§ 11.56 p.m.
|That, in the opinion of this House, the following provision about salaries and pensions of Members of this House should be made with respect to service on or after 13th June 1977:—|
|5||(1) The salary payable to Members of each of the descriptions in the first column of Table 1 below shall be at the yearly rate specified in relation to that description in the second column of that Table.|
|Description of Member||Yearly rate of salary|
|10||1. Member not within any other paragraph.||6,270|
|15||2. Member receiving a salary under the Ministerial and other Salaries Act 1975 as Comptroller or Vice-Chamberlain of Her Majesty' Household, Junior Lord of the Treasury or Assistant Government or Opposition Whip.||4,220|
|20||3. Officer of this House or Member other than member of the Cabinet, receiving any other salary under the Act of 1975, or receiving a pension under section 26 of the Parliamentary and other Pensions Act 1972.||3,908|
|25||4. Member of the Cabinet receiving salary under the Act of 1975.||3,208|
|(2) The ordinary salary of every Member shall be regarded for pension purposes as being at the rate of £8,208 a year (the proper rate for Members within paragraph 1 of Table 1).|
|30||(3) Members of each of the descriptions in the first column of Table 2 shall be credited, by way of supplement to their salaries, with amounts at the yearly rate specified in relation to that description in the second column of that Table (that is to say amounts adjusted for increases of salaries in 1976 but otherwise equal to 5 per cent. of the yearly amount by which the salary of a Member within paragraph 1 of Table 1 falls short of what a Member's ordinary salary is regarded to be for pension purposes).|
|Description of Member||Yearly rate of supplement|
|40||1. Member within paragraph 1 or 2 of Table 1 who draws the whole of his salary.||£96.90|
|2. Member within paragraph 1 or 2 of Table 1 who does not draw the whole of his salary.||£96.90 plus 5 per cent. Of the amount forgone but not together exceeding £112.50.|
|45||3. Member within paragraph 3 or 4 of Table 1||£112.50.|
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Myer Galpern)
We may also discuss the following amendments in the name of the hon. Member for Nottingham, West (Mr. English):
Amendment (a), in line 1, after 'House', insert
'its Members are not entitled to a Phase II increase under the incomes policy but are entitled to the £8,000 salary recommended before Phase I began, and that therefore'.
§ Amendment (b), in line 10, leave out '6,270' and insert '8,000'.
§ Amendment (c), in line 12, leave out '4,220' and insert '5,000'.
§ Amendment (d), in line 14, leave out from '1975' to end of line 26.
§ We may also take Amendment (e) in the name of the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham), in line 28, leave out '£8,208' and insert '£8,520'.489
§ Mr. George Cunningham (Islington, South and Finsbury)
Object. Mr. Foot: If my hon. Friends do not wish to do that, it will take us a bit longer to get through the business, but so be it.
The motion applies a £208 increase to the parliamentary salary of all hon. Members with effect from 13th June 1977. All hon. Members of this House are now eligible for an increase of £4 a week on the basis of their pay as MPs or their combined pay as MPs and Ministers or Office holders. It is fitting that parliamentary pay should have first call on that increase, so Table 1 sets out the new levels of parliamentary salary payable to all hon. Members in the different groups.
I ought however remind the House that all hon. Members who agreed to forgo all or part of last year's £312 increase because their total earnings exceeded £8,500 should continue to forgo that increase to comply with the voluntary policy. If they were to withdraw their requests to the Fees Office, they would effectively be giving themselves a further increase in this round which would exceed the current pay policy limits.
§ Mr. Mike Thomas (Newcastle upon Tyne, East)
Is my right hon. Friend aware that his predecessor as Leader of the House, my former parliamentary neighbour Lord Glenamara, confirmed to me in the House that all other groups that made a settlement before stage 1 of the pay policy at the same time as we made our settlement were entitled to have it paid? We were as entitled to have our settlement paid as was any other group in the community. Our salaries should have gone up to £8,000 a year. We voluntarily agreed that they should not, but we were entitled to that in- 490 crease under the pay policy and the then Mr. Short confirmed that to me in the House.
§ Mr. Foot
That is a different question. Before the £6 policy, it would have been possible for the House to increase hon. Members' salaries to £8,000 a year as recommended by the Boyle Committee. However, the House considered when the £6 policy was introduced that it would not be right to increase salaries to £8,000. It was also agreed in July that increases paid to hon. Members should include the cut-off under pay policy. I am saying that the application of the £6 policy was in accordance with the pay policy that applied to other members of the community. In my opinion it is absurd for hon. Members to laugh at that proposition. It is much more sensible to proceed on the basis that the £6 policy that applied to others throughout the community should be applied in the House with the same conditions, that involving what some consider to be the laughable proposition of some hon. Members having to forgo it like other members of the community.
§ Mr. R. A. McCrindle (Brentwood and Ongar)
Will the right hon. Gentleman clarify the situation of an hon. Member who in the year 1976–77 anticipated earnings in excess of £8,500 and forwent the £312 but estimates that in 1977–78 his earnings will not reach £8,500? If he applies to the Fees Office to cancel his earlier instructions, will that be accepted?
§ Mr. Foot
If it applied to the previous 12 months, it has to apply now. That situation was accepted by the House on the previous occasion. The same rules apply to hon. Members in this respect as apply to others. If there are doubts about some particular dates, I have no doubt that the Fees Office will help hon. Members in dealing with the matter, as with other matters. Others have had the same difficulty in respect of the £6 policy. It would be foolish for the House to say in some superior manner that the policy should not be applied to us and that we should not adopt the same system.
§ Mr. Foot
It is true that we could have increased the salary under the Boyle recommendations to £8,000. However, at 491 that time it was the view of the Government, and the view of the House, that it would be wrong to do so. It was agreed by the House that it would be right to make the £6 increase of a year ago subject to the same principles as applied to other members of the community. It is on that basis that we are asking the House to proceed again.
Although hon. Members are anxious and ready to comply with the—
§ Mr. Foot
No. It is better that I proceed and deal with the matter. I have already given way several times. If the hon. Gentleman wishes to speak, he will be able to catch the eye of the Chair later.
Although hon. Members are anxious and ready to comply with the pay policy that has applied so widely, I recognise that a great many hon. Members take a strict view—for example, my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, East (Mr. Thomas), like, I imagine, the overwhelming majority of hon. Members—about the right level of remuneration for service in the House. I agree that hon. Members should be paid on a fair and proper basis, and the Government fully intend that the House should have the opportunity to discuss the general issue at the appropriate juncture. I believe that hon. Members will agree that that time has not yet arrived.
§ Mr. Higgins
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for giving way. It is not usual for him to read his speeches. If the House had decided to increase hon. Members' salaries to £8,000 as recommended by Lord Boyle, will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that to have gone ahead with the Boyle proposition at that time would not have been in conflict with the Government's pay policy?
§ Mr. Foot
I have already said in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, East that I confirm that that is so. It would have been in conformity with the pay policy because the date was prior to the introduction of the £6 policy. It would have been possible for the House, without any defiance of the strict letter of the pay 492 policy, to go ahead and introduce the £8,000 recommendation. On the other hand, I believe that the House of Commons a year ago quite rightly reached the conclusion that if the House had done so it would properly have been regarded by the great mass of people throughout the country as a general outrage against the policy, if not defiance of it. I believe that it would have been impossible for the House to carry it through sensibly. Indeed, a year ago the House accepted that view. Therefore, I do not believe that that issue can be reopened now.
