- Posted by: Valerie Vaz MP
- Category: News
At Business Questions this week I raised Carillion’s insolvency. Short sellers made £137 million when Carillion’s share price fell by 70% over the course of three trading days following the July profit warning. Hedge funds were betting on the collapse of the shares of a company that provides vital public services. I asked for the Government to make a statement on the urgent steps that they are taking following Carillion’s insolvency and also to set up a taskforce to support the innocent people who were doing their job on one day, but out of that job the next through no fault of their own.
Here are the issues I raised:
I thank the Leader of the House for announcing the forthcoming business. I note, however, that the restoration and renewal debate will take place after an Opposition day debate, so that allows us half a day. That is quite surprising, given that the Government have tabled two motions, and it is almost like the motions were written for the previous debate. I can only think of a phrase that you, Mr Speaker, will be familiar with from tennis circles: the Government cannot be serious. It is as if the Joint Committee had never met. It took evidence and reported, but all the Government are doing through their motions is noting its report. Will they think again and retable the motions?
Last week, I asked for a list of ministerial responsibilities. I checked with the Vote Office today, and that has not been published, so will the Leader of the House please update the list?
The Prime Minister has made a speech on the environment, yet the Government vote against environmental protection and all the while trash Labour Wales. Let me put the record straight. She clearly has not read the briefing papers, because Labour Wales is either second or fourth in the world for recycling rates, depending on how they are calculated. Labour Wales introduced the 5p charge on plastic carrier bags in 2011; that happened in England in 2015.
Will the Leader of the House please explain why the Government are stifling growth in Wales? There has been no decision on the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon. The Government’s own independent report, written by a former Minister, backed the tidal lagoon’s “strong contribution” to the UK’s energy. One hundred businesses and Members from across the parties have called for a decision. When will the Government make a statement on their position, or are they putting politics before people?
Will the Government put people first—before politics—and support the request from my hon. Friend the Member for Swansea East (Carolyn Harris) for a fund to help families with children’s funeral costs? Will the Leader of the House confirm whether the Prime Minister actually said that the cost of burials is for the grieving? That might be right, but if the Prime Minister would meet my hon. Friend, she could explain that the fund would only be for those who cannot afford burial costs. Will the Government follow Labour Wales and do this in Martin Harris’s memory?
Will the Government respond to yesterday’s point of order made by the hon. Member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd (Liz Saville Roberts) and the motion passed in the Welsh Assembly yesterday about retaining Welsh law following our withdrawal from the EU?
It looks like we are back to the “casino economy”—my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr Skinner) has left the Chamber, but that used to be his favourite phrase—which brings devastation to people’s lives. Short sellers made £137 million when Carillion’s share price fell by 70% over the course of three trading days following the July profit warning. Hedge funds were betting on the collapse of the shares of a company that provides vital public services. When will the Government make a statement on the urgent steps that they are taking following Carillion’s insolvency? Will they set up a taskforce to support the innocent people who were doing their job on one day, but out of that job the next through no fault of their own?
When will the Government make a statement on why Richard Howson has a pay packet of £1.51 million from December, payable until October 2018, and is employed, while apprentices and other employees are being made redundant? May we also have a statement on why the Wood Group won a lucrative contract to carry out inspections, as the sole supplier, at the Government’s new Hinkley Point nuclear power plant, with Mr Howson as a director? Could the Leader of the House say whether directors’ disqualification proceedings have started against him and the other directors of Carillion?
Banks were the beneficiaries of quantitative easing, so will the Government ask them to quantitatively ease small business suppliers and pay them within the Government’s own deadline of 30 days? Will the Government ensure that the prompt payment code is now mandatory and not voluntary? That is why we need a taskforce, with a grid and a timeframe, as well as a debate so that the Minister can update the House next week.
This week, we remembered Martin Luther King, and it is sad that the President of the United States did not follow the tradition of previous Presidents and do public service. Martin Luther King looked beyond the colour of people’s skin to the content of their character. We also remember Cyrille Regis, who died this week. He looked beyond the racist chants and provided inspiration to many.
We have been offered the Bayeux tapestry. It depicts events in 1066, but we prefer to remember another Frenchman, Jules Rimet, and the events of 1966.
Finally, Mr Speaker, I wish you a happy birthday. I do not know whether you look at the horoscopes, but they say that Capricorns have a secret desire
“to be admired by their family and friends and the world at large”—
it could not be more apt.
Mr Speaker responded: “I am not sure I am going to argue with that one.”