Tag Archives: rape clause

Rennie: Rape clause shows that the Tory mask has slipped & nasty party is nastier than ever

For the last few years, Ruth Davidson has painted herself as the acceptable face of the Tory Party. This time last year, she was an ardent Remainer willing to call out her London colleagues on human rights and the like. Now, she’s a hard brexiteer who is prepared to trivialise the effects of the dreadful family cap which prevents families claiming benefits or tax credits for more than two children – unless they can prove to the satisfaction of a civil servant that a third or subsequent child was conceived by rape.

To do that, women have to complete this shocking form and in the process disclose to a third party that they have been raped. This is information that they may never have shared with someone. What gets me is that someone had to draw up that form. The draft must have gone through various people who all signed it off? It seems incredible that nobody actually thought about the effect on the person filling it in. And what happens if some decision maker at the Department of Work and Pensions decides that somehow they aren’t eligible after all? Has anyone thought this through?

Anyway, tonight, Ruth Davidson made light of all of this, saying that all women had to do was “tick a box.”

Ruth Davidson is wrong to make out that  completing this form is a trauma free exercise. Imagine how you would feel writing down your child’s name & signing that their conception was non consensual. What would be going through your mind?

The Tories are bureaucratising the unacceptable and Ruth should be calling her colleagues out on it, not defending their actions.

Willie Rennie, who took part in the demonstration against the rape clause at Holyrood last week, slammed Davidson’s cavalier comments:

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Alex Cole-Hamilton: Family cap and rape clause have no place in a civilised society

Yesterday the Scottish Parliament debated the Conservative cuts to tax credit which means that only two children per family are covered.

Every Scottish Conservative MSP voted for it, with many robustly defending the policy. Their line seems to be, as the Conservative candidate at my local council hustings said last week, that this is a compassionate (that’s the word she actually used) exemption. They are also saying that the woman doesn’t have to fill it in, it’s a third party. Well, have a look at the form and imagine how you would feel if it applied to you. You have to write down the name of your child and sign a declaration that “I believe the non-consensual conception exception applies to my child.” How you can do that without your mind drifting back to the traumatic circumstances of that conception? You are also then required to take the form to a third party to get them to fill it in. You are going to have to relive that ordeal. You may never have told anyone about it before and be worried about whether you are going to be believed. If implementation of a policy requires this sort of trauma, then the policy itself is clearly wrong.

There were many fantastic speeches from across the Chamber, including moving personal testimonies sent to MSPs like Scottish Labour Leader Kezia Dugdale.

The Liberal Democrats were represented by Alex Cole-Hamilton, who condemned these policies – and pointed out that during the coalition years, we had put a stop to their introduction:

I pay tribute to Kez Dugdale and Sandra White for offering very moving personal testimonies, and I congratulate the Scottish Government on lodging the motion. I assure it of the support of the Liberal Democrats. We will support Kez Dugdale’s and Alison Johnstone’s amendments, as well.

Who can forget Theresa May’s inaugural words in her tenure as Prime Minister? In her Francis of Assisi moment on the steps of number 10, she said of families that rely on tax credits in particular:

“If you’re from an ordinary working class family, life is much harder than many people in Westminster realise. You have a job but you don’t always have job security. You have your own home, but you worry about paying a mortgage. You can just about manage but you worry about the cost of living and getting your kids into a good school … I know you’re working around the clock, I know you’re doing your best, and I know that sometimes life can be a struggle. The government I lead will be driven not by the interests of the privileged few, but by yours.”

In the two-child tax credit cap and the rape clause that underpins it, we see the measure of that commitment made flesh. I am certain that those words have now turned to ash in the Prime Minister’s mouth.

There are days in the chamber when we are debating welfare reform and social security matters in which I rise to speak with some trepidation and a recognition that there were times when my party, through dint of the coalition, participated in decisions and reforms that were distasteful to us as Liberals, but were far less egregious than those that our partners originally proposed. Members rightly lose no time in reminding me of that in colourful interventions. That is fair enough, but the untold story of our days in coalition is what never made it to the statute book thanks to Liberal Democrat resistance: regional pay, which would penalise any workers outside the south-east of England, inheritance tax cuts for millionaires and enhanced powers for employers to sack staff without notice or recourse to a tribunal.

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Tom Brake signs cross-party letter to Prime Minister asking him to drop the “rape clause”

Tom Brake is one of MPs from nine parties who has signed a letter to the Prime Minister asking him to withdraw the ill-thought out “rape clause” which was part of the measures brought in in the Budget.

George Osborne capped tax credits and benefits at two children, a measure Liberal Democrats had blocked throughout the Coalition years. Within the detail, SNP MP Alison Thewliss discovered a clause which said that women who had had a third child as a result of being raped would be exempt. How do you actually prove that to a DWP official? It’s such an ill-thought out, cruel policy. As if the principle of capping benefits at two children wasn’t bad enough, this took its cruelty to a whole new level. No woman should have to prove rape to access basic benefits for her child.

Since then, Alison has been pursuing the Government at every opportunity to say how exactly this policy will be implemented, but hasn’t had an answer, satisfactory or otherwise.

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Liberal Democrats should campaign against benefits “rape clause”

George Osborne’s decision not to impose the cuts to tax credits may be welcome but in many cases is only putting off the agony. As research from the Resolution Foundation and the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows, working families with children still stand to lose more than £1300 a year, more than £100 every month. Nick Clegg spelled this out when he was in Oldham campaigning for Jane Brophy this week:

He’s just delaying it by smuggling the cuts into Universal Credit. I think we played an important role and a leading role in firstly, identifying the problem and then opposing it unambiguously.

I wasn’t (surprised at the decision). But they’re doing half a beastly thing instead of a beastly thing.

Actually, it’s more of a beastly thing than that. The cap on the childcare element at 2 children remains and, with it, an issue which was first highlighted by SNP MP Alison Thewliss back in July. There is a rather sinister devil in the detail which has not been removed by the Autumn Statement, the so-called “rape clause.”

This says:

the Department for Work and Pensions and HMRC will develop protections for women who have a third child as a result of rape or other exceptional circumstances

Someone sitting in an office in Whitehall has actually thought this, written it down and others have presumably thought it was practical enough to include. I actually despair.

So, how exactly is a woman supposed to prove that she has been raped, given that conviction rates are so low? Alison Thewliss has repeatedly questioned the Chancellor on how exactly this will be implemented, most recently after the Autumn Statement on Wednesday. Osborne replied:

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