HC Deb 13 July 1972 vol 840 cc1989-2017

10.16 p.m.

The Attorney-General (Sir Peter Rawlinson)

I beg to move That the Judicial Offices (Salaries) Order 1972, a draft of which was laid before this House on 23rd June, be approved.

Mr. Speaker

I take it that it will be to the convenience of the House to discuss at the same time the other Motion, which is: That the Judges' Remuneration Order 1972, a draft of which was laid before this House on 23rd June, be approved.

The Attorney-General

Yes, Mr.Speaker.

hese orders concern the salaries of the higher judiciary whose posts are listed in the Schedule to the Judges' Remuneration Order, 1972, and the salaries of the chief of the metropolitan magistrates and the metropolitan magistrates. The draft order sets out the new salaries.

As the House will appreciate, by Section 18 of the Courts Act, 1971, circuit judges can have their salaries increased and back-dated without any order or resolution. They have been fixed at £9,750. Neither the higher judiciary nor the metropolitan magistrates can have this, and they have to await an order and resolution of the House.

These proposals for the new scales arise as part of the Boyle Report on top salaries, the Top Salaries Review Body Report, that body having been established in May, 1971, and directed to make an immediate review of top salaries and further reviews at two-yearly intervals.

Its recommendations in respect of such persons as chairmen and members of the nationalised industries, the senior Civil Service and senior officers in the Armed Forces can be, and have been, effected by administrative action. It is only these judges and Members of Parliament who require orders and resolutions, and Ministers' salaries require legislation, although, by the Act passed this year dealing with ministerial and other salaries, henceforth their salaries can be dealt with by order. The House has already implemented the report dealing with the salaries and pensions of Ministers and Members of Parliament. The necessary orders and legislation have been passed.

The Boyle Report relates to the datum line of July, 1969, when the last review of the salaries of the Civil Service and chairmen of nationalised industries was made. It was implemented in stages and followed by increases in judiciary salaries by order. Since July, 1969, prices have risen by 7.7 per cent. annually and salaries in the private sector by 11.1 per cent. What Boyle recommends for these public servants receiving public salaries, like Ministers and Members of Parliament, is an average increase of 6.8 per cent. on a compound annual basis. The heads of divisions of the various judicial branches receive a higher salary than the puisne judges in their particular divisions.

High Court judges, including heads of divisions, receive under these proposals salary increases of £1,750 and the metropolitan magistrates increases of £1,500. It is important to compare like with like. It would be wrong to compare increases on this scale with an increase in wages expressed as a percentage over a previous year's figure—these increases represent an overall average on a compound annual basis—and to do that would be to mislead, because it would be a false comparison, as it would be if it were applied to an increase in the salary of Members of Parliament.

The increases in the orders range from 3.9 per cent. at the highest level to 8.4 per cent. at the lowest—the metropolitan magistrates—making an average of 6.8 per cent. The effect is to bring judicial salaries broadly into line with salaries paid to other public servants in the Civil Service and in the Armed Services who hold posts of great responsibility.

Not only do the increases proposed in the orders follow the recommendation of the Boyle Review Body, which has been implemented by the House in respect of other persons, but they conform with the need to pay to persons engaged in most important public service a salary commensurate with their abilities and with the proper acknowledgment of the responsibilities of their office.

The importance of recruiting men and women of the highest calibre to give this service will be acknowledged by everyone. The reputation of the judiciary of the United Kingdom is world-wide, and the work done by the judiciary is certainly not less important than the work done, for instance, by senior civil servants. The increases have been recommended by a body which was established to examine the salary structure, and it is only right that the House should implement those recommendations.

10.22 p.m.

Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)

The House will be grateful for the accident of law which enables it to discuss at least one element in the Boyle Report on top salaries. It is a little disturbing that no one from the economic Departments of the Government has chosen to speak in the debate. As I shall seek to show, if the House were to approve the orders, the consequences for the forthcoming talks between the Government, the TUC and the CBI, and the prospects for progress towards an incomes policy on which the Government appear to have set their mind, would be gravely prejudiced.

It has been evident for some weeks that there is great uneasiness in the country that the Government chose to publish the report and to announce that they would implement it on the very day when inflation compelled them to devalue the £ sterling and, in so doing, to add a further twist to the inflationary spiral. That uneasiness is by no means confined to this side of the House.

We all accept that the first priority for any Government in Britain at this time is to attack inflation on every possible front—on prices, rents, profits, salaries and wages. There is probably a surprising degree of consensus between both sides of the House and both Front Benches that the Government must seek a policy for incomes that helps in the control of inflation. Most of us believe—indeed, we on this side of the House think we know—that no policy for incomes will work unless it is a voluntary policy supported by ordinary people because they regard it as fair, just, and in their interests. For the Government to launch an appeal to ordinary working people for restraint on wages would, however it was handled, be a difficult task. If the Government hope for success they will require great sensitivity in the way in which they talk to ordinary people about restraint in incomes.

I cannot believe the Foreign Secretary was doing the Government a service the other day when he attacked the greed of people who earn wages. It is well known that he himself is the owner of vast estates which were acquired by the greed and rapacity of his ancestors. I do not blame him for that, but this is a fact.

I wonder what agricultural workers on those estates felt when they read accounts of the Foreign Secretary's speech at a moment when they were fighting to raise their minimum wage above the level of £16 for a 42-hour week. I believe a consensus is developing among those concerned on these matters that if we are to develop an effective policy on incomes, and above all one which commands the assent and support of all ordinary men and women, we must get away from the idea of a percentage norm on which previous incomes policies were founded.

It will be known to the House that the General Secretary of the TUC, Mr. Vic Feather, said the other day that he felt it now necessary to talk money, not percentages. It is not possible, as we have discovered through bitter experience, to give low-paid workers a living wage without pushing up all other wages by an equal percentage and thereby adding to the inflationary pressures, unless we can get away from the percentage approach to the problem.

