My right hon. Friend raises such an important point. I was as shocked as he was to hear the Secretary of State say that it was when she had left the Chamber that she realised her mistake. She should have replied that afternoon. He is quite right on that point.
The Secretary of State adopted the same approach at Work and Pensions questions, as has been noted, leading the head of the National Audit Office, Sir Amyas Morse, to take the extraordinary step of writing an open letter to her, taking issue with a number of claims that she had made in response to the report. The three key claims that he took issue with were, first, that the NAO report said that the roll-out of universal credit should be speeded up; secondly, that the report
“didn’t take account of changes made by the government in the Budget”; and, thirdly, that universal credit is working.
Let us just think about the significance of this. The National Audit Office is an independent body that scrutinises public spending before Parliament. It is responsible for auditing central Government Departments. Its reports matter. I shall take each claim in turn.
“ensure the programme does not expand before business-as-usual operations can cope with higher claimant volumes.”