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.

David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs