HC Deb 21 July 1987 vol 120 cc306-34

Question again proposed.

Mr. Orme

Therefore, I support the amendment that stands in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Madden).

What the House is doing tonight is right. We have nothing to be ashamed of; we and our staff ought to be paid decent salaries. On that basis, I support the proposals.

10.1 pm

Mr. Nicholas Bennett (Pembroke)

As a new Member of the House, it is with some trepidation that I rise to speak in the debate. One is in the Catch 22 situation: if one opposes the motion, one is unpopular with one's colleagues, whereas if one supports the motion one is unpopular with one's constituents.

I support the pay rise, because Members of Parliament are not properly remunerated for what they do. However, I cannot support this motion, because it is linked with pay in the Civil Service. It is wrong for Members of Parliament to be linked with civil servants. Hon. Members have had many arguments used against any increase in their salaries. Writing yesterday in the London Evening Standard, Mr. Enoch Powell suggested that we were gentlemen and that we did not need an increase in pay. I do not know what Mr. Enoch Powell's fee was, nor do I know what Mr. Julian Critchley earns—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member should refer to the hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Critchley).

Mr. Bennett

I do not know what the hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Critchley) earns when he writes that gentleman are people who have four buttons on their cuffs.

We ought to pay hon. Members a proper salary for the job that they do, to ensure that as wide a range of people as possible enter this House as Members of Parliament. Members of Parliament should not be just rich men with other incomes. I declare that I have no other income but that of a Member of Parliament.

I support the arguments that were used in 1911 when Members of Parliament were first paid, but the idea that our pay should be linked with that of civil servants appals me. It is the duty of hon. Members to control the size of Government and the cost of Government. There will be no incentive for hon. Members to keep down public expenditure if their pay is linked to that of civil servants. Instead, hon. Members' pay ought to be linked to pay in the private sector, where increases are most closely linked with economic prosperity. Our rewards ought to be a reflection of economic success. If private sector pay were to increase because of economic success, our pay would be increased, too. To link our pay with that of civil servants, which we ought to be controlling, would lead to an increase in public expenditure.

10.4 pm

Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark and Bermondsey)

I wish to speak to my amendment, in line 8, leave out 'and' and insert: `, except that any income received by a Member, and not immediately derived from his or her activities and employment as a Member of Parliament (a Member's extra-parliamentary income) shall

  1. (i) in respect of service in 1988 or any subsequent year, but not after the next general election, be deducted from the difference between the rate specificied in paragraph (a) herein and the rate payable in 1987, and
  2. (ii) in respect of services in any year subsequent to the next general election be deducted from the rate specified in paragraph (a) herein;
  1. (a) that for purposes of computation and ratification each Member's annual total extra-parliamentary income shall be required to be recorded in the Register of Members' Interests, but shall not be made available to the public;
  2. (b) for the purposes of definition of extra-parliamentary income, fees which are received are wholly and 308 exclusively attributable to a Member's activities as a Member (such as articles and public, radio or television appearances) shall not be included.'.
The Leader of the House rightly said that the substantial point is that, if it were passed, any income that was earned from activities outside the House would be deducted from any increase that we receive tonight or subsequently, and that income that is received from activities outside the House after the next election would be deducted if it equalled or exceeded an hon. Member's salary. The result would be that if an hon. Member's outside income exceeded the £22,000 odd that we may vote ourselves this evening, he or she would receive nothing from the taxpayer.

Mr. Stan Crowther (Rotherham)

Will we have to pay money in if we get more?

Mr. Hughes

A quite appropriate supplementary question was just asked from a sedentary position behind me as to whether we would have to pay money to the taxpayer if we earned more on the side. The logical answer to that is that it is not a bad idea, but we must proceed by stages and begin by getting the first principle agreed before we start on what might be regarded as a slightly more penal taxation policy.

There are two supplemental points. First, it is necessary, if there is to be such a proposal, that it is policed. The appropriate police officer would be the Registrar of Members Interests.

Mr. Cyril Smith (Rochdale)


Mr. Hughes

I recognise an intervention when I see one. I shall give way in a moment if my hon. Friend will permit me.

The second qualification is that it may be better to include earnings for which one is paid that come from activities such as interviews, as a result of being a Member of Parliament—[Interruption.]

Mr. Smith


Hon. Members

Give way.

Mr. Hughes

That is not a matter of principle —[Laughter.] If the House took a hard line it would be perfectly proper for any other fees to be excluded.

Mr. Smith

I shall ask my hon. Friend two simple points. First, will my hon. Friend explain where or how his amendment would differentiate between earned and unearned income? Will he explain that, because, as I read the amendment, any interest, even from investments, would have to be taken into account? Secondly, may we assume that if an increase is agreed tonight he will waive the extra £4,000, or alternatively resign his practice at the Bar?

Hon. Members


Mr. Hughes

I will answer. On the first point, all income would be included as the amendment is at present drafted. On the second point, the amount recorded as being my earnings at the Bar in the past year is about £900—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. This sort of reaction merely prolongs the agony.

Mr. Hughes

I cannot resign my profession, but I am certainly willing to agree that any other earnings that I have be deducted from the amount that the House votes itself. It would be inconsistent to do otherwise.

This is a matter of substantial importance. When the review was carried out in 1982, 69 per cent. of hon. Members had other income—that was out of the 329 hon. Members, 52 per cent., who replied. The Top Salaries Review Body found that the mean time spent on other activity was 10 hours per week and that other incomes ranged from between £1,000 or less to over £20,000. If the answers received were a fair sample, the median earning was £5,500. That would hardly make a substantial difference in present income because it is almost balanced out by the increase proposed.

Many hon. Members are consultants and advisers but do not have to declare the amount they earn. However, their decisions and activities in the House are substantially influenced by those other income-earning activities. For example, we have only to look at the debate we have just had on the Channel Tunnel Bill. Over 37 Tory Members of this House or the other place have one interest or another in one of the competing companies concerned in the Channel tunnel project. The public can never discover what people are paid for such interests and it is wrong and unprincipled that people can earn substantial sums of money about which the public never find out and which clearly must influence the way in which they conduct not only their decision making in the House but the way in which they spend their time.

This motion is an expression of opinion of the House. It has to he followed by an implementing resolution, which is on the Order Paper. The hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) said that the drafting of my amendment may be defective. I agree that there may be defective drafting, but this is not an implementing motion, it is an expression of opinion. It may not be word perfect and I do not pretend that it is, but the principle is clear even if the drafting is not as clear. It may not catch everybody. It may allow people to hide funds in trusts or allow their spouses to earn on their behalf.

There are other ways of dealing with the same issue. In the United States of America one can lose a percentage of one's income depending on how much one earns elsewhere. However, it is important that we do not bar people from other occupations but that we apply to hon. Members the same rule as applies to Ministers. For example, even if they keep on a solicitorial partnership they cannot earn from that. That tradition has a fine series of precedents. It goes back to the 19th century when directorships were disqualified from being compatibly held by Ministers.

Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Campbell-Bannerman extended that to partnerships, and in the 1930s it was extended again. It is now time to extend it to all hon. Members. There is no doubt that money is influence. There is no doubt that hon. Members are influenced away from representing their constituents by their other interests. Indeed, some openly admit to spending at least a day a week on other duties. If we believe in open government, we should be open about what we earn. I advocate decent pay for staff and hon. Members, but the time has come—

Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington)

If money is influence, what influence did the British School of Motoring exert on the Liberal party?

Mr. Hughes

The hon. Gentleman has asked that question so often that he should know the answer, which is, none. The matter was unrelated to hon. Members of this House or their activities here. I believe that the time for two-timing and earning two or more salaries is over.

Mr. Ian Gow (Eastbourne)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it in order for the official spokesman of the Liberal party to talk about—

Mr. Cyril Smith


Mr. Gow

Is it in order, Mr. Speaker, for the official spokesman of the Liberal party to talk about principle when his party is totally without principle?

Mr. Hughes

The Leader of the House made it clear that this is a matter for the House. I have expressed a personal view and we shall vote as individuals. We are not pursuing a party line on this side, whatever may be the case elsewhere in the House. The job of hon. Members is unique and their parliamentary salary should he their unique source of income.

10.17 pm
Mr. Cranky Onslow (Woking)

Until the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) spoke, I proposed to say that the House agreed two matters. Now I think that it is agreed on three. The third is that the point that he has tried to make this evening is an extremely silly one on which the House will not want to waste much time. However, I must say that it is a wonderful recipe for saddling the country with professional politicians who are otherwise quite unemployable and who think that, apart from representing their constituents, their only duty is to go on television and be paid for doing so. That would be a recipe for parliamentary disaster.

