§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Mr. Speaker
Before I call the Minister to move the Motion for Second Reading, I thought I would consult the convenience of the House. I have been considering how best to deal with today's business. I thought that, the relation between remuneration and pensions being very close, it might be easier if we were to discuss at one and the same time the Second Reading of the Bill and the terms of the Motion following. If that course were adopted, I would not think it right to call any Amendment to the Motion.
§ [PARLIAMENTARY REMUNERATION AND EXPENSES: That, in the opinion of this House, it is expedient that provision should be made as from 16th October 1964 (in lieu of the provision made by the. Resolution of this House of 9th July 1957)—
- (a) for the payment to Members of this House of the following salary, that is to say—
- (i) in the case of all Members other than those described in sub-paragraph (ii) below, a salary at the rate of £3,250 a year;
- (ii) in the case of Members who are officers of this House and Members for the time being in receipt of a salary as holders of Ministerial office within the meaning of section 2 of the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1957 (as amended by or under any enactment including any enactment passed after the date hereof, or of any other salary or any pension payable under the Ministers of the Crown Act 1937 (as so amended), a salary at the rate of pound;1,250 a year,
- subject, in each case, to the deduction from any payment made before the commencement of any Act of the present Session making provision for a contributory pensions scheme for Members of this House (or, in the case of salary not drawn, to the setting aside out of moneys available for making any such
728 payment) of sums at the rate of £150 a year to be applied as directed by that Act;
- (i) in the case of all such Members, attendance at sittings of that House or of Committees of that House. other than sittings for judicial business: and
- (ii) in the case of Members who are Lords of Appeal within the meaning of the Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876 but are not Lords of Appeal in Ordinary or holders of high judicial office within the meaning of that Act, attendance at sittings of that House or of Committees of that House, being sittings for judicial business, and at sittings of Lords of Appeal under section 9 of that Act;
§ Sir Cyril Osborne (Louth)
If it is not your intention, Mr. Speaker, to call the Amendment which I have put down to the Motion, will the House have the opportunity of voting on both issues, both the Motion and the Bill?
§ Mr. Speaker
Certainly, yes. There is no other possibility. I am obliged to the hon. Member. If that is approved, I propose that we adopt that course.
§ 11.6 a.m.
§ The Lord President of the Council (Mr. Herbert W. Bowden)
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
I think it is generally convenient to the House that the proposal you have made to the House, Mr. Speaker, should be accepted; otherwise we should be debating more or less the same thing twice. I propose, therefore, to say a few words as to the content of the following Motion 729 and then to say rather more about the Bill.
The Bill and the Motion arise out of the Report by the Lawrence Committee set up by the present Leader of the Opposition on 19th December, 1963—exactly a year ago tomorrow. The right hon. Gentleman, who was then Prime Minister, made a major departure from all precedent by appointing this Committee composed of distinguished people outside of Parliament, under the chairmanship of Sir Geoffrey Lawrence, to review and make recommendations as to what changes were desirable in the remuneration of Members of Parliament and of Ministers of the Crown. This was the very first occasion when this difficult problem—and those of us who have been in the House twenty years or more know how difficult it is—had been considered by an outside body. Sir Geoffrey Lawrence must be congratulated by Members in all parts of the House on his most admirable and painstaking investigation and for the recommendations he made. He was required to report after the General Election and, in fact, he did do.
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister informed this House on 16th November that the Government accepted the Lawrence Report in principle, and the Bill and the following Motion which are before us today arise out of the Lawrence Committee's recommendations.
Now that this sort of machinery of an outside body has been accepted, I would personally like to express the hope that whatever may happen in the years to come about scales of Members' and Ministerial salaries the House will consider again that this precedent is the right one to follow, and that for all time they shall be taken, in part at least, outside the House.
Let me deal with the following Motion. This is concerned mainly with the remuneration of Members of Parliament other than Ministers. There have been six adjustments in Members' remuneration in the past fifty-four years, and the last adjustment was made seven years ago. The present proposal under Lawrence is that £3,250 per annum is the sum required to enable a Member to carry out his duties with dignity and efficiency, bearing in mind that in a number of cases considerable expense is involved in carrying out these duties, such as extra 730 accommodation, a flat in London, perhaps living for at least four nights a week in London hotels, providing secretarial assistance, and so on. There is no need for me to enumerate further, because everyone knows the sort of expense which has to be met. Of this proposed sum of £3,250, the Lawrence Committee regards at least £1,250 as being the average expense in which a Member is involved.
I note on the Order Paper this morning that the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) has an Amendment seeking to reduce this proposed sum of £3,250 to £2,500. I think the House should be reminded that this figure of £3,250 has two components—£1,250 which is the average amount of expense incurred by Members, and £2,000 which could be regarded as salary. The Lawrence Committee reached this figure only after taking a great deal of evidence. I admit at once that the figure of £1,250 is perhaps high in some cases, but it is nevertheless low in others.
I recall a conversation, not many months ago, with a Member, who shall be nameless, who said. "If I could get a good Parliamentary secretary, I would pay him or her the whole of my Parliamentary salary". One can appreciate that. The man who has a number of outside interests may feel that he would be well served by doing that. One has to bear in mind in addition that there are Members who have never accepted a Parliamentary salary of any sort. There are others, I understand, who, since these recent Lawrence proposals, have said that they are not prepared to accept the whole of it. That is all right. There is no reason why they should. I think that this is a matter for the individual Member. If he feels that his position is such—and one can appreciate this with tax where it is today—that an additional £1,000 or £2,000 makes very little difference to what the Americans call take-home pay, he need not draw the whole of his salary. This idea of not accepting any salary, or part of one's salary, must be a matter for the individual.
But that is not a reason for refusing to accept the Lawrence proposals. I hope—and again this is a personal expression—that those right hon. or hon. Members who wish to receive less than the Lawrence recommendations, should this Resolution be passed by the House, will 731 do so privately and without ostentation, otherwise it will lead to embarrassment for their less fortunate colleagues. It must always be accepted—this is not a party matter; it cuts across the Floor of the House—that there are some Members who have to live on their Parliamentary salary, and have nothing in addition.
Anyone like myself who has served for a number of years as a Trustee of the Members' Fund knows how difficult these personal problems are, and I would not like anyone to attempt to discount them. They are real, and I hope that in considering this figure at which Lawrence has arrived after a great deal of consideration, we will bear in mind precisely what he, as Chairman of the Committee, had in mind, and why he arrived at this figure.
I should like now to deal with one anomaly. There is an oft-repeated idea, though nevertheless a mistaken one, that a Member's salary is tax-free, or partly so. That is not true. It is subject to the same taxation and reliefs as apply to people in other walks of life.
The Motion contains a further proposal with regard to the travel allowance paid to a Member who uses his own car for a journey for which he is entitled to free rail travel. I commented on this in the House about eighteen months ago. I think most Members will agree that the present system of paying a travel allowance to a Member who uses his own car is fantastic, and almost a Heath Robinson system, where one takes into consideration the cubic capacity of the cylinder of the engine, the lowest price of petrol, the nearest mileage from one point to another, and so on. Presumably these cars move along without turning a wheel so there is no tyre wear, and they never use any oil! I am glad that Lawrence has proposed that that should go, and that the current involved system of travel allowances should be replaced by a system of payment at a flat rate of 4½d. a mile, which is the general rate per mile for first-class rail fare to which Members are entitled when they go by train.
An additional proposal is that the daily attendance allowance for Members of another place, fixed in 1957 at 3 guineas, should now be increased to 732 4½ guineas per day of attendance. This is an attendance allowance. It is not a daily allowance. Members of another place will get this allowance only when they attend.
The Lawrence Committee further recommends that as Ministers of the Crown in the House of Commons, not in the House of Lords, also have constituency expenses, the figure of £1,250, which is the average figure of a Member's expenses arrived at by Lawrence, should be paid to Ministers in addition to their Ministerial salaries.
The final point on the Motion is that from the salaries of all Members of Parliament there shall be a deduction of £150 to be applied to the contributory pension fund, about which I shall say a word later when we reach that part of the Bill. That deals with the Motion in the main.
I now deal with the Bill. Part I of the Bill authorises revised salaries for Ministers, for Mr. Speaker, and for the Leader of the Opposition. Here the Government propose a departure from Lawrence, and it is the only departure from all the proposals. The recommendation is that the increase recommended by the Lawrence Committee for Ministers should be reduced by half, and that only half the increase should be paid to Ministers.
I doubt whether the most ardent anti-Parliament newspaper could quarrel with an increase in salaries for Ministers, seeing that the majority of salaries for senior Ministers were fixed in 1831. They have remained the same for 133 years. I read with a certain amount of disgust a report in the Daily Sketch of 14th December which stated quite categorically—it was not posed as a question, but was a categorical statement—that at the end of this month Ministers of the Crown will receive cheques of about £1,000 in respect of back pay, and that the Prime Minister will receive a cheque for £1,800. That was a categorical statement, but it is quite untrue and somewhat mischievous, because under these proposals Ministerial salaries are not increased until 1st April, 1965.
I am advised that the salary of a senior Minister, fixed at £5,000 in 1831, would today need a figure of £31,250 to give the same value.
§ Sir C. Osborne
Is it not true that if the fall in the value of the £ is taken into consideration a far greater sum would be required?
§ Mr. Bowden
In any case, neither the hon. Member's point nor mine need give cause for alarm, because the Lawrence Committee did not recommend anything like this figure. Its proposal was that a senior Minister should receive a salary of £12,000. The Government take the view that only half of the proposed increase should be paid, so the recommended sum for a senior Minister is £8,500.
Part 1 also provides, for the first time, for the payment of a salary to the Leader of the Opposition in another place—provision has been made for many years for the payment of a salary to the Leader of the Opposition in this House—and, in addition, to the Chief Opposition Whips in both Houses. This is not part of the Lawrence recommendations, but I have always held the view that Opposition Leaders and Chief Whips in both Houses render a great service to Parliament as well as to their parties. They provide a direct service to Parliament.
I hope that the House will continue to do what it has always done in the past, and regard Parliament as something quite distinct from parties. I have had a little experience in this field as Chief Opposition Whip for nine years, and I know the long hours of work involved from half-past nine in the morning until the House rises. Some of this is party work, but the majority is Parliamentary work, and no one who knows the tremendous amount of work carried out in another place by the former Opposition Leader there could do other than agree that that service should be covered by some sort of salary. It is perhaps ironical, but it is nevertheless right, that those of us who, like my right hon. Friend in another place—the noble Lord—and myself, did work without a salary for all those years, should now recommend a salary for our successors although they are members of another party.
The new salaries mentioned—and Mr. Speaker's revised salary—will be charged on the Consolidated Fund. The reason for this is obvious, namely, that it is not associated with a Vote in this 734 House. That means that the salaries are technically quite free of a Vote of this House, and there is room for perfect freedom of action. Any increase in the salary of the Lord Chancellor will be dealt with in the time-honoured way through a future Judicial Salaries Bill.
I want to make it clear—again to correct a wrong impression—that no Minister of the Crown other than the Prime Minister can claim a deduction for expenses against his Ministerial salary. Mr. Speaker is in the same position as the Prime Minister. A Member can claim constituency expenses as a Minister against that portion of the House of Commons salary which he is accorded as Parliamentary expenses, because he is a Member representing a constituency.
Part 2 deals with the new proposals relating to a contributory pension scheme for Members of the House of Commons, which, if the Bill is given the Royal Assent, will take effect from the first day of the new Parliament, which is regarded as 16th October. This is a compulsory scheme, which applies to all Members of the House of Commons except the Prime Minister and Mr. Speaker, both of whom receive ex officio pensions.
This proposal for a contributory scheme is the first for Members of Parliament in Great Britain. Similar schemes obtain in other parts of the Commonwealth, but it is our very first. The fund will be managed by a body of trustees who will provide a pension for former Members of the House of Commons as of right and not, as is the case of the existing Members' Fund, on the basis of need, on retirement at the age of 65 years or after, if the Member has completed a minimum of ten years' service. The contribution paid by Members will be £150 per annum, which will be matched by a corresponding contribution from the Exchequer.
The entitlement on retirement for a former Member is a pension of —60 per year for each of the first 15 years of service and —24 per year for each subsequent year. A widow, and in certain cases a widower, of a Member will receive a pension equal to one-half of the husband's or wife's entitlement. When appropriate a pension is also to be provided for dependent children of deceased Members. A Member's own contribution will be refunded to him or to his estate if he dies without becoming entitled to a pension, 735 or if no other person is entitled to a pension in respect of his service, such as a widow.
A Member who wishes may withdraw his own contribution on leaving Parliament if he has not qualified for a pension, and split service—that is, service in a number of Parliaments—will count. If, however, a Member has earlier withdrawn his contribution to the fund and is subsequently again returned to Parliament he will be entitled to repay the contributions withdrawn. That is the normal practice for a superannuation scheme.
§ Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)
I ask this with some diffidence, but is my right hon. Friend entirely happy about the ten years' minimum? Is it not perhaps a rather arbitrary figure?
§ Mr. Bowden
The ten years' minimum is set by the Lawrence Committee, and it is the Government's view that as far as possible we should adhere to the Lawrence proposals. The importance of that is that this is the first occasion on which we have gone to an outside body, and the more closely we can adhere to its proposals the easier it will make it in the years to come for Members of this House to adopt this sort of machinery.
Under this 10 years' minimum it is precisely the same figure as obtains under the existing Members' Fund. As the House will learn later when I deal briefly with the Members' Fund, although it looks on paper, as it were, that a Member who, having 21 years' service, now leaves this House and only 10 years of that period counts in qualifying him for a pension, in fact no one will be any worse off as a result of this scheme coming into operation.
May I go on to deal with one or two other pensions? The pension of a former Prime Minister is £2,000. The pension of a Prime Minister who retires after the Royal Assent to this Bill, which Lawrence recommended should be £6,000, should in the view of the Government, applying the half-increase principle, be £4,000, and that is the figure in the Bill. But there are, of course, happily, still alive former Prime Ministers who retired before the passing of the Bill, and their pensions, which at the moment stand at £2,000, will be increased under the Pension (Increase) Acts. Mr. Speaker's pension, as 736 the House will recall, is decided by special Resolution of the House on the retirement of Mr. Speaker and in some cases, at the same time and by agreement, arrangements have been made for a pension for Mr. Speaker's widow.
Now may I say a word about the Members' Fund, of which I am a Trustee and have been for some years? This Fund was set up in 1939 by Act of Parliament, and one cannot emphasise too often that the grants made to former Members of Parliament or their dependants from the Members' Fund are on an assessment of need. There is no pension as of right under that Fund. We feel that this scheme will continue and, for the time being at least, Members should be required to pay the present £24 per annum to the Members' Fund, the reason being that the main function of the Fund will be to continue the payment of grants to Members who retire before this Bill becomes law.
We all have many old colleagues who retired at the last General Election and many who were in the House many years ago and who are in receipt of grants from the Members' Fund. Those grants must continue, and it will be left to the Trustees of the Members' Fund to consider what can be done to help former Members from time to time, and, I hope, perhaps to increase the scales. So the main function will be to continue those payments.
For Members who served in previous Parliaments that is the only Fund to which they can go for any help or assistance because they are not covered by the new proposals; where the scales of the existing Members' Fund make it possible for Members who retire from the House having some entitlement to a pension as of right but at a figure lower than the Members' Fund scale which is fixed by the Trustees, then the Members' Fund would continue to help. But those grants again, I must repeat, are according to need whereas the new scheme under this Bill gives a pension as of right.
§ Mr. Charles Loughlin (Gloucestershire, West)
My right hon. Friend will appreciate that in a number of instances we have had the problem of the erosion of the pension because of changing monetary values. Can he say whether any assessment has been made of the financial requirements necessary in order to 737 make it possible to increase the present payments made to past Members of the House and would it be possible to increase the annual amount which we pay so that the erosion of the existing pensions could be offset?
§ Mr. Bowden
This really is a matter for the Trustees of the Members' Fund. I cannot, of course, pledge the Trustees of the Fund, but we have always been very anxious to increase the scales where-ever possible. I think it will be recognised that as more and more Members have a pension as of right, or an element of pension as of right, there will be the possibility that a revision can be made in the scales awarded under the Members' Fund. But it would be unfair of me to leave the impression that any new Member coming in for the first time in this Parliament under the new scheme will be able to get any advantage out of the Members' Fund. Therefore, it will be a long time before the Members' Fund as we know it today will cease to exist. The whole question of Members' and Ministerial salaries has always presented great difficulties.
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd (Wirral)
I think I heard the right hon. Gentleman say that in due course the Members' Fund will disappear. Will it not always be necessary to have some fund for people who do not serve 10 years?
§ Mr. Bowden
There is a Clause in the Members' Fund agreement, known as Clause 4 strangely enough, which enables the Trustees to make grants, again on the basis of need. The right hon. and learned Gentleman is quite right. It would be a very long time, I should think, before any existing scheme could take the place of the Members' Fund and, therefore, the Fund may have to remain for all time.
§ Mr. A. P. Costain (Folkestone and Hythe)
Will the right hon. Gentleman clear up one point? Will new Members who come in at a later date contribute the £24?
§ Mr. Bowden
That is the intention. This question has always presented great difficulties. None knows that better than those of us who have been in the negotiations from time to time, on whatever side of the House we sit, and all Governments have handled it rather gingerly. 738 My right hon. Friend the noble Lord, Earl Attlee, who was Prime Minister from 1945 to 1951, would not hear of this question being considered by an outside body. I thought then that that was wrong, and I think that the action taken now is the right one. We have always realised and appreciated these difficulties, but I think that in the negotiations we have understood the hardships faced by very many Members of the House.
Whilst rejecting the idea of seeking the advice of this outside body, many of us on both sides of the House have felt that this is the right way to handle the matter. I have no desire to mention names, but I could, of right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House who have over the years felt that it was the right way to do it.
The right hon. Gentleman the present Leader of the Opposition was, in my view, absolutely right in referring the matter to the Lawrence Committee and in reaching agreement at the same time with my right hon. Friend the present Prime Minister that, whichever way the General Election went in 1964, action would be taken immediately in the new Parliament. I think that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister was right in going ahead at once with the acceptance of Lawrence, or that portion of the Report which we have accepted, and not delaying action any further.
