HC Deb 27 April 1961 vol 639 cc608-10
19 and 20. Mrs. Castle

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies (1) how many women medical officers are employed by the Hong Kong Government; how many of them are receiving equal pay; and what are the grounds on which some women medical officers receive equal pay and others do not;

(2) why the Government of Hong Kong has not carried out the recommendations of the Salaries Commission with regard to the remuneration of women medical officers in the Government service.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Hugh Fraser)

Women medical officers with the requisite experience and serving on the pensionable establishment or on agreement, who can be regarded as making their careers in Government service, receive equal pay. At present, fifteen officers out of seventy-two employed by the Hong Kong Government so qualify.

This is as far as the Governor considers it possible to go in giving effect to the recommendations in the Salaries Commission's Report.

Mrs. Castle

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that both he and his right hon. Friend have been misled by the Governor of Hong Kong on this matter; that in fact what the Governor is doing is refusing to implement the recommendations of the Salaries Commission, which said that married status should not be taken into account in assessing rates of pay; that these women medical officers are being treated differently, depending on whether they are single or married; that married women are not allowed by the Government of Hong Kong to have permanent employment in Government service, and that therefore it is only single women who have served a probationary period of four years who are getting equal pay, although the Salaries Commission insisted that they should all have—[HON. MEMBERS: "Speech."] I am sorry, but I put down two Questions—

Mr. Speaker

However many Questions an hon. Member may put down, it is desirable that supplementary questions should not be long.

Mrs. Castle

I was just coming to the end, but it is difficult when one is raising a complicated matter and when two separate issues are answered together. Are the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friend aware that they have been misled by the Governor of Hong Kong, who is not carrying out the recommendations of the Salaries Commission, and will they therefore look at this matter again to see that women medical officers get equal pay?

Mr. Fraser

No, Sir. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] We cannot look at this matter again because it is evident, in the light of what the hon. Lady has said, that we have not been misled. The Governor is doing what he can to implement the Report and it is a perfectly well established custom in Hong Kong that people who are married cannot be regarded as career officers. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] There was a considerable increase in pay in 1959.

Mrs. White

Surely the hon. Gentleman is aware that Hong Kong is notorious for its discrimination against professional women—[Laughter.]—perhaps I should say women in certain professions. Will not the hon. Gentleman see that at least the Government set a good example in the matter?

Mr. Fraser

I thank the hon. Lady. The pay for those of professional status will be re-examined in the current year.

Mrs. Castle

On a point of order. In view of the totally unsatisfactory nature of that reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.

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