§ 4.10 p.m.
§ Colonel Sir Tufton Beamish (Lewes)
I beg to move,That this House condemns as an open breach of faith the Government's decision not to implement the Grigg pay increases for Service doctors and dentists from 1st April, 1966.As the House knows, under the Grigg recommendations of 1958, the pay and allowances of all ranks in all three Services come under biennial review, and account is taken of changes in certain civilian earnings. This sensible system has encouraged recruiting and built up a measure of trust between the Armed Forces and the Government. The Grigg formula was fully applied in 1960 and in 1964, but in 1962 it was reluctantly decided that the Services' pay award must be introduced in two stages because of the country's economic circumstances, and so in that year Service men were all subjected to a temporary tightening of belts, as was the whole nation, and while naturally browned-off, they grinned and bore it.
This case is altogether different. Last spring, the Grigg formula was fully applied, but it is now known that a harsh and discriminatory exception has been made touching two small branches of the Services. They number fewer than 1,000 doctors and fewer than 400 dentists. They have a special claim upon our time just because they are so few in number and can neither fight for themselves nor voice their complaint in public. With no trade union behind them, they look to the Secretary of State—I am sorry not to see him in his place—and the three Service Ministers to be their champions [HON. MEMBERS: "Where is Powell?"] My right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) is right beside me.
For very good reasons, into which I will not now go, when National Service ended 1962 it was recognised that doctors and dentists would not enlist in sufficient numbers in the Services unless Service careers offered financial compensations. So, after discussions between the Government and the British Medical Association, it was decided as a matter of policy that the pay of Service doctors and 53 dentists would have to be weighted in their favour. New rates of pay were announced which made the average earnings of general duty medical officers approximately 15 per cent. higher than the average earnings, less necessary expenses, of general practitioners. This differential, eliminated by the 1963 National Health Service award, was broadly restored when Service pay was increased under the Grigg formula in the next year, 1964.
But an award of 9 per cent. to general practitioners in February, 1965, eroded this lead to a serious extent; it was narrowed to roughly 5 per cent. There was every reason to expect that the 1966 pay award to the Services would be the occasion for restoring the differential again, especially as recruiting figures—and I emphasise that—for general duty medical officers were now declining seriously. I shall give the figures later to show that.
In February, last year, after a lot of humming and hawing, the Government announced a pay award of 12½ per cent. on the total emoluments of the Armed Forces to take effect from 1st April. At that time, the Kindersley Review Body was formulating a new pay structure for civilian doctors and dentists and it was therefore no surprise to read in paragraph 4 of the White Paper on Service Pay and Pensions—and it is essential to realise this before understanding why we are moving this Motion—Since 1962 the pay of Service medical and dental officers below the rank of Major General (and equivalent) has taken account of increases awarded to civilian doctors and dentists engaged in the National Health Service. Rates of remuneration in the National Health Service are under consideration and, in consequence, it has not been possible to include in the attached Appendices revised rates of pay for Service medical and dental officers".The last sentence is particularly important:Revised rates of pay, which will be effective from 1st April, 1966, will be published separately.This was fair enough. It confirmed the Government's acceptance of the policy first adopted in 1962, and Service doctors and dentists clearly understood that they could expect the differential to be restored under the award.
The report of the Kindersley Review Body was not made known until 4th May, last year, although it had doubtless 54 been in the Government's hands for some time prior to that. Broadly speaking, it recommended that general practitioners in the N.H.S. should receive an average increase of around 33 per cent., payable in two instalments. It was now clear to the Service dentists and doctors, as it was to the B.M.A. and, no doubt, to the Secretary of State himself, that a pay increase approaching 40 per cent. would be needed to restore the differential of 15 per cent. I say 40 per cent, because of the N.H.S. pay award of 9 per cent. in 1965 and 33 per cent. last year.
Nearly three months passed after the Kindersley Review Body made its report, but still nothing was heard about the new rates of pay for Service doctors and dentists. Then, on 20th July, the Government made their chilling announcement of the prices and income freeze and Service doctors and dentists wondered uneasily whether this could conceivably be the excuse for breaking a firm and unequivocal promise.
I hope that the Minister of Defence intends to explain to the House why the Secretary of State did not bring the pay of Service doctors and dentists into line with that of the rest of the services by deciding, announcing and ante-dating to 1st April their new rates of pay before 20th July when the freeze was announced. He had all the information he needed as early as April. I make no apology for giving some dates and figures throughout this speech, because the whole of our case rests on them.
I hope that the Secretary of State does not intend to hide behind the provisions of Part IV of the Prices and Incomes Act, 1966. Nothing which I can find in the whole of that cloudy piece of legislation, or in the White Paper on the Prices and Incomes Standstill, or, for that matter, in the White Paper on the Period of Severe Restraint, which has been called in aid in this case, barred the Secretary of State from fulfilling his contract with these officers. His duty was to keep his word to these men.
To continue the story; in October the first instalment of the increase for civilian doctors and dentists became operative, but there was still no announcement about Service doctors and dentists. There were warning signs that feeling was running high, and perhaps that was why the 55 Secretary of State chose 21st December to announce his decision. His Christmas message brought no tidings of great joy; far from it. First, as had been announced a week earlier in a written reply, the award was not to be backdated to 1st April but only to 1st October. It was not to be paid at once. The men have to wait until 1st July this year, 15 months after their Service colleagues enjoyed their new rates of pay and six months after their civilian counterparts received their larger and ante-dated cheques.
I would guess that the men and women concerned were prepared to be told that their award, like the civilian award, would be in two instalments if, as they fully expected, the amount was considerable. But the amount of the award came as just as big a shock to Service medical and dental officers as did the post-dating, and it came as a shock, too, to the British Medical Association, whose advice and experience has been available to the Government throughout the discussions. It may also come as a shock to some hon. Members, who have not had an opportunity to follow these matters in detail.
The award was not the best for which they had hoped—some 40 per cent. It was not 30 per cent., nor even 20 per cent. But it could hardly be less, it was thought, than the 12½ per cent. granted to the other branches of the Services. In fact, it was less. The award was a once-for-all 10 per cent., which I can describe only as a deliberate slight and a calculated act of victimisation.
On 18th January this year, in a Parliamentary Question, I asked the Secretary of State to explain his breach of faith and so gave him an opportunity to enlist understanding if not forgiveness. I was told in a curt answer that referred to the "disappointment" of these officers—surely the understatement of the year so far—that in the light of present economic measuresit would be wrong to make an exception in this case".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th January, 1967; Vol. 739, c. 5.]It would indeed be wrong, but this is exactly what has been done to these people. The Secretary of State has treated them neither as doctors nor as Service men and has singled them out for discriminatory treatment. Their 56 incomes now compare unfavourably, instead of favourably, with National Health Service general practitioners.
This change of policy—for that is what it was—will bring dire results. Dentists are at present up to strength in the Navy and the Air Force, although they are about 15 per cent. below strength in the Army. None the less, the British Dental Association has expressed serious misgivings about the future. The present state of recruiting of Service doctors, however, is already grave, and the British Medical Association has warned the Government that they must now expect it to be even worse.
So serious is the situation that the B.M.A. has asked the Prime Minister for an opportunity to explain to him its "grave disquiet"—and I am quoting the association's words. I am today asking the Minister to give an assurance that the Prime Minister will listen carefully to the advice of this important body, whose good will and co-operation are essential—as I am sure the Minister agrees—if the Armed Forces are to get the doctors they need.
The Answer to another Question which I asked on 25th January shows that the combined strength of all general duty doctors in all three Services is one-third down on peace-time establishment. Hon. Members will find that in HANSARD of 25th January. But these figures conceal more than they reveal. In the lower ranks of the medical services in the Army—that is, from major downwards—the numbers on the general duty side are more than two-thirds below peacetime establishment. This is a very serious situation indeed, as I am quite sure the Minister agrees.
Perhaps the Government hope that civilian doctors and dentists can take a greater share of the medical care of the Services than they do already. In my personal opinion this would be a false economy, if adopted on any considerable scale, though it may well be a scheme that is dear to the heart of the Treasury. I find it difficult to believe that the overstretched National Health Service can undertake much more, and I bear in mind the growing list of the number of doctors who are going abroad in a steady and rather frightening stream.
57 There is no comfort to be found in the medical cadet system. I have been looking into it recently. It made a promising start in 1962, but enlistment has been declining seriously and the latest pay award is in my view likely to sound the death knell of this very good scheme.
In our view the Government stand accused of a flagrant act of exploitation as well as an exhibition of meanness. Lieutenant-General Sir Alexander Drummond, recently Director-General of Medical Services, in a severe indictment of the Government's folly, described the pay award as a "confidence trick". That was in a letter to the British Medical Journal on 14th January.
I conclude by asking the Minister three questions. I ask him to break his eloquent silence about this question and to tell the House three things. First, why did he wait from early May until late December last year to decide and announce the pay award to Service doctors and dentists, thus needlessly subjecting them to the "freeze"? Secondly, why was the award not back-dated to 1st April in accordance with the clear and unequivocal promise in paragraph 4 of Cmnd. 2903? Thirdly, why has the Secretary of State secretly made a fundamental change of policy in relation to the pay of Service doctors and dentists, contrary to the 1962 understanding with the British Medical Association?
But I hope that when the Minister replies, that instead of answering these questions he will tell us he prefers to have second thoughts about this matter. Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, and I am quite sure that the Minister and the Secretary of State are men with broad minds and brave spirits. [HON. Members: "Oh."] Well, I like to give them the benefit of the doubt. I hope that the Minister is man enough to declare a change of heart, and I think that the House would be quick to respect him for it. Both he and all the Armed Forces in his care and in the Secretary of State's care have everything to gain from a belated act of restitution to Service doctors and dentists. I ask him to put right this blunder before it is too late. If he does not do so, he cannot complain if we condemn the Government for a clear breach of faith.
§ Dr. Reginald Bennett (Gosport and Fareham)
On a point of order. Are we 58 likely, Mr. Speaker, to be favoured with the attendance of the Secretary of State for Defence? I should have thought that this was a matter which he might regard as important.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member has been in the House long enough to know that that is not a point of order for me.
§ 4.28 p.m.
The Minister of Defence (Administration) (Mr. G. W. Reynolds)
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State asked me to apologise to the House for his absence at this stage. He has other commitments into which he entered before the debate was announced. He will be here later in our proceedings, considerably before we reach the Division at 7 p.m., to listen to part of the debate.
We are to have a very short debate, and bearing in mind that in the two-and-three-quarter hours there will he two Front Bench Opposition speakers, in what is a censure Motion, the signatures to which are headed by the Leader of the Opposition, I had intended only to reply to the debate. I had in mind that many back-bench Members maintain that too much time is occupied by Front Bench speakers in short debates of this kind. Nevertheless, at the request of the Opposition I will give some of the facts now and I hope, Mr. Speaker, to catch your eye in the concluding 10 minutes to answer further points which may arise. I am splitting my speech in two at the request of the Opposition, who wanted a Government statement early in the debate.
The hon. and gallant Member for Lewes (Sir T. Beamish) said that the present system for Service doctors' pay started in 1962, but I must correct one or two statements which he made in that respect. He said that it affected about 1,000 doctors and 400 dentists. In fact, it affects 2,000 doctors and 480 dentists in all three Services. The hon. and gallant Member probably had in mind only the Army doctors, the figure for which is just under a thousand, and did not add Navy and Air Force doctors. Having been responsible as Minister of Defence for the Army for 12 months, and now having overall responsibility for all three Services, this is a mistake that I, too, might have made.
59 I must make a further correction. The hon. and gallant Gentleman referred to the action in 1962 of the Government, which he supported, of splitting the Services pay award in half. It was not a particularly large award, but the then Government decided, because of the economic circumstances of that time, to "welsh" on the bargain—something which the Opposition are accusing us of doing. The accusation comes poorly from the people sitting on the Front Bench opposite at the moment. They did give the full, and very large, increase to Service doctors in 1962.
§ Mr. Humphrey Atkins (Merton and Morden)
I should like the right hon. Gentleman to make clear what he said about the numbers. I am looking at the Answer which he gave on 25th January about the number of serving doctors. The totals which he then gave do not add up to 2,000. He says that they do now. Would he explain that?
§ Mr. Reynolds
I am talking about establishments. I will give the figure of doctors in post later because, again, I cannot understand the hon. and gallant Gentleman's figures or from where he has got them. The total establishment is about 2,000 doctors, with 480 dentists.
It was obvious in 1962 that in 1963 there would be a shortfall of 33 per cent. of doctors in the Royal Navy, 50 per cent. of doctors in the Army and 30 per cent. of doctors in the Royal Air Force if something were not done about it. There were several factors involved. There were the opportunities for satisfying work for doctors within the Services. There was the general public image of the medical profession as a whole of the type of work which Service doctors do, and the question of pay. With National Service coming to an end, the Armed Forces have been able to get the services of qualified doctors on short service commissions.
Mr. Profumo, in the Army Estimates debate in 1962, brought forward what he referred to as an eight point charter for doctors. He did not announce any increase in pay on that occasion, but a widening of the type of work which they would be able to do and improved conditions of service. On the question of the opportunities which were, to an 60 extent, lacking at that time, this is something which has been got over in the interim period between 1962 and the present day.
There are opportunities in the Services for all types of work—hospital work, general practitioner work and consultant work. A great deal of exceptionally good work is being done by Service doctors in all three Services in looking after the medical and physical welfare of serving soldiers and officers and the very large numbers of wives and other dependents stationed with them in various parts of the world. We are lucky to have a medical service for the three Services second to none which can be found in civilian life in this country. This arises from the change in conditions in 1962 and the pay structure set up at that time.
Discussions were held with the British Medical Association before a pay structure for Service doctors was fixed in 1962. Service doctors were eventually given a lead of 16 per cent. over the average salary drawn by general practitioners in this country, so that general practitioners could be attracted to work with the Navy, Army and Air Force. The idea was to attract people from general practitioner service into the Services because of the need for doctors in the Services. The B.M.A., as part of the package deal, helped wholeheartedly, and so did the deans of medical faculties, in recruiting students and other doctors into the medical services of the Armed Forces.
