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Labour backbenchers hail new Bill to scrap bedroom tax

Ian Lavery MP forces a vote under Parliament's ten minute rule — but Tories and Lib Dems boycott the debate

The House of Commons reverberated yesterday to a passionate call from left MP Ian Lavery to end the misery and devastation caused by the bedroom tax.

Labour members cheered and cheered again as Mr Lavery introduced a backbench Bill to “sweep away the dreaded bedroom tax.”

Mr Lavery roared: “It has to be scrapped now!”

But Tory and Lib Dem MPs boycotted the debate, leaving the government benches virtually deserted.

Government whips lurked in the lobbies telling their MPs to abstain rather than force a confrontation on the hotly contested and chaotic bedroom tax.

Labour members forced a technical vote to demonstrate their commitment to abolishing the tax.

Mr Lavery’s ten minute rule Bill was supported by 226 votes to one, but is now expected to be sucked into a parliamentary black hole at the behest of heartless government ministers.

The Wansbeck MP protested that many people had been kicked out of their homes “like the proverbial dog.”

He added that the policy was in “total and utter chaos,” and was beset with an avalanche of appeals.

Mr Lavery reported: “I was contacted only last week by a distraught resident from the Tory shires hoping my Bill will be successful. For he, a disabled man, living in a three-bedroom home, is to be evicted for bedroom tax arrears.”

Up to 250,000 sufferers from the “abominable” tax were living in Tory and Lib Dem constituencies.

Mr Lavery told of a tragic case where a mother-of-two, who suffered a crippling illness, committed suicide after realising she could not pay the bedroom tax.

He lambasted ministers who had trumpeted the tax as “returning the fairness” to housing benefit.

“Mr Speaker, the words fairness and bedroom tax should not be uttered in the same sentence,” he declared to renewed cheers.

Unite general secretay Len McCluskey praised Mr Lavery’s spirited campaign and angrily accused ministers of “turning a blind eye to the suffering of tens of thousands of people today.”

New figures revealed that up to 50,000 households had been charged the bedroom tax in error, said Mr McCluskey.

Research from the National Housing Federation had also found that two-thirds of families affected had fallen into rent arrears.


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