Rudd clashes with Labour leadership hopeful on Question Time

25/1/14- Holocaust Memorial Day Service, St Mary-In-The-Castle, Hastings.  Amber Rudd MP reading 'First They Came' by Martin Niemoller ENGSUS00120140125175840
25/1/14- Holocaust Memorial Day Service, St Mary-In-The-Castle, Hastings. Amber Rudd MP reading 'First They Came' by Martin Niemoller ENGSUS00120140125175840

HASTINGS and Rye MP Amber Rudd clashed with Labour leadership hopeful Andy Burnham over welfare cuts during last night’s BBC Question Time.

The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change was quickly under-fire from Burnham, who accused the Tories of ‘frightening very vulnerable people’ by not committing to precisely where cuts would fall.

The panel, which included UKIP deputy-chairman Suzanne Evans, was answering the question ‘how can the Conservatives justify themselves as the real party of working people with their proposed tax credit changes’?

Mrs Rudd said: “We are the party of the working class. Our whole principle on welfare is that we protect the vulnerable, look after pensioners and make work pay.”

Mr Burnham hit back, arguing working people were being punished.

He said: “We’re talking about people in work - people in work who are struggling to make ends meet.

“It’s right to say we should have a benefits system, that’s helping people into work, but when you’re punishing working people, I think there’s no justification at all.”

Mrs Rudd also faced criticism on behalf of her party from Mrs Evans, who said the Tories had not been ‘transparent’ on the issue prior to and after the general election.

Another panelist, priest and Guardian columnist Giles Fraser, also attacked Rudd. He said: “They are taking away £1,000 from the poorest 12 million people. Amber you talk a good game, help the vulnerable, but on the ground that is not what is happening.”

The programme also featured questions on Greece, the ongoing issue of migrants, the Government’s role in health promotion and Labour.

Mrs Rudd said the Greeks, facing default if it fails to repay £1.6 billion to the International Monetary Fund by Tuesday, should attempt to strike a deal rather than leave the Eurozone.

On health, she said the Government’s role should be ‘information, not regulation’ and told Mr Burnham Labour ‘didn’t have enough about what it was going to do to really help people get on with working life.’

The full discussion is available on BBC iPlayer.

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