Conservatives under spotlight again over attitude to disabled people’s rights
THE SNP have accused the Scottish Conservatives of shirking their parliamentary responsibilities to investigate reform to the Scottish welfare system during the Scottish Government’s social security consultation.
SNP MSP Christina McKelvie criticised Tory MSP Professor Adam Tomkins for failing to attend the Scottish Parliament social security committee’s visit to a jobcentre yesterday (29 November), as part of their fact finding activities.
The Scottish Conservatives assert that Tomkins, who also teaches at Glasgow University, was unable to attend due to child care responsibilities. However, no other Conservative MSP was sent in his place on the trip.
Scottish parliamentarians have previously slammed the new intake of Conservative MSPs, many of whom have extra-parliamentary jobs, for failures to attend parliamentary duties.
SNP MSP Christina McKelvie said: “These part-time Tory MSPs are becoming a real problem for Ruth Davidson. Were Adam Tomkins and Gordon Lindhurst working elsewhere instead of doing the job they were elected to do? Why was no Tory able to attend?
“If it’s not Douglas Ross missing work to swan round Europe as a linesman, it’s Adam Tomkins putting his lecturing job ahead of important committee business.
“The real kick in the teeth is that not a single Tory was willing to come to the frontline and learn about UK government’s botched Universal Credit reform, which will contribute to leaving families in Scotland up to £2500 a year worse off.
“The Tories stood on a platform promising a strong opposition, but it looks like Ruth Davidson’s frontbenchers are more interested in picking up their pay cheques at lucrative second jobs than in getting on with their day jobs.”
Around 15 per cent of welfare spending is set to be transferred to the Scottish Government, which is concluding it’s consultation with disabled people’s groups at the Scottish Parliament tonight (30 November). The Scottish Government has pledged to tackle punitive elements of the UK Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) regime such as work capability assessments and benefit sanctions.
The latest row is only the most recent complaint about Tories showing reluctance to engage with welfare reform.
A session of the social security committee earlier this month grilled the new UK Government DWP chief Damian Green after uncovering plans in his reform package to have some form of mandatory assessment for benefits for people with long term conditions.
At the time of the Scottish elections in April, the Scottish Conservatives were slammed for failing to attend to landmark disabled people’s hustings in Glasgow.
Disability rights organisations have struggled for years against successive UK Conservative administrations over welfare cuts that have seen thousands of disabled people die after being driven off benefits and into work.
Responding to the SNP’s criticism, a Scottish Tory spokesperson said: “Adam Tomkins had childcare commitments. For Christina McKelvie’s benefit, that doesn’t involve a second wage.
“Gordon Lindhurst, a Lothians MSP, had already made a more comprehensive visit to the Musselburgh centre two months ago to learn about their work.”
Picture courtesy of HelenCobain
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