Civil servants’ union shunned by DWP on rape clause

SNP MPs have reacted with fury to news that the Government hasn’t even bothered to discuss its proposed rape clause with PCS, the leading trade union representing civil servants.

The revelation emanates from a written parliamentary question, confirming that Government has not discussed plans for a rape clause, which the MPs argue “would put civil servants in an incredibly awkward position”

An earlier answer to a written parliamentary question suggested that the Government had discussed its plans with a range of stakeholders and organisations. However, upon further questioning by using a device known as ‘pursuant questions’, it was revealed that the main civil servants’ union has been shut out by the Government.

Commenting, Alison Thewliss MP – who has been leading the campaign against the rape clause and two child policy – said:

“The more this policy is scrutinised, the more flaws we find. The DWP seemed to think sneaking this out to a quick public consultation would be another box ticked and they could plough ahead with their medieval rape clause and pernicious two child policy.

“Momentum is growing ever more amongst a cross-party group of MPs, trade unions, faith communities and third sector groups who are all united in rejecting this appalling policy.”

Chris Stephens MP, who is Chair of the Parliamentary PCS Group, added:

“This Government has been caught trying to bluff their way through answers to written parliamentary questions. It beggars belief that this Tory Government announced plans to bring forward a rape clause over 500 days ago, yet it hasn’t stopped to pick up the phone to trade unions and seek their views. Aside from the utter barbarism of asking women to prove they were raped to receive benefits, it would also put DWP civil servants in an incredibly awkward position. Staff need specific training on this deeply sensitive issue.

“The public consultation might be closed but it is imperative that the Government acts without delay and invites the views of all trade unions and staff within the DWP who would also be affected by this monstrous policy”.

Rape clause minister resigns

Alison Thewliss MP has welcomed news that the Welfare Minister, Lord Freud, is resigning from the Government.

The Tory Peer, who was handed the welfare reform brief by David Cameron in 2010, has signalled his intention to leave the Government at the end of the month. The SNP MP welcomed this development, saying that Lord Freud was “without doubt one of coldest, heartless and most ignorant politicians” she had ever met.

The un-elected Tory Peer had been tasked with driving the Government’s welfare cuts programme, which includes limiting tax credits to two children per family and a rape clause whereby women who would have to prove their third or subsequent child was born as a result of rape.

Thewliss and Freud clashed earlier in the year during a meeting at the DWP’s headquarters in Caxton House, London. Following the meeting, the Glasgow Central MP condemned Freud’s remark that women who are subject to domestic and sexual abuse should “just flee” their situations.

Commenting on Freud’s resignation announcement, SNP MP Alison Thewliss said:

“Lord Freud was without doubt one of the coldest, most heartless and ignorant politicians I’ve ever had the misfortune of dealing with in almost ten years of elected politics.

“His blatant disregard for some of the most vulnerable women in society was utterly appalling and his departure from Government is a very welcome development. His suggestion that women experiencing abuse from their intimate partner should “just flee” revealed to me how utterly out of touch he was with reality and how unfit he was to be making policy for women and children who have already been through severe trauma.

“With the Government’s rape clause consultation having just closed at the weekend, I am heartened in the knowledge that Freud will no longer be overseeing this medieval and pernicious policy agenda.

“Throughout this entire campaign, I have been of the view that any Minister with a sense of compassion or decency would understand that making women prove they were raped to receive tax credits is utterly degrading and the policy should be scrapped. Lord Freud’s departure from Government gives me a real and renewed sense of hope that this Government will now see sense and ditch this appalling proposal.”