§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second time. —[Mr. Glenvil Hall.]
§ 10.45 p.m.
§ Captain Crookshank (Gainsborough)
I will not detain the House long, but I would say on this Bill that we have been dealing so far this evening, with what one might call the rank and file. We are now come to those who are alternatively called the second eleven, or the non-commissioned officers, and, however you look upon them, there are some of us, at any rate on this side of the House, who have long thought that they were highly deserving people.
It is very necessary, in the view of all my hon. Friends, that something should be done to assist the junior Ministers. It has been a matter of discussion for a very considerable time, and—I do not know if it is a matter of general knowledge, but anyhow hon. Gentlemen can take it from some of us who know about these things— there have been, in the course of years, a number of occasions when lion. Members of this House have been proposed by their leaders for office in junior ranks, and found themselves unable to accept because they were either professionally engaged or engaged in business, and at the time were perhaps paying for the education of their children, or looking after somebody, or had some family responsibilities. Because of the fact that they would have to take 1301 office at £1,500 a year or, as it is in two cases—until this Bill is passed—£1,200 a year, and, in the case of Whips, even less, and give up all other sources of income, they were unable to contemplate the change. I have no doubt there are many instances in which public service, or administration in the public sphere, has lost as a result of the treatment that has been afforded junior Ministers. It is therefore very timely that this House, having dealt with the generality of Members, should now pass on to this similar, but really very important, section of the community.
The suggestion to raise the salaries of the Postmaster General and the Minister of Pensions has our approval. I am not so sure that the proposal of raising that of the Chancellor of the Duchy is quite such a neat arrangement because, of course, he is not paid out of public funds, but the result of this proposal is that the deficit will come on the Votes. So, for the first time, his salary will be questionable in the House. Of course I see the advantage from our point of view so long as he holds office in conjunction with responsibilities in Germany, but I still think that as a matter of pure administration, it would have been neater if he had been given one of the other sinecures, and the Chancellor of the Duchy had been allowed to remain in its historic position. The Chancellor looks worried, but I think I am right in saying there has been no political appointment to the office of Paymaster General and therefore an office could have been found, without raising his salary for the Chancellor of the Duchy.
The proposal for the appointment of a Deputy Chief Whip seems only common sense. We all know there are bound to be grades of importance and of responsibility in the Whips' office, and it is for the convenience of both sides of the House that one should know definitely who is the deputy to the Patronage Secretary. To all that we have no objection, but I would like to ask the Chancellor to say something about this question of raising, by £ 500 year all round, the allowance of junior Ministers. We have agreed just now to raise to £ 1,000 the salary or allowance or whatever you like to call it of Members of this House, but junior Ministers' salaries are to be increased by £500, and those of Cabinet Ministers by nothing at all. They are 1302 the orphans of the storm. I want to put to the Chancellor something which it would be a little awkward for him to put to the House himself. It is this. The purpose of the extra £500 to the junior Ministers is, to some extent, to enable them to have the " office " of a Member of Parliament by which they can charge their expenses against Income Tax. That, in theory, is the only thing against which expenses " wholly, exclusively and necessarily "Incurred in the course of an office can be charged. As, therefore, they have not been holding office as Members of Parliament, there is nothing in Income Tax law against which they can charge their expenses. I do not know why it has been put at £500, and why not at the more logical figure of the full thousand. When one looks at the return given to the Select Committee, one finds on the level of £550 to £600, that 47 per cent. of those who claimed, paid that amount in expenses, and between £500 and £550, 10 per cent. That means that 57 per cent, of those claiming are above the £500. It would seem that many junior Ministers might be in the same category. But I do put it to the Chancellor that he would get no great measure of complaint from us on this side of the House if he looked at Cabinet Ministers from that angle. Surely Cabinet Ministers are, from experience, " wholly, exclusively and necessarily " concerned with their duties connected with this House, and while it may be said that £5,000 is a sufficient salary for a Cabinet Minister, if they have the same expenses as we Private Members have, they should be able to charge that against their Income Tax assessment as junior Ministers will do up to £500 a year
It is very awkward, I know, for Cabinet Ministers to put that point, and I should like to hear what the Chancellor says can be done about it. If Ministers feel they should not raise their maximum from £5,000 could not a Clause be inserted enabling them to sub-divide their £5,000 into £4,000 for the " office " of the Cabinet Minister, and £1,000 for the " office " of Member of Parliament? If that were so, they would be on the same basis as the rest of us. They could then split up the Under-Secretaries in the same way, and if their expenses should run over the £500 we are going to give them, they would have something against which they could claim.
