§ The Temporary Chairman
The next Amendment selected is Amendment No. 14. That is the first Amendment selected in Clause 2.—(Lord Chancellor's salary and pension)—in page 2, line 3, to leave out "£14,500" and insert "£12,050".
It will be for the convenience of the Committee if, with that Amendment, we 2045 also discuss Amendments No. 31, in Schedule 1, page 4, line 5, to leave out "£11,250" and insert "£9,050".
§ Amendment No. 34, in Schedule 1, page 4, line 6, to leave out "£12,500" and insert "£10,050".
§ Amendment No. 37, in Schedule 1, page 4, line 7, to leave out "£11,250" and insert "£9,050".
§ Amendment No. 40, in Schedule 1, page 4, line 8, to leave out "£11,250" and insert "£8,050".
§ Amendment No. 43, in Schedule 1, page 4, line 9, to leave out "£10,000" and insert "£8,050".
§ Amendment No. 46, in Schedule 1, page 4, line 10, to leave out "£10,000" and insert "£8,050".
§ Amendment No. 49, in Schedule 1, page 4, line 11, to leave out "£10,000" and insert "£8,050".
§ Amendment No. 52, in Schedule 1, page 4, line 12, to leave out "£9,750" and insert "£7,850".
§ Amendment No. 54, in Schedule 1, page 4, line 13, to leave out "£8,250" and insert "£6,650".
§ Amendment No. 58, in Schedule 1, page 4, line 14, to leave out "£9,375" and insert "£7,550".
§ Amendment No. 61, in Schedule 1, page 4, line 15, to leave out "£8,125" and insert "£6,550".
§ Amendment No. 65, in Schedule 1, page 4, line 17, to leave out "£8,125" and insert "£6,550".
§ Mr. Paget
I beg to move Amendment No. 14, Clause 2, in page 2, line 3, to leave out "£14,500" and to insert "£12,050".
This is the group of Amendments dealing with particular increases for the various classes of judges. Speaking generally about the increases as a group, I submit to the Committee that at the present moment it will be agreed that we are in circumstances of great economic difficulty. We are experiencing what seems to be the sharpest deflation which the country has seen, and that deflation is being imposed by means of an increase in the cost of living. It therefore seems that a case to increase purchasing power for any particular group has to be made very clearly and strongly indeed when the whole policy of the country at this stage is to reduce that purchasing power all 2046 round. It is in this light that we should look at the particular increases as they occur.
If one looks at the Schedule one finds that the first are the Lords of Appeal in Ordinary. They are nine in number and they are members of the House of Lords. Since we are being asked to increase their salaries by something like £3,000 a year, I thought we should know what services we receive for that increase. I therefore inquired of the research department what the judicial committees in another place were and how often they sat.
I got this answer:There are nine Lords of Appeal in Ordinary. I regret that the information you request concerning the number of hours of sitting over a period is not available.That seemed very odd indeed. I should have thought that surely someone knows when the judicial committees in another place sit for the hearing of appeals. So I put forward a further request for this information. I was told flat that instructions were given that I was to be given no information. [An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear."] I am a little surprised to hear that cheer. We are being asked to make a large increase in the salaries of judges and we are deliberately denied information as to what we are being asked to pay them for.
The right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) considers that funny. Does he consider it proper behaviour and the manner in which hon. Members of the Committee should be treated? I hope that we shall receive this information from the Attorney-General. This attempt to prevent us knowing what these gentlemen do for the money we are being asked to vote them is quite scandalous. We ought not to leave this Amendment until this information has been given to us. Do these Lords of Appeal in Ordinary work a 250-day year, which is the average for the community in general? Do they work even half that, do they work a 125-day year? Do they work even half that, a 75-day year? I very much doubt it. Before we vote this money we are entitled at least to that information.
We are entitled to other information. Is this everything? Do the Law Lords as members of the House of Lords 2047 receive the allowances and expenses which we voted for other peers, many of whom do this work for no other reward? Is what the Lords of Appeal in Ordinary receive and what we are being asked to vote them the whole of their remuneration, or do they get extra remuneration and expenses as members of another place?
Is it a reasonable priority to pick out men who work very short hours only periodically in London in circumstances of a good deal of comfort for this very large rise? I do not think that it will be suggested that Lords of Appeal in Ordinary are difficult to find. I cannot help feeling that there is no shortage of honourable and very learned gentlemen who would be delighted with a job of that sort. After all, if this is a matter of prestige, another place still carries great prestige. It is no secret that there are a whole queue of gentlemen most anxious for peerages and what might be called working peerages upon the basis of promises to give full-time attendance, probably a good deal more attendance than is required of these gentlemen who are at present being paid £9,000 a year which it is proposed to increase to £11,250. Surely in the circumstances of today at least this one must be a wrong priority.
I come to the Lord Chief Justice. At present he receives £10,000 a year. I do not suppose anybody will suggest that this is a desperately difficult job to do. Does his work greatly exceed that of his colleagues in the division? Why at this stage is it necessary to pick out this particular and very highly paid functionary for a rise of this description?
Another one which strikes me as a very surprising one is the President of the Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division, who is not only being given a rise of 25 per cent. but is being given a special rise of about 40 per cent. I do not want to be critical of this particular appointment, but I am forced to do so by the extent to which facts were misrepresented at an earlier stage in this debate.
This judge is there on what is a straight political appointment. He came here as a relatively young man—something under 40—and a junior, and certainly not a junior with a very large practice. He got silk here and I do not know whether 2048 he would have got silk if he had not been a Member of Parliament. He became P.P.S. to the then Attorney-General which, after all, is not a job for which any busy barrister would have had time. He then got junior office in the Home Office and from there became Solicitor-General and was appointed President of the division over the heads of a number of experienced judges in that division and of a number of vastly more experienced silks in that division.
