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Wages Councils

Volume 961: debated on Tuesday 23 January 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Employment when he intends to meet chairmen of wages councils.

Will the Minister confirm that wages councils set the basic rate for many thousands of low-paid workers in the private sector? Will be give a clear assurance that he will not call in or otherwise seek to delay any awards made by wages councils substantially in excess of current incomes policy guidelines?

I entirely agree with the first part of my hon. Friend's question. The wages councils have had their attention drawn to the Government's White Paper and now to the latest low pay provisions which the Prime Minister announced recently. We shall do no more than that.

Does not my hon. Friend agree that a little more action would be appropriate at the moment? Does he not further agree that those wages councils which fail to take advantage of the provisions for low-paid workers should be specifically and quite definitely reminded of these provisions?

We do not intend to interfere with the independence of wages councils in that way. The provisions which have been announced were targets. They were not binding on anybody.