McVey Holyrood committee hearing halted after gallery outcry

McVey Holyrood committee hearing halted after gallery outcry
From BBC - April 16, 2018

A Holyrood session with Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey has been disrupted after heckling from the public gallery.

The social security committee was halted twice.

SNP MSP Ben Macpherson's call for an apology from the UK minister over the impact of welfare reforms led to shouting from the audience about claimants who committed suicide.

Another suspension followed questioning on the so-called "rape clause".

Mr Macpherson raised concerns to the UK government minister about the lack of flexibility around Universal Crediit, suggesting there seemed to be a continual push back from the Department for Work and Pensions to the devolution of social security.

Ms McVey stated there was no push back, arguing that flexibilities existed and extra powers for Scotland to add benefits or create new ones were part of this.

The MSP then explained that he has had constituents cry in front of him over issues around Universal Credit, calling it a "cynical and critical system".

Mr Macpherson said he wanted to give the minister the opportunity to apologise to those who had suffered due to welfare reform.

But when Ms McVey stated the aim of Universal Credit was for it to be a supportive system, shouts from the viewing gallery disrupted the session.

The heckler's angry intervention referred to claimants who had committed suicide and those who had payments suspended for missing appointments.

"I am not oblivious to people who are incredibly vulnerable or who are in need," the work and pensions secretary said.

Referring to the disruption from the audience, she said it was clear the gentleman felt strongly that something needed to be said about the case of a vulnerable person.

Ms McVey added that 200bn per year was spent by the DWP to ensure it reached out to the most vulnerable people.

The re-started session also addressed the so-called "rape clause".


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