You may remember an irate column on this blog a few weeks ago, berating the British public for failing to provide the required 100,000 signatures for Pat’s Petition.
The petition, calling on the government to “stop and review the cuts to benefits and services which are falling disproportionately on disabled people, their carers and families”, totalled more than 62,600 signatures when it closed, fair short of the required amount of support.
I am delighted, therefore, to report that there will be an Opposition Day debate in the House of Commons, bsed around the petition.
The Labour Party agreed to the debate after campaigners sent an open letter to Liam Byrne, the shadow Work and Pensions Secretary.
The petition’s creator, Pat Onions, wrote: “The debate will probably take place some time in January and we will only have a week’s notice, so the important thing now is to get ready for the debate and make sure all the issues we have been campaigning on get attention.
“The theme of the motion for the debate will be the Pat’s Petition demand that the government stop and review the cuts to benefits and services which are falling disproportionately on disabled people, their carers and families, and a demand for a cumulative impact assessment. It’s a very wide brief so if you want to focus on a particular issue that’s fine.
“We will need lots of help from you all to make sure that, after all your effort, this debate gets real results. We will also need help to ask MPs from all parties to speak in this debate.”
This is all very encouraging.
But securing a debate does not mean any battles are won, and another aspect of the fight against those disproportionate cuts to benefits and services is the appeal to the United Nations by Samuel Miller – another matter which has been well-reported on this site.
Mr Miller is calling for people who are sick or disabled, and in the work-related activity group for Employment and Support Allowance, to send him scans of letters from their GP that state, explicitly, that they are not fit for work.
“This information is needed for the filing of United Nations complaints against the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,” he wrote. “It is my opinion that the British government’s mandatory Work Programme for sick and/or disabled persons is in violation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which it signed on September 16, 1968 and ratified on May 20, 1976. (See http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/pdf/cescr.pdf and http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/cescr-ratify.htm) “Further, it is my opinion the British government is violating the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Optional Protocol.” (See http://www.un.org/disabilities/documents/convention/convoptprot-e.pdf and http://www.un.org/disabilities/countries.asp?navid=12&pid=166)
I strongly urge anyone who is able to help Mr Miller to send him copies of these documents. The more information he is able to collect, the easier it will be to persuade the United Nations that the British Government is knowingly and deliberately causing serious harm to sick and disabled people across the UK.
The email address, as ever, is [email protected]