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Volume 226: debated on Wednesday 16 June 1993

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Lords amendment: No. 29— Entitlement to itemised pay settlement

(". After section 146(4) of the 1978 Act (provisions disapplied in relation to employment below minimum number of hours weekly) there shall be inserted—

"(4A) Subject to subsection (4B), subsection (4) shall have effect as respects section 8 subject to the following modifications, namely—

  • (a) the substitution of a reference to eight hours weekly for the reference to sixteen hours weekly, and
  • (b) the omission of the words "Subject to subsection (5), (6) and (7)",
  • (4B) Subsection (4A) shall not apply in relation to employment if, at the relevant date, the number of employees employed by the employer, added to the number employed by any associated employer, is less than twenty.

    (4C) For the purposes of subsection (4B) "relevant date" means the date on which any payment of wages or salary is made to an employee in respect of which he would, apart from subsection (4B), have the right to an itemised pay statement."")

    Read a Second time.

    With this it will be convenient also to discuss Lords amendment No. 41.

    I beg to move, as an amendment to the Lords amendment, amendment (a) leave out subsection (4B).

    This is an important amendment and we will seek to divide the House on it, as it seeks to establish an important right for many part-time workers who will not otherwise be covered by the welcome concession by the Government.

    The amendment concerns the right of employees to receive an itemised pay statement. Many of us feel that that is a basic right for all people in employment. However, until the Government agree to amend the Bill, employees who work for between eight hours and 16 hours a week have to work for the same employer for five years before they have the right to an itemised pay statement. We find it quite amazing that some people have to work for one employer for that length of time before they can enjoy what most of us would consider a basic and necessary right.

    We are glad that, in order to respond to concerns expressed by hon. Members on both sides of the House, the Government have agreed to extend the right to an itemised pay statement to many part-time workers who work for between eight and 16 hours per week. The Lords amendment excludes part-time workers working between eight and 16 hours in firms with fewer than 20 employees. We feel strongly that that rather large derogation from the new rule is unjustified, so we have tabled our amendment to do away with it.

    The arguments advanced by the Minister in the other place in favour of the amendment were similar to those that I would put forward in favour of our amendment, which extends that right even further. In the other place, the Minister said that employees should have the right to know how their pay is made up, with which I am sure my hon. Friends agree strongly. But we do not see why that right should be denied to workers in firms with fewer than 20 employees.

    5.30 pm

    Does the hon. Lady agree that the majority of difficult contractual disputes between employers and employees arise in smaller firms, particularly those with half a dozen to a dozen employees, where the hours of work may not be fully noted and where the conditions may not be fully recorded because they vary from time to time? Does she further agree that the Lords amendment will remove a necessary protection from a large number of workers if the figure is as high as 20?

    I agree with the points made by the hon. and learned Gentleman, to which I shall come later. The evidence available to us suggests that what the hon. and learned Gentleman says is right and that the greatest difficulties have arisen for workers in small firms who have wanted itemised pay statements but have been unable to obtain them.

    Unfortunately, there is much evidence that the denial of itemised pay statements to employees is part and parcel of an attempt by employers criminally to defraud the Treasury by not registering employees properly for national insurance purposes. Therefore, they have been happy to deny their employees this right. Unless employees caught in that situation have written evidence of deductions from their pay, they might even be thought to be colluding with the employer in such frauds and malpractices. That is another important reason why we want to extend the right to an itemised pay statement as widely as possible.

    There is no doubt that having the right to an itemised pay statement would simplify the process of resolving disputes over pay and deductions which can arise, causing problems for employers and employees. In addition, the right to an itemised pay statement can be crucial to an employee's attempt to gain benefits to which he is entitled. Without such written proof in the form of an itemised pay statement, an employee may have great difficulty in proving his entitlement to benefits which may enable him to make ends meet. We are talking not about something theoretical, but about something that is of immense practical help to people if the system is made to work properly.

    It is also important for employees to have written proof of their pay—and conditions—if they transfer to another employer who asks for such information. I should also mention the value of such a system to the Child Support Agency that the Government have set up. There again, a person may need proof of his or her financial situation in the form of an itemised pay statement in order to support his or her case.

    It is odd that the Government should be so keen to ensure that the check-off arrangement should be spelt out in seemingly endless detail, as they clearly were in the early parts of the Bill, but are not prepared to allow every employee the basic right to an itemised pay statement. Surely, if the Government are so keen on allowing employees to see what deductions are made for trade union subscriptions, they should also be keen for employers to show employees the state of their pay and the full range of deductions.

    Those are important matters, to which, to be fair to the Government, the Minister in another place referred, but, having made those important points, he agreed, surprisingly, to deny so many people the right to an itemised pay statement.

    The Government have come out with some curious arguments for not wishing to extend that right to all people, even in small companies. The argument about costs has been put forward, but I do not know whether the Government will be able to persuade us today any more easily than the Minister in the other place was able to persuade the Members there. He singularly failed to convince them of what he was saying about costs. The cost of giving employees an itemised statement may be slight. The Minister in the other place agreed that various standard proformas were available, making it easy for employers to complete such requirement.

    During the discussion on the previous set of amendments, the hon. Lady criticised me for bringing forward an amendment without having consulted widely. Does she not think that it would be right for the Government, having consulted on this matter, to take account of the representations that we have received from organisations such as the Forum of Private Business?

    I hope that the Minister will consider the information and evidence available to him from all quarters. We have received interesting information from the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux and organisations such as the Fawcett Society. They have talked to employers in some detail in order to try to work out the costs involved.

    They concluded that many employers can produce itemised pay statements without any difficulty whatever, that they can be absorbed into existing administrative costs and that the booklets of proforma statements, which can be easily completed, would make that an easy job for small businesses. I hope that the Minister will address that evidence, as well as other representations made to him. I can only go on the representations that have been made to us, which have all been in favour of extending that right to many, if not all, employees.

    It is not only Opposition Members who are concerned about that issue. In Committee, the hon. Member for Tiverton (Mrs. Browning) spoke first about extending that right to part-time workers—those who work between eight and 16 hours per week. We agreed strongly with the points that she made, and it was partly as a result of her representations that the Government tabled this amendment. However, I am not sure that the hon. Lady would support the Minister in this derogation for companies with fewer than 20 employees.

    The Minister is nodding. In that case I am disappointed with the hon. Lady, because it goes against many of the arguments that she advanced in Committee, where she spoke of the individuals about whom we are concerned in this amendment—those working in small companies that may exploit them by not giving them this information.

    I well remember the Minister in Committee making one of his revealing jokes. He said that there seemed to be cross-party agreement about the amendment, which probably meant that it was wrong. That tells us something about the Minister's attitude. I urge him to take into consideration the comments made not only from this side of the House but by Conservative Members in Committee, as well as the wealth of opinion from the Fawcett Society and the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux, to which I pay tribute for its work on that issue.

    I refer also to the views of organisations such as the townswomen's guilds, the National Federation of Women's Institutes and the United Kingdom Federation of Business and Professional Women, which all support the argument that we are advancing today. Those organisations carry considerable weight, not least in Conservative constituencies. The Minister ought to take that into account, consult those organisations, and learn their views. They feel strongly that many employees are being denied a basic right that most people would consider normal and natural in a civilised society.

    I referred to evidence collected by various organisations that some employers who are trying to defraud the authorities deny employees the right to an itemised pay statement. NACAB states that many employers do not issue employees with itemised pay statements, and that there is often doubt whether the employer is paying tax and national insurance contributions on behalf of the employee.

    A CAB in Essex reported that employees at one establishment were paid in cash, and handed back an amount to cover their tax and national insurance—but had no evidence whether those moneys were being passed on to the appropriate authorities. No itemised pay statement was issued, and the employer "turned nasty" when asked for one. The CAB's client found another job and asked for her P45. Instead of receiving an updated P45, that which she had originally given the first employer was returned to her—which seems to prove that that employer was trying to defraud the system and to avoid the regulations covering both employers and employees.

