Ilford Labour MPs defend decision to abstain in welfare vote

Ilford North MP Wes Streeting, left, with Labour's interim leader Harriet Harman, right, who tabled

Ilford North MP Wes Streeting, left, with Labour's interim leader Harriet Harman, right, who tabled the amendment and told the party to abstain. - Credit: Archant

Both of Ilford’s Labour MPs abstained from voting against the welfare and reform bill’s second reading on Monday, after the opposition’s amendment was rejected.

This comes as research by homelessness charity Shelter shows unemployed families will not be able to afford to live in Redbridge under the bill’s proposed benefit ceiling.

It reduces the cap to £23,000 in London and also limits child tax credits to two children.

Ilford North MP Wes Streeting said the bill was “a massive political trap”.

He explained: “It is really two pieces of legislation. It includes three million apprenticeships and we do not want George Osborne to paint Labour as anti apprenticeship.”

The new MP said he thought building more affordable houses would combat the housing benefit issue.

Mr Streeting added: “Since becoming an MP I have consistently fought the government cuts to tax credits which have affected 3.2 million families.”

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Ilford South MP Mike Gapes refused to give details on why he chose to abstain, saying: “I do not want to get drawn into discussions on Labour policy, I voted for the Labour amendment and went with the whip.”

The amendment opposed the abolition of child poverty targets and changes to employment and support allowance, for people who cannot work because of illness or disability, but made no mention of the changes in child tax credits.

Mr Gapes added: “The Conservatives have a majority of over one hundred over Labour – voting against it in the second reading becomes academic.”

In total 48 Labour MPs defied the whip to vote no to the bill, including leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn and London Mayoral hopefuls Sadiq Khan and David Lammy.

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