on those individuals and on whole communities. I suppose this seems quite unusual to those representing a constituency whose casework consists of a lot of neighbour disputes and planning issues, and where only one person a week turns up with a benefits problem, but in a constituency like mine—a former mining constituency in an industrial area—the bulk of the casework is this sort of thing. The cuts Conservative Members are proposing to vote for tonight will have a devastating impact on the amount of money in the local economy, as well as being very unfair to people who are not going to be able to go back to work.

Finally, I want to make one observation on universal credit and lone parents. It is not reasonable to have the same conditionality for a lone parent with children under school age as for people in couples. The practicalities of looking after children are different for lone parents and for married couples. Ministers in the Parliament before last changed the rules so that the conditionality for lone parents was aligned to the tax credit system, and the period was 16 hours instead of 30 hours for people in couples. Ministers must help people balance their parenting responsibilities and their working responsibilities better.

Jo Churchill: I was fortunate enough to sit on the Public Bill Committee, and I also sit on the Women and Equalities Committee. That has shown me two things.

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I recently spoke to women in Oldham running a voluntary group, and the leader said to me she did not feel what we were doing was wrong, because she felt these measures helped marginalised minority women break out of the cycle of being kept in their homes, improved their English and helped them understand how their families interact with the wider world, asking women to find work and not rely on—

Madam Deputy Speaker (Natascha Engel): Order. The hon. Lady is making a speech, not an intervention, so I ask her to resume her seat.

Helen Goodman: People can take different views on this matter, and I have just been describing the view I take with respect to lone parents.

I want to make one final point. Conservative Members have repeatedly said that the Opposition have no proposals for savings and they are the only ones who are concerned about the deficit. The Opposition voted against the inheritance tax cuts, which will benefit the richest 60,000 households, and we went into the last general election with a proposal to cut the winter fuel allowance for wealthy pensioners. Personally, I think that would be a better thing to do than hit disabled people once again.

Jeremy Lefroy (Stafford) (Con): I am going to speak extremely briefly to amendment 29 in my name and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Stevenage (Stephen McPartland), which asks the Government to look again at withdrawing the full amount of the WRAG component, which affects approximately 492,000 people. Let me briefly explain the reasons.

First, as the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Dr Whiteford) mentioned earlier, many in the WRAG are in that group for a long period—two years or more, compared with six months on average for jobseeker’s allowance, for instance. As she said, it is extremely difficult to exist on these levels of income for long periods, whereas it might be possible for a few weeks or even a few months for those with other kinds of support. It is therefore important that we look at the length of time.

Secondly, the costs for people in this group are often higher. It has been said to me that the personal independence payment will compensate. It will not compensate for all those costs; for instance, heating is not part of PIP, nor are the special diets people may have, although caring and mobility are part of PIP, of course.

Thirdly, there is the question of the incentive. Because the support group has a component of £36.20 a week at present as opposed to the WRAG of £29.05 a week, which it is proposed to take away, there will be the incentive and a tendency for people to be put into the support group rather than the WRAG. Surely the whole point is to bring people into the WRAG so that they can be given support to come back into work. For instance, 30% of people with Parkinson’s are wrongly placed in the WRAG. This means that instead of receiving the £29.05 component a week, they will receive nothing in future. I have seen instances of people placed in the wrong group in my constituency.

We are talking about a benefit where sanctions are wrongly applied in a number of cases, as has been mentioned in the debate. I need to be very brief and I

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apologise for not making my points in more detail, but I want others to come in. I ask the Minister to come back on this—

Mr David Burrowes (Enfield, Southgate) (Con): This may be an opportunity to mention amendment 31. I recognise my hon. Friend’s concerns. What we need is specialised tailored employment support. I understand that in Committee the Minister agreed to come back in the autumn with details of what support the Government will give when the package rises from £30 million to £100 million. The sooner we get those details, the better.

Jeremy Lefroy: I entirely agree that we need specialised tailored employment support, but people also need cash to pay their heating bills. That is extremely important and needs to be borne in mind.

Finally, I was not quite clear from my hon. Friend the Minister’s remarks earlier whether the freezing of benefits applies to those in the WRAG who will be on the present JSA rate of £73.10.

5.30 pm

Natalie McGarry (Glasgow East) (SNP): I am grateful for the opportunity to speak in this crucial debate. I congratulate and welcome to her place the shadow Minister for disabled people. She made a fantastic contribution.

I support amendment 56, which was introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Banff and Buchan (Dr Whiteford). The proposed changes to the employment and support allowance and the potentially devastating cuts to the work-related activity group are of particular interest to me as the disability spokesperson for the SNP.

This Government say that the Bill will support our economy and improve support for those who need it, but it is clear that it is a deeply damaging and divisive piece of legislation which will harm workers, families and communities and will exceed even the worst excesses of the Thatcher Government. The Tories’ approach to social security has been deeply destructive, and has damaged the vital social fabric that binds our society together. Liz Sayle of Disability Rights UK says that the language used in this context conveys a sense of suspicion of disabled people, as though they were trying it on to get free transport and handouts. That suspicion is completely misplaced, but is reinforced by the policy and rhetoric of this Government.

