Rape clause ‘an invention to beat the Tories with’ – Conservative MSP

A Scottish Conservative MSP has been criticised after he described the “rape clause” as an “invention to beat the Tories with”.

Brian Whittle, MSP for South Scotland, made the comments in a wide-ranging interview with Holyrood Magazine.

In 2017, the UK government introduced a limit on child tax credits to the first two children.

A clause in the rules mean mothers who have a third child as a result of rape can be exempted – but would have to provide evidence to do so.

Mr Whittle, however, said the clause should be referred to differently.

He said: “Well, number one, again, this is where politics is appalling, there is no such thing as a rape clause. That’s an invention. There’s an exemption clause.

“Why don’t we call it a children in care clause? Because it’s part of the same thing.

“I’ll tell you what I think about that, there’s a legitimate debate to be had around the child cap that will never happen because, politically, you wouldn’t be allowed to say what you’ve got to say.

“The term ‘rape clause’ is an invention to beat the Tories with. It’s the invention of another political party.”

Scottish Labour Social Security spokesperson Mark Griffin described the comments as “skin-crawling”.

“This is a staggering interview packed with disgraceful comments from Brian Whittle, with arguments that could have come straight from Esther McVey or Iain Duncan Smith,” said Mr Griffin.

“Calling the ‘rape clause’ an invention to attack the Tory party is simply skin-crawling.

“The clause is the product of an unfair cap that was implemented to penalise poor families so George Osborne could hand massive tax cuts to the wealthy.

“Labour across the UK will redesign social security – but Holyrood has the powers to defend families from the cap now.

“It’s clear that the Scottish Tories are every bit as nasty as their colleagues down south and are happy to leave the cap in place. The mask has slipped.”

SNP MSP Shona Robison added: “Brian Whittle has shown total contempt for victims of rape and coercion with his comments, when the reality is that the Tory government has inflicted this policy on low income families.

“It is staggering that Mr Whittle not only fails to understand the reality of Tory welfare cuts, but thinks he shouldn’t be expected to answer for the callous actions and policies of his own party. He seems to be in total denial about the hardship and misery his own party is causing.

“It is time for the Tories to take responsibilities for their own damaging welfare policies and face up to the real life consequences they are causing their constituents.”

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