Report on impact of Act upon agricultural workers

Part of Agriculture Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:00 pm on 20th November 2018.

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Photo of David Drew David Drew Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 3:00 pm, 20th November 2018

I hear what the right hon. Gentleman says. There is always a danger with some form of proportionality—how different groups would be paid. Those groups would not necessarily be encompassed by the Agricultural Wages Board anyway, because it is looking at a minimum structure. That is something that a modern, forward-looking wage board will have to take account of.

We have no magic answer: the NFU asks us what form things would take and hopefully we can have sensible and serious discussion with it. We are making the point that the industry is completely short of labour—yet again this year, sadly, the fruit and veg was ploughed back into the ground. There is something wrong when what has been produced cannot be brought to market because there is no one to pick it. From talking to my dairy farmers, I know that there is always a problem in getting milkers. That transcends any dairy-producing region; it is a real issue. All we continue to argue for is one way in which that can be recognised.

I will press this amendment to a vote; we hope the Government will gradually recognise that they must put a structure in place that transcends the normal minimum wage standards or the living wage. This industry is different, and that must be recognised.