HC Deb 20 October 1966 vol 734 cc374-5
4. Mr. John Lee

asked the First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Economic Affairs if he will take steps to prohibit for 12 months all incremental awards of salaried staff in both the public and private sectors of the economy in respect of salaries at present exceeding £3,000; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. M. Stewart

No, Sir.

Mr. Lee

Does not my right hon. Friend understand that permitting incremental increases when there is a wage freeze helps to cause resentment in people's minds, particularly those of lower workers? Will he reconsider his Answer?

Mr. Stewart

No, I think not. The incremental increases which are permissible under the standstill are only those which were automatic and predetermined, that is to say, those which are really part of the method of payment of those workers.

Mr. Patrick Jenkin

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that it is a ludicrous distinction to make between one category of workers, where the increase happens to be automatic, and another category which is on exactly the same sort of ladder but where there is more discretion for management on where the individual rungs should be? Does he not recognise that this is giving rise to great resentment in many industrial firms which pay their salaries by the later method?

Mr. Stewart

If the increases are discretionary, it means that that is not the same sort of ladder. If a man enters an occupation with rates of increase clearly laid down in advance, that is part of his method of payment from the start.

Mr. Will Griffiths

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in many professions, such as those of dentists, solicitors and architects, these increments are being paid to relatively highly paid workers, whereas in the same offices and the same surgeries people like clerical assistants and cleaners are being flatly refused them?

Mr. Stewart

Yes, but if, as is suggested, we made automatic, predetermined increases of this kind subject to the standstill, it would be not only higher-paid workers who suffered but lower-paid workers as well. It has never been part of the standstill that we should discriminate between one kind of worker and another simply with relation to the size of income. The distinction here is between predetermined increases and those which are not predetermined.