The other two matters on which the House remains agreed are, first, that we do not want a long de bate or long speeches and, secondly, that many hon. Members on both sides of the House are glad that the Government have brought forward the idea of linkage to which many hon. Members have been attracted for a long time. I am not one of them, and I make no bones about it. I believe that it would have been much better if, on previous occasions, we had contrived to arrange matters so that the outgoing Parliament voted the salary of the incoming Parliament, without inflation clauses, escalators or linkage — but with responsibility taken uniquely by hon. Members and not shuffled off through some other device. But that option was not open to us, which I can only regret. Others welcome what has been offered to us this evening.

I commend my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House on the straightforward way in which he brought the proposition before us. I commend the shadow Leader of the House, the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson), on what must be one of his first appearances in that capacity, on many of the things that he said. I also commend the right hon. Member for Salford, East (Mr. Orme) in his newly acquired role of shop steward. I will not call him the joint ship steward, because, whatever my predecessor may have done, I do not aspire to be a shop steward in these matters. They are all far too difficult for me, but they will not be too difficult for the right hon. Gentleman. He got the mood of the House right, and I hope to keep it that way by speaking only briefly.

The less time that we spend on this matter, the more our constituents are likely to thank us. I hope that we shall not have to return to the subject for a very long time and that we can move to other and, dare I say it, more important matters. However, some of the things that have been said this evening deserve a passing mention. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House was right to say what he did about secretarial allowances, and I was glad to hear the right hon. Member for Salford, East commend the decision to refer the difficult question of the anomalies in Members' pensions to the Top Salaries Review Body, because we owe it to some of our older and retired colleagues to sort out the muddles which prevail there. But I believe that we should make a decision on the matter without too much more debate.

10.21 pm
Mr. Alfred Morris (Manchester, Wythenshawe)

I want to intervene only briefly in the debate to refer to the consequences for Members' widows of decisions by this House to reject pay rises recommended by the body responsible for independently reviewing parliamentary pay. As the House knows, I do so as Chairman of the Managing Trustees of the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund and the House of Commons Members' Fund.

The decision to reject the Top Salaries Review Body's recommendations to increase Members' salaries to £19,000 from 13 June 1983 has had a markedly adverse effect on the pensions of Members now in retirement. To take just one example, Members who retired at last month's general election now have a pension 5.21 per cent. below what they would have received if the TSRB's recommendation had been implemented. Thus, a former Member who now receives £8,000 would have had more than £8,416.

The effect on widows has been even more marked, as an analysis of actual cases very clearly demonstrates. Yet the effect on them was not even considered in 1983, nor was there the merest mention of them by Ministers or in media comment on the decision. What was the effect? Three of the widows of Members who died in 1984–85 lost 19.62 per cent., 16.98 per cent. and 13.7 per cent. respectively of the pensions that they would have received if the salary increase recommended by the TSRB in 1983 had been implemented.

The moral surely is that Members can be as self-denying as they like in determining the parliamentary salary, but they should not be unmindful of the effect on those who work largely unseen, but often with much dedication, in the service of the House. In my view, there was a very strong case in 1983, when the House rejected the recommended salary of £19,000, for that figure to be accepted at least for pension purposes.

There was a precedent for that in 1975, when the TSRB recommended a parliamentary salary of £ 8,000 compared with the £4,500 then payable. Although the recommenda-tion was not implemented by the House, with the salary moving only to £5,750, the Government of the day nevertheless allowed a higher notional salary to be implemented for pension purposes. As a result, the widows of Members who died in service were awarded pensions correspondingly higher than would otherwise have been the case. What we did in 1983, and what we should not repeat now, was to cut the living standards of widows whose pensions are, in the view of everyone who knows their value, anything but generous.

I think tonight of a very hard-working former colleague who is much missed in the House and whose widow's longterm pension entitlement since his death—she was not a young woman—was under £50 a week.

Mr. Denis Howell (Birmingham, Small Heath)

My right hon. Friend is raising a matter of considerable importance which has not previously been touched upon outside the House in the general debate. The colleague he is referring to was one of the most respected Members of the House. His widow, like all wives of MPs, worked freely for the country. That fact ought to be recognised. It is a scandal that the widow of one of our colleagues, after many years of service, had to live on a pension of £50 a week and further lost 19.62 per cent. as a result of the delay of the last rise. Therefore, I hope that widows' pensions will not be a matter that the parliamentary trustees will lose sight of. I hope that the Leader of the House and my hon. Friend, who is chairman, will pursue the matter out of justice to the widows of our former colleagues.

Mr. Morris

I am most grateful to my right hon. Friend. He will appreciate that it is a statutory scheme. We are bound by the decisions of the House. The House should not forget the plight of widows whose pensions, compared with pensions outside the House, are quite disgraceful. Anything that the trustees can do to help the widows of Members who have died will be gladly done.

The case I mention is the kind of case in which the decision of 1983 resulted in unmerited hardship and which should inform the debate tonight. Whatever the electorate at large may have thought of our decision in 1983 to reject the findings of an independent review of parliamentary pay, the effect on Members' widows has been extremely punishing. If any hon. Member doubts that truth, let him or her read the parliamentary reply given to me yesterday by the Leader of the House about the financial losses sustained by the eight widows of Members who died between 1 March 1984 and 30 April 1987. In that regard, may I say how conscientiously Mr. J. L. G. Dobson and his colleagues in the Fees Office work at all times, far beyond the call of duty, to help those who are bereaved when a Member or former Member dies. That help deserves the admiration of the House.

Hon. Members find it at once very inhibiting and deeply embarrassing to have to decide their remuneration. That is why it was ultimately decided to link parliamentary pay to a Civil Service grade. To undo that decision now would affect not only pay levels for Members of Parliament, but also the incomes of widows. It will be an improvement on our previous debates if their interests are not overlooked in our deliberations tonight.

10.28 pm
Mr. Anthony Beaumont-Dark (Birmingham, Selly Oak)

I recognise that to speak tonight is not popular unless one is saying what it seems the majority of hon. Members wish to hear. This is not a road to Damascus. There will be no conversions on the way to the Lobbies.

It is not that I am against all of us as right hon. and hon. Members being paid properly for the services that we perform. However, on this one issue alone, it is right to ask why we wish to link ourselves to a mythical 89 per cent. of the grade of senior principal. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow) that, at the end of the day, this House is the maker of laws and the final arbiter of what is right and what is wrong in our country. Why do we not have the courage at the end of each Parliament to decide the proper pay scale for hon. Members? Why should we vote ourselves 89 per cent. of a principal's grade?

Is it not a fact that each Member of this House—there are only 640-odd of us — is in a unique occupation? We should at least keep some respect for the job that we do. At the end of each Parliament let us have the courage to debate, and for people outside to hear, what we think we are worth.

The only reason why this squalid alternative is brought forward is that hon. Members think that we cannot not argue about what we are worth as Members of Parliament. I believe that we can argue that. However, each time we back away from it. Instead of talking about 89 per cent. of a principal's grade, would it not be better to analyse what other Members of Parliament receive, whether in Australia, America, Canada, or even in Europe, which does not matter—they would receive more if we let them—and is it not better for us to judge, and to let other people judge, what we are worth? Why 89 per cent.? Why not 90 or 91 per cent.?

If it is true that the more we are paid, the better we are, why not be bold? Why not pay us £50,000 per year and receive a service that is twice as good? For those who are willing to take the risk, why not pay £100,000 per year and receive a service four times as good? However, that is not what the matter is really about. It is about this House keeping such matters within itself. If we are the mother of Parliaments, if we are the maker of laws for people, if we genuinely believe that if we said that men were women and that women were men, so in law they would be, and if we believe that if we said that the sky is black and not blue, so in law it would be, why are we unwilling to keep within ourselves the right for each Parliament to vote for what it believes in?

There are two reasons why I shall vote against these motions. The amendment tabled by the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) is so bizarre that I shall not vote for that. However, if my colleagues believe with the Government, as I do, that inflation is of the greatest importance, which it is, and if we are to improve manufacturing industry—Opposition Members are always telling us about the importance of manufacturing industry—and say that we believe that we can afford to pay other people only 6 per cent., then on this occasion, because we did not have the courage in the previous Parliament to decide what we should award ourselves, we should vote for 6 per cent. for ourselves and for 6 per cent. for other people. That is what I shall do.

Mr. Dennis Howell

The hon. Gentleman has put forward the proposition that he cannot vote for this increase because it is above the 5 per cent. rate of inflation that he recommends for manual workers. Since he is a stockbroker, will he kindly tell the House which stocks he advises his clients to buy which guarantee that they will not yield more than 5 per cent?

