HC Deb 18 July 1969 vol 787 cc1172-3

2.59 p.m.

The Attorney-General (Sir Elwyn Jones)

I beg to move, That the Judicial Offices (Salaries) Order, 1969, a draft of which was laid before this House on 11th July, be approved. The object of the Order is to increase the salaries of the recorders of Liverpool and Manchester, the county court judges and the Metropolitan magistrates following the salary increases for the higher civil servants recommended by the Standing Advisory Committee on the Pay of Higher Civil Servants—the Plowden Committee. The Order is made by the Lord Chancellor, with the concurrence of the Treasury, under powers contained in the Judicial Offices (Salaries and Pensions) Act, 1957, and the County Courts Act, 1959.

As the House will be aware, the Plowden Committee recommended increases for Civil Service grades of Under-Secretary and above in three stages. The Government have decided to implement the first stage increases from 1st July, 1969, and these are in the range of 12.7 per cent. to 14.3 per cent. over the 1st September, 1969 rates:

It has been accepted since the war that the salary levels of the lower judiciary should be kept in step with the salaries of the higher civil servants. It is, therefore, the Government's intention, in seeking the approval of Parliament to this draft Order, to increase these judicial salaries in line with the Plowden recommendations. The average increase is one of 13.5 per cent. over the last increase, which was made by a similar Order in May, 1966. The last increase was, however, related to Civil Service salary increases which were made in September, 1965, nearly four years ago. The annual rate of increase for the judicial officers is, therefore, 3.4 per cent., which is within the Prices and Incomes ceiling.

The result of the increases will be to raise the salaries of the recorders of Liverpool and Manchester from £6,550 to £7,400. The salaries of county court judges will be raised from £5,775 to £6,550, and the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate will get the same increase. The salaries of the other Metropolitan magistrates will be increased from £5,300 to £6,050. There are now 100 county court judges and 35 Metropolitan magistrates, in addition to the Chief Magistrate. The gross cost of the increases in the salaries proposed by the Order will be about £106,000 a year.

It is the view of the Government that the proposed increases are an appropriate consequence of the increases that are being made for the higher Civil Service, and I invite the House to approve the Order.

3.2 p.m.

Sir Peter Rawlinson (Epsom)

I certainly do not intend to oppose the Order or to controvert anything which the Attorney-General has said, but I am glad that the Order has not gone through wholly on the nod because it is of importance that the House should look at proposals for an increase in the salaries of the lower judiciary As the right hon. and learned Gentleman has said, the lower judiciary bear a relationship to the higher civil servants, and in recent years it has always been held, with the agreement of all, that when there are these revisions of the salaries of the higher civil servants the members of the lower judiciary should, as it were, go along with them.

We are here dealing with the salaries of 100 county court judges and 35 Metropolitan magistrates who are, apart from the great body of non-professional magistrates, the professional judges to whom so to speak, most people come into contact, either in their minor civil claims or in minor criminal offences. The standard of justice depends on the standard of these men, and it is only right that, as we demand, and get, a high standard from the lower judiciary, they should be paid appropriate and proper salaries. This proposal sees to it that their salaries are properly increased, so I join with the Attorney-General in commending the Order to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That the Judicial Offices (Salaries) Order, 1969, a draft of which was laid before this House on 11th July, be approved.