The position now is this. There is a deficiency of doctors, not of one-third, but of 11 per cent. and a deficiency of dentists of 5 per cent. for the three Armed Services. If hon. Members would like the figures, I will read them at a pace a little slower than my normal pace so that hon. Members can note them. The Royal Navy has an establishment of 386 doctors and a strength of 322 doctors, a deficiency of 16½ per cent. The Army has an establishment of 973 doctors and a strength of 845 doctors, a deficiency of 13.1 per cent. The R.A.F. has an establishment of 653 doctors and a strength of 611 doctors, a deficiency of 6.7 per cent. This gives an overall deficiency of 224 doctors—about 11 per cent.
The Royal Navy has an establishment of 115 dentists and a strength of 115. 61 The Army has an establishment of 217 dentists and a strength of 196, a deficiency of about 10 per cent. The R.A.F. has an establishment of 150 dentists and a strength of 149, a deficiency of, I am told, 0.6 per cent. This is the present position—a vast change since 1962 when it was obvious that there would be very considerable deficiencies.
I thank the B.M.A. and the deans of the medical schools for the assistance which they have given in reaching this much more satisfactory, but by no means completely satisfactory, situation. We must remember that the real question is not just a shortage of Service doctors, but a shortage of doctors. Anything that one does to attract doctors into any aspect of service must inevitably, because of the limited number of doctors, mean attracting them away from other aspects of the medical service.
In 1962 a decision was taken, because of the situation in the Armed Services, to give financial incentives and incentives to continue in the Service, and the opportunities available had to be given a lead over those for general practitioners to attract people to the Services. On the face of it, that has worked reasonably well since.
§ Mr. James Ramsden (Harrogate)
What is the comparable figure for the national deficiency? I think that it was l0 per cent. in 1962. It would clarify the right hon. Gentleman's argument if he would give the comparable figure for today.
§ Mr. Reynolds
It is a little less than that, I think, but I will endeavour to get the information so that I can give it later. But it must be remembered that this deficiency dates back to the decision taken in the early 1950s as a result of the Willink Committee's Report, which said that we were training 10 per cent. too many doctors. That Report was accepted by right hon. Members opposite, who were in office at that time, and the number of places in medical schools was cut in the early 1950s. That decision is what we are suffering from at present.
It does not matter what one does about pay over the medical services as a whole. It takes some years before the medical schools can be expanded and the additional doctors can come along. The agreement reached in 1962 meant that doctors were taken out of the normal 62 Grigg arrangements. They were given a separate analogue—that of the general practitioner—and a 16 per cent. lead. There are completely different calculations involved. As their pay is linked to that of general practitioners, it comes into a different time scale from that of other officers in the Armed Services.
Despite the fact that Service doctors are not strictly in the Grigg arrangements, the timing of their increases, I readily admit, coincided in 1962 and 1964 with the timing of increases under the normal Grigg arrangements. The arrangements, for setting up the increase in pay for Service officers and soldiers were announced in February. It was stated at that time that information about Service doctors would be published in due course and that the increase would be backdated to 1st April, 1966. It might be argued that we could have used the normal Grigg arrangements and given the percentage increase given to other officers. But the B.M.A. would not have been happy about that.
This is another point on which I must correct the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes. He referred to the fact that Service doctors did not have a trade union to argue their case for them. Perhaps he does not regard the B.M.A. as a trade union. Perhaps the Association does not regard itself as a trade union, but as a professional association. There is a subtle difference when one considers what trade unions and associations do. The hon. and gallant Gentleman is not on strong ground here, because these people are the only people in the Services who have a union or association which negotiates at official level with the Ministry of Defence and the Secretary of State.
The officials of the B.M.A. have met the Secretary of State on this matter over the last few months. These are the only members of Her Majesty's Services whose pay is negotiated by a professional association or union. Others are dependent entirely on the Government's good will for keeping their word concerning Grigg. The record in 1962 was not too good when right hon. and hon. Members were in office. These people have an association to look after their interests which enters into direct discussions with the Ministry of Defence on pay and conditions of service.
63 The Kindersley Committee considered the pay of doctors as a whole in the National Health Service. It was agreed that the normal Grigg increase would not apply to Service doctors but that we would wait for the Kindersley Report which was presented to Her Majesty's Government on 25th March and published in May, 1966. Finally, the Government agreed increases in pay for National Health Service doctors which resulted, not in a total increase of 40 per cent. for general practitioners, as the hon. and gallant Gentleman said; but, including the 9 per cent. earlier increase to which he referred, a total increased over the period from the previous Grigg review of 44 per cent. In May, 1966, discussions started between the Ministry of Defence and the British Medical Association on Service pay. They could not have started before because it was only at about that time that the Government and the B.M.A. had agreed on what, in effect, has been the analogue on which these matters are dealt with concerning the Services.
There are two matters now to be considered: the date from which the increases become operable and the amount of the increase to be paid to Service doctors. I will deal first with the date. In Cmnd. 2903 we said that payment would be backdated to 1st April, 1966, but the negotiations, which started in May, 1966, and which could not have started sooner, were overtaken by the Government's White Paper, Cmnd. 3073, on the prices and incomes standstill, which meant a deferment of six months in the operative date for Service doctors. This applied to all outstanding claims. What must be borne in mind by everybody is the overriding necessity for, and the common sense of, the Government's policy as set out in the White Paper, and it would have been quite wrong for an exception to have been made in the case of the Services.
That White Paper having deferred the operative date for six months, we then had a further White Paper on the Government's policy during the period of restraint, Cmnd. 3150, under which the date of payment—not the date of operation—of claims of this sort was put off to 1st July, 1967. This applies not only to Service doctors but to the many 64 hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of other people who have had their operative dates deferred for six months. I am personally sorry about the effect on individuals in this way, but the statement of Government policy as contained in the White Paper has been one which, I believe, Gallup polls and other indications of public opinion have shown to have general public support.
The Government believe that we cannot in this case provide for excepting Service doctors from a general principle which applies to everybody throughout the country. In fact, on 28th November, the B.M.A.—which, I get the impression, is becoming a militant union if not a militant professional association—reluctantly accepted, although having argued against it, that in view of the Government's White Papers on this matter the operative date and the date of actual payment would have to be accepted. I do not say that the B.M.A. liked this, but in view of the two White Papers and our discussions with the B.M.A., it reluctantly accepted that the increase must date from October and not from July, 1966. In other words, Service doctors are on the same basis as their National Health Service colleagues.
The second question is the amount of the award. Service doctors had a 16 per cent. lead over general practitioners to attract qualified doctors into the Forces. The 44 per cent. increase for general practitioners in the National Health Service was designed to a large extent to attract doctors into the general practitioner service. One therefore gets into the rather ridiculous position of giving a 16 per cent. lead to Service doctors over general practitioners to attract people to the Services, and then giving general practitioners a large increase mainly to attract people into general practice. Thus, obviously, if we continue to pay all other people in a relationship with general practitioners, we would to a large extent nullify the idea of giving general practitioners a particularly large increase to attract people into that branch of National Health Service medicine.
§ Mr. Victor Goodhew (St. Albans)
Surely the Minister's responsibility is to those in the Services. It is no good his talking about that kind of thing.
§ Mr. Reynolds
As the hon. Member is well aware, my responsibility is to the policy of Her Majesty's Government. The Government have decided on a wage freeze and period of restraint because they maintain, and in this they are generally supported by the public, that it is good for the general economy and will, no doubt, in future years put us in a position in which we will be able to deal with some of the things which it has been impossible to deal with adequately before because of the state of the economy for many years past.
§ Mr. Humphrey Atkins
Is the hon. Gentleman asking the House to believe that the rise of 44 per cent. in doctors' pay was to entice doctors from the Services into general practice rather than, as we understood, to entice people to become doctors rather than, for example, coal miners?
§ Mr. Reynolds
One reason for the increase was to entice people into general practice. It was felt that there had been an increase in the amount of work in general practice and there was a reduction in the number of people entering it. It was not regarded, I assume, as a financially worth-while career in medicine. One of the reasons why general practitioners got a larger increase than hospital doctors was to try to stop the drift from general practice.
We must, however, look also at what is now included in the elements of calculation of remuneration for general practitioners in the National Health Service. A number of items are now included which were not included when the general practitioner service was taken as the analogue on which Service doctors' pay would be based. Under the new arrangements, for example, G.P.s get an additional amount of money for every patient over the age of 65. That does not, thank goodness, apply to Service people, except, perhaps, in one or two exceptional cases where dependants over that age might be treated by a Service doctor. In general, it does not apply to the Armed Forces.
Doctors now get an allowance in the general practitioner service for working outside normal hours of responsibility. The Service doctor, like every Service man, accepts that he is liable to work 24 hours a day. It could be argued that this is a new element in the pay of a G.P. 66 which is not strictly relevant to Service doctoring. There is also a special allowance in the pay of some G.P.s for service in specially designated areas. One must question whether an allowance of this nature which is paid to some G.P.s should be included in an analogue which applies to Service doctors.
There is also a group practice allowance on a different arrangement from what has been done in the past. Again, one must ask whether items of this nature in the calculation of G.P.s' pay should or should not be regarded when using their pay as an analogue for Service doctors. In addition, there are seniority payments for G.P.s and, of course, the Service structure provides for seniority by gradual movement up the ranks.
One of the other reasons for increasing the salary of general practitioners was that it was agreed that there had been an increased load of work which did not necessarily apply to Service doctors.
§ Sir Harry Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)
Will the Minister please recognise that the complaint of the Service doctors and dentists, and their families—I hope that he will not forget the families—is not the comparison between the pay of National Health Service doctors and themselves, but the comparison with the pay of non-medical officers in the Forces?
§ Mr. Reynolds
Therefore, for incomes policy reasons, the Government reluctantly decided that the increase for Service doctors could be only 10 per cent., in other words, breaking away from the analogue on which Service doctors have previously been based.
§ Mr. Reynolds
I was not making any such claim. As the hon. Member stated that the B.M.A. so far disagrees with it that it has asked for an interview with the Prime Minister, I would have thought that he knew the answer.
§ Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Wolverhampton, South-West)
This is very important. The hon. Gentleman said earlier, if I did not mishear him, that the B.M.A. had accepted, albeit reluctantly, this payment and its payment as from 1st July this year.
§ Mr. Reynolds
No. I said that the B.M.A. accepted reluctantly the timing. As the right hon. Gentleman will see when he reads HANSARD tomorrow, I said that I wanted to deal with two matters, one of which was timing and the other the amount. I was dealing then with timing and said that the B.M.A., albeit reluctantly, after discussion and studying the White Papers, had come to the conclusion that this was definite Government policy and, therefore, reluctantly accepted the operative date and the date on which the money would be paid to Service doctors.
The hon. and gallant Member for Lewes in moving the Motion of censure, said that the B.M.A. is so dissatisfied with the matter that it is trying to see the Prime Minister to discuss the matter with him; and there is no dispute about that. [Interruption.] The right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) asks what they are trying to discuss.
The B.M.A. has reluctantly accepted the dates concerned. I am not trying to say that the B.M.A. has accepted the percentage increase or the amount of money concerned. That is something about which it is trying to see the Prime Minister to discuss the 10 per cent. increase.
§ Mr. Ian MacArthur (Perth and East Perthshire)
Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that it is not quite fair to the B.M.A. to suggest that it reluctantly accepts one part of the problem and then to dismiss the remainder of it as of little consequence? That is the impression which he has given. The B.M.A. early this month described the whole of this unhappy position as "a very great disappointment", "the present unhappy situation" and "an invidious position" and went on to express "grave disquiet". That is hardly a picture of reluctant acceptance of anything.
§ Mr. Reynolds
There is no doubt whatever that the B.M.A. reluctantly accepted the two dates concerned, October, 1966, being the operative date and July, 1967, being the date on which the actual payment would be made. I tried to explain that I was dealing with this in two parts, the timing and amount. My remarks applied simply to the timing: I did not mention the amount.
68 Everyone is aware of the views of the B.M.A. on the amount and I assume that that is what the debate is about. The Motion of censure, concerns the date as well as the amount. The B.M.A. reluctantly accepted the date. No one is trying to make out that it is happy. I know that it is very unhappy and objects strongly to the percentage increase, but I was then referring to the two dates under the incomes policy. As stated in this House and approved by the House and by the country on many occasions, the increase of 10 per cent. was fixed. By chance and not design, this is roughly the same as for senior hospital doctors and clinical lecturers and slightly less than for junior hospital doctors under the Kindersley and other pay awards.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman said that we should bear in mind the relationship between general practitioners' pay and that of their Service colleagues. Once the 10 per cent. comes into operation, a medical captain will, on average, be drawing 49 per cent. more pay than an ordinary captain. A medical major at the age of about 34 will be drawing 23 per cent. more pay than an ordinary major, a lieutenant-colonel will be drawing on average 14 per cent. more than an ordinary lieutenant-colonel, a colonel about 6 per cent. more than a non-medical colonel and a brigadier would have the same pay as a non-medical brigadier.
Those are the percentages which the hon. and gallant Gentleman wanted—
§ Sir H. Legge-Bourke
May I put to the Minister a comparison which I have been given by the wife of a wing commander who is a medical officer? She writes:My husband expects to get £250 (approx.) and I am sure I am right when I say that a non-medical wing commander of 4 years standing receives £402.
§ Mr. Reynolds
The hon. and gallant Gentleman is referring, of course, to the amount of the increase. I do not have those figures, but he is referring to the pay of a non-medical group captain or wing commander, the amount of pay under the Grigg Review of April, 1956, and the amount of pay which a non-medical wing commander is likely to be getting now. The percentages are different so the amounts are likely to be 69 smaller, but the fact remains that a major who is a doctor will be getting 23 per cent. more than one who is not.