1303 It is, I think, important to consider these matters even though it is a late hour, just as it has been important to establish that hon. Members— as the House has just agreed— should not be put into the position of not being able to keep the reasonable dignity which one couples with this House. If that is true of the generality, I do not see why it should not be true of those who have the good fortune to serve His Majesty as Ministers on that Bench. Therefore, if it is possible to do it in this Bill by some redrafting, I should be very happy to see it done. If that is not possible, I should be very happy if the Chancellor would consider it and not be too backward in coming forward with some such proposal in order to put junior and senior Ministers on exactly the same level as other hon. Members of this House. After all, in the long run we are all Members of Parliament even if some of us hold more distinguished posts than others. I should add that we on this side do not, of course, propose to divide on this Bill.
§ 10.56 p.m.
§ Earl Winterton (Horsham)
I was a Member of the Select Committee and, of course, it would be grossly out of Order for any Member of that Committee to say what influenced the Committee in coming to its decision. There is, however, I think, nothing out of Order in saying what was present in the mind of the Member who is speaking—if I may put it in that roundabout way. The need for a rise in junior Ministers' salaries was very much present in my mind, and possibly it had some impact on my hon. colleagues in the Committee, that this should be done. I want to raise two points which are of a rather delicate character. I hope I shall deal with them in a way which will offend nobody. If I do not, then I shall have failed in my task. I think they are matters which should be brought out. Since the Committee reported, information has reached me—I do not know whether it is accurate or not— that Members of the Government, including the junior Ministers who are affected by this Bill, are in possession of advantages. I think the word " advantages "Is the most mild and inoffensive word I can use. They are advantages which were not in the possession of the Cabinet or of junior Ministers before the war, but which were in the possession of most Ministers during the war. I refer, 1304 for example, to lodging in Government offices. I understand some Ministers enjoy lodging in Government offices—
§ Earl Winterton
Well, I am asking for the information. It would, I think, be out of Order to deal with those who receive £5,000, but I should like to say for the benefit of those hon. Members who are not acquainted with the fact, that, of course, before the war there was no such thing as I have indicated. The only Ministers provided with official residences were the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the First Lord of the Admiralty. I can speak from personal experience. Before the war there were not more than three or four official motor cars at the disposal of Members of the Government. I am not sure that there were even so many—
§ Earl Winterton
My right hon. and gallant Friend says there were two. I wish it to be clearly understood that I am making no complaint. I am merely raising the matter and asking for information upon it. I understand that a great number of Ministers are in possession of official cars. I have no personal experience of this. I have been told, and I see no great harm in it, that they are in the habit of allowing other hon. Members to use those cars. In fact, a cynic told me the other day that if one: gave* a half-crown to the driver, one could always get a lift home in an official car. We should know whether these things are so or not. I think here I have the whole House with me in that. I am certainly making no party point when I say it is most undesirable that there should be anything in the nature of what I might call a hidden subsidy or perquisite.
Here I would illustrate what I am saying— and of course I am not suggesting there is any resemblance between the two cases. In the course of a long official experience, I happen to have been Paymaster General. A permanent official at the Paymaster General's office once said to me: "In the days of one of your predecessors, 120 years ago, he, like you, received no salary, but he actually had emoluments of £70,000 a year, and these emoluments were recognised as quite 1305 reasonable for his office." He obtained the emoluments, I understand, by means which had something to do with the contracts which he placed. We certainly do not want to go back, in even a minor degree, to the days when Cabinet or other Ministers were in possession of perquisites not known to the public. I thank the hon. Gentlemen opposite for the courteous manner in which they have received my remarks. I assure them I am making no party point, but I do put these two specific questions to the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor. How many Ministers who are affected by this Bill have lodgings at the expense of the State, that is to say, free lodgings in any Government office? How many Ministers are provided with motor cars?
