§ The Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. James Prior)
No, Sir. The Government believe that pay is in general a matter best left for negotiation between employers and employees. Arrangements exist through the wages council machinery to set minimum rates of pay in industries where adequate arrangements for collective bargaining do not exist.
§ Mr. Race
Following the publication of the latest earnings survey, which shows that 9 per cent. of male full-time manual workers earn less than £60 a week and that 66 per cent. of women full-time manual workers earn less than that figure, is it not clear that collective bargaining has failed to abolish the differential that exists between the earnings of men and women? Is it not scandalous that the Government are abolishing schedule 11 to the Employment Protection Act, and that they propose to make no progress towards introducing the only legislation that could help us, namely, provisions for a statutory minimum wage?
§ Sir Anthony Meyer
Would not a statutory minimum wage enormously increase unemployment among less qualified and poorer sections of the working population? If that is what the Opposition want why do they not stand up and say so?
§ Dr. David Clark
Does the Secretary of State realise that much of the low pay in this country is in the public service? If he does not intend to introduce legislation for a national minimum wage, will he keep an open mind on this 196 matter? In order to avoid a situation similar to that of the winter before last will he set up a working party to examine this?
§ Mr. Budgen
Would not my right hon. Friend agree that a national minimum wage would have the effect of pricing out of work the weakest sections of the community, particularly the unemployed young black people in my constituency?