Much as I sympathise with the amendment put down by my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, West (Mr. English), that Members should be paid the £8,000 salary recommended before phase 1 began. I cannot commend it to the House. At that time-22nd July 1975—£8,000 could have been paid, but the House decided—this was not merely the Government's recommendation—that, at a time when the Government had just announced their anti-inflation measures, it ought not to implement a recommendation that, although Members had not had an increase for three or more years, they should receive a 78 per cent. increase in salary. I do not believe that any hon. Member who considers the situation imagines that it would have been possible for the House to have accepted that recommendation when we were passing through legislation that envisaged a pay policy limit of £6. I say the same now in that respect. We should not vote ourselves an increase of £2,000 a year at a time when those we represent are restricted to £208 at most.
It is, however, two years since £8,000 was announced as the proper rate for the job, and the Review Body then recommended that the rate should be reviewed every two years by an independent body. Although the Government have not been able to take any action on that recommendation or in any way to settle finally the basis for the future determination of Members' pay, we have considered it to be appropriate this year, in recognition of the Review Body's recommendation that the rate should be reviewed every two years, to apply the £208 increase to the proper and, therefore, pensionable rate of £8,000 as well as to the actual rates in payment.
§ Mr. Kevin McNamara (Kingston upon Hull, Central)
My right hon. Friend has studiously been ignoring the resolution of the House on linkage. He has gone back to the Review Body that the House sought to get away from to avoid this spectacle every two years of arguing about our salary. It was to be fixed externally. My right hon. Friend is now going back upon that undertaking and resolution passed by the House.
§ Mr. Foot
I am not going back on that resolution. If my hon. Friend is making the charge of going back on that resolution, he will have to make it against the House and the action that it took a year ago. The House then accepted the proposition that hon. Members should have the £6 increase in common with others throughout the country.
I believe that the proposal for the £208, which is a similar proposition, is an acceptance by the House of the pay policy limit for this year. The £208 increase for this year is on the same basis of pay policy as the £312 last year, with the sole distinction of what I said about the pensionable increase.
If this year we had embarked upon the linkage policy embraced in the resolution, to which my hon. Friend referred, and applied it to pay policy this year, then indeed we would hive given ourselves an increase considerably beyond the £208 limit. In other words, Members of Parliament would have voted themselves an increase considerably above the pay limit that applied to the rest of the population.
§ Mr. McNamara
I have a feeling that my right hon. Friend has somehow missed the point. The point that I was making was not in relation to acceptance or otherwise of the pay policy last year or this year—I go along with that—but the question of again getting the Review Body to look at our salaries. The point about the resolution of the House was that in the next Parliament we would be in position to have absolute linkage without any of this nonsense. My right hon. Friend has come along with the idea of another Review Body, but the majority of hon. Members were thinking in terms of 10 per cent. the next time round and then having linkage in the next Parliament. They would be quite happy with that, but 494 my right hon. Friend seems to have gone back on it.
§ Mr. Foot
There must be some misunderstanding. I apologise if it is my fault. I have not referred to a fresh type of review body that would determine the matter. I accepted the resolution passed by the House on linkage, as did my predecessor. But no time limit was imposed for when it should take place. I am saying not necessarily that it should be in the next Parliament but that it should be at some suitable time. That is the correct way of dealing with the situation. All I am talking about is the addition of £208. That is the sum which applies to other people.
Because of that biennial recommendation, we did not increase the £8,000 rate by £312 last year. We saw that increase simply as a further step towards £8,000. It would not, in any event, have been consistent with pay policy last year to have increased the pensionable pay of those whose total earnings exceeded £8,500. It would be wrong to go back on those decisions. Therefore, I cannot commend to the House the amendment put down by my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) that the £312 should now also be added to the £8,000 rate. I could not support an increase of £520 in pensionable pay at this present time when everyone else is subject to the £208 limit. Such anomalies arising from phase 1 cannot be put right under phase 2.
Table 2 simply prescribes the supplements that are payable to cover the pension contribution on the difference between actual and pensionable pay for the various new rates of parliamentary salary in the first table. Now that £208 is being added both to the actual and to the pensionable rates, the existing supplements remain unchanged.
I remind the House that the Top Salaries Review Body's Report No. 8 recommended a number of improvements, including increased credit for service prior to October 1964, provision for added years, ill-health benefits and an early retirement option, as well as improved benefits for widows and dependants. Now that the constraints of incomes policy will soon no longer apply to improvements in occupational pension schemes, the Government will be able to review the 495 pension arrangements for Members on the basis of the Review Body's report. I hope that we shall return to that very soon when we come back after the recess.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Before I call the next speaker I should like the co-operation of hon. Members. This is a short debate, lasting only one and a half hours. I hope that hon. Members appreciate that. During that time we have two groups of amendments and a single amendment that have to be moved. They have been selected by Mr. Speaker. I shall call one hon. Member from the Opposition side and then the mover of the first amendment selected.
§ 12.14 a.m.
§ Mr. Edward du Cann (Taunton)
I shall certainly obey your request to speak as briefly as possible, Mr. Speaker.
I welcome and support the proposals of the Leader of the House with one or two qualifications to which I shall come promptly. I also welcome what he said in the closing passages about the possibility of implementing the Boyle Report. It is long overdue, and it is a disgrace that it has not been implemented before.
As the right hon. Gentleman said, perhaps this is a difficult time and the wrong time for more to be done than he proposes No one would wish to add to the difficulties. It would be wrong for us to attempt to embarrass the Government, at this time anyway. Having said that, it is those words "This is the wrong time" or "It is a difficult time" to which I strongly object. It always is the wrong time and a difficult time
I have the good fortune, as is well known, to earn a substantial living outside this House. It seems to me that that happy fact—and I declare my interest—imposes upon me a duty to say certain things plainly to the Leader of the House.
In my judgment as a business man, for what it is worth, we pay ourselves in this House disgracefully too little money. There is no question about it. I do not agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) when he talks about salaries on the American scale, but the tradition in England for too many years has been that the way we pay our public servants and look at our own interests is modest to the point of absurdity.
496 I guarantee that there is not another right hon. and hon. Member present who does not, too, know of circumstances which are unhappy. There are individual Members who are finding great difficulty in living on the salary we pay ourselves. There are some cases of real hardship, and many cases of difficulty. This is an absurdity, and it is time we put an end to the matter. Year after year, decade after decade, we fail to face up to this problem, and to face up to it adequately.
It seems to a number of my hon. Friends and me, and to many hon. Members opposite, that we should find some solution to the matter which will put an end once and for all to what an hon. Gentleman in an intervention called the "spectacle we habitually make" in this connection when we debate this matter with great embarrassment to ourselves.
Some time ago we established Boyle to look into these matters for us. I have never understood why we did not accept his recommendations. We should resolve that we should set a date when we shall accept Boyle and establish a system continuously to update Boyle.
Let us put an end to the perennial debates which are an embarrassment to every hon. Member and to the country, and which in the end only mean either that we dissuade able people from coming in or that we do the job less well than we should.
§ 12.18 a.m.
§ Mr. Michael English (Nottingham, West)
What a sad day when we have to discuss whether we pay ourselves £6,000 or £6,270!
§ Mr. English
I am about to do so, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I was just pointing out that there may be a connection between what we were discussing earlier and this.
