The Economy

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:34 pm on 24th October 2019.

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Photo of John Martin McDonnell John Martin McDonnell Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer 12:34 pm, 24th October 2019

Madam Deputy Speaker, I know that large numbers of Members are seeking to make speeches—I will take a number of interventions, but I will protect the time as best I can for others to speak.

Let me give my hon. Friend this assurance on that critical point: in our last Labour party manifesto, we promised that we would review the mineworkers’ pensions scheme—it is dear to my heart, because I was one of the administrators of the scheme soon after I left university, when I worked for the RMT—and we will review it because we want to lift miners and many miners’ widows out of the poverty that they now live in. We give that commitment.

I mentioned insecure work. There are now about 900,000 people on zero-hour contracts—up by 100,000 from a year ago—and real wages are still below pre-crisis levels. The Government like to talk about wage rises and wages rising at their fastest rate in a decade. It is a bizarre claim, because the Government have been in charge of the economy for the last decade, suppressing wages all through that period. According to the Financial Times, the UK was the only major economy where growth returned but wages fell. According to TUC calculations, since 2010, average pay has also fallen for 7.7 million low to middle-income earners, and 11.5 million middle to high-income earners. It is extraordinary that that was not even acknowledged in the Queen’s Speech—that we now have a low-pay, insecure-job economy that this Government have created over the last decade.