§ Mr. Churchill
asked the Secretary of State for Defence (1) in the light of his reply to the hon. Member for Stretford, Official Report, 8th November, column 471, in which he stated that the Armed Forces Pay Review Body was independent and free to make such recommendations as it saw fit, if he will make a statement on paragraph 2 of the AFPRB Sixth Report, in which the Review Body stated it was free only to recommend whether the pay of members of the Armed Forces should be increased by the maximum amount allowed by the pay limits or by some lesser amount;
(2) if, pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for Stretford, Official Report, 8th November, column 471, the Armed Forces Pay Review Body will now have complete freedom to recommend specific levels of pay for Her Majesty's Armed Forces, reflecting comparability with the civil sector, leaving to the Government of the day to decide whether it is possible 84W to implement the Review Body's recommendations all at once.
§ Mr. Fred Mulley
The hon. Member has not given the complete quotation from the Armed Forces Pay Review Body. In paragraph 2 of its Sixth Report 1977 (Cmnd. 6801) the Review Body statedThe pay limits are again maxima within which the amount of an increase has to be settled: the interpretation of the policy in other respects is unchanged.
In particular, the White Paper says thatthe Government will ensure strict observance of the new policy throughout the public sectorand thatthe arrangements and sanctions in Cmnd. 6151 to secure compliance in both public and private sectors will continue to apply. Once again, therefore, effectively we are free only to recommend whether the pay of members of the armed forces should be increased by the maximum amount allowed by the pay limits, or by some lesser amounts.
This statement does not reflect any limitation on the independence of the Review Body or on its freedom to make recommendations as it thinks fit. It does, however, reflect the fact that its recommendations were made, as always, in the light of all the evidence before it and that this included the national interest which was the basis of the Government's pay policy. It follows that the form and content of the next AFPRB report remain entirely matters for the Review Body in the light of all the relevant evidence presented to it and I cannot add anything to my reply to the hon. Member on 8th November.