Clause 12

Part of Employment Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee am 5:00 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 5:00, 14 Hydref 2008

The measure gives HMRC the power in circumstances in which, at the moment, they are frustrated, because they have to rely on witnesses who are reluctant to come forward. Obviously, the powers will be available only for indictable offences—I have made no secret of that and have said it several times. To some extent clauses 11 and 12 go together. Clause 12 will enable prosecutions for the more serious offences under the National Minimum Wage Act 1998, such as refusing or wilfully neglecting to pay the national minimum wage, without having to rely on vulnerable and reluctant witnesses.

The clauses that we are discussing are all about looking at minimum wage enforcement and asking, “Have we got the balance right?” Our view is that the system needs strengthening. I stress again what I told the hon. Member for Northampton, South: I believe that most employers are decent and that they want to abide by their obligations, but I also agree with the CBI that a strong enforcement system is in the interests of both good business and vulnerable workers. When developing the proposals in the Bill, our view was that, although the minimum wage has been a great success,  the time is right to toughen up the enforcement regime. Clauses 10, 11 and 12 do that. I therefore do not agree with the amendment.