Last night was a vote on the ‘Second Reading’ or first stage of the Welfare Reform and Work Bill, after a debate on the main principles of the Bill. Following this is the ‘Committee Stage,’ where the Bill is considered line by line and decisions are made about whether each clause of the Bill should remain in it, and where any changes are considered.
I voted for a Labour proposal which rejected the Bill as it stands for a number of reasons including the punitive approach to sick and disabled people and the removal of the definition of child poverty. Our proposal was defeated and because of that, I abstained from voting on the Bill, because although I reject the majority of the Bill’s content, I support some of the measures contained in it such as apprenticeships and reduced Council rents.
I also felt that the vote had become more about George Osborne seeking to create splits in the Labour party rather than the content of the Bill itself and I was not prepared to dance to his tune.
The next stage is the ‘Committee Stage’, where Labour needs to take on the Government vote-by-vote, opposing all of the harmful measures contained within the Bill. If the Bill is not substantially altered to remove these damaging attacks on welfare, I will be voting against it in the ‘Third Reading’ when the final vote takes place and have received a commitment from my preferred leadership candidate that this is what the party will do if he is successful.
I look forward to the party reasserting itself as an effective opposition to the government once our new leader has been elected.