Discretionary Share Option Schemes in the Privatised Utilities

Part of New clause 1 – in the House of Commons at 5:30 pm on 3rd April 1995.

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Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Walsall North 5:30 pm, 3rd April 1995

I was merely using that council as an illustration, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

I cannot help but compare the Government's attitude to bosses' salaries with their attitude towards the shabby way in which nurses and others in the national health service have been treated. However, I will not go any further down that road, Mr. Deputy Speaker, as I know that you would rule me out of order.

5.45 pm

Tonight, the Government have a test on their hands. If they are truly concerned about what has been happening and about the sense of outrage felt throughout the country, they will accept Labour's very reasonable new clause. After all, it is not in such terms that the Government could say that it ran wholly against their philosophy; it would not return the industries to public ownership. It is a reasonably phrased new clause, which is concerned with public revenues.

Time and again, the Government say how concerned they are about public revenues, but when it comes to the fat cats, the bosses—I make no apology for using what Conservative Members may consider emotive language—and the need to deal with the scandal of the past few years, the test will be whether the Financial Secretary is prepared to respond positively to the new clause.

If the Government want to know why they are suffering from such unpopularity throughout the country—more so, perhaps, than any other Government since the war—I can tell them that it is because people believe that they deal differently with the fat cats than they do with the rest of the population. Ordinary employees know that they are likely to get a raw deal from the Government, but they do not believe that the Government will act in the same way towards the fat cats.

Although Conservative Members may not like what I am saying, and may feel that I am not presenting the picture fairly, the truth is that a great deal of the Government's unpopularity and the way in which, increasingly, they are held in contempt, is a result of the very strong belief that the Government do not give a damn about the ordinary people, be they the nurses or any other group who earn an ordinary living. The Government could not care less about what sort of wage increases—