Where those of us who are concerned with a policy for incomes disagree is on how far this attempt to compress differentials should go. We on this side of the House believe that the compression of differentials, which is a necessary condition of any successful attack on inflation, must go right across the whole spectrum of incomes and wealth, stretching from the poor to the very rich. It is all too apparent that hon. Members opposite, and, above all, those who sit on the Government Front Bench, believe that the compression of differentials must apply only to those men and women who are members of trades unions and are earning on average between £15 and £16 a week. Beyond that level the present Government, who are now asking for restraint among ordinary men and women who work for a weekly wage, have done everything they can to increase differentials between rich and poor.

Mr. Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Ardwick)

My right hon. Friend is making a very powerful case, but could I point out to him that the Government's attempts to conceal from the country what he was pointing out are confirmed by the bogus nature of this order—like last year's order, but unlike orders published when my right hon. Friend was a member of the Cabinet—namely, that they fail to give the figures from which these new increases come? Therefore, they totally conceal the facts, whereas whenever the Government are dealing with railwaymen and miners the Government Front Bench trot out all the figures.

Mr. Healey

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I assure him that I propose to remedy the deficiencies of the Government in this respect, and shall seek to do so in the next few minutes.

I return to my earlier point, which is the most essential issue of all, and that is the Government's wish to introduce an incomes policy at present. They have imposed a surtax on the very poor by making the benefits subject to means tests, with the result that the railway worker with a young family who got an increase of £5 as a result of his recent pay struggles, which brings him barely above the £20 minimum, finds that at least 75 per cent. is taken away because of the loss of means-tested benefits.

At the other end of the scale, the very rich have been given enormous gifts by this Government through cuts in taxation, including surtax, through cuts in tax on unearned income, through share appreciation, through profiteering in house and land prices with the promise of further benefits to come in the present Finance Bill, and through a stock option scheme which could give the 10 highest-paid executives in the country £2 million to share between them, subject only to capital gains tax.

Mr. F. P. Crowder (Ruislip-Northwood)

Having regard to present circumstances, will the right hon. Gentleman tell us how much in his view a High Court puisne judge should be paid and when?

Mr. Healey

I shall come to that in a moment——

Mr. Crowder

Why not answer it now?

Mr. Healey

Because I propose to make my speech in my own way, which is the custom in this House.

This is the context in which the House has been asked to approve very large increases in the pay of judges, and, to meet the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Ardwick (Mr. Kaufman), the people concerned in these two orders are exceptionally wealthy already. They are earning from £6,850 to £16,750 a year; that is to say, from 4½ to 11 times the earnings of the average man and woman in employment in this country.

In his report, Lord Boyle himself admitted that the last increase these men received was only a year or 18 months ago. That was because the previous Government decided, when they received a report on top salaries, to phase the payment of these salaries over two years. Moreover, Lord Boyle clearly was uneasy about the task that the Government had set him. He explained at some length in his report that he felt that the situation of our judges required far more careful study, and that he was offering this only as an interim proposal; indeed, he said that he would be presenting the Government and the House with an entirely new report which sought to find a much more rational basis for the assessment of judges' pay.

I will now tell the hon. and learned Member for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Crowder) that I propose to wait for that report. I have a great deal of experience as an ex-Secretary for Defence of the experts who serve bodies like Lord Boyle's and like the National Board for Prices and Incomes. My experience is that when they do a thorough piece of work on job evaluation they do it more thoroughly than any other person could do it. I should not propose to do it for them. They did such a job on the pay of Members of Parliament, and I think that the House recognises that never before in our history has such a thorough attempt been made to establish the right reward for those of us who have this rather peculiar profession.

In the end Lord Boyle recommended massive increases of up to 20 per cent., although, as the Attorney-General pointed out, they are increases which must be judged against the level of salaries 2½ years ago. These increases will be paid immediately. Indeed, the other top salary increases which Lord Boyle recommended, by a novelty which is unfamiliar in this House, are to be back-dated to 1st January. It is only a legal technicality which prevents the Government from back-dating the increases for the judges and magistrates referred to in these orders.

When Lord Boyle wrote his report, the Government had set their faces in public firmly against any sort of incomes policy. They had been telling us for two years that an incomes policy was nonsense, that we must rely on the free play of the market and, mirabile dictu, the control of prices. So in order to justify his proposals Lord Boyle had to use arguments totally inconsistent with the sort of incomes policy that the Government are now telling the country and the TUC that they want and that they believe the nation needs.

Lord Boyle found it possible to justify these recommendations on only two arguments. The first was to maintain comparability between the salaries of judges and the other top people with whom he was concerned with the massive and totally unjustified increases received by top salary earners in private industry. We may have some opportunity to discuss that matter on the Third Reading of the Finance Bill next Wednesday.

As the Financial Secretary will know very well, or will learn very fast if he is concerned to find an incomes policy, comparability is death to any attempt to establish an incomes policy. Indeed, the Government say this again and again when they ask trade unions not to copy increases which have been earned by some of the stronger unions under the present system.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Terence Higgins)

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell the House what the White Papers published by the Labour Government, when he was in office, said on comparability?

Mr. Healey

I know to my cost as a member of a Cabinet concerned with increases in Service pay that I faced at all times a common front between the Department of Employment and the Treasury against basing increases on comparability. This is precisely why the Labour Government sought to persuade the National Board for Prices and Incomes to attack the problems of public servants by job evaluation rather than by comparability with those in the private sector. If the hon. Gentleman takes the trouble to read, for example, all three reports of the National Board for Prices and Incomes on Service pay he will see this is fully recounted there.

The second argument which Lord Boyle seeks to use to support his recommendations is to maintain differentials between the very highly paid and those immediately beneath them. But he was clearly extremely uneasy about using these arguments, because he undertook to do a thorough study on a completely different basis to try to calculate the right reward for those persons whom we are considering and to present it to the Government next year.