The Leader of the Opposition said on 16th November:It never seems to be the right time to tackle it; it never has been the right time, and probably it never will be."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th November, 1964; Vol. 702, c. 38.]That, in my view, is the right assessment of the position.
Those who have been in the House for many years know that these new salary scales will help to alleviate the hardship which is experienced by many hon. Members. In addition, they will help every man and woman of the highest ability in the country to accept this great public service. It should place the Members of the British Parliament in a rather more dignified position, side by side with Members of the Commonwealth and European Parliaments, most of which have been ahead of us in this matter. I believe that in the long run this can do no other than strengthen our Parliamentary institution.
§ 11.40 a.m.
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd (Wirral)
The whole House must feel a sense of appreciation to the Lord President of the Council for the way in which he has outlined the Bill and the Motion. I should like to begin with one or two preliminary remarks. On behalf of my hon. and right hon. Friends, I wish to join him in the expression of our thanks to Sir Geoffrey Lawrence, Mr. Kirkaldy and Professor Mackenzie for the very thorough examination of these problems which they undertook. I say that with knowledge, as one who gave evidence before the Committee. They devoted a great deal of time and trouble to the task. We should also give a word of thanks to the advisory panel, some members of whom had no personal interest in the matter, as they had indicated their intention not to try to return to the House. They gave a great deal of time to this matter.
I entirely agree with what the right hon. Gentleman said about the wisdom of this precedent. It was right to refer the matter to an independent body. Although I think it is a good precedent, these are matters where the final decision must rest with the Government of the day. Had we won the General Election, we certainly should have claimed the right to the final decision as the right hon. Gentleman and the Government have done. Having said that, I think it is not a subject about which it is very wise to try to score party political points. Some quite embarrassing Amendments could have been thought up about the timing and the amount. We take the view, rightly or wrongly, that though responsibility rests with the Government, this is a House of Commons matter and divisions on party lines are not really in the interests of Parliament. I shall not expect anyone to agree with all I say. Although I shall try to express the views of my hon. and right hon. Friends, so far as I have been able to ascertain them, I shall also say one or two things on my own account.
Having said that it is the responsibility of the Government, I would add that most of my hon. and right hon. Friends, if not all, consider some increase is necessary. I know that this is not very popular with the electors but I consider it a very odd quirk that the electors should think it right that Members of Parliament, or at least some of them, should come here under conditions of 740 financial embarrassment. I think it very silly for electors to think like that, if they do. They would be much better served if their representatives were not financially embarrassed, both with regard to the quality of their service to their constituents and also in respect of their susceptibility to pressures of an undesirable nature.
With the expenses of the job averaging £1,250 a year, the £500 addition, which is the present situation, is not in my view enough. The figure proposed, if the average expenses and the pension contribution are deducted, is £1,850 a year. I think it a pity in some ways that we are not able to express it in that form because then I think the general public would realise the situation better. Even the figure of £1,850 is not net. There are a number of other expenses, subscriptions, entertainment expenses and the cost of books and other things, which cannot be deducted, so that even the £1,850 is not the net figure.
Some people may think it a little high, but as I do not accept the inevitability of inflation—as the House knows, perhaps to my personal cost—I hope that this decision will stand for a considerable time. I shall therefore not vote against the Motion or for any Amendment. In saying that, I wish to make absolutely clear that I do not believe that membership of the House of Commons should be a full-time job for all hon. Members. That would affect the variety and the background of the views put forward. I know that there are frequently jeers for ex-Ministers who join the boards of public companies or indeed who become consultants to public companies as the Prime Minister did, but I think that view is quite unjustified.
It is useful for people associated with this place to see some of the current problems of management. The longer one is in this House the more one realises how easy it is to get out of touch. Therefore, I do not for one moment accept the full-time concept.
I know that there are Motions with regard to hours of sitting designed to promote that concept, and no doubt in due course they will be considered by the Select Committee on Procedure. I do not think much of the idea. For practical purposes it would not make much difference. A great many hon. 741 Members sit on Tuesday and Thursday mornings now. To sit on Monday mornings would be highly inconvenient and in any case the House sits on Friday mornings. The effect on the Executive would be to make Government quite impossible and, although in the case of the present Government that might possibly be considered a good thing to do, seriously, I do not think it a good idea either to do that, or to treat this increase in Members' salaries as a step towards full-time membership of the House.
With regard to pensions for Members I am very much in favour—
§ Mr. Eric Lubbock (Orpington)
Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman think it is quite fair that people who attend here only half-time should receive the same salary as others who do the job properly?
§ Mr. Lloyd
I think the world is a place where there are certain unfairnesses and inequalities from which we cannot escape. We have to accept the fact that the positions of Members of the House are varied and that if we started having distinctions and paying people according to attendance we should get into much worse difficulties. I think, with respect, that my right hon. Friends made a mistake when they introduced the allowance for so much a sitting. I do not think that was a good thing to do.
I am very much in favour of the pension scheme. Again, in answer to what the hon. Gentleman said, I think that some line has to be drawn. It must seem hard to some people and I have had representations from former colleagues who served here for many years that they should be covered, but a line has to be drawn somewhere and, although the 10-year limit is arbitrary, it was recommended by the Committee and I think it should be accepted. One factor, a very significant factor, of this pension scheme is that it is on a comparatively modest scale, and the amount does taper. After 15 years one gets only an extra £24 a year for each year of service. That is a modest increment and I cannot see that it would be a sufficient inducement to cause people to stay on here, when they are no longer fit to do the job, in order to get an increased pension.
One other misconception about the pension should be cleared up in our own 742 interests. I had a very indignant letter from someone who asked why Members of Parliament should be able to draw a pension after only 10 years of service, which does not happen in any other occupation. The period of 10 years' service is a qualification. The pension is drawable only at the age of 65. There is a widely held misapprehension on this matter. No hon. Member can receive the pension until he or she reaches the age of 65. In this case members of the opposite sex do not get the benefit, which they enjoy in respect of another pension, of receiving it at the age of 60. In their case also it is payable at the age of 65.
On the question of pay for hon. Members I emphasise again the point I made about the £1,850 and that we have to meet expenses which in every other business would be met for an employee by the management—secretarial help, post-ages, telephone charges, etc. In parenthesis, I would add that when considering the question of Members' pay, I have taken the view—which again is not accepted by some of my colleagues—that the facilities of this House need a great deal of improvement both in respect of accommodation and of the services provided, but that is another topic.
Coming to Parts I and III of the Bill, I will deal first of all with Ministers' salaries. The recommended scale was from £12,000 down to £4,000, as compared with the present scale of £5,000 down to £2,000. The right hon. Gentleman has indicated that the Government have scaled them down and postponed them. I do not think that the recommendations were unreasonable, for the reason which he gave, but I do not quarrel very hard with the Government's decision to scale them down—except over the case of junior Ministers. By them, I mean Under-Secretaries and Parliamentary Secretaries. I have never been one myself, because when I became a Minister I was a Minister of State, drawing £3,000 a year, plus £500 of my Parliamentary salary against which expenses could be counted. The Secretary of State, Sir Anthony Eden as he then was, received £4,000, so I was very much better off than he was. There is no sense of personal grievance about this.
I think that the junior Ministers, even on these increased scales, are not being paid enough. They have been consistently underpaid. When deciding to 743 take office as a junior Minister, it is obviously something of a gamble. One does not know whether one will be able to do the job or not; one may be asked to relinquish the position quite soon. The offer often comes at a time of special family responsibilities. I know of many people who have just not been able to afford to accept junior Ministerial office. I think that the minimum salary for a Minister should have been £5,000, plus £1,250 of his Parliamentary salary. That is a personal view; I do not know whether Members agree with me on that. I think that it is very important indeed to get the best people one can, who are prepared to take the risk and undertake this responsibility, and abandon other responsibilities, and become Ministers when offered the chance.
With regard to the Opposition Leaders and Chief Whips, I agree entirely with what has been said about their services. But I am not wildly enthusiastic about the proposal for these new salaries. I quite accept that it is well meant and I should like to hear other views about it. I am not quite certain, in view of the increased salary for Members of Parliament, that it is necessary to do this. I realise, however, the argument about the other place.
There is one point where there is a measure of disagreement between the two sides of the House and this is in regard to the Prime Minister's right to vary the salaries of particular Ministers. We raised it in the Machinery of Government Bill and I think that it would be better—I should like the right hon. Gentleman to look at it—if the salary were attached to the job. I think it is by Clause 1(2) that the Prime Minister is given the power to vary almost every salary, or at least very many salaries. I do not think that that is a good thing. I think it would be better to have a rate for the job.
I do not think that I have very much more to say. I will not take up the points about the car allowance—I think that that is quite right—or other points which the right hon. Gentleman has made. Therefore, in conclusion, the view which I put to the House is that it is rather distasteful to discuss one's own remuneration. I do not agree in every particular with the Government's decision, but I shall not vote against this Second Reading or against the Motion, 744 and I shall not advise any of my right hon. or hon. Friends to do so either.
§ 11.56 a.m.
§ Sir Robert Cary (Manchester, Withington)
I intervene briefly in this debate to join with my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) in congratulating the right hon. Gentleman the Lord President of the Council on the clear and cogent way in which he has presented today the Motion and the Bill. I have had the privilege for some years of sharing with him the responsibilities of the trusteeship of the Members' Fund. The work of that fund has been largely invisible, but I cannot stress too highly to Members of the House the wonderful work which it has done behind the scenes. The majority of beneficiaries of that fund are the widows of former Members. The right hon. Gentleman spoke about the length of time which the fund may have to survive. He said that perhaps it would have to survive for as much as twenty or twenty-five years, long after my time, to meet the special needs which will arise within the circumstances of service of this House.
I am one of the few surviving Members who was an original subscriber to that fund. There are one or two present in the House now. The right hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) was an original subscriber in pre-war days, my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir P. Agnew) and my hon. Friend the Member for Carlton (Sir K. Pickthorn) were also original subscribers. We were all original subscribers to the first fund, to which we paid £6 a year to make the fund possible. But in the years leading up to the establishment of that fund, there was great resistance to work of this sort being allowed to go forward. I would confirm what the right hon. Gentleman said in regard to this resistance.
I remember as a young Member of the House going to Euston Station with two senior Members of this House who walked straight up to the booking office and bought their first-class return tickets to the north of England. Following in their wake, I nervously produced my warrant and said, "Can I use my warrant?". There was a stony silence for a moment and then one said to the other, "I do not think he belongs to 745 that quarrel of 1918. Yes, use your warrant." Many Members did not want to receive anything from a public fund to discharge their duties. I agree with the Lord President, too, that there were some Members who refused to draw their Parliamentary emolument.
May I also join with the Lord President of the Council in congratulating Sir Geoffrey Lawrence and his Committee for this splendid piece of work and also those Members appointed from this House to the Advisory Panel. Only one survivor remains in the House—my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Tiley). His three companions are now in another place. The main provisions of the Bill now before the House are not for them, except in matters slightly touched upon by the Lord President of the Council and the payment of 4½ guineas.
The Committee was right to go back to the original sources on which their Report and the Bill are founded. I was delighted that they took as their text the principle enunciated in 1911 by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Lloyd George:The only principle of the payment for public service is that you are making an allowance to a man to enable him to maintain himself comfortably and honourably but not luxuriously, through the time he is rendering service to the State. That is the only principle and it is the principle on which we have proceeded.Members of the House who are familiar with the early struggles of that distinguished Chancellor of the Exchequer and later wartime Prime Minister, Mr. David Lloyd George, will know that he had a prodigious struggle to enter this House. He once talked to me about it and said, "Young man, you do not realise what a prodigious struggle it was in the last century for somebody like myself, full of nervous energy, struggling as a small solicitor in Manchester, to enter the House of Commons. Yet I accomplished it. How many fell by the wayside."
Some may recall, in that period, the young Mr. Winston Churchill being adopted for Oldham and inviting Mr. Joseph Chamberlain to come and speak there. When Mr. Chamberlain arrived in Oldham he said to the young candidate; "I am delighted to come here. When I first came here I came to sell nuts and bolts. But I had to establish 746 for myself a capital asset to enable me to be independent to enter the House of Commons." Mr. Joseph Chamberlain did not enter the House of Commons until he was 40 years of age. Struggles were inevitable in those days, and it was clear that at some time payment of members would come.
If I may refer briefly to my constituency, earlier this year there was drawn to my attention a minute of the Withington Conservative Association of 1885 which stated that "the secretary be instructed to make the necessary preparations for the annual visit of the Member of Parliament." I understand what some of my old friends mean when they talk about the good old days.
I do not want to speak at length, although there is much that I could say on this matter and particularly about the experiences of both the Leader of the House and myself in operating the Members' Fund and the many benefits which I can see in the Bill and in the Resolution based upon the Report.
But I would say—and this follows the original announcement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1911—that in those days 400 golden sovereigns did suffice. I believe that the recommendation before the House for the payment of £3,250 a year, with nearly £200 of it to be deducted for pension, means that we have again reached an adequate level of remuneration for Members of the House. I consider that when I was elected to the House 30 years ago, £400 a year was inadequate. Two or three years later the increase to £600 a year made no great difference. Perhaps in the years immediately after the Second War the payment of £1,000 a year made no great difference, either. In view of what has happened to the cost of living and the increasing activities of Members in the last few years, perhaps £1,750 a year was inadequate. I believe that at £3,250 a year we have at last come back to Square 1, giving us the adequate payment which 400 golden sovereigns a year provided for the Member of the House in 1911.
May I deal with the matter arising out of an intervention by the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock) on a subject dealt with by the Report—full-time or part-time membership of the House of Commons. This expression "full time 747 or part time "has become current in the last two or three years. What a wounding way to talk about Members of this House! Anyone who has the privilege to embark upon the mission of being a Member of the House of Commons, and is elected here, is permanently preoccupied, always, with the privilege of being a Member of this House. There are great responsibilities. Every waking thought, every other activity, in the law, in profession or in business, is dominated by the fact that one is a Member of the House of Commons. We sometimes hear the expression "professional politician". I have devoted all my active life to becoming and being a Member of this House of Commons, and there is no contemporary of mine, either at school or in my regiment, whom I envy in his career and in his work compared with my own as a Member of the House of Commons.
I am sorry to see this unwanted expression "part-time or full-time Member of the House of Commons" used in this Report, and I hope that it will cease to have currency in the Lobbies and the Palace of Westminster. I understand what the hon. Member for Orpington had in mind in his intervention, but to talk of Members of this House as full-time or part-time is just not the thing to do. When we think of some of the distinguished figures who have occupied these benches in years gone by and who had many great responsibilities outside the House, not only is it wounding to talk of Members in those terms but it is insulting.
My final point concerns paragraph 117 of the Lawrence Report on page 31. Here is a most complicated scale laid down. I take to heart what my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Wirral said about Parliamentary Secretaries and others. This is a most complicated scale of variations in payment which are to exist between Members of Parliament. I would much rather that the Leader of the House and the Prime Minister had not made the Government so complicated and so varied. Perhaps much the best speech on this subject which I have heard in this Parliament was made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Redmayne) speaking on the Machinery of Government Bill, when he said that if he could participate in the 748 structure of Government he would create Ministers and Deputy Ministers—acknowledging that the position of Parliamentary Secretary is rather a miserable position. He wanted to see brought into existence a Government which consisted of Ministers and Deputy Ministers. It would give the Parliamentary Secretaries and the Ministers of State, with their various scales, a new position to act as deputy to the Minister in charge of the Department.
This would ensure the absence of complicated scales. I should like to see a Minister of the Crown receiving £12,000 a year. I should like a Deputy Minister to receive £6,000 a year. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Rushcliffe said, we should then get fewer Ministers for less money but they would have a chance of discharging their responsibilities from the Front Bench more competently.
I hope that the House gives the Bill a Second Reading. I am concerned about it not only because of the immediate benefit which it would bring to hon. Members but because, in the few years left to me, there are some matters directly concerning the Members Fund which will be affected by the Bill. I again thank the Leader of the House for the clear and cogent way in which he has presented it to us.
§ 12.10 p.m.
§ Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
I appreciate that a number of hon. Members wish to speak, so I will say only a few words for the record. I humbly congratulate the hon. Member for Manchester, Withington (Sir R. Cary) on an impressive speech, and I am sure that his sentiments will be endorsed by all hon. Members, whether or not they agree with him. I heartily agree with him.
I am one of those hon. Members who have been in the House for many years and, like many of my colleagues in the same position, I have found that one of the most embarrassing experiences has been the constant debate about hon. Members' salaries. It has been the futility of getting anything done, the constant attacks in the Press whenever the issue has been raised and I have often felt, in the words of Shakespeare:Cowards die many times before their deaths:The valiant never taste of death but once.749 In this case the valiant do not usually die when they show their courage to face their opponents. The interesting experience on this occasion was that when it was clear that a decision was going to be taken, the attacks in the Press and elsewhere were less vehement than in the past. I welcome the Bill, probably more because it brings an end—I certainly hope that it will—to this constant irritation and embarrassment.
I would wish in other circumstances to take issue with a number of the recommendations in the Lawrence Report. I would have preferred—and I said so in my submissions to the Committee—that a clearly recognisable salary element had been stated for hon. Members so that the public would know just what the salary aspect was and would not have inflated figures about this whole matter in their minds.
I would have preferred an element in the salary structure, similar to that in any kind of private business or other form of administration, to provide for the necessary services and facilities for which hon. Members must pay out of their so-called salary. I would have preferred, for example, that former hon. Members of the House—and there were many of them who retired at the last election, many of them to make way for younger hon. Members—should not be penalised in the pension arrangements, as they appear to be.
I would have made a number of objections to certain of the propositions in the Report, but I appreciate that few hon. Members will agree with every single recommendation. The important thing, however, is that if we start moving Amendments to this or that aspect and begin arguing about those matters we will be back where we started. The whole thing will be thrown into the melting-pot again and we will have no decision.
For this reason I wholeheartedly support the Report—not because I agree with the basic approach, not because I agree with the figures covering the various aspects in the Report, but because I am convinced that there is only one way to settle this issue; to accept the recommendations of the outside body—by and large in their entirety—with certain modifications, which the Government have made in respect of Ministers, with which I agree.
