Steve Webb over-rules Nick on universal child benefits

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Evening Standard blogger Paul Waugh has the story:

Work and Pensions spokesman Steve Webb has indeed put his foot down to kill off Nick Clegg’s suggestion (floated in the Guardian on Saturday) that the party could means-test child benefit.

Webb made plain his feelings at a Fabian fringe event. Thanks to the NextLeft report of proceedings, we find out what Webb said:

“We’ve been able to conduct the review speedily over the last 24 hours – and I am pleased to say that the policy won’t be changing”,

“I read…..we were going to look at ‘middle class child benefit’. I have looked at it – and I have rejected it,” Webb added.

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  • Jessica Ashman 21st Sep '09 - 5:47pm

    Oh dear another split at the top of the party following hot on the heels of the Clegg\Cable split on the ring-fencing of departmental budgets

    If the lib dem leadership don’t know\can’t agree what they stand for…..

    I suspect Clegg will pull rank here.

  • I hope Webb wins this one, as I think he is correct and also I believe shadow ministers should be incharge of their brief given they are supposed to become experts in it, no politician can be an expert in all the departments.

    With a universal benefit you save the cost of having to means test everyone to establish if they are elligible. Also means testing puts some people off applying even though they would be elligible so making the benefit less effective. I’d rather the government pay some people that don’t really need the money than risk not paying some people that do actually need the money in order to help bring up their children.

  • splits shmitz 21st Sep '09 - 6:33pm

    No love lost there then.

    Webb is such a divisive character – he could have soft soaped a bit. this is blunt, and a direct slap in the face to Clegg.

    Suggests that Clegg didn’t pass his lines past Webb so Webb feels no needto pull his punches.

    V bad on Web’s part. Leader has preogative, even if not to check lines is bad form.

    What Webb does is out right mutiny.

    Needs stamping on.

  • Herbert Brown 21st Sep '09 - 8:48pm


    Mr Webb!

    I’ll live to see you – all of you – hanging from the highest yardarm in the British fleet.

  • What a shambles but that’s what you get with fantasy politics.

  • What actual political debate on policies not just hiving off policy creation to inquires and commissions etc as both Labour and the Tories do.

  • David Allen 22nd Sep '09 - 1:20pm

    “Why is it a bad thing to have open debate at the top of the party, please?”

    A fair question. But perhaps the answer is, it’s the way you conduct it. Analysis, speeches and voting, yes please. Competitive leaking and briefing backstairs, no thanks!

  • Terry Gilbert 22nd Sep '09 - 11:40pm

    Well done Steve Webb. (I told you you would make a better leader!)

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