This Government’s cuts are systematically undermining the life chances of working people, especially children and young people across the UK. It is an ideological attack on the most disadvantaged—a war not on poverty, but on the poor. But despite my fervent opposition to the Bill, and my vocal opposition to this Government’s policies, I want to take the opportunity to reach out to Members right across the House. I understand the desire to support people into work, and to create a system where social security supports those in need and encourages those who can work to do so. That ambition, I believe, is shared by all of us across the House. However, I cannot see how Members on the Government Benches can say with any integrity that this Bill furthers our common aim.

We already know that many people who are currently unfit for work are dubiously placed in the ESA work-related activity group, and that DWP policies already force

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WRAG claimants to meet arduous bureaucratic requirements simply to receive the financial support they rely on. We already know that the UK Government’s austerity programme is impacting disproportionately on those living with disabilities and sicknesses and that it impairs their ability to work. We also know that there is absolutely no evidence that these policies of cuts will have a positive impact on moving those in the WRAG group into work. There is no evidence from the Government, despite repeated requests for it to be produced. It is therefore absolutely shameful that, without any evidence, the Conservatives should have disabled people in their sights yet again, promising to cut nearly a third of ESA support for new claimants in the work-related activity group.

It is also deeply distressing for many claimants that the Government intend to freeze ESA WRAG support for the next four years, failing to protect this important social security payment against the rising cost of living. When it comes to people with long-term sicknesses and disabilities, however severe, and the support they need, the Government simply do not get it, and for too many it seems that the Government simply do not care. We talk about language, and we have a Secretary of State who has shockingly made a distinction between disabled people and “normal” people. We have a Government that have continually introduced policies that isolate disabled people and distance them from their communities and support, risking institutionalising people in their own homes.

It is quite unfathomable why the Conservatives think that those with illnesses and disabilities should not have their special requirements and challenges recognised in the level of support and care that they receive. By reducing ESA for WRAG claimants to the level of the general jobseeker’s allowance, the UK Government are undermining the entire purpose and principle of ESA, which was always intended to support those with particular challenges in entering employment more gradually than those on jobseeker’s allowance.

By targeting disabled people for the latest cuts, Government Members do nothing more than demonstrate an utter unwillingness to listen to the needs of disabled people and disability organisations. As a disability spokesperson for the SNP, I spent the past few months speaking with and listening to people across the UK. I heard from organisation after organisation, I heard statistic after statistic, and it is clear the harm this Bill will cause. I cannot see him in the Chamber this afternoon, but who has my counterpart on the Government Benches, the Under-Secretary of State for Disabled People, been talking to? An echo chamber?

According to a new survey conducted and released today by the Disability Benefits Consortium, almost one third of people on ESA who were surveyed say that they cannot afford to eat on the levels of ESA that they receive now. Do the Tories intend to starve those people into work? To me, that is not just morally repugnant but economically incoherent and illiterate. Inclusion Scotland has said that the proposals are

“a direct attack on the living standards of disabled people, their families, carers and children and will result in hundreds of thousands more being plunged into poverty and destitution”.

To talk about levels of destitution in 2015 is an outrage and we cannot simply stand by and let these people’s lives be sacrificed on the altar of fiscal responsibility.

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Surely no civilised society would penalise the disabled and disadvantaged in the pursuit of an ideological austerity obsession.

I know that my constituents will find it difficult to fathom how the Government can introduce such harmful proposals and I sincerely hope that Government Members at least have significant concerns about them, too.

Graham Evans: I am most grateful to the hon. Lady for giving way. I welcome her to this place; she makes a powerful point and a huge contribution. Disability and carer benefits for working age people in 2014-15 were £11.4 billion and in this new financial year of 2015-16 they are £11.5 billion. The hon. Lady is talking about cuts, but the spending has gone up, not down.

Natalie McGarry: I thank the hon. Gentleman for that point. These are real-term cuts and many people have disappeared from the system because of its complexity and because of their fear of it.

With every Bill in this Session, we have a chance to act in concert, to set out the direction of our country and to make it clear what and who is important. I look to all Members, on both sides of the Chamber, to look to themselves and to their consciences and not just to their Whips. I implore Members from all parts of the House to put themselves in the position of the half million people who will be affected by these cuts—I am talking about those with mental ill health, learning disabilities, autism, Asperger’s and all the families involved—and vote in solidarity with them. They are real people, so Members should vote for amendment 56.

Victoria Atkins (Louth and Horncastle) (Con): I wish to speak to new clause 7, amendments 35 to 48 and new clause 6.

I had the very great privilege of sitting on the Committee for this Bill and I have heard arguments from all parts of the House. There is one point in relation to new clause 7 that we looked at in Committee and that I wish to develop further today, and that is the principle of making work pay. The benefit cap has been criticised by some Opposition Members, but the reality is that, in my constituency, it is a very popular policy. The median salary in my constituency is £480 per week, which is less than the cap currently in place for benefits of £26,000. The point has already been made, and indeed we looked at it in the Bill Committee, that that £26,000 figure is equivalent to a gross figure of £35,000.

Emily Thornberry: Will the hon. Lady give way?

