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Speech in the Debate on Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation, 24th March

Mr Pat McFadden (Wolverhampton South East) (Lab): The Chancellor told the House last week that his policies had been vindicated. His basic case is that austerity is working so well that we need it for two Parliaments rather than one, as was planned. Of course, it is welcome that we have economic growth after so many lean years, but the inescapable fact is that the targets in the growth and spending plans set out at the beginning of this Parliament have been missed by huge margins. The cumulative effect is that cuts will last years longer than planned, and an extra £190 billion is being borrowed, compared with the figure in the plans set out after the election. If Labour had borrowed £190 billion more than was planned, I am not sure how Government Members would describe it, but I doubt whether they would be reaching for the term “success”. The return of growth cannot hide the fact that the outcome of the strategy pursued in the past four years is that one of the Government’s fiscal targets has been missed, and the other—the five-year rolling target—continues to be pushed into the future.

The increases in investment allowances are welcome, but let us be in no doubt: this is a U-turn from the Conservative manifesto and from the 2010 post-election Budget. At that time, when the Chancellor was talking about the “march of the makers”, he cut support for investment in manufacturing by £3 billion a year, and called it getting rid of complex allowances and reliefs. Rhetoric and policy were pulling in entirely different directions. I therefore welcome the U-turn, and on this point at least, rhetoric and policy are now pulling in the same direction, although needless barriers were placed in the way of investment by the policy previously pursued.

Frank Dobson (Holborn and St Pancras) (Lab): Does my right hon. Friend agree that when the investment allowance was reduced, corporation tax was reduced, which did not benefit manufacturing but benefited the banks?

Mr McFadden: That is absolutely right: a cut in support for manufacturing was used for business as a whole.

Although it makes sense to support investment decisions through the tax system, we should not kid ourselves that investment allowances alone will be enough. The UK’s export performance has been routinely described as disappointing in report after report by the Office for Budget Responsibility. Speak to any manufacturer and they will most likely say that their key challenge is skills. If companies cannot get the right people with the right skills, they cannot innovate, they cannot meet orders in time and they cannot operate as efficiently as they want.

If the Government are really serious about supporting UK manufacturing, they should heed the call coming from their own Back Benches today to stop chasing UKIP and putting in place policies that stop the brightest students and workers from around the world coming to the UK. The Government’s arbitrary net immigration target is a barrier to our accessing the best talent in the world, and the exclusion of such talent is not in the interests of UK businesses or the economy; nor is the threat of withdrawal from our biggest export market, the EU. It is no good supporting investment decisions through the tax system with one hand, and threatening to pull away from our biggest market with the other. The stance the Government have adopted on this is a complete failure of leadership: it is party management first, and the interests of the country second. No amount of support through investment allowances would undo the damage that pulling out of our biggest market would do. I am glad that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition made the announcement he made of a couple of weeks ago, exercising leadership on this issue and rejecting the option of following the Government down this path.

Perhaps enough has been said about beer and bingo in recent days. As someone whose father was a labourer and whose mother worked in a local authority children’s home, the only thing I would add is that a more serious working-class aspiration is an education system that opens up opportunity to all; social mobility that is not based on but challenges closed elites; and a path to rising living standards that has been sadly absent in recent years. I suggest to the Government that a poster based on those things might have been truer to the heart of working-class aspiration than the one that was produced.

I echo some of the sentiments expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Sedgefield (Phil Wilson) on the pension changes. There has been an attempt to reduce this proposal to the question of whether people can be trusted with their own money. Of course people can be trusted in that way, and empowering them to make their own decisions is a good thing. It is something that we should support in politics. Choice in public services empowers people. It has worked well in the area of personal payments for social care, for example. As my hon. Friend said, however, what is in question is not trusting people but trusting the financial services sector that sells people these often complex financial products. I serve on the Treasury Select Committee, and we have seen many mis-selling scandals in recent years, ranging from endowment mortgages to payment protection insurance. We should have learned the lesson that there is often a serious information mismatch between those selling those financial products and those buying them, and that customers are not well served when things go wrong.

How do the Government propose to address that issue? Simply shouting that we should trust people with their own money is not enough, given that the PPI compensation alone has had to be set at £20 billion; and nor is it the philosophy that has been pursued on a cross-party basis for auto-enrolment into the pensions systems. If customers are to be well informed, they need good advice and alternative products in which they can trust. It is perfectly reasonable—indeed, a duty—for a responsible Opposition to ask questions about how that is to be achieved, and to point out the dangers if it is not.

The recent economic growth is welcome, but if it is being funded by consumer spending, people will rightly ask how can we ensure that it has solid foundations and is not simply the froth from another unsustainable housing boom, and how we can ensure that Britain remains engaged with the world and does not turn away from the trade and exports that we need.

Hansard, 24th March http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm140324/debtext/140324-0002.htm#14032427000293

Statement on the Tesco development at the former Royal Hospital site in All Saints, Wolverhampton

Following a meeting today between Pat McFadden and Chris Bush, UK Managing Director of Tesco, Pat McFadden said:


“I am pleased that Tesco have confirmed today that they will go ahead with the development on the Royal Hospital site. All the way through I have told the company that the city wants the jobs, the investment and the regeneration this development will bring. I wish this was happening sooner because the Royal Hospital site has been left undeveloped for far too long but, having reviewed the project, the company have said they will not walk away and have given a commitment that this will go ahead next year. Tesco has owned this site for a very long time and I believe the company has a responsibility to the people of the city. I stressed to the company how important it was that they stick to their word and go ahead with the project. I am pleased that they said that is what they will do.”

