HC Deb 11 March 1971 vol 813 cc570-1
26. Mr. Pardoe

asked the Minister of State for Defence what was the lowest weekly take-home pay paid to a civilian male employee in any defence establishment in England and Wales for a full week's work in January, 1971; and how many hours were worked.

Mr. Lambton

The lowest rates of pay issued to civilian male adults were £11 1s. to labourers aged 18 for a 40-hour week exclusive of meal breaks and £9 3s. to Grade II duplicator operators aged 18 for a 42-hour week inclusive of meal breaks.

Basic rates are, of course, negotiated at national level. Information about pay after additions and deductions is the private business of individuals concerned.

Mr. Pardoe

I am grateful to the Minister for that scandalous reply. Is the hon. Gentleman aware that many civilian employees at R.A.F. St. Mawgan in Cornwall are paid at rates which allow them a take-home pay below the poverty line level defined by the Supplementary Benefits Commission? Does the hon. Gentleman think that the Government are setting an adequate example to private employers in this matter of the low-paid? Do the Government intend to continue to maintain the establishment of defence stations by means of slave labour?

Mr. Lambton

The rates are a matter for negotiation at national level with the trade unions concerned.

Mr. Jopling

Would it not be true that many of these people will benefit from the proposed family income supplement?

Mr. Lambton

Many of these people are 18, so the odds are that they will not benefit.

Mr. Walden

Although no one wants to impose additional charges on our defence budget, is not the position revealed in this question truly disgraceful? Should there not be some negotiations by Ministers to try to do something directly about it?

Mr. Lambton

I can only repeat that this matter is for negotiation at national level with the trade unions.

Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles

is it not refreshing to see this new-found urge for greater defence expenditure expressed from the Liberal benches?