Painful or positive?

"They're not suffering" the minister in charge of welfare reform told me, when I asked him about those who are having their benefits cut by the government.

I was speaking to Iain Duncan Smith as he limbers up for another fight in the House of Lords next week.

The Lords have already defeated the government several times on welfare recently. On Monday they debate plans for a benefits cap.

The Lords will debate proposals to exclude child benefit from the new cap, reducing its impact on large families.

'We are determined'

The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds is leading the opposition. He says that: "There's a very real risk that reforms will cause suffering to the most vulnerable.

"We are trying to lessen the suffering for children in families where parents are unemployed."

IDS says that would undermine the whole point of the benefits cap and insists that he'll simply get MPs to reverse the decision if he loses.

"(The Lords) need to recognise that we are determined as a government to get these reforms through, and if they have to come back to the Commons and if we have to take them back to the Lords I will do just that, because British taxpayers paying their money must believe that the system is fair to those who need it and to them who pay the money".

I put it to Duncan Smith that the row about the cap was a distraction from the suffering of many others who have already seen their benefits cut . "They're not suffering" he replied.

Here's a transcript from the interview:

IDS: "Welfare is about changing your life. It's about taking you from dependency and moving you to independence and if that means saying too there is a limit to what the state is prepared to pay, I think taxpayers on marginal and low incomes, they want to know there's a limit because they don't mind giving to people who need it. What they want to know is, actually, someone living in Kensington who can't afford that house normally and couldn't [if they were] in work, I don't think I should pay for that".

Nick Robinson: "But, forgive me, isn't that the point? Politically it appeals to taxpayers.

"What they don't like hearing about is the many, many thousands of people now who - because of cuts to disability benefit and cuts to employment and support allowance and cuts to housing benefit - are now really suffering. It's a way of distracting people."

IDS: "But they're not suffering. The point about this is that what makes you suffer is the state that plunges you into dependency on the state. It does two things, it means bigger bills for taxpayers and it means your life and your children's lives will be blighted by being dependent on me, the secretary of state, to give you the money to live".