Political Correspondent

THE UK Tory government is content to allow people to exist just short of starvation, according to one of Glasgow’s new MPs.

In his maiden speech, Paul Sweeney, Labour MP for Glasgow North East said the Tories had undermined much of the progress made in Glasgow communities over decades to improve lives.

He attacked the welfare reforms which have dominated the last seven years of Conservative led Government and hit people in the north east of the city hard.

Mr Sweeney as is customary spoke about the history of the communities and previous MPs.

He praised his predecessor Anne McLaughlin for her “yearning passion for improving the lives of her constituents and restoring civic pride to our communities” which he said he shared.

Mr Sweeney celebrated the work of community organisations in the north east of the city particularly the housing association movement for helping improve conditions across the city.

However he turned his attention to the current UK Government and the impact austerity and benefits cuts and reforms was having on ordinary people.

Mr Sweeney said: “These efforts have, however, been frustrated by Conservative party policies that continue to undermine living standards in my constituency.

“Despite efforts to regenerate our communities, my constituents are still subject to the indignity of benefit sanctions, tax credit cuts and frozen wages.”

He said he was approached in the street by a woman who told him her husband was diagnosed with a brain tumour but declared fit for work, nine months before he died and had his benefits cut.

He said this was proof there was “a new national minimum definition of dignity”.

Mr Sweeney added: “Under which anything short of starvation and anything above destitution is now seemingly acceptable. A definition that is apparently blind to any appeal to human compassion.”

In his first month as an MP Mr Sweeney said he has not been impressed with the Conservatives and their behaviour in the House of Commons.

Tory MPs came under fire for the glee in which the greeted a vote which defeated a bid to end the public sector pay cap.

He said: “That view was galvanised when I watched those on the Government benches cheer with perverse triumph as our effort to remove the public sector pay cap was defeated last month, quite oblivious to the harm it causes to millions of people.”

Mr Sweeney won the seat back for Labour from the SNP by just 242 votes in June.

Previously Ms McLaughlin had recorded the biggest swing in the election in 2015 when she defeated William Bain winning it for the SNP.

He spoke of the efforts to regenerate communities in the north east, some of the poorest in the country.

He added: “Anne cited the example of the project to restore the historic Springburn winter gardens, the largest glasshouse in Scotland, as a totemic symbol of our mission to continue regenerating a community that is still contending with the challenge of urban dereliction.

“As one of the founders of the project, I was personally delighted that Anne made such a generous endorsement of our efforts in her maiden speech. “