HC Deb 07 July 1953 vol 517 cc1043-5
35 Mr. Lewis

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if he has considered a letter from the hon. Member for West Ham, North; and whether he will make a statement in connection with the points contained in this letter regarding the salaries and expenses of Members of Parliament;

(2) if he is aware of the concern felt by Members of Parliament at the way in which their Parliamentary allowance has been reduced by virtue of the continuing rise in the cost of living, the rise in the cost of articles and services that they have, of necessity, to provide out of this allowance; and whether he will agree to meet a deputation of Members to discuss these matters;

(3) if he is aware that Members of Parliament are the only section of the population that have not had any increase in their salaries since 1946; that no other section of the State servants have to meet the cost of their expenses of postage, travel, stationery, living away from home, from their salaries; and what is the reason for this discrepancy in treatment as between Members of Parliament and other civil servants.

Mr. R. A. Butler

I am aware of the concern felt by the hon. Member and others about the present salaries of hon. Members, but I regret that I am not at present in a position to make a statement.

Mr. Lewis

May I thank the right hon. Gentleman for what I know to be a sympathetic understanding of the position, and can I ask him sympathetically to consider this matter on the merits of the case and not from what some people outside may say about anything affecting the situation?

Mr. Butler

Thanks to much of the material sent to me by the hon. Member himself and the representations which I have had from the other side of the House, as has my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, there is little danger that this subject will be considered without fully realising the merits of the case, including the situation in other legislatures.

Mr. Marlowe

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the hon. Gentleman who proposed this Question is asking for an increase in a rate which was fixed in 1946 and is strongly opposing any increase in salaries for High Court Judges which were fixed in 1831?

Mr. Shinwell

Will the right hon. Gentleman not allow himself to be deterred from doing what is reasonable because of any risk of unpopularity and, if there is any to be incurred, surely we should be prepared to take that risk in order to do what is reasonable?

Mr. Butler

I think the right hon. Gentleman may be well satisfied that that is the general spirit animating the approach of Her Majesty's Government to this and every subject.

Mr. Gower

Is my right hon. Friend aware that if the salaries of Members of this House are increased commensurate with the American salaries no one will be available for high positions in industry?

Mr. Lewis

Is the Chancellor aware that judges do not have to meet the cost of their postage, stationery, living away from home, travelling expenses and other expenses which a Member of Parliament does have to meet?

Mr. Butler

The strange part is that most people who approach me have the same thought, that their own cases are worse than anybody else's.