The pay is higher. It is 49 per cent. higher for a medical captain than for an ordinary one, 23 per cent. for a major, 14 per cent. for a lieutenant-colonel, 6 per cent. for a colonel, and at brigadier level the payments are the same. The figures which the hon. and gallant Gentleman gave are the amounts of the increase—
§ Mr. Reynolds
It may be a specious argument, but it is correct. It is one of the things which the hon. and gallant Gentleman asked for. It means that they get more pay all the way up. One must bear in mind the improvements and the relationship with general practitioners. A captain, in many cases, will get roughly the same money as a general practitioner of a similar age—about £2,400 per year in total emoluments. A major aged 34 will in future get, in total emoluments, £2,909 a year, which is about 12.6 per cent. less than a general practitioner of roughly the same age.
A colonel in the Royal Army Medical Corps will get £4,190 a year, about 2 per cent. more than a general practitioner of the same age. I use the word "about" deliberately, because until the Kindersley recommendations and the rates accepted by the Government for general practitioners have been in operation for a while, we will not know how much a general practitioner will get, so one cannot be too dogmatic about comparisons at the moment.
I have to repeat that I cannot agree that there is a case for exemption from the incomes policy for Service doctors and dentists, when the incomes policy is being rigidly adhered to by the Government for everybody else. Our action in this respect is supported by public opinion. The whole Grigg scheme, as announced by my right hon. Friend the present Foreign Secretary in 1966, is being looked at by Her Majesty's Government at the moment. It was criticised obliquely in paragraph 54 of the White Paper, which said that it was not perhaps the best way of relating the pay of the Services to other aspects of civilian life.
70 That whole problem is being considered. Such a review must, of course, include all Service men, whether medical, flying, Navy, Army or Air Force, and doctors and dentists will have to be considered in the review. We will have to consider what analogue, if any, there should be for doctors and dentists—whether it should be general practitioners, hospital doctors or any other class of people outside military life. We should consider whether we should pay doctors and dentists exactly the same amount in the Services, because they are not paid exactly the same amount in civilian life in the National Health Service. We shall have to consider the method of payment and perhaps whether we could not give Service doctors and dentists the same basic pay of people of the same rank in the Army or whether we should use some other method.
I make no commitments, but these are some of the things which may have to be looked at for the future in the review. I do not know what the outcome of the review will be, but we shall have to discuss it with the British Medical Association. It will be exceedingly difficult for the Government to carry on negotiations and discussions with the B.M.A. on a ticklish subject of this kind if the B.M.A. carries out the threat or promise which I understand was decided at its last meeting in December, that it would blacklist all Service appointments if it does not receive a satisfactory reply in its discussions with the Prime Minister.
This is the kind of industrial action which has been condemned by many professional bodies for many years past. I hope that that is not the sort of action which the B.M.A. will take. If so, it will be almost impossible to carry on with the necessary negotiations to try to ensure the position for the future. I will try to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, later in the debate to deal with any other points raised. I apologise for taking so long, but I was interrupted several times.
§ 4.58 p.m.
§ Mr. James Ramsden (Harrogate)
The Minister always manages to say a great deal in a short time. What will have disconcerted the House is not so much the matter of his speech but its mood and tone. He made the kind of speech which might be considered appropriate to a 71 Treasury Minister rather than a Service Minister. Those of us who have had the honour of representing Service Ministries, as he does, know that it is possible to have to speak from an awkward brief. Nevertheless, one likes to get the impression from the way in which a Service Minister attacks his subject that he is doing his best and has done his best to stand up for the rights of the people in that Service.
I did not get the impression today that this was what was uppermost in the hon. Gentleman's mind. I hope that the reallocation of duties in the Department of Defence will not mean that the conscious duty of standing up for one's Service will be the less present in the minds of those who represent them.
I should like to go back to the original paragraph 4 of the White Paper, Cmnd. 2903, which my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lewes (Sir T. Beamish), in his lucid exposition of our case, began his speech by quoting. I make no apology for quoting it again:Since 1962 the pay of Service medical and dental officers … has taken account of increased awards for civilian doctors and dentists engaged in the National Health Service. Rates of remuneration in the National Health Service are under consideration and, in consequence"—this is the passage which I would ask the House to note—it has not been possible to include in the attached Appendices revised rates of pay for Service medical and dental officers. Revised rates of pay, which will be effective from 1st April, 1966, will be published separately.In dealing with the points made in this connection by my hon. and gallant Friend, the Minister skated a little. The final words of that paragraph constitute a clear statement of Government intention. It must have been read and noted not only by hundreds of doctors and dentists serving on existing engagements, but by many intending recruits. Since that White Paper was published, recruits will have entered the Services on what has turned out to be a false prospectus.
In the paragraph I quoted, the Government gave two undertakings; first the explicit undertaking that the increases, when decided, would be effective from 1st April, 1966—that was stated in black and white—and secondly the implicit undertaking that the relationship between the Service rates and National Health Ser 72 vice rates, which had been established in 1962, would be maintained for the future. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that anybody reading that paragraph would have been bound to have put on it that interpretation—that the relationship between the Services rates and National Health Service would be maintained for the future?
§ Mr. Reynolds
Those were, in fact, the statements which the right hon. Gentleman made on Grigg in 1962.
§ Mr. Ramsden
Then the hon. Gentleman is confirming what I say? It is obvious that a young man in a medical school would have deduced that in future, if he joined the Services, his rate of pay would be based on a lead over the National Health Service rates. Indeed, the White Paper said, in effect "We are at present negotiating this and while we do not know precisely what your final rates will be, they will be such that they will carry a lead over what you would have got had you gone into civilian practice". Those undertakings about the future for recruits were implied, to say the least, in that White Paper.
I cannot recall a clearer commitment ever having been given in this context to members of the Armed Forces. What has happened means that the Government are in breach of that commitment and have fallen down on their promise. That is why we are having this debate. The Secretary of State should be ashamed of himself, and I regret that he has not been in the Chamber throughout this discussion to listen to the arguments. He has made an alteration retrospectively in the terms and conditions of service on which men have been accepted into branches of the Services—something that has always been considered completely out of court and a heinous crime on the part of any Government in connection with Service administration.
The Minister has not only not kept his word but has put leading members of the British Medical Association, who were concerned in the 1962 settlement, in a false position, because as a result of what was decided in 1962 they pledged their credit to young doctors on the basis of agreement on the terms on which those doctors would serve in future. By what has happened the Minister has cut the ground from beneath their feet. 73 No wonder the B.M.A. is hopping mad in this situation.
I well remember the background to the steps that were taken in 1962 to improve the recruiting of doctors and dentists. That became necessary, as the Minister reminded us, because when National Service came to an end, and with a national shortage, the need for doctors and dentists in all three Services was very great indeed. The figure varied from between 13 per cent. in the R.A.F. to about 30 per cent. in the Army. The Minister was right to remind the House of the danger implicit in such deficiencies of establishment, bearing in mind that Service doctors and dentists must exercise the care of Service families as well as Service men.
Faced with that situation, with the assistance of the late Sir Frederick Hooper, the then Service Ministers went to the B M.A. and asked for its co-operation. Unless the B.M.A. had thrown its weight into the scales and had helped us we would not have got the additional recruits. Everything depended on whether the heads of the teaching hospitals and the deans of the medical schools were prepared to say to potential recruits, "We can recommend you to go in for a Service career". Positive advice of that type was given.
It was not altogether easy at that time to persuade the leading members of the B.M.A. that it would be right for them to so advise prospective young doctors and dentists. We had to appeal to the sense of patriotism of the great profession of British medicine to come to the assistance of the Armed Forces of the Crown, and we were delighted when that response was forthcoming. Having convinced the B.M.A. that an effort on its part would be laudable and praiseworthy, we then had to give solid grounds for it to advise young men to join the Services. We had to assure its members that they could advise young men that to join would be in their best interests.
The foundation on which to build such advice to the young men for whom they were responsible was set out in The Times on 27th April, 1962. First, it was said,The new pay scales are designed to bring the pay of service medical officers into a much better relationship with those in civilian life.What price that assurance now? As far as I can see, it is to go. Secondly, 74The new pay code gives the young doctor in the Services a considerable lead over his counterpart in the National Health Service.Will that still be true in the future? It was believed then, but that belief has certainly diminished as a result of what has happened.
This brings me to the subject of longer careers. It was arranged that the present retiring ages of 55 and 60 for Service doctors and dentists would be raised and that all three Services would offer civilian re-employment up to the age of 65 to retired medical officers. What effect will the changes have, if any, on the pensions payable to those who are doing the extra three years and who will retire with their final three years' service on the rates of pay as determined by this settlement?
It was on this basis that we persuaded the B.M.A. to channel recruits into the Services and to give responsible advice which would be in the interests of the young doctors for whom the heads of the profession felt themselves responsible. As a result of what has happened, the Minister has put those who felt themselves responsible in the position of having sold an entirely false prospectus at that time to those young men. This is not fair on the B.M.A. and is most unwise from the point of view of future co-operation between the B.M.A. and the health profession of the Services. The Minister knows full well that if he does not get that co-operation and re-establish the confidence which this incident has destroyed, his prospects of getting the numbers of doctors and dentists he needs will be very poor indeed.
For one reason or another, the Secretary of State has let the medical profession down and let Service doctors down. He has destroyed the relationship of confidence and trust which had been built between the Services and the B.M.A., which was certainly producing results in the way of recruits. He has broken faith with existing Service doctors and dentists and he has inevitably prejudiced his chances of a satisfactory inflow in future. He deserves the censure of the House.
§ 5.11 p.m.
§ Mr. Laurence Pavitt (Willesden, West)
I share with the right hon. Member for Harrogate (Mr. Ramsden) the strong desire that the Government should 75 maintain the maximum amount of co-operation with the B.M.A., not only on the lines put forward, but also because I know from past experience how formidable that body can be. It has often been called the strongest trade union, but by law it has had to hive off a separate organisation, the British Medical Guild, which acts as a trade union when necessary. Its use has been threatened, but it has never yet been called into use. I echo the right hon. Gentleman's comment about the need for closer co-operation with the B.M.A., but I would also emphasise the importance of the British Dental Association which is very much involved in this argument, and which does not get as much attention as the B.M.A.
I feel an intruder because, although I am interested in health matters, this is the first Services debate in which I have taken part. I enter the debate because of the subject matter—doctors' and dentists' pay—and I hope that the House will forgive me for making comments on these lines.
The difficulty which hon. Members are in has emerged from the start. It is the difficulty of making comparisons between doctors and dentists working in one sphere of activity and those working in another. This has emerged in trying to make an adjustment in the relationship between the officer in the Services who is a doctor and the officer who is not a doctor. This happens in every sphere in which doctors are employed. We have exactly the same problem with local authorities, where the medical officer of health has difficulty in fixing his pay in relation to the borough treasurer or the town clerk. This problem is inherent in the fact that doctoring and dentistry are specialties with their own peculiar needs and disciplines. When we try to equate them with those in another sphere this nearly always leads to a number of anomalies.
The case made this afternoon for the special treatment of doctors in the Services could be made with equal force perhaps for doctors who are lecturers in clinical medicine, because they are in precisely the same position. We have to accept the overall economic background in which we are working. Although doctors and dentists are 76 naturally anxious to get their dues, in a period of economic difficulty and severe restraint they would not wish or seek to be treated differently from other members of the community. There has been a period of "stop" in which considerable numbers of people in different sectors of the community have felt that they were unjustly treated because of the incidence on their particular job and special factors which they wanted taken into consideration. The various trade unions from time to time have sought to make changes in matters affecting their members.
§ Mr. Goodhew
Has the hon. Member not applied his mind to the fact that in this case we are dealing with people who should have had an increase in salary in April but it had to be postponed and they could have had it long before the present pause started?
§ Mr. Pavitt
The point was made very well by the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes (Sir T. Beamish) and I have applied myself to it. This applies also to members of the Fire Brigades Union who were subject to a standstill, and a large number of members of the hospital service who feel aggrieved and unjustly treated solely because of the way in which the dates of various decisions fell. They felt that they were subject to injustice and they made representations on those points.
The point of view put by the Government is that if we have a standstill and an agreement has been made, even though an anomaly sticks out a mile once one deals with that anomaly one finds ten or more other anomalies created. Doctors have to accept the same treatment as other workers. I accept the point made about the 1962 arrangements and the differentials, but I believe that neither in this field nor in any other are differentials sacrosanct. In a changing economic system it would be entirely wrong, especially in a fairly tight profession, such as that of medicine or dentistry, to set down certain differentials and seek to hold them for all time, irrespective of the way in which population changes general conditions or the numbers of hours worked change.
I know more about general practice than about the workload of Services doctors. I find it difficult to balance the 77 responsibilities of a Services doctor with those of a general practitioner who has a capitation allowance from which he has to find his own surgery, transport, electricity and all the things which go to make pay in general practice one of the most confusing pay structures with which anyone has to deal. Therefore, I can understand the difficulty of trying to work out the way in which differentials between general practice and the work of doctors in the Armed Forces should be equated.
The Government have acted rightly in taking the Kindersley Report as the basis for discussion. It was inevitable that, with a separate and independent body established for the whole of the medical and dental professions, although ultimate responsibility must rest with him, the Minister of Defence must take into account all other evidence available to him. Having looked at the evidence before him, he is not bound to maintain precisely the same differentials as existed before. In the case of junior hospital doctors and general practitioners, in the light of the standstill the Minister of Health was able to see his way clear to give certain amelioration. For example, when doctors expected their money to arrive on a due date and entered commitments because of that, the Ministry was able to give advances to meet certain commitments. Those advances, I believe, were given on the nod to consultants, but the poor junior doctors had to show good cause.
In the kind of circumstances in which Service doctors and dentists were looking forward to such advances and made plans and family commitments on the basis of those advances, I should like to know whether easing arrangements have been given to Service doctors in the same way as easing arrangements have been given to others.
It is difficult to isolate this problem. My hon. Friend referred to the total number of doctors in the Services and the total number required. I do not think that in the last seven years there has bee a debate on health in the House when the unfortunate Willink Committee has not been mentioned, together with the 10 per cent. cut-back of medical students and the fact that it takes seven years to produce a doctor. It is not a question only of the overall 78 size of the medical cake and how many doctors there are to do the job. There is a problem. The input of doctors going into the medical schools is up by over 20 per cent. this year.
