Bridget Phillipson Labour Member of Parliament for Houghton and Sunderland South
A number of constituents have contacted me regarding the government’s plan to cut support for disabled people by £30 per week. Reports on the recent vote in the House of Commons may have given the incorrect impression that I abstained on the vote, which I did not. As a result, I want to set out my position on this issue.
I gave birth to my second child in November and I was therefore unable to attend the vote. I did not abstain on the vote, rather I was paired. This is an arrangement whereby two MPs of opposing parties effectively cancel out each other’s vote.
This is a long established practice to allow for absences from Westminster, for example following the birth of a child, illness or bereavement. It means that my absence did not affect the outcome of the vote.
Unless Conservative MPs were willing to rebel and vote against their own government, there was no prospect of defeating this measure. When the government’s attempt to give local authorities the power to relax Sunday trading rules was recently defeated in the House of Commons, there was a realistic prospect of defeating the government and my presence at the vote made a difference.
I want to make clear that I have long opposed government plans to reduce support for people with disabilities or long term conditions. Many constituents contacted me on this and I have raised their concerns with ministers at Department for Work and Pensions. You can view the latest response from the government here.