I beg to move, in line 1, after 'House', insert:'its Members are not entitled to a phase II increase under the incomes policy but are entitled to the £8,000 salary recommended before Phase I began, and that therefore'.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
The hon. Member may discuss at the same time his Amendment (b), in line 10, leave out "6,270" and insert "8,000".
§ Mr. English
The reason why I move my amendment is simple. The Leader of the House has admitted to us that the Boyle recommendations on appropriate pay for us came before phase 1 began. They should have been implemented then.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Foot) was not the Leader of the House then but he was Secretary of State for Employment, and I am sure that he knows much more than any of us here about the construction of the incomes policy.
We are informed that it was unlikely that trade union secretaries would have advocated an incomes policy if, just before, we gave ourselves this apparently large increase, although it was in line with other earnings increases of the 1970s. We were entitled to that, but we were not entitled to a phase 1 increase of £6 or a phase 2 increase. We were entitled to £8,000 but should not get £6 or 5 per cent. We should not get either, because what we were entitled to after £8,000 was a review this year to update that £8,000 if that was appropriate according to the Boyle Committee. We were entitled only to £8,000. We were never entitled to £6 a week, and we are not entitled to £208 now, but we are still entitled to the £8,000.
My right hon. Friend the Lord President says "Yes, but we forwent this income for political reasons in order to get in an incomes policy". All right. What has happened since? We know perfectly well that people such as Jack Jones carried out their part of the bargain and advocated to their members that there should be phase 1 and phase 2. Now the situation is slightly different. I do not recollect that there is a specific figure for the country as a whole in phase 3. There may be a cash limit in Government. I do not know. We shall see that when we get the next set of cash limits. But there is no figure here and now for the country as a whole.
We forwent our £8,000. We took £6 a week, to which we were not entitled, instead of the increase to £8,000, to which we were entitled. Now we should go back to giving ourselves the amount to which we are entitled.
§ Mr. Nicholas Ridley (Cirencester and Tewkesbury)
As I understand it, under 498 stage 3 the House is entitled to seek an orderly return to free collective bargaining.
§ Mr. English
Unfortunately, our pay has never been decided by free collective bargaining. It has always been recommended by a committee such as the Boyle Committee, which recommendation has then usually been changed at the whim of the party in power.
This is not what we might be saying we ought to have. This is not the £12,000 that we suggested we might have in the next Parliament if we were linked to the Assistant Secretary scale. This is a very simple thing. It is what an outside body suggested we ought to have, and that is our proper pay. I think that we are entitled, like others, to the rate for the job. I suggest that the higher we get Members' pay the less need there will be to take any outside job and the more Members will be able to pick and choose and look at jobs outside that are offered to them. It would be a very good thing if that were so.
§ 12.23 a.m.
§ Mr. Kenneth Baker (St. Marylebone)
I shall not support the amendment. I shall reluctantly support the motion moved by the Leader of the House. I do it with considerable reluctance, because after studying the motion any Member, irrespective of his views about what our level of remuneration should be, must come to the inevitable conclusion that our pay is in a mess. It is exceedingly difficult to thread one's way through the motion, but, as the Leader of the House said, it enshrines the cumulative effect of not making the right decision on "Boyle Seven" 18 months ago, and then of applying to that wrong decision the effects of an incomes policy, phases 1 and 2. The net result is complete confusion.
It has also introduced the entirely unacceptable principle of two-tier pay for Members. Irrespective of what we may individually earn in other capacities, I do not believe that there should be any distinction between us as Members of Parliament fulfilling the duties of Members of Parliament. But there is that difference now. This is a wrong anomaly.
Indeed, there was a nice little vignette earlier today when in the debate concerning my right hon. Friend the Member for 499 Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling) and the hon. Member for Normanton (Mr. Roberts) they were allowed back into the Chamber. A Labour Member objected to that and Mr. Speaker rightly said that if the right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet and the hon. Member for Norman-ton wanted to intervene they should be allowed to do so because there is no distinction between hon. Members at all. I think that the phrase that he used was that they were not second-class citizens. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Smith) should not make such trivial and superfluous points. I know that he is an expert in doing that, but he should keep them for another debate.
The point is that this two-tier structure is unacceptable. The illogicality of the two-tier system is enshrined in an amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham). to which the Leader of the House will object, because those hon. Members who accepted the £312 last year—[Interruption.] I was not one of them, so I can speak with that degree of detachment which, post-Poulson, we must apply to statements to the House; so I speak on this amendment in a state of perfect neutrality—or perhaps neutered perfection. I did not get that increase, but the pension of those who did is based not upon that element of £312 extra but upon £8,000. If there is any logic in this distinction, those who draw that extra £312 should have their pensions based upon £8,312, but that is not the case. I point that out as an illogicality.
These debates are exceedingly embarrassing for us, whenever they occur. I hear one of my hon. Friends asking "Why?" It is because we are the one group in this country who have the complete right to determine by our own votes our own pay and allowances. There is no other group in the country that can specifically do that. Therefore, it must be embarrassing for us to do that. Indeed, previous Governments, of both political complexions, have recognised that. That was the reason for asking Lord Boyle to review our pay and allowances.
Lord Boyle reported way back in 1971. The only Leader of the House to accept Boyle in total was my right hon. Friend the Member for Penrith and The Border 500 (Mr. Whitelaw), who said that this whole establishment of allowances and rates of pay was distasteful and he had asked Lord Boyle to do this distasteful work for us. That was the method that was decided upon. [Interruption.] Whether or not he minds is of no relevance. The House has collectively decided to ask Lord Boyle to do it.
If one asks a body of that sort to examine our rates of pay and allowances, it is incumbent upon the House to accept its recommendations.
§ Mr. Baker
The right hon. Gentleman says "No", and I therefore put this proposition to him and to the House. We have asked Lord Boyle to report in the past. The present Government have chosen some of the recommendations, and the Leader of the House has chosen a few more concerning pensions from Report No. 8. This matter must be decided essentially by the House, but before the House can decide it the trigger has to be pulled by the Leader of the House, because he has to table amendments and motions.
One way out of the difficulty is to go along with the proposals of the Leader of the House during phase 2, but when phase 2 comes to an end—which will be in June next year—we should ask Lord Boyle and his colleagues whether they would be prepared to examine our conditions further and to report by the summer of next year. Whatever proposals come forward, they should be put on the Order Paper and brought forward for debate. It will be for the House to decide which it accepts and which it does not accept.
That has not happened in the past, because the Leader of the House has said "We agree with some things, but not with others". The decision must ultimately be made by the House. That is why we would be wise to accept the motion, but I hope that there will be an undertaking from the Leader of the House that he will ask Lord Boyle to review our pay and allowances and to report by the summer of next year, with a clear indication—and this is the key thing for hon. Members—that those proposals will be tabled and the House will be able to decide whether to accept them. We have 501 tried over-zealously to do better than anyone else in the country as regards our pay and allowances. The net result is that we have done worse virtually than everyone else in the country. That is unsatisfactory, and I do not believe that it should be allowed to continue.
§ 12.30 a.m.
§ Mr. George Cunningham (Islington, South and Finsbury)
This is the third annual debate on this subject. I have found all three of them very undignified and deeply embarrassing. What I find most embarrassing about them is not that we are talking about the amount of public money that we shall allocate to ourselves. I find nothing embarrassing about that at all. It is one of the features about any sovereign Parliament that it has this important decision to take, as it has so many other important decisions to take. There is no escape from it by appointing independent committees.
