Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Friday, 6 February 2009


Our hearts may be with the British workers who have thrown wildcat strikes this week in response to contracts being won by Italian companies, but our heads should tell us a different story. For many years now there has been free movement of goods and services throughout Europe, the very essence of a single market. Even the most Euro sceptic amongst us has to admit that this market place has created many jobs and served us well for thee decades.

Besides, it works both ways. For every contract won in this country by firms in other member states, British companies are winning deals overseas. In most of those cases the company would take with them their core British workforce. On every flight I have ever taken around Europe, the plane seems full of British accents as home grown engineer types zoom off to their contracts abroad.

We may also have tremendous sympathy at the news that 200 jobs may be lost at Plymouth City Council to enable the council to get within its budget. But there is another side to this story too. Every week, we hear of firms in the private sector having to lay off staff in response to a fall in their order book. This is likely to continue for the rest of the year as unemployment rises towards 3 million. It is now commonplace to hear of wage freezes and even 10 per cent pay cuts in some firms to avoid redundancies. As the private sector contracts and suffers pain, it is important that the public sector does not just keep sailing on merrily as before, bloated in comparison. All government services, both local and national, must cut their cloth in these difficult days and that will mean tough decisions if we are to maintain good quality services in the future. In the end, the cost of public sector salaries can only come from tax income and every organisation in the state sector should be looking long and hard at their overheads.

This includes Parliament. Now would be a very good time for us to pronounce plans to down-size our numbers from 640 to 450 over the next few years and announce a freeze in MPs’ pay and other budgets for the next 12 months. It is going to be a tough few years and the country must pull together, including the public and private sectors sharing the burden in equal measure.




posted by Gary @ 09:19