HC Deb 08 January 2001 vol 360 cc358-9W
Ms Kelly

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what measures his Department has put in place to publicise(a) the national minimum wage legislation and (b) the confidential national minimum wage helpline. [144131]

Mr. Alan Johnson

In 1999, the Government ran a nationwide publicity campaign, including television advertisements, to cover the introduction of the national minimum wage on 1 April 1999. In the following year, the Government ran a second substantial campaign, also featuring television advertising, to publicise the increase in the main rate to £3.70 on 1 October 2000.

The Government have also run two smaller targeted publicity campaigns aimed at particular groups: in November 1999, a campaign aimed at increasing awareness of the minimum wage among ethnic minorities; and between May and August 2000, a campaign to increase awareness on the increase in the youth rate to £3.20 on 1 June 2000. In all four campaigns the confidential minimum wage helpline number (0845 6000 678) was featured highly.

As well as paying for publicly campaigns, the Government have taken a number of other steps to ensure that awareness and understanding of the law remain high. In particular, the Government have: Included information with the minimum wage telephone number in Inland Revenue tax bulletins, which go to all tax registered employers. Established an interactive website www.tiger.gov.uk which provides the user with a decision tree and ready-reckoners to help them assess their own entitlements. Established a team of Revenue and DTI officials to accept invitations throughout the UK to give talks and presentations on any aspect of the minimum wage. Developed the role of the Inland Revenue in working closely with local communities and relevant groups.

Mr. Ruane

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many employers have been prosecuted under the National Minimum Wage Act 1998. [144449]

Mr. Alan Johnson

To date there have been no criminal prosecutions for underpayment of the national minimum wage. The National Minimum Wage Act provides for civil as well as criminal powers and the civil powers have ensured that the minimum wage is being enforced effectively—but the criminal powers are there for a good reason, and will certainly be used if necessary.

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