Tag Archives: Speaker

Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle tries to justify refusal to change rules on lying. Fails

Hoyle in action: he was probably shouting at someone who dared suggest a government minister was telling a porkie.

What a shame that the House of Commons now has Lindsay Hoyle as its Speaker; a man who would rather turn a blind eye to corruption than tackle it.

If he is really more interested in his own expected peerage than in running a fair and honest chamber – as some have suggested – then he’s part of the problem.

It seems he has appeared on the BBC’s Westminster Hour, trying to justify his refusal to alter Commons rules to make lying to the House more difficult:

“What are we going to do? Are we going to let it deteriorate to that level so every time someone speaks you’re a liar? That’s not a good way of debate, that is not the art of debate. I think it’s about proving who’s right and who’s wrong, not taking a simplistic view and saying, ‘well that’s very easy, you’re lying’. There are ways of exposing that, let’s use the right ways. If you feel that somebody has misled inadvertently, let’s get it on the record… and if you need to hold people to account, do it through a substantive motion. And if you give real answers, you won’t have that problem.”

Shall we go through it slowly?

“What are we going to do? Are we going to let it deteriorate to that level so every time someone speaks you’re a liar? That’s not a good way of debate, that is not the art of debate.”

Nobody has suggested this. It is disengenuous of Hoyle even to suggest it. Why did he not use an example that has happened, such as the moment when one of his deputies threw out Dawn Butler after she pointed out how Boris Johnson had lied to MPs – with examples?

He didn’t mention that because it would have undermined his argument.

” I think it’s about proving who’s right and who’s wrong, not taking a simplistic view and saying, ‘well that’s very easy, you’re lying’.”

Again, nobody has done this. They have simply called for an archaic rule, saying they cannot counter lies immediately, to be removed for the good of the reputation of the House of Commons. Dawn Butler put up her proof and was thrown out, remember.

“If you feel that somebody has misled inadvertently, let’s get it on the record… and if you need to hold people to account, do it through a substantive motion.”

The problem is not with ministers misleading “inadvertently” – it is with outright lies, as Hoyle knows very well. And the problem with making a substantive motion about another MP’s lies is that Hoyle chooses which matters are debated and will pass over a motion about lying, every time.

Won’t he?

It’s time for a vote of “no confidence” in the Speaker of the House of Commons.

The good news is that there is a petition calling on MPs to legislate against lying in Parliament, as discussed on This Site here.

It has reached the 100,000-signature threshold to be considered for debate – and may therefore be considered to be exactly the kind of “substantive motion” that Hoyle said he wanted to see.

And has he approved it for debate? No.

A response to the petition states: “The Government does not intend to introduce legislation of this nature,” and concludes: “The House has determined that how Members conduct themselves in the Chamber, including their adherence to the principles of public life, is a matter for the Speaker, and Parliament is responsible for its own procedures.”

Corrupt.

ADDITIONAL: This writer has submitted a complaint to the BBC about the way it has reported this matter on its website:

“Report was not fair/accurate

“In your article, Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle: I’ve received death threats, you reported: “Labour MP Dawn Butler was suspended from the Commons in July for claiming Prime Minister Boris Johnson had “lied to the House and the country over and over again” and refusing to withdraw her accusation. “Using such language was “not a good way of debate”, Sir Lindsay said, adding: “That is not the art of debate – I think it’s about proving who’s right and who’s wrong, not taking a simplistic view and saying, ‘Well, that’s very easy. You’re lying.'”” This was not what happened on the day, as your own BBC Politics Twitter account shows here: https://twitter.com/BBCPolitics/status/1418230091201622024 Ms Butler did not simply say Boris Johnson had lied – she provided examples of his falsehoods. In so doing, she met Lindsay Hoyle’s requirement by proving that Mr Johnson had done wrong. Your article is therefore not properly balanced and is unfair to Ms Butler. Please publish a further article, setting this error right. It will not be enough to amend the article you have already published, which should be removed, as people are unlikely to re-read it, having read it already.”

It won’t do any good because the BBC likes to whitewash itself, especially when it is found to have been biased in favour of political corruption.

But it puts the Corporation’s pro-Tory reporters on notice that they’re being watched.

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Boris Johnson’s lies: fact-checker shows Dawn Butler was RIGHT

Fact-checking organisation Full Fact has shown that Dawn Butler was right – and Boris Johnson has consistently given false information to Parliament and the UK.

It cannot say whether Johnson intended to lie, because that depends on the circumstances in which his claims were made.