Victoria Atkins: In a moment if I may. Let me just finish this point. This effort to make work pay is to be welcomed and not criticised.

Emily Thornberry: I pointed this out to the hon. Lady in Committee, but I am grateful to have the opportunity to point it out to her again. If someone had a median income in central London, they would be on benefits, because it is accepted that people cannot live on £26,000 in central London and pay their rent.

Victoria Atkins: As I responded in Committee, I understand that the hon. Lady represents a London constituency, but I do not. I can only speak for what I think is right for my constituency and the area outside London.

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We are talking here about a package of measures. I know that Opposition Members do not like to draw together all of its different threads, but this is a package. The ripple effect of the national living wage includes commitments—

Dr Philippa Whitford rose—

Victoria Atkins: No, I will not give way, because I wish to develop this point. The ripple effect of the national living wage includes commitments by at least two employers in Louth and Horncastle—I am talking here about Morrisons and Sainsbury’s, but there may be many more that have not yet declared their intentions—to raise their lowest wages to more than the first stage of the national living wage, which will take effect in April.

Helen Goodman rose

Victoria Atkins: I will not give way, thank you.

The point is that the policy is part of a package, and the principle behind it is to make work pay. The criticisms that we are hearing from Opposition Members highlight how different our approaches are. We want to create a culture of employment. We believe in work and in all of the benefits that work brings to people.

Our responsibility as a Government is to make work pay, but we cannot do that if the system means that some people are better off out of work than in work. That does not make economic sense. We know that, since the cap was introduced, at least 16,000 capped households have moved into work. That is a good thing for those households. We know that those people who are now working are spending their money in the local economy. A strong local economy pays for the things that we care about—hospitals, teachers, the armed services and so on.

As we saw on the Bill Committee, what counts is not just the pay packet, but what it brings to people’s lives in terms of life chances, the positive benefits that it has for children in a working household and the examples it sets for those children. Those are all factors that are part of this package that some Members seem keen to avoid.

We know that households subject to the current cap are 41% more likely to get into work than uncapped households. I join my hon. Friend the Member for Weaver Vale (Graham Evans) in congratulating the Government on making the commitment that the money saved through this measure will be used to help fund more apprenticeships. It is about getting people into work and into training. We should celebrate, not criticise, the fact that unemployment and the number of out-of-work claimants is at its lowest level since 2010. The fact that we have these very low claimant rates, these measures and this determination to make work pay is something to be supported and not chipped away at.

5.45 pm

New clause 6 proposes that the Secretary of State should provide

“information about…the job quality of new jobs”


“the distribution of the quality of jobs by occupation, industry, sector and region”.

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Mr Speaker: Order. Before the hon. Lady continues with her speech, I want to notify the House that I would like to secure a contribution from the hon. Member for Bootle (Peter Dowd), which will be brief, as I must leave time for the Minister. I therefore feel confident in expressing the hope that the hon. Lady is approaching her impressive peroration.

Victoria Atkins: I am grateful, Mr Speaker. This is a very quick point.

The concept of job quality is beguiling, but how on earth do we define it? I am conscious that I may be about to upset the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Helen Goodman). I am going to describe a real-life job. Someone in their early 20s worked six days a week, or seven on occasion, without a break and far beyond nine-to-five, earning so little that she did not pay income tax in her first year, with no pension, no sickness pay and no holiday pay. Some Members might think that the quality of that job was very poor, but the opinion of the person who had it was that it was a great stepping stone into a very fulfilling career. I can say that because it was my first job. The hon. Member for Bishop Auckland laughs. I do not for a moment recommend it as a first job; we must all find our own courses in life. Nevertheless, how on earth do we define the quality of a job? I fear that this new clause would be a lawyers’ paradise—and I know whereof I speak.

Peter Dowd: It is often my lot to be well down the batting order, although I prefer bowling.

Until last night, when they were fortunately brought down to earth by the other House, the Government were pushing on with their tax credit proposals. They are still pushing on with them, despite the fact that the Chancellor is, he tells us, in listening mode, and the fact that there is no palpable or sustainable action to move to a higher-wage economy. They are tinkering at the edges. This proposal affects working mums; as I said earlier, 70% of the burden is falling on them. It affects low-income families. It damages work incentives, despite what the hon. Member for Louth and Horncastle (Victoria Atkins) said. It affects the working poor. It will have a dire effect on those with chronic illnesses, particularly with mental health problems.

The question we have to ask is whether this proposal will make work pay and help people back into work. Many say no. Some have suggested alternatives for where the extra funding can be found. I am not saying whether I agree or disagree with them, but it gives the lie to the claim that there are no alternatives. Despite issues of phased implementation, inheritance tax, relocation of planned spending on the personal allowance, marriage allowance changes, help with childcare costs, working tax credit and universal credit, there is still no guarantee of higher wages.

The provisions on ESA and the WRAG were introduced specifically to assist with support for disabled people who were assessed as not being fit for work according to the Government’s own assessment regime. Some people, such as those with chronic mental health problems, find it difficult to work. The Work programme has supported only 9% of participants on ESA with mental and behavioural disorders into sustained employment. We have parity of esteem, but not for those on welfare. Support for those people has to be tailored to their needs. There can be a slow journey back to health.