    A CAB in Warwickshire reported a client whose wages were paid partly by cheque and partly in cash, to enable the employer to default on national insurance and PAYE. The bureau explained that, as the client lived in a tied cottage, she was very reluctant to complain, because obviously not only her job but also her home was at risk.

    A CAB in Shropshire commented:
    "It is often only when employees leave their employment that they discover that their employer has not been deducting or paying over PAYE, income tax and national insurance contributions."
    It is extremely important for the right to an itemised pay statement to be widely available, so that attempted fraud can be overcome.

    The right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Carlile) mentioned the number of people who might be affected. The Government are excluding many by the derogation that the amendment introduces. Figures supplied by the Library suggest that 7 million employees work in businesses having fewer than 20 employees—about 31 per cent. of all those in work. A number work for only between eight and 16 hours a week. I do not have Government figures, but I believe that hundreds of thousands of workers would be affected by the Government's proposal. I should be grateful for any figures that the Minister can give.

    I understand that about 780,000 people work more than eight hours but fewer than 16 hours a week in companies employing fewer than 20 people. That substantial figure represents the number who will fall foul of the Government's amendment. We ask the Minister to consider those 780,000 people and their right to an itemised pay statement.

    5.45 pm

    The Minister may argue that there is nothing to stop employers issuing itemised pay statements. That is true, but we are concerned about employers who do not observe that practice. If many firms are already able to issue such statements, we see no reason why others should not he able similarly to comply.

    We are concerned also about employees who work fewer than eight hours a week. Although we have not tabled an amendment on that specific issue, it touches on the Government amendment under consideration. We see no justification for the eight-hour cut-off limit. In Committee, the Minister said that it would be inconvenient for employers to issue pay statements to those who only work two or three hours a week, but I ask the Minister to view the matter from the employee's point of view.

    An employee may work fewer than eight hours in one job but additional hours in another job. He or she may need to prove total entitlement to certain benefits, want to transfer to another employer, or meet all the other possible scenarios that I mentioned earlier.

    Many people in Britain today work in unsatisfactory part-time jobs. Sometimes, they have two or three such jobs—and may ultimately find it difficult to claim pension or other entitlements if they are unable to prove that they have worked as many hours as they have.

    The hon. Lady suggests that anyone in Britain who employs a cleaning lady, gardener, or someone else to do the odd job should be required—regardless of the amount of time worked—to produce an itemised pay statement as a matter of law. Is that her proposal?

    Employees, no matter in what capacity they work, should receive an itemised pay statement if they want one. Under the Government's rules, they will have no such entitlement. The Government do not understand the difficulties confronting many people in Britain today who have been casualised by Government employment policies. They work week in, week out in unsatisfactory conditions of employment, and then discover that the hours worked count for very little in respect of their benefits and pension rights, and that there is little to which to look forward in the future. They are therefore twice handicapped.

    I beg the Minister to examine more carefully than he seems prepared to do some of the dire working conditions that obtain in Britain today, of which the denial of an itemised pay statement is part and parcel. It may seem a small part, but it is an important element in an unsatisfactory equation.

    By removing the derogation for firms employing 20 or fewer employees and the time limit, the Minister will take a small but significant step towards improving the lot of part-time and temporary workers.

    We are concerned that part-time workers appear to have such a bad deal. In order to be entitled to many employment rights, they have to work for one employer for five years, which, in effect, denies about two thirds of part-time workers any employment rights at all. It is an absolute scandal.

    Other European countries do not make the same rigid distinctions between full-time and part-time workers; nor do they distinguish between different types of part-time work. For example; they do not distinguish between part-time work lasting 16 hours or eight hours, a distinction which is so unfavourable for many part-time workers in Britain.

    The Government should consider far more seriously extending full-time employment rights to part-time workers. They sometimes accuse us of being anti part-time workers. We are not, but we are anti part-time work in appalling conditions. We want part-time work to be a tremendous opportunity for women and men, but unfortunately it is not: it is merely a way of exploiting them and giving them fewer employment rights than their full-time counterparts. We are not opposed to part-time work—we are very much in favour of it—but we do not want it to be used to penalise people for the rest of their working lives, which is what appears to be happening under the system approved by the Government.

    I refer the Minister of State to the excellent report produced some time ago by the Committee which considers European legislation in another place. It is a very good report, which pours cold water on the Government's claims about the extra costs incurred in extending many employment rights to part-time workers. If the Minister studies the information in detail, he will see that a very impressive case was made for extending such rights to part-time workers.

    Indeed, a survey referred to in the Committee's report showed that less than 1 per cent. of firms which were contacted quoted poorer employment rights as the reason for employing part-time workers. Generally, there seemed to be a great lack of conviction in the Government's case that extending even basic rights to part-time workers would cost the earth. The evidence for the Government's argument is patchy, but the evidence that British part-time workers are getting a poor deal is not patchy but overwhelming.

    I urge the Minister to do what he has often said he favours, and encourage quality part-time work by accepting the ideas that we have proposed in all the debates. As a modest beginning, he could welcome the amendment and thus allow those who want an itemised pay statement to have it. It is a basic right, which should no longer be denied.

    My comments relate to the 20-employee limit. I am surprised that the Government have chosen such a high figure. It is almost inconceivable that an employer who has 19, 15 or even a dozen employees could remain in business if he was incapable of filling in a small form setting out the items that comprise an employee's pay. It does not require sophisticated machinery, a chartered accountant or a qualified bookkeeper to do so; it requires only a duplicate pad on which the employer's bookkeeper—who is often not qualified—jots down for the benefit of the employee the number of hours worked, the hourly rate for the work, any overtime, and any other items which make up his pay. If an employer is not capable of carrying out such rudimentary book work, it is unlikely that he will stay in business very long.

    As I am sire the Government have learnt in the past three years in particular, it is often small firms which go bankrupt or into liquidation because they are incapable of completing their books properly. The resulting debt is often crippling for the victims. All hon. Members are aware of small businesses in their constituencies whose proprietors have faced bankruptcy or near-bankruptcy because of the inefficiency of other small firms and organisations purchasing from them.

    I would suggest that modest bookkeeping requirements, including the provision of itemised pay statements, help towards the necessary measure of efficiency. I do not suggest that the requirement should be placed on the very smallest employers, those employing two, three, or perhaps fewer than half a dozen employees. In that respect, I take a slightly different view from the Labour party, but an employer who employs more than half a dozen people can be regarded as significant in an employment market where such a large proportion of working people are employed in small firms.

    I hear what the hon. and learned Gentleman is saying. He agrees with the Government that there should be an exemption for small firms, but says that it should apply to those employing six rather than 20 people. The Liberal party has not tabled an amendment to reflect that view. I should have thought that, if the hon. and learned Gentleman believed that the figure should be six rather than 20, he would have been able to make a case for that idea and tabled an amendment. What does he expect the Government to do in response to his representations, given the fact that we have reached this stage in our consideration of the Bill?

    I do not harbour the illusion that the hon. Gentleman would have urged his right hon. and hon. Friends to vote for such an amendment had I tabled it. It is for the Government to make the regulations. They are well aware of representations that have been made. [ Interruption.] If the Minister will listen for a moment, I repeat that the Government are well aware of the all-party representations made on this issue in Committee.

    As we have been reminded, it was the hon. Member for Tiverton (Mrs. Browning), who is sitting behind the Minister, who urged on the Committee—indeed, who assisted Labour Members in urging on the Committee—an amendment that was incorporated in part in Lords amendment No. 29. It is somewhat surprising that the hon. Lady now seems to accept that the 20-employee limit is appropriate. When the Government fix an appropriate level, they should act in the interests of both employers and employees.

    In an intervention, the Minister of State mentioned the Forum of Private Business. I have considerable regard for that organisation, which provides useful information to hon. Members, enabling us to keep abreast of the requirements and concerns of small employers in particular. However, the organisation is not always right. Of course, the way in which it collects its material is founded on the sending of questionnaires for which it devises the questions.

    I shall give way in a moment.

    As a result, the information provided by the questionnaires may not always be entirely reliable in considering such issues. Does the Minister still want me to give way?