Nobody can say that that was other than a political appointment. It is probably the last political appointment which we will have. In the old days there were political judicial appointments. The Attorney-General was considered to have a right to the office of Lord Chief Justice if that became vacant and the Solicitor-General was considered to have a right to the office of President of the Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division if that became vacant. I am glad to think that this practice has come to an end and that this appointment was perhaps the last. When one appoints a man who as a barrister was probably in the £3,000 a year class to an office of this sort, to say that this—
§ Mr. Quintin Hogg (St. Marylebone)
On a point of order. I have been listening very patiently to the hon. and learned Gentleman, if that is the way to describe him. I always understood that a direct attack on the judiciary was in order only if a substantive Motion was moved. I regard this as an offensive and improper attack and I ask you, Mr. Jennings, for your ruling on the subject.
§ The Temporary Chairman
I was listening in some pertubation at the end to the trend of the remarks of the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget). He got far too near the wind in what I consider to be a personal attack. The right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) is quite right in saying that an attack such as this can be made only on a substantive Motion, and I would be grateful to the hon. and learned Member for Northampton if he would get down to the narrow Amendments on salary which we are discussing.
§ Mr. Hale
Further to that point of order. We have been placed in the position that a very special increase under 2049 the Bill is being awarded to one occupant of high judicial office. The right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) has not been in the Committee. I referred to this matter earlier and I referred to the occupant of that office in terms which were a tribute to the President of the Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division as to his character, learning and so on, but it was a political appointment.
Surely it cannot be ruled out of order to say that if the Committee is now called upon to consider whether the occupant of a single office shall have a rise in salary much greater than the Bill gives to the occupant of any other office we are entitled to consider in our knowledge of him that he was a Member for an industrial constituency which he left at a time of high unemployment and distress to his constituents for the security, financial rewards and dignity of the office which he attained. It is surely relevant to the Committee's discussions to consider in regard to the presidency of the division the occupant's duties and qualifications and the amount which should be awarded.
§ Sir D. Glover
Further to that point of order. This is a most despicable attack by the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) on a former Member of the House, who was here for many years. The hon. and learned Gentleman's case is completely destroyed by the fact that if this is a political appointment—and I do not accept that that is true—then it was made by a Government now in Opposition, and the present Government, who presumably opposed that appointment if it were political, are proposing the increased salary.
§ The Temporary Chairman
It is quite relevant to argue about the merits of the office without mentioning a particular person in that appointment. That is the Ruling which I gave in the first place. That is why I was concerned by the trend of the hon. and learned Gentleman's remarks. I should be grateful if he would come to the principles of the Amendment.
§ Mr. Paget
I am astonished to hear the statement which I made described as an attack upon this learned judge. I had not the slightest intention of 2050 attacking him. He was on my circuit. He came as a young Member here. I always liked him and I think we all liked him. But I do not think that it is an attack upon a man to say that within a system—
§ Mr. Hogg
On a point of order. I understand, Mr. Jennings, that you have ruled that this personal comment dealing with the occupant of the office is irrelevant to the Amendment and that what is relevant to it is the nature of the office which is to attract the salary. If I am right in understanding that, I ask you to rule the hon. and learned Gentleman—if that is the correct way to describe him—out of order.
§ The Temporary Chairman
I have already done so and I have asked the hon. and learned Member to stick to the Amendment. I allowed him to go on because I thought that he was explaining his previous attitude, and I thought that in the next sentence he was about to put his foot in it again.
§ Mr. Paget
I assure you, Mr. Jennings, that that is exactly what I was doing. I have been personally attacked by the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone who first suggests that the Committee is not entitled to know what the gentlemen we are being asked to pay in fact do and then accuses me of having made a personal attack on a man whom I have always liked and respected. I must have the opportunity to repudiate that and to say that I did nothing of the sort. I am talking of the office. I was saying that this was a political office. It is a political office if it goes by convention to the holder of a political office because he holds that office. That has happened in this case. It went over the heads of senior judges in the division and vastly senior silks. When we have a political office of that sort it ought not to be selected for a special advantage. That is all that I am saying, and I think that it is in order.
§ Mr. Paget
I am grateful to you, Mr. Jennings. The right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone—if that is the right description—should listen to more of the debate before he intervenes in a somewhat offensive manner.
2051 We come to the Scottish appointments, about which a considerable protest was made by hon. Members opposite whom I do not see present. I do not see them here now, but perhaps they will put in an appearance.
There is no case made, in our present economic circumstances, for granting these outstanding rises to functionaries who are already highly rewarded when we are unable to fulfil promises which, as a party, we entered into to other people who certainly need the money a great deal more.
§ 2.0 a.m.
§ Mr. J. J. Mendelson (Penistone)
With these Amendments, we reach what many hon. Members regard as the kernel of the matter. Although we have listened to many important arguments put forward by hon. Members who are in the legal profession, and we shall have some more strictly relevant to this debate, no doubt, the opposition to the Government's policy in this connection and their introduction of these proposals at this time is much more widespread than is indicated by the particular points made by members of the legal profession.
The argument is two-fold. If the Government had said that there were more cases coming before the courts and there was, therefore, a greater burden of work, this could have been met in various ways. One way would have been to increase the number of judges, if necessary. There are many other matters which arise in the day-to-day work of the courts which are of interest to my hon. Friends who are lawyers, but, as many hon. Members will know from discussions with their constituents, with their local Labour Parties and with representatives of the organised trade union movement during the last weekend, what is particularly criticised by a great many people who are not themselves connected with the legal profession is the general policy behind the Bill.
This criticism of the Government's attitude was echoed in published opinion last Sunday. I quote from a short leading article in the Observer which put the case very well:By any of the usual criteria applied to wage claims, the case for an increase in judges' pay seems to be an exceptionally thin one. Whether or not the Government was com- 2052 mitted to increasing their salaries by its predecessor, Labour M.P.s are right to speak out against a rise in High Court judges' pay from £8,000 to £10,000 a year. Judges have traditionally held a higher position in the scale of rewards than other public servants, but increasingly the public has been aware that there is little reason, tradition apart, why judges should receive pay far in excess of that received by most Ministers and senior civil servants. Much lower salaries for the judiciary in almost every other country have not led to"—
§ The Temporary Chairman
Order. It is perfectly in order to read quotations for various sources, but I would be grateful if they were not too lengthy.
§ Mr. Mendelson
I am coming to the final sentence of this quotation:The successful barristers who are appointed to the bench accept appointment because of the enormous prestige and dignity which we accord judges, rather than for the pay. £8,000 in 1965 is quite enough to pay even the guardians of our liberty.I submit that this represents a very wide range of public opinion in the country at present.
