Examination of Witnesses

Part of Agriculture Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:24 pm on 13th February 2020.

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Diana Holland:

When it existed, it was not any different, and it was fine in the sense that it operated. Whether everybody got what they were entitled to is another question; perhaps you are suggesting they did not. Certainly, we have worrying evidence of individuals being paid not in money but through provision of accommodation and so on. We got evidence—it was a terrible story—that an individual woman had worked for a long time on a farm and in all that time had never received anything, apart from the odd bit of what might be considered pocket money. She was extremely worried when the employer was in danger of stepping down from his responsibilities that nothing—no rights—would exist for her. I think that is evidence of the nature of the problems that workers in the sector face. I do not think it is a reason for not trying to do something about it. I think it is important that people receive recompense for what they are doing, and that needs to take account of the nature of agriculture. The Agricultural Wages Board does that by bringing together workers’ representatives, farmers’ and employers’ representatives and independent experts in a tripartite way, to make sure that that properly reflects what is really going on. The issues you raise would be discussed at the table, alongside the pressures and issues that I am raising and the official evidence gathered by the experts.