Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan


Labour Vote Against Welfare Inquiry

Tuesday, 11 February 2014


The Scottish National Party has expressed disappointment following a House of Commons debate on “Fairness and Inequality” where Labour chose to vote against a SNP motion which calls on the UK government to halt further spending and welfare cuts.

The ‘opposition day’ motion recognised that the UK is one of the most unequal states in the OECD ranking 28th out of 34 countries for income inequality in the developed world, and called for the UK government to establish a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the impact of the Government’s austerity measures on the incidence of poverty and inequality.

Commenting after the debate, SNP spokesperson for Work and Pensions Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“Inequality in the UK is the biggest scandal of our age.

“We had this debate at Westminster because the Westminster system is driving so much of the inequality and unfairness blighting our society which has got us into this sorry state.

“It was very disappointing to see such low numbers of the UK government on the benches for this debate when they were perfectly happy to turn up and show contempt for Scotland during a recent debate on Scotland’s future.

“And Labour have stuck to the ‘Bain’ principle of not voting for an SNP motion - putting tribal party politics ahead of common sense.

“In September this year people in Scotland have a choice of two futures, and today’s debate focused on the dangers for Scotland of remaining in a system in which austerity, cuts and even greater inequality appear to be the only things on offer from a No vote. The Westminster system is letting Scotland down badly, and in the referendum we have an opportunity to change the future and create a fairer and more prosperous society.”

The motion:

11 people voted in favour, 283 against.

Until 7.00pm (Standing Order No. 9(3))
Fairness and inequality
Angus Robertson
Mr Elfyn Llwyd
Caroline Lucas
Dr Eilidh Whiteford
Jonathan Edwards
Mr Angus Brendan MacNeil

That this House notes that the United Kingdom is one of the most unequal states in the OECD, ranked 28 out of 34 countries for income inequality and the fourth most unequal country in the developed world according to some analyses; further notes that low and middle income families have borne the brunt of the Government’s austerity measures; further notes that the Government has plans to cut a further £60 billion in public spending over the next four years; further notes that successive governments of all political hues have presided over an underlying trend of rising income inequality since the early 1980s; recognises that men have consistently higher employment rates than women and that women are more likely to work in lower paid, low-skilled occupations; further notes the growing numbers of workers on minimum wage and zero-hours contracts, and that there are more people now in working poverty than out of work poverty; further notes with concern the sharp rise in the number of people relying on foodbanks across the UK, including significant numbers of people in work; and calls on the Government to halt its further spending and welfare cuts and to establish a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the impact of the Government’s austerity measures on the incidence of poverty and inequality.

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