Is ‘public good, private bad’? Shadow business secretary Clive Lewis tells Commons it is the Labour Party position

Clive Lewis speaks in the House of Commons in London. Picture: PA Wire

Clive Lewis speaks in the House of Commons in London. Picture: PA Wire - Credit: PA

Shadow business secretary Clive Lewis has come under fire for suggesting his party thinks the public sector is good and the private sector bad.

He was accused of making an 'appalling' generalisation by business minister Nick Hurd in a debate about the Government plans to privatise the Green Investment Bank.

Mr Lewis said: 'If it's a success story, why are you selling it off?

'Is it simply the case public good, private bad?

'That's what we think on this side, but on that side of the House you think it's private good, public bad.'


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Huw Merriman, the MP for Bexhill and Battle, was the first to challenge the shadow business secretary's comments, saying: 'For the opposition spokesperson on business to make the sweeping generalisation that private is bad I found was an appalling indictment on matters, and also evidence that millions of private sector workers can't rely on the opposition.'

Mr Hurd added: 'It couldn't have been clearer from the opposition frontbench - public good, private bad.

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'That will have been noted in the business community across the country, reinforcing the question mark the business community across the country has about the attitudes of the Labour party towards it.'

But Mr Lewis, the MP for Norwich South, said: 'Thousands of local jobs depend on growing our local 'green economy'. There is the potential for 1,000s more local jobs in the low-carbon and environmental goods and services sector by 2020. Here in our city we have a university, research centres and a science park with an abundance of world class innovation and exportable skills.

'The Green Investment Bank has, in public hands, been a great British success story. It has funded innovative technology to fight climate change and has created export opportunities for a decarbonising world.'

'If the government fail to stop the sale of the Green Investment Bank and downgrade its green purpose, the consequence will be felt here in Norwich and Norfolk - in fewer green jobs and a poorer local environment.

'We live in the driest, lowest-lying part of the UK with an extensive coastline and a large agricultural sector. We are firmly on the frontline of climate change. There is no real choice for our city: any growth in our regional economy simply has to be green growth.'

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