Clause 12

Part of Employment Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee am 5:15 pm ar 14 Hydref 2008.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Pat McFadden Pat McFadden Minister of State (Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform) (Employment Relations and Postal Affairs), Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee 5:15, 14 Hydref 2008

Part of the reason for the measures is the criticism that the system is not zealous enough. We are told to be more zealous but asked not to be too zealous. Our overall judgment is that the system needs strengthening. HMRC has done a good job in recovering arrears for workers—it recovers £3 million to £4 million a year—and we should not lose sight of that in a discussion on strengthening the system.

However, we would not be introducing the measures if we thought that the current system was perfect. We do want to strengthen it. I am sure that HMRC will have heard what the hon. Gentleman said about taking care in applying the proposals. I repeat what I said: in future, the vast majority of cases of non-payment will be dealt with by a civil process and the application of the new penalty procedure. I do not believe that that will involve any more than a small minority of cases.

I also think that signals from Parliament are important, and the signal that we are sending by legislating along these lines is that this is not a voluntary option but the law of the land. We are strengthening the penalty regime, and it will be possible to take the worst and most persistent offenders not just to the magistrates court but to the Crown court, where the potential fine is unlimited.