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People need advisers with particular skills and they are not getting them, so how do they possibly get back into work?

As for the sanctions regime, a Church group in Scotland identified that 100,000 young people were affected by sanctions, that they were being debilitated by them and that the sanctions undermined their humanity. Yes, sanctions have existed since 1913, but they have to be humane and those under discussion are not.

The Minister for Employment (Priti Patel): We have had a long and interesting debate on a range of amendments. I thank every colleague who has contributed to it, particularly my hon. Friends the Members for Faversham and Mid Kent (Helen Whately), for Beverley and Holderness (Graham Stuart), for Weaver Vale (Graham Evans), for Stafford (Jeremy Lefroy), for Bury St Edmunds (Jo Churchill), for Chippenham (Michelle Donelan) and for Louth and Horncastle (Victoria Atkins).

Given that time is short, I will speak very briefly to some of the amendments. On amendments 35 to 48, we introduced the benefits cap in order to increase work incentives, to promote fairness between those in work and those on benefits, and to not only help to address the deficit but to support people back to work. The benefits cap has been a key part of our reforms to the structure of the welfare system and to attitudes towards getting back into work.

It is clear from the evidence that the cap is working. Since the cap was introduced in 2013, more than 6,000 previously capped households have moved into work and more than 41% of capped households are likely to go into work. That trend did not exist before the cap, and those with higher weekly benefit payments used to be less likely to move into work. We have had some great results and we intend to build on them and to align the cap with the circumstances of many hard-working people throughout the country. We firmly believe that the new, tiered benefit cap will continue to build on those successes and that it will do more to improve work incentives throughout the country while promoting greater fairness when it comes to work and employment.

There was an extensive debate on amendments 56, 20, 57 and 31 on universal credit and the employment support allowance. The removal of the work-related activity and limited capability for work component will apply only to new claims. There will be no cash losers among claimants already receiving the rate, and clauses 13 and 14 do not affect the support group component.

In 2008, when the then Labour Government introduced ESA as a “radical reform package”, the work-related activity component was originally intended to act as an incentive to help people into work and to return quickly to work. However, the original estimates were incorrect and only 1% of people in the work-related activity group left the benefit each month. It is clear, therefore, that the existing policy is not working and that it is failing claimants.

As discussed in Committee and this afternoon, we believe that it is the duty of Government to support those who want to work to do so, particularly those with disabilities and health conditions who want to work, including the majority of ESA claimants. We know that 61% of those in the WRAG want to work. We will do everything we can to support them in that ambition, and it is right that we do so.

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Universal credit supports people with small or fluctuating amounts of work. That is why it is particularly helpful that we look at the ESA component and universal credit together. It is that alignment that will help to bring people closer to work while tailoring the support they need to move into work. As part of the package of savings in the summer Budget, the Government were able to allocate new spending to ESA that would not otherwise have been available. That support is now funding up to £100 million per year to help claimants with limited work capability but who have potential, because they want to move into work, to get closer to the labour market. We will provide all the support necessary to make sure that they can get back into work.

Comments have been made about work coaches and jobcentres. May I reassure the House that all work coaches are trained to help claimants and that that is not based on the benefit they are on, but, importantly, on the actual support they require? That is particularly true for universal credit. The training for staff working with ESA claimants focuses on raising awareness of their individual circumstances and recognises that disability and health conditions affect individuals in different ways. Such factors change over time but, importantly, we will support claimants in their journey to get back into work.

We have had a debate about sanctions. Of course sanctions exist for a reason. Importantly, however, they also exist to support people into work. I recognise that many Members from both sides of the House have specific cases to which they have referred. I again extend my offer to look into such cases. The Government keep the operation of sanctions under constant review. We have clearly made a number of improvements to sanctions, including in relation to the Oakley review. Last week, we gave a very clear response to the Work and Pensions Committee report. Our response outlined the work that the Department has already undertaken to review the sanctions system and the changes we intend to make. The response was welcomed by the right hon. Member for Birkenhead (Frank Field), the Chair of the Select Committee.

Our response to the Committee includes the announcement that we will trial a sanctions warning system, which will give claimants a further opportunity to work with jobcentre work coaches to provide evidence before a sanction is applied. We will consider extending the definition of at-risk groups for hardship purposes, including those with health conditions—particularly those with mental health conditions—and those who are homeless, which means that they can seek access to hardship payments from day one of the sanction.

We want the sanctions system to be clear, fair and effective in promoting positive behaviours. Importantly, however, it should also support individual claimants, which is why we will continue to keep the system under review. I will make it very clear: there are no targets for sanctions, a point made on the Floor of the House this afternoon. I say to the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Helen Goodman) that she was wrong in her remarks not just about sanctions but about employment levels in this country and clearly about the economy.

On new clause 3, I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Beverley and Holderness, the hon. Member for Bermondsey and Old Southwark (Neil Coyle)—he was

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consistent in making points in Committee—and my hon. Friends the Members for Bury St Edmunds, for Gloucester (Richard Graham) and for Weaver Vale for their contributions. The PIP assessment is designed to treat all health conditions and impairments fairly. I assure all hon. Members that we consider the needs of those who are terminally ill in developing the assessment, and that we absolutely remain committed to providing support to disabled people and those with illnesses in all their circumstances. We know that such claimants, especially those who are terminally ill, have particular challenges.

