Live updates

Minister: Freud 'one of the most compassionate of people'

Defence Minister Anna Soubry defended Lord Freud. Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Defence Minister Anna Soubry has offered her support to her under-fire Tory colleague Lord Freud after he was attacked for comments about disabled workers.

Speaking to a Conservative councillor, he suggested certain disabled workers were "not worth" the national minimum wage.

Audio: Lord Freud suggests some disabled workers 'not worth full wage'

But Ms Soubry said his words had been "taken out of context" and that Lord Freud was "one of the kindest and most compassionate of people".

She told BBC Radio 4: ""It is a real problem we have now in British politics where people take something, often out of context, spin it around, stick it in the internet on social media, and suddenly there is a flurry ... I'm not going to play that game."

Labour: Freud apology 'is not the end of the matter'

A Labour spokesman has said Welfare Minister Lord Freud's apology over his comments on disabled workers is "not the end of the matter".

Welfare Minister Lord Freud answering questions at a parliamentary committee. Credit: PA Wire

"It was he who said some disabled people are 'not worth the full wage' and it was he who suggested paying people just £2 an hour," the spokesman said.

"In fact he said he would go away to look at this issue, suggesting that this Government would consider it. Someone holding these views shouldn't be in government," he added.

Advertisement

Lib Dems: Lord Freud's comments 'unacceptable'

The Liberal Democrats said Lord Freud's views are unacceptable. Credit: PA Wire

The views expressed by Conservative Lord Freud relating to the wages of disabled workers are "completely unacceptable", the Liberal Democrats said.

A party spokesman said: "The views expressed by Lord Freud are completely unacceptable.

"The Liberal Democrats are proud to have raised the minimum wage repeatedly in Government and will resist any attempt to cut it for anybody, not least the disabled."

But the party said it for the Prime Minister David Cameron to decide whether the welfare minister should resign.

"Conservative ministerial appointments are a matter for the Prime Minister," the spokesperson said.

Charities condemn Lord Freud comments on disabled

Charities which work to support disabled people have condemned comments made by Lord Freud.

Clare Pelham, chief executive of Leonard Cheshire Disability, said: "We are dismayed at the comments attributed to a Government minister that disabled people could be paid at below the minimum wage because they are `not worth the full wage'.

"Suggesting that some people should be paid at below the minimum wage - the level that society has decided is the very minimum that anyone should expect - is deeply saddening and ill-informed."

And Dan Scorer, head of policy at Mencap, told BBC Radio 4's World at One he was "shocked" by Lord Freud's comments.

Mr Scorer said: "We fundamentally disagree with what he is proposing, which is that disabled people should be paid less than other workers, less than the minimum wage, because they have a disability.

"The whole point of the minimum wage is that it sets a minimum amount that people can be paid, a value for work, and Lord Freud seems to be saying that the work that disabled people do has less value than the rest of the population.

"I think he needs to very seriously consider his position after making these comments."

Lord Freud issues 'full and unreserved apology'

Lord Freud. Credit: PA Wire

Welfare Reform Minister Lord Freud has issued a "full and unreserved apology" after suggesting that some disabled people are "not worth" the minimum wage.

The Conservative peer said he had been "foolish" in "accepting the premise" of a question posed to him during a fringe event at the Conservative Party conference last month.

I would like to offer a full and unreserved apology. I was foolish to accept the premise of the question. To be clear, all disabled people should be paid at least the minimum wage, without exception, and I accept that it is offensive to suggest anything else. I care passionately about disabled people. I am proud to have played a full part in a Government that is fully committed to helping disabled people overcome the many barriers they face in finding employment. I am profoundly sorry for any offence I have caused to any disabled people.

– Lord Freud

Advertisement

Adam Smith Institute defends Freud's comments

Think tank The Adam Smith Institute has defended Lord Freud's comments regarding disabled workers.

Sam Bowman, research director, said the Conservative welfare minister had been "shamefully mistreated" by Labour leader Ed Miliband, who has called for Freud to resign after he suggested some disabled workers are "not worth" the full minimum wage.

Mr Bowman said: "His (Freud's) point was that the market value of some people’s wages is below the minimum wage. This is often true of the severely disabled and can have appalling consequences for their self-esteem and quality of life."

He added: "To point out that someone’s market value is less than minimum wage has nothing to do with their moral value as human beings.

"Freud’s point was that we should help people in this situation by allowing them to find jobs paying below the minimum wage and topping up their pay directly to make up the difference."

Lord Freud 'should be helping more disabled into work'

Lord Freud should be helping more disabled people into work not questioning their contribution, Richard Kramer, deputy chief of national disability charity Sense, has said.

Number 10: PM wants clarification from Lord Freud

Number 10 Downing Street. Credit: PA Wire

A senior No 10 source said the Prime Minister will want to hear the "full context" of comments made by Lord Freud in relation to disabled workers.

Labour leader Ed Miliband has called for the Tory welfare minister to resign after he suggested some disabled workers are "not worth" the full minimum wage at a Conservative Party Conference fringe event last month.

"I think it's fair to say that the Prime Minister will want to hear the full context of what happened and he will also want to hear what Lord Freud will say about it," the No 10 source said.

Load more updates