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Peter Lilley (secretary of state for social security) talks about “closing down the something for nothing society” and tightening up on “scroungers” and “bogus asylum seekers”.

What: Peter Lilley (secretary of state for social security in John Major’s Conservative government between 1992 and 1997) addresses the Conservative Party conference, saying he’s “closing down the something for nothing society”. He goes onto say “we are not in the business of subsidising scroungers”, and talks about “tightening up on bogus asylum seekers”.

Why significant: This shows that as early as the autumn of 1992 ministers were looking at ways to cut Invalidity benefit. Peter Lilley will go on to work with the private insurance industry [see 1994 ‘UnumProvident’s influence’] to reduce claimant numbers. The language of ‘scroungers’ would become key in the future dehumanisation of welfare claimants.


Peter Lilley speech to Tory conference 1992
Mentioned in footnote 32 of 'The Social Security (Incapacity for Work) Act 1994'