Tory minister crumbles after being presented with video proof of a broken government promise

Tory minister crumbles after being presented with video proof of a broken government promise
Tory minister Nick Gibb grilled by Rob Rinder over crumbling schools scandal

A Tory minister crumbled when quizzed about a broken government promise today.

Schools minister Nick Gibb appeared on Good Morning Britain to discuss the issues of schools being ordered to close over concerns that concrete used to build them may collapse.

Known as reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC), the dangerous material was used to construct schools, colleges, and other buildings between the Fifties and mid-Seventies in the UK, but has since been found to be risky, with the government announcing that 156 schools were found to contain RAAC, of which 104 require urgent action while 52 have already received repair works.

The government has acted like it has all come as a big surprise but host Rob Rinder came with receipts while interviewing the minister today and said Gibb pledged to publish information about at-risk properties before the parliamentary summer recess.

He even rolled the tapes of Gibb promising to do just that in a speech in the house of commons on 23 May and asked Gibb what he had meant.

In response Gibb said: "This issue is new, it emerged over the summer..."

When pressed about his previous commitment, he added: "that was about something else" and added that over the summer they had realised that RAAC concrete they previously thought was safe was no longer safe.

Rinder said his commitment had included looking at RAAC and asked him again to flesh out his parliamentary statement.

"I can't remember what that particular thing was about," Gibb said.

"It was about RAAC, minister," Rinder said, appearing exasperated.

And Rinder is not the only one with receipts. The risk of injury or death from a school building collapse was said to be "very likely and critical" by the watchdog the National Audit Office (NAO) in June, after it highlighted concerns for school buildings that still contained RAAC.

Meanwhile, the timing of the announcement that some schools must shut, days before the new school year has angered unions and opposition parties.

Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson, who said Labour had not seen the full list, urged ministers to "come clean with parents and set out the full scale of the challenge that we're facing".

Liberal Democrat education spokeswoman Munira Wilson said "pupil safety is paramount but for this to come out just days before term starts is totally unacceptable".

"It is absolutely disgraceful, and a sign of gross government incompetence, that a few days before the start of term, 104 schools are finding out that some or all of their buildings are unsafe and cannot be used," National Education Union general secretary Daniel Kebede said.

Another nice mess the Tories have got us all into.

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