I am deliberately moving away from some of the more specialist arguments in which we have so far been involved on these Amendments to indicate that my case, and the case of many other hon. Members on this side, is not limited to some of the criticisms which might be made of the way in which some of the courts may be overloaded. It is not linked in the first place with proposals for reform of the working of the courts. It is the much more general case that the basis on which the Attorney-General has started several speeches which he has made, both on Second Reading and now in Committee, is misguided.
I take particular exception, I would like to tell my right hon. and learned Friend at the earliest opportunity, to his implied appeal to his colleagues on these benches when, in a speech this evening, he accepted that other people, people in the low income groups, had need of an increase, and pensioners had need of an increase, and then said that no doubt we in discussions of these matters with our constituents, would put these points to them. I will not link the increases proposed in this Bill with the claims of people who, over many years, have been living on the poverty line. That was a suggestion he should never have made to us.
I was amazed that the Attorney-General started his argument with the seriously 2053 meant proposition that there has been such a serious deterioration in the standard of living of the judges involved in the Bill. There has to be some equity in the treatment of members of all sorts of professions and working people, and judges. There is involved here an important principle, of how we assess at any given point what is right in equity and what is acceptable. That my right hon. and learned Friend should start his argument with the seriously meant proposition that there has been a serious deterioration in the standard of living of Her Majesty's judges but without saying anything at all about people involved in this Bill earning £8,000 a year is the strangest way either to introduce the Bill or to answer Amendments proposed to it in Committee.
There is disturbance in the minds of many hon. Members, because the proposals in this Bill come when we are living in a period when the Government are going all out, every weekend, and from every possible platform, to tell millions of people, "If you are contemplating seeking increases, you must bear in mind the general conditions of this country". The argument which my right hon. Friend the Chancellor consistently puts to people in the country is, "If you decide to pay yourselves higher wages, you will endanger the general fiscal position of the country".
§ Sir D. Glover
Can the hon. Gentleman point to one wage agreement which has taken place on the 3½ per cent. basis which the First Secretary has asked the nation to accept?
§ Mr. Mendelson
The hon. Gentleman will recall that I have not said anything about the 3½ per cent. argument. I would have been out of order had I done so, and I did not take part in the debate on that topic.
I am dealing with what the Chancellor says on every possible occasion. When trade unions or professional organisations apply for an increase in wages or salaries, he tells them that one of the decisive factors to which they must have due regard is that if they succeed, as he puts it, in paying themselves higher wages and salaries, they might, if the increases are too great, endanger the whole monetary position of the country.
In fact, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor goes further. In recent 2054 speeches to the trade union movement in particular, but to all income groups, he has said "If you persist in this policy, if you refuse to have due regard to the monetary position of this country, there will be only two choices: either there will be inflation, and as a result the value of the monetary increase which you have received will go down, or there will have to be an element of Government control which scoops up once again, in unidentifiable ways, the money that you have received". Everyone knows that these unidentifiable ways might one day become specifically identifiable and involve policies which are very difficult to put across to the country, and the Attorney-General ought to remember that he, as a Member of the Government, will have to put those policies across to the people.
What are we doing in this Bill which has been brought in at the tail end of this Session? We are destroying the appeal that is being made every week by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. We are making those who are in a much humbler position than the Chancellor—the shop steward, the trade union district secretary, and so on—and who are loyally co-operating with the Government in propagating this policy look ridiculous.
I was amazed that the Attorney-General pleaded the case for what he called an urgently needed increase for the judges without making any reference to the country's general economic and financial position. Instead of starting with the entirely misleading statement that there had been a serious worsening in the standard of living of judges, my right hon. and learned Friend ought to have started by saying what the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the First Secretary of State say at the beginning of their speeches, nakedly, "Let us have due regard to the general monetary and economic position of the country". This is the basis of the debate, and I hope that the Attorney-General will give us a serious reply to this point, because he has not as yet dealt with it although he has intervened on a number of occasions.
I turn now to deal with an item of great importance, and one to which there has been no answer. There have been conflicting reports on this matter, and it is one to which many of my hon. Friends attach the greatest importance. Many of 2055 them have told me that they regard the point I have just made as the crux of the matter.
There have been many conflicting statements about the alleged agreement that has been concluded—
§ The Chairman
Order. We cannot pursue the question of the alleged agreement on every Amendment. I would be grateful if the hon. Gentleman would address himself to the Amendments.
§ 2.15 a.m.
§ Mr. Mendelson
With great respect, the point about the alleged agreement is far more relevant to this set of Amendments than to any other set. It must be possible, I submit, to press the Attorney-General, on the Amendments that deal directly with the monetary increase and not with some artificial and theoretical percentages, to give a clear reply on whether this Administration is committed to the proposed figures by an agreement with the other side. That is all I intend to do.
§ The Chairman
Order. All that I am suggesting to the hon. Gentleman is that we cannot take the point of the alleged agreement on every Amendment that we discuss. It has been discussed adequately in previous Amendments.
§ Mr. Mendelson
All I am asking the Attorney-General to do is tell the Committee whether at any time either the Shadow Cabinet of the Parliamentary Labour Party or any other group of people speaking authoritatively for the Labour Party or, as it was then, Her Majesty's Opposition—
§ The Chairman
Order. The hon. Gentleman is taking no notice at all of what the Chair has said. I am asking him to address himself to the Amendments that we have before us. The Amendments are suggesting that we reduce the sums in the Bill by certain specific amounts.
§ Mr. Mendelson
Yes, but, with great respect, the proposal to reduce them is linked in the minds of those who are sponsoring this set of Amendments—and I am one of them—to the twin arguments which I regard as being of great importance and as the crux of the matter: the general economic and monetary 2056 position in which the country finds itself, and whether there is some bond which is forcing the Government, which I support, to bring in the proposals.
§ The Chairman
I must ask the hon. Gentleman to show to the Chair the respect that he professes in the words "with great respect". We cannot discuss, on each of the groups of Amendments that we are discussing, the issue of whether there was a bond or agreement. I have ruled that that has been adequately discussed. The hon. Gentleman must show his respect for the Chair by accepting what I say.
