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Public Services: Industrial Action

Volume 737: debated on Thursday 7 September 2023

Cabinet Office Ministers have, through Cobra, been assisting Departments in their responses to industrial action. When there is a spate of industrial action across the public sector, which causes huge disruption to our constituents, it is particularly important that we act together, and the Cabinet Office assists Departments in their planning.

Like many of my constituents, I commute to London daily via rail and have had to deal with another summer of disruption caused by ASLEF and the RMT, while students are applying for jobs with unconfirmed grades from unmarked exam papers and junior doctors continue to strike. What is the Minister’s Department doing to end the strikes and get those people back to work so that we can continue to clear the backlogs and reduce the inflation that they claim to be striking against?

My hon. Friend is right: it is outrageous that his constituents can have their lives totally upended by strikes and by militant unions. We will, of course, respect the right to strike, but we have a duty to protect the lives and livelihoods of the British people. That is what our minimum service levels legislation aims to do. It is a pity that the Labour party will not support it.

The Labour party governs in Wales and the Tories are in charge here in England, while Scotland is the only place in the UK to avoid any strikes in our NHS. That is because Scotland has had and will continue to have the fairest and best pay deals in the UK thanks to the Scottish Government. The Scottish Health Minister recently offered to mediate in the fresh talks between the UK Government and junior doctors. Has the Minister considered that approach given the incompetence of his colleagues?

We will take absolutely no lessons from the SNP on how to govern countries—I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman looks at the news about what is going on in Scotland or hears about it when he visits his constituency. We have in this country a Government of whom we can be proud. I am not certain that that is the view of the Scottish people.