As you might know, I have been very concerned at the Government’s proposals to limit contributory Employment and Support Allowance for those in the Work Related Activity Group to one year.
Well, the BBC News Channel has just reported that the House of Lords have defeated this proposal – and by a fairly whopping majority, 234 to 186.
Let’s hope the Government has the sense not to try to bring this back and finds another way to save the money that doesn’t involve taking it off people who are too sick to work.
I don’t know if and how many Liberal Democrats were involved in this, but as soon as I found out, I’ll let you know.
Ok, an update. It turns out the Government were defeated 3 times tonight on the time limit (which appears according to the Guardian to have been increased to 2 years), to exempt cancer patients from the limit and to ensure that young disabled people are allowed to claim Contributory ESA even though they’ve never worked. The Government had wanted to remove that entitlement.
There were fewer Liberal Democrat rebels than I would have liked to see. I am particularly disappointed that 51 peers voted against the express wishes of our Conference for a one year time limit. I suspect that they will say that the 2 year limit was as arbitrary as the one year limit, though.
Bearing in mind that these votes may well be repeated in the Lords, I would advise that we need to be very nice to them, because we want to change their minds. So let’s not be too angry, listen to what they have to say, because they are good people.
Anyway, the rebels on the time limit were Jenny Tonge and Dee Doocey, on the Cancer exemption Eric Avebury, Jenny Tonge, Shirley Williams, Tim Clement-Jones and Dee Coocey and on the disabled youth entitlement Roger Roberts, Dee Doocey and Jenny Tonge.