§ Mr. Mendelson
Then, in order to obey the instructions of the Chair, may I express the hope to my hon. Friend that he will take note of what I say and accommodate the Committee by introducing in his general reply some account that will shed light on the position which he regards as so binding?
I move on from there to the third important argument that is involved. If it was considered necessary to review the salaries of judges, how has the amount been assessed and how has the decision come about to put forward these particular increases? Has it been done by saying that 25 per cent. is a round figure, but 50 per cent. would be a better figure and it would be best to have a figure that is at least 25 per cent.? What has been the method by which the Government have arrived at the proposed figures? We all known that when a group of salary earners or workmen makes an application for an increase, due regard is taken of a certain set of circumstances. There is at the moment a very serious conflict going on between some public servants employed in the railway services and their employers—a conflict which we all very much regret.
I represent the railway town of Penistone, and it is one of my duties as a Member of the House to discuss these matters with my constituents every Friday and Saturday. Quite naturally, they ask me, "Are these criteria which are being applied to our railway wage negotiations applied all round? Can you, as our Parliamentary representative, assure us that the kind of conditions which are being proposed for a successful outcome of our claim are being applied in other 2057 spheres?" What am I to say? I put that question to my right hon. and learned Friend who was so free earlier with his advice about what we ought to say to our constituents. Are the Government applying to this very large percentage increase the argument used by the Railways Board—that certain conditions must be attached, not only a percentage review, but conditions concerned with productivity and the provision or non-provision of extra drivers and so on? We have been told nothing about the genesis of these proposals. All the Attorney-General has said at various stages so far is that the Government regard the increase as adequate.
He advanced another argument with great force. He said that it was absolutely essential that somehow or other the standards of the judges involved should be kept up. What is meant by that? Is it suggested that every time we consider a wage or salary application by any group of people, we have to consider the standard of their social rating in 1830? Are we to say that because a certain rating was given to a certain profession 100 years ago, it must continue itself and that there can be no reconsideration of the comparative standings of different groups?
My right hon. and learned Friend knows very well that there have been considerable changes in that respect and that quite a number of my constituents and his have had to accept the consequences of those changes. Is it a sufficient argument for the increase that in 1830 some people were assessed at £5,000 in order to keep up their standards in a kind of society which, happily, we do not know any more and who, it was thought, had to be elevated so much above their fellow citizens so that the majesty of the law should be shown, so that those appearing before them should be overawed by their position, not, as my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypool (Mr. Abse) so brilliantly argued, by the dignity of their office and the excellence of the way in which they adminstered it, but in monetary terms? Have we always to take our terms of refernce from that datum line? If my right hon. and learned Friend is advancing that sort of policy, he is seriously out of line with most of his supporters.
2058 Having spoken for as long as any hon. Member can expect at this hour to be tolerated by the Chair or his colleagues in the Committee, I hope that my right hon. and learned Friend will now seriously address himself to these issues which are seriously troubling many people. Those are the reasons why many of us have determined not to let the Bill pass without serious and detailed examination. There is no nonsense about their being a large number of grievances and fastening on this, as the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor) suggested there was.
He demeaned his position as a colleague of hon. Members who are advancing these arguments in serious debate. He should know that when many hon. Members get together in a detailed debate of this kind, when they sometimes have differences in many other respects, that has nothing to do with the sort of considerations which he was suggesting. The views which I have expressed are representative of those of many hon. Members on this side of the Committee and of trade unionists and many workers, teachers and others in all sorts of professions, and I hope that the Attorney-General will now give a serious and detailed reply.
§ The Attorney-General
I cannot understand why my hon. Friend the Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson), who has spoken with such eloquence and sincerity, should have been able to take some kind of offence at my expression of sympathy for the condition of ald-age pensioners and people earning very little moneys. I hope that my hon. Friend does not think that he has the monopoly of sympathy and concern for such folk, because he would be misleading himself if he thought so. These problems that our community has to face with this eternal rise in the cost of living are extremely difficult.
What we are faced with in this case is a group of salary earners in the community—it is true that they are getting a lot of money already—who are the only group of earners of income who have had no rise for 11 years, and under the Bill they will have to wait another year. We have discussed the general issues arising on this matter, but perhaps I can pinpoint some of the issues that the Committee should face when I remind hon. 2059 Members that the first of the batch of Amendments that we are considering relates to the salary of the Lord Chancellor.
Earlier in the debate, my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis) made, with great vigour, the point that in this matter of judicial salaries there had been no reference to any kind of independent commission. When we consider the Lord Chancellor's salary, this is what we find. The proposal in the Bill is to increase the salary, not to £17,000; I agree with my hon. Friend, who seems to think that the Lord Chancellor should get £17,000. He is a little out of line with my hon. Friend the Member for Penistone on this, but he is being consistent. The Committee should bear in mind that the Lawrence Committee, two of whose members, incidentally, were members of the National Incomes Commission, recommended for the Lord Chancellor a salary of £17,000 to take effect forthwith or as soon as the legislation was introduced.
Recognising the very points that my hon. Friend has made of the economic difficulties of the country, the Government took the view that such an increase as that would not be justified in the circumstances, and so a perhaps arbitrary figure was decided upon of 50 per cent. of it. This was an adjudication of what the job should carry by way of salary by a wholly independent body whose views on Parliamentary salaries the House of Commons rightly accepted. I entirely agree with what was said earlier in the debate that that is not an argument which should be used on one side or the other in relation to judicial salaries. That, however, is the position. Taking into account all the economic factors, the professional standing and the position of this high office in the order of government and of our community, that was what that independent body awarded. We have given half of it.
