Birmingham Labour MPs clash with Pickles in Stormy Commons Scenes

 

 

Birmingham Labour MPs clashed with the Local Government Secretary in angry Commons scenes following the announcement of the local government funding settlement. Birmingham stands to lose almost half its council spending power when compared to richer boroughs in the south of the country.

 

The Secretary of State claimed that Birmingham’s problems were all due to their failure to put away enough money to meet the costs of the equal pay settlement, the result of a recent court judgement. First up was Shabana Mahmood who reminded Mr Pickles that it was his Tory and Lib Dem colleagues who had presided over these decisions, as she demanded that he meet with Birmingham MPs to hear the full extent of Birmingham’s case.

 

Mr Pickles claimed that the equal pay events preceded the period of Tory/Lib Dem control of Birmingham and accused Labour of hoarding millions in balances. Richard Burden then pointed out that Labour had indeed previously put money aside to pay for the equal pay issue, as the government had advised, but that money had been spent by Tory and Lib Dem councillors. Grasping at straws, Mr Pickles then suggested the city’s problems were all down to raising the minimum wage of young employees on the council only to be angrily heckled by Steve McCabe who demanded he produce figures to back up his arguments.

 

Finally Steve McCabe forced the Secretary of State into a grudging tribute to the people of Birmingham after pointing out that they wouldn’t forget his attitude towards them. He also agreed to email Mr McCabe with his officials’ recommendations of the cuts and savings that they say can safely be made in Birmingham.

 

Steve McCabe said:

 ‘It hasn’t arrived yet and I won’t hold my breath. It’s obvious that people in the Birmingham and other big cities are being punished for voting Labour. It’s exactly the same with the Police settlement. Our funding is being cut so that places like Surrey can have better services and more police officers. Eric Pickles is a master of bluff and bluster but his arguments were no match for the facts on Birmingham’

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