HC Deb 24 April 1969 vol 782 cc653-5
Q3. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the Prime Minister whether he will issue directions to the Ministers concerned with the implementation of the report of the National Board for Prices and Incomes on the salaries of chairmen and members of nationalised boards.

The Prime Minister

I would refer the right hon. Gentleman to the statement which my right hon. Friend, the First Secretary of State made in the House on 3rd April.—[Vol. 781, c. 659–61.]

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

How does the right hon. Gentleman propose to tighten up the disparity between the board salaries covered by that statement and the salaries being paid to member; of the Steel Corporation in view of the effect of this disparity on the remuneration of crucial higher management of the nationalised industries? Will he say what he proposes to do about it?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that the Report did not deal specifically with the British Steel Corporation. He will also be aware that the question of the salary of the present Chairman of the British Steel Corporation, whose original term of employment comes to an end later this month, was explained to the House by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Power on 15th March, 1967. In reply to the right hon. Gentleman's earlier point about the Report of the National Board for Prices and Incomes, this was the subject of debate in the House, I think during the Adjournment debates before the Easter Recess.

Mr. William Hamilton

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that Lord Melchett will get the £8,000 or £9,000 increase in salary for which he has asked? Since the recommendations of the National Board for Prices and Incomes will be implemented, will my right hon. Friend say whether the chairmen of the boards will be worse off if they lose their expenses allowances?

The Prime Minister

I cannot confirm any rumours or suggestions about what the salary of the Chairman of the British Steel Corporation will be, but a statement to the House will be made as soon as the responsible Minister is in a position to do so. I have nothing to add to what my right hon. Friend said in the debate about the Report of the National Board for Prices and Incomes on the wider question raised by my hon. Friend.

Mr. Peyton

On reflection, does the Prime Minister agree that it is hard to see who is being helped, or what useful purpose is being served, by referring this admittedly difficult matter to the National Board for Prices and Incomes?

The Prime Minister

I assume that the hon. Gentleman, who has some experience in this matter, having been a junior Minister in a Department dealing with certain nationalised boards, has not had time to study in full the Report of the National Board for Prices and Incomes. It was important to get these matters fully studied and certain declarations or suggestions made by the Board. The Government's policy on this was explained by my right hon. Friend in a statement in the House before Easter, and debated shortly afterwards.

Mr. Atkinson

Is my right hon. Friend aware that Lord Robens receives a larger salary than the Prime Minister, and does he think that that is right? Secondly, if the justification for increasing the salaries of the chairmen of nationalised industries is to maintain the differentials of lower grades, are the Government saying that existing differentials should be maintained, whatever the cost, for senior grades?

The Prime Minister

The National Board for Prices and Incomes dealt with the issues in the Report, including the problem of manning up national boards when there was a competing and very high income pull from private industry. I do not think that Lord Robens has considered being lured away from the Board by whatever he may consider to be the attractions of my position. I do not think that that arises.