In the House of Commons Stephen Doughty the Labour MP for Cardiff South and Penarth has been crossing swords with the newly-promoted former Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb – who is now Secretary of State for Work and Pensions .
Addressing Crabb in his new cabinet post Doughty said “ The Secretary of State may strike a different tone but in the end he is going to be judged by his actions. My constituents would like to know the following: will he scrap the bedroom tax? Will he scrap the cuts to ESA? And will he deal with the shameful treatment of older women and their pensions?”
The Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb replied “I say to the hon. Gentleman that if this is about judging by actions, I will happily stand by the record of this Government every day of the week when marked against the record of previous Labour Governments, who allowed the benefits bill to spiral out of control but left a legacy of long-term unemployment. They left hundreds of thousands of people who had not worked a day in their life with no effective support from the state to help them make the transition back into the workplace.”
Doughty also asked why the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne was not in the House to – as be put it – “apologise” [ over unchanged Personal Independence Payments (PIPs)] .
He demanded that Treasury Minister, David Gauke, tell him where the Chancellor of the Exchequer was. He said “Nearly 7,000 people with disabilities across Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan would have been hit by the cut to PIP. The Minister has not answered these questions, so I will ask them. Where is the Chancellor and why he is not here to apologise? Secondly, how will the £4.4 billion black hole be filled?”
David Gauke – Financial Secretary to the Treasury – replied “The Chancellor has worked tirelessly to turn the British economy around, and he is continuing to do that. In terms of a black hole, I just point out that every single day we hear proposals from the Labour party to oppose some spending item or tax cut—more borrowing, borrowing, borrowing.”
At this point Doughty’s fellow Cardiff MP Craig Williams (Conservative, Cardiff North) stood up to tell MPs – and remind Doughty – that the Chancellor’s budget had, in fact, been a “welcome budget for Cardiff” which was “incredibly popular” .
Craig Williams said “This welcome Budget for Cardiff is delivering the Cardiff city deal, in stark contrast to the Labour Assembly Government, which is the most centralising Government in western democracy. Businessmen and women welcome the business rates relief, and the localism in the Budget is incredibly popular. Would my honourable friend encourage the Labour Assembly Government to follow our lead and empower businessmen and women?”
Financial Secretary David Gauke suggested a way that this might shortly come about . He said “If the Welsh Assembly Government are to follow our lead, they need to change their leadership, and there will be an opportunity to do that in just a few weeks.”