While the Lords votes on the NHS reforms, Labour will use an Opposition Day Debate in the Commons to debate the economy, reports Left Foot Forward’s Shamik Das.
While the Lords votes today on the coalition’s controversial NHS reforms, in the other place, it will be all about the economy, with Labour using an Opposition Day Debate to put jobs and growth front and centre of the political agenda.
Beforehand, the Commons sees the return of Prime Minister’s Questions following the conference season hiatus, the Liam Fox-Adam Werritty scandal expected to feature prominently, with many of this morning’s papers, left and right, again leading on the story. The Telegraph has a story linking Werritty to a Conservative donor, while the Guardian delves into Werritty’s hotel records (more on the Fox story on these pages later).
On the economy, Labour’s new front bench team of shadow chancellor Ed Balls and shadow chief secretary Rachel Reeves will present for debate and a vote a motion to the House noting:
• There has been no growth in the UK economy over the last nine months, compared to 1.8 per cent growth in the previous nine months;
• Families are feeling the squeeze, unemployment is rising again and the recovery was choked off last autumn, well before the eurozone crisis of recent months; and
• Borrowing is forecast to be £46 billion higher than planned because of the slower growth and higher unemployment arising from the Government’s policy of cutting spending and raising taxes too far and too fast;
Labour’s motion calls on the House to agree with International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde that “growth is necessary for fiscal credibility”, and alo the IMF’s recent report which warned that “if activity were to undershoot current expectations and risk a period of stagnation”, the government should “consider delaying some of their planned consolidation”.
It also says the government needs a plan for jobs and growth “if the deficit is to be reduced in a sustainable way”, and calls on the government “to implement a steadier deficit plan”.
The Opposition five-point plan for jobs, outlined by Balls in his speech to Labour party conference two weeks ago, calls for:
• A £2 billion tax on bank bonuses to fund 100,000 jobs for young people – which they would be required to take-up – and build 25,000 more affordable homes;
• Bringing forward long-term investment projects – schools, roads and transport – to get people back to work and strengthen our economy for the future;
• Reversing January’s damaging VAT rise now for a temporary period – a £450 boost for a couple with children – immediate help for our high streets and for struggling families and pensioners;
• A one year cut in VAT to 5% on home improvements, repairs and maintenance – to help homeowners and small businesses; and
• A one year national insurance tax break for every small firm which takes on extra workers – helping small businesses to grow and create jobs.
The need for action could not be more urgent, last week’s warning from the Bank of England Governor that we may be in the grip of “the most serious financial crisis ever” but the latest in a string of dire statements and indicators that the government’s economic strategy isn’t worth the parchment it’s printed on.
As Rachel Reeves says:
“It’s clear that Britain now faces a real jobs and growth crisis.”
On Sunday, Balls called David Cameron and George Osborne “the Laurel and Hardy of British politics”; let’s hope they listen to today’s debate and adopt a Plan B that’ll get us out of the fine mess they’ve gotten us into.
Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by becoming a Left Foot Forward Supporter today.
• Will quantitative easing work this time? – George Irvin, October 9th 2011
• Economic update – October 2011 – Tony Dolphin, October 7th 2011
• Everything you know about the ‘Thatcherite consensus’ is wrong – Stewart Lansley, October 6th 2011
• Cameron’s central argument on debt is wrong; Labour needs to find a way to say so – Asher Dresner, October 6th 2011
• Just who WILL Osborne listen to? – Cormac Hollingsworth, October 3rd 2011
• Gideon’s grotesque attempt to blame workers’ rights for unemployment – Richard Exell, October 3rd 2011
• Balls calls for growth now, and cuts later – Alex Hern, September 26th 2011