Mason lambasts PM over gap between rich and poor

03 Jun 2009

East End MP gets makes his debut at Prime Minister’s Questions

Questioning the Prime Minister today (Wednesday) the SNP for the East End, John Mason, rounded on the Labour government’s record on income equality after twelve years in office – pointing out that the UK’s income gap is at its widest since the 1960s.

Speaking after the exchange Mr Mason contrasted the Labour government’s record of failure with the range of measures taken by the Scottish Government in the fight against poverty. The Commons Treasury Select Committee Report on the Budget recently noted its dismay that, despite repeated warnings, the UK Government will fail to meet its 2010-11 poverty target by a significant margin.

Mr Mason, who speaks for the SNP on Work & Pensions issues, said:

“After twelve years of Labour government the reality is that Gordon Brown has failed to close the gap between rich and poor created during the Thatcher years.

“Gordon Brown should hang his head in shame as banking bosses pocket multi-million pound rewards while pensioners live below the breadline.

“It is clear that there is a particular problem with the tax and benefits system which must be reformed to ensure that nobody is overlooked or trapped in a cycle of poverty. Even the Labour weighted Treasury Select Committee has expressed its dismay that, despite repeated warnings, the UK Government will fail to meet its poverty targets by a significant margin.

“No issue underlines more why Scotland must have full responsibility for all tax, spending and social welfare issues so that we can tackle the scourge of poverty.

“The Scottish Government is doing everything it can with the powers that are available to it. Practical steps, like freezing the Council Tax, progressive abolition of prescription charges and the introduction of free school meals in the early years, are delivering.

“There is enormous political goodwill towards fighting poverty, and yet the UK government has failed to match its talk with action. Scotland has the will to eradicate poverty but we are being held back by a tax and benefits system that is failing thousands of people.”