LABOUR has been accused of hypocrisy after demanding the Scottish Government mitigate the Tory rape clause – just 48 hours after Jeremy Corbyn in effect said it was outrageous to expect the Scottish Government to mitigate the Tory rape clause.

The party’s social security spokesperson Mark Griffin had claimed the SNP administration would “exasperate people” across the country by not using new powers to effectively end the two-child benefit cap.

The row was sparked by an interview in The Times with Shirley-Anne Somerville, the Scottish Government's Social Security Secretary. She told the paper that responsibility for the benefit lay squarely with the UK Tory Government.

The two-child policy was introduced by George Osborne in his 2015 Budget.

It means that households claiming child tax credit or Universal Credit, who have a third or subsequent child born after April 6 2017, are unable to claim up to £2780 a year for these children.

There is an exemption for families where the third child is conceived as a result of rape. In its first year of operation 190 women were exempted from the cap due to this so-called rape clause.

Somerville told the Times: “You simply can’t just mitigate against £3.7 billion worth of cuts from Westminster, which is what it will be by 2020-21.”

“People are calling for us to mitigate but we are taking this as far as we can at this point."

The minister added: “It’s not our policy to alleviate the two-child cap.”

She denied it was "politically convenient" for the SNP to have this stick to beat Westminster over the head with: “I don’t get any pleasure from this at all but I also won’t stop, because the responsibility lies in Westminster to see the damage that policy is creating.”

Labour’s Griffin said: “This stubborn refusal of the SNP to take action on the two-child cap will exasperate people across Scotland.

“The 2016 Scotland Act delivered new powers to our parliament that allows for the creation of new social security payments for people in Scotland.

“If the SNP government wanted to, it could effectively end the cap and scrap the rape clause, and do what we can to reverse the devastating effects of this callous policy.

“Instead, ministers are refusing to do so, despite the Scottish Parliament taking action on the bedroom tax and housing benefit cuts.”

Speaking at the Welsh Labour conference over the weekend, Corbyn referenced a damning UN report on the state of country’s welfare policies under the Tories.

Corbyn told the party faithful: “When the United Nations sent Philip Alston, an expert on poverty, here last year to write a report, he recognised the work of the Welsh government to mitigate the worst impacts of austerity.

“But he said — and I’m quoting him directly — that ‘it is outrageous that devolved administrations need to spend resources to shield people from government policies.’ He’s right.”

A spokesperson for Somerville said: “It is totally incorrect to suggest that the abhorrent rape clause can be changed by anyone other than the UK Government – and, not for the first time, Scottish Labour are seeking to mislead people on this. It is an in-built part of Universal Credit and therefore fully reserved to Westminster."

He added: “Labour argued for these powers to remain in the hands of the Tories in 2014, then they complain when the Tories use those powers to inflict £3.7bn of welfare cuts on the people of Scotland.

"Even Jeremy Corbyn agrees that it is outrageous that devolved administrations needs to spend resources to shield people from Tory policies.”