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Budget Resolutions - Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:47 pm on 13th March 2017.

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Photo of Virendra Sharma Virendra Sharma Labour, Ealing, Southall 8:47 pm, 13th March 2017

It is a pleasure to follow Jeremy Lefroy.

We have heard many Members speak of the positives and negatives of our imminent departure from the European Union. I voted both in my constituency and in this place to remain. However, I wish to draw our attention to matters a little further afield—first, to the USA. It does our place in the world no good to be seen as too keen an ally of the American President. As America loses influence, we will be dragged down, tarred by his racist policies. When the Prime Minister visited Washington, we saw that she and this Government do not intend to question his policies or to counsel a different course. His racist policies have already led to a climate of fear in which two Indian men were shot in Kansas, and one killed. It is being investigated as a hate crime. We must not allow the same climate of distrust and malice to grow in this country.

With that sober warning behind me, I wish to turn to more positive matters. I look to India, once the jewel in the crown, offering succour today in a way it once did to our predecessors sitting here. I hope I can offer a different perspective from that of some other Members in this Chamber. I am a British Member of Parliament of Indian origin born in India. India must be not only our key strategic partner but our friend and ally at the crossroads of Asia. We have much to gain from each other, not just financially but culturally. There are deep-rooted bonds. Indians and the British understand each other. The Indian diaspora in the UK acts as a bridge between the UK and India. The Indian legal system is modelled on our own, and English is a shared language for almost everyone.

Those relationships, however, cannot be nurtured by business as usual. During the February recess, I led a cross-party delegation to India and we met many businesses. They want to work with Britain, increase trade and create jobs and opportunities, but many are frustrated by the punitive visa policies in place. When we met the Indian Prime Minister, he was keen to stress how much he valued a strong relationship with the United Kingdom. However, good will on the Indian side is not enough; it must be met with actions from us—actions that show that we, too, value the strong relationship. Platitudes alone are not enough.

Wages are still 10% lower than they were before the financial crisis. There are financial black holes in social care, education and the NHS. Some 4 million children are living in poverty. Britain is a wealthy nation, but how can we proud of that? The Budget does not offer anything to address the real issues facing Britain. We need support for real trade policies that do not hurt smaller and poorer nations and that show real respect to long-term allies and partners, and a foreign policy that leads the world by acting responsibly towards children from Syria. If we are to maintain our place in the world, we should offer proper leadership. The Budget fails to show any, but perhaps our foreign policy can do so.