HC Deb 24 February 1978 vol 944 cc847-8W
Mr. Brotherton

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in the light of the case of the bee keepers at Stanley, Derbyshire, if he will amend his Department's regulations to allow employees to be paid at wages below what his Department recommends if they are so agreeable.

Mr. Bishop

No. Statutory minimum wage rates are prescribed by the independent Agricultural Wages Board, and my Ministry's inspectors are concerned to ensure that these are observed. Section 11 of the Agricultural Wages Act 1948 expressly prohibits agreements of the kind described by the hon. Member; and any exemption from the statutory minimum rates, for example for persons with some disability, calls for a statutory permit issued by the local agricultural wages committee. Contrary to some Press reports, there has not recently been any case concerned with bee keepers at Stanley, Derbyshire, although action was taken for underpayment of wages on a beef enterprise there.