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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The World turned upside down - Labour bottle it on tax credit cuts, Tories complain about unelected Lords

Never say in politics that you have seen it all, because something will come along to disprove that notion. Thus, last night Labour peers walked through the lobbies to oppose a proposal that would have killed George Osborne's tax credit cuts. The vast majority sat on their hands so as to enable the Tories to defeat the Liberal Democrats motion.

Instead, Labour put forward their own motion that would just delay the cuts, leaving George Osborne the option of going ahead with them anyway.

Meanwhile, Conservatives are all over the media complaining about an unelected House of Lords flexing its muscles, having previously sabotaged Liberal Democrats attempts to bring in an elected second chamber. They really want to have their cake and eat it.

In fact the Conservatives are talking nonsense in terms of what the Lords can and cannot do. The House of Lords is a revising chamber. Ministers in governments of all hues have faced setbacks as a result of peers voting against a particular measure and as a result they have had to stop, think and often change their approach. That is the way the constitution as it is presently set up works.

The claim that the cuts in tax credits were a budget matter is also nonsense. Under the Parliament Act a money bill has to be certified as such by the Speaker of the House of Commons. Osborne's tax credit cuts were in a statutory instrument and not certified as such. The Lords were totally entitled to do what they did.

Meanwhile, because of Labour's failure to act decisively on this issue, thousands of families still face substantial cuts in their income further down the line. Nobody should be surprised. Labour did it when they were in government with their abolition of the 10p tax rate. Now they have failed to stand up for working families whilst in opposition. It really is the same-old, same-old.
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