Job cuts fear after Tory breach of convention


Charlie Croasdale

A GOVERNMENT department has denied a former Conservative Party leader delivered news of job cuts on a visit to North East Wales.

It has emerged that Iain Duncan-Smith, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, paid private visits to Jobcentres in Shotton and Wrexham on Monday, July 7, after an official visit to Chester.

It is established practice for Westminster MPs to let constituency MPs know in advance when they are visiting their patches.

However, Mr Duncan-Smith’s office alerted Wrexham MP Ian Lucas only hours before his arrival. Mr Lucas has now demanded Mr Duncan-Smith “reveals the truth about what is happening”.

Mr Lucas said: “He should come clean, front up and inform me what is going on. 

“He’s running away from the subject matter and when I raised this last Wednesday in Commons questions, I was fobbed off.

“Why was Iain Duncan-Smith in our constituency? If he has information relating to jobs or issues around jobs and benefits in our region, I want him to reveal the truth and come clean.”

Mark Tami, MP for Alyn and Deeside, confirmed Mr Duncan-Smith’s office had only notified him of his intention to visit the Shotton Jobcentre “half an hour” before they arrived.

Mr Tami said: “He didn’t say why he was going and I still do not know what the intention of the visit was or what was discussed.

“It’is common practice to give warning days in advance of visits from fellow MPs to a constituency. 

“I’m fully supportive of Mr Lucas in the bid to find out what the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions was doing in both Flintshire and Wrexham.”

Speaking in the Commons last Wednesday, Mr Lucas asked Mr Duncan-Smith: “Will he meet me to hear what is happening in Wrexham in respect of personal independence payments, universal credit and all the other benefits that are falling apart?”

In response, Mr Duncan-Smith said: “I did visit Wrexham the other day and the Jobcentre there. It has a phenomenally dedicated group of people who are doing brilliantly.

“As a result, unemployment levels in his area are falling. They are falling as a direct result of the welfare reforms we brought in.

“I only wish he had said the same thing to the last government.

“If he wants to come and talk to me about any problem, I’m happy to see him. My door’s always open.”

A spokesman for the Department for Work said: “No announcement was made about DWP job losses in North Wales.”

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