I pass to a slightly more controversial point by referring to something said by my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crook-shank). It is controversial in the sense that, in the Debate on 27th November, 1945, when the Chancellor, in reply to a question put by my right hon. and gallant Friend, said that Ministers of Cabinet rank were provided with motor cars, my right hon. and gallant Friend made a computation— into which I do not propose to go at length— which showed that free use of a motor car meant a considerable increment to anyone's salary in these days. I think my right hon. and gallant Friend put the figure at least £1,000 a year. There is another matter to which I meant to refer earlier. The other day I heard —and I must say it was disturbing to me—that even when not on official duty, that is to say, when not travelling to perform the functions of their office, it was possible for Ministers, junior and senior, to obtain what I would call free lifts in R.A.F. machines.
§ Earl Winterton
Well, in R.A.F. aeroplanes. I hope that is not so, because certainly this House has never sanctioned any hon. Member, or for that matter any Minister who is not a Defence Minister, travelling anywhere in an R.A.F. machine unless on highly, important official duty. Once again, I thank the House for listening to these observations of mine on a rather delicate subject. I believe I have the whole House with me in saying that if there are any hidden perquisites, of the 1306 kind to which I have made reference, they should be disclosed at once, and hon. Members should have an opportunity of making up their minds whether they want them to remain or not. My advice, most humbly given, is that rather than have any hidden perquisites there should be a further rise in Ministers' salaries.
§ 11.3 p.m.
§ Mr. Charles Williams (Torquay)
The Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) will excuse me if I do not follow him on this particular matter. I have never been on the Front Bench on either side of the House, but I have had the honour of occupying the Chair, and I would like to put this suggestion from that point of view. I think the only way of dealing with this matter is to give the clear £1,000 a year to a Member of Parliament, whether he be an officer of the House or a Member of the Government or not. Let us all, as Members of the House of Commons, rank equally as far as that £1,000 is concerned. I think that should be the basic figure, as my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) said. I would then add to that the sum which we consider necessary—I am not arguing that—for the payment of Ministers; say, £4,000 a year instead of the present £5,000, or whatever it may be. I would emphasise that, in the best interests of the House, I think it absolutely essential that all hon. Members, as Members of Parliament, should be paid precisely the same salary, and officers of the House and Cabinet Ministers should be paid an additional sum to cover the work they have to perform beyond their work as Members of Parliament.
§ 11.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter (Kingston-upon-Thames)
It is refreshing to have a Measure commended to the House upon its merits, and not merely on the ground that it is a necessary promulgation of the terms of " Let Us Face The Future," as if this House existed for the automatic ratification of that document—with certain exceptions such as, of course, the friendly societies—and was not entitled to discuss matters on their merits. The Bill before the House, in its somewhat genial if confused benevolence, embraces the Postmaster-General. I am perfectly certain that I shall have hon. Members opposite with me when I say that I have 1307 always believed in the policy of the wage for the job. What is the job? Last week the Chancellor of the Exchequer told the House that he did not know whether the Postmaster-General was or was not to have responsibility for the telecommunications of the Empire. How can this House possibly assess the proper remuneration of the Postmaster-General unless it knows what his job is going to be? I would respectfully suggest that if the Postmaster-General is to have this enormous additional responsibility of running the telecommunications of the Empire, the proposals contained in this Bill are ludicrously inadequate. If, on the other hand, he is not to have this responsibility, and is to continue merely to run a not frightfully well conducted Department, then other considerations apply.
One other consideration is that that Department is already charging extraordinarily high prices for the services it runs with the 2½d. post. On that point I am sure that the House would be assisted by the quotation of one sentence from no less a person than the Minister of Supply, who in another Debate, which will be fresh in the recollection of the House, said:If, under a monopoly, prices and profits rise simultaneously, it is clear that the public is not getting a square deal."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th May,1946; Vol. 423, c. 846.]Prices, we know, have risen in the Postmaster-General's Department, and it appears that profits are also to rise. It seems a little inconsistent with the high principle enunciated by the Minister of Supply the other day, for his colleague to come forward with another view to ensure that profits follow high prices in an upward spiral. There is another point of some interest. It is that within the broad and generous arms of this Bill is also embraced the Minister of Pensions. Hon. Members are aware of the deep dissatisfaction which exists among ex-Servicemen on the subject of the right hon. Gentleman's Department. Hon. Members are aware of the fact that there is a Motion on the Order Paper, in the names of some 70 Members, asking for a Select Committee on War Pensions. We are told that there is no time for that, but there is apparently time to raise the salary of the Minister of Pensions. Although charity proverbially begins at home, I feel that a certain number 1308 of those miserably remunerated and wounded ex-Servicemen will not view with any great enthusiasm the fact that the only increase in pension expenditure is in favour of the Minister himself.
