Forced into releasing ‘confidential’ reports on the impact of Universal Credit, a grudging David Gauke warned campaigners the contents should not go public – despite his claim they contained nothing damning.
Labour adopted Brexit tactics to prise the 2012-2015 papers out of the Work and Pensions secretary, government having effectively ignored a ruling in August by the information commissioner that five of the reports should be released.
Through the Commons, Labour made a “humble address” to the Queen requesting ministers to release what are project assessment reviews conducted into the reform.
This was the same arcane parliamentary device that led to the release of key – if dramatically redacted – Brexit papers despite Government resistance.
During the debate Labour’s Frank Field, chair of the work and pensions select committee, described persuading a man not to kill himself out of desperation at the situation UC left him in – and cited another speaking of lucky week going to a funeral so the family could finish off the food.
An unmoved Gauke fell back on familiar accusations of scaremongering, more concerned with warning MPs that the documents he was releasing on an “exceptional basis” should not be disclosed further.
It is, however, understood that Government will continue to challenge any formal public release of the papers – despite Gauke’s assertion that government had nothing to hide over UC.
The Information Commissioner’s Office has already said the public interest required the papers to be published publically and full.
Field said he would seek advice from Commons Speaker John Bercow about the condition that the committee keep the reports confidential .
Shadow work and pensions secretary Debbie Abrahams said the reports should be published “unredacted and unedited” to expose the scale of implementation and design failures during the “mismanagement” of the UC rollout.