Last week I was proud to address a landmark Labour North West Business Conference at Old Trafford. As the economy teeters on Brexit uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to engage with businesses from across the region about their concerns and priorities. In wider ranging discussions, we discussed innovation, infrastructure, pay and conditions, and how to boost our high streets and town centres. Some brilliant ideas came forward which I am feeding up through Labour’s policy making processes. I was joined by follow MPs Keir Starmer, Rebecca Long-Bailey, Barbara Keeley, Faisal Rashid, Bill Esterson and Jim McMahon, Laura Smith, city mayors Andy Burnham and Steve Rotherham, and Theresa Grifffin MEP.
It’s not just North West businesses I’ve been engaging with, but national companies too. I’m used to holding advice surgeries in town halls across the constituency, but this week, in a first I think for any MP, I trailled my first City Surgery – an open door to businesses to come and discuss their concerns and priorities with me at this critical time for the UK economy. As Shadow Economic Secretary I’m all too conscious that if financial services wobble, the rest of the economy suffers too. We need to listen to those at the coalface as we seek to steady the ship through the months to come.
I also had an article in the Times on what must happen to clean up business banking and restore trust following some truly shocking scandals like RBS GRG and HBOS Reading. Good people were wrongly defrauded and lost, in some cases, everything. We need to make sure that can never happens again. I’m leading some work with parliamentarians from all sides to try and bring in a much fairer system of redress, whilst properly investigating the historic complaints of abuse. You can read my article here.
I also visited the British Business Bank, a government-owned business development bank dedicated to making finance markets work better for smaller businesses, and had meetings regarding access to cash, which is subject to review at the moment. You can find out more information about access to cash here.
Beyond this I represented the Labour Party at several statutory instruments, which is the peculiar name given to parliamentary committees through which secondary legislation is devolved by the government. They are very technical with little chance for ideological discourse, but, now more than ever, they can cover some crucial details which may prove significant as the country finds a new legal footing after Brexit. We go through them with a fine tooth comb and oppose anything which appears to be remiss. Statutory Instruments are classic terrain for governments burying bad news, so whilst I don’t report back on them in great detail because it’s not particularly rousing, scrutinising them thoroughly is hugely important. There are around ten times more of them than usual thanks to Brexit!