20. Miss Ward
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on his further conversations with the Trades Union Congress on the question of equal pay.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
I was asked by the deputation from the Trades Union Congress who came to see me on 14th July if I would authorise the Whitley Council to begin discussions on the various possible schemes for the gradual introduction of equal pay. A similar request was put to me by the Staff Side on 17th September. As I explained to the deputation from the Staff Side, in view of the present internal financial position, I do not wish to raise false hopes that it will be likely that a start on equal pay can be made in the near future. In these circumstances, I am considering whether it would be desirable to authorise the Whitley Council to discuss possible schemes.
May I ask my right hon. Friend whether, in view of the fact that industrial workers and civil servants, particularly a section of the Civil Service like the factory inspectors, are entitled to go to arbitration, he will consider allowing the women's Civil Service to go to arbitration in order to find out whether it is really just to continue to discriminate against women in the Civil Service?
§ Mr. Butler
I am, of course, aware of the troubles and anxieties of women in 12 the Civil Service, but the situation as I now understand it is that representatives of the Staff Side, who are now in touch with representatives of the Official Side, are satisfied that, at the moment, we are doing our best to see whether it would be honourable, in the interests of both parties, to proceed with these discussions, and, if it is, we shall so proceed.