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  1. ITV Report

Pressure on Government after MPs back motion to end public sector pay cap in NHS

The Government did not contest the non-binding motion over the pay cap. Credit: PA

MPs have backed a motion calling for an end to the public sector pay cap in the NHS, piling fresh pressure on the Government.

The Government did not contest the non-binding motion, which would not require a change in policy.

DUP MP Ian Paisley had earlier signalled his party would join support for the motion.

Mr Paisley (North Antrim) made the comments as MPs began an opposition day debate, saying: "I must say that myself and my colleagues are minded to support the motion ... put before the House this evening."

DUP MPs were among those to sign a similar early day motion earlier this year.

Earlier this week Downing Street said the seven-year public sector pay cap is to be scrapped, unveiling a 1.7% hike for prison officers and improvements totalling 2% in police pay for 2017/18.

Making a point of order, shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the Government did not divide because they would lose the motion brought forward by Labour.

He said: "Is it now clear that the House has been unanimous in saying we should end the pay cap in the NHS and give health workers a fair pay rise?

"And is it also now clear that the reason the Government did not divide on this motion is because they knew they would lose?"

Shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth put forward the motion. Credit: PA

Earlier Mr Ashworth said it "wasn't good enough" for ministers to grant more flexibility over pay and expect hospitals to fund a pay increase for staff from existing budgets.

MPs told the Commons about examples of public sector workers such as ambulance technicians and nurses struggling to get by, being forced into debt or to take second jobs.

"Nurses turning to food banks, pawning their possessions, even being issued with eviction notices," said Mr Ashworth.

"Isn't that shameful in 21st century Britain, and what a depressing consequence of Tory economics."

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt had labelled the motion "bogus" as he attacked Labour's record in government.

He said: "The consequences of losing financial discipline for a government are not just pay freezes and 1% caps, but a million unemployed as a result of that recession we had post 2008.

"In fact, every Labour government in modern times has left office with unemployment higher when they left office than when they arrived.

"And that is why this afternoon's motion is so bogus because the difference between this side of the House and that side of the House is not about a desire to invest in public services, it is the ability to deliver a strong economy so that we can make that investment."