What I find embarrassing is the tendency of so many hon. Members to discuss this issue with their eyes closed and to think that it is the responsibility of the Treasury Bench. This matter has nothing to do with the Treasury Bench. The Lord President has one vote on this matter, I have one vote on this matter, and every hon. Member has a vote on this matter. I regard the Lord President as a semi-suspended Member of the House on this matter who should keep his hands right out of it. We should ensure that the Lord President's hands in future, whoever the Lord President is, are right out of it. No Minister should have the initiative in this matter. I agree entirely with the hon. Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Baker) that the House must not only exercise the power in this respect—we do that—but also take the initiative away from the Government.
The amendment in my name seeks to provide that the notional pensionable salary should be increased from its present figure of £8,000 not only by the £208 which we are giving ourselves this year but also by the £312 which we gave ourselves last year. The Lord President, when he replied to a Parliamentary Question the other week and again when he made his speech today, gave some explanation of why he is suggesting that we should add only the £208. He said this: 502However, the Top Salaries Review Body recommended in 1975 that Members' pay should be reviewed every two years, and so the Government now propose that this year's increase of £208 should be added to the proper rate of £8,000, which is the rate for pension purposes."—[Official Report, 29th June 1977; Vol. 934, c. 235.]My immediate reaction on reading that, which of course I did for the first time in the newspapers, was to say that it was totally illogical. If we are reviewing the pensionable salary every two years, one should add every two years not only what one has added in the second year but what one has added in the intervening year. Otherwise, as any child will see, the pensionable salary will be actually lower than the salary actually payable.
When I put that simple point to the Lord President his first reaction was to say that there was some objection to doing that in terms of pay policy. I disputed that argument with the Lord President, and he went to the oracle, the Department of Employment, and obtained a ruling. The ruling was that he was wrong and that there would not have been anything wrong in phase 1 in our adding the £312 not only to our payable salary but also to our pensionable salary. The Lord President also obtained a ruling that, it not having been done in phase 1, there would have been nothing contrary to phase 2, which is what we are engaged upon now, in adding the £312 as well as the £208.
That was the ruling from the oracle. So the Lord President had to back down. There then ensued some consultations and Ministers went into huddles about it, I suppose. There emerged from the same oracle another mixed-up thought, which was this. I hope that the Lord President does not mind me reading from part of his letter. He says:the decisive argument"—against my modest proposal—has been put to me on behalf of the Department of Employment.By the Secretary of State, I gather.What they say is that at a time when the Government are exhorting everyone concerned in pay settlements not to look back to adjusting the anomalies created by the earlier phases of the pay policy when negotiating for increases during the coming 12 months, it is wrong for MPs to seek an adjustment to correct what was an undoubted anomaly in phase 1, at the first available opportunity.503 The Lord President and/or the Secretary of State for Employment have simply misled themselves, or one has misled the other.
First of all, we are not talking about the coming 12 months. We, taking this decision now, are engaged in phase 2, not phase 3. We are not free from the limitations of phase 2. We are not, therefore,at the first available opportunity—when we are free of phases 1 and 2—correcting anything about phases 1 and 2. What we are doing is giving ourselves something which is either the maximum permitted by phase 2 or something less than that.
I entirely agree with the Government's exhortation to people not to use the freedom of phase 3 to increase benefits which they were denied because of phases 1 and 2. But our self-denial was not, as the Lord President calls it in his letter:an undoubted anomaly in phase 1".It was not required by phase 1. The Lord President's first answer was nonsense and his second answer is also nonsense.
This is not a mighty matter and I do not think it worth a great kerfuffle. If the House wishes, I will certainly take it to a vote. I raise it now, not so much in its own right, because it is a question of adding £300 to the pensionable salary entirely legally and entirely in accordance with phases 1 and 2. We have not yet got as far as phase 3. I raise it now because the whole story is an illustration of fuddled thinking by those responsible. If the Lord President had had consultations with me and some others rather than private consultations with civil servants before drafting this proposal it could have been got right in the first place. The truth is that, it not having been got right in the first place, there are difficulties about coming forward with an amendment in the second place, difficulties which would not have been there if we had got it right in the first place.
If the House is inclined to support me I shall take the amendment to a vote but I do not pretend that it is a mighty matter. The amount of money involved is extremely small.
§ 12.34 a.m.
§ Mr. Nicholas Ridley (Cirencester and Tewkesbury)
The House has been badly 504 handled by the Lord President over the years in relation to its salary and the various stages of incomes policy. Before ever there was one we were denied the £2,000 increase which was otherwise given to us under the Boyle Report. During stage 1 we received an extra £312 in a period when inflation was falling slightly, to be followed in stage 2 by £208 in a period when the rate of inflation has increased in every single month. Now, a few days before the end of stage 2, we are presumably to be subject to the 12-month rule. The Lord President has cleverly stretched two years' incomes policy into three years. He has succeeded in getting hon. Members to take this treatment. I must make it clear that I accepted last year's increase, as I shall accept this year's increase, and I shall, after payment of tax, give the excess to a charity. This is despite the fact that my income is over £8,500 a year. It is mainly as a demonstration against incomes policy. I would add that the charity which I have particularly selected is the National Association for Freedom.
But if the House can be so severely misled over incomes policy one dreads to think what other citizens have suffered at the hands of the right hon. Gentleman and his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment. I find it obnoxious that he should pray in aid the support of incomes policy for this motion tonight. I never supported it under this Government or the last one or the one before that. Why should the right hon. Gentleman claim to speak for the whole House when he advances these absurd propositions?
However, hon. Members should have hope, because we have been assured that we are now making an orderly return to free collective bargaining. Therefore, let us proceed to examine what that will mean for the future. It will mean the horrible thing that the House will have to decide its own salaries for itself.
What I find awful about this debate is the number of hon. Members who have used the word "embarrassing". They are all acutely embarrassed at having to fix their own salaries. They all want someone else to do it for them. One hon. Member wants Lord Boyle to do it, but most want the Lord President to do it. [Hon. Members: "No."] The Lord President has been responsible for all the 505 distress which hon. Members have suffered, so let us not have him do anything about it at all. What has it got to do with him? Is not the House in command of its own raising of taxation and its own payment of salaries to itself?
However, we shall never solve this problem if we continue to say: "Oh, the Lord President has put up parliamentary pay by X hundred pounds a year. I do not think he should. I am not sure that I am going to take it.", and then we do take it. That is what is wrong. We should accept the responsibility for our own level of salaries and should be prepared to go to our constituents, and to the Press and radio, justifying it. If we are prepared to justify it we should be prepared to vote for it in this House.
I urge hon. Members to vote for the amendment of the hon. Member for Nottingham, West (Mr. English). I shall vote for it, if he presses it tonight, if only to demonstrate that it should not be the Lord President who decides these matters. The House itself should take upon itself the responsibility for settling its own pay. How else can we expect other people to respect ourselves as responsible people if we cannot even be responsible about our own salaries?
§ 12.44 a.m.
§ Mr. Mike Thomas (Newcastle upon Tyne, East)
I would go a long way with the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) in the theme of his argument if there was not one simple fact that obstructs us from taking the course that he suggests. That is the Lord President and the Government's domination of the Order Paper.
If the hon. Gentleman or I could guarantee to get on to the Order Paper a generally agreed motion which evolved through Back Bench channels rather than the usual channels, and have it discussed in a proper fashion, then we could dispense with the Lord President. I suspect that the Lord President would be delighted to be dispensed with in those circumstances.
