SNP slammed over MPs no-show at bedroom tax vote

Defence Spokesman Angus Robertson was one of four SNP MPs absent from the vote. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Defence Spokesman Angus Robertson was one of four SNP MPs absent from the vote. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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The SNP has been accused of putting its plan to end the UK before the welfare of the Scottish people after just two of its MPs turned up to vote against Tory bedroom tax plans at ­Westminster yesterday.

Two of the SNP’s six House of Commons MPs voted for a Lib Dem-sponsored bill to overturn key aspects of the bedroom tax. Two-thirds of the SNP’s Westminster group did not show up despite the party placing its opposition to the controversial welfare reform at the heart of its independence argument.

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Labour and the Lib Dems united to defeat the Conservatives in the Commons and supported sweeping new exemptions to the controversial benefit reform.

Labour helped force Andrew George’s Affordable Homes Bill through a second reading vote by 306 to 231, winning a majority of 75 and ensuring that the proposed legislation cleared its first parliamentary hurdle.

Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling were among the Labour politicians to support the proposed legislation, which will overturn many aspects of the controversial bedroom tax.

On the SNP benches, only the Angus SNP MP Mike Weir and Dr Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff and Buchan, voted for the proposals.

Absent were Angus Brendan MacNeil, Angus Robertson, Stewart Hosie and Pete Wishart.

On Twitter, Mr Wishart claimed a delayed flight and the debate’s early finish was to blame for his absence. On social media, Mr Wishart offered to show his boarding card to journalists, saying the 11:55am shuttle was delayed by 20 minutes.

His critics responded by pointing out that all Scottish Labour MPs turned up and suggested the SNP MSP was cutting it fine to catch an 11:55am plane when parliament winds up at 2:30pm on a Friday.

Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont said: “Far from standing up for Scotland, the SNP have stayed at home and let Scotland down.”

Mr George’s proposal included measures to exclude social housing tenants from the policy until they receive a “reasonable offer” of alternative accommodation with the “correct number of bedrooms”.

SNP work and pensions spokesperson Dr Whiteford said: “This vote demonstrates exactly why we need independence. This was a defeat for the UK government but it doesn’t end the bedroom tax.

“Every single Scottish MP could vote against the bedroom tax and we would still be faced with it because we can be outvoted by Tory votes from the south.”