Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.Donate to our crowdfunder
The hon. Gentleman does a disservice to the fact that long before the general election, there was cross-party working by hon. Members on both sides of the House to make the economic case for reducing the Humber bridge tolls. He will know that the then Transport Minister, my right hon. Friend Sadiq Khan, had decided not to allow the increase in the tolls and a review was being conducted of whether the toll could be reduced to £1. All I was doing was questioning what was going to happen, and I would be grateful if the coalition partners threw some light on the subject. I am sure that all hon. Members are keen to get a satisfactory resolution to that ongoing problem.
I have a few comments to make about what Labour would have done, had we secured a majority at the election. It is clear-the shadow Chancellor made it clear-that of course we need to get the deficit down. Before the election we had legislated to say that we would halve the deficit within four years, and in the Departments work was being done to identify where reductions could be made. I was in the Department for Children, Schools and Families, so I know that areas had been clearly identified, and my right hon. Friend Alan Johnson told me that clearly identified savings had been put together in the Home Office. It is wrong to say that the Labour Government had not started work; however, we made it clear that we had to wait until the growth in the economy was secure.
A key issue that the coalition Government have to grapple with is the fact that just making cuts across the board is not the sensible approach. We need to think about what policies we can introduce to spend and invest now so that we can ensure that we save in future. One of the policies very dear to my heart is healthy free school meals, which piloted in Hull but was slashed by the Lib Dem council without the evidence being evaluated. I believe that there is an economic case to be made. Investing in children early on, making sure that they eat healthily and well and do as well as they can in their education, will reap benefits for us as a society later on. I was disappointed to see that the extension of the free school meals pilot has been abandoned by the coalition Government, as well as the extension of eligibility to those in receipt of working families tax credit, which would have made more families eligible to get free school meals for their children. That is very short sighted.
By cutting too deep and too early, we will risk jobs-jobs in Hull, jobs in Yorkshire and the Humber, and jobs nationally. We will have higher welfare costs and less tax revenue. Growth will be suppressed and I think that the deficit will be much worse.
Copy and paste this code on your website