West Norfolk MP defends tax credit stance, but admits ministers made mistakes

Election Count at Lynnsport King's Lynn'Henry Bellingham ANL-150805-111717009
Election Count at Lynnsport King's Lynn'Henry Bellingham ANL-150805-111717009
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North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham has admitted mistakes have been made in the government’s handling of tax credit reforms.

But he has defended his decision to vote for the changes and insists peers were wrong to vote them down last week.

Critics have argued that as many as three million people nationally could lose more than £1,000 a year under the proposals, although ministers claimed the losses would be offset by increases in the personal tax allowance and the introduction of a national living wage next year.

And a number of readers have contacted the Lynn News to express their anger at Mr Bellingham’s support for the plans.

Lynne Gill said: “I can’t express just how angry and disappointed I am at the heartlessness of this government, and the timidity of our MP in toeing the party line.”

Deborah Holman, who chairs the North West Norfolk constituency Labour Party, questioned who Mr Bellingham was representing in voting as he did.

And another, Robert Raab, claimed he had broken an election pledge not to vote against the views of his constituents.

But Mr Bellingham said he felt no need to apologise for his stance.

He said: “I support the principle. I think the mistake that has been made is that most people feel we have got to look at those people who fall off the cliff.”

He said he was aware of cases in his constituency where people could be particularly hard hit by the measures, but insisted that brighter economic prospects would benefit most people.

“Most people will have the prospect of getting more work, but it won’t suit everyone.”

Chancellor George Osborne is now set to present revised proposals when he makes his Autumn Statement later this month, following the House of Lords vote last Monday.

But Mr Bellingham insisted peers had gone “too far” by voting against a financial decision backed by the elected chamber.