Source: Labour Party UK
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Angela Rayner MP, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, opening Labour’s Opposition Day Debate a ‘fair one nation deal’ for communities facing Tier 3 restrictions, said:
“Thank you, Mr Speaker.
“I want to start by saying I want to place on record my thanks to the staff at Stepping Hill Hospital who cared for my aunt, who died of Coronavirus last week.
“So I speak today not just as a Member of this House, nor even as a Mancunian, but as someone who like many others across our city and our country who in the last few weeks has lost loved ones to this terrible virus.
“That more than anything is why I come here not wanting the government to fail but to succeed. Because lives literally depend on it. And we know that a public health response will only save lives, if it is supported by a fair economic settlement.
“The British people want to do the right thing, and they will do the right thing, but we need to support people to do so.
“That is why I was so appalled by what I witnessed yesterday. I sat with fellow Greater Manchester MPs on a Zoom call with the Health Secretary who handed down to us the scraps from the Prime Minister, while our elected Mayor found out from Twitter.
“They then tried to blame it all on him for not doing what he was ordered from Whitehall. I’ve heard of power without accountability, but apparently their idea of devolution is accountability without power.
“We were offered £8 per head. Or, put another way, 30 seconds work for a consultant working on the collapsed Test and Trace system.
“Let me say this. £8 per person is an insult.
“And now they are attempting to play us off against each other. Well let me tell the Prime Minister:
“Our Mayor stood up for Greater Manchester. But he spoke for Great Britain.
“Indeed, his call for Parliament to have a say, and a vote, on these measures is one that so many Members opposite have made.
“The government have not given us the chance to have that say.
“So today, we are giving the House the chance to do so.
“Our Motion calls for the government to bring forward fair, national criteria for financial support in areas facing additional restrictions, and provides for Members to have a vote on that criteria.
“And it calls on the government now to implement its own promise that workers facing hardship on the Job Support Scheme extension will receive at least 80% of their previous income.
“Because I remember the promises the Prime Minister made not just in this crisis but before it.
“He offered ‘levelling up’ for communities like mine.
But he’s not levelling us up.
“He’s letting us down.
“Under Thatcher we were consigned to managed decline.
“Now, it feels like mismanaged decline.
“And this is not a conflict between the North and the South, or London and the rest.
“The elected leaders of our nations, cities, regions and counties have been treated with the same contempt from Wales to Wigan.
“We were promised a Powerhouse but we have got a power grab.
“Even here in London, just this week they have threatened to seize control of the Tube.
“We now have a Prime Minister so determined to punish a Labour Mayor that he wants to whack a transport tax on his own constituents.
“Yet still they refuse to take the decisive national action needed. Instead, they have tried to play people off against each other.
“Divide, and misrule.
“So I say to this Prime Minister: you cannot play politics with people’s lives and people’s livelihoods.
“Today this House can vote for a fair deal for all and an end to the political games.
“No more will the Health Secretary have to tour the country like a pound shop Noel Edmonds, announcing if it’s deal or no deal.
“And they can honour their own promises that every worker facing hardship on the extended Job Support Scheme facing hardship will get at least 80% of their previous income.
“Because what is good enough for the office worker in the City of London, is good enough for the caterer in the City of Manchester.
“What was good enough for the whole country in March, is good enough for the Midlands and the North today.
“We’re trying to hold them to their own promises.
“The Prime Minister told the House on the 14th of October:
whatever happens, a combination of the job support scheme and universal credit will mean that nobody gets less than 93% of their current income.”
“He then said those on low incomes will get at least 80% of their income.
“Perhaps he can tell that to the waitress in my constituency, who earned £9 an hour on a 32 hour week serving in a central Manchester bar that has now closed.
“The Resolution Foundation have shown that she will end up with less than 70% of that wage under the government’s current plan.
“So the government is telling my constituent to survive on less than the minimum wage for months – because the government can’t tell us how an area can leave Tier 3 and how these restrictions can be lifted.
“Even the two thirds wage support under the extended Job Support Scheme is only available to businesses legally required to close.
“Someone who works for a firm that is not required to close but whose business is severely impacted as a result of restrictions and therefore has no hours – for example, someone who works for a brewery supplying pubs which have been closed – gets nothing.
“For hundreds of years Mancunians have been told to know our place but we’ve never listened. From the people’s history museum, the mechanics institute, our science and industry and women’s suffrage we will not be told what our place is and we will not be bullied into taking it.
“We are proud of our history and our contribution to our great country and determined to build a great future together.
“But this is not just about Greater Manchester.
“This is about all of us.
“We will not be picked off one by one, offered the crumbs when we helped bake the loaf.
“We deserve a fair slice and our people deserve a government willing to protect them and do, as the chancellor promised, ‘whatever it takes’.
“In recent days it has been Lancashire, Liverpool and Greater Manchester.
“Next week and in the weeks ahead it will be communities in other parts of the country that find themselves in Tier 3.
“If the government is prepared to wilfully inflict so much arm on its own people in the middle of a pandemic in one part of the country, then they will do it to people everywhere else as well.
“We are staring down the barrel of a bleak winter because the government has lost control of the virus.
Infections are rising. Hospital admissions are rising. Deaths, tragically, are rising. The testing system has collapsed.
“People and businesses across the country will be anxious that they won’t be able to make ends meet and put food on the table.
“Our motion today will ensure a fair, national deal, for the country. A vote of this House on it. And the government’s own promises to workers, kept.
“I commend it to the House.”