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Part of Debate on the Address – in the House of Commons at 2:40 pm on 16th October 2019.

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Photo of Jonathan Reynolds Jonathan Reynolds Shadow Economic Secretary (Treasury) 2:40 pm, 16th October 2019

That is completely unacceptable and I would hope there would be agreement across all sides of political opinion on that, but the question I have is: will this post-Brexit free trade world deliver the kind of employment rights that will combat that? At the minute I am, frankly, unconvinced.

I would also like to have seen some action in this Queen’s Speech on absolute poverty. I have no problem with universal credit simplifying the benefits system and I want a system with a taper mechanism that makes it cost-effective for people to increase their working hours if they can do so, but the five-week wait is pushing too many people into a level of destitution that is unconscionable by any reasonable standard. The charities say so, the Churches say so and, frankly, most of us say so, too, and I do not know what more evidence or arguments the Government need to see or hear before they are willing to treat people with the minimum level of dignity they should reasonably be able to expect.

Due to time constraints, I want to make just one more point about something that is in the Queen’s Speech: the proposal to introduce photo ID to cast a vote in elections, which risks being an injustice of significant proportions. It has already been said in this debate that 3.5 million people do not have access to photo ID, and if it is restricted to a passport or driving licence the figure is 11 million.