On first – and second – blush, paragraph 2.103 of the Summer Budget contains an objectionable sentence.
Describing exceptions to the intended restriction of child tax credits from the third child in claims after April 2017, it states:
[…] The Department for Work and Pensions and HMRC will develop protections for women who have a third child as a result of rape, or other exceptional circumstances.
Although there appears little information as to how wide-spread conception through rape is, I assume it is negligible. Whilst it is true that rape and sexual assault is a highly under-reported offence, raising this, as Kier Starmner did, has an element of question begging and subjecting the Budget to unending verification so to block a change he is opposed to in principle.
Say what you like about Osborne (and I normally do whilst imagining his being suspended by his ankles at a Bullington Club beano), he is not seeking to limit family size as the sub-headline for Starmer’s article implies. The same paragraph lists multiple births as an exception, which conceivably could lead to two sets of triples being entitled to payments. He is seeking to restrict State largess whilst, in theory at least, ensuring that wage-earners retain more of their income: even if he had to conduct a u-turn on the unannounced plan to bring forward wider tax credit cuts.
That said, the specification of rape alone out of general “exceptional circumstances” is ghoulish; and I cannot see how simply omitting reference to rape would not carry the same impact. Discretion would therefore be left to DWP.
Update: And to demonstrate that much of the vocal opposition to this one crappy word choice is a bad faith attempt to block policy the MP in question does not have a Parliamentary support for, Chris Law (SNP, Dundee West) says it is “akin to Chinese two-child policy”.
No it is not, Chris. Just thought I would tell you.