Peter Bottomley – 2020 Comments on the Comprehensive Spending Review

The comments made by Peter Bottomley, the Conservative MP for Worthing West, in the House of Commons on 25 November 2020.

The House will be glad that the Chancellor has met the needs of the poorest, that he is going to maintain the increase to the state pension and that he is ensuring that people get opportunities to get back into work if they have been out of it. He talks about the £250 minimum for the lowest-paid people in the public sector. May I ask him whether that includes people working in local government or just national Government? That would be useful to know.

There will be a welcome for the increase in spending for schools. There are also many other things that people will think are sensible and that could—or should—have been done as the Labour Government went through the crisis in 2008, when they also implemented a public sector pay freeze. May I put it to him that it would be incredible if the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority were to force a pay increase on Members of Parliament when others do not get it? One way or another, will the Government—and perhaps you, Mr Speaker—talk to IPSA and ensure that that does not happen? I have the view that MPs’ pay should only be adjusted after a general election; that may be a minority view, but I think it would be wrong for us to have pay forced on us when others cannot get a pay increase.

Let me turn to overseas aid. When the Departments were merged, the Foreign Secretary said that the 0.7% figure would be maintained. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor was elected in 2015, as I was, under a commitment to meet 0.7%. We were re-elected in 2017, and the only difference in 2019 was that the word “proudly” was put in front of that commitment. I am proud of that commitment. I will work with anyone across the House to make sure that a change of percentage does not happen. Obviously, with our GNP coming down by 10%, the amount that goes on aid will come down automatically. I fight to maintain the pledge that the Prime Minister, the Chancellor, the Foreign Secretary and I made at the last general election.