HC Deb 28 June 1956 vol 555 cc690-2
46 and 47. Mr. Lewis

asked the Prime Minister (1) whether he will extend the terms of reference of the proposed Select Committee on Procedure so that it will be enabled to consider to what extent the present allowance to Members of Parliament is sufficient to meet the cost of their postage, travel, secretarial, living away from home and other expenses necessarily incurred in carrying out their Parliamentary duties, bearing in mind the Report of the Select Committee on Members' Salaries, the vote of the House on the same, and the rise in the cost of wages, prices, dividends, profits and the costs of services since that date;

(2) whether, as he has decided against granting an increase in the salaries of Members of Parliament, he will consider having a special investigation made into the increase in the costs that have taken place in the last two or three years in the articles and services that a Member has, of necessity, to pay for out of his salary, such as postage, telephones, telegrams, stationery, travel, hotel and living away from home, secretarial, and other expenses, and make a compensating allowance to Members to cover these increased costs.

The Prime Minister

I regret that I could not agree to these proposals. They would not be consistent with the decision against any immediate increase in the salaries and allowances of hon. Members.

Mr. Lewis

Is not the Prime Minister aware that the only people in the country who have to meet the cost of their postaees, their travelling, the cost of living away from their homes and other expenses connected with their jobs are Members of Parliament? As they cannot, for example, be held in any way responsible for, nor can they control, increased postage costs because of the numbers of people who write to them, does the right hon. Gentleman not think that he should look at this subject and, if he cannot accept the suggestion contained in the Question, suggest some other means of dealing with the problem?

The Prime Minister

I did explain the other day why it was not possible to do anything at the present time. The reasons have been given and set out, and I cannot add to them now.

Mr. Shinwell

Can the right hon. Gentleman explain on what constitutional principle he relies in defying a decision taken by this House on a free vote? At the same time, in view of his previous Answer, will he say what he actually means by not being able to do something at the present time? Does he contemplate doing something in the foreseeable future?

The Prime Minister

As to the second part of the right hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, I do not want to be drawn beyond what I have said. As regards the first part, he knows that the decision which I have taken is not inconsistent with decisions that have been taken at other times.

Mr. John Hall

If at any time my right hon. Friend feels inclined to lend a sympathetic ear to these requests, would he at the same time consider the same problems which face the many underpaid and overworked clergy of this country?

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