HC Deb 07 March 1944 vol 397 cc1864-9
39. Mr. Turton

asked the Secretary of State for War what was the rate of civilian wage that was taken in August, 1942, in making the comparison in Cmd. 6385 between Army pay and civilian wages; and whether he has obtained any comparative figure of current civilian wages.

Sir J. Griģģ

I think my hon. Friend will find that no comparison such as is suggested in the first part of his Question was, in fact, made. As to the second part of his Question, figures of civilian wages are published from time to time in the Ministry of Labour Gazette but in the Government's view no valid comparison can be made between such wages and the emoluments of soldiers.

48. Mr. Kendall

asked the Prime Minister if he is yet in a position to implement the promised investigation into Army pay and allowances; what will be the constitution of the group to be invited to discuss the problem; and have any invitations yet been extended.

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. I have no new statement to make. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House suggested last week that the same kind of informal discussion which took place in 1942 might be repeated. Arrangements to give effect to this undertaking, subject to the reservation set forth by my right hon. Friend, will be made through the usual channels.

Mr. W. J. Brown

In addition to the orthodox representatives of parties who will take part in these conversations, will my hon. Friend the Member for Grantham (Mr. Kendall) be called in on behalf of the Independants?

The Prime Minister

I think I had better leave the arrangements to be made through the usual channels.

Commander Sir Archibald Southby

Can my right hon. Friend assure the House that the question of an increase in basic pay will also be considered by this informal committee?

The Prime Minister

My hon. and gallant Friend must study carefully the record in the OFFICIAL REPORT of what my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said.

Major C. S. Taylor

Can my right hon. Friend say whether the discussions will embrace all three Services?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Gallacher

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether there is any means whereby I can find myself sailing through the usual channels?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman is in a unique position. I can only suggest recourse through the usual channels.

Mr. Brown

Are we to take it that all that happened last Thursday has had no effect on the mind of the Leader of the House, the Prime Minister and the Cabinet and that we are still restricted to the narrow terms of what the Leader of the House said on that occasion?

The Prime Minister

I have already given an answer to the Question that was asked and I am not prepared to submit myself to interrogation as to my mental state.

Mr. Greenwood

Is it not the case that the Leader of the House, while making no commitment, accepted the view of the House that basic pay should be considered?

The Prime Minister

My right hon. Friend's remarks are on record but I certainly do not think it at all likely that a fundamental change will be made in basic rates of pay.

Mr. Greenwood

I do not ask for any commitment. All I am asking is whether it is the intention of the Government to permit those who speak for bodies or individuals to raise their points about basic pay. It would be absurd to ask for any commitment but my right hon. Friend has said that these matters would not be ruled out from consultation.

The Prime Minister

Nothing that I have ever heard of prevents any Member of Parliament discussing any topic in an interview which is amicably arranged.

Mr. Shinwell

If there is a general consensus of opinion that the question of basic pay should be considered by the Government may we understand that it will not be ignored?

The Prime Minister

All kinds of matters are constantly being considered by the Government. They have a great responsibility. There are very large issues which may have to be considered on such subjects.

59. Miss Ward

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether in view of the fact that the continual pressure that has had to be exercised by the House of Commons in order to obtain financial concessions sions for the Services and their families has created a widespread feeling that their interests from a financial point of view are less well protected than those in civilian life, he will give an assurance that in future, when increases of wages and bonuses are awarded to civil servants or the industrial community to meet increases in the cost of living, an automatic equivalent increase will accrue to members of the Services.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir John Anderson)

No, Sir. I cannot accept the premises on which the hon. Lady's Question is based. As has been pointed out on many occasions, there are many factors which tend to vitiate any comparison between civilian salaries or wages and the remuneration of members of the Services; and, in particular, the fact that so much is provided for members of the Services in kind would rule out any plan for an automatic equivalent increase as suggested in the last part of the Question.

Miss Ward

Is it not a fact that the cost of living affects the dependants of the Servicemen in identically the same way as the civilian population? Cannot this question be considered by the committee which will be investigating the pay of the Services?

Sir J. Anderson

It is the sort of question that might be raised.

68 Vice-Admiral Taylor

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty (1) whether he is aware that the net marriage allowance for a wife paid to commanders and lieutenant-commanders is less than that paid to an able seaman; and if he will take steps to remedy the position of these officers;

(2) the total cost of officers' marriage allowance; what amount of this cost is borne by the officers themselves due to having their basic rate of pay reduced by 2s. a day in the case of lieutenant-commanders and above and up to 1s. 8d. a day in the case of commissioned warrant officers according to their seniority;

(3) whether he is aware that in the case of a lieutenant with a wife and two children, under the revised marriage allowance, when he is promoted to lieutenant-commander he loses 3s. net a day, 1s. on account of the children's allowance and 2s. a day due to his basic rate of pay being reduced by that amount as his contribution towards paying for the marriage allowance scheme; and if he will take steps to have this hardship remedied.

The Financial Secretary to the Admiralty (Mr. J. P. L. Thomas)

As the answer is a long one, I will, if my hon. and gallant Friend agrees, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Vice-Admiral Taylor

Is my hon. Friend aware that, under the revised rate, all officers of the ranks of lieutenant-commander and up to and including captain, receive in marriage allowance a net 4s. a week less than an able seaman; and does he consider that that state of affairs should continue?

Mr. Thomas

I cannot accept the accuracy of my hon. and gallant Friend's question, but perhaps he will await my reply, which is very full and will be available to him as soon as Question Time is over.

Vice-Admiral Taylor

Will not my hon. Friend accept the statement that, owing to the marriage allowance scheme, these officers have had their pay cut by 25. a day, and that, therefore, my statement is correct?

Mr. Thomas

I am afraid that I must again ask my hon. and gallant Friend to await my reply. I deal with that very point in it.

Mr. Gallacher

Can we take it for granted that the hon. Gentleman will not inform the hon. and gallant Member that there is a danger of inflation if these allowances are increased?

Following is the answer:

To make the position clear, I must refer to some earlier history. Rates of pay of officers of the three Services were fixed in 1919. The Army and Air Force received marriage allowance; the naval officer did not, but the naval rates were fixed at a somewhat higher level than would have been possible if marriage allowance had been granted. In other words, naval pay contained an element of marriage allowance prior to the introduction of marriage allowance in 1938. Accordingly, His Majesty's Government in 1938 publicly announced that it was necessary to substract the element of marriage allowance already included in the pay of captains, commanders and lieut.-commanders. This is the 2s. a day sometimes erroneously referred to as a reduction in pay. Marriage allowance for the wife of a commander or lieut.-commander is either 4s. 6d. or 4s. a day, free of Income Tax. I am therefore, unable to accept the suggestion that their marriage allowance is worth less than that paid to an able seaman, which is 2is. 6d. a week. For security reasons I am unable to state the total cost of officers marriage allowance, but the so-called "reduction" in pay is only sufficient to pay about one-tenth of it.

With regard to the alleged reduction suffered by a lieutenant on promotion to lieut.-commander, the sole difference is that, under the revised marriage allowance scheme, the rate for the first child is 3s. a day in the case of lieutenants and below, and 2S. a day in the case of lieut.-commanders and upwards. This differentiation is the result of a decision taken by the Government in September, 1942, when with the avowed object of improving the pay of junior married officers of the Armed Forces, the rate for the first child was raised from 2s. to 3s. for officers up to and including the rank of captain in the Army and equivalent rank in the other Services. It must be borne in mind that a lieutenant on promotion to lieut.-commander receives an increase in full pay of not less than 6s. 2d. a day.