Leaving the Eu: Protection for Workers

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:53 pm on 6th March 2019.

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Photo of Ann Clwyd Ann Clwyd Labour, Cynon Valley 1:53 pm, 6th March 2019

They say that the Secretary of State is a very nice man. I do not know him. I am sure he is. But I do not trust the gang that he is part of.

I was a Member of the European Parliament from 1979 to 1984. Before that, I took a petition to the European Parliament in ’77, arguing for equal rights for men and women. I then became a member of the employment committee in the European Parliament, and I am glad to say that some of the things in that petition became law because of the European Parliament, not because of this place. You will know very well, Madam Deputy Speaker, that I was a shadow employment Minister when the Opposition were working on the minimum wage. I know how hard we had to fight every inch of the way, because we were told that that was not possible, that it would cost jobs, that industry would not be able to afford it, and so on.

When there were big job losses in steel and coal, I was an MEP for one of the affected areas, and I took a group of steelworkers to Brussels to meet the Commission. The big criticism of the Government at that time was that the situation here was unlike that in Germany, where steelworkers were also losing their jobs, but every man in the steel industry in the Ruhr had another job to go to. In this country, there was no safety net. The criticism then was that there was a lack of social policy in this country. Why should I have faith that things have changed when I hear that the number of factory inspectors has diminished? If we do not have factory inspectors, we do not have people looking at the limitations in the industries. I would like to believe the Secretary of State, but I am sorry; I do not.