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Sunday, May 23, 1999 Published at 04:00 GMT 05:00 UK

UK Politics

Blair determined on welfare reform

Charities say disabled people will suffer under the cuts

Prime Minister Tony Blair has said he is determined to continue with proposed changes to incapacity benefit, despite the Commons rebellion by Labour MPs.

The controversial proposals are part of the Welfare Reform Bill, which rebels say would leave disabled people worse off.

On Thursday, 65 Labour MPs voted against the Government on the Bill, reducing its 176 majority to 40.

It was the biggest rebellion Mr Blair had faced since coming to power in May 1997.

But in an article for the Sunday Mirror, Mr Blair said: "We were put into office to build a fairer and more modern country, and that's what we will do.

[ image: Tony Blair: 'Most people want to work']
Tony Blair: 'Most people want to work'
"It means modernising the welfare system so it helps people, rather than holds them back - a welfare system that recognises work is the best route out of poverty and that the vast majority of people want to work."

Mr Blair said the government was spending almost £2bn more on supporting the disabled during the present parliament.

"Our reforms are based on a simple principle - work for those who can, security for those who can't."

Those opposed to the proposals believe the government could still be defeated over the Bill in the House of Lords.

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