But it says the Ministerial Code demands that government ministers, including the prime minister, correct any error – including inadvertent errors – at the earliest opportunity. And Boris Johnson has not corrected any of the errors checked by Full Fact.

Ms Butler said:

“The Prime Minister said the economy is growing by 73%. It’s just not true.”

And Full Fact confirmed that the claim was false.

She said:

“[Boris Johnson says he] reinstated nurses’ bursary. Just not true.”

Again, Ms Butler was proved correct: “Mr Johnson’s government has reintroduced a system in which all student nurses receive a non-repayable grant from the government, but it does not pay their tuition fees on their behalf, which was the system when the old bursary applied.”

“[Boris Johnson said] there wasn’t an app [for Covid-19 contact tracing] working anywhere in the world. Just isn’t true.”

Quite right: “There is now some evidence that contact-tracing apps have been effective to some extent in several countries, including the UK.”

“[Boris Johnson said the] Tories invested £34bn in the NHS. Not true.”

Again, she was correct: “This figure does not account for inflation, which tends to make the actual value of a sum of money diminish over time. If you do account for inflation, which is the fairest way to compare sums of money across time, then the ‘real terms’ value of the spending increase was £20.5 billion.

“Nor is this spending increase a ‘record’. The last time NHS spending rose by at least this much in real terms was between 2004/05 and 2009/10.”

Finally:

“The Prime Minister said we have severed the link between infection and serious disease and death. Not only is this not true, Madam Deputy Speaker, but it’s dangerous.”

Right yet again: “Recent data from Public Health England shows that even fully vaccinated people do sometimes get seriously ill with the disease, and a few still die.”

For this, Dawn Butler was ordered to leave the House of Commons?

Isn’t it true that, under the same Ministerial Code that Johnson has broken, “time and time again”, by failing to correct the record, ministers who act as he has should be expelled from Parliament? (I’ll help you out there: it is.)

It seems that the Speaker’s Office, which is supposed to uphold Parliamentary standards – that’s the apparent reason for Ms Butler’s ejection – has been remiss in its duties.

I wrote to Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle about this on Friday (July 23), and I feel no reluctance to share the correspondence with you because I had previously written to him about lies by Tory minister Victoria Atkins and he has failed to respond. Perhaps this will encourage him.

My letter reads:

You have a serious problem here, and it is Parliamentary rules that are to blame.
Yesterday (July 22), Acting Deputy Speaker Judith Cummins ordered Dawn Butler to leave the Commons Chamber because she – rightly – pointed out that prime minister Boris Johnson has lied to Parliament and to the country “time and time again”.
Ms Butler pointed out at the time that “we get in trouble in this place for calling out the lie, rather than the person lying” – and she was absolutely correct.
Evidence of Mr Johnson’s lies is widely available. I understand that Parliament has a rule against misleading Parliament that requires the member who does so to be expelled. This has not been applied to Mr Johnson. Is this because MPs are banned from pointing out that he has lied continually since become an MP?
I am aware that rules governing behaviour in the House of Commons require that MPs must not accuse other members of lying. Was this rule specifically drafted in order to protect liars? If not, then why has it been used in that way? Why is the Speaker’s Office permitting it to be used in that way?
This has happened at a time when dishonesty by government MPs is not only widespread; it is epidemic. Parliament’s rules are clearly not fit for purpose while they are allowed to get away with lying to MPs and to the public, again and again.
As the person with ultimate responsibility for MPs’ behaviour, it is the Speaker’s duty to ensure that everything said by MPs is honest – and that dishonesty is punished. It is not the Speaker’s job to punish people for highlighting dishonesty when it is found. Ms Cummins’ behaviour yesterday must not be repeated when Parliament resumes after the summer recess.
I am therefore writing to urge you to spend the summer recess considering ways to reform the rules, in order to ensure that a mechanism exists, within Parliament, to punish any MP for uttering falsehoods in Parliament – and to ensure that MPs who highlight these falsehoods are not punished for doing so. They are acting in the best interests of the nation.

No response as yet. Is Sir Lindsay keeping his head in the sand because he wants a place in the House of Lords (that his immediate forerunner didn’t get)?

Source: Was Dawn Butler right about Boris Johnson ‘lying’ to Parliament? – Full Fact

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Commons Speaker refuses bid to debate government diktats – but it may IMPROVE democracy

Speaking up: Lindsay Hoyle wasn’t quite this active in his speech, but his words were strong.

What was the point of Lindsay Hoyle’s intervention about Boris Johnson treating Parliament with contempt?

