Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:11 pm on 13th September 2017.

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Photo of Peter Dowd Peter Dowd Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury 4:11 pm, 13th September 2017

No, I will not.

As the country suffered, those workers stepped forward. Will we step forward for them? Labour says, yes, it will. We know what those workers provide for our communities and for our country. What do we provide for them—or, rather, what do the Tories provide for them? First, they provide huge amounts of patronising claptrap—we have seen loads of that today—backslapping and warm words. Those workers do not need our tributes; they need our action. The Tories tell them how much they are valued and what a great job they do. The Prime Minister tells us virtually on a daily basis how wonderful our public services are—it usually happens after a national emergency in which people are murdered, maimed or, in the case of Grenfell, asphyxiated or burned to death. Yes, in the week of the Grenfell public inquiry, it is as stark as that, so let us not shilly-shally around this issue.

Those public sector workers are the people we turn to when no one else is available. They are the people who save lives, help to bring life into the world and are there when we leave the world. While they gave their all for us over these hard months, they knew that the Conservative Government remained committed to capping their pay and to continuing with the real-terms pay cut they have faced since 2010. Ever since the election, they have faced mixed messages about their pay from the Conservatives.