HC Deb 16 April 1969 vol 781 cc1138-9
19. Mr. Lubbock

asked the Minister of Technology what proposals he has to make for adjusting the salary of the Chairman of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, in the light of paragraph 101 of Command Paper No. 3970.

Mr. Benn

None as yet. But I am in touch with the Chairman about his salary, and I expect to reach a decision shortly.

Mr. Lubbock

Does the Minister accept that the arguments advanced by the First Secretary, in relation to the chairmen of the nationalised industries, about the detrimental effect on the quality of management in the long run which could be caused by having salaries at too low a level in these industries, could equally apply to the Atomic Energy Authority? Will he take urgent steps to see that the Chairman's salary is revised to a more realistic level?

Mr. Benn

I fully accept what the hon. Gentleman says. The Government and the First Secretary accept that there is a read across from the posts on which the National Board for Prices and Incomes reported and similar posts. The Atomic Energy Authority in the course of the years has spent about £500 million on civil research. A great deal of our future is locked up in its management skill, and this must be properly reflected.

Sir H. Legge-Bourke

When the right hon. Gentleman talks to the Chairman, will he bear in mind, particularly in the light of the Third Report of the Select Committee on the nuclear power programme, and his own thinking on this matter, that it has become abundantly clear that the A.E.A. will have to be far more market-orientated than ever before? Will he bear in mind the need to relate the Chairman's salary to those paid to people who are conducting complicated and equally sophisticated marketing exercises?

Mr. Benn

I accept that entirely, and we are very lucky in having in the present Chairman a man who through his work on the fuel side has won the respect of the industry for the way in which he has approached his task. With the centrifuge work and the new organisation that is coming, the point made by the hon. Gentleman has acquired special relevance, and I accept this.