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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 do not know to whom the hon. Lady refers, but in my experience, my Labour colleagues have always sought to ensure that those who work for them are paid a decent wage. I am sure that she, like others, might occasionally, as I do in my constituency office, have sixth-formers who are work experience students. Their situation is different from those whom hon. Members employ, but if hon. Members employ somebody to work for them, they should be paid a decent wage.

I spoke of the evolution of the national minimum wage and what Labour wants to do. With that in mind, we asked the former deputy chair of KPMG, Alan Buckle, to consult business, trade unions and others on how we can strengthen the minimum wage and restore its value. In so doing, Mr Buckle consulted many companies extensively. There is a growing body of opinion that the value of the minimum wage should rise. Sir Ian Cheshire, chief executive of Kingfisher, Jeremy Bennett, chief executive officer for Europe for Nomura, and Steve Marshall, the executive chairman of Balfour Beatty, are among those who are calling, as the economy recovers, for the minimum wage to increase faster than it has in the recent past. They say that that will benefit businesses and improve the public finances—the fall in the real value of the minimum wage since 2010 now costs the Exchequer £270 million a year in additional benefit and tax credit payments, a point that my hon. Friend Rachel Reeves, the shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, will build on later.