Take my picture off your website, Billy Bragg tells Farm Minister
Musician and protest singer 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 farm workers' pay.
Mr Bragg, who lives in rural Dorset, has said Mr Heath, MP for Somerton and Frome, should be "ashamed" he is pushing through Government plans to abolish the Agricultural Wages Board.
The board sets pay and conditions for farm labourers. But ministers argue its role has been superseded by the minimum wage and modern employment laws.
But Mr Bragg, famous for songs including The Milkman of Human Kindness, argues the abolition will benefit wealthy landowners such as the Prince of Wales, who owns the Duchy of Cornwall, 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. 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 been removed. In 2002, Mr Bragg duetted with Mr Heath on I Fought the Law, made famous by The Clash, at a Westminster pub.
It was part of the Lib Dem MP's campaign to reform the "two-in-a-bar rule" that outlawed live performances by three or more musicians without a costly licence.
On Wednesday, the House of Lords voted against a Labour plan to save the board.
In the Commons yesterday, Mr Heath said: "I spent 13 years on the Opposition benches trying to press the case for rural areas.
"The then Labour Government did not listen to what was said in rural areas then, and is not listening now to the realities of what is happening in those areas and the realities of what is happening in the agricultural industry."
Opponents of the move say agriculture is unique because of the small number of people employed by most farms and the seasonal nature of the work, meaning it warrants a standalone arbiter.
It survived Margaret Thatcher's 1980s cull of the quangos, and sets pay for farm workers of between £3.11 and £9.40. Critics, including the National Farmers' Union, say it is a "burdensome anomaly".