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Low Pay

Volume 173: debated on Tuesday 22 May 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what representations he received on low pay in the current year from the north of England.

Since 1 January 1990, my right hon. and learned Friend has received 13 representations on low pay from the north of England.

Why is it that more than 1 million people in the north and north-west of England earn what the Council of Europe defines as low pay? What possible moral justification can there be for a newspaper to publish advertisements offering people less than £2 an hour in the 1990s? People cannot live on that amount. What are the Government going to do about it?

I will tell the hon. Gentleman what the Government are not going to do. They are not going to do what the Opposition want to do—introduce a national minimum wage which will reduce the number of jobs available to the people of this country. The hon. Gentleman must remember that, if we were to introduce a national minimum wage of half average manual earnings, there is likely to be a loss of jobs of about 750,000 over three to four years. Low pay is a great deal better than no pay.