HC Deb 12 February 1963 vol 671 cc1111-2
Q2. Mr. A. Roberts

asked the Prime Minister if he will take steps to raise the salaries and status of junior Ministers in Her Majesty's Government.

The Prime Minister

The status of junior Ministers cannot be considered solely in relation to their salaries. If the hon. Member will let me know more precisely what he has in mind, I will consider it.

Mr. Roberts

Is not the Prime Minister prepared to take cognisance of the view held by many of his hon. Friends? Does not he realise that the whole situation should receive serious consideration, without his asking me to submit any further information?

The Prime Minister

The question of Ministerial salaries is dealt with from time to time. I always have this matter under consideration. I thought that the hon. Member might have had some other purpose in mind in regard to the status of junior Ministers—that is to say, their functions. We are always trying to extend the amount of work which can be delegated to Ministers of State and Parliamentary Secretaries.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Is my right. hon Friend aware that it is apparently the practice in some Departments to regard the Parliamentary Secretary as junior to the most senior civil servants? Is not that rather bad for Parliament? Quite apart from their salaries, which no doubt ought to be raised, should it not be made clear that all Ministers are senior to civil servants, and that Parliamentary Secretaries should be deputy Ministers to the chief Minister?

The Prime Minister

Perhaps my hon. Friend will let me know more about this matter, because I did not know that that was the practice today. I know that it was the practice of certain Departments in the old days—especially the Foreign Office, where the Permanent Secretary ranked second to the Secretary of State, and took charge in his absence. That has been changed by the appointment of Ministers of State. I did not know that it operated in any other Departments, although I remember that it did so operate when I belonged to the trade union of Parliamentary Secretaries, and I remembering protesting against it.