    I will just say that there were no Liberal representatives on the Committee, but, had the hon. and learned Gentleman had the pleasure of serving on it, as many hon. Members present today did, he would know that we listened to the Opposition's arguments and accepted many amendments.

    Many. My point is that at no stage have the Liberals tabled an amendment suggesting that six rather than 20 would be the appropriate limit. I am rather surprised to hear the hon. and learned Gentleman talk down the importance of representations made by the Forum of Private Business, but we had similar representations from the Confederation of British Industry.

    I was telling the Minister that it is surprising to hear that the hon. Member for Tiverton, who in Committee apparently asked for something rather more extensive, now seems to accept the rather grudging 20-employee limit. That point was entirely fairly made.

    6 pm

    I shall not give way to the Minister again, because we do not want a ping-pong debate.

    I regret that the Government have not dealt with the amendment in the spirit that I understood from reading the Committee debate—I did not have the advantage of serving on the Committee—was the basis on which the Minister responded to that debate. In response to his claim that I tried to talk down the Forum of Private Business, I add that I did the precise opposite. I was at pains to point out that the information that that organisation provided was helpful. Nevertheless, it is not always right, and in my view it was not right on that occasion.

    There is another practical aspect of the 20-employee limit that the Government should consider seriously. Disputes that arise about terms and conditions of employment often relate to hours worked, and especially to whether national insurance contributions should have been paid, or whether the full tax due under the PAYE arrangements has been paid. As the Minister intervened in my speech, I should be grateful if he would take the trouble to listen for the next two or three minutes. I was addressing a comment to him in the hope that he might respond to it when he replies to the debate.

    As the Minister knows, the disputes that arise between employers and employees relate to a contract between the two parties. An employee is often at a considerable disadvantage if he has no documentary evidence of the terms and conditions of his employment, and especially of the hours worked in a particular week or other period. If an employer chooses to act dishonestly—he may well choose to do so if the issue is whether national insurance contributions or tax should have been paid—he can enter false particulars in his records at the time when the dispute arises. I am afraid that my experience over more than 20 years as a practitioner in the courts is that, unfortunately, that is just the sort of thing that happens from time to time. Of course, most employers are completely honest, but the employers with whom employees have the greatest difficulty are often those who are not.

    When, for example, an employee comes to his Member of Parliament and says that he is in dispute with his former employer, who should have paid national insurance contributions, the first thing that the conscientious Member of Parliament asks to see is documentary evidence of the employment. If the employee is not entitled to an itemised pay statement, even when he has been working as many as 16 hours a week, he is at a disadvantage. This can lead to a contest between the oral evidence of the employee and the not always entirely accurate or honest written evidence of the employer. Such disputes take up much time. They come before small claims courts regularly and take up the time of citizens advice bureaux. It is notable that the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux takes precisely the same view as I.

    Why are the Government not prepared to impose on businesses that are not the smallest the relatively minor requirement to provide a weekly or monthly statement of particulars for employees? It is not asking much. I ask the Minister to explain the reasoning behind the views expressed by the CBI to which he referred. We have not heard the reasoning in the debate so far and there cannot be many CBI members who either could or would wish to take advantage of the distinction that the Government, with the arbitrary cut-off limit of 20 employees, seek to draw between large and small businesses.

    If the Minister is unwilling to change his mind, I ask him at least to give the House an assurance. My request is supported by the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux, which is concerned about the issue. Will he ensure that his Department monitors the operation of the 20-employee limit? I understand that it could be altered by statutory regulations, so primary legislation would not be needed. If the Minister were prepared to monitor the operation of the limit, and if the Government found that abuse was taking place, it would be possible to introduce regulations to reduce the limit. I hope that the Minister will find that to be a reasonable approach.

    I rise briefly to encourage the House to support the Lords amendments and to resist the blandishments of the hon. Member for Gateshead, East (Ms Quin). I should declare two interests, one as a trade unionist—I am a member of Equity, enjoying what the union kindly describes as "honourable withdrawal", which I trust will continue for a full three decades—and the other as someone who is unwittingly currently taking part in an experiment on the 48-hour week, as it is 36 hours since we who serve on the Standing Committee on the Finance Bill last saw our beds.

    I urge the House to support Lords amendment No. 29, because everything in it is good sense. Clearly, it reflects a recognition of the changes in the labour market—both the considerable increase in the number of women in the labour market in recent years and the great increase in part-time workers. Incidentally, I look forward to studying the book by the hon. Member for Peckham (Ms Harman), as I am sure it is full of interesting information on that very topic.

    The nub of the disagreement between the two sides of the House involves the 20-employee limit. The essence of what I wish to share with the House is what I have heard from employers in my constituency—yes, they are members of the Forum of Private Business. I sometimes think that Opposition Members have had little experience of running small businesses. There is no doubt that small businesses are the source of growth. Larger businesses grow from smaller businesses.

    I am sure that the hon. Gentleman intends to tell us about his experience as a small business man. Does he provide itemised pay statements for the employees in the small businesses with which he has been involved?

    Yes, indeed. That is a marvellous example of good practice, and we want to encourage it. That is why the requirement is in the Bill. But we want to get the balance right. We do not want to impose compulsorily on small businesses—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] We want to encourage good practice. No doubt, in the fulness of time, more and more small businesses will provide itemised pay statements, but they do not wish to have their hands tied. This is all about getting the balance right. People asked for a listening Government and they have got one. We listen to the small businesses and we say, "We want to do this; it is good practice. But we also want to enable you to conduct your business in the way that you think best."

    I have been listening to the hon. Gentleman. Is there not a real weakness in his argument, in that it relies on good practice on a voluntary basis? Presumably he, as a small business man, provides itemised pay slips because he is a good business person, he has nothing to fear and he pays his national insurance contributions as he should. The worry about the voluntary system is that those who do not provide the information are those who most need to do so. Surely that is where, in any civilised society, the law has some part to play.

    The whole idea is to extend good practice. That is what Conservative Members want, but Labour Members have made it clear that they would like workers who work fewer than eight hours to be included. The hon. Member for Ellesmere Port and Nestor (Mr. Miller) is nodding enthusiastically at the prospect of somebody working for one or two hours a week and being entitled to an itemised pay statement. That is because Labour Members are the friends of bureaucracy and regulation and want to increase the burden. We want to encourage good practice and, at the same time, allow small businesses to work and to grow. This is a small piece of legislation, but it is vital and I thoroughly commend it to the House.

    I want to support the argument advanced by my hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead, East (Ms Quin) and in so doing to add two further lines of argument.

    I want to develop the line that the hon. Member for City of Chester (Mr. Brandreth) has just taken, in which he accused Labour Members of paying no attention to what is happening in the labour market. The changes that my hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead, East advanced were based on what is happening in that market. An increasing number of people are active in the Labour party —the labour market, rather; thank God the two are not comparable, or the economy would be totally down the drain—and are part of what is called the flexible labour market. If we are not to store up trouble for those people and huge bills for taxpayers later, it is important that we ensure that minimum services are given and contributions are both paid and recorded.

    The argument advanced by my hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead, East—that we should be concerned about both the cut-off point for employers with fewer than 20 employees and the hours cut-off point—is crucial. When we look back on our working lives, let alone those of our grandchildren, we will be amazed at the number of people who at some time worked for a few hours and at other times worked hours more like what we would call a full-time week. If, during those working lives, we are to build up contributions to the national insurance fund and, more important, as time goes by, to universalise private pension arrangements, we should ensure that all employees are safely linked in to building up wealth, from which they can draw on later in their lives.

    I hope that our argument, and the amendments that we have tabled, are seen as part of a broader argument for changes in, for example, national insurance contributions. At the moment, the labour market is rigged. As Mrs. Thatcher once said, however, "You can't buck the market." If employers' national insurance contributions are not required below £56 a week, we cannot be surprised when there is a massive extension in part-time jobs.

