Labour MP admits party’s Bedroom Tax vote absence was a mistake


  By a Newsnet reporter
A Scottish Labour MP who was one of forty seven Labour MPs who failed to turn up for a crucial vote on the Bedroom Tax, has admitted the mass absence was a mistake.
Airdrie and Shotts MP Pamela Nash – who was one of ten Scottish Labour MPs criticised for the No show in November – made the admission during a debate held in Westminster on Thursday into the effects of the policy in Scotland.

Speaking in the debate, Nash accepted a mistake had been made, and said of the mass no-show: “I do agree that that number of Labour MPs shouldn’t have been paired at that time,”

The episode last year which saw the Labour MPs fail to turn up for a motion tabled by their own party, resulted in the UK Government defeating a call for the Bedroom Tax to be scrapped, by only 26 votes.  Amongst the MPs who failed to show up after pairing off with Tory counterparts were Deputy Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar, Jim Murphy and former PM Gordon Brown.

The Labour MP challenged claims that the absence of herself, and dozens of her own colleagues, would have made a difference to the vote, calling them “misleading”.

However, Nash’s admission that Labour made a mistake in avoiding the vote appears to contradict comments she made immediately after the no-show where she defended the move.

Speaking to the Daily Record last year just days after the vote, the MP defended her own absence saying: “Pairing is arranged in advance, in this case prior to the debate on bedroom tax being announced – I was paired for the vote last Tuesday, and once paired, an MP cannot vote.”.

She also described criticisms levelled against her and her Labour party colleagues by the SNP as “malicious”.

The failure of several Scottish Labour MPs to attend the vote led to repercussions for some in their constituencies.  The Scottish Socialist Party staged a protest outside the constituency office of Scottish Deputy leader Anas Sarwar.  The MP had caused fury after claiming outrage following his own no-show was “fake”.

The Bedroom tax was initially introduced into the private housing sector in 2008 by the former PM Gordon Brown.  It was eventually extended into the public sector by the new Conservative/Lib Dem coalition.

The effects of the Bedroom Tax have now been mitigated in Scotland after a call by the Scottish Government for Westminster to remove the cap on help for people on benefits, known as Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs), was successful.

The Scottish Government has already spent up to the previous legal limit in order to mitigate the effects of the ‘Bedroom Tax’.  Once the powers are transferred, a total of £50 million can be invested to help the 72,000 households in Scotland who are suffering from the effects.