§ 11.9 p.m.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr.Dalton)
I do not wish to delay any longer the reply to the right hon. and gallant Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) and the noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton). Perhaps it would be convenient if at this stage I told the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) that the questions he raised on the salaries of the Postmaster-General and the Minister of Pensions are quite appropriate Committee points. I will not say more now, except to add that when the Committee stage is reached, I shall be very happy to reply to the hon. Member's arguments, if he will put down an Amendment. I think that that would be the most appropriate stage for a discussion on this question.
The noble Lord asked me two questions. He considered them rather delicate, but he put them quite courteously. I have no difficulty in replying to his questions, and I think that the answers which I shall give will reassure him, and demonstrate, once more, that " rumour is a lying jade." His two questions concerned Ministers whose total emoluments would be affected by the terms of the Bill. He asked me how many of them have free lodgings in Government offices. The answer is " None."It would be quite improper, and it is not in any single case the practice. The second question was: " How many of the Ministers, similarly affected, have official cars for their own use?"The answer is the same as the answer to the first question—" None."There has been no concealment. I have already given answers in this House on the question of the use of official motorcars. I again state what is the position. An official car is available for the use of every Minister of Cabinet rank, that is to say, Ministers now receiving £5,000 per annum, and two who are affected by the proposed increases, namely, the Postmaster General and the Minister of Pensions. But no junior Minister, and no Minister who is to get this additional £500 allowance under this scheme, with the exception of the two whom I have mentioned—one of whom, the Postmaster- 1309 General, is not a Member of this House— none of these have official cars. In the days of the Coalition, certain junior Ministers, in addition to Ministers of Cabinet rank, had the use of official cars. [An HON. MEMBER: "During the war."] During the war. When this Government arrived, the matter was reviewed, and the rule which I have now stated, and which I have already given to the House in reply to a Parliamentary Question, is that every Minister of Cabinet rank has the use of an official car.
§ Earl Winterton
In other words, the cars are for the exclusive use of Cabinet Ministers. Might not a Minister of a Service Department say, " We have not got an official car, but we are going to use an Admiralty, an R.A.F. or an Army car?"I want to know whether junior Ministers have the use of official cars, over and above the situation described by the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Dalton
I am anxious to make this question so clear that there shall be no misunderstanding on the matter. At the same time, this is not in the Bill, and I do not think it right to go on talking too long about it. But I wish to. answer the noble Lord. An official car—I will put it in slightly different language to make it clear—is assigned to the use of each Minister of Cabinet rank and no Minister not of Cabinet rank has the use of an official car assigned to him. It may well be—and it would be quite legitimate in my view—for a junior Minister in a Service Department, who was proceeding with other persons, possibly high officers —Air Marshals, Generals or Admirals, as the case may be—on some official duty connected with the Service of which he was junior Minister, to travel in an official car. Who is going to say, "This man has to walk on his flat feet or hire a taxicab "? What about the dignity of the Services? Certainly not. It would be perfectly proper to travel in an official car on such an occasion. What I have said is that they do not have assigned to them for their use, whenever they require it, an official car.
§ Mr. Keeling
I only want to say that I do not think that the reply which the 1310 right hon. Gentleman has given is the same as the reply which was given in this House not so very long ago, when it was stated that an Air Ministry car called at the New Palace Yard for the purpose of picking up the Under-Secretary of State for Air after he had finished his Parliamentary duties. [An HON. MEMBER: " Why not? "] I am not asking, " Why not? "I am merely saying that the Chancellor's statement is inconsistent with that.
§ Mr. Dalton
I should like to get back to the Bill. I was anxious to answer the noble Lard the Member for Horsham who was a Member of the Select Committee, and who has done such good work in connection with this matter. [Interruption.] If hon. Members are going to have a hunt round, for something to turn upside down and exaggerate, there is no use dealing with them.