Whatever Lord Boyle may have argued in a White Paper which was drafted when the Government were opposed in principle to an incomes policy, these arguments should be totally unacceptable to the Government in this new situation.

Leaving that aside, there is one overwhelming argument against implementing Lord Boyle's recommendations now. It is not just that the judges and magistrates concerned are exceptionally wealthy already—as I said, they have earnings which are between four and 11 times the average earnings in this country—but, more important, that the Chancellor has given them enormous increases in take-home pay by concessions in income tax and surtax.

I hope I can satisfy the hon. and learned Member for Ruislip—Northwood by giving some precise figures. Taking £15,000 a year as the mean—it is roughly at the higher end of the salaries which Lord Boyle proposes to increase—and assuming that the average person with this income is married with no children under 11 years of age—very few people reach this eminence at an age when they are likely to have children under that age—wecan find out what he has gained over the last few years by reading the financial statement published by the Government.

The important thing, as the Attorney-General pointed out, is that we should look at the take-home pay rather than at crude figures net of tax. In 1970–71, the base year for these increases, the take-home pay on a salary of £15,000 a year was £6,900. As a result of the Chancellor's tax concessions in 1972–73, this year take-home pay is £8,080. As a result of the Chancellor's current Budget, which we are still discussing, the take-home pay at 1st April next year will be £8,404.

I ask the House to consider these figures. They mean that a man with an income of £15,000 in 1970 has had an increase of £1,180 net of tax in the last two years. I hope that the Financial Secretary is listening and is suitably ashamed of his part in this shabby business. That is an increase in take-home pay of 17 per cent. over two years as a result of cuts in income tax and surtax which will be increased by the present Budget to £1,504 by 1st April next year, an increase of 21 per cent. This is not as a result of greater productivity or higher production; it is the immediate planned result of tax and surtax concessions by the present Government.

Of course this is far from the full story of the benefits which these men have received over the two years. It leaves out all the other increases in their income and wealth as a result of the actions of the Chancellor through relief of unearned income, through increases in share prices—which went up about 40 per cent. faster than earnings over the last two years—and through the increases in the value of the houses and land which they own.

I put it to the House that no Government and no Parliament which are concerned to fight inflation and to seek the co-operation of ordinary working men and women can contemplate adding to increases of 17 per cent. and 21 per cent. already engineered by the Chancellor net of tax a further increase of 18 per cent. to 20 per cent., to come into operation tomorrow, I presume, if this order is approved.

I recognise that it is a very serious matter for a Government or Parliament to change recommendations of a review body, although the Labour Government did it in the case of the doctors and for precisely the sort of reasons to which I am referring.

Mr. Arthur Lewis (West Ham, North)

Will my right hon. Friend go one step further and say that they did it for themselves when they cut ministerial salaries?

Mr. Healey

My hon. Friend makes a point which I am too modest to make, but it is, of course, the case that the Labour Cabinet in 1964 agreed to forgo a large part of the increases recommended. I assure hon. Members opposite that collusion of this nature between my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis) and myself has never taken place before, is unlikely to take place in future and has not taken place on this occasion.

It is not at all uncommon for Governments of either party to decide to phase or to defer increases which are recommended by review bodies. A Conservative Government did it with increases recommended for all Service men at every level in, I think, 1962. As is well known, the Labour Government did it on these very top salaries when they accepted the recommendations in total in 1969. But this Government, facing the most serious crisis of inflation in our postwar history, a crisis made worse by the devaluation which has been carried out on the very verge of attempting to seek co-operation of the unions which they have been consistently slapping in the face for the past two years, have decided to do neither—neither to change the recommendation nor to defer it.

At the same moment as the Government are proposing to give these wealthy men these enormous increases on top of the increases already received through tax cuts, they are showing a brutal rigidity to hundreds of thousands of workers at the other end of the scale. I dare say that this afternoon many of us went into the Lobby to meet the representatives of hundreds of thousands of industrial civil servants who are attempting to live on earnings very well below the average in this country, ranging between about £15 and £25 a week.

Mr. Ian Lloyd (Portsmouth, Langstone)

The earnings are not between £15 and £25. Average earnings move from about £23 to £36. That is the range.

Mr. Healey

With great respect, I went into this matter with some of my constituents working in a factory which I know well and for which I was responsible as Secretary of State for Defence. I know that they were telling the truth. All that they have been offered by the Government is an increase of 30 shillings a week; nothing more. Most of these men will find that this increase disappears in the loss of means-tested benefits or, if they are unmarried and have no children, by entry into a very high rate of marginal tax of 30 per cent. when they get the increase.

What can these men feel when they see that judges have already received, in tax cuts, more than the whole of their earnings, and that now it is proposed by the Government which refused to give them more than 30 shillings a week that judges should be given another £1,500 or so, twice the average earnings of these men in the last few years?

There has never been a time when it has been more necessary for the Government to show more sensitivity to the feelings of ordinary people. It is not only the question of inflation, which is overwhelmingly the most important problem facing the country, but also the fact that the Government are just entering into contacts with the TUC and the CBI over the whole range of problems relating to inflation. Yet the Government still stick doggedly to the determination with which they entered office. That was to divide Britain into two nations and to keep Britain so divided.

On the one hand, the great majority of hard working men and women when they ask for more than an extra 30 shillings a week are told by the Foreign Secretary to control their greed and accept restraint. On the other hand, the small minority of wealthy people soar unconfined, as high as the wings of the Chancellor can carry them, with reductions in taxation, concessions on investment income, the offer of stock options, and so on.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

And interest-free loans.

Mr. Healey

How can the Government hope to get the co-operation of ordinary men and women when they persist in regarding an incomes policy and inflation as problems for which only the working class must provide a solution, and from which the wealthy and those living on unearned income are to be completely freed?

If the House has any feeling for the gravity of the economic problems the country faces at present, if it has any understanding of the way in which ordinary men and women live, think and feel, and as the Government refuse to change the recommendation, to phase it or defer it, in honesty and decency it must vote against the orders.

