HC Deb 18 June 1998 vol 314 cc496-7
7. Mr. David Watts (St. Helens, North)

If she will make a statement about the work of the Low Pay Commission. [45058]

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Mr. Ian McCartney)

My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade will make a statement to the House later this afternoon. The Low Pay Commission presented its recommendations on the national minimum wage to the Government on 27 May. The Government are grateful to the commission for its report and recommendations. The national minimum wage, along with other measures such as the working families tax credit, is part of a strategy to make work pay.

Mr. Watts

I thank my right hon. Friend for that response and look forward to hearing the full statement from the President of the Board of Trade later. Does he agree that the introduction of minimum pay will start to end poverty pay? Does he also agree that the Conservative party has a lot to be held accountable for, bearing in mind the fact that the Conservative Government delivered low pay and low skills to Britain and that this Government are trying to change that process in the short period of 12 months?

Mr. McCartney

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. First, I must tell him that I have not yet been made right honourable, but I will pass his suggestion on to the Prime Minister—that was a joke.

I will feel great pride and achievement when my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade gets up at 3.30 pm. When she finishes her statement, the only people in Britain who will be losers are Conservative right hon. and hon. Members who, even at this late stage, still oppose the principle of a national minimum wage. Wherever one is in Britain, they have left us the legacy of a huge level of low-paid, unskilled, undignified labour. My right hon. Friend's statement at 3.30 pm will start the process of changing that for ever.

Mr. Ian Bruce (South Dorset)

The hon. Gentleman, in again coming to the Dispatch Box and ranting on in the way we all love, clearly has sight of what will be announced at 3.30 pm—it will not fulfil his commitments to the House and to his hon. Friends. Has he written his letter of resignation yet, as he clearly will not be able to stand there and look us in the eye on this matter?

Mr. McCartney

I will stand on a box at any time and look the hon. Gentleman in the eye. I can see only one person in the Chamber today who went to a Prime Minister to resign—the right hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood). The difference is that, when I see my Prime Minister, I always come out with agreement. He did not, and look at him now—a mere shadow of his former self.

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