Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): Will the Prime Minister meet to take forward the Severn barrage project, which is entirely privately financed and could be the biggest source of renewable generation in Europe, generating 5% of Britain’s electricity needs? Does he accept that, with a flat economy in Britain and Europe, this £30 billion of private investment in growth and jobs is a no-brainer?
The Prime Minister: I heard the right hon. Gentleman on “Farming Today” waxing eloquent on this project. I think that it has many advantages. A huge amount of renewable energy could be delivered through a barrage of this kind. He knows that there are lots of problems and that the environmental groups have been divided over it, but I am very happy to listen to his views as he takes forward this important piece of work. I think that there are many opportunities in a challenging European economy, as he says, to look at energy connectors and energy co-operation, particularly between England, France and other northern European countries.
On the same day the Prime Minister said he would not be removing the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance from 80,000 care home residents, Chancellor George Osborne announced he was cutting nearly fifty per cent more than originally planned.
Shadow Secretary of State for Wales and Neath MP Peter Hain has called on Mr Cameron to “get a grip on his welfare reforms” claiming its creating an air of uncertainty for thousands of people. The mobility component is worth either £18.95 a week, the rate for people who can walk but need guidance or supervision to do so, or £49.85, which is paid to people who have difficulty walking.
Mr Hain said, “I am really worried this will cause real hardship to some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.
“This takes the Tory tradition of giving with one hand and taking with the other to a new level. David Cameron is giving with one hand and George Osborne is taking away with the other hand. At the end of the day its disabled people in residential care homes that are left to suffer as they face continued uncertainty over the mobility component of DLA.
“The mobility component of DLA makes a huge difference to the lives of disabled people allowing them to be independent and to lead an active life.”
During Prime Ministers Questions (Wednesday 23 March) Mr Cameron was asked why her was proposing to remove the mobility component of DLA from 80,000 care home residents, his response was “we are not”. But on the same day the Budget Red Book contradicted the Prime Minister confirming the Government are planning to remove the mobility component of DLA from claimants in residential care – with £475 million taken from people in residential care by 2015/16 and cut £150 million more from the mobility component of DLA than originally forecast in the Comprehensive Spending Review last year.
The issue has been further confused as current Welfare Reform Bill going through the House of Commons includes a clause to remove the mobility component of DLA for those living in a residential care home while the Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions has said the decision is currently under review.