The big story of the week is tax credits. These significant changes were the subject of a vote in the House of Lords on Monday evening and as a result I am pleased that the Chancellor will review his decision and re-address the issue in his Autumn Statement in late November.
Notwithstanding the constitutional issues that have been created,
I am pleased to see this. I, and colleagues have worked tirelessly behind the scenes encouraging the Chancellor to soften the transition for those affected by the changes, and it looks like that work will pay off.
Just to be clear, I completely support the Chancellor in his policy of tackling the mountain of debt we have as a country. I also see the case for reforming the tax credit system, which has ballooned over the years from £4Billion to a £30Billion cost – clearly unsustainable – and I fully support the principle of a higher wage and lower welfare economy, if the UK is to balance its books.
However, I have had deep concerns about how these changes to the tax credits system could affect individuals. I have received literally hundreds of letters (which I will be responding to over the next few days) and I have raised my concerns with the Chancellor and others.
I intend to keep a very close eye on the situation and I will be working hard with the government and local agencies to find a way forward on this issue.
Make no mistake some difficult decisions will still need to be taken, and we cannot shy away from that simple fact, but for now I welcome the opportunity to look again at the best way to proceed.
English Votes for English Laws
Last week I was pleased to be in the House of Commons to vote for English Votes for English Laws.
The Scottish referendum was just over a year ago, following which more powers across the United Kingdom have been devolved in a way which I believe strengthens the union.
The procedures that have been suggested may seem complicated, but they will ensure that new laws are made with the agreement of the whole House of Commons, with English (and Welsh) laws will being made with the consent of MPs who represent those parts of the Union.
These plans give a fair balance by giving England more control over decisions which it alone is affected by, while ensuring that Westminster continues to be a place where those from across the UK govern in the best interests of those living within the Union.