FRESH calls have been made to scrap the controversial “rape clause” after a civil servants’ union raised grave concerns over staff being made to interrogate victims seeking child benefit for a third child.

Under Westminster plans, child benefit will only be payable to the first two children in a family, unless subsequent babies are the product of rape.

The onus will be on mothers to prove their children were conceived during a sex attack, but the method of doing this has not yet been set out.

The Department for Work and pensions has pledged to develop “appropriate” protections for women and ensure “support is compassionate and effective”.

However, the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS), which represents civil servants, has said it is “firmly opposed” to the policy and the impact it will have on its members.

Calling for the policy to be scrapped, the union’s general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Many PCS members rely on these benefits to make ends meet and so we expect that some of our members will themselves be caught up by the two-child policy.

“PCS is very concerned about how this policy may operate both for claimants and our members who would have to implement this policy. We do not think anyone should have to conduct such an interview and we would want this policy to be abandoned.”

In a letter to Glasgow Central MP Alison Thewliss, who first raised the rape clause issue and is campaigning against it, Serwotka said “specialist training” would be needed for any staff required to conduct interviews with parents.

He went on: “DWP acknowledges that this is a serious issue and recognised the legitimacy of PCS concerns. However as yet DWP has not put forward any proposals to PCS to define what the protections promised would look like. We are continuing to pursue this matter with DWP.”

The DWP says it is working with a range of stakeholders to deliver the exemption “in the best way possible”.

However, Thewliss says Welfare Reform Minister Lord Freud must listen to civil servants. She said: “The PCS union’s intervention should serve as a major warning to the Government that they cannot ride roughshod over the wishes of UK civil servants.

“The fact remains that the introduction of a rape clause and two-child policy would put civil servants in an incredibly awkward position, almost certainly having to ask intrusive and deeply personal questions of vulnerable women, who have been raped and subject to sexual violence. That simply is not on.

“Like me, PCS have repeatedly raised these concerns with the DWP and no answers have been forthcoming about how this can be handled. And the reason no answers are forthcoming is because it’s an unworkable, immoral and abhorrent policy.

“Lord Freud and the DWP should listen to, and respect, the wishes of PCS and its members and abandon this offensive and damaging policy agenda without delay.”