§ Mr. Dalton
My statement was correct, and if the hon. Gentleman will do me the honour of paying attention to me I shall try once more—but only once more—to make it clear. There is no inconsistency between what I have said, and the fact that on a particular occasion, but not for general and exclusive use, a motor car picked up some particular Minister, who had been kept late at work. I say this is an efficient Government and as an efficient Government it is going to take jolly good care that it will not have a Minister stranded here late at night, be cause certain Members prolong the proceedings unreasonably. It will see that a Minister so placed can get home. Having said that, I repeat with the utmost clarity of which I am capable, that cars are assigned for the exclusive use only of Ministers of Cabinet rank, Other Ministers will, from time to time, and quite legitimately, too, travel in a motor car owned by the State. They will do so on specific purposes when the public interest is an issue. They will not necessarily always travel in the same car nor will they always travel in a car with other people. I hope the hon. Gentleman has now got the position clear. If he has not, I despair of him and refer him to the Noble Lord, who, if I may say so, seems to have a more acute perception. With regard to other motor cars—
§ Mr. Dalton
Certainly. I think it is most convenient to carry on in peace time, within the limits I have described, the practice whereby a Minister of Cabinet rank has the use of an official car. That advantage is a point raised against giving these Ministers any addition by way of salary. I think it is better to leave that as an advantage. The Government did not place the question of the Minister with £5,000 a year within the ambit of the inquiry of the Select Committee, nor do we at this stage think that it should be considered further. We have not come here proposing that the position of Ministers receiving £5,000 a year should be improved or altered in any way. We have been concerned with the two other grades, namely, what are called junior Ministers and the private Members of Parliament. With regard to the so-called junior Ministers defined in the Bill, they are to get the advantage of the proposals that we make.
§ Mr. Dalton
In reply to the noble Lord, may I say I have never heard that suggestion before. If some evidence could be produced, of course we would look into it to see if anything irregular has happened. I do not believe anything irregular has happened, and I think this question has arisen through some jealousy or some little tittle-tattle by some person. There is really nothing in it. Certainly it would be quite wrong for R.A.F. aircraft to be used for joy riding. On the other hand— [Interruption.] Perhaps hon. Members will let me finish.
§ Mr. Dalton
The sooner I am allowed to finish, the sooner shall we all get home. What I was saying in regard to the point mentioned by the noble Lord in regard to aircraft was that I think it was due to jealousy. It is an idea propagated by somebody who would like to be in a position to get a joy ride himself, or who is not in the position and heard of someone who was and so was jealous. I believe there is nothing in it, but if any evidence of that kind of thing is produced I can assure the House that it will be looked into.
§ Mr. Boothby (Aberdeen and Kincardine, Eastern)
Is it not a fact that the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland is entitled to use an aeroplane to go to Scotland on official business? Is he not entitled to go between Scotland and London in a plane under those conditions, and why should the right hon. Gentleman object to that? The Minister should be able to fly to Scotland in an aeroplane on official business, if that.is the most convenient way.
§ Mr. Dalton
We are making heavy weather of things that are not in the Bill. There is nothing about aircraft in the Bill at all. The noble Lord asked me a number of questions, and I have been seeking to answer them, but I cannot go on indefinitely answering questions which have nothing to do with the Bill. If anybody has any evidence to produce about irregularities I will look into it, but, so far, none has been produced. Travelling on official business is a different thing. It is laid down in the provisions already accepted by the House, that air travel is to be just as free as rail travel, not merely for Ministers but for all Members of the House, just as fast as we can create and multiply civil air lines. Let us stop suspecting people of doing things which they ought not to do, and of which as I say no evidence has been produced so far.
