Thursday 5 May 2011

Still Time to Oppose Time-limiting ESA

This week saw an underlining of the challenges facing disabled and ill people. The Government included the regressive measure of time-limiting ESA in their Welfare Reform Bill. The Public Bill Committee on the Welfare Reform Bill voted on Tuesday to keep time-limiting as part of the Bill. The division on this question saw 9 Labour MPs opposing the one-year time-limit, but being voted down by the 12 Conservaative MPs and the 2 Lib Dems

Labour had tabled a number of amendments, the thrust of the argument being that time-limiting to 365 days was arbitrary and not based on the estimated turnover of ESA claimants. As such, the amendment proposed, time-limiting should be to a period of at least 730 days, with the precise interval to be decided separately from the Bill.

Whilst not the ideal amendment, it was certainly a huge improvement on the Government's proposal. Stephen Timms, the Shadow Minister for Employment made an impassioned, reasoned and persuasive case for the amendment. Possible weaknesses were that effect on working families, although alluded to by Kate green, was not given due attention, and that examples were restricted to the hypothetical cancer patient.

It did seem that a few Conservatives, notably George Hollingberry, Priti Patel and Guto Bebb, were interested if not entirely persuaded. It definitely seemed that Jenny Willott was in two minds. But then, when it came to a vote, the decision was made 14-9 in favour of the Government's proposal.

This is a disappointing development, but it is not the end of the road for this issue. The Bill must still pass through the Report stage of Parliamentary scrutiny before its Third Reading in the Commons, and will then have to pass through yet another five stages in the Lords. It does, however, intensify the urgency of our opposition. It is now vital that as much support as possible is gathered for EDM 1755 opposing time-limiting in order to pressure the Government.

Disability Livin Allowance reform is set to come before the Committee next Tuesday, making it equally important that MPs sign EDM 1756, opposing the abolition of DLA. Please e-mail this letter to your MP requesting that they sign EDM 1755 and 1756.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A letter has gone to my (Tory) MP today.