17 April 2013
Agricultural Wage Boards (AWBs) have been abolished, taking with them the Agricultural Minimum Wage, without any Commons debate on the matter after the Coalition ignored procedure to force the proposal through.
Section 11 of the Public Bodies Act states that a three-month consultation, consideration of alternatives, a full explanation to both Houses of Parliament and a special memorandum laid before the House would be required before the Coalition could act to remove AWBs.
Instead, there was a four-week consultation on their abolition in England, and a one-week consultation on their removal from Wales (where strong opposition to the plans was expected). The proposals were then entered into the Enterprise and Regulatory Bill two days before Christmas in 2012, propelling them straight to the House of Lords and bypassing the Commons altogether.
Peers criticised the Coalition’s actions to force its proposals into law, with Lord Hunt stating, “the way the Minister’s department has acted is, frankly, a disgrace”, but Lords in opposition to the plans were unable to stop them from being voted into the Bill.
Yesterday (16 April 2013), Labour MP Mary Creagh complained in the Commons that yet again no time had been tabled for MPs to properly debate the plans – which will take £250 million out of the pockets of the poorest farm labourers over the next ten years, and transfer it into the hands of the rich.
“How can it be right for a proposal that will undermine wages for many rural workers to be enacted without this House ever having the chance to debate and challenge the Government on these proposals?” she said.
The abolition of the AWBs was passed without debate, and they will be closed on October 1st 2013.