With reference to the 200,000-strong petition demanding the statistics showing how many people have died after losing their benefits. Updates

Prime minister’s disclosure, in wake of 200,000-strong petition, comes two days after Iain Duncan Smith’s claim in parliament that such data did not exist

David Cameron has announced that statistics showing how many people have died after losing their benefits are being prepared for publication, days after work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith denied that such figures existed.

Speaking at Wednesday’s prime minister’s questions, Cameron was responding to Labour MP Marie Rimmer, who asked if the government would comply with an April ruling from the information commissioner that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) should publish data on the deaths of claimants of incapacity benefit and employment and support allowance between November 2011 and May 2014.

Speaking on Monday 22nd June Labour’s Debbie Abrahams asked Duncan Smith in parliament why he refused to publish details regarding the number of people who have died within six weeks of their incapacity benefit and employment and support allowance being stopped.

“She knows very well that the department does not collate numbers on people in that circumstance,” Duncan Smith replied. “It deals with individual cases where things have gone right or gone wrong and reviews them. It is a crying shame that Labour members want to go out every day scaring and frightening people. It is no wonder they lost the election.”

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.

To read the full report

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jun/24/benefit-related-deaths-david-cameron-dwp

Following on from the above article, on the 15th July, Debbie Abrahams was not able to put her question about the deaths of sickness benefit claimants to the Prime Minister – but she did make a point of order & the response from Speaker John Bercow was definitely interesting.

The Oldham East and Saddleworth MP told the Commons: “Three weeks ago today, the Prime Minister promised to publish data on the number of people in receipt of employment and support allowance and incapacity benefit who had died since November 2011, including those who had been found fit for work. Indeed, I raised it as a point of order on the same day.

“To date, nothing has been published. These people who died – and their families – deserve better than this. As we are approaching the summer recess, I will be very grateful if you can advise me on how I might expedite the publication of these data — on actual deaths and not just mortality rates as the Government have proposed

Now look at the response: “The short answer to the hon. Lady, whose long-standing interest in this subject is well known, is that she must use the device of questioning, and there are further opportunities for questioning of various sorts between now and when we rise for the summer recess.

“If that method does not suit her, for whatever reason—and sometimes it has to be done more than once, even several times—there will be the opportunity, of course, to offer thoughts in the summer Adjournment debate, though I accept that she might not elicit a substantive reply from the responsible Minister.”

What? Did John Bercow just admit that the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions is likely to dodge an important question, put to him in the House of Commons on behalf of the citizens of the UK?

Yes he did!

In that case, as far as the electorate is concerned, what is the point of Iain Duncan Smith?

Mr Bercow continued: “Use of the Order Paper and of the various opportunities for oral questioning—she will know that there are a number of different options on that front—would be her best course, and I advise her to try to take it.”

Then Ms Abrahams interrupted, to point out that she has already put her questions “several times” in the manners described.

“As I have sometimes had cause to observe, repetition is not a novel phenomenon in the House of Commons, and sometimes a Member who has done something several times simply has to resolve to do it again and again—and there will be such opportunities for the hon. Lady on that matter and for other Members on matters that concern them,” said Mr Bercow.

Was he saying that questions which Ministers are required to answer are being ignored?

Yes he was!

This is not the behaviour of a responsible government – or government department.

Debbie Abrahams deserves better, and so do the rest of us.

Morning Star Wednesday 22nd July

DATA showing how many people die while claiming out-of-work disability benefits will be published “no later than the autumn,” the government said yesterday.

Work and Pensions Minister Priti Patel reiterated the Prime Minister’s assertion that the statistics are being prepared for release, adding they will be published “shortly.”

Labour’s Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, said David Cameron had promised urgent action four weeks ago.

Asking an urgent question in the Commons, she said: “Now is the time to deliver.

“Be open, transparent and publish the numbers that the public and Parliament are calling for. Without this, it brings this House into disrepute.”

In April, the Information Commissioner asked the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to publish the number of incapacity benefit and employment and support allowance claimants who have died between November 2011 and May 2014.

The request asked for the figures to be broken down into several categories, including the number of claimants found fit for work.

MPs heard more that than 240,000 people have signed a petition calling for the release of the data.

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