HC Deb 08 March 1983 vol 38 cc699-700
10. Mr. John Townend

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what have been the three highest percentage wage awards made by wages councils during the past three months.

Mr. Alison

The three highest percentage increases in basic minimum rates in wages orders which took effect between 1 December and 28 February were 6.7 per cent., 6.2 per cent. and 5.9 per cent. However, proposals of increases in excess of 8 per cent. have been made recently but not yet confirmed.

Mr. Townend

My right hon. Friend will have noted that all those figures are in excess of inflation, and 8 per cent.is 60 per cent. above the current rate of inflation. Will my right hon. Friend accept that such increases make nonsense of the Government's exhortations to industry to become more competitive? Is it not true that these wages can be paid for only by lost jobs and increases in prices? Despite international agreements, has not the time arrived when these bodies should be abolished because they are undermining the Government's anti-inflationary and employment policies?

Mr. Alison

I agree with 90 per cent., if not 95 per cent., of what my right hon. Friend says. I hope that the proposals for an 8 per cent. increase will not be carried into effect.

Mr. Cryer

Will the Minister accept that it is a nauseating spectacle when a Conservative Member of Parliament, with half a dozen company directorships and a handsome salary to boot, attacks the lowest paid sector of our society? Why do not the Government express their concern about the 45 per cent. increase in farm incomes in 1982 instead of continuing this vendetta against low-paid workers?

Mr. Alison

The hon. Gentleman is concerned only to make party political points. My hon. Friend the Member for Bridlington (Mr. Townend) is concerned with the possibility of people finding work, even at low rates that are well above the level paid in supplementary benefit.