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Minister says sorry after claiming Tories introduced the National Minimum Wage

Claire Perry quickly corrected herself after comment she made at despatch box in Parliament.

A minister has apologised after mistakenly claiming the Conservative Government introduced the National Minimum Wage.

Minister for energy and clean growth Claire Perry was met by cries from the Opposition benches following her comments at the despatch box, but swiftly corrected herself as she sat down on the frontbench.

Ms Perry’s comments came as Shadow Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy minister Laura Pidcock raised the issue of household debt, arguing it was at its “highest ever level”.

In response, Ms Perry branded the TUC’s research “discredited” and then went on to claim the Government introduced the National Minimum Wage before later amending this to Living Wage.

Speaking during Commons BEIS (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) questions, Ms Pidcock said: “New research from the TUC said household debt is at its highest ever level, with average debt per household now over £15,000. It’s blatantly obvious what the cause is, it’s years of austerity and wage stagnation. Millions of workers are now reliant on borrowing, making up for low wages by increasing their debt.

“Not for holidays or luxuries but for example using credit cards for everyday essentials like nappies and food, which is so stressful.

Mr Speaker, sorry I’m blaming the excitement, of course I’m happy to correct the record. She’s absolutely correct the Labour Party introduced the National Minimum Wage. Claire Perry MP

“Can the minister please explain what the Government is doing to address this crisis and why those on the benches opposite refuse to join the Labour Party in advocating a real minimum wage of at least £10 an hour and a return to serious collective bargaining for workers in the UK.”

Ms Perry replied: “I heard the news reports of this particular analysis, I also heard that it had been entirely discredited because it includes student debt which is not something that accrues to every household and actually if you strip that out the rate of accrual of household – would she like to listen rather than chunter, I’ll carry on – if you actually look at that stripping out student debt which does not accrue to every household, then you see that the growth of consumer credit has actually slowed.

“And once again I am very proud to stand up here and represent the Government that finally did what her Government which had 13 years to not do, which was to introduce a National Minimum Wage and ensure that it goes up well ahead of inflation.”

Raising a point of order following the question session, Ms Pidcock pointed out the error, stating: “The Minister of state under her breath mentioned the Living Wage which of course in practice there is no such thing, but of course the minister could correct the record that it was indeed the Labour Party which introduced the Minimum Wage in 1998 which her party strongly opposed.”

Ms Perry responded: “Mr Speaker, sorry I’m blaming the excitement, of course I’m happy to correct the record. She’s absolutely correct the Labour Party introduced the National Minimum Wage.

“It was quite clear that that was inadequate for many people on the lowest incomes particularly women who were underpaid which is why we introduced the National Living Wage, something I wish she would support.”

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