Friday 28 September 2012

Anne Begg Speech

Those of us that watched Tom Greatrex's Atos debate in parliament on the 4th September might have forgotten most of it now (Spoonie, know how it is)

But most WILL remember Dame Anne Begg's brilliant speech. I'd meant to post the transcript afterwards, and someone just jogged my memory that I'd forgotten.

So, for those who say "they're all the same" I think we can safely leave Anne out of it.

"Dame Anne Begg (Aberdeen South) (Lab): Congratulations to my hon. Friend the Member for Rutherglen and Hamilton West (Tom Greatrex) on securing this important debate. This is my first time speaking after my extended absence and therefore a good subject.
The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Chris Grayling): On behalf of everybody in the room and in the House, I welcome the hon. Lady back to the House. We are delighted to see her in such good shape. We were sad to hear of the difficulties in the long period of recovery she has had to go through. She is very welcome back.
Dame Anne Begg: I thank the Minister for being gracious. He may not be quite so gracious by the time he has heard what I have to say. I do not think that the Government have grasped how disastrous the ESA assessment system is. It is not something that can be fixed by a few tweaks here and there; we tried that with the Harrington review. What we have heard today in the Chamber—and in the “Dispatches” and “Panorama” programmes filmed in June this year—suggests that not much has changed. The people complaining are not just the usual suspects, not just the radical crips, the workshy or those who want money without being assessed. They are ordinary people, most of whom worked hard all their lives until the sky fell in and they lost their job because of an illness or an acquired disability
It is not enough for Government to say that the genuine claimant has nothing to fear. In too many cases, genuine claimants are not scoring any points in their initial assessment. There is something fundamentally wrong with the system and the contract that Atos is delivering. When the British Medical Association votes at its conference to say that the work capability assessment is not fit for purpose there is something wrong with the system. When GPs are reporting an increased workload, not just as a result of providing reports but as a result of treating patients whose condition has worsened as a result of their WCA experience, there is something wrong with the system.
When my constituent, who has lost his job because he has motor neurone disease, scores zero on his WCA and is found fully fit for work, there is something wrong with the system. When that same constituent appears in front of a tribunal and in less than five minutes is awarded 15 points, there is something wrong with the system. When people with rapidly progressive illnesses are not automatically put in the support group, there is something wrong with the system. When some people would rather do without the money to which they are absolutely entitled rather than submit to the stress of a WCA, there is something wrong with the system. When someone with a severe illness has to fight for a year through an appeal to get the correct benefit, only to be called in almost immediately for another assessment, there is something wrong with the system. When the recall and assessment happen the following year, and the following year, there is something wrong with the system. When people feel so persecuted, there is something wrong with the system. To top it all, they lose their contributory ESA after only a year if they are in the WRAG group.
When up to 40% of appeals are successful and there is no penalty for the company carrying out the assessments, there is something wrong with the contract. When so many appeals result in an award of ESA support group status when the original assessment was no points, there is something wrong with the contract. When there is no penalty for a high percentage of wrong decisions, there is something wrong with the contract. When there is no incentive for assessors to get the assessment correct first time, there is something wrong with the contract. It is time for the Government to act, because there is something fundamentally wrong with the whole system."


  1. Anyone that can get the phrase "radical crips" into Hansard gets my vote :)

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  3. Thank you Dame Anne! (And Sue for posting the transcript) :-)

  4. Ernest A Johnstone In the past I have called the members in the Palaces of Westminster uncaring,callous ,unfeeling,dispassionate,and more .I feel that I owe at least one member an apology Dame Anne to you I apologise,if there are more of her ilk I will extend that apology to them too,but they would have to prove to me and the public at large that they deserve that apology by standing up to be counted by the victims of this governments policies.Any MP who wants to be on this list just let me know ,though I won't hold my breath.

  5. "Respect!" is due to Dame Anne! Was anyone listening?


    Link to full Atos healthcare debate. Read how many Labour MPs spoke up for the victims of it. Read Graylings response.

  7. Well the labour party conference seams to have kicked off on the bbc with questions and answers with ed miliband but he seems to be stuck for anything meaningful to say

    How about ed starting the conference the correct way and by addressing as an emergency the welfare reform bill

    As you know full well ed there have been hundreds of deaths in which benefit claimants have been found fit for work when they haven't been and subsequently died prematurely either through the stress of the assessments and on-going appeals or those with mental disabilities committing suicide

    This topic should be of the very highest priority at the labour conference and am sure I speak for all the many thousands of relatives and friends of the deceased
    So I would suggest ed that you start the conference highlighting the above first and of the very highest priority and what you will do in getting legal justice for all of the families relatives who have had a family member die an untimely death caused by negligence from the DWP/ ATOS /Government

    If you fail to address the conference as I have suggested then you will have failed as an mp let alone as the leader of the opposition party as there can be no excuses whatsoever

    Anyone standing as a leader of any party must first and foremost should be able to demonstrate leadership skills not words but by leading from the front and by making sure that the protection bound into law that all of those that live in the uk are protected from foreseeable government errors of policy of which ESA is and PIP to be introduced next year

    This has not happened and with the overall death toll standing high extreme urgent action needs to be undertaken to protect the lives of the remainder of the sick and disabled people in the uk as millions of this group are at risk of death and therefore need the immediate attention of all mp’s and those in the house of lords

