The Labour Party is to table a vote of no confidence in the welfare reform minister Lord Freud, it has been reported.
Labour will table a vote in the House of Commons on Monday to take place later this month (*29 October 2014), after a recording emerged of Lord Freud saying disabled people are “not worth” the full minimum wage.
Lord Freud has apologised for his comments and supporters continue to insist that it was taken out of context. They argue that Lord Freud was trying to highlight how wages could be subsidised to encourage employers to take on disabled people, and not that they should be paid less than the minimum wage. Others have accused Labour of “political point-scoring”.
However, disabled persons organisations and charities were incensed by the apparent suggestion that disabled people are worth less to employers than able-bodied workers. Calls for Lord Freud to resign or be sacked continue to mount and Labour seem determined to make that happen.
Whilst it is almost certain that Lord Freud’s colleagues in the Conservative Party will come to his defense, the real pressure will be on the Liberal Democrats after Nick Clegg described the comments as “deeply distressing and offensive”.
The move comes after a second senior Tory MP was overheard making contentious remarks about disabled people at the Conservative Party conference last month.
Andrew Selous MP, Justice Minister and former aide to Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, told a fringe meeting that “disabled people work harder because they’re grateful to have a job”, the Independent on Sunday reports.
Disability campaigners are divided on whether the word “grateful” is offensive or purely ‘misjudged’. A spokesperson for Disability Rights UK said disabled people are “determined to do well”, but added “it’s not necessarily about gratitude”.
Shadow Disabilities Minister Kate Green isn’t so forgiving. She said: “These new comments about disabled people from another Tory minister show they just don’t get it… Many would love to work, but Tory policies are failing disabled people.”
Commenting on Labour’s motion of no confidence in Lord Freud, Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves said:
“David Cameron’s failure to act after Lord Freud said that some disabled people are ‘not worth the full wage’ is astonishing… it’s clear the mask has slipped and the nasty party is back.
“Labour will table a motion of no confidence in Lord Freud because we believe it’s completely unacceptable that David Cameron has failed to sack his minister for Welfare Reform.”
Reeves has also written to David Cameron, demanding that the Prime Minister take immediate action against Lord Freud.
*This article was last updated at 17:49pm on 19 October 2014 to include more details on the timing of the vote.