Mr. Kaufman

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. You are always solicitous that hon. Members should have the requisite papers for a debate such as this. To debate these matters sensibly it is necessary for us to have details of the salaries as set out in the previous orders. Application at the Vote Office reveals that the papers are not available there. Can you help us?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Robert Grant-Ferris)

I cannot help hon. Members in that regard. It is not the responsibility of the Chair to ensure that such papers are available.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

On a further point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. You will know that it is the custom for Mr. Speaker to say whether he intends to call an Amendment. I was the first to table an Amendment to these orders. I assume that in all probability Mr. Speaker has decided not to call my Amendment. However, it is the custom for the hon. Member concerned to be told. I may be under a misapprehension. Perhaps the Chair intends to call my Amendment.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I may have been guilty of an unintentional discourtesy to the hon. Gentleman in not announcing that Mr. Speaker has decided not to call his Amendments. The substance of what the hon. Member wishes to raise will be in order on the main Motion.

Mr. John Hunt (Bromley)

I had already expressed concern about the timing of these awards. I therefore regret deeply that the orders have been brought forward by the Government tonight.

The right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) pointed out—justifiably—that the publication and acceptance of the Boyle Report coincided with the floating of the £. That created a new situation which should have affected the Government's thinking. From that point on Britain was on probation, with the rest of the world watching closely to see how realistically we tackled the problem of inflation and how determined we were to ensure wage and salary restraint. The rest of the world, after reading of this debate, is bound to have doubts about our determination to deal with wage and salary awards. The decision to go ahead with these awards will cause misunderstanding at home and abroad and arouse resentment amongst large sections of the community.

I have argued that these awards should be post-dated. I do not say that there is no merit in them. I believe that there is a case for post-dating them and I suggested at Question Time recently that they should be post-dated for at least six months. This would cause no hardship and would set a much-needed example in restraint and responsibility.

An alternative to that is for those who are being granted the awards voluntarily to offer to forgo them for a limited period. There is no sign of that happening.

There is substance in the argument that a large part of the award will go in taxation and that in any case the beneficiaries have not had an award for two years in some cases and for three years in others.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

Eighteen months and two years.

Mr. Hunt

Whatever the variations may be, a substantial period has elapsed since the last award. There may be a case for an annual review of all awards to avoid the misunderstanding which has arisen on this occasion. The scale of the awards and others which have been made by other methods, without reference to the House, inevitably means that it will be more difficult for those who in the next few months will have to take part as employers in negotiations with the trade unions, which will come forward with wage claims on behalf of the miners, the power workers or the railwaymen.

The decision to go forward with these awards has seriously undermined the Government's fight against inflation. That is why I regret it has been done. A serious psychological misjudgment has been made, and I hope that it will not be repeated.

10.58 p.m.

Mr. Arthur Lewis (West Ham, North)

I congratulate and compliment the hon. Member for Bromley (Mr. Hunt) on his approach to this issue. I have done so by putting a Motion on the Order Paper. The hon. Member speaks honestly and sincerely not only in the House but in his constituency. I remember reading that he had made a similar speech in his constituency.

I also congratulate my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) on both an excellent speech, and, with my usual modesty, on supporting my approach on this issue. The House will know that for years—more years than I care to remember—I have adopted exactly the same line as my right hon. Friend, whatever Government have been in power.

The origin of this matter goes back a long way. I can go back further than the Attorney-General. I remember that the late Sir Winston Churchill tried to get it through. He said that judges had not had an increase for many years and it was going to be a once-for-all increase. He gave them an increase of £5,000. There was a special Bill, and then we had the Act, which I strongly opposed. The Government then hit upon the idea of doing away with a Bill and an Act to prevent day-to-day discussion in the normal parliamentary procedure, and bringing in a time-limited order such as this one.

The Attorney-General, not, I am sure, with any intent to mislead the House, unconsciously did so. The right hon. and learned Gentleman tried to put forward the question of comparability. My right hon. Friend rightly compared the lower-paid worker, the industrial worker and others; but he, too, has missed the point. There is no comparability. The Attorney-General and my right hon. Friend spoke about wages, the cost of living and other matters, but those matters do not affect judges. Our judges get perks, and, by jingo, what perks they get.

I wish that the hon. Member who is always absent, who writes to the Press about the railwaymen's perks—I forget his constituency because we never see him—was present. The hon. Member wrote a letter to The Times about the railwaymen's perks, including free travel warrants. It is nice to know what the judges get. I thought that the Attorney-General would have told us, because he knows. If it was true that the judges, because of the wicked Government's intention to increase rents, had their rents put up, I might think that they had a case, but the Government see that they do not have rents. They do not live in hotels when they go on circuit; they live in luxurious dwellings.

I will quote an article from The Observer, because no one believes me when I give my description of these matters. I kept an article from The Observer when we discussed this question in the House two years ago. It was written by Ivan Yates on 9th August, 1970, about the judges, who were then to receive £14,000. He said that they go on working—I emphasise "working" in inverted commas and underlined—until they are 75 years of age, and that they get a good pension. They get a very good pension.

Mr. Yates went on: They are knighted automatically on appointment to the High Court, are made Privy Councillors when they reach the Court of Appeal and peers on becoming Law Lords. I do not know whether they get the £8.50 a day tax-free, like other peers. I cannot find out. When I put Questions on the subject, the Government will not answer. All other noble Lords get £8.50 a day tax-free, whatever their other income. They used to have to put in an appearance in the House of Lords; now they do not have to do that.

Mr. Yates continued: When they go on circuit they do not put up in hotels. They stay with their brother judges of assize in imposing Lodgings. They are attended by caulkers and cooks and butlers. They are allowed £7 13s. 6d. a day for entertaining. I do not know who they entertain. Perhaps they entertain the people in the dock. Needless to say, I am assuming that the £7 13s. 6d. a day has been adjusted since that article was written.