750 As to hon. Members who left the House at the last election, and some who left before, I had considerable reservations on this issue, because I thought it unfair that I, who continue, should be credited with 10 years of my previous 20 years' service whereas others of my colleagues who had served longer than I and who retired receive no credit at all. I realise, because of the effect of the recommendations and the pension arrangements, that there will be many fewer hon. Members who will become applicants under the Members' Fund. I assume, therefore, that there will be realised into the fund sufficient accumulated resources, which would otherwise have gone to many of us, which could be made available to enhance the pensions of those who are at present dependent on the Members' Fund.
I make this strong appeal to the trustees of the fund. They should give immediate and generous attention to this matter, realising that the resources will be available. It should be realised that many of us are entirely dependent on our Parliamentary salaries. Those of us in this position welcome what is proposed both from the point of view that the present position is being put right and, probably more important, because this eternal wrangle will come to an end.
I appreciate that some hon. Members, and they are on both sides of the House, have made protestations, have suggested that the figures should be reduced and have talked about the honour of public service without payment. It happens that, probably without exception, the hon. Members who have made those protestations are all able to afford to make them. It is rather remarkable that when one discusses with people in highly paid private positions—people earning £30,000 to £60,000 a year or more; people with directorships and so on—their defence is often that when one's salary goes beyond a certain figure it goes back in tax. Is it not curious to realise that because of the tax imposition by the Exchequer, those individuals are really answering their own argument?
Certain hon. Members should think twice before they try to apply to hon. Members' salaries the considerations which apply in their own cases. They should think of their colleagues who are 751 giving full, lengthy and honourable support to their Parliamentary responsibilities, who have no other income and who must pay for all the additional expenses which, as many hon. Members have often said, in normal activities outside are already being provided.
I hope that the Bill will receive the overwhelming, if not unanimous, support of the House.
§ 12.17 p.m.
§ Sir Cyril Osborne (Louth)
I have a difficult speech to make, and I hope that hon. Members will be good enough to listen patiently to what I have to say, for I am one of those hon. Members to whom the hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. John Hynd) referred towards the end of his speech. I want to make it clear at the outset that I oppose the Bill and intend to vote against it.
The Leader of the House said fairly that the Leader of the Opposition had said that there could never be a right time to do something like this. I agree. However, there can be a wrong time, and this is it. That is what I want to drive home. If ever there were a wrong time to do a half-right thing, it is at this moment, facing as we do what I believe to be one of the gravest economic crises this country has ever had before it.
This is not a party affair. On the economic situation hon. Members opposite say that we left them with a crisis, while we say that they have made it worse. I merely want to accept that a crisis exists and to face the issue we are discussing with that in mind. Remembering that, I regard this as the craziest action the Government could possibly have taken in the present economic situation.
This morning in The Times there is described, in both the City columns and on the editorial page, how yesterday was "Black Thursday" not only on the Stock Exchange but in the foreign exchange markets as well. The Government broker was compelled by near-panic conditions to take the virtually unprecedented step of going into the market to buy all the gilt-edged stock offered in an effort to stop any further rot. The market was completely and utterly demoralised. There is no confidence at all in the future, largely because—and I do not say this in a bitter political party way—of the un- 752 certainties of the Government's tax proposals.
What is more important, since sterling affects the whole nation and should not be made the football of party politics, the Bank of England in the last two days has been forced to support the forward rate of sterling at a cost of £50 million of the amount granted in loans by foreign bankers. There is unrelieved gloom in both markets, largely due, as I say, to the uncertainty of the working out of the Government's tax proposals. It is feared, and this is the crux of my complaint, that the 3,000 million dollar loan that the foreign banks put together in order to rescue sterling is in danger of failing in its purpose; that, by next April, that money will not be there, and that further loans will be necessary to save sterling from complete ruin.
Why is there this crisis in sterling? I think that it is because the outside world can see that we in the United Kingdom—all of us, not just one section but all of us—are living beyond our means. That is why they have no confidence in our paper money. We are eating and drinking, smoking and gambling and spending on sport more than we are earning or can afford—[Interruption.] This has got a good deal to do with hon. Member's pay, if hon. Members will listen. The outside world says that if confidence in sterling is to be restored in world markets we must spend less and earn more.
The best way to restore confidence would be for the Government to drop this present proposal for the time being and bring it forward in six or twelve months' time when confidence in sterling has been restored. We, as hon. Members, ought to set an example to the rest of the nation and say, as has been said in previous times of crisis, that there should be no more increases in wages or salaries, dividends or rents or any form of income. That is why I oppose this Second Reading.
My hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Withington (Sir R. Cary) said that this increase would restore the position of hon. Members largely to that of 1911, when Lloyd George first gave £400 in golden sovereigns, but if inflation continues at the same rate as now, in five years' time that amount will again be totally inadequate. What we have to do is to restore honest money—
§ Sir C. Osborne
We have to restore confidence in our economic stability, and this proposal is the wrong way to go about it, as the representative of the Treasury knows.
This increase will insulate hon. Members from the effects of inflation, and from the sacrifices that everyone else has to make—
§ Mr. Lubbock
I want to be helpful. Can the hon. Gentleman tell us, so that we can the better evaluate his speech, what his income from sources other than his Parliamentary salary is?
§ Sir C. Osborne
This is grossly unfair. My net income today, and one hates to say these things, is far less than it was in the difficult days before the war—[Interruption.]—and I shall not tell a stupid person like the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock)—
§ Mr. Walter Monslow (Barrow-in-Furness)
What does the hon. Gentleman claim for Income Tax by way of Parliamentary salary—will he tell us that?
§ Sir C. Osborne
I have to claim what the Inland Revenue allows.
I agree that the so-called M.P.'s pay of £1,750 a year is widely misunderstood outside the House, and I regret it. I agree that grave hardship is imposed on the many hon. Members, though they are fewer now, who have no outside income. I believe that the case for some increase is unanswerable, and that the case for pensions is also unanswerable. The great question is—how much, and when?
754 I say that the £3,250 now proposed is unjustified. If hon. Members will be fair to themselves, they will agree that when the suggestion was first made a year or two ago, most hon. Members then in this House thought that the increase would go to about £2,500. Some hoped that it would go to £3,000. Very few thought that it would go to £3,250. I therefore say that this sum is too large.
The Leader of the House said that the Government had decided, because of the difficult economic situation that the nation faces—not because the proposals are wrong—that Ministers should have only half the recommended amount. I suggest in my Amendment that the same principle shall be applied to Members of Parliament—
§ Sir C. Osborne
I suggest that the same principle advanced by the right hon. Gentleman in connection with Ministers—which he justified by the difficulties he knows his own Chancellor of the Exchequer faces—shall be applied to Members of Parliament—[HON. MEMBERS: "And directors."]—and I should have thought that to be reasonable.
I have had the honour to be a Member of this House for 20 years, and I remember, when we were in power, hearing hon. Members of the party opposite criticising members of the Government and asking them how they dared to do this or that bearing in mind what old-age pensioners got. Let us use that test now and see how we are to justify this increase to the old-age pensioners. We have said that the old-age pensioners shall have an increase to £4 a week, but how can we, as hon. Members, say to them, "£2,500 is not enough. We cannot manage on £50 a week—but you old-age pensioners have to get through on £4 a week"—[Interruption.] This argument will be used outside. I do not understand Socialist Members of Parliament—[Interruption.].
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. Repeated interruptions from a seated position are grossly disorderly and, if continued, will be followed by the normal consequences.
§ Sir C. Osborne
Most Englishmen are sportsmen, and when they know that a man in Opposition is in a minority position they give him a fair hearing.
It will be very difficult for me to go to my constituency and say to old-age pensioners, "It is true that you have £4 a week, but £50 a week is not enough for us." That will be difficult to justify. It seems that £2,500, as suggested in my Amendment, would be an adequate compromise and would be along the lines that the Government have suggested for Ministers. In proving to the House the difficulties we face and the need for us to set an example, I make these proposals.
§ Mr. Arthur Lewis
While appreciating the hon. Member's point of view, would it not be setting a better example if he and those who feel like him took their Parliamentary salary and gave all their other income to the Treasury?
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. That may be so, but it is not the issue at present before the House. I am sure the hon. Member will bear in mind that there is nothing prima facie discourteous in saying that someone derives an income from anywhere. It is not derogatory to say that someone derives an income from behind the Iron Curtain.
§ Sir C. Osborne
I am very sorry if I misrepresented the hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis). I withdraw, but I should like to discuss it with him later. It would not be in order for me to say here what has been said to me privately by the hon. Member himself.
§ Mr. Michael Foot (Ebbw Vale)
The hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) withdrew and then proceeded by innuendo to reiterate his charges. Surely if he is to make a withdrawal he should make it properly and openly and not seek to repeat the insult?
§ Mr. Speaker
Yes. I think that is right. The inevitable consequence of what the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) said was to cancel the withdrawal. He must now withdraw the cancellation.
§ Sir C. Osborne
I withdraw what I said and most humbly beg the pardon of the hon. Member.
I want to quote both the Prime Minister and the First Secretary of State for Economic Affairs and the right hon. Gentleman responsible for the nation's economic position. In the debate on the Queen's Speech on 4th November, as reported in col. 216 of the OFFICIAL REPORT of 4th November, the First Secretary said—I cannot be wrong in quoting him I hope:Wethat is, the Government—set out the emergency measures which we felt compelled to take to deal with the gigantic economic mess which had been left behind.Then he was interrupted and he said:Hon. Members opposite must make up their minds. Either the situation is serious or it is not. In our view, it is …Since that speech was made the economic situation of our country as seen in the foreign exchanges of the world has gone much worse. I am not saying whose fault that is, but am trying to set the case out. It is desperately worse.—[Interruption.]—If hon. Members speak to anyone engaged in the foreign exchange market they will have a lesson. It is against that background that I am trying to look at this Measure. It is on the evidence of the right hon. Gentleman himself that I am 757 basing my argument. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say, as reported in the next column of the OFFICIAL REPORT:First, a word about the emergency action.That is the action which the Government were taking—Was it justified? The balance of payments deficit, as estimated to us, was between £700 and £800 million …A colossal and terrifying figure. He went on:I want to emphasise that this was the most cautious estimate presented to us …If we are living at £800 million beyond our means and beyond what we are earning, surely we ought to set a better example to the rest of the nation and not at this moment, when the nation cannot afford it, to demand more and more pay for ourselves. The right hon. Gentleman said:This by any standard is a deficit of gargantuan size, one year's deficit at the current rate is not far short of our total dollar and gold reserves. I think everybody … must agree that the deficit had to be checked, …I am asking the Government to help to check it by dropping this Bill for six months—it had to be checked drastically and checked at once.If, as the right hon. Gentleman said with all the facts behind him, we were living so far beyond our means, surely we ought not to make the position worse. Finally he said, as reported in col. 233 when referring to himself and the Election:at no stage of the campaign did I do anything or say anything which would have led anybody to believe that the things we want to do could be done immediately and without effort and cost.He went on to say, and this is a point which I want hon. Members to accept:it does not mean a return to Crippsian austerity."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th November, 1964; Vol. 701, cc. 216, 217 and 233.]That is exactly what I think it does mean. I wish to Heaven that Sir Stafford Cripps were back to deal with this position.—[An HON. MEMBER: "You opposed him."]—No I did not; I spoke for him in those days. In my opinion only a Crippsian austerity will get us out of the present jam which both sides agree we are in. May I remind hon. Members of what Sir Stafford Cripps did when we were facing a similar economic crisis in 1949? He did not put up hon. Mem- 758 bers' salaries, nor did he increase social services.
§ Sir C. Osborne
We could not have Surtax much higher. This Government are doing exactly the opposite of what Sir Stafford Cripps did when facing a similar situation. This is why I shall vote against the Bill. I remind hon. Members of what he said to Labour Party workers at a meeting in Working-ton in 1949:You must be patient, and you must not ask for, or expect, any further advances in social standards or wage levels until we have been able to increase productivity.The Government are running away from that stern medicine. The Economic Secretary said that they would not take this stern medicine.
Sir Stafford Cripps also said, when facing the same problem on 18th April, 1950:We have in the last four years taken on by way of social services and benefits all that we can possibly afford until such time as there is a large increase in our national production."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th April, 1950; Vol. 474, c. 61.]The Government are doing exactly the opposite. No wonder the First Secretary did not want Crippsian austerity. They are frightened of it. But that is the remedy we need. I will take my share with the rest. I am speaking, I hope, for all Members who have been lucky in life. I think that they would take their share, as we have always done. Sir Stafford said that benefits could not be given until greater production had been obtained. The Bill should be put back for six or twelve months until the economic situation is better. That is my plea.
I give one more quotation from the same former Socialist leader. This is what he said in 1949, and he might well be saying it today in the present situation:We can express our present situation, robbed of all its technical surroundings and explanations, in quite simple terms. Unless we can all quickly produce more and get our costs down, we shall suffer a tragic fall in our standard of living accompanied by all the demoralising insecurity of widespread unemployment."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th October, 1949; Vol. 468, cc. 1352–53.]I believe that the choice now facing the nation is just that.
§ Mr. George Jeger (Goole)
Would the hon. Gentleman kindly refresh my memory? How did he vote in the days of the Labour Government and Cripps, whom he is now eulogising? Did he vote for or against that Labour Government and Sir Stafford Cripps?
§ Sir C. Osborne
That is a fair party point to make. On the whole, I voted with my party. If the hon. Gentleman challenges me on this, I will look up the record of one debate in which I challenged one of Cripps's own supporters and defended Sir Stafford from the attacks he received from his own side.
Our position today is desperate. We have no right to put up salaries. That is why I suggest that the Bill should be put back for a while. We are setting a bad example to the country. We ought to be setting a better example. Yesterday the City Editor of The Times was even more gloomy than the Ministers have been. He said that the outlook was black and could scarcely be worse. I put this to the representatives of the Treasury, who must underwrite this temporary folly. The City Editor said this in a City article:The Bank estimate the overall deficit for the first three quarters of the year at close on £600 million. The trade deficit alone for the final three months will probably be of the order of £150 million.I think that is a conservative estimate. If we are really living beyond our means at this colossal rate, surely it is rake's progress to spend more and to pay ourselves more to do no more work.
The City Editor of The Times finally says this. I commend this to the Government. This is the core of my argument:… Britain's payment deficit will have to be drastically reduced. Otherwise the United Kingdom, on the one hand, will probably have to apply for new I.M.F. drawings"—which I think the Treasury will confirm—while, on the other hand, the Paris Club will presumably decide that Britain's payments policy is not working.The way we could impress the outside world and strengthen sterling would be for us here to set an example. That is why I am pleading so hard for the Bill to be delayed.
I am glad to see the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) here, because I intend to quote him on this issue. In the House in March, 1961, the 760 right hon. Gentleman, whose wisdom we all respect, said this regarding the appointment of Dr. Beeching and the big salary to be paid to him:One would not object to the payment of a salary of £24,000 a year to Dr. Beeching or to anybody else in occupying an important managerial and administrative position of this kind if it were not for the fact"—this is the important and wise thing the right hon. Gentleman said—that it will lead, and necessarily lead, to a period of gross inflation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st March, 1961; Vol. 637, c 278.]
§ Mr. Shinwell
On a point of order. When I said "you," naturally I did not mean you, Mr. Speaker. I meant the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne).
§ Sir C. Osborne
It is nice, Mr. Speaker, to be able to quote the wisdom and wise words of the right hon. Gentleman. May I put this point to the Leader of the House? What we are doing here will make the task of the First Secretary of State and the Minister of Labour far more difficult. They are the two key Ministers in the Government. If they fail, the Government will fail. Their key job is to get the trade unions to accept an incomes policy. An incomes policy means that there must be restraint in wages and salaries.
§ Sir C. Osborne
Dividends, rents, the whole lot; but for the trade unions it is wages and salaries. These two Ministers will not be able to do their job with the trade union world quite so well or quite so easily if the Bill is passed. The trade union men will ask, "What is the good of you coming to us and preaching restraint in wages and salaries when you are giving yourselves this enormous increase in salary?". These two right hon. Gentlemen, for both of whom I have a great respect, will be in the false position of the stage parson; they will have to say to the trade union people, "Do as I say, not as I do." This again is a terribly important reason why we should not proceed with the Bill.
761 The Prime Minister said when introducing the Measure that the Governmentdo not consider that in present economic circumstances"—the whole of my case is based on this—it would be appropriate for ministerial salaries to be raised to the level recommended by the Committee. They propose that the increases should be reduced to half the amount of the increases proposed by the Committee, and that the new salaries should not take effect until 1st April, 1965."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th November, 1964; Vol. 701, c. 38.]If this is good, wise and necessary for Ministers, why is it not good for Members? If we are really going to get the results we hope for, I am certain that we should not proceed with the Bill.
§ The Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. John Diamond)
I rise only to be clear on the facts. Mr. Speaker, we are discussing the Bill and a Motion. The hon. Gentleman has been referring, as I thought, to Members' pay, but he has also kept on referring to the Bill. Would he make clear whether his argument is directed to Ministerial salaries, which are due to rise on 1st April, or to Members' salaries, which are due to rise as from 16th October, or to both?
§ Sir C. Osborne
To both, but Mr. Speaker ruled that we should discuss both together. That is why I had to confuse the two. I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman was not here at the beginning.
The Prime Minister on more than one occasion has appealed to the Dunkirk spirit to get us out of our difficulties. I remind hon. Members that Dunkirk was not a military success. It was the greatest military defeat we have ever had. It was what happened after Dunkirk that mattered. The then Prime Minister did not tell hon. Members, "You shall have increased salaries." He did not say, "You shall have increased welfare benefits." He spoke of blood, toil, tears and sweat for everybody. [Laughter.] It was not a laughing matter.
It is on these serious general grounds that I oppose the Bill and that I move my Amendment that the salaries of Members of Parliament should be raised only to £2,500—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I explained when discussing the matter at the outset 762 that in view of the way we were dealing with the matter, the hon. Member's Amendment was not selected.
