HC Deb 03 February 1969 vol 777 cc12-3
14. Mr. Ridley

asked the Minister of Transport if he will seek to increase the salary of the Chairman of British Railways.

Mr. Marsh

I think we should wait and see what the National Board for Prices and Incomes has to say about top salaries in the nationalised industries.

Mr. Ridley

How can the Minister justify paying more to those who run the steel industry than he pays to those who run the railways? Does this imply in his mind that the railways are not so important or so difficult to run? It is an absolutely incomprehensible decision.

Mr. Marsh

It is very easy to understand. It arises out of the complete failure of hon. Members opposite over many years to face up to the problem of nationalised industry salaries, which are now very different in many industries. It implies no level of seniority. It is the price one has to pay. What we are doing at present—it is a pity that it was not done earlier by hon. Members opposite—is putting the whole thing before an independent inquiry to see what comes out of it.

Mrs. Thatcher

Is the Minister implying that the salary of the Chairman should be higher and therefore that it is not adequate at the moment?

Mr. Marsh

No. As I was explaining to the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley), we have sought the advice of the National Board for Prices and Incomes. It is not for me to pre-empt the Board's advice. I have my personal views on this.