British peer says welfare changes encourage poor to breed

25th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

A lawmaker newly appointed to Britain's upper house of parliament by Prime Minister David Cameron apologised Thursday for saying that welfare changes give the poor more incentive to breed.

Howard Flight, the former deputy chief of Cameron's Conservative Party, told London's Evening Standard newspaper that taking welfare payments away from top level taxpayers meant they were "discouraged from breeding."

"But for those on benefits, there is every incentive. Well, that's not very sensible," Flight told the newspaper.

Cameron's coalition government announced last month that it had decided to scrap universal child benefit payments which the state has paid to families since 1946.

The move came as part of cuts designed to reduce Britain's huge deficit which are set to cost almost half a million jobs and slash government budgets by a fifth.

Flight later issued an "unreserved" apology and said he would like to withdraw the comment.

Cameron had earlier called on him to say sorry.

"I don't agree with what he said and I am sure that he will want to apologise for what he has said, and I think we can probably leave it at that," he said when asked whether he would use his power to stop Flight's peerage.

Flight was among 54 "working peers" created by the British government last Friday. The House of Lords has the power to review and amend legislation approved by the elected lower house, the House of Commons.

Others include Fiona Shackleton, the lawyer who handled the divorce of Princess Diana and Prince Charles, and Julian Fellowes, the creator of the Oscar-winning film "Gosford Park".

© 2010 AFP

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