SCOTTISH Tory welfare spokesperson Michelle Ballantyne is under fire after claiming that there is “no such thing as a bedroom tax”.

Ballantyne made the comment at a meeting of Holyrood’s Social Security Committee, with the First Minister among those who have since called for her to withdraw the “appalling remark”.

During a discussion relating to the mitigation of Westminster welfare policies at Holyrood, Ballantyne said: "Who is to say what will happen to the benefit system in the future? Committing to mitigating something for forever and a day is not necessarily relevant if the whole thing changed anyway."

SNP depute leader Keith Brown replied: "If the 'bedroom tax' stays in place, will you remain committed to mitigating it in Scotland?

Ballantyne then said: “There’s no such thing as a 'bedroom tax', so I wouldn’t even go down that route.”

The UK Government’s bedroom tax imposes a penalty on people claiming housing benefit for living in homes regarded as being larger than they require.

READ MORE: 'Westminster PIP benefits trap' slammed as being unfit for purpose

The Scottish Government will spend more than £61 million next year mitigating the Tory policy through Discretionary Housing Payments.

Brown raised the issue at First Minister’s Questions. Sturgeon replied: “Perhaps Michelle Ballantyne later on this afternoon will want to explain her comments – I would hope that Jackson Carlaw would want to take a very close look at them.

“But it doesn’t augur very well. If the Tories don’t even understand the basics of what people across the country are experiencing in terms of their welfare policies, then what hope do we have of persuading them to change them?

“It’s an appalling comment if indeed it was made and I hope Michelle Ballantyne will retract it at the earliest opportunity.”

Ballantyne could be seen shaking her head in response.

Brown said: “It is completely unbelievable that Michelle Ballantyne would deny reality like this – the Tory mask has well and truly slipped.

“Michelle Ballantyne has previously refuted clear evidence that her party is causing surging foodbank demand, since admitted by DWP boss Amber Rudd.

“These comments were outrageous, and her disregard for the real-life consequences of the hated ‘bedroom tax’ cannot be ignored. If Ms Ballantyne won’t apologise, Jackson Carlaw must take action.

“Instead of dismissing the two-child cap, or suggesting that the poor shouldn’t have children, perhaps the Tories should be congratulating the SNP for mitigating these harmful policies, and supporting those families affected by them.

“If Michelle Ballantyne is who Jackson Carlaw believes should be running the Scottish Social Security System then that speaks absolute volumes about the Scottish Tories.”

It is not the first time Ballantyne has faced harsh criticism for her comments on welfare policies.

READ MORE: Michelle Ballantyne urged to resign over ‘vile benefit speech’

She came under pressure to resign in October last year after suggesting people on benefits should not “have as many children as they like” – despite claiming child benefits and tax credits for her own six children.

Asked by Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell if she was proud to be associated with the rape clause, Ballantyne said: "The two-child limit is about fairness. It is fair that people on benefits cannot have as many children as they like while people who work and pay their way and do not claim benefits have to make decisions about the number of children they can have. Fairness means fairness to everybody, not to one part of the community."