HC Deb 28 June 1965 vol 715 cc19-20
29. Sir T. Beamish

asked the Minister of Health what improvements he plans in the machinery through which the conditions of service of registration officers is negotiated; what has been the reason for the delay in announcing the new salary scales; and how he proposes to ante-date the new awards.

Mr. K. Robinson

I have no locus in the National Joint Council which negotiates the salaries and conditions of service of registration officers but I am exploring the possibilities of setting in train some form of inquiry into their pay structure with the co-operation of the Council. I am informed that there is at present no salary claim on behalf of registration officers before them.

Sir T. Beamish

Does not the Minister of Health feel that there is something seriously wrong when such a public-spirited and highly representative body as this feels so very much frustrated, as he knows it does, following discussions with its representatives recently? Will he use his good offices to speed up the negotiations?

Mr. Robinson

I am using my good offices in rather difficult circumstances, because I have no locus. The difficulty is that registration officers are not employed by local authorities but they are paid by them, and it is, therefore, by agreement that their conditions and pay are negotiated on the National Joint Council. I am very anxious to make progress, and I am moving as fast as I can in this matter.

Lord Balniel

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that there is probably a quite strong case for an independent inquiry covering the whole range of Health Service negotiating machinery, because not only are there these quite serious delays but about 130 cases have been referred to arbitration since 1948, which would surely indicate that there is a lack of confidence to some degree in the existing machinery?

Mr. Robinson

I think that there was a lack of confidence, but if the hon. Gentleman will look at the records since last October he will see that the situation is very much better now than it was in the time before the General Election.