He spoke up to say the way the government has used secondary legislation – statutory instruments – to exercise power in the Covid-19 crisis has been “totally unsatisfactory”.

But then he said he’s blocking an amendment of the temporary provisions in the Coronavirus Act 2020 – that allows Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock to use those powers!

See for yourself:

He did say that he’ll be extremely sympathetic to motions that call for the government to send ministers to the Commons to defend undemocratic moves to restrict citizens’ freedoms in the future.

And it seems likely that Tory backbenchers will take advantage of this; all is not well between Downing Street and the Tory backbenches.

It raises a crucial question:

Could Tory rebels bring Johnson down – in the middle of a national health crisis – in the name of democracy?

Amazingly, because of Keir Starmer’s assurances of support, it seems the government is more likely to be defeated by members of its own party than by Her Majesty’s Opposition – and that’s an unhealthy position for a Labour leader.

The public will see that Starmer is not doing the job for which he was elected and will turn further against him.

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Is this plan for daily Covid testing of MPs simply to shore up support for Johnson?

Speaker: Lindsay Hoyle in action.

Why is the Commons Speaker, who is supposed to be neutral, suggesting a plan to re-fill Parliament with braying Boris Johnson loyalists?

Johnson made a fool of himself at Prime Minister’s Questions last week when his pre-scripted attack on Keir Starmer about a spurious connection with terrorism exposed him to ridicule.

Some commentators said Johnson was finding it hard to stand up to Starmer without the support of hundreds of Tory backbenchers behind him, egging him on.

So now Lindsay Hoyle has proposed a plan to pack the screaming mob back in:

MPs could be tested daily for coronavirus to allow them to safely fill the chamber of the House of Commons, the Speaker has suggested.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle told Times Radio he had spoken to the NHS and government about getting “a quick turnaround of tests” to allow more MPs in.

Of course, some of us have been asking why MPs have been saying it is safe for our children to be packed back into schools when they are still working from home because they fear catching the virus so much.

It is possible that a return to full attendance at the House of Commons will encourage some of them to claim that it was a silly criticism.

If so, we’ll have to remind them that the situation isn’t the same – because I don’t see the government authorising daily testing of every school attendee. Do you?

Source: Coronavirus: Test MPs for Covid-19 every day, says Speaker – BBC News

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Babyish Boris Johnson is having a tantrum – if he can’t have his Brexit he’ll try to cause chaos

Boris Johnson: He doesn’t like it when events conspire against him.

Here’s some more evidence that Boris Johnson is in hock to hedge fund bosses who’ve bet on a “no deal” Brexit.

It seems he’s now saying he’ll resign as prime minister – taking his entire cabinet with him – if the EU doesn’t give him the Brexit he wants.

He seems to think that this will make it impossible for Parliament to do anything – but it seems that, like everything else so far, he got that wrong.

Most significantly, it seems BoJob is hoping the UK will be unable to call on the EU for Brexit to be delayed, as required by the so-called “Benn Act” forbidding a “no deal” Brexit.

In fact, it seems Parliament will simply empower Speaker John Bercow to write the letter – the chairman of meetings in the House of Commons acting on the will of that chamber.

And Mr Johnson is facing a rebellion by civil servants, who may find themselves ordered to break the law if he follows this course. They would either resign or demand a public declaration that they were ordered into lawbreaking.

So it seems this plan is unlikely to placate any shadowy backers BoJob may (or may not) have.

As for what the threat to quit government means – it seems he believes Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn would be unable to form a government within the 14 days required by law and a general election would be called, to take place in December.

This implies that the Liberal Democrats, under Tory-supporting Jo Swinson, would not support Mr Corbyn as leader, despite the fact that failure to do so means the UK continues to edge towards a Brexit that she claims to oppose.

Now, why would the leader of the ‘Party of Remain’ want to do that?

Source: Boris Johnson ‘will collapse government’ if EU refuse new deal and force election – Mirror Online

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POLL: Is Commons Speaker John Bercow right to voice his own views on Brexit?

Speaking out: John Bercow at the Bingham Lecture. Is he right to make his opinions known?

John Bercow, the soon-to-retire Speaker of the House of Commons, is being criticised for voicing his opposition to Boris Johnson’s “no deal” Brexit.

Critics are saying he should be impartial and has no right to attack the prime minister and his policies.

Supporters say it is important for him to stand up for Parliamentary sovereignty.

Now he has said he may bend Parliamentary rules – in response to efforts by BoJob and his advisers to go around them.