The fact is that we cannot do that under the present arrangements. Until we can devise some relevant arrangements at the beginning of every parliamentary Session to ensure that that facility is 506 available to us we are irrevocably stuck in this mess.
The point I want to make is that there is a strong body of opinion in this House—the Lord President should not leave the Chamber without hearing it—which believes that his "sometime-never" approach is wholly unsatisfactory and that it will lead us further and further into difficulty and into disrepute.
I agree absolutely with the case for the mathematical calculations on the Order Paper. It seems unanswerable under stage 2 of the pay policy. But that does not impinge on the arrangements for the future. The Lord President would not commit himself on this. His whole attitude was "maybe in this Parliament, or the next, or perhaps the one after that". He could not give any assurances. I detected no real determination on his part—and we are unwillingly placed in his unwilling hands on this matter—to get it all sorted out. This is just not good enough. It is widely unacceptable to the people he, as Leader of the House, is supposed to represent, lead and deal with, in the genuine and literal sense.
I suggest that there are two things that the Lord President should consider before we get into real difficulties in 12 months' time. He must have a strategy for re-entry. It may be an orderly return to free collective bargaining, to use the terminology of the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury. The Lord President must decide whether he will send this matter back to the Review Body, where it is now due again, as two years have passed.
The idea that hon. Members will find the sum agreed two years ago acceptable in another year's time is romantic nonsense. It will be quite unacceptable, and by that time the gap will have increased to a more embarrassing level.
The Lord President will have to decide whether this matter will be sent back to the Review Body or whether he will attempt to introduce the process of linking, which has been approved by the House. Whichever of these things he does, we must face up to the fact that it may be embarrassing. I am not ashamed to go to the people in my constituency—whether they be miners, shipbuilders or employees of C. A. Parsons, all of whom negotiate hard for what they get—and 507 explain why I think that I am entitled to what I get for my living.
§ Mr. Max Madden (Sowerby)
When my hon. Friend goes to his constituents does he share my experience? My constituents are at a loss to understand how it is that Members of Parliament can have one, two or even three other jobs, apart from their membership of this House. In this strategy for re-entry, does my hon. Friend envisage paying hon. Members realistic and competitive salaries but demanding the legal requirement that they do not have second jobs?
§ Mr. Thomas
I do not want to be drawn into that. My constituents ask me why the hell I put up with the existing situation. They say that they would never put up with it.
My second suggestion to the Lord President is that if he does not think it proper to go back to the Review Body he must consider how to implement the linkage with the Civil Service grade of Assistant Secretary. That grade will be receiving £9,000, £10,000 or even £11,000 a year in 12 months' time. When does he intend to fix this matter? The Lord President must believe me: this matter must be fixed and properly organised in 12 months' time or we shall have most dreadful difficulties in this House, and a most bitter wave of resentment among Back Bench Members, who are under the sort of pressure that led us into the matters that we discussed earlier today. It is a pressure that will lead to events that will bring the House into very severe question.
§ 12.50 a.m.
§ Mr. John Stokes (Halesowen and Stourbridge)
I wish to declare an interest. I have spent over 30 years in personnel management, and I have never in the whole of my life come across an organisation that has made as much of a mess of its affairs and personnel policies as has the House of Commons.
I appreciate the fact that Members of Parliament are unique and are not salaried employees, but since we pay ourselves something, surely we can make a better job of our remuneration. Perhaps the Lord President should go on a personnel course. If he wishes to do so, I can suggest several—or I can give him some private tuition.
508 Ministers' salaries—a subject we shall be discussing a little later—have a bearing on Members' salaries. I believe the Prime Minister should be paid at least £50,000 a year and Secretaries of State £30,000 a year. Their present salaries, compared with those paid in the Civil Service, industry and commerce, and the EEC in particular, are quite ridiculous.
On the subject of Members' salaries, who has ever heard of any organisation in England that pays two salaries for the same job? The request last year to forgo the £6 was ill-conceived, but I understand that the new £4 increase is statutory and has to be accepted. I cannot believe that this anomaly should be allowed to go on. As the years go by, it will cause increasing complications.
Let me put one point to the right hon. Gentleman which I hope he will clarify in his reply. Those who now wish to claim the £6 that was forgone last year surely have a right to do so. If that is not the case, by what right is it being withheld by the Fees Office? I believe Lord Boyle's figure was £8,000, but that has disappeared just like the grin on the face of the Cheshire cat. If a figure of £8,000 was right then, surely the figure now should be at least £10,000.
The public believe that we are paid at least £8,000, and two national newspapers recently stated that that was our salary. But whatever we pay ourselves is normally disliked by a normally kind and tolerant British public. I believe that there is a good case for either paying us nothing or, say, £12,000. I can see no case for paying us that sort of salary that is paid, for instance, to a young accountant in the City.
There is an extraordinary anomaly about our notional salary for pension purposes. No other organisation—and, I believe, no other country—has this incredible arrangement. As the years go by the situation will become increasingly anomalous.
We all know that Members' pensions are scandalously low, and I believe that the 40 years' possible pensionable service should be reduced to 30 years. If we conduct our own affairs with such casualness and inefficiency, who can blame outsiders for thinking that we are not fit or entitled to deal with their affairs?
§ 12.45 a.m.
§ Mr. Eric Ogden (Liverpool, West Derby)
Having heard the hon. Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge (Mr. Stokes), I now know that I was wrong to vote against televising the proceedings of the House. I say that as a compliment to the hon. Gentleman.
The hon. Gentleman said that Lord Boyle's £8,000 salary had disappeared like the grin on the face of the Cheshire cat—but that salary has never appeared because we have never been awarded it.
The hon. Gentleman also said that there are now two salaries for Members of Parliament—those who are on more than £8,000 a year because of outside interests and those who are on less than that figure. In fact, there are three salaries. There is that other group of right hon. and hon. Members who are in the Cabinet, in the various Departments of State or Officers of Her Majesty's Household. It is ridiculous to try to pretend that because somebody becomes a member of the Government, Leader of the Opposition, or whatever it may be, that person is doing less for his constituents than he was doing before. I should be very pleased if we could work out a way of getting out of that anomaly.
I have a suspicion that my right hon. Friend the Lord President, who is in for some criticism tonight—though that is not unusual, and he can take it well—does not really understand what some of us are saying with reference to the amendment in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham). Let me spell it out again quite simply.
Someone who was earning £8,000 outside the House in 1975 would have had his pension based on that salary of £8,000 per annum. In 1976, that someone outside the House would have been entitled to the phase 1 increase and his salary would have been £8,312. His pension also would have been based on £8,312. By 1976, under phase 2, his salary would have been £8,520, and his pension would have been based on. that £8,520.
We inside the House, by our own decision, in 1975 took a salary of £5,750, though we based our pension on £8,000. In 1976 we accepted the actual cash under stage 1 and we brought our salary to £6,062. We omitted then to add that 510 £312 to our pension base. In 1977 our salary under phase 2 is £6,270, and our pension is to be based on £8,208.
There is a missing link. We are not by the amendment asking for anything more than other people have now or have had over the past two years. Even if we accept the amendment, we shall certainly not be asking for more. In fact, we are 12 months behind what other people have already got. We are not asking for more than anyone else has. We are 12 months late in getting what has in terms been awarded to us under phases 1 and 2 of the pay policy but has not been added to the pension element.
