EAST LANCASHIRE MP Gordon Birtwistle has told how he gave up holiday and sick pay to save for the deposit on his first house.

The Burnley Liberal Democrat used the example to defend the government’s plan to allow workers to swap rights for company shares.

Blackburn with Darwen council’s Labour leader Kate Hollern accused Mr Birtwistle of talking “nonsense” and trying to take Britain back to the 19th century rather than his 1960s youth.

The 70-year-old MP last night published his contribution to the Parliamentary debate on the proposals on his website as the Growth and Infrastructure Bill moves to the House of Lords.

Under the plan workers will be able to give up maternity rights and all access to unfair dismissal tribunals for shares between £2,000 and £50,000, with gains exempt from tax.

Mr Birtwistle said: “I believe in freedom of choice. If an individual wishes to work for a company on such a contract, they should be able to do so.

“That will not be the case in the big industries.

“This scheme is for small niche companies in the high-risk sectors.

“I think back to the 1960s when I was 24 and I had just come out of my apprenticeship. I went for a job as a contract draughtsman. I was offered two options by the company.

“It said I could have all the schemes it had, such as holiday pay and a contract for 44 hours of work a week and I would have a fixed rate.

“Alternatively, they said I could have none of those schemes and have four shillings an hour more. I was keen to earn extra money, because I wanted to save up and put a deposit down on a house, so I decided to take extra money for working as many hours as I wished.

“I did that for two years and managed to raise enough money for a deposit.”

Coun Hollern said: “This is utter nonsense. Gordon wants to take us back to the 1860s, not 1960s.

“These are hard-won workers’ rights that should not be given up for a gamble on shares.”