§ Sir C. Osborne
I beg pardon, Mr. Speaker. It is because of all this, because I think that this is absolutely and utterly the wrong time to do it, that I shall oppose the Bill.
§ 12.51 p.m.
§ Mr. E. Shinwell (Easington)
I apologise to you, Mr. Speaker, to the House and to the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) for not having been present since the beginning of the debate.
§ Mr. Shinwell
I am glad to have that encouragement. There was a reason why I could not be present. There is no reason why I should explain it, even to my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Loughlin). I was not able to be present, otherwise I should have been only too glad to be here at the beginning of the debate to hear what was said.
I listened to the latter part of the speech of the hon. Member for Louth. My first comment is that it is about time that we discarded this squalid discussion on the remuneration of Members of Parliament. There is a history in this and I have lived through the greater part of it. I recall the early part of the century, when there was no payment of Members, when a few Members came to the House who were associated with the Labour Party and whose remuneration was met by funds provided by the Labour movement, amounting in all to about £200 per annum. That was not very much.
As a result of agitation, not entirely due to the efforts of Labour Members or of the Labour Party, but to those who were not associated with the Labour Party—men like the late Mr. Lloyd George, Mr. Asquith, Mr. Balfour and many other prominent Parliamentarians of that period—it was ultimately decided to provide payment of Members. The first payment, 763 which was regarded not as a salary but rather as a means of meeting expenses incurred by Members—£400 per annum—was provided.
When I came to the House in 1922, £400 was the salary. At that time, we were not provided with free warrants from the House to our constituencies or to our homes. We paid our own fares. I recall how difficult it was at the time for those of us who lived in the provinces to find the financial means to enable us to go home at weekends. Often, we had to remain in London in lodgings which were somewhat shabby—they were naturally shabby because we could not afford anything better—and provide ourselves with cheap meals that were so astonishing and so meagre that if I were to detail what happened to some of us at the time. hon. Members would really be staggered.
In those days, those of us who came to the House did not regard it as a means of livelihood so much as a mission. I hope that hon. Members will not regard that as an extravagance of language, but that was what we thought. It was a mission. It was our vocation. Our action was inspired by a sense of social purpose. We were anxious to make a contribution. Our objective and what we were driving at was something nebulous in our minds, but nevertheless it was to us something in the nature of a mission.
We lived for a long time on £400 per annum until, eventually, an improvement was decided upon by the House, on the inspiration of the late Mr. Baldwin, who, although we were poles apart in the political sense, was a man of the most generous character. Indeed, on one occasion he went so far as to devote almost the whole of his wealth to the public funds. As a result of his inspiration, it was decided that our fares would be provided from and to our constituencies. That was a great help.
Several years afterwards, again under the inspiration of Mr. Baldwin, supported by, among others, Sir Robert Home, and by many whose names I cannot recall—one of whom, indeed, was the father of the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg), the then Sir Douglas Hogg—we succeeded in getting £600 per annum.
764 The salary, however, has never been adequate having regard to—if I may use the term, which is a quite appropriate one—the dignity of Members of Parliament. In comparison with the salaries and expenses paid to Members of Parliament in Commonwealth countries, in the United States of America—although that is, perhaps, an exception—and in European countries, our salaries and expenses have always been inadequate commensurate with the task which has been set us.
There are some of us who have felt for a long time that Members of Parliament should be full-time. Some of us are full-time. I am. I have no outside interests. I declare my interest. Occasionally, I have managed to acquire some income as a result of writing, not that I am a professional writer—I am a most inadequate writer—but, nevertheless, it sometimes happens that a publisher, in order to make a little money for himself—[Laughter.]—decides to ask me to write. And so a little income comes in, subject, of course, to heavy taxation, for which I am not responsible. Apart from that outside interest, in which one can indulge without impairing one's Parliamentary activities in any way, I have nothing else. The same applies to many other hon. Members.
One thing which I shall not say, although I know that many of my colleagues on these benches might attempt to do it, is to accuse the hon. Member for Louth of forgetting that he does not require a Parliamentary salary. He can live without it. I am not accusing him of that. He makes some profit as a director of several companies. All power to his elbow. I hope that he makes a useful contribution to production, to higher productivity and to the well-being of the country. No doubt he does in some respects. The details are none of my business.
It is not, however, for hon. Members, like the hon. Member for Louth, who have directorships, who are provided with monetary facilities, who have a comfortable living, who can provide for their wives and families, and sometimes for friends, and meet expenditure of various kinds, to complain when hon. Members feel that the time has arrived when adequate salaries and expenses should be met by the State.
A remarkable thing happens after elections. One wins an election—I have 765 experienced this myself; I have had 14 elections—although occasionally it happens that the electors become a little jaded when the same Member has stood for a long period of time. There have been occasions when I have been raised shoulder-high with amazing enthusiasm at my victory. Immediately after that, one would have thought that one's supporters would be delighted to learn that one's salary had been increased. Despite the measure of enthusiasm generated at elections and the acrobatic feats to which I have been subjected—I have been carried shoulder high, sometimes a very uncomfortable position—I have several letters complaining that our salaries are too high.
Indeed, I still receive correspondence not from my constituents but from the constituencies of some of my colleagues and of hon. Members opposite complaining that we are taking far too much out of the public funds for our own purposes. I have been a propagandist for many years and visited many parts of the country and I have spoken in many towns and villages—I hope to the detriment of hon. Members opposite and to the benefit of my colleagues. Knowing the country as I do, I do not believe that the British character is sullied to such an extent that people would complain of Members of Parliament and the representatives of the constituencies in this country receiving reasonable salaries and expenses from the State. I am quite willing to go to the hon. Member's constituency and debate with him—it would probably do him a lot of good and raise his prestige if I did debate with him—providing he pays my expenses—the question of who is more entitled to receive a decent salary, the hon. Member for Louth or myself.
I do not intend to detain the House. It was not my intention to speak and it was only because the hon. Member for Louth provoked me and mentioned me in his speech, quite irrelevantly I thought, that I am doing so. There are acute differances of opinion in this House. We quarrel, we storm at each other and I must confess that I am as guilty of that as anybody. Sometimes one allows one's emotions to override one's reason. I recall that only last night in the course of the debate I stormed at the Prime Minister and now I cannot remember what it was all about. It was just a case of storming.
766 Indeed I had to rebuke one of my colleagues for doing it, and he reminded me that I was doing it myself. We quarrel acutely, violently and use extravagant language, exaggerated and all the rest of it, and yet when we meet each other in the Tea Room or Smoke Room we offer to stand each other a cup of tea and sometimes a more reasonable refreshment, and then discover that we are quite decent people. There are some people on the other side who would require a Columbus to discover that they are decent people. Nevertheless that is so.
I could even—I admit it takes some doing—detect high qualities in the right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. Marylebone, despite some of the things that he said during the recent election. He said some daring things. I recognise that he had to do it. He must gain some publicity, and unless he indulges in sensational observations what chance has he of acquiring the leadership of the Tory Party?
I have a great affection for the right hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) and I think that he knows it. I have great sympathy with him in his days of depression because no one succeeds in obtaining my affection—more by my sympathy—than anybody who finds himself unemployed. I have always been an advocate for the unemployed. Apart from that, I think that he is a very decent fellow.
Of course, we quarrel, we shall go on quarrelling, and I shall not be surprised next week if I am not saying the nastiest, naughtiest and most violent things about hon. Members opposite; and, of course, I shall mean them because they deserve it. The fact is that although we have differences of opinion politically, that does not mean that hon. Members opposite are not people of high quality. Surely the time has come when we should settle this question of salaries—get rid of all this squabble—and I hope that now that the hon. Member for Louth has said his say and got it off his chest, and having acquitted himself at last of this sentiment which has been boiling up in his breast—foolish sentiment—he will decide that we are doing the right thing, and that we shall face the country and our constituents at the next election—I speak with some reservation because it depends on 767 what my constituents think about it at the time, whether I am entitled to face them or not—and not be ashamed of what we are doing today.
§ 1.6 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Tiley (Bradford, West)
It is a great privilege for me to follow the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) and I wish that I could face my electors with the same confidence that he faces his, because a few months ago he made the wittiest remark about the electorate that I have heard in this House when he told us that in Easington they do not count the votes, they weigh them. He has the opportunity therefore, in a constituency of that sort, to give free expression of his thoughts on all these problems which may or may not lose us votes in our constituencies. I am glad to follow the right hon. Gentleman because he has quietened down the House, following the exercise of the privilege of my hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) of expressing his opinion.
I have counted it a privilege to serve on the Advisory Panel last year which advised the Lawrence Committee in connection with this reform. I wish to pay a tribute to its excellent Chairman, Lord Tweedsmuir. I am the only member of that panel who remains in this House. All my colleagues who were on it have gone to another place.
§ Mr. Tiley
In answer to the hon. Member for West Ham, North, I might say that some of my constituents are wondering what I have done wrong. It is very difficult for me to persuade them, as a mere back bencher, that I am indispensable to the House of Commons. We had on that panel Lord Rhodes, Lord Oakshott, Lord Wade-to-be, Lord Champion and Lord Tweedsmuir, along with Mr. Oliver, now retired, the former hon. and learned Member for Ilkeston. I know that we all wish him the happiest retirement for many years, following his labours in this House. We had many meetings under Lord Tweedsmuir in considering these great problems and several confrontations with Sir Geoffrey Lawrence, Mr. H. S. Kirkaldy and Professor W. J. Mackenzie, who formed the 768 Lawrence Committee. I use the word "confrontation" advisedly, because it was the word that Sir Geoffrey himself used.
I felt throughout the whole of the negotiations how lucky it was for our country, for this House and for hon. Members that these eminent men, with their wisdom and experience, should be endeavouring to solve, as I believe that they have solved, this difficult problem. I should like to thank them for their courtesy to us on all occasions.
I would point out that, in spite of the rumours in the Press about the amounts which were being discussed, I ended the deliberations with not the slightest idea of what the amount was going to be. That is right, and it should be stressed. I think, though, I was aware that the Lawrence Committee knew of the great financial strains of many of the Members of this House. Before I leave this part of my speech, I should like to thank Mr. D. Scott of the Clerk's Office in this House, who served us as executive administrator of the work which we were doing.
When we were first invited by Sir Geoffrey Lawrence to visit him about a mile away from here, I travelled in a taxi with a former Member of this House, the then Member for Ashton-under-Lyne, Mr. Rhodes, now Lord Rhodes. There we were, members of an important delegation appointed by this House to discuss a very important problem concerning, not our well being as individuals, but whether this House was to continue to mean anything or not in the future, for that was the great problem which the Lawrence Committee was dealing with. There we were, appointed by the Government, and we arrived at Sir Geoffrey's offices—and then we paid for our taxi. There in that tiny little illustration is exemplified the way in which Members of Parliament have for centuries been regarded in this country: if you cannot afford to ride you must damn well walk, and if you cannot afford to be here then you have no right to come.
The Lawrence Report and the proposals it makes end all that in our political history and in the history of this House. For the first time we have had a comprehensive review made of this problem, and this is the wisest counsel, in my view, which has ever been offered 769 to a Government on the rate at which Members of Parliament should be paid and the way in which we should be regarded in doing the work we do. For the well being of this House of Commons, I hope that we are going speedily to pass this Bill and the Motion which accompanies it.
It was, of course, a very difficult task which the Lawrence Committee set out to accomplish, because Members of this House are so varied and their needs are so different and so personal. Some come here with great wealth and great possessions which they have either inherited or earned. Some have only their Parliamentary salary and can earn no more. Some are old and some are young. Are we to deny to young people with family responsibilities the right to serve in this House? Some travel hundreds of miles, some have their whole life and business within the narrow orbit of this City and even this West End of London. Some can earn outside adequate moneys to supplement their Parliamentary salary and some can earn nothing.
More important than that—and this is a point which is not mentioned in this Report—some have safe seats, and others sit on the tightrope from year to year in their Parliamentary lives. It is a good deal easier if one sits for Easington, where, as I said, they weigh the votes and do not count them, to map out a political and Parliamentary career. It is not so simple for people whose seats switch from election to election. This is a point which people forget. This is not an ordinary job where one can plan for the future. We are here today and gone in March, or April, or May, or whenever the Prime Minister decides. I regard my majority a good deal more keenly than does the man who sits there with a hugely safe seat.
The problem could not have been solved at all, in spite of the wisdom and the research and the reading, without compromise, and we have indeed in the Lawrence Report a compromise suited to our problem. I would say to the hon. Member for Manchester, Withington (Sir R. Cary) that the Report did not talk about whole-time or part-time Members. It speaks about whole-time or part-time servants, and there is a very great difference, in my view. There are no part-time Members. We are all full-time Members of this House. In fact, 770 the House demands and compels many of us—I think the figure has been estimated at 200—to give full-time attendance here; attendance: I am not speaking of full-time service. The House demands at all times full-time service, of course, because there is no end to the work we do.
Consider the work which the House is doing today. Consider what is involved. My colleagues and I had submitted to us 15 memoranda by the Treasury covering the whole of the history of the pay here of Lords and Commons, their expenses and taxation; and in addition to that we considered the parliamentary pay in all other parts of the Commonwealth. The only parliament whose pay we did not study in detail was that of the United States. We thought it would give us too big ambitions, so we did not spend much time on that but contented ourselves with looking at parliaments in the Commonwealth. We read through all these reports received from abroad. We read in detail the history of the Australian parliament's examination recently of its own problem.
When does one read all this? I find no time to read here. I am much too busy here in this place. I read all this at the weekend, much to my wife's disgust. She thinks that as I spend all the week here and am not with my family, I should spend the weekend, when I am at home, with my family, but she finds that I am still not with them. But that is the position in which Members find themselves. Before the roads got so busy I composed my best speeches when I was driving my car. Now I do not, because I cannot afford to lose my no-claim bonus, and I am certain that if I did the Treasury would not accept that as a political expense.
The plain fact is that this House depends on full-time attendance by some 200 or so, apart from Ministers, of its Members. For others it demands and compels full-time attendance for periods of the year, and if the work of the House and its Committee is to be dealt with and recognised, we must recognise the facts of the position. I have often wondered what "part time Members" means; because to us it is a meaningless phrase. It is the variety of the various Members which is the great strength of the House, and the fact that some are 771 independent of it financially points to a greater independence of the Members, and of our House of Commons.
I would hate to see 630 full-time Members of this House doing nothing else but come to this place every Monday at ten o'clock—perhaps we should clock in down at the door where the officers are, and clock out when we go. Then indeed the problem raised by the hon. Member for Orpington in his speech would be easily solved, because we could be paid so much to the hour. But do we want that? Is that what we envisage for the future of hon. Members at the historic source of democracy which has led the world for centuries along the paths of democracy? Do we want 630 of us to clock in here on Mondays, through Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays? We should lose almost everything we have created, and in about two years of it the children from the schools in our constituencies, instead of being conducted through this great Palace, a seat of democratic wisdom, would be taken along a sort of cagewalk at the top to see the lions at work.
Mr. Lloyd George, 53 years ago, said how our Members should be paid and I should like to read his words:The principle of pay in the public service is that you should make an allowance to a man to enable him to maintain himself comfortably and honourably but not luxuriously during the time he is rendering service to the State.That is all that we have done in this Lawrence Report.
My answer to those who think that the figure is too high is that I have not the slightest doubt that Sir Geoffrey Lawrence and his eminent colleagues considered every figure from £2,000 upwards to £3,250, and when they were considering it their knowledge of the position was far greater than that of my hon. Friend the Member for Louth or anyone else in this Chamber. Sir Geoffrey Lawrence and his two colleagues saw 520 personal and confidential returns from our Members, and they made their findings on the basis of those returns. The fundamental point here is that we have not fixed this figure ourselves. This matter has been considered by an outside body, over many weeks. They spent all that time considering the personal aspirations of 520 Members before coming to this decision.
772 I hope that those who think that this figure is too high will avail themselves of the following sentence in paragraph 37:There is, however, nothing to prevent a Member, who so wishes and who has the necessary means, from regarding his membership as a voluntary service and from foregoing his Parliamentary salary in whole or in part.I echo the words of the Leader of the House. If people do that, I hope that they will do it anonymously, because when these figures were announced in the Press and the Report became public, I found it nauseating to read the names of those who had rushed forward to say that they would hand over their surplus to the pensioners. This has nothing to do with the National Insurance Bill. This has nothing to do with the economic position of the country. This is a matter of rescuing this House and some of its Members from abject poverty and misery. I hope that if the moneys are returned to the Treasury they will be returned anonymously, because the way to the heart of this Mother of Parliaments is through the gateway of sincerity, and not through the gateway of publicity.
After the General Election, in my constituency, near my home, the Conservatives erected a large poster with a photograph of my M.P. on it, and across the top in eighteen-inch letters the words, "Delighted to be at your service again". He is a splendid chap is my M.P. I live in my constituency, and I was delighted to come back here, but many of my friends in Bradford said, "At that salary, no wonder you are delighted". It is strange how even intelligent people, with great business experience, do not appreciate how much of a Member's salary is absorbed in the necessary expenses involved in doing his job.
This must be the funniest job in the world because, the busier one is the less one gets. I remember returning from holiday on one occasion. My house had been empty for a couple of weeks, and we could not get in at the front door because of the pile of mail behind it. It took one member of my family 2½ hours to sort out that correspondence. I think that I am a busy Member, which means that I must spend money on secretarial work, on postage, and so on. Another important factor, as I have said before, is that we are here today and gone tomorrow, and I am glad that in paragraph 773 52 the Report emphasises the difference between other jobs and this one.
Many people talk as though we received all our salaries, in spite of the fact that figures show that two-thirds of our Members in the last Parliament were living on less than £15 a week. I am sure that that is not what the country wants for our House of Commons. Paragraph 52 says:The total amount of a Member's salary is often referred to in terms which imply that the whole of it, less tax, is available to him for his living expenses: industrial and other wages and incomes are then contrasted unfavourably with it. Such an attitude is wholly wrong and can lead to seriously mistaken impressions on the public mind.I want to emphasise that fact so that all and sundry in this country and in the Press may know that of this £3,250 half will be taken up in doing our job.