I listened to all the contributions in Committee. As the hon. Member for Bermondsey and Old Southwark knows, I am meeting him tomorrow, with the hon. Member for Sheffield Central (Paul Blomfield), to discuss this matter further. I look forward to working with him on the points he has made, as well as on those expressed by my colleagues. The hon. Member for Bermondsey and Old Southwark was right to refer to the fact that rules have been introduced to ensure that the PIP system handles terminally ill claimants efficiently and sensitively, reducing the need for face-to-face assessments—we discussed that at length in Committee—and the degree of intrusion on claimants and their families, while, importantly, focusing on delivering vital support to claimants as quickly as possible.

It is very clear, as we discussed in Committee, that the Government are focused on rolling out PIP in a very safe and steady manner, ensuring that the claimant experience is protected and that the PIP system is as straightforward as possible for the user, particularly those who are terminally ill. PIP has been and will continue to be subject to independent reviews—we have committed to that in legislation—which, as ever, will help us to make continued improvements to what is a dynamic benefit. We are fully committed to ensuring that there is a positive evidence base for all changes that we make and that users understand their impact so that we can deliver the best possible service for claimants.

We will continue to work with all hon. Members, as I have said in Committee and this afternoon, as PIP is rolled out. I will continue to work with colleagues and to take on board their points. I thank them for their valuable contributions. The hon. Member for Bermondsey and Old Southwark has expressed some concerns, but I will take away his points for our meeting. I look forward to taking forward such considerations.

In summary, the Bill brings forward important changes that are designed to create the right incentives within the welfare system, and I urge hon. Members to withdraw their amendments.

6 pm

Debate interrupted (Programme Order, this day)

The Speaker put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair (Standing Order No. 83E), That the clause be read a Second time.

Question accordingly negatived.

The Speaker then put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that time (Standing Order No. 83E).

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Clause 5

Social Mobility Commission

Amendments made: 2, page 6, line 1, leave out from “describe” to end of line 5.

This amendment removes the duty on the Social Mobility Commission to describe in its annual report the measures taken by Scottish Ministers in accordance with Scottish strategies and by Welsh Ministers in accordance with Welsh strategies.

Amendment 3, page 6, line 18, leave out “the United Kingdom” and insert “England or Northern Ireland”.—(Guy Opperman.)

This amendment amends the power of UK Ministers to direct the Social Mobility Commission to carry out activities relating to improving social mobility in the UK so that it no longer applies in

relation to Scotland and Wales.

Clause 6

Other amendments to Child Poverty Act 2010

Amendments made: 4, page 6, line 23, leave out “10” and insert “11”.

This amendment repeals section 11 of the Child Poverty Act 2010 which, as currently amended by the Bill, imposes a duty on Scottish Ministers to produce triennial strategies on reducing socio-economic disadvantage and annual progress reports.

Amendment 5, page 6, line 24, at end insert—

‘( ) In the italic heading before section 11, omit “Scottish Ministers and”.”

This amendment amends the italic heading currently before section 11 of the Child Poverty Act 2010 to reflect the fact that sections 12 and 13 will only include provisions relating to Northern Ireland strategies in consequence of amendments 4 and 7 to 12.

Amendment 6, page 6, line 25, leave out subsection (2).

This amendment is consequential on amendment 4 and removes the amendments that were originally included in clause 6 to the duty on Scottish Ministers to produce triennial strategies and annual progress reports.

Amendment 7, page 7, line 29, at end insert—

‘( ) In section 13 (consultation: Scotland and Northern Ireland)—

(a) in subsection (3), omit “a Scottish strategy or”;

(b) in subsection (3), for “devolved administration”, wherever occurring, substitute “relevant Northern Ireland department”;

(c) omit subsection (3)(a);

(d) omit subsection (4);

(e) in the section heading, omit “Scotland and”.

This amendment is consequential on amendment 4 and amends section 13 of the Child Poverty Act 2010 so that the consultation requirements only apply in relation to the preparation of Northern Ireland strategies and not Scottish strategies, which will no longer be required.

Amendment 8, page 7, line 30, after “circumstances)” insert “(a)”.

This is a technical amendment consequential on amendment 9 which adds new paragraph (b) to clause 6(4).

Amendment 9, page 7, line 30, at end insert—

“(b) for subsection (3) substitute—

(3) In preparing a Northern Ireland strategy, the relevant Northern Ireland department must have regard to—

(a) the resources that are or may be available to the Northern Ireland departments, and

(b) the effect of the implementation of the strategy on those resources.”.

27 Oct 2015 : Column 293

This amendment is consequential on amendment 4 and amends section 16 of the Child Poverty Act 2010 so that the requirement to have regard to economic and financial circumstances applies only in relation to the preparation of Northern Ireland strategies and not Scottish strategies, which will no longer be required.

Amendment 10, page 7, line 37, leave out

“Part 9 of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 or”.

This amendment is consequential on amendment 4 and amends the definition of “child” to reflect the fact that it will only be relevant to the requirement of the relevant Northern Ireland department to consult on its strategies.

