Like everyone who has spoken, I completely welcome the hard work that is done by NHS staff up and down the country, but please let me bring some context to the debate. In representing Walsall North, I represent the 31st most deprived constituency in the country and the 17th most deprived in England by income. The average income in my constituency is £440 a week, which is approximately £23,000 a year. Across Willenhall and Bloxwich in my constituency the average property price is £122,000. My constituency is the complete embodiment of the hard-working, just about managing, and the people there, after 38 years, decided to elect a Conservative MP to advocate on their behalf. I intend to advocate on behalf of all my constituents, not just those who work in the public sector. Why is that? Well, the average salary in my constituency is £23,000, which is about the same as a qualified nurse starts on in the NHS.
Many workers in my constituency are employed as hairdressers, plumbers or carpenters, and what pay rise do they get every year on an incremental basis? They do not get one. They have had to work hard every year for their pay, and when we make the comparison using other factors, such as pension schemes, we see that in order to earn the same sort of pension a plumber would need to be putting away 43% of their salary. What have this Government done instead? Since 2010, we have increased the national minimum wage from £5.93 to £7.50, an increase of 26%; and we have increased the basic rate above which people pay tax from £6,500 to £11,500, putting an extra £1,000 in the pay packets of the people in my constituency. When the average salary is £23,000 a year, that money goes a long way to helping them buy a property. So, yes, I completely endorse the arguments I have heard and, yes, we value the public sector in this country, but the Conservatives value all the workers in this country, which is why I will be advocating that we continue with a Conservative Government in the future.