That is the simple logic of the matter. It seems that my right hon. Friend's experience at the Department of Employment must have been pretty traumatic No doubt, it was. But, equally, there are times when I think that I should have got a better deal out of the old coal owners than I am likely to get out of my right hon. Friend.
§ 12.57 a.m.
§ Mr. Peter Bottomley (Woolwich, West)
I do not wish to repeat the observations made earlier by the hon. Member for Nottingham, West (Mr. English). I accept the argument put by hon. Members on the Government Back Benches that Members of Parliament would be entitled under the pay policies to a salary of £8,000 or more. But there is one point which has not so far been made in the debate, and I refer here to the calibre of those who put themselves forward as candidates, those who are recruited to come to this place in the sense that they put themselves forward for selection and adoption. This is a matter which the House should take seriously on behalf of the country.
One can see in virtually any daily news. paper, in trade union magazines and so on a grand selection of jobs for which people are paid substantially more than Members of Parliament are paid at the moment. I could give examples, and I have a selection of them in my pocket, although I shall not give them as time is getting on. But here is just one. Is it right that the new publicity officer for the National Union of Teachers should have to take a £2,000 per annum drop in salary if he comes to represent a constituency in the House? One could go 511 on with the same story in respect of various skilled manual jobs, white-collar jobs and the rest, showing that we are way out of line.
But however much we might ask for ourselves—I would argue that I could persuade my constituents that I was worth substantially more than I am getting at the moment—the crucial element is the calibre of people whom we try to attract to come to this place to work along with us or to do our jobs in replacement for us. I accept that there are the vicar types, and many who are likely to come and many who are not. If they come, they can give part of their salary to War on Want, the National Association for Freedom or whatever charity they may choose.
I am sorry that the Lord President has had to stay up late on so many nights, because I am worried about his health, but I should have no hesitation in voting for higher salaries on the amendments, and I hope that other hon. Members will as well, because talk about something happening at some juncture when that juncture is not specified is an example of how the House of Commons goes about things and gets the country, as well as its own salaries, into a mess. If Members of Parliament do not have the guts or cannot induce themselves to force the Lord President—we may fail again tonight—into treating them properly, what confidence can the country have in our competence to deal with the rest of the nation's affairs properly when, perhaps, unpleasant decisions have to be taken or there is a bad Press for a week and so on? That, therefore, is another reason for putting our salaries on a reasonable level.
The right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) talked about secretaries, and what he said about that can also be applied to the pay of hon. Members. When I was employing people I did not wait until I felt that they were about to leave before giving them better terms of employment. I tried to do what I believed to be right. The right hon. Gentleman may say that it is not my money in this case, but in those cases when I was a hired manager for various companies the same thing applied. One tried to consider what was right and to do that. I hope that in the House we shall do the same thing about our pay 512 and conditions and, in time, improve the conditions that we must put up with.
§ Mr. English
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Would it be in order for me to move the closure on my amendment?
§ Mr. Powell
I should like to reply to the inquiry that was implicit in the concluding remarks of the hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Bottomley). The supply of potential hon. Members always grossly exceeds the demand and that, at any rate, is a basic reason for assuming that present rates of pay are at least adequate.
§ 1.1 a.m.
§ Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)
I shall be brief because there is only one point that I want to raise. Hon. Members are expected to take on greater responsibilities for a salary that has a reducing purchasing power. I do not know how they will do that, and I hope that some of the assurances that the Leader of the House has given to us tonight will be implemented, that they will be discussed and brought into effect by a resolution of the House at an early date.
I was one of those foolish hon. Members who last year did the noble thing and waived the £312 salary increase. In the light of events I wish that I had not. I was under the impression, at that time, that if hon. Members' circumstances changed and his outside income reduced so that his overall salary did not total more than £8,500 it would be in order for him to approach the Fees Office, rescind that instruction and claim the increase. However, I have been in touch with the Fees Office, the staff of which have been extremely helpful to me. I understand that it is an instruction of the House—and I believe that it appeared in an Answer that the Lord President gave—that once the amount has been waived there is no way in which an hon. Member can claim the amount.
§ Mr. Dudley Smith (Warwick and Leamington)
That is an important point. Is my hon. Friend aware that my hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) took the last increase 513 and gave it to charity. That was well done, and I should like to do the same now, to reclaim that amount and to give it to a charity, but I am prohibited from even doing that. should like to know what authority the Lord President has for stopping that.
§ Mr. Winterton
I fully support that view. My hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Smith) has obviously approached the Fees Office and received the same reply as I received. I hope that when the Lord President replies to the debate he will give the House an explanation of why when the income of an hon. Member—whose income has nothing to do with the House—is reduced so that his total income is less than £8,500 a year, that hon. Member cannot claim the same parliamentary salary as any other hon. Member whose income has not been over £8,500. Hon. Members who have taken on outside interests that have lapsed, whose jobs have disappeared or who have been paid for a consultancy on a temporary basis and whose salaries have reduced should be in a position to claim the full parliamentary salary in accordance with stages 1 and 2 of the prices and policy.
The hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) has been questioning some of my remarks and has indicated that he does not believe that there is a rule of the House that prevents the Fees Office paying our full salaries. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will join me in approaching the. Leader of the House for clarification of the matter.
§ Mr. Mike Thomas
My hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) was indicating that there is a difference between the view of the Government expressed in a Written Answer and a ruling of the House.
Will the hon. Gentleman deal with the point of the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell)? Will he ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he was suggesting that parliamentary salaries should be reduced to the point where only 635 people in the whole country are prepared to come here?
§ Mr. Winterton
As was shown earlier, the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) and I differ not only on remuneration for hon. Members but in 514 respect of allowances for the employment of secretaries. We should pay a salary that will encourage the top people from trade unions, business and education to come here and represent the people of this country.
I hope that the Leader of the House will clarify the vital matter of whether he has given an instruction to the Fees Office in relation to hon. Members' salaries. It appears that most hon. Members do not believe that the Fees Office is operating under a decision of the House.
§ 1.7 a.m.
§ Mr. Francis Pym (Cambridgeshire)
No wonder there is no phase 3. Hon. Members' pay and allowances are in a mess. In many ways, this is a disaster area, and it began with the handling of our salaries at the start of phase 1, when what could have been achieved was not implemented. That gave rise to a whole range of anomalies.
The one recommendation on hon. Members' pay that was wholly accepted by the Government of the day was the one that came before the House in 1971. If we now decided to agree to the Boyle Committee's recommendations, we should be returning to the practice of the last Conservative Government.
I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley). I do not find it embarrassing, however awkward it may be, to consider our own salaries. Earlier, we took decisions on an important matter about the conduct of hon. Members. In the same way, we cannot devolve decisions on pay. We have a duty to take the decisions for ourselves.
The Opposition have supported phase 2, have never sought to hinder it, and have never recommended that it should be broken or encouraged anyone to break it. Of course, we believe that the same approach should be applied to our salaries and we shall support the Government's proposals. It is entirely right that hon. Members should experience the full enormity of the implications of phase 2, £4 a week and all the benefits that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will gain from that.
However, the increase for hon. Members is unfair and unjust because the expenses that hon. Members necessarily incur if they do their job properly are increasing 515 at a rate that is infinitely faster than £4 a week. I think that in common with many other citizens outside the House, Members of Parliament have suffered a reduction beyond the fall in the standard of living that those in like jobs might be thought to be suffering at present. The present position is especially severe for hon. Members.