I return to the major points which have been raised. Private Members will get a net increment—although it will not be net after tax deduction—of plus £400. They will go up from £600 to £1,000. A junior Minister will get plus £500. It is a plus of 500 to be compared with a plus of £400, rather than a total of £1,000 of the Private Member to be put against the proposal for a plus of £1,000 for the junior Minister. I think it "would be excessive for a junior Minister, at this stage, to get a plus of £1,000 when the ordinary Member was getting plus £400, and a Cabinet Minister was getting a plus of zero. I think we are meeting the case reasonably by giving the junior Minister a plus of £500 and enabling him to do what he will do, namely, claim against that for Income Tax relief. Here, we are closely following the proposal of the 1313 Select Committee, which was an automatic tax free increment of £500. That, we think, is not a good thing. But we think it is reasonable to give the junior Minister a plus of £ 500. In order to make it tax relievable you have to put it as part of his salary as a Member of the House, and not as part of his salary as a Minister.
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Gains borough has been at the Treasury, and he will know that it is a principle of Income Tax law—and, in my view, a sound one—that if a person has a composite income composed of two elements, he must not claim expenses, arising by reason of some functions, against the element of income that comes in from some other source. In the case where he is not getting a composite income, but his income is coming from one source, and no income is coming from another source to which Income Tax liabilities attach, it would lead to all sorts of awkward consequences if he were allowed to claim against Income Tax for drawing X expenses arising from doing Y. It would open up possibilities of great fraud and evasion over the whole field of the business world if people claimed extravagantly for expenses which they were setting against income arising from something quite different. Therefore, the Select Committee in my submission were quite right in their proposals with regard to the junior Minister and that it would be bad luck for him that he could not claim for his stationery, secretarial assistance and postages, and therefore that he ought to be allowed something— subject of course to having proved his case, as everyone else has to do. I think we have got the relativities right, in giving the private Member plus £ 400, the junior Ministers plus £ 500 and the Cabinet Ministers plus nothing. That may not be the opinion of others, but that is what we think. That is as good justice, we think as they can get in this world. All these matters can of course be debated further in Committee, although it will not, as the Bill is now drafted, be proper to propose increases on the charge. There are, however, matters that can and will be given further consideration, and I will undertake to give consideration to the points that have been raised.
One other question was asked, with regard to the Paymaster-General. There is 1314 no Paymaster General at present, but it is just possible that it may be convenient, at some later date, to fill that post with some person who may have; a particular job to do. It might be called a sinecure Ministry, but it does net mean that the holder of the office does just nothing. However, as I say, there is at present no such Minister. [An HON. MEMBER: " What about the work? "] Well, it gets done. With regard to the Chancellor of the Duchy, I do not think the difference is really serious. It would not be right to put the extra £ 1,000 a year against the Duchy revenues. On the other hand, he happens now to be performing an important function, and I think if we are accepting £ 3,000 a year as the intermediate salary scale between the £ 5,000 for the senior Ministers and the £ 1,500 for the junior Ministers— in the sense of Under-Secretaries'— it is right that we should pay the Chancellor of the Duchy as we propose to pay the Minister of Pensions at the rate at which the Minister of State now stands. I think that this £ 3,000 is a reasonable intermediate stage. There is no great inconvenience in his income being from two sources, and there is an additional advantage that Members can now, for the first time, move to reduce the salary of the Chancellor of the Duchy, which might be a very convenient peg on which to hang a Debate, say, on the question of what we are paying the Germans.
I was asked why this increase was dated back to 1st April. It was not done in order to make Ministers look foolish. It was done because salaries are paid monthly. I made the statement on 30th April, and it seemed reasonable that we should date the proposal back to the beginning of the month in which the statement was made I know that 5th April is the date for the change in the Income Tax year, but the best plan, in view of the monthly salaries, seemed to be to date the increase from 1st April. It might be the case that some people might claim for Income Tax remission for four days in the year, but I think the Income Tax authorities are clever enough to meet any difficulties like that. Something has been said about delay. We received the report sometime in March, and if there was any delay in dealing with it, that was not the fault of the Members of this House, or of the Select Committee. The fault if any lay with the Cabinet. 1315 I do not admit there was any delay, but if there was delay, it was as I say the fault of the Cabinet rather than of any of those who would be benefiting from the arrangement. Therefore, it seemed to be a fair starting point to take it from 1st April. If the right hon. and gallant Gentleman is still not satisfied, the point can be raised in Committee, and he might move to alter it in Committee, but I hope he will not think it necessary to go to that trouble. The House has already passed the same date for private Members. I hope that with these observations, the House will now give the Bill a Second Reading.
