Below are two videos of very particular relevance to the ongoing row over Tax Credits. The first video is of an exchange that took place during the Scotland Bill debate on Monday night.
In the clip SNP MP Mhairi Black asks the Conservative Secretary of State for Scotland whether any top-ups paid to benefit claimants by the Scottish Government will be treated as income and clawed back by the UK Government.
In his dismissive reply, David Mundell refuses to give any guarantee that top-ups won’t be clawed back. He ends the exchange by describing the relevant and important question as ‘Grievo Max’, a particularly insulting play on words given that ‘Devo Max’ was what Scots were promised in the event of a No vote, but were denied.
Mundell’s refusal to answer this key question was not given any headline coverage by any news outlets as far as I can see. Mundell has not faced any questions from the Scottish media. The important issue has been ignored.
Today, Wednesday November 11th, two days after Mhairi Black posed her question to Mundell, the issue was raised again by John Swinney. The Scottish Finance Secretary has quite rightly demanded a guarantee that top-ups won’t be clawed back, thus leaving claimants who are in receipt of them, no better off.
This too has been sidestepped by Mundell whose Scottish Office has merely issued a statement saying it is “not in the business” of claiming back top-ups. Thus, Mundell has now been asked twice for a guarantee that top-ups will not be clawed back, and has failed to give that assurance.
Here is how BBC Scotland is reporting this issue.
Similar wording was used in news bulletins on the morning news programme Good Morning Scotland. These news reports are misleading. BBC Scotland is giving the impression that top-ups won’t be clawed back despite no guarantee having been given.
David Mundell has not “brushed aside warnings”, he has refused to answer a very important question and until he does so then doubts remain as to his government’s official policy.
Until David Mundell guarantees via an official statement that top-ups won’t be clawed back then the prospect remains a distinct possibility. This is what BBC Scotland should be reporting … but isn’t.
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