Andrew Boff AM: Do you get a sense, Mr Mayor, that the Labour Party is having problems navigating around the great big tank that has been parked on its lawn?
Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London): I really have to say that we have heard this morning from the Labour Party a quiet insurrection against its own leader, who is being ruthlessly stabbed in the back by Members of the London Assembly who refused to endorse or support her. They refuse to support Harriet Harman in her analysis of the changes to the benefit regime. It is quite amazing. Look at them all. They will not say it is not. Do they support the Leader of the Labour Party? They will not say. Do you? Does the Chair support her Leader?
Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair): Mr Mayor, just a moment. Mr Boff, we are on the Summer Budget. This is on the Chancellor’s and the Government’s Budget. Can we have a question on that, please?
Andrew Boff AM: Yes, I will get there.
Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair): This is not about the Labour Party. Let us stay on the subject. I want a question on the Summer Budget or we will move on.
Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London): If I may, through you, Jennette, what Andrew was using was a metaphor, which was that he was talking about the tank ‑‑
Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair): No, you have spoken about inappropriate metaphors and so we will have fewer metaphors and just direct questions. Mr Boff, a question on the Summer Budget please?
Andrew Boff AM: You mentioned, Mr Mayor, the National Minimum Wage. That was a profound announcement and was much more than the Labour Party had actually planned for in its election campaign. It was, I suppose, welcome for the inconvenience that it caused the Labour Party!
However, there was no actual mention of enforcement, Mr Mayor. May I remind you, back in December last year, there was a unanimous decision of this Assembly about enforcement of the National Minimum Wage. You replied to that, saying, “I am fully supportive but it is not really my responsibility”, which is factually correct.
However, Mr Mayor, now that you are in that other place [the House of Commons] as well, can I make the point again to you? Lack of enforcement of the National Minimum Wage does a number of things. Not only does it mean that workers are paid well below what they should or are entitled to be paid, but it also creates the effect of sucking in illegal workers into London. It means that it creates the environment for trafficked people to be used in London at way less than the Minimum Wage. We are talking in some cases about less than a pound an hour for employment. It creates that environment. Whilst HM Customs & Excise continue to rely on workers’ complaints, they will miss the problem. A worker who either is trafficked or has questionable immigration status is not going to ring up the National Minimum Wage helpline. They are going to carry on. There needs to be proactive enforcement and it needs to be done now. Otherwise, those crowds that we are seeing at Calais and the human misery that comes from trafficking will continue to happen unless we shut off the opportunity for people to work in this country for less than the Minimum Wage.
Will you be a spokesperson for London? It affects London particularly, as I pointed out in my report Shadow City many years ago now. Will you use the forum of the House of Commons to argue that the enforcement of the Minimum Wage has to step up a gear? Otherwise, this situation will not change. It is a long question and I am sorry about that.