SNP MP Alison Thewliss has written to the Scottish Conservatives leader, Ruth Davidson MP, seeking information on the administering of the controversial ‘rape clause’, following comments from the Scottish Conservative Leader that she believes the Department of Work and Pensions will administer the policy in the “most sensitive way possible”.
In a letter to Ruth Davidson, Thewliss asks if she was in a position to provide answers to questions which the MP had been seeking from the UK government for twenty-one months on the restriction of child tax credits to the first two children in a family.
Thewliss says outstanding questions remain including details on what training third party assessors should be given to make an assessment of rape; how third party assessors decide on where the burden of proof should lie for women who say they have been raped, and why no guidance was available in advance of the policy being introduced, ensuring people were able to be fully informed about the effects.
Thewliss also asked the Scottish Tory Leader if she agrees with a House of Lords committee that criticised the implementation of the policy, highlighting the financial and ethical concerns of third party assessments.
— CommonSpace (@TheCommonSpace) January 18, 2016
The Committee stated: “We are not reassured about the availability and training of the third party assessors.
“We are disappointed by the government’s insistence that their ‘high-level messaging’ following the Budget in 2015 was sufficient to alert claimants to the change of law when the submissions we received indicated that this was clearly not the case.
“As a general rule we find that publishing claimant guidance only on the day that the policy comes into effect unhelpful: in this case, we think it particularly inappropriate.”
Statement released by my spokesman on child tax credits represents my view. Will be writing to constituents who have contacted me this week.
— Ruth Davidson (@RuthDavidsonMSP) April 12, 2017
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) April 12, 2017
Commenting Alison Thewliss said: “I have been seeking information on how the two child policy and the rape clause will be administered from the UK government for twenty-one months now with no answers.
“If Ruth Davidson has such confidence in the ‘sensitive’ manner in which the Department of Work and Pensions assesses rape, then she should be able to justify that assertion.
“Ruth Davidson has admitted that work to implement exemptions from the child tax credit cut is “on-going” – so why on earth was this work not done before the policy was introduced, rather than after?
“The two child limit on child tax credits and universal credit – which is tantamount to social engineering – largely penalises families who are already in work, so this has very little to do with reducing the welfare bill but is, instead, an ideological attack on the lowest earning families in our society.
“Asking a woman to prove that her child was conceived as a result of rape is utterly appalling and must be one of the most abhorrent policies ever to emanate from Westminster.
“The two child policy will also push 200,000 children over the edge from “just about managing” into poverty.
“The UK Government has railroaded this cruel policy through Parliament with minimal scrutiny; it must be halted right now.”