Tory/Lib Dem Coalition

Welfare amendments defeated in the Commons

I completely understand why there is a lot of public support for the government’s plan to cap benefits, so that households where no one is working (with some exceptions) receive no more than £26,000 in benefits, a sum which amounts to a reasonable (net) salary.  But at the same time it is hard to feel actively enthusiastic about a measure which will apparently drive 100,000 children below the poverty threshold. And for that reason it seems regrettable that the House of Commons has reversed the Lords amendment, excluding child benefit from the cap.

Several other amendments have been overturned in the House of Commons.  Single parents will now have to pay the CSA if they want to chase payments, even if they’ve taken steps to secure a settlement.  Cancer patients will no longer be exempted from means testing of ESA.  The Lords had tried to prevent large reductions to the ‘disabled child element’ of Child Tax Credits – but now some families will lose more than half of the current allowance.

The Government has taken a further step to ensure their policies become law without delay:

On most bills, the Lords can send amendments back and forth in what is known as parliamentary ping pong. The coalition, deploying a rarely used parliamentary device, claimed “financial privilege” asserting that only the Commons had the right to make decisions on bills that have large financial implications.

This is a somewhat controversial move:

Labour peers and some crossbenchers argued that the understood convention was that financial privilege only applied to money bills, such as the bill implementing the budget, adding that almost all Lords amendments have some financial consequence for the government.