My right hon. Friend is right, therefore, to say that there is one law for the rich and one law for the poor. But—again I hate to correct him—he, unfortunately, and, I am sure, unconsciously, talked quite wrongly when he said that the Government had produced and published the report on the day that devaluation was announced—the Government like to call it "floating" but we call it by its proper name, "devaluation". My right hon. Friend must be aware that the Boyle Report was in the hands of the Prime Minister last March. But, unlike previous Prime Ministers of both political parties, he did not publish it immediately. Why? Because a miners' strike, a railway strike and industrial upheaval were going on at the time. The Prime Minister thought that it would be a little invidious to publish the report, even though it had been leaked to the Press and there had been official hand-outs. He preferred to keep it hidden, and probably he was right to do so.

My right hon. Friend is right in saying that these judges do not have to bear the increases which the Government are imposing on the ordinary individual. They do not have the increased cost of living and food prices which the Government are imposing on ordinary people; they do not have the increased fares which the Government are responsible for imposing upon ordinary workers; these poor devils the Government are so anxious to help are not affected in the same way as ordinary people. Surely the Attorney-General has some information about these poordevils. Do they die in poverty? When they die, do they have to be buried at public expense? I have read the wills of judges. I do not know of one who has died leaving less than £100,000.

Mr. Eric Ogden (Liverpool, West Derby)

They will never leave my hon. Friend any.

Mr. Lewis

My right hon. Friend mentioned the "greedy men". The Government are famous for cutting prices at a stroke and gaining the full-hearted consent of the people. I do not know whether they have gained the full-hearted consent of the people for this order. The Prime Minister certainly has not got it for the Common Market, and he has not cut prices at a stroke. I think we shall have a new term in our political jargon—"greedy men". My right hon. Friend is right again. The Foreign Secretary probably in one day gets more in income than all his farm workers put together; yet he has the audacity, the impudence and, I would say, the wickedness to accuse ordinary people on £20 or £30 a week of being greedy when they ask for an increase.

Who are the "greedy men"? I have read the Press carefully, I have listened to the radio carefully and I have watched television carefully, but I have read or heard from any Minister, from the Prime Minister downwards, not one word of condemnation or adverse comment about the high paid, whether they be civil servants or in private industry, who are picking up £30,000, £40,000 and £50,000 a year.

I read in the financial column of the Evening Standard last night of a "13 per cent. rise for Sir Leslie". That refers to Sir Leslie O'Brien, Governor of the Bank of England. He had a rise last year of £3,541. He is the man who attacked the Labour Party, the man who is in favour of a wage and salary restraint for the£20 and £30 a week man but not for the man who earns £15,000 or even £30,000 a year. Will the Attorney-General condemn Sir Leslie O'Brien for taking an increase of £3,541? Of course he will not. That is the attitude the trade unionists object to. This sort of thing is happening every day of the week. The Prime Minister and his Government are the worst offenders.

At Question Time recently the Prime Minister accused me of throwing incorrect figures around. He was wrong. When I referred to an 18 per cent. increase recommended by the Boyle Committee for the chairmen of the nationalised boards and the judges I was correct. It was an 18 per cent. increase. The Prime Minister tried to say that these people had not received an increase for two or three years. He averaged their increase out over the period at about 5 per cent. or 6 per cent. a year.

This issue arose in 1970 when there was a single award of £2,250. The argument used then was that the increase was to cover these people for the future so that they would not have to keep coming back for more and smaller increases. The Government are dishonest and crooked. It has always been the practice to explain the increase and the period it covers. But if the Government did that in this case it would look strange, especially if Mr. Vic Feather and his colleagues at the TUC got hold of it.

The Government can do what they like to help the rich, the surtax payers and the owners of large estates. What about the old-age pensioner? He has been given 75p, but he will have to wait until October to get it. Before he gets it, it has gone, because the Government have deliberately frittered it away by putting up rents, rates and the cost of living, and floating the £ and depreciating the value of the £. The Government could easily over stamp the pension book, so that pensioners received £1.50 instead of 75p, but the Government would not do it, because the pensioners are not the sort of people who are their friends.

I also strongly object to the Government's bringing on the orders late at night, when the Press, radio and television reporters have gone, and the public do not hear about the matter.

Mr. Kaufman

My hon. Friend referred to the debate on the previous order, in which both he and I took part. He will recall that I then raised with the Attorney-General the concealment of the previous figures in the order, which was a total break with precedent. Yet here again we have the same concealment, so it is a deliberate attempt at furtive concealment of facts which Governments have always previously presented in the orders.

Mr. Lewis

I am very much obliged to my hon. Friend. With his usual charming courtesy and under-statement, he has put the point much more mildly than I have.

Mr. Crowder

I am very interested in the question of concealment of figures. Why does not the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), for whom I have great respect, whom I have known many years, and who I know is very keen on the subject, tell us straight what he and his Front Bench colleagues think a High Court judge should be paid today, having regard to all the circumstances? Let us have the figure.

Mr. Lewis

There is no concealment there at all. What we are concerned with is not the salary that High Court judges are getting now but the increase of just on £2,000 that is being given, when, as my right hon. Friend has pointed out, they had about £6,000 over the years because of the hand-outs the present Government have given them in surtax reductions and general tax reductions. There are other items he could have mentioned, such as tax-free loans, capital gains tax changes and all the rest. I went one better, pointing out when the Attorney-General tried to shed his crocodile tears about the cost of living affecting the judges that it does not affect them in the same way as it affects those with low incomes.

The Prime Minister is now loudly proclaiming that he does not believe in a statutory freeze on wages, but that he is all in favour of increased wages being paid for increased production. This argument might be used against the judges. I want to quote from a report in The Times of 20th May this year. The headline, which is very apposite to the discussion said: Judge says judges are underemployed". The report read: High Court judges were without question underemployed, said Sir Raymond Hinchcliffe, himself a High Court judge, addressing the Justices' Clerks' Society conference at York today. 'Throughout the country some circuit judges, recorders and deputy circuit judges are under some pressure, albeit not great, but I would very much like to see more work being committed for trial by the red judge', he said. I assume that he was not being political in referring to the red judge. This is another point the Attorney-General did not mention.

