October 28, 2015
Burnham-On-Sea's MP and former MP clash over tax credit cuts

Burnham-On-Sea's MP James Heappey and former MP Tessa Munt have clashed this week following the government's defeat in the House of Lords over controversial tax credit cuts.

Mr Heappey said "the Tax Credits system has become far too expensive and the country can no longer afford it" and he added that "the glee with which the Liberal Democrats have turned their backs on democracy is a real cause for concern."

But Burnham's former Liberal Democrat MP Tessa Munt welcomed the Liberal Democrat's lords defying convention to halt the tax credit cuts, which "would see thousands of working parents in Somerset – many in part-time and seasonal work - lose over £1,000 per year."

MPs had approved the tax credit changes three times and ministers have questioned the authority of the Lords to challenge the Commons on such a major financial issue.

But Burnham-On-Sea's former MP Tessa Munt, right, told "I’m delighted our new Leader, Tim Farron, is using every tool available to him to fight the Tories’ cuts to tax credits. Changes which slash the income of people who are trying really hard to support their families through work are wrong and it’s essential that these changes are reviewed. If this is what has to be done to wake the Tories up, then good – I’m all for it."

"David Cameron specifically ruled these changes out during the election campaign. He’s lied to the country and when it’s a simple choice between an obscure 70 year old ‘convention’ and standing up for working families, we know what’s more important. We may not have so many MPs in Parliament this time, but we are just as determined as ever to stand up for ordinary people. If this involves breaking with tradition more often, so much the better."

Burnham's Conservative MP James Heappey told "The Tax Credits system has become far too expensive and the country can no longer afford it. Moreover, there are too many examples of tax credits holding people back whilst subsidising employers paying low wages. We must continue to build a lower welfare, lower tax, higher wage society."

"That said, I have had reservations from the outset about the sequencing of these cuts to tax credits in comparison to other measures like raising the personal allowance, reducing social rents and introducing the national living wage – all of which would combine with other measures to mitigate the effect of these changes. I have been able to discuss those concerns with the Chancellor and his Treasury colleagues privately and I am sure that we will see some transitional arrangements that will protect the most vulnerable."

"However, the glee with which the Liberal Democrats have turned their backs on democracy is a real cause for concern. Whatever the issue, there is an elected House of Commons and it must have primacy over the unelected House of Lords. Whatever their motive, their utter disregard for the result of the General Election and the abandonment of the democratic principles they claim to hold dear should alarm us all."

David Cameron and George Osborne both attacked the Lords' move, citing the ‘Salisbury Convention’, a tradition which means the House of Lords doesn’t block financial measures. But Lib Dem Leader Tim Farron said he supported the party’s Lords breaking Parliament’s self-imposed rules, claiming that Mr Cameron had "lied to voters when he ruled out cuts to tax credits in the run up to the election."

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