Victoria Atkins MP has defended her vote against Labour’s bid to lift the cap on public sector pay in a defeated amendment during the Queen’s Speech debate last week.
The Louth & Horncastle MP was criticised on social media after the amendment was defeated in Parliament, with some suggesting that her decision to vote against it represented a ‘shameful’ lack of recognition for emergency service workers following recent tragedies such as the Grenfell Tower fire.
‘The vote at the end of every Queen’s Speech is a vote of confidence in the government of the day.’Victoria Atkins MP
However, Ms Atkins denied this accusation and explained the complexities behind that particular vote.
She said: “Public sector workers are the foundations of the institutions we hold dear, such as the NHS, police and local councils.
“Independent public sector pay review bodies are in the process of making recommendations to Government on public sector pay.
“The Government is due to respond to the recommendations later in the year. The Labour Party knows this.
“It was a great shame, therefore, that Labour sought to use those who work in the public sector as political pawns in Westminster in this week’s attempt to wreck the Queen’s Speech.
“The vote at the end of every Queen’s Speech is a vote of confidence in the government of the day.
“Voting for an amendment to the Queen’s Speech is akin to a vote of no confidence in a government.
“Such votes may cause a government to fall and a new general election to be called.
“Conservative MPs support the Government and therefore voted against the amendment to provide the stability needed as we start the Brexit negotiations.
“We all know why tough decisions such as freezing public sector pay had to be taken since Labour were last in power.
“It is because Labour borrowed and spent too much, leaving the bill for us, our children and our grandchildren to pay.
“Sadly, paying the bill has meant hard work and sacrifice, including for public sector workers. The one per cent pay policy has protected an estimated 200,000 public sector jobs, enabling vital public services to be delivered and safeguarding workers’ job security.”
Ms Atkins concluded: “I am very conscious of - and grateful for - the sacrifices that many people have made in recent years whilst the country tries to live within its means. The country needs careful, considered government at this time.”