Opposition Day — [7th Allotted Day] — Zero-hours Contracts

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:00 pm on 16th October 2013.

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Photo of Brooks Newmark Brooks Newmark Conservative, Braintree 3:00 pm, 16th October 2013

My hon. Friend is right, and I point the finger at several Labour-run councils in London that use zero-hours contracts: Tower Hamlets, Ealing, Merton, Hounslow and Newham. Those councils do not provide guaranteed hours or any such thing. Are Labour councils stopping the use of zero-hours contracts? Not a bit of it. The Government, however, have helped the low paid by taking more than 2 million people out of tax altogether, and cutting taxation for another 25 million people. That is what the Government should be doing—encouraging jobs and protecting those on low pay.

As we have heard, the Government have been doing a good job trying to create jobs in the private sector, but we must protect people against the abuses to which Opposition Members referred. We heard wonderful statistics from my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Norfolk, who mentioned the number of jobs created in the private sector. I repeat: 1 million net jobs have been created, even though, as we heard in Prime Minister’s questions, Labour Members predicted 1 million job losses. The Government have been doing a good job.

As someone who is a champion of women, and the founder of Women2Win, I note there are now more women in work today than ever before in our history, which is good. As the hon. Member for Wigan said, however, we must also protect those women who need flexible hours from abuses. I believe and am confident that the Government will look into the abuses to which she referred, which we do not approve of or support.

There are, I think, about half a million job vacancies, some of which are on zero-hours contracts. That is a good thing and gives people the opportunity to get on the employment ladder. Overall, I believe the Government are doing a good job. Statistics are coming out, and in the past week alone, British manufacturers have said that they have seen the strongest growth on record, breaking the figure for every quarter since 1989. That proves that the Chancellor has been rebalancing the economy. That is the challenge we inherited from the previous Government. We over-relied on the financial services sector, and the Chancellor is rebalancing the economy.