HC Deb 23 January 1996 vol 270 cc132-3
5. Mr. Winnick

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the average hourly wage earned by family heads who receive family credit. [8793]

Mr. Roger Evans

The average hourly wage earned by employed family heads who receive family credit is £3.85.

Mr. Winnick

Is it not of some importance that a large majority of those who receive family credit are paid a very low—in some cases, disgracefully low—wage? Is it not also of interest that, while many Tory Members of Parliament are campaigning to double the parliamentary salary to compensate, in some cases, for loss of consultancies, those same Tory Members are firmly opposed to a decent and fair wage? Does that not show their hypocrisy on this issue?

Mr. Evans

Let me deal with the serious part of the hon. Gentleman's question. If we accept his premise that help should go to those who need it most, we must also accept that the difficulty with a minimum wage is that research has clearly shown that, purely in terms of social security targeting, the richest 30 per cent. of the population would gain more than the poorest 30 per cent. That is because many of the people who are on the lowest wages are members of households in which someone else is in a much higher bracket. At the same time—let us be absolutely clear—a minimum wage destroys jobs.

Mrs. Lait

Does my hon. Friend agree that many of those on family credit are single parents? Did he see last night's "Panorama", in which a 17-year-old pregnant girl was clearly about to join the ranks of those on family credit? That programme focused on Hastings, which outraged many of my good constituents. Could he say how our social security reforms are reducing dependency on the welfare state?

Mr. Evans

I did not see the programme to which my hon. Friend alludes. The important point is that family credit is helping people back into work—including 200,000 lone parents since 1992.