Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Hero of the Day: Bob Russell MP lambasts "callous cretins" who took away constituent's DLA

Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice
Paul Walter will no doubt write up his usual fantastic report of PMQs for Lib Dem Voice later and I don't want to take away from that, but I thought it was worth highlighting that the toughest questions David Cameron faced came, not from the opposition, but from the Liberal Democrat benches.

I absolutely cannot stand it when Government backbenchers demean themselves by asking obviously planted questions. The snivelling toady look is really not edifying. It makes the MP appear like they don't have a mind of their own and they are entirely in the Whip's thrall.

Liberal Democrats don't do snivelling toadying that well. We see authority as something that has to be rigorously tested rather than cowed to. Nobody did that better today than Bob Russell the MP for Colchester, who highlighted the disparity between the aims of the Government to give disabled people the  back to work with the real life experience of one of his constituents.  Robert Oxley had a leg amputated after a motorbike accident and his other leg is severely damaged too. He was able to go back to work, but the transport on which he depends, his motability car, has been removed by the Department of Work and Pensions, who have decided that he doesn't qualify for DLA.

Bob didn't mince his words - dismissing those who sat on the Tribunal as "callous cretins" and asking Cameron where the words "fairness" and "all in it together" fitted into Mr Oxley's experience.

This is what PMQs should be about. I was actually impressed with David Cameron's answer. He seems much more willing to look into things himself than any other Prime Minister. He was quite clear that he'd seen decisions from tribunals that "fly in the face of common sense". He talked about having gone through the process of filling in the forms, presumably for his son Ivan, who sadly passed away last year, being soul destroying and complicated.

Let's hope that some high level intervention brings about a speedy review of Mr Oxley's case and that he is soon given back the car he needs to get to work.

Here's the full exchange from Hansard:

Bob Russell (Colchester) (LD): Prime Minister, our Government say that we want to help disabled people back to work. Two years ago, my constituent, Mr Robert Oxley, a father of four, had a serious motorcycle accident, which resulted in one leg being amputated and the other leg no longer functioning. A year later, he recovered and his firm gave him back his job, which he has been able to continue for a year through disability living allowance and Motability. Regrettably, those in charge, including callous cretins on the tribunal, have taken away his DLA and took away his Motability car on Monday, and he is now out of work—or he will be. May I ask the Prime Minister where in that story the words “fairness” and “all in it together” feature?
The Prime Minister: I am very happy to take up the hon. Gentleman’s case. We have all seen cases in our constituencies where tribunals have come to conclusions that completely fly in the face of common sense. I am very happy to take up that case, have a look at it and see what can be done. We should do what we can to help disabled people, particularly with the mobility needs that they have. Having filled out those forms myself, I know just how soul destroying and complicated it can be and how much we need to help people who cannot get around to make sure that they do.


Anonymous said...

"Liberal Democrats don't do snivelling toadying that well."

Says a lib dem doing some gratuitous snivelling toadying...

Mark MacLachlan said...

The news that multi-millionaire Cameron filled in a DLA form rather boggles the mind. Yes, he was entitled to it, but did he really need it?
Kudos to Mr Russell for raising the question, hopefully he continues to pursue it to its conclusion.

Caron said...

Anon, Bob Russell has no authority over me, nor does his good opinion matter to me. I can be as nice about him as I like.

Mark, there is no doubt that the child was entitled to help with his care needs. Let's not grudge him that.

Anonymous said...

There have been an increasing number of appeals against WCA decisions, (currently about 8,000 a month) especially in regards to the format of how the assessments have been conducted and the veracity of the information gathered during the assessment. Now that is going to be the case for DLA as well. It will lead to utter chaos, illness, and more than likely, suicide and death. Is Mr Cameron going to "take a look" at all these cases and "see what can be done"??? I don't think so. And it hasn't even really started yet. Bob Harris is one of a rare breed - a politician with guts and integrity. But he cannot do it on his own!! Where are all the others?? They seem to have forgotten their Constitution -

"...We believe that the role of the state is to enable all citizens to attain these ideals, to contribute fully to their communities and to take part in the decisions which affect their lives...We look forward to a world in which all people share the same basic rights...Upholding these values of individual and social justice, we reject all prejudice and discrimination based upon race, colour, religion, age, disability, sex or sexual orientation and oppose all forms of entrenched privilege and inequality...We support the widest possible distribution of wealth and promote the rights of all citizens to social provision and cultural activity. We seek to make public services responsive to the people they serve, to encourage variety and innovation within them and to make them available on equal terms to all..."


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