POLITICS

Lord Freud Survives Disabled Remarks... And These 5 Other Controversial Comments

15/10/2014 14:41 BST | Updated 15/10/2014 14:59 BST
David Jones/PA Archive
Lord Freud, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions addresses the Annual Conservative Party Conference at the International Convention Centre, Birmingham.

Tory welfare minister Lord Freud has issued a "full and unreserved" apology after a recording emerged of him suggesting that disabled people were "not worth" the full minimum wage.

Lord Freud said that "all disabled people should be paid at least the minimum wage, without exception and I accept it is offensive to suggest anything else." This comes after his ministerial colleague Esther McVey said his recorded remarks would "haunt" him.

Tory MP Mark Garnier, member of the influential Treasury select committee, said Lord Freud was right to apologise for his "completely offensive" and "stupid" remarks.

"There's a minimum wage for a reason and you can't say that some people are not worth the minimum wage," he told the Huffington Post UK, warning that the Tory peer should explain himself to David Cameron as he has "questions to answer".

This not the first time the millionaire Tory peer has sparked such a backlash, as he has had a history of making controversial comments. A spokesman for the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union said: "These repellant comments are the latest in a long and unpleasant history of Freud's involvement in successive governments' attempts to demonise people who rely on social security."

Lord Freud's way with words, after having public money spent on his media training, led one MP to quip: "I hope they kept the receipt."

HuffPost UK rounds up just five particular statements Lord Freud has managed to tough out as welfare minister.

1. Accusing people of choosing a "lifestyle" on benefits

In comments that were branded "out of touch", Lord Freud lamented that the welfare system was "there to support people back into independence [and]... not as a lifestyle choice.”

2. Denying any link between cuts and people using food banks

Freud prompted loud jeers from the Opposition benches last year when he insisted that the food banks were not considered part of the welfare system.

Challenged on the link between benefit delays and people being driven to use food banks, Lord Freud said there was "actually no evidence as to whether the use of food banks is supply led or demand led."

3. His blunt advice to families hit by the bedroom tax

In comments that were branded "deeply offensive", Lord Freud said that families with young children in social accommodation who stood to be hit by the bedroom tax could "go out to work" or get a sofa-bed in order to cope.

4. Deciding to compare benefit claimants to corpses...

Asked how he could understand people whose lives would be impacted by having £10 each week less to spend, Lord Freud quipped: “I think you don’t have to be the corpse to go to a funeral”.

5. Mistakenly exaggerating the levels of benefit fraud

Lord Freud had to apologise in 2011 after claiming that benefit fraud cost more than £5 billion.

He insisted that the numerous inaccuracies, that were featured in the Chancellor's budget statement and official welfare strategies, were “entirely inadvertent” and “not intended to mislead”.