Ending poverty doesn’t seem to be a top priority for British MPs, as only 14 of them showed up to attend a parliamentary debate on the UN report urging the government to address the burning problem.
MPs were supposed to debate the findings of a United Nations report on ‘Extreme Poverty and Human Rights in Northern Ireland’ on Monday, but the House of Commons remained almost empty as the debate got underway.
DISGUSTING – Only 14 MPs bother to attend debate on UN Poverty Report.
Last night, MPs from all parties showed 14 million people in poverty that they don’t matter enough.
— Alex Tiffin (@RespectIsVital) January 8, 2019
Labour MP Liz McInnes, who did show up, accused the Conservative Party government of showing disdain towards the poor and said that the United States had shown similar disinterest when the UN highlighted poverty there.
“I know that we have a special relationship with the United States, but I think it shames us all that we share that disdain,” McInnes said.
UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty Professor Philip Alston said in November that the level of poverty in the UK risked causing damage to “the fabric of British society” and accused the Conservative government of favoring policies that compounded poverty levels in one of the richest countries in the world. The report said that the level of child poverty in particular in Britain was “not just a disgrace, but a social calamity and an economic disaster.”
Alston said that while the British government focuses on an impending exit from the European Union, it has treated poverty as an “afterthought” — an accusation which seems to be supported by the minimal attendance at Monday’s debate.
There was no sign of Theresa May or even new Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, who sent a junior minister in her place.
A very sad marker of where politics is at in this country. Only 14 MP’s turn up to debate UN report on poverty in Britain by UN special rapporteur Prof Alston.
14 million people living in poverty.
— Dr Lauren Gavaghan (@DancingTheMind) January 9, 2019
Priorities huh 😡
Only a handful of MPs bothered to turn up to debate the findings of the UN Report on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights in the UK and NI, with new Work and Pensions Secretary @AmberRuddHR sending a junior minister in her place instead.https://t.co/p94Lo05U2f?
— Streets Kitchen (@streetskitchen) January 8, 2019
The debate was hosted by Labour’s Shadow Minister for Children, Emma Lewell-Buck MP, who said that 14 million people across the UK live in poverty — one fifth of the population — and accused the government of inflicting “degradation, shame and harm” on the poorest in society.
Conservative MP Justin Tomlinson said the government would consider the report “seriously” but added that it does “not agree with all the points” made by Alston.
Like this story? Share it with a friend!