Labour MPs express outrage as Child Poverty Bill talked out

Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis
Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis
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Labour MPs have expressed anger at the efforts of Tory backbenchers to block a private members Bill that would force the Government to step-up its work to reduce child poverty.

The legislation, tabled by the Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis, would have reinstated national poverty reduction targets while requiring the Government to report regularly to Parliament on its progress.

However, the Bill failed to pass its second reading in the Commons on Friday, after earlier debates on Tory-led legislation overran.

As exchanges in the Commons descended into discussions about the names of local pubs, Labour MPs took to Twitter to criticise the attempts to filibuster.

“Time wasting so Dan Jarvis’ Bill on Child Poverty will not be heard. Just how low will the Tories go?,” wrote the Dewsbury MP Paula Sherriff.

“Bad for politics, bad for democracy.”

“Appalling – but typical – behaviour from Tory MPs,” tweeted Barnsley East MP Michael Dugher, while Batley and Spen MP Tracy Brabin wrote: “A country for everyone? I don’t think so ...”

Private members bills are rarely successful, but cross-party support can sometimes result in a change in Government policy.

Several Tory MPs spoke in favour of Mr Jarvis’ Bill today, but its second reading was postponed, further diminishing its chances of success.

Responding to the debate, Mr Jarvis said it was a “missed opportunity” to target child poverty “that will be felt for years to come”.

But he said he would continue his campaign “to ensure every child gets the best start in life”.

“This was an opportunity for the government to make good on its promise to those who are ‘just about managing,” he said.

“It was a test of the Prime Minister’s commitment to fight the burning injustices that she spoke about on the steps of Downing Street.

“Parliament has previously united behind a target, so I had hoped that MPs from all parties would once again come together.

“Sadly, instead of giving a voice to the 3.9 million children who grow up in poverty, the Tories reduced the time available to debate and vote on the Child Poverty Bill.”

The second reading of Thirsk and Malton MP Kevin Hollinrake’s Bill –dubbed Claudia’s Law – was also postponed.