Minimum wage `is no threat to jobs'

THE NATIONAL minimum wage will not result in a loss of jobs, the small business minister Barbara Roche said in the Commons yesterday.

Ms Roche opened a debate on small business less than 24 hours after Margaret Beckett, President of the Board of Trade, announced the minimum wage rate of pounds 3.60 an hour for adults.

Mrs Roche also challenged the Opposition to spell out whether it would, if in office, repeal the minimum wage. "Are they seriously going to go into the next election promising a pay cut for two million workers in this country?" she asked.

The minimum wage, she said, should "not be seen as a burden but as an opportunity" and would have many fringe benefits to the employer "in terms of morale, greater commitment, less absenteeism and reduced turnover of staff".

Having told the Commons that the Government had taken action to curb late payments of debts, with a Bill that had become law last week, Ms Roche said: "We recognise that what small business wants is a stable economy and we are laying the foundations for that".