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A vote in the Commons this week to support the abolition of the Agricultural Wages Board has been warmly welcomed by Mid Worcestershire MP Peter Luff. He had been pressed only two weeks ago by NFU members in the Vale of Evesham to ensure the early abolition of the board.

Peter explained,

“I have been calling for the abolition of the Agricultural Wages Board for many years now. So I was delighted when the Government announced that it was planning to get rid of it.

“The Agricultural Wages Board was established in 1948 alongside other sector wage boards. Then there was little statutory employment protection for workers. Two-thirds of a century later, as that more general protection has increased, the Agricultural Wages Board is the only survivor.

“We now have the National Minimum Wage and other regulations – and in the case of agriculture the Gangmasters Licensing Authority - to protect workers. The Agricultural Wages Board is now just an unnecessary burden for farmers and growers in an industry that has changed out of all recognition.

“I see no reason why agricultural workers should be treated any differently to other employers in different sectors.”

In the debate Peter expressed his dismay at the Labour Party’s view of farmers when he asked Birmingham MP and former T&GWU union boss Jack Dromey,

“I strongly support the Gangmasters Licensing Authority, and I campaigned for its existence and it is doing great work in my constituency. In a genuine spirit of curiosity, I ask the hon. Gentleman whether he is saying that farmers are uniquely incapable or uniquely exploitative so that they alone require the Agricultural Wages Board to regulate their behaviour, while every other boss in Britain does not. Is that what he is saying?”

After the debate Peter said,

“Farmers and growers can be trusted to run their businesses as well as any other sector and to say otherwise is an insult to their professionalism. The abolition of the Agricultural Wages Board will mean agricultural workers have at least as much protection as all other workers and will encourage growth in the farming industry.

“I now look forward to the Government’s final confirmation about when the Agricultural Wages Board will be abolished, which I know will be a very welcome announcement to the farmers and growers in my constituency.”


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