The Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) boss Esther McVey appears to have got away with making incorrect statements in parliament – yet again. Or if you prefer, as one campaign group put it, she can ‘lie’ and get away with it.
The DWP: charities love us!
As HuffPost reported, on Monday 5 November, work and pensions secretary McVey was speaking about Universal Credit in parliament. Facing criticism from Labour over the contentious new benefit, she claimed of Universal Credit and the DWP’s approach:
charities have been saying this department now is listening to what claimants are saying, charities are saying, MPs are saying.
Trussell Trust has said that. Gingerbread has said that. Mind have said that.
Not a good move. Because the charities she named quickly took to Twitter to kick back against her claims.
Mind did quite a thread, claiming that:
We remain clear that new #UniversalCredit regulations don’t go far enough.
Yesterday the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions @EstherMcVey1 mentioned us in a list of organisations who had recognised and welcomed changes to #UniversalCredit. We thought it was important to set the record straight. pic.twitter.com/ATZqKqLHzO
— Mind (@MindCharity) November 6, 2018
Gingerbread also got in on the thread action. It claimed McVey’s statement “does not paint the full picture”:
— Gingerbread (@Gingerbread) November 7, 2018
The Trussell Trust also kicked back:
THREAD: We’re being asked lots of Qs about what we think of #UniversalCredit today. To be clear: we use evidence from our #foodbank network to comment on the impact of policies & campaign for long-term change to protect people from hunger & poverty, & will continue to do so. 1/5 pic.twitter.com/ZvC7z9u9a9
— The Trussell Trust (@TrussellTrust) November 7, 2018
But in reality, the three charities’ statements still showed they all support Universal Credit in principle. As The Canary previously reported, many people believe the benefit needs to be completely scrapped.
So, in an attempt to not let McVey off the hook, Labour’s shadow minister for disabled people got involved.
On Monday 12 November, Marsha de Cordova asked speaker John Bercow:
Can you… advise me on how to ensure that… [McVey] corrects her statement to accurately represent the views of the charities that she mentioned?
You could almost feel the sweat dripping off Bercow. Because he basically caved in, saying:
If the secretary of states believes she has inadvertently misled the House she… should take steps to correct the record.
But it may be, I put it no more strongly, that it may be that she takes a different view of the matter. Perhaps I can say the following without fear of contradiction by any member of the House. It is not uncommon for members to interpret the facts of the matter in different ways.
We will leave it there for now.
Last week @EstherMcVey1 made a statement to the House suggesting that leading charities welcomed proposed changes to Universal Credit.@MindCharity and others quickly set the record straight. Today I asked how to ensure that she accurately represents their views in the House. pic.twitter.com/0FDJVamqvw
— Marsha de Cordova MP (@MarshadeCordova) November 12, 2018
No, really. Bercow actually said that MP’s can “interpret” “facts” in “different ways”. Take a deep breath, people. Moreover, this is not the first time she has “interpreted” “facts” about Universal Credit differently. Or to put it another way, ‘lied’.
McVey’s actions, and her seeming free pass, have shocked campaign group BENEFITS NEWS. It told The Canary:
It is clear McVey has misled Parliament, yet again.
The Institute for Government wrote about breaches of Ministerial Code not being dealt with last time Esther was caught out for lying. We very much respect the Speaker John Bercow; he is usually very fair. So we’re a little bemused as to whether he now expects McVey to apologise in the House of Commons, again.
We feel very strongly that Theresa May should sack McVey. But the trouble is the PM failed to uphold the same Ministerial Code by not sacking her previously.
The speaker of the House of Commons saying MPs can “interpret” “facts” however they want? A weak and wobbly PM letting an utterly unscrupulous work and pensions secretary keep her job? Again? Surely not…
– Follow BENEFITS NEWS on Twitter.
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