Mr. Beaumont-Dark

With enemies like that I need no friends. If the right hon. Member had not been so keen on spending other people's money he would have recognised that I gave up practising as a stockbroker some five years ago. In common with the right hon. Gentleman, I depend upon others for their advice.

If we vote this increase for ourselves tonight — I recognise that hon. Members are worth that increase—could we at least forget the notion of giving up the right for each Parliament to decide what Members get? Let us keep within this House the right to decided so that people know that we do not lack the courage to tell them what we think we are worth.

10.40 pm
Mr. Max Madden (Bradford, West)

I beg to move the amendment in line 11, leave out from 'be' to end of line 18 and insert 'the amount obtained by increasing £20,140 by the relevant percentage, and (ii) for any subsequent year, the limit should be the amount obtained by increasing the limit applicable to the immediately preceding year by the relevant percentage (so that, if the relevant percentage for any year is nil, the limit remains the same for that year);'. There is printing error on the Order Paper because it should read: to the end of line 13 This is a modest amendment and all that it seeks to do is to index the £20,140 for the current year to inflation and to use that figure as the base figure for future years. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Orme) said earlier, the amendment will enable all Members claiming the allowance to give their staff a reasonable increase in the current and succeeding years.

If one is described as "a Guardian reader", it is now a term of abuse. Therefore, the House will appreciate my hesitation at quoting from The Guardian editorial of yesterday, which said: for all MPs, failure to vote for the rise would mean funking a key opportunity to put Parliamentary pay on a sensible par with civil service salaries. If MPs do bottle out, they will be haunted by their failure. The whole impossible problem will be doomed to return each Parliamentary term, as it has done each term before. Better to be the real villains now and then to have done with it. I reflected on those sentiments while the hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Beaumont-Dark) was speaking. He reminded me of someone who once said of someone else that they knew the price of everything but the value of nothing. I sense that the majority of the House cannot understand why the hon. Member for Selly Oak wishes that, each year, Parliament should go through this process of determining our salaries. We decided that we wanted a link that was clear and objective and took the issue of parliamentary salaries out of this Chamber and out of this political, controversial arena.

The second part of The Guardian editorial said: In a better world, MPs would not only put their salaries on a sensible footing, they would also bring their working conditions — their office space, research back-up and modern technological equipment—into the if modern world. That would cost more than tomorrow's pay rise, and it might also be better understood by the public and be better for government. That is the main burden of my amendment, the objective of which is to enable all hon. Members to employ one full-time secretary, a reseach assistant and be left with sufficient funds to provide adequate modern equipment to enable us to do our job, which is effectively to represent our constituents. In reality, we know that the allowance is not sufficient to meet those objectives.

I have to declare an interest as a sponsored Member of the Transport and General Workers Union. I wish to refer to evidence submitted by the 1/427 branch of that union which represents a large number of staff employed by Members of this House. Some time ago that union branch submitted evidence to the TSRB. Referring to secretaries the evidence states: There can be no job to compare to that of working full time for an MP. A secretary or a researcher could be drafting press statements one minute and the next have to switch to being a tour guide, or deal with suicidal constituents, conduct advice surgeries, act as chauffeur, or even arrange for a decorator to paint the boss's flat. The volume of correspondence is immense. Many secretaries process as many as 400 letters a week. A survey carried out by this Branch showed that during Parliamentary sessions, staff can work upwards of 60 hours a week. Paid overtime or time off in lieu is unheard of. With regard to research assistants, the evidence states: Research assistants are still regarded as a luxury rather than a necessity. The first call on resources is always the secretary and, as a result, researchers tend to be part time and often underpaid". On equipment the evidence said: much of this new technology has been introduced at the expense of staff pay. It is wrong that the allowance is supposed to cover staff and equipment. Staff are often played off against new technology. Or on an even more basic level, staff scrimp and save, terrified of buying a new stapler, typewriter ribbons or correcting fluid as this may affect their pay rise or possible bonus. Finally, the evidence concluded: There is no shortage of people willing—

Mr. Matthew Taylor (Truro)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Madden

I will give way in a moment.

The evidence concluded: There is no shortage of people willing to work for an MP—paid or unpaid. This has often given raise to low pay and abuse. That is the view of the union that represents the majority of the staff employed by hon. Members of this House. It is disgraceful in 1987 that this House is at last complying with the law to issue our staff with contracts of employment that were required by law passed by the House in the middle 1970s. I believe that it is disgraceful that new hon. Members elected on 11 June are still in some cases without a desk or a telephone.

Mr. Matthew Taylor

Does the hon. Gentleman agree—and here I must confess to almost having an interest as I worked in the House as a researcher until very recently, and in the year before I was elected my earnings were only £5,000—that it is disgraceful that the House should consider putting hon. Members' salaries up to such a great extent and seek to salve hon. Members' consciences at the expense of those who work for us by stating that they will be denied any increase this year to pay for the rise?

Mr. Madden

Traditionally we have had substantial increases in the allowance put forward as a way of depressing parliamentary salaries. Tonight some hon. Members are arguing that an increase in the parliamentary salary should be used as an excuse to depress the allowances. My amendment argues for a modest increase, by inflation, of the allowances this year and to use that as a base figure for the coming years. I believe that that would enable us to employ a secretary, a full-time research assistant and provide proper equipment. Nothing less is permissible in a legislature that is serious and that seriously wants to represent our constituents effectively in 1987. I hope that the House will carry my very modest amendment.

10.43 pm
Mr. Stan Crowther (Rotherham)

I want to make two very brief points. First, if there are right hon. or hon. Members who really do not think that the service that they give to their constituents, to this House and to the country is worth £22,500 they may well be right. Perhaps the service that they are giving is not worth that. However, I know that the service that I am giving is worth that much. In fact, I know that it is worth rather more.

I am one of those who are full-time hon. Members of the House. It is a well-known fact not often enough aired in public that many right hon. and hon. Members are not full-time Members; they are part-timers. That is because they are too busy spending time out of the House running businesses, appearing in court, writing highly paid articles for the popular press or perhaps less highly paid articles for the unpopular press. In some cases they are Members of an obscure body called the European Parliament.

Because they earn money from one source or another, many people have to spend time outside the House to justify the substantial amount of money that they pick up. I am not one of those; I am one of the full-time Members. To say the least, it would be grossly immoral for such part-time Members to vote against a pay increase for full-time Members. Indeed, we are working more than full-time because we also take a share of the work that they ought to be doing.

The return of attendances on Standing Committees and Select Committees makes interesting reading. Many right hon. and hon. Members have not been on a Standing Committee for years, and everybody knows it. The rest of us are doing part of their job for them. I repeat that it would be an act of pure immorality for such hon. Members to vote against a pay increase for us. I understand that some of my hon. Friends will oppose this increase on the grounds that they think that we should be paid no more than skilled workers in industry. That is an interesting argument and has been canvassed in the Labour movement for years.

I have carried out a little analysis and prepared a fairly detailed and precise estimate of the hours that I work. Over the year, including recesses and applying a normal industrial analysis—a formula based on a 39-hour basic week, time and a half for overtime during the week and double time at weekends, I have found that if this increase is agreed my hourly rate of pay will go up to £4.35 an hour. That could not be regarded as excessive in any industry. I say to my hon. Friends that it is a strange attitude for any trade unionist to vote against a pay increase.

10.47 pm
Mr. Dave Nellist (Coventry, South-East)

This debate is one of the occasions—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Gentleman has as much right to be heard as any other hon. Member.

Mr. Nellist

This is one of the few occasions when at 10 minutes to l1 the House is full. Possibly within an hour or so the House will vote to raise the salary of a Member of Parliament from £356 a week to £434 a week, an increase of 21.9 per cent. If the House decides to do that, it will take hon. Members even further from the day-to-day conditions of the majority of the population. The £80 rise to be voted on is £3 more than the current take-home pay for a whole week of the civil servants upon whom the Government have just imposed a 4.25 per cent. pay increase. Those civil servants will not get the cushion of the 20 per cent. by which their salaries have fallen in the last seven years which hon. Members intend to claim for themselves.

The civil servants have also been told that regional and flexible pay is to be introduced by the Treasury. Regionalisation is an interesting concept. Apparently the higher the unemployment in a region, the lower the commensurate pay increases ought to be for those public servants working in that region. The concept has been well expressed by education spokesmen and Treasury and Civil Service spokesmen. It is an interesting concept to apply to Tory Members of Parliament in Scotland, Wales, the north, the midlands and in areas where, in the past eight years, unemployment has rocketed. It would have been even more interesting to apply it to a Tory Cabinet that has doubled, if not trebled, unemployment and increased the number of those living on or below the margins of poverty to 18 million, one in three of the population. I do not think that, on a regionalised or flexible pay structure, Tory Members of the Cabinet would be thought to be worth over £1,000 a week.

