§ 2. Mr. Tony Lloyd
asked the Paymaster General how the wages of the best paid 20 per cent. of employees have changed in relation to inflation since 1979.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Ian Lang)
Between 1979 and 1985 increases of about 13 per cent. for full-time men and about 19 per cent. for full-time women were exceeded by 20 per cent. of full-time employees.
§ Mr. Lloyd
Does the Minister not feel any shame in giving those figures to the House when, over the same period, the number of families on very low pay who have been forced to claim family income supplement has more than doubled? Why are we told that for the low-paid wage cuts will drive them to work, while for the high-paid nothing but massive pay increases are the order of the day?
§ Mr. Heathcoat-Amory
Will my hon. Friend confirm that average wages are increasing in real terms? Does he agree that, although this is fine for those in work, it is bad news for the unemployed? Will my hon. Friend impress on the CBI, the TUC and other interested organisations that real wages are increasing less quickly in competing countries?
§ Mr. Leighton
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the highest paid register the least unemployment and the lowest paid register the highest unemployment? Is he aware that the Contract Cleaning and Maintenance Association told the Select Committee on Employment that, after a Treasury directive following abolition of the fair wages resolution, wages for cleaners in Government Departments and the number of staff were reduced? Has the hon. Gentleman noticed what is happening at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Centre at Swansea where clearners on £27 a week have been asked to take a 30p per hour wage cut and to lose their holiday entitlement, and where staff numbers are to be cut from 139 to 102? Does that not make nonsense of pricing people into jobs? Is it not the Government's policy—
§ Mr. Prescott
Will the hon. Gentleman accept that the income increase in real terms for the top 20 per cent. has been far higher than the increase in real terms for those on low incomes? Low incomes have decreased and unemployment has occurred. Deregulation in the wealthy City sector of the market has meant more money and jobs for some but less for those on low incomes.