National Minimum Wage

Part of Opposition Day — [6th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 12:41 pm on 15th October 2014.

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Photo of Chuka Umunna Chuka Umunna Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills 12:41 pm, 15th October 2014

I thank my hon. Friend; that is interesting and I look forward to hearing his comments on who took what position at that time.

Yesterday, I revisited an interview with the great Sir Ian McCartney, a former Member of this House, who was the Minister at the Department of Trade and Industry and pushed the National Minimum Wage Bill through the House. He said that he would have “died in the ditch” to ensure that we got it through, and—my hon. Friend Mr Brown will remember this—we had a record sitting of the House to get the national minimum wage through in the face of resistance from Conservative Members.

I distinctly remember Sir Ian McCartney at a press conference with the Westminster lobby, explaining why we were doing what we were doing. He was a former kitchen worker and earned poverty wages. I remember seeing the news report of him weeping at that press conference, explaining how he was paid something like 1p or 2p per potato that he put in a bag in that kitchen, and asking the lobbying journalists, “How can you defend that in our country in this day and age?”

As I said, Labour Members are rightly proud of the national minimum wage, and we make no apologies for reminding people of the resistance that we met when we introduced it, and of the difference that a Labour Government make to people’s lives.