    I hope that Labour Members will increasingly call for employers' contributions to start at the first pound of earnings—not because we want to increase the amount of money raised by national insurance contributions, but because it is important to have a level playing field, whereby employers and employees can work out how many hours of work are offered and how many hours people want to work, rather than have a financial incentive that gears job creation to part-time jobs.

    If we take seriously the argument of the hon. Member for City of Chester—that we should be concerned with developments in the labour market—we will see him in our Lobby tonight. Changes in the labour market and an increase in the number of what are called "flexible workers" make our argument carry that much more force and leave the Government in some difficulty trying to defend their position.

    If the Government genuinely believe in not rigging markets and in level playing fields, workers' rights should begin with the first hour of earnings. The standards that the hon. Member for City of Chester applies in his own business will, we hope, be applied by all employers. The bad employers would apply those standards because the law compels them to do so and the good employers—who, we hope, are the vast majority—would have no difficulty in fulfilling that requirement because they already do so.

    6.15 pm

    That is one of the arguments that I wish to advance. The other is about minimum standards. The Government have knocked away minimum standards in our society. We have seen that with the mutilation and abolition of wages councils and the abolition of the fair wages resolution and of security for people against being unfairly sacked. If I were speaking to members of the Tory party, they would have no difficulty in understanding my argument, but in the past 15 years a group of 19th-century liberals have climbed aboard the Tory party, thrown the crew overboard and steered the ship in a completely different direction.

    There must be minimum standards. The body politic and the economic arrangements of a society are like the complicated human body, which needs checks and balances; throwing them away results in some very distorted positions and gross exploitation of the weakest members of the labour market. I hope that, as we think about the next election, when we recognise that we are living in an economy governed by a social market, to which we have no fundamental alternative, we make a case against the unacceptable faces of a social market economy as run by this Government.

    Guaranteeing minimum standards for people at the bottom of the pile is one feature. Therefore, I very much support the arguments that were advanced by my hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead, East. In so doing, I merely wish to correct the record, because in some debates on the Bill it has been suggested that I am against minimum wage proposals. That is untrue. I have cautioned my party about the employment consequences of a minimum wage—of setting it at an absurd level in the early stages—and about the need for it to be very low, for it to be offset by reductions in national insurance contributions, and to link it to an industrial strategy for training and investment to increase productivity. I have not made a stand against a minimum wage, but have cautioned as to how we implement it.

    If Labour is successfully to challenge the unacceptable faces of a social market economy, it must come out very clearly in favour of laying down minimum standards, not in a way that kills the goose that lays the golden egg but with the confidence of a party that knows that all these questions are matters of balance and feels that it has that balance correct. Tonight, we can take one small step against the unacceptable faces that have driven wage rates down to less than £2 for workers in the Birkenhead jobcentre. That is not acceptable. We want countermeasures to tackle that.

    As we approach a much more flexible economy, it is crucial that employers do not get their employees on the cheap—that employers do not deny them their rights to have their national insurance contributions paid and to become part of a universalise provision of private pensions. We must ensure that those contributions are paid, because if we do not, and if the Government get their way, that failure will put that much extra cost on taxpayers and welfare in the future.

    I hope that the Labour party increasingly accepts a reform of welfare which sees the budget being reduced because we have been so successful in knitting people into jobs and into wealth that comes from work and from owning wealth. If that happened, there would be less need for people to draw on what we have traditionally thought of as the welfare state. If that is to be our approach, the House will oppose the Government today. They are moving away from that situation and are increasingly putting the costs back on the employees, and especially those who are least able to bear that cost.

    I welcome the decision of my hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead, East to divide the House. We will divide the House tonight on an aspect of the unacceptable faces of the social market economy. Those unacceptable faces are now the big divide between the two major parties in the Chamber.

    The Government's attitude never ceases to amaze me. I find it incredible that we are talking about people as if they were a motor car that was being repaired. Many hon. Members will have had their car fixed and then checked the bill. The bill is itemised, so that the customer can see how much he is being charged per hour for the fitter and the electrician and how much for oil and for the parts. It is not difficult. We live in a high-tech world where computers are an everyday thing, and where schoolkids probably know more about computers than any hon. Member.

    Has any young person been asked how he feels about the proposal? The Government seem to have asked the Confederation of British Industry and the Federation of Small Businesses. I do not know one young person under the age of 20 who has been approached by the Government and asked about the abolition of anything that relates to young people. They have been taken out of the wage councils and have lost some of their rights to protection. There is now a suggestion that they will not get even an itemised wages slip. That is quite incredible.

    Despite the problems that the country faces, the Government are spending time supporting a Lords amendment such as this. I find that lamentable. Young people in my constituency want the right to get a job, to get training and to get a full education that will take them into a decent arena of work. Perhaps the Minister would agree with me. I know plenty of young people who would like the Minister's job, and would probably do a far better job than he does. In fact, I guarantee that nearly every 20-year-old in my constituency could do a far better job in coming forward with employment rights to suit the needs and requirements of young people than the Minister.

    I am trying to use my English accent rather than my Glasgow accent so that the Minister will understand. The nitpicking of the Government is unbelievable. The Bill is about trade union reform and employment rights, and we are saying to young folk under 20 that they will not get their rights. The Government want employers not to bother telling their young employees what their deductions are. They do not want to tell the young people what they are earning. Those young people may be working for eight, 10 or 16 hours and they will not be told what they have earned.

    We heard from the Government how many part-time workers are contributing to the country's economy. Are we going to treat them like a lump of stone to be shoved about, or are we going to treat them like human beings? I resent the Government treating our people like cannon fodder to be blown about and to be treated in such a fashion. The House is not talking about animals; it is talking about people. Surely our people have the right to be treated in a dignified fashion. If they work for an hour, they are entitled to know what their wages are for that hour. They are entitled to get a pay slip.

    Normally, the hon. Gentleman and I get on extremely well in debates such as this. Could I draw to his attention the fact that we are discussing a Government amendment which, precisely as he asks, gives people the right to an itemised pay statement? The Opposition amendment seeks to amend our amendment to remove the limit that has been set to exclude small employers. That is the issue. I should not want the hon. Gentleman to be put in a position where Conservative Members might decide that his job could be better done by a 20-year-old as well.

    I am convinced that literally hundreds of thousands of young people under the age of 20 could do a far superior job. I am here to give the House the benefit of my experience in a way that is fitting, given that my constituents sent me to this place.

    Could the Minister say why the matter has been discussed with employers only? Why has it not been discussed with young people? The Government never discuss anthing with the young people of this country, and they are treated like cannon fodder. In a war such as there was in the Gulf, it would not be long before the young people were in the front line and lying down and dying for this country. The Government would demand that they go to war.

    Why do not the Government recognise the right of young people to an itemised wage bill? Why should not young people see a breakdown of their pay? I know of plenty of duff employers. I know of some savage employers who have gone bankrupt and out of business. Some are hiding in Cyprus or Spain and did not pay any tax for their employees. I know some kids who are waiting for their holiday pay. I know people who have waited years for their holiday pay because they did not get it from a bum, bad employer. I have a list of those companies as long as my arm. We can supply the Minister with the list if he wants us to.

    I am sick and tired of the House debating the subject of young people without any real consideration for their thoughts. We are turning out some of the biggest bunch of old fogeys in the western world. Unfortunately, when I sit in the House, I realise that I am an old fogey along with other hon. Members. I have two young sons who do not miss me. When I come home, they ask: "When is the House going to get its act together? Why are there thousands and thousands of their pals on the dole who cannot get work and who want to work? Why are not the young people getting a proper education or proper training?"

    I challenged the Minister on the question of training credits for young people. I was told that there were thousands of training credits in my area. Last night, I asked an executive of Scottish Enterprise how many folk were getting the credits. The answer was none. There were six getting credits in Dunbarton and others elsewhere in Scotland. The point is that I got bum information, which was neither suitable nor acceptable to my constituents. If the Minister can get that wrong, he can get the amendment wrong, too.

