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 will come to my right hon. Friend’s point on different sectors if he bears with me for a moment.

How will Labour improve on the current arrangements? When the Labour Government established the national minimum wage, we tasked the Low Pay Commission with the discrete and technical job of setting the minimum wage within existing economic parameters. My right hon. Friend was one of the Ministers involved in its introduction. The Low Pay Commission’s job was to play the hand it was dealt, not to attempt to change the game. Over the years, it has played its hand well, but it has remained relatively hands-off. In that sense, those who say that it is more akin to a minimum wage commission as opposed to a Low Pay Commission are right.

Labour wants to transform the Low Pay Commission into a proper, official low pay watchdog, setting out what it believes we need to do tackle low pay, monitoring progress and making recommendations on how to boost productivity and make a higher minimum wage possible in different sectors. My vision for the Low Pay Commission is for it to be far more active. If we give it a bigger, more active role, it can not only challenge the Government more, but challenge different sectors. I would like it to have a much bigger standing in the national consciousness. Currently, I believe that it has around six to seven staff, who are mainly focused on statistical analysis, but I can see it becoming a big, low pay watchdog, playing a big part in the national conversation.