§ 29. Sir G. Nabarro
asked the Minister for the Civil Service what further strike action has been threatened by civil servants deprived of pay increases.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Civil Service Department (Mr. Kenneth Baker)
Members of the CPSA employed in some Departments have started selective strikes and have stepped this up today. Departments are arranging to carry on as much essential business as possible. There will inevitably be some inconvenience to the public, which the Government regret.
§ Sir G. Nabarro
Has my hon. Friend considered what he should do in preparation for phase 2, and how he proposes to disseminate information as to the advances in pay which will be allowable to 879 the Civil Service generally, because there is widespread ignorance on this topic? Does my hon. Friend recall, for example, my recent petition from the Inland Revenue in Worcestershire showing that the great majority of the civil servants employed had no knowledge of phase 2 and did not know to what they were entitled?
§ Mr. Baker
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his supplementary question. We have given as much publicity as we could to the fact that as from 1st April all members of the Civil Service will be eligible for the guideline in phase 2—namely, £1 plus 4 per cent., with an upper limit of £250. For many civil servants that represents an increase of between 7 per cent. and 8 per cent.
§ Mr. Dalyell
What precisely are the Government telling those civil servants who say that the Government have gone back on Priestley? What is the hon. Gentleman's present attitude on Priestley?
§ Mr. Baker
I made it clear in Committee upstairs. On the first occasion on which we negotiated with the Civil Service unions—Easter 1971—we made it clear that we would accept Priestley but that the acceptance had to be subject to any overriding national policy, and that is what the Government have introduced.
§ Mr. Fell
Is my hon. Friend aware that this type of selective strike in various ports, quite often by just one person—which is what has happened, apparently in Great Yarmouth today—is not only putting out of work Customs and Excise people who are not striking but is threatening to close the whole port and put many other people out of work in an area already fairly hard hit by unemployment?
§ Mr. Ewing
Several points baffle civil servants. Can the hon. Gentleman explain to them how it was that at the time of the last election the Conservative Party supported a claim by doctors for £30 a week extra, on the ground that negotiations had taken place and that the increase should be implemented, whereas 880 the Conservative Government are not prepared to honour the negotiating procedure and machinery to which civil servants have been tied since time immemorial? Civil servants cannot understand this difference in attitude. Can the right hon. Gentleman explain it?
§ 32. Mr. Tom King
asked the Minister for the Civil Service what percentage of civil servants is covered by incremental scales.
§ Mr. King
Does not that answer indicate that while civil servants feel that they have a grievance over the interference with their previous negotiating arrangements they also enjoy a privilege under the incremental scale which the vast bulk of industry does not enjoy? Is not this a factor which the civil servants should recognise?
§ Mr. Baker
It is a feature of phases 1 and 2 that increments payable to civil servants will continue to be paid. The reason for that is that increments have been part of the salary system since the middle of the last century and recognise age and experience in the post. I agree that this is not a very common practice in private industry, but a report published on Friday showed about 2 million employees in the private sector are also getting their incremental scales.