Given that the policies have such big implications for the public purse, especially as anticipated costs go up because of the extra bureaucracy, I would have thought the Chief Secretary had a clear interest in them.
I suggest that Ministers take this opportunity to call a halt to this exercise, end the uncertainty and confusion and put people’s minds at rest. They did that for charities, churches and caravans, and even for pasties. As the Prime Minister has said:
“When you’ve got something wrong, there are two things you can do in government: you can plough on regardless, or you can say, ‘No, we’re going to listen, we’re going to change it’”.
I therefore hope the Minister listens to what Members say in today’s debate and changes course before the Government get into even greater difficulty. Trying to make public sector workers in hard-hit parts of the country the scapegoats for our economic problems is disreputable and divisive, and it is a distraction from the task to which the Government should be giving their full attention—a plan for jobs and growth that can get us out of the recession they have got us into.