When my hon. Friend asks with such critical vehemence what standard the Government apply, I assure him that the Government have considered these matters with agonising care and that the conclusion that was arrived at was that, in all the circumstances, 25 per cent. was a fair increase to provide, broadly speaking, all round taking into account the 1954 2060 assessment that Parliament made of what the salaries ought to be, changes in the cost of living since then, comparable earnings of other judges and the problem of inducements to man the High Court bench. Whether I carry my hon. Friend with me I do not know, but I assure him that all these factors were considered with the greatest care by the Government. I come belatedly to the subject of pensions. I apologise to my hon. Friend for not dealing with it before, but I am now better armed to deal with it than I was earlier. Taking that also into consideration, the view which the Government formed was that, in the circumstances, this was a fair appraisal and what should fairly be done. It is true that there was an increase in pensions. In 1925, the Judicature Act put the pension at £3,500. Then, in 1950 the Administration of Justice (Pensions) Act reduced the pensions by one quarter in return for a lump sum and a widows' pension arrangement. That brought the pension down to £2,625—
§ 2.30 a.m.
§ The Attorney-General
Then, in 1954, as my hon. Friend pointed out, there was a salary increase to £8,000. There was no alteration to the pension at that stage, but, in 1959, the Judicial Pensions Act put the pensions up to a half of the final salary, so that there is now a pension of £4,000. That improvement in 1959 was part of a new scheme of pensions, to enable the High Court judge to retire on something less than a full pension if he fell ill or for some other reason had to retire before he had served 15 years.
§ The Attorney-General
That is so, but the effect of these arrangements is that, whereas in some ways they were undoubtedly beneficial to the judge, there were variations which did not bring an increase in his pension position.
However, that is the position, and I am frank with the Committee about it. But we come to this point which I have made. Repetition is always intolerable, 2061 but it is particularly so at 2.30 a.m. If one is looking at the fairness and equities of this matter, one must recognise that this vitally important group of salary earners in our community have not had a penny increase for 11 years, the cost of living has gone up, in the meantime, 42 per cent., and, in the circumstances, the Committee may feel that the adjustments now proposed are reasonable.
I would say a final word on what was said by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) about the Lords of Appeal in Ordinary. They get no attendance money—4½ guineas a day—and it surprised me that he thinks that any kind of guide to the quality of a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary is represented by the number of hours he sits listening to these highly complex and difficult final appeals in our country. They are lawyers of great distinction who have the critical task to perform of being the final court of appeal in our country and, in the Judicial Committee, of many parts of the Commonwealth. I venture to think that no one will doubt that they are worthy of the comparable increase which is contemplated in the Bill.
§ The Attorney-General
If any conceivable assistance and relevance could be found in such statistics as that, I have no doubt that, in due course, the experiment may be possible.
§ Mr. Hogg
I shall not detain the Committee for long, and I hope not to cause undue offence because what I have to say will be relatively provocative. However, I assure the Committee that what I say will be entirely sincere. This Amendment is disgraceful. It has been fatuously argued by a set of meretricious arguments which deserve far greater contempt than has been heaped upon them by the Attorney-General with such urbanity.
The hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) drew a number of comparisons and general arguments which were sought to relate to our general 2062 economic position. That was one set of arguments. He referred to what he described as the "ordinary shop steward", and I am glad that he was not referring to his right hon. Friend the Minister for Technology, who I am glad to see sitting on the Treasury Bench. The Government can for once rely on him in this matter.
Having referred to the ordinary shop steward, the hon. Member for Penistone referred to his constituents, the railwaymen, and to an argument of his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer about what he described as "paying ourselves more money". I must tell the Committee that I supported, and I still loyally support, the increases in our own salaries. I have always done so over a period of time. It comes singularly ill from an hon. Member of Parliament who had voted himself more money, in the most literal sense of the word, to complain about the relatively small increases of salary we are considering. I say "relatively small"—that is, compared with the increases of salary which the hon. Gentleman has himself voted himself. This is sheer political hypocrisy—an attempt simply to scrounge favour with the more gullible of his constituents; an argument which should be rejected with contempt by the Committee, an argument wholly unworthy of Parliament.
I come to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), which I regarded as, if anything, more contemptible. I say nothing whatever about his disgraceful attack on the President of the Probate Divorce and Admiralty Division since that was ruled out of order. I simply say that I see nothing unreasonable in equating his office with that of the Master of the Rolls, which is the proposition by the Government and what it attacked by the Amendment.
At the same time, since the hon. and learned Gentleman appeared in the courts, as it is in my case, if he seriously supposes that the work of a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary—as he gave the Committee to understand and, therefore, tried to make the public believe—is comprised solely of sitting and listening to the arguments of counsel, he is saying something which, at any rate when he was practising at the Bar, he would have 2063 known to be complete nonsense. The work of a judge consists largely not only of being in possession of considerable learning and skill. Hearing a difficult case involves also a great deal of research which the judge cannot delegate to anybody else. There must also be considerable discussion before and after hours with his colleagues.
To have it put forward in the House of Commons, even in the middle of the night, that the work of a judge could be adequately assessed by judging the number of hours he puts in when sitting on the Bench listening to the arguments of counsel would not be so bad if the suggestion came from someone like the hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis). But coming from the hon. and learned Gentleman it is a disgrace to Parliament, and he should be thoroughly ashamed of himself.
All I would say to the hon. and learned Gentleman is this. He once referred to me, in complimentary terms, as "a lying hypocrite"—and that at a time when I was not in my place to defend myself. I will not call him that, but I will say that if he came across Westminster Bridge with Pecksniff in front of him and Uriah Heep behind him, pursued by a group of Pharisees, I should omit to warn him that he was keeping unsuitable company.
§ Mr. Eric Ogden (Liverpool, West Derby)
Quietly, very quietly, I have listened to the two debates on these Amendments for a total of nine hours, and I have come to the conclusion that Shakespeare was right. Unfortunately, thanks to the efforts of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Sydney Silverman), we cannot apply Shakespeare's particular remedy.
I have no intention of referring to holders of judicial offices. Frankly, I dislike the Bill and this series of Amendments. The Committee has been given a bone to gnaw—a bone of £¼ million a year, which might be the maximum total—and we are gnawing it very vigorously indeed. My hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg) came close to the core of the matter when he said that we were talking about egalitarianism, but that point could be equally well made in regard to other matters as well.
2064 The hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor) argued for and against the Measure, and then decided to sit on the fence. He is entitled to his point of view, but I do not think that any of us were sent to this place to sit on the fence. Whether or not we vote, we should make up our minds whether to support a Measure or oppose it—
Mr. Edward M. Taylor
I made it quite clear that I was not sitting on the fence but that I had taken a positive and carefully considered decision to abstain.
