Average Weekly Earnings

Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): But does not the Tories’ much trumpeted economic plan mean depressed earnings in Wales, generating lower taxes, and Government borrowing overshooting Labour’s planned target by more than £20 billion—the very deficit target luridly denounced by the Tories, who said it would bankrupt the country? Why does not the Minister apologise for this abysmal failure in the Government’s austerity strategy?

Alun Cairns: As the right hon. Gentleman was part of the previous Government, he should apologise for leaving Wales the poorest part of the United Kingdom. He should further apologise for the fact that wages fell at the sharpest rate between 2008 and 2009. The Government’s long-term economic plan is working for Wales, and wages are rising quicker in Wales than across the rest of the United Kingdom.

The time has come to transform British Government

Peter Hain MP has joined Ed Miliband’s calls for scrapping the House of Lords in favour of a democratically elected Senate.

Speaking from his Neath constituency, the former Secretary of State for Wales said: “the Lords are an archaic anomaly which fuels disillusionment with British politics. It exists purely on a democratic deficit which has been allowed to evolve unchecked for centuries.”

“Wales has just 24 peers in the Lords, compared to 266 from London and the South East of England. London alone has more peers than East Midlands, West Midlands, Wales, Northern Ireland, the North East and Yorkshire and the Humber added together. We cannot allow this to continue.”

Since the Scottish Referendum on the 18th of September, Labour has been the only party to call for a full-scale constitutional convention in the United Kingdom to redress the imbalances of its historical system of government.

“I believe this is a once in a century opportunity to make our system of government fit for everyone, the fact is that people are fed up with an out-of-touch political class and the growing sense that Westminster is failing us all.”

-ENDS –

Zero Hours Contracts

Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): In welcoming the new Minister to his post, may I suggest that, instead of trying to do an impression of a jumped-up rottweiler, he should try to understand and recognise the reality of the miserable state of employment for far too many workers in Wales, whether they are on zero-hours contracts, are among the 150,000 who are underemployed and want to work more hours but cannot, or are among the 50,000 people who are being shoved off disability benefits and into a world of work that is mean, difficult and hard?

Alun Cairns: The abuse of zero-hours contracts is an important issue and that is why this Government are taking action to ban them. The right hon. Gentleman mentioned people in part-time employment. Only 19% of part-time employees are looking for full-time work. We will take strong action against those employers that are abusing zero-hours contracts, but zero-hours contracts are important to many people, such as carers, to encourage and facilitate their path back to the workplace.

No to English Parliament, yes to English devolution in a federal UK

Progress

Former Welsh secretary and Labour MP for Neath Peter Hain had this to say in a statement on the result:

The energy in the Scots votes, No and Yes, shows time is up for the old politics of the Westminster elite. People are fed up with a Westminster that does not listen and in the case of policies like the bedroom tax does not care.

All the Parties must now move quickly not only to deliver the promised new powers for Scotland, but to do so also for Wales, Northern Ireland and devolution to England. English regions like Cornwall and the North East, and city regions like Manchester and Leeds, also want more powers and should get these.

Peter added in a phone call with Prospect’s Josh Lowe: “If Scotland is going to get the same deal under the Barnett formula Wales has got to get a better deal [than it currently has]… You can’t keep giving all the goodies to Scotland simply because they shout the loudest.”

‘There is a strong case for the Committee Stage of English-only Bills to be scrutinised and amendments debated by English MPs only. But it would be fatal to balkanise Westminster by creating first and second class MPs for votes on the floor of the Commons. Otherwise only London MPs should decide on laws for London and so on, and crucially the Prime Minister would in practice be elected by English MPs alone since the PM would have to command a majority in the “England section’ of Westminster. The solution is devolution in England coupled with a federal UK Parliament in which English MPs would as they do now dominate, comprising 80 per cent of all MPs.”

The UK should move to a federal structure with nations, regions and communities empowered to build a new politics. This should include a democratic Second Parliamentary Chamber elected at the same time as general elections to replace the anachronistic House of Lords, representing all the nations and English regions.

Statement on the Scottish Referendum

I welcome this result but no one would be fooled by the idea that this is an endorsement of the status quo.

We have to accept that this is a strong mandate for greater federalism in the UK, for decades now the Celtic Nations have been calling for greater devolution and the English regions like Cornwall and the North are reigniting their desire for greater autonomy. I think Ed Miliband’s plans for greater city autonomy clearly shows Labour is the party to deliver on these ideals shared by much of the of British people.

And in Westminster we need to accept that decisiveness is urgent to finally address our constitutional issues including the House or Lords, which I have been calling for my entire parliamentary career.

People throughout the UK will not stand for inertia from Whitehall and the House of Commons any longer.

This referendum has woken up political engagement in the UK and that is something to be celebrated, it’s absolutely vital that we take heed of that but it’s what all of Britain, regardless of political creed wants.

There is a strong case for the Committee Stage of English-only Bills to be scrutinised and amendments debated by English MPs only.  But it would be fatal to balkanise Westminster by creating first and second class MPs for votes on the floor of the Commons.  Otherwise only London MPs should decide on laws for London and so on, and crucially the Prime Minister would in practice be elected by English MPs alone since the PM would have to command a majority in the ‘England section’ of Westminster.  The solution is devolution in England coupled with a federal UK Parliament in which English MPs would as they do now dominate, comprising 80 per cent of all MPs.