Tuesday 12th January 2021

(1 week, 3 days ago)

Commons Chamber

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Iain Duncan Smith Portrait Sir Iain Duncan Smith (Chingford and Woodford Green) (Con)
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On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I rise to seek your advice on an issue in my constituency for which I am unable to get redress. The fact is that there is a social enterprise called Clarity that employs, essentially, people with disabilities. They work hard and have done for many years. Sadly, about a year ago, Clarity was taken over by a Mr Marks, and since then staff have failed to receive national insurance contributions, with many failing to receive their wages or support while undertaking childcare.

The total amount that these decent but very vulnerable people have failed to receive is now around £200,000. They cannot claim benefits because they are essentially employed. I pushed my right hon. Friends in the Treasury on whether they can give those staff interim payments, but I received no answer. I tried to get a debate in the House before Christmas, but clearly it is a lottery and I have failed. These are the most vulnerable people, but also the most decent, hard-working and brilliant people. I seek your advice on how I can possibly get my Government to address this significant problem.

Rosie Winterton Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Rosie Winterton)
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I thank the right hon. Member for that point of order and for giving me notice of it. He has clearly succeeded in bringing this issue to the attention of the House by raising his point of order. I know that the Treasury Bench will have heard what he has to say and will feed that back.

I assume that, in the first instance, the right hon. Member might like to raise this during the business statement and ask for a debate. I also know that the Leader of the House has made it clear that if right hon. and hon. Members are not satisfied with the speed at which they get responses from Government Departments, they should bring that to his attention and ask him to ensure that a response is forthcoming.

There are obviously other ways; I am sure that the Public Bill Office and the Table Office would be happy to give the right hon. Member advice on how he might like to raise the issue through other mechanisms. I hope that that is helpful. He has clearly raised the plight of his constituents successfully this afternoon at least.

To allow the safe exit of right hon. and hon. Members from this debate and to prepare for the next, we will have a three-minute suspension.

Sitting suspended.