Cross party letter urges PM to scrap the rape clause

MPs representing nine parties in the House of Commons – including the Conservatives – have signed a joint letter to the Prime Minister calling upon the Government to ‘unequivocally’ scrap the tax credits rape clause.

The Government’s proposals would require a woman, who has a third child as the result of rape, to justify her position to a Government official in order to avoid losing tax credits. The plan to restrict child tax credits to two children for new claimants is due to commence in 2017.

SNP MP Alison Thewliss first identified the issue in July 2015 during the Government’s summer budget. She has now coordinated a cross party letter from MPs representing no less than nine parties in the House of Commons.

In addition to Alison Thewliss’ name, the letter is also signed by Andrew Percy, Conservative MP for Brigg and Goole; Jess Phillips, Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley; Liberal Democrat MP and former Deputy Leader of the House of Commons, Tom Brake, as well as MPs from the DUP, Green Party, UUP, Plaid Cymru and the SDLP.

Commenting, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“I am incredibly grateful to colleagues from across the House of Commons who have chosen to stand with us as part of the campaign to scrap the rape clause.

“The fact that MPs from all the major parties in the House have put their differences aside to unite on this important issue should, in itself, send a powerful message to the Prime Minister that his Government must unequivocally scrap the rape clause.

“I myself have already raised this issue on the floor of the House numerous times and Ministers’ responses to simple questions have been robotic at best and heartless at worst. We need to seriously ask ourselves, do we really want to be a country that summons raped women to Government offices and tell them to ‘prove it’ in order to get tax credits? Is that really how twenty-first century Britain wants to be behave?

“I am sure that, deep down, David Cameron also doesn’t want us to continue down this precarious road to stigmatisation. The Prime Minister must therefore show leadership and today unequivocally drop plans for a rape clause on tax credits”.

Campaign to Scrap the Rape Clause moves up a gear

Campaigners against the UK Government’s proposed rape clause have stepped up their campaign by launching a hard hitting poster campaign and website, calling upon the Government to ‘scrap the rape clause’.

The Government’s proposals would require a woman, who has a third child as the result of rape, to justify her position in order to avoid losing tax credits. The plan to restrict child tax credits to two children for new claimants is due to commence in 2017.

SNP MP Alison Thewliss first identified the issue in July 2015 during the Government’s summer budget.

Commenting as she launched the latest stage of the campaign in Glasgow City Centre, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“We think the policy on limiting tax credits to the first two children is appalling and tantamount to social engineering, but to put a woman who has been raped in a position where she needs to declare that to a government official is just abhorrent. This also stigmatises the child involved, which is surely against the UN convention on the rights of the child. This proposal has no place in the twenty-first century and must be dropped immediately.

“I’ve raised this issue on the floor of the House of Commons on no less than nine occasions – yet the Government still can’t explain how it will work and remains hell bent on pressing ahead with this draconian procedure.

“With just two weeks left to run on this important petition, we are urging as many people as possible to visit www.scraptherapeclause.co.uk and add their voice to the many others calling upon the Government to drop this appalling proposal.”

Angela Devine, Manager of Glasgow Women’s Aid, said:

“Glasgow Women’s Aid is pleased to support this coordinated campaign calling for the Government to scrap the proposed rape clause for tax credits.

“As an organisation offering refuge and support to some of the most vulnerable women and children in our city, we know the damaging effect this clause could have on women who have already endured trauma.

“It is not uncommon for children to be the product of rape or coercive control and women should never be placed in the humiliating position of appealing to the DWP for benefits.

“We would ask whether DWP staff will be trained to deal with sensitive disclosures and to signpost women to the correct support services.

“Any just society has a moral obligation to care for its poor and vulnerable with children at the heart of this obligation, regardless of their provenance.

“We as an organisation see this policy as an attempt to control and thereby undermine the already vulnerable position of women, children and young people within society.

“We reject these changes as untenable and discriminatory.”