Apart from the total number of doctors and dentists available, there is a responsibility on the Government to get the right kind of balance in the way in which these men are being deployed. If there is a need to get more people into hospitals and fewer in local health authorities, the arrangements which are made for medical practitioners should be on those lines. If it is of greater service to transfer dentists from the general practice of dentistry to the school dental service so that they can prevent more caries from arising and ensure that oral hygiene is introduced at an early date, it would be right to act upon those lines.
The figures produced show that the fall-back from the Services establishment in dentistry is very small. There may well be more than an adequate number of dentists in the Services. With the pressures there are at the moment, dentists at present serving in the Armed Forces might perhaps be better employed in looking after the dental health of children in the community. This is a question which cuts right across the debate but is not divorced from the question of how they are paid, what they are paid, on what basis, and so on.
It is only a 10 per cent. increase for Service doctors and dentists and is less than that given in the arrangements made for similar professions outside, but even that figure is much in excess of the norm permitted under the prices and incomes policy. There is a considerable amount of feeling amongst dockers that, whereas they are pegged to an increase in productivity, it would appear that doctors receive more favoured treatment. I am not arguing that case this afternoon, because I recognise that owing to the serious shortages which have occurred, mainly as a result of the Willink Report, we must do what we can with the amount of manpower available, but I would not regard the incomes policy as being less sacrosanct for medical and dental men in the Services than it is for other sectors of the community. However, I do not think that that is happening at the moment.
79 I am pleased that my hon. Friend indicated that discussions will continue with the B.M.A. and the B.D.A. The Prime Minister is now being brought in as the last court of appeal over the previous arrangements. From the case which has been made out I accept the frustration which the doctors and dentists will have had. I accept the difficulties which they will have had. However, in my view they are no more and no less than those which a large number of my constituents who are not doctors or dentists have had to suffer during the last six months and will have to go through in the period of severe restraint. It is to the honour of the medical and dental professions that, in the main, they accept these difficulties as well as the rest of the community.
§ 5.23 p.m.
§ Dr. Reginald Bennett (Gosport and Fareham)
It appears from what we have heard so far that the facts on which the Motion has been based are not in dispute, in spite of some very fast talking by the Minister of Defence. [HON. MEMBERS: "Where is he now?"] Where is he now, indeed? As his attitude was so thoroughly unsympathetic, I am not surprised that he has disappeared with his right hon. Friend.
I suppose I represent more Service doctors than any other Member and certainly far more naval doctors. There is nothing phoney or spurious about the indignation expressed in the Motion. I assure the House that it is as nothing compared with the way that these doctors are expressing themselves currently. I have been on the receiving end of some of it. This is not just a simple snub. This is the most comprehensive doublecross that even this Government have yet perpetrated.
This is such a concatenation of repudiation of their pledged word and of written contracts, which had not been given under duress, that we must follow this through in detail and look at some of the results. There has been a lot of flannel so far, but the effects have not been described in any detail.
We all realise that the Socialist Government are in their usual economic mess. As in 1931, as in 1951, so in the years leading up to 1971, I suppose. They are setting the country into a decline of which 80 no end can be foreseen. When in a mess, Socialists always go for the defence forces first. We can already see on the subject of the ironmongery how the Secretary of State for Defence has tried to back-track on every commitment so far entered into and has largely disarmed both the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy at least. Now it is the turn of the men. The doctors are being kicked in the teeth. Their service is being diminished, and it appears that the health of the men does not matter very much to their Ministers.
Let us look through this sickening farrago of deception. The issues were very nicely obscured by the rapid double talk of the Minister of Defence. One thing we would like to settle is this: are Service doctors to he treated on the same basis as their civilian counterparts, or are Service doctors to be regarded alongside their Service colleagues who are not doctors? After all, they must be placed alongside one or the other. On the one hand, when the pay of civilian doctors was increased that of Service medical officers was not increased. On the other hand, when there was an 18 per cent. pay rise for other Service men last April it was not given to Service doctors.
A promise was made. Everyone who has spoken so far has drawn attention to it. Cmnd. 2903 stated that the revised rates of pay which would be effective from 1st April, 1966, would be published separately—Cmnd. 2903 of February, 1966. That was well before the panic measures of July. Then, as the House dispersed for Christmas, the right hon. Gentleman produced an award which I can only describe as derisory. It was a slap in the face for Service medical men. It was given in a Written Answer well after any possibility of a debate before Christmas was ruled out. It is a nice piece of evasion. Let us not pretend that that point has been missed. We all realise it here. So do Service medical men. It was obviously intentional. People do not do such things inadvertently.
I can only assume that the answer to my two questions is, "Neither". Service medical officers are not to be treated as comparable either with civilian doctors or with other Service men. They have been given an individual and frightful sock on the jaw. This sock on the jaw has been delivered to people who, in 81 spite of what the Minister of Defence said, are defenceless. They are under contract for up to 16 years. They are, as I know so well, under Naval discipline. They cannot agitate or strike. They cannot even combine. As the Minister of Defence (Administration) has probably been associated only with the Army, I will forgive him if he does not know that a document with even two signatures on it is mutiny. I can remember when a few Wrens at Lee-on-Solent signed a notice saying that they did not want the car routine to start at 7 in the morning but at 8 in the morning. They were all court-martialled for mutiny.
These doctors are under such rigid and rigorous discipline that they cannot agitate or combine or express their grievances in any combined manner. So the Minister of Defence has got them cold. This comes just at a time when Service medicine was reaching standards higher than have ever been known in the history of the Services. I wonder if the hon. Gentleman realises that such is the standard, in the Navy at least, that about 50 medical officers out of 300—about one in six—have achieved higher qualifications—diplomas or degrees—within the last four years. Does he realise that while this has been happening, the same men who have been doing these things have been entering into mortgages and insurance contracts on the strength of the assurances from his right hon. Friend, which have left their personal fortunes absolutely blasted, and that they are now involved in debts which they cannot repay, through no fault of their own?
Surely this is the behaviour of—perhaps I would be out of order in referring to names, but it seems that those who rely on the word of the Secretary of State are in a position which can be compared only with those who insured with Fire, Auto and Marine. Why has the right hon. Gentleman done this? It is because the Socialists are in a mess, as usual. Another reason is that these doctors cannot fight back, so that the Government are likely to get away with it. Another reason is that the right hon. Gentleman does not care if these doctors do quit. The manpower in the Services is going to be slashed anyway, as in the case of ships and aeroplanes. This is what the doctors are saying to me down at Portsmouth Harbour. Even if they do quit— 82 four at one Royal Naval Hospital have already told me that they have sent in their resignations and that the rest are discussing doing so—there is a Government monopoly in medicine anyway, and if they left, they would fall into the lap of the Minister of Health.
These people are determined that they will not put up with anything more like this. They are so angry that if they do quit they will not go back into Government service at all. They are not going to look for another dose of Socialist bad faith. They will go. Out of this country. This will be another part of the brain drain with which the present Government's name will ever be linked. Those who are too young or too old to quit tell me that they see, in the words of one of them to me personally,no confidence in a Government which so blatantly fails to honour its agreements. Even pensions and terminal grants appear secure no longer.The honour of hon. Members of this House is precious to them. The honour of Service men is all-important to them. But the honour of the present Government is null and void. No future pronouncement of theirs can be trusted. Nobody can trust them—least of all their own employees. The Secretary of State has destroyed all respect, all confidence. He has damaged the Service irreparably. He has created a problem for which his successors will have to pay a terrible price. I can only say of him, in the words of Tennyson,His honour rooted in dishonour stood, And faith unfaithful kept him falsely true.True to the Labour Party, no doubt, and false to the nation and the men under his charge.
§ 5.34 p.m.
§ Mr. Stanley Henig (Lancaster)
I do not intend to detain the House for long because I admit that I am somewhat of a layman in these affairs. When I entered the Chamber at the beginning of the debate I did not intend to intervene.
I imagine that this will be the first of a series of debates that we shall have in the next few months relating to the Government's economic policy specifically concerned with lower-paid workers. Indeed, I would share with the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes (Sir T. Beamish) a desire for justice to be done to lower-paid workers, and that they 83 should suffer not too much as a result of the general economic situation. I might add that I should have thought that the choice of Service medical men as the first example was not a happy choice.
The Opposition case seems to me to be extraordinary. On the one hand, we have a solemn argument put forward that apparently if the Government do not grant a much larger rise to these men, then in future nobody will go into Army medicine. Instead, people will become coal miners. This seems to be a somewhat unlikely development—not one that would do them any harm, but one that is unlikely to come about. On the other hand, it has been suggested that it is specious to make comparisons between the incomes of medical men and of other people. We are apparently to consider them alone, on a pedestal.
It seems to me that there are only four questions which can be put to my right hon. Friend this afternoon. He has already answered some of them, but I should like to specify what these questions ought to be and what questions ought to be in the minds of hon. Members in making up their minds which way to vote tonight. First, what are the rates of pay of these men? We learn that, taking into account the rise that they are about to have, these rates vary between £2,500 and £4,000 a year.
Secondly, what is the relationship of their pay to the pay of other Army officers? We learn that, by and large, they are considerably higher and that in no case are they lower.
Thirdly, what is the relationship of their pay to the pay of doctors in general practice? We learn that this relationship varies from one level to another, that it may, overall, be a fraction lower but that there is not very much in it.
Finally, what is the relationship of the pay of these men to the general income level throughout the country? The answer is that clearly it is very much higher.
It seems to me that a legitimate case can be brought against the economic policy of the present Government. It can be argued that it is wrong to make people wait for pay increases. It can be argued that we should go back 84 to the policies of the last 13 years, with everybody regularly getting a large increase, with prices going up in consequence and, every few years or so, preferably when another party is about to take over the Government, a huge economic mess being left behind. I notice that that argument has not been adduced this afternoon.
It has been said "This is all very well. Never mind about the Fire Brigades Union and others who have suffered. Here is one class of people for whom we must fight." Why could not the Opposition have selected a group of people who really were in need? I do not think the Opposition's case will wash at all.
§ Sir H. Legge-Bourke
Whilst I would agree that the four points that the hon. Gentleman has listed as being relevant to the debate are relevant, may I ask him whether he would not agree that of equal, if not greater, relevance are the undertakings given by the Government to their own employees to whom those employees are under contract?
§ Mr. Henig
I certainly agree that this is an important consideration. The only difficulty is that there are more important considerations. The overall economic interest of the country is a more important consideration. Another important consideration is that many millions of people whose wages are insignificant compared to the wages of the people we are discussing have also to accept the freeze.
§ Mr. Humphrey Atkins
Is the hon. Gentleman putting forward the proposition that the Government's word may be disregarded whenever the Government find it convenient to do so?
§ Mr. Henig
No, that is not my contention. My contention is that at a time of national emergency there are national considerations which must override these kinds of individual considerations. I do not think that hon. Members opposite would disagree with that contention. They might claim that this was not a national crisis, but they cannot seriously disagree with the contention that if there is a national crisis the sort of considerations that I have been describing override these more specific ones.
§ Mr. Pavitt
Does my hon. Friend recall that on two previous occasions the last Government did the same thing? In 1957 85 they broke, for the first time in our history, the Whitley award for lower-paid Health Service employees, and in 1961 they set aside the nurses' pay award.
§ Mr. Henig
I would thank my hon. Friend. I recall those incidents and they fit into the pattern that I have been describing.
Over the last few months we have had a situation in which the Government, in an effort to get the economy on a better keel, have said that there would be no increases in salaries. That was for a period of six months. Now we are in a period of severe restraint in which those, perhaps, with top priority may have some increase. The people about whom complaint is made in this debate are to receive a 10 per cent. increase in their pay, a 10 per cent. increase in a pay which is by no means small, and it is to be slightly back-dated, though, apparently, not enough.
If the Opposition pursue their case into the Lobby against the Government tonight, they will be saying that they do not care about social justice and they do not care about our general economic policy. The one thing they are interested in is a specific group of people, who, perhaps, look more important to their side than to this—I do not know—a group of people who are already extremely highly paid, who are paid more than many people in comparable positions. The Opposition's case is that these people should get a much bigger increase than they are already to have.
If my right hon. Friends were thinking of giving way to this kind of argument, I should have to warn them from these back benches that, if they did any such thing, they would find that the confidence which the bulk of the country has in their policy at present would soon evaporate. I urge my right hon. Friend to stand firm.
§ Mr. Peter Bessell (Bodmin)
Will the hon. Gentleman answer one question before he concludes? I am not trying to be destructive and I have a great deal of sympathy for his argument. Will he agree, nevertheless, that there is a difference between this case and the case of the industrial worker, for example, who claims a pay increase in that men in the Armed Services cannot strike and 86 cannot protest? They are, virtually, the dumb victims of the Government's policy.
§ Mr. Henig
It is up to the Government, therefore, to make sure that justice is done. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] The case I make from this side is that, if the Government were to say to a man earning £750 a year, "You may not have a rise at all", but said on the other hand, to the man earning £2,000 a year, "You may have only a 10 per cent. increase", this would not be social justice at all. The Government have to represent all interests and all groups in the country and not be concerned with just one group, least of all a group who seem to have done quite well for themselves even if they are always the innocent victims of Government policy.
§ 5.42 p.m.
§ Mr. Victor Goodhew (St. Albans)
I shall not follow the hon. Member for Lancaster (Mr. Henig) in his wide-ranging tour of Government economic policy, which seems to make him very excited, as it does many of us on this side.
I was surprised to learn that the Minister of Defence complains that he has to speak twice and seeks to put the blame on the Opposition. The answer is that the blame lies on his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State who should be here to wind up the debate and who could, presumably, be here if he cared. I was astonished, also, that the Minister of Defence should seek to twist an intervention I made on the subject of the National Health Service versus the Services themselves. It is his responsibility to see that the Services have the medical officers they need. To argue as he did about how dangerous it was for the Health Service if we gave too big a differential to Service medical officers is to present a case which could, perhaps, come from the Minister of Health but certainly not from him as the Minister here to answer on behalf of the Services.
There was a firm commitment in the White Paper that the payment would be made on 1st April. There is no doubt about that. In the view of everyone at the time, whatever Ministers may say now, this was an unequivocal commitment by the Secretary of State for Defence to pay from 1st April the increases which were decided.
