Ruth Davidson under fire from MSPs for defending tax credits 'rape clause'

Written by Tom Freeman on 26 April 2017 in News

Scottish Conservatives decline to take any interventions in heated Holyrood debate on tax credits cuts

Ruth Davidson - Scottish Parliament

UK Government welfare reforms which will see a cut in payments for families with three or more children have been condemned by MSPs.

In a heated debate in the Scottish Parliament SNP, Labour and Green members also slammed a controversial provision in which parents will have to identify children who have been born as a result of rape in order to continue to receive benefits for them.

Ruth Davidson and the Scottish Conservatives defended the plans on the grounds the UK Government needed to bring spending on benefits down.


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Conservative MSPs were also condemned for refusing to take any interventions from opponents during their speeches.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the policy was "shameful"

"The very need to provide an exemption from the two-child cap for women who have been raped shows the callousness of the cuts in the first place."

Davidson said Holyrood should not be used to "sound off" against UK policies it didn't like but had "enormous powers to act".

"The first minister uses strong words like shameful. She has the power to act - if she chooses strong words but chooses not to act, then that would indeed be shameful."

Labour leader Kezia Dugdale asked Davidson why rape victims "have to pay the price of the deficit while the Tories give tax cuts to the richest people in our society."

"There is nothing brave about tank-driving Ruth Davidson when she fails to tackle her own Government on this appalling issue and hides behind a spokesman for days," she said.

Dugdale read a letter from a woman who had been raped.

"Years on and I have a happy, healthy child. They are worshipped, not just by me but by my extended family and even better my husband, a brave and loving man.

My child doesn’t know where they came from and if I have anything to do with it, they never will," read Dugdale.

"There is no way I could complete that awful form of shame, no matter what the consequences."

On the refusal by her MSPs to take interventions, Davidson said: "I do not think that this issue should be subject to the knockabout that we see here in the chamber daily."

Labour's Neil Findlay said: "I was under the impression that this was a debating chamber."

Equalities secretary Angela Constance said unity between Labour, Liberal Democrats, Greens and the SNP was a "significant moment" in Parliament.

"Whether we are nationalists, unionists, federalists or something else, we are all united in opposing the two-child cap and the abhorrent rape clause, which we see as anti-women, anti-child, anti-family and fundamentally wicked," she said.

"Ruth Davidson says that the Tory Government has a mandate. Well, it does not have a mandate in this place and it is not doing this in our name."

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