§ 11.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Martin Lindsay (Solihull)
I wish to put a question to the Chancellor concerning Clause 2, line 10, in which there is reference to the new pay code for the Captain of the Gentlemen at Arms and the Captain of the Yeoman of the Guard. I want to ask the Chancellor whether he has examined the position and is about to bring forward proposals for a similar increase in the pay of the actual yeomen who form the ranks of these honourable corps.
§ Mr. Dalton
That would not come under this Bill, but it is the sort of thing we would be ready to examine with an open mind.
§ Mr. Lindsay
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not leave us with the impression that the purpose of the Bill is to increase the salary of the Socialist captains, without increasing that of the Tory yeomen.
§ Mr. Dalton
To give a serious answer to a very amusing question-—I am not sure how one can be certain that the yeomen are all Tories— the point is that the gentlemen who hold these picturesque titles are, in fact, performing in the House of Lords duties which combine those performed in this House by Whips and by junior Ministers. They have fairly onerous jobs. They have to guide Bills through their Lordships' House and to see that sufficient Socialists are present to resist attempts to modify the Bills.
§ 11.33 p.m.
§ Mr. Boothby (Aberdeen and Kincardine, Eastern)
The proposition before the House is quite an important one, and I 1316 do not know why there is such a desperate hurry to finish the Business. I am not in any great hurry to get home, and I wish to make a few observations. With regard to the Chancellor's remarks, although he made a very plausible case, as always, I do not think there is very much reason or logic behind the Government's proposal. It is a purely arbitrary proposal. They say that they think that, on the whole, it is a good idea to deal with this difficult situation, but the Chancellor put forward no logical reason for the proposal. I submit in all sincerity that I think it is right to raise the salary of every Member of the House to £ 1,000 a year and to make that basic, and then to adjust the Ministerial salaries on top of that. One may legitimately reduce the salaries of Cabinet Ministers by £ 1,000, but it is only fair to give every Member of Parliament a basic salary against which he can make deductions in respect of expenses in connection with his position. That should apply throughout the whole field, including Junior Ministers and Cabinet Ministers.
We are now planning for a long future. I do not think the question will arise again for a long time, because hon. Members hate to discuss their own salaries. I am afraid that we shall rush this Measure through, and that nobody will make adequate or exhaustive criticisms, that the Government will be rather shy of stating their view, and that we may be stuck with a fundamentally irrational system for the next fifty or sixty years. It would be better to make a good job of it now. I beg the Chancellor to consider the thing, not from the point of view of increasing the total charge, but from the point of view of whether it would not be logical and right to pay every Member of the House, including Cabinet Ministers, a basic salary of £1000 against which expenses could be charged in connection with his duties as a Member of Parliament, and then on top of that to pay Ministers whatever is thought appropriate by the House and by the Government of the day; and in those circumstances the salaries of Junior Ministers and Cabinet Ministers might require to be reduced to a certain extent.
There is only one other point I would like to make to the Chancellor. He got rather hot and bothered about the question of transport, motor cars, and so forth. 1317 Speaking for myself, I would only like to point out that we have had a long and exhausting war, but are still a fairly powerful country; we are one of the Big Three, and I honestly think that if the Government of this country cannot afford to provide for Ministers of the Crown adequate transport, it is a sorry position. The right hon. Gentleman ought not to have to apologise for a Minister having a car to take him home or even an aeroplane in which to travel to Scotland if he so desires. We are hard pressed, but we are not as hard pressed as all that. I am in favour of giving all Ministers of the Crown every possible facility in the form of transport at the Government's expense, by car and by air, in order to ease their task. But I think the Chancellor ought to be frank with the House, and say that that is the intention of the Government. I am all for it. I thought it was almost humiliating to this country, that the Chancellor should have to deny that Under-Secretaries of State have motor cars to take them about on official business. Of course they should have motor cars. Ministers have an awful time, but junior Ministers have a worse time than Cabinet Ministers. All should have motor cars to help them in discharging their official duties. I once more urge the Chancellor to consider whether it would not be better, in the long run, to establish a basic salary of £ 1,000 a year for all Members of Parliament, and relate the salaries of Ministers to that basic salary.
§ Bill accordingly read a Second time.
§ Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House for Monday next.—[Mr. R. J. Taylor.]