National Minimum Wage

Part of Opposition Day — [6th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 3:51 pm on 15th October 2014.

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Photo of Jo Swinson Jo Swinson Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Department for Education) (Women and Equalities) , The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills 3:51 pm, 15th October 2014

I will come to those remarks in a minute. I understand the very real concern that has been expressed.

Jack Dromey talked about the money the Government spend to support people on the national minimum wage and suggested that a higher minimum wage could reduce that expenditure. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has analysed that suggestion and is not sure that that would be the result. Nevertheless, he made a powerful and passionate contribution, particularly given his experience over many years dealing with these issues. His point at the end was perhaps the most important: this is about the moral cause of ensuring people are properly rewarded for their work.

Members on both sides of the House have been understandably shocked by Lord Freud’s remarks, which, I stress, absolutely do not reflect the Government’s position and are clearly offensive and unacceptable. I am glad he has issued a full apology. Of course, my hon. Friend Robert Halfon rightly expressed his dismay that the shadow Education Secretary mistakenly accused him on television of supporting a lower minimum wage for disabled people. I hope that my hon. Friend’s intervention will have helped to correct the record, not just here, but more widely.

The hon. Members for Westminster North (Ms Buck) and for Bolton West and my hon. Friend Richard Fuller raised the issue of travel time in the social care sector, and it is important—[Interruption.]