There is no phase 3 and we do not know how long the Government will last as a result of there being no phase 3. After all, the Lib-Lab pact was based upon the desire of the Liberal Members to continue the Government in office to negotiate a phase 3. That has not happened, so we do not quite know how long the Government will remain in power. However, if they remain in office for some months, the Lord President will face major problems when dealing with salaries and allowances during 1978.
§ Mr. Mike Thomas
I have sought clear assurances from my right hon. Friend the Lord President about what will happen in 12 months' time. May we have clear assurances from the right hon. Gentleman in the unlikely and horrific event that he and his right hon. and hon. Friends are on the Government Benches in 12 months' time?
§ Mr. Pym
I think that the Lord President might be quite glad to be relieved of his duties in this respect. In fact, the Conservative record is entirely satisfactory. I shall not go into the details at this late hour but I am content to say that we shall take our responsibilities seriously.
Whoever sits on the Government Benches in 1978 will face some awkward decisions and will have to bring some difficult recommendations before the House. Of course, at the end of the day the House will decide what will happen. At this hour of the night I do not think it is right to become too deeply involved with pensions. The amendment of the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) derives from the very anomalies that the Government have created. I know that there are pension issues that hon. Members want to raise on another occasion. Some of our colleagues find themselves in great difficulty because they are incapacitated, or for other reasons.
516 When the Lord President answered a Question in July 1975 he explained in detail that the cost of running Parliament was running at £14 million. In May 1977, less than two years later, the cost had risen to £23 million. That is the total cost, including Members' salaries, the staff and all the other overheads that are involved. In that period the Government think that their counter-inflation policy has been a raging success. We know that in the same time some hon. Members have received an increase of £6 a week, while some have received no increase, and that we are about to receive an increase of £4 a week.
It is a fantastic fact that hon. Members are suffering what for many of them is an extremely serious position. There is a real shortage of income without adequate compensation for rising expenses. The cost of running this place in less than two years has risen from £14 million to £23 million. Is it not out of proportion that we should be having a debate at this hour of the night about £4 a week, which is the sum that we are graciously allowed to receive under phase 2, when the figures show that the cost of running this place has increased so enormously? That introduces the reality of the world in which we are operating.
This is an immensely serious problem, which I recognise for my part, and which my right hon. and hon. Friends certainly recognise, that will face the Government next year, whatever their colour. They will have the task of trying to resolve the immense difficulty of coming out of our present pay situation and getting salaries and allowances in this place on a basis that is acceptable, understandable and reasonable for hon. Members.
§ 1.14 a.m.
§ Mr. Foot
No one who has listened to the debate and no one who has studied the facts will doubt the strong sense of grievance that prevails in the House about the confusion, the anomalies, the difficulties and the inadequacies of the present position of Members' pay. I do not seek to underrate or dismiss the situation in any sense. However, I believe that hon. Members, especially those who voted for previous measures, must take responsibility for the views and decisions that they have made. They must take account of how some of these previous decisions contributed to the confusions.
517 It is not just a question of the recommendations of the Government having achieved this situation. Those recommendations derive from different aspects of pay policy and from the accumulation of earlier difficulties.
That has to be accepted by hon. Members on both sides of the House. Of course, there are a few, such as the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell), who opposed the proposition a year ago, but that is not the position of most hon. Members. I am taking full responsibility for the matters for which I voted. Indeed, I think that the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym) does, too. He nods his head. But he was not doing so a few minutes ago.
The decision of the House not to accept the full Boyle recommendation but at the same time to accept the pension figure proposed by Boyle is one cause of the anomaly. The right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire and many of his right hon. and hon. Friends take the same view as the Government. The Boyle Report came out in 1975 and was introduced before the operation of the pay policy, as was rightly pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, West (Mr. English). But the Opposition agreed with the Government that the full Boyle proposition could riot be introduced.
Some hon. Members—for example, my hon. Friends the Members for Nottingham, West and Newcastle upon Tyne, East (Mr. Thomas)—said that the full policy should be adopted. But that did not apply to the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire. I suggest that he should take responsibility for the way that he voted then just as I am prepared to do so. It would have been fanciful and absurd for the House at that time to adopt the full Boyle recommendation. That was the view then taken by the Government and by the majority of hon. Members. Every hon. Member who accepted that proposition should accept the responsibility now. Some hon. Members say "No. We voted for the full amount. We could have avoided the anomalies if we had done it then." But there would have been other difficulties.
§ Mr. Mike Thomas
I follow and accept the logic of my right hon. Friend's argument. But what is he doing to implement the resolution on linkage?
§ Mr. Foot
No. There is not much time left. I wish to reply to those who have participated in the debate. I have listened to every speech that has been made and I want to make an orderly reply.
When we came to the £6 proposition a year ago, I was in favour of it, and so were the vast majority of hon. Members. It is all very well to say that it created anomalies, but it gave many hon. Members an extra £6. Of course, they had to pay some tax on it. I believed that it was right, and the overwhelming majority of hon. Members accepted it, too—anomalies or no anomalies. I stand by the decision that I took on that occasion and on this occasion. It would be a disgrace for the House, having accepted the policy for other people, to say "We shall not apply phase 2 to this. place".
I know that some hon. Members can say that that was the view that they took. The right hon. Member for Down, South has opposed the application of every incomes policy in whatever form to this House. He is entitled to say "I am opposed to the whole thing." Indeed, the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) can make a similar claim. But it is not open to those who accepted and approved both the £6 and the £4 policy to go back on those decisions or, at any rate, creditably to go back on those decisions.
I am not going back on those decisions. Having been a party to and having voted for them, I believe that it is necessary to sustain that position, and that is the honourable course for hon. Members to take.
I now turn to the argument put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham). I fully acknowledge the strength of his argument. I do not dispute that it is powerful. It derives from 519 some of the anomalies. I accept that there has been a different method of dealing with the £312 and the £208. The £312 was added to the pension figure whereas the £208 total figure was not. I can understand the argument. It is a strong case. I stand by what I said in the letter to my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury.
If the House were to re-open in phase 3 the anomalies that existed in phase 2, many people in the country could attempt to do the same in phase 2 or phase 3. If the House set out to apply that doctrine it would injure the application of the 12-months' rule. The hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury and the right hon. Member for Down, South do not care a damn about the 12-months' rule, but some of us do. From what we hear from the Liberals, they have been in favour of the 12-months' rule.
I am in favour of defending it outside the House and I shall also defend it inside the House. If we were to use this opportunity to re-open anomalies, believe me other wage earners would want to do the same. The anomalies derive not from a uniquely bad feature in our pay policy but from any type of pay policy. We have a voluntary pay policy. We never did what the Conservatives did and made the payment of a sum above a certain amount a criminal offence.
§ I have no power to make decrees on this matter. All I can do is to invite the House to seek to apply as fairly and properly as it can what we seek to apply to others in the country.
§ If hon. Members were to say that because of some change in our arrangements we now want to apply for the earlier £6 they would be allocating to themselves a higher increase in this period than is allowed to others under the pay policy. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Of course they would. That would be unfair. If we did that we could give up any idea that we could carry any pay policy in the country.
§ I urge the House to adopt what we advocate. I fully accept that the Government will have to come along over the coming months with proposals to try to deal with these matters, to clean up anomalies and to deal with pensions. That cannot be done this year under the pay policy, and it would be wrong to try to do it.
§ Mr. Alf Bates (Bebington and Ellesmere Port) rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.