And he has voiced support for the idea of a written UK constitution, to ensure that the kind of shenanigans we have seen from the Johnson administration (and the May ministry before it) cannot happen again:

John Bercow has threatened Boris Johnson that he will be prepared to rip up the parliamentary rulebook to stop any illegal attempt by the prime minister to take the UK out of the EU without a deal on 31 October.

In a direct warning to No 10, the Speaker of the House of Commons said he is prepared to allow “additional procedural creativity” if necessary to allow parliament to block Johnson from ignoring the law.

“If we come close to [Johnson ignoring the law], I would imagine parliament would want to cut off that possibility … Neither the limitations of the existing rulebook or ticking of the clock will stop it doing so,” he said, delivering the annual Bingham lecture in London. “If I have been remotely ambiguous so far, let me make myself crystal clear. The only form of Brexit that we have, whenever that might be, will be a Brexit that the House of Commons has explicitly endorsed.”

He also proposed a written constitution to stop “executive malpractice or fiat”, which could potentially have avoided the constitutional crisis that the UK has found itself in over Brexit.

Simple question: Do you think Mr Bercow is right to speak out? Or should he keep his mouth shut?

Source: John Bercow: I’ll stop Boris Johnson breaking the law on Brexit | Politics | The Guardian

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Commons Speaker announces retirement – depriving Tories of propaganda victory

John Bercow: The Speaker in action.

John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, has stopped the Conservative government from claiming a propaganda victory it desperately needs by announcing that he is to stand down at the next general election or on October 31 – whichever comes first.

This Site has reported Andrea Leadsom’s announcement that the Conservatives would stand a candidate against Mr Bercow at the next general election, on the grounds that he had undermined democracy by allowing Parliament to discuss – and pass – a backbench Bill ordering the government not to put the UK through a “no deal” Brexit.

Some might say that Mr Bercow’s announcement means the Tories have beaten him – but this is not true.

As he explained in his statement to the Commons, Mr Bercow has long intended to leave at the end of the Parliamentary session which began in 2017.

And by going through with this plan, he has deprived Ms Leadsom and her boss Boris Johnson of the chance to claim that they ousted him.

Here’s his full statement:

Colleagues, I would like to make a personal statement to the house. At the 2017 election I promised my wife and children that it would be my last. This is a pledge that I intend to keep. If the house votes tonight for an early general election, my tenure as Speaker and MP will end when this parliament ends.

If the house does not so vote, I have concluded that the least disruptive and most democratic course of action would be for me stand down at the close of business on Thursday, 31 October. Least disruptive because that date will fall shortly after the votes on the Queen’s speech expected on 21 and 22 October.

The week also after that may be quite lively and it would be best to have an experienced figure in the chair for that short period.

Most democratic because it will mean that a ballot is held when all members have some knowledge of the candidates. This is far preferable to a contest at the beginning of a parliament when new MPs will not be similarly informed and may find themselves vulnerable to undue institutional influence.

We would not want anyone to be whipped senseless, would we? Throughout my time as Speaker I have sought to increase the relative authority of this legislature for which I will make absolutely no apology to anyone, anywhere, at any time.

To deploy a perhaps dangerous phrase, I have also sought to be the backbencher’s backstop.

I could not do so without the support of a small but superb team in Speaker’s House, the wider house staff, my Buckingham constituents, and above all my wife, Sally, and our three children, Oliver, Freddy and Jemima. From the bottom of my heart, I thank them all profusely.

I could also not have served without the repeated support of this house and its members past and present. This is a wonderful place filled overwhelmingly by people who are motivated by their notion of the national interest by their perception of the public good. And by their duty, not as delegates, but as representatives, to do what they believe is right for our country.

We degrade this parliament at our peril. I have served as a member of parliament for 22 years, and for the last 10 as Speaker. This has been, let me put it explicitly, the greatest privilege and honour of my professional life for which I will be eternally grateful.

I wish my successor in the chair the very best fortune in standing up for the rights of honourable and right honourable members individually and for parliament institutionally as the Speaker of the House of Commons.

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#BackBercow campaign takes off as Tories bid to oust Commons Speaker at election

Adversaries: Andrea Leadsom and John Bercow.

Isn’t it hilarious that Tory Andrea Leadsom is accusing Commons Speaker John Bercow of breaking Parliamentary rules when her government has been doing worse than he could imagine?

And isn’t it ironic that, claiming to be standing up for democracy, they are happy to break an ancient democratic convention?

How hypocritical.

