Clause 21

Part of Employment Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:15 pm on 16 October 2008.

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Photo of Brian Binley Brian Binley Conservative, Northampton South 2:15, 16 October 2008

There is a concern, particularly from small businesses, about—I was about to say policing by consent, but perhaps inspecting by consent is a better phrase. First, it takes a lot more time proportionally for a small business to deal with these matters than it takes in a larger business. Secondly, if there is a fear that inspection by one authority might lead to lots of other inspections, there is a tendency to become defensive. That defensive mechanism is not helpful to any of us.

I understand the need to ensure that those who are wilfully trying to get round provisions such as the minimum wage should be treated in the way that we would all wish to see. They should be paying the minimum wage; there is no doubt about that, but I want the Minister to assure me that it will be applied sensitively. I can see that, particularly over the next two or three years, if we made a purge—I know that that is not in the Minister’s mind—or if any officers made a purge, it could be disruptive and make it more difficult for small businesses to operate in the way that we all want them to.