HC Deb 14 March 1989 vol 149 cc281-2
17. Mr. McAllion

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what percentage of workplaces and workers were inspected by the wages inspectorate divisions covering the United Kingdom in the latest available year.

Mr. Cope

A total of 8.7 per cent. of the establishments on the wages inspectorate register covering 329,591 workers, which is an estimated 13.1 per cent, were inspected in 1988.

Mr. McAllion

Will the Minister explain to the House the standards which this Government apply to the question of law-breaking? On the one hand, the Government put in place a very severe system of penalties, fines and surcharges for those who cannot afford to pay the poll tax; on the other hand, the Government virtually ignore employers who break the law and illegally enforce low wages on workers who are already exploited. Is it a case of no law for the rich and vicious laws for the poor?

Mr. Cope

On the contrary, we have improved the position. I have already said that 97 per cent. of workers are now paid at least the minimum due, and that is a higher percentage than a few years ago.