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MP Dennis Skinner lambasting ATOS in House of Commons last Wednesday

Waltzing Matilda | 22.10.2013 18:54 | Public sector cuts | Social Struggles

The Labour party backbencher Dennis Skinner MP asked the Prime Minister David Cameron a question in Prime Ministers’ Questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday 16th October 2013 about ATOS - the French multinational IT services corporation who are the Department for Work & Pension's contractor carrying out the benefit system's Work Capability Assessment, raising a tragic case of one of his constituents, to a largely respectful and silent House-of-Commons, as the gravity of Skinner's sad and tragic story about this particular constituent hit home...

As Dennis Skinner MP for Bolsover began speaking, there was an unusual hushed silence around the House–of-Commons chamber (unusual for the House–of-Commons which is noted for much reverie and verbal jousting from backbenchers of the opposing sides ...perhaps advance notice had been shared of the sensitive nature of what Mr Skinners contribution and question to David Cameron was going to be that day; either way, a respectful silence greeted Dennis Skinners’s question to the Prime-Minister from the very outset, as witnessed in what was and is always a live broadcast of PMQs on television):

Dennis Skinner MP for Bolsover:
“The Prime-Minister will know of the many injustices that have been metered out by ATOS in the last few years. They were mentioned again on Monday at DWP questions. The latest victim was a farmer and butcher in Bolsover who went to Atos in December 2012 and was stripped of his benefit. For 11 months he waited for an appeal, and then his aggressive cancer took his sight, took his hearing and then, last Friday, took his life.”

“Isn’t it time that we put an end to this system where people that are really suffering should not be allowed an appeal having to live on £70 a week - him and his widow.” (Raised Voice): “2 things the Prime Minister should do:
1). With immediate effect, make an ex gratia payment to his widow to cover the suffering, the pain and the loss of income,
and secondly, remove this cruel, heartless monster called Atos. GET RID OF IT! IT’S NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE!”

David Cameron answered in response:
"The honourable gentleman rightly raises what is a desperately sad case and I'm very happy to look into it and look at the specifics of the case he raises. However, turning to the benefit system, we do need a system of assessing benefit entitlement ..etc ..blah, blah, blah...".

See also: Remembering the victims of ATOS: Candle lit vigil

Waltzing Matilda