17 January 2019, The Tablet

The two-child cap: A toxic scheme that must go


Sometimes there comes a point in the framing of legislation when politicians begin to realise that what they are proposing is absurd. Take for instance the proposal to limit child benefit – or the child benefit component of Universal Credit – to the first two children in the family. What happens, some bold Whitehall mandarin must have asked when the legislation was being drafted, if the third pregnancy is the result of rape? What if a third child is adopted, or if two people with children from different partners come together to reconstitute a new family? What about twins?

The rape question alone should have been enough to stop the whole idea dead in its tracks; it became a case of reductio ad absurdum. In the absence of a criminal conviction of her attacker, how does a woman prove rape? What about a woman who is “controlled or coerced”, as the regulations put it, in her relationship, and becomes pregnant as a result? How much control equals coercion? This is a minefield.

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