§ Mr. Ogden
The hon. Gentleman said that he would abstain, and that, to my mind, is just sitting on the fence.
The Attorney-General said that without a fearless, able and independent judiciary we should be in dire difficulties. I think that he is quite right, but do we have to pay £8,000 plus £2,000, or £10,000 plus £2,500, or £14,000 plus £2,500 in order to get these fearless, able and independent gentlemen? That is a vital part of his argument. He also said that unless we paid these sums we would be in danger of getting second-class judges. That argument is completely opposite to that used for nurses and teachers, where we are told that it is the vocation that matters rather than calling for a certain salary. Equally, if in 1954 the House decided that the salaries of judges should be £8,000, and if salaries have since increased by 65 per cent. and wages by 46 per cent., that is not reason why a 1.9 per cent. increase for 12 years should add up to 25 per cent. and be employed in this context.
In all fairness, I do not think that we can compare a 1.9 per cent. increase on a salary of £8,000 with a 1.9 per cent. increase on a salary of £8 a week. This is an honourable trade, but it is not basically any different from that of the railway man, the docker, the butcher or the miner. This 1.9 per cent. is not the real basis. The Attorney-General made a good case, but he has not yet made the case that would convince me that in these times it is necessary to provide salaries of £8,000, £10,000 and £14,500.
If these salaries are needed to provide gentlemen to do this job, to enable them to do it properly and to live in decency, honesty and respectability, I would, with respect, remind my right hon. and learned 2065 Friend that a craftsman, first grade, in the British coal mining industry has just had a 1s. 4d. a day increase; that a 100 per cent. disabled person has to live on £6 15s. a week, that a widow for the first thirteen weeks has to live on a pension of £5 12s. 6d. a week. The average wage in industry is less than £20 a week, and useful people, usefully employed, are having to live on an income a sixth, an eighth, a twentieth of the salaries of which we are now talking. Perhaps I am talking in the way described last week by the "Eagle of the North," but perhaps the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Sir D. Glover) had a case when he said that it was a great constitutional issue—except that I think that he should just have called it a great issue. The issue is whether we are really going to make labour, and the dignity of labour, not just a pious hope but a reality. I am not ashamed or afraid of being called egalitarian, because if the approach is not made from these benches, then, from where will it be made?
§ 2.45 a.m.
§ Mr. Edward Short rose in his place and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ The Chairman
An Amendment has been moved and the Question now before the Committee is, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question, That the Question be now put, put and agreed to.
§ Question, That "£14,500" stand part of the Clause, put accordingly and agreed to.
§ Mr. Paget
I beg to move Clause 2, in page 2, line 6, to leave out from "shall" to "be" in line 7.
This Amendment has the effect of bringing in the principle of parity. It seems to me to be greatly unjust that a 2066 person's pension should depend on the date at which he retires and not on the work which he has done or the office which he has filled. I have come across this sort of thing in the Services where this level of injustice is very serious indeed. One can recall the case of men who have risen to the rank of regimental serjeant-major but who find themselves on retirement receiving less pension than a contemporary private simply because the latter happened to leave the Army on a different date.
Having run into the evil of the system in another context, and in view of the fact that the Labour Party has pledged itself to remedy the defect by introducing the principle of parity in relation to pensions where parity does not apply, it seems to me to be quite wrong to introduce a system of pensions here in which the Chancellor receives a pension of £5,000 a year if he resigns before 1st April next but £6,250 if he should resign after that date.
If it is right because of the change in the cost of living for these pensions to be put up, then all should have it. The people concerned are all getting a pension for the same work, for the same sacrifice, and for the same job. This may seem, perhaps, to be a small point, but I say that the same principle should apply everywhere. The right hon. and learned Member for Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) was rumbustiously offensive at my expense. I feel that I owe him that because I was very rude to him once before. I bear no resentment and I think we can call it quits.
§ The Attorney-General
I naturally sympathise with the point made by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) in this Amendment. The pension increases, as he said, apply to those who resign after 1st April next year and that does not affect ex-Lord Chancellors presently in receipt of pensions. As my hon. and learned Friend knows, the Government are reviewing public service pensions. It may well be that the point he has in mind may fall for consideration under that review.
§ Mr. Arthur Lewis
Are we to take it from that reply that, whatever we are discussing here, there may be further pensions increases? If I understand that to be so, I am very much against this 2067 Amendment. I think that £5,000 a year is an adequate pension for any man. I give the Government full credit for doing a wonderful job for old-age pensioners, very quickly and rightly. Even in the great economic difficulties confronting the country. They gave old-age pensioners a big increase—12s. 6d. a week. We think £32 10s. a year a big increase. It should be adequate for any Lord Chancellor.
§ The Chairman
Order. The hon. Member should come to the Amendment, which is to decide whether the increased pension now proposed should also apply to Lord Chancellors who retired before a certain date.
§ Mr. Lewis
The present £5,000 a year is quite adequate. My hon. and learned Friend suggested that the increase should in effect apply to existing pensioners, but that would be quite wrong when ordinary pensioners have had an increase of £32 10s. a year. Why should ex-Lord Chancellors have this additional pension? These hon. and learned gentlemen are the only section of the population who can retire and take their last year's earnings free of tax. My hon. and learned Friend corrected me on Second Reading by saying that they could accumulate it. If they are able to claim extra pension it will be on top of their tax-free earnings prior to receiving the pension. I cannot for the life of me see why these people, especially in view of the last remark of the Attorney-General, should be able to do that.
The Attorney-General quietly slipped in the remark that notwithstanding the pension already given, there will be the review of public service pensions and no doubt what my hon. and learned Friend has in mind would be considered in that review. I am glad that they are not to be given the increase under these proposals and have to manage on £5,000 a year, but this is a farce. It does not matter how we put our case, the Lord Chancellor has decided that he will not give us a quarter of an inch. Is this democracy? This is a farce, but nevertheless we have to argue and put forward the proposition so that the people of the country shall know of it.