I have only one reservation about the whole Report, and that has to do with pensions. When I served on the Committee of the Advisory Panel, I felt that this was as important as the salary aspect. Indeed, it is probably more important. It is important, too, to realise that the scheme is contributory, and that we contribute £150 per year, and an equal contribution is made by the Treasury. From the beginning it is absolutely necessary to make sure that this new scheme, contributory and compulsory, is actuarially sound. It would be horrid if, 10, 15 or 20 years from now, we found that the Members' Pension Fund had not set a correct example to the country for all its pension funds, and we should be abused and despised for not doing so. It is our job, from the beginning, with an adequate salary, to pay what is required ourselves towards providing these pensions.
There are too many public superannuation and pension funds which are millions of £s in the red—for example, the teachers' fund, the Health Service employees' fund, and so on. Let us start by providing a good example for this type of fund. Let us make sure, from the beginning, that it is actuarially sound and does not become deficient in funds. I think that this can best be accomplished by the Government tabling an Amendment to provide for us to have a triennial, instead of quinquennial, evaluation for the first 15 years, because who can tell what will be the consequences of, say, an aeroplane crash with seven or eight Mem- 774 bers involved? With a small unit of 600 in our pension fund, we are vulnerable to many outside influences to which a larger scheme is not.
I am glad that the scheme is being back-dated to 16th October, because already the family of one Member from this side of the House will benefit from a substantial pension under this plan. At the same time, however, I should like to feel that we were going to look into the problem every three years for the next 15 years, because if we did that it would not be too late to take in the slack if the scheme was not paying its way.
I have one point to make to the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock) who has experience of these pension schemes. In nearly all private pension schemes there are certain qualifications before a person can become a full member. Those of us who were on the Advisory Panel felt that it was necessary to establish a period when one had no entitlement to benefit. I have been in this House for nine years, and I am not therefore in benefit for my pension.
I do not feel that that is unjust, because we may be here for only two or three years, after which we go back into life in our ordinary business. More than that, when a Member leaves after three or four years he will have returned to him his contributions of £150 plus interest. In the case of private pension schemes throughout the country, about 90 per cent. of the people who leave take the cash value of the rights that have accumulated. I deplore that, and I think that it should be stopped by law, but a Member of this House who is defeated at an election after seven or eight years may find it a greater advantage to get hold of £1,000 in cash, plus interest, than to look forward to a small pension which is frozen for him until he reaches the age of 65.
§ Mr. Lubbock
My point was that in all the best private schemes the qualifying period is much less than this—generally one or two years. If an employee leaves at any time after being accepted as a member of that scheme he is entitled to take not only the contributions that he has put in but also those which the firm has provided—not in the form of a cash payment, because that would mean that he would have to pay back Income Tax 775 on what he had saved on his contributions, but in respect of the paid-up pension which he receives only at the age of 65.
§ Mr. Tiley
We can go into all these technical details in Committee. I suggest that when taxpayers' money is being handed out to a man who has done only two or three years' service it is a little different from the case of a man in normal industry.
I hope that the House will have the confidence and courage quickly to pass the proposals of the Lawrence Committee. It was my Government, with the present Leader of the Opposition, which accepted the implications of the Lawrence Report and, further than that, gave a promise that the Report would be implemented immediately.
§ Mr. Tiley
I hope that we shall realise that the real question which the Lawrence Report deals with is not the problem of assessing our individual needs, but care for the future of this House of Commons, which still means so much in this turbulent world. I hope that we shall make sure that men and women of increasing ability can come here, from all walks of life, from different homes, and from all parts of our island, to speak for their constituents, their country and the Commonwealth.
§ 1.32 p.m.
§ Mr. Charles Loughlin (Gloucestershire, West)
I do not intend to delay the House for very long. I have tremendous pleasure in following the hon. Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Tiley) because it gives me the opportunity of expressing to those Members who served the Lawrence Committee as advisers or assessors my thanks and the thanks of all hon. Members for the work they did for that Committee.
§ Mr. Loughlin
Unpaid, as my hon. Friend says. I have known the hon. Member for Bradford, West since I have been in this House. We clashed once or twice on early occasions, but I can say that I have a tremendous admiration for him, and I count him among my friends, as I count many hon. Members opposite. 776 I would expect him to work unpaid anywhere.
It was a great temptation to anyone sitting through the speech made by the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) to try to follow him. There are many expressions that one could use in referring to his speech. On one occasion Sir Winston Churchill, when challenged by the Chair because he had used the word "lie", had the ingenuity, after withrawing the word, to substitute the phrase "terminological inexactitude". I wish I had the same ingenuity as Sir Winston Churchill had on that occasion, so that I could deal properly with the hon. Member for Louth. Most of the expressions that I should like to use about him today would be inadmissible in this House.
For him, of all people, to eulogise Sir Stafford Cripps; to say that he had tremendous admiration for the work of Sir Stafford Cripps in the national interest; that Sir Stafford Cripps was working constantly in the interests of this nation, and then, in a subsequent intervention, to admit that he voted against the policies enunciated by Sir Stafford Cripps, and in so doing to confess that he voted against the national interest on those occasions, is a startling confession. For him, of all people, to talk about Sir Stafford Cripps in the way that he has done is—[HON. MEMBERS: "Humbug", "Ridiculous", "Nauseating."]—I am being given a number of expressions that I might possibly use. I will choose the word "nauseating". The hon. Gentleman's performance, calculated though it might be to attract publicity, was degrading to this House.
Two years ago some Members of all three parties represented in the House were finding extreme difficulty in continuing their service to the House on the remuneration which they received. I make no bones about it; my privilege of serving the House in the past five years has been achieved largely at the expense of my wife and my family. If they had not been prepared to do without things which they ought to have been able to expect from me I would not have been able to carry out the necessary services to my constituents and to the House.
It is all right for the hon. Member for Louth to come here and degrade Parliament, as he has done today; he is 777 in no way dependent upon the income that he receives as a Member of Parliament. He has been challenged to say what his income is, apart from his Parliamentary remuneration, and he has refused. He has been challenged to say what he has claimed from the Inland Revenue on his Parliamentary remuneration, and he has refused.
§ Mr. Lubbock
Since the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) was so coy in replying to that intervention, will the hon. Member allow me to place on record the companies of which the hon. Member for Louth is a director? They include En-Tout-Cas Co. Ltd.—
§ Sir Douglas Glover (Ormskirk)
On a point of order. What have the companies of which my hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) is a director to do with the question of Members' salaries?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Dr. Horace King)
I think that it has something to do with the argument which the hon. Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Loughlin) is advancing, but I would deprecate the introduction of detailed personal allusions.
§ Mr. Lubbock
As the hon. Member for Louth was arguing that this increase should not be given, in the full knowledge that he himself had salaries from seven companies, it is perhaps relevant to the argument. With your permission, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I should like to list those companies. They are En-Tout-Cas Co. Ltd.; J. & H. Haddon & Co. Ltd.; Peglers Ltd.; Porex Knitwear Ltd.; Samson Smith Ltd.; William Buckler & Co. Ltd. and Woodfords (Leicester) Ltd.
§ Mr. Loughlin
I assume that the hon. Member for Louth's association with the list of companies which has just been read out by the hon. Member for Orpington results in his receiving some remuneration from those companies.
§ Mr. Loughlin
I said that I assume. I deliberately used the word "assume", because I am not prepared to say that the hon. Member for Louth does unless I know. If I use the word "assume" and say that I assume that the hon. Member for Louth receives some remunera- 778 tion, it is competent for him to deny it—if he is present in the Chamber, which he is not; he made his speech and left—either now or at some subsequent stage. I say that I assume that the list of directorships to which the hon. Member for Orpington has referred indicates that the income of the hon. Member for Louth is substantial.
The hon. Member for Louth spoke about spending vast sums of money on drink and sport. It may be that he does. It is nothing to do with me if he spends a substantial proportion of his income on drink.
§ Mr. Loughlin
If the hon. Gentleman will learn to be a little more patient—I know that I have not got much patience myself, but he may profit by my bad example—he will know why I am saying what I am. The hon. Member for Louth may, of course, do all these things to which I refer, but I can assure him that there are many hon. Members who have no objection to drinking at all, including myself—I have an occasional drink—and who would be very glad to be able to do a little more drinking than they do at present.
I want to be as reserved and as conservative as I can in the arguments which I am deploying. I am glad that in both the speech made by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House and the speech made by the right hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) there was a clear acceptance that this is not a party issue. The history of this matter is that after the abortive negotiations by Members of all three parties in the House, it was eventually decided to set up what was, in effect, an arbitration committee. Before that committee was finally set up it was agreed by all concerned that whichever party came to power the conclusions of the Committee's Report would be implemented by it.
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
The hon. Gentleman is not quite correct in saying that it was agreed that the Report would be implemented. The present Government have not implemented it exactly, but we agreed that speedy action would be taken.
§ Mr. Loughlin
I thank the right hon. and learned Gentleman for that intervention, but I think he will agree that 779 what I said was substantially true. I do not think he would argue that had his party come to power it would have challenged in any way—I put this to him deliberately—the figure in respect of remuneration for Members of the House contained in the Lawrence Report.
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
It is important to get this point clear. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman heard my speech, but I said that the decision in the matter must rest with the Government of the day. The Government of the day have taken the decision with regard to Ministers' salaries. I said that I did not really quarrel very much with the original recommendation, but that I also did not dispute the right of the Government to come to a different decision. We would have done exactly the same with regard to Members' pay. I said that I thought the figure was a little high. Whether or not we would have proposed £3,000 or £3,250, I do not know, but I was not prepared to advise my hon. Friends to vote against the proposal, as I hope that the settlement will stand for some time.
§ Mr. Loughlin
I appreciate the position in which the right hon. and learned Gentleman finds himself today, but I would point out to him that there would have been a substantial number of Members on the benches opposite who would have been bitterly disappointed and dissatisfied by any action of a Government of which the hon. and learned Gentleman was a member had they come to power and had they interfered with the basic scales laid down in the Report for Members of Parliament. We all discussed this. It is not only a question of Labour Members discussing it. I hope that the right hon. and learned Gentleman is not seeking, as did his right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) on one occasion, to make political party propaganda out of this matter.
§ Mr. Quintin Hogg (St. Marylebone)
I really do not know what the hon. Gentleman is saying. As far as I am aware, I never mentioned this subject on the public platform. I do not know why, when I was coming into the Chamber to listen to the very interesting speech which the hon. Gentleman was making, he thought 780 it necessary to bring me into the debate. Perhaps he will give me chapter and verse of the occasion to which he refers or will withdraw what he said.
§ Mr. Loughlin
I am not at this stage in a position to give the right hon. and learned Gentleman chapter and verse. I will withdraw the remark, but I promise the right hon. and learned Gentleman that I will produce a newspaper report to him and he will then be in the position of being able to refute the remarks attributed to him in it and to which I have referred. I will let him have the report in the next week.
This is, in effect, an arbitration decision, a decision of an independent body, and I think that any hon. Member who seeks to exploit the present situation—not strictly for party purposes as in the case of the hon. Member for Louth, because his speech as been counteracted by other speeches made today by hon. Members opposite—for personal publicity is guilty of disgraceful conduct.
§ 1.47 p.m.
§ Mr. Eric Lubbock (Orpington)
I entirely agree with everything that the hon. Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Loughlin) has said on the subject of the speech by the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne). I do not apologise at all for bringing into this discussion the question of the outside jobs which the hon. Gentleman holds, because I think it is extremely relevant to the debate. If we are to pay attention to views of that nature, we want to be able to ascertain what income the person putting forward those views receives from outside sources. I do not think that it would be a bad thing if there were a full disclosure by hon. Members of earnings from outside sources, so that, if need be, they could be referred to in any future discussion of this type.
There is a publication, which is not widely available, called "The Business Interests of Members of Parliament" produced by Mr. Andrew Roth. It makes interesting reading. I do not know how authoritative it is, because I understand that Mr. Roth receives the information which he publishes from the hon. Members concerned. If we all had to publish a declaration stating what income we received from outside sources, I think that would be fair and would enable us 781 to judge whether comments of the kind which we heard this morning were absolutely impartial or not.
§ Mr. William Shepherd (Cheadle)
I think that the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock) is being very unreasonable in taking the view that Members of Parliament should declare their incomes. Is it not more intelligent to say that no hon. Member ought to say that a salary is too much unless he himself lives solely on that salary?
§ Mr. Lubbock
That is probably quite a good point. The question of the size of the salary one receives from outside sources may be quite important as well. The origin of such salaries would be interesting for other reasons. We have to declare an interest when we speak in this House on subjects in which we may have an interest. We have, for example, to say whether we are directors of steel companies if the House happens to be discussing steel nationalisation. I am suggesting that we might extend that principle a little and make sure that this information is properly codified and available in a form which would be easily referred to by hon. Members when occasion arose.
I wish to say one or two things about the connection which the hon. Member for Louth tried to show between the Bill which we are discussing and the economic situation generally. I do not think that everything the hon. Member said on the subject was completely relevant, but I am absolutely at one with him in thinking that an incomes policy is necessary. I am delighted that we seem to be taking the first step towards it. But no incomes policy could be based on a complete restriction of all types of incomes at their present levels. Were the hon. Member for Louth present in the Chamber I would ask him whether, as a director of the seven companies which I mentioned, he has consistently opposed increases in the dividends of those companies; whether he has opposed any increases in the emoluments of the directors or any proposals which might have come before the boards of those companies for increases in the salaries and wages of employees. The hon. Gentleman was suggesting that there should be a complete bar on increases of any kind during the present economic situation. I think, therefore, that if he gave us the informa- 782 tion to which I have referred, we should be in a better position to judge the value of his remarks.
During the speech of the hon. Member for Manchester, Withington (Sir R. Cary) I intervened to refer to the income needs of hon. Members according to whether they were full-time or part-time Members of this House. I was not the originator of that phrase—
§ Mr. Lubbock
I do not think that it was in the Report; the phrase originated in the Press. What we are talking about is not the exact terminology of the activities of hon. Members, but whether or not hon. Members have an occupation outside the House which distracts them from the duties which they should be undertaking, either on behalf of their constituents or because they are Members of Parliament—such as playing their full part in the debates in this Chamber, and belonging to the various all-party organisations which act behind the scenes, and which the national Press never takes into account when deciding whether Members of Parliament are doing their jobs properly.
Someone counts the number of hon. Members present in the Chamber and says, "This is a shockingly low percentage", and then a comment is made about the pay rise which we are discussing today—in my view quite improperly, because there is not the knowledge of what hon. Members may be doing elsewhere. This is particularly the case if a count is taken on a Friday. We all know that hon. Members who live a long way from London may have to start travelling on Thursday night or Friday morning if they are to undertake duties in their constituencies. It is up to an hon. Member to judge whether it is more important for him to be present in the House during a debate on a Friday or undertaking duties in his constituency, and I do not think that an hon. Member needs to be lectured by any newspaper on the judgment which he should exercise in this respect.
To return to what I was saying about full-time or part-time Members, this question is important and I think it a pity in some ways that we could not have made a distinction between hon. Members who are prepared to devote their full time to 783 the service of this House and those who have jobs outside which bring in high salaries. It would be difficult to indicate this in the salary itself, but I believe that in some countries payments are made by the State to members of the Legislature on account of expenses and on a different basis than we have. When we pay a secretary, or a telephone bill, we can deduct it only from our salaries on the Income Tax return. There are no reimbursable expenses, as such, except the proposed new car allowance. I should prefer to see more reimbursable expenses even though that meant that hon. Members did not receive a salary as high as £3,250. This would make it much easier for us to explain to our constituents and to people outside the House who object to these proposals.
Let me take a small example. It is proposed that we shall continue paying £24 to the Members' Fund into the indefinite future, although no hon. Member present today will derive any benefit from it. They will come under the new pension proposals. Very few of them will benefit. Why should not we be paid £24 less than the £3,250 and an ex gratia contribution be made, say from the Consolidated Fund, or from whatever other source would be appropriate, to keep the Members' Fund in existence?
§ Mr. Bowden
One could imagine a case where a new Member might not qualify for a pension because he had not completed ten years service. He might die before being able to do so, or be incapacitated in some other way. He might need help from the Members' Fund, despite the current proposals.
§ Mr. Lubbock
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman; I can see that what I am saying is not entirely correct. Surely the number of hon. Members who might need this kind of help in the future will be fewer than was the case before the new pension arrangements were proposed.
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
I think this a very important point which should be made clear. There is also the case of a person who may have done ten years' service but retired before reaching the age of 65. He could be helped only through the Members' Fund.
§ Mr. Lubbock
The fact remains that people outside this House are regarding the figure of £3,250 and saying "That is what you receive as salary". The right hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) himself pointed out that what we shall actually receive, when compared with any outside occupation, is only £1,800. I do not want to make too much of this point about the Members' Fund. All I am saying is that there is £24 of the total salary from which many hon. Members are unlikely to derive any benefit.
This is only one item of many to which reference may be made and which, according to the Lawrence Committee, amount to an average of £1,250 in respect of each hon. Member. I think it would have been helpful if in these proposals it had been possible to draw attention to the figure of £1,800 which has been referred to. As was said by the hon. Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Tiley), the more work one does in this place the less will be one's salary, and no element in this new proposal will help us. If we could have reconsidered the question of prepaid postage, which was at one time available to hon. Members, that could have been a reimbursable expense in addition to the car expense and it would have been a good thing. We might have been paid a salary lower than £3,250 had that been the case.
I am not reluctant to defend this salary figure before my constituents. I do not understand why some hon. Members seem to find it embarrassing to discuss it with their constituents. My constituents understand perfectly well that it is necessary to raise the salaries of hon. Members of this House. Unlike those of other hon. Members who have spoken, many of my constituents have told me that they think the figure of £3,250 is not excessive for the work that Members of Parliament are called on to do. Why should we be so ashamed of this? After all, we are working longer hours than practically any other profession one cares to name. I should think perhaps that only doctors have a more arduous life than Members of Parliament.
