Cabinet minister ‘misled’ Parliament over welfare reform

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Andrew Lansley, a Tory Cabinet minister, is facing claims that he misled Parliament after doubts were cast on his denial that ministers attempted to influence a report by MPs into the Universal Credit fiasco

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Andrew Lansley, the Leader of the House, earlier this month told the Commons that there was “no truth” to allegations that ministers had approached Tory MPs on the public accounts committee to ask that its report name and shame his department’s permanent secretary, Robert Devereux.

The PAC report said that £140million had been squandered on the flagship welfare reform and accused the Government of “alarmingly weak” management.

Mr Duncan Smith denied allegations that he had attempted to have anyone blamed in the report.

However, Margaret Hodge, the committee’s chairman, has now cast doubt on those claims and said that senior figures in the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) had sought to influence her report.

In comments to students on November 11 – four days after the publication of he committee’s report – Mrs Hodge said: “I can’t tell you how much inappropriate talking there was to me and other members of the committee, by both ministers and civil servants, either to get me to blame the permanent secretary in the DWP and therefore transfer blame away from Iain Duncan Smith or to put the blame on Mr Devereux and to ensure ministers escaped blame.”

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