“As a new MP, I have been fascinated by the business and workings of this House, and by how Opposition debates operate in an attempt to further the political aims of the Opposition. These debates can certainly be passionate and emotive. Contributions from Opposition Members seem at times to lack a grounding in reality and seem to be an attempt to whip up anxiety and despondency. I prefer instead to look at the details and facts behind these debates.

The evidence undoubtedly shows that the Government’s measures so far through the pandemic have been truly groundbreaking, with a range of measures worth more than £280 billion, including £6 billion in increases to welfare. In addition, there was £1 billion in catch-up funding for schools and vulnerable children, a £500 million hardship fund and £170 million to support food poverty this winter. It is simply untrue to characterise the Government as uncaring and as trying to plan cuts, as the motion says. As a Conservative, I believe that the way out of poverty is through work. The Government support that and have gone further than any Government, with a £30 billion plan for jobs. No past Labour Government compares.

Poverty is complex and multifaceted. It is not simply about welfare spending. It is about attainment, opportunities, addiction, social capital and mental health. The Labour party looks to an ever-increasing welfare state. I do not. I look towards supporting people to be free from the state and to work for themselves, and to supporting and catching them in a safety net when needed. That is precisely what the Government have done. They have supported the poorest households the most, and I am very proud of that. They have reduced the impact of the crisis on income losses by up to two thirds. This is a fantastic achievement. The temporary emergency uplift in universal credit of £1,000 a year will be considered by the Government, and the next steps will be set out fully in the Budget on 3 March 2021. To say anything different is opportunistic.”

In Derbyshire Dales, many have impressed upon me that the Government support during the pandemic has been impressive. The Government have gone further than any peacetime Labour Government. I certainly will not vote for this Opposition motion.

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