Many Tory Members think that that is a bit of a joke. The civil servants do not think that regional or flexible pay is very funny. Despite the ballot result during the past week, if the Government intend to introduce for the Civil Service what they are not prepared to introduce for Members of Parliament, there will be a vastly different mood among civil servants, which will be shown in the new ballot which undoubtedly would have to be organised.

The House is supposed to reflect society as a whole. If this rise is agreed, the House will be even less reflective of society than it is. Some 5 million workers, including one in five of all adult women in full-time manual jobs, earn less in a week than the House is considering voting itself as an increase in Members' salaries. Some 500,000 workers earn as much as or more than the £22,500 that hon. Members will receive. In the past six years, the income of the richest 20 per cent. of households has increased from 45 to 49 per cent. of total income and the income of the poorest 40 per cent. of households has fallen from 9.5 to 6.3 per cent. If this rise is agreed, the House will reflect even more only rich sections of society and will in no respect reflect almost the majority of the population, especially those whose share of household income has fallen.

There are many reasons why the House does not reflect the whole of society. Some have already been mentioned. One reason is the degree to which Tory Members have outside interests; and the Liberal amendment deals with that in some respects. There are many Tory Members sitting opposite me to whom whether the salary is £18,500 or £22,500 is largely immaterial. It is just pocket money to them. Unlike Labour Members, 99 per cent. of whom have as their only job that of Member of Parliament and the income that comes from it, the Tories—[Interruption.] All right. I shall come to some of the points later.

Mr. Michael Fallon (Darlington)

It would be honourable if the hon. Gentleman were to make his position absolutely clear. If his argument prevails, will he take the increase voted? If his answer to that is no and if he redistributes any proportion of his money to his constituents, the Labour party or any other interest, will he redistribute a higher proportion?

Mr. Nellist

If the hon. Gentleman will forgive me, I intend to deal with that point in the latter part of my speech. But, briefly, the answer is no. I shall vote against the increase. If the rise goes through, I shall take the increase—

Hon. Members


Mr. Geoffrey Dickens (Littleborough and Saddleworth)


Mr. Nellist

Hang on, I am answering—

Mr. Speaker

Order. Give the hon. Member a chance to finish.

Mr. Nellist

I shall listen to the hon. Member for Littleborough and Saddleworth (Mr. Dickens) in a minute. I am dealing with the hon. Member for Darlington (Mr. Fallon) at the moment.

Then I shall do exactly the same as I have done over the past four years, which is to return some £16,000 of my take-home pay, half of which has gone back to the Labour party and half of which has gone to pensioners' groups, unemployed groups, miners' families, and so on. If the House decides to give me an extra £3,000 after-tax income to distribute to working-class families in my constituency and others, I intend to do precisely that.

Mr. Dickens

For many years, I was a fully paid up member of the Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers. What the hon. Gentleman has just said to the House is what I used to describe in my trade union days as, "Taking a free ride, brother."

Mr. Nellist

I suspect that members of the AEU who listened to that contribution were as mystified by it as I am. If the hon. Gentleman wishes to explain it further, however, he can do so in his own contribution.

More than 120 Tory Members of Parliament are company directors. In the last Parliament, I discovered the king of company directors—Mr. Geoffrey Rippon, then the Member for Hexham. He had 50 jobs. He was a Member of Parliament; he was a barrister —a QC, in fact—with overseas legal interests; and he held 48 chairmanships or company directorships. I never understood how that gentleman ever had time to turn up here.

On the present Tory Benches there are 40 barristers, 27 company consultants, 21 farmers or landowners, 14 merchant bankers, and a few dozen Lloyd's names. In case you are unfamiliar with that term, Mr. Speaker, it means that those who go down to Lloyd's and do a spot of underwriting must demonstrate that they have £100,000 in liquid cash, and pay £3,000 a year in membership fees.

For most Tory MPs, Parliament—this greatest club in Western Europe — is an extension of the life of privilege into which they were born, prefaced in 253 cases by private education and in 172 cases by Oxford or Cambridge. Incidentally, half a dozen Alliance Members have a similar educational background, exactly the same percentage as in the Tory party.

Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South)

Does my hon. Friend accept that the Register of Members' Interests has not yet been compiled, and that the range of Tory outside interests is therefore even richer than he has suggested so far? Does he also accept that we have a register of interests not because of pressure inside but because of pressure outside following the Poulson scandal, in which a number of Tories were wrapped up?

Mr. Nellist

I think that my hon. Friend could well amplify that contribution in a full speech of his own. He is right to point out that the Register of Members' Interests for this Parliament has yet to be compiled. The sources that I used for the figures that I have given so far have been the Register of Members' Interests for the former Parliament, Mr. Andrew Roth's "Parliamentary Profiles" booklets and the Conservative party's own list of Conservative parliamentary candidates, which was issued in May 1986. I am fairly sure that the numbers that I have given are accurate.

For those Tory Members who are effectively moonlighters, a parliamentary salary is an addition to their main sources of income—banking, farming and so forth. They can always attend the odd board meeting, or trip off down to Lloyd's or the Stock Exchange. Those Tory Members, whatever happens tonight, are talking about their pocket money, not a salary on which they have to live. I think that the Liberals' amendment—although I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) about its deficiencies — at least raises a question that many Labour spokesmen have tried to raise, particularly in the last couple of weeks in the debate on the Local Government Bill. Far too many Tory Members, when they vote on matters coming before the House—for instance, privatisation in hospitals and local authorities—stand to gain financially. The issue deserves far wider attention in the future.

Let us take an example. Let us say that the hon. Member for Hove (Mr. Sainsbury) decides this evening to vote against the rise in Members' salaries, which he may well do. I do not think that that will make much difference to him and to his lifestyle. As of January this year, the hon. Gentleman had £114 million worth of shares in a family grocery business, which makes him the ninth richest shareholder in Britain. The dividends on £144 million worth of shares probably exceeds the £20,000 a week mark, so £20,000 a year is largely irrelevant.

Mr. Jerry Hayes (Harlow)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The hon. Gentleman is besmirching the name of an hon. Member of this House.

Mr. Speaker

I am listening with the greatest care. It may have been provocative, but nothing that the hon. Gentleman has said so far was out of order.

Mr. Fallon

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. It is only fair that you should tell us whether the hon. Member for Coventry, South-East (Mr. Nellist) gave my hon. Friend the Member for Hove (Mr. Sainsbury) notice that he would be raising that point tonight.

Mr. Speaker

I do not know that.

Mr. Nellist

In accordance with the traditions and rules of this House, it is entirely in order to make points about the background of Members of Parliament. It is not dishonourable for an hon. Member to own £114 million worth of shares, but members of the public who read this debate may draw an entirely different conclusion. That is a matter for them.

It is worth noting that another member of the same family, David Sainsbury, is the chief financial trustee of the Social Democratic party and that he owns £739 million worth of shares. That gives a weekly income from dividends of over £100,000. I predict that within three or four years he will be Britain's first billionaire shareholder. Four members of that family are now among the top 10 shareholders in this country.

Dozens of other Tory Members of Parliament may vote against this pay rise, but I question whether £18,500 or £22,500 means very much to them. I remind those Tory Members who will vote in favour of the pay rise of the arguments that they have deployed while I have been a Member of this House. Since 1983 they have referred to British workers being too highly paid. In February 1986 Lord Young said: Rising unit wage costs make it so difficult for Britain to compete in world markets. Over the past five years wage costs have risen in manufacturing by a quarter whilst those of our major international competitors have risen by much less. With raw material costs now falling, a halt to the rise in unit wage costs would enable us to hold prices steady, increase sales and thereby create genuine, long lasting jobs. If a 25 per cent. increase for manufacturing industry workers in the last six or seven years is too high, how can Tory Members of Parliament justify voting themselves a 21.9 per cent. increase? Whatever happened to the concept of giving a lead?

Mr. Rowe

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Nellist

I hope the hon. Gentleman will forgive me for not giving way. We have crossed swords on a number of occasions. I am anxious to get on and finish my speech.

