Regional Pay

Part of Opposition Day — [2nd Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 6:41 pm on 20th June 2012.

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Photo of Margaret Curran Margaret Curran Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland 6:41 pm, 20th June 2012

I do not have time.

As has been pointed out in the debate, the Government have not produced a shred of evidence that a pay bargaining free-for-all would increase the number of private sector jobs, deliver more vibrant local economies or open up access to jobs or opportunities. In fact, the chief economist of the Welsh Government recently demonstrated that age and gender can be as significant factors as local geography, and that if we were to address regional pay differences, we would need to introduce disproportionate changes and reduce the pay of low-paid women. So much for the Tories embracing gender equality!

Perhaps we can hope that the Government will listen to the sensible calls that have been made on this, so that the U-turn on regional pay that has been hinted at becomes a reality. Perhaps the absence of the two Lib Dem Cabinet Ministers augurs well in that regard. The last thing we need in these very difficult times is to drive down wages even further based on the age-old fallacy that the public and private sectors are always to be in competition with each other.

Mr Burley implied that public sector workers do not have real jobs. That tells us all we need to know about Tory attitudes to police officers and teachers. I call on the Minister to dissociate herself from those comments.

The Opposition motion should be supported by all Members who do not want to exacerbate the north-south divide, who want to ensure that we maintain fairness in public sector pay, and who want to stand up for the interests of working people from Cardiff to Newcastle to Dundee. They should challenge this Government and support the Opposition motion.