Tax Credits, The Lords and Local Politics

A battle has broken out between the DUP, UUP and Sinn Fein over the votes in the House of Lords concerning changes to the Tax Credits system that the Conservative government plan to bring in.

First up was the DUP;

Then Sinn Fein had a pop (though this did back fire slightly on social media as some detrators pointed out that Sinn Fein dont vote at all in Westminster)

But what was the state of play?

The DUP’s group voted against the government, though Morrow was absent and Paisley is on leave. Hay and Browne voted against.

The UUP Lords were not present. I did contact the House of Lords and found that Lord Rogan did sign in on Monday but didn’t vote.

This begs the question of why? Here’s an answer from Lord Empey that we recieved;

The Ulster Unionist Party believes work should always pay. Unfortunately however the Government’s proposed changes to tax credits directly counters that goal, and instead is likely to adversely affect families on low incomes. We have repeatedly called on the Government to revisit these changes, not least the disproportionate impact it would have on Northern Ireland.

The issue is voting against the House of Commons on money matters. Whilst we remain steadfast in our opposition to these changes to working tax credits, Ulster Unionist Lords intentionally did not vote. We are opposed to the idea of the unelected house overturning a major decision of the elected House of Commons. (Emphasis added)

My understanding is that the UUP don’t believe in breaking the conventions of over ruling the House of Commons and will continue to do so going forward. Though with the DUP doing this in both chambers it does leave the party open to the old attack that they are really in league with the Tories.

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  • Ulster Unionists believe in ‘upholding the constitution’ (even though the Speaker has ruled it wasn’t & even though the poor will suffer), but have no view of a Prime Minister who lied to the electorate on the issue. T’was ever thus with the Ulster Unionists. Constitution comes before the people every time.

  • Mike the First

    That’s a pretty misleading poster from SF, given that only Lords Empey and Rogan are actually UUP peers, the rest being Conservative, crossbench, etc.

    And Empey and Rogan didn’t not “bother to turn up”, they deliberately abstained on a point of constitutional principle. You’d think SF would understand that concept…

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I think they should have voted against, but they are far from alone in having some worries about the Lords potentially overstepping its remit, from the point of view of constitutional conventions. It is a genuine point for debate. Empey was very clear though that they oppose the measures.

  • Lord Coleraine

    Everyone knows the DUP are the party of hardworking families and that they scorn wealth and privilege. This is definitely NOT populist tub thumping.

  • Slater

    Oddly Unionists put the union before other matters. The clue is in the name.