Lansley denies Duncan Smith 'leant on' select committee


Commons Leader Andrew Lansley has rejected claims made in The Times about Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith's behaviour towards members of a select committee.

Opening her remarks on 7 November 2013 the shadow Commons leader, Angela Eagle, highlighted what she called "a devastating report" by Public Accounts Committee on the implementation of universal credit, the government's flagship welfare reform.

She went on to ask for a statement on a "wholly improper attempt to lean on members of an independent select committee of this house by the secretary of state and his parliamentary team to try to put the blame on the permanent secretary".

Mr Lansley, making his weekly appearance before MPs, said that the Department of Work and Pensions has "already taken steps which are intended to secure the safe and sound delivery of that programme on time and on budget".

On the report in The Times, he said: "I've talked to my right honourable friend the work and pensions secretary and I can tell the House there is no need for a statement."

Loud objections greeted him from the benches opposite as he continued: "There is no truth in the allegations made about talking to members of the Public Accounts Committee because I talked to the secretary of state so I can tell the House that."

Several Labour MPs took the opportunity to reiterate calls for Mr Duncan Smith to come to the Commons and explain his conduct.

A Conservative member of the Public Accounts Committee, Stewart Jackson, rose to say that "no pressure was exerted on any members in respect of universal credit".

The dispute surrounds a progress report by the committee, available to read here.

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