I do not believe that that is true. I know somebody who went for a job interview, and at the end of it they were offered the job. The person offering them the job actually said, “How old are you, because I want to see how little I can pay you?” Those decisions are being taken because of the discriminatory nature of the way the minimum wage is set. What we should have—and this is an argument I have made to the Government on a huge number of occasions on a number of different things—is a situation where those on the bottom of the pile are protected first, and then we should get rid of discriminatory practices where people might discriminate against 16 and 17-year-olds. I would raise the bar, rather than lower it; that is generally an argument I have made to the UK Government.
New clause 19, which we hope to push to a vote today, proposes that the Chancellor brings forward a report that analyses the distributional and other effects of a rise in the personal allowance to £12,750 in 2019-20. It is Scottish National party policy that the personal allowance be raised to £12,750. Given the increasing, and staggering, levels of in-work poverty, given the UN report criticising the UK Government’s implementation of austerity, and given the fact that millions of families across the UK have savings of less than £100, increasing the personal allowance even by a small amount will have an impact on the individuals and families who are struggling the most.
It is no incentive to work if we know that when we work we will still not be able to get out of all-consuming poverty. We need a UK Government who recognise that those who earn the least are suffering the most. In Scotland, the SNP has recognised that and we have made progressive changes to the tax system.
I do not want to live in a country where children are going hungry. The UK Government have got their head firmly in the sand on this issue. I do not understand how they can continue along this track when we are having people come into our surgeries in tears because they have not eaten in days.