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Minimum Wage

Volume 476: debated on Thursday 22 May 2008

The start and finish dates of the national minimum wage bus campaign, which was part of a wider publicity campaign for the minimum wage, were 9 January and 9 March 2008. During this time, the bus visited 64 locations and received extensive media coverage. The Government also organised poster campaigns, radio advertising and online advertising about the minimum wage.

If we publicise the minimum wage, as we ought to, we must also enforce it. The more we publicise it, the more people want to see it enforced. A constituent who contacted me went to the national minimum wage unit for assistance, and it investigated the complaint, but she reported that it was heavily overworked and that there was a massive backlog of cases. Will my hon. Friend look at ways to strengthen the enforcement team to ensure that people who are entitled to the national minimum wage get it, too?

I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend that the national minimum wage must be properly enforced. Over the past year, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, which carries out the enforcement work, helped some 19,000 people recover about £3.8 million in arrears. The Government have put extra resources into enforcement and the Employment Bill, which is being discussed in the other place, will strengthen the system of penalties for that small minority of unscrupulous employers who refuse to pay the minimum wage. It will also strengthen the arrears system for people such as my hon. Friend’s constituent.