I am tempted to ask what the Minister of Defence was doing between February 87 and 20th July to see that he got the matter sorted out. He knew that this whole question was outstanding and that something had to be done about it, preferably as soon as possible, if he was to satisfy his serving officers. He knew that he was committed to the increase back-dated to 1st April. Why did not he do anything to hasten a decision before 20th July when the freeze was finally announced?
The Secretary of State is a member of the Cabinet. He must have known what the Cabinet's thinking was, how they were proposing to introduce a standstill and a freeze. He knew of the National Health Service increase from the Kindersley Report which would have enabled him to secure a decision before 20th July. Yet the right hon. Gentleman, representing the Services in the Cabinet, knowing that all this was going on, knowing that a standstill was planned and knowing that this vital matter was outstanding did nothing to have it settled.
It is extraordinary that the Secretary of State should have behaved in this way, that he should not have realised, as he seems not to have done, how important it was to make certain that the terms of pay and conditions of service of his officers were such as they would accept and would encourage recruitment. It is difficult to see how the Services can have much confidence in a Minister who behaves in this way, who can let them down especially at a time when the country as a whole is so anxious that the Services should be encouraged. There is a great deal of concern at present about recruitment, not least because of the action of the Secretary of State for Defence himself. He is quick enough to act on cancellations of Service equipment—the TSR2, the HS681, the P1154—those decisions came tumbling out of the Ministry at a great rate, although they were matters which would control our defence posture for the next 15 or 20 years. They can be decided in a matter of moments. [Laughter.] The Minister laughs. Is he laughing at the effect on our defence capability in the coming years?
§ Mr. Reynolds
I was thinking of the time when those decisions were being made. We were criticised by the Opposition for taking so long to make them. I am glad that the hon. Gentleman now thinks that they were taken promptly.
§ Mr. Goodhew
They were taken promptly compared with decisions on matters like this. The cancellation of the TSR2 was a very quick decision. It is surprising that the Minister can deal in a short space of time with matters like that, matters affecting our defence posture for the next 15 or 20 years, but can behave so incredibly slowly and in such bumbling fashion on a matter of this sort when it is a question of seeing that his men are properly paid.
It is inconceivable that any Minister could allow such an important decision to hang about for so long, right up to 21st December. More than that, it was cowardly, on a matter of this importance, for his decision to appear in a Written Answer to a Question on the very day the House rose for the Christmas Recess, when there was no possibility of anyone challenging him. If he has confidence in his policies, if he believes that he is right, has he not the courage to come to the House and face it with his decision, or does he hope, by allowing the matter to appear on the Order Paper in that way, to escape challenge by the matter being forgotten when we return after Christmas?
When he did announce the increase, we found that it would not be payable until 1st July this year, 15 months after the promised date. Furthermore, it is to he back-dated only to 1st October so that those affected will lose six months of the increase which they had every right to expect under their contract.
When the increase was announced, it was a mean and miserly 10 per cent., whilst National Health Service doctors had a much higher increase, and therefore one is surprised that there should have been such a delay to produce such a monstrous decision. The Minister seems also to have accepted a reduction in the commonly accepted differential between Service and civilian doctors, and, as I pointed out in my intervention, he seems almost to have done so on the basis that perhaps he is doing the National Health Service a good turn.
Nevertheless, it is his responsibility to see that his men are medically looked after whilst in the Services, that the medical officers do not lag behind their non-medical colleagues. There is little wonder in my mind that there is such bitterness and resentment among those men at the Minister's failure to look after them. It 89 could hardly be better calculated to destroy confidence in him amongst his officers, and to make recruitment more difficult.
In addition to these officers being vital to the welfare of the men in the Services, there is the aspect that they must face the additional rigours of Service life. The Minister has no doubt visited units in places like Aden, the Persian Gulf, Singapore and Borneo. It is monstrous that people who accept the additional commitment of constantly being posted about the world, going into areas where warfare is taking place, should now be expected to accept a gradually reducing differential just because the Minister at any rate seems to be happy to see a greater swing towards the Health Service.
I consider that they deserve much better treatment than they have received from the Minister, and for that reason I, with my right hon. and hon. Friends, condemn this open breach today.
§ 5.52 p.m.
§ Mr. John Rankin (Glasgow, Govan)
It was with a little hesitation that I decided to intervene in the debate and I am sorry to see my hon. Friend—I t think he is the Member for Oxford—leaving, because to some extent he was one of the magnets that caused me to rise. As a matter of fact, I retired from the Chamber lest I should be tempted to speak. Many great men have refused to yield to temptations of that nature. But outside I received an unexpected invitation from one of my officer friends on the Front Bench, who asked me just a few minutes ago, "Do you want to make a speech?" My reply was "No". I did not, because the speech might not be helpful to my own Front Bench, and therefore I still thought that I had better stay away. But on second thoughts I felt it best to give my Front Bench the opportunity of explaining certain things that are confusing the minds of a great many good friends of mine in the general medical practice in Scotland.
I listened with great interest to my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford—[HON. MEMBERS: "The hon. Member for Lancaster (Mr. Henig)."] There is still an Oxford touch about his approach. It is relevant to compare the salaries of many of the doctors whom I know 90 in general medical practice with those people who are not so highly paid, and to ask why we should think of the highly-paid person before the person who is not so highly paid. The Government must shape their policies, as this Government have been doing, towards the defence of those who, in times of difficulty, feel the problems presented by smaller incomes more acutely than those with larger incomes.
But that is not the issue at present so far as the general practitioners in Scotland are concerned, and I suspect that the English members of the profession may be in exactly the same position. The doctors were promised an increase of £1,000 a year. That promise was made to the general practitioner throughout the whole United Kingdom and it was applicable in all parts. After the publicity attached to the increment everyone became convinced that this was something that the doctors would fall heir to. For reasons which were legitimate at the time, that was postponed.
§ Mr. Rankin
If the hon. Member is capable of utterance, let him approach me and request to be allowed to interrupt.
Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. I must point out to the hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Rankin) that the Motion refers to pay for Service doctors and dentists. He can allude to general practitioners in the National Health Service only to illustrate the points he makes on the Motion.
§ Mr. Rankin
I thank you very much for that intervention, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and I shall do my best in the minute or two that remains to me to align the grievances I have expressed on behalf of those in the general medical profession with the grievances that have been expressed about the military services. I think that they are aligned, but there is just this little difference: the general medical practitioners were promised at the end of the year that they would get part of their increase. I have not met one in Scotland so far who has received a penny piece of that increase.
§ 5.57 p.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Kershaw (Stroud)
Although I do not directly follow the hon. Member for Lancaster (Mr. Henig)—as we now know he is!—I venture to say that his suggestion that the reason the Opposition raised the debate is that most of the doctors and dentists in the Services are Conservative supporters is a rather unworthy one, which I hope he will feel able to withdraw on consideration. His second point seemed to be that he is an advocate of equal pay for different work, and hang the sanctity of contract. That is not a doctrine with which this side of the House could agree.
Apart from that, what the Government have so far done is a bad day's work. First, without being in any way personal, I think that it is most unfortunate that the Secretary of State has not been able to be present, except for a very brief visit when he talked with the Opposition Whip—about what, I cannot even suspect. It is marvellous how the Secretary of State manages to be here on occasions when we have long debates! After all, that is what he is paid for. I am afraid that the doctors and dentists in the Forces will feel it a slight reflection upon their standing because he was not able to be with us during the debate.
I deal first with the effect of 20th July. It is hardly anywhere disputed—I do not think the Minister even sought to dispute it—that the undertaking so clearly given to the Service doctors and dentists has not been fulfilled. There is a clear breach of promise there; and the Government's word has been broken. The overall economic position and the overall economic plan put into operation on 20th July last imposed on the Government—we understand this—certain difficulties. The guillotine must fall on the just and unjust alike. It is not much good remembering that the reason for what happened on 20th July was the mistaken economic policies of the Government. They reflated when it was wrong to do so, inflated when it was wrong to do so and deflated when it was wrong to do so. The economic policies are now dictated by the economic circumstances which the Government have brought about; they had to take these measures.
It has been pointed out that the Secretary of State and his Department must bear some responsibilities for the tact that these proposals for increased 92 pay were not ready by 20th July. It is to some extent due to idleness or lack of urgency on the part of the Department that rates of pay proposals for which all the necessary information available lay in the Department for five or six months were not acted upon, and then the guillotine came down on 20th July and they could not be acted upon.
If the Minister had said "I know that it is unfair, but there it is. We are all in the same boat. We cannot make any exceptions", that would have been something with which we should all have had sympathy, and I am sure that the dentists and doctors would have understood. One does not expect absolute fairness in life. If in the circumstances the Minister had said "I know that it is unfair, but there it is. You will have to lump it. We will give it to you as soon as possible", that would have been an honest and manly way to face the difficulty.
§ Mr. Reynolds
I said that I was sorry for the individuals concerned, and also that it was on grounds of incomes policy that the 10 per cent. decision was taken. There might be a slight difference between my words and those of the hon. Gentleman, but very little.
§ Mr. Kershaw
I agree. I have no doubt that the Minister—in so far as I was able to catch every second word or so when he spoke—made the point very much better than I am making it now. I say that that is a reasonable argument. I wish the Minister had stopped there and sat down. But he went on to justify the decision in other ways which were very unfortunate. He said that the Service medical men were rather overpaid for what they did compared with civilian medical men. He instanced the example that Service medical men are on duty in theory for 24 hours a day and that civilian medical men have had their hours of duty extended, and said that it was only fair, therefore, that the Service men should not have an increase in pay. That was a curious argument which seemed to me to be standing justice on its head.
§ Mr. Reynolds
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will withdraw that in the House tomorrow after he has read the OFFICIAL REPORT.
§ Mr. Kershaw
Not at all. I could have put it another way and said that 93 the hon. Gentleman's argument was that as Service medical men were expected to work for 24 hours and as general practitioners were expected to extend their hours of duty, it would only be fair that general practitioners should have an extension of pay but that Service medical men should not have anything because they could not be expected to work more than 24 hours a day. The hon. Gentleman will read tomorrow what he said, provided that the OFFICIAL REPORT got it.
I thought it was rather sinister how the hon. Gentleman went out of his way to give very extensive comparative figures on pay as between civilian and Service medical men. There was no point in giving all those figures except to imply that Service medical men are pretty well off and should be thankful for what they have and that it is the civilian doctors who ought to have an increase in pay and not the medical doctors.
It is clear from the implication of all these figures that the 15 per cent. extra which hitherto has been awarded to medical men in the Services in recognition of the conditions in which they have to operate compared with those of civilian medical men is no longer accepted by the Government. That suspicion grew in me while I was listening to the Minister. The hon. Gentleman went on to confirm our suspicions by explicitly stating that tie whole system is now under review. He said that he could not say—he emphasised it; I distinctly caught it—what the result would be. In fact, the answer is that the whole system of extra pay for Service medical men and the basis upon which they have been paid up to now are brought into doubt.
Why did the hon. Gentleman go out of his way to say this? The first part of his speech was rather short. I think it is very sinister. I am afraid that it will be taken by those in the Services in this way. They will hear about the figures which the hon. Gentleman gave us showing how much recruitment into the medical branches of the Services has improved since 1962, and they will read that now there is only an 11 per cent. shortfall overall, which compares more or less with what there is in civilian life, and they w ill say "Aha, the Government no longer want to attract medical men into the Services, and the promises which they 94 made in 1962, which have succeeded in attracting men, are now to be scrapped."
It will be known to hon. Members that the Government are sometimes regarded with a certain suspicion by the Services and by those who depend for their pensions and so on upon the decision of Government. All Governments are regarded in this way. I believe that the effect of the figures given by the Minister in his speech and the bringing once again into doubt of the whole system upon which men were recruited and upon which their future life and their pensions depend will lower the esteem which the Forces have for any Government.
That is why I think that this has been a bad day's work. This will not stop in the medical and dental branches of the Armed Forces. The other arms will consider how far they can trust the word of a Government who do this, and far Governments in general are to be trusted to keep the promises which they make when they enlist an officer or a man in his youth. So, because of the decision and the arguments which were put forward, I think that this has been a bad day's work for the House, for the Services and for Government in general.
§ 6.9 p.m.
§ Mr. Charles Morrison (Devizes)
During this debate we have heard a good deal from the Government Benches that bears very small relation to the subject before us. One hon. Member put forward the case for special treatment for such people as clinical teachers and those in the hospital service. I have no doubt that there are good reasons why those persons should have special consideration, but that is not the subject of our debate.
Equally, we have heard from the hon. Member for Lancaster (Mr. Henig) something about social justice and various other things besides, most of which had nothing to do with the subject of the debate and certainly nothing to do with the point, which is that in 1962 a new deal for Service medical officers was negotiated and agreed. Since then, the criteria upon which these salaries were based were understood to be established. This fact was underlined yet again by paragraph 4 of Cmnd. No. 2903, to which reference has been made.
95 Of course, changes in the salary structure for Service officers could be made, but surely only after reasonable negotiations have taken place with the officers concerned, and certainly there should not have been a sudden change such as that which came into effect as a result of the Secretary of State's reply to a Parliamentary Question on 20th December.
This afternoon, we are really debating the remuneration of a small section of the community who have answered a dual vocation. Firstly, as doctors or dentists they perform a service to members of the community and, secondly, as members of the Armed Forces they have been called to serve their country. But it is to their disadvantage, as has been emphasised today, that they are few in number. I fear only that soon they will be fewer still if the breach of faith from which currently they suffer is not removed.
