Mr Redwood’s interventions during the Opposition Day debate on Zero-hours Contracts, 16 October

Mr John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): Does the hon. Gentleman not agree that the biggest collapse in living standards occurred from 2008 to 2010 under the Labour Government, when they bankrupted the country and drove people out of work? We are trying to recover from that position.

Mr Chuka Umunna (Streatham) (Lab): The right hon. Gentleman talks about us bankrupting the country. He knows, because I have heard him talk about this many times before, that the problems we had in 2008-09 found their gestation in the banking sector, which is ultimately where responsibility lies.

Mr John Redwood: I want my constituents to have well paid, decent jobs, and I have a lot of sympathy with those who do not wish to see exploitative contracts. Will the shadow Secretary of State say a little more about how he would define an exploitative contract, and whether there is more we could do by way of leadership? He is an influential and talented man. Surely there is more that he could do with Labour councils and trade unions, just as those on the Government Benches can do more with the Government.

Mr Umunna: One of my colleagues has just said to me that being praised by the right hon. Gentleman will spell the end of my career. People will point to examples of Labour-controlled local authorities, but we do not care who is using these contracts. We simply do not want them to be used exploitatively, and I will explain how we can stop that happening.

Mr Redwood: When the Secretary of State holds his consultation shortly, will he consult on the extent to which there is a problem and try to get a definition of it, or will he consult on possible remedies to the abuses he has identified?

The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills (Mr Vince Cable): Such abuses are highly relevant, but people may come forward and explain, as I have done, that for certain contexts, groups of workers and sectors, such a contractual arrangement is necessary and positive and it would be unhelpful to take action. We have an open mind. We are not trying to close down the debate.

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  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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