Leaving the EU: State Aid, Public Ownership and Workers’ Rights — [Mr Philip Hollobone in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:30 pm on 11th December 2018.

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Photo of Laura Smith Laura Smith Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office) 2:30 pm, 11th December 2018

I think the hon. Gentleman for that intervention. I will come on to that issue, and specifically the level playing field, later in my speech. I hope that I will answer his question shortly.

One would have to be wilfully blind to argue that there is no tension between EU law and the pursuit of a heightened role for the state in our economy. For now, I want to move on to discuss public ownership, which can take various forms. I am not advocating organisations that are owned by the Government but behave in the same way as for-profit companies, focusing on financial goals and insulated from democratic control, but the dogmatic obsession with privatisation in the UK in recent years has been exposed as a failed and outdated ideology. Hon. Members no doubt represent workers in their respective constituencies who were affected by the collapse of Carillion, which cost the taxpayer at least £148 million. There were also the failures of the east coast main line and Northern rail services, and the emergency takeover of Birmingham Prison—the list goes on.

Our public services have been siphoned off and are run by private companies interested only in extracting profits to line the pockets of their shareholders, instead of reinvesting them to improve the service or reduce consumer bills. The privatised water companies have paid out £18 billion in dividends to shareholders over the past 10 years.