DWP chief Esther McVey shut down in parliament by outraged members of the public

Esther McVey Holyrood Committee 16 April 2018
Support us and go ad-free

A Scottish parliament session was suspended twice on 16 April as anger over Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) policy boiled over.

In a tense session of the Social Security Committee at Holyrood, MSPs grilled secretary of state for work and pensions Esther McVey. They pushed the DWP chief on issues ranging from the so-called ‘rape clause’ to the roll-out of Universal Credit.

Anger from the public gallery caused the session to be disrupted on two occasions. Convener Claire Adamson decided to suspend the meeting both times.

One member of the gallery stormed out of the session, shouting at McVey as she left. The committee was brought to a close shortly after.

‘Due an apology from the DWP’

At the meeting of the Social Security Committee, SNP MSP Ben Macpherson called the current Universal Credit system “cynical” and “critical”. Asking if McVey would rethink the policy, the MSP added:

I want to give you the opportunity to apologise to the people behind you, the people across my constituency and the people across Scotland, who’ve suffered greatly through the mistakes of social security reform… and I think are due that apology from the DWP, for the suffering and distress that’s been caused to them.

McVey responded by saying that the aim of Universal Credit is that it is a “supportive system”. But angry members of the public soon shouted her down. This led to the first suspension of the sitting.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

‘Rape Clause’

Scottish Greens MSP Alison Johnstone, meanwhile, raised issues around the so-called ‘rape clause’. The welfare reforms mean that tax credits are capped at two children. If a woman has a third child as a result of rape, they would have to provide evidence to receive credits.

Johnstone highlighted opposition to the policy by groups such as Scottish Women’s Aid and Rape Crisis Scotland. She went on to ask:

Do you as a minister really… you actually are comfortable with the idea that a woman has to prove non-consensual conception in order to access an entitlement?

McVey claimed that the government was providing “double support” through the changes. But Johnstone said the changes could be “incredibly invasive and upsetting” for women.

The DWP minister disputed the accusations, before a member of the public gallery interrupted. The woman stormed out the committee meeting, shouting angrily towards McVey.

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has spoken out strongly against the system in the past. The SNP leader called the changes “disgusting”.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has claimed the SNP is spreading “misinformation” about the changes.

Featured image via screengrab

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed