The first parliamentary debate on Professor Philip Alston’s UN poverty report finally took place early this week, led by South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck.
The half-hour-long discussion, held at 10pm on Monday, was an adjournment debate crammed into the schedule as MPs returned to work after Christmas. There were just 14 MPs present.
“The human cost is one we are seeing being borne out in our streets, where homeless people are dying, where people suffering from terminal illnesses, disabilities and mental health difficulties are being wrongly declared fit for work,” said Lewell-Buck on Monday night.
Last night I led a debate on @Alston_UNSR ‘s statement on UK poverty. The pain of the 14m people in poverty lies at this Govt’s door. The fact that Govt dismissed his statement only confirms that the unrelenting onslaught they've unleashed was & always has been a political choice pic.twitter.com/vK4Z7KO43L
— Emma Lewell-Buck MP (@EmmaLewellBuck) January 8, 2019
Amber Rudd, who had so robustly defended Universal Credit after UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty Prof Alston’s stinging criticism in November, did not attend the debate, instead opting to send Work and Pensions under-secretary Justin Tomlinson.
However, Tomlinson indicated a change of approach for the government after Rudd had been so critical of the “political language” used by Alston initially.