An MP will invoke a rarely used Standing Order in the House of Commons today (Monday), with a view to forcing an emergency parliamentary debate on the UK Government’s “chaotic” two child policy and rape clause – due to come into force in just 18 days. Ministers want to limit payment of tax credits two children per family. The Government has designed an exemption to the policy for rape survivors, dubbed ‘the rape clause’, which will mean rape victims will need to prove their child was born as a result of sexual violence in order to qualify for tax credits.
Tory Ministers last week quietly used a negative statutory instrument to try and railroad the rape clause onto the statute books without a parliamentary debate or vote.
The Government has stated that it will expect nurses, doctors and social workers to act as third party arbitrators. This means that public service workers will have to judge whether or not a child has been conceived as a result of rape, simply in order for a woman to be exempt from the two child policy.
Recent parliamentary answers given to Alison Thewliss MP suggest that the over 660,000 nurses, doctors and social workers in the UK have not been given adequate sexual violence awareness training to exercise the exemption.
Alison Thewliss is today invoking the House of Commons Standing Order 24 in a bid to force the issue onto the floor of the House. She has written to the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, indicating her application for a 3 hour emergency debate. Under the provisions of Standing Order 24, the Speaker will have to make a ruling on Ms Thewliss’ application from the chair today (Monday).
Alison Thewliss MP said:
“With just days until this policy comes into force, this Government is about to unleash utter chaos and untold distress in the public service. This will be in addition to the trauma that rape victims will need endure as they recount and relive the brutal sexual violence they experienced.
“As it currently stands, doctors, nurses and social workers are going to be asking survivors of sexual abuse to prove they were raped in order to receive tax credits. They’ve been given no guidance, no training and no advice as to how this should be done. That is truly frightening.
“By invoking Standing Order 24 today, I am pleading with the Speaker to grant an emergency debate on the floor of the House, so we can shine a very bright light on the horror that is about to unfold for rape victims.
“At every turn, this Government has ducked and dived, they’ve used every trick in the book to sneak this policy through without debate. In light of the issue around lack of training and guidance on this serious matter, I am hopeful that the Speaker will grant this urgent debate.”