Billy Bragg slams farming minister over rural labour "attack"
Song-writer Billy Bragg has demanded Westcountry MP and Farming Minister David Heath removes a picture of the pair together from his website following a row over reforming pay for farm workers.
Mr Bragg, who lives in rural Dorset, is angry with Mr Heath, Liberal Democrat MP for Somerton and Frome, because the Government wants to abolish the Agricultural Wages Board (AWB).
The board sets pay and conditions for farm labourers and fruit pickers, but ministers argue the National Minimum Wage and the modern employment laws no longer make the body relevant.
But Mr Bragg, famous for songs including The Milkman of Human Kindness and A New England, suggests the move will benefit wealthy landowners such as the Prince of Wales and damage the rural economy.
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In a letter to the MP, he writes: "This is an ideological attack on workers ability to earn a fair wage and you should be ashamed to be putting through a policy that will only benefit large landowners such as Prince Charles."
It goes on: "I notice you feature a picture of me on your website. If you are not prepared to reconsider this legislation, I'm afraid I must ask you to remove my image."
The picture has not yet been removed.
Last night, the House of Lords voted by 192 to 163, a Government majority of 29, against a Labour plan to save the board.
Full story in tomorrow's Western Morning News