Why did MPs fail to quiz minister on ESA suicide stats?

This seems a reprehensible – but all-too-typical – dereliction of duty by MPs on all sides of Parliament.

Labour’s shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Debbie Abrahams, is usually red-hot on this subject, and I wonder if she has been notified and asked to seek explanation, at least with regard to those members of her own party who – it seems – couldn’t be bothered to ask the obvious questions.

Nine MPs on a Commons committee are refusing to explain why they failed to ask the minister for disabled people about shocking figures that suggest attempted suicides among people claiming out-of-work disability benefits doubled between 2007 and 2014.

The work and pensions select committee was passed the figures by Disability News Service (DNS) a few days before Sarah Newton gave evidence last month.

But despite being promised that the figures had “informed the briefing” prepared for the MPs on the committee ahead of the minister’s evidence session – and Labour MP Neil Coyle telling DNS that he was “sure it will be raised” – no effort was made to ask Newton about them.

And this week, none of the nine committee members who attended the session – Labour’s Frank Field, who chairs the committee, Coyle (pictured), Ruth George and Stephen McCabe, Tory MPs Heidi Allen, Andrew Bowie, Alex Burghart and Chris Green, and SNP’s Chris Stephens – would explain why they failed to ask the minister about the figures.

Instead, they hid behind the committee’s media officer, who accused DNS of trying to “circumvent” her by asking the MPs individually why they failed to raise the issue with Newton.

Source: MPs refuse to explain failure to quiz minister on ESA suicide stats


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7 thoughts on “Why did MPs fail to quiz minister on ESA suicide stats?

  1. Samuel Miller (@Hephaestus7)

    Why did MPs fail to quiz a DWP minister on ESA suicide stats? The answer is obvious: The Work and Pensions Committee is shielding the DWP ministers from criminal prosecutions and civil lawsuits that might arise because a number of coroners have come out and stated that the DWP played a role in the death of sick and disabled benefit claimants.

    What guarantees or assurances can the DWP provide to UK’s sick and disabled that the WRAG cuts aren’t life-threatening? None whatsoever, because the DWP refused to conduct a proper impact assessment demanded by both the House of Lords and the Equality and Human Rights Commission; see http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/tories-block-plan-to-look-at-the-impact-of-their-disability-benefit-cuts-a6909036.html and http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/mar/01/equalities-watchdog-criticises-planned-cuts-to-work-support-allowance.

  2. Nick

    all I can say is mike is that the mp’s that I talk with now and again wont talk on this subject and that the way it’s been for the past 7 years I’ve been speaking with them

  3. Barry Davies

    Official goverment stats might not actually answer the question. They would have to be ratified by a coroner as this being the absolute reason, and the number collated, as the saying goes there are lies dan lies then there are statistics. I only know of one definite case of this being stated as the cause, Personally I would say one to many, but no goverment would use that as a basis for a change in policy.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      There are many cases with suicide as the cause of death.
      The DWP argues that its policies cannot be said to be the main contributing factor, but we all know this is nonsense – especially where the deceased has left written evidence to that effect.
      Obviously more needs to be done to establish the need for change, and the Tories will fight it tooth and nail. That’s why this development is so disappointing.

  4. diabolicalme

    I have attempted suicide as a direct result of the dehumanising and unbelievably stressful & corrupt process of being assessed and reassessed for disability benefits. There needs to be a way of collecting this sort of info. Of course, I am silenced in giving my real name thru’ fear of ‘retaliation’ by DWP :’-(

Comments are closed.