Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
23 January 2012

Labour backs the Bishops on benefits

Liam Byrne says Labour will support amendment exempting child benefit from £26,000 cap.

By George Eaton

After weeks of anguished deliberation, Liam Byrne, the shadow work and pensions secretary, has finally announced that Labour will support the Bishops’ amendment exempting child benefit from the £26,000 cap if its own proposed safeguards are voted down. In response, Iain Duncan Smith quipped that the opposition “have taken more positions on this (the benefits cap) than a Jane Fonda workout”.

Indeed, somewhat confusingly, Labour doesn’t actually want child benefit exempted from the cap (which it supports in principle). Rather, it is supporting the amendment as a means of getting the welfare bill back to the Commons, where a new vote can be held on its homelessness amendment.

The Conservatives, aware that the cap has the overwhelming support of the electorate (76 per cent of voters, including 69 per cent of Labour supporters, back the policy), are relaxed about the possibility of defeat in the House of Lords tonight. Indeed, Channel 4’s Gary Gibbon claims that they are “on their knees praying for it”. The more headlines accusing Labour of “wrecking” the cap, the better, they think.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A weekly dig into the New Statesman’s archive of over 100 years of stellar and influential journalism, sent each Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy