Today Theresa May survived the first test of her slim minority government, clinging on with the support of ten DUP MP’s in Parliament’s first vote on her curtailed Queen’s Speech programme which did not include any easing of cuts to emergency and public services.
A Labour amendment on easing emergency and public servants cuts that was the first test of her ability to govern was defeated by 323 to 309 votes.
The Labour Party amendment to the Queen’s Speech pointed out that the Queen’s Speech failed to end cuts to the police and the fire service and called on the Government to end the public sector pay cap and give emergency and public services a fair pay rise.
Commenting on the amendment, Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party, said: “You can’t have safety and security on the cheap. It is plain to see that seven years of cuts to our emergency services has made us less safe; it’s time to make a change.
“Our emergency service workers make us proud at the worst of times for our country, such as the Grenfell Tower Fire and the recent terrorist attacks, and deserve the pay rise they have been denied for seven years.”
The vote was a major test for Theresa May with a few Tory MP’s speaking out for fairer pay for emergency services. Dr Sarah Wollaston warned the pay cap has had a “significant impact on morale” in the NHS and Conservative former minister Andrew Murrison added: “It is absolutely right we should now be looking at removing that cap on pay for public sector workers.”
Earlier in the day there was a sign that the Tories might buckle under pressure, with a senior Downing Street source suggesting that ministers were ready to review the 1 per cent limit on pay rises. But the PM’s official spokesman later denied that there would be any compromise, insisting the “policy has not changed”.
“A U-turn on the U-turn: they can’t even competently do a U-turn, what a shambles,” scoffed Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth, “you could say it’s weak, unstable and it’s chaotic, and public sector workers deserve a lot better.”
In a debate which largely focussed on the degradation of security, health and social care by years of austerity, the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt was booed as he blamed austerity yet again on the last Labour government. And there were heated scenes as Jeremy Hunt defended his record against his Labour counterpart.
Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth wrote exclusively in The London Economic this week warning the public about the new NHS “Capped Expenditure Process” (CEP) – the Tories’ new health strategy revealed in leaked documents last week which everyone needs to know about as it threatens draconian cuts to treatment provision, leading to more privatisation.
“You may not have heard of this new NHS “Capped Expenditure Process” (CEP) but you soon could very well be affected by the implications. They mean reductions and rationing of NHS services, waiting times lengthening and a postcode lottery for your healthcare,” wrote the Labour MP.
Today, during the debate as opposition MP’s detailed grim warnings on the effects of austerity on all public services, the Shadow Health Secretary demanded that Jeremy Hunt explain why he had kept these drastic NHS cuts secret and asked him to drop the plans and stop the public sector pay cap that led to “nurses relying on food banks.”
Ashworth warned of “the disastrous fragmentation of the national health service,” explaining that the CEP meant that “up and down the country local NHS bosses were being told to “think the unthinkable” and bring forward plans to cut services and close facilities.”
He added: “I challenge the Health Secretary to tell us here and now when exactly did he order the NHS to introduce the Capped Expenditure Process, when did he sign off on the plan, and why was the NHS told to keep it secret. I challenge him to tell the NHS to abandon immediately the CEP and give the NHS the funds it needs.”
BREAKING NEWS: Jeremy Hunt exposed for silencing the NHS over 'Capped Expenditure Process' plans."All of this they ordered to do in secret. Not to tell patients. Not to tell staff. Not to tell voters – but to get on with designing a secret plan to inflict further cuts on the NHS.Up and down the country, local NHS bosses were being told to, and I quote "think the unthinkable" and bring forward plans to cut services, close facilities, withdraw treatments and reduce choice for patients.So I challenge the Health Secretary, here and now, to tell us:When exactly did he order the NHS to introduce the capped expenditure process? When did he sign off on theplans? When did he tell the NHS to keep it secret?I say to every single Tory backbencher: this government has no majority nor mandate for these cuts and their constituents will ask did they stand with local people or did they go along with the Health Secretary's secret cuts plan?"#UKPalriament #JonathanAshworth #CappedExpenditureProcess #CEP #JeremyHunt #Conservatives #Labour #Jeremycorbyn #PMQs
Posted by The London Economic on Wednesday, 28 June 2017
Labour MP for Wirral West Margaret Greenwood also spoke of the grim warnings constituents in the medical services had give her of “overstretched staff in an under-resourced service,” adding: “one consultant I talked to said that he felt in the future only the rich would have access to adequate healthcare.”
Janet Davies, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “This is a bitter disappointment for nurses and others in the public sector. At lunchtime, there were signs the Government was listening to our calls but by the evening they voted to keep the pay cap in place.”
This will all add to the pressure on Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt as he tries to defend further cuts and outsourcing of the NHS under his new CEP policy. In extraordinary scenes in the House of Commons yesterday, the Health Secretary was accused of keeping the public and parliament in the dark about hundreds of thousands of lost NHS patients records and a lack of transparency over his department’s role in the privatised service provider at the heart of the scandal. Jeremy Hunt responded: “transparency is not an absolute virtue.”
Today’s tight vote set out much of the battleground for this parliament.