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The Tory spokesperson on social security has made the jaw-dropping claim that poor people should not have more than two children, in the course of a Holyrood debate on poverty and inequality.

The Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government Aileen Campbell MSP intervened on the Tory member to ask whether she was “proud of the two child limit and proud of the rape clause”.

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In response, Tory MSP Michelle Ballantyne said, “it is fair that people on benefit cannot have as many children as they like, while people who work and pay their way and don’t claim benefits don’t have to make decisions about the number of children they have”.

SNP MSP Tom Arthur then blasted Ms Ballantyne’s staggeringly offensive suggestion, stating: “In my two and half years in this parliament, the contribution from Michelle Ballantyne was one of the most disgraceful speeches I have ever heard.

“Six minutes of pompous Victorian moralising, that would have been better suited to the pages of a Dickens novel.

“And to suggest that poverty should be a barrier to a family, that people who are poor are not entitled to any more than two children – what an absolutely disgraceful position.

“And she should be utterly, utterly ashamed of herself.”