Payment in Cash

Part of Orders of the Day — Wages Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:30 pm on 14th May 1986.

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Photo of Mr Gordon Oakes Mr Gordon Oakes , Halton 6:30 pm, 14th May 1986

I support strongly the arguments advanced by my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Eastham). It is a modest new clause. The Bill—especially clause 11, which will abolish the Truck Acts—will cause heartbreak in many tens of thousands of families. In working-class households there is something almost mystical about the pay packet. The employee has worked for the week, and has worked hard. He has put in his hours and as a reward he receives the coin of the realm in a packet. The pay packet has a great significance to many working-class families. The new clause does not provide that all workers should be entitled to payment in cash. It provides merely that those who have been paid in coin of the realm throughout their working lives shall continue to be paid in that way if they so desire.

I have no doubt that the Government will say that there are many anomalies in the Truck Acts, some of which go back to 1831. That may be. It may be right that the anomalies should be ironed out, but we must not throw away the baby with the bath water, which is what the Government are trying to do in clause 11.

My hon. Friend the Member for Coventry South-East (Mr. Nellist) talked about the pay packet and mistakes or otherwise, but I do not wish to talk about the employer who tries deliberately to mislead and to defraud his employee. Let us say that a mistake is made by someone in the accounting department and a man or a woman receives the wrong wages. When the employee receives his pay packet, he will open it and read the statement. If there is an error, he will be in the pay office within 10 minutes of receiving the pay packet. He will not be able to do that at the end of the month when he receives his bank statement, and he may well be in that position as a result of the Bill.