Labour might not scrap Bedroom Tax as Duncan Smith comes under pressure to back up £53 claim

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   By Martin Kelly

The Labour party, if it wins the next UK General Election, might not scrap the controversial Bedroom tax according to a Labour MP.

Dame Anne Begg, who is the MP for Aberdeen South, conceded in a Radio interview that there was no guarantee that the Labour party would abolish the legislation even if the party wins the 2015 UK General election.

Speaking on Radio Scotland, when asked if her party would scrap the Bedroom tax, the Labour MP said: “With regard to what Labour will do in the next election – whether this is something that they will abolish – I would hope that they would certainly be looking at the housing benefit and if it’s one of the things that we can do and we can promise at the next election, I would certainly support that.”

The Labour MP was also asked to comment on revelations that several high profile Scottish Labour MPs, including Better Together head Alistair Darling and colleague Ian Davidson, failed to vote against the Bedroom Tax.  Dame Anne said she “could not remember the particular incident” but said it was the kind of “political shenanigans” that the SNP normally put out.

The question referred to revelations this weekend that Labour MP Alistair Darling and party colleague Ian Davidson who is Chair of the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee both failed to oppose the new legislation in the House of Commons.  However asked by a protestor at last weekend’s Bedroom Tax protest how he voted, Mr Davidson claimed he had voted No.

The exchange, which was captured on video, then became heated as the Labour MP angrily walked off, insisting that the member of the public had “got it wrong”.

However, official records appear to show that Mr Davidson, along with Alistair Darling and Gordon Brown, was absent at the vote which proposed the new legislation and was also absent at a subsequent amendment calling for the legislation to be scrapped.

Petition

The refusal to confirm Labour would scrap the controversial legislation comes despite the party north of the border asking the public to sign a petition calling for the Bedroom Tax to be scrapped.  The online petition ‘Say No to Bedroom Tax’ by the Edinburgh branch of the Labour party, has the support of several Scottish Labour MPs, MSPs and councillors.

The SNP has said that it will scrap the Bedroom tax should Scots vote Yes in the 2014 independence referendum.

It has also emerged that Scotland’s Children’s Commissioner has warned that the Bedroom Tax will breach young people’s human rights by plunging them into poverty and harming their social, emotional and mental wellbeing.

Tam Baillie said that the UK Government’s welfare reforms, would “heap misery on families already struggling on the breadline”.

Mr Baillie added: “The bedroom tax is in breach of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.  The bedroom tax and other benefit changes will heap misery on families already struggling on the breadline.”

MEANWHILE, an online petition has been created calling on Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith to back up a claim he made that he could live on £53 a week.

The Conservative Minister made the claim during a live question answer session on BBC Radio 4.

Asked by host John Humphries if he could live on the £53 a week in benefits drawn by one of the programme’s interviewees, the Work and Pensions Secretary said: “If I had to I would.”

Within hours of the interview an online petition had been raised calling for Mr Duncan Smith to back up his claim.

The petition, which at the time of writing had garnered almost 100,000 supporters, calls on the cabinet minister, “to live on this budget for at least one year.”

The petition adds: “This would help realise the conservative party’s current mantra that, ‘We are all in this together’ “