We have to work longer hours, for example, than a lawyer or a school teacher or practically any other profession which one cares to name. If one 785 compares this new salary of £3,250—or, as I prefer to think of it, of £1,800—with those of these other professions, one will find that we are very poorly rewarded, even now, after the increase. A dentist, for example—and dentists do not consider themselves well rewarded—gets £2,740. That is nearly £1,000 more than we are proposing to pay ourselves under the Bill. I do not think that we should be ashamed of this. I think that we should be prepared to go out of this House and to defend these increases. I hope that the Second Reading of the Bill will receive the unanimous assent of the House.
§ 2.2 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Doig (Dundee, West)
So far, only one Member has spoken against this proposal, and therefore I intend to deal with the remarks of that Member only. The hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) made one statement with which I could agree, and only one—that his was a very difficult speech to make.
I have never heard so much hypocrisy in my life as I heard this afternoon from the hon. Member for Louth. First of all, he states that this is the wrong time to increase Ministers' and Members' salaries, because we are in a financial crisis. Has he forgotten that his party, under a former leader, Mr. Harold Macmillan, said that we had "never had it so good"? Why did they not increase these salaries then? The present Leader of the Opposition said, not so very long ago, that the economy had never been stronger. Why did he not increase them then? There seems to be a very good reason—that neither of them had the courage to increase salaries, to do what they thought was right. They had always, as they admitted, their eye on how this would influence votes. This was made clear over and over again.
The hon. Member for Louth went on to say that one of his difficulties was how he would explain this to pensioners. How could he explain to pensioners that they would only get £4 per week when Members and Ministers would get such substantial increases? Of course, if we link anyone's increase in pay—whether he be a bus driver, a doctor, a lawyer, a bricklayer or anyone else—to the increase in pensions, how many of them would be satisfied? If we go back for the span 786 of my lifetime, we find that pensions have gone up their full amount, namely, £4 a week. The average wage in the year I was born was £1 per week, so that if other workers accepted this argument, their wage today would be £5 per week. An M.P.'s salary today would be £12 a week, to keep himself and his family in his constituency and to keep himself in London during the week, paying all the expenses.
This would have one result. The House of Commons would be composed entirely of Members like the hon. Member for Louth. [HON. MEMBERS: "0h."] I do not know whether many people would think that that was a good thing. I do not think that very many would. For any hon. Member to stand up and proclaim that this is the wrong time to give us a decent salary when he admits that he is quite independent of that salary altogether, to me, is sheer hypocrisy. What did he say? He said that if hon. Members had any sense they would get directorships. That is what he said.
§ Mr. Doig
Very well. He said, "If hon. Members had any brains they would get themselves directorships." Of course, we all know from bitter experience, particularly those of us on this side of the House, that one does not get a directorship because one has brains. How many people know, on the day they are born, that they will be directors? Quite a number, and the hon. Member for Louth was probably one of them. There is very little or anything which one can do about it. Brains and directorships do not go hand in hand. There is one thing that does go hand in hand with directorships, and that is financial success. I have never heard of directors applying for National Assistance. I have never heard of directors signing on at the labour exchange. Maybe one or two have done so. I do not know.
Let us have a look at what has been said by two ex-Members of this House from the same party as the hon. Member for Louth. Sir Ted Leather wrote a letter to The Times on 25th November, in which he stated that we should accept these proposals in their entirety as the proper rate for the job. He gave a very 787 lengthy statement, but the interesting part of it is where he says that there are only about 150 Members who spend less than £1,000 per annum of their salaries on doing their duties. I must confess that I am one of these 150. I could not afford to spend £1,000 on my duties, because I have no other source of income.
. Let us take another, very similar to the hon. Member for Louth—Sir Gerald Nabarro. He wrote to the Daily Telegraph on 1st December, 1963, and gave a copy of his Parliamentary Income Tax expenses. It totals up to £1,950—£200 more than his entire Parliamentary salary. Of course, he gets no rebate on the other £200. He state quite definitely that these expenses are incurred:wholly, necessarily and exclusively in connection with my Parliamentary and constituency work.He goes on to say that these figures exclude necessary expenses not admissible for tax purposes. I take it from this that he was being much more honest than the hon. Member for Louth and would agree with these salary increases, even though he was not one who depended on his Parliamentary salary.
The other question which the hon. Member for Louth asked was, how would he explain this increase to the old-age pensioners of his constituency? After all, he is a coward at heart; fear is at the back of this. How is he to go back to his constituency and explain accepting this when he knows that pensioners will get only £4 a week? This £4 a week is more than his party were prepared to give them, so it might be difficult for him, I agree. On this side of the House, we have no difficulty about this, because, in spite of the financial crisis, we do the things which we believe to be right. One of these things was to increase Members' and Ministers' salaries. Another, and a more important, one was to give increases to old-age pensioners. We did it in spite of the financial crisis.
I shall have no difficulty in explaining the increase in Members' salaries to old-age pensioners in my constituency because hon. Members have gone for seven years without an increase. Who else has ever done that? Some Cabinet Ministers have gone for 130 years without an increase. Where else has anything like that happened? It may be that 788 their salaries were too high in the first place. That is quite possible, because I imagine that at that time the House of Commons was composed mainly of people like the hon. Member for Louth. As one of my hon. Friends comments, at least they probably would have taken the same attitude.
In any event, there is no difficulty in explaining this to pensioners because we have given the second largest increase, just as we gave the largest, which has ever been given to pensioners. We have gone out of our way to give a £4 Christmas bonus to those on National Assistance. We have done many other things. There is no time to elaborate on them today because once again, as always seems to happen when I speak in the House, I have to be brief, despite the fact that I am one of the briefest speakers in the House. We have done many things which I do not intend to elaborate.
It is deplorable that the hon. Member for Louth should make these remarks knowing, as he does, that there is hardship among certain hon. Members. Let us consider the type of risk which an hon. Member such as myself takes when he stands for Parliament. I had a fairly good job before I came here. I stood in a constituency where the majority at the time was less than 1,000. I came into the House at a by-election knowing that there must be a General Election within a year. I was risking my entire financial future, because at my time of life it is not easy to pick up another job. I knew all the risks and I took them with my eyes wide open.
Many things may happen to hon. Members which people like the hon. Member for Louth would never think about. We have late night sittings. When we have a late night sitting it costs me 8s. to go home in a taxi. The alternative is a very long walk. If one lives in a place where one has only bed and breakfast, and the House sits until 5 a.m., one still has to be up by 8 a.m. I am back in the Palace of Westminster by 9 a.m. because I have no secretary and I have to answer my mail before noon if I am to pay attention to business in the House afterwards. Sometimes we have Standing Committees in the morning, and we go right on again until two o'clock the next morning. That is after only two hours in one's bed—and then one is back here again.
789 Who would stand for conditions of this kind unless he were interested in the job which he was doing? There is only one reason why I am here, and it is that I have spent all my life trying to improve conditions for working class people such as myself. Until I came here I did it in my spare time for nothing. This is the first time that I have been paid for carrying out my hobby, as it were—and it is not particularly generous pay. After only one year in the House my bank balance is lower than it was when I came here. I am a very frugal person. I do all my own clerical work. I do not spend money on drinking, or smoking, or on anything like that. I am not extravagant in any way at all. And yet I have found it impossible to save money during the year I have been here on the old Parliamentary salary. People who consider these facts will not vote against this Motion.
§ 2.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Jasper More (Ludlow)
I hope that the hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Doig) will forgive me if I do not follow him in his argument, except to say that, as many hon. Members wish to take part in the debate, it is my ambition to be as brief as possible and even to beat his record as the briefest speaker in the House.
I wish to make three comments about these proposals. I hope that if what I say sounds critical the Leader of the House will accept my assurance that it is intended to be constructive and not destructive criticism. I find it wholly deplorable that, having had this Committee set up, having had its excellent Report, having had that Report welcomed and supported on both sides of the House, and having had the excellent explanation from the Leader of the House this morning, we are still faced with the fact that the Government are not prepared to recommend the acceptance of the Report in its entirety. I find it deplorable that the Government think that in the matter of Ministerial salaries they know better than the Lawrence Committee, and I express the hope that opportunity will still be found for second thoughts on this matter and for the Government to decide to recommend that the Lawrence proposals should be accepted.
790 When he introduced the Bill the Leader of the House said that the Government "accepted the recommendations as far as possible". I find it difficult to attach any real sense to those words. What I fear is that the Government are afraid of public opinion. The Leader of the House referred to the reactions which had been produced or might be produced in the anti-Parliament newspapers. It may well be that this is not the happiest moment at which to introduce a Measure for increasing the salaries of either Members or Ministers. But surely there are ways, consistent with the acceptance of the whole of the Report, of providing against a situation of this kind if it is considered necessary. If the recommendations of the Report were accepted in their entirety, it would not be difficult for the Prime Minister to say that for a period of six months, twelve months or such period as he liked, he was recommending his colleagues that the full increase should not be accepted. I should like the Leader of the House seriously to turn his mind to this proposition.
By way of fortifying my comments, I want to refer to paragraph 113 of the Lawrence Report, because this is a matter which the House ought to take into consideration. We have heard speeches in the House about the relationship between the Legislature and the Executive, with which I think all hon. Members, at any rate on this side of the House, are inclined to agree. But there is another matter of which we should not lose sight—particularly those on the Government side of the House—and that is the relationship between the different branches of the Executive, by which I mean those which are permanent and those which are political.
We are faced nowadays with an astonishing state of affairs in the salaries of official and permanent Members of the Executive. For instance, the Minister of Agriculture draws a salary of £5,000 a year, while his Permanent Secretary draws a salary of £8,285 a year. Particularly when we remember the kind of responsibility which Ministers of Agriculture have carried in the past—I need only mention the case of Crichel Down—and when we think of the built-in securities for those in the higher branches of the Civil Service, in terms of pension and so on, we must all think it a fantastic state of affairs 791 that we can draw this comparison between the salaries.
It is evident from paragraph 113 of the Lawrence Report that this was one of the considerations most pressed upon them in the evidence to which they listened and one of the considerations which led them to reach the figures which they recommend in their conclusions in paragraph 118. I suggest that this is a matter which all hon. Members should consider and to which the Government should give further attention before the Bill reaches its final form.
The Lawrence Committee had the question of Mr. Speaker's remuneration referred to it as a separate subject in its terms of reference. The Committee went to great pains in its Report to treat Mr. Speaker, and rightly so, as a case in isolation from that of other cases. It caused a certain amount of embarrassment to me when the Prime Minister announced the decision of the Government on this matter, for after referring to hon. Members' salaries, he then spoke of the salaries of Ministers and others.
I did not feel that Mr. Speaker should have been dismissed in the phrase "and others". Having regard to the extreme care with which the Lawrence Committee went into Mr. Speaker's case—which differs from all other cases—it would be wrong for us not to accept its proposal. Even if the Government found it impossible to take the view which I have taken about Ministerial salaries, I hope that they will agree to treat the question of Mr. Speaker in isolation from other Ministerial salaries, or from Ministerial salaries at all.
I would like to think that rather than consider this as a matter for Government decision, while the Government are absolutely entitled to express their view and give a lead, they will agree to do the right thing and say that this is a House of Commons matter. If it goes for discussion in Committee or elsewhere this should be a matter of free vote for hon. Members.
I want by way of appendix to what I said about Mr. Speaker to remind the House of a matter which, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I hope will not be an embarrassment to you. In paragraph 149 of the Lawrence Report reference was specifically made to the Chairman and Deputy- 792 Chairman of Ways and Means. It stated:… we believe that it will be recognised that there is a need for consequential changes in the remuneration of these offices. We draw attention to the matter which we think may be left to be the subject of appropriate consideration and of such action as may be thought desirable.I would like an assurance from the Leader of the House that that sentence will not be lost sight of and that consideration will be given to it.
I hope, and this is linked to what I said at the beginning of my remarks, that we will regard the Lawrence Report as a precedent for the future. I wish I could share the qualified optimism of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Wirrall (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) that inflation may not be with us for ever. But whether or not that is so, I do not think that we can rule out of our minds the possibility that in a few years' time we may once more be faced in some degree with the unsatisfactory situation out of which we hope the Bill we are discussing will extract us.
I cannot help thinking that it would be a great constitutional and Parliamentary advantage if we had in existence, in some form or other, some kind of permanent committee which could consider these things, say at quinquennial periods, and in that way lift this topic permanently from the Floor of the House.
Although not immediately relevant to the Bill, I would also like to think that there might be included in any such review undertaken by such a committee not only the subject of hon. Members' salaries and those of the Executive but also those, no less important, of the judiciary. My final word is that I still hope that our conclusion on the whole of this matter is that we decide to accept the Report, the whole Report and nothing but the Report.
§ 2.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Eric Ogden (Liverpool, West Derby)
Before the debate began I was somewhat reluctant to take part in what is, after all, an application for increased salaries for ourselves. Then I looked at it in a different way and realised that we are only doing something which many of us have been doing for years; negotiating salaries through trade union 793 machinery. However, because we do not have a trade union to do this for us there are bound to be difficulties.
The experience which I had in the past was in the coal mining industry, where for days, weeks and sometimes months on end we had to negotiate, not salaries of £1,250, £1,500 or more, but the question of obtaining an extra ½d. a ton for miners on the amount of coal they produced. On one occasion three months went by while we endeavoured to increase the rate from 3s. 8½d. to 3s. 9d. for a ton of coal.
I would have hoped, therefore, that more attention had been paid in the recommendations we are discussing to the provision of some sort of trade union conditions in the House of Commons, although fringe benefits might be more valuable to hon. Members in the long run, for secretarial assistance, accommodation, free postage and telephone calls and so on are equally important matters to us.
I regret that the Lawrence Committee's proposals did not link our pay with, say, a special grade in the Civil Service, for that would have taken this whole business away from the Floor of the House when decisions of this sort must be made. If any hon. Members are reluctant to speak about this matter, they need only realise that we are merely asking for the rate for the job—and all hon. Members know the job we have to do.
§ 2.27 p.m.
§ Mr. Frank Taylor (Manchester, Moss Side)
It is generally agreed among hon. Members that there is a firm case for a substantial increase in our salary, particularly when it is compared with the rates paid in other occupations. The whole thing has been clogged and clouded because of misunderstanding on the part of the public, who do not or will not realise just how much of our pay goes in expenses.
The Bill could have helped a lot had it been set out differently and had it given in clear terms the real income, the net amount, which is available to hon. Members. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) pointed out that a great deal of the expenditure which an hon. Member incurs—in his opinion necessarily, wholly 794 and exclusively in the interests of his job—is not allowable for tax purposes and, consequently, he must not only meet these expenses but must also pay tax in doing so. This makes the position even worse.
When one considers hon. Members' pay compared with remuneration in other professions, and when one takes into account the guiding light we have heard so much about in the last year or two of 3½ per cent. to 4 per cent., there is no question of a guiding light being applied to hon. Members' pay. The guiding light represents an annual increase, and hon. Members have not had a variation for about seven years. During that time other professions have had substantial increases. It is, therefore, wrong to compare one with the other.
This does not necessarily mean that an hon. Member can feel that he is very badly done by or that he has a grouse. When I sometimes find that I am filled with self pity at the amount of work I must do—often in preparing speeches which I do not get the chance to deliver; which may be a good thing for a lot of people—I remind myself that I did not have to join. "I came here voluntarily. I was not obliged to come", I tell myself. So I suppose that we should not be too dismal about our position.
My views on this subject are founded on general points of principle. This Parliament is sound and successful and, in spite of some of its archaic procedures, it produces good laws. We are proud of it for that reason. This is true to such an extent that many of the developing countries endeavour to copy our structure of Parliament and our proceedings as closely as possible. We are envied throughout the world. It is a model for many other countries because our success is due to the fact that among the 630 hon. Members is to be found a wealth of knowledge of virtually every subject. Hon. Members are not, as a body, just a group of theorists. Whatever may be the topic under discussion, one or other hon. Member—or many hon. Members—can bring to bear on it pinpointed expert knowledge. It is most important that we should reserve that ability, otherwise we may become something that we do not want to be.
The Report refers to Lloyd George's statement in 1911 that payment of Members was not remuneration, was not a 795 recompense, and was not even a salary. The principle there agreed was that the payment is not necessarily the whole income of an hon. Member, and I believe that to be the crux of some of our problems. Many hon. Members, including the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Ogden), have said, "We want the rate for the job," but that is to put the House on the downward path, and we should closely examine where that principle would lead us.
These claims come principally from the benches opposite, but they have been made by a number of Conservatives as well. If the rate for the job were to be paid, the position of hon. Members would change progressively to the equivalent of just another remunerated vocation. Some hon. Members have clearly said that they want that, but I do not. If they were to be paid the rate for the job, Members would, from the practical point of view, be liable to become another grade of civil servant—excellent people, we know, but is that what we want to be? Only recently it has been suggested that our pay should be based on that of an accepted grade of civil servant. We can therefore see where the full rate for the job would lead us.
Once hon. Members were paid the full rate for the job and were able to live comfortably on that money they would, in due time, become less and less knowledgeable of what goes on outside the House. That would be inevitable. Stage by stage they would cease to have interest in the outside world, and would end up with only an academic knowledge of its realities—
§ Mr. William Shepherd (Cheadle)
Will my hon. Friend say why he assumes that because a man claims higher remuneration in the House he will not seek interests outside the House? Why does he make that assumption?
§ Mr. Taylor
I am entitled to my opinion. I think that if hon. Members were to get all the moneys needed in this House, it would mean that the majority of them would become people seeking a job—
§ Mr. Gregor Mackenzie (Rutherglen)
The hon. Member has the notion that the experience we can bring to the House of Commons can be gained only by day-to-day business commitments. Will he concede that there are people who, like my hon. Friend the Member for West Derby (Mr. Ogden), have given a lifetime of service in the mines, and others who have served with the railways, and so on, who have a very substantial contribution to make, but that the very nature of the work they carried on before does not enable them to carry on with it while serving in the House of Commons?
§ Mr. Taylor
There is a vestige of good sense in that, but I believe that any hon. Member leaving his old job completely will find his knowledge of it fading unless something can be done to maintain the link.
