HC Deb 05 July 1956 vol 555 cc1542-3
46. Mr. Gresham Cooke

asked the Prime Minister if he is giving consideration to the relationship between the salaries of Ministers in charge of Departments and those of permanent secretaries; and if he will make a statement.

The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. R. A. Butler)

I have been asked to reply.

My right hon. Friend is aware of the position. But, as he has already said, Her Majesty's Government do not consider the present an appropriate time for increasing the salaries of Ministers.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Is my right hon. Friend aware that permanent secretaries are now getting £1,000 a year more than Ministers? Is that right constitutionally, and is it good managerial practice that No. 2 should get £1,000 more than the boss?

Mr. Butler

As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister pointed out, Ministers are expected to set an example. We are at present in a position when an example is necessary, and I hope it will be followed by all sections of the population.

Mr. Gaitskell

Would the right hon. Gentleman care to say when an example will not be necessary?

Mr. Butler

If the right hon. Member will turn his mind back, he will realise that, in the period shortly after his Administration, steps were taken by the Government which resulted in stabilising the cost of living over the period from 1953 to 1954, when I was Chancellor of the Exchequer. [Laughter.] This is not a laughing matter. I am perfectly confident that, if we proceed with policies designed to the same end, we shall be equally successful in this Government.

Mr. Shinwell

The right hon. Gentleman talks about setting an example. Why did he and his colleagues not think of that when last year substantial increases of salaries were given to permanent Under-Secretaries?

Mr. Butler

That was in response to an award, and I think it was rightly done.

Mr. Lewis

In view of the fact that the Government agreed to an award decided upon by a Select Committee for M.P.s, why is there the differentiation in treatment between those getting £20 a week more and having none of the expenses to meet such as Members of Parliament have to meet? Why single them out?

Mr. Butler

This is a matter concerning Ministers, not Members of Parliament. No one is in doubt about the difficulties of Junior Ministers, nor of Members of Parliament, but there is the question of the time to choose to do these things. The Government are quite firmly of the opinion that this is not the right time.