HC Deb 12 April 1967 vol 744 cc1193-4
32. Mr. John Hall

asked the Secretary of State for Defence (1) when he proposes to bring the increase in pay to medical officers in the Armed Forces into line with the increases given to medical general practitioners in the National Health Service;

(2) what representations have been made to him by the British Medical Association that a new structure of pay and conditions should be negotiated for medical officers in the Armed Forces; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Healey

Service medical officers will receive a pay increase of 10 per cent. on 1st July which will be backdated to 1st October, 1966. The British Medical Association proposed in discussions last month that a further increase of 8 per cent. should be awarded and that any new pay structure should be excepted from the terms of the White Paper on Prices and Incomes (Cmnd. 3235). These proposals could not be accepted by Her Majesty's Government.

Mr. Hall

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that there is a great deal of indignation among Service medical officers at what they regard as very shabby treatment by the Government? Does he not also agree that this decision will not only have an adverse effect on recruitment but will also encourage medical officers to leave the Services as soon as they can leave without incurring financial liability?

Mr. Healey

Of course, I know that the application of the prices and incomes policy is resented and regretted by many sections of the community, but I do not believe that there is any chance of that policy succeeding unless it is universally applied. For that reason, although there may be unfortunate effects from the application of the policy, it is right to apply it uniformly all round.

Mr. Peter Mills

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that some of us who have just returned from visiting troops in Germany have been appalled and shocked by the lack of doctors in certain units? Is he aware that the doctors there are grossly overworked? Is not this a situation which will never be altered unless the pay structure is altered, and altered quickly?

Mr. Healey

In July all the doctors are to get a 10 per cent. increase backdated to October,1966. That is a very substantial contribution towards the end which the hon. Gentleman has in mind.

Mr. Longden

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is even more discontent among Service legal officers? Why are not these concessions being granted also to them?

Mr. Speaker

That has nothing to do with the Question.