1. ITV Report

Rhondda MP backtracks over foreign workers criticisms

Rhondda MP Chris Bryant has been caught up in a row with two of Britain's biggest high street names - over a speech meant to clarify Labour's policy on foreign workers.

Mr Bryant, who's the party's spokesman on immigration, has been accused of changing his speech, by dropping criticism of how Tesco and Next recruit from overseas.

Our Political Editor Adrian Masters reports.

Bryant appeared to tone down his speech on the impact of foreign labour on the UK labour market, omitting some of the extracts reportedly leaked to the Sunday Telegraph.

Key passages seemed to be taken out of the speech, and made it clear that he did not label either of the companies "unscrupulous".

He did however criticise Next for using a recruitment agency that has an entirely Polish website, and he said both companies need to look at why they take on significant numbers of workers from overseas.

In a blog, Tesco has said it "absolutely refutes" accusations that it hired foreign workers to save money on pay, saying:

We absolutely refute any suggestion that we moved colleagues from Harlow to Dagenham to give them a “pay cut” and reduce the wage bill.

The Dagenham site is a multi-million pound development – it doesn’t make sense to invest that sum of money in order to reduce a wage bill.

It is also not true that “a large proportion” of the workers in Dagenham are non-British.

Whether employed directly by Tesco or through an agency, they are overwhelmingly from the local area.

But the most serious accusation is that we have employed foreign workers in Dagenham on cheaper wages over British workers.

This is simply untrue.

– Tesco statement

Tesco also released its recruitment policy for its new Essex distribution centre after relocating it from Harlow to Dagenham.

The charter promises to "do everything possible to secure as many positions possible for Colleagues at Harlow DC [distribution centre] to transfer to the Dagenham DC" and to "engage with the local people."

Next deny hiring Polish workers so they can avoid workers' regulations. Credit: PA

Next do not hire Polish workers to work around regulations and are "deeply disappointed" they have been accused of doing so by a leading Labour MP, a spokesman for the chain has said.

The spokesman added: "In fact, agency workers from Poland cost us exactly the same as local agency workers, and our existing employees.

"The only reason we seek the help of people from Poland is that we simply can't recruit enough local people to satisfy these spikes in demand for temporary work."

Responding to criticism from Labour's Chris Bryant, Immigration Minister Mark Harper defended the government's immigration minister said the government's "tough reforms" are having an impact "in all the right places."