§ Mr. Bellingham
asked the Paymaster General if he will make a statement on the Council of Europe's decency threshold in relation to minimum levels of earnings.
§ Mr. Kenneth Clarke
There is no such thing as a Council of Europe threshold for a minimum acceptable level of earnings. None has ever been endorsed either by any member state of the Council of Europe or by its Governmental Committee on the European Social Charter. Nor does the Charter refer to a percentage of average earnings which should be regarded as an acceptable minimum. Proposals frequently made by the Low Pay Unit and others for a wage minimum of 68 per cent. or any other percentage of average earnings do not therefore carry the authority of the Council of Europe or its members.
In my opinion, all such proposals for a statutory minimum wage in this country would have the effect of raising the level of unemployment.