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"Fundamentally unfair".

Betsan Powys | 19:24 UK time, Tuesday, 5 October 2010

If he was "surly" then, he's now "extremely unhappy" - and that, having listened to his interview with BBC Wales tonight, is putting it mildly.

Guto Bebb, the Conservative MP for Aberconwy, wants you to know three things:

He "agrees wholeheartedly" with the principle of looking carefully at benefits such as child benefit.

He has no desire to be seen to be defending people who earn as much as £44,000 a year.

But he's very afraid that the plans to cut child benefit, as they stand, won't just be seen to be unfair. They are unfair.

In his own words:

"The coalition has from the outset stated quite categorically that everything we do in terms of cutting benefit and reducing the benefit must be done in a fair manner. I don't think people will think there's anything fair about (these) proposals."

How come, he asks, can it be fair that individuals who earn over £44,000 will lose out on child benefit while their neighbours, a household with two working parents who earn as much as £86,000, would retain it.

"To me that is fundamentally unfair. It is a flaw in the proposals laid out by George Osborne on Monday and I suspect we will need to look at this again because we will not be able to persuade people that this is just, reasonable or fair".

"I do agree that means testing can be extremely complicated and difficult but ... in our manifesto in 2010 we stated quite clearly that some of the Labour party proposals had created a situation in which people were penalised for being aspirational, they were penalised for doing well. And to create another anomaly and a situation simply because it's too complicated to deal with it properly is not good enough in my view. We need to change the way in which tax and benefits interact in a way which is fundamental but we need to carry the British people with us and we will only do that if what we do is seen as fair and is fair".

His pay off is this:

"We have to do this in a way which is seen as fair and just and equitable." So says a man who knows what it's like to knock on doors in a constituency where every vote counts. He would be happy to defend a cut that he regards as "fair and just and equitable" on doorsteps in Llandudno and Llanrwst.

But not this one.


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