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Minimum Wage

Volume 481: debated on Wednesday 22 October 2008

I have regular discussions with the First Minister about all aspects of the Welsh economy, including the minimum wage, which is one of the most important employment rights, provided by this Government for all workers, both in Wales and the whole of the UK.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. He will be aware of the importance of tourism in my constituency. Does he share my view that the minimum wage makes a significant contribution to the development of responsible employment in the catering and tourist industries, and does he share my joy that it was this Labour Government who legislated on this matter, for which workers in this country have been fighting for 100 years?

Yes, I do share my hon. Friend’s joy about the minimum wage, which, as she says, we introduced. As she also said, it particularly helps those in the tourism and catering industries, which are especially important businesses in her constituency and north Wales in general. Government plans to amend the regulations so that tips can no longer count towards the payment of the minimum wage are especially welcome, and are a credit to the trade unions and newspapers that campaigned for that. That is, of course, very important for those businesses and industries to which my hon. Friend refers.

Increasing the minimum wage alone will do little to help the 11,000 newly unemployed people in Wales from this year, or the poor and elderly households who are struggling with rising food and fuel bills. Given that 12,000 construction jobs have been lost in Wales over the last year, which is more than for any other part of the UK, what measures will the Government put in place to create green jobs to tackle the problems of the loss of construction jobs and increasing fuel poverty in Wales?

Order. Let me gently say again that I am not expecting a statement to be read out. Members are asking supplementary questions, and they should not be read out. [Interruption.] Well, it looked to me as if the hon. Lady was reading.

I cannot agree with the hon. Lady that the minimum wage is of no importance. It now stands at £5.73 per hour, and it is important in ensuring that people in Wales get proper wages. She should also bear in mind that, not that long ago, people in the tourist and catering industries, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Conwy (Mrs. Williams) referred, were being paid less than £2 an hour, so the minimum wage is important in our general economy.