Stevenage MP explains his reasons behind rebelling against government’s planned tax credit cuts

Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland.

Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland. - Credit: Archant

Stevenage’s MP has been given a national platform to explain why he’s rebelled against the government over tax credit cuts, in a week when a children’s charity has revealed the impact the axe could have on hard-pressed families.

Stephen McPartland is one of a group of Conservative MPs opposing the tabled cuts – and says that the majority of his colleagues now agree with him.

He has argued vigorously against them in parliament, and – as the Comet reported last week – when Treasury minister David Gauke visited the town eight days ago, Mr McPartland boycotted the meeting in protest.

In a lengthy column featured in Sunday’s left-leaning Observer paper, Mr McPartland said: “The government is absolutely right that tax credits need reforming – but I voted against its proposals in September and I have argued hard ever since that George Osborne must reconsider.

“You have to respect him for being prepared to take difficult decisions and stand up for what he believes in: a high-pay, low-tax, low-welfare economy that helps those who want to get on in life and provides a safety net for those who fall on hard times. It is also what I believe in.


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“But I know that there has to be a fairer way of achieving that than with this policy.

“The chancellor must drop these proposals as they stand. For those families on very low incomes, these changes will hurt them not help them.”

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Figures released by the Children’s Society indicate that 3,600 Stevenage families, or 6,700 children, could be hit by tax credit cuts.

Mr McPartland says that nationwide the cuts would affect more than three million families.

The House of Lords derailed the tax credit plans last month, and the Chancellor George Osborne is expected to outline a revised scheme in his autumn statement next Wednesday.

Mr McPartland says that he wants the Conservatives to move to the centre and represent hard workers abandoned by Labour.

“I am standing up for families on low incomes because these families are trying to work and should be rewarded by a welfare system that is fair and helps them move forward in life,” he said. “These are the forgotten voters Labour has left behind and that we have not managed to reach yet.

“Growing up in Liverpool, I saw a poster which said: ‘What can the Conservatives offer a working-class kid from Brixton?’ Beneath it was a photograph of John Major and it said: ‘We made him Prime Minister.’

“That is the party I want to belong to and that is the party I want to represent.”

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