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Marie Rimmer is This Writer’s favourite of the new intake of MPs since the general election.
She has only been in Parliament for two months and already she is working hard, from the Opposition benches, to help make life a little more tolerable and create a real difference for the sick and disabled people who are at the mercy of our grotesque government.
At the time of writing, the Early Day Motion has attracted 63 signatures from the five parties and one independent named below.
As for the final point… that’s at the end.
The Merseyside MP’s early day motion may prove an embarrassment for the government as 47 Labour, SNP, SDLP, Plaid Cymru, DUP and independent MPs have now signed it.
This level of cross-party backbench support for the motion is unusually high, with only around 1 in 10 early day motions normally gathering 50 signatures or more.
Marie Rimmer, who only joined the Commons in May 2015, said: “Almost three weeks ago, the Prime Minister assured me that the Government would release the data regarding the deaths of those found fit for work by face-to-face assessments.
“Despite these assurances and my letter to him on the 26th June, there is still no indication of when these statistics will be released.
“The Information Commissioner ruled in April that these statistics must be released. It is disgraceful that the Government continues to fail to follow those instructions.
“I will continue to press for the public’s right to have an answer and disclosure on this important matter.”
A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “The government intends to publish the statistics, but before doing so they need to meet the high standards expected by the UK Statistics Authority.”
The DWP comment means the government does not intend to publish the statistics – at least, not as requested in my Freedom of Information request (which is what started this ball rolling).
This, of course, means that the DWP’s excuse for not publishing the actual number of deaths immediately – that it is going to publish them later – is wrong. It isn’t, and any such claim can only be a lie.
The attempt to hide behind the UK Statistics Authority is irrelevant. This claim about “high standards” is motivated by another claim, that the actual number of deaths could be “misinterpreted” if it comes into the public domain. But the Freedom of Information Act is motive-blind. Without being able to hide behind any specific exemption, such as the plan to publish the number of deaths later (allowed by section 22 of the Act), the law says only two requirements must be satisfied: Does the DWP have the information? Yes it does. And can the DWP publish it within the legal expenditure limits? Yes it can.
There will be a tribunal hearing later this year, at which these facts will be spelled out to this errant department.
Sooner or later, the real number of deaths will have to be revealed.
The DWP will save itself a great deal of embarrassment if it publishes that figure now.
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