Amendment 11, page 8, line 1, leave out “in relation to Northern Ireland”.

This amendment is consequential on amendment 4 and amends the definition of “parental responsibility” to reflect the fact that this term will only be relevant to the requirement of the relevant Northern Ireland department to consult on its strategies.

Amendment 12, page 8, line 3, leave out from “1995” to end of line 6.

This amendment is consequential on amendment 4 and amends the definition of “parental responsibility” to remove the definition in relation to Scotland. This reflects the fact that this term will only be relevant to the requirement of the relevant Northern Ireland department to consult on its strategies.

Amendment 13, page 8, line 7, at end insert—

‘( ) For the heading to Part 1 substitute “Strategies: Northern Ireland”.

This amendment substitutes the heading for Part 1 of the Child Poverty Act 2010 to reflect the fact that this Part now only includes provisions relating to Northern Ireland strategies.

Amendment 14, page 8, leave out lines 19 to 22.

This amendment removes the definitions of “Scottish strategy” and “Welsh strategy” as these terms are no longer used in the Child Poverty Act 2010 due to amendments 2 and 4.

Amendment 15, page 8, line 31, after “(extent)” insert—

“(a) omit subsection (2);

(b) in subsection (3), for “Section 12” substitute “Part 1”.

This amendment amends section 30 of the Child Poverty Act 2010, which sets out the extent of the provisions of the Child Poverty Act 2010, to reflect the changes made by amendments 2 to 13.

Amendment 16, page 8, line 32, at end insert—

‘( ) In Schedule 1 (Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission), in paragraph 1(1) (membership), omit paragraphs (b) and (c)..(Guy Opperman.)

This amendment removes the role of Scottish and Welsh Ministers in each appointing a member of the reformed Social Mobility Commission.

Clause 13

Employment and support allowance: work-related activity component

Amendment proposed: 56, page 14, line 15, leave out Clause 13—(Dr Eilidh Whiteford.)

Question put, That the amendment be made.

The House divided:

Ayes 287, Noes 315.

Division No. 96]


6 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane

Abrahams, Debbie

Ahmed-Sheikh, Ms Tasmina

Alexander, Heidi

Ali, Rushanara

Allen, Mr Graham

Anderson, Mr David

Arkless, Richard

Ashworth, Jonathan

Austin, Ian

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Bardell, Hannah

Barron, rh Kevin

Beckett, rh Margaret

Black, Mhairi

Blackford, Ian

Blackman, Kirsty

Blackman-Woods, Dr Roberta

Blenkinsop, Tom

Blomfield, Paul

Boswell, Philip

Bradshaw, rh Mr Ben

Brake, rh Tom

Brennan, Kevin

Brock, Deidre

Brown, Alan

Brown, Lyn

Brown, rh Mr Nicholas

Bryant, Chris

Buck, Ms Karen

Burden, Richard

Burgon, Richard

Burnham, rh Andy

Butler, Dawn

Byrne, rh Liam

Cadbury, Ruth

Cameron, Dr Lisa

Campbell, rh Mr Alan

Campbell, Mr Ronnie

Carmichael, rh Mr Alistair

Chapman, Douglas

Chapman, Jenny

Cherry, Joanna

Clegg, rh Mr Nick

Coaker, Vernon

Coffey, Ann

Cooper, Julie

Cooper, rh Yvette

Corbyn, Jeremy

Cowan, Ronnie

Cox, Jo

Coyle, Neil

Crausby, Mr David

Crawley, Angela

Creagh, Mary

Creasy, Stella

Cruddas, Jon

Cryer, John

Cummins, Judith

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Dakin, Nic

David, Wayne

Davies, Geraint

Day, Martyn

De Piero, Gloria

Docherty, Martin John

Dodds, rh Mr Nigel

Donaldson, rh Mr Jeffrey M.