    The other day I got a telephone bill from British Telecom. Have hon. Members seen it? There is an itemised bill—no problem. The customer sees that he has spent 64p here and 54p there, or talked for a minute here and one and a half minutes there. The customer can find out whether his wife has overdone the phone bill—my wife usually says that I have overdone it. If a customer goes to the grocers, or shops at Asda or Tesco, there is an iternised bill. Has the Minister ever been shopping? I go with the wife. The bill shows a pint of milk and a loaf of bread. It tells the customer that he has bought those things and gives him the price of them. There is no problem at all.

    Yet the Government tell us that they are helping small business by not giving employees an itemised wages slip. Their heads are in a tin—they are off their nut. That is not the kind of progress that we need. Let us have genuine discussions about employment rights, and no nonsense wasting the time of the House.

    6.30 pm

    :The statutory right to an intemised pay slip is fundamental. It is something that a worker should expect when he takes employment, no matter how many hours he works. The amendment will not extend that statutory right to tens of thousands of vulnerable people.

    Many, if not all, of those workers will be women who have been forced into part-time employment because of economic circumstances. They have had to take a few hours work to earn a little more money to support the family, to buy a little more for the table and to buy clothes for the children, because, generally, one person in the partnership is out of work.

    In these days of mass unemployment, when jobs are hard to come by, many part-time workers will be young people who have been unable to find full-time work and have had to take the first part-time job that comes along.

    The people who framed the amendment have little idea how many people might be affected. I said that tens of thousands of people will be affected. My hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead, East (Ms Quin) mentioned 780,000 people.

    This morning, in its submission to the Trade and Industry Select Committee, the Federation of Small Businesses said there are as many as 4 million self-employed small business men and I million small limited companies. It said that about 97 per cent. of small businesses employ fewer than 20 people, and 91 per cent. employ fewer than 10 people. A great many of those employees will be part-time. If we multiply that figure by 10, we will not be far short of the figure that my hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead, East used—that is, 780,000.

    The 780,000 which my hon. Friend rightly quoted includes those in companies which employ fewer than 20 people who work more than eight hours but fewer than 16 hours. If we take into account those who work fewer than eight hours, we have a figure of 1·25 million. My hon. Friend is absolutely right; a very large number of people are affected.

    I am grateful to my hon. Friend for pointing that out. We are talking of more than 1 million workers being affected.

    Under this Government, small businesses have been treated rather shabbily. In 1992, for example, the failure rate was almost 63,000. Many employees will have claims against the small businesses that have folded. Those employees will be able to prosecute their claims, because they will have evidence that they were employed, evidence of the hours they worked, and evidence of how much they earned. Without an itemised pay slip, it is unlikely that an employee will be able to prosecute a claim.

    The amendment gives a nod and a wink to employers not to keep records. The Government should make it clear that records are necessary and should be kept by small businesses. The Lords amendment is a retrograde step; I ask the House to vote against it and to support the amendment tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead, East.

    No doubt the Minister will respond to our amendment by arguing that the small additional costs that might be incurred by itemising pay slips for employees in firms of fewer than 20 employees will be the straw that breaks the camel's back for some small firms, and will drive them into bankruptcy. The Minister might be interested to hear what representatives of industry, including small businesses and the Confederation of British Industry, have told the Trade and Industry Select Committee about ways of improving the competitiveness and productivity of British industry, so that the hon. Gentleman can be assured that the emphasis on cost is the least of industry's problems and that he can therefore support our amendment.

    Among the problems that have been identified, particularly by small business, are the way that VAT is collected; the attitude of the banks; difficulties in obtaining loans; the tax system, and particularly how it affects small businesses; the lack of an overall structure; infrastructure, including education; and the difficulty with training and transport. This morning, the representatives who attended the Select Committee did not touch upon any costs relating to labour. That has not been identified to us as a major problem, although representatives went on at length about some of the factors that I have drawn to the Minister's attention.

    It is becoming clear that the countries that do better than us and have more productive industries than ours —for example, Japan and Germany—have a fundamentally different attitude to their employees. That is reflected in employment and trade union rights and the bargaining process in respect of wage settlements. The reason for those countries' higher productivity is that their work forces have been managed properly and involved in firms' decisions. They feel that they have a long-term future and are therefore willing to work harder for their companies. That has led to higher productivity and higher-quality goods.

    That point is not difficult to understand. The Minister knows that anybody who is managed well will respond more favourably. I am sure that the Ministers whom the Prime Minister treats well behave much better than the Ministers whom he does not treat well. That is a fact of life: it is plain common sense. Indeed, this morning, the CBI acknowledged that there has been a problem with the lack of management skills in industry, and that we must involve people more. Only by doing so can we use the talents and skills of our people and stop the desperate malaise in British industry. I draw that to the Minister's attention because the issue of itemised pay slips, although small in itself, is important in recognising employees' rights.

    A Conservative Member talked about the odd job of a cleaning lady. It is not an odd job at all. Without women doing those jobs, the country would collapse. The problem is that no value is placed on that work. Itemised pay slips for those workers is a way of giving the message that they are important. It is up to the Government to show leadership. If the Government do not show leadership by saying that people and their jobs are important, we cannot expect the management of British industry to give that message. The Government have a chance to give that message by supporting our amendment. Cost did not prevent the Government from asking local authorities to send out itemised poll tax bills to all residents. Local authorities are a service industry. The Government asked local authorities to do that because they thought that it was right and proper that taxpayers should be aware of what they were being asked to pay.

    The hon. Lady is making the same mistake as the hon. Member for Renfrew, West and Inverclyde (Mr. Graham). As a result of our amendment, large employers will, for the first time, he required to give itemised pay statements to employees who work a small number of hours. What is at issue is small businesses, so an analogy with itemised statements being required by large employers such as local authorities is not a fair one.

    The Minister should recall that, at the beginning of my speech, I anticipated his argument about extending that right to firms with less than 20 employees. I anticipated that his argument would relate to cost. I have not misunderstood the amendment. My point is that, if something is right and the Government think that it is right, regardless of the cost—for example, to send itemised poll tax bills to all residents in a borough—the argument about cost is not one that the Minister can use at all because the issue is about rights. I see that the Minister now understands.

    Millions of pounds have been spent on sending out glossy brochures about the citizens charter and aspects of the health service. That has cost the service industries money, but the Government did that because they thought that it was right. My point is that, if it is right to send itemised pay slips to employees, it is right to send them to all employees.

    The Government have a fundamental problem in distinguishing rights from costs. There is a great strength of feeling in the United Kingdom that the contribution that people make is not valued and their rights are balanced by the Government time and time again on factors relating to cost. The contribution that people make is important, and they should not be denied basic rights simply because of the cost.

    6.45 pm

    When my hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead, East (Ms Quin) was speaking, I noticed that the Government Whip had his handkerchief out. I thought that he was bursting into tears at the thought of having to provide an itemised pay statement for his valet, or whatever.

    The crux of the argument is the question: why should any worker not be entitled to an itemised pay statement? The Government bluntly said that it would be too costly. Indeed, in Committee on 14 January, the Minister of State suffered from the needle being stuck more than once, because he repeated himself three times in columns 435–36 when referring to the additional cost imposed on employers.

    The hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Carlile) made an important point that followed the theme adopted by my hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead, East (Ms Quin) in terms of legal cases. My hon. Friend referred to the evidence submitted by the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux. The hon. and learned Member for Montgomery referred to a number of legal cases in his professional background that stemmed from companies with a small number of employees.

    Last night, I advised the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on an issue that affects her responsibility, which spills into this debate. It is ironic that she held the position of Secretary of State for Employment previously. It is a great pity that the Minister has chosen to ignore the evidence provided to the Committee by NACAB.

    In a document sent to me today, NACAB says that evidence shows that itemised pay slips can save a lot of time later if disputes arise. That is exactly along the lines of the point made by the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery. For example, if an employee thinks that an employer has not paid the correct amount, made an illegal deduction from his pay or not been paying tax, it is the experience of the NACAB that some employers clearly flout their obligations under the law by not deducting pay-as-you-earn tax and national insurance contributions. Other employers may make the deductions but not pay the money to the Inland Revenue.

