We have clear evidence that Mr Hammond, giving evidence to MPs on the Commons Treasury Committee, said lower productivity was due to the presence of disabled people in the workforce.
Here is Philip Hammond, the man who determines UK budgets, blaming disabled people for hurting UK productivity and calling me part of a "marginal group" which was terrible. Attitudes – good and bad – count a lot in disability but don't trump accessibility.https://t.co/lWIGxqcKyb
— Mike Broderick VO ♿ (@MikeBroderickVO) December 10, 2017
Now we have clear information that Mr Hammond had no reason to make that assertion:
In answer to my parliamentary question, Chancellor @PhilipHammondUK admits there is no evidence whatsoever for his disgraceful suggestion that disabled workers are responsible for the UK’s productivity problem. He must now withdraw his remark, and apologise. @scope #equality pic.twitter.com/IARAtshZcY
— Caroline Lucas (@CarolineLucas) December 12, 2017
He lied to Parliament.
People are angry about this:
So it turns out Philip Hammond can’t provide any evidence for his claim disabled people lower Britain’s productivity. Where’s the apology? https://t.co/abmgRUzz06
— Frances Ryan (@DrFrancesRyan) December 12, 2017
And what did Theresa May have to say about it in Prime Minister’s Questions?
The Chancellor did not express the views that the hon. Lady claims he expressed. This is a Government who value the contribution that disabled people make to our society and to our economy in the workplace. This is a Government who are actually working to ensure that more disabled people get into the workplace. We have had some success; there is more to do, but we will continue to work to ensure that those disabled people who want to work are able to do so.
That’s right – she lied to Parliament.
Charity leaders are furious about this – witness this extract from a Sky News report:
Mark Atkinson, chief executive of charity Scope, told Sky News: “The Chancellor did explicitly link increased participation of disabled people in the workforce with productivity.
“We wrote to the Prime Minister last week to request an explanation for these unacceptable and derogatory comments. There hasn’t been a reply.
“The Chancellor still hasn’t withdrawn his comments, or offered a full apology.
“He has to do this now, before further doubt is thrown onto the Government’s policy to get more disabled people in to work.”
Susan Daniels OBE, chief executive of the National Deaf Children’s Society said: “Given the right support a deaf person can do anything a hearing person can, yet we know that 56% of deaf people have experienced discrimination at work and 25% have left a job as a result.
“In its words and actions the Government needs to show complete commitment to breaking down the barriers to employment for deaf young people and others with disabilities.
“Anything less is unacceptable”
It isn’t merely unacceptable – it borders on hate crime.
The Conservative Party has been victimising disabled people for seven years – seven years in which people with disabilities have seen opportunities for them to gain paid employment diminish markedly – does anybody even remember that Remploy used to be an employer of disabled people? – while right-wing ‘news’ media have demonised them as scroungers and skivers, determined to spend their entire lives on benefits.
Meanwhile, the – Conservative-run – benefit system has systematically stripped away extra help intended to enable people with disabilities to get jobs. It has cut the amount of benefit payments they receive. Assessors have worked hard to push claimants off disability benefits with false claims that they are faking their disabilities – and have tried to push disabled people towards suicide.
It is in this context that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has lied to Parliament about the role of disabled people in the workplace, and the Prime Minister has lied to Parliament about his comments.
Should they face Contempt of Parliament proceedings?
Yes – of course they should.
And this is exactly the right time for such proceedings.
The government has just lost a key vote on Brexit and has been shown to be weak. A direct attack on the honesty of its two most powerful members – now – could have a far-reaching result.
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