HC Deb 21 January 1998 vol 304 cc1012-3
Q9. Mr. Hammond

Will the Prime Minister accept that there is a contradiction at the heart of the Government's employment policy? The Government propose a welfare-to-work programme that is based on the premise that lowering employment costs creates jobs, yet they are imposing a minimum wage that will increase employment costs while claiming that that will not destroy jobs.

The Prime Minister

I do not accept that there is a contradiction; I think that both have their place in a proper employment strategy. It is right that we target help on young people and the long-term unemployed and give them the skills and, occasionally, the job subsidies they require to get into work with employers. It is equally right that we ensure that there is some floor beneath which wages cannot fall. If the hon. Gentleman says that that is inconsistent with good job creation, he can look at the example of the United States, where a minimum wage is in place and there has been enormous growth in jobs—as there has in many other countries where people simply do not see, as I do not, that job creation and decent conditions of employment are inconsistent objectives. The hon. Gentleman's view is out of date, it is wrong and it is not the view of the Government.