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But will he even bother to acknowledge his mistake and make reparations?
Readers of Vox Political will be aware that the DWP has admitted not only that it has figures on the number of people who have died while claiming sickness and disability benefits, but also that this information could be published without breaching the £600 cost limit for Freedom of Information requests.
It was therefore a considerable surprise when Iain Duncan Smith contradicted this statement during Work and Pensions questions in the House of Commons on Monday. Responding to a question from Debbie Abrahams, he whinged: “I find it unbelievable that she, the hon. Lady and others have spent all their time trying to make allegations about people going about their work. She knows very well that the Department does not collate numbers on people in that circumstance.”
This Writer had a word with Ms Abrahams on Twitter about this, and discovered that she would be making a point of order on this issue after Prime Minister’s Questions today (Wednesday). Here’s what she had to say:
“On Monday I asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions why he was refusing to publish information on the number of people who have died within six weeks of claiming IB or ESA, including those that have been found fit for work, after having been compelled to do so by the Information Commissioner on 30 April.
“In his response to me, the Secretary of State stated, ‘She knows very well the Department does not collate numbers of people in that circumstance. The Secretary of State’s statement is in direct contradiction to his own department’s submission to the Information Commissioner, which states that it does collect these data and published them last in November 2011.
“I would be grateful for your guidance on how to correct the record and seek an explanation for this error. Frankly, Mr Speaker, this happens too much and puts this House into disrepute.” [bolding mine]
The response from John Bercow, the Speaker, was circumspect: “If there is an inconsistency between what she has been told in the Chamber and what has been said elsewhere by the government, and that is a matter of fact [it is], then it will be apparent to ministers who are responsible for the accuracy of what they say, and in the event of inaccuracy, for ensuring correction.
“I cannot say more than that today but she has made the point with crystal clarity; it’s on the record and it will have been heard by ministers. I think she should, at this stage, await events.”
Iain Duncan Smith would have been aware that his statement was not true when he said it. But will he have the courage to admit his (intentional) error?
Experience suggests not.
Debbie Abrahams has said she’ll keep pushing.
When can we expect a response from the DWP?
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