Bercow rejects Commons debate on child tax credit changes
CALLS for an emergency debate into the government’s controversial “rape clause” as part of its overhaul of child tax credits were shunned yesterday.
The changes, due to come into force in just a few weeks’ time, will see child tax credits limited to two children per family.
SNP MP Alison Thewliss pleaded with Commons speaker John Bercow to grant an emergency debate on the floor of the house “so we can shine a very bright light on the horror that is about to unfold for rape victims.”
But shockingly the opportunity for debate was denied.
The government has designed an exemption to the policy for rape survivors, dubbed the “rape clause,” which means women who have a third child as a result of rape will have to prove it in order to qualify for tax credits.
Last week, Tory ministers tried to railroad the rape clause onto the statute books without a parliamentary debate or vote.
Ms Thewliss said that “at every turn, this government has ducked and dived, they’ve used every trick in the book to sneak this policy through without debate.”
She wrote on Twitter that she was “disappointed” with Mr Bercow’s response but that she would not give up trying to get the clause scrapped.
The Glasgow Central MP accused the government of “unleashing utter chaos and untold distress” on the public if the clause is passed, in addition to the “trauma that rape victims will need to endure as they recount and relive the brutal sexual violence they experienced.”
Ms Thewliss said it was “truly frightening” that the government expected hospital staff and social workers to act as third party arbitrators in judging whether or not a child had been conceived as a result of rape, and had received no guidance, training or advice on how this should be done.
A British government spokesman said it was “absolutely right that we have the right exemptions in place.
“We have thought carefully about how we will work with charities and health and social care professionals to support victims of rape. We will be publishing guidance shortly.”