My hon. Friend the Member for Gosport and Fareham (Dr. Bennett) claimed that, in his constituency, there was probably a greater concentration of Service medical officers than in any other part of the country. I would put forward a similar claim, because I have in my constituency not only numerous Service camps and depots on the edge of Salisbury Plain, but also an R.A.F. hospital and the Army medical establishment at Tidworth. It is proper that the House should hear what some of these doctors have to say about the subject of the debate. I should like to quote one squadron leader, who started his letter with the words:I should be obliged if you would bring to the notice of our Prime Minister the sense of disgust and horror with which I read of his Defence Minister's statement of 22nd December regarding Service medical officers' pay.He ended:It would almost seem some part of the purpose is so to destroy confidence that the medical branches may shrink to insignificance from wastage and cessation of recruiting.As though to confirm that thought, another letter ended:I have taken this as a shattering blow to my confidence in the Service ministry and have decided that I will risk no further blow. I will accordingly be leaving the Royal Air Force on my optional retiring date, which is October, 1968.On 5th January, in the light of these letters, and of certain telephone calls in 96 addition, I wrote to the Prime Minister, but so far I have had no answer. Nor has there been an acknowledgment to my letter. I would not know whether or not this is the fault of the Postmaster-General, but it shows some gross incompetence on the part of at least one Government Department. But let it not be thought that the words of these Service medical officers are the hasty words of unthinking people. They have very real cause for complaint, as has been adequately established today.
It was perhaps bad luck on these officers that the negotiations on their pay should have been interrupted by the axe which fell on 20th July. In the circumstances, however, many Service medical officers appreciated that some delay in the implementation of the solemn undertakings which had previously been given on their pay was acceptable. But, on 20th December, the Secretary of State informed the representatives of the B.M.A. that the Government had decided to make this miserly award of a mere 10 per cent. It is impossible to surmise how this figure was reached, for this increase seems to be unrelated either to the figure paid to non-medical Service officers or to that awarded to their colleagues in the National Health Service.
The award can be condemned on two grounds—first, for its inadequacy and, secondly, for the fact that it destroys, in effect, the existing structure of remuneration and the basis and the criteria upon which awards have been made. Apparently the future is to bear no relation whatever to past agreements.
Perhaps the priorities have changed. Perhaps the criteria of 1962 no longer exist. But if the criteria have changed, then a new structure must be negotiated and it should not be imposed without warning upon these unfortunate officers. But I cannot believe that the Secretary of State or his Ministers are happy about this miserable award. Nor can I believe that their consciences are entirely clear in their predicament. To reverse undertakings which were freely given cannot be the choice of honourable men, but the Secretary of State is one voice alone in the Cabinet and, whatever he and his junior Ministers may say or do, they have to fight a solid phalanx of disinterested 97 colleagues. What do their colleagues care if Service doctors do not get their due and just awards? What should they care if commitments entered into in a previous Parliament remain unhonoured?
I ask, therefore, whether it may not be that the Secretary of State, the B.M.A. and the doctors all together have been sold down the river by the other members of the Cabinet. But, in this situation, I have no doubt that if the Secretary of State is to retain one atom of respect, he should go back to the Cabinet and fight on behalf of the Services which he represents. I am prepared to give the Secretary of State the doubt that he is still in his office because he wishes to fight another day and to argue the case yet again, perhaps with the renewed strength which will have been given to him by this debate. But if he should fail in another approach to the Cabinet, or if I am wrong and the Secretary of State does believe that he can gloss over this breach of faith, he should resign immediately.
§ 6.20 p.m.
§ Sir Harry Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)
shall be brief because other hon. Members wish to take part in this rather short debate. I do not want to repeat the arguments used so far, although—I am sorry that he is not here—I want to take up a point made by the hon. Member for Lancaster (Mr. Henig), who produced a speech which might have been suitable at a university union. He seemed more keen on making short debating points than with dealing equitably with a serious problem.
I am afraid that, down the years, government has never found it very easy to be a good employer to the Forces. It is also true to say that, if savings have to be made, there is a greater predisposition in the Labour Party to make those savings at the expense of the Forces than a there is in the Conservative Party. It seems to me that in this particular instance we have witnessed one of the most cowardly exercises which we have ever come across. Here is a body of men who, as hon. Members have pointed out, are not really able to defend themselves publicly. Even their families have to feel somewhat inhibited about putting up their case, and this is known by the Government. It is all too easy for any cohesive effort being made by these men for them 98 to find themselves in conflict with military, air force and naval law. Therefore it is our duty to voice this, even, as so obviously appeared to be in the mind of the hon. Member for Lancaster, we are dealing with a comparatively small and comparatively well rewarded group when compared with some of the lower income earners in the country.
Nevertheless, our duty is very clear. We must make the case which we believe should be made, which is that no duty is more important for a Service Minister than that he should put his Department before the Treasury. It is an old story—we have all suffered from it in our experiences of the Armed Forces and under more than one Government—that the Treasury do not like the Services. They never have. They regard them as an unproductive necessity, to be kept to the bare bones. They will also flog a willing horse if they can do so. If they can get people to do jobs at a lower rank than the job merits, they will always do it. They will always hold them on a temporary basis if they agree in order to avoid continuing to pay them at a higher rate. Year in, year out, one has seen this happen.
Obviously a group of this kind is very vulnerable where the rewards are comparatively high compared with the lowest wage earners in the country. Nevertheless, the skills demanded are such and the need for the ability to instil confidence are so great in these men that the Government have a very special duty. It horrified me to hear the hon. Member for Lancaster dismiss out of court the idea that if the Government has made a pledge or a declared intention, as was printed in paragraph 4 of the White Paper which has already been referred to, the Government could with impunity go back on this on the grounds that the country is faced with a rather difficult financial situation. Nobody denies this difficulty, but I hope that the Government are not trying to unshoulder some of the responsibility for having made it what it is.
Nevertheless, here is a clear case where Government employees of a very highly skilled order were given a firm undertaking where new entrants have come into that type of work since that pledge was given on the understanding that the 99 pledge would be honoured. It has now been broken, and it is now up to the Secretary of State and his henchmen, the Ministers of State and the Under-Secretaries, to insist on the Government honouring that pledge and state that if the Prime Minister wants them to stay in the Government they will see that pledge honoured come wind come weather. That is what we ought to be pressing the Government to do.
The Secretary of State may have had more and important affairs of State to attend to this afternoon, but he has at last come back and we welcome him.
§ The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Denis Healey)
I intended no discourtesy by being absent. I was concerned with the matters we were discussing after Questions, and I am sure that hon. Members on both sides of the House would have wished me to be so concerned.
§ Sir H. Legge-Bourke
I fully recognise that there are affairs of State which have to take priority over business in the House of Commons. I fully accept that, and we are glad to see the right hon. Gentleman here for the final stages of the debate. I hope he will at least believe that the feeling is very strong indeed in this matter.
In the course of interrupting his right hon. Friend, I made a short quotation from a letter which I had received from the wife of a wing commander who is a medical officer. He served with a very excellent R.A.F. hospital in my constituency, outside Ely, and he is now serving abroad.
Before the debate I had the advantage of seeing certain correspondence which had passed between this officer and the B.M.A. on a confidential basis. I do not intend to quote from it, but I want to tell the House frankly the impression I have of it. The hon. Gentleman, in opening the debate for the Government today, made some play of the fact that the B.M.A. was representing these officers and putting their difficulties to the Government and that therefore these officers were in a privileged position compared with officers employed in another capacity in the Forces.
Having read that correspondence, I was rather led to presume that these officers 100 will be a tiny minority and that, being a minority interest, the full force which the B.M.A. would give in support of a case from doctors was hardly to be shown in this particular case. I can well understand the B.M.A., in negotiating a National Health Service pay award simultaneously with this specialised negotiation, would naturally have to put the National Health Service award first. It may be that in the forefront of this the Government have been assuming that the B.M.A. would put in the strongest possible case that it could for these officers when, in fact, all that the B.M.A. had time to do would be to present the case which they knew to be a smaller and perhaps less essential case to them when one takes into consideration all the doctors for whom they are responsible.
The Secretary of State would make a great mistake if he states that what the B.M.A. have said is all that there is to be said upon this matter regarding the remuneration of doctors. One of the things which concerned me in what the right hon. Gentleman said in opening for the Government in the debate was his suggestion that the present margin of shortage in the three Services for medical and dental officers is 11 per cent. and 5 per cent. respectively. That is still a shortage of a major order. It is still a shortage which is very important, because so many of the people who are patients of these officers are serving abroad. This is perhaps one of the factors which has been lost sight of in the course of the debate.
We can make comparisons with doctors here and doctors in the Forces who are serving in Britain. But we have lost sight of the fact that at any moment these doctors can be posted abroad, of the number of times that Service families have to move, and of the fact that Service men may have to be separated from their families because there may be no married quarters at the far end. That puts them in a very special category. Having given the impetus, which the Conservative Government rightly did to get more doctors and dentists to join the Forces, it seems stupid indeed to start easing up on that enticement. We still have a gap to bridge compared with the numbers on the nominal roll and those on the establishment.
Bearing in mind the state of the world today and the distances which have to be 101 covered by the Armed Forces in carrying out peace-keeping duties, this is not the right time to break promises to these men whom we so admire for the way that they do their duty. This is not the moment for us to start easing up on the enticement of getting doctors into the Services. I would have thought there is a stronger case for that enticement to continue until the gap is fully bridged.
In conclusion, the words, which this particular lady who wrote to me had to say at the end of one of her letters is something which perhaps sums up the feelings of many of us when she said:It is dreadful to feel so helpless at the hands of a dishonest and amoral Government. My husband has put in his resignation but has small hope of its being accepted. If it is we shall certainly consider emigrating. I know that many of us feel this way too. So if the Government is trying to divert doctors from the Forces to reinforce the crumbling National Health Service, I do not think they will succeed. Very few really want to emigrate. For us it would be a very hard and hurtful step, but there is a limit to the amount people can take from this present Government.That is what we have to impress on the Government. There is a limit, and the limit has been reached.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Humphrey Atkins (Merton and Morden)
I want to speak briefly about something which has not been mentioned at any great length this afternoon. We have had arguments from these benches as to why we believe that the Government have made wrong decisions, and a number of questions have been put to the right hon. Gentleman time and time again. I can tell the Secretary of State, who does not know because he has not been here—and we understand why—that we are very much looking forward to hearing his right hon. Friend speaking again, because, although he spoke for 20 minutes, he did not answer the three really important questions which my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lewes (Sir T. Beamish) put to him. We have gone through them again and we have put our argument and reasons, and now we look forward to hearing him again, because we think that he must do better than he did in answering questions about why the Government have done what they have done.
I want to speak for a few minutes about the effect on recruiting of what the 102 Government have done. I want the right hon. Gentleman to direct his mind to this and to give us the benefit of his views. There is no doubt that Service doctors and dentists are below strength. The figures are somewhat confusing, because in his speech the Minister gave us some figure, which I wrote down, of the total strengths of doctors and dentists in the Services, figures differing substantially from those which he gave in a Written Answer to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lewes on 25th January.
This afternoon the right hon. Gentleman was referring to the total of doctors and dentists, whereas in that Written Answer he referred to non-specialist medical and dental officers. Taking the total, as he did this afternoon, one gets shortages of 6 per cent., 10 per cent. and 12 per cent., but if the specialists are ignored and one counts only the non-specialists and, therefore, I assume, more junior officers, the picture is very different and, according to the figures given on 25th January, the shortage among non-specialists and, therefore, presumably, among junior ranks, is very substantial.
In the Navy, for example, the number of non-specialist medical officers has been going steadily down for the last five years and out of the present establishment of 247 there are now only 170. This is a very considerable shortfall, and I ask the right hon. Gentleman seriously whether he believes that what he has done over the last few months will increase recruitment. We hear a great deal about increasing recruitment and about shortages, but does the right hon. Gentleman honestly expect the House to believe that any of this will help recruiting? Is it not absolutely logical to conclude that what he has done will have the reverse effect? What does the right hon. Gentleman propose to do about it?
The right hon. Gentleman mentioned one factor in connection with the future. He spoke severely about the B.M.A. and the possibility, as he said, that it might blacklist the Services and he said that he would be very disappointed and cross with it if it did. Even if it does not, and I hope that it does not, does he seriously suggest that people in the B.M.A., or senior doctors, or for that matter senior members of the Forces will tell young men thinking of coming into 103 the Forces that there is a jolly good career for them in the Forces? Does it not matter what these people say? Is it not the case that young men starting in any walk of life inquire round about as to what is a good thing and what is not?
Does the right hon. Gentleman believe that what he has done, apart from saving the Government a little money, will help with his own problem? He is in charge of personnel and with seeing that the men and women in the Forces get proper medical and dental attention. I hope that he will be able to tell us that it will help, but I do not think that he can, and the Government deserve censure because of it.
§ 6.35 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Wolverhampton, South-West)
When the Minister spoke, he seemed somewhat surprised that it should be expected of a Government that, confronted with a Motion such as this, some idea or outline of the Government's answer should be put before the House at an early stage of the debate. I want to make it clear that it would be most deplorable if we were to get into the habit of following the precedent of a debate last year—I think that it was on 31st October—when the House was left to debate a Motion of censure upon the Government for several hours without being told what was the Government's case, good or bad. A debate in the House can proceed usefully only if there is an early statement of the Government's view and of their answer to the charges brought against them. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not run away with the view that he was performing some unusual and exceptional service by making, at any rate, some reply at that stage to the speech of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lewes (Sir T. Beamish).
This has been a brief and concentrated debate. It could be brief and concentrated for the simple reason that the case which underlies the Motion is itself of a simple character. I shall restate it in only the briefest terms. I must recur to the White Paper of last March and to paragraph 4, which has been repeatedly quoted. It said thatsince 1962 the pay of Service medical and dental officers below the rank of major-general has taken account of increases awarded104to civilian doctors and dentists in the National Health Service.It then mentioned that therates of remuneration in the National Health Service are under consideration and, in consequence, it has not been possible to include in the attached Appendices revised rates of pay …It concluded:Revised rates of pay, which will be effective from 1st April, 1966, will be published separately.In that paragraph there were two pledges, one implicit and the other explicit, both of which have been broken by the Government's decision announced in Christmas week in a Written Answer by the Minister. I shall deal first with the implicit pledge.
The form and almost the words of that paragraph were identical with those of the corresponding paragraph of the White Paper of 1964, the previous implementation of the Grigg system. The paragraph itself reminds its readers that since 1962 Service pay had taken account of increases awarded to civilian doctors and dentists. Nobody who read that paragraph, whether inside or outside the Services, would have supposed that there was to be a departure in principle on this occasion from the past relationship between National Health Service pay and Service pay.
