Oral Question | Public Bodies Bill
Andrew George (St Ives, Liberal Democrat)
The point about the Agricultural Wages Board is not just that it pins down a minimum wage for agricultural workers but that there are six scales of pay and other protections for those workers, who have a very weak voice in the labour market. The Minister talks about transparency, but the rural voice will be lost unless transparent decisions are made in the Chamber about each of the bodies involved, including the Rural Advocate, who speaks up on behalf of the most vulnerable in rural communities.
Francis Maude (Minister for the Cabinet Office; Horsham, Conservative)
On the hon. Gentleman’s point about the Rural Advocate, it seems to me that rural areas are very well represented in this House. It seems odd that a separate body should be created to be a rural advocate, because it seems to me that it is the duty of Members of Parliament to be the advocate for their constituents. There are many very effective advocates of rural residents and constituents.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs proposes to consult on the AWB in the autumn. It will be part of a wider consultation package on the future of the agricultural wages committees and the agricultural dwelling house advisory committees.