§ Queen's Recommendation having been signified
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That the rate of the salary which may be granted to the Parliamentary Commissioner under section 2 of the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967 be increased from £8,600 to £9,800 per annum and the date from which this resolution is to take effect be 1st July 1969.—[Mr. Shore.]
§ Mr. Higgins
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Are we not to have an answer from the right hon. Gentleman?
§ Mr. Higgins
I thought so, too, Mr. Speaker, but I raised certain matters and I wonder whether we are to have a reply.
§ Mr. Shore
By leave of the House, I will certainly consider the question put to me by the hon. Member for Worthing (Mr. Higgins) about the duties of the Parliamentary Commissioner in relation to Northern Ireland, but I believe that the Order relates to his total activity, certainly on behalf of this House of Commons. However, I will look into that and, if I am incorrect, I will of course let the hon. Gentleman know.
The hon. Gentleman also asked about the date of payment. I believe that the explanation is that the previous increase in pay to Permanent Secretaries was on 1st July, three years ago, and that the effort here is simply to relate the increase of pay in the grade to the date on which the last financial year for pay, as it were, elapsed. It would not have been possible to make an announcement 558 before 1st July because at that time we had not made an announcement on behalf of the Government about the recommendations of the Plowden Committee about pay grades for the whole of the higher Civil Service.
I thank the hon. Member for Worthing and the hon. Member for Hendon, South (Sir H. Lucas-Tooth) for their expressions of confidence in the work of these two very distinguished servants of the House. I was aware of the reasons for the absence of the right hon. Member for Kingston - upon - Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) who courteously informed me of them earlier this evening.
§ Mr. Speaker
I had suggested, and I thought that the House had agreed, to take the two Motions together.
§ Mr. Ridley
I wanted to speak only in response to what the right hon. Gentleman has just said. I had no intention of intervening in the debate until it became clear that the right hon. Gentleman was not able to answer the questions put to him by my hon. Friend the Member for Worthing (Mr. Higgins).
If we are to be asked to pass this increase of salary, which I personally welcome, we should know whether this is all that is required for the Parliamentary Commissioner in relation to his new duties and whether it is retrospective. We should know whether it has been paid as from 1st July and whether the same thing has been done and payment made without parliamentary authority as in the first instance when the Parliamentary Commissioner was appointed. If that is the case, it points a slight lesson—that it would be helpful if the Government were to avoid doing this sort of thing in future. The House likes to make its decisions about these matters in advance rather than after increases have been paid. The answer given to my hon. Friend may be satisfactory and the money may not have been paid, but it was not clear from what the right hon. Gentleman said whether that was so.
If a Minister is to move Motions of this sort, he should have the answers to two perfectly straightforward and simple questions, namely, whether there is more 559 to come for the Parliamentary Commissioner in relation to his duties over Northern Ireland and whether it has been paid retrospectively.
Those are obvious questions which spring to mind and I would have thought that the right hon. Gentleman would have come armed with the answers. If he would be kind enough to tell us whether he can answer them I am sure that my hon. Friends would be inclined to agree entirely with the Order. The House deserves a little more information about this.
§ Question put and agreed to.
That the rate of the salary which may be granted to the Parliamentary Commissioner under section 2 of the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967 be increased from £8,600 to £9,800 per annum and the date from which this resolution is to take effect be 1st July 1969.