Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:03 pm on 13th September 2017.

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Photo of Jon Ashworth Jon Ashworth Shadow Secretary of State for Health 1:03 pm, 13th September 2017

I beg to move,

That this House
notes that in 2017-18 NHS pay rises have been capped at one per cent and that this represents another below-inflation pay settlement;
further notes that applications for nursing degrees have fallen 23 per cent this year;
notes that the number of nurses and midwives joining the Nursing and Midwifery Council register has been in decline since March 2016 and that in 2016-17 45 per cent more UK registrants left the register than joined it;
and calls on the Government to end the public sector pay cap in the NHS and give NHS workers a fair pay rise.

This is the first Opposition Supply day for six months, and it is my pleasure to bring a motion to the House on lifting the public sector pay cap. In the past 24 hours, the Government have been briefing that the pay cap has ended. The Chief Secretary to the Treasury has said that Ministers now have “flexibility” when setting pay above 1%. If—and it is a big “if”—that flexibility means lifting the cap for the whole public sector and giving public sector workers a fair pay rise above inflation, which stood at 2.9% yesterday, that will be a victory for the Labour party, for the Leader of the Opposition, for the Royal Colleges, for the trade union movement, for the MPs of all parties who signed the early-day motion and, above all, for the millions of public sector workers who have campaigned for fair pay. That flexibility that the Chief Secretary to the Treasury has talked about must mean giving NHS staff fair pay as well.

What a climbdown this represents for the Prime Minister! The House will recall that, in the general election campaign, she showed the deftness of touch that has come to characterise her dismal, beleaguered premiership by dismissing the heartfelt concerns of a nurse, saying that there was no “magic money tree”. It is funny that the money was there when the Conservatives needed the votes, though.