Donaldson, Stuart Blair

Doughty, Stephen

Dowd, Jim

Dowd, Peter

Dromey, Jack

Dugher, Michael

Durkan, Mark

Eagle, Ms Angela

Eagle, Maria

Edwards, Jonathan

Efford, Clive

Elliott, Julie

Elliott, Tom

Ellman, Mrs Louise

Esterson, Bill

Evans, Chris

Farrelly, Paul

Ferrier, Margaret

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Flello, Robert

Fletcher, Colleen

Flint, rh Caroline

Flynn, Paul

Fovargue, Yvonne

Foxcroft, Vicky

Gapes, Mike

Gardiner, Barry

Gethins, Stephen

Gibson, Patricia

Glass, Pat

Glindon, Mary

Godsiff, Mr Roger

Goodman, Helen

Grady, Patrick

Grant, Peter

Gray, Neil

Green, Kate

Greenwood, Lilian

Greenwood, Margaret

Griffith, Nia

Gwynne, Andrew

Haigh, Louise

Hamilton, Fabian

Hanson, rh Mr David

Harman, rh Ms Harriet

Harpham, Harry

Harris, Carolyn

Hayes, Helen

Hayman, Sue

Healey, rh John

Hendrick, Mr Mark

Hendry, Drew

Hepburn, Mr Stephen

Hillier, Meg

Hodge, rh Dame Margaret

Hodgson, Mrs Sharon

Hoey, Kate

Hollern, Kate

Hopkins, Kelvin

Hosie, Stewart

Howarth, rh Mr George

Hunt, Tristram

Huq, Dr Rupa

Hussain, Imran

Irranca-Davies, Huw

Jarvis, Dan

Johnson, rh Alan

Johnson, Diana

Jones, Gerald

Jones, Graham

Jones, Helen

Jones, Mr Kevan

Jones, Susan Elan

Kane, Mike

Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald

Keeley, Barbara

Kendall, Liz

Kerevan, George

Kerr, Calum

Kinahan, Danny

Kinnock, Stephen

Kyle, Peter

Lamb, rh Norman

Lammy, rh Mr David

Lavery, Ian

Law, Chris

Leslie, Chris

Lewell-Buck, Mrs Emma

Lewis, Clive

Lewis, Mr Ivan

Long Bailey, Rebecca

Lucas, Caroline

Lucas, Ian C.

Lynch, Holly

MacNeil, Mr Angus Brendan

Madders, Justin

Mahmood, Shabana

Malhotra, Seema

Mann, John

Marris, Rob

Marsden, Mr Gordon

Maskell, Rachael

Matheson, Christian

Mc Nally, John

McCabe, Steve

McCaig, Callum

McCarthy, Kerry

McDonagh, Siobhain

McDonald, Andy

McDonald, Stewart Malcolm

McDonald, Stuart C.

McDonnell, John

McFadden, rh Mr Pat

McGarry, Natalie

McGinn, Conor

McGovern, Alison

McInnes, Liz

McKinnell, Catherine

McLaughlin, Anne

Meale, Sir Alan

Mearns, Ian

Miliband, rh Edward

Monaghan, Carol

Monaghan, Dr Paul

Morden, Jessica

Morris, Grahame M.

Mullin, Roger

Murray, Ian

Nandy, Lisa

Newlands, Gavin

Nicolson, John

O'Hara, Brendan

Onn, Melanie

Onwurah, Chi

Osamor, Kate

Oswald, Kirsten

Paisley, Ian

Paterson, Steven

Pearce, Teresa

Pennycook, Matthew

Perkins, Toby

Phillips, Jess

Phillipson, Bridget

Pound, Stephen

Powell, Lucy

Pugh, John

Qureshi, Yasmin

Rayner, Angela

Reed, Mr Jamie

Reed, Mr Steve

Rees, Christina

Reynolds, Emma

Reynolds, Jonathan

Rimmer, Marie

Ritchie, Ms Margaret

Robertson, rh Angus

Robinson, Gavin

Robinson, Mr Geoffrey

Rotheram, Steve

Ryan, rh Joan

Salmond, rh Alex

Saville Roberts, Liz

Shah, Naz

Shannon, Jim

Sharma, Mr Virendra

Sheerman, Mr Barry

Sheppard, Tommy

Sherriff, Paula

Shuker, Mr Gavin

Siddiq, Tulip

Simpson, David

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Slaughter, Andy

Smeeth, Ruth

Smith, rh Mr Andrew

Smith, Angela

Smith, Cat

Smith, Jeff

Smith, Nick

Smith, Owen

Smyth, Karin

Starmer, Keir

Stephens, Chris

Stevens, Jo

Streeting, Wes

Stringer, Graham

Stuart, rh Ms Gisela

Tami, Mark

Thewliss, Alison

Thomas, Mr Gareth

Thomas-Symonds, Nick

Thomson, Michelle

Thornberry, Emily

Timms, rh Stephen

Trickett, Jon

Turley, Anna

Turner, Karl

Twigg, Derek

Umunna, Mr Chuka

Vaz, rh Keith

Vaz, Valerie

Watson, Mr Tom

Weir, Mike

West, Catherine

Whiteford, Dr Eilidh

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Whitford, Dr Philippa

Williams, Hywel

Williams, Mr Mark

Wilson, Corri

Wilson, Phil

Wilson, Sammy

Winnick, Mr David

Winterton, rh Ms Rosie

Wishart, Pete

Woodcock, John

Wright, Mr Iain

Zeichner, Daniel

Tellers for the Ayes:

Marion Fellows


Owen Thompson


Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Allan, Lucy

Amess, Sir David

Andrew, Stuart

Ansell, Caroline

Argar, Edward

Atkins, Victoria

Bacon, Mr Richard

Baker, Mr Steve

Baldwin, Harriett

Barclay, Stephen

Baron, Mr John

Barwell, Gavin

Bellingham, Mr Henry

Benyon, Richard

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berry, Jake

Berry, James

Bingham, Andrew

Blackman, Bob

Blackwood, Nicola

Boles, Nick

Bone, Mr Peter

Borwick, Victoria

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brady, Mr Graham

Brazier, Mr Julian

Bridgen, Andrew

Brine, Steve

Brokenshire, rh James

Bruce, Fiona

Buckland, Robert

Burns, rh Sir Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burt, rh Alistair

Cairns, Alun

Carmichael, Neil

Cartlidge, James

Cash, Sir William

Caulfield, Maria

Chalk, Alex

Chishti, Rehman

Chope, Mr Christopher

Churchill, Jo

Clark, rh Greg

Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth

Cleverly, James

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Costa, Alberto

Cox, Mr Geoffrey

Crabb, rh Stephen

Crouch, Tracey

Davies, Byron

Davies, Chris

Davies, David T. C.

