Angela Rayner has dismissed SNP calls to devolve employment law to Scotland

Labour’s deputy leader said it would be unnecessary if Sir Keir Starmer was to become the next prime minister. 

Ms Rayner made the comments during a visit to the Royal Strathclyde Blindcraft Industries training college in Glasgow with Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar.

READ MORE: Workers 'left out in cold' by Tories and SNP, says Angela Rayner

During the campaign stop, she also described the rape clause as “abhorrent” and said Labour would review it as part of the party’s plan to tackle violence against women and girls. 

Her comments come just days after Sir Keir said he would look at how the non-consensual exemption to the two-child benefit cap could be operated more fairly. 

It’s not clear how this could be achieved. As long as benefits are limited to two children there will need to be some form of exemption for when a third or subsequent child is conceived through rape. 

Last year, there were 2,590 households in receipt of Universal Credit or Child Tax Credit where the non-consensual conception exemption was in place. 

Recent research by the Nuffield Foundation found that “the majority of the participants eligible” for the non-consensual conception exemption were not receiving it.

The Herald:

Speaking to journalists during the visit, Ms Rayner was first asked about employment law.  Devolving it to Holyrood has long been a demand of the SNP Scottish Government. 

“They won’t need it,” Ms Rayner said. “Because I want employment law across the whole of the United Kingdom to be uplifted and better. That’s why we’ve got a new deal for working people.

“I want a new deal for working people to be here in Scotland so we have those protections of employment law.”

Ms Rayner said this new deal for workers would see new protections against unfair dismissal, sick pay from day one and banning zero-hour contracts and fire and rehire policies.

She added employment practices would be “in effect across the board” rather than split off across the four UK nations.

And she said she did not want to see “disparities” across the different parts of the UK.

"Look, I'm a Greater Manchester MP, I saw what the Tories did during furlough – they tried to give us less because we were northern, you know, we don't need as much in our area. I don't want to see those disparities. 

“I want to see us having real, good employment practices across the whole of the United Kingdom. So the new deal for working people will be in effect across the board, rather than it being split off between the different nations.

"That's what I want to see, and that's the focus I've got. So whether you're in Manchester or Edinburgh, you will have good employment practices under a UK Labour Government."

She added: "My focus is on getting the new deal for working people across the United Kingdom, not devolving that particular issue. That's what I want to see."

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Asked about the rape clause, Ms Rayner said: “We’ve got to have policies in this country that are humane and understand the challenges that ordinary people face – nobody asked to be put in that situation and the next Labour government will have an incredible focus on women’s rights and violence against women and girls.

“There is a focus on us making sure that we treat women with respect and give them laws that protect them because, at the moment, many women are feeling very let down and penalised because the justice system doesn’t give them the support and the laws aren’t protecting them.

“So the next Labour government will have an absolute focus on tackling violence against women and girls and supporting women who are facing those challenges and (the rape clause) is one of those challenges. It is absolutely abhorrent.”

Asked if Michael Shanks, the party's candidate in Rutherglen and Hamilton West would be suspended from Labour if he voted against the two-child benefit cap on a three-line whip in Westminster, she said: "That's not how we work in the Labour Party. Obviously, if backbench MPs vote against the whip then – they do do that from time to time, and they have done that. Obviously our frontbench MPs, it's slightly different for us because we are the frontbench and we're in that field.

"But he's right to raise issues. The Labour Party and MPs raise issues all the time. I raise issues, I argue my case.

"But we have a collective responsibility as a shadow cabinet to take things forward, and we're a government-in-waiting, and that means that we have to make difficult choices because we can't fund everything, because the Tories crashed the economy and they've left us in a very difficult place."

She added: "That's not saying that we haven't got a child poverty strategy, and as we get into government, as we grow the economy and have more money, that we can't do things to help and alleviate difficulties. But we can't do everything at once."

The Herald:

Responding to the comments on employment law, David Linden, the SNP’s social justice spokesman, said: “Labour and the Tories have worked hand-in-glove for years to block the devolution of employment law to Scotland.

"Instead, Westminster has focused its efforts on imposing an agenda of austerity that Scotland didn’t vote for. With regressive policies like the Anti-Strike Bill, it is clear workers’ rights are under a concerted attack.

“Neither the Tories nor Labour at Westminster can be trusted to protect these hard-fought rights. Power over employment law must be handed to Scotland’s Parliament where workers’ rights can be defended and strengthened under progressive leadership.

“Labour once proudly brandished itself the party of the workers. How far they have fallen under Sir Keir Starmer, that they would rather the rights of Scottish workers were ripped up by Westminster, than protected at Holyrood.”