Hon. and learned Members who are legal gentlemen go in front of judges more often than I do. They like to speak up for judges, but they will agree with me that, unlike railway workers, miners—I am glad to see that my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) is here, as usual—unlike bricklayers and carpenters who work full days, full weeks, full months and full years, these judges go into recess. I do not know the technical term. We have constituencies and have to do our day-to-day constituency work, but judges go on holiday for long periods.

Mr. Clinton Davis (Hackney, Central)

While I agree with most of what my hon. Friend says, he is extremely unfair in the criticisms into which he has now launched. The judges' job is not easy by any means, and if he would stick to the point that there is a wide disparity between the way the Government deal with judges and doctors and the way they deal with others that would be sufficient for his argument and he would not need to make bogus points.

Mr. Lewis

My hon. Friend is entitled to his view. I did not say it was an easy job. It was some chap who happens to be a judge, Sir Raymond Hinchcliffe.

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member knows that I have no power to control the length of speeches, but this is a limited debate and I have had requests from a number of hon. Members to be called. I hope the hon. Member will bear that in mind.

Mr. Lewis

Yes, Mr. Speaker. You were not in the Chair earlier——

Mr. Speaker

I know exactly when the hon. Member rose.

Mr. Lewis

With great respect, Mr. Speaker, I repeat that you were not in the Chair earlier. Had you been, you would have heard me point out that when the orders were first put down I was the only Member to ensure that the orders were debated, by putting down the Amendments. Unfortunately, I have not been told whether they were to be called.

I have been somewhat interrupted by the hon. and learned legal fraternity who come to the aid of the judges. They say I said the judges were under-employed when it was not I but a judge who did so.

I was about to conclude because I think enough has been said. I have been here long enough to know that when there is anything to do with judges the legal fraternity on both sides come rushing to their aid.

There is a lawyer here and a lawyer there and there and there. They are all lawyers: the biggest closed shop union of all, a closed shop union of lawyers on both sides who rally to defend these lawyers. I am happy to leave it at that.

If this was reported, the country would support by approach and that of my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East rather than the approach of the lawyers.

11.19 p.m.

Mr. William Hamling (Woolwich, West)

This is an unedifying spectacle. We are not arguing about the right things. I am not a lawyer, as you know, Mr. Speaker, but it seems to me that in choosing to debate judges' pay and ignoring other aspects of Government policy in this field we are in danger of getting things in the wrong light.

Most judges are barristers with considerable experience who, in order to serve the community as judges, give up careers in which they can expect expensive briefs. They are incorruptible in a way that is not true of any other country. We have chosen to debate the wrong things. We can attack the Government for their incomes policy, for their attacks on public servants, but we do not best sustain that attack by attacking another bunch of public servants. That is what we are doing. [Interruption.] I am permitted to make my speech in my own way.

Mr. Healey

I am not sure whether my hon. Friend heard my speech. If he did he would be aware that I did not attack the judges at all. He should be aware that this order is the only order the House will ever have a chance of debating which relates to the top salary increases in the Boyle Report.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Civil Service Department (Mr. Kenneth Baker)


Mr. Healey

That is what the Lord Chancellor said in another place. If my hon. Friend had listened to my speech he would be aware that at no time did I attack the judges. What I did was to attack the Government for their policy, increasing the net take-home pay of judges by more than the average earnings of the ordinary trade unionist over the last few years.

Mr. Hamling

I take my right hon. Friend's point. I was aware that he was not attacking the judges. This order deals with judges' pay, and the case of my right hon. Friend is that the Government are wrong to increase the judges' pay to this extent at a time when the pay of other public servants is not being increased to the extent it should be. That is my right hon. Friend's case.

Mr. Healey indicated dissent.

Mr. Hamling

If that is not my right hon. Friend's case then I do not know what is the purpose of this debate.

Mr. Kaufman

Surely the purpose of the debate is for the House to approve these orders? Whether my right hon. Friend wishes to oppose the orders is irrelevant, since they require the approval of the House. It is not as though the House were praying against the orders.

Mr. Hamling

I hope that when my hon. Friend goes into the Lobby against the order he will bear that in mind. I understand that there is to be a Division at the end of the debate. If that is not opposing an order I do not know what is.

It is time we on this side understood exactly what we are attacking. This Government have given away millions of pounds to their wealthy supporters in tax relief. That is a far more nauseating business. Their incomes policy is in ruins, and they have attacked the standard of living of public servants to an extent that we have not seen for generations. Certainly we are right to oppose that. Bearing in mind what we said about judges' pay when we were in Government, this is an unfortunate debate.

11.24 p.m.

Mr. Ian Percival (Southport)

I would like to congratulate the hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling)——

Mr. Healey

You bet!

Mr. Percival

The right hon Gentleman is making my point for me. Whatever else anyone may think, this debate can scarcely be regarded by anyone outside this House as anything but an attack upon the Bench.

Mr. Healey


Mr. Percival

I refrained from saying "Nonsense" during the right hon Gentleman's speech, although I was sorely tempted to do so a dozen times; I refrained because I was tempted to use unparliamentary words instead, I managed to stop myself doing so, but the effect is the same.

The hon. Member for Woolwich, West is the first layman to make a point of considerable interest—the reason why it is left to the lawyers. All the laymen on both sides of the House for hundreds of years have been making sport of the lawyers. We do not mind; it is an old game, and we can hold our own. But we do not like the House to make sport of the judges; they cannot answer. If laymen will not defend the judges and say what the judges would say if they were allowed to, does the House expects the lawyers to say nothing?

The tragedy is that the opportunity of debating the order, which concerns only judges' salaries, has not been used by any hon. Gentleman to say that the judges should not be paid these salaries. It has been used by hon. Gentlemen to make a purely political attack upon the Government. The one thing which should never be done is to use such an occasion to make a political attack upon the Government—any Government—

Mr. Kaufman

You said it!