I do not think that this line of thought is a flight of fancy or even just a possibility. It is not even too ridiculous to contemplate in the future hon. Members having their own association or kind of trade union. If we had the rate of pay for the job, our work would become only another grade of job, and that would become an automatic development later. We might even have hon. Members working to rule, or striking for more pay. We might even have a Members' promotional organisation and a chartered institute of Members of Parliament—
§ Sir D. Glover
I think that my hon. Friend and the hon. Member for West Derby (Mr. Ogden) are forgetting the important point that as it is Parliament that votes all the money for the country, with an hon. Members' trade union such as suggested, they would be arguing against themselves.
§ Mr. Arthur Lewis
It would appear to me that the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) is already working to rule. Since making his speech he has not put his foot inside the place, so he must be on strike already.
§ Mr. Taylor
I had not intended to refer to my hon. Friend, but as his name has been mentioned I must say that I think he made a speech from the heart, and meant what he said. I was sorry to hear the personal attacks on him, which I thought were at a low level, and in very bad taste.
797 I believe that a Member should be able to carry out his duties in Parliament and yet have enough extra capacity to maintain the link with the outside world by some profession or trade, so that he keeps in touch with what is going on around us. I think that if he is not capable of doing that, he is not the right man to be here—
§ Mr. Ogden
As far as I know, there are no coal mines under the City. That means that I cannot carry on my former duties while working in this place, but I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the visits that people from my union, and other people, have been able to make, keep me in the closest possible contact.
§ Mr. Taylor
That is so, but there are other aspects of the coal mining industry that do not require a man to have horny hands and to hew coal. There are jobs in that industry by which, when one is in Parliament, one can keep in touch.
I believe that very few hon. Members live entirely on their Parliamentary salary. A substantial number are sponsored to this House by the trade unions, and many of them receive a trade union contribution towards their expenses. There are Co-op Members who have a subsidy from their sponsoring body, to which they are to some extent subservient as a result. They have extra money over and above the £1,750. I am quite certain that if a Member is tied to some outside body like a trade union or the Co-op his opinion is also inclined to be tied.
Moreover, a Member entirely dependent on his Parliamentary salary will be tied to his own party's apron strings. The independence of a Member is very much prejudiced if he relies entirely on what he gets here. If some hon. Members ceased to hold their Parliamentary position they would find difficulty—some of them very great difficulty—in getting other employment. If they had no other source of income they would be very wary of doing anything except keep to the party line, for fear of finding themselves in that position. There is great danger in the idea of paying the rate for the job.
I hold these views strongly, but I agree that our conditions of working here are deplorable. I should very much like to see a great improvement in them. At the moment it is impossible, unless 798 he has much influence that I do not know about, for him to get a room to himself. One has to join in a long queue to get a place in a room with seven or eight hon. Members. These are conditions which we would not tolerate as businessmen for a moment. The conditions are very bad and I would welcome a great improvement in them in lieu of an increase in pay. That would provide a better image than we have at present.
This proposal is badly timed, as my hon. Friend the Member for Louth said, because the Government bring forward this Bill and at the same time promise pensioners an increase for which they are made to wait for six months. This cannot be ignored and I am sure the public and the pensioners will not ignore it. Hon. Members opposite tell us that we are all equal, pensioners and Members of Parliament, but obviously some are "more equal" than others. If ever there were a wrong time this is it at which to give Members of Parliament an increase 40 times greater than the increase which pensioners are to get four or five months' hence. It is nonsense to say that pensions increases could not be paid earlier. I do not think anyone could say that it was impossible to pay those increases six months earlier.
§ Mr. Taylor
Since the hon. and learned Member makes that point, I would remind him that the Conservative Party raised them five times in 13 years, and there would have been another rise coming forward on the normal law of averages.
This is a move at the wrong time. We should recast the proposal and give better administrative allowances or services, not this great pay increase, which will be misconstrued by the public and will create disadvantages for us at a time when the Labour Party in power has started the inflation trend on its way. In this morning's newspapers the cost of living is 1 per cent. up. The party opposite will have great difficulty in keeping it as low as 1 per cent. per month in future. I make that prediction. We should not forget that in the last year in which the party opposite was in power the cost of living increased 18 per cent., 799 which is about the same as is being offered to pensioners next March. That is rather getting away from the subject of this debate. I merely add that I object to this Bill for the reasons that I have given, which I believe to be sound ones.
§ 2.42 p.m.
§ Mr. Will Griffiths (Manchester, Exchange)
I apologise to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House and to the Opposition Front Bench for not having heard the speeches made at the beginning of the debate, but my hon. Friends have given me some idea of what has been said. When the House of Commons is discussing its own salaries it is always in a difficulty. When I entered the House at the end of the war the salary was £600 a year. I have sat through many of these debates and they have always been difficult occasions. I have never spoken in these debates before, but I have listened to them. I have rarely heard a speech in debates of this kind which seemed so ill-considered and badly thought out as the speech by the hon. Member for Manchester, Moss Side (Mr. Frank Taylor).
§ Mr. Arthur Lewis
My hon. Friend was not here to hear the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne), who made a fantastic speech.
§ Mr. Griffiths
That is so, but I do not always hear the speeches of my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis) either.
I want to take up one or two points made by the hon. Member for Moss Side. First, on the question of work outside the House of Commons, of course that possibility would be desirable. It is a bad thing that this House should be peopled, as it were, by professional politicians. It is wholly desirable if possible for Members to be able to have other work outside the House, but, as my hon. Friends have said and as older hon. Members on both sides of the House know, Parliament demands increasingly year by year more time from its members to sit on Standing Committees and to be present in this House. It is completely unrealistic for the hon. Member for Moss Side to refer to the possibility of keeping contact with jobs outside the House of Commons.
800 In the last Parliament when occasionally the Whips put me on a Standing Committee it was very much in my mind when I attended those Committees that they were kept going by what one might call the professional members of this House. They were manned in the main by my hon. Friends and hon. Members opposite who either had no outside job or so arranged their affairs that they could attend Standing Committee sittings and enable those with a professional job as a journalist, in medicine or some other outside work, to do that work. For goodness' sake let the hon. Member for Moss Side realise the facts of life for an hon. Member in the second half of the twentieth century. It is nonsense to talk as he did about employment outside the House.
I want to refer to something else he said. Although I agree with it, I do not draw the same conclusions as he did. He spoke about the difficulty which hon. Members might find in securing employment if they lost their membership of the House of Commons. This is something which might face many hon. Members with the most serious consequences. This is one reason why always when we considered these matters I have been much more interested in raising pensions than salaries. Do not let anyone be under a misunderstanding; of course I agree that the salary ought to be raised, but I have always thought pensions of the utmost importance, not exclusively to relieve the distress that a middle-aged Member might encounter if he suddenly lost his seat in the House of Commons, but because I believe a pension after a reasonable number of years service is a good thing for Parliament itself.
It is good if an hon. Member should become disgusted with his party or feel that the Whips have been too tyrannical to feel that he can leave the House of Commons and not see himself and his family plunged into hardship. It is, therefore, a good thing for Parliament.
§ Mr. Griffiths
I agree, but I am talking about the principle. I think pensions are most important. That is all I want to say about the speech of the hon. Member for Moss Side and I now turn to something quite different, the proposal to pay members of the House of Lords or to 801 give them a daily allowance of £4 14s. 6d. I am absolutely opposed to that. I am opposed to it because I think it an extremely wrong principle that members of a non-elected Chamber, put there in the main by an act of patronage on the part of the Government, who go to the House of Lords on the nomination either of the Prime Minister or the Leader of the Opposition for life and those who have nominated them have no power of recall, nor have the electorate, yet for the remainder of their lives, without responsibility to their original promoters, or party, or to the electorate, provided they put in an appearance and attend the House they go on drawing public money.
I agree that the amount is small and that membership of the House of Lords by attendance involves expenses which many Members of the House find it extremely difficult to bear. That does not alter the fact that it is a wholly bad principle that by the beneficence of these acts of patronage people should go on until the end of their lives drawing public money without being accountable to anyone. It is a wholly bad principle. It is one thing in particular in the proposals with which I disagree.
The hon. Member for Moss Side has put his name to an Amendment seeking to reduce the amount to be paid to hon. Members. It is implicit from that that he must have given some thought to what the right figure should be, but this did not come out very clearly in his speech. The hon. Member did me the honour of listening to my opening sentences, when I told the House how often I have sat through these debates and how all the older Members have had the embarrassment of taking part in these debates. Does not the hon. Gentleman think that the most serious examination of the whole problem of Members' salaries, with an objective analysis of their difficulties and the level at which the salary should be, has been carried out for the first time in two decades by the Lawrence Committee?
§ Mr. Frank Taylor
I believe that the Report lays far too much emphasis on the pay for the job and not on the substance of the argument I advanced, that one should have outside interests which are remunerated, coupled with one's pay as a Member. This is why I disagree with the Report.
§ Mr. Griffiths
In terms of membership of the House of Commons, I do not know what "the rate for the job" means. If every Member in the House today spoke frankly, he would say that we all differ as individuals and we know full well that if the salary were fixed today at £1,000 or £10,000 a year some Members would be devoted Members of the House of Commons and others would not. The final sanction for the bad Member is vested in the electorate. They are the people who send Members here. I do not know what "the rate for the job" means. I accept that the Lawrence Committee, after taking a long, cool and hard look at the problem, has made certain recommendations. The Committee was freed from the disabilities under which we labour when trying to determine what the salary should be. I think that the House should accept the Committee's recommendation. I hope that with the salary at this level we shall not have to go through this all over again too soon. I am sure that the overwhelming majority of Members will approve the Motion and give it their support.
§ 2.53 p.m.
§ Mr. A. P. Costain (Folkestone and Hythe)
I accept that hon. Members are in an embarrassing position today. Anybody who asks for a rise is in an embarrassing position, whether he is facing his employer or facing his colleagues across the Floor of the House. I believe that the decision to set up an independent Committee was correct. The investigation was carried out with much care and thought. The Committee had available to it much more information than any individual Member has at his disposal.
My hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) made a speech which has been much criticized—I regret to say in his absence. I accept that my hon. Friend's speech was made in sincerity. I also accept that his own financial position, like my own, is a good deal different from that of other hon. Members. I willingly acknowledge that I am grateful to my colleagues in my own companies for allowing me the time to do this work. I have given up four directorships, one vice-chairmanship and one managing directorship, only because I felt that I could not do both jobs properly. Let me frankly say that my loss of income is negligible.
803 It is vital that all Members should have outside interests, wherever possible. This can be done. I do not think that I have ever missed a Question Time since I have been a Member, except when I have been absent on Parliamentary business or by illness. Both jobs can be done with advantage. Both jobs can be done with advantage to one's constituents, because in my own company we have some lawyers who are very willing to give me advice which I can pass on to my constituents. Otherwise, I should not have a clue on some of these matters.
However, I still think that service in the House must be a mission. The right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell), who, in the manner of Privy Councillors, swept into the House, spoke, sat down and swept out again, made some reference to this. Although service here should be a mission, it must not be a sacrifice. Too many Members who genuinely regard their work here as a mission are at present making an unnecessary sacrifice. For this reason, I support both the Bill and the Motion.
Where I have some doubts is that the Lawrence Report shows that the expenses of Members vary considerably. The level of expenses as shown in the Report runs from £101 to £1,900. These are genuine expenses which have been agreed by the Inland Revenue. The Leader of the House made special reference to the thoroughness with which the Inland Revenue investigates these expenses.
I cannot see how any Member can possibly give a proper service to his constituency with these low expenses. I readily accept that they are at this low level because hon. Members cannot afford to do otherwise. I should like to see this tackled for the benefit of the individual, and his constituency, and the public image of Parliament itself. That is what matters most, the dignity of Parliament. Things should be so arranged that Members have a modest increase in salary, possibly up to £2,000. I think that then Members should be allowed to charge, as one would be in a company, expenses which are properly incurred, with a maximum. The overall maximum should probably be £3,250—in other words, £1,250 for expenses.
I have an unnecessary advantage over an hon. Member from Scotland. When 804 my wife comes to my constituency with me, I can take her in the car. I still have to pay hotel expenses, but I can take her in the car. Another Member, whose wife is living in London—we all like to see our wives; we are only human—and who has to take her to Scotland must pay the whole of the expense of his wife's travel. I consider this to be most unfair. Why should I as the Member for Folkestone and Hythe have an advantage over a Scottish Member?
This applies all the way down the line. Some hon. Members, even on the present salary, will not be as well off as others. Those who are earning salaries outside will pay most of the increase back in tax, so nobody need suffer a great deal of conscience about it.
I strongly take the view that service in this House should not be a career. If the salary reaches such a level that the job becomes one in which people start too early in life, we shall have another breed of civil servants. I have every respect for civil servants, but I believe that if this new rate of payment comes about so that people start their career from youth, we will produce a sort of oral civil servant. A civil servant passes files of papers, but a Member of Parliament passes words. The country would lose much if this were to happen. Our salary should be one which a man or woman receives on the basis that he is fulfilling a mission but without making a sacrifice.
I should like a point of detail concerning the Bill to be answered by the Government spokesman who winds up the debate. I should like to know whether I am correct in assuming from the Bill that a Prime Minister will get a pension regardless of length of service. The electorate is not yet sufficiently disillusioned by hon. Members opposite, but there might well be a balance of power between the parties over the next few years. I envisage the time when we might even have a Prime Minister in office for only a fortnight. If that were to happen, would he have the full benefit of the Bill? Surely, it would be unfair that he should be the only man to get a pension for life for merely a few weeks' service.
If we agree that the proposed salary is the right one, surely the holder of such an office should qualify for the full salary only when he has done the 805 requisite length of service. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I would not object to suggesting that the normal tenure in office of a Prime Minister should be three years or five years, but I think that the pension which he is awarded should be proportionate to the length of time he has served commensurate with normal service. I cannot see that any backbench Members who are budding Prime Ministers should object to that.
There has been a great deal of sincerity in the speeches of hon. Members on both sides, more than some hon. Members opposite realise. I am sincere also in saying that I do not think that the pay is anything like what the job is worth. I recall that a man who was once negotiating an increase with me said, "It is not more than the job is worth, but it is more than I expected." Because we have not explained the matter properly, the proposed salary is more than the country expects us to have. Had we been given a basic salary plus expenses, a much better impression would have been created by the whole affair.
§ 3.2 p.m.
§ Mr. William Shepherd (Cheadle)
I should like to deal with the question of full-time and part-time activity, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Costain) has referred. It is, in essence, a rather useless argument, because there are two factors with which the House is faced. First, there are hon. Members who, because of the nature of their previous experience or their present capacity, will not be able to do any other job than House of Commons work. On the other hand, this House would not function unless a substantial number of people were here full time. Therefore, whatever the argument about full time versus part time, whatever phrase is applied, is a useless and abortive one to pursue.
I am pleased that we are now at the end of what has been a bitter and unpleasant road. I have never been so unhappy in my life as I have been over the issue of Members' salaries. Some years ago, I took part in organising an all-party committee and I know that I brought upon myself a good deal of criticism from some of my hon. Friends on this side of the House. I might reply by saying that I, too, was bitter about the action of some of them, especially 806 men who were living in comfortable circumstances for which they themselves had done very little.
I have no criticism of a man who says that the Parliamentary salary is too high if he lives by that salary alone. I would, perhaps, have little criticism of the man who says that it is too high and who lives not by that salary alone, but by what other activity he pursues in the outside world. But I take exception to people who, for reasons best known to themselves, object to their fellow men having a reasonable standard whilst they themselves live in ease and comfort.
This has been a bitter road and I have seen the right hon. Gentleman, Sir Winston Churchill, in tears over this issue. I am glad that ultimately my right hon. Friend the past Prime Minister took the wise course of putting this matter out to an independent inquiry with the result that we have seen.
I want to thank the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House for being so good as to grant a salary to the Chief Opposition Whip. In view of the long period in which he laboured without salary, it was a magnanimous gesture.
§ Mr. Shepherd
I should also like to say that I hope we shall reach a situation in the House where the Opposition Whips are treated with the same generosity in the facilities as are the Government Whips, because I think the Opposition is as an essential part of government as the Government itself.
I turn to one criticism of the proposal in respect of Members' salaries. That is that it has been seen fit to prolong this fiction of tax-free expenses. I know that it is done for the purpose of tagging along with Ministerial salaries, but to my mind it is not a sensible or reasonable thing to do, because the public get the idea that Members of Parliament receive part of their salary tax-free—tax-free expenses—but this is not so. The nonsense of this arrangement can be clearly seen by the fact that if one spends less than £1,250, one gets a less allowance for tax purposes, and if one spends more than £1,250, one gets more than £1,250. I wonder whether it is too late—I suppose that it is now—to drop this fiction of tax-free allowances which unnecessarily exacerbate feeling in the country 807 and to which the man who has a salary and has to pay ordinary P.A.Y.E. rightly takes objection.
I want to turn to one or two other matters about this question of payment of Members' salaries. I hope that as a result of this change we shall see an end to payments made to Members by outside bodies. In the time that I have been in this House, which is now twenty years, there has been some increase in this practice, and I think that now Members will be getting a salary which enables them to live, if not in luxury, in some comfort and with some dignity, they ought to stop this practice of taking money from outside sources to represent outside interests.
I feel that any hon. Member who accepts this sort of payment places a limitation on his individual freedom and his independence. Independence is perhaps the most important attribute that a Member of Parliament can have. I hope that we shall see a voluntary end on the part of Members to this practice of accepting from outside bodies money for representing their views. To put it from the other standpoint, I wonder whether those who pay hon. Members to represent their viewpoint really get good value for money. When I hear an hon. Member speaking who is the representative of a particular body, I discount what he says by 50 per cent. or, according to the man, by 75 per cent. Therefore, I suggest to those who pay the money that they might perhaps be well-advised in the interest of promoting their own cause to get people to sponsor them here without remuneration, and if the cause is a valid one—and very often it is—I think that it would be served better by the voice of an unpaid servant than a paid one.
§ Mr. John Hynd
I agree with the principle behind the hon. Gentleman's argument, but does he think that it is practical because the only thing that the interest need do in these cases is to appoint its spokesman as a director and pay him a director's fee or salary rather than supplement the Parliamentary allowance, and he is then a free man.
§ Mr. Shepherd
The hon. Gentleman has anticipated me, because I was not merely attacking the trade unions and corporate societies. I was going on to state something else about this particular aspect.
