Pay panel membership announced

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The Independent Online
Membership of the Government's Low Pay Commission was announced last night, and promptly drew criticism from John Redwood, the shadow trade and industry spokesman, for its lack of emphasis on small business.

The commission, set up to advise the Government on a reasonable level for the promised minimum wage - with union pressure for at least pounds 4 an hour - is to be chaired by Professor George Bain, principal of the London Business School.

Margaret Beckett, President of the Board of Trade, said in a Commons reply that it would also include two other academics, three representatives from business and three representatives from the unions.

But Mr Redwood protested that the only representative of small business was Lawrence Dewar, chief executive of the Scottish Grocer's Federation. The Labour manifesto said that membership would "include representatives of employers, including small business, and employees".

However, Mr Redwood said: "This is yet another broken promise from Labour.

"There are around 3.5 million small and medium-sized businesses in the UK, employing more than 12 million people. Yet, on the Low Pay Commission, their only voice is the Scottish Grocers' Federation, a lobby group representing one part of the UK, with only 500 members."

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