Falkirk SNP MP attacks Labour on welfare cuts

Falkirk East MP Martyn Day used his maiden speech to attack welfare reform
Falkirk East MP Martyn Day used his maiden speech to attack welfare reform

Council leader Craig Martin hits back calling him a hypocrite.

MP Martyn Day used his maiden Commons speech to attack welfare reform legislation which was eventually voted through this week.

Falkirk East member Day made his comments during a Budget debate before the Conservative government’s Welfare Reform and Work Bill was passed by MPs on Tuesday in Westminster.

SNP MPs wanted Labour to join them in voting against the welfare cuts and Mr Day criticised his rivals for abstaining from the vote which saw the legislation being passed by 308 votes to 124. A Labour amendment to derail the legislation was defeated by 308 votes to 208.

Only 48 Labour MPs voted against the bill that plans to limit benefits for working families on low incomes prompting Mr Day to question Labour’s values and accused them of abandoning “any pretence of being a party of social justice”.

Mr Day said: “The majority of people in my constituency affected by these cuts will be working. Welfare is not a lifestyle choice as is being suggested by the Tories, it is a symptom of a low wage economy where people are not valued enough and until that fundamental economic reality changes it is wrong to cut such vital support.

“People will rightly be asking ‘what does Labour stand for?’. The Tories’ cruel welfare cuts damage the working poor and vulnerable people and had to be opposed.”

According to figures from April, the total number of families on tax credits in Mr Day’s constituency, including those in work, was 7700.

Labour said it abstained from the vote, which included the amendment “to decline to give the Bill a Second Reading”, as, while it disagreed with part of the Bill, there are policies it supports – such as creating three million apprenticeships for young people and cuts in council and social housing rents – before it could vote out the cuts it disagreed with at the next stage of the Bill.

Falkirk Council Labour administration leader, Councillor Craig Martin, hit back at Mr Day’s comments calling him hypocritical. He said: “If I was an MP I would have voted against the Welfare and Work Bill on social and moral grounds. But I find it hypocritical of Mr Day in attacking Labour’s values when, by his own admission, I assume Mr Day will be criticising his SNP MSPs in Holyrood who have continually voted with the Tories to block the living wage to workers like cleaners, caterers and carers working on public contracts.

“Will he criticise SNP MSPs at Holyrood for continually voting with the Tories to block private rent capping?”

Mr Martin also criticised the SNP for 4000 teaching posts being lost in recent years.