A government minister has come under fire after a leaked recording emerged in which he appeared to suggest that disabled people could work for less than the minimum wage as some are "not worth" the full amount.
A tape which is said to be from a fringe meeting at the Conservative Party conference, in which Department for Work and Pensions minister Lord Freud was responding to a question from a Tory councillor, was passed on to the Politics Home website:
Here is a transcript of the recording in which the speaker appears to suggest that some disabled people could work for as little as £2 an hour:
You make a really good point about the disabled. Now I had not thought through, and we have not got a system for, you know, kind of going below the minimum wage.
But we do have. You know, universal credit is really useful for people with the fluctuating conditions who can do some work - go up and down - because they can earn and get and get, you know, bolstered through universal credit, and they can move that amount up and down.
Now, there is a small... there is a group, and I know exactly who you mean, where actually as you say they’re not worth the full wage and actually I’m going to go and think about that particular issue, whether there is something we can do nationally, and without distorting the whole thing, which actually if someone wants to work for £2 an hour, and it’s working can we actually.
At prime minister's questions today, Labour leader Ed Miliband said: “Surely if someone holds those views, they cannot stay in government?”
Mr Cameron responded by saying “of course disabled people should be paid the minimum wage” before going on to emphasise the Conservative Party’s hard work on improving the economy.
“Those are not the views of the government,” he continued. “Those are not the views of anyone in the government. The minimum wage is paid to everybody, the disabled included.
“We pay the minimum wage, we’re reforming disability benefits, we want to help disabled people in our country and we want to help more of them get into work.”
Mr Miliband then went on to reinforce the point that someone with those views should not be working in government and parted with: “The nasty party is back.”