TORY Chancellor Osborne refused to appear in parliament yesterday to answer an urgent question on the crisis surrounding last Wednesday’s budget, which cut disabled people’s money to pay for tax cuts for the rich.
Ducking his responsibilities, Osborne sent David Gauke, financial secretary to the Treasury, to face the music in his place, following calls for Osborne to resign. Labour shadow chancellor McDonnell was granted an urgent question about the budget, following an outcry about the £4bn of planned cuts to disability benefits from all and sundry including leading members of the Tory Party itself, forcing the government to announce that they have retreated on the disability cut.
Putting the urgent question, McDonnell told Parliament: ‘The budget process is an absolute chaos. It is unprecedented for a government to have withdrawn a large part of this budget and accepted two opposition amendments before it even reached the third day.
‘Yet again the financial secretary was sent out to defend the indefensible while the chancellor insults this house by his refusal to attend. Briefly this whole debacle started two weeks ago when this government announced cuts of up to £150 a week in Personal Independence Payments to disabled people. By the day of the budget last week we discovered that these cuts to disabled people had been forced through by the chancellor to pay for cuts in capital gains tax for the wealthiest five per cent in our society and cuts in corporation tax.’
Tory Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith quit late on Friday night, denouncing disability cuts as ‘indefensible’. McDonnell continued: ‘I agree with the former work and pensions secretary, these are not defensible when placed in a budget that benefits high earners. Which other vulnerable groups is the chancellor considering targeting for cuts?
‘If the chancellor holds off the attack on disabled people, a £4.4bn black hole is created in the budget. Isn’t it the prudent thing for the chancellor to do, is to withdraw this budget and start again.’
‘Osborne should resign,’ Labour leader Corbyn said earlier yesterday, ‘he put forward a budget that was predicated on four billion cuts to Personal Independence Payments over this Parliament, at the same time proposed tax-cuts at the other end of the scale on corporation tax and capital gains tax. It is not a credible budget, it simply does not add up and I fail to see how parliament can possibly approve it.’
Vince Cable, ex-secretary of state for business, innovation and skills during the previous Tory-led coalition government, commented: ‘My question is: “What’s David Cameron’s role in all of this?” If he is suppose to be the boss, his finger prints are all over this policy. Osborne and Cameron I think have joint responsibility for this.’