GOVERNMENT FAILING OUR STEEL INDUSTRY
The Conservatives have voted down action to support the steel industry in the UK. Labour forced this vote during an opposition day debate, calling on the Government to support EU action, allow higher tariffs on steel imports and publish a strategy for the struggling industry.
Steel is the foundation of many of the UK’s most important manufacturing sectors, including aerospace, defence, automotive and construction. Recent job losses across the country point to an industry in crisis. Over 5,000 jobs have been lost over the last twelve months, with Tata Steel announcing the loss of 1,050 jobs this year alone.
The Tories have been asleep at the wheel and have demonstrated an astonishing level of complacency time and time again. They have been busy blocking EU reform that would alleviate the problem of cheap Chinese steel swamping the market.
We need to be working in partnership with the EU, as the largest economic bloc in the world, so that Britain is in a much stronger position to stand up to those who refuse to play by the rules of the game and are putting at risk the jobs and livelihoods of families in our steel communities.
That’s why Labour is calling on the Government to support tougher EU action to prevent the dumping of Chinese steel. We are also calling for the Government to publish a full industrial strategy, committing to using British steel wherever possible for publicly funded infrastructure projects and supporting industrial supply chains across the UK.
The steel industry is not asking for a bail-out, but a level playing field. Unless David Cameron works with our European partners to find a long-term solution to this crisis and turn his warm words into real action, it could spell disaster for our industry.
TORY BROKEN PROMISES ON CHILDCARE
The Tories have broken their promises on childcare. Before the General Election they promised free childcare for 630,000 families with children aged three and four. However today, as it stands, one in three working families are missing out on the Government’s promise.
The National Audit Office is warning that parents could lose out because childcare providers do not have confidence in the Government to actually deliver the scheme. As a result many providers are not offering the new entitlement due to insufficient funding.
This finding shows Ministers are failing to reach their own targets for disadvantaged children accessing free childcare. At the same time, childcare costs have risen by over a third since 2010 and early years childcare places have fallen. It’s clear, the Government is failing to stand up for working families. It’s time they put a real strategy in place to ensure a childcare system that delivers for children, parents and the economy.
We want to see this policy fully implemented as quickly as possible. They must provide a sustainable, credible plan for funding the free offer, which does not threaten childcare quality, safety, affordability or the viability of many small businesses and voluntary organisations. Tory rhetoric on childcare does not match reality and we do not want to see more broken promises for families with this scheme.
THIS WEEK’S ROUND UP
This week started with Yvette Cooper calling the government to the House to answer an urgent question on the plight of child refugees in Calais. Later in the day Angela Eagle and the Business, Innovation and Skills team demanded to know what was being done to defend the UK steel industry during a Labour Opposition Day debate. We’ve been waiting five years for action from David Cameron’s Tories.
On Tuesday Morning, the Government was again called to the House to answer Jo Cox’s question on the ceasefire in Syria. That afternoon, Labour MPs highlighted the need make sure the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has the resources it needs and asked the government why the new proposals for the police funding formula would make system even more unfair on high-crime, high-need areas in the first day of this year’s Estimate Day debates. Labour Peers also won an important vote during the Welfare Reform Bill debate in the Lords meaning cuts to ESA were forced back to the Commons for a vote.
At PMQs Jeremy Corbyn demanded to know why David Cameron’s Tories won’t stand up for children and families. Jeremy highlighted broken promise after broken promise including that one in three working families promised free childcare are missing out. The government were dragged to the despatch box again for two Urgent Questions on Wednesday afternoon to answer Owen Smith’s question on the review of the state pension age and another questions on the developing humanitarian crisis in Greece. Later that day our MPs made sure the government understood the need to defend the science budget and take the recommendations from the report on end of life care seriously in the second day of Estimates Day debates.
Throughout the week, Labour MPs also held the government to account on a range of other issues including local government funding in the North East, the closure of Lambeth County Court, the reliability of Southeaster train services. The secretaries of state for Defence, Northern Ireland, Culture, Media and Sport, Leader of the House and Shadow Chancellor were also held to account during departmental question times.