I strongly disagree with the suggestion of my hon. and learned Friend. He thinks 2068 that on the merits ex-Lord Chancellors should have the increase which Lord Gardiner will get when he retires. I do not think that is right. Lord Kilmuir drew his pension for only a fortnight and then stopped drawing it. If the Amendment were carried, Lord Kilmuir, when he draws his pension from the Plessey firm and the other firms from which he is reputed to get £20,000 or £30,000 a year, would in addition to the £5,000 a year get the increased proposed by my hon. and learned Friend. Am I to take it that Lord Dilhorne, who is in another place allegedly doing legal work and already drawing the £5,000, would be entitled to this increase? Must I support my hon. and learned Friend's suggestion to give him extra on top of his £5,000 so that he can oppose the democratic will of the House of Commons on such things as the abolition of hanging and trade disputes?
§ The Chairman
Order. The question of the constitutional relations between another place and this House does not arise on the Amendment.
§ The Chairman
Order. Whether a noble Lord in the other place is opposed to a Bill which is in the other place has nothing to do with the Amendment. The hon. Gentleman must take note when the Chair calls him to order.
§ Mr. Lewis
I was saying that the noble Lord, Lord Dilhorne is at present receiving the £5,000 a year. If the Amendment were accepted, his pension would rise. If the increased pension is to be given to existing pension recipients or to ex-Lord Chancellors who are now drawing the pension, he is one of those who would draw the extra money. I am advancing reasons why I think that this gentleman should not receive the extra which my hon. and learned Friend suggests. I have pointed out that for some years now prior to these gentlemen drawing their existing £5,000 a year they have received, according to the Press, £20,000 or £30,000—
§ Mr. Lewis
I was going on to explain that in addition to this these gentlemen would, if my hon. Friend's proposal were accepted, be able, not once but twice and, indeed, three times to get their tax-free earnings when they retire, plus the £5,000, plus my hon. and learned Friend's proposal. I am very much against it.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. Paget
I beg to move Amendment No. 20, Clause 2, in page 2, line 9, at the end to add:(3) Payment of the Lord Chancellor's pension shall be conditional—
- (a) upon the pensioner not receiving earned income from any other source; and
- (b) upon the pensioner making himself available to participate in the legal work of the House of Lords to the extent that may be reasonable required of him having regard to his age and health.
§ The Chairman
With this Amendment I suggest that the Committee should discuss Amendment No. 89, in page 2, line 9, at end add:(3) The pension payable to a retired Lord Chancellor shall for such time as he is doing the work of a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary be equal to the pay of a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary.and new Clause 3.—(Other paid employment to be relinquished.)
§ 3.0 a.m.
§ Mr. Paget
The pension of a Lord Chancellor is not only very large. It is payable without respect to the length of service. Thus, a Lord Chancellor is entitled to full pension even though he has held the seals of office for only one day. This is justified on two grounds. The first is that the head of the judiciary should not be in a position in which he has to ply for private hire. This is right. This has been broken on two occasions but the general principle is right that a man who has been head of the judiciary should not put himself in a position in which he becomes the employee of somebody else and in that capacity may have to appear before judges whom he himself has appointed. It is a justification for this exceptional pension.
The other justification for it is that the ex-Lord Chancellor is expected to take part in the legal business of the House of Lords. If we are to grant a pension 2070 for these reasons—and I hope that the Government will be able to accept the Amendment—it seems right that we should put the provisions in the Bill. This is all that I am attempting to do.
As for the other Amendment—and this again will incur the wrath of my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis)—if a former Chancellor is working as though he were a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary I fail to see why he should not have the rate for the job, if he is fully employed there, instead of simply drawing a pension. Before we part with the Clause I would add that I would hate it for anybody to think that the Amendment was in any way getting at the present Lord Chancellor, Lord Gardiner.
I know no man whom I admire or ever have admired more than I admire Lord Gardiner. Nor have I ever found in a man quite such a coincidence of virtue and ability. When I was at the Bar I sought—I know must unsuccessfully—to model myself on him, and in public service he has my utmost admiration. I want to make this particular point lest it should be thought that the Amendment is any kind of attack to get at the present occupant of the office. Of course it is not, but we are dealing here with public funds and the terms on which any public money is given should be explicit.
§ Mr. Arthur Lewis
My hon. Friends sit here muttering. They do not have to wait, as I have told them, but I shall exercise what I think is my right.
§ Mr. Lewis
I am coming to the Amendment, but my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Mr. Reynolds) is muttering. If he wants to intervene, I will give way.
It is a terrible situation in which we have a proposal to a Lord Chancellor, who has what is regarded by all concerned as a reasonable salary—I will not say an excessive salary—goes on pension and is able to draw that pension and also to his other income. Under the National Insurance scheme we all pay contributions. When the ordinary person goes on to pension he has to relinquish any other form of income. He cannot draw 2071 two pensions at the same time. My Amendment would put the Lord Chancellor in the same position; I am not asking that he should be treated any better or any worse than the ordinary person.
I may disagree with the proposal to increase the pension, for I think that £5,000 is adequate, but for the sake of the argument I will accept that the increase is necessary. My Amendment suggests that this should be the total amount that the Lord Chancellor draws and that he should not be able at the same time to draw other income. This rule applies to civil servants and local government officers, as well as to the ordinary pensioner, and I do not think that it is unreasonable. A pensioner is not entitled to draw two pensions from the State scheme. The Lord Chancellor has already drawn, certainly once and possibly twice, the last year's earnings tax free, in addition. This makes a mockery of our system of payment to people in this country. The Attorney-General may well argue that because of the rise in the cost of living the salary should be raised, but I do not see why this exhorbitant pension should be drawn in addition to other income. If the Lord Chancellor wants to draw his pension, let him do so, but let him be limited to the one pension.