International surveys show that out of all European countries, British workers are the lowest paid, that they work the longest hours and that they have the shortest holidays. Whatever happened to the Tory argument about the free market economy? What would happen if the Prime Minister were to be run over by a bus tomorrow morning? First, there would have to be the selection of a new leader for the Tory party. Half the Tory Members who are here tonight would probably vote for the bus driver, while the other half would vote for the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen). Secondly, about 300 would apply for the job of Member of Parliament for the Finchley constituency. I thought that free-market economics meant that the greater the pressure of those wanting a job, the less the argument for an increase in wages. When that applies to Tory Members it goes out of the window, but that was the argument that was deployed in this Chamber—

Mr. Michael Lord (Suffolk, Central)


Mr. Nellist

Just a second.

Almost 12 months ago, in July 1986, we were discussing the Wages Act. Some 500,000 workers under the age of 21 years who were on £40 or £50 a week were told that they were pricing themselves out of a job because of the level of youth unemployment.

Mr. Lord


Mr. Nellist

Just a second, I said.

Some 12 months ago the House decided that, as a matter of principle, 400,000 young workers who were on £40 or £50 a week—hairdressers, those who were working in pubs, clubs, shops, restaurants and clothing establishments—were pricing themselves out of jobs. Yet tonight those same Tory Members are prepared to vote for an increase which is—[Interruption]—twice the amount that they considered to be too much for those young workers.

Mr. Lord

The hon. Gentleman is talking about wealth and being wealthy. Does he consider it a crime to be wealthy?

Mr. Nellist

The City seems to have been fairly profitable over the past couple of years.

The single hourly adult rate is all that is left for the wages council to decide. The rate for those over the age of 21 years who work in an unlicenced place of refreshment is £2.10 per hour, which is a weekly wage of £81.90—the same amount that Tory Members intend to vote for as an increase in their salaries.

The hon. Member for Harlow (Mr. Hayes) has said that the increase, is needed to attract the best people to stand for Parliament. How do we define who is best? From 1979 to 1986 the after-tax and insurance earnings of the lowest 10 per cent. of society rose by 3.5 per cent., but the earnings of the top 10 per cent. of society rose by 23.4 per cent. Who says that hon. Members representing the top 10 per cent. of wage earners in society will lead to a better House of Commons than those who represent the bottom 10 per cent.?

Some hon. Members say that we work long hours. That is true; I was one of the 260 hon. Members who were present in the Chamber at 3 o'clock this morning when some of us voted against the cuts in the rate support for two of the largest councils in Scotland. It is true that hon. Members work long hours, but it is ironic that we debated the matter until 3 o'clock this morning, yet on Friday we will have a vote on a three-month recess. Parliament could be organised on a more equal basis and the hours could be shared out over the year. Members of Parliament work long hours, but there are some 3 million shift workers in this country—[Interruption.] The hon. Member for Dorset, West (Mr. Spicer) may laugh, but he would not laugh if he wanted to be taken to hospital in an ambulance but discovered that the nurses and ambulance drivers had decided that they would not work shift work any more. What would happen if the steel workers, electricity workers, or those who work for basic industries, decided that they would not work shifts? Those shift workers receive an average wage of £210 a week for men and £142 for women. They work shifts all year, not one or two nights a week out of a possible 32 weeks in the year.

Hon. Members on both sides of the House have said, "Let us vote for the motion because it introduces continuity and we will not have to come back to this argument again." I would be happy to look at that as a concept, particularly if Tory Back Benchers and Tory Cabinet Ministers such as the Minister for Employment who replied to my question today, admitted that if those on youth training schemes had had a linkage system since April 1978 when their allowance was introduced. instead of being on about £28 a week they would be on £49 a week. Those young workers have seen 43 per cent. of their allowance cut because there is no linkage. They have lost some £21 a week because of the freeze. If it is good enough for hon. Members, why does not some Tory Cabinet Minister propose it for the 500,000 youngsters on the youth training scheme?

I shall come to my conclusion—[Interruption] I am sure that Tory Members are happy to hear that. Some have raised, as a justification for the increase jpon which we are voting tonight, the expense of being a Member of Parliament; the need to get taxis after late sittings, the need to eat on the move or the need for secretarial assistance and so on. I should put on record that the allowance for living in London is established at £8,000 a year. Some say that they cannot manage on that. When Lord Gowrie resigned from a £33,000 a year job in September 1985 he said: It is not what people need for living in Central London. How do Tory Members expect young working class couples to live in London? Do they not read the London newspapers? Young people in London have to club together, not just one or two of them but three or four of them, to save up enough of a deposit to buy a two bedroom terraced house. If hon. Members are concerned about the horrendous level of rents and house prices in London they should do something to tackle the source of the problems, not just deal with the effects. The first and most important thing to do is to provide more money for public sector building so that new houses reduce the pressure on the private rented sector which is leading to the escalation of rents.

Living in London is a separate issue from that being voted on tonight, as is transport. If hon. Members have to take taxis home after a late sitting they can claim the mileage component from their travel allowance. I do not claim for taxis when I have to take them from the House. I take the cost out of the profit I make on the general mileage allowance across the whole year, which in my case is about £2,000 a year. That means that I have never charged anybody for a public or political meeting I have done in the past four years. We should tackle the source. We should tackle the late night sittings, not the question of complaining about the prices paid for taxis

The secretarial allowances are still woefully inadequate. Many Tory Members get outside staff assistance from their business arrangements, but Labour Members, particularly those representing inner city areas, have a huge level of casework. They are trying to get to grips with the effects of eight years of decline and desolation caused by the Government, particularly in areas such as Coventry. There are wards in Coventry with over 50 per cent. male unemployment. That results in me receiving nearly 200 letters a week and the same is true for most of my Labour comrades, particularly those in inner city areas. The present secretarial allowance is woefully inadequate. If there had been a motion on the Order Paper to vote for the doubling of that allowance I would happily have done so. Unfortunately the only motion for which I can vote is that tabled by my hon. Friend the, Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Madden).

I now turn to my Labour comrades and colleagues. In the past four weeks inside the parliamentary Labour party, in our publications and in our Labour party meetings we have been conducting an intense analysis about the result of the general election. If one fact has emerged above all others, it is that a successful four-week campaign that was intensively and professionally presented and packaged was unable to repair the damage of the preceding four years. During our discussions the word most used has been "image". There are 5 million workers who earn each week either the £80 that we are proposing to give ourselves as a rise or even less, and a total of 8.5 million workers who earn less than the Council of Europe "decency" threshold of £125 a week. How will these workers view tonight's decision? What effect will it have on our image? What will these voters think if Members vote for a £80 a week increase? The majority will think, "Once MPs get down in London there is no difference between them. They are all in it for what they can get out of it for themselves."

I have received many letters and phone calls on this issue, but during the past month I have not had one letter or comment from outside the House urging me to vote for the proposed increase. Instead, I have received many representations from those who believe that I should take a stand against the increase. I shall present the House with two examples. The first is from a Labour voter in Shropshire, and she writes: Dear Mr. Nellist, I want to thank you for what you said last week on Radio 4 about MPs' pay. I certainly don't begrudge MPs a decent wage, but I do agree with what you said about trying to live at a level similar to that of many of your constituents so that you can really understand their problems. What it does seem is that MPs could do with more sociable hours, especially for those who are parents of young children. As a parent of three young children, one of whom is only 10 weeks old, I would agree with that.

The other letter from which I shall quote comes from someone in West Sussex. It reads: Dear Mr. Nellist, I applaud your attitude to parliamentary salaries that you expressed two days back on the 'Today' programme of Radio 4."— [Interruption.] My hon. Friends who are commenting from a sedentary position will understand the point of this in a moment. The letter continues: I do so all the more when I think"—

An Hon. Member


Mr. Nellist

If there is a choice between sanctimony —

Mr. Speaker

Order. It would be much more helpful to the House if the hon. Gentleman were to get on with his speech and if he were not interrupted from a sedentary position by comments that divert him from his line.

Mr. Nellist

If there is a choice between sanctimony and greed, I know that to which I shall plead guilty.

Mr. George Galloway (Glasgow, Hillhead)

That was unworthy of my hon. Friend.

Mr. Nellist

I was responding to the charge of sanctimony. I suggest that my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galloway) deals with that.

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member for Coventry, South-East (Mr. Nellist) has been correctly addressing his remarks to me, and he should continue to do so.

Mr. Nellist

All that I am suggesting, Mr. Speaker, is that it would be better to deal with the foul rather than to indulge in retaliation. I shall continue to read the letter from which I was quoting, which states: I do so all the more when I think that unlike a great many MPs you doubtless have to actually live on what the nation pays you. I do so also as a life-long Conservative, conscious all too well that many MPs in my party are well off and still demand the new increase! They shock me as a pensioner. I have given two examples of the way in which millions of ordinary working-class families will view tonight's debate. Despite the efforts that my right hon. and hon. Friends will undoubtedly make—I have no doubt that they will explain what they do with part of their salary, and I have the highest regard for them—the majority of the low paid, pensioners and those on supplementary benefits will read only the reports that will appear in the newspapers tomorrow of an £80 a week increase. They will hear none of the arguments that have been advanced to justify it.