    As for getting justice in the courts for the families who have lost loved ones the labour party can start by getting and the gathering of the evidence on who ultimately was responsible for the overseeing of the welfare reform bill and those responsible for the executing of it and all of those that have stood by on the side lines knowing full well sick and disabled people were dying and not taking the necessary precautions to save those lives

    If i were you ed on such a very serous matter i would resign and let the police take over as there is no way i believe that you will be able to survive as leader as your party was responsible in the first place for this welfare reform policy

    All the conservatives have done is make it worse through lack of leadership and supervision of the DWP/ATOS so the overall deaths have increased

    This will be the greatest tragedy that the uk will have ever witnessed when it eventually comes to the crown court as it surely will given time with the headline the slaughter of the vulnerable

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  9. Anne Begg Speech was good but she to in her speech never mentioned any deaths as thus her speech is not valid in my mind

    At some point a judge will wont to press on her at what point she knew of people dying as a result of a floored welfare program and what part she herself played if any in it's drawing up

    As i have stated in my post above just to stand up and be critical of what the government is doing is not good enough by any stretch of the imagination

    She should have got up with the current up to date list of all of those that have died and one by one done the decent thing and read their names out that was her only course of action and after a couple of hours of reading out the names of those that have died put the ball back in to Chris grayling's court for answer

    He would then have been unable to answer as the shock will of hit home and the problem with the welfare reform bill will have had to draw to a close whilst the police carry out a full investigations in to how certain members of the public from the sick and disabled groups have died across all parts of the country

    from me Ann you failed to address the issue head on and side stepped the argument leaving the sick and disabled in an ongoing battle to stay alive by battling a system out to potentially kill them by the DWP/ATOS

  10. Nick - I suppose the problem them is that she would've be accused of only giving anecdotal evidence!

    When you only get a fixed time for debate you need to use the time wisely. I stress that I'm not saying the list of names would have been a waste by any means but I think Grayling would've found it easy to dismiss those as having no basis in evidence (whatever the truth).

  11. anecdotal evidence does not apply to the vast majority of cases of deaths that have occurred since 2008 when the welfare reform bill was drafted

    The vast majority of people have died after they were told they were fit for work with the minority dying before and whilst waiting for the assessment from ATOS

    anecdotal evidence can only really be applied to those with mental health who have committed suicide there again after they were told they were fit for work

    I believe that in the cases of those with mental health would still be alive if they were found to be not fit for work

    They came up against a system that plunged them in to despair and they tragically died an untimely death

    All of the mp's to date and there supporters that go to the conferences are not addressing these deaths in the severity that is deserved

    The approach so far from all of the conferences is that things will turn out ok in the next ten years is basically all that we have heard of over the past 4 years whilst the death toll of the sick and disabled has increased with the DWP still talking a lot of banal garbage a bit like Bashar Hafez al-Assad the current President of Syria who keeps saying we he and his people are under attack from outsiders and that his country policies are good and he is being misunderstood in the west

    What we have is a hard core group of presidents and prime ministers throughout the west and middle east set in there various ways to destroy certain sectors in their society and that is the only conclusion that i can come up with

  12. And as for ed milliband becoming prime minister that's unlikley as if the country wonts the sick and disabled to suffer with more cuts to come why rock the boat and vote labour ?

    Better to stick with your known enemy the conservatives then to try to get someone like ed who is not on your side but try's to play the fool that he is on your side

    ed you have never been on the side of the sick and disabled and you never will be i am far to shrewd to fool for any nonsense that you say

    you are the same as David Cameron and nick clegg you say what is ever in your head on the hoof and fool whoever you come in to contact with and with regret your not the man for the future and at the next election you will find that the conservatives and liberal will still be in power

    i personally like you but your style is way to narrow your always talking about things about people who could do more you never talk about those people who are housebound dont you think they would like a visit from you ?

    you keep everything positive which can and should be a good thing however the uk is not like that with much crime and violence coupled with divorce on a large scale with all the associated problems arising from that

    It's no wonder that the majority of the people in the uk are fed up and get down or eat to much or take to drink or drugs just to keep sane and with over two million in that bracket in the uk it goes to show how much politicians across the board are out of step with the public their supposed to be serving

    You keep talking ed as that is all your good at but from the conference that the liberals have just had it was as boring as hell and i believe your's will be the same all smoke and mirrors with hundreds of your supporters followers following a load of old waffle and crazily believing it

    thank god i never did believe any politician and I'm pleased to say that by all those that don't vote and with that number vastly increasing we will be the vast majority in the years to come some experts say by 2025 the majority of the people in the uk will be non voters

    and for all those say that's wrong you should vote i say you don't vote for mp's to kill and destroy the lives of others

  13. Still no mention from the labour team on the first day of the conference with regarding the hundreds of deaths that have surrounded the welfare reform bill and the fitness to work debacle

    Maybe ed will leave it till the last day of the conference to say a few words of comfort to the relatives that have been left behind or maybe he'll get a sore throat and say nothing?

    Personally, i think he will say nothing such is his demeanour

  14. well ed's speech today was very popular on the tv with lots of clapping and cheering but he still has not addressed these deaths that have taken place with regards the welfare reform bill

    so sue i do hope you can remind him as he only has till the end of the week to address what is for many across the country a very serious ongoing issue

  15. also well done sue for making your blog subscribers with an ID only

  16. Very good speech keeping to the critical points - the system and the contract. Now some organisation should take a leaf from Richard Branson's book and mount a well conceived legal challenge. It's the only time the "system" takes notice.