HC Deb 21 May 1996 vol 278 cc91-2
10. Mr. Sheerman

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what representations he has received regarding the eligibility criteria for those seeking the jobseeker's allowance. [28814]

Mr. Roger Evans

A number.

Mr. Sheerman

Is it not a fact that there is room for a decent jobseeker's allowance in this country? However, will not the allowance that the Government are introducing penalise at least a quarter of a million people who will be worse off after its introduction? Why is it that, every time the Government tinker with and slash the welfare system, they make people's lives worse rather than better?

Mr. Evans

There are many winners from the jobseeker's allowance: those who benefit from the earnings top-up, the four week run-on for housing benefit and so on. The interesting query arising from the hon. Gentleman's question is whether the Labour party is committed to abolishing that allowance. If it is, that represents another spending pledge of £170 million a year. Added to what Labour Front-Bench Members have spent already this afternoon, their expenditure would amount to £475 million each year.

Mr. Duncan Smith

Is that not what we expect from a party that only thinks the unthinkable and, when it comes to implementing something, only says the undoable?

Mr. Evans

My hon. Friend is right: the Labour party is deeply divided and unfit for office.

Mr. Skinner

When are the Government going to deal with that other jobseeker's allowance whereby 40 Tory Members of Parliament have jobs on the side, moonlighting? They get massive allowances, but they do not have the guts to reveal them in the parliamentary register. The Tory party takes money from Serbs and all the rest of them to finance the general election. Let us get rid of those allowances.

Mr. Evans

Union paymasters deeply divided and unfit for office—the hon. Gentleman makes my point.

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