HC Deb 31 May 1954 vol 528 cc895-7
45. Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

asked the Minister of Health what complaints he has received from registrars of births, deaths and marriages about the lack of machinery for joint negotiation of salaries and conditions of service; and what action he is taking.

46. Mr. E. Johnson

asked the Minister of Health what joint negotiating machinery is available for registration officers of births, deaths and marriages, for the regulation of salaries and service conditions; and to what tribunal these officers can appeal in order to secure an adjustment of service conditions.

47. Mr. K. Robinson

asked the Minister of Health why he is unwilling to receive a deputation from the National Association of Registration Officers who wish to discuss with him the status of registrars of births and deaths.

48. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Minister of Health to make a statement on the terms of employment of registration officers of births, deaths and marriages; and what arrangements exist for discussion in respect of their service conditions.

The Minister of Health (Mr. Iain Macleod)

Registration officers are statutory officers whose duties and conditions of service are laid down in the Registration Acts and Regulations and in local schemes made with my approval by the councils of counties and county boroughs. They are not employees of the local authorities. In the execution of their statutory duties they are responsible to the Registrar-General. Their salary scales are, by agreement, negotiated through the machinery of the National Joint Council for Local Authorities' Administrative, Professional, Technical and Clerical Services on which registration officers are represented through the National and Local Government Officers' Association. The scales are related to those paid from time to time to certain grades of local government officers.

In three of the 174 areas the full negotiated salaries are not being paid at present. On such matters as the hours in the working week, leave and sick leave, registration officers are subject in general to the same conditions as the local government officers.

I am prepared to meet a deputation from the National Association of Registration Officers, but I should add that at present no such request is before me.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

While I welcome the assurance which the Minister has given that he will receive a deputation, if that is requested, might I ask him to bear in mind that so far the position has been very anomalous, and that the registrars should be given, as quickly as possible, the same rights of negotiation as are enjoyed by other public servants?

Mr. Macleod

I will bear that in mind.

Mr. Sorensen

Will the Minister explain why he says that these officers are responsible to the Registrar General when he himself is to receive a deputation, which, incidentally, will be very welcome? Will he say to whom the Registrar General is responsible?

Mr. Macleod

I answer to this House for matters which come within the purview of the Registrar General, and, therefore, if the registrars want a deputation to be received at Ministerial level, it will come to me.

Mr. Assheton

Can my right hon. Friend tell us who are the legal employers of these persons? That is a question which has been put to me.

Mr. Macleod

They are statutory officers employed under the various Acts. They are not civil servants and they are not employees, as such, of local authorities. As I understand the complaints which they make, it is from that that the difficulties arise. Perhaps it is a matter which I can discuss with them when they come to see me.

Mr. Gibson

In the event of disagreement between these people and their employer, whoever he is, with whom do they go into arbitration? That is one of the points worrying me.

Mr. Macleod

That is the difficulty. Because of their rather strange position in relation to their employing authorities, they have no right of compulsory arbitration as similarly placed local government officers would have under the Industrial Disputes Order.