HC Deb 10 July 2003 vol 408 c890W
Mr. Hoyle

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what plans the Government has to increase the national minimum wage; [124459]

(2) what plans the Government has to extend the national minimum wage to those aged 18–21. [124460]

Mr. Sutcliffe

The Government accepted the increases to the minimum wage rates recommended by the independent Low Pay Commission in their fourth report earlier this year. Regulations to increase the adult rate of the minimum wage from £4.20 to £4.50 and the youth rate (paid to workers aged 18 to 21 inclusive) from £3.60 to £3.80 in October 2003 were recently laid before Parliament and will be debated before the summer recess.

Matthew Green

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what she estimates the financial cost to UK business would be if 16 and 17-year-olds received the same level of minimum wage as those 18 and above. [125183]

Mr. Sutcliffe

The Government have agreed that the Low Pay Commission should look at the possible advantages and disadvantages of a minimum wage rate for 16 to 17-year-old workers, and to report on this issue by the end of February 2004.

The cost to business will be one of the many issues the Commission will want to consider. The Commission will be conducting their work in parallel with a wider Government review (led by the Treasury) which will be looking at education and training policy and the system of financial support for young people. The Commission will work closely with relevant Departments, so that the two pieces of work can inform each other and the Government will obviously be looking at this issue very carefully next spring.

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