46 Liberal Democrat peers sided with their Tory colleagues and voted to keep the hated ‘bedroom tax’, in a vote on a Labour motion in the House of Lords (HoL) today.
This is despite a speech by the party president Tim Farron to the Centre for Social Justice think-tank, only 24 hours prior to the vote in the HoL, where he said:
“The onslaught of divisive rhetoric that demonises the poor can never help us to create a fairer society.”
He continued: “The “bedroom tax causes huge social problems and distorts the market – we as a party cannot support this.”
Following Tim Farron’s comments, a Labour spokesperson accused the Liberal Democrat president of “breathtaking hypocrisy”; because the party supported the Conservatives in introducing the bedroom tax, or under-occupation penalty, as part of widespread changes to Britain’s welfare system.
The supposed Liberal Democrat U-turn failed to materialise into support for a Labour motion which asked peers to recognise the policy was having a “disproportionate impact” on “vulnerable people”, and had caused “confusion and uncertainty” for those affected, partly due to government “mishandling”.
Even though the motion managed to attract an impressive 173 supporters, 188 peers voted against – including 46 Liberal Democrat peers. Only two Lib Dem peers supported the Labour Party motion: Lord Shipley and Lord Taylor of Gos Mor.
Responding to the outcome of the vote, Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves MP said:
“24 hours after the Lib Dems said they were withdrawing their support for the Bedroom Tax, 46 Lib Dem peers have voted with the Tories to keep it.
“With the Lib Dems’ help, the government defeated Labour’s motion on the Bedroom Tax by just 15 votes. It shows you can’t trust a word the Lib Dems say.
“David Cameron and Nick Clegg’s Bedroom Tax has been a complete disaster and ministers should scrap it. If they don’t, the next Labour government will.”