HC Deb 17 May 1956 vol 552 cc2192-3
23. Mr. Lewis

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer on what date the salaries of Members of Parliament were increased to £1,000 per annum; what was the depreciation of the purchasing value of £1 from 1945 to that date; and what has been the further depreciation of the purchasing value of the £ sterling since the salary was increased to £1,000 per annum.

Mr. H. Brooke

The salaries of Members were increased to £1,000 per annum with effect from 1st April, 1946. Taking the purchasing value of £1 as 20s. in 1945, the figures for 1946 and March, 1956, are 19s. 5d. and 12s. 6d. respectively.

Mr. Lewis

Is the Minister aware that many junior Ministers are very dissatisfied with the present position? Is he further aware that many Members of Parliament are dissatisfied with the position, particularly hon. Members opposite, and that it has been suggested that the Tory Central Office is putting some of them on to make up their incomes as guinea pig directors? Can we have an assurance that the Government also deprecate that and that the Treasury is not in any way assisting that?

Mr. Brooke

I do not see anything in this Question either about guinea pigs or junior Ministers. The hon. Member is entitled to his own views in this matter, but other people hold the view that this is a time when Parliament should set an example of restraint.

Mr. Stokes

That is all very well, but, leaving aside guinea pigs and their kith and kin, does not the Financial Secretary realise that hon. Members of this House are worse paid than any other hon. Members in the whole of the British Commonwealth? How does he justify keeping people on this ridiculous rate of pay, which no equally responsible person in civil life would endure for a single moment? Is it not really obnoxious just because the right hon. Gentleman is backed up by a lot of rich men on the other side of the House?

Mr. Brooke

When I look in front of me I can see some rich men also.

Mr. P. Bell

Before my right hon. Friend commits himself to an irrevocable reply, will he carefully consult the election addresses of hon. Members on both sides of the House on this important and burning topic?

Mr. Shinwell

Would the right hon. Gentleman treat this matter seriously? Will he make representations to his right hon. Friend indicating that there is considerable dissatisfaction on this side of the House, and to some extent on the other side of the House, about the salaries paid to hon. Members? Will he have taken into account the depreciation in the value of the £? Will he also indicate to his right hon. Friend that there are many of us who are not afraid to go to our constituents, or anywhere in the country, to make a plea on behalf of hon. Members who, having regard to their position, are entitled to much higher salaries?

Mr. Brooke

I hope nobody will imagine that I treat this matter lightly. I was a Member of a Select Committee which examined the question some years ago, and so I am fully seized of it. I shall certainly, as the right hon. Gentleman suggests, draw the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to what has been said on both sides of the House today.