§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR DOMINION AFFAIRS (VISCOUNT ADDISON)
My Lords, this Bill, as your Lordships are aware, arose out of the Report of a Select Committee of the House of Commons, which dealt with salaries of Members and many other matters. The proposals ultimately adopted by that House were somewhat different in some respects from the recommendations of the Select Committee, in that it was recommended there should be a certain sum of money, £500 a year, which was to be accounted for as free of Income Tax. We felt that that would create invidious distinctions, and it was decided that that suggestion should not be adopted and that the Members in that respect will be just like other taxpayers so far as the Income Tax is concerned—which I am sure is perfectly right.
It is proposed in this Bill that certain Ministers should have augmentations of their salaries. The Postmaster-General, notwithstanding the scope and size of the great organization which we shall be discussing later on to-day, is in charge of perhaps the biggest business in this country, and is to have his salary raised to £5,000 a year like other senior Ministers. The salary of the Minister of Pensions will be raised from £2,000 to £3,000. Then the Assistant Postmaster-General and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Pensions for various reasons, mostly rather out of date, were receiving a salary of £1,200 a year as against that of other Parliamentary Secretaries of £1,500. This Bill proposes 760 to bring their salaries up to the same level as that of other Parliamentary Secretaries.
Another proposal in the Bill, which I hope will meet with your Lordships' approval, is that the salaries of certain junior Ministers in this House who perform very important duties, as Whips, or representatives of Departments—who in my view, and I think in the view of everybody, have hitherto been quite inadequately paid, three with salaries of £500, and two others at £700 per annum—should receive the same increment of salary as is paid to Members of Parliament generally. This will bring the salary of the Captain of the Gentlemen at Arms and the Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard to £1,200, and of the three Lords in Waiting up to £1,000 a year, bringing these last to the same level as Members of Parliament in the House of Commons.
With regard to Members of the House of Commons, there is an additional payment which brings their salary up to £1,000 a year, and, as I have explained already, they are subject to the same pains and penalties as the rest of us so far as the Income Tax authorities are concerned. There are besides minor provisions in the Bill which adjust these payments, such as that of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and others, to make them accord with existing Statutes. I think I have given your Lordships a bird's-eye view, shall I say, of the proposals which were adopted practically unanimously by the House of Commons and approved by all Parties. I sincerely hope your Lordships will be willing to give your approval to it, and if you do, perhaps I might say that it would be very convenient if the Bill could be passed through its remaining stages to-day, so that it may become law and effective as soon as possible.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Viscount Addison.)
§ 2.35 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
My Lords, I would like to offer an observation or two on Clause 2 of this Bill, which deals particularly with the junior Ministers in this House. I was going to say that this remedies a very long-standing grievance, but I do not think we can call it a grievance, because the persons who have suffered under it have been too public-spirited ever to go on strike. But it certainly does remedy an injustice which I believe the whole House will want to see 761 remedied. There are a number of Departments of State which cannot be directly represented in this House. They are represented by noble Lords who occupy honourable positions at Court, such as the Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard and the Lords in Waiting. Though they are not Ministers they are virtually additional Under-Secretaries in a number of different Departments, each of them having to undertake the functions of several Departments. In this House, where criticism is extremely well-informed, where there are many experts on every subject, they are constantly and quite rightly submitted to both intelligent interrogation and informed criticism. The only way in which they can deal effectively with questions not only on matters arising on Bills but on points of administration in the Department is to make themselves completely familiar whit the work of the Department just as if they were Under-Secretaries and come here ready to present their case.
While I cannot pretend that I and others have been completely satisfied with the answers which we have got from noble Lords in that position, there is not a member of your Lordships' House who will not agree that they have been most assiduous in the discharge of their functions and have given an enormous amount of time and trouble to the work inside the Departments. I am all in favour of paying the trade union rate where there is a proper responsibility for which to pay it, and I think this Bill is long overdue. I am extremely glad that it has been introduced, and I feel sure that your Lordships will wish to expedite it in any way you can, so that when they go away for a happy Whitsuntide holiday—at Blackpool, is it?
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
That is more expensive still, so it is even more important that they should have a slightly higher emolument.
§ 2.38 p.m.
THE MARQUESS OF READING
My Lords, I should just like to say one word in support of this measure which we are very glad to approve. The increases of salaries, of course, attach to these offices whoever may be the actual holder of them at the moment. As far as we personally are concerned, I think: it is a matter 762 of satisfaction to all of us that some of them anyhow are held by members of this House with whom we are familiar, and we desire to congratulate those noble and extremely versatile Lords who are likely to benefit by the provisions of this Bill, and to hope that as they continue to discharge some of the functions of members of a repertory company, as they do in this House, they will be at least solaced in learning their parts the knowledge that their services have been more adequately remunerated.
§ 2.40 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT ADDISON
My Lords, I am extremely grateful to noble Lords for what they have said. Particularly am I grateful to the noble Viscount opposite for his expression of appreciation concerning my colleagues.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a; Committee negatived.
§ Then, Standing Order No. XXXIX having been suspended, Bill read 3a, and passed.
§ 2.42 p.m.