    In both cases, that is revenue lost to the Exchequer and deficient national insurance contribution records affect future benefit entitlements. The National Audit Office reported that there was large-scale under-collection of national insurance contributions.

    If those issues are not ones in which the Government should be interested, given the perilous state of the nation's finances, I do not know what are. It is ironic that the Government should choose to ignore that, from the Treasury point of view and that of individual citizens who are affected by some of the examples to which my hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead, East referred.

    There are many other examples. A citizens advice bureau in South Wales reports a client who is employed by a nursing home. Her contract states that, if her pay exceeds the lower limit for national insurance contributions, she may receive store gift vouchers, which are exempt from national insurance. That is illegal. I am not entirely sure that having a pay statement would mitigate that. but it would go a long way to helping the employee to argue her legal rights if the matter went to court.

    A citizens advice bureau in Devon reports a client who was paid £23 a night to work in a residential care home, despite being told that she would be paid £24 a night. When she complained, she was told that it was to keep her payments below the national insurance level. She insisted on full payment, and her next wage packet had £6·50 deducted for national insurance contributions. As her wage was below the level for national insurance contributions, the deductions were clearly wrong. If she had had documentary proof of that in the form of an itemised pay statement, she would have been in a strong position to challenge her employer in court.

    I shall give the Government some advice about the way in which to encourage small businesses to think positively about this matter, and I shall do so in two ways. One way to encourage small businesses is by the use of modern technology—I say this as someone who has some knowledge of the subject.

    It is interesting that the training and enterprise council in my area has sent out 10,000 attractively produced glossy leaflets showing its successes and activities. I do not criticise the TEC for many of the activities in which it has engaged, but, I criticise the use of money to produce the glossy literature. That money could have been used to train small employers in how better to utilise modern technology in their industries to ensure that such simple things can be provided as a matter of course.

    Any company worth its salt keeps records. It is more efficient to keep records on a computer database than to do so manually. The Secretary of State will know Chester, Ellesmere Port and Warrington TEC—CEWTEC—and will doubtless praise many of its activities, but I am sure that he will agree that it could direct some resources towards helping to train small businesses in how to improve their record-keeping, administration and efficiency. Part of that process could be to encourage small businesses, many of which use computers, to utilise facilities that are available at minimal cost to provide statements to their employees.

    From his experience, can the hon. Gentleman say how long it would take to prepare an itemised statement?

    I shall stick to the point that I was making about computerised information, and will refer to manual records later.

    A good employer will collate the relevant computerised data, and it would take seconds to produce an itemised statement. If an employer has a well organised database, the stroke of a handful of keys will be all that is necessary to produce the statement. The process can he as quick as that in a well run business—and we are all in favour of encouraging such businesses.

    The same arguments can be applied to the question whether there should be an upper limit of 20. The hon. Member for Tiverton (Mrs. Browning) made an important contribution in Committee, and I congratulate her on being positive. I hope that she does not back off one jot from the sentence, which is on record, in which she said:
    "As the trend is towards part-time work, especially for women, it is important that everyone who has deductions from pay, and who in future may have to prove them either to the Inland Revenue or to the Benefits Agency, has written proof of those deductions."—[Official Report. Standing Committee F, 14 January 1993; c. 434.]
    I absolutely agree—"everyone" must mean everyone in a company, irrespective of size. I hope that the hon. Member for Tiverton will support us in the Division Lobby. Why should there be an arbitrary limit on the number of employees in a company?

    To return to the issue raised by the hon. Member for Antrim, East (Mr. Beggs), even if a very small company cannot justify the few hundred pounds' investment in a personal computer that could be used for other activities, the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Carlile) has supplied the ideal solution. A proforma duplicate pad could be used to provide the basic information.

    An employer—no matter what size his business—must keep books in some form or another, so to produce information on a carbonised pad would not take any effort. It would require the employer to produce information in an honest, open and accountable way to all those involved—not just the employees, but all the public agencies. Even if the technology in a company extended only to a ballpoint pen, the employer would have the facilities at his disposal to provide the information required.

    It is against that background that I believe that the Government have slipped up badly. They had an opportunity to make a major advance and have failed to take it. Therefore, I support my hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead, East in opposing the Lords amendment.

    We have had an interesting debate and learnt that the official Opposition policy is to start a paper chase the length and breadth of Britain. Every cleaning lady and part-time handyman will be given a piece of paper by their employers, whether they want it or not.

    The Opposition have been thoroughly ungrateful today in the face of the Government's reasonable and responsible response to considered arguments.

    The hon. Gentleman says from a sedentary position that that is not true. I listened to my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton (Mrs. Browning) —I am delighted that she has agreed to become my Parliamentary Private Secretary today. It was in no small part due to the part that she played in Committee that my right hon. Friend and I felt that she would be a splendid addition to the Department. My hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton took the initiative in Committee. The hon. Member for Strathkelvin and Bearsden (Mr. Galbraith) supported the arguments advanced by my hon. Friend.

    The hon. Member for Ellesmere Port and Neston (Mr. Miller) is not distinguishing himself today—he is no gentleman. He quoted my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton selectively. He did not quote column 436, where she said in response to my comments:
    "I am encouraged by my hon. Friend's comments"
    My comments in respect of the amendment were:
    "Once again, we are discussing an additional cost being imposed on employers. I am not certain what the costs or the implications would be. We have had no opportunity to discuss the idea with any of the organisations which represent small businesses, which would be affected by the proposal. If my hon. Friend will withdraw the amendment, we can pursue her idea with outside groups which take an interest in these matters, and reach a conclusion."—[Official Report, Standing Committee F, 14 January 1993; c. 436.]
    That is precisely what we did—we consulted.

    Earlier, I was criticised for not consulting. On that occasion we consulted and found that the Confederation of British Industry, the Forum of Private Business and other organisations wanted a cut-off for small firms. That was why we introduced the amendment to improve the law by giving new rights to employees who work a small number of hours. We limited the legislation in terms of the impact on business and introduced it in such a way that any change to the limit can be made by secondary legislation should any Government decide to do so in the future.

    That policy marks an advance, and to be faced with Opposition criticism that we have not done enough in a sector where we have done a great deal as a result of discussions in Committee—and done so in double quick time—is harsh.

    I am grateful to the Minister for giving way, and particularly for reminding us that the Government are a listening Government. We applaud the Minister for talking to the CBI and representatives of small businesses before reaching a decision. However, how many low-paid, part-time workers in his constituency did he speak to before coming up with his formula?

    The conversations that I have had with low-paid workers in my constituency showed that receiving itemised pay statements was not at the top of their agenda, where they listed more basic items such as how to improve their employment prospects, deal with housing problems and other such issues. One of the ways of solving such problems is to increase this country's wealth-creating capacity. We shall not achieve that by tying up businesses in red tape, as the hon. Gentleman well knows.

    Did the Minister consult his colleagues in the Department of Social Security and in the Benefits Agency? I am worried that many people who will not now have itemised pay slips will not qualify for means-tested benefits and other benefits administered by the Department. What did the DSS have to say about his proposals?

    7 pm

    People in the tax system will get their P60s, which provide the information. There is nothing to prevent employers, the vast majority of whom follow best practices in this matter, from providing the information for people whose incomes fall below that. Just for once, the hon. Gentleman should bring himself to welcome a Government proposal and to acknowledge that the position of people employed by firms with more than 20 employees working a small number of hours has been greatly improved. As my hon. Friend the Member for Chester (Mr. Brandreth) said, there must be a balance between the benefits and the costs of the bureaucracy imposed on small businesses.

    The hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Carlile) said that not many members of the CBI have fewer than 20 employees. He should remember that these small firms are the future large employer members of the CBI, and if they have to spend every waking hour filling in forms and sending out bits of paper, they will never become the larger firms that will provide the jobs of the future.

    I am not knocking the Government for talking to the CBI—I thought that the Government were in the closet with the CBI all the time, anyway—but I do take issue with the Government over how many employees they may have consulted. Have they spoken to trade unions or youth organisations about their decision? We seem to hear a lot from the Government about small employers, but not much about employees. How will this measure help them?

