Parliamentary sketch – A race to the top?

Posted on: 7th November 2013

Recent news that the economy saw a 0.8% rise in GDP in the last quarter is encouraging and a political vindication for the Coalition Government’s attempt to balance the control on public finances with sufficient fiscal stimulus to the economy.

But is all of the benefit going to London and the South East – as it often does – whilst places like Cornwall languish behind?

A recent tour of some businesses in this constituency suggests that the economy is not on the decline. This week I visited Avanti Communications which is completing an £8.2 million investment in a satellite communications operating centre on part of the old Goonhilly Telstar site. With £1.5 million of the Government’s Regional Growth Fund creating 24 high paid jobs and the prospect of expansion this is the kind of investment I know we all welcome to this area. The prospect for further growth at the neighbouring Goonhilly Earth Station Limited with both deep space research and commercial satellite management is encouraging too. I also popped in to the St Ives Business Fair where the resourcefulness and enterprise of local businesses has successfully weathered the challenges of the recent economic downturn. And the opening of a substantial Sainsbury’s supermarket on the old heliport site at Penzance is hardly a symbol of lack of confidence (even though I opposed having yet another out-of-town supermarket and am now fighting to reinstate the helicopter service to the Isles of Scilly!).

But we must make sure that West Cornwall and Scilly shares in any growth and economic upturn. That’s why I will be surveying local businesses to ask for feedback on the impact of business regulation, the rating system, opportunities for apprenticeships, the next round of EU funding, etc, and taking back messages to the Business Secretary – Rt. Hon Dr Vince Cable MP – to seek a “contract” with Government to ensure that this area is not forgotten.

But I’m also seeking advice from local workers too. We will not create sustainable growth if there is a “race to the bottom” in the employment market.

Some workers have come to me to rightly complain about the practices of some employment agencies which are forcing them into dodgy contracts which end up with workers having to pay the agent for the right to be paid well below the minimum wage!

Dodgy employment practices create a cost on all businesses as we learnt with the creation of the national minimum wage – something strongly supported by me but strongly opposed by the Conservatives.

Treating employees well and paying them a decent living wage for their work means that decent and responsible employers don’t end up subsidising the cowboys, as employees who are poorly paid depend on £millions of income support, housing benefit and other public funds to help make up for their low pay – something paid for by the decent employers.

If you have any evidence you want to share in confidence either as a local business or as a local worker then please contact me.

You can contact Andrew George by email: His constituency office can be contacted at Trewella, 18 Mennaye Road, Penzance, Cornwall, TR18 4NG. Telephone: 01736 360020.

Andrew George MP
Kernow a’n West ha Syllan
West Cornwall and the Scillies
Kwartron Porthia
Constituency of St Ives
Tel: 01736 360020
Fax: 01736 332866

5th November 2013