Supporting the Labour amendment would have meant a pay rise for all public sector workers including those who already receive an automatic pay rise. It would also have included extremely highly paid public sector executives, some of whom are on considerable salaries already and still benefit from pensions that would never be available now to people in the private sector, like shop workers or someone working for a small business. I am not persuaded by Labour’s approach for this very reason. I do not feel it is justifiable to approve a blanket pay increase without careful examination first, and consideration of the impact it would have on our country’s finances.
I am of course aware of the difficulties faced by many of my constituents resulting from the pay restraint necessitated by the economic legacy of the last Labour Government (and we must remember that the national debt still stands at nearly £1.9 trillion) but I believe it is right that the Government has already pledged to look carefully at the pay of important public sector workers over the coming months. I do feel we are approaching a position where we can look again at the public sector pay cap. As you will be aware from the comments made by Ministers over the last few days this is a view shared by many in the party and I hope that the Government will reflect on the issue positively as we approach the next Finance Bill after the Autumn Statement.