I said earlier that many people outside this Chamber will see no difference between Tory and Labour Members tonight. But there is a difference. Tory Members represent the 3 per cent. of the working population who earn more than £22,500 a year. Labour Members should represent the 97 per cent. of the population for whom £450 a week would be a dream. Few, apart from myself and my hon. Friends the Members for Liverpool, Broadgreen (Mr. Fields), Bradford, North (Mr. Wall) and Blyth Valley (Mr. Campbell) take the principled decision—in my case passed by my constituency Labour party about 10 years ago—that Labour Members should try to live on the same wages as the majority of their constituents and, therefore, reflect similar problems in terms of rates, mortgages, transport, the purchasing of kids' shoes and so on. I recognise that many of my hon. Friends—for example, my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) gave much, if not all, of his parliamentary salary to the miners' families during the miners' strike —give away part of their salaries, but none of them takes the principled decision that I have outlined. I make no further criticism of them for that.

To answer the point made earlier by Tory Members, that has meant that I have given £16,000 of my take-home parliamentary salary back to the Labour movement, in addition—to answer the point of the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) — to the £1,026 that I have earned during the past four years from television appearances and occasional journalism.

Mr. Cyril Smith

I assure the hon. Gentleman that I ask this question sincerely. I thought I heard him refer earlier to the figure of £16,000, and he has just mentioned it again. Since the parliamentary salary is only £18,000, how can he give £16,000 back to his constituents? I do not understand it.

Mr. Nellist

It is quite simple. It is the figure over four years, and it works out at between £80 and £90 a week of my take-home salary—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. This sort of attitude hardly does us justice.

Mr. Nellist

As for the approach of taking only the average wage of the skilled worker, one hon. Member said that, were it applied on an hourly rate, it would mean that hon. Members would be earning a similar amount to the amount that they earn now. My reply to that is that in Britain today there are about 350,000 shop stewards and lay officials of unions who, in addition to full-time occupations, put in many hours of unpaid work representing the members of their unions or their sections. They do not get wages at twice or three times the level of those whom they represent, or holidays of 20 weeks in the year. There are perhaps half a million charity workers who work many unpaid hours outside their normal occupations, raising money for everything from research into cancer to famine relief overseas. The vast majority of them are unpaid workers who do it because they believe that the job must be done. I see no dichotomy in basing my role in life on taking an average skilled worker's wage and on making similar sacrifices to the nearly 750,000 shop stewards, conveners, trade union officials and charity workers by not taking extra money for the extra hours that I put in.

I urge my comrades on the Labour Benches to vote against the increase of £80 a week and, in solidarity with those low-paid workers throughout the country, to vote against the motion. However, if it is passed, I urge them to give at least 5 per cent. of their gross salaries—

Mr. Orme

To Militant.

Mr. Nellist

No Stan, not to Militant, to Walworth Road. [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. I think that the hon. Member is coming to the conclusion of his speech.

Mr. Nellist

My right hon. Friend from Salford, East (Mr. Orme) would be in a better position tomorrow morning to say to the National Executive of the Labour party that there would be no need for 40 redundancies and the closure of Labour Weekly, Socialist Youth and New Socialist if 229 Labour MPs each gave 5 per cent. of their gross salary. [Interruption.] My right hon. Friend started it.

Mr. Speaker

Order. If there is any disagreement between the hon. Members on this it ought to take place outside the Chamber.

Mr. Nellist

Tomorrow morning my right hon. Friend could then attend the National Executive as Chairman of the Parliamentary Labour party and report on additional £250,000 income for the Labour party and stop —[Interruption.] My right hon. Friend started it. He should not joke about Militant. He started it.

Mr. Orme

My hon. Friend is incorrect. I am not a member of the National Executive of the Labour party.

Mr. Nellist

My right hon. Friend—

Mr. Speaker

I was not going to interrupt the hon. Member, but I think that I will. I think the whole House would agree that the hon. Member should now be heard in silence.

Mr. Nellist

In which case, following that helpful suggestion to the House, I will not prolong the argument with my right hon. Friend. I think the message has got through. If the increase goes through, I think the jobs in the three Labour party publications are worth at least a 5 per cent. sacrifice in gross pay by my colleagues. To give them the opportunity, in solidarity with the low-paid, to vote against the increase, I give notice that, at the appropriate time, I shall try to divide the House.

11.28 pm
Mr. David Blunkett (Sheffield, Brightside)

Many of the good points that my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South-East (Mr. Nellist) has just made would have been enhanced if he had hidden some of his light under a slightly larger bushel, because many of his comments were true. Many of his points were good ones. Lecturing colleagues on how much to give of their pay, however, smacks of the benevolence that some of us have tried to escape from in fighting for decent wages and conditions without receiving the charity of. Conservative Members. I do not know anyone who owns shares in grocery firms. I do not even have any political associates who run PR consultancy firms. I try, as other Members do, to represent people in the House, to do a good job, to learn how to do it better and to try to earn the rewards that I am paid.

I hope that doing a decent day's—and night's—work will be properly rewarded and that the House will have the decency to support the amendment tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Madden), because the treatment of those who work with us is a sign of the kind of people we are and the kind of world we expect for those we represent.

I welcome the assurances of the Leader of the House about tightening up the procedures and monitoring, because if people outside were aware of the poor conditions in which those whom we employ have to work and the pay on which they have to do it they would want us to double the amount that we pay. [Interruption.] I hope that they would, because I think that your words, Mr. Speaker, at the beginning of the Session about holding a Government to account can be fulfilled only if hon. Members put in the necessary work and are adequately serviced and supported.

Successive Governments have been happy to ensure that all Back Benchers are inadequately serviced to carry out that task. We have only ourselves to blame. [Interruption.] No, I do not call upon God. I expect elected Members to be big and dedicated enough to provide—for themselves and the electorate they serve—decent conditions in which to do their job properly.

I have no intention of setting up any kind of umbrella organisation to draw in funds. I should be held to account by other hon. Members if I did. There will be no curly-coated advisory service or group for drawing in funds.

I must tell Conservative Members, however, that the ridicule that was poured on the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) was uncalled for. If we pay ourselves an adequate wage and we do an adequate job, we should not expect to take other jobs outside the House. No employer, including those who sit on the other side of the House, would tolerate in their employees what the electorate tolerate in us when it comes to other activities and employment. It is not moonlighting that we are engaged in; it is daylighting. I hope that we shall ensure that we do not continue to work silly hours. We must work in the daylight hours to do the job which we were sent here to do.

If we followed market forces and some people's ideas through to their logical conclusion, we would have sponsored Members. [HON. MEMBERS: "We already have"] I know of no trade union sponsored hon. Member who draws from his or her trade union money that goes into a personal bank account. The same cannot be said for Conservative Members who have consultancies and who charge fees for their activities.

Mr. Paddy Ashdown (Yeovil)

Before the hon. Gentleman leaves his argument about no other employer allowing an employee to have separate jobs in normal circumstances, would he care to comment on the fact that the motion, with which I disagree but which, as the hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Beaumont-Dark) said, links hon. Members' pay—for the sake of convenience and hiding further debate on the subject—to the Civil Service, yet no civil servant in Britain is allowed to have a second job? Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the House seeks that convenience without accepting the obligations of the link?

Mr. Blunkett

I need not reply to that intervention from the hon. Member, because his words were clearly addressed not to me but to Conservative Members.

We can expect the support of the people whom we represent in our desire to be paid decently and have good support services only if they are persuaded that we are doing our job properly and are working on their behalf and serving their interests, not those of various outside organisations. If we all acted in that way, politicians and politics would be more highly respected and Parliament would benefit.

11.36 pm
Mr. Chris Mullin (Sunderland, South)

It was unfortunate that we were an hour and half into the debate before coming across a dissenting point of view. I suggest that if we took a stroll up Whitehall and conducted a straw poll among the first few citizens we met, we should discover that a different view was held by —[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. The whole parliamentary process means listening to views with which we do not wholly agree.

Mr. Mullin

We would find that a different view on this issue is held by the people out there than exists in this rarefied atmosphere.

I shall be voting against the proposed increase, and in doing so I shall be casting no aspersions on the motives of those whose equally sincerely held views lead them to vote in the opposite direction. I shall vote in that way because I believe it wrong, at a time when increases of 3 to 5 per cent. are being imposed by this House on the public sector, that we should vote ourselves an increase of about 22 per cent.

