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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:55 pm on 11th December 2018.

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Photo of Laura Smith Laura Smith Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office) 3:55 pm, 11th December 2018

Thank you to my hon. Friends the Members for Barnsley East (Stephanie Peacock) and for Stroud (Dr Drew), to the hon. Members for Glasgow East (David Linden) and for Henley (John Howell), and to all other hon. Members who made interventions. I thank the SNP Front-Bench spokesperson, Chris Stephens, who is incredibly brave, battling through his cold—well done. I also thank the shadow Minister, my hon. Friend Chi Onwurah, and the Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, Chris Skidmore, who stepped in at the last moment.

There have been some excellent contributions on the importance of workers’ rights and the popularity of public ownership. I agree that it is UK Governments who are responsible for the privatisation of public services and the casualisation of labour.

On the points made by the hon. Member for Henley, my concern was precisely that the rights of workers in the charter in the European Court of Human Rights were not mentioned in the Court of Justice of the European Union ruling in the Alemo-Herron case. I was not criticising the ECHR or the Council of Europe—quite the opposite, in fact. I was pointing out that the workers’ rights afforded by the ECHR, which appeared to have no bearing in the Alemo-Herron case, were trumped by the four freedoms.

On the point about Birmingham prison, I stand by my view that the evidence is mounting up rapidly. The obsession with outsourcing and privatisation is a failed project that is costing the taxpayer and the workers in those services an awful lot, while letting down those who rely on the services.

Finally, the current withdrawal agreement means dynamic alignment with EU state aid rules, so it is important that we gain a full understanding of them and the likely direction of travel. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Stroud that the UK Government have made conscious decisions not to aid industry in the way that other EU countries have done. The point is that our national Parliament understands and is happy that the future state aid framework and regulations around public ownership allows for proper democratic debate.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That this House
has considered state aid, public ownership and workers rights after the UK leaves the EU.