§ 23. Mrs. Ewing
asked the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity what proposals she has to introduce a minimum wage legislation.
§ Mrs. Castle
The possibility of minimum wage legislation raises complex questions. These are examined in the Report on A National Minimum Wage prepared by an interdepartmental working party and published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office. I would like this report to form the basis of study and informed discussion by all those concerned with the subject, before I decide whether legislation would be the right way of tackling the problem. Women, who constitute the majority of the lowest paid workers, will of course benefit from the proposed legislation on equal pay.
§ Mrs. Ewing
Is the right hon. Lady aware that so many wages of men and women in Scotland are so minimum already as to be well below the level of Government social benefits? In this situation, would she not reconsider the urgency of introducing minimum wage legislation? If she does not do so at an early date, will she say why an important principle of the Labour movement has been thrown overboard?
§ Mrs. Castle
I am glad to have the hon. Lady's conversion to Socialist doctrine and I look forward to seeing further extensions of her education. I would remind her that in my original reply I stated that the Government had had this study made and this report published so that informed discussion on the problem of achieving a national minimum wage could take place. We will welcome views expressed by either side of industry on 1173 how we can achieve an aim which involves matters slightly more complex than the hon. Lady might seem to suggest.