We have made a discovery in this debate. The Minister of State told us in so many words quite candidly that the present decision has "broken away from the analogue" that has hitherto applied. Those were his words. He did not mince matters. "We have broken away", he said, "from the analogue".
That, then, is the decision which has been taken and which we have at last managed to extract from the Government following a Written Answer in Christmas week, nine months after the White Paper, and by dint of a Motion in as critical terms as a Motion can be framed, which we are discussing now in January, 1967. We have now extracted the fact that the analogue has been abandoned and that a new basis of relationship, whatever it may be, has been adopted between civilian pay and Service pay. No one could possibly have assumed, have imagined indeed, from that paragraph of the White Paper, that this was the Government's intention.
105 We have been told something of the reasons for the Government's decision. We have been told that they now find that the balance of recruitment between the Services and the National Health Service has changed since 1962. They say, "We are not now so relatively anxious to attract people at almost any cost to the medical services of the Armed Forces. The whole balance and picture has changed". The Minister spent a long time very clearly pointing this out. He said that the relative recruitment between the two was different now from that which had existed in 1962 and that different considerations now apply.
§ Mr. Reynolds
I gave a large number of figures because it appeared to be the wish of the House to have the figures, but I must insist that my main case was that this has been done on incomes policy grounds, not because of a change in recruiting.
§ Mr. Powell
I am coming to the incomes policy in a moment. Now I am dealing with the fact that by the Government's own admission they have broken away from the analogue which has underlain the last two awards. They did this not only without any indication that they intended to do it, but they did it in contrast to the plain implications of the words of their own White Paper. They did so for reasons which were in no way a matter of national emergency, which were in no way connected with any financial crisis, which were in no way connected with the prices and incomes policy. They had not just noticed this on 20th July. They did not look at the recruiting figures for the Services and for the National Health Service on 20th July and say, "Goodness me, there has been a change in the relative recruitment to the Armed Forces and the National Health Service". As the hon. Member made clear, whatever change of this character has been taking place in fact, has been taking place gradually.
If they intended to break away from the analogue, why did they not say so in the White Paper? Why did they not, at any rate, include some sort of hint and say, "By the way, we are looking at this on a broader basis than hitherto. We are examining the analogue". They did not say that at all. They used a perfectly stereotyped expression which to 106 the reader could have only one implication—that there was no change and that it was a matter of formality that, unlike the previous White Papers the actual rates did not happen to be yet included in the appendices when it was published.
Thus they broke the implicit pledge contained in their own White Paper. They broke it in a way which has been fully disclosed only this afternoon and on grounds about which we have been given an inkling for the first time this afternoon.
Then there was the explicit pledge that the revised rates of pay, as heretofore as on all analogous previous occasions, though to be published separately, would be effective from 1st April, 1966. This direct breach of a plain, printed, published promise and undertaking they excuse on grounds of their incomes policy White Papers.
Whatever may be the merits or the justification of the general policy underlying those White Papers, the application to this case, to the pay of the Service doctors and dentists, is no more or less than a sophistry and a twist. The words in the second of those White Papers were,Where a commitment existed on or before 20th July, 1966 to review pay with effect from a prior date, but the amount of any improvement had not been determined by 20th July, the operative date should be deferred for six months.That is the announcement to which the Government pretend they are referring their decision in this case. Two views may be taken of the policy and justice of a Government who, having a commitment to review pay with effect from a previous date and being in negotiation with their employees about it, then say, while those negotiations are still going on, "By the way, as a result of our economic position and our pay pause, we do not now propose to implement anything on which we agree until six months after that prior date." But there is no analogy, or only a grotesque analogy, between that situation and the position of this tiny number, some 2,000–3,000 people in the whole of the Defence Forces, whose pay rates did not happen on this occasion to be included in the appendix to the White Paper of March, 1966. It is absurd to pretend that this case has any analogy with any of the other injustices and absurdities which are 107 being committed under the Government's incomes policy White Papers.
We have had mention of the firemen, for instance. I will not enter one way or another into the justice or otherwise of the firemen's case and grievance. But here is not a case of all the firemen being deferred; here is a case of 1 per cent. only of the firemen being deferred on grounds which are wholly accidental and wholly artificial.
The Government also say, "You know, we are not treating these people as members of the Armed Forces. They fall to be treated as doctors." The Minister told us, "Their pay comes into a different time scale from that of other officers", though he had the grace immediately to admit that their pay has hitherto always been adjusted at the same time as the pay of other officers. The Service medical and dental officers would be very glad indeed if they were being treated on the basis that they were doctors; for the doctors' pay increase is being actually paid out six months before the increase of the Service doctors and dentists. Throughout the debate we have heard how different has been the rate of increase agreed for the doctors in the National Health Service and the 10 per cent., that arbitrary figure of 10 per cent., which has been accorded to the Service medical and dental officers. Away with the argument, "We are not treating these people as Service officers, we are treating them as doctors". Would, indeed, that the Government on this occasion had treated them as doctors. They would have settled for that.
There are two aspects to this policy decision which we have been discussing. There are two rôles which the Government have to play in taking the sort of decision which the Minister and the Government have taken wrongly in this instance.
In one rôle, they are the paymasters of their servants. They are deciding in the name of the public what rates of pay they shall offer in order to retain or recruit to the public service the numbers and quality of servants whom they require. If they err in their decisions on that score, the result will be that they will not recruit so many or so good as the public service requires and they will have 108 to stand, in consequence, the criticism of this House and of the country.
I may say, on this matter of the effect on recruitment, that the Minister of State gave a very misleading picture by looking at the totality of Service medical and dental officers. He should rather have looked at the general duty officers in the Services if he wanted to see the effect on recruiting and the writing on the wall. For example, in the Army, on the general duties side, there is a deficiency of 33 per cent. below peace-time establishment at the rank of major, and below the rank of major a deficiency, I understand, of 70 per cent. Therefore, let not the hon. Gentleman be deluded or try to delude others with generalised figures. Let him look to those points in the Service where the realities of recruitment show most readily and where the damage is soonest done.
This then is one rôle of the Government—to recruit the right numbers and quality of people for the public service. But there is another rôle, and in that rôle the Government has decisively and dangerously failed. It is the Government's rôle as the guardian of the public faith. I do not often have a kind word to say for the Prices and Incomes Board, but I would commend to the Government its statement of principle in this matter. It occurs in paragraph 25 of the Board's report on Armed Forces Pay, Cmnd. 2881.The assurance of a biennial pay review by which Service emoluments are brought broadly into line with those outside the Services has now been in existence for some years. It features in the leaflets and booklets … and provides a basis for the career expectations of those who have joined. It could not in our view be abruptly withdrawn without adversely affecting the retention of personnel when a period of engagement has been completed as well as recruitment. Unless and until the Government duly notifies the members of the Armed Forces that a new system of review of their emoluments is to be adopted, we consider that there is a commitment.We on this side of the House consider that there is a commitment in plain words which has been directly broken by the Government's decision. Let not the Minister talk about 1962 and the implementation in 1962 of the Grigg settlement in two phases. On that occasion the Government told the public and the Services what they were going to do, and they did it. Here, the Government have 109 said one thing, have promised one thing, and have done another.
There have been a good many poignant illustrations quoted during this debate of the corrosive effect which a breach of faith of this kind can have on morale in the Services. Sir Alexander Drummond, who was lately Director General of Army Medical Services, wrote to me today saying:I have never during my 36 years' service met with such disappointment and bitterness in the Medical Services as we have today.But this sort of thing goes further than those who are the immediate victims. If one strikes at the faith of government, if a Government says, "Yes, we printed that, we said that, but we are not going to do it because things have changed", the whole relationship between Government and the citizen is in danger of being altered.
The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State said that he had been absent during most of the debate because he w as busy over the relations of this country with Malta—with Malta, Mr. Speaker. The faith of Government in carrying out a pledged word—nothing is more precious than that; nothing ought to be more precious to this House, and we on this side will assert it.
§ 6.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Reynolds
With the permission of the House, I should like to speak for a short while at the conclusion of this debate, having made most of the points which I wished to make earlier—although, listening to right hon. and hon. Members opposite, one would have thought that I had not spoken at all. A number of my points were taken up, twisted and thrown back into the pages of HANSARD in a completely different form. A number of other points which I was alleged to have made I never made. It might have been better had I followed my original idea of winding up the debate rather than make two speeches.
I was interested in listening to the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) because one is fully aware from utterances outside the House that he is not exactly a supporter of the Government's general incomes policy. It is therefore completely logical that he should be prepared to put his name to a Motion of censure of this kind, because 110 he disagrees with the basic philosophy and policy which the Government have followed since 20th July.
I am, however, a little surprised to see the name of the Leader of the Opposition to the Motion, because I thought that he accepted the need for some kind of incomes policy. It is a little much that we should have a Motion of censure signed by the Leader of the Opposition on individual cases which arise from a policy which, on the whole, I understood him to accept. It may be that other hon. Members opposite accept it, it may be that some do not; but one is used to hearing the arguments of the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West, because we know without any doubt whatsoever exactly where he stands.
§ Mr. Reynolds
If hon. Members opposite had wanted to hear the case, they could have been in the House when I spoke earlier for 20 minutes. They have now come along for the vote. I do not blame them for that; I have done it myself on many occasions. But if they wanted to hear the Government's case, they should have been here two hours ago. Having stated the Government's case, I believe clearly and firmly, I now have to reply to some points made in the debate.
I must remind the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West that the shortage of majors and captains in the medical services, which I deplore as much as anyone else, is hardly something for which the present Administration can be blamed, because that is a gap which we inherited from the previous Administration. It takes more than a couple of years to get to the rank of major in the Army or equivalent rank in the other Services.
I must correct one point which I made earlier. When giving way to a number of hon. Members opposite, I gave the impression that the B.M.A. had agreed not only that the date of operation of the 10 per cent. increase should be 1st October but that the date of payment should be 1st July. What I should have said was that it agreed that the date of operation should be 1st October but that it believed that the date of implementation should have been 1st January, the 111 same date as the doctors. However, by that time, the Government's policy for the period of restraint had come in, so the Government insisted that it should be delayed for a further six months in the same way as other increases which were pending at that time were delayed.
My hon. Friend the Member for Willesden, West (Mr. Pavitt) and the hon. Member for Gosport and Fareham (Dr. Bennett) referred to the problems which might be encountered by people who were expecting a considerably larger increase than they have got and who might have entered into hire purchase, mortgage and other commitments. My hon. Friend the Member for Willesden, West referred to a statement made by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health about how matters of this nature might be dealt with in the National Health Service. We are prepared to look into the situation, but obviously my hon. Friend will not expect a commitment from me today.
A number of hon. Members complained that there had been delay by the Government in dealing with this matter. I made it clear in my opening speech that discussions were started with the B.M.A. in May once the analogue on which one would normally have to work had been agreed for the doctors in the National Health Service.
We started discussions with the B.M.A. in May. The discussions went on until the end of June, when they were adjourned for internal Governmental discussions, after which we would have expected to go back to the B.M.A. for further discussions. Therefore, the discussions were still going on in the Government on 20th July pending further consultation later with the B.M.A. but, unfortunately, as I said earlier, they were caught by the announcement of the 20th July measures.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State met B.M.A. representatives in October and again on 21st December, on which date the B.M.A. representatives were told of the Government's decision of a 10 per cent. increase starting from October but not payable until July, 1967. There was, therefore, no delay, nor was there any delay in informing the House. Hon. Members opposite have complained that the announcement was made just 112 before the Christmas Recess. I hope that I have made it clear that the final stage of discussion with the B.M.A. was not until 21st December, so that we could hardly have made an announcement any more quickly than we did. I also assure the House that the B.M.A. frankly put its views and told the Secretary of State what it thought of the offer at the time. The B.M.A.'s position was perfectly clear to us at that stage.
The right hon. Member for Harrogate (Mr. Ramsden) asked the extent of the shortage of doctors in the country as a whole as distinct from the Forces, and said that he believed the figure to be about 10 per cent. I am sorry to say that apparently there are no accurate figures which I can give, because the answer depends upon a large number of assumptions which one might like to make, for example, about the desirable doctor-patient ratio in the National Health Service. I said that I would try to get a figure, but after consulting my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health I am advised that it is not possible to give an accurate figure of this kind. The right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West grins. He has probably had the same problem of trying to find information at some stage. I therefore cannot answer the question.
I am surprised that the Opposition should put down a Motion of censure of this nature at this time. The hon. and gallant Member for Lewes, who moved the Motion, made it clear that he was aware that the B.M.A. was in contact with the Prime Minister and had asked my right hon. Friend to receive a deputation from the Association to discuss tilt, 10 per cent. offer. I am amazed that whet the B.M.A. was still discussing this matter and had decided to ask to see the Prime Minister, the Opposition should put down a Motion of censure.
§ Mr. Reynolds
The Leader of the Opposition asks, "Why not?". I can only say that to interpose in what the B.M.A. until this weekend considered was a matter in which it had not finally exhausted all its rights of appeal a Motion of censure which, in effect, demands the dismissal of the Government as a whole, 113 can lead only to polarisation in this House and to a majority in the Lobbies later tonight supporting the Government and in favour of the Government's policy. It cannot lead to anything else. Right hon. and hon. Members opposite are fully aware of that. It can lead only to a majority in the lobbies against the Motion and it will mean that this House will have supported the action of the Government and nullified any good that the B.M.A. might have hoped to achieve.
§ Mr. Kershaw
On a point of order. Is not the Minister's argument almost a contempt of the House? Is it to be said, Mr. Speaker, that because this House wishes to discuss a matter, it therefore becomes almost insoluble between the Government and anyone else? Is not that contempt of the House?
§ Mr. Reynolds
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Rather than polarise the issue by putting down a Motion of censure, it would have been much more sensible had the debate been conducted in the same way as, I understand, the Opposition intend to conduct the debate for the remainder of the day, namely, on a Motion for the Adjournment of the House, thus avoiding polarisation and debating the issue on merit.
