Terms and Conditions of Employment

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:06 pm on 19th February 2019.

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Photo of Kelly Tolhurst Kelly Tolhurst Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) 5:06 pm, 19th February 2019

I am keen I to make some progress because I know there is other business to be getting on with.

On enforcement, we are committed to making sure that anyone who underpays on the minimum wage will be investigated and penalised or prosecuted. As I have said, HMRC will always investigate every worker complaint and make sure there is compliance with the national minimum wage. This Government are clear, as I have been all the time I have had this role, that the enforcement of the national minimum wage is important and delivering this is central.

To level the criticism that we are deliberately discriminating against young people in the workplace is pure fantasy; we are not discriminating. In actual fact, this Government are taking forward plans and making progress with work to make sure that workers in this country are not discriminated against, and we are going as far as we can.

On the specific questions about the SIs that have been laid, three have been laid. In fact, the first will be debated on 6 March, and I am looking forward to bringing it forward in the House.

The national minimum wage and the national living wage make a real difference to the lives of millions of workers in this country. I am glad that there is agreement across this House that the lowest-paid workers deserve a pay rise, which these regulations will provide. These regulations mean that, on 1 April, over 1.7 million workers on the national living wage will receive a pay rise. A full-time worker will receive an additional £690 a year. Younger workers will also get more money, through increases to the youth rates. I hope we can do more in the future.

Our industrial strategy aims to build an economy that works for everyone, wherever they live and wherever they work. Creating good jobs and increasing people’s earning power is one of the pillars of our strategy. Having a UK-wide minimum wage, recommended by the independent and expert Low Pay Commission, makes sure that the lowest paid in society are protected in terms of pay. It also means that businesses compete on a level playing field.

The increases for this year will mean that wages continue to rise above inflation. We remain on track for the national living wage to reach 60% of median earnings by 2020. We also have the highest employment rate since comparable records began. We can be proud of our labour market, and we can be proud of these regulations. I commend them to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That the draft National Minimum Wage (Amendment) Regulations 2019, which were laid before this House on 28 January, be approved.