Mr. Percival

I said what?

Mr. Kaufman

"This Government".The hon. and learned Gentleman's lapsus linguae gave him away—"This Government", not "any Government".

Mr. Percival

Absolute nonsense. When the hon. Gentleman has been here a little longer he will realise that the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) has been doing it for years. It was not a slip of the tongue.

My complaint about Opposition Front Bench spokesmen is that they have used the order as the opportunity to make a political attack upon this Government, and the debate bears no relation to the subject-matter of the order. I hope that before the debate comes to an end an hon. Gentleman opposite will be generous enough and honest enough to join the hon. Member for Woolwich, West and get the debate back on to the proper lines.

11.28 p.m.

Mr. Clinton Davis (Hackney, Central)

The hon. and learned Member for South-port (Mr. Percival) has got the whole purpose of the debate quite wrong. It has not been an attack on the judges. Does he accuse his hon. Friend the Member for Bromley (Mr. Hunt) of having carried out an onslaught upon the judges?

Mr. Percival

I wonder how the hon. Gentleman would describe the speech of the hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis)? If that was not an attack upon the judges I do not know what is.

Mr. Davis

My hon. Friend the Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis) has his own characteristic style, and I intervened in his speech to indicate that I did not approve of the line he took at the end when he entered into an attack upon the judges. That was not the purpose of the debate; it was simply an irrelevance introduced by my hon. Friend.

The hon. and learned Member for Southport cannot take this line in the face of the courageous speech of his hon. Friend the Member for Bromley. All that he and my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) were doing was to point to the tremendous disparity between the way in which the Government deal with this sort of salary increase and salary increases in the public sector elsewhere for miners, railwaymen, dustmen and the rest. When hon. and learned Gentlemen such as the hon. and learned Member for Southport seek to make this form of defence, they do more harm to the image of lawyers and judges than if they had remained silent. The hon. and learned Member made a misconceived attack on my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East.

Mr. Percival

What I said was that the debate so far had had nothing to do with judges, and was being used to launch a political attack on the Government. I said I thought it was misconceived.

Mr. Davis

It was a justifiable attack on the Government for the selective and hypocritical way in which they go about arguing both cases. One wonders why it is that the Government do not take as an example judges or doctors, but pick upon the railwaymen and the miners, who carry out an unenviable job, and accuse them of greed. Yet they seek to pass furtively the order which we now have before us.

Mr. Percival

It is not furtive.

Mr. Davis

It is furtive. We are not told what the difference is between the salary which is now being received and the figure to which it is being increased.

I certainly have no desire to make an attack on the judiciary, which I hold in great esteem. Indeed, our judiciary is the envy of the world. But this is not what we are talking about tonight. What we are talking about tonight is the hypocritical way in which the Government have introduced the order and have produced their arguments in support of it. There can be no doubt that the way in which this has been done must cause affront to workers in both the private and the public sectors. They see people making vast fortunes. The judges are not making vast fortunes; the judges are unfortunate enough to have their salary increases vetted by this House. But the property speculators do not come within such a procedure. There are the people to whom my right hon. Friend referred who cannot come within the compass of a debate of this character and who are getting away with murder. These things are noticed by workers who see the disparity of treatment adopted by the Government.

My right hon. Friend made a devastating and justifiable indictment of the Government's intensitivity in these matters.

Mr. Kaufman

Is it not as well to realise that one of the people whose salary increase is being slipped through in this order is the President of the Industrial Relations Court, who is being used by the Government as an instrument to keep down other people's wages?

Mr. Davis

I do not think it is right in drawing attention to disparities to select any particular judge. My criticism is launched at the Government, not at the judges. It is the Government who deserve the House's condemnation.

11.33 p.m.

Mr. F. P. Crowder (Ruislip-Northwood)

Has any right hon. or hon. Member opposite the courage or integrity to say what sum Her Majesty's puisne judges should be paid today, having regard to all the circumstances? This is what this debate is all about.

Mr. Healey

May I answer the question directly: I believe they should keep what they have got now, which is worth £1,500 more than it was worth two years ago. Beyond that they should wait for any other increase until there is the full job evaluation which Lord Boyle undertook to carry out in the coming year.

Mr. Crowder

We have been asking for the answer, and now we have got it. Like a dentist pulling teeth, we have got it at last. The Labour Party say that there should be no increase for the judges.

11.35 p.m.

Mr. Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Ardwick)

I regard this as a very grave debate. It is, as the hon. and learned Member for Southport (Mr. Percival) said, not an attack upon the judges; it is an attack upon the Government.

I regard the behaviour of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney-General as an affront to this House. When we last debated this matter—my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis) referred to this—I was among those Members who opposed those salary increases, and endeed, I was a teller in the Division against those increases. I asked the right hon. and learned Gentleman why there was a breach of practice whereby for the first time the orders did not state both the previous salary and the new salary, which would have enabled hon. Members to make a comparison. The right hon. and learned Gentleman slipped out of it at that time, and yet, with the full knowledge of what took place—his civil servants would have reminded him if he had not remembered—he persisted in this deliberate concealment from the House of Commons of these salary increases.

This is why I raised the question of the President of the National Industrial Relations Court. It is because when we have hearings before that Court, the President, Sir John Donaldson, is informed of all the wages which are in dispute. Sir John takes them into account—the wages before and after. Yet when it comes to Sir John Donaldson's own salary, we are not told what the increase is. We are not told the percentage increase. These figures are concealed from the House of Commons. They are deliberately concealed by the Attorney-General, as they are concealed in our last debate 18 months ago. Therefore, I say to the right hon. and learned Gentleman that this debate is not an attack upon the judges; it is an attack upon the Government for the way in which they have gone about this matter—not openly but furtively.

11.39 p.m.

