Calls for Welfare Minister to resign over comments about wages for disabled workers

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

The Tory 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.

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Labour to force Commons vote on Lord Freud

Lord Freud's comments on disabled people sparked outrage last week. Credit: PA Wire

Labour will force a Commons vote on Lord Freud's future after David Cameron refused to dismiss him for his controversial suggestion that some disabled workers were "not worth" the minimum wage.

The Conservative peer has kept his job after apologising for the comment, which sparked furore among disability charities and was branded "offensive" by deputy prime minister Nick Clegg.

But Labour has made repeated calls for him to go and will table a motion of no confidence in the welfare minister tomorrow ahead of a vote later this month.

The move came as it emerged that Andrew Selous, a justice minister, told a fringe meeting at the Tory party conference that "disabled people work harder because they're grateful to have a job", according to the Independent.

My disabled son 'would need constant supervision'

The father of a 31-year-old man with severe learning difficulties has backed Lord Freud's controversial comments that some disabled people should not be employed at the minimum wage.

Julian Mason told Good Morning Britain his son "would need constant supervision" even if he worked at the local supermarket and may have trouble completing basic tasks like collecting trollies.


Welfare minister withdrawn from frontbench duties

There have been calls for Welfare Minister Lord Freud to resign after he as recorded sayingsome disabled people are 'not worth' the minimum wag Credit: PA

Lord Freud has been withdrawn from frontbench duties in the House of Lords on Thursday, where he had been scheduled to reply to a question and represent the Government in a debate.

The Department for Work and Pensions said the peer "isn't available" but gave no further details of why he was being replaced by colleagues.

Freud's apology may mean he can hold on to post

Welfare Reform Minister Lord Freud is under fire after suggesting some disabled workers were "not worth" the national minimum wage.

The minister offered a "full and unreserved" apology, which may be enough to keep in his post, for the time being at least.

ITV News Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen reports:

Downing St: Lord Freud still has PM's confidence

Under-fire Work and Pensions minister Lord Freud retains the Prime Minister's confidence, Downing Street has said.

Asked whether David Cameron still had confidence in the minister, the Prime Minister's spokesman said: "Yes, given that he has rightly made a full and unreserved apology."

David Cameron appearing at Prime Minister's Questions. Credit: PA Wire

He also indicated there were no plans to ask Lord Freud to resign, saying: "The right thing now is for all government ministers to be getting on and implementing policies."

Tory MP demands apology over minimum wage claim

Tory MP Robert Halfon has called for an apology after Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt suggested he supported paying disabled people less than the minimum wage.

Mr Hunt had told the BBC's Daily Politics that remarks from Tory peer Lord Freud about disabled people had been echoed by some Conservative MPs.

Mr Hunt said: "There is also a political context to this, and I think it was Robert Halfon - some backbench Conservative MPs have also made the case for not paying disabled people the minimum wage."

Tory MP Robert Halfon demanded an apology over Tristram Hunt's claims. Credit: PA Wire

But Mr Halfon, who himself suffers from spastic diaplegia, told the House of Commons he was a "passionate supporter" of the minimum wage.

He also revealed Mr Hunt had texted him to acknowledge he had made a mistake.

However he said "millions of people" would have seen the original remarks and demanded Mr Hunt come to the House to apologise in person.


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.

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."

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