On Monday, 20 October 2015, the Commons debated a non-binding Labour motion: “this House calls on the Government to reverse its decision to cut tax credits”. The debate begins at Hansard column 845 and the vote at column 923.

The debate arose from the concerns that the Tory government’s changes to welfare and tax credits make around 3 million families worse off. I wrote about this in the posts Robbing the working poor  and Assaulting poverty or the poor.

In the vote on the Labour motion Sarah Newton was a teller for the noes and the other five Cornwall Tory MPs voted against the Labour motion.

This is a repeat of the vote from Cornwall MPs last month to approve the regulations for the tax credit changes: see Hansard 15 September 2015. The debate begins at column 964, the vote is at column 989. Sarah Newton was a teller for the ayes and the other five Tory MPs for Cornwall voted for the regulations.

At prime minister’s questions on 21 October David Cameron said he was “delighted” – yes, that’s the very word he used – that the tax credit cuts and other changes had been approved by the Commons (Hansard 21 October 2015 column 948).

Are the Cornwall Tory MPs delighted too? Read the comments of Steve Double (St Austell and Newquay) and Derek Thomas (St Ives) extracts of which I have put below; do read the whole of what they said.

On 22 October 2015 Steve Double wrote on his blog : “I have been working behind the scenes to ask the Government to do something to ease the impact of these cuts. I have met with the Chancellor George Osborne and have written to the Prime Minister… I want to make clear that I support the principle of reducing tax credits but believe the severity of what is proposed needs to be addressed. I will continue to work towards a different solution, a solution that softens the blow that has come relatively swiftly.”

Protestors against the cuts gave Derek Thomas a petition. The   Cornishman  reports on 28 July 2015:

“Mr Thomas said he would work to alleviate the plight of anyone suffering hardship as a result of the cuts…

‘I completely agree that the Government needs to strike the right balance when reforming welfare. There is a need to reduce welfare spending but we must be careful that people do not experience unacceptable (and unintended) levels of hardship.

‘I will work hard to help people who find themselves in this situation and I have offered to hold a regular drop-in surgery in the Changing Room so that people can get help when needed.’ ”

I am not clear what the other four MPs think on the issue.

The Commons will look at the tax credit changes yet again on 29 October with a motion calling for mitigation of the effect on low paid workers and their families. It will be interesting to see how the six vote. The issue will be before the House of Lords on 26 October. Signatories to a letter from members calling for change so that working families do not experience “major overall losses” include Tim Thornton, bishop of Truro, and Robin Teverson. The prime minister and chancellor insist the tax credit cuts will not be changed at all. We’ll see.

Added 26 October 2015
Very difficult findings for the government on the effects of its tax credit cuts from research group Policy in practice


16 May 2015

Cornwall Tory Watch is where I shall now scrutinise the six Tory MPs and other Tory politicians in Cornwall and the impact of their Tory government’s policies upon people here. I shall also put on the blog more detailed separate posts about some of the issues as they arise.

Cornwall Libdem Watch continues but with reduced activity I expect.

If you wish to see what the Tory Libdem government has achieved, what it is about and the fruits of its work, look around you.

David Cameron: Welfare reforms are “at the heart of our social and moral mission”
Daily Telegraph 19 February 2014


“Malnutrition, rent arrears, bailiff visits and food bank use in Cornwall soars

The levels of malnutrition, rent arrears, bailiff visits and food bank use in Cornwall is soaring as welfare reform starts to bite.”
Falmouth Packet 2 February 2014


“Thousands of HIV patients go hungry as benefit cuts hit

Thousands of people with HIV have been left struggling in poverty by the Government’s welfare reforms – with some unable to afford the basic food they need to fight their condition.”
Independent February 2014

Si monumentum…the epitaph of Christopher Wren in St Paul’s cathedral


20 February 2013

The number of people using food banks doubles in the two financial years 2010-2012 and is set to double again this year. See here and here.

Waiting times in A and E up, quality of NHS care down. See here.

Moving the tenants and families out. See here and here. And here for a crisis in housing homeless people.

Falling starts and completions of affordable housing. See here.

These things are not an accident; they are what happen when you have a government of doctrinaire Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

Things fall apart: from The second coming by WB Yeats (published 1919)


22 November 2012

See update 10 December 2012 at the foot of this post.

ORIGINAL POST of 22 November 2012:
There were two debates in parliament the other day on regional and local pay in the NHS, a brief one in Westminster Hall ( Hansard 7 November 2012 column 246WH) and one on a Labour motion supporting national pay in the NHS and calling on the Tory Libdem government to intervene against moves to regional and local pay in the southwest, including Cornwall and the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust (RCHT) ( Hansard 7 November 2012 column 868 onwards). I think regional and local pay in Cornwall will mean cuts in pay and probably worse holiday and sick conditions.


Labour’s arguments were damaged – fatally damaged, I think – by the brutal fact that the party started the process that undermined national pay. The 2003 Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Act created foundation trusts and hospitals and empowered them to vary national pay; the 2004 Agenda for Change included the principle of regional pay; and Labour introduced some regional pay variation in the courts service. The 2003 Labour budget also talked of introducing regional pay throughout the public service.

Many Labour MPs opposed the creation of foundation trusts; Labour MPs for Scotland constituencies supported it though it did not apply to Scotland.

The heavy history of its past weighed Labour down and it was left unconvincingly saying that pay below national rates was not the intention of the ‘flexibility’ it legislated for.  Incompetent legislators then.