The Attorney-General

The difference between this debate and the debates of a similar kind which we have had before is the appearance here for the first time of the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) and the hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling).

Like the hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis), I can recollect sitting on the other side of the House when we have had these debates before. It is true to say that he has been consistent. He has been consistent in always opposing any salary increase for the judiciary. When the hon. Gentleman talks about "perks", he ought to bear in mind the car mileage allowance, the railway warrants, the secretarial allowance, the research assistance allowance and the other facilities that Members of this House enjoy. He ought also to bear in mind that we are Members of Parliament discussing the salary levels of public servants who are in the least position of all public servants to make any reply. In some way or other, every other public servant can. We are dealing with public servants the importance of whose service is second to none. They are entitled to have speak for them those who put a real importance upon having men of ability and incorrupttibility serving as our judges. It is important that they should have proper salaries and that they should not be abused. If it so happens that they are abused, it is right that they should be defended.

The hon. Member for Manchester, Ardwick (Mr. Kaufman) cannot have read the Boyle Report. That White Paper sets out on page 14 what were the previous salaries. If the hon. Gentleman wishes to tell us all our business, as he is often wont to do, and to intervene in the debate, as is his right, in order to make these accusations, surely one has the right to expect that he has ready the relevant

White Paper and taken into account the fact that these orders are to carry out the recommendations of an independent review body which was established and directed to take independent opinions and to make recommendations.

When the Boyle Committee was established the idea was that, once it had made its independent recommendations, this House would implement them. After all, it has been written recently that Members of Parliament are not very much loved, and that when the Review Body on Top Salaries reported on the pay of Ministers of the Crown and Members of Parliament this House saw to it that those recommendations were implemented. We must take that into account when we come to consider these public servants.

The right hon. Member for Leeds, East said that he did not think that there should be these increases now, and that they should await what he believed would be the final report of the Boyle Committee. I remind the right hon. Gentleman of what is said in paragraph 2 of the introduction to this interim report: Our enquiries on this occasion have convinced us that further study of each group is essential, both to ensure that salary levels are adequate, and to test the pattern of relativities.…Meanwhile, to prevent their remuneration from falling too far behind those in comparable occupation outside the public service, we have considered and now recommend interim pay increases for the main levels in each group… It is because there has been this independent review, and because the review body has made these recommendations that I commend these orders to the House.

Question put:—

The House divided: Ayes 94, Noes 75.

Division No. 293.] AYES [11.45 p.m.
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Deedes. Rt. Hn. W. F. Havers, Michael
Atkins, Humphrey Drayson, G. B. Hawkins, Paul
Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone) Dykes, Hugh Hordern, Peter
Biffen, John Eden, Sir John Hornsby-SmithRt.Hn.Dame Patricia
Boscawen, Robert Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate)
Bray, Ronald Elliott, R W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.) Howell, David (Guildford)
Carlisle, Mark Fenner, Mrs. Peggy Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)
Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton) Hutchison, Michael Clark
Chapman, Sydney Fortescue, Tim Jennings, J. C. (Burton)
Chichester-Clark, R. Fowler, Norman Kaberry, Sir Donald
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Fox, Marcus Kershaw, Anthony
Clegg, Walter Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B. Kimball, Marcus
Cockeram, Eric Goodhew, Victor King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)
Cooke, Robert Gorst, John Knox, David
Cormack, Patrick Gray, Hamish Lambton, Lord
Crouch, David Green, Alan Longden, Gilbert
Crowder, F. P. Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Loveridge, John
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid,Mal.-Gen.James Gummer Selwyn McAdden, Sir Stephen
McLaren, Martin Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper)
Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham) Price, David (Eastleigh) Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
McNair-Wilson, Michael Proudfoot, Wilfred Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Madel, David Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)
Mather, Carol Raison, Timothy Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin
Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter Waddington, David
Meyer, Sir Anthony Redmond, Robert Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Moate, Roger Reed, Laurence (Bolton, E.) Warren, Kenneth
Morrison, Charles Rees, Peter (Dover) Winterton, Nicholas
Murton, Oscar Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey) Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Normanton, Tom Russell, Sir Ronald TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Page, Graham (Crosby) Sharples, Sir Richard
Page, John (Harrow, W.) Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby) Mr. Bernard Weatherill and
Peel, John Shelton, William (Clapham) Mr. Michael Jopling.
Percival, Ian Stanbrook, Ivor
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis Orbach, Maurice
Atkinson, Norman Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Orme, Stanley
Barnett, Joel (Heywood and Royton) Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange)
Booth, Albert Jeger, Mrs. Lena Pavitt, Laurie
Buchan, Norman Jones, Barry (Flint, E.) Pentland, Norman
Clark, David (Colne Valley) Judd, Frank Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.
Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.) Kaufman, Gerald Prescott, John
Concannon, J. D. Kerr, Russell Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Conlan, Bernard Kilfedder, James Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)
Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.) Kinnock, Neil Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)
Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Lamborn, Harry Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Dalyell, Tam Lamond, James Skinner, Dennis
Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.) Latham, Arthur Spriggs, Leslie
Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove) Leonard, Dick Stallard, A. W.
Deakins, Eric Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.) Stoddart, David (Swindon)
Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.) Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John
Dorman, J. D. Mackenzie, Gregor Tinn, James
Evans, Fred Mackintosh, John P. Wellbeloved, James
Faulds, Andrew McNamara, J. Kevin Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert Whitehead, Phillip
Foot, Michael Mendelson, John Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Garrett, W. E. Mikardo, Ian Woof, Robert
Golding, John Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Grant, John D. (Islington, E.) Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Griffiths, Will (Exchange) Oakes, Gordon Mr. Joseph Harper and
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Ogden, Eric Mr. Ernest G. Perry.
Hattersley, Roy

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved, That the Judicial Offices (Salaries) Order 1972, a draft of which was laid before this House on 23rd June, be approved.

Resolved, That the Judges' Remuneration Order 1972, a draft of which was laid before this House on 23rd June, be approved.—[The Attorney-General.]

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