HC Deb 02 August 1962 vol 664 cc777-9
18. Dame Irene Ward

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will give an assurance that the proposed National Incomes Commission will not consist only of representatives of employers and the Trades Union Congress, but that professional interests and homemakers will be fully represented on it.

23. Mr. Shinwell

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer when the Incomes Commission will be created; who will be the members; whether they will be employed full time; and to what extent the functions of the Ministry of Labour will be transferred to the Commission.

24. Mr. Wyatt

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he expects to announce the names of the members, and the starting date, of the National Incomes Commission.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

It is our aim that the Commission should start work as soon as possible. But my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposes to hold further consultations with representatives of employers and trade unions before the Commission is appointed, and I have therefore at present no announcement to make about its membership or about terms of service. None of the functions of the Ministry of Labour will be transferred to the Commission.

Dame Irene Ward

Is my right hon. Friend aware that his continual reference to employers and trade unions seems to eliminate all professional people, all the people who are suffering from the incomes policy and the women, who have a better idea of spending money than men? May I have an assurance that when the conversations take place they will not be with the same old employers' faces and the same trade union faces, but that he will bring in some new faces to infuse a good deal more enthusiasm and knowledge into the conversations?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

My hon. Friend must not take me as indicating that we shall necessarily limit the field of selection as she fears, but I am sure Chat she will agree with me, first, that we ought to have consultations with the bodies I have mentioned, and, secondly, that it would be quite wrong in advance of these consultations to give public indication of what we have in mind.

Mr. Shinwell

Does it not appear, particularly with regard to the right hon. Gentleman's answer to Question No. 23, that the Government embarked on this project without haying the faintest conception of what this Commission's functions were to be, or who its members were to be; that they do not know who the members are, when they are to be appointed, or when the Commission itself will begin operations? Surely the right hon. Gentleman is mistaken in thinking that none of the functions of the Ministry of Labour will be transferred to this Commission, when the object of the Commission is to deal with incomes and also the possibility of arbitration.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I am afraid that I must disagree with the right hon. Gentleman on the question of any transfer of functions. The facts are as I have stated On his main point, I am perfectly certain that he would be the very first person to complain if we had announced the appointments without making the consultations to which I have referred, and the fact that we do so, in accordance with long-standing, and, I think, sensible practice, does not support the imputation which the right hon. Gentleman has seen fit to make.

Sir G. Nicholson

In relation to the question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward), may I ask my right hon. Friend whether there is not a rather undesirable practice going on now of thinking that the membership of Royal Commissions and committees of inquiry should contain representatives of all interests involved, when it would be much wiser to recognise that the proper rôle of those people is to give evidence? Would not my right hon. Friend agree that what we want on Commissions are people with judicial training, rather than people with particular axes to grind?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I think there is a great deal in what my hon. Friend says.

Mr. Wyatt

If this Commission ever comes about, which is very unlikely, will the Government refer to it the vexed question of the salaries of Members of Parliament so that it can be taken out of the arena of the House of Commons?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The hon. Gentleman began his question with a hypothesis and I suppose I should put his question in the hypothetical class. I think we had better get ahead first with the appointment of the Commission.

Mr. Grimond

In reference to the last answer but one by the right hon. Gentleman, in which he seemed to agree that this Commission should not represent interests, will he clarify his answer? Is this Commission to represent the employers and the trade unions and other interests, or, if not, who is to represent them?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I think it would be very undesirable for me to give an answer to a question about representation or otherwise until we have had the consultations to which I have referred.

Mr. Jay

Can the Chief Secretary say whether the Government intend to farm out any more of their responsibilities to bodies of this kind during the Summer Recess?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The extent to which we avail ourselves of the vast pool of wisdom which can be found in this country is one on which I feel it unnecessary to comment further at this moment.