Last night on Newsnight Jacob Rees Mogg, raised his well rehearsed arguments about how the Lords had got above themselves and that this vote against a matter involving spending was a constitutional outrage. However Baroness Hollis took merely a few seconds to point out that if this was truly a priority issue for the Government in terms of spending, that they could have parcelled the statutory instrument into an Act that was identified as such. Jacob countered with the idea that it was not the Government that he was defending but the will of the Commons. Of course what he did not work through was why the will of the Commons had failed to oblige the Government to send the decision to the Lords in a fit state for a safe passage. What he also appears to have overlooked is why should Lords who see this whole issue a broken promise from David Cameron should say they are content with legislation which they are clearly discontent with. It seemed that Baroness Hollis in any event was more than a match for this Tory incumbent of the safe seat of North East Somerset. However Jacob went on to argue why the Government should have got their way. It is here that his robust knowledge of our constitutional history gave way to sloppy and indeed corrupt thinking. He made two statements, one of which has been proven to be a lie, and the other of which betrays his ignorance of the mess this Government is in:
The increase in Tax Credits from £1Bn to £30Bn – this is a lie which has been trotted out by many people including George Osborne and which the New Statesman has clearly discredited here.
The idea that additional child care for 3-4 year olds would have compensated some families for the loss of tax credits. This assumes that the extra provision is achievable and affordable by the state. There are many MPs like Mr Rees-Mogg whose knowledge of this element of the Governments manifesto promise is woefully naïve. There is no current money set aside to fund this promise, and as things stand the only way that the Government can hope to deliver on it is to deliver it through putting pressure on the large chains of early years provision and by cross subsidising the Schools. In either case this will further devastate the already demoralised voluntary sector provision and lead to huge gaps in rural areas such as those Mr Rees Mogg calls his own. The nursery chains will deliver if they can rely on a bigger market (caused by the inevitable collapse of charities) and a level of funding that will allow them to use their economies of scale to stretch out the provision even more. However this will still cost the Chancellor a great deal of money, and at present there is no unspent pot to dip into. Mr Rees Mogg famously canvassed with his Nanny for the first election he fought. Perhaps his in not used to discussing the detail of early years education with people beyond his family and outside of the servants hall?
It is time for MPs like Jacob to look at the items he was elected to deliver on and how they will impact his constituents, rather than doing as he suggested last night which is taking Mr Osborne on Trust for both word and actions.