HC Deb 11 December 1973 vol 866 cc183-4
11. Mr. Strang

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science to what extent it is her intention that the research councils should have superannuation agreements for every employee comparable to those obtaining in the Civil Service following the introduction of the Principal Civil Service Superannuation Scheme on 1st June 1972; and if she will make a statement on the progress being made in the current negotiations.

Mrs. Thatcher

Superannuation arrangements in the research councils are matters for the councils, but require my approval and that of my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Civil Service. Some research council employees are superannuated on the same terms as civil servants and others in other ways. A proposal by the Agricultural Research Council to extend the Civil Service-type arrangements to additional groups of their employees is under consideration, but I cannot at this stage indicate when a conclusion will be reached.

Mr. Strang

Is the Secretary of State aware that that is a most disappointing reply? Agricultural Research Council employees are under the impression that notwithstanding the extreme delay in making progress with their negotiations there is at least an agreement in principle that they will have a scheme comparable to the Principal Civil Service Superannuation Scheme. Will the Secretary of State re-examine this question to see that the ARC employees get a scheme as good as that envisaged by the Civil Service in general?

Mrs. Thatcher

The negotiations are continuing. The ARC is preparing a full statement of its case and negotiations are proceeding with the Government Actuary's department to provide costings. However, I shall see whether there is anything we can do to speed up the negotiations.

Mr. Spearing

I welcome the Secretary of State's recent U-turn the matter of superannuation, but is it not about time for the question of comparability of the teachers with the Civil Service also to be considered? Members of Parliament pay about 20 per cent. less of their salary in contributions to get the same benefits as teachers. Is it not about time the apparent differences were looked into and cleared up?

Mrs. Thatcher

The question does not concern teachers' superannuation; it concerns scientists and others who work in the research councils. On that totally different question, the working party will reconvene in January.