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Tory MP defends universal credit after missing vote

Douglas Ross chose to officiate a football match in Barcelona rather than sit in the Commons.

Two jobs: Douglas Ross works as both an MP and a football linesman.
Two jobs: Douglas Ross works as both an MP and a football linesman. UK Parliament and PA

A Conservative MP who missed a vote last week on halting the expansion of universal credit to officiate a football match has defended the policy after his return to Westminster.

Douglas Ross, who was in Spain to run the line for the Champions League clash between Barcelona and Olympiakos, stood up for the policy's benefits at a debate in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

While Ross was away MPs voted by a margin of 299 to zero to halt the policy's national expansion after the Conservatives opted to abstain on the motion.

The vote was non-binding and the UK Government can continue to pursue the policy despite the House having made its feelings known.

The MP for Moray poked fun at SNP MP John McNally, who brandished a red card in the chamber last week over Ross' absence but was not in the chamber himself on Tuesday.

"You will be aware that I received much criticism for missing the universal credit debate last week so I welcome the opportunity to contribute to this week's, six days on from the last time we discussed it," Mr Ross said.

"I do, however, note that [Mr McNally] is not here in the chamber, on this of all days."

Champions League: Lionel Messi, left, and Moray MP Douglas Ross.
Champions League: Lionel Messi, left, and Moray MP Douglas Ross. PA

He added later: "While there are issues with universal credit, and I will come to these in a moment, we also have to acknowledge the benefits.

"There are benefits to this system and it is hardly surprising, given that this is a simplified system, and I'm also grateful that the government is clearly listening to the concerns raised by members across the House as we saw with the decision on the cost of the helpline."

The MP has so far ignored calls from opposition parties to give up his second job, which earns him a five-figure sum in addition to his parliamentary salary of £74,962.

https://stv.tv/news/politics/1400112-tory-mp-to-miss-benefits-debate-for-linesman-duties/ | default

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