    I listened carefully to the hon. Gentleman's speech. He said that computers are all around us and that high technology is a fact of life. I suggest that he go and talk to those who own the newsagents, corner shops and small firms in his constituency and ask them to show him their computers which will produce itemised pay statements. He will find that there, as elsewhere in the country, employers with small numbers of employees are struggling under numerous burdens, and they would not thank this House for adding to those burdens at a time when they are working hard to create wealth and to survive in difficult trading conditions.

    I do not think that the hon. Gentleman has been listening long to our proceedings.

    The hon. Member for Stockport (Ms Coffey), who is not now in her place, asked me to bear in mind the importance of competitiveness. She spoke about the evidence given by the CBI and others to the Trade and Industry Select Committee. She at least listens to the voice of business. She said that competitiveness was important and that we ought to learn from Japan, where there was a fundamentally different attitude to employees. I could not agree with her more. The difference between Japan and Europe is that Japanese non-wage labour costs are exactly half those of Europe. Opposition Members should stop coming up with bright ideas to add to the non-wage costs of our employers—especially small employers.

    The hon. and learned Member for Montgomery wanted me to give an assurance that we would monitor the progress of the legislation. The Government monitor every piece of legislation. I only regret that the hon. and learned Gentleman did not give us credit for having made an advance—

    Does the Minister mean to say that he has evidence that in Japan pay slips are not given to employees who work part time in industry? I suggest that the vast majority of Japanese employers give computerised pay slips to part-time employees who work less than 16 hours.

    I knew that the Liberals made up their policies as they go along; I did not realise that they did the same when it comes to arguments of this kind. I repeat: the non-wage labour costs of Japan are half those of the European Community, thus giving it a competitive advantage. If the hon. and learned Gentleman and his colleagues had had their way, British non-wage costs would be a good deal higher, as they would have made us sign up to the social chapter and all the other nonsense which will make it much more difficult for Europe to compete with the Japanese and others.

    Lords amendments Nos. 29 and 41 represent an advance. I ask the House to support them and to reject the Opposition amendment.

    Question put, That the amendment to the Lords amendment be made:—

    The House divided: Ayes 255, Noes 281.

    Division 299]

    [7.05 pm


    Abbott, Ms DianeClark, Dr David (South Shields)
    Adams, Mrs IreneClarke, Eric (Midlothian)
    Ainger, NickClarke, Tom (Monklands W)
    Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)Clelland, David
    Allen, GrahamClwyd, Mrs Ann
    Alton, DavidCoffey, Ann
    Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)Connarty, Michael
    Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale)Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
    Armstrong, HilaryCook, Robin (Livingston)
    Ashton, JoeCorbett, Robin
    Austin-Walker, JohnCorbyn, Jeremy
    Barnes, HarryCousins, Jim
    Barron, KevinCryer, Bob
    Battle, JohnCunningham, Jim (Covy SE)
    Bayley, HughCunningham, Rt Hon Dr John
    Beckett, Rt Hon MargaretDafis, Cynog
    Beggs, RoyDarling, Alistair
    Bell, StuartDavidson, Ian
    Bennett, Andrew F.Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral)
    Benton, JoeDavies, Ron (Caerphilly)
    Bermingham, GeraldDenham, John
    Berry, Dr. RogerDewar, Donald
    Blair, TonyDixon, Don
    Blunkett, DavidDobson, Frank
    Boateng, PaulDonohoe, Brian H.
    Boyce, JimmyDowd, Jim
    Boyes, RolandDunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
    Bradley, KeithEagle, Ms Angela
    Bray, Dr JeremyEastham, Ken
    Brown, Gordon (Dunfermline E)Enright, Derek
    Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)Etherington, Bill
    Burden, RichardEvans, John (St Helens N)
    Byers, StephenFatchett, Derek
    Caborn, RichardFaulds, Andrew
    Callaghan, JimField, Frank (Birkenhead)
    Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)Fisher, Mark
    Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)Flynn, Paul
    Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S)
    Campbell-Savours, D. N.Foster, Rt Hon Derek
    Canavan, DennisFoster, Don (Bath)
    Cann, JamieFoulkes, George
    Carlile, Alexander (Montgomry)Fraser, John
    Chisholm, MalcolmFyfe, Maria
    Clapham, MichaelGalbraith. Sam

    Gapes, MikeMilburn, Alan
    Garrett, JohnMiller, Andrew
    George, BruceMitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
    Gerrard, NeilMoonie, Dr Lewis
    Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr JohnMorgan, Rhodri
    Godsiff, RogerMorris, Rt Hon A. (Wy'nshawe)
    Golding, Mrs LlinMorris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
    Gordon, MildredMorris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
    Gould, BryanMowlam, Marjorie
    Graham, ThomasMudie, George
    Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)Mullin, Chris
    Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)Murphy, Paul
    Grocott, BruceOakes, Rt Hon Gordon
    Gunnell, JohnO'Brien, Michael (N W'kshire)
    Hain, PeterO'Brien, William (Normanton)
    Hall, MikeO'Hara, Edward
    Hanson, DavidOlner, William
    Henderson, DougO'Neill, Martin
    Heppell, JohnOrme, Rt Hon Stanley
    Hill, Keith (Streatham)Parry, Robert
    Hoey, KatePatchett, Terry
    Home Robertson, JohnPike, Peter L.
    Hood, JimmyPope, Greg
    Hoon, GeoffreyPowell, Ray (Ogmore)
    Howarth, George (Knowsley N)Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lew'm E)
    Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
    Hoyle, DougPrescott, John
    Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)Primarolo, Dawn
    Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)Purchase, Ken
    Hughes, Roy (Newport E)Quin, Ms Joyce
    Hughes, Simon (Southwark)Radice, Giles
    Hutton, JohnRandall, Stuart
    Ingram, AdamRaynsford, Nick
    Jackson, Glenda (H'stead)Reid, Dr John
    Jackson, Helen (Shef'ld, H)Rendel, David
    Jamieson, DavidRobertson, George (Hamilton)
    Janner, GrevilleRoche, Mrs. Barbara
    Jones, Barry (Alyn and D'side)Rogers, Allan
    Jones, Ieuan Wyn (Ynys Môn)Rooker, Jeff
    Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)Rooney, Terry
    Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O)Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
    Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)Rowlands, Ted
    Jowell, TessaRuddock, Joan
    Kaufman, Rt Hon GeraldSalmond, Alex
    Keen, AlanSedgemore, Brian
    Kennedy, Charles (Ross,C&S)Sheerman, Barry
    Kennedy, Jane (Lpool Brdgn)Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
    Khabra, Piara S.Shore, Rt Hon Peter
    Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil (Islwyn)Short, Clare
    Kirkwood, ArchySimpson, Alan
    Leighton, RonSkinner, Dennis
    Litherland, RobertSmith, Andrew (Oxford E)
    Livingstone, KenSmith, C. (Isl'ton S & F'sbury)
    Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)Smith, Rt Hon John (M'kl'ds E)
    Llwyd, ElfynSmith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
    Loyden, EddieSmyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
    Lynne, Ms LizSnape, Peter
    McAllion, JohnSoley, Clive
    McAvoy, ThomasSpearing, Nigel
    McCartney, IanSpellar, John
    Macdonald, CalumSteinberg, Gerry
    McKelvey, WilliamStevenson, George
    Mackinlay, AndrewStott, Roger
    McLeish, HenryStrang, Dr. Gavin
    Maclennan, RobertTaylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
    McMaster, GordonTaylor, Matthew (Truro)
    McNamara, KevinTipping, Paddy
    McWilliam, JohnTrimble, David
    Madden, MaxTurner, Dennis
    Mahon, AliceTyler, Paul
    Mandelson, PeterVaz, Keith
    Marshall, David (Shettleston)Walker, Rt Hon Sir Harold
    Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)Wallace, James
    Martlew, EricWalley, Joan
    Maxton, JohnWarded, Gareth (Gower)
    Meacher, MichaelWareing, Robert N
    Meale, AlanWelsh, Andrew
    Michael, AlunWicks, Malcolm
    Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)Wigley, Dafydd
    Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute)Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)

    Williams, Alan W (Carmarthen)Young, David (Bolton SE)
    Winnick, David
    Wise, Audrey

    Tellers for the Ayes:

    Worthington, Tony

    Mr. Peter Kilfoyle and

    Wray, Jimmy

    Mr. Eric Illsley.