§ Mr. Powell
Is the hon. Gentleman saying, therefore, that if the Motion is withdrawn the Prime Minister is prepared to reconsider the decision announced last December?
§ Mr. Reynolds
As the Opposition were aware before they put down the Motion of censure, that the B.M.A. had asked to see the Prime Minister, presumably they thought out all the implications and would not wish now suddenly to change their minds. The damage has been done and we shall have to vote against the Motion of censure in the Lobbies in the very near future.
I was asked, although I had explained earlier, why the Government had taken the, decision to give only a 10 per cent. increase to roughly 2,000 doctors and between 400 and 500 dentists. I made it clear, and I must repeat, that it was 114 for incomes policy reasons. I know that the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West does not agree with that, but we as a Government could not accept that having stated clearly on 20th July what our policy would be, we should apply it to university clinical teachers, probation officers and the entire Civil Service, the Fire Service and pretty well every other industry, affecting millions of people, and then blatantly disregard it for a comparatively small number of people in Government employment.
If we are to have a policy of this nature, which the Government believe to be essential in present circumstances, it must be applied to everybody and we cannot put ourselves in a position of giving way, even to pressure groups in this House, to give increases to some people at the expense of refusing to give such increases to others.
I have a list of over 20 unions and groups of people, representing over 1 million employees, in a similar position, having, in effect, been promised an increase before 20th July.
They have all been affected by the announcement of 20th July and by subsequent Government statements on the period of restraint covering the next six months. We cannot justify treating anybody differently. If we did, we would find it impossible publicly to justify the unpopular action that the Government have had to take because of the economic situation earlier last year.
The part that slightly annoys me is that right hon. and hon. Members opposite will be going into the Lobby to accuse the Government of an open breach of faith in a wages issue. They have, apparently, completely forgotten what they did to the teachers and to nurses in 1962, at the time when the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West was Minister of Health. He dealt with the nurses in 1962. There was a shortage of 23,000 nurses in the National Health Service at that time, but that did not stop him from sending a circular to the Whitley Council advising it of the Government's policy, and then justifying in this House an increase of only 2½ per cent. for a group of people who were much worse paid than those with whom we are dealing now.
§ Mr. Reynolds
I will give way presently. The right hon. Gentleman said in the House on 12th March, 1962:I do not for a moment accept that one can have regard to the merits of a claim in complete isolation from the economic situation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12 March, 1962; Vol. 655, c. 874.]When the right hon. Gentleman was in Government he supported a pay pause policy. Now that he is in Opposition, because politically it suits him he says that all these things should be left to the free will of the market.
§ Mr. Reynolds
What I must say to that is that the right hon. Gentleman nobbled the horse before it started. He sent a message to the Whitley Council telling it to be careful in what it was doing and not to give too big an increase. The present Government were perfectly honest. We stated publicly on 20th July what we would do and that it would apply to everybody.
The right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West has changed his mind on a wages policy and so, apparently, have one or two others too. I have mentioned some of those who were dealt with in 1962—the teachers and the nurses—and there were the Post Office
§ engineers and the Admiralty workers. The right hon. Gentleman himself has said, "Please do not throw Grigg back at us" because he knew that that was a weak point of the Government in 1962.
§ The right hon. Member for Harrogate, who was then Under-Secretary of State for the Army, justified the Government's action in 1962 on Grigg, which affected a large number of people in the Armed Forces, by saying that it would be quite wrong for an exception to be made of the Services in this matter. He said, in other words, that it was quite wrong that the Services should be treated any differently from anybody else during the pay pause period in 1962.
§ What I have not been told by any right hon. or hon. Gentleman is why it was quite wrong in 1962 but was quite right in 1966 to treat the Services differently. We on this side regret the need for the incomes standstill and the period of restraint. Nevertheless, as I said, we obviously have, according to public opinion polls, the support of public opinion behind us. Heaven help the party opposite once we do something which the polls show is really popular.
§ Question put:—
§ The House divided:Ayes 232, Noes 318.119
|Division No. 260.]||AYES||[7.10 p.m.|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Cary, Sir Robert||Forrest, George|
|Astor, John||Channon, H. P. G.||Fortescue, Tim|
|Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n)||Chichester-Clark, R.||Foster, Sir John|
|AwdTy, Daniel||Clark, Henry||Fraser,Rt.Hn.Hugh(St'fford & Stone)|
|Baker, W. H. K.||Clegg, Walter||Galbraith, Hn. T. G.|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Cooke, Robert||Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)|
|Batsford, Brian||Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Glover, Sir Douglas|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Cordle, John||Glyn, Sir Richard|
|Belt, Ronald||Corfield, F. V.||Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos. & Fhm)||Costain, A. P.||Goodhart, Philip|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)||Goodhew, Victor|
|Bessell, Peter||Crawley, Aidan||Gower, Raymond|
|Biffen, John||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Sir Oliver||Grant, Anthony|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Crouch, David||Grant-Ferris, R.|
|Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Crowder, F. P.||Gresham Cooke, R.|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Cunningham, Sir Knox||Grieve, Percy|
|Blaker, Peter||Currie, G. B. H.||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)|
|Body, Richard||Dalkeith, Earl of||Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Dance, James||Gurden, Harold|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Davidson, James (Aberdeenshire, W.)||Hall, John (Wycombe)|
|Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.|
|Braine, Bernard||Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.)||Hamilton, Marquess of (Fermanagh)|
|Brewis, John||Deedes, Rt. Hn. w. F. (Ashford)||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Digby, Simon Wingfield||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)|
|Bromley-Davenport,Lt.-Col. SirWalter||Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Harris, Reader (Heston)|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Doughty, Charles||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere|
|Bryan, Paul||Drayson, G. B.||Harvie Anderson, Miss|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N&M)||du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||Hawkins, Paul|
|Buck, Antony (Colchester)||Eden, Sir John||Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward|
|Burden, F. A.||Eyre, Reginald||Heseltine, Michael|
|Campbell, Gordon||Farr, John||Higgins, Terence L.|
|Carlisle, Mark||Fisher, Nigel||Hill, J. E. B.|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Royle, Anthony|
|Hobson, Rt. Hn. Sir John||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr, S. L. C.||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin||Mills, Peter (Torrington)||St. John-Stevas, Norman|
|Holland, Philip||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)||Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.|
|Hooson, Emlyn||Miscampbell, Norman||Scott, Nicholas|
|Howell, David (Guildford)||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Sharples, Richard|
|Hunt, John||Monro, Hector||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark||More, Jasper||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)||Smith, John|
|Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Stainton, Keith|
|Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Steel, David (Roxburgh)|
|Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Stodart, Anthony|
|Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)||Murton, Oscar||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|Jopling, Michael||Nabarro, Sir Gerald||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith||Neave, Airey||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Kerby, Capt. Henry||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael||Teeling, Sir William|
|Kershaw, Anthony||Nott, John||Temple, John M.|
|Kimball, Marcus||Onslow, Cranley||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Tilney, John|
|Kirk, Peter||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Kitson, Timothy||Osborn, John (Hallam)||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John|
|Knight, Mrs. Jill||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)||Vickers, Dame Joan|
|Lambton, Viscount||Page, Graham (Crosby)||Walker, Peter (Worcester)|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Page, John (Harrow, W.)||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Langford-Holt, Sir John||Pardoe, John||Wall, Patrick|
|Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)||Walters, Dennis|
|Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Peel, John||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)||Percival, Ian||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)||Peyton, John||Webster, David|
|Longden, Gilbert||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Loveys, W. H.||Pink, R. Bonner||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Lubbock, Eric||Pounder, Rafton||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|McAdden, Sir Stephen||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch||Winstanley, Dr. M. P.|
|MacArthur, Ian||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Maclean, Sir Fitzroy||Prior, J. M. L.||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|McMaster, Stanley||Quennell, Miss J. M.||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham)||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James||Worsley, Marcus|
|Maddan, Martin||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter||Wylie, N. R.|
|Maginnis, John E.||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Younger, Hn. George|
|Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David|
|Marten, Neil||Ridsdale, Julian||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Maude, Angus||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)||Mr. Francis Pym and Mr. R. W. Elliott.|
|Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald||Roots, William|
|Mawby, Ray||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Abse, Leo||Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James||Eadie, Alex|
|Albu, Austen||Carmichael, Neil||Edelman, Maurice|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Carter-Jones, Lewis||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)|
|Alldritt, Walter||Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Edwards, William (Merioneth)|
|Allen, Scholefield||Chapman, Donald||Ellis, John|
|Anderson, Donald||Coe, Denis||English, Michael|
|Archer, Peter||Coleman, Donald||Ennals, David|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Concannon, J. D.||Ensor, David|
|Ashley, Jack||Conlan, Bernard||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Evans, Ioan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley)|
|Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham)||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Fernyhough, E.|
|Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice||Crawshaw, Richard||Finch, Harold|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Cronin, John||Fitch, Alan (Wigan)|
|Baxter, William||Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkoston)|
|Bellonger, Rt. Hn. F. J.||Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)|
|Bence, Cyril||Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Floud, Barnard|
|Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton)||Davidson, Arthur (Accrington)||Foley, Maurice|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford)||Foot, Sir Dingle (Ipswich)|
|Binns, John||Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)|
|Bishop, E. S.||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Ford, Ben|
|Blackburn, F.||Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Forrester, John|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Davies, Robert (Cambridge)||Fraser, John (Norwood)|
|Boardman, H.||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Freeson, Reginald|
|Booth, Albert||de Freitas, Sir Geoffrey||Gardner, Tony|
|Boston, Terence||Delargy, Hugh||Garrett, W. E.|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Dell, Edmund||Ginsburg, David|
|Boyden, James||Dempsey, James||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C.|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Dewar, Donald||Gourlay, Harry|
|Bradley, Tom||Diamond, Rt. Hn. John||Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth)|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Dickens, James||Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Dobson, Ray||Gregory, Arnold|
|Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper)||Doig, Peter||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)|
|Brown,Bob(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,W)||Donnelly, Desmond||Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)|
|Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Driberg, Tom||Griffiths, Will (Exchange)|
|Buchan, Norman||Dunn, James A.||Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)|
|Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)||Dunnett, Jack||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter)||Hamling, William|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e)||Hannan, William|
|Harper, Joseph||MacPherson, Malcolm||Rodgers, William (Stockton)|
|Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)||Roebuck, Roy|
|Hart, Mrs. Judith||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Haseldine, Norman||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Rose, Paul|
|Hattersley, Roy||Mallalieu,J.P.W.(Huddersfield,E.)||Ross, Rt. Hn. William|
|Hazell, Bert||Manuel, Archie||Rowland, Christopher (Meriden)|
|Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis||Mapp, Charles||Rowlands, E. (Cardiff, N.)|
|Heffer, Eric S.||Marquand, David||Ryan, John|
|Henig, Stanley||Mayhew, Christopher||Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)|
|Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret||Mellish, Robert||Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E.|
|Hilton, W. S.||Mendelson, J. J.||Shore, Peter (Stepney)|
|Hobden, Dennis (Brighton, K'town)||Mikardo, Ian||Short,Rt.Hn.Edward(N'c'tle-u-Tyne)|
|Hooley, Frank||Millan, Bruce||Short, Mrs. Renée(W'hampton,N.E.)|
|Horner, John||Milne, Edward (Blyth)||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)|
|Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)||Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)||Molloy, William||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.)||Moonman, Eric||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Howie, W.||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Slater, Joseph|
|Hoy, James||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Small, William|
|Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Morris, John (Aberavon)||Snow, Julian|
|Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.)||Moyle, Roland||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Steele,Thomas (Dunbartonshire,W.)|
|Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Murray, Albert||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Hunter, Adam||Neal, Harold||Stonehouse, John|
|Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Newens, Stan||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.|
|Jackson, Colin (B'h'se A Spenb'gh)||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley|
|Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak)||Noel-Baker, Rt.Hn.Priilip(Derby,S.)||Swain, Thomas|
|Janner, Sir Barnett||Norwood, Christopher||Swingler, Stephen|
|Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Oakes, Gordon||Symonds, J. B.|
|Jeger, George (Goole)||Ogden, Eric||Taverne, Dick|
|Jeger,Mrs.Lena(H'b'n&St.P'cras,S.)||O'Malley, Brian||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Oram, Albert E.||Thornton, Ernest|
|Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)||Orbach, Maurice||Tinn, James|
|Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Orme, Stanley||Tomney, Frank|
|Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||Oswald, Thomas||Tuck, Raphael|
|Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)||Urwin, T. W.|
|Jones.Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn(W.Ham,S.)||Owen, Will (Morpeth)||Varley, Eric G.|
|Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Padley, Walter||Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)|
|Judd, Frank||Page, Derek (King's Lynn)||Walden, Brian (All Saints)|
|Kelley, Richard||Paget, R. T.||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Kenyon, Clifford||Palmer, Arthur||Wallace, George|
|Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central)||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles||Watkins, David (Consett)|
|Leadbitter, Ted||Park, Trevor||Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)|
|Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)||Parker, John (Dagenham)||Weitzman, David|
|Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock)||Pavitt, Laurence||Wellbeioved, James|
|Lee, John (Reading)||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Lestor, Miss Joan||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred||Whitaker, Ben|
|Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Pentland, Norman||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)||Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)||Whitlock, William|
|Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)||Wigg, Rt. Hn. George|
|Lipton, Marcus||Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Lomas, Kenneth||Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Loughlin, Charles||Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Lyon, Alexander W. (York)||Price, William (Rugby)||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)|
|Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Probert, Arthur||Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)|
|McBride, Neil||Randall, Harry||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|McCann, John||Rankin, John||Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)|
|MacColl, James||Redhead, Edward||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|MacDermot, Niall||Rees, Merlyn||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Macdonald, A. H.||Reynolds, G. W.||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|McGuire, Michael||Rhodes, Geoffrey||Woof, Robert|
|McKay, Mrs. Margaret||Richard, Ivor||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Yates, Victor|
|Mackie, John||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Zilliacus, K.|
|Mackintosh, John P.||Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)|
|Maclennan, Robert||Robertson, John (Paisley)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)||Robinson, Rt.Hn.Kenneth(St.P'c'as)||Mr. Charles Grey and Mr. George Lawson.|
|McNamara, J. Kevin||Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.)|