HC Deb 23 June 1971 vol 819 cc1425-6
35. Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

asked the Minister for the Civil Service what estimate he has made of the cost to public funds of the recent wage settlement with the Civil and Public Services Association; and if he will make a statement.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Civil Service Department (Mr. David Howell)

The recent settlement for clerical grades in the Administration Group added approximately £20 million per annum to the wage bill for these grades, an increase of 11½ per cent. This settlement, which is effective from 1st January, 1971, is firmly based on the evidence in the Report of the Civil Service Pay Research Unit of the rates being paid at that date for functionally comparable work by other employers in both the private and the public sectors.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

Is it true that the Lord Privy Seal committed himself in advance to accepting the findings of the pay research unit, however inflationary those findings might be, as indeed they turned out to be? If so, how does my hon. Friend reconcile this with the reiterated statements that it is the Government's intention to stand up to inflationary wage pressures in the public sector?

Mr. Howell

My noble Friend and the Government have made clear again and again that they wish to stand by agreed procedures for pay settlements. They urgently wish that this was observed in other sectors as well.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

In his original reply the Minister referred to the relevance between public and private wage and salary increases. Will he explain why the Government always condemn any increase to the lower paid? When I asked the Prime Minister yesterday to condemn the increase of £3,000 a year on £2,000 paid to Lord Shawcross and other part-time directors of Shell, who admit doing only two days work per week, he refused to do so. When will the Government condemn the highly paid as well as the poor on a few pounds a week?

Mr. Howell

That raises much broader questions which have nothing to do with the Question.

Sir G. Nabarro

What has a lot to do with and is relevant to the Question is why the Civil Service, in this instance with a £20 million increase in pay and on other occasions with increases ranging up to 65 per cent., should secure these large advances with facility whereas Members of Parliament, who have gone without since 1964, are subject to interminable procrastination and delay in dealing with their very legitimate case? When will the Government apply themselves to their own kith and kin?

Mr. Howell

As my hon. Friend knows, the Top Salaries Review Body is now hard at work and will report as soon as it can on this important matter to all of us.

Mr. Lewis

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of continual unsatisfactory replies, I beg to give notice that on Monday next I shall raise this whole question on the Adjournment.