§ The Attorney-General
I advise the Committee against accepting these Amendments. The basis of Amendment No. 20 is to make the payment of the Lord Chancellor's pension conditional upon hisnot receiving earned income from any other sourceandupon the pensioner making himself available to participate in the legal work of the House of Lords to the extent that may be reasonably required of him having regard to his age and health.The Amendment assumes that it is in the public interest for an ex-Lord Chancellor to be required by financial considerations to accept what is in practice a full-time judicial post. But the Committee should bear in mind that a Lord Chancellor, unlike any other judge, is free to and indeed is expected to take an active part in politics, and it is not unknown for an ex-Lord Chancellor to 2072 return to the Woolsack for a second term of office, as has been done by some great Lord Chancellors—Lord Cairns, Lord Selborne, Lord Herschell and Lord Haldane, for example. This would be difficult if, on vacating office, the ex-Lord Chancellor had for financial reasons to undertake full-time judicial duties.
§ Sir John Hobson (Warwick and Leamington)
Perhaps the right hon. and learned Gentleman would care to be reminded that Lord Jowitt, in the first year after he retired from the Lord Chancellorship, spoke on 100 different topics in the other place on behalf of the then Opposition, and on 102 in the following year.
§ The Attorney-General
I was about to come to the notable contribution of Lord Jowitt, without being armed with that graphic detail. From 1952 to 1955, Lord Jowitt acted as Leader of the Opposition in the House of Lords, and, of course, Lord Dilhorne is now acting as deputy Leader of the Opposition in the House of Lords.
Another objection to his Amendment, which will, I think, appeal to my hon. and learned Friend's sense of equity, is that an ex-Lord Chancellor would be required to do a full-time Lord of Appeal's job but at about half the rate, which does not seem to be a very satisfactory arrangement. Moreover, the Amendment is somewhat vague, if I may say so—to participate in the legal work of the House of Lords to the extent that may be reasonably required".By whom, one knows not. Who can require him, one knows not. For all these reasons, I hope that my hon. and learned Friend will not press the Amendment.
§ Mr. Abse
I appreciate that there are defects in the Amendment as it stands, but there is need for clarification of this whole matter so that we may know what are the obligations of an ex-Lord Chancellor to participate in legal work. Having in mind the history in this connection, I suspect that what is concerning my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) is the attitude taken by former Lord Chancellors, Lord Birkenhead in particular. It will be recalled that Lord Birkenhead went to the City after he ceased to be Lord Chancellor, and the Press at that time commented 2073 unfavourably on the fact that he still received the £5,000 a year to which an ex-Lord Chancellor not holding any other office of profit under the Crown was entitled and he was not giving any unpaid judicial service.
Lord Birkenhead wrote a letter to The Times, with all the authority of his own opinion behind it, making abundantly clear that, in his view, there was no legal or moral obligation to provide continuous or, indeed, any judicial service. For good measure, he proposed to assign the pension to some hospital. One cannot examine Lord Birkenhead's argument without coming to the conclusion that he considered that the payment was not a pension. Further, he said that, if judicial service was expected, it was absurd that an ex-Lord Chancellor should be paid less than a Law Lord. But that is another issue.
It is not good enough to rely on certain conventions when, in truth, Lord Birkenhead may well have been right. The Act of 1832 had as its object providing an annual payment of £5,000 on a Lord Chancellor's retirement from the Woolsack, and the object was certainly not to establish a pension contingent on certain conditions. It was nothing of the kind. The Long Title shows clearly that the object was to abolish certain sinecure offices which up to that time had been the perquisite of the Lord Chancellor. It stated so. It stated that it was intended to abolish sinecure offices in connection with the Court of Chancery and to make provision for the Lord High Chancellor on his retirement from office; and, as far as the Lord Chancellor's pension is concerned, which was subsequently put in, it was a name, which was only confirmed by the Short Titles Act, 1896, and in no other Act is the term "pension" used as a definition or description of the payment to be made under it. It is a retiring allowance, an annuity, call it what you will, and so there was great weight indeed in Lord Birkenhead's argument.
But I am attracted by what my hon. and learned Friend is proposing, because at the least it is making explicit that there are certain conventions, and I believe that they are conventions which should be at this time embodied in legislation, in view of the fact that it appears they can change as Lord Birkenhead changed them. So 2074 I hope that the Attorney-General, who has dismissed every plea which has been made from these benches, will not treat in any perfunctory manner, as he appears intent upon doing, Amendments which are matters of principle. For certainly I have not indulged, nor do I intend to indulge, in praising or detracting from individual holders of office. I am concerned about the principles, and I doubt, I must say, from the arguments we have received so far from the Attorney-General, whether he is giving to the arguments which have been presented which the attention some of us believe should be given.
§ The Attorney-General
I am sorry my hon. Friend has struck that rather sour note. Of course I have given attention to these arguments, and with very great care, but when practical experience has shown that certainly from the time of Lord Birkenhead ex-Lord Chancellors have performed judicial duties in the House of Lords, and, indeed, in the Judicial Committee, and when the one exception to the contrary, namely, Lord Kilmuir, has not drawn his pension, I should have thought, in the light of that experience, that there was good room for leaving this matter as it stands, to the judgment of the individual. When one recollects the record in this matter, and what Lord Haldane and Viscount Simon did after their retirement from the Woolsack, and what Lord Jowitt did, one feels it justifies the view I have commended to the Committee. I hope my hon. Friend will acquit me of indifference to these matters.
§ Mr. Paget
Of course, in the drafting I attempted no more than to convey an intention. Nobody without the assistance of the official draftsmen can draft well for the Statute Book something of this nature.
On the merits of the matter, however, I feel that the case of the Lord Chancellor who stays in political service is a very real one and one which should be dealt with. We pay his pension to the Lord Chancellor as a judge. We do not pay it to him for service as a politician. If he is going to continue as a politician I venture to say he should not draw the pension, any more than any other ex member of the Government draws a large pension while he continues to serve a position in politics. While 2075 he is doing a political job, then I do not feel he should draw either the judicial salary or the judicial pension. The two do not mix, and ought not to mix. A man ought not to be part-judge and part-politician, save in that particular office, and that is the purpose of the Amendment. Nevertheless, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Sir Samuel Storey)
I am of opinion that the principle of the Clause and any matters arising therefrom have been adequately discussed in the debate on the Amendments, and therefore, under Standing Order No. 47, I shall put the Question, That the Clause stand part of the Bill.
§ Question, That the Clause stand part of the Bill, put and agreed to.
§ Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.