>> 9 March 2010

The SNP’s Westminster Candidate for Gordon, Richard Thomson, has today challenged Malcolm Bruce to explain the Liberal Democrat’s increasingly confused position on Child Benefit.

Mr Thomson’s call came after a rift emerged between Nick Clegg and Vince Cable, with the Lib Dem leader publicly over-ruling his deputy, who had last September called in a pamphlet for an end to universal child benefit.

Then, Mr Cable had argued that:

“The simplest reform could be to taper the family element in tax credit, which the Institute for Fiscal Studies estimates could raise £1.35 billion. This should occur. A more radical reform would be to target child benefit by assimilating it into tax credit."

However, on Sunday, Clegg performed a U-turn, claiming that "We will not question the universality of child benefit".

Mr Thomson said:

“The SNP unreservedly supports universal child benefit, since it is a cheap and effective system of making sure that everyone who needs it can get it.

“While people are used to the Lib Dems vacillating over the big issues, there are a number of families for whom child benefit makes a big difference to the weekly budget, and who will react with alarm to this split in Lib Dem ranks.

“Our Lib Dem MP should make it clear where he stands on this issue – whether it’s with his leader, or with his deputy leader in wanting to scrap the benefit.

“I’m happy going into this election on a policy of keeping child benefit universal. Will Mr Bruce be either willing or able to say the same?”

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