HC Deb 16 November 1960 vol 630 cc456-8

7.20 p.m.

The Solicitor-General (Sir Jocelyn Simon)

I beg to move, That the Judicial Offices (Salaries) Order, 1960, a draft of which was laid before this House on 1st November, be approved. The object of the Order is to increase the salaries of the metropolitan police magistrates, other than the Chief Magistrate, from £3,800 a year to £4,100 a year.

The Order is made under Section 1 (4) of the Judicial Offices (Salaries and Pensions) Act, 1957. Section 1 (1) of that Act brought the salaries of the Recorders of Liverpool and Manchester, county court judges and the metropolitan police magistrates into line with the increases in the salaries of the higher civil servants which had been made in 1956, as a result of the recommendations of the Royal Commission on the Civil Service—the Priestley Commission.

In order to avoid the need for legislation in future, Section 1 (4) of that Act enabled any further increase in salary to be made by means of an Order made by the Lord Chancellor, with the consent of the Treasury, provided that a draft of the Order had been laid before Parliament and approved by Resolution of each House.

In the early part of 1959, the Coleraine Committee, which makes recommendations on the salaries of the higher civil servants, recommended a number of increases and it fell to me, when I was Financial Secretary to the Treasury, to announce the aceptance of them by the Government on 24th April, 1959. I then said: Corresponding increases will be awarded to certain Judicial Officers in England and Wales and in Scotland whose salaries have of recent years been adjusted with those of the higher Civil Service."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th April, 1959; Vol. 604, c. 69.] The increase which is now proposed is in accordance with that principle.

In other words, the object of the Order is to make the same relative increases in the salaries of the Metropolitan Police magistrates, other than the Chief Magistrate, as have been made in the salaries of the higher civil servants, which have been recommended by the Coleraine Committee this year. The House will remember that the acceptance of those recommendations was announced on 5th August, 1960.

The present Order is limited to the ordinary metropolitan police magistrates and it does not include, as the last Order did, increases in the salaries of the Recorders of Liverpool and Manchester, the county court judges or the chief metropolitan police magistrate. That is because on this occasion the Coleraine Committee limited its recommendations to increases in the pay of higher civil servants whose salaries were in the range of £2,000 to £4,100; and the two recorders now get £5,250, the county court judges and the chief metropolitan magistrate £4,400 a year, so that they lie outside the range of the recommendations which have been accepted. Civil servants in grades in salary ranges corresponding to those higher salaries have not had increases.

The House will see that the Order does not deal, either, with the salaries of other judicial posts which lie within the salary range of the recommendations of the Coleraine Committee, judicial posts such as official referees and masters and registrars and other officers of the Supreme Court. That is because the salaries of such officers which fall within the range of the present increases have already been increased, as they can be, by administrative action. The salaries which it is now sought to increase, on the other hand, fall on the Consolidated Fund and cannot be increased by administrative action, but can be increased by an Order under the 1957 Act.

I ought to tell the House that the estimated annual cost of the increase is £8,400.

7.24 p.m.

Sir Frank Soskice (Newport)

The Solicitor-General, as he always does, has most lucidly put before the House the reason which has impelled him to lay this Order. It seemed to me that the reasons were not only lucidly explained but, in their nature, obviously completely adequate. I do not think that I will be advancing the good purposes of the House by dilating further upon the Order. It is an Order which, I am sure the Solicitor-General will agree, is not of epoch-making impact on the political or legal firmament, but it is very important to the individuals concerned to whom it is a matter of justice. Speaking for myself, I cordially welcome it.

I know that it is not retrospective, as the analogous provisions for the Civil Service are to the date specified in the Coleraine Committee's Report, or, if not specified, envisaged. I gather—and, no doubt, the Solicitor-General would be able to confirm this—that that is because he has no power to make the Order retrospective under the provisions of Section 1 (4) of the 1957 Act. If he has no power, clearly it cannot be done, but otherwise I feel that he would think it appropriate to treat these magistrates on the same basis of generosity as the Civil Service is treated. No doubt he will assure me that that is the reason and I shall remain perfectly content, if regretful, if that is the case.

7.29 p.m.

The Solicitor-General

By leave of the House, may I say that I am very grateful to the right hon. and learned Member for Newport (Sir F. Soskice) for his acceptance and support of the Order. It only remains for me to advert to the point which he raised about retrospection. He is perfectly right in saying that in the case of civil servants who were covered by the Coleraine recommendations salary increases were made retrospective to 1st July in accordance with the recommendations.

Salaries of judicial posts which can be increased by administrative action can be similarly and were increased retrospectively to the same date. As the right hon. and learned Gentleman suggested, there is no power to make retrospective the increases sought under this Order. The main Act on which it depends does not give any such power. Therefore, however much one may regret it, this Order does not seek to give any retrospection in respect of these increases.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That the Judicial Offices (Salaries) Order, 1960, a draft of which was laid before this House on 1st November, be approved.

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