§ The Secretary of State for Social Security (Mr. John Moore)
The proposals have been widely welcomed. I have received only one representation about the effect on the low paid.
§ Mr. Moore
My hon. Friend is precisely right about the number of beneficiaries and the amount by which they will benefit. About 15 million people earning more than £115 per week will also gain considerably. They will benefit by £3 per week.
We are seeing the completion of the initial changes in the national insurance contribution rates that we introduced in 1985. The combination is an effective way of trying to help and to remove the two awkward steps that are part and parcel of the first stage of the reform.
§ Mr. Frank Field
I welcome the changes, but I ask the Government to go a stage further. Are the Government aware that Britain has 40 per cent. of all part-time workers in Europe? That is because the national insurance system rigs the labour market in favour of part-time work. Will the Government consider imposing national insurance contributions on employers from the first pound?
§ Mr. Moore
We always consider carefully what the hon. Gentleman suggests, and we shall keep this area of the Departments responsibilities under constant examination. I should stress, however, that I do not share the essential 3 analysis which lies at the back of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question. The growth of part-time work in most western societies, and certainly in Britain, is a feature of the changing pattern of work. It is welcomed by employers and employees alike and is important in terms of work incentives and disincentives.