SCOTTISH Conservative leadership hopeful Michelle Ballantyne has defended her views about benefits claimants having children.

The Tory MSP was urged to resign in October 2018 for “vile” Holyrood speech in which she said people on benefits should not “have as many children as they like”.

But speaking today on the BBC's Good Morning Scotland show, Ballantyne said "people can have as many children as they like".

The Tory insisted she was not telling people whether they should have children but said "it's about having a family income".

"You can't go to your employer and say: 'I've just decided to have another baby so could I have a pay rise please'.

"So this is about fairness."

READ MORE: Who is the MSP challenging Jackson Carlaw to be Scottish Tory leader?

In October 2018, Ballantyne said poor people shouldn’t be allowed to “have as many children as they like” during a Holyrood debate on poverty and austerity.

She said: “The two-child limit is about fairness. It is fair that people on benefit cannot have as many children as they like, while people who work and pay their way and don’t pay decisions, have to make decisions about the number of children they can have.”

During the speech, even some of her Scottish Conservative colleagues couldn't hide how uncomfortable they were with her comments.

She was later accused of hypocrisy when it transpired that she had claimed child benefits and tax credits for her own six children.

Carlaw described her words as “clumsy”.

MSP Tom Arthur commented at the time: “Michelle Ballantyne’s comments were vile and ignorant – and should have no place in Scottish political life.

“Given her comments, and what we now know about her hypocrisy and her form on the issue, Michelle Ballantyne’s position as Tory welfare spokesperson is completely untenable.”

Ballantyne hopes to challenge Jackson Carlaw for the Scottish Tory leadership, but must secure the backing of 100 party members to enter the contest.