Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:46 pm on 8th March 2017.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Rachel Reeves Rachel Reeves Labour, Leeds West 2:46 pm, 8th March 2017

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman read that article; I said I would be tougher than the Tories in controlling the rising costs of benefits. For all the cuts we have seen from the Tories, the benefits bill keeps rising. Why is that? More young people are out of work, more is being spent on housing benefit because we are not building social housing, and one in five people is not paid a living wage. I will take no lectures at all from the Tories on controlling social security benefits; in fact, they have breached their social security cap, and they have had to come back to Parliament to explain themselves.

Thirdly, I welcome the announcement that the Government want to crack down on the small print in contracts, but I have a specific request, which the Minister at the Dispatch Box knows about. In 2013, Parliament capped charges on payday loans, resulting in a maximum charge of £24 a month if someone borrows £100. However, if someone goes overdrawn with their high street bank, they can be charged as much as £5 a day—almost £100 a month. If the Government are serious about protecting consumers from unscrupulous business practices, they should get tough on the banks that are using excessive overdraft charges to exploit customers, particularly those who are vulnerable and getting into debt.

Finally, I want to say something about grammar schools. The Budget documents say that the Government will spend £1 billion on new schools—presumably, those will be primarily grammar schools—but only £260 million on all other schools combined. How can that possibly be right? How can that new spending be fair and ensure that all our children get access to good schools? Instead of spending £25 million on bussing children to these new grammar schools, why do we not do more to ensure that all our children have the best possible start in life? That would be a fair Budget; that would be a Budget that addressed the concerns of all our constituents. We will not get it from the Conservatives; we will get it only from a Labour Government.