Davies, Glyn

Davies, Dr James

Davies, Mims

Davies, Philip

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Donelan, Michelle

Dorries, Nadine

Double, Steve

Dowden, Oliver

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Drax, Richard

Drummond, Mrs Flick

Duddridge, James

Duncan, rh Sir Alan

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Dunne, Mr Philip

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Eustice, George

Evans, Graham

Evans, Mr Nigel

Evennett, rh Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Fallon, rh Michael

Fernandes, Suella

Field, rh Mark

Foster, Kevin

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Frazer, Lucy

Freeman, George

Freer, Mike

Fuller, Richard

Fysh, Marcus

Gale, Sir Roger

Garnier, rh Sir Edward

Garnier, Mark

Gauke, Mr David

Ghani, Nusrat

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl

Glen, John

Goldsmith, Zac

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Gove, rh Michael

Graham, Richard

Grant, Mrs Helen

Gray, Mr James

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, Chris

Green, rh Damian

Greening, rh Justine

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Halfon, rh Robert

Hall, Luke

Hammond, rh Mr Philip

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, rh Matthew

Hands, rh Greg

Harper, rh Mr Mark

Harrington, Richard

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Hayes, rh Mr John

Heald, Sir Oliver

Heappey, James

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Heaton-Jones, Peter

Henderson, Gordon

Herbert, rh Nick

Hinds, Damian

Hoare, Simon

Hollingbery, George

Hollinrake, Kevin

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Holloway, Mr Adam

Hopkins, Kris

Howarth, Sir Gerald

Howell, John

Howlett, Ben

Huddleston, Nigel

Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy

Hurd, Mr Nick

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

Javid, rh Sajid

Jayawardena, Mr Ranil

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Jenkyns, Andrea

Jenrick, Robert

Johnson, Boris

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, rh Mr David

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kennedy, Seema

Knight, rh Sir Greg

Knight, Julian

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Lancaster, Mark

Latham, Pauline

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Dr Phillip

Leigh, Sir Edward

Leslie, Charlotte

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewis, Brandon

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian

Lidington, rh Mr David

Lopresti, Jack

Lord, Jonathan

Loughton, Tim

Lumley, Karen

Mackinlay, Craig

Mackintosh, David

Main, Mrs Anne

Mak, Mr Alan

Malthouse, Kit

Mann, Scott

Mathias, Dr Tania

May, rh Mrs Theresa

Maynard, Paul

McCartney, Jason

McCartney, Karl

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

Menzies, Mark

Mercer, Johnny

Merriman, Huw

Metcalfe, Stephen

Miller, rh Mrs Maria

Milling, Amanda

Mills, Nigel

Milton, rh Anne

Mitchell, rh Mr Andrew

Mordaunt, Penny

Morgan, rh Nicky

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, David

Morris, James

Morton, Wendy

Mowat, David

Mundell, rh David

Murray, Mrs Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Neill, Robert

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

Offord, Dr Matthew

Opperman, Guy

Parish, Neil

Patel, rh Priti

Paterson, rh Mr Owen

Pawsey, Mark

Penning, rh Mike

Penrose, John

Percy, Andrew

Perry, Claire

Phillips, Stephen

Philp, Chris

Pickles, rh Sir Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Pow, Rebecca

Prentis, Victoria

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pritchard, Mark

Pursglove, Tom

Quin, Jeremy

Quince, Will

Raab, Mr Dominic

Redwood, rh John

Rees-Mogg, Mr Jacob

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Robinson, Mary

Rosindell, Andrew

Rudd, rh Amber

Rutley, David

Sandbach, Antoinette

Scully, Paul

Selous, Andrew

Shapps, rh Grant

Sharma, Alok

Shelbrooke, Alec

Simpson, rh Mr Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Royston

Soames, rh Sir Nicholas

Solloway, Amanda

Soubry, rh Anna

Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline

Spencer, Mark

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Stride, Mel

Stuart, Graham

Sturdy, Julian

Sunak, Rishi

Swayne, rh Mr Desmond

Swire, rh Mr Hugo

Syms, Mr Robert

Thomas, Derek

Throup, Maggie

Timpson, Edward

Tolhurst, Kelly

Tomlinson, Justin

Tomlinson, Michael

Tracey, Craig

Tredinnick, David

Trevelyan, Mrs Anne-Marie

Truss, rh Elizabeth

Tugendhat, Tom

Turner, Mr Andrew

Tyrie, rh Mr Andrew

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Villiers, rh Mrs Theresa

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Warburton, David

Warman, Matt

Watkinson, Dame Angela

Wharton, James

Whately, Helen

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, rh Mr John

Wiggin, Bill

Williams, Craig

Williamson, rh Gavin

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Wood, Mike

Wragg, William

Wright, rh Jeremy

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Noes:

Sarah Newton


Simon Kirby

Question accordingly negatived.