"The Sports Direct scandal has occurred even though the national minimum wage has become a national treasure. Everyone supports it now, but, like all great social reforms, it had to be fought for in the teeth of bitter, all-night opposition in this House. Even when great social reforms become part of the political consensus, they still have to be fought for. The battle to sustain and enforce the minimum wage must be continuous and, frankly, requires more than just warm words from Ministers.
The TUC estimates that at least 250,000 workers are not being paid the minimum wage. What is the Minister’s estimate? Have the Government even made one? In the last Parliament, it was revealed that just nine firms had been charged for non-compliance with the minimum wage. Will he update the House on how many legal proceedings are under way against firms for non-compliance? Can he even tell us how many workers have received the money that they are owed after a notice of underpayment has been issued by HMRC, because up to now the Government have failed to provide those data? Will he order an urgent investigation into Sports Direct concerning the alleged abuses, which have led the Institute of Directors to label it:
“a scar on British business”?
The Minister says that he is acting, but where are the results? How will he get results with the closure of so many HMRC offices? It is easy to talk the talk on low pay, but it means nothing to millions of low-paid workers, whose labour employers feel they can turn on and off like a tap, unless Ministers walk the walk on the minimum wage. When will we see real action to enforce it?"
Kevin Brennan in a debate on National Minimum Wage: Sports Direct (Hansard link)