Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has been ‘forced to re-write parliamentary records’ after misleading the house by falsely claiming that there are thirty thousand more people working in mental health than under Labour:
This is far from the first time that Hunt has misled Parliament. He has considerable form.
As Health Secretary, he told MPs last year that he was going to ‘impose’ a new contract on junior doctors, then claimed – to save face after causing the first all-out strike in history by NHS doctors – that he had only meant he was going to ‘introduce’ the contract, in spite of repeated questions from Labour about his use of the word ‘impose’. Hunt was also accused of misleading Parliament over claims of increased hospital mortality at weekends.
In 2012, as Culture Secretary, he told Parliament he had only met Fred Michel in official meetings – yet later had to admit to a court that he had had many other meetings with the Murdoch representative.
Around the same time, he also told Parliament that he had not intervened in the consideration of Murdoch’s bid for BSkyB – yet admitted to the court that he had ‘demanded’ a meeting with David Cameron and Vince Cable to defend the bid.
The ‘Ministerial Code of Conduct‘ is unequivocal about the consequences for misleading Parliament even once, as the House of Commons document [PDF] on ministerial accountability makes clear:
There is nothing there about ‘correcting the parliamentary record’. Hunt should have handed in his resignation today for giving false information to Parliament.
The only conceivable defence in this latest instance – in which the falsehood was so blindingly obvious that Hunt was forced to correct the parliament – is that Hunt didn’t know he was giving Parliament a conveniently inflated figure for increased mental health staffing.
But if that is his defence, he is grossly incompetent – and should still have been handing in his resignation.
He won’t. But Hunt is not an aberration among Tory ministers.
Whether David Cameron falsely claiming increased NHS spending, the Tories repeatedly misleading over ESA (Employment Support Allowance) to demonise disabled people, Boris Johnson being rebuked by the UK Statistics Authority for “a clear misuse of official statistics” in falsely claiming, again, that Brexit will result in £350m extra for the NHS – or any of a range of other examples – misleading Parliament and the people of the UK has become routine for the Tories.
Merely ‘business as usual‘.
The fact that Jeremy Hunt is still in his job after a track record of giving false information to MPs and to us is merely the latest example of how far the Tories have degraded our Parliament and our democracy – and it makes a sick joke of any Tory ‘concern’ over supposedly fake (i.e. inconvenient) news when the Tories are routinely pushing false information.
The SKWAWKBOX needs your support. This blog is provided free of charge but depends on the generosity of its readers to be viable. If you can afford to, please click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal. Thanks for your solidarity so this blog can keep bringing you information the Establishment would prefer you not to know about.