Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:02 pm on 20th March 2014.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of David Heath David Heath Liberal Democrat, Somerton and Frome 3:02 pm, 20th March 2014

Absolutely. We are getting an industrial strategy that makes sense for this country. The point was made that we need to offer direct encouragement to firms to export, but what is lacking is aspiration. What we need to do is increase the level of aspiration of so many of our smaller firms.

There has been mention of the national minimum wage and the difficulties caused by not uprating it. May I remind the House that there are still abusive employers who do not even pay the national minimum wage and who are not investigated and prosecuted? There are also many abusive contractual relationships, especially in some sectors. That is not to damn every employer in those sectors; a lot of them are very good and conscientious employers. However, it worries me that in the catering and entertainment, care and construction sectors there are still bad employers who need to be brought to book. We already have a model to deal with them. It has been shown to be successful and I used to use it when I worked with the Gangmasters Licensing Authority. I do not believe that the GLA can simply expand into other sectors; that would be beyond its capacity. It also runs the risk of breaking an organisation that is doing a very good job in its sector. We need to replicate that in the other sectors because, for me, avoiding abusive relationships between employers and employees is one of the key issues that remains. Some of the virtually indentured labour that goes on is linked to our work on modern-day slavery. I believe that the Government can and should take action to end it once and for all.