Part of the debate – in the House of Commons am 5:52 pm ar 6 Chwefror 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Nia Griffith Nia Griffith Shadow Minister (International Trade), Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office) 5:52, 6 Chwefror 2024

Thank you very much, Mr Deputy Speaker, for the opportunity to wind up this debate. My right hon. Friend Emily Thornberry and other Opposition Members have laid out very clearly why we need reform and why rules that never envisioned the churn and chaos that we have seen over the past 18 months need to be tightened up.

We have heard from numerous Opposition Members and one or two Government Members as well. The SNP spokesperson, Kirsty Blackman, emphasised just how out of touch this Government are, reminding us of the stark choices that many of our constituents have to make between heating and eating. My hon. Friend Bill Esterson described the case of the three assistant Whips getting two and a half times more in severance pay than they did in salary, taking away some £4,479 each, whereas under our reforms they would only be entitled to £454. He also made the point very clearly that under the leadership of a Labour Government we had 2% growth, whereas, sadly, under this Government we have seen only 1%, which has a huge knock-on effect for all our constituents.

My hon. Friend Catherine West also made reference to the hardship faced by her constituents, who are being hammered by record peacetime tax burdens, and called for some contrition from Tory Ministers. My hon. Friend Justin Madders pointed out the anomaly that, under the current system, for just one day in the post of Secretary of State, an MP can receive some £16,000 in severance pay. That is why reform is really needed. He contrasted that with his expert knowledge of what ordinary people can expect in terms of statutory redundancy pay, and the horrible shadow of zero-hours contracts, where people often worry whether they will have enough hours to make ends meet.

My hon. Friend Alex Cunningham pointed out that MPs such as Joe Ashton were even questioning back in 1991 whether a full 13 weeks’ severance should be payable for just two years. He would certainly be astounded about MPs taking ministerial severance pay after just a few weeks.

My hon. Friend Fleur Anderson pointed out how nothing got done in the summer of 2022 about matters of immense importance to her constituents, such as cladding. As she reminded us, Labour has full plans, if in government, for a proper ethics and integrity commission to clean up politics.

My hon. Friend Andy Slaughter made a strong case for reform, illustrating it with the case of Greg Hands. Christine Jardine reminded us that there is genuinely a valid case for proper reform of ministerial severance pay, especially with the rapid turnover in ministerial posts, as constituents are paying for the way in which the Tories have trashed the economy.

Now, as a former teacher and examiner, I must say to those Conservative Members who spoke that not adhering to the title of the question is usually rewarded with nought out of 10. I might perhaps give Anna Firth one out of 10, and Sir Michael Ellis and Jerome Mayhew maybe a two or a three. As for the Minister without Portfolio, Esther McVey, I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Hammersmith has made it clear what we think about that particular speech. I hope that in his closing remarks the Parliamentary Secretary at the Cabinet Office, Alex Burghart—my opposite number—will address the content of our reforms and not just deliver a tirade against the Labour party.