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Agricultural Wages Board

Volume 517: debated on Thursday 4 November 2010

12. What assessment she has made of the likely effects of the abolition of the Agricultural Wages Board on wages and working conditions in the farming and food production sectors. (21654)

Abolition of the board will allow modern employment practices within the agricultural and food packaging industry, which will help the industry develop and provide more job opportunities. Workers will retain any existing contractual rights in place at the time of abolition. New workers will be protected by general employment legislation, including the national minimum wage, as with workers in all other sectors of the economy. A full impact assessment and equality impact assessment will be made available during the legislative process.

How does abolishing an organisation that ensures that workers get 2p above the national minimum wage support growth in rural communities such as mine in east Cleveland and in the rural economy?

The hon. Gentleman puts his finger on the nonsense. What is the point of having the whole superstructure of the Agricultural Wages Board simply to provide a 2p-an-hour premium over the minimum wage? That is part of the justification for saying that the board is not necessary. I stand with the hon. Gentleman and other Opposition Members in wanting to see all farm and agricultural workers treated properly and receive a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work, but we need to bring agricultural wages regulations into the present day so that the modern, efficient businesses in my constituency and his can grow, expand and provide more job opportunities, not fewer.