HC Deb 10 July 1967 vol 750 cc64-5
3. Mr. Winnick

asked the Minister of Labour how many full-time workers earn under £15 basic wage; and if he will give separate figures for men and women.

Mr. Hattersley

Information is not available in the form requested. Estimates have been made on the basis of an hourly rate of 7s. 6d. for any hours worked up to 40 hours per week and 11 s. 3d. (time and a half) for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Data collected in the Family Expenditure Survey suggest that at the present time some 10 million adults, of whom 6 million are working 40 hours a week or longer—and a large proportion of the rest are not working full-time—are receiving pay at less than these hourly rates of earnings. These totals include respectively 6 million and 2¼ million women. Actual earnings will, of course, often exceed £15 per week for many of the 10 million.

Mr. Winnick

Is my hon. Friend aware of the recent Ministry of Social Security Report which shows the acute hardship and poverty in these families, including those families where the husband is in full-time employment? What is the Ministry of Labour doing to increase the wages of people earning far below £15 a week? Does my hon. Friend consider this to be a matter of some priority?

Mr. Hattersley

The initial question must be not what the Ministry of Labour is doing, but what others are doing. My hon. Friend will know that my right hon. Friend is answering a Question about part of that aspect of this problem later today. Clearly, the Ministry of Labour regards it as important that every working man should have a living wage, but the problem is that proper definitions of "living wage" are not easy to come by.

Mr. Ridsdale

Much as everyone wants those in the lower wage groups to be helped, is it not a fact that unless the Government are able to pay the international net rate for technicians and skilled people people to create more wealth, we shall not be able to pay more to those in the lower wage groups?

Mr. Hattersley

I have a certain sympathy with what the hon. Gentleman says, but I am sure that he knows as well as I do that it does not arise out of this Question.