The Low Pay Commission was established in July 1997, and produced its ‘First Report’ in June 1998. It formed part of a series of initiatives marking a new Labour Government in the UK, which included inter alia the White Paper ‘Fairness at Work’, setting out new state positions on union recognition and wide-ranging changes to the benefits system. This article provides an initial comment on this institution, focusing on context, process, and remit, and on relevance to broader debates on the meaning of ‘fair’ wages and economic ‘efficiency’. The first section explores the political economic context. The second compares and contrasts the Commission's deliberations and recommendations. Finally, an assessment is made of these recommendations and the implications for trade unions.