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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
16 October 2023
Shirley-Anne Somerville: I don’t need a review to know the rape clause is the most abhorrent policy

The so-called rape clause provides an exemption if the child was conceived as a consequence of rape | Alamy

Shirley-Anne Somerville: I don’t need a review to know the rape clause is the most abhorrent policy

Shirley-Anne Somerville has said the 'rape clause' is “the most abhorrent policy that any government could come up with”.  

The Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice was speaking at the SNP’s annual conference in Aberdeen alongside independence minister Jamie Hepburn and health secretary Michael Matheson.

The two-child cap prevents families claiming child tax credits for a third child, however the so-called rape clause provides an exemption if the child was conceived as a consequence of rape or during a coercive controlling relationship.  

Somerville, who believes the rape clause is “one of the worst UK Government policies”, warned that if Labour are elected at the next general election the policy will remain.  

Labour leader Keir Starmer has said his party will keep the rape clause but has said his party will use it “more fairly”.  

Somerville said that Starmer’s position is “unacceptable”.  

She said: “We have got a UK Government that is dragging people into poverty because of the UK social security system and the aspects around the benefit cap and the rape clause all of that remains at Westminster.”

Somerville continued: “We [the Scottish Government] are still working with one hand tied behind our back - that is the utter frustration of trying to tackle poverty in Scotland.

“And I have to stress this, those aspects that I said are the worst of the UK Government policies, they are not changing if Labour get into government.

“They are all saying that we are going to have a review. I don’t need a review to know that the rape clause is the most abhorrent policy that any government could come up with.”

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