If Labour wants to be taken seriously on regional and local pay, it has to acknowledge fully its record and either endorse it or renounce it.


As for the Liberal Democrats, in 2003 the amendment by Labour MP  David Hinchcliffe to scrap the introduction of foundation trusts was supported by the three Cornwall MPs that voted, all Libdems: Colin Breed, Andrew George, Paul Tyler ( Hansard 8 July 2003 column 975). At the third reading of the bill ( Hansard 8 July 2003 column 1099, division 284), only thee MPs from Cornwall voted, the same three and against.

The other day all three current Libdem MPs in Cornwall, Andrew George, Stephen Gilbert, and Dan Rogerson, opposed regional pay in the NHS; they then voted against the Labour motion opposing regional pay in the NHS; and then they voted for the Tory Libdem government amendment to the Labour motion, an amendment which very noticeably did not reject regional pay but largely delineated Labour’s dismal record.  I see that they may not have wished to support Labour, given its unresiled record, but to support an amendment that does not even mildly challenge or doubt regional pay in the NHS is, I think, puzzling given their with stated opposition to such pay.

Andrew George made early day motion (EDM) 719 on 13 November 2012. This “calls on the government to do all that it can to resist regional and local pay variations in public services” and  knocks Labour.  There are presently twelve signatures, mainly Libdem and including Stephen Gilbert.

The Libdem party had initially sought the regionalisation of the minimum wage but Labour, including Candy Atherton the then Labour MP for Camborne, rightly insisted on a national rate.


The Tories began this approach to NHS localised pay with their 1990 NHS and Community Care Act: see this interesting summary of the road to localised pay. They also initially opposed the national minimum wage. The other day the Tory Libdem government supported the NHS national pay scheme, also supported each trust deciding wages for themselves (with consultation with workers),  and also declined to tell the southwest trusts to end their moves to regional/local pay. I think that is Yes but no but yes but no but …

I suspect they see the threat of a breakaway in the southwest as useful pressure on unions to settle the dragging national negotiations smartly. If those negotiations succeed, they may possibly make the southwest consortium redundant; if they fail, the government will have to expose its view on cuts in pay and conditions at the RCHT.

None of the three parties come to the issue of regional pay as saints and the Labour record is particularly dismal. Jude Robinson’s work for a living wage shines like a good deed in a naughty Labour world.

You can read the Cornwall MPs contributions in Hansard: Andrew George column 869 and 910, Stephen Gilbert 893, Dan Rogerson 900.
END of original post

UPDATE 10 December 2012
George Osborne, chancellor of the exchequer, told the Commons that the Tory Libdem government would continue “national pay arrangements in the NHS, prison service, and…ciivil service” but individual teachers’ pay would be decided by heads in school (Hansard 5 December 2012 column 875).

…and others and elsewhere

The other day I wrote about the slow erosion of the minimum wage which for a dozen years has helped those at the bottom of the pay pile. The wage has been “the slow-foot hope of the poor”. As the budget provisions come into force there is more bad news for the vulnerable here.

Yes, any budget is complex with winners and losers and contending interpretations. In the 2012 budget there are very small tax reductions for a lot of taxpayers, but I think these are outmatched by significant losses for some poor, low-paid, and very modestly paid groups. For example, today the Tory Libdem government’s destructive change to working tax credits comes into force. A couple with children on less than about £17 000 a year at present can get the credit as a top up to their wages for working at least 16 hours a week. From today those qualifying hours are raised to 24: between them they must work 24 with one working at least 16 or one must work 24. There is a recession, jobs are hard to find, the opportunities for increasing hours extremely limited. If they fail the new hours test, the family will lose all the working tax credit, up to £74 a week. There are estimated to be around
200 000 couples affected by this change nationally and pro-rata that is nearly two thousand in Cornwall. These are working people and their families; they should be encouraged not find their lives made more difficult by deliberate government decision.

At the same time research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) for the Labour party shows that a typical family will lose £511 a year due to 2012 Tory Libdem budget changes in taxes and benefits: this takes into account the vaunted increase in the income tax threshold. In April 2014 pensioners will be £315 a year worse off as the granny tax bites.

Here then are the fruits of Tories and Libdems working together to take from the poor and low paid. Cue overpaid politicians earnestly telling us how it pains them to have to take hard decisions to reduce lesser paid people’s income.

Do not expect the Conservatives or Libdems to mention these cuts.


Read here why the government’s tax threshold change amounts to only 81p a week after accounting for the default inflation rise. (7 April 2012)

A survey by the Guardian shows that many jobs are not giving enough hours for people to meet the new qualifying hours rule for working tax benefits. This new rule is either serious incompetence by the Tory Libdem government or a callous policy change; it should be righted. (8 April 2012)

“the slow-foot hope of the poor”: Robert TRESSELL Ragged trousered philanthropists chapter 45


28 September 2011

A recent survey for Conservatives of opinion in some marginal constituencies, including two in Cornwall, has thrown up a mean average swing of three percent from Liberal Democrats to Conservatives in seats held by the latter where the Libdems are second in votes.

The two Cornwall seats are Camborne-and-Redruth and Truro-and-Falmouth. The results for these two seats are not given separately in the public scores but, assuming they fit the pattern, this means that the Tories should win them comfortably next time. However, bear in mind the next election is not due until 2015 and that’s a long way off.

Electoral calculus has the Tories winning these two even more clearly. In fact it shows them winning all the Cornwall seats. Of course we are likely to have new boundaries in 2015.

It will be interesting to compare these 2011 findings with the actual results of the next general election.