“This was a crisis made in the Home Office by successive Home Secretaries. Only a week ago today, the right hon. Member for Hastings and Rye (Amber Rudd), then Home Secretary, was denying there were any targets, in front of the Home Affairs Committee. On Monday, the Prime Minister told the media:
“When I was Home Secretary, yes, there were targets”.
One wonders why the Prime Minister didn’t tell her Home Secretary about that. The pain that has been caused to the Windrush generation needs to be resolved very rapidly, with full compensation paid as quickly as it can possibly be done and an understanding of the hurt that they feel. But this is not the only failure of this Government or of their policies.
The Government used to talk about a “long-term economic plan”, but now we have the slowest growing economy in the G7. The Chancellor, sitting two places along from the Prime Minister, told the House that he had a “positively Tiggerish” view of the British economy, yet it has the worst economic growth figures for five years. What plans do the Government have to change course to ensure we do get economic growth?
Four facts about the economy: more people in debt, more people using food banks, more people sleeping on our streets, and more children in poverty. The consequences of decisions made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer are that the NHS is suffering the longest funding squeeze in history. It has sent our health service into an all-year-round crisis. Will the Prime Minister apologise to NHS patients, waiting longer than ever for the worst A&E waiting times on record?
Not only was March the worst month on record in A&E departments; it was also the worst month for cancelled operations. There are 100,000 vacancies for NHS staff—and the Prime Minister personally intervened to overrule the Health Secretary and the previous Home Secretary when they asked for a relaxation of visa rules in order to recruit staff to work in our NHS.
But it is not just the NHS where the Government are damaging our public services. In January, the Education Secretary promised that no school would see a cut in its funding. Last week, he was invited to repeat that pledge, and refused. I wonder why. Will the Prime Minister now tell parents, teachers and students the truth—that the schools budget is in fact being cut in real terms all over the country?
It is quite astonishing that the Education Secretary has been corrected by the UK Statistics Authority. The Institute for Fiscal Studies says that schools budgets are being cut, and the Prime Minister still appears to be in denial. It is not just in the NHS and education that this Government are damaging our public services; it is also about police budgets. The previous Home Secretary claimed there was no link between police numbers and serious violent crime; yet Home Office civil servants said there is a link. Who does the Prime Minister think is right?
Our shadow Police Minister was pointing out that there has been a £2.3 billion cut in police budgets in the last Parliament, and it is the Prime Minister’s Government who are underfunding our police force: 21,000 police officers have lost their jobs since 2010, and 6,700 police community support officers lost their jobs. Meantime, violent crime is rising and, sadly, there are deaths from knife crime on the streets of most cities, particularly in London.
The economy is slowing, homelessness is rising, more children are living in poverty, the Home Office is in chaos and the Government are making a complete shambles of the Brexit negotiations. They are damaging our NHS, damaging our children’s schools, and cutting police as crime soars, and they claim to be “strong and stable”! With council tax rising by more than 5% all over the country, is not the truth facing voters tomorrow that with the Tories you pay more and you get less?”