Ms Leadsom reckons Mr Bercow has committed a “flagrant abuse” of process by allowing Parliament to take control of Commons business and table a Bill to stop the government from shafting us all with a “no deal” Brexit.

But he – together with Opposition MPs – was well within his rights to use a recognised procedure against Boris Johnson’s underhand attempt to deny UK citizens their right to democratic representation by proroguing Parliament for five weeks, at a crucial point in the run-up to Brexit.

Here’s how the BBC is reporting the matter:

The Conservative Party plans to stand a candidate against Speaker John Bercow for his role in allowing MPs to take control of the Commons agenda.

Breaching convention, the party plans to oppose Mr Bercow in his Buckingham constituency at the next election.

Formerly a Tory, Mr Bercow gave up his party affiliation when he took on the impartial role.

As the highest authority in the House of Commons, the Speaker chairs MPs’ debates.

In order to be impartial, the Speaker resigns from their party, and – while they still stand in general elections – they are usually unopposed by the main parties, and they do not campaign on political issues.

This latest attempt to silence democracy – and impartiality, if Ms Leadsom plans to put a Tory yes-man in Mr Bercow’s place – has sparked a backlash on the social media, under the hashtag #BackBercow .

Source: Tories bid to depose Speaker Bercow after Commons revolt – BBC News

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Labour conference: speakers and members line up to support Corbyn against his accusers

So-called members of the Labour Party who have attacked its current direction under leader Jeremy Corbyn, including those who have supported claims of anti-Semitism against him and his supporters, have received a stark message at this year’s conference: Shape up or ship out.

Unite union leader Len McCluskey set the tone with an uncompromising speech in which he criticised Margaret Hodge’s claim that Mr Corbyn was an anti-Semite before setting his sights on Chuka Umunna, rumoured to be trying to lay the foundations for a new “centrist” (in fact, right-wing) political party composed of current Labour MPs encouraged to split from the party in a similar manner to the SDP in the 1980s:


Mr McCluskey’s view appears to be shared by the vast majority of Labour supporters. Consider the reaction to the announcement that Labour Friends of Israel – the organisation within the party that was revealed to have fabricated claims of anti-Semitism against at least one party member – does not have a stand at the conference.

Incredibly, Labour MP Wes Streeting turned a tin ear to the cries for unity and told a rally of the Jewish Labour Movement – a heavily pro-Zionist pressure group that includes party members and others, some of who aren’t Jews and don’t support Labour – that the anti-Semitism row that he has stoked, along with colleagues like Luciana Berger, Margaret Hodge and John Mann, could cost the party the next general election.

If he had been paying attention to the wishes of party members, as displayed on the floor of the conference, Mr Streeting would know that the solution is for him to stop trying to cause trouble and support the party’s leadership and policies.

The following is a typical response to Mr Streeting and his vile attitude:

The Independent report also claims that the anti-Semitism row has swung the British public into believing Labour is almost as much a “nasty” party as the Conservatives (as current prime minister Theresa May once self-confessed). It used as its basis a survey by pro-Tory pollsters YouGov that claimed 31 per cent of people support this view – almost as many as the 34 per cent who still think the title belongs with the Tories.

But the story on the street is different – and suggests it is mainstream (right-wing) media reporters with an agenda to smear Mr Corbyn and his party who are creating a false impression. Here’s Mail angry-columnist Dan Hodges:

If that’s his reaction to genuine public opinions, Mr Hodges – along with many of his mainstream press colleagues – is going to be terribly lonely from now on.

The evidence seems to bear out Kerry-Anne Mendoza’s opinion. When the Jewish Chronicle has even suggested that Mr Corbyn should have apologised to British Jews about the anti-Semitism row, despite the fact that he has had nothing to do with it and most of the allegations have been fabricated by (among others) the press, its smear piece failed to convince. Witness:

The accusers are going to carry on, and I say: Let them.

They have no hard evidence of wrong-doing by anybody in positions of major authority within the Labour Party, and their increasingly-shrill outbursts are hardening public opinion against them.

Labour MPs who persist in opposing the will of the party in this way will find themselves facing the sharp end of the new selection system and, although they will undoubtedly claim it has been weaponised against them, will deserve everything they get.

And those members of the press who are determined to embarrass themselves by continuing to flog this dead horse will find themselves on the same position as Mr Hodges:

Walking home, alone.

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Duncan Smith chastised over benefit deaths lie

Debbie Abrahams: This image is from a previous occasion in which she made a Point of Order.

Debbie Abrahams: This image is from a previous occasion in which she made a Point of Order.

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.”

Not true.

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?

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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