OPPONENTS of Rugby’s MP have accused him of hypocrisy for voting against Labour’s call for an end to the public sector pay cap – one week after saying concerns over wages needed to be addressed.
The opposition party’s amendment to the Queen’s Speech, which called for a reversal of the Government’s public sector pay cap and cuts to fire and police services, was defeated in Parliament by 323 votes to 309 – to loud cheers from Conservative MPs.
Rugby’s Tory MP Mark Pawsey voted against the amendment – less than a week after he wrote in a letter to The Observer: “People have great concerns over funding for public services and the cap on public sector wages. I accept that the government needs to address these concerns.”
Borough Councillor Claire Edwards, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Rugby in June’s general election, said: “Despite the warm words from Mr Pawsey, he had the perfect opportunity to put those words into action and didn’t take it.
“It’s quite clear from this vote that nothing has changed. We saw that the Government can quickly find £1bn for Northern Ireland when it needs votes from the DUP to keep them in power, but it is austerity as usual when it comes to properly funding the rest of the UK’s public services.”
She added Mr Pawsey’s pay rose by ten per cent last year from £67,000 to £74,000 – and again in April this year to £76,011 – above the one per cent cap for the rest of the public sector.
She said: “What irks people I’ve spoken to in Rugby is that their teachers, doctors and firemen aren’t being treated with the same dignity as their MP.”
But Mr Pawsey hit back, accusing Labour of ‘playing politics’ by tabling their amendment.
He said: “It was gesture politics by Labour as this was not a vote on primary legislation.
“Independent public sector pay bodies are making recommendations on public sector pay to the Government, which will respond later in the year.
“We must look at the recommendations when they are brought forward while also ensuring we continue to protect jobs and our economy.
“The Government understands the sacrifices hard-working people have made to help deal with Labour’s debts.”
Pete McLaren of the Rugby Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), who stood in the 2015 election, argued the financial crash was caused by wealthy banks, not the Labour Government.
He added: “The Tory government is still borrowing and has regularly missed its own targets.
“The UK national debt has actually risen since the Tory government came to power in 2010 by over £555billion.
“There is no need for austerity, it is a political choice.
“Warwickshire County Council is about to close children’s centres, five of them in Rugby, because of a shortfall in Government spending. End austerity, give councils what they need, and such centres, along with other vital local public services, can remain open.”