National Minimum Wage

Part of Opposition Day — [6th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 2:33 pm on 15th October 2014.

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Photo of Russell Brown Russell Brown Shadow Minister (Scotland) 2:33 pm, 15th October 2014

I recognise that finances are under pressure, but I would say the same to the hon. Lady as I said to the hon. Member for South Derbyshire. The situation is not the same across the entire country. Youth unemployment in my area sits at some 5.3% whereas the Scottish average is 4.8% and the UK average is 3.8%, as there are so few job opportunities. When young academically inclined people in my area manage to get off to college or university, 90% never come back because the quality jobs that the hon. Member for South Derbyshire has spoken about are simply not there. It is a rural economy—tourism is the other major employer—but the growing job market is in the care sector as people come to the area to retire. We have a vastly different economy to other places, although similar economies exist.

I want to move on to the issue of the national minimum wage. I said in an intervention on my hon. Friend Mr Umunna, the shadow Secretary of State, that I served on the Committee for the National Minimum Wage Bill. As I said at the time, the only other person who served on the Committee who was in the Chamber at the time at which I made the intervention was Mr Speaker. There were some long nights. Indeed, I remember two particularly lengthy sittings: one that started at 4.30 on a Tuesday afternoon and ended at 1 o’clock the following afternoon, and another that started at 4.30 on a Thursday afternoon and finished at 6.30 the following morning. But it was really worth it. I remember campaigning in Lockerbie when the figure of £3.60 an hour was announced, and one guy I met on the doorstep asked, “Is this figure of £3.60 right?” I said yes and asked whether it would affect him. “Of course it will,” he said. He was working the best part of 50 hours a week in the forests—heavy, dirty and dangerous work—but taking home only about £112 a week.