I can think of no action that will more encourage public cynicism and help to undermine confidence in the democratic process than Members of Parliament doing for themselves the opposite to what they would have done to the public. It is fortunate for the reputation of the House that the debate is taking place at this late hour, unwitnessed by many representatives of our free press.

In the last decade we have grown used to appeals from this place for restraint addressed to most sections of the population—to postmen and nurses, for example. It is hypocritical that those who call most often for that restraint should make themselves be immune from it. Our constituents will not understand how, when the living standards of many are lower than at any time in living memory, we should be voting ourselves such a massive increase.

Last week I was approached by a lady who lives on £30.40 per week supplementary benefit. She was not complaining about that. She contacted me because her benefit had failed to arrive and she was faced with destitution.

I have a wages slip from a young woman in my constituency. [Interruption] I hear groans from Conservative Members, but we should confront reality from time to time. We do not do so often, but I think that we should have a bash this evening. That young woman works a 41-hour week at a food processing factory in my constituency. Her gross pay was £52.20 for a 41-hour week. After deductions she received £47.56. That is not uncommon in this country. Many hon. Members could point to similar cases in their constituencies.

As I have said, I cast no aspersions on the motives of any hon. Member. I am simply saying that I am unable to look such people in the eye and to vote myself —[Interruption.] I shall come to that point in a minute. [HON. MEMBERS: "Give way".]

Mr. Robert Litherland (Manchester, Central)

My hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South-East (Mr. Nellist) said that he would vote against, but accept, the increase. Therefore, I ask my hon. Friend whether he will assure the House that although he will vote against the motion, he will not accept one penny of the increase?

Mr. Mullin

I have no problem with that point and I shall deal with it in a minute. [Interruption.] I shall deal with it as robustly as did my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South-East (Mr. Nellist), who, whatever one may think of his views, is one of the people in this place who practises what he preaches.

It has been said that our wages should be pegged to those of senior civil servants. I suggest that if we are interested in future in assessing by how much our wages should rise — I know that it is embarrassing for hon. Members to be called upon regularly to deal with the question of their own pay—and if we are looking for a convenient index against which to peg our wages, the national average industrial wage would be appropriate. I do not suggest that we should accept exactly the national average industrial wage, but that our wage level should be pegged to that rather than to the wage level of some mythical civil servant over the road whose lifestyle has nothing to do with those of most of the people whom we represent.

The question of allowances has been raised —[Interruption.] Conservative Members should keep their hair on. [Laughter.] I shall get there in a minute. It is nice to see the House so full at a quarter to midnight. Only a hanging debate attracts more Conservative Members.

The question of allowances has been raised. Many hon. Members have made the point, which I endorse, that if there is any public money to be spared, or rather any taxpayers' money—Conservative Members so often use that expression—it should go towards providing facilities that would better enable us to serve our constituencies. The point has also been raised, but it bears repeating, that as yet some hon. Members do not have a desk or telephone in the House. If we are here to serve our constituents it is not an inconvenience for the hon. Member concerned, but for the constituents we are here to serve.

If there is extra taxpayers' money swilling around it might at least go towards for example, providing my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, North-East (Mr. Barnes) with a desk and an office. Surely that is not a terribly unreasonable demand in this last quarter of the 20th century.


Is the hon. Gentleman going to take the increase?

Mr. Mullin

I will keep hon. Members in suspense for just a moment longer. They should relax. I will come to my conclusion shortly.

I am in the process of employing 1½ people —[Interruption.] Hon. Members have asked a question and they should listen politely to the answer.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I think that the hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. Mullin) would be well advised to address his remarks to the Chair.

Mr. Mullin

Hon. Members have repeatedly asked whether I intend to take the allowance and I will now answer.

Hon. Members

The salary.

Mr. Mullin

I propose to employ 1½ people—a full-time assistant in my constituency and a half share of a secretary in London. The salary costs, taken with employer contributions, come to almost £18,000 a year. After paying those costs from the current allowances I am left with about £2,240 for the rent and rates on an office in the constituency. There is nothing remarkable about my plans—many of my hon. Friends and, perhaps, some Conservative Members follow the same practice.

I am left with £2,240 to pay the rates and rent on the constituency office, pay for a photocopier and more besides. I intend to put the proposed increase towards the allowance— [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"]—Yes, every penny of it—to enable me to serve my constituents.

Mr. Hoyle


Hon. Members

Give way.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I do not think that the hon. Member for Sunderland, South will give way now.

Hon. Members

Yes he will.

Mr. Speaker


Mr. Mullin

That is the action that I propose to take—

Mr. Hoyle

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way. I am extremely interested in what he has to say. My hon. Friend has said that he will give the increase to his staff. What will my hon. Friend do with his journalistic earnings in addition to his salary?

Mr. Mullin

Thus far, since coming to the House—

Mr. Hoyle

My hon. Friend has only been here for six weeks.

Mr. Mullin

Thus far I have received £30 for a ludicrous questionnaire, which I donated, instantly, to the constituency party funds.

I have tried to emphasise that I am not seeking to cast aspersions on the motives of any hon. Members who take a different view from me. I cannot bring myself to look in the eye people such as the young woman in my constituency who is paid £47.50 for a 41-hour week while voting myself an increase of £80 a week. I cannot and will not do that.

11.50 pm
Mr. Wakeham

I sense that the House wants to reach a decision on these matters very quickly. We have heard many powerful speeches, but I suspect that hon. Members have made up their own minds.

I want to congratulate the shadow Leader of the House, the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson), on his robust first appearance at the Dispatch Box in his new role. The motions are matters for the House and I have already said why I believe that the House should support them and reject the amendments. However, one or two things need to be said.

The hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras and others referred to matters concerning the inadequacy of the accommodation in the House. I appreciate that things are not perfect. The House will be aware of the programme to improve the position. However, I hope that the House will want me to acknowledge that the sterling work of the Serjeant at Arms and his staff in providing accommodation for hon. Members and their staff within the available resources is appreciated by everyone.

The right hon. Member for Salford, East (Mr. Orme) and others referred to the Members' pension fund. I will refer that matter to the Top Salaries Review Body and I hope to make an announcement about that later this week. The right hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris) rightly referred to the effect of Members' salary decisions on the pensions of hon. Members who have left the House and of widows. That is an essential part of the judgment that we have to make. I am grateful to him for his remarks about the helpfulness of the staff in the Fees Office. I know that I speak for the whole House when I endorse that and that they will be grateful for it.

The time has come to decide these matters. The House has an opportunity to put the debates behind us. I recommend the motions to the House.

Amendment proposed to the Question, in line 8, leave out `and' and insert— `, except that any income received by a Member, and not immediately derived from his or her activities and employment as a Member of Parliament (a Member's extra-parliamentary income) shall

  1. (i) in respect of service in 1988 or any subsequent year, but not after the next general election, be deducted from the difference between the rate specified in paragraph (a) herein and the rate payable in 1987, and
  2. (ii) in respect of services in any year subsequent to the next general election be deducted from the rate specified in paragraph (a) herein;
  1. (b) that for purposes of computation and ratification each Member's annual total extra-parliamentary income shall be required to be recorded in the Register of Members' Interests, but shall not be made available to the public;
  2. (c) for the purposes of definition of extra-parliamentary income, fees which are received and ire wholly and exclusively attributable to a Member's activities as a Member (such as articles and public, radio or television appearances) shall not be included.'.—[Mr. Simon Hughes.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 65, Noes 275.