For information: Tesco has owned the Royal Hospital Site in Wolverhampton since 2001. Planning permission was given two years ago for a £60 million Tesco development at the site. Tesco began work last year but put the project into review by the company last month. Following that decision Pat McFadden MP wrote to Tesco CEO Philip Clarke urging the company to stick to its word and go ahead with the development and asking for today’s meeting with UK managing Director Chris Bush.

(20th March 2014)

Tribute to Dennis Turner (Lord Bilston)

Dennis Turner’s death on 25th February brought to an end a life devoted to fighting for the people of Bilston and Wolverhampton. He died in the area where he had been born and raised: Bradley in Bilston. It was his home and where he found comfort, strength and friendship.

In a political career spanning decades, first as a councillor, then as the local MP, Dennis saw all the traumatic industrial change which happened to his home town. Through his union position at Stewarts and Lloyds, the Bilston steelworks, he fought the closure which happened over thirty years ago and saw not only that name but also Sankey’s, John Thomson’s and others pass into history.  Each of these workplaces employed thousands. Today they are gone and much of the modern history of Bilston has been about trying to adapt to their loss.

Few MPs know their constituents and community like Dennis did. A walk down Bilston High Street with him could take hours because he knew so many people and he would inquire after their husbands, wives and children, all of whom it seemed he knew by name. 

Dennis was a very popular figure in parliament, acting first as a Labour whip and later as PPS to Clare Short. His philosophy in life was always to make friends not enemies. And he will be fondly remembered in both the Commons and the Lords. There were certainly decisions which Labour took in Government that he didn’t like, but he never went into opposition mode against his own side. He knew what the alternative was and was a loyal supporter of the Labour Government.

In recent years he took up the cause of Fair Trade, chairing the city’s Fair Trade partnership and taking pride that Wolverhampton was one of the earliest Fair Trade cities in Britain. He believed strongly that the food we consume should not come at the price of the exploitation of those who produce it. 

When the Government sought to carve up the political representation of Bilston into four pieces through boundary changes Dennis backed the “Keep Bilston United” campaign. He did not want to see his home town cast asunder in terms of its political voice.

Dennis faced his final struggle in recent months with great bravery and strength of spirit. I saw him a number of times over that period and he always wanted to catch up on the latest political news, locally or nationally and hear what was happening. He was cared for with great love and tenderness by his wife Pat, his son Brendan and daughter Jenny. My thoughts are with them, his brother Bert and his whole wider family.

Our city has lost a great son. Dennis Turner will be hugely missed.

Visit to Wilkinson Primary School

Visit to Wilkinson Primary school

Pat alongside Headteacher Mrs Gibbon, on a visit to Wilkinson Primary School in Bradley, which has just been rebuilt following a fire in 2011.

(21st March 2014).

Awards Ceremony for Apprentices at McDonald's, Coseley

Awards ceremony for apprentices - 7th March 2014.

Pat presented awards to employees from McDonald's in Coseley, who have gained the Level 2 Apprenticeship, which supports career progression within McDonald’s and the wider hospitality industry.

Mr McFadden said:

“It’s great that McDonald’s in my constituency is creating opportunities for its employees to gain qualifications and help them advance in their career. I was very happy to go along to the restaurant to congratulate the apprentices. ”

(7th March 2014).

Fairtrade Coffee Morning

Fairtrade Coffee Morning - 21st February 2014.

Working alongside the Wolverhampton Fairtrade Partnership and Revolver Records, Pat hosted a Fairtrade coffee morning to mark the start of Fairtrade Fortnight at St John's Methodist Church, Wolverhampton Road East.

Pat said: "I regularly hold coffee mornings for residents around the constituency and this was a good opportunity to collaborate with the Fairtrade Partnership and support Fairtrade Fortnight. I would like to thank everyone who helped to organise this and donated produce. It was a very successful event which hopefully helped to raise awareness about the importance of Fairtrade."

(21st February 2014)

PAT'S NEWS

SPEECH TO THE INTERNATIONAL BANKING AND FORUM, THOMSON REUTERS, CANARY WHARF, 13TH FEBRUARY 2014
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SPEAKING IN THE DEBATE ON EDUCATION, 29 JANUARY
Mr Pat McFadden (Wolverhampton South East) (Lab): I very much welcome this debate and the emphasis that my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent Central (Tristram Hunt) has placed on teaching standards and quality. Teaching is a tough job, and those who devote their lives to helping children deserve our respect and admiration. I think we all remember the particular...

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SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT - THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE FACING OUR CITY
Last week Ofsted officially declared Wolverhampton’s Primary Schools to be at the bottom of the English League. By that they meant that a lower proportion of primary children go to schools rated good or outstanding by inspectors than in any other local authority area in the country. Just pause and reflect on that for a moment. At a time...

PAT MCFADDEN MP COMMENTS ON OFSTED REPORT
Pat McFadden MP comments on Ofsted report showing Wolverhampton’s Primary Schools bottom of English league “These findings are shocking and a wake up call to everyone concerned with education in the city. Education is the most powerful weapon for progress there is but when children don't get the education they deserve, opportunity is denied and life chances are lost. While some...

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