808 I think that because Members of Parliament have the job of feeding their children they have in the past years done things they ought not to have done in many cases, and the acceptance of directorships in certain activities is one of them. I would go further and say that just as I think it is undesirable now, after this salary becomes payable, that Members should be paid by outside organisations, so I think it is undesirable that Members of Parliament should be involved in what are known as public relations activities. I am not here condemning public relations as an activity.
I have no doubt that there are good and bad public relations organisations as there are good and bad Members of Parliament, but what I do feel is that if a man is a Member of this House and becomes a paid servant of a public relations company, or a director, he must in some measure use the facilities and the influence of this House to serve the interests of that company's clients. It is inescapable that he does this, and I feel that we should try, when this salary becomes payable, to avoid this stigma of using the House for business purposes. Let me say that this House has been used to a considerable extent for business purposes, and I hope that we shall in the future see an end to payment by organisations as payment for business purposes.
I would say something about the standard at which we should remunerate Members of Parliament. I think that David Lloyd George had it about right, but I do not think that any level of salary will materially affect the kind of person who will get here in the first place. I think the level of salary may well affect the conduct of the individual after he has got here. The level which we have so far endured has been one which has not been consistent with the high standard which we endeavour to demand of Members of Parliament. I have been most anxious to see the salary improved because I want to see Members of Parliament, whatever their own personal background, conducting their lives with dignity, and it has not been possible for a large number of our fellow Members to conduct themselves with dignity during the time I have been a Member of this House. I do not like to see a situation where one Member can enjoy the privilege of this House and the service of 809 this House while another Member cannot even afford to do so. This, to my mind, is a thoroughly bad state of affairs, and raising the dignity of Members is something which will be of value not only to the House of Commons but to the whole of the country.
I finish as I started by saying that I am glad that this long and bitter dispute is now apparently at an end. I believe that this new scale will be one which the public will accept, and that if Members of Parliament are good enough to take the steps which can now be taken in financial terms to rid themselves of some of the criticisms rightly addressed to them this pay rise will be wholly beneficial to the House and to the nation.
§ 3.14 p.m.
§ The Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. John Diamond)
I am sure that all of us will agree that that was a most helpful speech, and it is one to which I shall return in a short moment, but I think that I should first explain why it is that, a little early, somebody should be rising to wind up the debate. Of course, I am in the hands of the House, but everybody will have noticed that in addition to the Motion which we are considering in conjunction with this Bill there are further Motions which are necessary to give effect to what we have been discussing and we are late in the year and late in the season.
If we are to give effect to what we are discussing, it is vital, in the interests of all Members, to get through not only this business, but the Money Resolution, which I suspect may be dealt with quickly, but I am the servant of the House, and will endeavour to give whatever information may be required. I hope, therefore, that in the interests of Members as a whole it will be thought right that after replying to this debate I should sit down at an unusually early hour in relation to Four o'clock—closing time as it were—to give the House an opportunity to get through the business which remains, which is related to these items, and it is only for that reason that I have felt that the House would wish me to rise now to reply to the debate.
The Bill and the Motion broadly have been welcomed on both sides of the House. They have been welcomed by some very impressive speeches, and I 810 think the House will have noted that those who have been Members for a long time, who understand this House well, and who have served the House well and in considerable difficulties in terms of the economic situation of Members, are those who are unanimously giving these proposals their complete blessing.
I listened with great interest to the speeches of my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell), my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. John Hynd), the hon. Member for Manchester, Withington (Sir R. Cary), the hon. Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Tiley), and many others, who all spoke with great knowledge either of this particular matter, or of the House itself, who understand this situation extremely well, and who have had long experience. They all gave it their universal support. I expect, therefore, that what the House wants from me is not a complete review of the reasons why we are putting these proposals forward, but more particularly why we are sticking broadly to the Lawrence recommendations, and an answer to some of the questions which have been asked.
Everyone hopes that we are coming to the end of a difficult road when Members were put under the personal difficulty of having to debate their own remuneration. There is only one way out of this difficulty, and that is to invite an outside body to consider what is the right solution, to make sure that it is fully informed as to the ways of Members and the needs of the House, that it is assisted by assessors, and that it has the opportunity of getting every possible kind of help and information that it requires.
That is exactly what happened. This Committee went into the matter with great care over a long period. It was assisted by assessors, and it received help from every Member of the House who was prepared to answer the long questionnaire that was issued. We cannot feel, therefore, that the matter has not been fully considered, and if we depart in any broad way from this report we shall be back in the position, which we have sought to avoid, of having to decide our own pay. This would be an intolerable situation, and the odium which we 811 have endeavoured so hard to remove from our shoulders would be restored to us. I hope, therefore, that the House will feel, as the speeches have shown, that the wisest course is to rely on the Report of this Committee of such authority which has considered this matter so well and considered the consequences which flow from it.
I agree with what was said by the right hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd), that it is for the Government to take the responsibility of accepting or rejecting these proposals. They have accepted them. But I want to make it clear—because I do not know whether the right hon. and learned Member for Wirral made it as clear as he intended to—that it was fully understood between both sides that once a Government accepted this recommendation it was up to that Government, whichever it was, to take action immediately after the election. I am glad to see the right hon. and learned Member for Wirral and the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) confirming what I say. That is the only thing about which complaint has been made. People are not complaining that Ministerial salaries are too high. Indeed, the only complaint is that they are too low, in general. The right hon. and learned Member for Wirral said that the lowest range of Ministerial salaries was too low, and one of his hon. Friends said that the Ministerial salaries as proposed were too low and that the Committee's recommendation should have been accepted in full.
Nobody is saying that it is too early for these salaries to take effect from 1st April next. One or two have said that Members' salaries will be too high. But the real burden of complaint about Members' salaries has been that they should have been given effect to as from the start of this Parliament. I repeat: it was fully understood—although the Government must take responsibility for the decision—that this was the course which would naturally flow from accepting the Committee's recommendations. This is what is being done. Therefore, I say that in considering the Report of this Committee we are adopting the best way of dealing with the frightfully awkward position that Members of Parlia- 812 ment have found themselves in, namely, having to vote all money and not wishing to incur the odium of deciding how much of the money they vote should go into their own pockets. I hope, therefore, that the House will agree that this is by far the best way of dealing with a difficult situation.
Two points have been raised which I regard as of special importance and which I will answer straight away before coming to the general question which has been raised by the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne). Although he was more or less alone in making the case he did, one has not to consider how many people support a case, but the merit of that case. First, I have been asked about the salaries of you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and the Deputy-Chairman of Ways and Means. The Lawrence Committee made no specific recommendation on this. Indeed, those salaries fall to be determined by the Commissioners for regulating the Offices of this House, under Mr. Speaker's chairmanship.
I understand that the present salary of the Chairman of Ways and Means is £3,250 and of the Deputy-Chairman, £2,500. If this Commission were to come to the view that the salaries should be increased in the same proportion as we propose to increase Ministerial salaries under the Bill, the Chairman's salary would be increased to £4,875 and the Deputy-Chairman's to £3,750. I am sure that it will be understood that it would be improper for me to make any further statement on that point.
The second point asked by the right hon. and learned Member for Wirral concerned the Members' Fund—not the scheme proposed in the Bill. This leads me to say, somewhat tautologically, that the Bill deliberately makes no reference to the Members' Fund. The trustees of the fund no doubt need time to consider the impact of this scheme upon the fund, and any action at this stage would be premature. No doubt, however, the Trustees will reconsider the needs and uses of the Members' Fund in the light of the scheme established by the Bill, and will make recommendations to the Government. That seems to be the sensible way of dealing with the problem.
I have been asked about tax-free allowances—or, rather, a statement about them has been made, which I have been happy 813 to confirm. The essential object is to make it absolutely clear that there is not a single hon. or right hon. Gentleman in this House whose tax affairs have been treated, in any way whatsoever, any differently from those of any ordinary person walking the street. We are all subject to the rigours of Schedule E, that is to say, expenses are tested most carefully before they can be allowed for Income Tax purposes. A whole variety of expenses which every Member of Parliament considers absolutely vital to the satisfactory performance of his job, and which every constituent requires every Member to undertake, are not allowable because they do not come strictly within the four walls of a Schedule E claim.
For example, one hon. Member referred to taking his wife to his constituency. It would be an odd constituency which would be satisfied during the whole of the five years with never seeing its Member's wife. Take the case of an ordinary Member living in London and going to his constituency. He takes his wife with him and he has to pay her fare and has to pay for her stay over the weekend so that she can be with him when he, perhaps, opens something or other, or, may be, she does it on her own account. Every constituency expects this. But that one journey has cost many an hon. Member the whole of his week's pay and he has received no allowance for Income Tax purposes of any kind whatsoever. Therefore, I am grateful to the hon. Member who has given me the opportunity of reminding the world at large that this is so.
Members of Parliament do not, and would not, wish to get the slightest advantage compared with anybody outside the House with regard to their taxable position. Therefore, it is right to add that although the average figure of expenses has been shown to be £1,250 a year, far more than that is often incurred and not all of what is incurred is allowed for tax purposes.
I do not want to keep the House too long—we shall have the opportunity of dealing in Committee with many of the points which have been raised—and therefore I propose to come straightaway to the only real criticism made of the proposals.
§ Mr. Antony Buck (Colchester)
Before the hon. Gentleman leaves the earlier 814 part, could he deal with the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Costain) as to why it was not considered appropriate to award a salary of, say, £2,000 and to say that there should be on top of that the sum of £1,250 against which an hon. Member can claim for expenses necessarily incurred? Would not this arrangement have had the great advantage of presenting to the public a true picture of the position of a Member?
§ Mr. Diamond
I repeat very shortly what I said to begin with. The only approach which I think an hon. Member can, without embarrassment, have to this Report is to look at it as being the recommendation of an outside Committee and to have regard to what it says. If the hon. Gentleman would consider more carefully what he is suggesting he will see that it will not really stand up because expenses which everyone incurs are not identical. However much one tries to provide them with outside facilities they would still not be identical because every hon. Member wants freedom to conduct his job as he thinks it should be conducted in the interest of his constituency and of the job itself. Therefore, it would be impossible to say with certainty that a given figure represents a tax-free allowance or, indeed, an expense allowance. An expense allowance would give the impression that it is a tax-free expense allowance. One cannot use that phrase without giving that impression, and it would be a wholly wrong impression, as I say. An hon. Member may incur expenses of £1,250 of which only half would be allowed for tax purposes.
§ Mr. Costain
It is only those expenses which are admissible, which is a tax advantage that I have over Scottish Members. If I do not spend it I receive a benefit which the Scottish Member does not receive. If it is made on the ordinary business arrangement, when the Revenue accepts it, it can be drawn out of the till. It would be much fairer for all.
§ Mr. Diamond
I do not want to bore the House by repeating that there is only one solid basis on which to rely, which is the Report. The assumption of what the hon. Gentleman is saying in terms of business is that one has a number of employees carrying out virtually the same function, working virtually the same hours 815 with the same employer. In that case it is reasonable to say to them, "We will give you whatever is your differential in travelling expenses" so that what is left over is the salary for carrying out an equal amount of work. We do not work equally in this place. We do not produce equally valuable contributions. I hope that that is not going too far.
It is impossible to regard this occupation as one in which we can achieve the amount of equality which the hon. Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Costain) is trying to arrive at by some sort of differential in expense allowances. An hon. Member who lives in Scotland will incur greater expense and will be helped, up to a point, by such Income Tax allowances on expenses as are properly allowable, and that is the most one can say. This has all been examined so carefully. Parliament is a unique institution which cannot be likened to a business or any other kind of organisation. As the Lawrence Committee's Report points out, there is no parallel with the House of Commons and the way in which we carry on. That may be the subject of comment, but it is the fact. We cannot attempt to liken the way in which we carry on our affairs with other organisations which have a standard business procedure.
§ Mr. Scholefield Allen
Is not the fault with the Press? I have been in this House for 20 years and I find that even the reputable organs of the Press refer over and over again, and have done within the last four weeks, to a tax-free allowance of £750 for Members of Parliament. This is absolutely untrue.
§ Mr. Diamond
It is untrue, and I am grateful to my hon. and learned Friend for drawing attention to it. I am sure that now the Press will be fully aware of the facts. It has been said so clearly by my right hon. Friend when introducing this Bill, and I have repeated myself, that I am sure the Press will be fully aware of the fact that hon. Members incur varying amounts of expenditure. Some of it only is liable for Income Tax relief and what is liable is taken into account when calculating the tax they pay. In that respect no hon. or right hon. Gentleman is in any different position from anyone outside the House. I hope that makes it 816 as clear as one can make it to people who are willing to listen.
§ Sir D. Glover
Cannot the hon. Gentleman use the actual words in his speech, that no hon. or right hon. Gentleman draws one penny of tax-free income?
§ Mr. Diamond
I have said it. It is, of course, understood that the Prime Minister is in a very special position, but openly so and it is stated to be so. Mr. Speaker is in a similarly special position. I am referring, apart from those holding those two very high offices, to Ministers and back bench Members. I repeat what the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Sir D. Glover) asked me to repeat, we are not treated any differently from anyone else who is subject to the rigours of a Schedule E examination before one penny is allowed as a claim for expenses against Parliamentary remuneration. Therefore, I think that all that I need to deal with now is the criticism either that the Parliamentary remuneration is too high or that it is being paid too early—whichever it was that the hon. Member for Louth was putting forward.
I gather that the hon. Member for Louth made no complaint about Ministerial salaries, nor the dates from which they are to start or about the proposals for a pension scheme. Those proposals have been welcomed by everyone. The hon. Member for Louth has in mind a salary figure of £2,500 against which we could offset, on average, £1,250 for expenses, £150 contribution to pension and £24 contribution to the Members' Fund. We are left with something like £1,075 which represents a salary of about £20 a week. The hon. Member is suggesting that £20 a week is an appropriate salary for an hon. Member of the quality, and the kind of person able to give the service, that we want to conduct the affairs of our country. I will suggest to the hon. Member that he knows as well as I do that, by taking any possible comparison with the outside world, he is talking the most utter nonsense.
§ Sir C. Osborne
I am grateful to the Minister for facing the problem—but only partly facing it. A sum of £1,000 a year is nothing like adequate. I said that in my speech. But there are two items on the tape at the moment, one to say that 817 the Government are unable to make their loan repayments to Canada and the United States at the end of this month, and the other to say that the Bank of Switzerland—[Interruption.]—I must make this point. The Bank of Switzerland has said that confidence in sterling has not been restored. It is against these things that I protested. It is the timing.
§ Mr. Diamond
The hon. Gentleman has no right in an intervention to make new arguments. He has the right to intervene to ask a question or to claim that anything which I am saying is inaccurate. I said that he had made two points: one dealt with amount and the other with timing. As soon as I have dealt with amount, he says that the amount is right. He then goes on to timing. I am coming to timing. I am glad that the hon. Member has withdrawn what he previously said—that the amount was too high. He repeats that £1,075 a year is too low, and it is probably a good deal less than he pays many of the workers on the benches in his factories. I gather that he says that that is true. It is therefore right, and I hope that he will feel this, too, that hon. Members should be of a quality and capacity for service which they could not possibly satisfactorily support on that level of remuneration. I cannot understand why he put down his Amendment on the Order Paper. If he is withdrawing that argument completely, we now come on to timing.
I refer him to what the Leader of the Opposition said. This time, the right. hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition agreed with him. He said:It never has been the right time and probably it never will be".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th Nov.; Vol. 702, c. 38.]That is the whole point. There would never be a right time. There will never be a time when every hon. Gentleman in this House will feel that this is the time for all of us to have an increase. There never will be a time when everybody outside will say that. But there is a time when it is necessary for salaries to be increased, and that time occurred shortly after 1911.
Ever since then, Members' salaries have been too low. As the hon. Member for Withington said, they have always been too low, and a reasonable figure will not be reached by 818 trying to jog back to 1957, for example, and saying, "It was so much in 1957; what should it be now?". In 1911 the limit of an hon. Member's responsibility was to be received in his constituency once a year and to have a great welcome made when he went there. No doubt suitable hospitality was provided when he got there on this great occasion. I only put it as far as hospitality. One of my hon. Friends points out that there were no surgeries in those days.
If one starts off on that £400, one has a bigger income in terms of net remuneration than we are talking about today, and infinitely bigger than that which the hon. Member for Louth previously suggested and which he has now withdrawn.
§ Sir R. Cary
I said that we are going back to square 1; the four hundred golden sovereigns paid in 1911 was an adequate level of remuneration. So is this £3,250.
§ Mr. Diamond
It seems to be the case—I do not want to irritate anybody at all—that the broad agreement is that this Report is a good one. We should welcome it and should act upon it. There has never been a more convenient time to act. This time is no more inconvenient than any other. The Government have well in mind all the points which the hon. Member for Louth mentioned. They have just produced their declaration of intent. They understand that all these issues affect salaries and incomes.
§ Mr. Diamond
I hope that the hon. Member is not seeking to interrupt again. I hope that he will feel, in the interests of all his fellow Members, that there is hardly a Member in the House who has not controverted the argument put forward by him and doubted the wisdom of his making that speech at this time. I therefore hope that, in the interests of all hon. Members, Mr. Deputy-Speaker will be allowed now to put the Question.
§ Sir C. Osborne
The hon. Member has evaded my principal argument. Does he think that in doing what we are doing now we shall help the Minister of Labour—
§ Sir C. Osborne
This is a most serious matter. Does the Minister think that what we are doing will help the Minister of Labour and the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs in their efforts to get an incomes policy?
§ Mr. Diamond
Without going into too much detail, this is a Government recommendation. The Government have considered all these matters, and the Government include all the right hon. Gentlemen to whom reference has been made. They are well aware of all the considerations.
§ Question put, That the Bill be now read a Second time:—
§ The House proceeded to a Division:—
§ Mr. LAWSON and Mr. GREY were appointed Tellers for the Ayes, but no Member being willing to act as Teller for the Noes, Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER declared that the Ayes had it.
§ Bill accordingly read a Second time.
§ Bill committed to a Committee of the whole House.—[Mr. Lawson.]
§ Committee upon Monday next.