In a ‘heated exchange’ with Prime Minister David Cameron, a Greater Manchester MP has demanded that Iain Duncan Smith be held accountable for inventing pro-sanctions quotes from fake benefits claimants and suggesting disabled people are ‘abnormal’.
Debbie Abrahams, Labour MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, called on Mr Cameron to investigate the Work and Pensions Secretary for breaking the ministerial code.
Her demand is a response to the Department of Work and Pensions’ confession to fabricating quotes in a leaflet about Mr Duncan Smith’s latest benefits sanctions.
Mrs Abrahams, who has been an avid campaigner for a fair benefits system, believes Mr Duncan Smith should be investigated for denying the existence of data on the number of people who have died on sickness benefits, and consequently misleading Parliament.
She said: “Two weeks ago the Work and Pensions Secretary’s department not only admitted to falsifying testimonies in leaflets, but also published data on the deaths of people on sickness benefits which showed they are four times more likely to die than the general population, after the Secretary of State told this House these data didn’t exist.”
Mrs Abrahams also attacked Mr Duncan Smith’s suggestion that disabled people are ‘abnormal’, stating that this issue alone is ‘more than enough’ to warrant an investigation.
The controversial comments, which have been widely criticised, were made by the Conservative cabinet minister as he defended the government’s record for getting people with disabilities back into work in the House of Commons earlier this week.
He said: “I think the figure is now over 220,000, which I believe is the highest figure since records began, in proportionate terms, but the most important point is that we are looking to get that up to the level of normal, non-disabled people who are back in work.”
Mrs Abrahams branded his statement ‘insensitive’ and said it should act as the ‘trigger’ to a full investigation.
She said: “The fact the Secretary of State, this week, implied that disabled people, people he has responsibility to support, are abnormal should be more than enough to trigger the Prime Minister into action.
“His insensitive use of language reflects an attitude that is not fitting for a Member of Parliament let alone a Government Secretary of State.”
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