Lord Freud is not someone who is immediately recognisable. His name came to the fore today ( 15 October) in an exchange in the House of Commons when Ed Milliband stated that this person had been secretly recorded at a Tory party fringe meeting saying that the “disabled were not worth the minimum wage”.
Mr Cameron said that these views were “not the view of this Government” and that he “did not need lectures from anybody about looking after disabled people” and urged the Labour leader not “to cast aspersions”.
It is important therefore that Lord Freud’s actual position and responsibility as a Tory Peer be ascertained. You can find his Parliamentary Biography here where it states he holds the post of Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions) (Welfare Reform) since 2010.
This helpful webpage at the Government Website also gives more of his official announcements. His background is given sparsely as :
“He previously advised the government on how to reform the welfare system, publishing an independent report in March 2007 entitled ‘Reducing dependency, increasing opportunity: options for the future of welfare to work’.
Lord Freud was Vice Chairman of Investment Banking for UBS, where he organised the restructuring of National Air Traffic Control and the reshaping of the Channel Tunnel Railway Link. He was a journalist at the Financial Times for 8 years before starting his banking career.”
The clandestine recording is already ‘doing the rounds’ and his thoughts about the disabled amongst his fellow political travelers, can be heard here.
The disability action and rights movement has for years fought against all kinds of discrimination.
It is wholly unacceptable that a Peer who holds this Government position on Welfare Reform should espouse these views about the disabled.
It would appear that the real thoughts of this Under –Secretary have been exposed, and although maybe shocking to those who are not disabled, the disability rights movement is probably offended, insulted and outraged .
But not surprised.
Lord Freud has apologised for “his foolish and offensive” remarks in which he suggested people with disabilities could be paid less than the minimum wage.
All though he has apologised, his party colleague and Minister of State for Employment, Esther McVey has stated that these remarks are likely to “haunt” him.
It is not the first time that Lord Freud has suffered foot in mouth syndrome.