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Economy and Jobs

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:36 pm on 20th January 2020.

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Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh Conservative, Gainsborough 5:36 pm, 20th January 2020

Of course they need good public services, and we are a party of good public services, but we do not believe that the only way of improving public services is by increasing spending in real terms year in, year out. The best way to downgrade productivity and efficiency in the public services is by rapidly increasing spending without tight cost controls on outcomes. I am sure I can rely on the Treasury in that regard.

Where the Opposition have a point, and where we do have an argument, is that some of the big companies, particularly the American digital companies and tech giants, are not paying their fair share of tax. There is also an increasing feeling in this country—this is the one nation point—that the employment rights of some of the people at the bottom of the heap are being downgraded. The Conservative party has an historic opportunity to build on its alliance with working people to improve standards, workers’ rights and the ability of those big companies to pay taxes, and we can do that while also being an enterprise Government and rewarding hard work. By doing that, we can achieve a great deal.

The last part of the jigsaw—this alliance with working people—is the question: why do they vote Conservative? Why did they vote for Brexit? It is because they are fed up with cheap labour being imported into this country and fed up with their rights and employment opportunities being downgraded. If the Chancellor is now looking to the world in terms of immigration, let him ensure that we will no longer downgrade the rights of workers in this country by importing cheap labour. Let us have good-quality labour—people who have something real to contribute.

I believe that there is a real, historic opportunity for the Conservative party to build on this alliance with the working people in the north of England who have felt forgotten for so long. That opportunity is here, and I am confident that this Chancellor will deliver it.