NEW Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey has been urged to make the reversal of the UK Government’s two-child policy and rape clause a priority.

Glasgow SNP MP Alison Thewliss has written to McVey and Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley about the issue after they were given the roles in this week’s Cabinet reshuffle.

The Government legislated in April last year to restrict child tax credit and Universal Credit claims to the first two children in a family, a decision which the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) has said will force 200,000 children below the poverty line.

Women who conceive a third or subsequent child as a result of rape, must apply for an exemption, requiring them to relive their ordeal during an interview.

Thewliss, who has been a prominent campaigner on the issue, said: “Esther McVey is the fifth Secretary of State for the DWP since I was elected in 2015, and the first woman in that time. I want to know whether she is comfortable in making a woman who has suffered the trauma of rape, domestic violence and coercive control go through the shame of proving her child was conceived as a result of sexual abuse. I am also keen also to understand Karen Bradley’s views on the ongoing legal uncertainty in Northern Ireland with respect to this policy.

“The current system places third-party referrers in an impossible position and arguably puts women off claiming an exemption at all. If cases are referred to the police, this potentially places already vulnerable women in even more danger.

“So far, the UK Government has failed to listen on this issue. I am hopeful that the Prime Minister’s reshuffle presents an opportunity for the right thing to be done by women and families.”