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Labour To Call Commons Vote Over Freud Comments

October 20, 2014

Labour will force a Commons vote on Lord Freud’s future after David Cameron refused to dismiss him as welfare minister for his suggestion that some disabled workers are not worth the minimum wage.

The Conservative peer has been allowed to remain in his job after apologising for the comment, but Labour will table a motion of no confidence to be voted on later this month.

Separately, the Independent on Sunday reported that a second government minister had made contentious comments over the role of disabled people in the workplace. Andrew Selous, a justice minister, was said to have told a fringe meeting at the Tory party conference that “disabled people work harder because they’re grateful to have a job”.

Rachel Reeves, the shadow work and pensions secretary said the prime minister’s failure to act to remove Freud was astonishing. She said: “When the disgraceful and offensive views like this go unchallenged within the Conservative party it’s clear that mask has slipped and the nasty party is back. Labour will table a motion of no confidence in Lord Freud because we believe it’s completely unacceptable that David Cameron has failed to sack his minister for welfare reform.”

The shadow housing minister Emma Reynolds said it was “absolutely disgraceful” that Freud had not been removed from his post, and rejected the suggestion her party was playing politics with the saga. She told the BBC’s Sunday Politics: “I don’t think suggesting that disabled people, regardless of their disability, should be working for £2 an hour is acceptable.”

Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, said the implication of Freud’s comment was that “some people aren’t worth as much as others”. He disagreed with the suggestion that the peer had been talking about topping up wages with benefits as a way of getting more disabled people into the workplace.

He told Pienaar’s Politics on Radio 5: “This isn’t the first thing he has said … he is completely out of touch, this bloke.” He was referring to a comment last year that an increase in numbers of families using food banks was not necessarily linked to benefits sanctions or delays.

Last month Freud was recorded at a conference fringe meeting responding to a Tory councillor who suggested that people with mental health problems may be unable to work because employers were unwilling to pay them the statutory minimum.

He replied: “You make a really good point about the disabled … There is a group – and I know exactly who you mean – where actually, as you say, they’re not worth the full wage and actually I’m going to go and think about that particular issue, whether there is something we can do nationally, and without distorting the whole thing, which actually if someone wants to work for £2 an hour, and it’s working, can we actually …”

Cameron flatly disowned the peer’s remarks when questioned by the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, at prime minister’s questions, and later ordered Freud to apologise. Freud has since offered “a full and unreserved apology”, saying he was foolish to accept the premise of the question.

Freud said: “To be clear, all disabled people should be paid at least the minimum wage, without exception, and I accept that it is offensive to suggest anything else. I care passionately about disabled people. I am proud to have played a full part in a government that is fully committed to helping disabled people overcome the many barriers they face in finding employment.”

The vote on the motion of no confidence is expected to take place on 29 October during an opposition day debate.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. John Hargrave permalink
    October 20, 2014 10:20 am

    It is the politicians who are not worth their salary, especially when they come out with ridiculous suggestions regarding disabled people, so perhaps they should hand back at least half of their salary to the Treasury. After all someone has to start to get this deficit paid off. Just in case these people are not aware, disabled people are better workers, more conciencious and are far better time keepers.

  2. philipburdekin permalink
    October 20, 2014 11:58 am

    THIS JUST PROVES EVEN MORE SO THE CONTEMPT AND THE HATRED OF THE SICK AND DISABLED THAT THE NASTY TORY LED COALITITION HAVE, THIS EVIL HAS TO BE THROWN OUT OF OUR PARLIAMENT AND ANOTHER GOVERNMENT BROUGHT IN. CAN WE NOT HAVE A VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE IN WHAT IS CALLED OUR GOVERNMENT?. I live in dread.

  3. October 21, 2014 4:50 pm

    Reblogged this on Britain Isn't Eating.

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