HC Deb 14 December 1970 vol 808 cc922-3
5. Mr. Arthur Lewis

asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether he will introduce legislation to give himself the authority to meet industrial employees, including miners, to explain to them why the Government's policy of wage and salary restraint upon the part of the miners is not being implemented so far as the higher-paid civil servants are concerned.

Mr. Peter Thomas

No. I have nothing to add to the reply given by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Civil Service Department on 18th November, 1970.—[Vol. 806, c. 426.]

Mr. Lewis

Is the Secretary of State aware that neither that reply nor any other reply that I have had has been able to explain why it is that a 10 per cent. increase appears to be inflationary to the Government when a 51 per cent. increase spread over two and a half years, which the Government are now paying to the higher-paid civil servants and the chairmen of the nationalised boards, appears to be non-inflationary? Surely a 17 per cent. average of increases is at least a little more inflationary than 10 per cent?

Mr. Peter Thomas

Increases in pay at all levels should be dealt with on their merits [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] The reasons for the civil servants' pay increase were given in the answer to which I have referred.

Sir G. Nabarro

Would my right hon. and learned Friend bear in mind that miners in Wales should not he treated any differently from miners in England? Would he not reinforce the policies of his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment in putting a brake on the increase in prices in the nationalised industries, including those for the products of the nationalised coal mining industry?

Mr. Arthur Lewis

And including civil servants?

Mr. Peter Thomas

This matter was fully debated only the other day in this House.

Mr. George Thomas

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that the conduct of the Government in offering these tremendous increases to people at the top of the scale is a provocation which is contributing to our present difficulties?

Mr. Peter Thomas

I am surprised at the hon. Gentleman's remark, because the increases to which he has referred were recommended by an independent standing advisory committee in 1969. They were agreed in principle by the last Administration. They were being paid in three stages, and the hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis) is referring to the third stage.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of those replies, I beg to give notice that I shall try to raise the matter on the Adjournment at the earliest opportunity.