§ Question, That the Question be now put, put and agreed to.
§ Question put accordingly, That the amendment be made:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 19, Noes 71.521
|Division No. 218]||AYES||[1.25 a.m.|
|Banks, Robert||Lamont, Norman||Stokes, John|
|Bell, Ronald||Maude, Angus||Wainwright, Richard (Colne V)|
|Bottomley, Peter||Miscampbell, Norman||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Morgan-Giles, Rear-Admiral||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Gardiner, George (Reigate)||Rathbone, Tim|
|Goodhew, Victor||Ridley, Hon Nicholas||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Haselhurst, Alan||Sims, Roger||Mr. Michael English and|
|Higgins, Terence L.||Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)||Mr. Michael Shersby.|
|Ashton, Joe||Dormand, J. D.||Mahon, Simon|
|Atkinson, Norman||Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun)||Marks, Kenneth|
|Bates, Alf||Evans, John (Newton)||Mather, Carol|
|Beith, A. J.||Foot, Rt Hon Michael||Molyneaux, James|
|Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N)||Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin)||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Freud, Clement||Moyle, Roland|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Glyn, Dr Alan||Noble, Mike|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Graham, Ted||Ogden, Eric|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||Grant, George (Morpeth)||O'Halloran, Michael|
|Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)||Harrison, Rt Hon Walter||Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch|
|Cant, R. B.||Howells, Geraint (Cardigan)||Price, C. (Lewisham W)|
|Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S)||Hurd, Douglas||Pym, Rt Hon Francis|
|Coleman, Donald||Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford)||Rodgers, George (Chorley)|
|Cook, Robin F. (Edin C)||Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln)||Rooker, J. W.|
|Cooke, Robert (Bristol W)||Kinnock, Neil||Roper, John|
|Cowans, Harry||Kitson, Sir Timothy||Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)|
|Cunningham, G. (Islington S)||McNamara, Kevin||Ross, William (Londonderry)|
|Deakins, Eric||Madden, Max||Skinner, Dennis|
|Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)||Tinn, James||Wise, Mrs Audrey|
|Snaps, Peter||Urwin, T. W.||Woof, Robert|
|Spearing, Nigel||Ward, Michael||Wrigglesworth, Ian|
|Stallard, A. W.||Weatherlll, Bernard|
|Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Futham)||White, Frank R. (Bury)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Stoddart, David||Whitehead, Phillip||Mr, Joseph Harper and|
|Stott, Roger||Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)||Mrs. Ann Taylor.|
Main Question put and agreed to.
§ Question accordingly negatived.
|Description of Member||Yearly rate of salary|
|1.||Member not within any other paragraph.||6,270|
|2.||Member receiving a salary under the Ministerial and other Salaries Act 1975 as Comptroller or Vice-Chamberlain of Her Majesty's Household., Junior Lord of the Treasury or Assistant Government or Opposit on Whip.||4,220|
|3.||Officer of this House or Member other than member of the Cabinet, receiving any other salary under the Act of 1975, or receiving a pension under section 26 of the Parliamentary and other Pensions Act 1972.||3,908|
|4.||Member or the Cabinet receiving salary ouch'. the Act of 1975.||3,208|
|(2) The ordinary salary of every Member shall be regarded for pension purposes as being at the rate of £8,208 a year (the proper rate for Members within paragraph 1 of Table 1).|
|(3) Members of each of the descriptions in the first column of Table 2 shall be credited, by way of supplement to their salaries, with amounts at the yearly rate specified in relation to that description in the second column of that Table (that is to say amounts adjusted for increases of salaries in 1976 but otherwise equal to 5 per cent. of the yearly amount by which the salary of a Member within paragraph 1 of Table 1 falls short of what a Member's ordinary salary is regarded to be for pension purposes).|
|Description of Member||Yearly rate of supplement|
|1.||Member within paragraph 1 or 2 of Table 1 who draws the whole of his salary.||£ 96.90|
|2.||Member within paragraph 1 or 2 of Table 1 who does not draw the whole of his salary.||£96.90 plus 5 per cent. Of the amount forgone, but not together exceeding £112.50.|
|3.||Member within paragraph 3 or 4 of Table 1.||£112.50.|
§ Mr. George Cunningham
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Although you understand them, some of us are a little mystified by the rules of this place.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The Chair has to put the Question first and deal with points of order afterwards.
That, in the opinion of this House, the following provision about salaries and pensions of Members of this House should be made with respect to service on or after 13th June 1977:—
(1) The salary payable to Members of each of the descriptions in the first column of Table 1 below shall be at the yearly rate specified in relation to that description in the second column of that Table.
§ I am a little disturbed at the fact that I misunderstood what was happening. What worries me is that I suspect the Front Bench did not misunderstand.523
§ When I rose to speak, I moved Amendment (e)—or should I say I purported to move—Amendment (e)? Whether, according to the rules of the House, I effectively moved the amendment, I do not know, but I seem to remember that a previous speaker who had an amendment to move was invited by your precedessor in the Chair to make sure that he moved it.
§ It was my job to move my amendment, and I understood from the Table—though this is no doubt a fault of my misunderstanding and not of the advice that was given to me—that so long as the Lord President sat down before the end of the allocated time, or was brought down before the end of the time, all the Questions could be put. If the Lord President had sat down in time, and if no closure had been moved, would all the Questions have been put?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Only the Question on Amendment (a) would have been put, assuming that a Division took place on it.
§ Mr. Cunningham
Do I understand that all the Divisions that were due to take place could take place only if the last of them had been begun before the expiry of the hour and a half allocated to the debate?
§ Mr. Foot
Further to the point of order raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham). Mr. Deputy Speaker I am, naturally, concerned at what has happened. I had no idea that my hon. Friend's amendment would be excluded from a vote by the procedures that were adopted. In view of what has occurred, and in view of the debate that has taken place, I should like to say how I think the House can best deal with the situation.
What I am seeking to do is to ensure that there shall be fair treatment for my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury and others who have put their case on this matter and feel that they have raised serious questions in their 524 amendments. If they feel aggrieved that they have been excluded because of the way in which the vote was taken, I should like to put a suggestion to them. I am sorry if it is taking a little time to explain the point of order.
If my hon. Friend's amendment to add £312 to £208 had been carried, it would have been necessary, if the House was to comply with that arrangement, for there to be some alteration in the law that applies to this matter. That is one of the objections that we had to the proposition, although that could be overcome.
I wish to remove any sense of grievance that my hon. Friend and some of my other hon. Friends may feel. I did not wish to inflict this sense of grievance upon them. I say to them that after the recess I shall be prepared to look at this matter afresh to see how we can bring it before the House so that there can be fresh discussions on this issue. In any case, if my hon. Friend's amendment were to be carried, there would have to be on our return an alteration in the law to meet the situation.
I promise that when we return there will be an opportunity for the matter to be freshly debated. That does not mean that the view I hold on the subject will not be presented and that the House will not argue the matter. I give the undertaking that the matter will be brought up again in order to remove any legitimate sense of grievance that there may be.
§ Mr. George Cunningham
Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I accept that the Lord President's understanding of what would happen was the same as mine. In those circumstances I think that he personally has made a fair suggestion, though whether all others on the Front Bench are as innocent I am less certain. My right hon. Friend's suggestion is a jolly good way of dealing with the left-over bit of that last motion and also of dealing with the next motion. I suggest that we settle for that—that we postpone my amendment and the ministerial motion as well.