Division No. 24] [11.51 pm
Allen, Graham Macdonald, Calum
Ashdown, Paddy McFall, John
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) McKay, Allen (Penistone)
Battle, John McKelvey, William
Blunkett, David Mahon, Mrs Alice
Boyes, Roland Marek, Dr John
Bradley, Keith Maxton, John
Callagnan, Jim Meale, Alan
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Clay, Bob Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Moonie, Dr Lewis
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Morley, Elliott
Corbyn, Jeremy Mullin, Chris
Cryer, Bob Nellist, Dave
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l) Pike, Peter
Duffy, A. E. P. Primarolo, Ms Dawn
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray) Salmond, Alex
Fatchett, Derek Sedgemore, Brian
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Short, Clare
Flannery, Martin Skinner, Dennis
Flynn, Paul Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S) Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Fyfe, Mrs Maria Snape, Peter
Galloway, George Steinberg, Gerald
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) Vaz, Keith
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Wall, Pat
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Wareing, Robert N.
Hoyle, Doug Wigley, Dafydd
Ingram, Adam Wilson, Brian
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W) Wise, Mrs Audrey
Kilfedder, James
Lewis, Terry Tellers for the Ayes:
Livsey, Richard Mr. Simon Hughes and
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Mr. Matthew Taylor.
McAllion, John
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Cartwright, John
Amess, David Cash, William
Arbuthnot, James Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs Lynda
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Chapman, Sydney
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Chope, Christopher
Ashby, David Churchill, Mr
Aspinwall, Jack Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n)
Atkins, Robert Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Atkinson, David Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Baldry, Tony Cope, John
Batiste, Spencer Couchman, James
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Cran, James
Bendall, Vivian Currie, Mrs Edwina
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Curry, David
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Dalyell, Tam
Bermingham, Gerald Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)
Blair, Tony Davis, David (Boothferry)
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Day, Stephen
Boscawen, Hon Robert Devlin, Tim
Boswell, Tim Dewar, Donald
Bottomley, Peter Dickens, Geoffrey
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Dicks, Terry
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Dorrell, Stephen
Bowis, John Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Dover, Den
Bright, Graham Dunn, Bob
Brooke, Hon Peter Dykes, Hugh
Browne, John (Winchester) Eggar, Tim
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Emery, Sir Peter
Buck, Sir Antony Fallon, Michael
Burt, Alistair Favell, Tony
Butcher, John Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey
Butler, Chris Fookes, Miss Janet
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g) Forman, Nigel
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Carrington, Matthew Forth, Eric
Fowler, Rt Hon Norman Maclennan, Robert
Freeman, Roger McLoughlin, Patrick
French, Douglas Madel, David
Fry, Peter Major, Rt Hon John
Gale, Roger Malins, Humfrey
Garel-Jones, Tristan Mans, Keith
Gill, Christopher Maples, John
Glyn, Dr Alan Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Golding, Mrs Llin Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Goodhart, Sir Philip Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Maude, Hon Francis
Gow, Ian Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Gower, Sir Raymond Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW) Mellor, David
Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E') Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Grist, Ian Mills, Iain
Ground, Patrick Miscampbell, Norman
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom) Mitchell, David (Hants NW)
Hanley, Jeremy Moate, Roger
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Moore, Rt Hon John
Harris, David Morris, Rt Hon A (W'shawe)
Haselhurst, Alan Morris, Rt Hon J (Aberavon)
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Morris, M (N'hampton S)
Hayes, Jerry Morrison, Hon P (Chester)
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney Moss, Malcolm
Hayward, Robert Moynihan, Hon C.
Heath, Rt Hon Edward Neale, Gerrard
Heathcoat-Amory, David Neubert, Michael
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE) Newton, Tony
Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE) Nicholls, Patrick
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Hind, Kenneth Nicholson, Miss E. (Devon W)
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Holt, Richard Onslow, Cranley
Home Robertson, John Paice, James
Howard, Michael Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A) Patnick, Irvine
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd) Patten, Chris (Bath)
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford) Patten, John (Oxford W)
Howells, Geraint Pawsey, James
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Porter, David (Waveney)
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Portillo, Michael
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Raffan, Keith
Irvine, Michael Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Jack, Michael Rathbone, Tim
Jackson, Robert Redwood, John
Janman, Timothy Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Jessel, Toby Renton, Tim
John, Brynmor Rhodes James, Robert
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Johnston, Sir Russell Riddick, Graham
Kennedy, Charles Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Key, Robert Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield) Robertson, George
Kirkhope, Timothy Roe, Mrs Marion
Kirkwood, Archy Rossi, Sir Hugh
Knapman, Roger Rowe, Andrew
Knight, Greg (Derby North) Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Knowles, Michael Ryder, Richard
Knox, David Sackville, Hon Tom
Lambie, David Sainsbury, Hon Tim
Lamont, Rt Hon Norman Scott, Nicholas
Lang, Ian Shaw, David (Dover)
Latham, Michael Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Lawrence, Ivan Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Leadbitter, Ted Shersby, Michael
Lee, John (Pendle) Skeet, Sir Trevor
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)
Lightbown, David Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Lilley, Peter Soames, Hon Nicholas
Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant) Speller, Tony
Luce, Rt Hon Richard Spicer, Jim (Dorset W)
Lyell, Sir Nicholas Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
McCrindle, Robert Squire, Robin
MacGregor, John Steen, Anthony
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire) Stern, Michael
Maclean, David Stevens, Lewis
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood) Waldegrave, Hon William
Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood) Walden, George
Stewart, Ian (Hertfordshire N) Waller, Gary
Stradling Thomas, Sir John Ward, John
Sumberg, David Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Summerson, Hugo Watts, John
Taylor, Ian (Esher) Wells, Bowen
Taylor, John M (Solihull) Wheeler, John
Temple-Morris, Peter Whitney, Ray
Thompson, D. (Calder Valley) Widdecombe, Miss Ann
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N) Wiggin, Jerry
Thurnham, Peter Winterton, Mrs Ann
Townend, John (Bridlington) Winterton, Nicholas
Tracey, Richard Wolfson, Mark
Tredinnick, David Wood, Timothy
Trippier, David
Twinn, Dr Ian Tellers for the Noes:
Viggers, Peter Mr. Tony Durant and
Waddington, Rt Hon David Mr. Peter Lloyd.
Wakeham, Rt Hon John

Question accordingly negatived.

Main Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That, in the opinion of this House, the following provision should be made with respect to the salaries of Members of this House— (a) the salaries of Members not falling within paragraph (b) shall, in respect of service in 1988 or any subsequent year, be at a yearly rate equal to 89 per That, in the opinion of this House— (a) the allowance payable to a Member of this House in respect of the aggregate expenses incurred by him for his Parliamentary duties—

  1. (i) as general office expenses (including expenses incurred in the purchase of office equipment),
  2. (ii) on secretarial assistance, and
  3. (iii) on research assistance for work undertaken in the proper performance of such duties,
should be known as the office costs allowance:
  1. (b) the limit on the office costs allowance should be determined as follows —
    1. (i) for the year ending with 31 st March 1988, the limit should be £20,140,
    2. (ii) for the year ending with 31 st March 1989, the limit should be the greater of the following amounts, namely the amount obtained by increasing £19,500 by the relevant percentage and £20,140,
    3. (iii) for any subsequent year, the limit should be the amount obtained by increasing the limit applicable to the immediately preceding year by the relevant percentage (so that, if the relevant percentage for any year is nil, the limit remains the same for that year);
  2. (c) the arrangements approved by Mr. Speaker pursuant to paragraph (b) of the second Resolution of 19th July 1983 (payments by Fees Office in respect of secretarial and research assistance) should include arrangements for securing that, before any salary or fee is paid to any person in respect of his employment by the Member concerned, the Member—
    1. (i) in the case of a person by law entitled to receive a written statement of the main terms and conditions of that employment, has furnished the Fees Office with a copy of any such statement and has furnished the Fees Office and that person with a statement containing a job description relating to that employment, or
    2. (ii) in the case of any other person, has furnished the Fees Office and that person with a statement containing a job description relating to that employment and has either included in that statement details of that person's pay and hours of work or furnished the Fees Office with a copy of a written contract relating to that employment,
together with arrangements for securing that, before any other payment is made in respect of services provided by any person, the Member concerned has furnished the Fees Office with invoices specifying the services in question; (d) the limit applicable to the sums referred to in paragraph (b) of the third Resolution of 5th June 1981 (pension contributions for Members' secretaries and research assistants) should, for the year ending with 31st March 1988 and any subsequent year, be equal to—
  1. (i) 10 per cent, of the salary, or (as the case may be) of the aggregate amount of the salaries, payable for that year to the person or persons in respect of whom any such sums are paid, or
  2. (ii) 10 per cent, of the amount which is the limit for that year on the office costs allowance,
whichever is less. cent, of the rate which on 1st January in that year represents the maximum point on the main national pay scale for Grade 6 officers in the Home Civil Service, or if that scale ceases to exist on the scale which for the time being replaces it (disregarding, in either case, any discretionary pay point on that scale); and (b) the salaries of Officers of this House and Members receiving a salary under the Ministerial and other Salaries Act 1975 or a pension under section 26 of the Parliamentary and other Pensions Act 1972 shall, in respect of service in 1988 or any subsequent year, be at a yearly rate equal to 67 per cent, of the rate which on 1st January in that year represents the maximum point referred to in paragraph (a).

Mr. Nellist

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. As I think the Serjeant at Arms will accept, I along with other Labour Members shouted "No" quite clearly in order to force a Division on the main Question.

Mr. Speaker

I was collecting the voices and I did not hear a sustained "No". I suggest that the hon. Gentleman maintains his objection on motion No. 5, which will cover the same point.