    Wright, Dr Tony


    Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey)Dicks, Terry
    Aitken, JonathanDorrell, Stephen
    Alexander, RichardDouglas-Hamilton, Lord James
    Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby)Dover, Den
    Allason, Rupert (Torbay)Duncan, Alan
    Amess, DavidDuncan-Smith, Iain
    Arbuthnot, JamesDunn, Bob
    Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Durant, Sir Anthony
    Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grv)Dykes, Hugh
    Ashby, DavidEggar, Tim
    Aspinwall. JackElletson, Harold
    Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)Evans, David (Welwyn Hatfield)
    Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)Evans, Jonathan (Brecon)
    Bake, Nicholas (Dorset North)Evans, Roger (Monmouth)
    Baldry, TonyEvennett, David
    Banks, Matthew (Southport)Faber, David
    Banks, Robert (Harrogate)Fabricant, Michael
    Bates, MichaelField, Barry (Isle of Wight)
    Batiste, SpencerFishburn, Dudley
    Bellingham, HenryForman, Nigel
    Bendall, VivianForsyth, Michael (Stirling)
    Beresford, Sir PaulForth, Eric
    Biffen, Rt Hon JohnFowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
    Blackburn, Dr John G.Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)
    Body, Sir RichardFox, Sir Marcus (Shipley)
    Bonsor, Sir NicholasFreeman, Rt Hon Roger
    Booth, HartleyFrench, Douglas
    Boswell, TimGale, Roger
    Bottomley, Peter (Eltham)Gallie, Phil
    Bottomley, Rt Hon VirginiaGardiner, Sir George
    Bowis, JohnGarel-Jones, Rt Hon Tristan
    Boyson, Rt Hon Sir RhodesGarnier, Edward
    Brandreth, GylesGillan, Cheryl
    Brazier, JulianGoodlad, Rt Hon Alastair
    Bright, GrahamGoodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
    Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thorpes)Gorman, Mrs Teresa
    Browning, Mrs. AngelaGorst, John
    Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)Grant, Sir Anthony (Cambs SW)
    Budgen, NicholasGreenway, Harry (Ealing N)
    Burns, SimonGreenway, John (Ryedale)
    Burt, AlistairGriffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N)
    Butler, PeterGrylls, Sir Michael
    Butterfill, JohnGummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
    Carlisle, John (Luton North)Hague, William
    Carrington, MatthewHamilton, Rt Hon Archie (Epsom)
    Carttiss, MichaelHamilton, Neil (Tatton)
    Cash, WilliamHampson, Dr Keith
    Channon, Rt Hon PaulHannam, Sir John
    Chapman, SydneyHargreaves, Andrew
    Churchill, MrHarris, David
    Clappison, JamesHaselhurst, Alan
    Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)Hawkins, Nick
    Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ruclif)Hawksley, Warren
    Clifton-Brown, GeoffreyHayes, Jerry
    Coe, SebastianHeald, Oliver
    Colvin, MichaelHeathcoat-Amory, David
    Congdon, DavidHeseltine, Rt Hon Michael
    Conway, DerekHiggins, Rt Hon Sir Terence L.
    Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st)Hill, James (Southampton Test)
    Coombs, Simon (Swindon)Horam, John
    Cope, Rt Hon Sir JohnHoward, Rt Hon Michael
    Cormack, PatrickHowarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A)
    Couchman, JamesHowell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
    Cran, JamesHowell, Sir Ralph (North
    Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire)


    Curry, David (Skipton & Ripon)Hughes Robert G. (Harrow W)
    Davies, Quentin (Stamford)Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W)
    Davis, David (Boothferry)Hunter, Andrew
    Day, StephenJack, Michael
    Deva, Nirj JosephJackson, Robert (Wantage)
    Devlin, TimJenkin, Bernard
    Dickens, GeoffreyJohnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey

    Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)Robinson, Mark (Somerton)
    Jones, Robert B. (W Hertfdshr)Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
    Jopling, Rt Hon MichaelRowe, Andrew (Mid Kent)
    Key, RobertRumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela
    Kilfedder, Sir JamesRyder, Rt Hon Richard
    Knapman, RogerSackville, Tom
    Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash)Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas
    Knight, Greg (Derby N)Shaw, David (Dover)
    Knight, Dame Jill (Bir'm E'st'n)Shephard, Rt Hon Gillian
    Kynoch, George (Kincardine)Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
    Lait, Mrs JacquiShepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
    Lang, Rt Hon IanShersby, Michael
    Lawrence, Sir IvanSims, Roger
    Legg, BarrySkeet, Sir Trevor
    Leigh, EdwardSmith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
    Lennox-Boyd, MarkSoames, Nicholas
    Lidington, DavidSpencer, Sir Derek
    Lightbown, DavidSpicer, Sir James (W Dorset)
    Lilley, Rt Hon PeterSpicer, Michael (S Worcs)
    Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)Spink, Dr Robert
    Lord, MichaelSpring, Richard
    Luff, PeterSproat, Iain
    Lyell, Rt Hon Sir NicholasSquire, Robin (Hornchurch)
    MacGregor, Rt Hon JohnStanley, Rt Hon Sir John
    MacKay, AndrewSteen, Anthony
    Maclean, DavidStephen, Michael
    McNair-Wilson, Sir PatrickStern, Michael
    Madel, DavidStewart, Allan
    Maitland, Lady OlgaStreeter, Gary
    Malone, GeraldSumberg, David
    Mans, KeithSweeney, Walter
    Marlow, TonySykes, John
    Marshall, John (Hendon S)Tapsell. Sir Peter
    Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)Taylor, Ian (Esher)
    Martin, David (Portsmouth S)Taylor, John M. (Solihull)
    Mates, MichaelTaylor, Sir Teddy (Southend, E)
    Mawhinney, Dr BrianTemple-Morris, Peter
    Mellor, Rt Hon DavidThompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
    Merchant, PiersThornton, Sir Malcolm
    Milligan, StephenThurnham, Peter
    Mills, IainTownend, John (Bridlington)
    Moate, Sir RogerTownsend, Cyril D. (Bexl'yh'th)
    Montgomery, Sir FergusTracey, Richard
    Moss, MalcolmTredinnick, David
    Needham, RichardTrend, Michael
    Nelson, AnthonyTrotter, Neville
    Neubert, Sir MichaelTwinn, Dr Ian
    Newton, Rt Hon TonyVaughan, Sir Gerard
    Nicholls, PatrickViggers, Peter
    Nicholson, David (Taunton)Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
    Norris, SteveWalden, George
    Onslow, Rt Hon Sir CranleyWaller, Gary
    Oppenheim, PhillipWardle, Charles (Bexhill)
    Ottaway, RichardWaterson, Nigel
    Page, RichardWatts, John
    Paice, JamesWells, Bowen
    Patnick, IrvineWhitney, Ray
    Pattie, Rt Hon Sir GeoffreyWhittingdale, John
    Pawsey, JamesWiddecombe, Ann
    Pickles, EricWilletts, David
    Porter, Barry (Wirral S)Wilshire, David
    Porter, David (Waveney)Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
    Portillo, Rt Hon MichaelWinterton, Nicholas (Macc'f'ld)
    Powell, William (Corby)Wolfson. Mark
    Redwood, Rt Hon JohnWood, Timothy
    Renton, Rt Hon TimYeo, Tim
    Richards, RodYoung, Rt Hon Sir George
    Riddick, Graham
    Robathan, Andrew

    Tellers for the Noes

    Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn

    Mr. Timothy Kirkhope and

    Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S)

    Mr. Andrew Mitchell.

    Question accordingly negatived.

    Lords amendment No. 29 agreed to.